Allergies

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According to Chinese medical theory, the symptoms and signs that indicate a Western diagnosis of allergies relate to imbalances in the meridian and Organ Systems of the body. These imbalances may stem from a variety of causes, including stress, poor diet, constitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins.

Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affect the functions of the Organ Systems. Some of these Organ Systems are involved in the production of Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). According to the theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it is important to have
the correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating around the body in order to stay healthy.

What is Wei Qi?

The Chinese concept of Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system. Wei Qi functions to protect and defend the body against foreign substances, that if not caught can lead to allergies. When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we remain healthy. When the supply of Wei Qi becomes deficient, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to foreign invaders such as dust, mold, animal dander, bacteria, viruses and pollen. People who have a Wei Qi deficiency are prone to allergies and frequent colds.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in the production of Wei Qi. By building up the supply of Wei Qi, and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it through the body, symptoms and signs related to allergies could be greatly reduced or eliminated.

Allergies according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be due to a variety of factors. Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist
may discover and treat.

  • Wei Qi deficiency
  • Spleen weakness
  • Kidney deficiency
  • Lung deficiency

What will an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough exam, taking a complete health history. They will then develop a unique treatment plan that will address your specific concerns. The goals of the treatment plan will be to eliminate visible symptoms and signs, while addressing the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances affecting the quality and quantity of Wei Qi.

Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbs, dietary changes, massage (tuina), or exercise. These therapies accelerate the healing process in order to balance, build, and support the body’s Wei Qi.

Seasonal allergy tips:

  1. Flush your nose with a Neti pot.
  2. Add spicy foods and omega-3’s to your diet.
  3. Keep your windows closed during allergy season to prevent dust and pollen from entering.
  4. Put on a dust mask when you are doing yard or house work.
  5. Do not hang your clothes out to dry in the sun, as they
    will gather dust, mold and pollen.
  6. Come in for an acupuncture tune-up.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a drug-free, safe, natural and effective way to eliminate hay fever, allergies or the common cold.

Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, the most common cause of dementia in elderly persons. Patients with late stages of Alzheimer’s disease suffer from severe memory loss, speech impairment as well as complete physical dependence on caregivers as they are unable to walk or even eat by themselves. The condition is due to the formation of pathological plaques of β-amyloid that lead to progressive death of neural cells. However, the exact reasons for the accumulation of β-amyloid and the subsequent brain damage remain unknown. That is why Alzheimer’s disease is a huge field of interest for the scientists.

Recent studies, aimed to find the place of acupuncture in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, claim that acupuncture could be beneficial for such patients, as it improves the cognitive functions and delays the progression of the condition.

How acupuncture helps

  1. Acupuncture decreases Aβ levels

Aβ or β- amyloid is a substance that accumulates within certain regions of the brain, particularly the hippocampus, forming plaques that cause brain damage. As hippocampus is associated with short and long-term memory, it is no wonder why patients with Alzheimer suffer from severe memory loss. Experiments conducted at The Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine showed that electroacupuncture decreases the deposits of Aβ and therefore the neural loss associated with it. This statement is almost revolutionary as current therapies aim to slow down the progression of the disease and not to reverse the present damage.

  1. Acupuncture increases BDNF levels

BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) are a group of factors that regulate the signalization within the brain. High levels of BDNF are associated with lower risk of dementia and vice-versa- patients with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have decreased levels of BDNF. In addition BDNF itself is a protective factor against β- amyloid accumulation, which underlines its important role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Acupuncture stimulated the expression of BDNF.

  1. Acupuncture decreases apoptosis

The programmed cell death, called apoptosis is another phenomena observed in Alzheimer’s disease. It has been found that not only BDNF in general but the ratios between its subpopulations also play role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researches on transgenic mice models confirm that acupuncture modulates the expression of BDNF subpopulations in a way that the apoptosis is inhibited. Therefore in that way acupuncture exercises a neuroprotective effect.

In conclusion there are enough scientific evidences supporting the positive outcome for patients with Alzheimer’s disease treated by acupuncture. Moreover, changes that were tough to be irreversible were influenced by acupuncture. This raises the hope that soon a definitive treatment of the disease will be discovered.

Sources:

 

  1. HealthCMi Acupuncture Reduces Alzheimer’s Disease Brain Plaques DECEMBER 2016 Link
  2. Lin, Ruhui, Jixiang Chen, Xiaojie Li, Jingjie Mao, Yunan Wu, Peiyuan Zhuo, Yinzheng Zhang, Weilin Liu, Jia Huang, Jing Tao, and Li-Dian Chen. “Electroacupuncture at the Baihui acupoint alleviates cognitive impairment and exerts neuroprotective effects by modulating the expression and processing of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in APP/PS1 transgenic mice.” Molecular Medicine Reports, 2015. doi:10.3892/mmr.2015.4751. Pg 1611 Link
  3. Wang, Zhiqun, Peipeng Liang, Zhilian Zhao, Ying Han, Haiqing Song, Jianyang Xu, Jie Lu, and Kuncheng Li. “Acupuncture Modulates Resting State Hippocampal Functional Connectivity in Alzheimer Disease.” PLoS ONE 9, no. 3 (2014). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091160. Pg 3837 Link

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease in which certain nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord slowly die. These nerve cells control the muscles that allow you to move the parts of your body.

People who have ALS gradually become more disabled. Its causes remain unknown, but the disease runs in families for one in ten patients.

The first sign of ALS is often weakness in one leg, one hand, the face, or the tongue. The weakness slowly spreads to both arms and both legs. This happens because as the motor neurons slowly die, they stop sending signals to the muscles. So the muscles don’t have anything telling them to move. Over time, the muscles get weaker and smaller.

There is no cure for ALS, but treatment can help you stay strong and independent for as long as possible.

Herbal therapies for ALS are aimed at regenerating the damaged nerves, vitalizing blood to soften the sclerosis, and getting enough blood to the affected muscles. Some formulas were proven to be effective in treating patients with ALS such as:

“Yisui Tang” is made with tortoise shell, deer antler gelatin, rehmannia, dipsacus, cuscuta, atractylodes, licorice, astragalus, psoralea, cibotium, achyranthes, tang-kuei, peony, millettia, phellodendron, and anemarrhena.

“Huqian Wan”, a traditional formula, contains rehmannia, tortoise shell, peony, anemarrhena and phellodendron.

 

The research has shown that one of the most active ingredients of ginseng, Ginsenoside Re, has potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and protective effect on nerve cells in symptomatic ALS animal model. It also decreased specific, death-related protein levels in affected cells.

Cheng Yongde had treated total of 46 ALS patients from 1980 to 1996. The participants received acupuncture treatments for 1-3 months and herbs (tien-chi ginseng and deer horn glue as the main ingredients) designed by the author for 6-24 months. The effective rate was 41 out of 46 patients, around 89%.  Similarly, there were a few clinical studies which showed that electroacupuncture has proven to be effective in reducing inflammation in damaged nerve cells in ALS animals.

 

Sources

  1. Cai M, Yang EJ. Ginsenoside Re Attenuates Neuroinflammation in a Symptomatic ALS Animal Model. Am J Chin Med. 2016;44(2):401-13.
  2. Jiang JH, Yang EJ, Baek MG, Kim SH, Lee SM, Choi SM. Anti-inflammatory effects of electroacupuncture in the respiratory system of a symptomatic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis animal model. Neurodegener Dis. 2011;8(6):504-14.
  3. Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon. Treatment of Amyotropic Lateral Slerosis with Chinese Medicine. Link.
  4. Yang EJ, Jiang JH, Lee SM, Hwang HS, Lee MS, Choi SM. Electroacupuncture reduces neuroinflammatory responses in symptomatic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis model. J Neuroimmunol. 2010 Jun;223(1-2):84-91.

Anxiety

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According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults and costing more than $42 billion a year.

Feelings of anxiety, worry and fear related to significant and challenging events are justified and very common. Anxiety becomes a problem when emotional reactions are out of proportion with what might be “normally” expected in a situation, and when symptoms interfere with a person’s daily functioning or sleep patterns. Mild anxiety leaves a person feeling a bit unsettled, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating.

Anxiety is used as a general term for several disorders that have common symptoms – such as nervousness, worrying, apprehension and fear. Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common are briefly described below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by unrealistic, persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. People with this disorder often expect the worst and experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

Panic Disorder is characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and seemingly out-of-the-blue, causing the individual to become preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.

Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias commonly focus on flying, bridges, insects, heights, dental or medical procedures and elevators. Having phobias can disrupt daily routines, reduce self-esteem, limit work efficiency and put a strain on relationships.

Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a fear of being negatively judged and scrutinized by others in social or performance-related situations. Different variations of this type of anxiety include a fear of intimacy, stage fright and a fear of humiliation. People suffering from this disorder can sometimes isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid public situations and human contact.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted or intrusive thoughts, which often make the sufferer feel compelled to repeat certain behaviors or routines. Even when the OCD sufferers know the irrationality of their compulsions, they feel powerless to stop them. They may obsessively wash their hands, clean personal items or constantly check light switches, locks or stoves.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, rape, a natural disaster, a serious accident or other life-threatening events. Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be anxious and severely depressed for months or even years following the event. They often experience flashbacks and behavioral changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.

Acupuncture Can Help. A clinical study conducted in China in 2010, has concluded that acupuncture is a “safe and effective” treatment for mood disorders including depression and severe anxiety, in some cases proving to increase the effectiveness of medication-based treatments. Additionally a 2009 study, again in China, determined that acupuncture alone could help patients who suffer from anxiety but cannot be chemically treated due to intolerable side-effects of medications.

In many Western schools of thought, anxiety disorders are considered to be dysfunctions in a person’s brain chemistry. An acupuncturist does not view anxiety as a brain dysfunction, but rather as an imbalance in a person’s organ system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this imbalance is called Shan You Si (“anxiety & preoccupation”), and is believed to affect the main organs: the Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver, and Kidneys. Each organ is related to different aspects of a person’s emotions.

For instance, worry is said to affect the Spleen, grief affects the Lungs, anger the Liver, fear the Kidneys, and lack of joy the Heart. If a person experiences one or more of these emotions over a long period of time due to lifestyle, dietary, hereditary and environmental factors, it can cause an imbalanced emotional state and lead to various anxiety disorders.

The role of an acupuncturist is to investigate the underlying causes of the anxiety by carrying out a thorough diagnostic evaluation in order to determine which organ system has been affected and is out of balance. The acupuncturist will then seek to restore the imbalance by inserting fine, sterile needles into the points correlating to those organs. Additionally, acupuncture helps to reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting a greater sense of well-being and balance.

Resources:

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_july10/anxiety.htm

Zhang (2010). “The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis”. Journal of Affective Disorders, 124, 1-2, July 2010.

Wen (2009). “Combination of acupuncture and Fluoxentine for depression: A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial”. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15, 8, August 13, 2009.

Arthritis

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If you live with arthritis, you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many things you can do to manage and control your arthritis and live a healthy, active life. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful additions to any treatment plan, without causing harmful side effects.

Arthritis according to Western Medicine

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 21 million Americans. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.

Some factors can increase your risk, including a joint injury, being overweight, aging, and genetics. Putting stress on a joint through repetitive motion can also increase your risk.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common type, affecting 2.1 million people in the United States. This chronic condition occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to long-term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women are two to three times more likely to get RA.

RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Symptoms include:

  • Warm, swollen or tender joints
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever
  • Muscle pain and weakness

Treatment options

Western treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as through self-care and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may even be needed.

Causes of arthritis from a TCM perspective
  • Weakness or deficiency of the internal organs
  • Constitutional imbalance
  • Physical injury and/or trauma
  • Changes with the quality and quantity of Qi
  • Blockage or inadequate flow of Qi
  • Invasion from external factors such as Wind, Cold and Heat
  • Unresolved emotional upset, mainly related to stress and anxiety

Acupuncture offers a safe, natural way to control joint pain and other symptoms and maintain overall health. In fact, a 2004 study showed that patients with OA of the knee experienced a 40 percent decrease in pain and a 40 percent increase in function after receiving a series of acupuncture treatments.

A whole-body approach to relief

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) take a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. According to these theories, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. It flows through pathways called meridians, providing nourishment for every cell, tissue, muscle and organ. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms may result.

During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific acupoints along the meridians in order to unblock any obstruction and allow Qi to flow freely.

Your practitioner may also recommend herbal remedies, massage, and stretching. Be sure to discuss any new medications with your doctor to avoid any potential interactions.

What you can do

It’s important to remember that there is no “quick fix” for arthritis, and it may take time to achieve results. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make that may help you find relief faster.

  • Exercise can help increase your flexibility, strengthen muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Diet is another important issue. Stick to a healthy diet made up of a wide variety of unprocessed, organic foods. Your acupuncturist may also suggest adding natural anti-inflammatories to your diet.
  • Stress relief can also help. By learning to identify your stressors and lowering your stress through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, you can improve your state of mind and your health.
  • Maintaining balance in your life is also key. A balance of rest and relaxation with activity and exercise will keep you feeling your best.

By working closely with your acupuncturist and other treatment providers, you will be taking charge of your arthritis and taking a step toward a healthier life.

References:
Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, Lee WL, Gilpin AMK, Hochberg MC. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004; 141 (12):901-910.
What is Osteoarthritis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. September 2006.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. May 2005.
Joswick, Diane L.Ac. Acupuncture for Arthritis. 2006.
Osteoarthritis Fact Sheet. Arthritis Foundation. 2005.

Asthma

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Asthma is a collective disorder of lungs characterized by inflammation, narrowing of air passages and excess production of mucus. Asthma affects people of all ages, approximately 300 million people have asthma worldwide, out of which more than 200 million are children.

Asthma could be a major problem that can hamper daily activities and is probably due to combined environmental and genetic (hereditary) factors. Depending upon its various types, effective treatment of asthma includes the identification and avoidance of allergens that triggers an asthmatic attack, the use of drug therapies and the development of an action plan for severe emergency attacks.

However besides this traditional routine management, a study was conducted to find out the effectiveness of acupuncture in patients with allergic asthma and if this procedure helps them improve their symptoms and overall health-related quality of life. The use of acupuncture in patients with allergic asthma has increased in the recent past decade but there is low evidence of the cost-benefit ratio of this treatment. The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of additional acupuncture treatment in patients with allergic asthma compared to patients who received only the usual care.

Patients were divided into two categories; a group of randomized controlled group who receive up to 15 acupuncture sessions over a period of 3 months along with routine care and another group of non-randomized individuals who are receiving routine care management alone. Outcome measures were evaluated at baseline and after 6 months and the results are as follow.

In the randomized part, acupuncture was associated with an improvement in the AQLQ (asthma quality of life questionnaire) score compared to the control group. The procedure also shows improvement of asthmatic symptoms (fewer attacks, less production of mucus and reduction in airway swelling), better effects regarding patients toleration and increase asthma-specific and health-related quality of life.

 

Reference:

  1. American Academy Of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Asthma Statistics  Link

2. Brinkhaus B, Roll S, Jena S, Icke K, Adam D, Binting S, Lotz F, Willich SN, Witt CM. Acupuncture in Patients with Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Pragmatic Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar 13. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0357. Link

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. It’s more common in boys than in girls. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention. These behaviors interfere with school and home life.

Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction.

Causes of ADHD have remained unknown. There are several main research areas that include heredity, chemical imbalance in the brain, brain disorder, poor nutrition, infections, smoking, drinking, substance abuse during pregnancy, and toxins. Symptoms include poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity which is having trouble waiting for his or her turn, blurting out answers, and interrupting others.

Despite wide use of medications for ADHD, there is concern about their safety, side effect and long-time effectiveness. In addition, some children and adults do not respond or show a poor response to stimulants, and some of them cannot tolerate it.

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture has proven to be effective in treating patients with ADHD in some clinical studies.

Zhang et al. conducted a clinical trial on the efficacy of acupuncture versus Chinese herbal treatments on young children with ADHD. The participants were divided into three groups. The first group received acupuncture, with 20 minutes per session. The second group received Chinese medicine. The third group received neither acupuncture nor Chinese medicine. The effective rates in the acupuncture group and the Chinese medicine group were nearly 85% and 79%, respectively.

In another study, a total of 100 children with ADHD were equally divided into two groups: acupuncture plus biofeedback, and biofeedback only. Biofeedback is a way to train areas of the brain involved in arousal and focus. Acupuncture plus biofeedback achieved a 92% total effective rate. Children receiving only biofeedback achieved an 83% total effective rate. Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that acupuncture plus biofeedback therapy was more effective in patients with ADHD than biofeedback therapy only.

In a nutshell, the researchers concluded that acupuncture increased the efficacy of biofeedback treatments and was also effective as a standalone therapy for children with ADHD.

 

Sources

  1. HealthMCi. 2016. Acupuncture Improves Outcomes For Children With ADHD. http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1647-acupuncture-improves-outcomes-for-children-with-adhd. (Assessed 24 February 2017).
  2. He CD, Lang BX, Jin LQ, Li B. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder treated with scalp acupuncture and EEG biofeedback therapy in children: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2014 Dec;34(12):1179-83.
  3. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 72. National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society (UK); 2009.Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Diagnosis and Management of ADHD in Children, Young People and Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53656/

 

 

Autism Spectrum Disorders

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About Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorders include: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. The causes remain unknown.

These disorders share many of the same symptoms, but differ in their severity and impact. In general, all people with autism have three core symptoms: deficit in social interactions & relationships (failure in to make friends with children the same age, lack of empathy, interests in sharing enjoyment, problems with developing non-verbal communication skills..), verbal and non-verbal communication (delay or lack of learning to talk…), and restricted, repetitive behavior and interests.

Early diagnosis is critical because early treatment can help a child with autism develop language and social skills during their childhood.

 

How can acupuncture help?

In 2012, there was a literature review of 31 studies conducted in China, Egypt and Hong Kong about the effectiveness of the scalp and body acupuncture therapy on patients with autism spectrum disorders, published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Scientists found that acupuncture has superior effects over comparison treatments, including therapy by changing behaviors, Chinese herbal medicine, and Chinese massages.

In another clinical study, children with autism who received the combination language therapy and scalp acupuncture were better in the language development than the group of children with autism who just received the language therapy.

Scalp acupuncture can significantly improve the efficacy on treating autism, effectively relieve symptoms of child’s autism and enhance the intelligence, language ability and social adaptive ability, according to a clinical study comparing the two groups of children with autism. The first group received the triple treatment: acupuncture, music therapy and “structural education therapy”. The second group was treated with only music therapy and structure education therapy.

 

Sources:

  1. Allam H1, ElDine NG, Helmy G. Scalp acupuncture effect on language development in children with autism: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):109-14. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0508.
  2. Li N1, Jin BX, Li JL, Liu ZH. Treatment of autism with scalp acupuncture. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 Aug;31(8):692-6.
  3. Xue Ming et al. Acupuncture for Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 679845, 10 pages.

Autoimmune Disease

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Lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease…You may have heard of these conditions, but do you know what they have in common? They are all types of autoimmune disease and they are all lifelong conditions.

Approximately 50 million Americans are living with an autoimmune disease. If you are facing one of these conditions, you know how crucial it is to have a treatment plan in place to help you manage your symptoms and live the healthiest, most active life possible.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful allies in living with an autoimmune disease. They can help:

• Strengthen your immune system
• Relieve painful symptoms
• Reduce your stress, and
• Bolster your overall health

Perhaps most importantly, your practitioner will focus on YOU as an individual. Your care will be tailored to your specific needs and symptoms, so you won’t ever receive a “one-size-fits-all” treatment.

When the immune response goes wrong

To understand autoimmune disease, we must first understand how the immune system works. The immune system generally acts as the body’s protection against foreign substances and microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. When the immune system is working properly, it can tell the difference between the body’s own tissues and outside organisms.

In the case of autoimmune diseases the immune system stops being able to differentiate, and begins to attack the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs. This immune response causes harmful inflammation that eventually leads to an autoimmune condition. There are about 80 recognized autoimmune diseases, and several other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia that are currently believed to have an autoimmune component.

Autoimmune conditions are often difficult to diagnose and treat because their symptoms and progression can vary from person to person. These conditions may either affect many organs or target one specific part of the body. The symptoms may be persistent, get progressively worse, or go into remission with occasional “flare-ups,” and can range from being mild to so severe that they become disabling.

The exact causes of autoimmune diseases are unknown, but since many conditions run in families, it’s believed there is a genetic relationship. Since women are at a much higher risk for many autoimmune diseases, hormones may also play a part.

Treatments generally rely upon a variety of medications, which can help to relieve symptoms, but may have uncomfortable side effects.

How acupuncture can help

Acupuncture and TCM take a holistic, or whole body approach to healing based on the idea of Qi, or vital energy. Qi flows through pathways called meridians to nourish all of the body’s organs, protect us from illness and keep us healthy. When the flow of Qi becomes diminished or blocked, disease can result.

The goal of treatment will be to find and treat the underlying imbalances that are affecting the flow of Qi. By addressing the root cause of the disease, TCM can help your body regain balance and help improve your overall health. Acupuncture and TCM can also help reduce inflammation, soothe uncomfortable symptoms, relieve side effects from medication, and increase your energy levels.

During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridians in order to unblock any obstruction and allow Qi to flow freely. Your practitioner may also help improve your nutrition, reduce your stress, or start you on an exercise program.

In addition, your practitioner may recommend herbal remedies and supplements designed to support your health and boost your immune system. It’s important to communicate with all of your health providers in order to maximize your healing potential.

Acupuncture and TCM have proven effective against a wide variety of health concerns. By incorporating these powerful tools into your treatment program, you’re making the decision to support and nourish your body and take control of your autoimmune condition.

References:
Autoimmune diseases: overview. The National Women’s Health Information Center. Link
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. WebMD. May 17, 2007. Link

Back Pain And Sciatica

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About low back pain and sciatica

Low back pain can happen when patients lift, reach something, or twist their back, they will feel hurt in that area. According to the WHO, low back pain is a very common health problem worldwide and a major cause of disability – affecting performance at work and general well-being. There are some common causes such as strains, aging, a herniated disc, an inflammation of a joint, compression fracture of the spine, or a spinal problem you were born with.

Most low back pain goes away within several weeks. Many people who recover have back pain again within a year, and most people will have it again sometime during their lives. This is called a long-lasting low back pain. Acupuncture treatment is found effective on low back pain patients.

