Acupuncture is Going Mainstream

April 7, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

by Lesley Isaacs
lisaacs@smu.edu

An acupuncture treatment room is meant to have a calming ambience with the dim lights, muted colors and soft music. But it is hard to be calm when you know what lies ahead. The idea of having fifteen needles inserted for thirty minutes hardly seems like an easy way to relax. Before the doctor inserts the needles, the patient tenses in anticipation for pain but it unexpectedly it feels like a tiny poke. Surprisingly, it actually is a soothing and calm experience.

The traditional Chinese medicinal treatment of acupuncture is becoming more popular among conservative doctors who practice Western medicine. Acupuncture is used to help relieve symptoms from many different conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and more general things like headaches, depression and stress.

In a room much like a doctor’s office, the patient lies down on a table while a doctor inserts the needles. The patient is left alone to relax and focus while the needles work their magic. In a standard first session, there are usually three to 15 needles used.

Dr. Kathleen Bynum, a Dallas doctor who used to work in family medicine, is now working solely with acupuncture. More traditional doctors like Bynum, say they are beginning to take the first steps in learning acupuncture and the different f treatment options to benefit a person’s health.

Dr. Bynum completed her medical training in osteopathic medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. She then received her initial acupuncture training at the UCLA Acupuncture Program for Physicians. After discovering that acupuncture was something she wanted to pursue, she decided to complete the four-year training in Advanced Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Program for Physicians.

“I definitely think more doctors should be open to it. I think that it’s part education and part seeing the results after,” said Dr. Bynum.

Many doctors, however, are unsure if acupuncture actually works and many people have a negative perception of alternative medicines like acupuncture. One of the biggest concerns is its safety and the germs or diseases that could be spread through the use of needles.

Yoli Ramirez, a Special Education Data Specialist in the Midland Independent School District, is a believer in traditional western medicine. She believes that doctors should protect one’s body and an alternative medicine like acupuncture should not be an option.

“I don’t think I could ever do it. I would consider it harmful to my body,” said Ramirez.

These are the types of negative perceptions that many doctors are trying to break. However, a trained and licensed acupuncturist would be able to provide the safest environment for acupuncture.

Samantha Weinstein, a SMU dance major and journalism minor, first tried acupuncture in a class. She was always skeptical of alternative medicine and believed that with all of the science and medical education in the United States, American medicine must be superior to other countries. After trying acupuncture she is much more open now.

“Actually, I think I’d explore alternative medicine before opting for American drugs or surgery,” said Samantha.

According to a study first published by Canadian Family Physicians in February 2009, acupuncture is one of several complementary and alternative therapies that can be recommended to provide patients with satisfactory relief and improve the therapeutic alliance.

Managing Test Anxiety

December 7, 2009 by · Comments Off 

By Diana Nolacea
dnolacea@smu.edu

Final exams are just around the corner and the mere thought of them brings some students a sudden urge of anxiety, nervousness or stress.

The SMU Health Center is aware that this is an issue on campus, and to help alleviate students of final exam distress they held a workshop, Managing Test Anxiety, in the Counseling and Psychiatric Services department Thursday afternoon.

Amanda Moates, a psychology intern that will graduate with her Ph. D. next summer, works in the health center. She presented techniques and advice for students on how to cope with anxiety.

She encourages students who may suffer from test anxiety to visit the health center.

“Students can expect a supportive therapist,” she says.

Moates see around 13 patients in an average week with sessions lasting anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

Test Anxiety Symptoms

Moates presetented four types of symptoms; physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral symptoms that affect people.

Students who suffer from physical symptoms may have headaches, nausea, dryness of the mouth and a rapid heart beat before or during an exam.

When undergoing emotional symptoms a student my feel panic, express their fear, feel anger or sometimes cry.

Cognitive symptoms may lead a student to have racing thoughts, the “going blank”, and difficulty concentrating, and remembering the answer to an exam question after turning the test in.

Managing Test Anxiety

Moates also explained ways that students can manage test anxiety before and during and exam.

She recommends that students eat a sensible breakfast an also watch their caffeine intake. Sometimes the caffeine will trigger the jitters even in students who are regularly accustomed to drinking caffeine.

During the exam she advises that students read the directions twice, look over the entire exam, and begin with the easiest portion first.

There are also relaxation techniques that students can practice during an exam to calm themselves, such as taking deep breaths.

Yet, some students occasionally take deep breaths and end up in taking large amounts of oxygen that can make them light headed or dizzy. To avoid that, students can cover up one nostril and try to breath at a normal rate. Cognitive techniques will also help a student.

