Acupuncture for Common Cold, Flu and Allergies | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

 sickAs most of you have probably noticed, we are smack dab in the middle of the Cold and Flu season- and it’s shaping up to be a bad one this year.  As an added bonus for those of us living in Central Texas, we have to contend with the dreaded Cedar Fever- cedar allergies gone berserk…it’s not fun.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications are widely available, but do little to actually improve one’s overall health or support the immune system in the prevention of illness, plus they often come with a laundry list of negative side effects.  Acupuncture, however, in the hands of a qualified, licensed practitioner, can not only relieve cold, Flu and allergy symptoms, but can also help enhance and restore balance to the body’s entire immune function; clearing the underlying immune weakness that causes allergies and illness, and preventing you from getting sick in the future.

We know that illness and allergies occur when your body is exposed to pathogens or substances like bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust, pet dander, or certain foods.  What most people don’t get is that the problem is not simply the pathogen or the allergen, the problem is your weakened immune system’s inability to overcome it.

So how does Acupuncture work?

acupuncture 140Through almost two decades of intensive medical research, scientists have firmly established that, indeed- Acupuncture works.  While the jury is still out on exactly how it works (there are currently a number of sound scientific theories), the evidence is very clear on the multitude of effects that the treatments have on the human body.  Specifically regarding immune function, we know that Acupuncture increases the production of the body’s so-called “natural killer cells,” one of the body’s primary defense mechanisms against organisms that make us sick, and treatments regulate the production and function of white blood cells directly linked to the fight against infections, allergic reactions, and even autoimmune disorders. More importantly though, Acupuncture treatments have a system-wide effect on optimizing and re-balancing the relationship between all of the complex, interconnected body systems (including Digestive, Endocrine, Lymphatic, and Nervous Systems, etc) that work together to create what we simply call the Immune System.

The beauty of Chinese Medicine, though, is that with all of it’s complexities and now with it’s firm scientific backing, it is still fundamentally based on a very simple principle: that the mind and body are not viewed as separate parts and pieces, but as part of an energetic, interconnected system. That holistic philosophy is always present in the mind of a TCM practitioner and is reflected continuously throughout the entire theory and practice of the medicine.

At an Acupuncture appointment, an Acupuncturist such as myself will gather an extremely thorough health history, observe your symptoms and signs, ask about your stress level and emotions, and take into account your absolute uniqueness as an individual.  With this information, properly trained and qualified Acupuncturists are able to determine the underlying imbalance(s) that you and your body are experiencing. Seemingly unrelated symptoms and conditions, when looked at holistically, point to an underlying “root condition,” and although practitioners will certainly focus on alleviating your fever, headache, sore throat, coughing, phlegm-factory, body aches, runny/stuffy nose, itchy/watery eyes, sneezing fits and whatever else you’re currently suffering from so that you feel better, the correction of the “root condition” leading to your weakened immune function will ultimately be the target of your Acupuncture treatments.

What Else Can Acupuncture Treat?

whatcanacupuncturetreatYou might be surprised to know that besides the aforementioned colds, flu’s, allergies, and obviously pain, Acupuncture can effectively treat an enormous variety of conditions.  For the most part, if you can name it, I can treat it.

Way back in 1997, The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), recognized Acupuncture to be effective in treating over 56 different conditions and the list has continued to grow since then.  Commonly treated conditions include any acute or chronic pain, migraines/headaches, neuropathies/neuralgias such as sciatica, digestive disorders, anxiety/depression/high stress levels, infertility, menopause symptoms, respiratory disorders, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, High Blood Pressure or Cholesterol, vertigo/dizziness, even things like toothache and acne- and that’s just an abbreviated list.

Acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies work as an effective alternative and adjunct treatment modality to conventional techniques and medications for everything from acute illnesses to chronic conditions.  It is extremely safe, highly effective and a completely natural approach to regaining and maintaining health and well-being, both mentally, physically and emotionally.

This information brought to you by Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness– now providing service at two convenient Austin area locations.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being, feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Turning Point Acupuncture

A common question asked by my Acupuncture patients is, “What can I do to prevent cancer?”  It’s not a simple answer, but there are a number of things that you can do which have a dramatically positive affect on your body.  Acupuncture is one, and in this article, I’ll also be discussing the benefits of Vitamin D in preventing cancer.

Many of us have cancer cells or pre-cancerous cells in our bodies right now, even though we may never get the disease called cancer. Why? Because in an ideal state of health and wellness, our body’s immune system routinely quells renegade cells and would-be malignancies before they ever take hold.

vitamin_DSo why do some people’s defenses break down? Some scientists theorize that cancer thrives when the immune system’s defensive action can’t or won’t react effectively. This lack of immune response may be due to a variety of factors, but it…

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How does acupuncture work? |Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

As an Acupuncturist in this country, I’m starting to see a lot less apprehension from new patients as they enter my clinic these days.  Year after year, surveys continue to show dramatic increases in the numbers of patients confidently entering the waiting rooms of acupuncturists across the country.

Even the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army doctors have begun using acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal problems, pain and stress in stateside hospitals and combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Volunteer practitioners from Acupuncturists Without Borders are held communal ear-needling sessions to reduce stress among earthquake victims in Haiti and were in Colorado to support victims of this summer’s fires.  Even major medical centers such as M.D. Anderson in Houston and the Mayo Hospital in Phoenix are using acupuncture to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy and give additional support to patients with difficult cases.

But despite all of that, and the fact that Acupuncture has been a mainstay of medical treatment in large parts of the world for 4,000 years, many lay-people are still skeptical.  This skepticism come mostly from a fundamental misunderstanding of how acupuncture works- complicated by the foreign concepts of Qi and Yin/Yang that most sources use to describe acupuncture’s mechanism of action.

For the most part, though, the medical and scientific communities are no longer doubting the efficacy of the medicine.  Modern technology and research methodology has proven that Acupuncture is not merely a placebo effect and currently, there are a number of modern medical theories that explain, scientifically, how it works.

Acupuncture from the point of view of Western medical science

“In the past it was easy for doctors and scientists to dismiss acupuncture as ‘highly implausible’ when its workings were only couched in talk of chi and meridians. But it becomes very plausible when explained in terms of neurophysiology,” explains Dr Adrian White, who is the editor in chief of the scientific journal Acupuncture in Medicine and a leading medically trained acupuncturist.

According to current understanding, the primary system affected by acupuncture is the nervous system.  What you have to realize about the nervous system, is that it doesn’t just transmits signals along the nerves, it also emits a variety of biochemicals that influence and connect to virtually every other system in the body- effecting blood flow, hormones, the immune system and more. In other words, because of it’s major connection to the nervous system, Acupuncture can be used to activate certain responsive parts of the nervous system, setting off a biochemical cascade which stimulates healing.

A specialized MRI scan shows the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy subject. In the middle two images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (indicated by blue) in the brain after acupuncture.

Brain imaging studies show that Acupuncture calms areas of the brain that register pain and activates those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture treatments increase local blood flow and thermal imaging shows that it reduces local inflammation.

Acupuncture is well known to stimulate the release of endorphins in the central nervous system.  Endorphins are your body’s natural opioids- “feel good” chemicals which have an analgesic affect on pain and help to calm the Sympathetic Nervous System, helping  your body switch from that insidious, high-stress “fight-or-flight” mode, to “rest-and-heal” mode.  This is especially helpful when treating cases involving pain, stress or drug addictions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Scientists are also finding parallels between the ancient concepts and modern anatomy. Many of the main 365 acupuncture points correspond to nerve bundles or muscle trigger points. Several meridians track major arteries and nerves. If people have a heart attack, the pain will radiate up across the chest and down the left arm. That’s where the heart meridian goes.  Gallbladder pain will radiate to the right upper shoulder, just where the gallbladder meridian goes.”

The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized Acupuncture and TCM  to be effective in treating over 56 different conditions with a far greater therapeutic reach than just treating for pain relief.

As a country, our heath is getting worse, not better.  Increasingly complex diseases and disorders are being brought on by a modern-day lifestyle that includes the over-consumption of grains and sugar, high stress levels, a sedentary lifestyle, and rampant malnutrition the result of nutritionally-bankrupt food.

Increasingly, the public is becoming frustrated with ineffective Western treatment options, the pervasive overuse of drug therapy, and a basic focus on the mere relief of symptoms – are looking to the more natural approach that Chinese medicine offers.  Many people are finding that their medical issues are being successfully addressed by Traditional Chinese Medicine’s whole-person, root-cause focused approach to healthcare, which emphasizes the re-balancing of diet and lifestyle, even before a single needle is inserted.

