Acupuncture: Not Just Needles

Cupping AcupunctureMost people have heard of the field of acupuncture by now, but did you realize the scope of the practice encompasses Chinese medicine, which includes so much more than needles? Let’s explore this ancient therapy.

First of all, the practice of Chinese medicine starts with a diagnosis. The practitioner asks many questions to build a history; this includes the answers to digestion, appetite, diet, sleep patterns, bowel movement urination, pain, lifestyle, and stress level, for example. The acupuncturist will also be noting the voice pitch, hair luster, skin color and tone, as well as posture and mood of the patient and any significant odor. After that, there is a pulse and tongue analysis to determine where the pattern and root are, primarily. Finally, blood pressure is measured and other applicable tests done, including palpation of the body. After this history, a diagnosis and treatment plan is determined. What might be included in this plan? continue reading »

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Seven Ways Acupuncture Can Help Mothers

One of the best gifts you can give your mother this Mother’s Day is the gift of acupuncture. Acupuncture can help with an abundance of health problems and get you feeling one hundred percent again. Mom’s make the world work, it’s a known fact. So this holiday season you should give your mother the gift of acupuncture, here are seven reasons why.


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Optic Neuropathy

Optic neuropathy is the term used to describe damage to optic nerve (cranial nerve II) irrespective of the cause. Damage to optic nerve most often leads to reduction in the size of the nerve due to loss of some or all of its fibers. Hence, it is often referred to as optic atrophy. The end result of this condition is deterioration in color vision with or without progression to loss of vision.

The etiologies of optic nerve damage are many ranging from insufficient/lack of blood flow to the optic nerve, infections, trauma, to hereditary conditions. Thus, based on the diverse etiologies, damage to optic nerve (optic neuropathy) can be categorized under the following:

Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

This is caused by insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve and it is further classified based on the etiology of the insufficient blood flow and the location of the damage along the course of the nerve.  Risk factors for optic nerve damage are: diabetes mellitus, increased intraocular pressure, hypotension, and hyperlipidemia.

Optic Neuritis

A demyelinating inflammation of the optic nerve, optic neuritis, though can occur in isolation, is usually associated with multiple sclerosis or neuromyelitis optica. It is caused by autoimmune reaction leading to destruction of the myelin sheath of the nerves. Other causes are; infections (e.g. viral encephalitis), metastases, chemicals and drugs (lead, quinine, arsenic), diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, Graves’ disease, etc.

Compressive Optic Neuropathy

This is caused by the progressive compression of the optic nerve by inflammatory processes, tumors, etc.

 

Traumatic Optic Neuropathy

This may be caused by either a direct or indirect injury to the nerve. Trauma to the head involving the orbit may disrupt the structure and function of the optic nerve, while blunt injury to the forehead may transmit force to and damage the optic nerve.

 

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

This can be seen in protein-energy malnutrition, gastric bypass surgery, pernicious anemia, etc. is a well-known cause of optic nerve neuropathy.

 

Toxic Optic Neuropathy

Exposure to toxic substances may cause optic nerve damage. The most implicated substance is methanol. Others include; ethylene glycol, amiodarone, ethambutol, and tobacco.

 

Treatment

The treatment of optic neuropathy is majorly directed to the underlying cause(s). Treatment initiated before the onset of atrophy may help preserve vision, however once optic nerve atrophy sets in, it is irreversible. Thus early diagnosis and treatment of the treatable underlying cause may help prevent further optic nerve damage. Corticosteroid is a proven treatment for optic neuritis and ischemic optic neuropathy.

 

Efficacy and Safety of Acupuncture

A meta-analysis was conducted with the results of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on optic atrophy treatment with acupuncture. Thirteen RCTs involving 1180 eyes were included. This analysis clearly revealed that the effect of acupuncture, or when combined with medicine, was superior to medicine alone in terms of total effectiveness, visual acuity, and visual field.

In another study conducted to determine the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of ischemic optic neuropathy, 69 patients (93 eyes) with nerve damage were used. These patients had earlier been treated by acupuncture, performed on different acupoints related to eyes.

The qualities of vision were assessed before and after the treatment.  After 2, 4, and 8 weeks of treatment, the total effective rates of visual acuity improvement were 74.19%, 78.89%, and 81.71%, respectively, and the improvement in visual field was statistically significant.

These studies are evidences to show that acupuncture, with or without combination with medicine, is beneficial and effective in improving vision in patients with optic nerve neuropathy irrespective of the etiology.

 

References:
1) Yali Qin, Wei Yuan, Hui Deng, Ming Jin. Clinical Efficacy Observation of Acupuncture Treatment for Nonarteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015(1):1-6 · June 2015 DOI: 10.1155/2015/713218 Link
2) Yanli Dai, Ming Liu, Yixin Zhang, Houbin Huang. Meta analysis of acupuncture in the treatment of optic atrophy.  Journal of Central South University. Medical sciences 38(3):283-90 · March 2013  DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1672-7347.2013.03.012 Link

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Acupuncture for Addiction

Addiction is defined as the compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance, which means addiction can come in a lot of different forms.  People can be addicted to illicit drugs like heroin just as easily as they can be addicted to sugar. But for the purpose of this article, let’s stick to illicit drugs and alcohol.

