Can we, as adults, grow new neurons? Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret says that we can, and she offers research and practical advice on how we can help our brains better perform neurogenesis—improving mood, increasing memory formation and preventing the decline associated with aging along the way. Want to cut to the chase? In her TED talk (which you can access here), she suggests that learning, sex, getting good sleep, calorie restriction and intermittent fasting, as well as eating more food with Omega 3s, and cardiovascular exercise such as running, all increase neurogenesis. What are some things that decrease your ability to create new neurons? Stress, lack of good sleep, alcohol, saturated fats, as well as diets high in fats. Rather than bore you with my own excitement about her findings, I suggest that you watch her video, which is only about 12 minutes long.
After many months of careful deliberation, I have decided that it’s time I put out a formal note announcing my rates and a few policies I will not only be implementing but actually enforcing beginning July 1. The following policies will only be news for a small percentage of you, but it feels important that I put this in writing to be clear.
New patients / first visit: $120
Established patients / after first visit: $90 per session
Again, for most of you, this is not news. But for those of you who have not been in for some time, you may have had a lower rate in the past.
I have changed my rates twice in the past ten years: Once, when I first started in the Lafayette office and was taking over the space from another practitioner who charged each patient a different fee, sometimes each time they came in; and again, almost four years ago, when my established patient fee went up 8%. The only differences now are that (1) I now have a new patient/first visit fee, like all of my fellow practitioners; and (2) I will no longer be able to offer discounted treatments below my standard fee of $90 per treatment.
Kaiser No More
For the past 12 or so years I have been a credentialed Kaiser provider for members whose service area includes Oakland up to Richmond. (Each service area has different policies and credentialing where acupuncture is concerned.) In fact, I was one of the first acupuncturists in the Kaiser system. I have had a great experience working with Kaiser and have especially enjoyed the patients Kaiser has sent my way.
Unfortunately, due to some antiquated Kaiser policies, it is no longer feasible for me to see patients referred by and paid by Kaiser insurance. In fact, at this point, it almost costs me money each time I see a patient referred by Kaiser. I have run my concerns up the Kaiser chain of command, and what it comes down to is that, with the exception of those who are currently in the middle of a course of treatment and/or are worker’s compensation cases, I will no longer be taking patients referred directly by Kaiser.
(As an aside, I happen to be a Kaiser member myself and have found many of their services quite exceptional. They were also one of the first insurance companies, and the first HMO, to include acupuncture in their health plan, so I have no ill will here.)
While I continue to take a limited number of worker’s compensation cases, I do not bill insurance companies. I am happy to print out an invoice with all of the necessary coding such that you may send it in to the claims address on the back of your insurance card to be reimbursed by your health care plan directly. Many of my patients have been doing this successfully for years. I am also happy to print out summaries of your visits at any time, including year-end summaries for tax time.
Like most practitioners, hair dressers, massage therapists and the like, I will charge people who do not show up and/or give less than 24 hours’ notice for a cancelled appointment. I have never been one to aggressively enforce this policy, but I’m turning over a new leaf, and will now be billing the full fee for a missed appointment. I don’t love doing so, but, in light of my current waiting list, missing an appointment or cancelling at the last moment makes it difficult for me to get someone else to take that spot.
Reasoning Behind These Policies
As most of you know, my highest priority is to provide each of you with the best, most effective, most appropriate health care that I can. That means focusing intensely on each issue and sharing every resource I know of to attend to your concerns. (That may also mean telling you that acupuncture won’t work for a given condition, and checking out other allied practitioners or suggestions instead.) I am proud of the work I do, and I want to continue doing my best and giving my all.
I have been extremely fortunate to have built a thriving practice from your referrals and Yelp reviews, and as a result, I am now busy beyond my wildest dreams. So busy, in fact, that I am concerned about my quality of care dipping below a level with which I feel comfortable. It is my hope that, by formalizing and enforcing these simple policies, I will be able to keep my workload at a level that allows me to continue providing the care that has earned me your trust and confidence.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything I’ve written here, please feel free to contact me directly at 925.283.3860, or via email at email@example.com.
Introducing: Benjamin Dierauf, My New(ish) Officemate
Since the middle of 2013, I have added a new colleague to my office on Mondays, Fridays, and every other Saturday. Benjamin Dierauf has worked in Chinese medicine for over 20 years, including long stints as the head of our state acupuncture association. He is well known by acupuncturists all over the country (he was even named “Acupuncturist of the Year” for the whole U.S. a few years ago), and has primarily worked in Berkeley and San Francisco as the head of student clinics in acupuncture schools and in private practice. He is now building a practice here in Lafayette, and is my go-to guy when I am unavailable, or when I need treatment myself. To learn more about Benjamin or to schedule an appointment with him, click here to go to his website Benjamindierauf.com; email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; or call him at 925.297.4785.
While I’m At It… Other News
Some of you have wondered what I do on the days when I am out of the clinic. I am a consummate multi-tasker, and have been working on a topical orthopedic salve based in traditional Chinese kung fu medicine. After many years of trial and error, we believe we finally have a formula that will provide safe, effective pain relief to a wide variety of people with varied pain-related complaints. We call it Kung Fu Goo, and it’s currently being used by the Oakland Raiders, as well as other sports teams and active individuals. My dream is to take it out of my kitchen and make it available to a much wider audience. The latest updates on “The Goop:” We have a trademark, a patent pending, and students in the Michigan State University Packaging Department have taken on our packaging design as their senior capstone project.
Beyond that, I have also been teaching continuing medical education courses for doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, nurses, acupuncturists, and others around the country on select weekends. The subject matter is non-verbal medical communication. I recently spoke at Northwestern Medical School as part of the International Conference on Communication in Healthcare, and will speak in a few months at the California Physical Therapy Association’s annual meeting.
