The Placebo Effect, the Points Behind the Detox Treatments, Lending Library and Pride!
May 2019

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In last month's newsletter, we talked about the concept of the lesser known Nocebo Effect, and how our beliefs, positive or negative, have an impact on our health and health outcomes. In this newsletter, I will continue that discussion with a deeper dive into the Placebo Effect, what it means and its implications.
Anne Louise explains the significance of the points used in the Detox Treatments. And, a few announcements... we now have a Lending Library for your use in the clinic waiting room; and of course, May also brings the return of Northampton Pride, and so we will be closed this Saturday, May 4th.
What is the Placebo Effect Really Telling Us?
Rachel Condon, Lic. Ac.

The Placebo Effect - let's look at some definitions first, and I invite you to notice the language used. These can all be found easily online when searching for "what is the placebo effect":

  • a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient's belief in that treatment.

  • A placebo is a substance or treatment of no intended therapeutic value. Common placebos include inert tablets, inert injections, sham surgery, and other procedures.

  • The placebo effect is a phenomenon in which the body starts to heal even if it only thinks it is receiving treatment. The effect is mysterious...

We are living during a time when we are literally bombarded with information constantly , and much of it has a hidden bias of some kind, whether it's trying to sell us a product or service, or to encourage us to buy into a belief or philosophy, or just to distract us. It then falls upon each of us to discern the truth , to be aware of the information we are consuming and where it's coming from.

It's a bit like learning to read the labels with food - when you first started reading labels, it opened up many questions... what ARE all those long names of ingredients besides the food we think we are buying? why are they there? where does the food come from? is there something hidden in there, like extra sugar or wheat or preservatives, for no apparent reason?? When you first start doing this, it can feel really tedious and time-consuming, take the fun out of eating, or feel like all food is full of junk we don't need! But then over time, you get faster at reading those labels, picking out what to avoid, and perhaps even avoiding certain categories of food or aisles at the grocery store. And hopefully, you start to develop (or re-develop), your own intuition about what food is good for your body and what isn't.

I bring this up because I think that it's a pretty good analogy for dealing with this overload of information available. And when it comes to our health, it can feel very overwhelming to sift through information, especially if you are dealing with a new diagnosis, or perhaps a persistent symptom that has yet to be diagnosed. It can feel worrisome and stressful, and you want to get to the bottom of it and know the Truth, so you can take care of yourself and feel better.

So I bring this back to the Placebo effect, because I think it's another example of - what is REALLY going on here? And it calls upon us to decipher and sift thru lots of information. If you look at those definitions, "no intended therapeutic value," "the effect is mysterious..." - it helps to think about where placebos are often used, which is in drug trials and other research studies, to test the efficacy of a specific treatment, a drug or procedure usually, against a supposedly inert substance, like saline tablets, injections, etc.

But I find the most interesting conclusion to be made comes from the first definition listed - "a beneficial effect... [which] must therefore be due to the patient's belief in the treatment."

This is actually very exciting news! Because it suggests that our beliefs, our minds, our perceptions, are quite powerful in impacting our health - in positive ways (or negative ones, as implicated by the nocebo effect). I love learning about the new directions in scientific research being explored, especially those that are more about empowering each of us with a new understanding of how our bodies work , how very real the mind-body connection is, and how we can literally change our physiology thru thought alone.

Bringing together the research of epigenetics, neuroplasticity, and psychoneuroimmunology, along with research into the broader implications of the placebo effect, the future of medicine is one full of exciting and empowering possibilities. As we seek to move beyond invasive procedures and an over-dependence on pharmaceuticals with adverse side effects, many researchers and practitioners today, as well as patients and consumers, are finding this perennial mind-body connection to be far more vast and far-reaching, than was ever conceived in the early days of modern medicine.

Again, it depends what you choose to focus on - do you see the placebo as simply proof of whether a medication works or not, or as an example of how our body's self-healing abilities can be stimulated in ways still not totally understood, without the use of external substances.

A couple of book titles, if you wish to explore this further, which can be found in our new Lending Library:
The Biology of Belief - by Bruce Lipton
You Are the Placebo, and Becoming Supernatural - by Joe Dispenza

I invite you all to explore this topic further if interested, and would love to hear what you think about it!

