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Latest Vital Health Articles

By vitalhf, Feb 16 2018 04:00PM

By Kristina D. Allred, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD is increasingly common. Almost everyone has experienced the very painful and annoying symptoms. Those who experience them on a regular basis often turn to acid suppressing medications to resolve them. You can easily get a prescription, or a case of it at Costco, so it must be safe. If you have “acid reflux”, the problem must be too much acid in your stomach, right?

Wrong. Although it seems that way, the cause of GERD is very rarely “too much stomach acid”. In fact, it is usually just the opposite. If that is the case, then why do acid reducing medications work? They do work. In fact, they work so well that they completely suppress the symptoms of GERD, leaving the real issue untreated. Worse, they contribute to even bigger health problems that may not be so easy to resolve.

In 2014, Americans filled more than 170 million prescriptions for acid blockers, falling only behind statins in total cost expenditure worldwide. The amount of money generated by the sale of these medications is huge! That’s a lot of advertising and lobbying potential to sway professional and public opinion regarding the safety of these products. PPIs are the most common of the acid blockers. They go by a variety of names but typically end in the suffix “-prazole” (omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, etc.).

For today’s healthcare practitioners this is a real dilemma as many patients want an easy fix, something to make the problem just “go away”. And if these medications do that, then why not? There are many problems with that approach. One of the main ones is that drugs don’t just have intended effects, they also have unintended effects. If a drug suppresses acid production, what else is it doing that may not be beneficial? What are the effects of acid that are beneficial?

Let’s start with the bad news: numerous studies link long term PPI use with kidney disease, stomach infections, heart disease, pneumonia, bone fractures, and dementia. But what if we could fix the underlying problem?

The good news: we can. By promoting the body’s natural functions. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is the primary gastric acid secreted by your stomach. Its role in digestion and the regulation of pH in the body is critical for maintaining your health in many ways. It breaks down proteins, preparing them for assimilation. It acts as a protective barrier, killing many potentially harmful micro-organisms in our food. It assists in the elimination of excessive tissue acidity.

It’s kind of a big deal. Without it, we are virtually starving in a nutrient-depleted desert overrun with nasty bacteria. It isn’t all about HCL. There are many underlying causes for GERD, but this one simple piece of our metabolic machinery displays the brilliance of our design. When we work with our body to promote its intrinsic function, we will always be rewarded with better health.

Learn more by attending my upcoming health class, Beyond Tums: Drug-Free Solutions for Heartburn, Reflux, Indigestion & Upset Stomach, Wednesday, Feb. 21st 7pm at Vital Health in CDA. Fee: $10. RSVP: 208-765-1994 or register here.

By vitalhf, Feb 14 2018 02:00PM

By Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Over the past few decades, acupuncture as a viable treatment for many health challenges is soaring in popularity. With that comes questions that need answers.

First of all, what is the educational level of acupuncturists? A couple of years ago I was actively looking for an acupuncture associate in my office. I was so busy, that I really needed help. I had mentioned it to a few people and their responses shocked me. They would say things like “Hey! I want to be your associate! What do I need to do?” or “Where can I find a seminar to learn acupuncture so I can be your associate?” I then realized how little people knew about acupuncturists and their education. “I’m sorry, I would respond. But by the time you’re out of school that position will have been long filled!”

Most acupuncture schools require a Bachelor’s of Science degree to attend, or be close to completing it and able to complete it during acupuncture studies. From there it is generally a 3 year course of study. Depending on the state, the requirements range from 1800 to 3000 hours with clinical study too, generally about a year. I personally was initially licensed in California (still am) with some of the strictest requirements. All must be from an accredited school. Most also require NCCAOM certification (as Idaho does). The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is the “National Board” by which most states have reciprocity.

In Idaho there are two categories of acupuncturists: Licensed Acupuncturist and Certified Acupuncturist. A Certified Acupuncturist is one with a doctorate in another field (Chiropractor, Dentist, etc.) with additional training in acupuncture. Much fewer hours are required. A Licensed Acupuncturist has the most education, the highest level of licensure. It is illegal to practice acupuncture without a license in the same way that it is illegal to practice dentistry, chiropractic or medicine without a license.

Licensed Acupuncturists have “L.Ac.” after their names, designating their license. They may also have “O.M.D.”, “D.O.M.”, or “DAOM” after their names designating they have doctorate degrees in acupuncture. They may also have “B.Ac.” or M.Ac.” or “M.S.O.M” designating a Bachelor’s in Acupuncture or Master’s in Acupuncture respectively, or Master of Science in Oriental Medicine.

You may have also heard the term “Dry Needling”. This is a term used by Physical Therapists who are using acupuncture needles, acupuncture points and non-acupuncture points to treat patients. They are NOT trained in acupuncture, have only had between 27 and 72 hours of training (and many can do it online without having any hands-on training), have no requirement for supervision, no independent oversight or accreditation, no competency examinations and no continuing education requirement.

Acupuncturists take nearly all the same classes in school as medical doctors do, with emphasis on acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine, and other Oriental Medicine modalities. They are also required to do a formal internship before they can sit for a state board or national board exam. They are not medical doctors, but some are also Naturopathic Physicians as well. Licensed Acupuncturists are continually developing their skills through continuing education.

When you see a Licensed Acupuncturist, you can be sure you are seeing a highly educated health care professional and you will enjoy the benefits through improved health!

By vitalhf, Feb 9 2018 04:00PM

By Kristina D. Allred, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.

People often ask me: “How did you get into all of this- Chinese medicine, herbalism, nutritional therapy, acupuncture, meditation and yoga?”

Looking back on it now- there were clues early on as to where my path might lead. As a child, one of my favorite things was my anatomy coloring book. Adding color to these illustrations helped bring the images to life. I became fascinated with the miraculous things happening every second beneath the surface of my skin. Another hobby was collecting plants around the neighborhood and concocting brews to test on friends: honeysuckle flowers, rose petals, grass clippings, morning glory vines- fortunately nobody was ever poisoned.

At the age of 15, I became vegetarian. I was a bad vegetarian, unaware of the dietary complexity of such a decision. I mostly ate processed starchy foods. Needless to say, my health did not improve, but I was hungry for more. The next year I began working in a local natural food market after school. There I was introduced to the world of whole foods nutrition. I was exposed to Chinese medicine by a regular customer who practiced acupuncture. I started to incorporate new tastes and textures and my interest in healthy living was ignited.

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By vitalhf, Feb 7 2018 02:00PM

By Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

When your hips, shoulders, knees and other joints start to hurt enough to interfere with life, it’s time to take some action. Maybe you already have. You may already be taking an anti-inflammatory drug or a steroid or immune-suppressing medication. Maybe you’re afraid to get started on those or don’t want to spend the rest of your life on them. Perhaps you just want to handle it a different way.

For those wanting a different way, you have to first ask “why do I have arthritis?” “Why has it progressed to a state of an auto-immunity?” “Why aren’t my joints healing” “Is there anything I can do to stimulate healing, or am I stuck with this for life?” These are all really good questions.

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By vitalhf, Feb 3 2018 04:00PM

By Kristina D. Allred, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.

Chronic inflammation is involved in a variety of disease processes. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to injuries and stress, but left unchecked it can lead to further damage and the development of serious health conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Chinese medicine has been treating arthritic conditions for thousands of years, and countless patients have experienced the benefits of acupuncture treatment. Until recently there were relatively few medical explanations of this therapy that adequately describe just exactly how it works. Those days have come to an end. Continue reading...

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