Auricular Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that dates back nearly 4,000 years. Auricular acupuncture was first mentioned around 500 B.C. in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which is the equivalent of the Bible for TCM practitioners. However, the method in which auricular acupuncture is practiced today is actually based upon discoveries that occurred in France in the 1950s. Modern auricular acupuncture is based upon the work done by Dr. Paul Nogier of France.

Auricular acupuncture is the stimulation of the external ear for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions. These health conditions may be taking place anywhere throughout the body. The stimulation of these acupuncture points can be done manually, with an acupuncture needle, a laser, magnets or ear seeds. Regardless of the means of stimulation, auricular acupuncture can be a very powerful addition to regular acupuncture treatments.

The current form of auricular acupuncture came about after Dr. Nogier noticed a scar on the upper ear of some of his patients. When he inquired about the scar, he found out a local practitioner had been treating his patients for sciatica pain and she was cauterizing this specific area on the external ear to relieve their low back pain. Dr. Nogier conducted similar tests on his own patients and found their low back pain was also relieved. He tried using other means of stimulation as well, such as acupuncture needles and found it to be just as effective as cauterizing the area. So Dr. Nogier theorized if an area of the upper external ear is effective on treating low back pain, then perhaps other areas of the ear could treat other parts of the body. This led to the model now used when teaching auricular acupuncture. The ear is thought to represent the whole anatomical body. However, it is upside down in orientation, so the head is represented by the lower ear lobe, the feet are at the top of the ear and the rest of the body is in between. According to history, the Chinese actually adopted this model of auricular acupuncture in 1958.

Auricular acupuncture is considered a microsystem, in that the ear is like a microcosm of the whole body, meaning one part of the body, the ear in this instance, represents the whole body. Microsystems also appear on foot and hand reflexology, facial acupuncture and scalp acupuncture.

This system has been practiced in Asia, albeit in a different form, for over 2,000 years. Auricular acupuncture has been used in Europe for the past 40 to 50 years. And it is finally starting to take root in the United States. The U.S. military, over the past 5 to 10 years, has started utilizing auricular acupuncture for its battlefield personnel. This form of battlefield acupuncture is used to help soldiers deal with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) brought on by being in combat.

Since auricular acupuncture allows for every part of the external ear to connect through the microsystem to every part of the body, many conditions can be treated using only a few very tiny needles. Not only can PTSD be treated using auricular acupuncture, but also things like chronic pain, drug addiction, high blood pressure and nausea. And for those who are a little needle-shy, auricular acupuncture is a great way to treat them because they will never see the needles and they will still get the help they need to achieving health and wellness.

Photo credit: Ear – Travis Isaacs | CC 2.0

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Why am I so cold?

Everyone feels cold sometimes, but some people are perpetually chilled to a point where it interferes with their lives.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, there are two different kinds of cold in the body: full cold and empty cold. Full cold refers to a condition where there is an excess of cold-type energy in the body leading to a feeling of cold, and most likely other health problems, as well. The other kind of cold is empty cold. This means there is not an abundance of cold energy but rather a weakness of the warm fiery energy. When there isn’t enough warmth in the body, you will feel cold – not because the cold is so strong, but because you don’t have enough fire to balance it out.

Full cold

As mentioned, a full cold condition refers to an over-abundance of cold type energy in the body. This is often an acute case and may relate to being outside on cold weather, or exposing a certain area of your body to cold water, cold wind or cold weather. Symptoms really depend on the location of the cold in the body.

For instance, you might feel really cold when you are coming down with a cold virus. From a TCM perspective, this is cold being trapped under the skin or in certain channels on the back of the neck. Other associated symptoms may be a stiff neck, a runny nose or an occipital headache.

Full cold can also lodge itself in the digestive system – this may happen following a meal of cold food, drinking cold beverages in a cold environment or following exposure to very cold temperatures. Full cold in the digestive system can lead to a feeling of cold, as well as painful cramping, diarrhea or loose stools and pain in the abdomen.