Chinese medicine is gradually making its way into the mainstream consciousness. We have become a first choice rather than a last resort these days, as results from study after study surface within the media, confirming acupuncture as a scientifically viable and clinically effective option for not only pain, but many other health issues.

This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

Sources and Credit:

Beck, Melinda. “Decoding an Ancient Therapy,” Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2010.

Moore, Elizabeth, “Think acupuncture’s a hoax? Think again,” May 30, 2010,

Veneziano, Phil, “Acupuncture in the U.S. and the Hospital of the Future,” June 6, 2012,

University of Maryland, “Acupuncture,”

Yin Yang House, “Yin Yang Acupuncture Theory and Clinical Applications”,

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The Symptoms Are Not The Problem | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Picture this:  A person goes to see their family physician for a pain syndrome.  The physician tells the patient, “There are 3 stages of pain.  In the 1st stage, the pain is just enough to catch your attention.  In the 2nd stage, the pain begins to take hold of you.  In the 3rd stage, the intensity of the pain finally compels you to do something about it.”  The patient asks his doctor, “what should I do when the pain gets to stage 3?”  With no hesitation, the doctor says, “take some Motrin…” (The worst part is that is is an all-too-common true story and that most people think this is good advice.)

If the same patient were to relay this story to his Acupuncturist, the Acupuncturist would respond something like, “If your car’s check engine light blinked on, the 1st time it would probably catch your attention.  The 2nd time, when it stayed on a little longer, it would probably start to take hold of you.  When it comes on a 3rd time, and you’re finally compelled to do something- would you have your mechanic just turn off the light so you don’t have to look at it anymore?”  Hopefully not!

The moral of the story?  Symptoms, such as pain, are not the problem!  Just as the check engine light is not the problem, the physical symptoms you experience are merely your body’s attempt to tell you that there‘s a problem.  Masking those symptoms (whether they be pain, heartburn, headaches, fatigue, or whatever) with drugs doesn’t fix the problem, and can actually make the situation worse.  Basically, by taking meds to numb out symptoms, you’ve essentially stuck your fingers in your ears like, “la la la, I’m not listeniiiiing!” in response to your body’s attempted communication.

As an acupuncturist, I see a lot of people who are desperate to correct the actual problem.  They’ve been given Prilosec for their acid reflux, Imitrex for their migraine headaches, NSAIDs for their arthritis, and Stain drugs for their high cholesterol.  How many of you need that morning cup of caffeinated coffee?

The problem is that these drugs are all treating the symptoms.  Nobody has previously bothered to ask, “well WHY is this person having acid reflux/migraines/fatigue/high cholesterol?  What’s causing it? How to we correct THAT problem?”

No matter what you do to mask the symptoms, the problem is never going to change until you actually address the root cause.  Hopefully it’s obvious that this should be done as soon as possible, since just as the 1st check engine light could indicate an easy problem to fix, like a minor oil leak, if you wait too long to address the root problem, that “simple oil leak” could progress into something much more serious or worse, irreparable “engine” damage.  That damage could be coming from ignoring the root cause of the problem, or it could come from your symptom-masking medications themselves.

This is where holistic, natural therapies such as Acupuncture come in.

For over 2000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been a root-cause centered therapy.  Combine that traditional philosophy with an Acupuncturist who understands the science behind modern diseases, and you have someone who can very realistically help get your whole body system back on track.

The best part is that Acupuncture is a totally natural and relatively painless therapy, with no adverse side effects.  Thus, replacing your symptom-masking medications with natural, side-effect-free acupuncture will not only stimulate your body’s natural ability to heal, but it will also serve to reduce the medication-induced stress placed on your body, giving it even more freedom to repair itself.

So how does Acupuncture work?  Well, despite much modern research, that’s still a much-debated topic, but it’s clear that Acupuncture works on many different physiological levels simultaneously, restoring the body’s homeostasis and accelerating the healing process.  We know that it works by supporting proper blood and lymph flow to the tissues and internal organs, regulating and restoring normal nerve signal transmission, stimulating your brain to release endorphins (your body’s natural pain killers and relaxants), calming the central nervous system, regulating the endocrine (hormones) and immune systems, relaxing tight muscles, and much much more.

In 1997, the National Institute of Health the following statement:

“One of the advantages of Acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions…such as anti-inflammatory medications and steriod injections [for pain], and the evidence supporting these conventional therapies is no better than that for Acupuncture.”

In other words, the evidence showed (and still shows) that Acupuncture is just as effective as drugs for many conditions, but unlike drugs, Acupuncture doesn’t have negative side effects.  Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Some people are often surprised to learn that Acupuncture can treat way more than just pain.  Even the World Health Organization (WHO), has officially recognized Acupuncture to be effective in treating over 56 different conditionsAnd those are just the conditions for which acupuncture has actually been researched- technically, upper respiratory infection isn’t on the WHO’s list, but I’ve successfully treated URI’s with Acupuncture more times than I could possibly count, and that’s just one example.

So what is your body trying to tell you that you’ve been ignoring?  What drugs are you taking… to counteract the side effects of the other drugs you’re taking… to mask the symptoms of a problem that needs your attention?  What if you could correct the root cause of a problem and in doing so, would eliminate the need for symptoms all together?

For more info on the subject, check out these articles:

Acupuncture FAQ

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

What to Expect at Your First Acupuncture Treatment

How to Choose an Acupuncturist

This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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What You NEED to Know About Blood Sugar and Insulin | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

In the last 300 years, the American diet has gone through a lot of changes.  Our foods used to be nutrient dense, home-grown and organic – not because we knew any better, but just because that’s the way it was.  We used to have a much higher intake of fats and a much lower intake of sugar and carbohydrates.  People were stronger and chronic, degenerative diseases occurred much more rarely than they do today.   But soil depletion, conventional farming methods, rampant dietary misinformation and other factors have changed all that.  Our state of health, as a nation, is rapidly declining- despite all of our modern medical interventions and wonder drugs.  Of course there are numerous reasons for this, but I’d like to shed some light on one of the leading causes of disease and how it is likely effecting YOU.

  • In 1700, the average yearly intake of dietary sugar was 4lbs.
  • In 1800, the average yearly intake of dietary sugar increased to 18lbs.
  • In 1900, the average yearly intake of dietary sugar increased to 90lbs.
  • In 2010, 50% of Americans consume A HALF A POUND OF SUGAR PER DAY, which equals 180lbs. per year

Of course, I’m not just talking about lollypops and gummy worms.  I’m talking about CARBS, which are all ultimately broken down by your body into sugars- namely glucose and fructose.  So it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about candy, an apple, or a piece of organic, sprouted, whole-grain bread – it ALL turns into sugar.  (See chart at the end of this article that lists “What counts as a Carbohydrate?”)

Moving on… It is now becoming apparent that blood sugar and insulin problems are a common factor in almost every modern disease and one of the most damaging things you can do to your body would be to ignore the situation which, in all likelihood, IS affecting you.

The long-term physical problems caused by blood sugar and insulin damage are system-wide and severe.  They can include:

Blood sugar and insulin imbalances fall on a relative scale of graduating severity:

Reactive Hypoglycemia –> Insulin Resistance –> Metabolic Syndrome –> Diabetes II

Stage 1: Hypoglycemia (Reactive)

This is extremely common!  In my clinical experience, the vast majority of people I see are experiencing some degree of blood sugar imbalances and most of them have never noticed or considered that the vague symptoms that it can present with have anything to do with blood sugar levels.  Reactive Hypoglycemia is not itself a disease, but rather a condition (meaning it IS reversible!) which is defined as “too little blood glucose.”  Although it seems as if too little blood sugar is the problem, in truth, that’s merely the after-effect of having a history of too much sugar/carbs in the diet.

Symptoms include:

  • Getting shaky, headaches and/or irritable without food
  • Feeling better after eating
  • Tired without food
  • Overall fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Waking up at night (usually around 1-3am, but could be anytime throughout the night)
  • Tired in the afternoons
  • Difficulty concentrating or poor mental focus
  • Acid Reflux, sour stomach, or nausea
  • Sugar/Carb cravings
  • Craves a small “Sweet” after meal

Reactive Hypoglycemia is most common in people who currently have or have a history of:

  • High sugar/carbohydrate intake
  • High stress levels
  • Skipping meals or long periods between eating
  • Trans-Fats make this worse!

So here’s what happens:

In a normal, healthy person with a low dietary intake of carbohydrates and healthy eating habits, blood glucose levels are appropriately maintained by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas.

