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Monday, November 12, 2012

American Fitness magazine (Nov/Dec 2012) issue




I write for American Fitness quite regularly and this latest issue my Lipotropic article was published.  Incidentially, Tony Horton (celebrity personal trainer) was the cover and featured article.  Very funny because back in 2009 I met Tony at a BeachBody coaches conference when I was asked to speak to the group in launching a meal replacement product called Shakeology.  I had just finished P90X and took Tony's aerobic class (aspects of P90X) and placed myself in the 2nd row.  The class was some 150 or 200 folks.  Was very cool to meet my ''hero'' of the P90X program that Sharon and I so diligently followed.

Any say hope you enjoy the article on Tony and my piece on Lipotropic agents:



Tony Horton
Keeping on top by giving more
By Cherryh Butler
 
It's true that most fitness professionals will never see the level of success that celebrity trainer Tony Horton has enjoyed, but the creator of the nation's top-selling workout series, P90X®, is confident that many can easily increase their business and profitability by doing a few specific things—walking the walk, being generous and having a passion for learning new skills.
Horton, who set out decades ago to be an actor, but instead found his passion in the gym, believes the most successful trainers and instructors practice what they preach. They eat healthy, work out and take care of themselves. Horton says a trainer should be a role model to his clients. "If you are a trainer, lose the weight and walk the walk," he says. "Out of shape trainers that eat garbage won't be taken seriously. I can't show up at an event—even though I'm 54 years old—not cut and looking fit."
YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE TO GET
One of the best marketing tactics Horton has in his gym bag of tricks is giving freebies.
"A lot of trainers who are fairly successful don't like doing this, but you have to," says Horton, who recently returned from a military base tour, where he volunteered his time. "I still do this to this day; obviously you can't do it all the time, but you can show up to a seminar, and if you are passionate about what you do, and your main focus isn't making money to buy some fancy car—if your passion is altruistic in nature, then you can build your business."
DEVELOPING SKILLS
No one knows everything about fitness, not even Horton, who recalls a recent track workout he did with four UCLA coaches. "You have to be as fit as you can possibly be, and that means you've got to work on your weaknesses and learn a lot about other techniques," he explains. "I know a little about speed and interval drills, but these guys kicked my ass. And they also gave me fresh ideas. To build your business you've got to be in shape, and you can't be afraid of fresh ideas."
Getting stuck in just one type of fitness mode will kill any career. For example, Horton points out that there are only so many people who want to do yoga. The yoga instructor who adds something original to his class, like plyos or unique music, is going to build his business.
"I'm not saying you need to throw kettlebells in your yoga class, but you have to find what it is that makes you special, and then find ways to advertise that. A lot of things are going to fail, but that shouldn't slow you down. You fall on your face and get up. People who succeed continue to ask questions of their mentors, but when the answers don't resonate, then you ignore them and keep moving forward." AF
WHAT'S TONY DOING NOW?
Tony Horton is on a mission to expand his fitness empire. Using the success of his fitness DVDs he's propelling his brand into other industries. For example, his latest project is Tony Horton Kitchen, a meal planning, delivery service to help people learn to eat healthier. 

"A lot of people use exercise as an excuse to eat whatever they want, but exercise equals fitness and good food equals health," he says. "Without proper fuel—when one is fighting the other—you've got a problem."
The main barriers to proper eating are that people don't have time to cook and that they are also addicted to chemicals found in most foods. Horton's way of eating solves those problems. The system delivers precooked meals to clients each week. They can choose the number of meals they get and also among menu options: vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian. Horton says, "You need a certain amount of variety when it comes to nutrition, and I've provided a meal plan that's tasty but filled with nutrients."
Horton doesn't make any bones about the price; with meals costing about $11 each, it's not for a family of eight or a thrifty college student, but it is for someone who can afford to buy organic at a grocery store or eat out at restaurants.
"We have organic vegetables, free-range buffalo and wild salmon," he says. "Yeah, wild salmon is expensive, so it's not for everybody, but it's not any more expensive than ordering those things at a restaurant. It shouldn't be a luxury that only rich people do."
The next step will be a line of Tony Horton spices and sauces. But he isn't satisfied with staying in the kitchen—he's also working on a deal to endorse sunglasses designed for outdoor activities and is developing a sports clothing line with shoes being the ultimate end goal. A fitness watch may be in the future, too.
Cherryh Butler is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor in Kansas City, Mo. She has a master's in journalism and contributes to magazines, newspapers and websites all over the country.
YOGA, TONY HORTON STYLE
"I can things at my age...not because I can do a bunch of pull-ups. It's because I do yoga."
—Tony Horton