Most of you have met Josie Carnita, the small black lab who keeps watch over the office while I’m there. (Okay, she sleeps in the office, and is not much of a guard dog.) For those who haven’t been by in a while, you should know that she is still alive and well, in spite of slowing down and going somewhat deaf of late. She is somewhere between 13 and 14 years young now, and though we had a cancer scare with her a few months back, she’s doing very well now and is always happy to see you. Feel free to come by and pat her on the head any time (still free for a limited time).
There are many reasons a mesothelioma patient may decide to pursue alternative treatment. Some patients wish to avoid traditional treatment and use alternative therapies as their sole form of symptom management; while other patients may use them as a supplement to a traditional treatment regimen. Regardless of their motivation, patients have a number of alternative medicine options. These can range from complete medical systems, such as Ayurvedic medicine, to stand-alone treatments such as therapeutic massage. Many patients pursue multiple methods throughout the course of treatment.
Patients should work with a holistic medicine practitioner to choose the alternative therapies that most closely align with their health goals. Many hospitals actually offer a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) department. Mesothelioma patients can take advantage of this option and add a CAM practitioner to their treatment team.
Most forms of alternative mesothelioma therapy are performed or guided by a trained health professional. These include:
- Ayurveda (a system of Hindu medicine)
- Homeopathy (plant and mineral-based solutions)
- Naturopathy (a combination of natural and traditional medications with an emphasis on holistic treatments)
- Therapeutic massage
Patients who explore these options should make sure their practitioner holds an up-to-date license with the accreditation boards associated with their field. Patients can also become involved in their treatment by exploring options with the guidance of a holistic professional. These include:
- Nutritional therapy
- Supplementation (vitamins, minerals or natural cancer-fighting herbs)
- Visualization and imagery techniques
- Gentle yoga
While patients can engage in these therapies on their own schedule and from the comfort of their own home, it’s always a good idea to learn the basics from a professional before adding them to a treatment plan.
What Alternative Medicine Can Offer Mesothelioma Patients
Alternative therapies are gentle on the body and pose a very low risk of side effects. This makes them extremely appealing to patients who are already dealing with debilitating mesothelioma symptoms. Without putting the patient at risk for further complications, these therapies can help bring the patient’s symptoms down to a manageable level. Mesothelioma patients can use alternative medicine to address a number of different conditions, but alternative therapies are especially effective at reducing pain and anxiety.
Therapeutic massage is one of the most effective alternative pain-relief techniques. Patients should ideally find a massage therapist who is specially trained in working with cancer patients. Done correctly, therapeutic massage can reduce the chest and abdominal pain felt by mesothelioma patients. One cancer study found that nearly 60 percent of subjects experienced a reduced level of pain perception after massage therapy.
Acupuncture is also effective at relieving cancer-related pain. Patients can explain which areas are producing the most discomfort – as well as which other symptoms they are experiencing – and the acupuncturists can choose the most appropriate pressure points to stimulate.
Mind-based therapies are also exceptionally helpful in mesothelioma treatment. These therapies allow patients to work through stressors such as anxiety about their future or concerns about their financial arrangements. Yoga, meditation, hypnosis and relaxation therapy are all effective methods of calming the mind without pills.
Despite these benefits, alternative therapies are not considered a cure for cancer. Instead, these therapies are considered palliative – the primary goal is symptom relief. Some patients feel as though their alternative medicine regimen has helped slow the growth of their tumors, but patients should avoid any alternative therapy that claims to be a mesothelioma cure.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.
Ferrell-Torry, A. T., & Glick, O. J. (1993). The use of therapeutic massage as a nursing intervention to modify anxiety and the perception of cancer pain. Cancer Nursing, 16 (2). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8477405
Acupuncture in children is a safe treatment option with a low risk of bad side effects if done by properly trained practitioners, according to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. To read more from ABC News’ website, click here…
Bacteria also come in all kinds of shapes, strings, spheres, oblongs. But they aren’t all bad guys. In fact, without them, we wouldn’t survive very long. We need them to digest food, to produce vitamins. We use them to fight off the bad bacteria. In spite of what you’re reading in the papers this week, they are more helpers than hurters.
New research shows that we may have gut “types,” just as we have blood types, based upon what type of bacteria we have in our gut. This may have a lot of implications for the way we eat, and why some of us have different reactions to the same kinds of foods.
For more on this, read this fun article from NPR correspondent Robert Krulwich on his science blog by clicking here.
Recent studies have shown that adults who often feel grateful are more energetic, optimistic, happier and have more social connections than those who do not. What’s more, grateful people earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections. For more on all of this, check out this article in the Wall Street Journal from Melinda Beck.
When a person starts losing weight, where does the fat go? And what parts of the body can you expect to see results? As it turns out, we lose weight proportionally. To learn more about the latest on how weight loss is “distributed,” read this article on CNN by clicking here…
Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years to deal with some of the discomforts of menopause. Now, modern medical studies are finally shedding light on the fact that acupuncture can be used as part of regiment that may provide relief of menopausal symptoms. Click here to read more on this study from Turkey, as reported on ABC News.
From the New York Times:
For the first time since it began issuing dietary guidelines, the government offered new recommendations last month that clearly favor the health and well-being of consumers over hard-lobbying farm interests.
The new science-based Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released Jan. 31 by the Departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services, are comprehensive, sensible, attainable and, for most people, affordable. They offer a wide variety of dietary options to help you eat better for fewer calorieswithout undue sacrifice of dining pleasure.
Now it’s up to consumers to act on this advice and put the brakes on runaway obesity and the chronic diseases that cost billions of dollars before they kill.
(Read the rest of this article on the New York Times website by clicking here…)