Category Archives: Personal Care

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Although most cases of candida infection are treated with some type of antifungal agent, the formulation of the medication (e.g., pills, ointment, suppositories, or powder) will largely depend on the location and clinical presentation of the infection (Pammi 2012; Ferri’s 2012).

Mild oral candidiasis can be treated with either clotrimazole lozenges or a nystatin swish-and-swallow suspension, but may require oral fluconazole for moderate to severe and recurrent cases (Kauffman 2012). An emerging treatment for oral candidiasis involves the use of mouthwash containing silver nanoparticles (SN). Although this approach requires more investigation to include safety and efficacy, it may hold therapeutic potential in the near future (Monteiro 2012).

Candidiasis of the skin is most often managed with topical antifungal agents of the azole class (e.g., bifonazole or ketoconazole) (Katoh 2009). People with candidiasis of the skin should also keep the skin as dry as possible and, if appropriate, use antifungal mouth rinses or shampoos.

Fungal infections of the finger/toe nail plate (e.g., onychomycosis) are typically treated with both topical and systemic antifungals. However, long-term cure and recurrence rates, as well as costs associated with these treatments, are often unsatisfactory. For this reason, researchers have studied the effects of laser therapy for the treatment of onychomycosis; they found that this technology is capable of inhibiting the growth of the fungus on nail samples (Manevitch 2010). In severe cases that do not respond to drug therapy, surgical removal of all or part of the nail plate may be considered (Singal 2011).

Vaginal candida infections can be treated with topical or oral antifungal drugs such as fluconazole or nystatin (Sobel 2012). The species of candida a woman is infected with can influence treatment response. For example, fluconazole and nystatin are both effective for the treatment ofCandida albicans, but in women with non-albicans species, only fluconazole is highly effective (Rodrigues Martins 2012).

Treatment for invasive/systemic candidiasis depends on a variety of factors, but will most likely involve intravenous or oral therapy with any one of the following drug classes: polyenes, azoles, and echinocandins (Kauffman 2012d). The polyene drug amphotericin B is a very common treatment, but is hindered by considerable kidney toxicity. Therefore, newer, less toxic derivatives of the drug (e.g., liposomal amphotericin B) are a better option. The high cost of these formulations, however, can be burdensome in some circumstances (Bassetti 2011; Kauffman 2010).

The side effects of most systemic antifungal drugs are comparable and include headache, gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea and vomiting), hepatitis, kidney toxicity, and lupus-like syndromes, among others (Werth 2011; Kauffman 2011;Khan 2012).

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Fungal infections are estimated to occur in over a billion people each year, and recent evidence suggests the rate is increasing (Hsu 2011; Di Santo 2010; Brown 2012; Fungal Research Trust 2011). Fungi can infect almost any part of the body including skin, nails, respiratory tract, urogenital tract, alimentary tract, or can be systemic (Long 2009; Baron 1996). Anyone can acquire a fungal infection, but the elderly, critically ill, and individuals with weakened immunity, due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS or use of immunosuppressive medications, have a higher risk (Hsu 2011; Baddley 2011).

Although several species of fungi are potentially pathogenic in humans, candida (esp. Candida albicans) is the organism responsible for most fungal infections. Candida, which is normally present within the human body, is usually harmless. However, it can cause symptoms when a weakened immune system or other factors allow it to grow unabated (Merck Manual 2008; Cheng 2012; Douglas 2011).

Increased use of antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids are major factors contributing to higher frequency of fungal infections. Antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs, by disrupting normal bacterial colonization and suppressing the immune system, create an environment within the body in which fungi can thrive (Hsu 2011; Tani 2012).

Fungal infections can range in severity from superficial to life-threatening. For example, fungal infections affecting only the top layers of the skin are readily treatable and have a relatively limited impact on quality of life. However, if a fungal infection enters systemic circulation, consequences can be deadly (Badiee 2011; Zuber 2001).

Many integrative medical practitioners believe that chronic, low-level candida infestation can cause a variety of non-specific symptoms that may resemble chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, or fibromyalgia. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “candida-related complex”. Conventional medical practitioners do not recognize candida-related complex as a disease. However, many innovative healthcare practitioners report improvements in patient quality of life upon treatment (Gaby 2011).

Upon reading this protocol, you will have a better understanding of the various ways that fungi can infect a human host, and how conventional medicine treats these infections. In addition, you will discover several natural compounds that have anti-fungal activity and may complement conventional treatments for fungal infections.