Tony Horton is renowned as the creator and star of the P90X® extreme home fitness system, but many don't know about his yoga side. In the mid-1990s Horton discovered this form of exercise and it changed his life. "I had heard of yoga," says Horton. "But I thought it was silly." Then a woman he was dating invited him to a hatha yoga class. "I had my butt handed to me!"
Horton understood that being bad at something was a good thing. And he began taking yoga classes regularly. He noticed that not only did yoga improve his flexibility and range of motion, it gave him more endurance during sports, such as rock climbing and skiing. "I found that yoga allowed me to push harder in all other aspects of fitness without getting hurt."
Horton developed his first yoga video, the little known Ho' Ala ke Kino (Awaken the Body) in 1994. Later he worked with a variety of fitness experts developing and testing the 90-day program that was to become Power 90 Extreme, or P90X® for short. And in this system, he included the key element of his own fitness regimen—a full 90-minute yoga class: Yoga X. "A lot of people balked at the idea of an hour and a half yoga video," recalls Horton. "But every class I ever took was that long—so that's what I did."
The practice is essential not only for one's physical well-being, but it can be used to deal with life stressors, such as being stuck in traffic or dealing with your boss. With yoga you are centered and connected.
Horton endeavors to practice yoga at least twice per week. In addition, he explores various styles when traveling across the country. Horton says, "Every time I have a new teacher I feel like a beginner."

Matthew Graham is an AFAA certified personal trainer and freelance writer.








