Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine: Effective Support for People with Cancer

By Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom, Boulder, CO

Getting a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most devastating moments in a person's life. With every diagnosis comes the fear of death or worse, worries about a long period of declining heath and suffering. Western medicine has made powerful steps forward in the treatment of different cancers and the survival rate is improving. Unfortunately, some of the treatments including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy leave the patient in a weakened state with side effects that may include nausea, vomiting, peripheral neuropathy, tingling, fatigue, joint pain, depression, decline in cognitive function, malnourishment and low platelets or blood counts. This is where acupuncture and Chinese medicine really shine. According to David Scrimgeour, Boulder Acupuncturist, these treatment modalities have been used over time to support a person undergoing cancer treatments or recovering from cancer.  People have regained their health and vitality sooner and have experienced a higher quality of life using these complementary modalities and have a lower rate of recurrence.

David Scrimgeour identifies several areas where acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can benefit a person undergoing cancer treatment or recovering from cancer. First, for a person going through conventional treatments, acupuncture can help with the side effect, including peripheral neuropathy, nausea, pain and fatigue. It can also speed post-surgical healing and can help the person have a higher quality of life during the treatments. Once the treatments are finished, Scrimgeour claims that there is a profound benefit of acupuncture and Chinese medicine to support the immune system to help prevent future recurrence and to help the person regain their overall energy, health and vitality.  Finally, at the conclusion of treatments, he recommends a very gradual detoxification program as very often the liver and kidneys have been strongly affected by chemotherapy.

Scrimgeour finds that Chinese formulas and functional medicine can provide enormous benefits for a person with cancer. For example, he recommends a Chinese formula made of the tonic herbs and mushrooms designed specifically for cancer patients to boost immune function and strengthen the core energy of the body -- Supreme Immune Tonic or 9405. Patients have also benefited from a Japanese herbal product, AHCC, that has a great deal of research showing that it increases natural killer cell activity. Providing an effective nutritional protocol for people recovering from cancer is also one of his specialties. The goal, says David Scrimgeour, is to ensure that people have all the support they need to lead a healthy, active life and to recover on the physical, mental and emotional levels.

David Scrimgeour practices Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at his clinic in Boulder, Colorado. For more information about acupuncture for cancer support, he can be reached at 303 413-9596 or through his website: www.davidscrimgeour.com.

Kathy Thorpe is a natural health writer and blogger who has been writing about alternative approaches to health and wellness for the past ten years. Prior to that, she taught English at U.C. Berkeley and at the University of Colorado. She can be reached at 303 583-0179.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Begin your Day with Dr. Laura's Anti-Inflammation Shake!

Dr. Laura's Anti-Inflammation Shake

Start your morning right with this powerful blend of anti-oxidants designed to reduce inflammation in
your body and enhance healing. You will notice from the first day that you have more energy, vitality and mental focus.

(You may not have all of these ingredients but you do want berries, greens, a banana, some seeds or seed butter, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne. Use all organic ingredients whenever possible!)

½ c water or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2-3 ice cubes
1 handful organic blueberries, raspberries or blackberries (fresh or frozen)
2 handfuls organic kale, chard or spinach*
1 scoop of Nanogreens or Green Vibrance
1 t. turmeric
1 t. cinnamon
1 T maca powder
1 T bee pollen
1 T cacao nibs
pinch of cayenne
1 banana
1 T sunflower nut butter or 2 T sunflower seeds

(other options)
½ c. organic fresh or frozen pineapple
1 T organic pumpkin seeds
½ t. grated fresh ginger

Here's a tip so it isn't overwhelming to have everything ready for a quick morning shake.  As soon as you get home from the grocery store, devein the kale or chard and cut in ribbons, soak in a salad spinner and spin until dry – store in a bag in the fridge ready to use for shakes, salads, or stir fry.

Laura Scrimgeour, M.D is a surgical resident in Providence, RI, and whether it's staying alert during 30 hour shifts or workin 80 hours a week, she relies on this shake to give her energy and keep her mind working at it's best. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Powerful Fatigue Fighters! Increase Energy and Vitality with these Adaptogenic Herbs

Your alarm goes off and it’s a struggle to get up.  You have a full day of things you need or want to do but feel too tired to do them. After your morning coffee, you have a little more energy, but that wears off by noon. In the afternoon, you start to feel drowsy and turn to another cup of coffee or 5-hour energy – giving you a short boost. Then you hit the wall. 