Whenever they eat sugary foods or foods containing carbohydrates, their body breaks those carbs down into sugar which eventually gets dumped into their bloodstream.  Because the body can only tolerate a small amount of sugar in the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin which then stimulates the cells to sponge up the excess sugar, therefore regulating blood sugar levels. Once inside the cells, the sugar is used for energy, with any excess sugar being converted to fat tissue.  This process continues until all the insulin in the blood has been used up and all the sugar has been burned for energy, at which point your body finally goes into fat-burning mode until your next meal (YAY, fat burning mode!)

But all of THAT is what happens under normal, healthy circumstances in someone with no blood sugar handling issues.  The problem, which applies to over 80% of the population right now, is that when a person has a long history of eating a diet too high in carbs/sugar, their body begins anticipating that each meal will be a high carbohydrate meal and habitually “overcompensates” by surging too much insulin.  This surging effect causes insulin levels in the blood to become far too high, resulting in a dramatic drop in blood sugar levels and leaving excess insulin in the blood even after all of the sugar has been sponged up by the cells.  The cells burn the sugar for energy, as usual, but the problem now is that they cannot shift gears and go into fat-burning mode till the next meal.  Why, you ask?  Because as long as there’s still excess free-floating insulin in your blood, your body remains in sugar-burning mode.  I say again,  as long as your insulin levels are too high, your body can NOT go into fat-burning mode.  Hence, the frustrating weight gain or the common, “I work out all the time but still can’t seem to lose weight” scenarios.  So, at this point, your cells are starved of fuel, there’s no more sugar left in your bloodstream to compensate, and they can’t simply shift over into fat-burning mode for fuel – this is when all those unpleasant hypoglycemia symptoms start to show up.

To recap, too much sugar/carbs in the diet causes a roller-coaster ride of blood glucose and insulin levels, resulting eventually in low blood sugar.  Ultimately, the problem isn’t that your blood sugar is too low- that’s just the side effect.  The problem is that insulin levels are too high as a result of too much sugar/carbs in your diet.

People can be hypoglycemic for years with few symptoms, but over time the body’s cells become irritated by being constantly bathed in insulin.  Eventually, the constant exposure to insulin irritates the cells enough that the insulin receptor sites on the cells begin to shut down and become resistant to insulin.  At this point, what was Reactive Hypoglycemia has now progressed to Insulin Resistance- the next major step towards diabetes.

Step 2: Insulin Resistance

Insulin Resistance is defined as the condition in which the body’s cells have a reduced sensitivity to insulin, as a result of being exposed to too much insulin for too long (in cases of years of high sugar or carb intake). Essentially, you can think of insulin as a critically important, but “irritating-in-high-doses” kind of hormone.  Your cells normally require it’s actions, but they don’t like being bathed in insulin all day long.  Eventually, the cells begin shutting down their insulin receptor sites and their “sensitivity” to insulin decreases.  If the cells are not as responsive to insulin, it means that they won’t receive as strong a signal to sponge up excess sugar out of your blood. This will lead to excess sugar floating around your bloodstream and all the health problems that come with the new problem – high-blood sugar.

If you have too much sugar floating around in your blood vessels, it is likely that you also have too much insulin traveling through your system as well.  This is because the pancreas, in a futile attempt to maintain normal blood sugar levels, tries to compensate for the high blood sugar by releasing even more insulin – it doesn’t know that the cells just aren’t responding to the insulin anymore.  The problem with this is that having chronically high insulin levels has it’s own set of nasty effects above and beyond the effects of low or high blood sugar alone.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance include any of the symptoms of Hypoglycemia listed above PLUS:

  • Abdominal weight gain
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Sleepiness after meals
  • Mental fogginess and fatigue
  • Intestinal bloating and gas
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased blood triglycerides
  • Depression
  • Thinning hair in women

Sound familiar?

This insulin/blood sugar roller-coaster specifically involves the sugar glucose.  But what about fructose (the type of sugar found in fruit and many processed foods), you might be asking?  Although it’s true that fructose doesn’t trigger insulin directly (only glucose does), it does still cause lots of problems.  Fructose turns into FAT faster than any other sugar, and in high amounts, it begins damaging the liver.  Basically, the only organ in your body that can take up fructose is the liver…

…Once there, the fructose:

  • Increases uric acid which in turn increases blood pressure and causes gout.
  • Increases fat production in the liver which can eventually result in Fatty Liver Disease.
  • Fructose is metabolized via the same pathway as alcohol and is actually damaging your liver in the the same way as alcohol.
  • Increases inflammation which in turn stops the insulin receptors in your liver from working, resulting in higher insulin levels in the body.  The pancreas responds to this situation by pumping out even more insulin in another futile attempt to get the insulin cycle working again, which further increases insulin levels and eventually results in the same Insulin Resistance that glucose causes.

The bottom line is that even though fructose doesn’t directly raise your insulin levels in the short term, in the long term fructose will still lead to Insulin Resistance due to the effects of inflammation in the liver.

Step 3: Metabolic Syndrome

The next stop on the diabetes train after Insulin Resistance is progression to Metabolic Syndrome.  It is currently estimated that 75 million Americans (that’s 1 in 4 people!) have blood sugar imbalances that have already progressed into Metabolic Syndrome.

Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by any of the symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia and Insulin Resistance PLUS:

  • Severe hormonal imbalances
  • Immunological disorders
  • More abdominal weight gain
  • Elevated triglycerides
  • Increased cortisol (with it’s associated adrenal symptoms and diseases)
  • High risk for Diabetes Type II

The final progression of this disorder, if it continues to go ignored and untreated, is Type 2 Diabetes.

Step 4: Type 2 Diabetes

  • 7th leading cause of death in the US
  • All-cause mortality (death from any official cause) is more than double in diabetics
  • Medical expenses are more than double in diabetics
  • #1 cause of blindness in adults
  • #1 cause of Kidney failure
  • #1 cause of limb amputations
  • One of the top reasons for Erectile Dysfunction
  • By the age of 65, 77% of people are diabetic or pre-diabetic


It might help to think of blood sugar imbalances like this:

Imagine that we all start out with a certain amount of allowable insulin/sugar activity in our cells, for our lifetime, before the cells begin to become resistant- a fixed number of lifetime “carb points,” if you will.  The problem is that most people are eating so much dietary sugar, that they essentially have used up  all of their carb points in their first 30 or 40 years!   After that, the continued exposure to a high carb/sugar diet and the subsequent high insulin levels begins to create serious damage.  This is why you hear people talk about how they used to be able to eat whatever they wanted without gaining weight, now their metabolism has slowed down and they gain weight if they eat a cracker.  It’s not as simple as just a “slowing metabolism,” that’s a total misconception.  It’s basically the result of using up all of their carb points too early and as they continue their dietary habits, the effects are now damaging!

In order to avoid serious health problems as you get older, it is vital that your dietary carbohydrates/sugar be drastically reduced or eliminated.  Yes- you CAN eliminate carbs!  And yes, even if you’re an athlete.  Contrary to popular belief, carbs are NOT absolutely necessary in the diet- fat is a very efficient and sustainable energy source!  Consider the Eskimos… They have some of the highest average energy requirements of any other indigenous people, yet their diet consists almost exclusively of animal fat and protein.  They are some of the longest-lived, healthiest people on the planet with some of the lowest rates of chronic, degenerative diseases.

So what do we do about it?

Well, for starters, STOP TRIGGERING INSULIN!

1)  Drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake (especially avoiding grain-based carbs and refined sugars) at least until your sugar/carbs cravings and/or fatigue and other prominent hypoglycemia symptoms disappear.

  • Ideally, you’ll aim for 0-60 grams of carbohydrates per day (check labels and keep track!).
  • Yes, there carbohydrates in vegetables, but veggies are nutritional powerhouses that deliver enough nutrient value to outweigh the blood sugar effects of the carbohydrates they contain.  The insoluble fiber in vegetables also acts as a natural buffer, slowing the absorption of sugar.  For the purposes of improving your health by reducing carbs, you do NOT have to count green vegetables, carrots, beets, or healthy veggies like that in your daily carb budget!  You also do not need to keep track of total daily calories or grams of fat.  JUST CARBS.

So what DO we count as a carb in the daily budget?  Basically, anything that ultimately breaks down into sugar (glucose or fructose):

2) Eat at least every 3 hours while you’re repairing your blood sugar issues- do NOT skip meals!

3) Avoid fructose like the plague! i.e. – too much fruit.  A little bit of fruit here and there is ok but make sure to count it in the budget and keep it to a bare minimum.  Keep in mind, our ancestors ate fruit rarely since it was only available for brief seasonal periods, and the fruit they ate was far less sweet than the fruit we eat today, which has been genetically modified or selectively farmed to dramatically increase the sweetness.  Fruit should be kept to a minimum (less than daily), only organic, in-season, and preferably local.  Do NOT consume fruit juices, dried fruits, or processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup: all of those are just super-concentrated sugar sources.