Sciatica is characterized by a pain going down the leg, usually on one side, from the lower back. This kind of pain may be caused when the large nerve, which extends from the lower back down to the back of each leg, is injured. Another cause is when the discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, begin to bulge and gradually push on the large nerve. Symptoms may include pain on one side of the body, with or without low back pain, hip pain, burning or tingling down the leg, weakness or difficulty moving the leg or foot.

 

How can acupuncture help?

There have been a variety of clinical trials researching the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy on low back pain patients.

In a recent review from several clinical studies by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, acupuncture therapy for long-lasting low back pain has been found effective in reducing pain and improving patients’ standard of living.

Multiple research findings have shown that the effectiveness of acupuncture on the short-term low back pain patients is higher than some types of analgesics or pain-killers like aspirin.

With respect to the cost, two studies have shown that acupuncture for both short-term and long-lasting low back pain was more cost-effective than other treatments.

Acupuncture was proven to be twice as effective as the standard care for sciatica.

Acupuncture therapy is the second choice for treatment of sciatica among 21 different therapies. More than that, acupuncture was clearly superior to both exercise therapy and radio frequency treatment.

 

Sources:

  1. Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd. Fact sheet: acupuncture for Low Back Pain and Sciatica; 2016.
  2. McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review.: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd,; 2016.
  3. World Health Organization. Chapter 6: Priority diseases and reasons for inclusion Priority Medicines for Europe and the World Update Report. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2013.
  4. Lam M, Galvin R, Curry P. Effectiveness of acupuncture for nonspecific chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Spine. 2013 Nov 15;38(24):2124-38.
  5. Lee JH, Choi TY, Lee MS, Lee H, Shin BC, Lee H. Acupuncture for acute low back pain: a systematic review. The Clinical journal of pain. 2013 Feb;29(2):172-85.
  6. Wellington J. Noninvasive and alternative management of chronic low back pain (efficacy and outcomes). Neuromodulation : journal of the International Neuromodulation Society. 2014 Oct;17 Suppl 2:24-30.
  7. Liu L, Skinner M, McDonough S, Mabire L, Baxter GD. Acupuncture for low back pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2015;2015:328196.
  8. Andronis L, Kinghorn P, Qiao S, Whitehurst DG, Durrell S, McLeod H. Cost-Effectiveness of Non-Invasive and Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Low Back Pain: a Systematic Literature Review. Applied health economics and health policy. 2016 Aug 22.
  9. Taylor P, Pezzullo L, Grant SJ, Bensoussan A. Cost-effectiveness of Acupuncture for Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain. Pain practice : the official journal of World Institute of Pain. 2014 Sep;14(7):599-606.
  10. Chou R, Deyo R, Friedly J, Skelly A, Hashimoto R, Weimer M, et al. AHRQ Comparative Effectiveness Reviews.  Noninvasive Treatments for Low Back Pain. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2016.
  11. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. Management of Chronic Pain (SIGN publication no. 136). Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN); 2013.
  12. Schug SA, Palmer GM, Scott DA, Halliwell R, Trinca J. Acute pain management: scientific evidence, fourth edition, 2015. The Medical journal of Australia. 2016 May 2;204(8):315-7.
  13. Lewis R WN, Matar HE, et al. The Clinical Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Management Strategies for Sciatica: Systematic Review and Economic Model. Health Technology Assessment, No 1539. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2011.
  14. Lewis RA, Williams NH, Sutton AJ, Burton K, Din NU, Matar HE, et al. Comparative clinical effectiveness of management strategies for sciatica: systematic review and network metaanalyses. The spine journal : official journal of the North American Spine Society. 2015 Jun 1;15(6):1461-77.

Bell’s Palsy

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What is Bell’s palsy?

The facial nerve paralysis, also known as Bell’s palsy is due to inflammation of the facial nerve within its bone channel, which causes the compression of the nerve and its malfunctioning. The exact reasons for the nerve damage are yet unknown, but it may be associated with viral infection (such as herpes simplex infection or herpes zoster virus reactivation) or with infection of the ears, spreading towards the facial nerve. However, Bell’s palsy is not due to stroke, which must be excluded before putting the diagnosis Bell’s palsy. The main symptom of the condition is the sudden drop and weakness  of one side of the face that causes asymmetry and is typically demonstrated by:
1. Impossibility to close your eye or look upwards
2. Impossibility to pull out your tongue, whistle or smile
3. Drooling
4. Either dryness in the eye or excessive tearing
5. Hypersensitivity to sounds and/or pain behind the ear
The treatment of Bell’s palsy includes corticosteroids, physiotherapy and eventually surgical intervention in order to decompress the nerve.

How can acupuncture help?

A number of clinical researches have demonstrated the beneficial role of acupuncture in patients attained from Bell’s palsy. This is due to the fact that:

1. Acupuncture reduces inflammation by stimulating the release of immunological factors, which direct  the healing processes within the organism

  1. Acupuncture improves the local microcirculation by causing secretion of endorphins, cytokines, nitric oxide, which cause blood vessels dilatation. In that way, while waste products are being eliminated faster, anti-inflammatory factors are being delivered faster.
  2. The substances listed above are also implemented in the mechanisms of pain. In addition the vasodilatation relieves the tension of the nerve endings situated within the blood vessels walls. That is why acupuncture could also alleviate eventual pain.
  3. Acupuncture also stimulates the nerve and the facial muscles and therefore their speed of recovery

Acupuncture may be applied either alone or in combination with drug therapy.

Treatment of Bell’s palsy must not be delayed as up to 30% of the patients are left with permanent facial weakness or other complications such as facial contracture or reduced sense. While acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as an alternative medicine method, its advantages have now been proven on scientific level.

 

Source:

British Acupuncture Council. Bells Palsy  Link

 

Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior. Patients who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and sluggish. In between those periods, they usually feel normal.

It usually starts when people are in late adolescents or young adulthood. The causes are complex. Genes, brain changes, and stress can all play a role. Bipolar disorder can run in families.

In a study, the research team recruited 16 patients with bipolar depression. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group received “cranial electro-therapy stimulation” for 20 minutes five days a week for 2 weeks, which is similar to electro-acupuncture. The second group received sham treatment. In this group, the cranial electro-therapy stimulation device was turned on and off. The results showed that the first group receiving cranial electro-therapy stimulation had a decrease in depression symptoms and body pain. The cranial electro-therapy stimulation also improved their quality of life and cognitive functioning when compared with the second group. The research team concluded that cranial electro-therapy stimulation may prove to be an effective and low-risk treatment for patients with bipolar depression.

In a review of two clinical trials, the aim was to provide preliminary data on the safety, effectiveness, and acceptability of adjunctive acupuncture in the acute treatment of bipolar disorder. Acupuncture proved to improve the patients’ symptoms- mood elevation and depression.

 

Source:

Dennehy, EB et al. “The Safety, Acceptability, and Effectiveness of Acupuncture as an

Adjunctive Treatment for Acute Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2009, Link.

McClure, Deimante, et al. “A Pilot Study of Safety and Efficacy of Cranial Electrotherapy

Stimulation in Treatment of Bipolar II Depression.” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 12 Nov. 2015,  Link

Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer is the most common form of malignancy and the number one cause of cancer deaths in females globally. Breast cancer accounts for 30% of all cancers in women and is the second commonest cause of cancer related deaths. The specific aetiology of breast cancer remains unknown. However, many risk factors have been identified. These include: increasing age (>40yrs), female gender, positive personal/family history of breast or ovarian cancer, early menarche, and late menopause, late age at first pregnancy, the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), obesity, high fat diet, etc.

The treatment of breast cancer largely depends on the stage of the disease. Different treatment options are available and more than one treatment modalities may be combined for a single patient depending on the stage of the disease, and the histological characteristics of the tumour. Options include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and immunological therapy. However each treatment has its own complications which if occurred may further impact negatively on the survival and quality of life of the patient.

Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal medicine has been found to have a lethal effect on breast cancer cells, reduce breast pain and nodules and ameliorate the side effects that may occur from other treatment modalities.

Most breast cancer cells are oestrogen or progesterone dependent and researchers have demonstrated that a Chinese herb, Trichosanthes Root reduces tumor growth, induces cell death in both oestrogen and non oestrogen dependent breast cancer cells with no toxicity. Combination  of TCM and acupuncture have also been found to reduce the pain and size of breast lump in patients with benign breast lesions.

In the hormonal treatment of breast cancer, patients are given antiestrogens which lead to side effects such as hot flashes, depression, etc. Acupuncture effectively prevents hot flashes in breast cancer patients placed on antiestrogens. This is supported by the findings of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan proving the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes during menopause. Acupuncture is also devoid of side effects (nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, and anxiety) associated with the use of venlafaxine for patient with hot flashes.

 

References:

  1. Acupuncture & Herbs Reduce Breast Pain And Nodules 11 june 2014 Link
  2. Chinese Herb Kills Breast Cancer Cells. 28 may 2013 Link
  3. Acupuncture proven to fight breast cancer treatment side effects. 31 july 2010 Link

 

Cancer Care

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Cancer, it’s a diagnosis that no one wants to hear. It can leave you feeling frightened, uncertain, and powerless. But if you or a loved one is facing cancer, it’s important to have hope. In many cases, cancer can be cured, especially when it’s detected early. There are more treatments available now than ever before to cure cancer or slow it from spreading, relieve its symptoms, and help you live a healthier life.

It’s also important to know that you have options in addition to standard medical therapies. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of conditions. It can safely be used to naturally support your body and mind as you undergo conventional cancer treatments.

 

Understanding treatments and their side effects

Cancer is an overall term for a group of diseases that occur when cells begin to reproduce abnormally, eventually damaging or killing healthy tissue. Most cancers are named according to where they begin in the body, and there are more than 100 different types. The most common are breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Your treatment plan will be based on many factors, including the type and stage (how far it has spread) of the cancer and your overall health. While cancer treatments have proven to be effective, they do have serious side effects to take into account. The most common treatments include:

Surgery: Performed to remove the cancer if possible. Surgery may be used alone or along with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy.

Chemotherapy: The use of medications to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy generally lasts from 3 to 9 months, and can have side effects including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, early menopause, and hot flashes.

Radiation therapy: The use of high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Side effects generally include fatigue, hair loss, and skin darkening at the site of the treatment.

Biological therapy: This treatment works by boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Side effects depend on the specific type of therapy, but they can include rashes or swelling, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite.

 

How acupuncture and TCM can help

Acupuncture is used to treat many illnesses and ailments in cancer patients. Patients use it to control pain and to relieve nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hot flashes, xerostomia, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, and sleeping problems.

Acupuncture may work by causing physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain, affecting blood pressure and body temperature.

Laboratory and animal studies of acupuncture for cancer treatment suggest acupuncture may also help the immune system be stronger during chemotherapy.

The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting, but acupuncture appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.

It is important that acupuncture treatment be given by a qualified practitioner who uses a new set of disposable (single-use) needles for each patient.

 

References:
1. NIH Consensus Conference. Acupuncture. JAMA 280 (17): 1518-24, 1998.
2. Comprehensive cancer care: integrating alternative, complementary, and conventional therapies. Gordon JS, Curtin S. NY: Persus Publishing, 2000.
3. Acupuncture. American Cancer Society. May 25, 2007. Link
4. Understanding CancerTreatment. WebMD. Accessed February 11, 2008. Link
New Lung Cancer Guidelines Oppose General CT Screening – Lung Cancer Recommendations – Avoid Select Vitamins, Try Acupuncture. Chest, September 2007

5. NIH National Cancer Institute Link

 

 

 

Carpal Tunnel

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The carpal tunnel is a passage located in the frontal aspect of the wrist formed between the bones of the wrist and a retinaculum (fibrous band) that extends from right to the left side of the wrist. The tunnel provides a passageway for tendons of the muscles in the frontal aspect of the forearm and the median nerve.

The compression of the median nerve within this tunnel is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs following the swelling of any of the tendons within this narrow tunnel. Most times the precipitating cause is not known and there are countless associated risk factors.

Carpal tunnel syndrome results in numbness/tingling sensation in the palmar aspect of the thumb, index, middle and outer half of the ring fingers (including the nail beds), inability to make a fist due to the weakness of some of the muscles of the thumb.

Treatment is by physical therapy, use of corticosteroid, splinting and surgery. Acupuncture is another therapeutic option with the advantage of being less invasive as compared to surgery but its mode of action and efficacy were not known.

Therefore, a study was conducted to unravel these. 80 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome were treated with electro-acupuncture. This therapy was provided in 16 sessions over 8 weeks. The symptoms and the functions of the median nerve were then assessed and patients were followed up for 3months.

Acupuncture intervention reduced symptoms and improved the functions of the median nerve. The mode of action was detected to be due to changes in the primary somatosensory cortex in the brain following treatment.

 

Reference:

Maeda Y, Kim H, Kettner N, Kim J, Cina S, Malatesta C, Gerber J, McManus C, Ong-Sutherland R, Mezzacappa P, Libby A, Mawla I, Morse LR, Kaptchuk TJ, Audette J, Napadow V. Rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex in carpal tunnel syndrome with acupuncture. Brain. 2017 Apr 1;140(4):914-927. doi: 10.1093/brain/awx015.

Link

 

Cerebral Palsy

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Acupuncture combined with rehabilitation is beneficial for patients suffering from infantile cerebral palsy. Both techniques have already been used separately in the management of this condition, but when applied at the same time, they offer greater advantages, researches show.

The infantile cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the body movements, the posture, as well as the normal speech and mental function of the individual. It is due to different brain damages or malformations and manifests during early childhood. There are three major different forms of infantile cerebral palsy (CP): CP with muscle stiffness, CP with muscle hypotonia (decreased muscle tone), CP with athetosis (involuntary movements). The early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important as they increase the chance of positive outcome for the patients.

Physical rehabilitation is an inseparable part of the therapy in patients with cerebral palsy. Recently, scientists from the Heilongjiang University of TCM suggested that if combined with acupuncture, physical rehabilitation could be even more useful. In order to prove that hypothesis, they’ve conducted a controlled study with fifty-four patients attained from infantile cerebral palsy. They were divided into two groups- the first one was receiving only acupuncture treatment, while the second one- acupuncture in combination with physical rehabilitation.

During the study, acupuncture for patients with cerebral palsy included head acupuncture as well as other acupoints applied through various needling techniques, depending on the condition of the patient. Acupuncture is helpful for such patients as it stimulates the nervous cells and therefore improves motor functions and speech.

On the other hand, physical rehabilitation also plays a major role in the therapy of infantile cerebral palsy. To be successfully performed, the physical rehabilitation requires the active cooperation of the parents. In the study the rehabilitation complex was based on the form of the cerebral palsy and included head and limbs rehabilitation as well as sitting rehabilitation.

Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) score and Barthel rating were measured in the beginning and in the end of the study for the two groups of patients. The GMFM score is a clinical scale used to determine the motor functions and their changes over time, while Barthel score indicates the degree of independence of the patient and his ability to perform activities of daily living. The first group of patients, receiving acupuncture only, showed improvement of these parameters in the end of the trial. However, patients from the second group, who were treated by both acupuncture and physical rehabilitation, obtained even greater results in terms of motor functions and independence.

In conclusion the study confirmed the initial suggestion that acupuncture brings benefits in the complex treatment of patients with infantile cerebral palsy, but when combined with physical rehabilitation the results obtained are even better.

 

Sources:

HealthCMi Acupuncture Plus Rehabilitation Treats Infantile Cerebral Palsy  01 JUNE 2010 Link

Li SQ. (2015). Clinical Observation on Acupuncture Combined with Rehabilitation Training for Treatment of Infantile Cerebral Palsy. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine on Cardio/Cerebrovascular Disease. 13(2). Link

CHEN Ying-ru,ZHU Jiang(School of Acupuncture and Moxibustion,Beijing University of Chinese Medicine,Beijing 100029,China);Literature review of clinical application of acupuncture in child cerebral palsy in resent 10 years in China[J];China Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy;2010-06 Link

 

Cervical Spondylosis

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The human back bone (vertebral column) is made up of vertebra bones separated by the intervertebral discs. Each disc has a gelatinous central portion and a fibrous outer portion. The major function of the discs is to serve as shock absorber and provide stability during mechanical stress. With ageing the discs begin to degenerate as evidenced by desiccation, fibrosis (hardening), and cleft formation of the central portion and fissuring of the fibrous outer portion. This abnormality commonly affects the lumbar and cervical region of the back bone.

Cervical spondylosis is therefore a degenerative disease affecting the discs in the cervical (neck) portion of the back bone. The discs flatten out and bulge slightly beyond the margins of the vertebral bodies. Where they protrude against the ligaments, reactive new bone formation produces bony spurs (osteophytes). The bulging disc and the osteophytes then compress the surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Changes are most common in the lower two segments of the cervical spine (C5/6 and C6/7)

Patients present with neck pain and stiffness, paraesthesia (numbness), weakness and clumsiness in the arm and hand. Muscles at the back of the neck may be tender with limitation in neck movement. Treatment is majorly conservative with the use of analgesics, heat, and massage, cervical collar and physiotherapy. Surgical intervention may however be needed in severe cases

The introduction of acupuncture as a treatment modality has brought succour to people suffering from cervical spondylosis. Many studies have shown that acupuncture alleviates/relieves neck pain in patients with cervical spondylosis. The effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating the pain of cervical spondylosis was about 75.5% and about 83.3% when combined with Chinese massage. Studies have also shown a drastic and early onset improvement in stiffness and paraesthesia in patients treated with acupuncture and massage.

Cervical spondylosis is one of the causes of chronic neck pain in middle aged and elderly people. The use of acupuncture with or without massage as a treatment modality is second to none in alleviating the symptoms and improving patients’ quality of life.

 

Reference:

HealthCMi. Acupuncture Alleviates Neck Pain Due To Cervical Spondylosis. 27 MAY 2016 Link

Chinese Herbs For Cancer

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Laboratory studies suggest that Traditional Chinese Medicine increases the effectiveness of the conventional therapies without increasing toxicity. Traditional Chinese Medicine is able to support patients being treated with conventional Western medicine (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery) through four approaches: reducing side effects of chemo and radiation, hormone effects, increasing immunity, prevention of cancer progression and control of cancer symptoms.

  1. Reducing side effects of chemo and radiation

Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs contain a variety of chemicals that might act to inhibit tumor cell divisions, increase the proportion of immune cells within the tumor, and increase the blood flow through the tumor. As a result, it would reduce the number of tumor cells and minimize many side effects. Some herbs protect normal tissues from radiotherapy, such as Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolium thanks to its antioxidative actions and immune enhancement.

  1. Hormone effects

Phytoestrogens that possess either estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity are found in some botanical supplements like Angelica sinensis, Glycyrrhiza glabra and the various ginsengs. These substances, which act as chemopreventive agents, are used to treat patients with hormone-responsive cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer and so on.

Ginseng has an anti-proliferative activity. It helps improve the quality of life of patients with breast cancer, and prevents its recurrence, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clịnical Oncology meeting in 2007.

Soybean is proven to be effective as an anti-cancer factor in the laboratory. Some studies suggested that people with a high soy or tofu content in their diet may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

  1. Increasing immunity

Herbs help enhance the immune system, for example “Fu Zheng” herbs, including ginseng, Ganoderma, Astragalus membranaceus, Angelica sinensis, Cordyceps sinensis, and Fructus Lycii. Some clinical studies have found that immune cells, which attack cancer cells, increase in our body after we take Fu Zheng herbs. In addition, polychacharide extracts, complexes from Chinese medicinal herbs, and mushrooms have a potential role in enhancing natural immunity, thereby improving survival.

  1. Prevention of cancer progression

In general, a number of chronic viral infections result in cancer. Other risk factors include poor diet, genetic predisposition and smoking. An inadequate response from the immune system to eradicate chronic viral infections and cancer cells is a common problem.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, appropriate nutrition is emphasized in cancer treatment. The usage of green tea and Panax ginseng was shown to reduce effectively the risk of cancer and prevent cancer recurrence. Similarly, isoflavones and phytoestrogens in soy beans appear to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer, as well as cut back on the risk of recurrence. A Traditional Chinese herb combination may reduce the risk of lung cancer in ex-smokers.

The compound containing Sophora tonkinensis, Polygonum bixstorta, Prunella vulgaris, Sonchus brachyotus, Dictamnus dasycarpus and Dioscorea bulbifera lowered the risk of esophageal cancer by 50%, according to some Chinese studies.

  1. Symptom control

At least five clinical trials have shown that Chinese herbal treatment can decrease the degree of myelo-suppression, reduce stomach side effects and increase appetite. Among them, Ginger root has been shown in many clinical studies to have an antiemetic activity, i.e. it helps alleviate nausea.

Besides that, Chinese herbal therapies such as Ginkgo biloba may mitigate cognitive dysfunction which is caused by receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

 

Many clinical studies have been done to show the role of TCM in radiochemotherapy. Li et al. reviewed the outcomes of 2,964 studies which treated 253,434 patients with different types of cancers such as lung, liver, stomach, breast, colorectal, oesophageal and nasopharyngeal cancers. Their findings revealed that herbal medicine was the most commonly used TCM therapy (90.32%). Outcomes of such therapy were:

  • Improvement in clinical symptoms in 1667 studies (56.24%).
  • Improvement in biomarkers of cancer severity in 1270 studies (42.85%)
  • Better quality of life in 1129 studies (38.08%)
  • Reduction in side effects of either chemotherapy or radiotherapy was reported in 1094 studies (36.91%)
  • Reduction in tumour size in 869 studies (29.32%).

In another analysis, McCulloch et al. reviewed 34 different clinical studies involving 2815 lung cancer patients. Twelve out of 34 studies reported a reduction in the risk of death at 12months while 30 studies showed higher tumour response following the use of TCM.

Li et al. also carried out a detailed analysis of 24 different clinical studies involving 2,103 patients with advanced lung cancers. They revealed that when TCM was added to chemotherapy, the tumour responded better; toxic side effects of chemotherapy reduced; there was improvement in performance status and the survival rate within the first one year also increased.

In a similar study, Zhong et al. analyzed 20 studies where colorectal cancers were treated with either chemotherapy with TCM or chemotherapy alone. They found a slower rate of disease progression, improved quality of life and an increase in 1-3 year survival rates in those treated with chemotherapy and TCM.

The study of Gan et al, also revealed a decrease in the incidence of low white blood cells in gastric cancer patients treated with TCM while on chemotherapy.

 

In conclusion, traditional Chinese medicine plays an important role in the supportive care of cancer patients. Although evidence for the utility of traditional Chinese medicine is promising, more specific clinical trials should be conducted for the purpose of evaluating the efficacy of integrating traditional Chinese medicine into Western cancer care.