For centuries, people have turned to the highly-valued Chinese tonic herbs, known as adaptogens, to replenish their energy reserves naturally, support the immune system and adrenals and bring the body back into balance. These are five of the most prized energy-boosting herbs that will restore your vital energy.


Ginseng is not a stimulant but rather an adaptogen that supports the body’s natural response to stress, anxiety and physical and mental exertion. It helps replenish depleted adrenals and enhances energy, memory, focus and overall vitality. A recent double-blind study tested the effectiveness of panax ginseng in patients suffering from fatigue. The study concluded that patients taking ginseng experienced increased energy as well as greater improvement in cognitive function and lower levels of free radicals in the blood.


Cordyceps is one of the most valuable mushrooms for supporting the immune system, increasing energy and endurance. Research has shown that Cordyceps increases energy by raising ATP levels (the primary energy carrier in all living organisms), by lowering levels of lactic acid (which make us feel tired) and by increasing insulin sensitivity which gives cells more access to fuel for energy and also lowers one’s risk for diabetes in the long run. It is also a powerful tonic for the lungs.

Rhodiola is an adaptogen that strengthens the body’s response to physical, mental, and emotional stressors. In a study with physicians on night call it was shown that the rhodiola group had a significant reduction in stress-induced fatigue as well as improved physical and mental performance. Rhodiola also improves exercise performance and endurance by activating the synthesis or re-synthesis of ATP and stimulating energy repair processes after exercise. In addition to increasing energy, Rhodiola enhances healthy sleep, lifts depression, reduces anxiety and helps keep blood sugar in a healthy range.

Eleuthero Ginseng
Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, can boost energy, sharpen mental concentration and help improve strength and stamina. It is a prized herb for athletes to naturally enhance their performance. Studies of Eleuthero’s effects on human performance show that the plant increases tolerance to a broad range of stress factors, including heat, noise and increased exercise. The extract of the eleuthero root increases energy, work output, endurance, athletic performance and mental alertness. It also shows remarkable protective benefits under conditions of oxygen deprivation, so it is beneficial for people who will be going to high altitudes.


As an adaptogen, gynostemma (or jiaogulan) increases energy, endurance, stamina while reducing mental and emotional stress. It also helps stabilize blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity. Considered the “herb of immortality,” gynostemma is also known to extend longevity, support the immune system, lower cholesterol, lower high blood pressure and improve heart function.

 So turn your fatigue into energy with these powerful herbs. You can try any of these herbs individually by boiling them and making a tea.  Or, you can take the formula, Supreme Immune Tonic by Six Persimmons Apothecary that has all of the above herbs prepared in a potent 10:1 concentration.  It is available at Six Persimmons Apothecary.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Alopecia Areata: Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Regenerate Hair with a 90.32% Success Rate

by Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies are proving to be the most successful treatments for Alopecia or hair loss.

What causes Alopecia?
Although Alopecia is not well understood, some of the causes include:

·      an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles
·      a stress reaction (worry or anxiety which impairs spleen function and reduces the flow or quality of blood to the hair follicles)
·      hypothyroidism
·      the result of chemotherapy or radiation used in cancer treatments
·      anemia
·      genetic male-pattern balding
·      topically applied chemicals to the scalp that damage the hair follicles
·      heavy metals or even exposure of the hair follicles to shower water with heavy metals

Western Medical Treatment
Western medical treatments usually include corticosteroid injections or topical steroid creams which may decrease the hair loss if it is caused from inflammation. Hair loss often improves during treatment but often recurs once treatment is stopped because the underlying cause has not been addressed.

Chinese Medical Approach
Chinese medical doctors see that alopecia is caused by a deficiency of blood, blood heat or blood stasis which causes the hair follicles to be undernourished. Deficiency of liver qi and kidney qi may also cause alopecia because the liver stores the blood which nourishes the hair and the kidneys produce bone marrow which is responsible for the growth of hair. Treatment focuses on acupuncture and herbs that will move and nourish the blood while nourishing the liver and kidneys.

Researchers have recently published a study concluding that acupuncture combined with the herbal formula Huoxue Shengfa is safe and effective for alleviating alopecia areata. Their research was published in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2015.