The Points Behind the Detox Treatments
Anne Louise Smallen, Lic. Ac.

Our clinic offers three types of detox treatments in the spring. The first one addresses addictions to toxic substances such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and abusing recreational drugs. The second helps those who have food addictions, and the third one helps with the side effects of taking heavy medication. This article explains the acupuncture points used in the treatments.
The first two protocols uses ear points . Both use Shenmen, that marvelous point in the triangular fossa which calms the mind, decreases pain and help sleep and relaxation. In addition, other auricular points help the different parts of the body affected by abuse: liver, kidneys, lungs, stomach and mouth. They bring balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The food protocol also offers a point for appetite control.
The treatment reducing the side effects of heavy medication (sometimes prescribed for long periods of time in cases of chronic diseases) does not use ear points, but points on the regular meridians. The first one is Triple Heater 13 (called Upper Arm Meeting) which main function is to reduce toxic overload from the body. The second one is Gallbladder 39 (called Suspended Bell) which works directly on the bone marrow . The bone marrow helps the production of blood and strongly supports the organs taking the load of heavy medication: the liver and the kidneys .
To these three protocols, we add four more points. Two of them are fire points and two are water points . Toxic substances almost always affect our emotions and sense of well-being. They cause inner blockages which create tension, anger, fear and frustration (part of acupuncture patterns called Liver Qi stagnation, Liver yang rising, Liver Fire, etc..). The qi, instead of traveling freely throughout a healthy body, is blocked, and in trying to remove these obstacles, creates heat and pain.
The fire points : Liver 2 (translated as "Moving Between") reduces the fire and sends it down the sole of the feet. Lung 10 (translated as "Fish Border") reduces the fire and sends it down the palms of the hands. These are the two fire points.
As for the two water points, they are Lung 5 (translated as "Cubit Marsh"), which clears heat from the lungs and helps increase the fullness of the breath (a great way of calming the mind), and Liver 8 (translated as "Spring at the Crook"), which increases urination and evacuates toxins from the body. This is also a great point for headaches, especially when the pain is behind the eyes.
The overall effect of the detox treatments is to clear toxins and increase endorphins . Endorphins create a sense of well-being that can help motivate us to change our lifestyle and go in new directions.

If you are curious about where exactly these points are located, we have a few books in the lending library which illustrate the meridians, use Dr. Google :), or else ask us to show you when you come in for treatment!
Our New Lending Library
We are happy to announce that we've installed a Lending Library in the waiting room at the clinic that all are welcome to utilize!

The library features a range of books on a range of health topics, including diet and nutrition , hormonal health, acupuncture , qigong, menopause, spirituality and science, among many others.

A few titles on the shelves, to give you an idea:

Mind Over Medicine, by Lissa Rankin
The Autoimmune Fix by Tom O'Bryan
Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
Eat Dirt by Josh Axe
Undoctored by William Davis
Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser
The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner
The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuck
and many more!

You are welcome to peruse the books while you wait, as well as sign a book out for up to four weeks, using a simple sign up sheet. You may renew the book if you wish; just don't forget to bring it back when you're done so that others may read it!

There is so much information out there, and there just isn't enough time to read up on everything. But browsing thru a book whose topic interests you, or reading a few chapters while you wait for your appointment, may spark your interest to explore further. Besides, who doesn't love a good book these days?!!

Enjoy, and happy reading!
Noho Pride 2019
Northampton's 38th Annual Pride and Parade Event happens on Saturday, May 4th, 2019!
Click here for more details on the event itself - Noho Pride

The clinic is situated right in the middle of the parade route - from the picture below, note the rainbow crosswalk, which was painted a few years ago for that year's Pride, and which is found right outside the front door of our building.

And so, in honor of Pride, and celebrating Love in all of its beautiful forms and diversity , as well as the practical impact of traffic, etc, we will be CLOSED on Saturday, May 4th all day.

Happy Pride - celebrating love, in all of its forms, without judgment - to ALL!

Northampton Community Acupuncture 413-586-8251