 

 

Source

  1. S.M. Sagar and R.K. Wong, MD. Chinese Medicine and Biomodulation in Cancer Patients – Part two. Current Oncology – Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 8 – 30.
  2. Li X, Yang G, Li X, et al. Traditional Chinese Medicine in Cancer Care: A Review of Controlled Clinical Studies Published in Chinese. El-Rifai W, ed. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(4):e60338. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060338. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3616129/ Accessed October 11, 2017.
  3. McCulloch M, See C, Shu XJ, et al. Astragalus-based Chinese herbs and platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: Meta-analysis of randomized trials. J Clin Oncol. 2006:24(3):419-430. doi:10.1200/jco.2005.03.6392. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16421421/. Accessed October 11, 2017.
  4. Li SG, Chen HY, Ou-Yang CS, et al. The Efficacy of Chinese Herbal Medicine as an Adjunctive Therapy for Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Minna JD, ed. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(2):e57604. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057604. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3585199/. Accessed October 11, 2017.
  5. Zhong LL, Chen HY, Cho WC, Meng XM, Tong Y. The efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine as an adjunctive therapy for colorectal cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2012;20:240–252. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2012.02.004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22579437/. Accessed October 11, 2017.
  6. Gan T, Wu Z, Tian L, Wang Y. Chinese herbal medicines for induction of remission in advanced or late gastric cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(1) CD005096. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd005096.pub3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20091570. Accessed October 11, 2017.

 

 

 

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

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Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a type of cancer that affects the bone narrow, more specifically the blood-forming cells within (known as myeloid cells). The condition has subtle beginning, slow progression and presents with non-specific signs and symptoms, which is why they are often underestimated by the patients. They include excessive weakness and tiredness, recurrent infections, easy bruising and bleeding, abdominal discomfort. CML is often diagnosed by accident, when the patient is prescribed complete blood count (CBC) for another reason. Treatment of CML depends on its stage and may include targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, interferon, steam cells transplant.

Alternative medicine and Chinese herbal medicine

As every patient diagnosed with cancer, patients with CML are very concerned about their condition and often seek for alternative treatment methods. That is why numerous researches are aimed to prove the efficacy and safety of Traditional Chinese medicine in treating patients with various health issues.

A study conducted at China Medical University in collaboration with National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan and Taiwan Ministry of Health and Welfare made some encouraging conclusions, regarding the use of Traditional Chinese herbs by patients with CML. Two groups of 233 patients were studied- the first one received Chinese Herbal medicine (CHM), while the second one did not. Comparison at the end of the research showed that:

  1. Patients using Chinese herbal medicine in addition to their main therapy, showed extended survival (3.44 years for non-CHM patients, compared to 4.39 years for patients receiving CHM). Similar results were also obtained in other studies. (Chen, T.-C., L.-C. Chen, Y.-B. Huang, and C.-S. Chang. 2014. Imatinib adherence associated clinical outcomes of chronic myeloid leukaemia treatment in Taiwan. Int. J. Clin. Pharm. 36:172–181.)
  2. The advantages of Chinese herbal medicine are dose-dependent. The longer use of CHM treatment is associated with decreased mortality rates. Patients using CHM for more than 180 days showed greater reduction in mortality rates than those who received it for 30 days or less.
  3. Various herbal options showed efficacy in the management of CML. Single-herb products as well as herbal mixtures may be applied in patients with this condition.

Conclusion

These results encourage the further investigation of alternative Chinese herbal medicine in order to study the mechanisms of its positive impact on molecular level. Possible additional benefits and the most effective herb or herbal mixture amongst the different options currently available are yet to be determined. In conclusion CHM is a complementary treatment aimed to increase life expectancy with, unlike conventional medicine, very few side effects and contraindications.

References:

1. Besa E, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Medscape, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/199425-overview

2. Fleischer T, Chang TT, Chiang JH et. al., Adjunctive Chinese Herbal Medicine therapy improves survival of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia: a nationwide population-based cohort study, Cancer medicine, 15 January 2016, DOI: 10.1002/cam4.627

Chronic PID

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Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID is a disease of the upper genital tract in which a young female experiences the infection of ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix. It usually happens as a result of untreated sexually transmitted infection that spreads from your vagina to uterus and then to inner reproductive organs. Some women with the pelvic inflammatory disease have no symptoms at all. Others may have vague symptoms like fever, pain in the abdomen, foul vaginal discharge, pain during sex or urination and irregular bleeding. It can be recognized later if you are struggling to become pregnant or if you develop chronic pelvic pain. According to research, 1 in 8 women with PID history has difficulty getting pregnant.

PID can be treated by abstaining sex for some time and with antibiotic treatment, which usually takes 14 days. You get a mixture of antibiotics to cover the most likely infections and often an injection and pills. The researchers find that the chronic PID often results from the acute phase of the disease, which not only damages the body tissues but also cause scarring and localized pelvic adhesions. It was also noted that the primary cause is delayed or incomplete treatment of the disease

But besides this traditional clinical treatment, researchers at the University of Tongji in Shanghai (China), conducted a study to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture therapy in the treatment of chronic inflammatory disease of the pelvis. A total of 103 patients were divided into two categories; a group of individuals who receive several acupuncture sessions over a period of 2.6 years along with the herbal medicine and another group of people who received conventional care management alone..

Acupuncture is found to be effective for the treatment of chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The trial shows that acupuncture had an overall effective rate of 90.4% and therapy produces remarkable improvements in patient outcomes. Objective measurements also show improvements with several findings, including WBCs and other pro-inflammatory agents. In addition, there was a significant reduction of stagnant liquids and elimination of inflammatory masses as a result of acupuncture therapy.

Sources:

  1. Centers for disease controle and prevention. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – CDC Fact Sheet. Link

2. WebMD. What Is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease? Link

3. HealthCMi. Acupuncture Found Effective Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Treatment. 09 JANUARY 2017 Link

 

Colds & Flu

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Each year, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized due to complications from the flu virus. Unfortunately, most of us get the “flu,” or “influenza,” virus at least once in our lifetime. The associated symptoms and signs are all-too-common: fever, sore throat, congestion, fatigue, muscle and body aches, runny nose, dry cough, sneezing and watery eyes.

Colds are much less severe than the flu, but like the flu, viruses and germs cause colds. Colds cause less severe symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and light headaches. Though it may make you feel lousy, getting a cold is not always a bad thing. Instead, it’s a sign that the body’s resources are strong and vital, working to return you to a state of good health. However, if your immune system is already compromised, a cold could further weaken your body, leaving you open to a more serious illness.

The flu, you, and Chinese medicine

Clinical studies have suggested that using acupuncture as a preventative approach to colds and flu can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of the illness. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by rebalancing the body’s systems, regulating the body’s healing energies and enhancing the immune system.

Even though germs, bacteria, and viruses are everywhere—in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink—according to Chinese medical theory, they do not cause disease. Illness occurs when certain organ systems are weak and out of balance. When our bodies are in a weakened and unbalanced state, a hospitable environment is created for germs, bacteria and viruses to thrive, leading to a cold or the flu.

One of the main theories supporting acupuncture and its treatment of colds and the flu is the concept of Wei Qi.

What in the world is Wei Qi?

The concept of Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system. Wei Qi functions as a barrier protecting and defending the body against foreign substances, which can cause illness and disease. When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we remain healthy. When the supply of Wei Qi becomes inadequate, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to outside invaders.

Tips for Staying Healthy:
  • Consume 8-10 glasses of filtered water daily
  • Exercise regularly to support the immune system
  • Eat a healthy, organic diet, including foods with beta carotene (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, garlic and tomatoes)
  • Limit sugar intake. Sugar taxes the immune system, especially when feeling under the weather
  • Take Vitamin C and herbs to support the immune system, especially in the “cold and flu” season
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Enjoy fun and relaxing activities
  • Stimulate specific acupuncture points that support Wei Qi
  • Schedule regular acupuncture treatments to support the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems

Throughout our lives, a variety of factors affect our health and well-being. Although most of the time we recover quickly and regain our health, when these factors are numerous, our internal mechanisms become compromised and weakened, our Wei Qi becomes depleted, and we get sick. By the time illness occurs, the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems have already been affected.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in the production of Wei Qi, and can help rebalance and support the immune system and stimulate Wei Qi energy. By building up the supply of Wei Qi, and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it throughout the body, the body’s organs and meridian systems become strong, enhancing their ability to effectively fight off illness and disease.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are drug free, safe, natural and effective ways to support the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems. If illness does occur, acupuncture can help you get back on your feet again, helping to stave off prolonged illness without the use of medication and over-the-counter drugs.

References:

Treatment of fever due to exopathic wind-cold by rapid acupuncture. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1992 Dec;12 (4):267-71.

Preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the common cold: a multicentre randomized controlled trial in Japan. Complementary Therapeutic Medicine. 2004 Dec;12 (4):181-8.

Colorectal Cancer

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One of the most common types of cancers today is colon cancer. This is a cancer of the lower portion of your digestive system, i.e. large intestine. On the other hand, rectal cancer, a type of colon cancer, spreads across a few inches of the large intestine. When they occur simultaneously, they are known as colorectal cancer. In most cases, colon cancer starts off as noncancerous (benign) and small clumps of cells that are known as adenomatous polyps. With time, these polyps turn into colon cancer. Polyps can be small and they can produce few symptoms. This is the reason that doctors recommend regular screening tests to identify and remove polyps for preventing colon cancer.

Chinese herbal medicine, commonly abbreviated as CHM, is used widely as a therapy method for the treatment of colorectal cancer in the regions of Asia. While the efficacy of CHM is not well known, several studies have been carried out for assessing the quality of the treatment. CHM is an adjunctive therapy with chemotherapy for treating three types of cancer: colon cancer, rectal cancer, and colorectal cancer. According to the research that has been conducted so far, Chinese Herbal Medicine when it is combined with the process of chemotherapy drastically increases the survival rate of 1-year and 3-year long cancer patients. Studies have also shown that the therapy slows down the progression of colorectal cancer, improves the quality of life, improves the immunity system, and significantly reduces the negative effects of chemotherapy. The study shows that the use of Chinese Herbal Medicine with chemotherapy improves the overall procedure of colorectal cancer treatment.

To summarize, Chinese Herbal Medicine, an adjunctive therapy to chemotherapy has a substantial positive effect on the process of chemotherapy itself since it immensely reduces the adverse effects that are caused by the procedure. In short, Chinese Herbal Medicine improves the quality of life, boosts immune regulation, alleviates the negative effects of chemotherapy, and prolongs the chances of survival of people that are suffering from colorectal cancer.

Sources :

Zhong LL, Chen HY, Cho WC, Meng XM, Tong Y. Complement Ther Med. 2012 Aug;20(4):240-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Mar 4.The efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine as an adjunctive therapy for colorectal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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Complex regional pain syndrome is a limb pain condition caused by a malfunctioning nervous system after a trauma or a surgery. It is most common in people ages 20 – 35 and affects women more often than men. There is no cure for complex regional pain syndrome.

Symptoms include continuous, intense pain or burning pain, swelling and stiffness in affected joints, motor disability – a decrease in the ability to move the affected body part, and changes in hair and nail growth patterns.

To date, there have been no large clinical studies about the efficacy of acupuncture in patients with complex regional pain syndrome. However, some case reports demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in patients with complex regional pain syndrome.

Two patients with complex regional pain syndrome after sustaining upper extremity injuries were treated with Chinese scalp acupuncture once or twice a week, for the total of one to four weeks. The result showed that acupuncture provided lasting pain reduction, normalization of sensation and functional improvement.

In another case report, ten patients with complex regional pain syndrome were treated with electro acupuncture. After two weeks of receiving acupuncture procedures, patients had improvements in pain, limb swelling, limb stiffness and normalization of motor and sensory functions of the limbs.

In addition, stimulation of traditional acupuncture points has been shown by several authors to be effective in control of pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome. Chan reported that 14 of 20 patients with complex regional pain syndrome were successfully treated. Leo also described one child with complex regional pain syndrome who recovered after receiving acupuncture therapy.

 

Sources

  1. Dr. S. Parthasarathy et al. Use of electro acupuncture in the treatment of complex regional pain syndrome – A case series study. European journal of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences. 2015, vol. 2, issue 7, p.179 – 181.
  2. LTC Dean H. Hommer, MC USA. Chinese scalp acupuncture relieves pain and restores function in complex regional pain syndrome. Military Medicine, 177, 10:1231, 2012.
  3. M.I. Korpan et al. Acupuncture in treatment of posttraumatic pain syndrome. Acta Orthopedica Belgica. Vol 65 – 2 – 1999.

Dementia

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Dementia happens when the brain’s nerve cells break down. Vascular dementia occurs when part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood. Many different diseases can cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.

There have been many clinical studies about the effectiveness of acupuncture on dementia.

In 2014, a study was conducted by Wang Z et al. to investigate the effect of acupuncture on Alzheimer disease patients by combining MRI and traditional acupuncture. It showed that acupuncture can enhance the connectivity of a region in the brain of Alzheimer disease patients. Another study about the efficacy of treating vascular dementia gait disorder with vertebra and scalp acupuncture demonstrated that acupuncture is more effective than oral medicine “Almitrine” for the treatment of vascular dementia. Also, this study came to a conclusion that acupuncture has antioxidant effects.

In 2015, a research study was published in the Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine. Researchers at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology demonstrated that acupuncture using special acupuncture protocol for the treatment of vascular dementia has more benefits over drug therapy and conventional acupuncture. The effective rates of acupuncture and drug therapy are 90% and 60% respectively. Participants were divided into three groups. The first group took Piracetam, a drug used to enhance memory and awareness. The second group received the conventional acupuncture. The third group received special acupuncture protocol, consisting of body and scalp acupuncture points. The three regimens were prescribed on patients with dementia for a month.

How can acupuncture help improve awareness and memory for patients with dementia? A review was carried out by Feng et al., with 238 articles included. The researchers found out that acupuncture significantly improves the levels of some proteins that are responsible for the storage of long-term memory, learning abilities and brain cell growth.

Sourse :

  1. HealthCmi “Acupuncture Helps Dementia Patient Memory and Cognition” May 2016 Link
  1. Huang, Lin-na, An, Jun-ming, Su, Tong-sheng; Wang, Pu; Dong, Lan; Zhang, Ruo-ping; Ren, Yu-juan; Ren, Yuan-yuan. Therapeutic efficacy observation on scalp acupuncture for vascular dementia. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science. 2012-02-01. Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian Co-published with Springer-Verlag GmbH. 1672-3597. Volume: 10. Issue: 1. Doi: 10.1007/s11726-012-0567-z.
  2. Mao QJ. (2015). Clinical Observation of Xingnaokaiqiao Acupuncture Combined with Scalp Acupuncture in Treatment of Vascular Dementia. Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine. 17(4).
  3. Feng, Shuwei, Yulan Ren, Shilin Fan, Minyu Wang, Tianxiao Sun, Fang Zeng, Ping Li, and Fanrong Liang. “Discovery of Acupoints and Combinations with Potential to Treat Vascular Dementia: A Data Mining Analysis.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 501 (2015): 310591.
  4. Gang, F. E. N. G. “Observation on efficacy of treating vascular dementia gait disorder with electro-acupuncture (EA) on Jiāj (EX-B2) along lumbar vertebra combined with scalp acupuncture.” World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 24, no. 2 (2014): 1-5.
  5. Wang, Zhiqun, Peipeng Liang, Zhilian Zhao, Ying Han, Haiqing Song, Jianyang Xu, Jie Lu, and Kuncheng Li. “Acupuncture Modulates Resting State Hippocampal Functional Connectivity in Alzheimer Disease.” PloS one 9, no. 3 (2014): e91160.

 

Depression

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Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide and can be debilitating for those who experience it.1 Prolonged feelings of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness greatly affect the quality of life.

At one time or another, most of us have experienced some form of depression. It is a healthy response to events in our lives that seem overwhelming. When we are balanced, physically and emotionally, we can easily bounce back from a depressed state and move on with our lives. When negative feelings and emotions become persistent and consistent, depression may set in.

A meta-analysis published in Journal of Affective Disorders in 2010 covered 207 clinical studies conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating depressive disorders. According to this, the efficacy of acupuncture was comparable to antidepressants alone in improving clinical response and alleviating symptom severity of Major Depressive Disorder. Additionally, the incidence of side adverse reactions in acupuncture treatment was significantly lower than that
of antidepressants.2

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) incorporate thousands of years of experience in treating depression. Not only can they help to alleviate the signs and symptoms accompanying depression, they can address the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances that have contributed to the problem, safely and naturally.

Acupuncturists are aware of the powerful interplay between our body and emotions, and that the two are inseparable. When we experience emotional upset, our physiological state may become disrupted. Likewise, when we experience physical problems, our emotions can become greatly affected.

Depressed Qi?

Over time, this disruption leads to what an acupuncturist calls “stagnant” or “depressed” Qi, (pronounced “chee”) or vital energy. Qi is a concept unique to the theories and principles of TCM. According to these theories, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness and pain. Qi flows through the body in pathways called meridians. When Qi becomes stagnant or depressed, physical and/or emotional symptoms result. Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM are specifically trained to detect and correct the balance and movement of Qi within the human body. Treatments are focused on balancing and activating the Qi by manipulating corresponding points
on the body.

The stagnant or depressed Qi diagnosis is unique to acupuncture and TCM. Over time, if it is not addressed it can lead to a disharmony
within our body, affecting our physical and emotional well-being.
If not properly treated, this imbalance may lead to depression.

What will an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will take a complete health history in order to find out where, why, and how Qi has become stagnant or depressed. They will develop a unique treatment plan tailored to specific symptoms and signs of each individual.

The goals of such a plan will be to activate the movement of Qi throughout the entire body, as well as to address the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances. By treating the body as a whole and unique organism, your acupuncturist will support you in your recovery from illness and disease, moving you toward health and happiness.

Acupuncture and TCM provide safe, natural, drug-free and effective ways to address depression. The focus is to restore a balanced and continuous flow of Qi throughout the body and mind. Acupuncture
is not a “quick fix.” You may need to receive weeks or months of treatment in order to see lasting results. Give yourself the time
required so that you can experience the maximum benefits
acupuncture and TCM have to offer.

Here are some tips to help combat depressive symptoms:

  • Surround yourself with people whom you trust to provide
    objective and unbiased input and insight. Develop a supportive
    group of friends, loved ones, family and co-workers who can
    lend an ear and listen to you.
  • Breathe, go slow, and think things through. Do not make too
    many life changes all at once. A few at a time will support you
    and not overwhelm your emotions.
  • Try to get at least twenty minutes of simple exercise at least three days per week, if not more. Take a daily walk, breathe
    deeply and let it all go.
  • Remember, you are not alone. Others are having similar experiences.
  • Smile.


References:

1 “Depression.” World Health Organization. 7 March 2011. ‹http://www.who.int/›.

2 “The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis.” Zhang-Jin Zhang, Hai-Yong Chen, Ka-chee Yip, Roger Ng, Vivian Taam Wong Journal of Affective Disorders – July 2010 (Vol. 124, Issue 1, Pages 9-21).

Depression

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acupuncture-depression-01Depression is a serious medical illness that can lower a person’s quality of life while contributing to the onset of symptoms such as headache, insomnia, fatigue, and malnutrition. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. say they are depressed. Depression a growing problem that’s often masked with prescription drugs, forcing some to look for alternative forms of treatment.

Most cases of depression are treated with prescription drugs that trigger a range of problems of their own. Fluoxetine, ertraline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, citalopram, and escitalopram are just a handful of the most frequently prescribed antidepressants, all of which have a long list of adverse side effects. However, researchers are now saying that acupuncture may effectively treat depression in some individuals. (more…)

Diabetes

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Chances are that you or someone you know has been affected by diabetes. It’s an increasingly common condition—one that approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with this year alone. While it is generally a long-term condition, diabetes can be managed through self-care, nutrition, and medication. Another safe, effective approach to managing diabetes and its symptoms is acupuncture. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help promote health and well-being. Both can be used safely along with your current medical treatment to provide the best results for you.

Understanding a complex condition

The body gets its energy from food through the process of digestion. Food is broken down into glucose (or sugar) which passes into the bloodstream. Then the glucose is moved into muscle, fat, and liver cells by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. However, if you have diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin, or doesn’t respond to it properly, and this leads to high levels of sugar in the blood.

Uncontrolled blood-sugar levels can cause serious complications if left untreated, including blindness, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage.

There are two main types of diabetes

Type I diabetes: Usually diagnosed during childhood, type I is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells. Symptoms usually come on suddenly, and treatment includes daily injections of insulin.

Symptoms of Type II Diabetes include:
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing infections
  • Impotence in men

Type II diabetes: This type accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes cases, and is usually diagnosed during adulthood. Major risk factors include family history, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol and being overweight and sedentary.

Since symptoms may be mild, many people don’t know they have diabetes, which is why it’s important to get tested regularly, especially after age 45. Testing can also detect pre-diabetes, where blood sugar is high, but not yet at diabetic levels. With early detection and treatment, it is far easier to stop the disease from progressing, control your symptoms, and prevent complications. Treatments often include regular blood-sugar monitoring and medications to control blood sugar, as well as diet and exercise.

Diabetes according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) goes beyond a simple diagnosis of Type I or Type II diabetes.

Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist may discover and treat.

  • Upper Wasting
  • Middle Wasting
  • Lower Wasting
  • Spleen deficiency
  • Liver Qi Stagnation

A natural approach that works

The good news is that certain types of diabetes respond very well to acupuncture along with other holistic health care choices and lifestyle changes—sometimes even making medications unnecessary.

Acupuncture and TCM can help put you on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Since diabetes has an impact on every part of your body, it makes sense to try a therapy that takes a holistic, or whole-body, approach to health.

According to TCM, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. Qi flows through pathways called meridians and provides nourishment to all of the body’s organs and glands. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, symptoms associated with diabetes may appear.

According to TCM, diabetes is known as “Xiao Ke” or “wasting and thirsting disease”, caused by an imbalance of Qi and Yin. This produces heat which drains and consumes the body’s fluids. That is why symptoms related to heat appear—excessive thirst, irritability, itchy skin, dry mouth and red, swollen gums.

During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted in specific acupuncture points along the meridian pathways in order to restore the flow of Qi and nourish Yin. This can ultimately relieve symptoms, improve pancreatic function and control blood sugar levels. Your acupuncturist will also work to resolve other imbalances or concerns that may be complicating your condition, and can help with common symptoms such as pain.

In addition to acupuncture care, your practitioner may offer recommendations for dietary changes, exercise plans, and herbal remedies.