In this study, participants received 7-star acupuncture treatments twice per week on the hair loss areas and they orally consumed the Huoxue Shengfa decoction three times per day for three months.

The test results showed that the total recovery rate for the treatment group was 90.32% with a recurrence rate of 9.68%.

The theory behind choosing the formula Huoxue Shengfa is that the doctors concluded that it is best to resolve blood stasis in order to treat alopecia areata.  Resolving blood stasis helps to promote qi and blood circulation, thereby supplying vital nutrients to the hair.  In this herbal formula, Dang Gui has been shown to regulate blood platelet aggregation and benefit the circulation in the blood vessels while Dan Shen helps to promote blood circulation and repair tissues. The other herbs in the formula also build or move the blood. 

The 7-star acupuncture treatments promote blood circulation, especially to the scalp, reduce inflammation and improve follicle health. As soon as blood flow increases, nutrient levels at different areas of the scalp are replenished to encourage hair growth.

David Scrimgeour, Licensed Acupuncturist in Boulder Colorado, has used this protocol with his patients with success. “It works,” says Scrimgeour, “but you must be patient because it takes three months for the hair follicles and new hair cells to regenerate.  I start seeing new hair growth around 7 weeks with good growth in three months.”  Scrimgeour states that not only does the alopecia resolve, but hair all over the head becomes fuller and thicker.  

Diet and Nutrition to Support Hair Growth
In addition to the herbal formula and acupuncture, David Scrimgeour also recommends including an abundance of dark green leafy vegetables, quality lean protein, seaweed, and brightly colored foods that are valued for building the blood such as goji berries, dried apricots, purple grapes, blackberries and raspberries. He also recommends bone broths to support the liver and the building of marrow. 

Protect the Scalp
As far as protecting the scalp, Scrimgeour reminds patients to choose only a mild organic shampoo and use a water filter for the shower.  People often think about the water they drink, but they forget that the water used on their hair and scalp daily may have heavy metals (especially if it is well water) or chlorine and fluoride (for city water).

Two Supplements for Hair Growth
Scrimgeour also recommends two supplements to support hair growth:  Biotin (5 mg/day) which improves keratin or the protein that makes up hair and nails and N’Acetyl Cysteine (1,000 mg/day) which is an anti-oxidant that promotes hair growth. 

Scalp Massage and Headstands!
Two other things you can do to promote scalp health and hair growth:  every night before bed, massage your scalp for five minutes, and when you wake in the morning, do a headstand or yoga inversion poses to bring blood circulation to the head. 

With Acupuncture and Chinese herbs as well as some of these recommendations, you'll soon be noticing new hair growth as well as a healthier scalp. 

David Scrimgeour specializes in treating chronic illness and practices Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at his clinic in Boulder, Colorado. For more information, he can be reached at 303 413-9596 or through his website: www.davidscrimgeour.com.

The herbal formula Huoxue Shengfa is available in a formula called Hair Restore by Six Persimmons Apothecary

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What's In Your Winter Medicine Cabinet?

by Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom
After a long, warm autumn, winter showed up just in time for Thanksgiving. And with it came the common cold. People on planes, trains and buses were coughing and sneezing. And now, people at offices and schools everywhere are getting colds. So how can you and your family be prepared for the cold season?

Beyond washing your hands often and staying away from people who are sick, the following recommendations are the most effective items to have in your medicine cabinet to prevent and shorten the common cold:

  1. Cold Nip is a combination of three classical Chinese herbal formulas for the cold with three anti-viral herbs.  It works about 80% of the time while most other remedies work about 40%. Take at the very first signs and chances are, you won’t get the cold. You can also take it preventively if you will be around anyone sick or will be traveling by plane.
  2. Emulsified Vitamin D –Take one drop (1,000 – 2,000 IUs) daily for prevention and take up to 50,000 a day if you are getting sick.
  3. Zinc – Optizinc 30 mg/day or zinc lozenges. This infection fighter will help stop a cold by preventing the virus from replicating.
  4. Sinus Congestion: At the first signs of a cold, use a neti pot twice a day and add a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of baking soda. This will help flush out the virus and shorten the cold. The Chinese herbal formula Pueraria N will help resolve the congestion and open the sinuses. Argentyn 23 Silver Hydrosol nasal spray has antibacterial properties to help prevent a sinus infection.
  5. Sore Throat – if you have a fever or severe symptoms, get checked for strep. If not, gargle with salt water and spray with Argentyn 23 Silver Hydrosol Throat spray. Manuka honey throat lozenges will also help calm a sore throat.
  6. Cough – if you have a fever or a severe cough, see your doctor. The Chinese formula Platycodon & Fritilliaria helps transform phlegm, quiet the cough and calm inflammation in the lungs. Golden Lotus Cough Drops also help calm a cough.
With these recommendations, you’ll be prepared for the cold season. Call 303 583-0179 if you would like to make an appointment for help beyond the common cold: the flu, bronchitis, mono or other conditions.  Most of these products should be available at www.sixpersimmonsapothecary.com.

