Holistic Acupuncture

Dr. Allan Bazzoli, M.D.


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Simple Health Choices

Recently, an E-mail news article from the Maryland University of Integrative Health center caught my eye.  The article, written by Dr. John Schumann, stated the obvious to those of us in health care.   There are simply no shortcuts  to health.  The power of prevention and a healthy lifestyle are just so well documented, they can’t be ignored.

Here’s Dr. Schumann’s list to stay healthy:  1. Get enough sleep.  Eight hours a night minimum.  2. Move your body throughout the day. Prolonged sitting is the new silent killer.  3. Eat well (Michael Pollan’s diet of healthy foods, mostly plants, not too much).  4. Interact socially. Isolation leads to depression among many other health issues.  5. Spend time reflecting on what you are grateful for.  Daily gratitude actually improves the immune system.

I would add three others:  6. Drink enough water to have a clear pee twice a day, morning and late afternoon.  Hydration is a very good thing for every organ in the body.  7. Engage in some form of daily mind/body activity such as deep breathing or meditation (see my previous posts), yoga or t’ai chi.  8. Lastly, deal honestly with unresolved emotional issues, UEI’s as I call them.  Everyone has them lingering below the surface, disrupting our lives in subtle and not so subtle ways.  Forgiveness is the path to solving their harmful effects on the mind, body, spirit.

Dr. Schumann also mentions the world’s so called Blue Zones.  These are places where people live the healthiest and longest lives with many people living well beyond a 100 years.  They include Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy and Loma Linda, California.  These places have built in healthy diets rich in local plants, lots of walking to most places and plenty of inter-generational social interaction.

Interestingly, these people are modest alcohol drinkers and eat small portions of meat ( Loma Linda being the exception because of the large number of Seventh Day Adventists).  But they don’t use refined sugars which are ingredients in almost all packaged foods.

You can significantly improve your health if you are willing to make most, if not all, of the lifestyle changes listed above.  Preventing chronic illness is far superior to waiting until you develop it.  I’ve said for a long time that the only good cure for cancer is not getting it.  Once you get it, the treatment choices are limited and less than pleasant.  Here’s to a Happy Valentines Day, with a healthier lifestyle going forward.

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Dr. Allan Bazzoli, MD is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Holistic Medicine, and Physical Medicine in the Mt. Vernon/Central Ohio and Columbus area.  He is available for speaking engagements on a variety of holistic medical topics.  This material can be distributed free to the public as long as there is no remuneration and credit is given to the author.

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Meditation

Patients ask, “What exactly is meditation?”.  Not an easy question to answer.  My best description would be, “A calming or clearing of the mind from the constant chatter of daily life”.   Like mud settling at the bottom of a river revealing crystal clear water.  Our minds, like a muddy river, need quiet time to settle.  It’s a gently flowing process which is just as important as the end result.

There are many schools of meditation, some involving guided imagery, music or even walking.  The key is to find a school that has meaning for you, one you can incorporate into your daily life.  For mediation to help change your life, a daily practice is essential.

The hybrid form of meditation that I teach is a combination of mindful breathing followed by a period of calming and clearing your mind.  In meditation terms, this hybrid blends the Vipassana school (breath meditation) with the Zen school (don’t know mind meditation).  So, 10 minutes of breathing followed by 10-15 minutes of quieting the mind.  The idea is to let thoughts gently drift away, returning the mind to a quiet place.

Start with the breathing technique described in my post on deep breathing.  Then move on to clearing your mind of thoughts.  This is not easy; it takes daily practice.  Relax and try to slow the constant thinking of the mind.  When thoughts float in, gently bring your awareness back to your breathing.  This helps to clear your thoughts.  It takes practice, discipline and commitment. But the rich reward of more peace and clarity is well worth it.

One of my favorite Zen sayings is:  “No thinking, no problems.  Clear mind, calm heart”.  For over 30 years, every day, I try to get to that state.  Some days, I’m successful. Others, not as much.  But every day I practice and remember the old Buddhist philosophy, “No effort is ever wasted, no matter how small”.  So I keep on practicing and practicing.

There are many health benefits associated with of a daily meditation practice. One interesting finding was published recently by UCLA researchers (February 2015).  This study clearly showed, on MRI scanning, less gray-matter loss in the brains of meditators versus non-meditators, hence a prominent anti-aging effect.  The researchers were quite surprised at the positive effects seen throughout all areas of the brain.

Other health benefits of a daily meditation practice include lower blood pressure, lower anxiety levels,  a lower incidence of heart attacks and strokes and  a calmer attitude towards life.  So start slow, keep practicing and don’t give up. You will feel positive results in a relatively short period of time.

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Dr. Allan Bazzoli, MD is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Holistic Medicine, and Physical Medicine in the Mt. Vernon/Central Ohio and Columbus area.  He is available for speaking engagements on a variety of holistic medical topics.  This material can be distributed free to the public as long as there is no remuneration and credit is given to the author.


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Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is one of the simplest and easiest of all stress reduction techniques.  It can be performed anywhere, any time of day and costs nothing.  There are many approaches to deep breathing but the one I recommend for patients is a simple 4-8-6 breathing pattern.

Find a comfortable sitting position with your hands resting gently across your lap or on your legs, palms up.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.  Inhale deeply thru your nose to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 8 and then exhale deeply thru your mouth to the count of 6.  With practice, you will naturally focus on your breathing and won’t need to count.  I recommend 10 minute segments once or twice per day.

By focusing on the breath, you bring your awareness to the present moment.  The near constant brain chatter so many people experience daily quiets itself. The worries of yesterday and tomorrow are replaced by mindful breathing in the present moment.  The present moment is where life is lived.

Most patients find this technique very relaxing physically and calming mentally.  An added benefit is the increase of oxygen in the blood stream thru this concentrated breathing approach.  That helps relax tense muscles especially in the neck and low back areas, tight from our chaotic lifestyles.

Deep breathing is usually my first mind/body suggestion for helping patients find and restore a sense of balance in their lives.  I recommend this technique first before moving patients on to other mind/body approaches such as mindfulness and meditation.

Holistically, when deep breathing is combined with lifestyle changes such as an exercise program and improved nutrition, significant positive health benefits are seen.  These include lower blood pressure, lower incidence of heart attack and stroke and a calmer, more balanced feel for life.

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Dr. Allan Bazzoli, MD is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Holistic Medicine, and Physical Medicine in the Mt. Vernon/Central Ohio and Columbus area.  He is available for speaking engagements on a variety of holistic medical topics.  This material can be distributed free to the public as long as there is no remuneration and credit is given to the author.