Acupuncture and TCM address each patient’s individual needs in eliminating symptoms and potentially reduce the need for medication. The best approach to controlling your diabetes is to work with a team of health care providers who can address the many aspects of diabetes. Including an acupuncturist to your team—and working together to manage your diabetes—can have lasting benefits and help you live a healthy, active life.

 

Choate, C. Diabetes Mellitus From Western and TCM Perspectives. Accessed 2/10/2007.
Diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia. 2/8/2007.
Diabetes Overview and Facts. WebMD. Accessed 6/9/2007.
Treating Diabetes with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Acufinder.com. Accessed 6/4/2007.

Diabetic Foot Ulcers

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A major cause of foot ulcer, diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterized by chronic hyperglycemia due to absolute or relative insulin deficiency. Many complications are associated with diabetes mellitus; these are broadly divided into acute and chronic complications. The chronic complications are further divided into microvascular and macrovascular complications. Most of the complications of diabetic mellitus are due to poor glycemic control.

Diabetic foot ulcer can be neuropathic (due to loss of sensation and subsequent susceptibility to injury) or ischemic (due to narrowing/occlusion of the arteries that supply the extremities) or a combination of both. If not properly managed, it can lead to deformity or amputation of the digit(s) or the foot. Management mainly involves good glycemic (blood sugar) control, wound debridement, regular dressing, antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen, and analgesics.

A meta-analysis was conducted and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Six trials were included in the analysis. Chinese herbal medicine combined with standard therapy was found to significantly increase the number of healed diabetic foot ulcers as compared to using standard therapy alone. Those ulcers that did not heal have at least a 30% reduction in the ulcer area.

In addition, the two therapies (standard and Chinese herbal medicine) combined significantly decreased the number of patients without any improvement. The adverse effects of the CHM were minimal and transient and of no significant impact on the patient quality of life. Only few minor adverse events were reported: nausea, epigastric pain, and dry mouth.

Thus, adding CHM to standard therapy of diabetic foot will significantly increase the chance of healing, prevent disability and amputation.

Reference:

Min Chen, Hui Zheng, Li-Ping Yin, and Chun-Guang Xie. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2010, 16(8): 889-898. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0470. Link

Diminished Ovarian Reserve

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Ovarian reserve is the quantity of eggs present in the ovaries. Women are born with a given ovarian reserve- the number of eggs does not increase after the birth. Women have about 2 millions of eggs at birth and this number drops to less to 1000 in menopause.

The ovarian reserve diminishes with every ovulation. Any trauma or infection may also reduce it which may result into reproductive problems. As nowadays women tend to give birth later in their lives, the importance of the problem with the progressively diminishing ovarian reserve keeps growing. This is one of the reasons for the increased number of couples searching for assisted reproductive techniques.

In addition, hormones secreted by the ovaries regulate a number of body functions, such as the mineralization of the bones, the sleep, the mood and the libido. Apart from conception problems, the lack or dysregulation of these hormones may lead to osteoporosis, depression and sexual dissatisfaction.

The role of acupuncture

Despite the medical progress in the last years, few options are available for women with diminished ovarian reserve. Alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture are being investigated. Current studies show the last ones could be beneficial for women with reproductive problems, dysmenorrhea and depression.

Changes seen in clinical trials after the use of low-frequency electro acupuncture in patients with low ovarian reserve include:

  1. Decreased FSH. FSH is a hormone, produced by the brain that regulates the proper functioning of the ovaries. Lower levels of FSH are associated with higher ovarian reserve.

    2. Changes in the FSH/LH levels and ratio. LH is another substance secreted by the brain along with FSH. The ratio of the two hormones is more indicative for the reproductive system’s health than their blood levels.

  2. The levels of estradiol that are under the control of FSH and LH are also improved. Estradiol is an essential hormone secreted mainly by the ovaries. It regulates the ovulation, the development of the reproductive organs as well as the metabolism of the fat tissue and the bones.
  3. Improved emotional symptoms. At the beginning and in the end of the trials patients were asked to complete a questionnaire in order to determine their mood changes and feelings. After treatment with acupuncture women’s irritability was significantly decreased. This effect is due to the positive impact of acupuncture on the nervous system, including increased secretion of beta-endorphin.

Conclusion

Encouraging results from clinical trials are yet to be studied more precisely in order to determine the exact mechanisms by which the acupuncture acts. Other reproductive system disorders, such as polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS) could also be treated with acupuncture. The successful management of this condition by itself may improve the ovarian reserve. That is why the advantages that it brings for patients with reduced ovarian reserve should not be underestimated.

 

Sources:

  1. Columbia University Medical Center, Diminished Ovarian Reserve, http://www.columbiaobgyn.org/condition_treatments/diminished-ovarian-reserve#.WKyCJdSLTDc
  2. Wang Y, Li Y, Chen R, et al Electroacupuncture for reproductive hormone levels in patients with diminished ovarian reserve: a prospective observational study Acupuncture in Medicine Published Online First: 13 May 2016. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2015-011014

Dysmenorrhea

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Dysmenorrhea is characterized by the presence of painful cramps during menstruation. The condition affects more than one quart of women in reproductive age and it is one of the main reasons for seeking gynecological help. In some cases the pain is so intense that it worsens the quality of life of the patients. Sometimes, underlying conditions, as for example endometriosis, could cause dysmenorrhea (“secondary” dysmenorrhea). However, in most of the cases dysmenorrhea is not associated with other pathology and it is named “primary”.

Treatment of primary dysmenorrhea includes NSAIDs or hormonal medications. Even if they are beneficial for many patients, 25% of women do not respond to the therapy. In that case alternative methods such as acupuncture are indicated. As nowadays every treatment approach must be evidence based, numerous scientific researches, aimed to justify the role of acupuncture, have been conducted. Patients with dysmenorrhea were proposed pain severity self-assessment scales which they’ve completed at the beginning, during and in the end of the study as well as 6 months later. After undergoing 2 months of acupuncture treatment, patients reported:

  1. Reduced menstrual cramps- they were found in 87% of the patients- such a high percentage confirms that the results are associated with the treatment, rather than with placebo effect
  2. Decreased NSAIDs needs- subsequently NSAIDs usage linked side effects would be reduced
  3. Pain control was persisting 6 months after the treatment in 50% of the patients, which proves that acupuncture has not just one-time but continuous effects
  4. No side effects were reported

Given the fact that dysmenorrhea affects young women who often do not wish to take medications, acupuncture may help not only patients resistant to conventional therapy, but also these who refuse to take pills. Furthermore, it is also convenient for women having contraindications for NSAIDs or hormones.  That is why the popularity of acupuncture keeps growing.

References:

1. Iorno V, Burani R, Bianchini B et al. Acupuncture Treatment of Dysmenorrhea Resistant to Conventional Medical Treatment, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(2):227-230

  1. Smith CA1, Zhu X, He L, Song J., Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jan 19;(1):CD007854. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007854.pub2.

Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders are serious medical problems that can have long-term health consequences if left untreated. The causes remain unknown, but they usually coexist with psychological and medical issues, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, trouble coping with emotions, and substance abuse. The three main types are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.

Patients with anorexia have an extreme fear of gaining weight. They often diet and exercise relentlessly, sometimes to the point of starvation. Dramatic weight loss is the marked sign in this group.

Patients with bulimia have episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by purging (vomiting or using laxatives), fasting, or exercising excessively to compensate for the overeating. Patients in this group usually have normal weight.

Patients with binge eating disorder have frequent episodes where they binge on large quantities of food. Like people with bulimia, they often feel out of control during these episodes. Later they feel guilt and shame about it. The behavior becomes a vicious cycle, because the more distressed they feel about binging, the more they seem to do it. Since people with binge eating disorder do not purge, fast, or exercise after they binge, they are usually obese.

Eating disorder treatment depends on a patient’s particular disorder and symptoms. The treatment typically includes a combination of psychological counseling, nutrition education, medical monitoring and sometimes medications.

A pilot study, conducted in Australia, showed potential of the benefit of acupuncture as an adjunct therapy on people with eating disorders. Nine female patients received their routine treatment combined with acupuncture. The results proved that acupuncture helped improve the patients’ quality of life, reduced level of anxiety and perfectionism.

 

Source

Fogarty S, Harris D, Zaslawski C, McAinch AJ, Stojanovska L. Acupuncture as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of eating disorders: a randomised cross-over pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2010 Dec;18(6):233-40.

Epilepsy

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Epilepsy develops when the brain cells are malfunctioning. Symptoms vary and depend on the types of seizures. In most cases, a patient with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from one episode to another. Symptoms often include temporary confusion, a staring spell, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs, loss of awareness, and psychotic symptoms.

There are two main types of epilepsy, based on how the abnormal brain activity starts. These are focal seizures (abnormal activity in just one area of the brain), and generalized seizures (abnormal activity in all areas of the brain).

Epilepsy has no cause in half of the cases. Other causes could be a brain tumor or stroke, infectious diseases, head trauma, developmental disorders like autism, baby’s brain damage during pregnancy, or you were born with this disease.

How can acupuncture help?

In a clinical trial result published in 2014 in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine on patients with epilepsy, the effectiveness of head and body acupuncture was better than the effectiveness of the oral Valproate therapy.

A laboratory experiment conducted by researchers from Chinese Medical University has shown that both auricular (ear) acupuncture and body style electro-acupuncture are effective in patients with epilepsy caused by inflammation. Acupuncture is believed to reduce the exaggerating activity of the brain cells.

The autonomic nervous system includes the sympathetic autonomic nervous system and the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system. Most organs have nerves from both the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.  An abnormal activity of the parasympathetic systems may lead to seizures. A clinical review published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine has come to conclude that seizures could be suppressed by auricular acupuncture therapy due to balancing the parasympathetic systems’ functions.

Sources: 

1. Healthcare Medicine Institute; 2014; Anti-inflammatory Acupuncture Halts Epileptic Seizures. Link

2. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 2011; Auricular Acupuncture May Suppress Epileptic Seizures via Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System: A Hypothesis Based on Innovative Methods. Link

  1. National Knowledge Infrastructure; 2014; Clinical observation on treating 30 cases of epilepsy by head and body acupuncture. Link

Facial Rejuvenation

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Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can provide a safe, effective, natural, and drug-free approach to reducing the signs of aging. A facial rejuvenation using this ancient technique can improve muscle tone of the face and neck while addressing underlying imbalances that may have contributed to the aging process.

Why does skin sag?

According to TCM, wrinkles begin internally from a constitutional imbalance and fundamental weakness of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi circulates throughout the body within a series of pathways called meridians. Flowing through these pathways, Qi provides nourishment, support, and energy to every cell, tissue, muscle, and organ.

As we get older it becomes more difficult for Qi to flow upwards to “lift” the face. This leads to inadequate muscle tone, and over time, wrinkles and sagging skin. A variety of factors can contribute to this—poor diet, digestion and circulation, or emotional and environmental stresses.

Give your skin a lift

A facial rejuvenation using acupuncture, tightens pores, improves muscle tone and dermal contraction, while enhancing and increasing the elasticity of the skin. Acupuncture can reduce signs of aging by strengthening and stimulating the circulation of Qi within the meridian pathways, especially those of the face. You will look and feel more energetic, calm, vibrant and healthy.

Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbal supplements, exercise and acupressure in order to maximize results.

Facial rejuvenation with acupuncture and TCM is virtually painless, and a non-surgical method to reduce the signs of aging. Before using drugs or surgery to improve appearance, consider acupuncture. It is an effective, natural, safe, drug free and painless alternative. It helps your whole body to look and feel younger.

Self-care techniques:

1) Herbal poultice—Thoroughly clean face. Make a poultice using equal parts of ground organic almonds, lavender and rose flowers, ground flax seeds, and oats. Add water and French clay, and stir into a thick paste. Apply to the face, avoiding the eyes, and let dry. Wash off after 15-20 minutes.

2) Stay hydrated— drink plenty of fresh spring water. This can keep the muscles and skin hydrated to prevent drying.

3) Gently massage the face.

4) Walk at least 20 minutes a day, and remember to breathe deeply.


Fertility

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The treatment of infertility with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back 2,000 years. These ancient, time-tested techniques improve fertility rates and support a woman’s whole body, unlocking unlimited potential for health, healing and childbearing.

Studies reported by The American Pregnancy Association suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions. However, conception does sometimes occur without traditional medical interventions when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used alone.1

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York reviewed recent studies and concluded that acupuncture helps to:

  • Increase blood flow to the uterus, which improves the chances of an ovum implanting on the uterine wall.
  • Reduce anxiety and stress. The hormones that are secreted during stressful situations can significantly decrease fertility.
  • Normalize hormone and endocrine systems that regulate ovulation, especially in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
  • Positively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which plays a key role in fertility.
  • Regulate menstrual cycle.2

In a 2007 study, researchers found that acupuncture may improve the quality of life in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). It was also found that women receiving acupuncture reported significantly
less abdominal pain, other pain, nausea, and stress two hours after
oocyte aspiration (egg collection) compared to women receiving conventional analgesia.3

In 2008, the British Medical Journal published research which
concluded that acupuncture can be offered as a significant, clinically relevant adjunct to IVF, relaxing the uterus and increasing blood flow
for the successful implantation of an embryo within the uterine lining.4

An acupuncturist’s approach to fertility.

According to the theories of acupuncture and TCM, infertility is caused by an imbalance of Qi (pronounced “chee”) and blood affecting the healthy functioning of one or more of the organ systems. When Qi, also known as our vital energy, and blood are circulating freely throughout the body, every cell, tissue and organ is properly nourished and can function well. Acupuncture and TCM can raise the fertility potential of women by effecting the quality, quantity, balance and flow of Qi and blood (keep in mind that the organs described reflect Chinese medical theories and philosophies).

Kidney Organ System. The release of an ovum is controlled by the kidneys. The kidneys also create a substance called Jing Qi, which is required in order to have a healthy body, mind, and pregnancy. If an imbalance exists within the kidneys, Jing Qi may be inadequate in supply and may be a cause for infertility. Chinese herbal medicine, along with acupuncture, can nourish and support Jing Qi and overall kidney health.

Spleen Organ System. An adequate supply of blood is required by a woman’s body to sustain a normal menstrual cycle, a growing fetus, and a healthy pregnancy. Disharmony within the spleen can result in an inadequate supply and imbalance of blood. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can build and nourish blood in order to promote a healthy flow
of blood to the uterus.

Liver Organ System. In order to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy, it is important to have a free flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. The liver is in charge of facilitating this function. When it is out of balance, areas of the body will not receive the required supply of Qi and blood. This imbalance can lead to depression, anxiety, stress and increased possibility of infertility.

Acupuncture and TCM provide a safe, effective, drug-free, and natural approach to treating infertility and enjoying a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few reasons to try acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine:

  • An acupuncturist does not treat just symptoms and signs, but instead activates the body’s natural healing potential by treating
    the root causes that have lead to the problem or disease.
  • Acupuncture and TCM are completely natural. No drugs are ever used. Invasive procedures and drug therapies that are used in the Western treatment of infertility can cause undesirable side effects and accumulated toxicity in the body.
  • Acupuncture and TCM can be used to strengthen, support, and balance overall health and well-being, therefore can increase the effectiveness of other procedures.
Also consider acupuncture during your pregnancy and birth. According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture has been found useful for relieving labor pain, nausea, vomiting, and significantly reducing the duration of labor. There is also strong evidence that acupuncture can help with a breech birth.5,6
  1. American Pregnancy Association. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/acupuncture.htm.
  2. Five ways acupuncture can boost fertility. Prevention.com. 2002.
  3. Alternative Therapies, May/June 2007, Vol. 13 No.3.
  4. Manheimer, E., et. al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. February 2008;336:545-549.
  5. World Health Organization. www.who.int/medicines.
  6. A Manual of Acupuncture. Deadman P. & Mazin Al-Khafaji. Eastland Press, 2007. Page 326.

Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by generalized body pain and tenderness. It affects all age groups and both males and females, however, it’s common among the young and middle aged women with equal prevalence in different parts of the world.

The etiology of fibromyalgia is not known. It is however thought to be due to an interaction between environmental and genetic factors (as the condition tends to run in families).

Patient presents with persistent generalized body pain and tenderness (≥3months), weakness, stiffness, cognitive problems, sleep problems and impairment in the daily activities. These features may be seen in other conditions. Thus, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is only made after the other causes of these features have been excluded. Laboratory tests are also done to rule out other possible diagnoses.

No specific curative treatment for fibromyalgia, however, lifestyle and certain medications can help improve patient’s condition. In children, diet, psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy), relaxation techniques and aerobic exercise are all that is needed to improve their condition.

For pharmacotherapy, the medications include: analgesics, antianxiety agents, skeletal muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Other agents used in the management of fibromyalgia are: vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, herbs and supplements.

Acupuncture has been shown to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. A review of different studies (sixteen in number) involving 1081 participants conducted in this regard revealed that acupuncture alone or in combination with cupping therapy was superior to conventional medications in ameliorating the pain of fibromyalgia. No adverse effect was noted from this treatment modality.

Another study, conducted by Mayo clinic, compared the use of true acupuncture alone with simulated acupuncture. The participant in the former group experienced significant improvement in the fibromyalgia symptoms. Anxiety and fatigue were the most significantly improved symptoms, and no side effect was reported.

The above studies clearly showed that incorporation of acupuncture into the management protocol of fibromyalgia can improve patients’ quality of life.

 

References

  1. Cao H, Li X, Han M, Liu J.Acupoint stimulation for fibromyalgia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. doi: 10.1155/2013/362831. Epub 2013 Dec 17. Link
  2. Martin DP, Sletten CD, Williams BA, Berger IH. Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial.Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jun;81(6):749-57. Link

Foot Drop

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Foot drop, also known as peroneal nerve palsy, occurs when a patient loses the ability to lift the front part of the foot, leading the toes to drag along the ground while walking. It is caused by a peroneal nerve injury – a branch of the sciatic nerve. Foot drop can happen to one foot or both feet at the same time. It can strike at any age.

Causes of foot drop include nerve injury, brain or spinal disorders, and muscle disorder. Treatment for foot drop varies depending on the causes, namely, lightweight braces used to support the leg, physical therapy to strengthen foot and leg muscles, and surgery to repair or decompress a damaged nerve. In addition to these therapies, acupuncture has proven to be effective on patients with foot drop.

In a clinical report, a study was carried out in China to explore the effective therapy for foot drop. Twenty-four patients with foot drop were treated with acupuncture for ten days (one course a day). The result showed that all the patients had improvements after receiving one to four courses of acupuncture.

Hao J. et al. conducted another clinical study about the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients with peripheral nerve injury. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group received electric acupuncture. The second group was treated with supportive medication. The result demonstrated that the improvement in the acupuncture group was significantly better than in the supportive group. Also, those who had common peroneal nerve injuries recovered faster than others.

Similarly, acupuncture has shown to be effective in patients with foot drop caused by a stroke according to another study published in “Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion.”

Sources

  1. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. 2012-04. Effect of muscle-tension-balance acupuncture therapy on the motor function and living ability of patients with drop foot and strephenopodia after stroke. LIU Zhao-ping, ZENG Man-ping, XIE Hui, LOU Bi-dan, ZHANG Wei.
  2. Hao J., Zhao C., Cao S., Yang S. Electric acupuncture treatment of peripheral nerve injury. J Tradit Chin Med. 1995 Jun;15(2):114-7.
  3. Shu-xiang BAI. Acupuncture for 24 cases of peroneal nerve palsy. World Journal of Acupuncture. Volume 22, Issue 3, 30 September 2012, Pages 55-56.

 

 

Headaches

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If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. Over 50 million of us experience some form of a severe headache at some point in our lives. Whether you experience minor head pain or severe migraines, headaches can take valuable time out of your day and your life, and leave you searching for relief.

One way to seek relief is by reaching for drugs and other medications. This is fine for the short run, and can help you get out of pain fast. Unfortunately, common headache medications do not address the root cause(s), and when used over long periods of time can cause unwanted side effects.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe and effective approach to relieving headache pain, without causing harmful side effects, and incorporate a comprehensive diagnostic protocol that can help your acupuncturist understand and address the root cause(s)
of your headaches.

Understanding headache types.

There are many factors in TCM theory that may play a key role in the root cause(s) of a headache.
These include body constitution, emotional health, excessive work,
social and exercise activities, improper diet, physical trauma and hormones. Headaches can also be diagnosed according to specific symptoms, times of occurrence, location on the body, type of pain, triggers and remedies which provide relief.

A natural path to relief.

Acupuncture and TCM takes a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. Your practitioner will take a detailed health history, and perform a physical exam to determine how and why your body’s vital energy, or Qi, is out of balance and identify what type of headache you are experiencing. He/she will also attempt to determine what root cause(s) are contributing to the overall problem. By identifying and treating the underlying cause(s), not just the symptoms, he/she can apply the most effective care.

What do you mean my Qi is out of balance?

An important part of acupuncture and TCM is the concept of Qi. Qi (pronounced “chee”)
is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness.
It flows through pathways called meridians, and provides nourishment
to all the body’s organs. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms may result. Qi stagnation may be the cause of your headaches.

During treatment, in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi, fine sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridian pathways. Based on your unique symptoms, your acupuncturist will choose to concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs. Afterwards, a variety of self-care techniques may be prescribed to
further expedite your healing process.

It is important to remember that acupuncture is not a “quick fix.” Changes may occur quickly or over a longer period of time, depending upon your overall constitution and health. It is also important to closely follow care recommendations suggested by your acupuncturist. Whether it is one visit to address an acute problem, or several visits to address a chronic problem, your acupuncturist will create a treatment protocol
that will maximize your healing potential.

Below are a few ways that you can participate in your own healing, by making simple lifestyle changes that may help soothe—or even prevent—head pain.

  • Track those triggers: Try to keep track of when your headaches start. Migraine sufferers may find it especially helpful to keep a diary of symptoms and possible causes. Triggers might include anything from eating chocolate, to anxiety or inhaling specific smells. Pinpointing these triggers—and avoiding them when possible—could help.
  • Stress relief: Stress puts a lot of strain on the body, and can contribute to many types of health concerns, including headaches. Talk to your practitioner about healthy ways to
    handle stress, such as meditation or breathing techniques.
  • Exercise: Physical activity is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, and is a great antidote to stress. Your acupuncturist can recommend types of exercises that may work best for you.
  • Healthy habits: Making minor changes can make a big difference in your overall health and vitality. Do your best to eat healthy, organic foods, and make sure to get enough sleep every day.

