Monday, March 30, 2009

Video: Meridians and Acupuncture Points

Dr. Duckworth points to this video on YouTube, in which one Edward Scarlett discusses the basics of meridians and acupuncture points. At just over three-minutes, it's well worth watching.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mediterranean Diet

Dr. Duckworth ran across this note and thought it worth passing on, particularly to those wondering about mental acuity and vitality in the elder years:


Posted 11:00 a.m. Tue., Feb. 17 - The aging brain has been in the news lately. We recently covered the effects of a reduced calorie diet on cognitive function (it appears to help). Now, a trio of studies sheds even more light on the subject. First: Elderly adults with no evidence of dementia who follow a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. In the elderly who are already afflicted with mid cognitive impairment, following the diet leads to a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a report published in the February issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Included in the study were 1,393 cognitively normal subjects (average age 76.7) and 482 subjects with mild cognitive impairment (average age 77.5) who were then followed for over four years. Compared to those with the lowest Mediterranean diet adherence, those who began the study without cognitive impairment in the middle and highest levels of diet adherence had a 17 percent and 28 percent lower risk, respectively, of developing mild cognitive impairment. In the mild cognitive impairment group, those in the middle and highest levels had up to a 48 percent lower risk of progressing to Alzheimer's disease compared to those with the least adherence.

"Possible biological mechanisms underlying this association remain to be investigated," the authors wrote. In the meantime, some tweaks to your diet wouldn't hurt… A Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, olive oil and a touch of red wine.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What is Natural Medicine?

Here, we'll occasionally pull articles and links from the Natural Life Therapy Clinic's main website, This time out, we'll point to a 2002 article by Dr. Duckworth, which is just as relevant today as it was when written and when posted on the site.

You can find this overarching, but quickly-digestible piece right here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Celiac Disease: STL Beacon

The St. Louis Beacon - an online news portal, owned-and-operated by a number of former Post-Dispatch editors - has a health section worth examining.

Recently, the news site ran a piece on celiac disease.

It's worth reading and considering. Click here for the link.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Video: Dr. Kokubo's Japanese Acupuncture

Dr. Duckworth has been scanning YouTube, looking for videos that address or introduce Japanese acupuncture theories and practices. That's just what you get with this video, "Dr. Kokubo's Japanese Acupuncture," a nice primer on the topic.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lots of Links

Today, we'll point you to some additional readings, all found via links on this blog, or on the Natural Life Therapy Clinic website.

On the latter, you can find links to pages on: General Health; Acupuncture; and Food, Medicinals, Supplements & Nutrients. Simply click here.

Local bloggers are also invited to link to this page. If you do so, we'll return the favor. Currently, we've added links to the local restaurant/pasta maker Mangia Italiano, the local cultural blog 52nd City and others. Those are easily found right on this blog's frontpage.

Later this week, we'll focus on the artwork of a patient of NLTC and we'll highlight another question for Dr. Duckworth.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Video: Japanese Medicine and Teething Pain

We've asked Drs. Duckworth and Hackler to look through to YouTube to find some videos that might be pertinent to the ongoing conversation here at the blog. Dr. Duckworth passed along this clip on "Japanese Acupuncture and Teething Pain," which runs about 7:00-minutes in length. We'll add videos as they're found, those that will assist patients of the NLTC in their own studies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Q's for Dr. Duckworth: Aches and Pains


How would acupuncture treat a specific ache or pain? For example, I've developed a sore shoulder and upper back recently, from doing some repetitive work one afternoon. Is acupuncture as effective or useful as chiropractic or a massage in knocking down the pain level from this minor, quick "injury" of sorts. Thanks much!



Dear Franklin,

Excuse my long-windedness but your question requires such a response. First, in answering, I am speaking from the point of view of the health care provided at Natural Life Therapy Clinic. I seldom address genertic acupuncture questions start, as you know, every medical doctor has a MD license. The physician may be a peditrician, dermatologist, ob/gyn, internist, psychiatrist, surgeon, oncologist but they all have the same license. They may have gone to a great school or not so great, they might have graduated at the head of their class...maybe not but the license is the same. For similiar reasons, I am unable to address the capacity of acupuncture practitioners across the board.

In Japanese Meridian Therapy, we treat Hyo-ji ho (symptom condition) and Hon-ji ho (energetic/causative condition) but our focus is causative factors. For example, your sore back and shoulder "from doing some repetitive work one afternoon" is a symptom but since many people do some repetitive work without developing problems, my interest as a physician is understanding from an energetic point of view what imbalance allowed this problem to arise. Therefore, I will treat the whole body dynamic so that healing can take place regardless of the symptom. Yes, I treat symptoms also but I want the issue to go away and not come back. Oriental Medicine has a 3,000 clinical history so there has developed quite a repertoire of point usage and point combinations that are used for all types of symptoms (even treating back/shoulder pain on the legs!), so there is much that can be done.