4Parasites are living organisms that live off of a host organism. Parasites take and utilize the host organisms nutrients and in so doing hurt the host organism. Parasites take on a number of different forms and can thrive throughout the body. They most often live within the human intestines. It is estimated that about 50% of Americans have an abundance of parasitic organisms in their gut, and up to 85% have some sort of parasitic infection! Take action and cleanse your system of parasites naturally.

Parasites enter the human body through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. In 3rd world countries the most common way to encounter parasites is through contaminated water. Anyone traveling to a foreign country should be cautious about drinking the water. Poor sanitation and poor hygiene are the most common ways people encounter parasites. In America, parasites are spread through pork products and shellfish as well as contaminated food and water.

There are thousands of different types of parasites that are common to humans. Protozoa consist of a single cell and multiply in enormous numbers inside the human intestine. The most commonly found protozoic parasites are giardia, neospora, amoebae, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidium, and sarcocystis.

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Candidiasis has become a “hot” topic over the past few years among health-conscious individuals in the United States. Candidiasis is a condition that results from the overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus calledCandida albicansCandida cells are part of the normal flora of our bodies found in our mouth, vagina, intestines, and other organs. When they grow unchecked, they can cause a number of health problems, including digestive disorders, fatigue, and vaginal yeast infections. Whether candidiasis is to be considered a disease or a syndrome is still controversial in conventional medicine, but the general public has accepted it as a valid disease, apart from lab tests or theoretical constructs. Some practitioners even claim that “everybody has it.” Almost every day in my clinic, people walk in asking for help with this problem. Although Chinese medicine does not have a traditional diagnosis of “candidiasis,” we can find a diagnostic framework and a treatment approach to candidiasis from the patients common symptoms and complaints. I do not believe that “everyone has it,” but it is a very common problem in the United States. Many Chinese medicine practitioners are amazed by how prevalent candidiasis is here. When you know the causes of candidiasis, it is not surprising that people are more prone to have it here than in other countries.

There are a number of medications that promote the overgrowth of yeast cells, either because they kill beneficial bacteria, or because they interfere with normal hormone functions. These medications include: antibiotics; chemotherapy; hormone replacement; corticosteroids; and oral contraceptives. Improper diet, such as over-consumption of yeast products, sugar, or alcohol, also can promote yeast growth. In traditional Chinese medicine, these foods disturb the balance of the Spleen, produce Phlegm, and create the perfect environment for yeast overgrowth.

Those people with immune system or endocrine gland disorders are more prone to candidiasis, such as patients with AIDs, cancer, or diabetes.

In Chinese medicine, balance is the most important concept in maintaining health. Yin and Yang, the eternal opposites of the universe, also form the basic substance of our bodies. They must be in balance for us to be in good health. It is the same for the yeast cells and bacteria in our bodies: too many yeast cells, and a condition of candiadiasis results; too many bacteria, and infection can be present; when there is balance, we are in good health.

Triple Burner: A Concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Triple Burner is one of the six Yang organs in the body. It includes the Upper Burner (the Heart, and Lung), Middle Burner (the Spleen and Stomach) and Lower Burner (the Liver, Intestines, Bladder and Kidneys). As stated in the classical medical textbook, Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, “the Upper Burner opens outwards, spreads the five tastes of the food essences, moistens and pervades the skin, fills the body, and is like mist. The Middle Burner receives vital energy, expels the wastes, steams the body fluids, transforms the refined essence of food, and connects upwards with the Lungs. The Lower Burner directs the separation of the clean fluids from the dirty fluids, and facilitates the excretion of urine.” Notice that the Triple Burner is described in terms of what it does. It is called a “concept” because it really exists as a function, rather than as a physical organ. In Chinese medicine, the Triple Burner regulates the activities of the other internal organs and participates in fluid metabolism.

Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes the development and proliferation of Candida in the body as a Triple Burner-related condition. The Middle Burner, and particularly the Spleen, is seen as the key to this health issue. The Spleen is responsible for taking the food and fluids that we ingest and processing them into the Chi and Blood that are the true “fuel” of our bodies. When the Spleen is functioning well, Chi and Blood are in balance, intestinal flora are in balance, there is no excess fluid or phlegm in our system, food is properly digested and distributed, and the immune system is being nourished by Chi and Blood. In most cases of candidiasis, the problem starts with a Spleen imbalance, which may then progress to digestive disorders, irregular bowel movements, diarrhea, constipation, and/or fatigue. In the absence of treatment, or with improper treatment, the disorder will then spread from the Spleen and Spleen meridian to other organs and meridians. At this stage, the condition will be diagnosed as a systemic yeast infection. When the Spleen system is weakened, Damp Heat accumulates in the Lower Burner, and an ideal environment for yeast overgrowth is developed. Symptoms such as a white, cheesy vaginal discharge, genital itching, or vaginitis might occur. When the Spleen system is disturbed, Heat and Fire can accumulate in the Upper Burner, causing an infection of the oral cavity called thrush to develop.