Stay healthy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Treating Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

By Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom, Boulder, Colorado

It’s spring and with it comes an explosion of life and blossoming all around us.  But for some 50 million adults and 8 million children, spring, summer and fall are also allergy seasons and the symptoms can be so severe as to keep people from going outside on high pollen days.  Typical spring and summer allergens include grasses, pollens and mold, whereas fall allergies are often triggered by ragweed, dust and mold.

What causes seasonal allergies? An allergic reaction is an exaggerated response by the immune system to a foreign substance. These substances are detected as harmless in non-allergic people, but for people with allergies, the body interprets the foreign substance as potentially harmful and releases histamine which produces symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, a sore throat and red, swollen, itchy eyes. The pollens and dust may be triggers for an allergic reaction, but a malfunctioning immune system is the main cause. Our immune systems have been bombarded with chemicals, pesticides and hormones in addition to the normal stresses of life.  As a result, they have become oversensitive.

Western treatments for allergies include: avoiding or reducing one’s exposure to the allergens, medications, especially anti-histamines and corticosteroids, and allergy shots. With allergy shots, the allergen is given in small, increasing doses so as to desensitize the person to the allergen. It may take months or even a year for results and you many not become desensitized to all triggers.  The problem with western medications for allergies is that anti- histamines have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and disorientation whereas corticosteroids can have serious side effects including immunodeficiency, adrenal insufficiency, hyperglycemia, osteoporosis, cataracts and glaucoma. Furthermore, these medications do not address the root cause.

David Scrimgeour, acupuncturist in Boulder, Colorado, successfully treats people with allergies every year.  The objective, says Scrimgeour, is not only to relieve the symptoms but also to treat the underlying immune system imbalance that is causing this hyper-reactivity.  

Scrimgeour uses acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas to address allergies.  Acupuncture can help to control the body’s inflammatory response to allergies, help treat what is known in Chinese medicine as “wind invasion” and bring the body back into a higher state of balance.  He also recommends a Chinese herbal formula, Supreme Allergy Formula, that combines herbs with specific properties that open nasal passages, transform phlegm, clear mucus from the airways, relieve itchiness in the nose and eyes and calm inflammation.  Some of the herbs also help relieve a sore, swollen throat, support lung function and support the immune system. “I have had very good results with acupuncture and Chinese herbs to relieve allergy symptoms and restore a healthy immune response,” maintains Scrimgeour.

David Scrimgeour also recommends: quercetin, a bioflavonoid  prominent in apples and onions that is known to stabilize mast cells and prevent immune cells from releasing histamines that cause the allergic reactions;  bromelain, a natural enzyme from pineapple that calms inflammation;  and supplemental or food sources of probiotics.  He supports an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, fresh fruit, lean protein and plant-based fats.  Of course, he also advises patients to avoid allergic triggers whenever possible, invest in a good air filter and take a shower if they have been outside during high pollen times. 

With these recommendations, people have been able to reduce their allergy symptoms significantly and get outside and enjoy all that spring, summer and fall have to offer. 
David Scrimgeour specializes in treating allergies and practices Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at his clinic in Boulder, Colorado. He is also an acupuncturist for the Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette and Erie areas in Colorado. For more information, he can be reached at 303 413-9596 or through his website: www.davidscrimgeour.com.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Treating Hypertension with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

by Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom
Elevated blood pressure is a major health problem affecting as many as a third of the US population over 60. Studies estimate that 62% of stroke, 49% of ischemic heart disease and 14% of other cardiovascular diseases can be attributed to hypertension. The problem with high blood pressure is that too much force is exerted on the arteries as blood is pumped through the body. This results not only in eventual damage to the blood vessels themselves but to other organs as well.

