Acupuncture Will Not Cause Swollen Tongue

PurduePharma, with the approval of the FDA, has unleashed another med on the unsuspecting public and it’s a skull-spinning doozy. Watch for it on your local stations: a sleep aid medication called INTERMEZZO. What a wonderful name – springtime, fresh flowers and lovely music comes to mind. What doesn’t come to mind is a side-effect called medication induced angioedema, translation: swollen tongue that is so swollen it could be fatal. My compliments to the market research department.

If I go on with this, the text will be dripping with even more sarcasm so I will let the PerduePharma website do the talking. See www.myintermezzo.com .

Under the heading “What are the possible side effects of Intermezzo?” it reads:

“Intermezzo may cause possible side effects, including: Getting out of bed while not being fully awake and doing an activity that you do not know you are doing. The  next morning you may not remember that you did anything during the night……….”

“Reported activities include:

  • driving a car (“sleep-driving”)
  • making and eating food
  • talking on the phone
  • having sex
  • sleep-walking

“Abnormal thoughts and behavior, including being more outgoing or aggressisve, as well as confusion, agitation, hallucinations, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions”

“Severe allergic reactions. Symptoms include swelling of the tongue or throat, trouble breathing, and nausea and vomiting.”

Medication induced angioedema presenting as swollen tongue

Under the heading: “Important Safety Information”:

“Do not take Intermezzo (zolpidem tartrate) if you are allergic to zolpidem or any other ingredients in Intermezzo. Do not take Intermezzo if you have had on allergic reaction to drugs containing zolpidem, such as Ambien.”

“Serious allergic reactions may occur and may be fatal………”

And on and on and on.

I may not be a researcher or statistician but I am wondering how one would know if you get allergic reactions to a chemical called zolpidem tartrate if you have never taken it before. If your tougue swells up and you choke – isn’t it a little late to find out? Just askin’….

I can just imagine the rational of the FDA in approving this med – something like “Well, these possibly fatal side effects don’t happen very often”.

I realize insomnia can be a stubborn, frustrating condition to suffer through – it can affect every aspect of your life including your health. But please try alternatives before resorting to these side-effect laden synthetic meds. Acupuncture has a good history of restoring sleep patterns as it balances your energy systems – and you won’t get a swollen tongue from it!

Needling Away Headache

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives – but you knew that. What you may not have considered is that acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. Acupuncture has been used to relieve headaches, as well as their underlying causes, for thousands of years and is a widely accepted form of treatment for  headaches in our society. The World Health Organization has listed headaches and migraines as neurological conditions that acupuncture therapy can effectively treat.

Diagnosis with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

TCM does not recognize migraines and recurring headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs and tuina massage to restore imbalances found in the body. Your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the tip of the head?
  • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a dark room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Do you describe the pain as dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

    Nuff Said

These questions will help create a clear picture on which your practitioner can create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for TCM is that there is a live energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect – in this case pain relief.


Being Green – Ethical Platform

From the Green Party Platform  www.gp.org :

K. Ethical Treatment of Animals

The Green Party advocates humane treatment of animals with the following policies:

1. Redirect the funds that are disbursed annually by the National Institutes of Health away from animal experiments and more towards direct health care, preventive medicine, and biomedical research using non-animal procedures such as clinical, epidemiological, and cell culture research.

2. Phase-out the use of animals for consumer product testing, tobacco and alcohol testing, psychological testing, classroom demonstrations and dissection, weapons development and other military programs.

3. Mandate clear labeling of products to tell whether or not they have been tested on animals and if they contain any animal products or by-products.

4. Establish procedures to develop greater public scrutiny of all animal research. These should include the welfare of laboratory animals, and a halt to wasteful public funding of unnecessary research such as duplicative esxperiments.

5. End the abuse of animals, including farm animals, and strenthen our enforcement of existing laws.

6. Ban the use of goods produced from exotic or endangered animals.

7. Prohibit large scale commercial breeding facilities, such as “puppy mills”, because of the massive suffering, overpopulation, and ill health such facilities produce.

8. Subsidize spay and neuter clinics to combat the ever-worsening pet overpopulation problem that results in the killing of millions of animals every year. Where unwanted companion animals are being killed in shelters, we advocate mandatory spay and neuter laws.

9. Ban the exploitation of animals in violent entertainment and sports.

I guess the Republican and Democratic Party platforms are not concerned about such things. – J.R.

Ponderables 2: Exploring Veganism

A few excerpts from the thought provoking book,  Radical Vegetarianism: A Dialectic of Diet and Ethic by Mark Mathew Braunstein:

“Nature is undeniably cruel and life unmentionably cheap, but one way we can rise above life is by not taking it.”

“One way to make ends meet is to make meat end.”

“Few eaters of flesh want to know that animals live and die painfully, or that they die at all; in fact few seem to know animals even live.”

“Delegating the slaughter to someone else, and consuming the animal only after it has been several days dead, human carnivores ally themselves not with the animal kingdom’s predators, but with its scavengers.”

