Needling nausea away

By Michael Cote

Most people would agree with Chinese medical theory that the digestive system is moving in the wrong direction when you’re throwing up.

Instead of moving up, the contents of the stomach should move down.

This upset could happen for a variety of reasons such as contaminated food, side effects of medication, or even from heart problems and emotions.

Acupuncture can get your digestion moving in the right direction by:

  • regulating the electrical impulses that control the muscles of the digestive tract
  • modulating the actions of the nervous system responsible for automatic bodily functions
  • regulating vasopressin, a hormone that can cause nausea and vomiting
  • suppressing muscle contractions involved in vomiting 
  • regulating activities in the brain responsible for balance called the vestibular system

Research on acupuncture for nausea and vomiting typically focuses on the point Pericardium 6 (PC6), located on the palm side of the wrist. Treatments in acupuncture research typically ignore traditional diagnostics before selecting acupuncture points, yielding a fairly generic treatment.

Despite the lack of an appropriate diagnosis or the utilization of other points for restoring homeostasis, the research still says acupuncture is effective and is comparable to pharmaceutical drugs for post-operative and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.

A number of studies show the effectiveness for treating nausea and vomiting:

  • The Consensus Guidelines for the Management of Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting recommends acupuncture and point stimulation for prophylactic and treatment strategies based on a meta-analyses of 40 articles including 4,858 subjects. Stimulation of PC6 along with 10 other acupuncture modalities reduces nausea, vomiting, and the need for rescue anti-emetics compared with placebos.
  • The Acupuncture Evidence Project: Comparative Literature Review by Stephan Janz and John MacDonald, rated acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) effective; and a systematic review of seven acupuncture and six acupressure randomized control trials (RCTs) found that acupuncture reduced the frequency of acute vomiting and the dose of rescue medication, yet it did not reduce acute nausea severity or frequency compared with control groups.
  • An updated systematic review by Garcia and others concluded that acupuncture is an appropriate referral option for CINV.
  • Additionally, systematic reviews and meta-analyses on acupuncture and acupressure for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) concluded that both acupuncture and acupressure reduced the number of cases of early nausea and vomiting for up to 24 hours post-surgery.

I think that much better results happen when there is a correct diagnosis before administering any form of medicine. Rather than saying only one point is useful for nausea and vomiting, we want to figure out the underlying cause first.

In many cases of nausea and vomiting, it’s a stomach problem, but in Chinese medicine, we also think of the kidneys, large and small intestines, gallbladder, liver, lungs, and heart as playing a role. Other considerations are side effects from medications.

Instead of treating nausea (the symptom), we want to restore homeostasis (the cause). In Chinese medicine, we use the words Yin and Yang to describe homeostasis.

If your body is too cold, we need to warm you up and if your body is too hot, we need to cool you down. Once we know which organ systems are involved and if you’re too hot or cold, we then select an appropriate treatment strategy.

Take Roger, for example, who came to me complaining of a lump in his throat. He had esophageal cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Roger had a lot of stress and difficulty swallowing. He felt nauseous when he managed to eat; his pulses felt wiry and rapid; his tongue was trembling and red with fissures.

I diagnosed Roger with “Plum-pit Qi caused by Liver Yin deficiency and internal phlegm.”

I did a series weekly of acupuncture treatments and once he finished his chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I prescribed the herbal formulas Ban Xia Hou Po Tang with Jia Wei Xiao Yao San.

I also recommended Roger avoid greasy and rich foods, and to learn to deal with stress better. One way that helped me deal with stress was reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

There are also counsellors, psychiatrists, and psychologists who can help.

After a month, Roger reported he felt much better, and, after two months, the lumpy feeling vanished and he was able to eat comfortably. Now, I only occasionally see Roger when his stress levels rise and he feels like the lump in his throat is returning.

Roger is a great example of how acupuncture can help you to manage stress and complement other treatments you may be undergoing.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment that can promote health and better functioning of the body.