November/December 2012
Introduction and Definition
A lipotropic agent is a compound that removes or inhibits the deposition of lipids (fats) in organs, specifically the liver. With recent weight management programs and the resurgence of the controversial hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) protocol for weight loss, lipotropic agents like the MIC (Methionine, Inositol & Choline) injection and betaine are coming back into the limelight. To better understand the use of these agents as potential weight loss compounds, we must understand the physiology and pharmacology behind lipotropics.1
History
During the early 1930s, the properties of lipotropic agents were elucidated predominantly by the work of Charles H. Best, a researcher in the field of liver disease and lipid chemistry. There was intense interest in lipotropics with regard to treating particular liver disorders as one perceives with the many peer-reviewed medical journal citings during the 1930s and into the 1950s. The focus was on treatment of fatty liver disease, a problem where lipids accumulate in the hepatic cells. In 1954, Dr. Albert Simeons published his work on the use of a female hormone called hCG in a protocol for significant weight reductions in obese patients.2,3 Today this protocol is again gaining notoriety in a revised format, and with the aid of utilizing lipotropic agents.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease was noted to exist as early as the 1800s and agents were desired to help remove triglyceride or fat collections that poisoned the liver from overconsumption of alcoholic beverages. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a fairly benign process at its onset, was eventually recognized to lead to a more worrisome disorder called NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis) in the 1980s at the Mayo Clinic.4 Both nonalcoholic fatty liver and NASH are due primarily to obesity, dysglycemia (diabetes) and hypertriglyceridemia (elevated triglycerides).
A weight loss management program should not be of such narrow focus as to just drop unsightly fat from our bodies, but rather should include loss of visceral and organ fat as well. That is where lipotropic agents come into play. Not only may they be useful in mobilizing fats for weight loss, but they help in reversing the detrimental lipid build-up in organs, especially the liver, that can lead to disease and illness.
Research
The lipotropic agent betaine (trimethylglycine, TMG) is an example of an orally administered compound having dual functions as an osmolyte to protect cells, proteins and enzymes from environmental stress, as well as being a methyl group donor. Betaine is a natural extract from sugar beets and is derived from choline. An important function of betaine is to increase liver glutathione levels while lowering homocysteine concentrations. Betaine is able to synthesize l-methionine from the amino acid homocysteine. Biochemically it participates in the methionine cycle in the liver and kidneys as a methyl donor and neutralizer of free radicals and hydroxyl groups. Inadequate methyl group levels can lead to hypomethylation in important enzymatic pathways that affect hepatic proteins. This methyl group deficiency can result in elevated plasma homocysteine concentrations (known as an independent risk factor for coronary disease and stroke), and it can also result in inadequate fat metabolism leading to steatosis or fatty liver disease. With inadequate betaine consumption in our diet, the result is serum lipid abnormalities or dyslipidemia.5
Choline is a water-soluble essential nutrient and lipotropic agent often grouped with the B-family of vitamins. Choline protects the liver against environmental toxins and poisonings. One way choline protects the liver is by detoxifying amines, byproducts of protein metabolism. In one experiment liver cells were rescued with doses of choline in an intentional poisoning with carbon tetrachloride in laboratory animals.6 In our diet, the best source of choline is lecithin, also known as phosphatidylcholine.7 Lecithin is found naturally in egg yolk and soy beans. Choline goes through an oxidative process converting it to the metabolite betaine, itself a potent lipotropic and free radical scavenger. When we consume fat and lipids and they are absorbed in our alimentary tract, from there they are transported through the bloodstream to the liver in chylomicrons, a type of lipoprotein. Within the liver, these fats and cholesterol are packaged into very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) for transportation through blood to tissues that need them. Phosphatidylcholine, or choline, is a component of this transport VLDL particle and without it, the fat and cholesterol would accumulate in a negative way in the liver. Making sure there are no choline deficiencies in our diet, or even making available larger doses of choline, ensures us of mobilizing fat out of the liver and back into circulation to be used for fuel or other purposes by cells.
Dietary cholesterol was shown in experiments to slow down phospholipid turnover in the liver. Conversely, choline and betaine were shown by researchers Dr. Andrew J. Perlman and Dr. I.L. Chaikoff to speed up phospholipid metabolism within an hour after choline ingestion. The choline effects of mobilizing fats appear to linger for up to 12 hours after consumption.8 Diets high in refined grains (low in whole-grain breads, for example) have a relative deficiency in both betaine and choline. This is another reason why whole grains are preferred over refined or processed grains. Besides the lipid effects, low levels of dietary choline and betaine lead to elevated homocysteine levels and their untoward effects on the cardiovascular system.9
It’s noteworthy that the mitochondrial enzyme carnitine palmitoyltransferase-I (CPT-I) is responsible for fatty acid metabolism and is the rate-limiting step of the fatty acid oxidation pathway making it of interest in the treatment of obesity. Researchers feeding high-fat and choline-betaine deficient diets to laboratory animals noticed an increase in NASH with an inactivation or oxidation of the CPT-I mitochondrial enzyme activity.10 Modulation and manipulation of CPT-I may affect energy metabolism and food intake, and research is ongoing into the effects of both stimulation and inhibition of CPT-I and its relationship to obesity management.11
In 1937 Dr. Helen Tucker and Dr. H.C. Eckstein determined methionine to be a lipotropic agent. The experiments of Charles Best and Jessie Ridout showed that even small doses of methionine have the same effect on fat metabolism as higher doses.18,14 Methionine is an essential amino acid that helps the body take control of excessive serum levels of estrogen for one thing. High estrogen levels reduce bile concentrations that are responsible for fat emulsification and lipid passage through the liver. Methionine helps deactivate estrogens leading to improved fat metabolism and mobilization. It is well noted that elevated estrogen levels, especially in males, lead to unsightly adipose depositions and obesity. Overweight men have issues with feminization as their estrogen levels climb. Methionine, along with choline, detoxifies amines in protein metabolism. It also acts as a catalyst for choline and inositol functions. Methionine has another important function in that it affects the body’s levels of glutathione. Glutathione is a compound in the liver that is crucial in hepatic detoxification and acts as a very potent antioxidant. And glutathione is essential to defend the liver against toxic compounds that it metabolizes after oral ingestion.

