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Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and DM2 which was first defined by the WHO (World Health Organization) in 1998. “The WHO definition was the first to tie together the key components of insulin resistance, obesity, dyslipidemia and hypertension. The definition mandates that insulin resistance be present; without it, even if all the other criteria were met, the patient would not have metabolic syndrome. The WHO definition also allows patients with T2D to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if they meet the other criteria.” (PMID: 19407331)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five major weight loss medications available for weight management, which are orlistat, phentermine, phentermine/topiramate extended-release, naltrexone/bupropion sustained-release, and liraglutide (PMID: 34815532). All of these drugs are known to have side effects, so patients will ask us what formulas they can take to minimize the consequences of CV and DM2.
Along with counseling someone on dietary and lifestyle changes that they can make to improve their insulin resistance, I would look at what signs and symptoms the patient is presenting with. From there, I could determine which TCM pattern(s) that overall fits the presentation. I also look at recent research to see what would benefit the patient most in regards to formula modifications and/or additional supplementation.
For example, a recent real-world comparative cohort study demonstrated that “Chinese herbal medicine is associated with higher body weight reduction than liraglutide among the obese population” (PMID: 36160410). Berberine, an alkaloid from Huang Lian (Coptidis rhizoma), has been compared in efficacy to metformin (PMID: 29515798) and Ozempic, although the research on this is still pending.
Several studies have shown that Shan Zha (Fr. Crataegus pinnatifida) can have beneficial effects on controlling and treating high blood sugar, dyslipidemia, obesity and atherosclerosis. “Its leaves, fruits and seeds have various active substances such as flavonoids, triterpenic acids and sesquiterpenes, which through different mechanisms can be beneficial in metabolic syndrome.
Flavonoids found in the leaves of hawthorn can significantly reduce atherosclerotic lesion areas, the fruit extracts contain two triterpenic acids (oleanolic acid and ursolic acid), that have the ability to inhibit the acyl-coA-cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) enzyme and as a result reduce very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.” (PMID: 31217924). Chinese hawthorne berries may be used as a single herb tea daily (with contraindications considered), as well as Jiaogulan tea, Gynostemma pentaphyllum. (PMID: 23431428)
Huang P. L. (2009). A comprehensive definition for metabolic syndrome. Disease models & mechanisms, 2(5-6), 231–237. https://doi.org/10.1242/dmm.001180
Müller, T. D., Blüher, M., Tschöp, M. H., & DiMarchi, R. D. (2022). Anti-obesity drug discovery: advances and challenges. Nature reviews. Drug discovery, 21(3), 201–223. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41573-021-00337-8
Liao, Y. N., Chen, H. Y., Yang, C. W., Lee, P. W., Hsu, C. Y., Huang, Y. T., & Yang, T. H. (2022). Chinese herbal medicine is associated with higher body weight reduction than liraglutide among the obese population: A real-world comparative cohort study. Frontiers in pharmacology, 13, 978814. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.978814
Dehghani, S., Mehri, S., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2019). The effects of Crataegus pinnatifida (Chinese hawthorn) on metabolic syndrome: A review. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences, 22(5), 460–468. https://doi.org/10.22038/IJBMS.2019.31964.7678
Huyen, V. T., Phan, D. V., Thang, P., Hoa, N. K., & Ostenson, C. G. (2013). Gynostemma
Fan, Q., Xu, F., Liang, B., & Zou, X. (2021). The Anti-Obesity Effect of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Lipid Metabolism. 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.696603
pentaphyllum Tea Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2013, 765383. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/765383
Herbal therapy has been championed by China and other Eastern countries for centuries. As Western medicine looks for more natural alternatives with fewer side effects, herbal medicine is gaining a foothold in the treatment of several common health concerns. Read on for advice from the Cleveland Clinic and learn what recent research has to say about herbalism. continue reading
Acupuncture and herbal medicine often go hand-in-hand. Herbal medicine is often used in conjunction with acupuncture, as appropriate, to support the body’s healing process. Just like a traditional medical prescription, herbs are prescribed by Oriental Medicine practitioners to address a variety of health concerns. They are often prescribed as formulas rather than specific individual herbs and are tailored to the needs of the patient. And just like traditional prescription medicine, herbs are adjusted as the patient’s needs change. Some Western hospitals are now utilizing Chinese herbs in their treatment protocols. For example, the Cleveland Clinic has a licensed and certified Chinese herbalist on staff. continue reading
A study published by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the holistic effects of acupuncture treatments. The study looked at how acupuncture treatments were conducted and evaluated. One of the areas this study looked at is how acupuncture influences the function of the brain. By using functional MRI imaging, the researchers were able to see that certain areas of the brain were stimulated during the acupuncture treatments. The study confirmed acupuncture on specific points can activate motivation centers in the brain, thus leading to increased physical motivation in the participants.
Everybody experiences times when they have lack motivation. Lack of motivation can be caused by many things: the weather, nutritional deficiencies, lack of physical activity/sunlight/sleep and yes, also by physical distancing, lack of routine, stress, threat of viral infection and unexpected semi-quarantining for over the last two months!
Motivation brings yang energy into our lives, and a lack of it is detrimental to one’s health. Even though we all know we should be exercising, eating nutritiously and getting proper sleep, many of us can easily fall into patterns where this is not the case. These unhealthy patterns can become bad habits that can actually help create and perpetuate depression, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain and digestive ailments, just to name a few. We might tell ourselves that we don’t have the time or motivation, but these are just negative (and non-productive) dialogues that we have within ourselves. EVERYBODY has time to care for themselves. Self-care is a conscious choice that we must make.
Acupuncture/acupressure, Chinese herbs and lifestyle recommendations (such as dietary adjustments, meditation and breathing techniques) can help to increase your energy. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lack of motivation may be seen as either a deficiency of one’s constitution and/or nutritional intake and/or as stagnation along the energetic pathways that run throughout the body. Over time, this lack of movement frequently develops into depression. The good news is that TCM can address both the underlying causes of depression (that may manifest as lack of motivation), as well as the symptoms that you or a loved one may be experiencing. In TCM, this is known as treating “both the root and branch”.
The reason TCM works so well at addressing mental health issues is because it looks at the person holistically. When people go to their western doctor and tell them that they have no motivation, they’re frequently prescribed antidepressants, but the short-sightedness of that approach is that the underlying causes of the issue (or “the root”) are still not addressed. TCM looks at everything: the body, the mind, the environment and the emotions. This allows for treatments to be customized to the needs of the patient instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
If you or someone you love is lacking in motivation or dealing with mental health symptoms, know that you’re not alone and that TCM can help. Schedule a virtual treatment today and we will create a customized care package for you to help bring some balance back in your life!
We often say in Traditional Chinese Medicine that the liver is the system most easily susceptible to stress. Stress knots the Qi (energy) and makes its flow stagnate – this happens most quickly in the liver energy system. The liver, in TCM, is in charge of the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body. This means that if Qi flow is impaired (ie, by stress), the liver system will suffer. Likewise, if the liver energy system is weak or stagnant (from lifestyle choices, diet, trauma, emotional stress, illness or genetic factors), Qi flow throughout the body may be impaired. continue reading