Barefoot Doctor's Journal

Take control of your health with this guide to natural health and healing. Get expert advice to help you alleviate pain and live healthy naturally. Access to tools, information and opportunities.

Take control of your health

For 5000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine has help people to relieve pain and achieve a healthy longevity naturally.

A comprehensive guide to natural health and healing, the Barefoot Doctor’s Journal seeks to empower it's readers to take control of their own health, find their own inspiration, help create healthier communities and share the adventure with whoever is interested. Internationally recognized experts in the fields of healthy aging and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Living Younger Longer Institute has helped hundreds of people each year to live healthy naturally.

News You Can Use!

Providing members with the latest scientific research on the ancient healing secrets of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Get information, access to tools, and enjoyable opportunities for a lifetime of active adventure!

June 12, 2022
Joe Brady

Integrative Medicine for Chronic Pain

Beyond the Toolbox

With over 100,000 deaths in the US, last year from opioid drugs the drugs we use to control pain have become a major cause of death in the country. Fortunately, much modern scientific research has shown that controlling pain is not just about drugs and surgery. When it comes to treating chronic pain these days people have many evidence-based treatments available.

Summary of some of the research

  • A 2017 review looked at complementary approaches with the opioid crisis in mind, to see which ones might be helpful for relieving chronic pain and reducing the need for opioid therapy to manage pain. There was evidence that acupuncture, yoga, relaxation techniques, tai chi, massage, and osteopathic or spinal manipulation may have some benefit for chronic pain, but only for acupuncture was there evidence that the technique could reduce a patient’s need for opioids. 
  • A 2017 evaluation of the research on acupuncture found evidence that it has a small beneficial effect on acute low-back pain and a moderate beneficial effect on chronic low-back pain. Based on this evaluation, a 2017 clinical practice guideline (guidance for health care providers) from the American College of Physicians (ACP) included acupuncture among the nondrug treatment options for management of both acute and chronic low-back pain.
  • Massage therapy might provide short-term relief from low-back pain, but the evidence is not of high quality. Massage has not been shown to have long-term benefits for low-back pain. The 2017 ACP guideline included massage therapy as an option for acute but not chronic low-back pain.
  • A 2017 research review concluded that mindfulness-based stress reduction is associated with improvements in pain intensity and physical functioning in low-back pain, compared to usual care, but the effect may be small and short term. The 2017 ACP guideline included mindfulness-based stress reduction as an option for chronic but not acute low-back pain.
  • There is some evidence that progressive relaxation may help relieve low-back pain, but studies on this topic have been small and not of the highest quality. The 2017 ACP guideline included progressive relaxation as an option for chronic but not acute low-back pain.
  • Spinal manipulation appears to be as effective as other therapies commonly used for chronic low-back pain, such as physical therapy, exercise, and standard medical care. The 2017 ACP guideline included spinal manipulation as an option for both acute and chronic low-back pain.
  • A 2018 evaluation of the research on yoga for low-back pain by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that it improved pain and function in both the short term (1 to 6 months) and intermediate term (6 to 12 months). The effects of yoga were similar to those of exercise. The 2017 ACP guideline included yoga as an option for chronic but not acute low-back pain.
  • A 2016 evaluation of the research on herbal products for low-back pain found evidence that cayenne, administered topically (applied to the skin) can reduce pain. Two other herbal products used topically, comfrey and lavender essential oil, and two herbs used orally, white willow bark and devil’s claw,may also be helpful, but the evidence for these herbs is not as strong as that for cayenne.
  • Studies of prolotherapy (a treatment involving repeated injections of irritant solutions) for low-back pain have had inconsistent results.
  • For more information, see the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) webpage on low-back pain.

Watch the video below for a Video of the Grand Rounds from Harvard Medical School.