Inositol (also known as myo-inositol) is a lipotropic agent whose action prevents the trapping of fat in the liver. Inositol is a compound classified as a carbohydrate, although not a classic sugar. It is found naturally in nuts, beans, melons and oranges. Once considered a member of the vitamin B-complex family, it was determined to be synthesized from glucose and thus lost the “vitamin” title as an essential nutrient. However, inositol does have a vital role in human health.15 Inositol and choline together prevent cholesterol from sticking to the arterial walls and inositol helps with the transport of fat through the blood stream.16 In a scientific study, it was demonstrated that choline exhibits more of a lipotropic effect than does inositol in laboratory animals fed both fat-free and fat-containing diets.28 Not to detract from the importance of inositol, it should also be noted that lipotropics tend to work in synergy with one another. Heavy consumption of caffeine can deplete inositol stores, and this may be one facet of how caffeinated beverage consumption today is leading to obesity and dysmetabolism. While each of these lipotropic agents acts alone as a fat-mobilizing compound, they are all related and interdependent upon each other in one fashion or another. Oftentimes the effects of lipotropics are symbiotic if not embellished by the others’ presence. It is very reasonable to coadminister two or more of these agents for best effect.
Use Today in Weight Loss and Health
Today as an adjunct to good nutritional counseling and appropriate dietary protocols for reductions in weight and adipose tissue, lipotropic agents can be used by doctors and nutritionists to help patients lose and control weight. Lipotropic agents certainly have their place among important nutraceutical considerations for weight management protocols. Both oral and intramuscular administration of lipotropics can aid in the maintenance and reduction of weight in those suffering from obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.16 A very common lipotropic “cocktail” is the MIC, which is injected into deep muscle—usually on a weekly basis. Orally administered betaine can be taken as an alternative to the injected forms of the MIC preparation, having similar effects in most cases. There are few contraindications to the use of these lipotropic agents in moderation as they do occur naturally in healthy diets. However, super physiological doses should be administered under the careful supervision of a physician. AF


Yusuf Saleeby, MDis medical director of WellnessOne and WellnessFirst which offer extensive and advanced cardiovascular and stroke biomarker and genetic analysis, including lipid subtypes, Lp(a), HDL2 and HDL3, LDL1-4, ApoB, NT-proBNP, and the 4q25, 9p21, ApoE & KIF6 genotypes, and other evaluations. He is a regular contributor to American Fitness and is on the medical advisory board. He can be reached for comment at ymsaleeby@gmail.com.

REFERENCES: (use the link for full article:  http://americanfitness.squarespace.com/otp-1112/

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Medical Foods safer than Pharmaceuticals


Viable alternatives to prescription pain medication:

Advent of Medical Foods

 

By Yusuf (JP) Saleeby, MD

 

 

With recent reports of increased visits to the emergency rooms across this nation for reasons pertaining to prescription drug abuse there is ever more reason to focus on alternatives.  In a 2011 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration statistics reveal that from 2004-2009 in America there was a rise in Emergency Department (ED) visits due to drug reactions.  Prescription medications, OTC meds and even herbal remedies of all types saw a rise in misuse, abuse, suicide attempts, adverse reactions and accidental ingestions resulting in ED visits.  Part of the rise is due to poly-pharmacy, as the population at large is being prescribed more than one medication by their physicians.  Multiple medication use results in increase risk for untoward effects and complication.  With our aging population this becomes even more an issue, as they tend to “collect’’ medications as they age.

 

Dangerous numbers:

 

In 2009 the report by SAMHSA goes on to state that over 120-million visits were made to nationwide EDs and of these at least 4.5-million were drug/medication related.  Drug-related ED visits increased by over 80-percent since 2004.  In 2009 estimates of about 2.1-million ED visits resulted from the misuse or abuse of medications.  That is about 674 ED visits per 100,000 people per year.  Those 20-years old and younger was at a rate of 473 visits and those 21-years and older was double that.  Just over thirty-five percent involved pharmaceuticals alone and another 25-percent involved pharmaceuticals plus illicit drugs and/or alcohol.  The visits to EDs with side-effects and medical emergencies related to prescription drugs in one fashion or another amounted to 60-percent for that group.  While visits remained stable from 2004 to 2009 on medication alone, there was a 117% rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, and a 97% rise in pharmaceuticals used with illicit drugs.

 

No matter how you look at it, it is a big national problem.  Some of it is avoidable; others pertain to social issues and the rise of illicit drug use in this country.  From the perspective of a physician this trend can be reversed if doctors prescribe less medication, are judicious in their use of multiple medications, and use the lowest doses possible that results in goal of therapy.  I see too many patients in their 5th decade of life or greater that are on more than one pharmaceutical (both in the Emergency Department and the wellness clinics I staff).  The older they present, often the larger their purse of drugs and therapeutics.