Michael Côté, R.TCM.P, is a registered practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.​ He can be reached at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St. — (250) 861-8863; [email protected].


IH had a busy year

Interior Health year in review

By Doug Cochrane

As 2018 approaches, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year. On behalf of Interior Health, it is my pleasure to recap some highlights.

Of course, the biggest story of 2017 was the wildfires that tore across several communities. In total 19 hospitals, health centres and residential care homes were evacuated. Close to 880 patients and home health clients, along with hundreds of employees and physicians, were forced to leave their homes.  

I am so impressed by the teams who came together to make sure patients were well taken care of, even when care providers had to improvise and make the best of limited space and supplies.

Sadly another crisis continues — the opioid overdose public health emergency took more than 1,200 lives in in B.C. this year.

We have successfully awarded contracts for the previously announced 73 substance use treatment beds; these include 57 support recovery beds (including four youth withdrawal management beds in Kelowna with our partners The Bridge Youth and Family) and 16 withdrawal management beds.

We have also implemented mobile supervised consumption services in Kamloops and Kelowna this year.

Despite these efforts, a record number of people were lost this year to overdose deaths. Thank you to everyone on the frontline working to help address addiction, mitigate overdose risk, and address the damaging stigma that persists around mental health and substance use issues.

Use of MyHealthPortal continues to grow. Introduced last year, there are now more than 30,000 patients accessing their personal health information online using this secure online tool.

Our relationships with Indigenous communities also continue to develop as we deepen our understanding of cultural humility and what that means in a health-care setting.

We now have two dedicated educators working to build awareness within our staff and this year we announced a dedicated Indigenous recruiter in an effort to attract and retain more Indigenous employees.  

The next year promises more good news for the Okanagan as construction wraps up on the 243 residential care beds announced last year — including 35 in Penticton expected to open in 2018.

These are in addition to 85 newly constructed beds in Vernon and 100 that opened this year in Kelowna.

And, of course, construction continues on Penticton’s new state-of-the-art David E. Kampe Tower – phase 1 of the $312.5 million Patient Care Tower Project.

Since joining Interior Health in September, I have been getting to know the organization, its leadership and the communities we serve.

I look forward to a fulfilling term serving Interior Health area residents.

Wishing you a happy New Year,

Doug Cochrane is chairman of the board of Interior Health.

B.C. fuelling Airbnb rentals?

By Lynne Arbuthnot 

Will changes to the Residential Tenancy Act backfire? Could new B.C. tenancy rules end up pushing more long-term rentals into Airbnb short-term rentals? 

In a valiant effort to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords, the B.C. government passed legislation to stop "unfair and unjustified rent increases."


By no longer allowing landlords the right to hold tenants to a fixed-term lease with a move-out clause. And the kicker is; this legislation only received royal assent at the end of November, yet is already in effect.

Call the tenancy branch to confirm. But from my understanding, any fixed-term agreement currently in place may now be void. 

So where does this leave the non-professional landlord? (A non-professional landlord is an individual property owner with a space to rent as opposed to a property management company with a building of rentals.)

My online store sells hotel supplies to property owners who've opened their homes, cottages, resort condos, suites and so on to travellers. As a result, we speak to Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway hosts daily.

We often ask our customers what prompts them to open their properties to this fast-growing, home-sharing and/or short-term rental phenomena.

The top answers are:

  • Extra income.
  • Fun to meet guests.

“The kids have moved out, so instead on moving away and downsizing, we turned the downstairs into a suite. This means we can now afford to keep the extra space for our kids and other family and friends when they visit."

From the rumblings I'm hearing, I’m concerned this new rule may backfire and inadvertently remove even more long-term rental space from B.C.'s already sparse supply. In fact, that is exactly what motivated me to write this piece. 

One customer just this past Thursday told me me how excited she was to be opening her furnished and now fully provisioned in-house suite to a UBC student from this January until the end of April. At a very low rate, I might add.

