Kristen Sparrow, MD Acupuncture
Ancient Medicine Made Modern
August 2018

Greetings  from my occasional newsletter and welcome to new patients. Please scroll down to the end of this email for a reposting of supplement suggestions.
San Francisco City Sights_ Crissy Field with Birds

Fitness and Health
Tom Cruise and the Aging Mystery
Though Tom Cruise remains a controversial character, no one can dispute his success and his baffling ability to defy aging.  He is now 57 years old and looks like he's perhaps 40.  Hollywood cinemagraphic and surgical assistance aside, he still does his own stunts and has his own hair (genetic luck, of course).  But it highlights one of the main themes of this newsletter, and that is hormesis and aging.  Hormesis is defined as "a low dose stressor that bestows benefits because it challenges the body to upregulate adaptive, survival, repair and rejuvenating processes."  The key with hormetics is the dosage.  Just as too much hunger, heat, or exercise exhaust the system, a small amount can improve the system.
So Cruise has definitely upregulated his rejuvenating processes. In his case,  his dedication to athletics is surely a big part of his hormetic regimen. He is a natural runner, and clearly loves to challenge himself.   Though skeptics will insist there might be some testosterone and human growth hormone intake, too.
In this blog post by friend, Zach Haigney he is exploring the concept of "homeodynamics" . " A crucial component of the homeodynamic space is the Stress Response (SR), by virtue of which a living system senses disturbance and initiates a series of events for maintenance, repair, adaptation, remodeling and survival". If this sounds similar to the hormetic response, it's because they are related.  In this article  Haigney talks about the body's decreasing ability to respond to stress with aging.  I would argue that the anti-aging properties of acupuncture are based in the hormetic challenge that keeps the body rejuvenating, as well as  the decrease in stress. So though it is a "stressor" it leads to lower stress overall.  Just as aching muscles after a work out with rest lead to more strength. This "homeodynamic response" could be measured by heart rate variability (HRV), so it is of particular interest to me.  If we can actually show the improved stress response with HRV, it is making an opaque concept visible and measurable.  Big "if", but still a worthwhile goal!!   To show data that your stress response is improved, you could know you're on the right track with all of your interventions. We will cover some more techniques below.
In the section on Supplements and suggestions, some of these recommendations have hormetic aspects such as sauna and exercise.

Time Restricted Eating: Good for the Brain?
Girl getting acupuncture
Another example of hormesis, as discussed in a previous newsletter is  time restricted eating.   This is a dietary regimen where you condense your meals into 6 to 10 hours a day.  This ensures a period of "fasting" in which your body is burning fat instead of carbohydrates. This mild stressor of "fasting" is also hormetic, in that it is a low dose hunger that upregulates beneficial  adaptive processes. This can be useful not only for weight loss and control, but, also for brain health and cognition.  Evolutionarily, if we are in a fasting state, we would naturally need to be more "sharp" and, indeed, that is a benefit of intermittent fasting.  In animals, a longer fast, 24 to 48 hours, has been shown to upregulate processes that clear some of the debris that causes Alzheimer's.. 
Animals that have been limited to a 9-12-hour feeding window in which they can eat but otherwise allowing them to eat the same amount of calories that they normally would, they have shown that they can attain some pretty amazing benefits, including:
  • decreased fat mass
  • increased lean muscle mass
  • improved glucose tolerance
  • improved lipid profile
  • reduced inflammation
  • higher mitochondrial volume
  • protection from mild-age related fatty liver
  • protection from obesity
  • generally favorable improvements in gene expression
  • Increased production of ketone bodies, which is interesting for another reason we'll get back to in a minute Time-restricted eating also has a growing body of research in humans.
So keep it in mind!
Ear Electro-Stimulation or Transcutaneous Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation
A colleague wrote  this editorial discussing the overlap between acupuncture and neuromodulation, a burgeoning field using  electrical modalities of different types to affect health.
I have been using transauricular vagal nerve stimulation or TAVNS  in the clinic in addition to acupuncture in some cases.  I think the combination of acupuncture with TAVNS has a profound effect on health and resilience.  Acupuncture provides a small hormetic injury that is enough to trigger healing and adaptive changes in the body which can be quite long lasting. Part of that healing process is lower stress levels. What I'm trying to show with Heart Rate Variability, or HRV, is the body's reaction to this trigger of needling and the reduction in stress during treatment and over time.
 My main interest in using TAVNS is to reinforce acupuncture's effects in the clinic, and also to provide patients  a device to use at home as a way supplement their treatments and calm their stress. There is evidence that when used on a daily basis, it's good for depression, immune function and imflammation.
If anyone is interested in trying this type of modality, get in touch with me!
Celebrity Acupuncture: Norma Kamali Gets Facial Acupuncture
For those interested in facial acupuncture for yourself or others, this blog post has a video of Norma Kamali getting the treatment.  Thanks for the tip A.M.!!
Supplements and Health Recommendations
Vitamin D

  1. 1. Supplements.  I'm a convert to supplements  because of the recent science behind them. So what do I take?Supplements
Oils : Coenzyme Q
(Nordic Naturals Omega 3 soft gel)   There is evidence that Coenzyme Q has potent anti-inflammatory effects shown to reduce markers of inflammation. Coenzyme Q levels are inversely correlated with dementia.   
Vitamin D:   Crucial for health because it controls over 5% of genetic expression.  Click on the link to see the benefits of taking Vitamin D   
Astra Essence: This is an herbal formula that I've been taking for years.  It's a longevity formula, but is very effective at staving off illness.  I swear by it.  The basic formula is here. More information about telomeres  here. 
Collagen: I take Collagenex 2, 1 per day. Collagenex 2 is the next generation joint supplement. It supports the joints and connective tissues and reduces pain in seven to ten days at a dosage of one tablet per day. Good for hair and skin too! 
Curcumen: The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumen is good for joint health. It is important to take a bioavailable form, discussed in the blog link.   
Probiotics: They can be helpful for mood, inflammation and gut health. 
Melatonin: For sleep and anti-inflammatory I take .5 to 1 mg of Melatonin.   Also good for migraine prophylaxis along with acupuncture. 
2. Lifestyle Strategies
I practice "time restricted eating", a strategy that confers some of the benefits of fasting and allows for weight loss. I make a note of when I have finished my evening meal and then don't eat for 16 hours.  It's challenging!  But good for the resilience, longevity and the waistline.  
Saunas.I am doing a sauna at least two times a week.  Recent studies show that the heat shock proteins are good for longevity through enzymatic pathways, and also brain health.
Exercise.  I'm not an athlete, by any means.  I do spin class, a bit of road cycling and Bar Method.  You need aerobic activity, stretching and strength training, especially in the thighs.  I do the minimum amount I can get away with...
Broccoli Sprouts:  These are particularly beneficial and you can grow them at home, which makes them cheap and easy and super fresh.  I eat them 3 times per week.  I would have them more if I did more--> 
Smoothies.  I linked to the recipe here.  I must admit, I rarely find the time to do these.  It's on my list!!   
Acupuncture.  I have acupuncture at least once a week, and do TaVNS at least once per week.  My HRV is quite high (high HRV is good), stress levels low because I've worked on it for so many years.  As much as I'm experimenting with TaVNS as a supplement to acupuncture, I still think Acupuncture has more profound effects.   
Come in and see me!  As always, more at the blog.  Live well and be well!  


Dr. Kristen Sparrow

Copyright 2017 Kristen Sparrow, MD

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