Tight muscles could benefit from a good massage; if nothing else, massage is relaxing and that's always helpful. And if you are a basically healthy person with a little muscular dysfunction from one time over-use, massage may be all you need. Chiropractic is useful if you have an acute traumatic verebrae misalignment but chiropractic is a bio-medical based therapy and only (like modern medcine) addresses symptoms. Repetitive motion is a muscular issue, not a skeletal issue. What is needed is to guide the body away from tension and contractions - heat and meridian therapy/acupuncture.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Real Sense of Natural Medicine

"Medicine can never be perfected as long as its sole objective is the maintenance of physical existence. We must realize the total relationship of the human being with plants, soil, water, heat and air, as well as Earth and Heaven. Until such time, humanity will continue to fear sickness and death." (Masahilo M. Nakazono)

It was over 30 years ago that Nakazono Sensei wrote these words in a little, self-published booklet entitled "The Real Sense of Natural Medicine." Sensei was on a mission to awaken humankind to a spiritual ecology that recognizes that life has its beginning and finality in an integrated holism wherein peace, harmony and health manifest as we stop seeing ourselves, individually, as separate from each other and cease seeing humanity as separate from our environment and no longer view our environment as separate from the universe.

As he pointed out, "The scientific world... can only recognize individual existence. Of course, with imagination we can believe that a tree must be made from a certain number of cooperating cells and that maybe these cells are coming from the same source as our own life, then build a microscope to try and compare our imagination to reality. This is the extent of the joining together that... the physical senses can have with our spiritual search. I say that the scientific world can only recognize individual existence because science can not catch from where an atom or a particle is coming nor see to where it is disappearing and (can not see) these two directions are cooperating."

This than is the purpose and principle of what we term Natural Life Therapy.

Natural Life Therapy is not a system of medicine; it is a philosophy of healing that seeks to embody the unity of the individual-in-its-environment and assist this unification through application of proven techniques that guide the human body in reintegrating its personal life force with the life energy of the environment. As Sensei would point out, Oriental Medicine that does not grasp this unification principle is not natural medicine and modern surgical/pharmacological medicine that does strive for unification is natural medicine. Clearly, the word natural has a deeper and broader meaning than is defined by the dictionary.

Acupuncture, the use of specialized needles to influence the meridian flow of life energy in the body, is one of the highly refined techniques utilized in assisting the body to function in harmony with its environment. Natural Life Therapy utilizes a variety of clinically proven procedures discovered and developed over the centuries to strengthen and align the universal life energy that flows within and without us.


Check our website for additional Thursday night classes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Q's for Dr. Duckworth: Acupuncture and "Quiet"


Curious about something. I've been to acupuncture treatments in open-air clinics (for lack of a better term), in which people are treated close together, as well as in traditional office settings. With the open-air settings, it's interesting to hear people go into detail about their maladies, though it can seem a bit of a public place to air your personal ailments. Just wondered what you think about people staying quiet and in-the-moment, as opposed to being more talkative, when they get their treatments?


Dear Eric,

Interesting question. In China, the clinical setting is (so I'm told) an open communal situation; while in Japan, the standard is privacy, modesty and quiet. A practitioner I knew from Switzerland had studied in China and her clinic in Switzerland was open and she reported that her Swiss patients/clients loved the open room setting - possibly because it was so novel. Years ago, I was involved with a teaching/service clinic in Mexico that had 5 tables in a large open room. Patients talked to each other, family & friends stood around the tables and talked - it was often like a picnic! The group dynamic experienced in Mexico seemed to be part of the healing process. Another experience I have had has been through the work we do with the Institute of American Acupuncture & Life Medicine. We operated a clinic in south city that was a large room. Our clientele were constrained economically and some spoke little or no English. At first, we had screens and room dividers separating the treatment tables but we eventually took them down and operated in an open arena and no one seemed to mind. It may be a cultural thing, I don't know.

At Natural Life Therapy Clinic we treat in private rooms. Family members (and sometimes friends) do occasionally come in to observe/visit but most of our patients like the quiet, relaxing aspects of the private room. In addition, in the private practice, some clients want the sanctuary of privacy where they can freely talk about their issues (health and otherwise) and seek counsel. (As you pointed out, some people talk very freely in the open air environment also.) I consider it very important that the treatment be a relaxing, non-disruptive experience. Quiet is most helpful but some people can be quite relaxed while talking... even while being treated. So, I have treated in both environments and find both acceptable but I think in my practice, my clients are more relaxed in a quiet, private setting.

Thank you for this question. I hope I have helped you in your studies.