 

Making changes to improve safety:

 

First step is counseling patients on pharmaceuticals.  Even a single prescription medication is not without side effects; each and every patient should be made aware.  Add a second or third drug and the risk for drug-drug interactions goes up precipitously.  A published study in the December 2008 JAMA by the University of Chicago revealed that in some 3000 individuals surveyed aged 57 to 85 the use of prescription and OTC drugs resulted in a one in 25 risk of major drug-drug interactions.  Halting the behavior of continually adding medication on top of medication is a paradigm that must be adopted by primary care physicians.  After all they are the gatekeepers who monitor and when appropriate should selectively withdraw unnecessary medication.

 

Alternatives to powerful drugs with harmful side effects and strong drug-drug reactions are the more subtle and oftentimes safer herbals and dietary supplements.  However, before we proceeded, many dietary supplements and herbals can themselves be linked to drug-herb interactions often as worrisome as we see with two pharmaceuticals interacting.

 

A more appropriate alternative is the judicious use of ‘’medical foods’’ as alternatives to pharmaceuticals.  Medical foods are those that have a nod from the FDA as approved for medicinal use and prescribed by a physician.  Medical foods are just that, food or compounds  often times amino-acids and natural substances which have been studied to show benefits similar to their more powerful pharmaceutical brothers.  The term medical food, is defined in section 5(b) of the Orphan Drug Act (1983) as "a food which is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation." 

 

Medical foods are not limited by FDA required labeling often seen on supplements and herbals.  An examples would be the combination of amino-acids, neurotransmitters and select substances in a patented medical food called Theramine® used to augment a lower dose of an NSAID (Naprosyn®) and eventually replacing it completely in some cases.  This process can be undertaken to reduce and eliminate the use of scheduled and habit forming pain medication such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and tramadol.  Other medical foods can replace side effect wrought pharmaceuticals such as the SSRI class of anti-depressants (Prozac®, Celexa®) and the anti-anxiety benzodiazepines (Xanax®, Ativan®). Medical foods are extremely popular on the West Coast, but are gaining momentum in the East.  Additional benefits of Medical Foods, besides their safety record, are that many health insurance policies will cover their use.  So now we witness insurance coverage for not only pharmaceuticals (generally not covering supplements and herbals) but coverage for medical foods such as Theramine®.  As more clinical data is collected there will be better acceptance for the use of medical foods by healthcare practitioners.

 

Making Medical Foods available:

 

Medical foods must be prescribed by a physician.  While not a pharmaceutical in the strict sense, they are FDA approved and accepted for specific use in fighting disease and illness.  Wellness One (First) is one of the first center in the region that offers these medical foods through prescription from their staff physicians.  Let us not forget Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the father of Western medicine, is known for saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

 

-----

Dr. Saleeby is medical director of Wellness One of Myrtle Beach and Wellness First of Charleston.  Both centers are integrative wellness and health spas with a focus on integrative protocols for management of illness and disease prevention.  Wellness One and Wellness First are the leaders in bringing the use of Medical Foods to the coastal Carolinas.

 

 

Reference:

 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2009: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4659, DAWN Series D-35. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011.

 

Qato, DM., et al, Use of Prescription and Over-the-counter Medications and Dietary Supplements Among Older Adults in the United States. JAMA. 2008;300(24):2867-2878.

 

Medical Foods FDA website, Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/MedicalFoods/default.htm (accessed 11/10/2012)

 

Shell, W.E., et. al., A Double-Blind Controlled Trial of a Single Dose Naproxen and an Amino Acid Medical Food Theramine for the Treatment of Low Back Pain., Am. Journal of Therapeutics, 17(2):133-139, March/April 2010

 

Theramine from Physician Therapeutics, Retrieved from http://ptloffice.com/downloads/marketing/Theramine_latest.pdf (accessed 11/10/2012)

 

Orphan Drug Act FDA website, Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Legislation/FederalFoodDrugandCosmeticActFDCAct/SignificantAmendmentstotheFDCAct/OrphanDrugAct/default.htm (accessed 11/10/2012)

 

© 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Acupuncture grows in South Carolina

Acupuncture is growing in Charleston despite a slow embrace by medical community

David Quick/Staff

Sally Pittman undergoes an acupuncture treatment for migraine headaches and other pain due to Parkinson's disease.
David Quick/Staff Sally Pittman undergoes an acupuncture treatment for migraine headaches and other pain due to Parkinson's disease.
More than two years ago, Sally Pittman — who has a triple whammy of pain from lifelong migrane headaches, sarcoidosis and Parkinson’s disease — used to go through about 120 pills of the painkiller hydrocodone every month.
Then someone suggested that she see local acupuncturist Polly Christy, and it changed her life for the better.
Pittman’s migranes have eased significantly, both in the frequency and severity, and now one bottle of 60 pills of hydrocodone lasts up to three months.
“Acupuncture has helped me tremendously,” says the 62-year-old former accountant who is on disability. “Besides relieving my pain, acupuncture helps my balance, my mobility and motor skill function. ... I’m going to come no matter what. It’s worth it. I see it as a necessity.”