4) Increase your intake of healthy FATS and PROTEIN.  Healthy fats should be consumed with every meal– especially vegetables.  The fat will help to stabilize your blood sugar, plus, failure to include healthy fats in a meal will result in many of the nutrients consumed during the meal not being absorbed by the body. That’s because many nutrients, such as Vitamins A, D, E and K are “fat-soluble” nutrients that require fat in order to be absorbed and used by the human body.  Additionally, there are many other nutrients that also need fats for optimal metabolism. Healthy fats will also help keep you satisfied after meals (so you don’t get hungry) by providing a slow-burning fuel for your body, and provide a huge number of other health benefits – so make sure to eat fat with every meal!

What is a healthy fat?

  • All meats and fish, provided they’re coming from high-quality sources (fish should be “wild-caught”, red meats should be “grass-fed,” poultry should be “pastured.”
  • Organic Butter (preferably from grass-fed cows)
  • Organic Cheeses
  • Avocado
  • Whole, Organic, preferably Raw dairy (don’t use skim or reduced fat dairy products) or healthy-fat, dairy alternatives like Coconut Milk (unsweetened) or Almond Milk
  • Coconut oil (use for low-medium heat cooking or add to smoothies)
  • Avocado oil (good for medium-high heat cooking)
  • Olive oil (good for dressings, and cold use- do not heat)
  • Supplemental oils such as Cod Liver Oil, Fish Oil, Krill Oil, Flax Seed Oil, etc. (product quality is very important – they are not all created equal!)  Cod Liver Oil is my personal favorite
  • Flax seeds and chia seeds (good to add to smoothies or salads)
  • Whole eggs (don’t skip the yolk, it’s the best part!  And fresh, “pastured” eggs available at your local farmer’s markets are FAR SUPERIOR to conventional, battery-farmed eggs or “egg products” like egg beaters, etc.)
  • Olives
  • Nuts and nut butters (especially walnuts, almonds)
  • Seeds (especially flax and chia seeds)
  • Examples of Food/Snacks:  Nuts and nut butters (if tolerated well), half an apple with nut butter, celery with nut butter, cheese, vegetables with a dip, boiled egg, egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, green salad with cheese and/or chicken, rolled up cold cuts with cheese or cream cheese, replace crackers with sliced cucumbers, scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes, etc.

5) Get some exercise!

  • Exercise is still a great thing that a person can do themselves to help reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar metabolism. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be consistent – a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week.
  • Walking, swimming, etc. are all great options. Keep it light in the beginning.  Later, you can switch to forms of exercise that are less frequent for shorter amounts of time, but higher intensity (strength training and high-intensity interval training are especially helpful to repair insulin damage).
  • Each 10% increase in muscle mass corollated with 11% less insulin resistance and 12% less diabetes

6) Other considerations:

  • Insulin flushes minerals from the system – consider a high quality trace minerals supplement (zinc, magnesium and chromium are especially important and tend to be depleted in diabetics and pre-diabetics.
  • Although it may be possible to indulge occasionally in sugar down the road, once your insulin and blood sugar levels have stabilized, it is probable that you will need to maintain a low carbohydrate intake indefinitely to avoid the same process that burned out your cells to begin with.

Once your blood sugar and insulin levels have become more stable, you will notice that your energy level is much better, your adrenals start to recover, your immune system improves, hormones balance out, food sensitivities go away, you sleep better, your moods are better, joint pain improves, digestion improves, etc. – the list goes on and on!

This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.


Johnson RJ and Gower T. (2009) The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That is Making You Sick and Fat

USDA Agricultural Factbook, Profiling Food Consumption in America,

U.S. Centers For Disease Control, “2011 Diabetes Fact Sheet,”

Preethi Srikanthan and Arun S. Karlamangla. “Relative Muscle Mass Is Inversely Associated with Insulin Resistance and PreDiabetes.” Findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, July 21, 2011

For the clearest explanation you’ve seen or heard on blood sugar, check out the youtube videos by Dr. Marlene Merritt at

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Acupuncture For IBS And Other Digestive Disorders | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Happy National IBS Awareness Month!!!  Yup, that’s right, April is not only the time for beautiful weather, spring flower blooms, and Easter celebration, it is also the time to reconsider your bowel health- YAY!  It also happens to be National Humor Month, which makes reading this article a little more entertaining.

Currently, one in five adults in the US has one form or another of IBS, otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  That’s somewhere around 43 million people!  And that number doesn’t even come close to describing the untold millions of people experiencing the other increasingly common digestive disorders- Chron’s Disease, GERD (severe heartburn or acid reflux), Ulcerative Colitis, or dietary sensitivities (gluten or dairy intolerance, food allergies, etc).

These digestive disorders can present with a range of obvious digestive problems such as upper or lower abdominal pain or cramping, bloating or intestinal gas, nausea or vomiting, a feeling of fullness, chronic constipation or diarrhea, blood in the stool, a feeling of “incompletion” or difficulty to pass stool, acid reflux (also known as heartburn), food sensitivities or allergies, etc.  But they can also lead to systemic imbalances that begin to show up with signs like fatigue, joint pain and systemic inflammation, anemia, frequent colds and flus, allergies, skin problems such as eczema,  psoriasis or other dermatitis, and more.

Unfortunately, most people suffering with IBS or other digestive disorders assume that their digestive problem is “incurable” and they’re doomed to either suffer or take meds for the rest of their lives- usually because that’s what their doctors have told them…SIGH.  Well, I’m happy to announce that that’s just plain ol’ not true!  In my experience and the experience of many other Acupuncturists out there, the vast majority of digestive disorders are absolutely treatable and in many cases, curable- and it can be done without prescription medications.

So how in the world can acupuncture help digestion?  Well, first we’ve got to clear up a little confusion: digestive disorders are usually not just digestive disorders.  They usually indicate an overall health imbalance.  Frequently the result of chronically high stress levels or years of improper dietary habits- such as the use of soy products, highly processed industrial seed oils (canola, safflower, etc.), refined sugar and grains, etc.-  that put a strain on the digestive system and, over the years, eventually develop into full-blown digestive disorders… and the beginning of a vicious cycle.

This vicious cycle occurs when a chronic digestive disorder results in a inflammation and a reduction in digestive efficacy and efficiency- which they virtually always do.  If you’re showing any signs of digestive problems, it’s an indication that there’s probably intestinal inflammation and likely some degree of what’s called “Leaky-gut syndrome,” where large food particles and foreign material leaks through the intestinal lining and your body is forced to mount an immune reaction which leads to more inflammation and more food sensitivities.

Another vicious cycle begins when all of that irritation in your gut results in a reduced ability to properly break down food, which in turn means your body isn’t as able to absorb and utilize nutrients properly, which eventually leads to some degree of malnutrition.  And that was just a description of the lower half, we havn’t even begun to touch on breakdowns in the upper half of the digestive process!

So what happens after all that inflammation and mal-absorption of nutrients gets rollin’?  Well, the nutrients that your body is supposed to be able to get from the food you eat are critical for supporting every aspect of your health.  Nutrients are the building blocks for what your body converts into strength, repair, defense, and maintenance of the whole system.  If you’re either not giving your body the right sources of nutrients (check out Top 10 Dietary Guidelines for more info on THAT), or your body cannot properly absorb nutrients because of a digestive disorder, the eventual malnutrition (and let’s not forget the rampant inflammation and over-stressed immune system) leads to a whole host of other problems system-wide, including the inability to repair and defend itself, keep you happy and healthy, and least of all- regulate digestive function…aaaaand we’re back to square one with that vicious cycle.

This is where Acupuncture comes in.

Specific acupuncture points on the body are well-known to reduce abdominal pain, bloating and intestinal inflammation, increase gastrointestinal strength, regulate stomach acid secretion, stop chronic diarrhea, or increase bowel movements in the case of chronic constipation.  It basically regulates overall digestive function- and it does so with zero negative side effectsA good acupuncturist will also be highly-educated in regards to any supplemental support that may be helpful for you and will be able to guide your towards the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes that are critical in stopping the vicious cycle.  Over time, the acupuncture treatments combined with your body’s increased ability to receive and absorb nutrients, will assist your system in re-balancing itself and repairing the damage in your gut.