With candidiasis, there are cases when symptoms only appear in one Burner; but in many cases, symptoms spread to all three Burners. As explained above, Middle Burner disorder (Spleen and Stomach) is the key factor in candidiasis. When Spleen energy is weakened by poor diet, medications or other factors, its ability to transform phlegm and nutrients is diminished. The Spleen then fails to properly absorb and utilize nutrients from the foods we eat, and is therefore unable to produce healthy amounts of Chi and Blood. So the earliest stage of candidiasis is almost always a Spleen (Middle Burner) disorder. If treated appropriately at this stage, with re-balancing of the Spleen and Stomach, the problem will resolve with no yeast-related symptoms. But candidiasis is not a well-defined disease pattern. It is difficult to diagnose at the early stages, and many people are completely unaware that they are developing a severe problem. Then the disease gains ground, spreading to the Upper Burner (thrush, cough, etc.), or to the Lower Burner (vaginal infection, etc.), or both. As with many diseases, the best way to head off trouble is with early detection and treatment.

A Two-Step Treatment Plan with Chinese Medicine
Step 1. Cleansing
In Chinese medicine, a thorough cleansing is the first step in dealing with candidiasis. When our systems are full of the waste, phlegm and toxins which contribute to yeast overgrowth, clearing them out of the system is necessary. “The constitutional energy is endangered when an internalized evil is there,” says the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.

Many people try to clear out their yeast overgrowth with diet cleansing methods. For candidiasis, diet management alone is not strong enough to clear the system, or it can take a very long time. Combining proper diet with Chinese herbs and acupuncture can achieve this goal much faster. With herbal cleansing therapy, the goal is to clear the system of Dampness, Phlegm, and Heat. These are seen as the causative factors of candidiasis. The herbs are not intended to mechanically clear out the large intestine; rather, they promote the clearing-out of the pathological factors of Phlegm and Heat toxins. Commonly-used herbs include gentiana (long dan cao), melia (chuan lian zi), agastachis (huo xiang), cardamon (bai dou kou), saussurea (mu xiang), skullcap (huang qin), coptis (huang lian), and phellodendra (huang bai).

Damp Heat Clearing Formula (Long Dan Xie Gan Wan) and Coptis Formula (Huang Lian Shang Qing Wan) are powerful herbal combinations to promote the cleansing process. Damp Heat Clearing is used most often when Lower Burner symptoms appear, and also with some Middle Burner problems; Coptis Formula is more effective with Upper and Middle Burner symptoms.

Damp Heat Clearing Formula (Long Dan Xie Gan Tang)
Gentian (Long Dan Cao)
Scullcap (Huang Qin)
Gardenia (Zhi Zi)
Akebia (Mu Tong)
Plaintain (Che Qian Cao)
Alisma (Ze Xie)
Buplerum (Chai Hu)
Rehmannia (Di Huang)
Angelica (Dang Gui)
Licorice (Gan Cao)

Coptis Formula Formula (Huang Lian Shang Qing Wan)
Coptis (Huang Lian)
Da Huang (Ruhbarb)
Scullcap (Huang Qin)
Phellodendra (Huang Bai)
Gypsum (Shi Gao)
Gardenia (Zhi Zi)
Forsythia (Lian Qiao)
Chrysanthemi (Ju Hua)
Schizonepeta (Jing Jie)
Angelica (Bai Zhi)
Viticis (Man Jing Zi)
Cnidium (Chuan Qiong)
Ledebouriella (Fang Feng)
Mint (Bo He)
Inula (Xuan Fu Hua)
Platycodon (Jie Geng)
Licorice (Gan Cao)

Some commonly-used acupuncture/acupressure points for this cleansing process include LIV3, LIV2, ST40, UB57, and LI4.

