Ask the Doctor

Q: How does acupuncture work?

A: Many studies have documented acupuncture's effects on the body, although none have fully explained how acupuncture works within the framework of modern medicine. Researchers have proposed several theories to explain acupuncture's effects.

Attention has been focused on the following theories to further explain what acupuncture does:

Conduction of electromagnetic signals: Evidence suggests that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating these points enables these signals to be relayed at greater-than-normal rates. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, release immune system cells to specific body sites, stimulate the endocrine system and influence brain chemistry.

Effects on the nervous system: Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which, in turn, releases chemicals into the spinal cord and brain. These chemicals can alter the experience of pain and/or release chemicals that influence the body's self-regulating systems. These biochemical changes stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.

Q: What is a Meridian?

A: A meridian is an acupuncture "pathway" or channel that travels through your bodies tissues. There are twelve major meridians or pathways in the body.

Q: Does Acupuncture hurt?

A: Most individuals report little or no pain in association to their acupuncture treatments. Some soreness is occasionally felt during insertion of the needles. When LASER is used instead of needles no pain or soreness is felt.

Q: Can Acupuncture help me quit smoking?

A: For those who want to quit smoking acupuncture can curb the desire to light up, according to a report in the journal "Preventative Medicine." In the study researchers found that individuals treated with acupuncture reported smoking less and had a decreased desire to smoke. In addition, the blood levels for smoking-related chemicals were lower in the acupuncture group than in the control group up to eight months after treatment. In our office we use a combination of cold laser therapy and acupuncture to help individuals quit smoking.

Q: What qualifications do you need to perform Acupuncture?

A: In the state of Illinois you can perform acupuncture of you are a medical doctor, a chiropractic physician or an acupuncturist. Dr. Howard has received her fellowship from the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture and Dr. Zaeske studied Acupuncture at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the People's Republic of China. Both doctors are Board Certified Chiropractic Internists.

Q: What is a delayed food allergy or sensitivity?

A: The easiest way to understand what a delayed food allergy (also often called a sensitvity) is, is to explain what it is not. The best-known form of food allergy is called an immediate-onset allergy. This type of immune reaction happens when allergic symptoms to a food occurs quickly, right after consumption of a small amount of the allergic food. The cause-and-effect relationship between the food and the symptoms is obvious. Doctors will typically perform a skin test to check for this type of allergy.

There is a much more prevalent, far more subtle and insidious type of allergy then this however. Such allergies are known as delayed-onset food allergies or food sensitivities. Once thought to be uncommon, this type of allergy is now believed to be the most common form of food allergy in children and adults.

Allergic symptoms in delayed reactions typically do not appear for at least two hours and not uncommonly showing up twenty-four to forty-eight hours later. Delayed food allergies, due to a combination of delayed symptoms and multiple offending foods, are rarely self-diagnosed. These allergies can be identified with a laboratory immuno-assay known as an ELISA test.

Q: What is Homeopathy?

A: Homeopathy, from the Greek words homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering), is a system of medicine, notable for its practice of prescribing water-based solutions that do not contain chemically active ingredients.

Q: What is a homeopathic remedy?

A: A homeopathic remedy is one in which the active ingredient has been drastically diluted. The remedy contains such an infinitesimal amount of active ingredient that it is said to contain only the energy of the active ingredient(s). Although such infinitesimal quantities are considered by some to be no more than placebos, the clinical experience of homeopathy shows that the infinitesimal dose is effective: it works upon unconscious people and infants, and it even works on animals.

Q: What is a an Adjustment?

A: Manipulation, also called "an adjustment," is a manual technique in which a high velocity, low force thrust is performed on a joint (typically of the spine) in order to restore normal joint mechanics

Q: What does "holistic" healthcare mean?

A: Holistic healthcare seeks to treat the root cause of a symptom(s). In order to do this properly, a holistic physician must consider the patients symptoms within the context of his or her whole health; thus the term "holistic".

Consider this analogy.If the branches of a tree were to represent your symptoms, then traditional medicine would say to treat the branches. The doctor may prune them or treat them in some other way. A holistic physician, by contrast, would say to treat the soil, the roots and the trunk in order to make the branches strong and able to heal themselves. Since symptoms are manifestations of dysfunction within the body, it is considered more effective to correct the underlying dysfunction and to restore health then it is to merely suppress symptoms.

Rather then "chasing" symptoms, the holistic physician seeks to restore the health and vitality of the body's various systems. A holistic examination therefore requires inspection of the 7 "key" systems, or factors, of health.

Q: What is a Chiropractic Internist?

A: Board Certified Chiropractic Internist is a physician who specializes in treating ailments that occur within the human body without the use of prescription drugs or surgery. As Chiropractic Internists we are required to be highly competent in both traditional medical diagnostics and the latest in alternative assessment and therapies. Chiropractic Internists must complete over three hundred hours of post-doctoral education and training in the use and assessment of medical diagnostics (laboratory testing, EKG's, lung studies, venous studies, etc, etc.) and the utilization of natural treatments. Because of this training and experience we are uniquely qualified to provide our patients with both sound medical assessment and the best in "alternative" analysis and treatment.

Q: What is cold laser or low level laser therapy?