Dr. Thomas E. Duckworth, L.Ac.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Acupuncture & Menopause: A Conversation

The following interview took place between Dr. Jason Hackler and a correspondent with the Ladue News, on the topic of acupuncture's effectiveness in treating menopause. This transcript provides the full detail of the conversation.

1. In your practice, is menopause symptom management a common reason for people to seek acupuncture, or is it unusual?

No, it is not unusual at all. Women, with menopausal symptoms, such as, night/day sweats, hot flashes, emotional ups and downs, etc, are successfully and frequently treated here at Natural Life Therapy Clinic.

2. Please tell me how you would assess and treat a patient who needs help with hot flashes, mood swings and other problems associated with menopause?

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine addresses symptoms, such as, hot flashes, etc., by balancing the flow of Qi (Chi-Energy) in the body.

At Natural Life Therapy Clinic we diagnosis this flow of energy by doing a complete pulse diagnosis which tells us how to treat each individual person, helping to alleviate the symptoms. Two women may have hot flashes, however, the way to alleviate their symptoms will be different because everyone has their own unique pulses - that's the beauty of our system of health care, the diagnosis and treatment is fitted precisely to each individual patient. The treatment would involve Meridian Therapy, which includes, Japanese acupuncture, bodywork, dietary/nutritional counseling, and herbs and supplements if needed. (Keep in mind that patients usually report no pain whatsoever with this style of acupuncture - the technique is very gentle and the needles are the diameter of a human hair.)

3. Does acupuncture help address all problems associated with menopause or only specific ones?

I've seen the system we practice address all common symptoms of menopause. In more serious cases where symptoms are severe, we adjunct the treatment with dietary modifications and herbs/supplements.

4. Does the patient need multiple treatments? What kind of treatment schedule do you recommend?

Generally speaking, a more chronic condition (more than a month old) will take more treatments to cure. One should think about twice weekly for three to five weeks. Then once weekly for couple weeks. Sometimes less treatments are needed though, every patient is unique. I often see patients respond within three to five treatments.

5. What is the typical cost per treatment?

We have three practitioners here at Natural Life Therapy Clinic. Please see website for all fees. They vary a little with each practitioner. Info at:

6. Are some people better candidates for successful acupuncture treatment than others? If so, why?

Sometimes just a liitle more patience on the patients part is necessary if chronic - it took years for symptoms to manifest, so it may take a few treatments to change things. Occasionally, however, someone will come along that more aggressive medical intervention is necessary - hormone therapy - to address the symptoms. I clinically, however, see this less often.

7. Is there any clinical evidence (research) to support the use of acupuncture for menopause symptoms?

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites acupuncture in successfully treating 43 different conditions, one of which is menopausal symptoms. We know that clinically there are quite a few more conditions that can be addressed successfully with acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

8. What is the most important thing you think our readers should know about this topic?

That the body in so many cases has the ability to regulate itsef, to heal itself. Meridian Therapy and acupuncture performed by properly trained practitioners promotes the body's natural healing abilities. We come from the viewpoint of natural medicine, but if one needs drug treatment, then it should be done. However, many women can be successfully helped without medications for menopausal symptoms, as well as many other women's issues.

Thank you.

Jason R. Hackler, Dipl.Ac, L.Ac
Senior Associate, Natural Life Therapy Clinic

Monday, March 2, 2009

Q's for Dr. Duckworth: Sakai Teate

Dear Natural Life Therapy Clinic, Inc.,

Could you give me some details about Sakai Teate bodywork, please?



Dear Jay,

Sakai Sensei (Sensei means 'teacher') was one of my teacher's (Masahilo M. Nakazono Sensei ) teachers; a Shugendo priest (Buddhist) who spent 1/2 of each year wandering the mountains and 1/2 the year living in a villiage where he taught and provided Hand Ki Te A Te, a hands-on therapy focused on the abdomen. Te is a Japanese word that translates as 'hand,' 'helping hand' and teate translates to 'medicial care.' So te a te means the spirit of the helping hand, healing touch, hands healing the spirit, spiritual hand work. Sakai Sensei taught his students the Way of Hand Ki, learning to access and focus one's own Ki (chi) in the hands for therapeutic purposes; the Chinese would call this way, Chi Gong.

Nakazono Sensei studied with Sakai Sensei in the 1950's and applied this principle of Hand Ki to all his tactile therapy work (Shiatsu, Anma, Ampuku, Kappo and Sotai) and taught his meridian therapy students, the Way of Hand Ki. In fact, Nakazono Sensei taught his students to diagnose and treat the meridians with only handwork. Only when a student demonstrated the capacity to purposefully influence the meridian Ki with the hands was he/she taught needling technique (acupuncture). All practitioners who have graduated from studies with me have been taught this way.