“Those defrauded by Western nutrition the first half of their lives are destined to be victimized by Western medicine the second half.”

“The steer is rare that is allowed to live longer than two of its potential twenty-two years of life, so a karmic debt of those fifteen to twenty unlived years of a steer life is accumulated.”

So You Want Science? Here it is!!

From our friends at Rodale.com:

6 Science-Based Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy.


Acupuncture Works!!



Lyrica – Pfizer Folly?

I was barely paying attention the other day to a LYRICA commercial on T.V. and I thought I heard “suicidal thoughts” mentioned. So I went to the Pfizer website and learned that Pfizer claims that LYRICA may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in about 1 in 500. I wonder how the FDA can approve such a risky drug. Wouldn’t a reasonable person consider such a substance a dangerous hallucinogenic or depressant?  Taking LYRICA sounds  like a long version of Russian roulette. What exactly are “suicidal actions” anyway – would that include trying to, say – oh, I don’t know – COMMIT SUICIDE? Pfizer does not report the efficacy of this drug on their website, just the odds of getting the side effects of the drug. Here are their own words taken from lyrica.com:

“LYRICA is not for everyone. LYRICA may cause serious, even life threatening, allergic reactions. Stop taking LYRICA and call your doctor right away if you have any signs of a serious allergic reaction. Some signs are swelling of your face, mouth, lips, gums, tongue, throat or neck or if you have any trouble breathing, or have a rash, hives or blisters.

Drugs used to treat seizures increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. LYRICA may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Call your doctor right away if you have new or worsening depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. If you have suicidal thoughts or actions, do not stop LYRICA without first talking to your doctor.”

“Do you feel lucky, Punk?”

And that is just the beginning of their litany that they call “Important Safety Information”. I am not trying to make light of this but COME ON!!!! Think about this – you are the unlucky one in 500 who has the “suicidal behavior”-  now picture this – let us say it’s a friday night- so you are supposed to step down from the ledge and call your doc? Hopefully you can control the “suicidal action” during the week-end while you continue to take LYRICA and play phone tag with the doc. REALLY!?!?!?! Sound like a good plan to you?

Do you like those “1 in 500” odds for you or your loved ones? Actually, I think Pfizer may have it about right – LYRICA is not for EVERYONE!!

Hey James, Will acupuncture help my…?2

Q: “Does acupuncture help reduce pain in patients with fibromyalgia?”

A: Many of our fibromyalgia clients have reported significant improvement of symptons and reduction in the need of pain medication after acupuncture treatment. Numerous research studies have looked at acupuncture as a treatment for fibromyalgia and the results have been mixed. Acupuncture will work best if it is part of a management program that includes regular sleep, a low carb diet with no refined sugar and processed foods, and stress reduction.

James Rodowca, L.Ac.

Let’s get Soaked!!

Gin Soaked Raisins for Arthritis

The Remedy: Daily, eat 9 golden raisins that have been soaked in gin for the relief of chronic arthritis.

The Story: This folk remedy for arthritis or chronic aches and pains has been around for many years. It seems to get media attention every few years and although the origin is unknown, the late and great commetator Paul Harvey is credited with giving the remedy notoriety in the 1990’s when he mentioned it on his radio show. It caught the media’s attention again during the 2004 presidential campaign when Teresa Heinz Kerry (wife of presidential candidate John Kerry) mentioned it during a campaign stop in Nevada. The media basically rolled their collective eyes as further proof that Mrs. Kerry was a bit goofy. Natural health bloggers and regular people online, however, disagreed and gave testimony to what they believed was a very effective remedy for aches and pains.

The Evidence:

As with most folk remedies, there isn’t any clinical evidence as to the efficacy of gin soaked raisins. Of course critics of main stream medicine would say that since there is apparently no money in it, Big Pharma is not interested even if it is effective. So we are left to theorize as to why some people seem to get positive and even amazing results. Here’s what we know:

  • Raisins contain many pain relieving and anti-arthritic chemicals. The list of compounds that occur naturally in grapes include: pain relievers such as ferulic acid, gentisic acid, kaempferol-glycosides and aspirin-like salicylic acid. Grapes and raisins also contain several anti-inflammatory compounds: ascorbic acid, cinnamic acid, coumarone, myricetin, quercetin and quercetrin. The fact that raisins are dehydrated may enhance the intensity of the compounds.
  • Golden raisins are made from Green Thompson grapes. In the processsing of these grapes, they are treated with sulfur dioxide gas to slow down enzymtic activity so that they maintain a nice golden color. Sulfur is the third most common mineral in the body. Research is now showing that sulfur is important to a healthy diet. Traditionally sulfur has long been used for arthritis pain. Epsom salts, for example, contain both sulfur and magnesium and seem to reduce joint pain when used as a body soak. One study, conducted in Israel in 1990, showed that soaking in the sulfur rich waters of the Dead Sea gave some relief to arthritis symptoms. There are no studies, however, which examine whether there are any residual sulfur from sulfur dioxide treated raisins has any pain relief effect.
  • Gin is made with juniper berries. They are rich in vitamin C and terpenes, the essential oil which, in large quantities is manufactured into turpentine. Historically juniper berries have been used in ‘natural’ anti-inflammatory prescriptions. Jethro Kloss, in his folk remedy classic “Back to Eden”, first published in 1939, mentions juniper berries as being good for “gout, sciatica, rheumatism or pain in any part of the body”. He makes no mention of the benefits of gin, however.
  • Alcohol can mask symptoms but upon analysis of 9 gin soaked raisins it was found that there was the equivalent of only one drop of alcohol.

