I am proud to announce that I recently became a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM), the first in the state of Michigan. The ABORM is a group of acupuncturists that have extensive experience in treating infertility and work together with Western medical practitioners to create a level of professionalism and excellence within the field. Many long-time ABORM members are the leaders in the community of Chinese medical reproductive medicine. The ABORM was created to set a standard of excellence in treatment of Chinese medicine and infertility. Fellows must acquire a specific amount of continuing education credits in Chinese reproductive medicine and at least 2 years of practice before being eligible to sit for the ABORM certification exam. Fellows are only inducted after passing this examination. [Read more…]
I just spoke at the Holistic Moms Network meeting in my area. What a great group of women! I love to see people committed to following a healthy way of life and passing it on to future generations! I will say that there was a fair bit that I explained while going through these handouts, so I’m not sure how much of it will translate easily into a blog. But those who couldn’t make the seminar have asked for it, so here it is 🙂
Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions!
Monica Mae Leibson, Dipl. Ac., Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula
Intro to Acupressure for Children
Acupressure can be a great way to help your child heal quickly from illness. Choose a time of day when your child is most calm, be it after a bath or just before bedtime. Kindly let them know that this will feel good and help them to get better. For young children, best to create a silly song and dance to go with the session. To stimulate the points you can choose from a few methods: [Read more…]
Many people turn to acupuncture and Chinese medicine for anxiety and depression. For many people, anxiety only presents itself in specific situations. For many others, however, a constant sensation of anxiety can be present on a daily basis. Understanding the “presentation” of anxiety is key in treating it from a traditional Chinese medical perspective. [Read more…]
Many of you who are reading this are aware of the unlimited benefits of getting acupuncture and bodywork on regular basis! However, what do you do with your children when it comes to their health?
Children have very dynamic life and their bodies are rapidly changing. They are under a constant struggle between acclimating to new environments vs. their natural instinct of being who they are. As adults we have a hard time juggling between those factors at times, can you imagine how overwhelming physically and emotionally it can be for your kid? [Read more…]
Naturopathic medicine has long espoused the connection between digestive health and overall wellness. The internal ‘terrain’ of the body determines susceptibility to illness and the general state of health, and has everything to do with the ecosystem of the gut. The term ‘dysbiosis’ refers to an imbalance of this internal ecosystem, a complex environment of microflora, chemical signaling, and immune activity. Disturbances of the gut can have far-reaching effects including digestive symptoms, immune issues like allergies or autoimmunity, and mood or neurological conditions. Fortunately, naturopathic medicine specializes in identifying and resolving imbalances of the gut.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the theory of “Qi Energy”. Qi energy is what guides all functions in our body – breath, movement, reproduction, digestion are all functions of qi. In TCM, every organ has Qi energy and each organ’s qi oversees different functions of the body. Every organ has a season in which the functions of that organ are “in the spotlight”. The organ (and qi) associated with the spring is the Liver.
Spring is a good time for rejuvenation and change. It is a also good time to think about supporting the Liver. In TCM, the Liver Qi regulates the flow of qi throughout the whole body. There are over 20 kinds of qi that the Liver QI keeps flowing smoothly. Stress in our life tends to effect the Liver qi. When this happens, the Liver qi does not flow smoothly, and it gets stagnant. Headaches, PMS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Depression, Irritability are all thought to be associated with Liver Qi stagnation. There are many ways we can support the Liver and assist it in its job. [Read more…]
Once again nutritional supplements are in the news, this time the attorney general of New York State has threatened legal action against four leading chains (GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart) for selling mislabeled products. According to the report from New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, investigation of store brand herbal products revealed that only 21% of herbal products contained DNA of the plants purported by the label, including the commonly used herbs Echinacea, Ginseng and Ginkgo biloba.
Though supplement quality is known to vary widely, the New York investigation has been criticized for using potentially inaccurate assessment methodology. In a formal statement by Council for Responsible Nutrition, president Steve Mister cites the methods favored by botanical scientists for detecting plant material in products, stating that “…different identification test methods, from simple titration to chromatography and mass spectrometry, are appropriate for different stages of the processing—from the whole plant to the extract, to the finished product.” Measuring DNA of the finished product may not be an accurate method of detecting presence of plant material in supplements. Harvard expert on nutritional supplements, Dr. Pieter Cohen, commented that the investigation results were so extreme that they were likely inaccurate, and it was possible that the tests had failed to detect the presence of plants because the manufacturing process had destroyed their DNA. There is a precedent for using DNA barcoding in investigation of herbal supplements from a 2013 Toronto study, which found below 50% accuracy in label claims for the products investigated.