Slow embrace

Western medicine’s acceptance of acupuncture has been slow, but increasingly it is being demonstrated in the description of the ancient Chinese practice as a “complementary” rather than an “alternative” therapy.
Acupuncture involves inserting long, very thin needles just beneath the skin’s surface at specific points on the body to control pain or stress.
Some still believe that acupuncture’s powers remain as a psychological placebo effect, but recently reported studies gave “the most robust evidence” to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option.
Medical researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and several universities in England and Germany examined 29 studies involving 18,000 adults and gave acupuncture a thumbs-up for relieving pain from chronic headaches, backaches and arthritis, according to The Associated Press.
The new analysis was published Sept. 10 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. The federal government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine paid for most of the study, along with a small grant from the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit group that supports research on alternative healing.
The researchers concluded that the needle remedy worked better than usual pain treatment and slightly better than fake acupuncture. That kind of analysis is not the strongest type of research, but the authors took extra steps, including examining raw data from the original studies.

Few downsides

Locally, Dr. Arthur Smith, a board-certified pain management specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina, says he believes in acupuncture and its ability to ease pain.
“Even though it works, we still don’t know how it works,” says Smith, noting that the “art” has benefited from nearly thousands of years of trial-and-error, notably the most enduring pain management process in the history of mankind.
“Studies are hard to do on acupuncture, and you can get conflicting results because of placebo effects, but there are placebo effects in all treatment studies,” Smith says.
Smith, along with acupuncture practitioners, say a major benefit of acupuncture is that it has no side effects. The only downside, Smith says, is the possibility of bruising or risk of infection at the needle site and the cost.
Typically, an acupuncture session can cost up to $100, but to be effective, at least four to six sessions must be undertaken to see if it works. That expense usually is out-of-pocket. Medicare does not cover acupuncture. While some private insurance plans do, those plans usually cap coverage at about six per year.

Saving more

While that pricing structure is different, some local acupuncturists use a pay-what-you-can “sliding scale.”
Chad Houfek, a graduate of the Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colo., and the College of Charleston, founded Charleston Community Acupuncture nearly three years ago on Savannah Highway in West Ashley to make acupuncture more assessable to the public.
“The main barrier for people getting acupuncture is out-of-pocket expense,” says Houfek, who is part of an international movement called The People’s Organization for Community Acupuncture. “We let people determine what they want to pay, from $20 to $40, and how long they want to stay.”
He admits his lower-cost service does raise suspicion.
“The first question I’m always asked is, ‘Do you reuse your needles?’ ” says Houfek, noting that the answer is “no.”
Like Houfek, local acupuncturist Sarah Stowers also graduated from C of C and the Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder. She has her own practice, Charleston Acupuncture on East Bay Street, and takes clients at One Respe Wellness Center on Spring Street.
Stowers has noticed not only a growth in her clientele but an increase in the number of acupuncturists in Charleston.
“It’s definitely growing. In the four years since I’ve been here, the number of acupuncturists has doubled,” Stowers says.

Charleston in-roads

Acupuncturists and married couple Polly and Colby Christy moved to Charleston to set up practices in 2005 after graduating from and apprenticing at the TAI Sophia Institute in Maryland, where acupuncture already was moving into the realm of complementary medicine.
The Christys say that medical students from the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania even took the four- to six-week residency in acupuncture at TAI Sophia.
So Polly Christy was in for a rude awakening when she called the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control about licensing and was referred to body piercing.
“That was little bit of a shock to me, to be coupled with body piercing, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s not my license,” Christy says. “This is a 3,000-year-old practice that most of the world still uses as their primary form of medicine.”
Christy notes that acupuncture also approaches health with attention to lifestyle, notably eating well, exercising and managing stress.
Colby Christy says it’s been difficult to connect with local hospitals and doctors, other than the ones who have had acupuncture, but says he hopes that will change.
“It’s pretty amazing what can happen with these itty-bitty filaments of a needle that aren’t dipped in anything.”

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