Acupuncture may be more effective than ibuprofen for lumbar disc herniation

Acupuncture has a more favourable effect in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation than lumbar traction and ibuprofen, according to a recent study published by the BMJ.

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Scientists from Guangzhou, China conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of randomised controlled trials in leading scientific databases to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation (LDH).

After an extensive search, the scientists narrowed down the study to thirty randomised controlled trials, involving 3503 clients, that were published in either English or Chinese and compared the effects of acupuncture with western medicine, lumbar traction, tui na and other techniques for LDH.

The results indicated that acupuncture alone had a ‘more favourable effect in the treatment of LDH than lumbar traction, ibuprofen, diclofenac sodium, meloxicam, mannitol plus dexamethasone and mecobalamin, fugui gutong capsule plus ibuprofen, mannitol plus dexamethasone, loxoprofen and huoxue zhitong decoction.’

Access the full study here

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Indoor air pollution as harmful as car fumes, study finds

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The shampoo, deodorants, air fresheners, cleaning products and even perfumes in our homes could be creating as much air pollution as the transportation sector, a new study finds.

Conventional wisdom maintains that outside air pollution from cars, industry and public transport are the main sources of air pollution. While this was true in previous decades, today particle-forming emissions from chemical products are about twice as high as those from transportation. According to this new study, as cars get cleaner, VOCs come increasingly from consumer products.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) atmospheric scientist Jessica Gilman, a co-author of the new paper, attributes this disparity partially to differences in how we store those products versus fuels. “Gasoline is stored in closed, hopefully airtight, containers and the VOCs in gasoline are burned for energy,” she said. “But volatile chemical products used in common solvents and personal care products are literally designed to evaporate. You wear perfume or use scented products so that you or your neighbor can enjoy the aroma. You don’t do this with gasoline,” Gilman said.

What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are any chemical compound that evaporates into the atmosphere at room temperature, potentially causing health effects within the environment.

Many VOC concentrations are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. They are emitted by a wide array of products, including paints, varnishes and wax, as well as many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. It is thought around 350 different types of VOCs exist in our indoor environment.

What effects can VOCs have?

VOCs can react with the atmosphere to produce either ozone or particulate matter—both of which are regulated in many countries due to the potential health impacts, including lung damage.

There’s a wide range of long- and short-term health effects associated with exposure to VOCs, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

How can you reduce VOCs in your home?

Store paint, paint thinners, pesticides, particle board, fuel, cleaners, and similar materials in a detached shed or garage to protect your family from VOCs.

Let fresh air in by opening a window, or using exhaust fans in the kitchen or bathroom.

Decorating with houseplants is an easy, inexpensive way to absorb VOCs and other toxins. Some of the best plants for cleaning your air are aloe, spider plants, chrysanthemums, Chinese evergreens, and peace lilies.

Cleaning regularly can reduce VOCs already in your home, and can be done without introducing new VOCs. Use lemon juice and olive oil as a healthy wood polish, or a few drops of tea tree oil mixed with water to prevent mildew in your bathroom.

Dig into DIY deodorisers. Herbs and flowers can make a lovely potpourri, and simmering cinnamon sticks, orange slices, cloves, or other spices on the stove will produce a welcoming aroma. Natural essential oils are also popular as air fresheners.

Read about the study here. You can also learn more about making your own products with essential oils at our 2018 Training Congress, where Penny Price will be running a session entitled Making Aromatherapy Skincare Products. Find out more on our website.

 

 

Music can help clients change their tune

piano-instrument-music-keys-159420In our last issue of International Therapist, our regular case study feature came from Nicolle Mitchell, who discussed her treatment of a client living with dementia. We documented her treatment plan and approach, as well as the client’s history.

We’ve now received an update via Facebook from Nicolle, which touches on other aspects of her client’s treatment. She writes:

This gentleman, is a lover of jazz & musician. He is usually very vocal & often does not know when he is being vocal which I interpret as frustration, distress and having unmet needs. He cannot walk or see. Within minutes he had quietened and started to pick out rhythms with his fingers. I quietly watched & delighted in his joy & engagement.

We’ve also looked at other benefits music can confer. In our latest issue of International Therapist, we hear from Dr Stella Compton Dickinson about ways that music can improve wellbeing.

You can read Nicolle’s original case study here. Her update on Facebook is here. And our latest article, on the benefits of music, is here.

We also love hearing from our members about their work. If you have a similar case study you’d like to submit, contact our deputy editor, Dan Ralls, at dralls@fht.org.uk.

Want to receive our magazine right to your front door? Join us today to keep up to date on the latest in therapy news and trends.

Greater muscle strength – better cognitive function for older people

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Greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function in ageing men and women, according to a new Finnish study. The association of extensively measured upper and lower body muscle strength with cognitive function was observed, but handgrip strength was not associated with cognitive function. Cognition refers to brain functions relating to receiving, storing, processing and using information. The findings were published in European Geriatric Medicine.