Acupuncture is highly effective in treating most digestive disorders including: IBS, Chron’s Disease, food allergies and sensitivities, chronic constipation/diarrhea, ulcers, heartburn, GERD, lactose intolerance and more.  In fact, the NIH (National Institute of Health) and the WHO (World Health Organization) have recognized Acupuncture as being effective for treating over 56 common health complaints!

They also recognized that, “One of the advantages of Acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions…such as anti-inflammatory medications and steriod injections [for pain], and the evidence supporting these conventional therapies is no better than that for Acupuncture.”

All in all, Acupuncture provides an extremely safe, highly effective and a completely natural approach to regaining and maintaining optimum digestive health and restoring strength and harmony to your body.

This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Five Reasons to Consider Acupuncture | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Written by Chris Titus and re-posted with permission from

In recent years, Oriental medicine has been growing in popularity, forcing many in the Western medical community to sit up and take notice. Fifteen years ago, if you asked your primary care physician about acupuncture, he or she might have laughed you out of their office. Today, their responses have changed to something more accepting. While most will readily admit they don’t understand this ancient practice, there is a growing body of research that indicates it works for many conditions.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The practice of acupuncture originated thousands of years ago in China with the use of stones. It operates on the theory that energy, known as “chi” in the East — similar to bio-electricity in the West — must flow freely in the body. If there is a blockage, organs will not receive enough energy to function properly, leading to disease. Acupuncture seeks to open these blockages, allowing the body to heal itself. This is done by inserting very thin needles into combinations of points along fourteen energy pathways that cover the body. These pathways are called meridians.

Why Should You Use It?

The following five points offer compelling reasons to consider using acupuncture.

Reason 1: Efficacy

The most obvious reasons you should add a new treatment to your health care arsenal is that it works equally well as, if not better than, your current regimen, while causing fewer side-effects. Does acupuncture meet either of those criteria? According to a 1996 review of controlled clinical trials conducted around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that acupuncture successfully treats 28 conditions, including the number one affliction plaguing Americans — hypertension. The WHO also stated that acupuncture shows promise for treating 52 other conditions.

Since the WHO’s review was conducted, numerous clinical studies have been launched in the West, yielding mixed results. Many have concluded that acupuncture is no better than “sham” acupuncture — when patients are needled in non-acupuncture points. Critics of these studies cite their poor study design, as well as sample sizes that are too small to reach any meaningful conclusions. Based upon the inconclusive results, more funding needs to be allocated to research a health care modality that Americans are pursuing in record numbers. In 2007, there were 17.5 million acupuncture visits in the U.S., for an estimated out-of-pocket expense of $1.1 billion.

Before conducting more studies, researchers need to answer two questions. First, why are so many people looking outside of Western medicine for their answers? Each year there are roughly one billion doctor visits in the United States. In an overburdened system, where the average doctor appointment lasts only seventeen minutes, it would seem logical that thousands, if not millions, of patients could slip through the cracks. With so little time to render an accurate diagnosis, it’s no wonder that one in five patient visits results in a psychosomatic diagnosis.

From the patient’s point of view, a psychosomatic diagnosis often leaves them feeling as if their doctor has marginalized their physical complaints, if not outright dismissed them. Despite classifying symptoms as having a psychological (or mental) origin, doctors are reaching increasingly for their script pads. According to the CDC, 74% of doctor visits result in some form of drug therapy. Often, these drugs only mask the symptoms without making a dent in curing the underlying imbalance. Patients feel frustrated by the side effects and prospect of a life dependent upon chemicals. Soon, they see their only option for finding a lasting cure is to look outside of the current system.

The second, and more important question is, which style of acupuncture should the medical community be testing? Similar to the many styles of martial arts that exist, there are also many styles of acupuncture. When you consider the diversity of styles, it doesn’t seem appropriate to perform clinical trials on one style and make generalizations about an entire medical practice. Studies should first seek out the most effective styles for each condition. Then these styles should be tested against “sham” acupuncture as well as current mainstream therapies. Otherwise, there will never be accurate data with which to stem the growing rift between Eastern and Western medicine.

Recently, conducted a national survey of acupuncturists in the United States. Comments made by practitioners with more established practices had a common recommendation: Learn one of a handful of styles that are not currently taught in schools. Many attributed their success in part due to learning these other styles, asserting that the superior results they yielded were responsible for the strong word-of-mouth following they enjoyed with patients.

Having been one of the many patients who slipped through the cracks of Western medicine, my own journey led me through yoga, ayerveda, chiropractic, muscle testing, naturopathy, and eventually Chinese medicine. I landed on this path after being bounced around virtually every Western specialty. In total, I visited with more than 140 physicians over a fifteen-year period. Living in Boston afforded me access to many of the world’s leading hospitals and physicians. After hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, my cure was not found in Western medicine, it was found in acupuncture … a medical practice ridiculed by many of my Western physicians.

So, is acupuncture effective? ABSOLUTELY. Is all acupuncture created equal? No. In the absence of proper medical studies, it’s up to you to do your own research through trial and error. For me, the fourth style of acupuncture I tried was the one that brought about lasting relief.

One final point I would like to make on this topic is related to the safety of acupuncture when administered by trained professionals. The risk of injury or death is infinitesimally low — well below 1%. Compare this with the fact that the third leading cause of death in the United States is the Western medical system (given as “iatrogenic causes”).

Reason 2: Economy

There are two economic reasons to consider acupuncture. The first reason relates to your personal economic situation. For many conditions, acupuncture is a viable economic alternative to drug therapy. If you average the total cost of obtaining a prescription for chronic conditions (including routine doctor visits, blood tests for liver and kidney damage, and the prescription) the average weekly expense is often higher than that of acupuncture. Factor in acupuncture’s goal of curing many conditions that Western medicine merely aims to contain, and acupuncture begins looking very appealing.

[One viable solution is acupuncture. The average cost per appointment ranges from $15-35 in community clinic settings to $65-90 in private clinic settings. At these prices, acupuncture easily beats out the cost of most drug therapies and individual hospital or doctor’s office visits.]

To understand the second economic reason for using acupuncture, you need to take a macroeconomic view of the US. During 2011, the first of the Baby Boomers began retiring. Over the next ten years, the number of retirees is expected to grow by 80% to 72 million people. With people living longer and the cost of health care skyrocketing, it appears unlikely that we will be able to pay for the services needed to care for the elderly.

To put this in perspective, some economists estimate that the U.S. entitlement liabilities add to $115 trillion — Social Security ($15T), Medicare Part D ($20T), and Medicare ($80T). By comparison, the much- debated national debt appears rather frivolous at $15 trillion.

Entitlement liabilities are calculated using a net present value calculation. As such, the expenses for current and near-term retirees (Baby Boomers) have the largest weight in the calculation. Depending upon the interest rate, cost of living, and health care inflation assumptions used to calculate NPV, the net result is an additional cost of $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion per year over the next 30 years.

So, why should you begin using acupuncture? Consider how the increase in entitlement spending will affect the money supply. The average spending required for Baby Boomers ($2.25T) will expand the money supply at a rate of 25% per year. Keep in mind that this does not include the current $1.7 trillion deficit. At our Greece-like debt-levels, it’s unlikely investors will want to lend us money to pay for our entitlements in the future. To pay for it, the US. will have to print money, which sets the stage for hyper-inflation. Businesses will find it difficult to survive, and millions more people will lose their jobs and benefits. This is the reason gold has risen to $1,700/oz.

One way the government may decide to combat this scenario is to ration health care spending. If you are a retiree, you are faced with not receiving care. This will lead to higher prices. Inflation will not only increase the cost of care, but you may see your saving erode so fast that you cannot afford care. Since most companies view doctors as their end customer, patients are left without a voice. With so many patients and fewer doctors expected in the future, how likely is it that your doctor will accommodate your circumstances when there are so many other paying customers they can treat?

As previously discussed, acupuncture offers an affordable solution to your needs. Additionally, acupuncturists who are not beholden to insurance companies or group practices may find it easier to barter patients’ goods and services for their services. Lastly, acupuncture is a service that offers immediate healing. Writing a prescription for a drug you cannot afford is not a service that offers any healing.

Reason 3: Environment

Whether or not you believe in drug therapy, you may not have a choice if you are one of the 40 million Americans exposed to pharmaceuticals through your drinking water. This is a testament to how prevalent pharmaceuticals have become in our daily life. While these exposures only exist in trace amounts, they are on the rise. There’s no telling how high they will be in twenty years.

Replacing drugs with non-toxic acupuncture will reduce the amount of stress you place on your internal and external ‘environments’. The body was not designed to consume so many chemicals day in and day out. As the waistlines of America have grown, so too has the storage space for these chemicals. Many toxins find homes in fat cells, only to poison the body over lengthy periods as they are released back into the bloodstream. This can lead to a variety of diseases.