Naturally, acupuncture care is extremely effective in reducing the frequency and severity of many types of painful conditions, including headache pain. By working with your acupuncturist and adopting some simple lifestyle changes, you will be on your way toward a healthier, happier, pain-free life.

HIV & AIDS

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Living with a positive HIV diagnosis means focusing on your health in a whole new way. Caring for your body’s needs and your emotional well-being is more important than ever, and is the key to living well with this disease.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful allies in staying as healthy as possible and slowing the progression of the disease.

A Western view of HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This virus works by attacking a part of the immune system known as CD4 cells, or T-cells. These white blood cells fight off disease, so if a person’s CD4 count gets too low, the immune system becomes compromised, rendering you susceptible to illness and disease. AIDS, the final stage of HIV, occurs when the body’s immune system becomes so weak and imbalanced that it can no longer fight off illness.

The progression of HIV can take from months to many years, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you are diagnosed. Your medical doctor will work with you to determine the best strategy to slow the progression and relieve your symptoms. This will generally include the use of antiretroviral drugs in various combinations designed to lower the amount of virus in your blood. These are very powerful medications, and they may lead to a wide range of side effects, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

These side effects can have a major impact on the quality of life, especially when combined with some of the more common symptoms of the virus itself, such as:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Night sweats
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Acupuncture can be used as an effective adjunct therapy to help support you and your immune system while receiving traditional Western medicine treatment.

A whole-person approach

It makes sense that acupuncture and TCM are one of the most commonly used complementary therapies for HIV. Practiced for thousands of years, TCM is a complete medical system known to be especially effective in supporting the immune system, strengthening the body, as well as calming the mind and spirit.

TCM tells us that Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. When a powerful external invader such as HIV attacks the body, it causes a severe disharmony and imbalance of Qi. Incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your healing process, can serve to address various signs and symptoms associated with the virus and the side-effects of HIV “cocktail” medications.

Your practitioner will work to restore the natural harmony and strengthen your body. Acupuncture and TCM offer a holistic, or whole-body, approach to care. This means that your mind, body, and spirit will all be taken into account, not just your symptoms. Practitioners understand that your emotional state is tied to your health, and that it’s critical to tackle the stress, anxiety, and depression that can accompany a diagnosis of HIV.

In addition to acupuncture, your treatment may include the use of herbal remedies. It’s important to discuss these with all of your medical care providers in order to prevent any potential interactions. Other therapies your practitioner may recommend include diet and nutrition counseling, exercise programs and stress relief techniques to support your mind, body, and spirit.

During this challenging time, it’s important to take as much control as you can over your health. By working with a team of medical care providers and incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your treatment, you’ll be taking an important step toward regaining balance and living your healthiest possible life.

References:
HIV & AIDS Guide. WebMD. Accessed Feb. 15, 2008. Link
HIV/AIDS. MayoClinic.com. January 30, 2008. Link
Ruth Cohen, Misha. HIV Wellness: Living well with HIV. Link
Webber, Eleanor. Acupuncture and HIV: The ‘New’ Weapon in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS. Acufinder Magazine: Summer 2007. AcuFinder.com. Link

Hypertension

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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more than one in three Americans, but most people may not even know they have it. Since hypertension can lead to heart attacks and other life-threatening health problems, it’s very important to learn all you can and take action to lower your risk.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe, natural, and pain-free way to keep your blood pressure in check.

What is hypertension?

Blood pressure is the actual force of blood flowing against your artery walls. Getting your blood pressure tested is a quick, simple process. It’s measured in two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is considered high if your systolic pressure is at or above 140 mm Hg, and/or your diastolic pressure is at or above 90 mm Hg.

Often called “the silent killer,” hypertension doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it gets severe enough to lead to major health problems such as heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and metabolic disorders. It has also been linked to dementia and cognitive impairment.

Self-care for lowering blood pressure. Consider these self-care techniques:
  • Get daily aerobic exercise.
  • Add Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong to your workout.
  • Meditate or sapend time alone to reduce stress.
  • Practice slow, deep breathing.
    Get plenty of rest.
  • Reduce the amount of fat and salt in your diet and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods.

What causes hypertension?

More than 90% of cases of high blood pressure are known as “essential hypertension” and have no identifiable cause. “Secondary hypertension,” on the other hand, is caused by underlying conditions such as kidney disease or certain medications.

The risk factors for essential hypertension include age (the risk is higher after age 35), race (African Americans are at higher risk), and a family history of the condition. While you can’t control those factors, there are many you can control, including:

  • Being overweight
  • Being stressed
  • Consuming too much salt
  • Drinking heavily
  • Not exercising
  • Using tobacco

How can acupuncture and TCM help?

Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your blood pressure. Typical Western treatments includes controlling your risk factors and taking medication if needed. By incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your treatment plan, you can treat your hypertension and improve your overall health and well-being.

Acupuncture and TCM practitioners take a holistic, or “whole body,” approach for the treatment of hypertension, and take into account inharmonious conditions of the whole system than can involve the function of the liver, kidneys, digestive system and heart.

Treatment is based upon the idea of Qi (pronounced “chee”), the vital energy that flows through pathways called meridians, providing nourishment for all of the body’s organs and protecting it from illness. When the flow of Qi becomes diminished or blocked, disease and illness result.

The goal of treatment is to find and address the underlying imbalance(s) affecting the flow of Qi, leading to the elevated blood pressure and various symptoms. By addressing the root cause of your high blood pressure, TCM can help your body regain its natural balance. In doing so, you’ll also be strengthening your health and reducing the risk of future health conditions.

Acupuncture and TCM have proven effective against a wide variety of health concerns. Studies have found that a special form of acupuncture called electro-acupuncture, which uses electrical stimulation, may be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By working together with your practitioner, you’ll be on your way to successfully treating your hypertension and improving your health, for today and the days ahead. Similar to healthy eating and regular exercise, consistent acupuncture treatments should be considered for the greatest long-term results.

References:
High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association. March 20, 2008. Link
High Blood Pressure. MayoClinic.com. June 5, 2007. Link
Hypertension. Acupuncture.com. Accessed April 20, 2008. Link
Williams T; Mueller K; Cornwall MW. Effect of acupuncture-point stimulation on diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. Physical Therapy. 1991 Jul, 71(7):523-9.
Wood, Shelley. Blood Pressure Changes with Acupuncture Comparable to Those with ACE Inhibitor Monotherapy. Medscape, Medical News. 2007, June, 15.

IBS

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disorder in which the intestines lose their ability to efficiently move their contents. The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Less common symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Symptoms may be triggered by stress, diet, emotional factors, hormone levels and medications.

Let’s talk acupuncture

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can offer a safe, effective, natural and drug-free way to address IBS. This holistic healthcare system looks at the body differently than Western medicine. According to Chinese medicine, the body is like a garden that must be cultivated and maintained in order to grow strong and remain healthy. Good health happens when all of the organs and meridian systems are balanced and working together.

How does your garden grow?

According to Chinese medical theories, there are several possible causes for IBS.

One of these is an imbalance of the spleen. The spleen is the organ in charge of digestion and assimilation of foods and liquids. One of the main functions of the spleen is to aid in the production of spleen Qi. Spleen Qi is the energy that provides power and nourishment for the entire body.

Another function of the spleen is to produce blood from the food it breaks down and to convert it into usable energy to power your body. If your spleen isn’t properly cared for, the body’s energy levels will not be supported and illness may occur.

The spleen is easily affected and weakened by poor eating habits and diet, antibiotics, excessive worry, or a weak constitution. When a weakened spleen cannot metabolize or process food efficiently, “dampness” appears in the body. Dampness occurs when rotting, undigested food sits in the gut, causing a variety of symptoms. If dampness “rises” to your head, you may experience headaches, a “foggy” feeling and an inability to concentrate. Over time, dampness can lead to bloating, fullness and loose stools.

Another possible scenario is an imbalance in the liver. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with emotional health. Stress and anger directly influence the function of your liver. Alcohol, drugs and medications, or a poor diet further compromise its function. When this happens, your liver energy overflows, in a figurative sense, and attacks the spleen. If your spleen is already weakened, it can be easily overcome. The result can be stress-induced IBS.

If your liver is compromised, you may experience alternating diarrhea and constipation, as well as bloating, gas, headaches, and dull pain. In this case, your liver may be the root of the problem, and your spleen the secondary problem.

An imbalance in kidney Yang could also cause IBS symptoms. kidney Yang is energy that provides warmth for your body. This energy warms up your spleen to aid in the digestion and breakdown of food. If your kidney energies are compromised, you may experience early-morning diarrhea and possibly bladder incontinence, cold limbs, weak knees and a sore back.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can create a clear picture of the root imbalance(s) that lead to IBS symptoms. When you meet with your practitioner, he or she will determine what organ and meridian systems are contributing to your IBS. They may also suggest adjunct therapies such as herbs, dietary changes, breathing techniques and exercises in order to maximize your healing.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to address IBS.

Insomnia

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You settle into a warm, comfortable bed, close your eyes and nothing happens, you just can’t fall asleep. Hours go by and still you’re awake. The next day you feel tired, grouchy, and are unable to focus. Does this sound familiar?

Sleepless nights happen to almost everyone at some time, but ongoing insomnia can indicate a deeper issue and could lead to further health concerns. Unfortunately, a common approach to treating insomnia includes prescription sleeping medications, which can cause side effects or even dependence. That’s one of the many reasons to consider an all-natural approach to treating your sleep problems. Acupuncture can be a very effective way to improve your sleep quality without side effects.

Tips for healthy sleep
  • Stick to a regular schedule.
  • Plan to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Stay active. Exercise regularly, but not within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Don’t eat large meals before bed.
  • Try not to nap. If you really need to nap, try to keep it short, less than 45 minutes.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. All of these can add to sleep problems.
  • Relax. Try taking a warm bath, meditating, or reading to wind down before going to sleep.

One bad night…or an ongoing issue?

Occasional insomnia is a very common problem, affecting about one in four Americans. It can happen to anyone, but is more common in older adults. Its symptoms include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Daytime fatigue and irritability
  • Frustration and moodiness

Insomnia can be very frustrating, but it’s more than an annoyance. When insomnia becomes ongoing, or chronic, your body is unable to get the rest and renewal it needs so that you can feel your best. In fact, a lack of quality sleep can cause problems such as difficulty concentrating, diminished energy, low mood, and trouble performing everyday tasks. Since sleep strengthens the immune system, insomnia can leave you susceptible to many other health concerns. Luckily, you don’t have to just “put up with” chronic insomnia.

How acupuncture can help

According to the theories of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), conditions such as insomnia are a sign of an imbalance in Qi (pronounced “chee”), the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness.

Here are a few questions your practitioner may ask. They help to refine your specific diagnosis.
  • Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
  • Do you have difficulty staying asleep?
  • Is your sleep filled with vivid dreams?
  • Is it difficult to calm your mind at night?
  • Is it difficult to sleep on your back? This can relate to a excess condition of the Lungs or Heart meridians.
  • Do you only sleep on your back with outstretched arms? This can reflect a pattern of excess heat.
  • Do you prefer to sleep on your stomach or side? This could indicate a deficient condition.

This imbalance can stem from a number of causes such as stress, anxiety, medications, depression, and chronic pain. To determine the underlying causes of your insomnia, your acupuncturist will take into account many factors, including your lifestyle and emotional and mental well-being. They will then work to restore the balance and flow of Qi by inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points along the body.

Your acupuncturist may also suggest aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, or other additional therapies. You may find that you sleep better after your very first session, though you will most likely receive the most benefit from a series of treatments.

Your acupuncturist can get to the root of your sleep issues by taking into account all of the factors that may be contributing to your sleep disturbance. With this ancient form of health care, you can treat your symptoms, improve your overall health and well-being, and start looking forward to a great night’s sleep, every night.

References:
Overcoming Insomnia: How to achieve peaceful quality sleep. Acupuncture.com. Accessed Feb. 1, 2008. Link
Insomnia. MayoClinic.com. March 16, 2007. Link
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Acupuncture. Alpha Books, 2000.

IVF And Acupuncture

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The number of couples with reproductive problems is constantly growing. It is estimated that between 13-14% of the couples are affected. The progress of the medicine and the development of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) gave chance to many of them to have their own child. However, the success of so named assisted reproduction depends on many factors, including the overall health condition of the partners, their age, and the clinic that provides the procedure.

While it is true that IVF offers incredible possibilities for the couples, who’ve tried to have children for years without success, IVF is also a long, stressful and expensive process with no results guaranteed. In fact, only one third of the IVF trials lead to pregnancy and 22%- to live birth. That is the reason why different options that could increase the IVF success rate are being tested in various clinical trials. Alternative medicine also stands between them.

The role of acupuncture

A couple of independent clinical researches claim the positive outcomes for women undergoing IVF that receive acupuncture treatment in addition. A systematic review, based on seven different researches, centered on the role of acupuncture in women ( 1366 participants), using assisted reproduction techniques to conceive, demonstrated that acupuncture was indeed beneficial for such patients. Two main conclusions were made at the end of the analysis:
1. Rates of pregnancy were significantly increased in women, subjects to IVF, receiving adjuvant acupuncture therapy by the time of embryo transfer
2. Live birth percentage was also improved. Successful pregnancy achieved through IVF, does not exclude the possibility of miscarriage and that’s why this second marker is more significant.

Conclusion

Although alternative medicine is not widely recognized by many healthcare providers, the presence of scientific data claiming the advantages of acupuncture in women with reproductive issues, needing an IVF procedure, underlines the importance of its further investigation. As success rates of IVF are still low, harmless and accessible additional treatment like acupuncture that could improve them should not be underestimated.

References:

1. Manheimer E1, Zhang G, Udoff L et al., Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis, BMJ. 2008 Mar 8;336(7643):545-9, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258932

  1. Petrozza, J.C, Assisted Reproduction Technology, In vitro fertilization (IVF), Medscape, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/263907-overview#a4

Knee Osteoarthritis

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A degenerative joint disease characterized by destruction of the articular cartilage of synovial joint, osteoarthritis is one of the debilitating diseases that can lead to significant decline in the quality of life. It’s the commonest form of joint inflammation and mostly affects the small joints of the hands, the knee, and the hip joints. Many risk factors have been linked to the development of osteoarthritis, these include: ageing, obesity, previous injury to the joint, family history of osteoarthritis, etc.

Pain, swelling, warmth, and reduced range of movement across the affected joint are the common features of osteoarthritis. Treatment of knee osteoarthritis has traditionally been with the use of analgesic/anti-inflammatory drugs, intra-articular injection of corticosteroid, modification of risk factors, and lastly surgical interventions. However, each of these treatment modalities come with its own demerit and some of the surgical interventions are not readily accessible.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture have been in use for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis for hundreds of years and the results have shown significant advantages over the use of analgesic/anti-inflammatory drugs. These herbal medicines have been found to significantly reduce the pain of osteoarthritis, halt/slow down the progression of the disease, prevent disability and thus, improve the patients’ quality of life. TCM also provides a long lasting effect as compared to the short term relief offered by the analgesics.

One of the major side effects of analgesic/anti-inflammatory drugs used for the treatment of osteoarthritis is the induction/exacerbation of acid peptic disease but in contrast, traditional Chinese medicines have been found to be free from this adverse effect. Also due to its effect in slowing down the progression of the disease and preventing disability, TCM reduces the need for surgical intervention in patients suffering from knee arthritis.

The use of TCM and acupuncture for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis will go a long way in reducing patients’ suffering, protecting them from side effects of analgesics and significantly improving their quality of life.

 

References :

Healthcmi.com. Acupuncture Beats Drugs For Knee Pain And Inflammation. 01 MARCH 2017 Link

Liver Cancer

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Primary liver cancer is one of the 10 common cancers worldwide with a male to female ratio of (4:1). The most important risk factors for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are chronic hepatitis B/C virus infection, chronic alcoholism, and consumption of aflatoxin (a fungal toxin that contaminates stored grains). Geographical areas with higher incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma have been found to also have higher incidence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

Pain in the right hypochondrium, weight loss, anorexia, fever, lethargy, abdominal swelling, and bone pain are the common features of liver cancer. Rapid development of these features in a chronic hepatitis B patient is suggestive of HCC. The best treatment is liver transplantation when the disease is localized to the liver and has not spread to the surrounding structures. However most patient presents with advanced disease and compatible donors are also limited. Thus prevention is the way forward.

In a study conducted in Taiwan, about 21000 patients with chronic (HBV) infections participated and were followed up for 15years. The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma was found to reduce by half in patients treated with Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) as compared to those not treated with CHM (5.28% vs. 10.18%).

A similar study was conducted on 127 237 liver cancer patients from 2009 to 2011. The use of traditional Chinese medicine as an adjunct treatment was demonstrated to prolong survival of patients. Patients taking herbs were significantly associated with a decreased risk of death. This is made possible by its ability to stimulate host immune response for cytotoxic activity against the malignant cells and thus, inhibit tumour growth, metastasis and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Thus, to reduce the incidence of liver cancer in patients with hepatitis B virus infection, and prolong the survival of those with liver cancer, CHM has been advocated to be incorporated in the treatment protocols of hepatitis B virus infection and liver cancer.

 
References:

1)  Liao YH1,2, Lin CC3,4,5, Lai HC4,6, Chiang JH7,8,9, Lin JG1, Li TC Adjunctive Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy Improves Survival Of Liver Cancer Patients. Liver Int. 2015 Dec;35(12):2595-602. doi: 10.1111/liv.12847. Epub 2015 Apr 29 Link

2) Tsai TY, Livneh H, Hung TH, Lin IH, Lu MC, Yeh CC. Associations Between Prescribed Chinese Herbal Medicine And Risk Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Patients With Chronic Hepatitis B: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study. BMJ Open. 2017 Jan 25;7(1):e014571. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014571. Link

Liver Cirrhosis

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Being the largest internal organ in the body, the liver performs many metabolic functions that are essential for healthy living, such as synthesis and storage of essential biomolecules, detoxification of potentially harmful substances, etc. Any liver disease that persists for more than 6 months is termed chronic liver disease (CLD). Many etiologies have been identified, commonest of which is chronic hepatitis B/C virus infection and alcoholic liver disease. Other causes include: autoimmune hepatitis, Wilson disease, hemochromatosis, biliary cirrhosis, etc.

The end stage of most chronic liver diseases is cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is a condition characterized by the presence of regenerative nodules in the liver with the destruction of liver architecture. In the Western world, cirrhosis is the third leading cause of death in patients aged 45 to 65years (after cardiovascular disease and cancer). Depending on the etiology, the progression of liver injury to cirrhosis takes many years.

Patient with liver cirrhosis may present with the Peripheral stigmata of CLD. These include: parotid enlargement, spider veins, abnormal development of the breast in males (gynecomastia), pubic hair loss, finger clubbing, testicular atrophy, Jaundice, general edema, etc.

Management is majorly supportive; treatment of the underlying causes; and preparation for liver transplant. However, independent clinical investigations found out that acupuncture and herbs are effective for the treatment of cirrhosis with ascites in patients with chronic liver disease. Patients with end stage liver cirrhosis have been noticed to benefit from integrated treatment protocol consisting of acupuncture, infrared radiation, dietetics, and herbal medicine. This combination therapy effectively eliminated ascites, normalized urine volume and color, restored appetite, and normalized liver and kidney functions in majority of patients, while the others demonstrated significant reductions in ascites, appetite improvements, reductions of nausea and vomiting, improved urine volume and color, improvements in liver and kidney functions.

Thus, the use of acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine may significantly improve symptoms in patient with liver cirrhosis.

Reference:

HeathCMi.Acupuncture Plus Herbs Alleviate Cirrhosis And Ascites. 25 April 2016 Link

 

 

Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer, a rapid and uncontrolled growth in tissues of the lung, is the leading cause of death in both men and women worldwide.

At the time of diagnosis, approximately 80% of patients present with advanced lung cancer for whom curative therapy is not available. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy are the main treatment for advanced lung cancer. However, the control of disease with this cumulative therapy at an advanced stage is generally limited to a few months for many reasons. Therefore, the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy is a major problem that needs significant consideration.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) as maintenance therapy refers to a systemic treatment given to patients with advanced lung cancer after four to six cycles of chemotherapy. In recent years, maintenance therapy has become a new treatment strategy aimed at achieving a reduction in tumor size and relieving tumor-related symptoms as opposed to conventional chemotherapy, which mainly targets the death of tumor cells.

To test the effectiveness of this therapy, a study was conducted in six hospitals. 294 cases of advanced lung cancer were divided into two different groups; TCM Group (maintenance therapy + chemotherapy) and chemotherapy group. The duration of this study was 355 days and 292 days respectively.

The study reveals that the maintenance therapy shows an advantage in the treatment of advanced lung cancer. It can be combined with chemotherapy and radiation therapy that relieves side effects, improve short-term therapeutic effects, stable disease and reduce the incidence rate. For patients who cannot accept surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine can reduce pain, improve symptoms and improve the quality of life. So TCM shows a significant role in the comprehensive treatment of advanced lung cancer.

Reference:

Weiru Xu, Guowang Yang, Yongmei Xu, Qing Zhang, Qi Fu, Jie Yu, Mingwei Yu, Wenshuo Zhao, Zhong Yang, Fengshan Hu, Dong Han, and Xiaomin Wang. The Possibility of Traditional Chinese Medicine as Maintenance Therapy for Advanced Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 278917,  Link

 

Menopause

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Why is menopause treated like a disease, when in fact it’s a naturally occurring process?

Menopause is a natural, physiological cycle that occurs in all women. Conventional medical treatments only address various symptoms and signs associated with menopause. However, symptoms and signs are just one part of the whole picture.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine understand that symptoms and signs are merely indications of an imbalance deep within the body. This 5,000 year-old healing art focuses upon correcting underlying imbalances that have occurred over the years. These imbalances, if left unchecked, will result in a variety of symptoms and signs normally associated with a Western diagnosis of menopause.

Acupuncture and a woman’s natural process

Menopause signifies “a change” within a woman’s life. This change occurs because a woman’s body chemistry is shifting. Chinese medicine recognizes this chemistry change as a natural process.

Estrogen is similar to what acupuncturists call Jing Qi. Jing Qi is like a gift that is given to all of us at the time of conception. It is the battery that provides us with the basic energy to power all our life functions. When Jing Qi is abundant, our ability to adapt to disease, illness and stress is optimal.