According to the Health Services Administration, 23.5 million people ages 12 or older have needed treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. And the treatments provided aren’t guaranteed, nor are they always easy. Luckily, there are alternative treatment options that can help. continue reading »

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Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) refers to a group of degenerative eye diseases that are hereditary and characterized by progressive visual impairment. The genetic defects cause apoptosis (cell death) of rod photoreceptors with or without the involvement of cone receptors or retinal pigment epithelium.

The Patient with retinitis Pigmentosa has night blindness (nyctalopia), usually the first symptoms, peripheral visual loss which later became progressive and leads to central visual loss, and photopsia ( light flashes). It can occur as an isolated condition or as part of a syndrome. Up to 30% of patient with RP will have associated hearing loss (Usher syndrome)

Molecular defect in over 90 genes have been linked to this condition. It is highly heterogeneous and those with the same mutation can have different manifestations. Inheritance can be autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, or X linked recessive, and mitochondrial gene mutation.  However up to 50% of cases are found in those without any family history of RP.

There is no cure for this condition yet. However various supplements such as vitamins A, C, and E, calcium channel blockers, and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are used for delaying the disease progression but their efficacy is still a subject of debate. Investigational treatment modalities are: gene therapy, surgical placement of growth factors, retinal prosthesis, etc.

Electroacupuncture to the forehead and below the eyes and acupuncture to the body, at 10 half-hour sessions over two weeks were noticed to improve vision in patients with retinitis Pigmentosa. The procedure was completed and well tolerated by all the subjects without adverse events or visual loss.

Twelve adult patients with retinitis Pigmentosa were recruited for the study (a prospective, case series study). Six of 12 subjects had measurable, significant visual function improvements after treatment. Four of the five subjects with psychophysically measured scotopic sensitivity improvements reported subjective improvements in vision at night or in dark environments.

This study convincingly demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in maintaining and improving the residual vision in patients with retinitis Pigmentosa.

Reference:
Ava K Bittner, OD PhD, Jeffrey M Gould, MEd LAc, Andy Rosenfarb, ND LAc, Collin Rozanski, and Gislin Dagnelie, PhD A pilot study of an acupuncture protocol to improve visual function in retinitis pigmentosa patients. Clin Exp Optom. 2014 May; 97(3): 240–247. doi: 10.1111/cxo.12117

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Does Your Liver Need a Spring Tune-Up?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by a particular organ system and spring is connected to the liver. What does this mean? Well, you probably notice changes in the way you feel, both physically and mentally, as the seasons change. I know I tend to feel a bit more contemplative and introspective during the winter months. Once spring hits, I’m ready to recharge and get things done. The liver energy is strong and assertive, the type of energy you need to create plans and then propel them into motion. However, if your liver is a little out of balance, you might notice you are more irritable or on edge than usual. Here are a few signs that your liver is in need of an acupuncture tune-up: continue reading »

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Acupuncture and colon cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States with about 60,000 deaths from it every year. Like all cancer, treatment can be long, uncomfortable and come with many side effects. Those getting chemotherapy may experience nausea, vomiting, postoperative pain, cancer related pain, insomnia and anxiety. The chronic pain can significantly impact quality of life. Most patients are prescribed medications such as opioids for pain that have side effects and are highly addictive. continue reading »

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All About Moxibustion

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the TCM practitioner is known as moxibustion.

Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed on the acupuncture point, lit, extinguished and removed before it burns the skin.   continue reading »

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Heart Afire: The Fire Element

The organs in Chinese medicine are more than just a physical representation. The organs include not only their physiological function, but also their mental, emotional, spiritual and elemental qualities that align with nature and the seasons. Let’s explore the heart.

The heart season is summer, and heart is considered the most yang: hot, bountiful and abundant. Yang is what is bright, moving, outward, hot and loud. Yin is what is more inward, still, dark and cooler. The color of the heart is associated with red, the climate is heat, the flavor is bitter and it’s paired organ is the small intestine (many urinary issues are due to “heart fire” heat descending). The sense aligned with heart is the tongue, and the vessels associated with heart are the tissues. The heart sound is laughing, and the emotion is joy. The heart houses what is known as the shen, which is the mind and spirit. continue reading »

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Valentine’s Day, TCM and Heart Health

Every February men all over the world flock to the local flower shops and jewelry stores in search of the perfect bouquet or piece of jewelry to express their undying love to their significant other. Why?  Nobody knows for certain, but there are at least a couple of theories.

One theory is a Catholic priest, Valentine, was imprisoned for helping Christians escape Roman prisons.  While he imprisoned himself, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him. Allegedly, before his death, Valentine wrote a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”  Thus, the first Valentine’s Day card was created, or so it is reported. continue reading »

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