While nutritional supplements in the United States are technically regulated by the FDA through the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, the law is not fully implemented to regulate dietary supplements for quality. As required by DSHEA regulations, dietary supplements are required to follow FDA Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) guidelines, which apply to pharmaceuticals as well as supplements. In the years since DSHEA was passed, legislation calling for more stringent quality control have been introduced and voted down. Critics of amending DSHEA claim that regulation of supplements as drugs will restrict consumer access and drive up costs. On the other side, critics of DSHEA cite the multitude of safety issues with supplements causing illness and even death, and the problematic atmosphere created by DSHEA which allows for a free-market with the onus for quality control and safety on the profit-driven manufacturer. In a recent article by Harvard’s Dr. Cohen: “DSHEA creates perverse incentives for unscrupulous manufacturers to out-compete legitimate companies by adding undeclared, illegal ingredients including prescription medications, banned drugs and even entirely novel chemical compounds.” Advocates of greater implementation of DSHEA point out that the the regulatory processes created by the original legislation have never been enforced, and rather than amend the legislation it should be fully funded and implemented. For example, DSHEA stipulates that for new products (introduced since 1994), manufacturers must provide the FDA with evidence supporting a “reasonable expectation of safety.” This aspect of DSHEA has never been enforced.
There are several components of FDA regulation of nutritional supplements to consider. First is the accuracy of labeling and whether the contents of the bottle match what the label claims. Because the FDA does not have systems in place to implement DSHEA by regulating manufacturing content, there is little oversight beyond independent watchdog companies such as Consumer Labs analyze products and report on accuracy of labeling. Consumer Labs leads the field in independent product analysis, primarily using chromatography and mess spectrometry to analyze nutritional supplements for content. In addition to reporting on accuracy of label claims, Consumer Labs also reports on the presence of potentially hazardous substances like allergens and toxins.
Next, the role of the FDA (and potentially the DEA) is to ensure that no drug contaminants are incorporated in dietary supplements. In 2004, regulations were passed to ban ephedra and anabolic steroids from dietary supplements. An international study published in 2004 revealed that as much as 15% of dietary supplements contained pro-hormone, anabolic contents that were not declared on the label. Because pre-approval is not required for supplement sales, these contaminants are not detected until products have already been available on the market. Safety issues are only brought to light through consumer reporting or through medical intervention after serious adverse effects occur.
Finally, dietary supplement safety involves product efficacy, which is presently not required under DSHEA. The FDA does restrict claims made for the health benefits of nutritional products but does not require pre-approval of sales based on efficacy data. This matter was recently raised by the Federal Trade Commission against Dr. Mehmet Oz was for making unfounded claims about the health benefits of supplements. While the body of data for evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine is growing, there is a relative lack of clinical evidence for herbal and nutritional supplements. Without the support of clinical trials to verify safety and efficacy, any health claim made by a dietary supplement – especially the more fantastic the claim – might very well be too good to be true.
Beyond the safety issues of quality control and the efficacy of nutritional supplements are concerns over herb-drug or nutrient-drug interactions with medications, and contraindications with other health conditions. Safety warnings about known adverse effects, interactions and contraindications are required by the FDA regulations under DSHEA. The burden of proof falls on the FDA to ensure that these requirements are being met, and due to inadequate resources this may not be upheld.
Fortunately, naturopathic physicians are experts in the field of dietary supplement safety and efficacy, and are an excellent resource for information about nutritional supplements as well as prevention of interactions and contraindications. To address the many concerns about supplement quality, safety and efficacy discussed above, in my practice I almost exclusively recommend professional-line nutritional supplements that are manufactured with the highest possible standards. This means that the supplement manufacturer meets the following criteria:
- independent, third-party analysis of their product
- verified analysis of the suppliers of their raw material
- adherence to GMP
- routine batch testing of their products
- potency testing to verify dosing of label claim
- sufficient testing to confirm absence of contaminants
- verification of stability of shelf-life for their product
- evidence of total quality
- often, participation in clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of their product
Some nutritional supplements sold over-the-counter meet some of these criteria, but very few or none meet all of them. The only way to guarantee product safety is to choose nutritional supplements that elect to uphold the highest standards of quality, not because they are required to so by the inadequate implementation of DSHEA, but because they prioritize scientific research and rigorous standards.