I believe the Chinese medical pharmacy offers a viable solution for many of our maladies. While it may not offer a cure to the ‘super bugs’ we’ve seen as of late, antibiotics are not exactly the blockbuster category that drug companies have been pushing through direct-to-consumer advertising to earn billions of dollars in profits. For these indications–heart disease, sexual dysfunction, incontinence, cancer, and so on–Chinese herbal remedies do offer alternatives.

It’s important to note that roughly a quarter of all pharmaceuticals on the market are actually derived from herbs. However, rather than use the entire plant, science extracts what it thinks are the active ingredients without giving thought to how these chemicals interact with the discarded parts of the plant once inside the body. The East takes a ‘holistic’ approach to health, whereas the West takes a reductionistic approach. If you are reading this article from the confines of a cubicle in a large corporation, you know how well the compartmentalized organizational structure works when departments don’t talk with each other or even know what’s happening two rows away. This is the same reason the reductionistic, modern medical system is failing so many people.

Lastly, herbal medicine is a sustainable resource that adds to the environment. It needs to be cultivated, not replaced by a process that destroys our drinking water and food supply.

Reason 4: Energy

As described by Chris Martenson in his video series, The Crash Course, there is a strong argument to be made that the world has already put peak oil in its rear view mirror. What does this mean? In the future, each barrel of oil will become increasingly expensive as it becomes more difficult to extract and refine. We are already seeing this reflected in oil prices, which politicians are conveniently attributing to speculators. The scary scenario comes when output dwindles to the point where supply equals demand. Countries that produce oil will begin to hoard their resources, which will dramatically reduce the available supply of oil on the market and further increase prices. If new energy sources are not discovered and made available on a mass scale, the world could see devastating disruptions to the food supply, not to mention health care.

Consider how much the health care system depends upon energy. Every diagnostic test, drug, medical supply, and device requires substantial amounts of energy and petroleum to run, produce, and ship. Now, compare that to acupuncture. Simply put, you can administer acupuncture by candle light. Similarly, Chinese medical diagnostic testing relies on something Western doctors have lost touch with … the patient. The primary diagnosis is performed by palpitating the pulse, along with other body parts, and an examination of the tongue. In addition to the patient’s history, acupuncturists take into account the patient’s body odor, appearance, and other physical and vocal observations. Chinese medicine creates a full medical system built around the patient and what you readily have available at your disposal.

If the next crisis we encounter is an energy crisis, acupuncture could be a valuable option for solving your health care needs.

Reason 5: Experience

Transitioning from a position in marketing or accounting to become an acupuncturist is more than a simple career change, it’s a calling. Many of the people I’ve met who made this leap did so at the end of their own journey through a health care crisis. It’s these types of experiences that build compassion in a practitioner, which brings us back to the first question asked in Reason 1–why are so many people looking outside of Western medicine? In addition to seeking answers to their problems, patients are looking for a level of compassion not found in Western medicine.

Another aspect of experience is ‘age’. When someone decides to go to medical school, it’s typically within a year or two after graduating from their undergraduate studies, if not immediately after. They’ve hardly worked or had any real world experience, yet they choose to make an enormous investment in a career at an age when they hardly know themselves. If they don’t like their job or interacting with people, too bad. Once you go down a path with such an large debt burden, it’s difficult to get off. Now, fast forward ten years into their career. If they feel stuck in the wrong career, pressured by hospital administrators to squeeze in more appointments, or have grown tired of a never ending stream of “whining patients”, then the result will be compassion-less care.

Compare that to someone who is thirty-five years old, knows him or herself very well, has worked for a number of years in various positions and companies, and endured their own health care issues. It would appear the latter person is making a more informed decision that could lead to a happier career choice, and possibly more compassionate care.


Acupuncture offers an effective alternative for people who need help during these difficult economic times, as well as people who are interested in protecting the environment and conserving energy. It’s important to remember that there are many different styles of acupuncture that have developed over thousands of years. For Western science to accurately test acupuncture’s efficacy against “sham” acupuncture or current Western treatments, researchers first need to find the best styles of acupuncture for a given condition.

Chris Titus is a native of Boston, Massachusetts. Over the past fifteen years, he has held various investment research positions with a focus on the health care sector. His first novel, The God Complex, aims to make traditional Chinese medicine more accessible by giving it a mainstream story line. The resulting work offers readers an exciting and painless introduction to acupuncture, martial arts, and herbology. The novel draws upon his own experiences as both a patient in search of a cure and as a health care analyst. He hopes his novel will reach out to patients struggling to find a diagnosis, the families trying to understand their plight, and health care professionals. Chris plans to use the proceeds of his book to return to school and train as an acupuncturist.

GorgeousSMALLThis information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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The Top 3 Supplements To Support Long-Term Health | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Americans are now spending more than $17 billion a year on supplements for health and wellness.  Many people have no idea if they should be taking something, what they should be taking, why the should taking it, or whether or not those supplements are actually doing anything for them.  It’s total pill-popping confusion out there!

Many people who are perhaps taking the right basic categories of supplements, often are still not getting much out of them due to poor quality.  So what’s a forward-thinking, health-minded individual, or health-minded-wanna-be to do?  In this article, I hope to shed a little light on the topic so that if you’re one of the people currently experiencing “supplement overwhelm,” you can get a better idea of where to start…

The supplements that will be the most important for you will ultimately depend on your gender, your overall state of health, your typical diet and lifestyle habits, and your age.  That said, there are still several foundational nutritional supplements that can be considered to be the most important and that would be highly supportive for most people when taken on a daily basis.

The Top 3 Most Important Daily Supplements

  • Whole food form Multi-vitamin
  • Whole food form Trace Minerals
  • High quality Omega 3 Fatty Acids

High Quality, “Whole-Food” Multi-Vitamins

Most vitamins cannot be made by the body.  They must be taken in as food. In an ideal world, our best sources would obviously be fresh, organic, in-season whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals.  But let’s be honest, accessing and eating nothing but pristine quality whole foods can be a bit of a challenge. Your busy schedule and financial concerns may make it difficult to commit to cooking high quality organic, healthy foods as often as you know you should.

Over farming has depleted the US soil of valuable nutrients

Even for those of you who are able to eat only the most pristine, natural diet, another factor involves the actual food supply itself.  As a result of conventional farming methods, soil depletion, pesticides, air pollution, and erosion, the foods now grown in American soil have only a fraction of the nutrient value that they did 50 years ago.  That means a fraction of the vitamins and minerals necessary for normal human cell function.  Some sources say even up to 50% less!

And as if that’s not enough, the common cooking methods used in the US also deplete the nutrients in your food and seriously impair its nutritional value.

So, realizing that you cannot always obtain the organic, whole, unprocessed foods you need, and knowing how easy it is for valuable nutrients to be reduced and destroyed, you now know why I believe adding a high-quality multivitamin to complement your diet is a sound move.

Hint #1: Not all vitamins are created equal! The best vitamin supplements out there are referred to as whole-food vitamins.  This means that they are created from real plant or animal sources, not synthetically manufactured in a lab.

Hint #2:  If the suggested daily dose is one pill/capsule/tablet per day, odds are you’re wasting your time and money.  It’s virtually impossible to get all the necessary nutrients in a high quality form from a single unit vitamin, if that’s the dose they’re recommending, you can bet they’re using cheap, synthetic forms of the vitamins.

For the complete low-down on how to choose the right high quality brand for you, check out “Are You Taking The Right Vitamin Supplements?

High Quality Probiotics

Optimal digestion is the first critical step for your body to absorb – and thus, subsequently utilize – all vital nutrition. The act of digestion requires that your body has the proper balance of quality food, enzymes and a healthy population of beneficial microorganisms that live in your gut, known as Probiotics or “the friendly bacteria.”

Our ancestors never had to take probiotics supplements because during ancient times, these little bacteria were plentiful in the soils and we easily got what we needed from eating natural, whole foods.  In today’s world, however, antibiotic drugs, chlorinated and fluoridated water, antibacterial soaps and gels, alcohol and pollutants have dramatically reduced the population of not just the dangerous microbes, but also the beneficial microbes that we rely on in order to maintain healthy digestive and immune systems.

For everything you need to know to pick out the best quality probiotics, check out Probiotics- Essential For Optimal Health.

High Quality Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids

Fat is a critical component of the membranes of every cell in your body.  It also makes up 60-70% of your brain, is the precursor to many of your major hormones and is required for the proper absorption of many vitamins and minerals.  The list of reasons why low-fat diets are bad and why you absolutely need healthy fats in your diet is a long one.

