Category Archives: Integrative Medicine

Chemo Brain? How to grow new brain cells

A wonderful TED Talk about neurogenesis by Sandrine Thuret. She explains how the adult brain does grown new cells
and offers advice on what you can do to encourage this growth. Interestingly enough, she references chemo brain and demonstrates
her research to an oncologist colleague.

Here is a slide to consider that is featured in the talk.


How to grow new brain cells

10 Tips to Boost Immunity

Taking care of your immune system is the key to getting well and staying well.

Incorporate these simple elements into your daily life and you can truly create robust immunity and vitality.

Adequate, Restful Sleep

Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your health care provider about supplementing with Melatonin which also supports normal antioxidant function. A normal sleep cycle is linked to reduced rates of cancer.

Regular Exercise

Make sure you get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Keep in mind that strenuous or prolonged exercise can have the opposite impact on your immunity. A 30-minute walk can meet your exercise needs while invigorating your senses and lifting your mood!

Nutritional Insurance and Supplementation

Take a high potency high quality multi-vitamin daily (iron free and copper free) check with your doctor first. It’s often hard to eat during treatment and your nutrient needs are increased. Taking a high quality supplement is a good insurance policy, especially if you struggle to get adequate fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.

Protein is Crucial to Robust Immunity

Make sure you get 3-4 servings of high quality protein daily (or use protein powders, smoothies and shakes to supplement). Although plant based diets show lower rates of cancer, it is not required to be vegetarian or vegan to eat a healthy anti-cancer diet. Low immunity as well as poor wound healing is linked to inadequate protein intake.

Enhance Your Adaption to Stress

Ongoing stress saps immunity and resistance to illness. Consider incorporating Adaptogenic Herbs such as Astragalus, Ganoderma, Cordyceps, Ginseng, Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng), Ashwaganda, Agaricus, and Rhodiola (with the permission of your doctor) into your diet to support your physical body in managing stress. Balance this with 30 minutes of daily exercise and purposeful relaxation time.

Promote Healthy Intestinal Ecology Rich in Friendly Bacteria

Eat fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement (ask your doctor first). The health friendly bacteria in your gut is actually a vital and essential part of normal immunity as well as normal detoxification and inflammation control.

Supplement with Vitamin D

Ask your health care provider to perform a blood test to make sure your Vitamin D levels are between 55-80 ng/ml. Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to increased rates of infection and increased rates of cancer. While it’s a good habit to get a 30 minutes of sun exposure in the morning or late afternoon to increase Vitamin D naturally, it can be difficult to bring your levels up to the ideal range without a supplement. I recommend Vitamin D Synergy with Vitamin K, but you can pick up a Vitamin D supplement at nearly any grocery store.

Mushrooms ImmunityEat more mushrooms

Mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides and beta glucans that enhance normal robust immunity. Mushrooms are also rich in Selenium which has been shown to be a vital nutrient to normal immune and cardiovascular health. Tip: you can also get a daily dose of Selenium from just 2 brazil nuts daily! Be sure you do not have a food sensitivity before you incorporate mushrooms into your regular diet.

Try Acupuncture

Natural Killer Cells are part of your immune system’s army that specifically targets viral infections and tumor cells. Acupuncture may trigger your body to produce more Natural Killer Cells, boosting your immunity and resistance to infections.

meditate immunityMeditate Daily

Meditation doesn’t require yoga pants and a zen garden. Just find a peaceful or quiet space and clear your mind for at least 20 minutes once or twice daily. Meditation not only has a positive impact on immunity but also on mood, sleep, concentration and memory.


By: Dr Nalini Chilkov

Acupuncture Can Aid in the Care of Breast Cancer

Patients diagnosed with breast cancer often suffer from stress generated by the diagnostic procedures. They face decisions about treatment options and the impact the diagnosis will have on their professional and personal lives. The stress can generate multiple biological changes that will cause physical and emotional systemic dysfunction.

Furthermore, surgeries, chemotherapies, and radiotherapies are standard intervention for these patients. These interventions mostly focus on battling the cancer itself, but they further compromise the human body systemically. These complications manifest as side effects of treatment and include the following:

• Pain: the result of neuropathy, damaged tissues, or scar tissues
• Digestive dysfunction: nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, or constipation
• Endocrinological dysfunctions: hair loss, hot flashes, cold extremities, and low libido
• Mental and cognitive dysfunctions: anxiety, depression, insomnia, poor memory and concentration, and slower thinking process
• Hematological dysfunction: reduced blood counts, reduced lymphocytes
• Skeletal-muscular system: muscle pain, joint pain
• Nervous system: neuropathy, immunological dysfunction, and symptoms such as dry mouth

In an attempt to counteract these systemic side effects, some cancer patients use modalities that are considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). They work to reduce the side effects listed above because many of these modalities focus on enhancing the function of the whole system. They often address both physical and emotional issues.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a perfect example of a type of CAM. Acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbal therapies, Tui Na, Chi Gong (also called Qigong, exercises of chi and meditation), and dietary therapy are all therapeutic tools of traditional Chinese medicine. Among these tools, acupuncture is most widely used in the treatment of cancer patients in the West, while Chinese herbal remedies are often used in China today.

Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies and other TCM treatment tools are only effective if the patient’s chi abnormalities are thoroughly evaluated by utilizing all the theories of TCM: yin and yang, “wu xing” (also called Five Elements), chi, blood, essence, fluid, meridians, organs, and man and nature.

The treatment plan should include dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and exercises to strengthen chi, along with daily acupuncture treatments and daily intake of individually formulated herbs (which will change as the patient’s chi changes).

In the West, people generally do not get the amount of TCM treatment traditionally required to be effective. People rarely combine conventional treatment with Chinese herbal remedies due to the concern oncologists have about its negative interaction with chemotherapy.

The TCM treatment for people with breast cancer can be used for multiple purposes: first to support the body’s physical and mental functions during the conventional therapies, secondly to reduce the adverse effects of conventional therapies, and thirdly to maintain health and prevent recurrence of cancer and other illness in the future.

Acupuncture is a procedure used to restore the balance of chi. It involves inserting fine, sterile needles into points on the surface of the body. There are roughly 360 points connected with 12 major meridian systems and 8 extra meridians.

Before inserting the needles, the acupuncturist has to diagnose the patient based on the TCM method. The acupuncturist must understand the biomedical and structural issues prior to choosing a combination of points. For example, if there is excessive heat in the system, the practitioner may want to pick a point that is connected with cold energy to increase it or a point that is connected with heat energy to reduce it.

In addition to strategically choosing a combination of points, the practitioner must also choose how to insert and manipulate the needles. This is a crucial detail needed to achieve the intended intervention.

Let’s say the practitioner wants to enhance the chi circulation in the patient’s meridian. The patient must inhale when the needle is inserted. The needle should be inserted in the direction of the chi flow, rotated clockwise, and left at a deeper level.

Acupuncture treatment typically lasts about 30 minutes. A couple more-manual manipulations may be conducted during the session. Patients may experience discomfort and mild pain as the needle is inserted. Then sensations like pressure, dull achiness, tingling, and numbness may occur as the needle touches chi.

After the treatment, patients may feel deeply relaxed, light, and energized or tired. Pain may be reduced right away, but sometimes it increases before it is reduced.

Patients should expect the treatment to last at least 30 sessions before the symptoms are gone. TCM is not a quick-fix treatment.

By: Jingduan Yang, MD