The study population comprised 338 men and women with an average age of 66 years. Their muscle strength was measured utilising handgrip strength, three lower body exercises such as leg extension, leg flexion and leg press and two upper body exercises such as chest press and seated row. Sum scores to depict lower body and upper body muscle strength were calculated separately, and cognitive function was assessed using the CERAD neuropsychological test battery with calculated total score.

Handgrip strength is relatively easy and fast to measure, and it has been widely used as a measure of muscle strength in various studies. However, this new study could not demonstrate an association between muscle strength and cognitive function when using a model based on mere handgrip strength and age. Instead, an association between muscle strength and cognitive function was observed only when sum scores depicting upper or lower body muscle strength were included in the model.

‘The findings suggest that it may be justified to go beyond the handgrip and to include the upper and lower body when measuring muscle strength, as this may better reflect the association between muscle strength and cognition,’ says Early Stage Researcher Heikki Pentikäinen, the first author of the article, who is currently preparing a PhD thesis on the topic for the University of Eastern Finland.

Exercise is known to have various health benefits, and strength training is a way for practically everyone to increase muscle mass and enhance muscle strength. However, the association of muscle strength with various aspects of cognitive function is a relatively under-researched area. The study provided new insight into the methodology of measuring muscle strength and into the role of muscle strength in cognitive function. The study constituted part of the extensive, population-based DR’s EXTRA study, which was a four-year randomised and controlled intervention study analysing the effects of exercise and nutrition on endothelial function, atherosclerosis and cognition. The study was carried out at Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine in 2005–2011 and it involved more than 1,400 men and women living in the eastern part of Finland.

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College of Medicine calls for student essays on sustainable healthcare

The College of Medicine is currently accepting entries from students of all health and social care professions for the esteemed Michael Pittilo Essay Prize 2017.

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First launched in 2010, the Michael Pittilo Essay Prize recognises and celebrates the integration of conventional and complementary approaches to healthcare.

Entries are open to UK students studying any healthcare discipline at degree level or above, including CAM therapies that are statutory regulated or on an Accredited Register, approved by the Professional Standards Authority.

The College of Medicine’s summer conference will this year explore ways in which sustainability is redefining our health system and to correspond with this theme the essay question for the Michael Pittilo Prize is:

‘How can patients, communities, healthcare professionals and governing bodies work together to ensure sustainability of the healthcare system?’

Essays (1,500 words) need to be submitted by 9 July 2017 to lauren.quinn@collegeofmedicine.org.uk

The FHT is delighted to have been a member of the judging panel for eight consecutive years and looks forward to publishing the winning essay in International Therapist.

Read the winning essay from 2016

Is reflexology the answer to hot flashes in menopausal women?

Hot flashes (also known as hot flushes) are a common menopausal complaint and have a negative impact on the quality of life of many women.

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While HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is said to be very effective at relieving menopausal symptoms – and hot flashes and night sweats in particular – the treatment is known to have a number of potential side effects, ranging from headaches and vaginal bleeding to an increased risk of blood clots and breast cancer in some women.1 For this reason, it is understood that many in the postmenopausal period search for natural alternatives to help them manage their symptoms.2

A study recently published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice2 aimed to identify the effects of foot reflexology when applied to menopausal women on vasomotor complaints and quality of life.

The study involved 120 women attending a menopause polyclinic in Turkey, in the menopause, premenopause or postmenopause phase, and experiencing untreated hot flashes at least three times a day. They were randomly assigned to either the experimental or control group (58 and 62 women, respectively). Those in the experimental group received two 25-minute sessions of the Ingham method of reflexology, once a week for six weeks. Those in the control group received two 25-minute foot massages, once a week for six weeks.

Data was collected through an identification and assessment form, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MENQOL) and hot flash diaries.

The results showed that hot flashes, sweats and night sweats decreased in both groups, however the women receiving reflexology demonstrated a statistically significant larger decrease compared to those in the foot massage group. Reflexology also significantly improved problems in the sexual domain (for example, alterations in sexual desire and sex avoidance).

 

References

  1. NHS Choices. (2015) Treating symptoms of the menopause. See: nhs.uk/Conditions/Menopause/Pages/Treatment.aspx (accessed 15 December 2016).
  2. Gozuyesil E, Baser M. (2016) The effect of foot reflexology applied to women aged between 40 and 60 on vasometer complaints and quality of life. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 24: 78-85.

New research on how to stay cool during heatwaves

Brighton University is researching ways the elderly can stay cool during heatwaves.

Elderly stay cool during heatwave

Visits to hospital emergency rooms for the treatment of heatstroke have been increasing in recent years due to fluctuations in the weather, resulting in mini-heatwaves. Brighton University is conducting research to understand the risk of developing heatstroke in the elderly, one of the population’s most vulnerable groups.

By monitoring volunteers in different environments, such as doing housework, and light to moderate exercise, and evaluating factors such as blood pressure and heart rate, they hope to develop an understanding of the risks of developing a heatstroke based illness.

Dr Neil Maxwell, Head of the University’s centre for sport and exercise science and medicine said; “The key aspect of improving heat sensitivity in a vulnerable population is knowing when they require an intervention. Therefore, specific interventions and advice can be provided to alleviate heat strain within the population”.

To find out more, read the full article here.