Obviously, fats are not all created equal.  There are certain fats that are detrimental to your body and others that are essential to every cell in your body.  The essential fats are literally known as “essential fatty acids (EFA’s).”  Your body cannot manufacture these fats. In other words, you have to get them in our diet.  The best sources of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA) are healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil, chia and flax seeds, avacados, walnuts, and especially lots of fresh, organic wild-caught fish and grass-fed, free-range meats and eggs.

However, because most people’s diets are not as rich in these healthy fat sources as they should be and because much of what they do get get’s damaged during typical cooking methods, it’s still advisable to take a supplemental form of Omega 3’s such as a high quality fish or krill oil.  Personally, I recommend Krill oil over fish oil.  Krill oil is similar to fish oil but compared to fish oil, offers better absorbability, lower toxicity, and a more concentrated dose of EPA and DHA.

For the full skinny on the truth about fats and how fat got an undeserved bad rap, check out Still Think Low Fat Is Healthy? (Part 1) and Still Think Low Fat Is Healthy? (Part 2).

Other Important Nutrients

High Quality Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are the same as elements—the very same elements that grace the periodic table inside a high school chemistry text book like chromium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and so on. They are the elements that comprise the entire universe, the earth, and your very own body.

Chemical and electrical processes are occurring within your body at every moment. These processes can only function correctly if the proper balance of minerals is continually being supplied to your system. Traditionally, you’d get all the minerals you needed by eating fresh fruits and vegetables grown in nutrient-rich soil, but as I’ve already mentioned, modern farming techniques and erosion have left our soil nutritionally bankrupt.

Some sources claim that 90 percent of Americans suffer from trace mineral deficiency. If you are one of these folks—whether because of frequent exercise or stress and a diet of overly refined or nutrient-poor foods—your body will attempt inform you of the dire situation by creating food cravings, muscle cramps, and general fatigue.  You might be able to find a good quality multi vitamin that also supplies adequate trace minerals, or you might need to take them separately.

See The Truth About Salt, to find out how natural sea salt (vs chemically stripped white table salt) can support healthy  mineral levels.

Vitamin D3

A flood of scientific research has emerged over the last four years revealing that vitamin D is far more important than was previously thought.  It is now known that Vit D deficiency can lead to cancer, osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders, suppressed immune function (leading to frequent colds, Flu’s, infections, etc) and depression…and that many Americans are significantly Vit D deficient.

Currently, the U.S. RDA for vitamin D is 400 IU (international units) for the majority of the population.  This dose was recommended to prevent rickets, which works well, but does nothing to give the far more important protection from cancer, heart disease and infections and still leaves most people pitifully vitamin D deficient.

The best way to optimize your vitamin D levels is through safe sun exposure.   Your body has the ability to transforms sunshine into all the vitamin D it needs.  You will need to carefully determine your own sunlight needs and tolerances, and learn what kind of exposure you need to tan without burning. To be very general, think exposing 40% of your skin, without sunblock, to sunlight anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours at a time, at least 3 times per week, depending on your skin type and environmental factors. Use your skin as a guide- If you have light-colored skin, you can use the color of your skin to tell you when you’ve had enough sun and it’s time to get in the shade (or cover up using a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a hat).  Stay out just long enough so that your skin turns the very lightest shade of pink.

There are times, however, when seasonal or geographical factors make it nearly impossible to get enough sun and supplementation is recommended.   When choosing an oral vitamin D supplement, be aware that there are two types – one is natural and one is synthetic.  The natural one is D3 (cholecalciferol), which is the same vitamin D your body makes when exposed to sunshine.  The synthetic one is vitamin D2, which is sometimes called ergocalciferol.  Vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2, and is clearly a better alternative.

Based on the most recent research, the current recommendation is around 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight.  That means for a child weighing 40 pounds, the recommended average dose would be 1,400 IU’s daily, and for a 170-pound adult, the dose would be nearly 6,000 IU’s.  Take a dose of 35 IUs per pound of body weight of a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement per day.  This ends up being between 2,000-6,000 IU for most people.  Elderly and darker skinned people will need higher doses.  Just remember that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, so although these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what you likely need, it is simply impossible to make a blanket recommendation without blood testing.

You’ll notice that the headline of each section of this article read, “High Quality…”  Folks, this is really important- don’t be fooled by very low-priced, or even by very high-priced supplements! Many supplements claim to provide great benefits at very low prices, but when you dig deeper you often find out that cheap, synthetic ingredients were used.  At the other end of the spectrum, the producers of more expensive supplements try to convince you a special process or hard-to-find ingredient is needed to justify the higher cost.  In my opinion, often times this is simply a marketing ploy.  My best suggestion is to contact a qualified healthcare provider to recommend a formula with proven results.

This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System During The Cold And Flu Season | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Yup, it’s that time of year my friends- the time for holiday shopping, over eating and, in case you haven’t noticed, the return of the Cold and Flu season.  Before you go pumping a bunch of unnecessary, largely ineffective and potentially dangerous vaccinations into your body, it’s time to remind yourself of the things you can do to support your immune system naturally.  By now, you’re probably aware that getting plenty of water, rest and exercise are the basics of prevention, but there are a few more things you can do that can dramatically increase your odd of staying happy and healthy through this season.  

1)  Get a targeted, immune-boosting Acupuncture treatment and Herbal support.

Fun Fact:  In Ancient China, doctors were only paid as long as their patients were well.  As soon as a patient fell ill, payment to the doctor was stopped!  As I’m sure you can imagine, the medicine was largely created with a primary focus on PREVENTION- and obviously, that’s really the BEST medicine.

Acupuncture has been used to support immune function and treat the common cold and Flu since the early 17th century.  Modern research has now proven that Acupuncture and  Chinese Herbal Medicine can significantly enhance the functioning of the immune system, helping to dramatically speed up your recovery time if you’re already sick or prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

Always call your Acupuncturist at the first signs of getting sick!

Early signs include chills, fever, fatigue, sore throat, headache or body aches.  Getting an acupuncture treatment or a prescription for herbal medicine as soon as possible can prevent you from getting the full-blown illness/infection, shorten the duration of the illness if it’s already started, resolve those pesky lingering symptoms (“the ick!”), and help repair immunity so you don’t get sick again.

For those of you who get colds/flu’s frequently, preventative Acupuncture treatments and prescribed herbal formulas will literally change your life!

2)  Take a high-quality, Wild Oil of Oregano

This very special herb is finally coming into the modern-day spotlight and is quickly becoming known as a potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic oil that can effectively fight off many different types of infections.  For treatment and prevention of illness, adults can dilute two drops wild oil of oregano in four ounces (120 ml) of water, and take 1-2 times daily. For children, dilute one drop in four ounces (120 ml) of water, and take 1-2 times daily.  Heads up! The liquid extracts are PUNGENT! Juice or any other natural liquid can be used in place of water, if it tastes too strong for you.  Personally, I prefer taking my Oregano oil in capsules, if you want to go that route, just be sure to take it according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Don’t use oregano oil internally if you are pregnant or nursing. Anyone with a very serious medical condition of any kind should always consult an Licensed Herbalist or professional medical practitioner before taking oregano oil.)

3) Eat a nutrient-dense, toxin-free diet.

You’ve heard it said a thousand times- you are what you eat!  You want to have a strong immune system? Then avoid the foods that will weaken weaken it!  These include sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods and oils.  Sugar is a big one: sugar, whether from a Snickers bar or from refined carbs, acts as ‘fertilizer’ for pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and fungi that can set your immune system up for an assault by a respiratory virus.  Check out Top 10 Dietary Guidelines To Live By for the complete run-down of the optimum diet for supporting your best health.

4) Get your Vitamins!

There’s good reason to be taking a high-quality multi-vitamin all year round.  During the cold and flu season, though, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting plenty of Vitamin D in particular.  The research is quite clear, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections.  It’s even possible that you could avoid colds and flu’s entirely by maintaining your vitamin D level in the optimal range.  The average adult dose Vitamin D required to reach healthy levels is 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D per day, if you’re taking an oral supplement. For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight. However, keep in mind that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin D status is dependent on numerous factors, so while these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone’s needs.

The best source of Vitamin D, though, is through safe sun exposure.  When you expose your skin to sunshine, your skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. This form of vitamin D is water soluble, unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements, which are unsulfated. The water soluble form can travel freely in your blood stream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport.  The sun exposure option may not always be feasible for everybody, though, and certainly an oral vitamin D3 supplement will be much better than nothing at all.