A: LASER stands for Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Low level laser are "cold" lasers, which simply means they do not produce heat. Cold laser are either red light lasers or infrared lasers. Red light lasers penetrate relatively superficially. Infrared lasers penetrate deeper. Both types of laser are painless and very safe. Lasers can decrease pain and inflammation, increase circulation and increase cellular energy. Low Level Laser Light has unique physical properties that no ordinary light has. This is the key to why laser light is so effective compared to other kinds of light in healing. There are more than 100 double-blind positive studies confirming the clinical effect of LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy). More than 2500 research reports are published. You can find a multitude of research articles on lasers at

Q: What are heavy metal and chemical toxins and how do they get into our bodies?

A: Heavy metals (lead, mercury, etc.) and chemicals (pesticides, solvents, etc) have become increasingly present in our air, water, soil and food supply. Single instances of high exposure are rare; however, long term exposure to lower levels of these toxins (and exposure to multiple toxins) can become quit problematic. In our modern society, the human body is exposed to a heavy burden of foreign substances with which it is required to detoxify and eliminate. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs, caffeine, alcohol and fast food complicate the matter further, taxing your body beyond its natural capabilities of detoxification.

Q: What is candida?

A: Normally the body has a balance of healthy bacteria and yeast to assist in digesting food and synthesizing vitamins. Under certain conditions Candida albicans can increase rapidly in its fungal form and overgrow the beneficial bacteria resulting in multiple symptoms affecting different pats of the body.

Q: How do you know if you have it?

A: If your have multiple symptoms, it would be beneficial to test for Candida albicans to achieve the most improvement in your health.

Q: What is Leaky gut?

A: The lining of your intestines is vital to your good health. It protects your body from toxins and dangerous micro-organisms while absorbing valuable nutrients from the food you eat. Pain killers, antibiotics, excessive alcohol, stress, micro-organisms and even certain foods can cause a leaky gut by irritating and inflaming the intestinal lining. This causes "holes" in the lining of the gut that proteins can "leak" through. A combination of food allergy and candida testing has proven very effective in helping to heal and restore healthy intestinal lining.

Q: How Can You Tell A Good Fat From A Bad One?

A: Here is what you need to know about fat:

  • Extra virgin olive oil is good for cooking and for general consumption.
  • Modest amounts of butter can be used for cooking. That's butter, not margarine.
  • Saturated fats (fats that are "saturated" with hydrogen molecules) are harmful because they are "sticky" and adhere to artery walls, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. Butter and lard are saturated fats.
  • Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and are therefore referred to as oils. Most cooking oils are unsaturated fats. Oils that are highly unsaturated are known as polyunsaturated oils. Although polyunsaturated fats are healthy, when they are exposed to heat or light, their chemical structure is altered and toxic derivatives, some of which are known as trans-fatty acids, are formed. Trans-fatty acids are bad, bad, bad.
  • Hydrogenation refers to the process of adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats in order to make them more stable. This is how margarine is made. The problem with hydrogenation is that it results in the formation of trans-fatty acids and other mutagens. Margarine and other hydrogenated oils raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol, lower HDL ("good") cholesterol, interfere with essential fatty acid metabolism, and are suspected of causing certain cancers. This is why using butter, in moderation, is better than using margarine. It would be even better to use one of the "Smart Balance" spreads. They taste like margarine, but contain good fats (essential fatty acids)
Q: Are Food Additives Safe?

A: Even if you are eating what you think is a good diet, you may be consuming a lot of toxic substances. The average American consumes 10 pounds of food additives per year (not including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides). Get in the habit of reading labels. We recommend getting a good book, such as Ruth Winter's, A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, to help you make sense of what you will find. The following is a brief list of some chemical food additives:

  • Potassium bromate: used to make bread soft. The legal allowance is 50 ppb (parts per billion). It is very toxic when taken internally. Between two and four ounces of a 2% bromine solution can poison a child. Skin irritations and burns have been reported from its industrial uses. It is a suspected carcinogen.
  • Aspartame: NutraSweet or Equal. The approval for the use of Aspartame came over the objections of a federal panel that wanted further testing to examine a possible link between brain cancer and the use of this additive. Headaches also have a suspected link to aspartame use. Aspartame raises urinary pH, creating susceptibility to bladder infections.
  • Yellow #6: anytime you see a color followed by a number, run. Yellow #6 has been linked to possible kidney and adrenal tumors. It has been banned in Norway and Sweden.
  • Sodium nitrite: found in lunchmeats, hot dogs and other meats. Sodium nitrite combines with chemicals in your stomach to form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are known, not suspected, carcinogens.
Q: What is an Alkaline Ash Diet?

A: Having an excess acid load reduces cellular energy production, induces loss of resilience and repair mechanisms, and leaves you more susceptible to fatigue, infection, inflammation and pain. Excess acids can accumulate from an acid-forming diet, stress, toxins and immune reactions. Eating alkaline can help restore your cellular chemistry's balance.

  • For health restoration consume 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods.
  • For health maintenance consume 60% alkaline-forming foods and 40% acid-forming foods.
Alkaline-Forming Foods
Fruit (most)
Vegetables (most)
Herbs & Seasonings
Seeds & Nuts (peanuts are acidic)
Acid-Forming Foods
Grains (oats & quinoa are alkalinizing)
Legumes (peas & beans)

A simple way to remember alkaline or acid-forming is this: if it comes from under or near the ground, it is likely to be alkalinizing. If it comes from on or high above the ground, it is likely to be acid-forming.

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