As we age, our supply of Jing Qi energy is slowly drained. Generally, Jing Qi naturally begins to decline between the ages of 35 to 60, although some people drain it faster than others. When Jing Qi declines, the Organ Systems within our body become unbalanced. This leads to various symptoms and signs, such as graying hair, loss of libido, weakness of knees, urinary difficulty, poor memory, backache and fatigue.

Another factor that can contribute to menopause is an imbalance in Yin and Yang energies. One possible scenario is an imbalance caused by the slowing of the flow of Yin. Yin can be thought of as the cooling system of the body. When this cooling system declines, heat symptoms will naturally arise, leading to night sweats, restlessness, hot flashes, mood swings, heart palpitations and insomnia.

How Jing Qi can be drained:
  • Over working
  • Overexertion
  • Over doing it
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Inherited weakness
  • Burning the candle at both ends
  • Siting or standing for long periods
  • Excessive activities (sexual, alcohol, drugs, late nights)

The decline of Yang energy can also lead to imbalance. Yang represents the warming and metabolizing functions of the body. When Yang is unbalanced, symptoms may include water retention, cold hands and feet, weight gain, edema, indigestion, hypertension, or raised cholesterol levels.

Left untreated, a decline and imbalance of Jing, Yin or Yang will lead to the symptoms and signs that are normally associated with a Western diagnosis of menopause.

What can an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough evaluation and a complete health history. The symptoms, signs and other information that is gathered are pieces of the diagnostic health puzzle. Putting together this puzzle allows a practitioner to develop a unique treatment plan that will address each patient’s individual concerns.

When treating menopausal symptoms, an acupuncturist must first determine where the energy has changed, and what Organ Systems have become unbalanced. Once this is known, various natural therapies such as acupuncture, herbs, meditation, Qi Gong and diet can be used to correct the imbalances.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to address menopause. Treatment supports the healing energies of Jing, Yin and Yang, providing the body with the building blocks it needs in order to nourish, heal, and regain balance.

Menopause

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menopause-acupuncture-01Natural menopause – the absence of menstruation for longer than 12 months – often comes with a wide range of unpleasant symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, night sweats, and of course hot flashes. However, a recent study found acupuncture to reduce or even eliminate some of these systems, improving quality life and reducing stress/anxiety in women going through menopause.

Researchers at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan monitored 869 participants who are were going through menopause while using 12 different treatment methods. One of the 12 treatment methods was acupuncture, which surprisingly proved to be the most effective at relieving the discomfort associated with menopause.  (more…)

Migraine

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Migraine is a common disorder, characterized by moderate to severe headache attacks, typically localized on one side of the head. Different groups of medications, such as NSAIDS, beta-blockers, triptans and valproates are successfully used in the management of migraine. However, in order to avoid their side effects, alternative methods of treatment such as acupuncture are also applied.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture exercises its beneficial effects for patients with migraine as it:

1. Stimulates the release of endorphins and other chemical substances by influencing the nerve endings situated in the muscles and tissues. In that way acupuncture modulates the perception of pain of the brain and the spinal cord and therefore leads to pain relief.

2. Affects blood vessels and in that way influences intra and extracranial blood flow, which abnormal state is associated with migraine.

3. Decreases the degree of the electrical waves in the brain associated with migraine.

4. Decreases the plasma levels of substances implemented in the pathological mechanisms of migraine (such as calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P).

5. Regulates the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is another substance participating into the migraine genesis.

6. Stimulates the release of anti-inflammatory factors and therefore reduces the inflammation.

Researches:

Different researches show that:

1. Acupuncture could be used in the management of acute migraine attacks or as a prophylaxis between the attacks.

2. Acupuncture applied in addition to the standard drug treatment reduces the frequency of migraine attacks compared to drug treatment alone.

3. Acupuncture is more effective than placebo.

4. The positive effects of acupuncture in terms of pain management persist even a year later.

5. Acupuncture is cost-effective and has no serious side effects .

Sources:

1. British Acupuncture Council. Migraine  Link

2. Traditional acupuncture in migraine: a controlled, randomized study. Facco E1, Liguori A, Petti F, Zanette G, Coluzzi F, De Nardin M, Mattia C. Headache. 2008 Mar;48(3):398-407. Epub 2007 Sep 12.

3. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine.Linde K1, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Vertosick EA, Vickers A, White AR. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Jun 28;(6):CD001218. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3.

4. The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: A meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain. (MacPherson H1, Vertosick EA, Foster NE, Lewith G, Linde K, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Vickers AJ; Acupuncture Trialistsʼ Collaboration.) Pain. 2016 Oct 17.

 

Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex condition that currently affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States—with 200 more people diagnosed every week. This chronic disease causes uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

An unpredictable condition

The exact causes of MS are not entirely understood, and there is currently no cure, though there have been many advances in treatment in recent years. Western medicine considers MS an autoimmune condition–a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. In the case of MS, the immune system starts attacking and breaking down a substance called myelin, the sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers of the central nervous system. Myelin increases the speed of the transmission of nerve signals.

When myelin becomes “broken” or destroyed, nerve impulses are slowed down, leading to a progression of nerve-related problems. When these nerve fibers become damaged, symptoms can result, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Numbness or weakness of
    the limbs

The symptoms of MS vary from person to person, can range from minor to severe and can even disappear for a period of time only to flare up unexpectedly.

Acupuncture for Multiple Sclerosis

A clinical study about the effectiveness of acupuncture on the quality of life of the patients who had recurring multiple sclerosis while having been treated with “immunomodulators” was published in 2012. Immunomodulators are the active agents of immunotherapy, a treatment to enhance or suppress an immune response. The study was carried out in the MS outpatient clinic of the University of Campinas Hospital in Campinas in the State of São Paulo in Brazil between 2008 and 2010.

According to this study, thirty one of the participants were divided into two groups. The first group received “sham” acupuncture, which simulates true acupuncture. The second group received true acupuncture. The true acupuncture was shown to improve the quality of life of patients with multiple sclerosis. It helped reduce pain, depression, leg spasms, incontinence and constipation. In addition, the true acupuncture group saw improvements in sleep, appetite, and mobility in the eyes in the patient subjects.

Source:

Juan G Quispe-Cabanillas et el. Impact of electro-acupuncture on quality of   patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis under treatment with immunomodulators: A randomized study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 5;12:209. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-209.

 

Muscular Dystrophy

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Researchers from Zhengzhou Children’s Hospital conducted a two-year study on 60 pediatric patients with  Duchenne muscular dystrophy. All the participants were divided into two groups. The first group received the full treatment including acupuncture, heating infrared lamp, massage, herbs, and drugs. The second group received only the drug treatment.

Heating lamps are used to enhance the flow of blood in our body. Acupuncture with lamp treatment was applied once per day, five times per week, for a total of 90 sessions. Traditional Chinese massage stimulates nerve fibers and muscles. The drug treatment included an injection derivative of a Chinese herb, Ganoderma mushroom and an amino acid supplement.

The result was that the therapy combining acupuncture, heating lamp, massage, herbs, and drugs has shown significant results. It was found to reduce physical impairments and improve both walking and staircase climbing. In addition, the combined therapeutic regimen successfully reduced enzymes, associated with muscle diseases.

 

About Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common type of muscular dystrophies, which is a group of diseases. It makes our muscles weaker and less flexible over time. It is caused by a problem in one of our genes that controls how our body keeps muscles healthy. Symptoms usually begin early in childhood, from ages 3 – 5, and it is more common in boys than girls.

Symptoms include difficulty in standing up, walking, climbing stairs, as well as heart and lung problems. Unfortunately, there is no cure and patients only survive into their 40s or 50s.

 

Source

  1. Healthcare Medicine Institute; (2015); Acupuncture Plus TCM Helps Muscular Dystrophy Patients. Link.

 

Myasthenia Gravis

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Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder, characterized by the formation of antibodies against the acetylcholine receptors (Ach-R) situated in the neuromuscular junction. The anti-AchR antibodies block the signals from the nerves to the muscles which is manifested by muscle weakness that worsens at the end of the day. The weakness of the eye muscles causes double vision and drooping, the involvement of the facial muscles is represented by difficulty to hold the head straight and the mouth closed. Problems with chewing and swallowing as well as voice changes may be the first symptoms. Other muscle groups are less commonly affected, but the involvement of the diaphragms during myasthenic crisis is potentially life-threatening.

The role of Chinese medicine

Conventional medications such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and corticosteroids are used in the management of Myasthenia gravis. In addition various researches have demonstrated improved treatment results if standard drugs are being combined with acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine herbs.

The beneficial results from both these alternative medicine methods are due to:

1. Increase of the acetylcholine receptors in the neuromuscular junction, along with reduction of the      antibodies against the Ach-R, leading to a better transmission of the nerve signals and decreased muscle  weakness

  1. Regulation of the immune system- acupuncture is proved to regulate the secretion of various pro inflammatory substances such as Interleukin-4 (IL-4) as well as Il-12, IL-18. In that way acupuncture suppresses the abnormal immune response, seen in Myasthenia gravis.

Acupuncture along with the application of different Chinese medicine herb mixtures alleviates the symptoms and prevents relapses. One of their greatest advantages is that there are no side effects associated, which is not the case with conventional therapy.

Conclusion

The simultaneous use of medications, acupuncture and Chinese herb mixtures is scientifically proven to be effective and more beneficial for patients suffering from Myasthenia gravis, compared to drug therapy alone. Considering the low cost and the lack of side effects, these alternative treatment possibilities must be included in the management of the condition, in order to improve the patient’s outcome.

 

References

  1. Huang H, Pan H, Wang HF, Warming yang and invigorating qi” acupuncture alters acetylcholine receptor expression in the neuromuscular junction of rats with experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis, Neural Regen Res. 2016 Mar; 11(3): 465–468. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.179060
  2. Qi G, Gu Sh, Liu P, Effects of combined traditional Chinese medicine with immunosuppressive agents for patients with myasthenia gravis, Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015; 8(10): 19044–19050.
  3. Qi GY, Liu P, Gao BL, Shenqi Fuzheng Injection Alleviates the Transient Worsening Caused by Steroids Pulse Therapy in Treating Myasthenia Gravis, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013)
  4. Wang JK, Zhang XF, Yang MS, A Prospective Study of Tablet Fuzhengqiangjin Therapy in Patients with Myasthenia Gravis, Chinese Journal of Neuroimmunology and Neurology, 2007-02

Neck Pain

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At some point in our lives, each of us will most likely experience some type of neck pain and/or whiplash. However, certain people may be predisposed to acute and chronic neck pain due to their occupation. Employees who perform repetitive tasks, sit for prolonged periods of time and use their upper extremities are at a greater risk of developing neck pain.

The neck is one of the most flexible—and delicate—parts of the body. Throughout the day, many of us put stress on our neck without even realizing it. Unfortunately, this can result in a literal “pain in the neck,” causing stiffness, pain and limited movement in the neck and even the shoulders and arms.

If you suffer from neck pain, whether it is occasional or chronic, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may just provide the relief you need. In recent years, acupuncture has become well-known as an effective treatment for various types of painful disorders. Acupuncture and TCM provide a natural, safe approach to treating
neck pain and whiplash.

What is behind that pain in the neck

Neck pain can be caused by a wide range of factors, including wear-and-tear, strains or sprains, or inflammation. A few of the most common culprits include:

  • Bad posture: Bending or hunching forward for prolonged periods can cause strains (overstretched muscles), sprains (injuries to ligaments) or other problems. This can happen at work when sitting in front of the computer, during long drives, when reading in bed or even talking on the phone. Sleeping in an awkward position is another common cause.
  • Injuries, trauma and motor vehicle accidents: This is a major cause of acute neck pain and whiplash. Common injuries include falls, sports-related injuries, direct trauma and auto accidents.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions such as arthritis can cause chronic pain and stiffness. Herniated disks in the neck can also cause pain, as can illnesses like the flu. Jaw injuries or conditions may also cause neck pain.
  • Stress: Being stressed or anxious can cause tension in the muscles of your neck, shoulders and back.
Neck pain according to TCM can be caused by a variety of factors. Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist may discover and treat.
  • Overuse
  • Strain
  • Muscle tension
  • Invasion of cold, wind and/or damp
  • Bi Syndrome

How acupuncture can help.

A study published in British Medical Journal states that, “Acupuncture can be a safe form of treatment for patients with chronic neck pain if the objective is to obtain relief from pain related to movement and to improve cervical mobility. As neck pain may be a chronic condition, single forms of treatment may be inadequate, and acupuncture merits consideration.”1 Other studies suggest that acupuncture can treat degenerative disorders of the neck and spine. According to a study published by U.S. National Institutes of Health in 2010, it was concluded that, “Traditional acupuncture can relieve pain intensity and improve the quality of daily life with a relative long-term clinical efficacy in patients with chronic neck pain.”2

Acupuncture and TCM take a holistic, or whole-body, approach to health. In TCM, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. It flows through pathways called meridians to nourish all of the body’s organs, muscles and cells. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms such as pain may result.

Acupuncture is safe, natural and has no side effects—unlike many of the medications often used to treat pain.

Your practitioner will take a detailed health history and perform a physical exam to find out where and why your body’s vital energies have become blocked and out of balance. He or she will work to not only relieve your pain, but to identify and treat the underlying causes. During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridian pathways in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi. Your practitioner may also perform acupressure or other types of therapy, based on your unique issues and symptoms.

Your practitioner may also recommend herbs, changes in diet, stretches and other exercises to work in conjunction with acupuncture treatment. These adjunct therapies help you regain your health and prevent future problems. By working together with your acupuncturist—and taking good care of yourself—you will be on your way to a healthier, pain-free future before you know it.

References:

  1. Irnich, D., et al. Randomised trial of acupuncture compared with conventional massage and “sham” laser acupuncture for treatment of chronic neck pain. British Medical Journal June 30, 2001;322:1-6.
  2. Liang Z, Zhu X, Yang X, Fu W, Lu A. Assessment of a traditional acupuncture therapy for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled study. Complement Ther Med. 2011 Jan 19, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195292.

Overactive Bladder

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An overactive bladder syndrome occurs when the bladder contracts suddenly without you having control and when the bladder is not full. There is no cause that can be found for the repeated and uncontrolled bladder contractions. Symptoms include sudden urgent desire to pass urine, going to the toilet often (more than 7 times a day), waking to go to the toilet more than once at night, leaking of urine before you can get to the toilet.

Conventional treatments for patients with overactive bladder syndrome are physiotherapy that incudes pelvic floor exercises and oral medications like anticholinergics or beta agonist. Behavior modification measures are limited. Oral medications are effective in 60% of these patients, but there are serious side effects. The side effects outweigh the benefits of the treatment, and can require patients to then undergo surgery.

Here are some top studies about the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients with overactive bladder syndrome.

 

Posterior Tibial Nerve Stimulation:

There are many studies about posterior tibial nerve stimulation for treatment symptoms of overactive bladder, has been published recently.

In 2012, a review of 30 studies of “percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation” demonstrated moderate to marked improvement of bladder symptoms. It reduced the number of urinations per day, episodes of leaking of urine, the number of urinations at night. It also increased the volume of urine. Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation is a technique that involves insertion of acupuncture needle close to the tibial bone on the leg, which is in fact an acupuncture point Sp 6, innervated by posterior tibial nerve. After the insertion, the nerve is stimulated by an electric current for 30 minutes.

Between 2011 and 2013, in a clinical study conducted by a research team at Whipps Cross University Hospital and University College of London Hospital, acupuncture was proven to be effective and did not show any side effects for controlling overactive bladder syndrome, with the rate of 79% of patients in the study showing clinically significant improvements.

Pudendal Nerve Stimulation for Overactive Bladder.

Pudendal nerve is the major nerve that is responsible for the transmission of sensations (pain, touch, temperature) from the perineum to the spinal cord and supplies motor innervation to the muscles of the pelvic floor. It originates from sacral spinal nerves and enters the perineum through the lesser sciatic foramen to supply the perineal muscles and skin.

The external anal sphincter and the external urethral sphincter which are responsible for voluntary control of defecation and urination respectively are also supplied by the pudendal nerve. His sympathetic fibers play a significant role in ejaculation as well. Therefore, urethral and anal sphincters disturbances and erectile dysfunction can result from pudendal nerve damage.

What is pudendal nerve stimulation?

  • The patient lies prone and about 2 points on either side of buttock muscles and 2 additional points on a lower back are selected.
  • The acupuncture needles are inserted into these areas.
  • The electrodes are then connected to deliver the appropriate stimulation in terms of frequency, intensity and duration based on the type of the ailment being treated.

In a study where 120 females with urinary incontinence (resistant to medication) were treated with either pudendal nerve or transvaginal electrical stimulation, higher percentage of those that had pudendal nerve stimulation recorded complete symptom resolution (42.5% vs. 2.5%) with more than 50% of symptom improvement in the rest. The study therefore, concluded that pudendal nerve stimulation is an effective and better treatment modality for urinary incontinence in females.

 

Sourses:

  1. David R. Staskin et al. Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation: A Clinically and Cost Effective Addition to the Overactive Bladder Algorithm of Care. Curr Urol Rep. 2012 Oct; 13(5): 327–334. Published online 2012 Aug 15. Link
  2. Li C et al. Acupuncture in the management of overactive bladder syndrome. Link
  3. Siyou Wang, Jianwei Lv, Xiaoming Feng, Tingting Lv. Efficacy of Electrical Pudendal Nerve Stimulation versus Transvaginal Electrical Stimulation in Treating Female Idiopathic Urgency Urinary Incontinence. The Journal Of Urology. June 2017Volume 197, Issue 6, Pages 1496–1501 

Pain

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Most people experience significant pain at some time in their lives—whether from an injury, illness, or an unknown cause. Pain is a warning signal, an alarm that goes off when your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong and out of balance.

What can you do?

No one should have to live with pain, but which treatment is right for you? Often times, people suffering from pain take medication to dull the pain. Taking medication is understandable when pain is constant and unbearable. It may be helpful to dull the symptoms for a short period of time, but it will not get at the root of the problem and correct it. It is like hitting the snooze button on an alarm. Unless the cause of the pain is treated, your body will keep sounding the alarm and reminding you that something is wrong. Eventually the pain may get worse or become chronic. It is
also possible for the medications to cause unwanted side effects and further compromise your health.

Surgery may be another option. At times, this approach may make sense, but it could be both expensive and risky, and there is no guarantee that it will be effective.

Acupuncture is a time-tested, safe, effective, natural and drug-free way to eliminate pain. Unlike other methods of handling pain, there are no side effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledge the benefits of acupuncture in treating and eliminating pain due to a wide range of causes.

An acupuncturist’s approach to pain.

Acupuncture practitioners recognize that there is a vital energy, called Qi (pronounced “chee”), circulating within the body. Qi flows through a series of pathways called meridians. Meridians are like rivers within your body. The diagram to the right shows the meridians throughout the body. Wherever a river flows it brings with it water that provides nourishment and life to the land, plants and people around it. Likewise, meridians transport life-giving Qi that provides nourishment to every cell, tissue, muscle, organ and gland in the body.

Many things can cause
Qi to become blocked:
  • Poor diet
  • Physical trauma
  • Emotional trauma
  • Inherited weakness of Qi
  • Chemical, physical, and/or emotional stress

It is important for Qi to flow freely throughout the body. Think of water flowing through a garden hose. A blocked hose will not provide
an adequate supply of water to a plant. Eventually, the plant will be unable to thrive, grow and blossom.

Similarly, a blockage in the flow of Qi anywhere in the body will inhibit the amount of nourishment that reaches our cells, tissues, muscles, organs and glands. Under normal circumstances, your body can easily return to good health and vitality. If the disruption of Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if your body is in a weakened state, the flow of Qi becomes restricted and a variety of symptoms, including pain, may arise.

What does acupuncture do?

By inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points, an acupuncturist is able to break up blockages that have hampered the smooth flow of Qi. Once this is done, Qi can travel freely throughout the body, promoting pain-free health, well-being and vitality.

Not only can acupuncture treat signs and symptoms of pain and discomfort, it can also get to the root of the problem. When the initial cause of the pain is corrected, your body can begin to heal on deeper levels. Your acupuncturist may also suggest adjunct therapies to
enhance treatment and speed healing, such as: massage, stretching,
yoga, herbal supplements and dietary changes.

“I can not see a better solution to long-term
chronic pain. There is no question in my mind that acupuncture is safer than surgery or drugs.”

—Dr. Bruce Pomeranz, Neuroscientist, University of Toronto

Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease, affecting part of the brain known as substantia nigra. The condition is characterized by the destruction of the nervous cells that produce dopamine within that region. As the causes for Parkinson’s disease are not yet clarified, there is no cure for this condition. While searching for a solution, scientists reported acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor, walking, speaking and writing difficulties, anxiety and sleep.

Several conclusions, based on the trials with PD patients, were made:

  1. Acupuncture relieves clinical signs and symptoms seen in Parkinson’s disease, especially the tremor; other symptoms such as walk, speech and emotional impairment were also influenced.
  2. Imaging techniques, used to visualize different regions of the brain, show that scalp electro-acupuncture limits the loss of nervous cells
  3. Acupuncture also increases the levels of anti-oxidants. The lack or decreased function of the body’s anti-oxidant systems is considered as one of the causes for Parkinson’s disease

Experiments based on animal models of the disease showed that:

  1. Treatment with acupuncture increases the levels of dopamine as well as the number of receptors necessary for its proper functioning
  2. Acupuncture prevents the damage of the dopamine-producing neurons, prolongs their life and stimulates the repair of the already damaged neural cells
  3. The number of stem cells transformed into new nervous cells increases in patients treated with special acupuncture techniques
  4. Stimulation of acupuncture points, situated on the head is more effective than the stimulation of body acupuncture points

As a conclusion acupuncture has been proved to have neuroprotective effect for patients with Parkinson’s disease through several clinical studies conducted on both humans and animal models. The regular acupuncture therapy may bring benefits whether used alone or in addition to the main treatment of the condition.

References:

  • Acupuncture in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Yan Jiang, MD, PhD, Kenneth K Kwong, PhD,Jing Liu, MD [N A J Med Sci. 2009;2(1):32-34.]
  • Effect and Potential Mechanism of Electroacupuncture Add-On Treatment in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Fang Wang, Li Sun, Xiao-zhe Zhang, Jun Jia, Zhuo Liu, Xi-yan Huang, Shu-yang Yu, Li-jun Zuo, Chen-jie Cao, Xiao-min Wang,  Wei Zhang Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (2015), Article ID 692795, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/692795

 

 

 

 

 

Peripheral Nerve Injuries

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Peripheral nerves connect the brain and the spinal cord to other parts of our body, such as muscles or skin. When it gets injured, it can interfere with our brain’s ability to communicate with muscles and organs in our body.