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June 5, 2022
Joe Brady

Managing Stress in a Stressful World

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter challenges in life. When you’re under stress, your body reacts by releasing hormones that produce the “fight-or-flight” response. Your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure go up, your muscles tense, and you sweat more. Occasional stress is a normal coping mechanism. However, long-term stress (also called chronic stress) may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, and other symptoms. Stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

There is no drug to cure stress. But we do have access to a built-in “stress reset button.” It’s called the relaxation response. In contrast to the stress response, the relaxation response slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases oxygen consumption and levels of stress hormones.

Some people use psychological and physical approaches, such as Tai Chi, Qigongyogamindfulness, or relaxation techniques, to release tension and counteract the ill effects of stress.

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May 22, 2022
Joe Brady

Understanding Acupuncture

Advice from the National Institutes of Health News

Acupuncture is a traditional medicine that’s been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. Its proponents say it can do everything from relieving pain to bringing a general sense of wellness. Others think the only benefits you get from acupuncture are in your head. Recent studies have found that both sides may have a point. Acupuncture can be effective for certain health problems, such as some types of chronic pain. But how it works is something of a mystery.

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points in the body. The methods can vary, but the most well-known type in the United States is the insertion of thin metal needles through the skin. According to the latest estimates, at least 3 million adults nationwide use acupuncture every year.

Acupuncture is part of a family of procedures that originated in China. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body contains a delicate balance of 2 opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle. Yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Health is achieved through balancing the 2. The disease comes from an imbalance that leads to a blockage in the flow of qi—the vital energy or life force thought to regulate your spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. Acupuncture is intended to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain health.

Researchers don’t know how these ideas translate to our Western understanding of medicine, explains Dr. Richard L. Nahin of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But the fact is that many well-designed studies have found that acupuncture can help with certain conditions, such as back pain, knee pain, headaches, and osteoarthritis.

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May 15, 2022
Joe Brady

Interviews with Dr. David Eisenberg, Harvard Medical School

David M. Eisenberg, MD, is the Director of Culinary Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Executive Director of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, and Founding Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (2000-2010).

David M. Eisenberg, MD, is the director of culinary nutrition and adjunct associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Eisenberg served as the Bernard Osher Distinguished Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, founding director of the Osher Research Center, and the founding chief of the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Harvard Medical School. In 1979, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, David served as the first U.S. medical exchange student to the People’s Republic of China. In 1993, he was the medical advisor to the PBS Series, Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers. He has served as an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federation of State Medical Boards with regard to complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine research, education, and policy. From 2003-to 2005 David served on a National Academy of Sciences Committee responsible for the Institute of Medicine report entitled, ―The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by the American Public.

David M. Eisenberg Biography David M Eisenberg | Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School
Resources:
Unconventional Medicine in the United States — Prevalence, Costs, and Patterns of Use | NEJM
Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: results of a follow-up national survey – PubMed (nih.gov)

Learn More and Register for May 17th Osher 20th Anniversary Symposium

Watch the Six-Part Interview with
Dr. David Eisenberg in the lead-up to the Osher Center’s 20th Anniversary Symposium on May 17, 2022. 

Stay tuned for the final interview with Professor Ted Kaptchuk, founding faculty member, and watch the previous installment of interview clips with Dr. Helene Langevin on our Osher YouTube Channel.

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May 9, 2022
Joe Brady

Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits

Each person’s “healthiest self” is different. We have different bodies, minds, living situations, and people influencing our lives. Each area can impact your overall health. This means we each have a unique set of health needs. Use these wellness toolkits developed by the National Institutes of Health, to find ways to improve your well-being in any area you’d like.

Whole person health involves looking at the whole person—not just separate organs or body systems—and considering multiple factors that promote either health or disease. It means helping and empowering individuals, families, communities, and populations to improve their health in multiple interconnected biological, behavioral, social, and environmental areas. Instead of treating a specific disease, whole-person health focuses on restoring health, promoting resilience, and preventing diseases across the lifespan.

Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits offer science-based health tips in five different areas. Learn simple ways to prevent disease. Find tips to improve your relationships, emotional and physical well-being, and surroundings. 

Learn more about how each of the following domains offer opportunities to improve your health and well-being

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