She also told me how she already has close to half the summer booked with travellers, and three weeks with her daughter and grandkids. I truly hated to be the one to have to do it, but I warned her that she can not have a tenancy agreement with an end date.

Even if the landlord and her prospective tenant agree in principle, the tenant can change her mind and decide she’d rather stay on once April rolls around.

After confirming this with a call to the tenancy branch, she opted to take the suite off the long-term market.

Just to clarify; anything over 30 days is considered by law as being long-term, and anything 29 days or under as short-term.

Ask yourself. If you've worked a lifetime to accumulate your own real estate, and now find yourself with extra space available, what would you do?

  • Rent long-term with all the usual risks plus this added disincentive that allows the tenant to unilaterally decide when to end the tenancy.
  • Fix your space up as a guest suite, or guest room, and become a host to short-term visitors. Meet interesting pre-vetted people. Enjoy guaranteed, up front payments.

Lynne Arbuthnot is the founder/owner of VR Supplies.


Answer to the budget why

By Tom Wilson

Leading up to city council’s review of the provisional budget on Thursday, this question is bound to come up:

  • Why don’t taxes simply reflect the rate of inflation?

The Consumer Price Index is the most widely used measure of inflation. The CPI measures cost increases for these consumer expenses:

  • food
  • shelter
  • household operations
  • furniture
  • clothing
  • transportation
  • health
  • personal care
  • recreation
  • education
  • alcoholic beverages
  • tobacco

From that list, costs associated with shelter/household operations, transportation and education can also apply to municipalities. The rest have little or no relevance for municipalities.

The City’s shopping basket of supplies includes other, costlier items:

  • concrete
  • fuel
  • water treatment
  • asphalt
  • labour
  • heavy equipment
  • citizens’ safety

Making a direct comparison between CPI and municipal taxes isn’t that simple.

A number of other factors influence the annual tax rate beyond inflation. For example, every annual budget contains ongoing impact costs to maintain service levels approved in previous budgets.

Examples include paying for the new Kelowna Police Services building for ongoing operations and maintenance, union and contractor wage increases from negotiated multi-year contracts and Phase 2 of the customer care improvement project that will see upgrades to the utility billing system.

These multi-year costs alone can typically amount to a two-per-cent rate increase – before anything else is even considered for the new budget year.

Then consider the costs of keeping up with growth. We’re one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, adding thousands of new residents every year who are drawn by our reputation for having a high quality of life, but who also need more roads, underground infrastructure, buses, parks, recreation and cultural opportunities. 

On top of that, there can be unexpected costs – such as the $10 million in flood damages to City property that needs to be replaced or repaired, $3 million of which the City will pay for, with the remainder covered by the provincial government.

The Citizen Survey and ongoing engagement and interaction with residents virtually every day of the year helps identify budget priorities.

Expanding and diversifying the type and price-points for housing is a priority reflected in City programs such as the Infill Challenge, Rental Housing Grant Program, the Journey Home Strategy and the Housing Needs Strategy, along with partnerships with other levels of government to address housing needs. 

Maintaining or improving a feeling of safety and security in a city of nearly 130,000 requires a certain amount of financial and human resources – that remains a priority.

Over the years, the City administration has developed other revenue sources to reduce the demand on taxpayers. 

Today, taxes account for just over one-third of the overall budget, with the remaining majority coming from user fees and charges, grants and reserves.

Strong financial management – another council priority – includes choosing the best timing to make investments that have the greatest benefit to the community.

The budget’s link to council and community priorities has helped the City of Kelowna achieve a high level of satisfaction with residents when asked about the value they receive for the taxes they pay.

For the past decade, a large majority of residents have said they receive high value for their taxes in Kelowna, and most residents are willing to pay the same or more to maintain or increase services.

Tom Wilson is a communications manager for the City of Kelowna.

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