If you feel tingling or numbness in your leg, arm, shoulder or hand, you may have injured one or more nerves when you had an accident or broke a bone. You may also experience numbness or tingling if a nerve is being compressed due to factors like a narrow passageway, tumor or other diseases.

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and permanent injuries.

There have been some clinical studies about the effectiveness of acupuncture in patients with peripheral nerve injuries.

Zhang reported 34 patients with peripheral nerve injuries who received acupuncture therapy. The results of the report showed that 97 percent of patients had improvements.

To improve the treatment efficacy of acupuncture in patients with peripheral nerve injuries, 30 patients, in another study, were selected into two groups. The first group received acupuncture at the injury site only. The second group received acupuncture both at the injury site and  the spinal cord site. Both groups had electro-acupuncture treatment for 30 minutes, once a day, 5 times per week, for 6 weeks. The results demonstrated that the combination of using acupuncture at both sites appeared to be more effective, i.e. it helped promote functional motor nerve repair after a peripheral nerve injury. The research team explained that acupuncture on the spinal cord helped improve the local microenvironment inside injured nervous tissues, thereby ensuring the continuity between the peripheral and central nervous systems.

In a study on mice, sciatic nerve crush was performed on seven week old female mice. All the mice were divided into two groups. The first group was untreated. The second group received electro-acupuncture. The results also showed that normal sensory recovery was achieved within five to six weeks.

 

 

Sources

  1. Guan-heng He et al. Improvement in acupoint selection for acupuncture of nerves surrounding the injury site: electro-acupuncture with Governor vessel with local meridian acupoints. Neural Regen Res. 2015 Jan; 10(1): 128–135.
  2. Ngoc Son Hoang, Chamroeun Sar, Jean Valmier, Victor Sieso and Frédérique Scamps. Electro-acupuncture on functional peripheral nerve regeneration in mice: a behavioural study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 201212:141. Published: 31 August 2012.
  3. Zhang Gui-xiang. Acupuncture plus TDP treated 34 cases of radial nerve paralysis. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science. February 2003, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 46–47.

Peripheral Neuropathy

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About peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when nerves are damaged. The nerves carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body. Most common symptoms include tingling or numbness, loss of sensation in the arms and legs, and burning sensation in the hands and feet. There are many factors that can cause peripheral neuropathies, so it is often difficult to pinpoint the origin.

There are some clinical findings about the effects of acupuncture on peripheral neuropathy patients.

Acupuncture is proven to be a safe and effective therapy for diabetic patients with painful nerve disease. A clinical study was constructed to determine the acupuncture’s long lasting effectiveness. After a period of ten weeks treated with acupuncture, more than two out of three patients noted significant improvement in their pain and other symptoms. Then those patients were followed up for a period of 18-52 weeks. Sixty seven per cent of these patients were able to stop or reduce their medications.

In another research study about the efficacy of acupuncture on HIV patients with peripheral neuropathy, twenty one patients were treated with acupuncture for five weeks. Acupuncture was shown to help relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in patients with HIV such as pain, aching, burning, pins and needles, and numbness in the hands and feet.

To date, the causes of peripheral neuropathy often remains elusive. This leads us not to have effective therapies on this condition. For these patients, how can acupuncture help? In a 2007 study, patients with undefined causes of peripheral neuropathy were divided into two groups. The first group received acupuncture. The other group received the best medical care but no specific treatment for peripheral neuropathy. The first group saw more improvements in their symptoms than the second group. The data suggest that there was a positive effect of acupuncture on patients with peripheral neuropathy of undefined causes.

 

Sources

  1. B.B Abuaisha, J.B Costanzi, A.J.M Boulto. Acupuncture for the treatment of chronic painful peripheral diabetic neuropathy: a long-term study. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1998 Feb;39(2):115-21.
  2. Phillips KD1, Skelton WD, Hand GA. Effect of acupuncture administered in a group setting on pain and subjective peripheral neuropathy in persons with human immunodeficiency virus disease. J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Jun;10(3):449-55.
  3. Schröder S1, Liepert J, Remppis A, Greten JH. Acupuncture treatment improves nerve conduction in peripheral neuropathy. Eur J Neurol. 2007 Mar;14(3):276-81.

PMS

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is often viewed as a “problem” or illness. It’s not. Instead, PMS is a variety of responses to an ordinary event in women’s lives: menstruation. PMS usually occurs monthly, accompanied with specific symptoms and signs that can appear seven to ten days before menstruation and then disappear after the onset of the menstrual flow. To better understand PMS, it is important to look at the whole picture.

Although PMS is due to unbalanced hormonal fluctuations, other factors such as stress, a nutritionally inadequate diet, lack of exercise and sleep, and a hectic or sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate the symptoms. Because most women exhibit as many as four to ten symptoms one to two weeks prior to menstruation, their lives—from relationships with family and friends, to work productivity and the ability to appreciate and take pleasure in their own bodies—may become diminished.

To make matters worse, women may be at increased risk for PMS if

  1. They are over 30 years old
  2. They are experiencing significant amounts of stress
  3. Their nutritional habits are poor
  4. They have suffered side effects from birth control pills
  5. They have difficulty maintaining a stable weight
  6. They do not get enough exercise
  7. They’ve had a pregnancy complicated by toxemia
  8. They have had children (the more children, the more severe the symptoms)
  9. They have a family history of depression

What to do about PMS

In treating PMS, Western medicine recommends diet and lifestyle changes coupled with medications that manipulate the levels of progesterone and estrogen (i.e. birth control pills), tranquilizers and/or antidepressants (for nervousness, anxiety and depression) that affect mood and emotions. Although prescription medications can sometimes bring immediate relief, they unfortunately do not address the underlying cause of PMS, and they can cause unwanted side effects that may mimic PMS symptoms.

A natural approach

In 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH)1 issued a consensus report that suggested acupuncture is effective in the treatment of menstrual cramps, and other symptoms associated with PMS. Acupuncture can address PMS symptoms naturally, without medication, by restoring balance and harmony, both physically and emotionally. In Chinese medicine, the root cause of PMS is usually an imbalance or blockage of Qi, (pronounced “chee”) or vital energy, and blood within specific organ and meridian systems. When Qi and blood become imbalanced or blocked, symptoms and signs associated with PMS will appear.

The role of an acupuncturist is to investigate the underlying causes leading to PMS symptoms. After a thorough diagnostic evaluation to determine what organ and meridian systems are out of balance, they treat PMS symptoms according to each individual patient’s imbalances and concerns.

By inserting fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body, an acupuncturist is able to stimulate and activate the movement of Qi and blood. When Qi and blood begin to travel freely throughout the body, balance and normal function are restored and PMS symptoms are alleviated. Acupuncture restores hormonal balance and provides deep relaxation to help reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting greater health and well-being of both body and mind.

A practitioner may also recommend lifestyle changes such as eating a nourishing, organic, whole foods diet, getting regular aerobic exercise and adequate sleep, enjoying warm baths, supplementing the diet with vitamins and herbs, and practicing deep relaxation exercises such as meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga.

Whether you suffer from PMS symptoms on an occasional or a monthly basis, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can offer a safe, natural and effective approach to alleviating these symptoms. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine may hold the key to a healthier, balanced, PMS-free life.

Resources:
1 National Institutes of Health (NIH) – National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, Program & Abstracts (Bethesda, MD, November 3-5, 1997). Office of Alternative Medicine and Office of Medical Applications of Research. Bethesda.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder, characterized by increased levels of androgens and/or insulin, multiple ovarian cysts and menstrual dysfunction. PCOS affects women in reproductive age and it is one of the leading causes for infertility.

The exact causes for PCOS remain unclear. Two hormones- FSH and LH, produced within the pituitary gland, under the control of the hypothalamus, play essential role in the proper functioning of the ovaries. FSH stimulates the ovulation, while LH regulates the production of sex hormones from the ovaries. Patients with PCOS have increased LH and decreased FSH levels.

The most common symptoms of PCOS include amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, or irregular periods, acne, hirsutism, alopecia, conceiving problems. Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are seen in around 70% of the patients with PCOS and they contribute for the excessive levels of androgens by blocking the synthesis of the androgenic blood transporter and by worsening the FSH/LH ratio, which causes abnormal androgenic hormones secretion and metabolism.

PCOS is usually treated with oral contraceptives. Due to the possible side effects of this treatment, such as increased risk of thrombosis, alternative medicine also plays a role in the management of PCOS. Controlled randomized studies have demonstrated that one of the most popular treatment from the Traditional Chinese medicine- the acupuncture has beneficial effects on patients suffering from PCOS. These effects include:

1. Improved regulation of the nervous system. The functions of the endocrine glands, including the ovaries, are under the control of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS), as part of the autonomic one, is proved to be hyperactive in women with PCOS. By reducing the expression of its mediators such as β-endorphins, acupuncture decreases the tone of SNS and improves the secretion of FSH an LH.

2. Decreased androgens levels. Testosterone, its metabolites as well as other sex hormones levels were decreased in patients receiving acupuncture in comparison with those treated with oral contraceptives only. As the symptoms in patients with PCOS  are due to the abnormal hormonal levels, their normalization is essential for the successful curing process.

  1. Decreased cyst formation. The changes in neuroendocrine system, along with the balanced hormonal levels, following an acupuncture treatment course, naturally lead to improved ovarian function, including regularization of the ovulation.

As clinical trials have confirmed the positive outcomes for patients with PCOS , treated by acupuncture, this safe and easily accessible option, emerging from the East medicine, is more and more recommended even by “western” doctors.

 

Source:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Effect and Mechanisms of Acupuncture for Ovulation Induction

Julia Johansson, Elisabet Stener-Victorin. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 762615. 2013 Sep 2. Link

 

Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a time of extraordinary physical and emotional change. It’s also a time when it’s more important than ever to support and care for your well-being. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you meet the unique challenges of pregnancy, ensuring optimal health for you and your baby in a safe and natural way, without the use of harmful medications.

During pregnancy acupuncture can help with:
  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Breech birth
  • Constipation
  • Edema
  • Excessive lactation
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Insufficient lactation
  • Labor and delivery pain
  • Mastitis
  • Morning sickness
  • Physical problems
  • Postoperative healing
  • Postpartum discharge
  • Psychological problems

What to expect

Acupuncture has been used in China for thousands of years to regulate the female reproductive system. Acupuncture and TCM are based on the concept that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows through the body in channels called meridians. Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM work to balance the Qi in the body’s meridian and organ systems by manipulating corresponding points on the body.

For a healthy pregnancy, regular weekly and/or monthly treatments are recommended. However, your practitioner will tailor your treatment entirely to your needs and suggest treatment based on your unique symptoms and concerns.

Because some acupuncture points should not be used during pregnancy, it’s important to choose a practitioner experienced in prenatal acupuncture. It’s also important to discuss any treatments or herbal supplements with all of your prenatal health care providers.

Relief for common concerns

Regular balancing treatments throughout your pregnancy can enhance your health as well as your baby’s health, potentially preventing complications and positively influencing the development of your baby. Many mothers-to-be find themselves facing anxiety, fatigue, back pain, heartburn, nausea and other symptoms as a result of the many new demands being placed on their bodies. Acupuncture has been found to effectively relieve many of these symptoms.

Acupuncture can support your health during your pregnancy by addressing these trimester symptoms:
  • First trimester – Sets the foundation for a healthy pregnancy. It can alleviate morning sickness, vomiting, fatigue and headaches.
  • Second trimester – Offers relief and balances the body from common complaints. It helps to alleviate heartburn, hemorrhoids, stress, sleep problems, edema, elevated blood pressure and weight gain.
  • Third trimester – Prepares the body for labor and delivery. It helps to alleviate sciatica, hip, joint, pubic and back pain.

Morning sickness responds particularly well to acupuncture, and your practitioner can even show you specific points that you can massage at home to help restore your appetite. Recent studies have also shown promising results in using acupuncture for depression during and after pregnancy.

Breech babies and other issues

Acupuncture can also help with more serious issues during pregnancy. Specific acupuncture points and techniques are very useful for turning “breech babies” (those positioned feet first). One study concluded that acupuncture is useful for babies that position themselves in a difficult presentation, and it is a relatively simple, effective and inexpensive method for breech birth presentation.1 Treatment involves moxibustion, or applying heat from the burning of the herb mugwort to a point on the little toes. The treatment causes no adverse side effects.

If your due date has passed, acupuncture can also be used to induce labor through gentler means than traditional Western labor-inducing treatments and medications. Acupuncture and acupressure can even be used to help control pain, calm the mind and reduce stress during delivery.

After baby has arrived

It’s important to recover properly after childbirth. Acupuncture can help you heal and regain your strength and vitality, rebalance your energy, boost your body’s defenses and help address concerns such as pain, fatigue, and postpartum depression.

Acupuncture and TCM provide a safe, gentle way to nurture and care for your health, and that of your baby, throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you are pregnant or considering having a baby, contact an acupuncturist today!

References:
1 Acupuncture Conversion of Fetal Breech Presentation. D. Habek, et. al. Fetal Diagn Ther 2003;18:418-421
Non-Stress Test Changes During Acupuncture Plus Moxibustion on BL67 Point in Breech Presentation. I. Neri, PhD., et al. Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, Vol. 9, No. 3, 158-162 (2002)
Acupuncture during IVF improves pregnancy chances.Link
Research Articles on Acupuncture and Pregnancy.Link

Prostate Cancer

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The prostate gland is an exocrine gland that forms part of the male reproductive system. The gland is located just below the urinary bladder and it contributes its alkaline secretion to the semen during ejaculation. This helps neutralize the acidic environment of the vagina and thus protects the spermatozoa.

With ageing, the prostate gland gets enlarged and cancer of the prostate may develop. Prostate cancer is the leading cause of male cancer deaths. The incidence and mortality rise exponentially after the age of 50 years with a mean age of 72 years.

The specific aetiology is not known but many risk factors have been identified, with ageing being the strongest of them. Others include: family history of prostate cancer, race (higher in black Americans and Scandinavians but less in Orientals and Caucasians), high fat diets, exposure to cadmium, etc.

The disease is asymptomatic in the early stages and commonly diagnosed only when it’s already advanced. Thus, the patient may present with lower urinary tract symptoms (obstructive or irritative symptoms), hematuria (blood in the urine), urinary incontinence, and symptoms of metastasis to other organs such as back pain, lower limbs paralysis (spread to the spine), cough and bloody sputum (spread to the lungs), headache, seizure (spread to the brain), etc.

Treatment of prostate cancer is determined by the stage of the disease, with early stages having a better prognosis. Options for treatment are surgery, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy. However, with advanced disease the outcome is not encouraging.

The new research has shown that the Chinese traditional herbal medicine, called Equiguard, is effective in preventing or treating both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate carcinoma. It has been discovered to significantly reduce cancer cell growth, induce their death, restrain expression of the androgen receptor, and lower prostate specific antigen (PSA) in vitro.

In another large retrospective study, conducted in Taiwan, researchers found that use of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in combination with conventional medicine, had improved survival rate in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. They followed records of 1132 patients who underwent treatment from 1998 to 2003 and figured out that patients using Chinese Medicine had a lower death rate (22%) compared with nonusers (about 32%). In addition, the longer patients used Chinese medicine, the better chance they had to survive. Researchers concluded that complementary TCM therapy may reduce risk of death in advanced prostate cancer patients.

There is a another case study published in Oncology Letters that the combination of antiandrogens, radiotherapy and Chinese medicine caused a complete regression of an advanced prostate cancer with resolution of the distant metastases. During treatment, biochemical tests performed were found to be within the normal ranges, as well as reduction and normalization of the prostate specific antigen (PSA). The patient has survived for more than 10 years with no development of castration resistance or signs of recurrence.

Despite the fact that the total regress and resolution of advanced cancer can be considered as a rare incident, Chinese medicine has the ability to reduce side effect of radio- and chemotherapy, prolong life and improve a patient’s quality of life.

 

References:

  • Hsieh TC1, Lu X, Guo J, Xiong W, Kunicki J, Darzynkiewicz Z, Wu JM. Effects of Herbal Preparation Equiguard on Hormone-responsive and Hormone-refractory Prostate Carcinoma Cells: Mechanistic Studies. Int J Oncol. 2002 Apr;20(4):681-9. Link
  • Liu JM1, Lin PH, Hsu RJ, Chang YH, Cheng KC, Pang ST, Lin SK.Complementary Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy Improves Survival in Patients with Metastatic Prostate Cancer.Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Aug;95(31):e4475. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004475. Link
  • Bing Yan, Xianze Meng, Xiaowei Wang, Pinkang Wei, And Zhifeng Qin. Complete Regression of Advanced Prostate Cancer for Ten Years: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Oncol Lett. 2013 Aug; 6(2): 590–594. doi: 10.3892/ol.2013.1377 Link

PTSD

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Blog-img---Acupuncture-and-PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops in people who have experienced traumatic events in times past. Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder often re-experience the traumatic event (e.g., flashbacks or nightmares), avoid anything (people, places, activities, conversation) that reminds them of the event, and also experience hyperarousal symptoms (i.e., are irritable, have difficulty concentrating, become angry with slight provocation, easily frightened, have elevated blood pressure and heart rate, migraine, poor sleep, etc.). They feel detached from others and are depressed.

In Canada, about 10 % of Veterans are affected by PTSD, whereas depression and anxiety are also most common mental health issues that affect Force Members.1

 

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

Many studies have shown beneficial effects of acupuncture on symptoms that are seen in PTSD, possibly by alteration of neuronal activities in the limbic and subcortical structures of the brain.

  1. Acupuncture reduces PTSD symptoms score

In a review of a study that treated PTSD with acupuncture, the symptoms of PTSD significantly reduced and the improvement was sustained at three months follow up.2

  1. Acupuncture helps manage other mental conditions associated with PTSD

In addition,, symptoms of depression, insomnia and anxiety reduced compared with the waitlist group.2 In a similar study, five weeks of acupuncture treatment improved sleep and anxiety and increased melatonin level in the urine.3

  1. Acupuncture calms the brain and affects the limbic system

It is known that acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system. This is confirmed by a functional MRI and PET scan study. Stimulation of specific acupuncture points reduces activity in the limbic system, the part of the brain that responsible for emotions.2

 

1.Caryn Pearson, Mark Zamorski and Teresa Janz. Mental health of the Canadian Armed Forces. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-624-X

  1. Joe C. Chang. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of Evidence-Based Research. Natural Medicine Journal April 2010 Vol. 2 Issue 4

Quit Smoking

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Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you are on your way to kicking the habit and becoming smoke-free and healthier. Every year, more than 3 million Americans try to quit smoking, but only half of them succeed. With the help of acupuncture you have a greater chance of success!

Most experts agree that quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. More than 25 diseases are associated with tobacco use, including cancer of the lungs, bladder, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, uterus and cervix. Smoking also raises the chances of developing emphysema and increases the risk of having a stroke by 30 percent.

There is plenty of incentive to quit, but it isn’t necessarily easy. The good news is that acupuncture has helped millions of people to kick the smoking habit.

How acupuncture can help

Some of the largest stumbling blocks to becoming smoke-free are the stress, anxiety and depression associated with quitting. Fortunately, acupuncture treatment is quite successful at calming and relaxing the mind, reducing anxiety and alleviating depressive feelings. Specific acupoints in the ear and wrist are used to accomplish this. Additional acupoints may be included that help suppress your appetite, stimulate repair and healing of organ systems, and reduce food and nicotine cravings.

More than just kicking the habit

Using acupuncture to quit smoking yields enormous benefits. Aside from taking care of the stumbling blocks that can cause you to resume the habit, acupuncture can help restore your body to a healthy state of balance and well-being. If you are ready to become smoke-free, acupuncture can provide you with the support you need.

Here are a few tips to guide you through your acupuncture care:

  • Drink plenty of filtered water during the process.
  • Eat balanced, healthy meals with a variety of vegetables and fruits.
  • Refrain from sugar, which can cause further sugar cravings and unwanted weight gain.
  • Manage your cravings. They will actually fade within a few minutes. When cravings arise, distract yourself. Before you know it, the craving will have passed.
  • Scrub your skin with a dry brush or loofa to facilitate the cleansing process and help blood circulation. Take daily baths or showers.
  • Avoid spending time with other smokers so that you are less tempted to smoke.
  • Take a walk outside and take deep breaths. Upon exhale, gently place your teeth together and exhaling with the sound of “sssssssss.” This sound stimulates the lungs.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to quit smoking. The focus is upon achieving a balance of body and mind, and eliminating cravings so you can become smoke-free and healthier.

Raynaud’s Disease

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Raynaud’s disease, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, is a condition characterized by transitory blood vessels spasms, involving mostly the fingers and the toes. As a result of the limited blood circulation the skin tone of the affected areas turns white and then blue. Color changes are accompanied by sensation of cold and numbness. When the vessels spasm disappears, affected areas may become red and swallow. Symptoms such as stinging, tingling and throbbing may also be experienced during Raynaud’s disease attack. Apart from fingers and toes Raynaud’s disease may also affect other body parts such as ears, nose or nipples. The attacks are typically provoked by cold or stress. Another cause for Raynaud syndrome may be an underlying condition such as connective tissue disorder, smoking, atherosclerosis, vasculitis or trauma. Treatment includes drugs that improve the blood circulation such as calcium channel blockers, vasodilators, alpha and beta blockers.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

Apart from the conventional therapy, there is a growing interest in alternative medicine treatment methods since they have already been tested in clinical trials and their advantages have been scientifically proved.

For example acupuncture may be useful for patients suffering from Raynaud’s disease as:
1. Acupuncture ameliorates the local blood circulation, which disturbance is the main reason for Raynaud’s disease attacks
2. Acupuncture modulates the expression of pro-inflammatory substances (such as IL-6, TNFα, IFN-γ, VEGF), which misbalance may be involved in the pathogenesis of the condition
3. Acupuncture decreases pain by promoting the release of body’s natural pain-killers such as endorphins.
4. Acupuncture also stimulates the nervous system, which is beneficial for relieving the stress – one of the main factors inducing Raynaud’s disease attacks.

In addition to the acupuncture, herbal treatment of Raynaud’s syndrome has also been studied. Trials showed that traditional Chinese medicine herb mixtures reduce the secretion of substances that cause blood vessels constriction and therefore prevent the attacks.

Alternative treatment techniques have very few contraindications and no side effects. They are relatively cheap and accessible. That is why their effects are being studied in order to offer the patient the most beneficial and the least risky treatment possible.