Another common site of a full-cold condition is the uterus. This can be from exposure to cold temperatures such as swimming in cold water or sitting on a cold surface. Certain gynecological procedures can also introduce cold into the uterus. This type of cold manifests as a feeling of cold, particularly with the period and very painful cramping before and during the period. There will likely also be clots and possible problems with fertility.

All of these full-cold conditions can be avoided by limiting exposure to cold environments and cold foods. Also introducing heat internally through teas, soups and warming herbs can help.

Empty cold

In TCM, health is a state of balance between yin and yang. Yin refers to the cool, watery, passive parts of our physiology, whereas yang refers to the hot, fiery, active parts. When the yang energy is weakened, there isn’t enough fire to balance out the cool and watery yin. This leads to a pervasive feeling of cold that is hard to shake, even with lots of blankets and warm drinks. This is someone who always feels chilled, no matter what. There may be other symptoms, as well, such as loose stools, a lack of energy or motivation, wanting to sleep all the time or fluid accumulation. Yang deficiency cold often requires use of herbal medicine, acupuncture, and moxa to treat appropriately.

While these are the main reasons for feeling cold, there are two other energetic imbalances that can also lead to feeling cold – Qi stagnation and blood deficiency.  When Qi is stuck, circulation is impaired and heat can’t get to our extremities effectively. This kind of cold often manifests as very cold hands and feet. It can be helped by regular exercise, reducing stress and limiting heavy foods. A weakness in the blood energy of the body leads to a low-grade constant feeling of cold less severe than a yang deficiency cold, but still pervasive and consistent. It can be helped with getting enough sleep, reducing stressors and eating a well-balanced diet of blood-nourishing foods.

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Positive Side Effects of Acupuncture

During an initial session of acupuncture, most practitioners began with an extensive health intake that goes over all of the systems in the body. We use this to determine certain patterns of imbalance, allowing us to treat the root cause of issues. This is one way we differ from Western medicine. continue reading »

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Building Protective Qi with TCM

Everybody gets sick at some point in their life. For some, it’s just a quick weekend thing. For others, it can last for several days and even weeks. Why do some people always get sick whenever there is a bug going around and others don’t? It all comes down to immunity. People who have a stronger immune system, tend to be sick less often. Those with compromised or weak immune systems, seem to get sick at the drop of a hat. There are many things that can be done to strengthen the immune system though. And Traditional Chinese Medicine is probably one of the best and least invasive ways to boost the immune system, not just during the winter months, but all year long. continue reading »

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Macular Degeneration

A cause of visual impairment that often will not give any symptom or sign in the early stages, macular degeneration, also referred to as “age related macular degeneration”, is the leading cause of visual loss in older people. It is characterized by progressive damage to the back of the eye (known as the macula area on the retina).  Many risk factors have been associated with this condition. These include age >55years, family history of macular degeneration, smoking, hypertension, obesity, high level of bad cholesterol in the blood, and certain genetic predispositions.

Those with macular degeneration may experience symptoms later in the course of the illness. The symptoms include distorted and blurred vision, black shadows, difficulty with colors. They often suffer from the inability to recognize faces or have a clear picture of objects. Straight lines appear wavy and they find it difficult to drive. Visual acuity reduces significantly. There is no specific medical treatment for macular degeneration. Many treatment modalities are only good at slowing down the rate of progression.

 

Macular Degeneration and Acupuncture.

 

Acupuncture with the use of microcurrent electrical stimulation around the eye has been shown to be effective in stopping disease progression and possibly reversing the damage.

  • In FDA guided and supervised clinical studies, 61% of 400 patients with dry macular degeneration showed visual acuity improvement after the treatment.1
  • Edward Paul, O.D., Ph.D. reported a 72% rate of improvement in 26 out of 36 eyes with macular degeneration. There was also an 83% (20 out 24 eyes) rate of improvement in inherited juvenile macular degeneration (Stargardt disease).2
  • Another study that was published in 1997 and included 114 patients showed benefits from microcurrent stimulation for macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and other eye conditions.3
  • A study involving 400 eyes affected by macular degeneration showed that 78 % of affected eyes improved in 1-9 lines in reading an eye chart. More than 50% of eyes improved in 2-9 lines.4

 

Since there is currently no curative medical treatment, and with the rising incidence of macular degeneration among the elderly, electro stimulation of acupuncture points remains the only viable option of treatment for those with macular degeneration, as its effectiveness has been proven by many clinical studies.