Step 2. Tonifying
After the waste, toxins, and phlegm have been cleared out of our systems, we then have to tonify our bodies, repairing the damage and restoring the balance, or the pathological factor(s) will return. “If sufficient vital energy exists, a pathological factor cannot attack us” (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). This is also a very important step to prevent recurrence of yeast infections. Commonly used tonifying herbs include astragalus (huang qi), codonopsis (dang shen), atractylodes (bai zhu), and dioscorea (shan yao). GI Strength Formula (Xian Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang) is a popular formula for tonification, especially of the Middle Burner.

GI Strength Formula (Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang)
Ginseng (Ren Shen)
Atractylodis (Bai Zhu)
Poria (Fu Ling)
Licorice (Gan Cao)
Tangerine (Chen Pi)
Pinella (Ban Xia)
Amomi (Sha Ren)
Saussurea (Mu Xiang)

Commonly used tonifying acupuncture/acupressure points include ST36, SP9, SP6, LI10, LIV8, REN6, and REN4.

A Recommendation for Your Diet
People who are familiar with a yeast-free diet stay away from bread, cheese, mushrooms, vinegar, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, black fungus, and white fungus. But there are other yeast-based foods such as crackers, pretzels, dry cereal, miso, tempeh, canned vegetables, pickled vegetables, beer, root beer and other fermented beverages which are often overlooked by those with yeast infections.

Grains, noodles, non-yeast bread and white rice are recommended. They are easy to digest. Brown rice and wild rice have more nutrients than white rice, but they take more energy to digest, and it is better for Spleen Chi Deficient people not to eat them often. Certain vegetables are extremely therapeutic for those with yeast infections, such as Daikon radish, which can help cleanse your system and is known as a “phlegm cleanser”.

The family of yellow-colored foods such as yam, winter squash, and pumpkins are strongly recommended from the viewpoint of traditional Chinese medicine, as they tonify and strengthen the Spleen and Spleen meridian.

Yeast-based medications such as penicillin, mycin, chloromycetin, and tetracyclines should be avoided, as well as yeast-based Vitamin B supplements.

By Wei Liu, TCMD, MPH, LAC and Changzhen Gong, PhD, MS - The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)

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Over the last 50-75 years, the incidence of asthma in industrialized countries has steadily increased, especially among children, to alarming proportions. Scientists around the world are studying this “epidemic,” as well as researching the long-term effects of taking anti-asthma drugs such as bronchodilators. In China, research on the efficacy of acupuncture and herbal medicine in the treatment of asthma shows that traditional Chinese medicine compares favorably with standard Western treatment, and provides an alternative approach for those who want to strengthen their bodies natural defenses and avoid the long-term use of drugs.

Asthma is an immune-system-related respiratory disorder in which the breathing passages become narrow or blocked, and are typically inflamed. Asthma can be “extrinsic” or “intrinsic.” Extrinsic asthma is caused by an allergic reaction to a foreign substance (called an allergen) such as pollen, animal dander, animal fur, dust, mold, food additives, or feather pillows, and it is strongly seasonal. Intrinsic asthma is a non-seasonal, non-allergic type of asthma. Trigger factors for intrinsic asthma attacks include air pollutants, tobacco smoke, strong odors, cold weather, physical exertion, emotional stress, or temperature or humidity changes. Often, an episode of intrinsic asthma will follow a severe respiratory infection.

Asthma in Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine theory, asthma is clearly differentiated between the actual attacks and the periods between attacks. When the attacks are happening, this is considered to be an acute, Excess condition, and the objective is to disperse the Excess and stop the attack. Wind, a non-substantial pathogenic factor, lodges in the bronchi and combines with Cold or Heat pathogenic factors to cause bronchospasms.

Between attacks, the body is considered to be in a Deficiency condition. The Lungs and Kidneys work together to produce “wei qi,” or Defensive Chi. Defensive Chi can be thought of as analogous to the immune system. It is a Yang energy that is manufactured from the food we eat. The Kidneys are the root of our ability to produce Defensive Chi, and the Lungs spread Defensive Chi near the outer surface of our bodies to ward off pathogenic factors like Wind, Cold, and Heat. When the Lungs or Kidneys (or both) are weak, there is often a deficiency of Defensive Chi, making us more vulnerable to colds, infections, asthma attacks, etc. It is thought that a person’s Defensive Chi can be weak due to a hereditary constitutional weakness (up to 75% of children with asthma have a family history of the disorder); but mothers who smoke during pregnancy and childhood immunizations are also cited as contributing factors in asthma.