This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Are You Taking The Right Vitamin Supplements? | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Americans are now spending more than $17 billion a year on supplements for health and wellness.  Strangely enough, the rates of many forms of chronic disease have not changed, while the rates of many others have actually increased.  Why is that?  Well, of course there are many factors involved, but a major contributing factor is that despite daily vitamin supplementation, most people are still seriously deficient in the critical vitamins and minerals that their bodies require on a daily basis and one thing is fairly clear, their supplements aren’t helping very much.

Here’s the basic problem: all vitamin supplements are NOT created equal.  Don’t be fooled by nutrient claims on the labels or inflated costs- this information is often totally misleading.  You could not only be wasting your time and hard-earned money, but despite your best intentions, you may not be effectively supporting your health either.

Oxymorons: Airline food, rap music, synthetic vitamins.

The vast majority of vitamin supplements, yes- even the expensive brands- typically use synthetic vitamin isolates rather than the vitamin in it’s whole, natural state.  Real, complete vitamin complexes are derived from whole-food sources; i.e.- something living, and as such, impart life to your body.  The synthetic, fractionated chemical copies of vitamins which are used in most supplements are manufactured in a lab.  They never grew in the ground, never saw the light of day, were never alive or part of anything living.  In your body they’re basically just another drug.

If that’s not compelling enough for you, it’s important to understand the real problem with this scenario:  Synthetic isolates are only a fraction of the whole vitamin complex.  They’re a cheap copy of a part of the dynamic nutrient complex that your body actually requires in order to support your health.  Furthermore, another unfortunate flaw in modern nutritional research and manufacturing procedures is that they fail to take into account the simple fact that all nutrients operate in a complex system of interrelationships in the body, and requirements will vary greatly from person to person.  Instead, these complex variables are generally ignored and nutrients are studied and manufactured in relative isolation, compartmentalizing what is never compartmentalized in nature.

Unfortunately, the marketing geniuses of vitamin supplement companies have successfully created the myth that we can still derive total benefit from taking synthetic isolated vitamins.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  To fully understand this, you’ve got to understand what a vitamin actually is.

What Is A Vitamin?

“A vitamin is a working process consisting of essential nutrients, enzymes, co-enzymes, antioxidants, and essential trace mineral activators.” – Royal Lee, pioneer researcher in whole-food nutrition, 1956

In other words, natural vitamins are not simply solitary molecular compounds.  Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other natural biochemicals are meant to come as a package deal, then work closely together to achieve nutritional efficacy in your body.  If one part is missing, or in the wrong form or the wrong amount, entire chains of metabolic processes can’t proceed normally.  This is almost always the case with synthetic isolate vitamins.  The result? A gradual downward spiraling of your health despite your best intentions.

The bottom line is that vitamins can’t be isolated from their complexes and still effectively perform their specific functions within the cells of your body.

For Example…

Ascorbic acid is not the same as vitamin C.  The Ascorbic acid in the vast majority of vitamin supplements is just a laboratory-synthesized copy of naturally occurring ascorbic acid, which itself is merely the “antioxidant wrapper” portion of natural vitamin C that acts as a natural preservative.  It basically just serves to protect the functional parts of the vitamin from breaking down.  To say that Vitamin C is the same as Ascorbic Acid is like saying that a wheel is the same as an automobile, where obviously it is just a small part of the automobile.

Whole Vitamin C, on the other hand, includes ascorbic acid plus the P factors rutin and bioflavonoids which maintain vascular integrity; K factors which promote healthy clotting; J factors which help transport oxygen to the tissues; important enzymes such as Tyrosinase; and a host of other components.

If any of these parts are missing, vitamin C activity becomes limited and your body cannot utilize most of what you’ve tried to give it.  Odds are you might as well just flush the ‘vitamin C’ supplement in your medicine cabinet down the toilet, since that’s where it’s going to end up in the long run anyways.

The same story applies to Alpha tocopherol not being the same as vitamin E. Retinoic acid not being the same as vitamin A, and so on.

Why is it important to take quality Multivitamins?

Most vitamins cannot be made by the body.  They must be taken in as food. In an ideal world, our best sources would obviously be fresh, organic, whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals.  However, accessing and eating high quality whole foods regularly may be a personal challenge for you and your family. Your busy schedule and financial concerns may make it difficult to commit to cooking high-quality organic, healthy foods as often as you know you should.

For those of you who are able to eat only the most pristine diet, another factor involves the actual food supply itself.  As a result of conventional farming methods, soil depletion, pesticides, air pollution, and erosion, the foods now grown in American soil have only a fraction of the nutrient value that they did 50 years ago.  That means a fraction of the vitamins and minerals necessary for normal human cell function.  Some sources say even up to 50% less!  So even if you’re eating a really healthy diet with all the right foods, the nutritional bankruptcy of those foods usually means that it’s still necessary to take high-quality supplements.

As if that’s not enough, most cooking methods also deplete the nutrients in your food and seriously impair its nutritional value.

So, realizing that you cannot always obtain the organic, whole, unprocessed foods you need, and knowing how easy it is for valuable nutrients to be destroyed, you now know why I believe adding a good multivitamin to complement your diet is a sound move.

What Are The Best Supplements?

Many people have no idea if they should be taking something, what they should be taking, why the should taking it, or whether or not those supplements are actually doing anything for them.  It’s total pill-popping confusion out there!  Check out my Top 5 Recommended  Supplements for info on the most important things most people should be taking.

Regarding quality, the best vitamin supplements out there are called whole-food supplements.  Of the over 110 companies who sell vitamins in the US, only a handful of them use whole-food vitamins.  The reason is simple: whole food vitamins are expensive to make.  Instead of paying to produce quality, whole-food vitamins, a handful of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the world are paid to mass produce synthetic vitamins for the majority of these 110 vitamin companies, who then slap their own label on them and claim theirs is the best.  Clever…

Quality whole-food vitamins, on the other hand, are obtained by taking a vitamin-rich plant, removing the water and the fiber in a cold vacuum process, free of chemicals, and then packaging for stability. The entire vitamin complex in this way can be captured intact, retaining its functional and nutritional integrity, and upon ingestion, the body is not required to draw on its own reserves in order to complete any missing elements from the vitamin complex.

Most of these whole-food supplements will have nutrient facts on the labels that might look unfamiliar to you.  You’re used to seeing labels with lots of big, pharmaceutical-sounding words that don’t resemble foods that you recognize.  Whole food supplements will list the food the vitamin was extracted from either on other labels next to each nutrient included or in the “Ingredients” section you’ll see a list of the dozens of vegetables and fruits that the vitamins came from.

Red Flags To Watch Out For

What is the marketing philosophy behind the synthetic vitamins available in the supermarket and chain vitamin stores?  Profit, of course!  Marketing is the art of persuading by suspending logic and twisting data into junk science. For example, do you know the actual difference between Wheaties and Total, two cereals put out by the same company?  Total is advertised as being more nutrient-rich than Wheaties.  Look at the labels.  What justifies the extra $1.30 for a box of Total?  Answer: 1.5¢ worth of synthetic vitamins sprayed over the Wheaties.  That’s it!  That’s what “vitamin enriched” always means.  The other trick word is “fortified.”  Generally, if you see either of those terms, it means that the food itself is basically devoid of nutrients value, so they tried to pump it up with a few “vitamins.”  Cheap, fake, dead vitamins.

Another thing to watch out for is the recommended daily dosage.  If you’re currently taking a multivitamin with a recommended serving size of one pill a day, you’re pretty much wasting your time.  It’s very unlikely that any single pill can pack enough vitamins and minerals to truly make any real impact on your health.  There are a few legitimate ways to compress natural nutrients, but not to the extreme that a single tablet provides you all the vitamin and mineral levels you need.

It’s also vitally important to know when to take your multivitamins.  You should take a few multi tablets first thing in the morning and with lunch, or with an early dinner to help optimize your nutrient absorption, the better chance you’ll have of truly fortifying your diet.

In addition to adhering to a smart lifestyle with a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sunshine and good sleep, adding whole-food multivitamins to your routine can help maintain and boost your overall health and is one of the best things you can do for your body.  For more information on my personal favorite brands, feel free to contact me personally.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

Sources & References:

The Doctor Within, “Natural Whole Food Vitamins: Ascorbic Acid Is Not Vitamin C,”

Somer, The Nutrition Report, “Vitamin C: A Lesson in Keeping An Open Mind,” p. 58

Price, Weston — Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Keats Publ. 1997

CDC –National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 47, no.19, June 1999.

Somer, Elizabeth— “Vitamin C: A Lesson in Keeping An Open Mind” The Nutrition Report

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