Reference:

  1. O’Clock GD, Jarding JB. Electrotherapeutic device/protocol design considerations for visual disease applications, Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2009. EMBC 2009. Annual International Conference of the IEEE. 2009:2133-6.
  2. Edward Paul, O.D., D. The Treatment of Retinal Disease with MCS and Nutritional Supplementation, International Society for Low-Vision Research and rehabilitation at the Low Vision Congress in Gothenberg, Sweden 2002. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.603.6005&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  3. Grace Halloran, PhD, et al. Bioelectrical Stimulation in an Integrated Treatment for Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Glaucoma, CMV, and DR; Fourth Annual Symposium on Biologically Closed Electrical Circuits, Mankato University, MN, October, 1997 https://organicmd.com/1997-presentation-study-on-the-better-eye-health-visual-healing-program/
  4. Merrill J. AIlen, O.D., Ph.D.; John B. Jarding, O.D.; Ralph Zehner, O.D. Macular Degeneration Treatment with Nutrients and Micro Current Electricity. The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 13, 4th Quarter 1998

 

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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

The prostate gland is an organ, the size of a chestnut, located just below the urinary bladder in males. It affords a passage to the urethra that conveys urine from the bladder to the exterior. From the age of 40 years and above, the prostate gland can enlarge as a result division and increase in the number of cells within it. This condition which is often accompanied by difficulty with urination and other urinary symptoms is referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is benign because the dividing cells are not cancerous and therefore cannot spread to other parts of the body.

 

Urinary symptoms are often due to compression and narrowing of the prostatic urethra and these include:

  • Delay in initiating urination
  • Poor stream of urine
  • Multiple interruptions of urine flow
  • Straining to pass urine
  • Feeling of residual urine in the bladder after urination
  • Increase in the nocturnal and day-time frequency of urination
  • Pain while urinating and
  • Inability to hold urine before getting to the restroom

In severe cases there may be a complete inability to urinate with or without pain (acute or chronic urinary retention). Patients are at risk of urinary tract infection and may develop kidney damage from back pressure effect.

Depending on symptom severity, treatment options include watchful waiting, use of medications, and surgical removal of the enlarged prostate. However, each of these treatments is not without its own demerits.

 

Acupuncture for BPH.

 

A study treated 47 patients who had mild-moderate BPH symptoms with electroacupuncture stimulus on the lower back for 30 min. on alternate days while another 46 patients were treated with medication (terazosin). Those treated with electroacupuncture had better symptoms resolution and improvement in urinary flow as evidenced by reduction in post-void residual urine.1

Similar result was obtained from another study where 50 out of 100 patients treated with electroacupuncture had a higher reduction in severity of symptoms at 6 weeks and 18 weeks over their counterparts who had non-acupuncture treatment.2

Yu et al. also applied twice weekly electroacupuncture treatment of 20min. duration for a total 12 weeks.  A better improvement in symptoms was seen in them over those treated with sham acupuncture. Those treated with electroacupuncture recorded improvement in average and maximal flow rate with increase in voiding volume.3 Electroacupuncture therefore, is an effective treatment modality for patients with mild-moderate symptoms from BPH.

 

Reference list

  1. Yang T, Zhang XQ, Feng YW. Efficacy of electroacupuncture in treating 93 patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2008 Nov;28(11):998-1000.