There are dozens of professional-line ‘nutriceutical’ manufacturers that meet these criteria, and many of them dispense only to licensed providers or natural pharmacies. One such dispensary that only contracts with licensed providers and distributes top-quality nutriceutical products is Emerson Ecologics. Their quality standards, the Emerson Quality Program requires all manufacturers to submit to third-party analysis of their products. Beyond the basic quality standards, Emerson Ecologics also Silver and Gold Partner quality standards which meet the criteria listed above, which is what I look for in making recommendations for top-quality supplements for my patients.
As experts in nutritional supplement safety and efficacy, naturopathic doctors have long been involved with the political side of supplement regulation. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians has long advocated for the full implementation of DSHEA, but opposes legislation that would restrict access to supplements or regulate them as drugs. Because nearly 70% of Americans are taking some form of nutritional supplement, we support the FDA to fully and appropriately regulate them according to the purview of this legislation.
Dates: The first Thursday evening of every month, 7-8pm
- February 5th, 2015
- March 5th, 2015
- April 2nd, 2015
- May 7th, 2015
- June 4th, 2015
Location: All meetings will be held at Michigan Associates of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine
7001 Orchard Lake Road, Suite #120, West Bloomfield, MI 48322
There is no cost to attend. RSVP required (248) 737-7126
Group Moderator: Julie Shindler-Cohen, MSTOM, Dipl. OM
Julie is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. Julie earned her degree from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago and completed an internship at the Zhejiang College of Medicine in Hangzhou, China. In addition, Julie has acquired additional training in fertility under Jane Lyttleton and pregnancy under Debra Betts. Julie has a passion for treating couples experiencing infertility and uses her knowledge and experience to assist couple during their journey.
Happy New Year! Often coming with the New Year is a resolution. We commonly try to clean up our diet and add a fitness regime. This year, why not try a “clean up” regime for your brain?
Your Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) controls everything that you do, feel, experience, and interpret. [Read more…]
This testimonial is from a dear friend of mine. I like it because she details how I worked with her WHILE she was going through her western medicine treatments. What I have learned in my 9 years of practice is that there are times for western medicine, there are times for alternative medicine, and most of the time they support each other beautifully.
If you choose to come in for acupuncture, it does not mean you have to forego all western medical treatment. I, too, see a primary care doctor, an obgyn, a naturopathic doctor, etc. We are all a part of the picture of personalized and holistic care for you and your family.
“For those who know me, you know the past year and half of my life has been a very difficult time for me. My back was severely injured leading me to have three major back surgeries, including an anterior-posterior spinal fusion. I was left in massive amounts of pain with permanent nerve damage from my injury. During this time of surgeries and recovery I spent much of time my talking with Monica Mae Leibson, my close friend and also an excellent acupuncturist, alternative medicine, and Chinese herbal medicine specialist. During this year of immense physical and emotional stress Monica Mae Leibson was a huge support and helped beyond what I thought was possible. I went through many treatments of acupuncture, herbal remedies, teas, tinctures and vitamins recommended and given to me by Monica Mae Leibson. Not only did all of these things help greatly with my pain and nerve damage, they also helped me cope with the depression of having these surgeries. When I saw my surgeon one month after my spinal fusion he was completely amazed and astounded that my recovery was going so good and my bones were growing back quicker than he had ever seen before. I owe all of this to Monica Mae Leibson and her help with her incredible skill and knowledge with acupuncture, alternative medicine, and vitamins. I also struggle with depression and major anxiety issues. Monica Mae Leibson has been treating me for years with these problems as well and it has helped more than any other methods I have tried. Monica Mae Leibson is an extraordinary and remarkable acupuncturist and guru of alternative medicine. Monica’s expertise, professionalism, and tranquility will not only amaze you but it will also heal you in ways one might never thought was possible. I urge anyone who has any struggles, physically or mentally, to go see Monica Mae Leibson and get treatments. I assure you that you will be amazed at how wonderful and healed you can feel by these treatments and remedies.” – Emily S. from Livonia, MI