Refraining from negative thoughts is difficult during exam week, but making the effort to change your mind set to be positive can help a student relax.

Memorial Health Center Services

The services at the health center are available year-round and free of charge.

“I didn’t know that other students are going through the same thing I am. It’s good to know that there is help,” Claudia Hernandez, a junior at SMU, said.

Hernandez decided to attend the session after receiving an e-mail early this week. She found the information helpful and plans to take the advice and try out the techniques.

Dr. Bailey has been at SMU for over 20 years and mostly she sees the center busier during October, November and February, March, and April in the spring semester.

“For the size of this university we have a great number of resources,” she said.

When students begin treatment, they are never limited on the amount of visits they can make to the center.

Click here For more information on the SMU health center services or call 214-768-2141.

Campus News Blog: Reducing Stress During Finals

December 5, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Katherine Helms

Although the holiday season brings joy and happiness to many people, it often brings along much stress as well. With final exams, Christmas shopping, and constant holiday parties, it can be challenging to balance everything that needs to be done without becoming stressed.

Most students have one major cloud looming over their heads, exams. What steps can be taken to relax, but still be productive? First, students should plan their time wisely. The ALEC provides weekly calendars that may help you plan out your day wisely. It may help you to include little things like meal times and gym breaks.

Next, concentrate on organizing your materials. Hopefully you implemented some sort of system at the beginning of the semester to keep track of your assignments and notes. Now it is time to go back through and sort through what you need and do not need. It may help to make outlines of past tests or notes in order to understand their overall importance.

Find a place on campus where you can concentrate. This is something I have always struggled with. I know where my friends study and I am often tempted to go to the same places, but I know I will not be productive. Be creative. There are other options than just the library; this might even mean you venture off campus to find a spot that suits you.

Perhaps the most important step you can take to reduce stress is getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Without sleep you will not be as efficient in learning and remembering material. Also, be conscientious of the foods you are eating. Avocado, turkey, salmon, oranges, and almonds are several foods that will help calm your nerves, while foods like chocolate can speed up your heart rate and increase anxiety.

Finally, do something everyday to relax whether it is yoga or a walk with a good friend. Take time to separate yourself from the hustle and bustle and calm yourself down. It is a great time of the year to throw on your tennis shoes and walk to look at Christmas lights.

With two short weeks left of school, take a deep breath, devise a study schedule and dive into exams as stress free as possible.

Student Health: Stressed Out?

April 13, 2009 by · Comments Off 

By Marissa Adamany
madamany@smu.edu

With the three-day weekend over, it’s time for another week of tests and quizzes. Oh, and finals are right around the corner. Stressed out, yet?

Stress causes our bodies to produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone contributes to gaining weight, especially in the midsection. Stress also hinders willpower, making it near impossible to say “no” to that third fudge brownie.

Chronic stress makes you more vulnerable to disease, and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, causing an increased risk for heart disease. Stress also increases glucose levels, putting the body at a higher risk for diabetes.

But don’t let that all stress you out even more. Here’s what you can do to calm down and take control:

  • Go for a walk – A ten-minute walk around the beautiful boulevard will reduce stress, calm you mind, and clear your head. The fresh air does a body good.
  • Hang out with friends – Chilling with friends is a great opportunity to vent, share your favorite FML passage, or completely clear your mind of the work you have ahead. Sometimes, it’s ok to take a break.
  • Get cute – Studies show that when you feel you look good, you actually produce more serotonin in your brain, which is the “happy chemical.” Producing more serotonin will relieve negative stress.
  • Dance – Take it from Lady GaGa and… “Just dance, it will be ok, dududu Just Dance!” Enough said.
  • Look at pictures – Concentrate on a happy picture for ten seconds to reduce muscle tension and stabilize the heartbeat.
  • Take a deep breath – It sounds too easy, I know. But taking deep breaths helps slow your racing mind when you are stressed, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
  • Say to yourself, “It will all be ok!” – Keeping a positive spin on things will help motivate you to get the job done, with spirits high.
  • Look at the big picture – In five years is this history term paper really going to determine your life’s work and meaning? Stay with me here–the answer is “no.” Do your best, but remember, your best is all you can do.
  • Still wigging out? The following foods have been shown to help lift your mood. All these foods have a high content of B vitamins that stimulate the brain’s production of that happy chemical, serotonin.

  • almonds
  • yogurt
  • pistachios
  • salmon
  • scallops
  • shrimp
  • walnuts