Acupuncture can have a remarkable effect in stopping an acute asthma attack. Many patients experience immediate relief after an acupuncture treatment, feeling that the airway blockage was simply removed. Because bronchospasms result from over-stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, some traditional acupuncture points for “calming the spirit” are widely used for asthma. Stimulation of these points can relieve both physical and emotional stress, possibly because they trigger the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. The patient can therefore experience both a physical release from his bronchial constriction, and also an emotional or psychological release from the fear of constriction and suffocation.

In Chinese philosophy, and in Chinese medicine, man is seen as an integral part of nature. The fact that allergen-induced asthma attacks are strongly seasonal, with the most devastating attacks occurring in winter and spring, leads Chinese medicine practitioners to coordinate their treatment of asthma sufferers with the seasons. In the winter and spring, during attacks, the emphasis is on dispersing the pathogenic factors of Wind, Cold, and Heat. In the summer, attention is turned to tonifying the Deficiency condition of the Lungs and Kidneys, and stimulating the body to increase its reserves of Defensive Chi. Because summer is the most Yang time of the year, the energy of the season is used to build up the body’s supply of Yang energy.

Science Says
Scientific studies in China and elsewhere show that the ancient Chinese medicine theories have a basis in scientific fact. The whole scope of traditional Chinese medicine is an elaborate and elegant construct which can’t be scientifically proven in its entirety, but modern research reveals a number of mechanisms that support the ancient healing arts:

Neuro-regulation of Air Passages. Researchers at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that relieving asthma attacks by acupuncture is closely related to neuro-regulation of air passages. They further found that sympathetic nerve excitement and diastolization of the smooth muscle of the bronchial tubes can be achieved by stimulating acupuncture points on the back. The systaltic function of the smooth muscles of the airways is regulated through the neuroendocrine center of the hypothalamus, and this function can be measurably affected by needling certain back shu points.

Serum cAMP and cAMP/cGMP. Levels of certain substances in the blood called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) seem to have a bearing on asthma patients. Asthma patients experiencing wheezing and breathlessness have lower serum levels of cAMP and cAMP/cGMP. Many clinical studies conducted in China found that acupuncture can increase the levels of serum cAMP and cAMP/cGMP.

RBC-CR1R. Red blood cells have the function of transporting oxygen to body tissues, and also aid in immunoabsorption. In traditional Chinese medicine, the Kidneys have the function of generating and controlling bone growth, storing our genetic essence, generating bone marrow, and aiding in the production of blood. Kidney Deficiency in traditional Chinese medicine and low red blood cell counts in conventional medicine are related. Research in Hangzhou Red Cross Hospital shows that the immunological index of red blood cells (RBC-CR1R) was markedly increased after optimum-timing acupuncture treatment for Kidney Deficiency, compared with the control group.

Acidocyte Regulation. An acidocyte is a type of white blood cell. An increase in acidocyte levels indicates allergic reaction in an organism. A clinical study at the Affiliated Yueyang Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine shows that acupuncture at UB13 (Fei Shu), LU5 (Chi Ze), LU7 (Lie Que), ST40 (Feng Long), Ren 22 (Tian Tu), and extra point Ding Chuan can decrease acidocyte levels.

17-Hydroxy Corticosteroid in Urine. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that there exists a correlation between asthma and the pattern of Kidney Deficiency. Clinical observations reveal that asthma patients tend to have lower levels of the hormone 17-hydroxy corticosteroid in their urine, which is closely related to Kidney Deficiency in Chinese medicine. Many clinical studies show that acupuncture can increase the level of 17-hydroxy corticosteroid in urine.

Regulate Hypophalmus-pituitary-adrenocortical function. It is believed that asthma attacks are correlated with a lower hypophalmus-pituitary-adrenocortical function. Clinical research found that tonifying the Kidneys with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can improve that function and relieve asthma attacks.

More Support
In a randomized, controlled clinical trial in the department of the Osler Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, England, twelve matched pairs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease received either traditional acupuncture or placebo acupuncture over a three-week treatment period. After treatment, the traditional acupuncture group showed a significant improvement in terms of subjective scores of breathlessness and six-minute walking distance. Kim Jobst at Oxford University conducted a parallel study of the efficacy of acupuncture on asthma. This study also showed improvements by two measures: “quality of life” scores, and breathlessness measurements.

These clinical trials at Oxford indicate that acupuncture treatments achieved the following goals: reduced the spasmodic tendency in the bronchi; kept the lungs from contracting at the least little irritant in the air; opened narrowed blood vessels in the lungs; and promoted relaxation and the ability to breathe more fully.

By Wei Liu, TCMD, MPH, LAC and Changzhen Gong, PhD, MS - The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)