The Recipe:

Empty the raisins into a bowl and pour in just enough gin to cover the raisins. Allow the gin to evaporate (about one week) and then place moist raisins in a jar with a lid.  Eat nine raisins per day.


Make mine a ‘Gin and Raisins’

Cheers!! (and be sure to tell your Doc about this to confirm her opinion that you are a nut!!)

If you decide to try this remedy, we’d be interested in knowing your response. Drop us a line – thanks!

James Rodowca, LLC



Hey James, Will acupuncture help my…?

Q: “I get frequent migraine headaches. I use Imitrex but sometimes I don’t catch it in time and I don’t like the side effects. Can acupuncture help?”

A: Yes, acupuncture can help with all kinds of headaches. If you come in for treatment, I would ask you where you are feeling the headache. Is it on top of your head, at the base of your skull, the whole head, sharp pain, throbbing, constant, dull ache, etc. That would help me determine the best treatment for you. With continued treatment, acupuncture can lessen the frequency and/or intensity of headaches.

James Rodowca, L.Ac.

To The Point – How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture is one form of therapy used with the system of healing referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Oriental Medicine. TCM also includes herbology, nutrition, physical therapy and special exercises such at Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

It is difficult to relate what it took the Chinese thousands of years to develop into a quick explanation, but the short version is that we all have 12 main channels or “meridians”of energy and these meridians are easily accessible by”needling”. Since energy constantly flows up and down these pathways, the connections between them ensure  that there is an even circulation of Qi (pronounced chee). A person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi in one’s body. Disruptions can occur if the flow of Qi is insufficient, unbalanced or interrupted and these disruptions manifest as pain, illness or generally poor health. Acupuncture is used to restore balance.

Still, the idea persists that somehow acupuncture is mystifying or peculiar. Why is this? Why is this time-tested medical method so difficult to explain? Possibly because we use a non-scientific nomenclature different from the medical jargon that all of us grew up with. Take “Qi” for example. The Chinese idea of Qi is probably the most fundamental concept in acupuncture but is not easily translated into western thought. Practitioners of TCM commonly define Qi as the essential life force that circulates throughout the body. The Chinese character for Qi depicts steam arising from cooking rice. The form of Qi represents energy, steam, gas, essence, the movement of blood and fluids, and may be material or immaterial .Qi, therefore, reflects our spirit and our physical body. In TCM, without the functions of Qi, there would be no life in beings. And what are we to make of the “meridians” where Qi flows? The body can be cut and explored to see the existence of the circulatory and nervous systems but how do we really know that “meridians” exist? You can’t see Qi or meridians so TCM diagnosis often is unfathomable to a patient. Informed that their diagnosis is, for example, “Kidney Qi deficiency with dampness” may leave a patient totally stumped and wondering what’s wrong with their kidneys and why are they damp when all they came in for was treatment of a sore knee.

Many conventional healthcare professionals who practice acupuncture, including medical doctors and even some traditionally trained acupuncturists, have dispensed with such concepts. In western medicine, acupuncture points are thought to correspond to physiological and anatomical features such as peripheral nerve junctions, and diagnosis is made in purely conventional terms. Diagnosing a problem in TCM terms that express an energetic imbalance has been abandoned. Western medical thinking has, however, come to acknowledge the biochemical and cellular activity that acupuncture can affect. The western perspective of acupuncture identifies three possible mechanisms of action:

1. Conduction of electromagnetic signals: Western scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.

2. Activation of opiod systems: Research has found that several types of opiods may be released in the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.

3. Changes in brain chemistry, sensation and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemstry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in a good way. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature are regulated.

Explaining acupuncture from this perspective certainly makes acupuncture more “user friendly” and familiar for the western M.D. trained to require scientific “proof” that is within the western medicine paradigm. But speaking as a TCM trained acupuncturist, I think if we only look at the western medicine perspective of how acupuncture works and abandon the energetic framework described in TCM by such terms as yin, yang and Qi, we diminish an ancient and powerful medicine. Subjecting acupuncture to the rigors of modern science for an explanation of how it works is good for validating its techniques and efficacy, but we must acknowledge the uncommon language and sometimes mystifying TCM energetic explanations of acupuncture to take full advantage of this ancient time-proven technique.

James Rodowca, L.Ac.