 

  1. Yang Wang, Baoyan Liu, Jinna Yu, Jiani Wu, Jing Wang, and Zhishun Liu, Electroacupuncture for Moderate and Severe Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2013; 8(4): e59449. Published online 2013 Apr 12. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059449

 

  1. Jung-Sheng Yu, Kun-Hung Shen, Wen-Chi Chen, Jiann-Shyan Her, and Ching-Liang Hsieh Effects of Electroacupuncture on Benign Prostate Hyperplasia Patients with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms: A Single-Blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 303198. Published online 2011 Apr 13. doi:  10.1155/2011/303198

 

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Five Ways to Increase White Blood Cell Count with TCM

Leukopenia is a term used when there are less than adequate white blood cells in the bloodstream. This condition may make those suffering from it susceptible to infections. Leukopenia is often seen in diseases such as AIDS, cancer and lupus, as well as in common occurrences like the flu or a cold. Leukopenia can also be medically induced, as is often the case for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. While there are several prescription medications available to battle this condition, most of them also have multiple adverse side effects. But there are alternative natural methods that can increase white blood cell count without the side effects. One of these is Traditional Chinese Medicine. continue reading »

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Acupuncture and Cervical Health

Women’s health is a big part of the healthcare industry. And acupuncture can be very beneficial in caring for the overall health of women. Acupuncture has been especially effective in helping with things like infertility, turning breech babies, inducing labor and clearing up infections. The cervix is just one small part of the uterus. Specifically it is the lower part of the uterus that opens to allow passage between the uterus and the vagina. The cervix widens during childbirth to allow the baby to pass, it also allows the passage of menstrual fluids from the uterus out of the body and it is vital for sperm to pass through the cervix to reach the uterus when trying to procreate.

The cervix is very vulnerable to several health conditions, such as chronic inflammation, polyps, dysplasia and even cancer. Cervical conditions rarely present symptoms in the early stages, which makes it extremely important for women to get regular pap smears. If an abnormality is detected, there are several ways to address it, depending on the severity. In the early stages of any of the aforementioned conditions, acupuncture can be a positive addition to Western medical treatments. Acupuncture is very good at decreasing inflammation and helping to dissolve polyps and tumors. Acupuncture can also balance hormones, which allows the body to correct any imbalances.

One of the most studied areas of acupuncture is in treating fertility issues. When invitro fertilization by itself does not get the job done, adding acupuncture may be the last piece of the puzzle. Acupuncture does much more than just balance the hormones. When a woman is trying to get pregnant and struggling with it due to fertility issues, the stress levels are extremely high. And high stress levels have been proven to disrupt the body’s ability to conceive. One of the things that acupuncture is really successful at is decreasing stress levels. This can make it easier for the fertility treatments to work. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase blood flow to areas of the body, including the uterus. This can help to make a very hospitable place for a baby to grow.

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are also widely used for treating infections and sexually transmitted diseases. In traditional Chinese medicine, most infections have some sort of heat or discharge associated with them. This medicine uses principles, herbs and acupressure points that have specific properties that can drain heat and expel toxins from the body. This can lead to an overall improvement in both uterine and cervical health.

Another area where acupuncture can help with cervical health is at the time of birth. About four percent of babies are presented in the breech position prior to birth. An accessory modality known as moxibustion, has proven time and time again, that it can actually turn the baby to the proper birthing position. Moxibustion involves the burning of an herb, dried mugwort, very near the skin on a specific acupressure point that is located on the outer edge of the pinky toe. By performing moxibustion several times a day, the baby and the body somehow know that there needs to be a repositioning and the baby tends to turn during the night.

When it comes to women’s health, acupuncture is an amazing resource. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.

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Easy Does It Meditation

There is a large variety of meditation to choose from. It isn’t all just sitting cross-legged with your eyes shut. Let’s explore types of meditation.

Types of meditation include Buddhist practices, transcendental, zen, mantra, chakra, sound, guided and active. How can someone choose where to start? Think about the type of person you are overall, the amount of time and dedication you have, and where your interests lie. What do you intend to get out of meditation? continue reading »

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Fermented Foods and Intestinal Health

fermented food for digestive healthThe modern world is changing every single day. Because of this constant state of change, our bodies are frequently having to adjust. We have a food supply being degraded and depleted of nutritional content, which in turn, causes our bodies to become depleted. Our soil and water is contaminated with antibiotics and deadly fertilizers. All of which become part of the food chain we rely upon. Because of this, antibiotics are failing and superbugs like MRSA are on the rise. Lack of nutrition and the overuse of antibiotics are just a couple of the things wreaking havoc on our intestinal health. But there are ways to combat this and keep the gut healthy. continue reading »

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