To assess blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic pressures are measured. Systolic represents the maximum pressure exerted in the arteries as the heart contracts, and diastolic is the minimum pressure in those vessels between cardiac contractions. Although blood pressure will often rise slightly as a person ages, blood pressure is considered normal if the top number (systolic pressure) is between 90 and 120 and the bottom number (diastolic) is between 60 and 80 mm Hg.

Although there are several causes of hypertension including aging, recent studies have shown that an overactive sympathetic nervous system is one of the major causes of high blood pressure. When the sympathetic nervous system becomes over-stimulated, it causes vasoconstriction of the arteries of the heart. And long-term vasoconstriction can lead to blood vessel damage, stroke and damage to the vital organs of the body.

High blood pressure is managed in Western medicine with several types of anti-hypertensive drugs. Diuretics help the kidneys remove salt and water which lowers the volume of blood in the vessels. Beta-Blockers make the heart beat more slowly so blood passes though the vessels with less force. ACE Inhibitors prevent the body from making angiotension II which tightens blood vessels so that blood vessels remain relaxed, lowering overall pressure. Calcium Channel Blockers or CCBs, prevent calcium from entering the muscle cells in the heart and blood vessels which slows the heart rate and keeps the vessels from tightening. Vasodilators relax muscles in blood vessel walls and blood flows more easily. While effective at lowering blood pressure, all of these drugs have side effects that range from a chronic dry cough to headaches, dizziness, fainting, weight gain, insulin resistance, depression, and erectile dysfunction.

So are there natural ways to treat hypertension?

Boulder acupuncturist, David Scrimgeour, L.Ac. maintains that many cases of hypertension can be treated successfully with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. “Acupuncture can lower blood pressure by down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system and by bringing the body back into homeostasis,” says Scrimgeour. “Many of my patients are able to have normal blood pressure using acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas and by making dietary and lifestyle changes. And with these changes, patients see remarkable improvement in their overall health and vitality as well.”

A recent study conducted at the University of California at Irvine in August 2015 concluded that acupuncture combined with electro-stimulation can lower blood pressure rates by as much as 50%. According to Dr. John C. Longhurst, director of the Samueli Center, "This study suggests that acupuncture can be an excellent complement to other medical treatments, especially for those treating the cardiac system.”  There have also been studies showing that acupuncture outperforms Captopril, a commonly prescribed ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure. One of these studies concluded that electro-acupuncture was significantly more effective than the Western medication at controlling blood pressure. A German study comparing true acupuncture to antihypertensive medications concluded that blood pressure reductions with acupuncture are comparable to monotherapies with ACE inhibitors.

Scrimgeour explains that one of the mechanisms by which acupuncture lowers blood pressure is by down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system. Electro-acupuncture activates neurons in the brain which inhibit SNS activity by stimulating the opioid system which includes endorphins and encephalin. It also inhibits nociception which involves the encoding and processing of harmful stimuli in the nervous system. By inhibiting nociception and increasing the release of endorphins, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over which relaxes the body and lowers blood pressure.

In addition to acupuncture, David Scrimgeour also uses several Chinese herbal formulas such as Bupleurum & Dragonbone and Gambir to help control hypertension. “These formulas work by calming an up-regulated sympathetic nervous system which is often a contributor to hypertension,” says Scrimgeour. He also recommends the following dietary and lifestyle changes with his patients: 1) engaging in regular exercise including some cardiovascular exercise; 2) reducing grains and carbs in one’s diet and increasing fresh organic vegetables and fruits; and 3) supplementing with Vitamin C and Omega 3s. Finally, he recommends reducing stress levels with meditation, yoga or Tai Chi.

David Scrimgeour, L.Ac. specializes in treating hypertension as well as other cardiac disorders and chronic health issues. He practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine at his clinic in Boulder, Colorado. He is also an acupuncturist for the Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette and Erie areas in Colorado. For more information, he can be reached at 303 413-9596 or through his website: www.davidscrimgeour.com.

Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom is a natural health writer and blogger who has been writing about alternative approaches to health and wellness for the past ten years. Prior to that, she taught English at U.C. Berkeley and at the University of Colorado.  She can be reached at 303 583-0179.

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine: Effective Support for People with Cancer

By Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom, Boulder, CO Getting a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most devastating moments in a person's life....