Conclusion

Acupuncture as well as Chinese medicine herbs are proved to decrease the frequency and the severity of the attacks. Their benefits for patients suffering from Raynaud’s disease must not be underestimated and they should be included in the standard therapy schemes.

Source:

  1. Treatment of primary Raynaud’s syndrome with traditional Chinese acupuncture. Appiah R, Hiller S, Caspary L, Alexander K, Creutzig A. J Intern Med. 1997;241(2):119.
  2. Raynaud’s phenomenon, cytokines and acupuncture: a case report. Folashade S Omole1, James S Lin1, Tehching Chu1, Charles M Sow1, Anthony Flood1, Michael David Powell. BMJ Journals Volume 30, Issue 2 Link
  3. Herbal Prescription, DSGOST, Prevents Cold-Induced RhoA Activation and Endothelin-1 Production in Endothelial Cells. Sung-Gook Cho, Ho Yeon Go, Jeong-Su Park,3Ki-Yong Jung, Seung-Ho Sun,4 You-Kyung Choi,3 Yun-Kyung Song, Jong-Hyeong Park, Chan-Yong Jun, and Seong Gyu Ko. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 549307, Link

Scalp Acupuncture For Stroke

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Brain gray matter structure is widely injured after a stroke. The volume of brain gray matter gradually decreases when time goes by.

In a clinical study to observe how acupuncture can inhibit the progression of gray matter injury in patients with stroke, 16 stroke patients were recruited, and assigned to the scalp acupuncture group or the control group, 8 in each group. A third group of 16 healthy volunteers were recruited. All the participants received brain scanning. Two weeks after treatment, the scalp acupuncture group showed a reduction of progression of gray matter injury in comparison to the two other groups.

In another clinical study, seventy stroke patients with arm impairments were divided into two groups. The “interactive dynamic scalp acupuncture” group received scalp acupuncture therapy and rehabilitation training at the same time. The second group received scalp acupuncture therapy and rehabilitation training separately. The interactive dynamic scalp acupuncture therapy achieved the superior improvements of arm function and the activity of daily life as compared with the traditional scalp acupuncture therapy, and the longer the treatment lasted, the more apparent the improvements were.

How can acupuncture show some improvements on stroke patients?

To answer this question, a study of 61 stroke patients was carried out. The patients were divided into two groups. The first group received routine treatment. The second group received both routine treatment and scalp acupuncture for 7 days. Inflammatory markers in blood were measured during and after the treatments. The research team found that scalp acupuncture improved patients’ clinical symptoms, probably by reducing stroke induced inflammatory reactions.

 

 

Sources

  1. Lang Y, Cui FY, Li KS, Tan ZJ, Zou YH. Imaging Observation of Scalp Acupuncture on Brain Gray Matter Injury in Stroke Patients with Cerebral Infarction. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2016 Mar;36(3):294-9.
  2. Wang J, Pei J, Cui X, Sun K, Ni H, Zhou C, Wu J, Huang M, Ji L. Interactive dynamic scalp acupuncture combined with occupational therapy for upper limb motor impairment in stroke: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2015 Oct;35(10):983-9.
  3. Wang JH, Zhao M, Bao YC, Shang JF, Yan Q, Zhang ZC, Du XZ, Jiang H, Zhang WD. Effect of Scalp-acupuncture Treatment on Levels of Serum High-sensitivity C-reactive Protein, and Pro-inflammatory Cytokines in Patients with Acute Cerebral Infarction. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2016 Feb;41(1):80-4.

Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. Schizophrenia usually occurs between ages 16 and 30. Men often get it earlier than women.

Patients with schizophrenia may have a number of symptoms including changes in ability, thinking, perception, behavior, and personality. They may display different kinds of behaviors at different times. When the disorder first appears, symptoms usually are sudden and severe.

Genetics and environmental triggers are considered the main causes of the disease. Three such environmental triggers are: contracting viral infections before birth, receiving improper nutrition from the patients’ mothers when their mothers were pregnant, and taking mind-altered drugs or marijuana.

Schizophrenia treatment includes psychiatric medications and therapy to reduce the risk of future psychotic episodes and to improve relationships.

What have scientists said about the effectiveness of acupuncture and herbal treatment on patients with schizophrenia?

Let’s have a look at the most recent case study. A sixty three year-old patient suffered from persistent hallucinations. The patient received 12 weekly acupuncture sessions. There was a decrease in symptoms that occurred 3 months after the acupuncture treatments. This case study indicated that acupuncture was beneficial as an auxiliary treatment tool for patients with schizophrenia.

One study documented a group of patients treated with acupuncture twice a week for a total of 10 weeks. The results demonstrated that acupuncture was effective in alleviating schizophrenia symptoms and the side effects of psychiatric medications. Acupuncture also improved energy levels, sleep, physical disorders and motivation.

Another study published in The Journal of Brain Disease reported that the herbal formula “Yi Gan San” may be helpful in treating schizophrenia and neuropsychological disorders.

In a review published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry in 2014, the researchers concluded that “Yi Gan San” was a serotonin modulator and was a safe and useful formula for treating behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and borderline personality disorder. The study also showed significant improvements in “tardive dyskinesia”, psychosis and schizophrenia.

 

Sources

  1. Bosch P et al. A case study on acupuncture in the treatment of schizophrenia. Acupunct Med. 2014 Jun;32(3):286-9.
  2. Shi GX, Liu CZ, Li QQ, Zhu H, Wang LP. Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine affiliated to Capital Medical University, Beijing, China. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2012, 32(2):199-202.
  3. Okamoto H et al. Yokukan-san: a review of the evidence for use of this Kampo herbal formula in dementia and psychiatric conditions. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014 Sep 12;10:1727-42.

Sperm Quality

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The number of couples with reproductive problems is constantly increasing. Infertility is defined as impossibility to conceive during at least two years of regular and unprotected sexual activity. Numerous causes are involved in the mechanisms of infertility and they could emerge from either the male or the female partner. Around 50% of the cases are due to male infertility and the reasons for 50% among them remain unclear.

When the etiology of the infertility problem is unknown, the condition is named idiopathic infertility. Male infertility could be due to problems with spermatozoa’s motility or morphology as well as to endocrine disorders.  The role of the alternative medicine in treating various medical problems, including conceiving problems, keeps increasing, along with the progress of conventional medicine.

As an example- uncontrolled studies show that the semen fluid of male patients, experiencing fertility problems, treated with acupuncture, improved its concentration and motility. At the same time blood hormonal levels were also positively influenced. Based on these encouraging results, a controlled study of multidisciplinary medical team, including scientists form Germany, Italy and China, evaluated the changes in sperm morphology of patients with idiopathic infertility, receiving acupuncture treatment. The study concluded that:

1. The total number of healthy spermatozoa was statistically increased after 10 sessions of acupuncture. The sufficient number of spermatozoa is crucial for the fertilization ability of the sperm. In fact a count of below 4 million spermatozoa per ml (or <20 million in total sperm) is equal to infertility.

  1. Acrosome shape and position were improved following 5 weeks acupuncture treatment course. The acrosome is the structure that insures the mobility of the spermatozoa. Spermatozoa with otherwise normal structure but with diminished mobility cannot reach the egg and therefore lead to fecundation and pregnancy.
  2. Other structural elements of the spermatozoa, including the nuclear shape, the axoneme shape and the accessory fibers were also influenced. The nucleus carries the genetic information, while the axoneme and the accessory fibers are responsible for the mobility. These microstructural changes also correlate with the normal functioning of the spermatozoa.

The enumerated changes, seen in men suffering from idiopathic infertility, treated with acupuncture, result in increased sperm penetration and fertilization ability. As acupuncture has also been proven to be effective for women with reproductive problems, this method categorically increases the chance for successful pregnancy. In addition, acupuncture’s biggest advantages are that the procedures are non-invasive, risk- free and accessible.

References:
1. Jian Pei, Ph.D., Erwin Strehler, M.D, Ulrich Noss, M.D., et al. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility, Fertility and Sterility, July 2005Volume 84, Issue 1, Pages 141–147
2. Shannon Johnson, Semen Analysis, http://www.healthline.com/health/semen-analysis#Overview1

Spinal Cord Injuries

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TREATING SCI WITH SCALP ACUPUNCTURE

Moyee Siu, L.Ac., Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture Center, San Jose, CA

Scalp acupuncture is a specialized form of acupuncture that has helped many people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and dysfunction.

Dr. Ming Qing Zhu

A leading scalp-acupuncturist is Dr. Ming Qing Zhu. In 1964, Zhu graduated from the prestigious Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine after studying with internationally recognized acupuncturists. Zhu acquired experience in multiple disciplines, including internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, traumatology, ophthalmology, neurology, and anesthesiology; and a reputation as a preeminent Chinese physician, especially in classical acupuncture.

After becoming dissatisfied with the limited results obtained from traditional body acupuncture on stroke patients, Zhu developed his scalp-acupuncture system. Since then, he has treated thousands of stroke patients with remarkable results. Building upon these experiences, he applied his techniques to other neurological disorders, including SCI.

Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture (ZSA)

With ZSA, very short and fine needles are inserted obliquely into the scalp’s subaponeurotic layer. Rather than using points along linear meridians, Zhu defined 19 two-dimensional areas, mapped to various body parts. There is no risk of damaging brain tissue or bleeding. Manipulation is characterized by forceful, small-amplitude needle lifting and thrusting.

An essential ZSA element is Daoyin, physical and mental activities simultaneously carried out to direct the qi to affected body areas. Daoyin activities include chest and abdominal breathing, mental relaxation, massage, joint movements, pushing, pulling, rolling, standing, etc. Daoyin activities are customized to individual patient needs at the time of the treatment.

Critical Treatment Factors

Effectiveness is correlated with three factors:

1) Time: The best therapeutic window is within three months of injury. Immediately after injury, the spinal cord goes through a shock period in which a cascade of events occur, including bleeding or ischemia, edema, and spontaneous lysis. The damage will gradually spread up and down the cord. Early intervention of ZSA (even day one) helps to control bleeding and edema, shorten the spinal shock period, and, consequently, minimize neurological damage.

If ZSA is initiated after three months, functional recovery accrues more slowly and at a lesser magnitude.  It requires many times the effort to produce a fraction of the same result as in the first month.

2) Daoyin: A vigorous, persistent, six-to-eight hour/day exercise regimen is recommended, including passive and active movements, breathing, and relaxation. Even when active motion is not visible, the patient’s intention or mental visualization is crucial. There is nothing mystical about using the mind. Basically, the brain initiates nerve signals to travel down the spinal cord, making attempts to find new neuronal pathways through the injury site.

Once a visible movement is detected, the patient is asked to repeat the same pattern over and over to establish nervous-system memory. Our neural circuits turn off when they are not used, and, therefore, must be re-learned. By repetition, muscle strength increases and atrophy reverses.

Zhu encourages patients to use a standing frame early on, believing that standing has many benefits, including keeping the spine straight, preventing scoliosis, pressure sores, and bone loss; and improving pulmonary and cardiac functions.

3) Scalp acupuncture: Many patients are discouraged by the slow progress they make following standard rehabilitation programs. The addition of ZSA to such programs accelerates progress. Zhu expresses this recovery process through an analogy: “patients with SCI are like people trapped inside a dark room. Those who stay motionless will remain in the room forever. Those who exercise are probing for an exit, but the door is closed. Scalp acupuncture acts like a key. It opens the door and allows light to shine through. However, the person still needs to move towards the door, and lift his legs over the threshold in order to step out into the sun. Otherwise, he is still confined in the room no matter how wide the door is opened.”

Scalp acupuncture has advantages over traditional body acupuncture. First, it is much more effective in treating neurological conditions. Second, scalp needles do not interfere with bodily movements, whereas body needles must be withdrawn to avoid bending or breaking. Overall, ZSA is not a mechanical procedure that can be quickly learned; results depend heavily on the practitioner’s skill level acquired from much training and practice.

Other ZSA Benefits

In addition to functional recovery, other benefits accrue from ZSA, including:

Relieving pain:  ZSA is especially effective in relieving SCI-associated pain, without the adverse side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Reducing infections: ZSA and herbal medicine can help control SCI-associated urinary-tract and other infections.

Promoting bladder & bowel control:  Zhu believes that restored bladder and bowel control is a realistic outcome after ZSA, even for patients with clinically classified complete injuries. Again, earlier training enhances recovery.

Managing spasticity:  Zhu views spasticity as part of a normal recovery process that can increase muscle tone. However, if spasms become excessive, he can use ZSA and herbal medicine to control them, again avoiding adverse drug side effects.

Managing autonomic dysreflexia: Acupuncture has a bi-directional regulatory action on our system. For example, the same needle at a single acupuncture point can either increase or decrease blood pressure. It automatically adjusts to the body’s need to restore homeostasis.

Maintaining better overall health: Our patients with SCI believe that they enjoy better health; have more energy, motivation, and positive outlook; stronger immunity; and less muscle atrophy.

Perseverance

Zhu emphasizes hard work; patients know it means eight hours of serious work daily seven days a week. There is no short or easy way.

What defeats people is the lack of perseverance and long-term support. After the initial depression, most patients come to terms with their situation and live as their doctors have indicated. A small percentage are determined to fight the odds, but even these few may not be able to put up with the demands of the therapy, mundane routines, emotional cycles, and financial drain. As time goes by, they slow down on their rehabilitation efforts, or allow themselves to be distracted by other life activities.

 

Spinal Disc Disorders

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About spinal disc disorders

Spinal discs are cushioning pads between the vertebrae, also known as shock absorbers for the spine. Each disc has a tough, fibrous, outer layer and a softer material inside. Due to many stresses on the spine and aging changes, the discs are prone to get injured. Symptoms from the injured discs may include lower back pain, leg pain, numbness, and weakness.

There are two main categories of spinal disc disorders: degenerative disc disease and herniated disc. A degenerative disc disease is a result of the aging process. The discs in the spine start to dry out, leading the discs to be less cushioning between the vertebrae in the spine. As a part of this process, the outer part of the disc can be torn, and this causes pain.

A herniated disc happens when the inner material of the disc, the softer material, leaks out of the discs and touches the nerve root. The material within the disc contacts and irritates the nerve. As a result, patients have pain. A variation of the herniated discs is a bulging disc. It is a condition when the tough outer layer of the disc simply bulges into the spinal canal without breaking open.

Rehabilitation program for spinal disc disorders

Sunrise Neuro Acupuncture Integrative clinic provides effective treatment for patients suffering from spinal disc disorders. How does it work?

The combination of scalp acupuncture, a special style of treatment on the head, with acupuncture around spinal vertebra releases natural pain killers, improves blood flow around the injured area, regenerates bones and ligaments, helps to rebuild collagen in degenerated intervertebral disc, reduces its damage, and prevents further degeneration.

In addition, stimulation of specific points that relate to the sciatic nerve can also help regenerate the nerve from injuries and improve it’s sensory and motor function. Adding Chinese herbal medicine to the treatment plan releases inflammation and calms pain.

Special Qi gong exercises stabilize muscles around the spine and in conjunction with acupuncture reduces pain and improves walking and sensation in patients with spinal discs disorders.

What do we treat?

herniated disc

– degenerative disc disorders

– spinal stenosis

– sciatica

– residual pain after back surgery (“Failed Back Surgery”)

 

 

1) Treatment Of Chronic Back Pain And Neck Pain Using Scalp Acupuncture: A Case Study Chunbo Cai, MD Medical Acupuncture. Volume Eighteen. Number One .2 0 0 6 . Page 2 5

2) Hemat Allam, MD, Nagwa Hassan Mohammed, PhD. The Role of Scalp Acupuncture for Relieving the Chronic Pain of Degenerative Osteoarthritis: A Pilot Study of Egyptian Women. Med Acupunct. 2013 Jun; 25(3): 216–220.

3) Shin JS et al. Effects of motion style acupuncture treatment in acute low back pain patients with severe disability: a multicenter, randomized, controlled, comparative effectiveness trial.  Pain. 2013 Jul;154(7):1030-7. doi: 10.1016

4) Kim K. et al. Nonoperative Korean Medicine Combination Therapy for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Retrospective Case-Series Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015

5) Guo-fu Huang et al. Electroacupuncture Stimulates Remodeling of Extracellular Matrix by Inhibiting Apoptosis in a Rabbit Model of Disc Degeneration. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 386012

6) Clinical observation on common peroneal nerve palsy treated with comprehensive therapy. Yang LJ, Liu YL, Wang SB, Jin ZG. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2014 Apr;34(4):334-6.

7) Yang ZB et al, Effect of electroacupuncture stimulation of “Huantiao” (GB 30) on walking ability and touch sensation in rabbits with lumbar intervertebral disc protrusion 2013 Jun;38(3):214-9.

8) Han HJ, Yoon HY, Kim JY, Jang HY, Lee B, Choi SH, Jeong SW. Clinical effect of additional electroacupuncture on thoracolumbar intervertebral disc herniation in 80 paraplegic dogs. Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(6):1015-25.

9) Shan YL. Observation on therapeutic effect of electroacupuncture at Jiaji (EX-B 2) and points of bladder meridian mainly for lumbar disc herniation. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 Nov;31(11):987-90.

10) Hall AM, Maher CG, Lam P, Ferreira M, Latimer J. Tai chi exercise for treatment of pain and disability in people with persistent low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Nov;63(11):1576-83. doi: 10.1002/acr.20594.

11) Christine Holmberg, Zubin Farahani,2and Claudia M. Witt How Do Patients with Chronic Neck Pain Experience the Effects of Qigong and Exercise Therapy? A Qualitative Interview Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:8010891

 

Stress

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Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. Unfortunately, modern day stress is considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced. Today, we do not have to look much further than our windows, or computer screens, to view various forms of stressors—everything from prime-time news and road rage, to the forty-hour work week, terrorism talk and cell phones.

However, stress is not necessarily always negative. There is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stressors are usually short lived and keep us alert and motivated, and support our body’s strength and vitality.

Our response to stress can either help or hinder our body’s ability to cope with these various stressors in our lives. Healthy responses to stress include appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and reaching out to friends and family for support. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues. Over time, ongoing stress and unhealthy responses to stress can actually be detrimental to our health.

Signs and symptoms of an overactive response to stress:
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Depressed immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Weight problems

Medical studies have shown that with increased and consistent stress, our white blood cells which defend our body against viruses decrease. This results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability.

Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), kidneys and adrenal glands, which can pave the way for a wide variety of symptoms and signs.

There is Hope.

Practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been helping people cope with stress for thousands
of years. The ancient theories of TCM on how stress affects the organs are similar to those of Western medicine. However, TCM theory and treatment go far beyond treating symptoms and signs and address the root cause(s) of the problem.

One way that stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi (pronounced “chee”), especially that of the kidneys and adrenals. Qi is the vital energy or power that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called meridians, and provides nourishment for the entire body. When Qi becomes “blocked” or the supply is inadequate, the body and organ systems become “stressed out” and our health is then compromised.

With acupuncture and TCM, the practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various organs affected and depleted by the stress response, along with evaluating the quality and quantity of Qi.

Your acupuncturist may also suggest adjunct therapies to enhance treatment and speed healing. Proper eating habits, as well as exercise, stretching, movement and meditation practices, support and promote a balanced and healthy body, mind and spirit.

Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, effective and drug-free alternative for the treatment of stress.

Ways to combat stress:

  1. Get adequate sleep. Try for at
    least eight hours of restful and restorative sleep.
  2. Practice meditative exercises. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga can help create a healthy awareness of the body and mind connection, freeing your mind
    of stressful thoughts.
  3. Eat a well balanced diet. Maintain a healthy diet with adequate amounts of complex carbs, vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fats.
  4. Have fun! Make time for relaxing activities, enjoyable hobbies and lots of laughter in your life.
  5. Breathe. Relaxed deep breathing is one of the most simple and easy techniques that can be used for reducing stress.

Stroke

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About Stroke

Stroke is a condition when a part of the brain region does not get enough blood. This condition occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by blood clots or a blood vessel bleeds, leading to a loss of function of the affected brain area. Symptoms depend on where the affected brain area is located. In general, a patient has a sudden severe headache, numbness on one’s limbs, vision problems, difficulty talking or walking, and lightheadedness.

There are two types of stroke: blockage and leak.

A blockage happens when a blood clot is stuck inside a blood vessel in the brain. This causes a reduction of blood flow in the brain, or even a complete blockage of a vessel.

A leak happens when a brain vessel becomes weak and thin, causing blood to leak out. This is called a hemorrhage.

Stroke is a life-threatening disease that can lead to disability or death. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2007, 10% of patients who died of stroke were under the age of 65. In 2009, around 1% of Canadians were living at home with stroke symptoms.

Approximately 30 – 60% of patients with stroke will lose their daily routine or will not communicate with other people because of the difficulty walking or talking.

 

How can acupuncture help?

There have been a variety of clinical trials about the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy on stroke patients conducted mostly in China and other parts of the world.

  • Many studies have shown that acupuncture has a positive effect on general recovery, improving motor function, speech, swallowing and cognition if combined with standard care and rehab.
  • Acupuncture found to be effective for the management of secondary symptoms related to stroke such as shoulder pain, urinary incontinence, constipation, depression and fatigue.

 

How does acupuncture work?

Some researchers suggest that acupuncture:

  • May reduce inflammation in the brain after the stroke
  • Prevents or reduces edema in acute stage of stroke.
  • Triggers some changes in the brain that result in the protection of brain cells from necrosis.
  • Improves blood circulation within the brain , thus can protect from ischemia.

 

 

Sources:

1. Public Health Agency of Canada; (2011); Tracking Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada – Stroke      Highlights 2011 Link

  1. British Acupuncture Council ; (2015); Stroke.Link
  2. Acupuncture Helps Stroke Recovery HealthCMi  02 JANUARY 2016  Link
  3. Acupuncture Causes Brain Repair After Stroke Research HealthCMi 19 FEBRUARY 2012 Link
  4. Acupuncture Helps Stroke Recovery Research HealthCMi 07 AUGUST 2013 Link

 

 

 

 

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the development of antibodies against own body tissues. It is a chronic disease capable of affecting virtually all the organ systems of the body with protean manifestations and a relapsing and remitting course. It’s predominantly a disease of the females in the reproductive age (>90% of cases). However there is an entity called childhood-onset SLE.

The aetiology is not fully known but the development of SLE has been associated with genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. Affected individuals may present with some of the following features: fever, fatigue, joint pain, facial rash (malar rash, photosensitivity, and discoid rash), kidney failure, seizures, psychosis, pericarditis, myocarditis, leukopenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia, pleural effusion, etc.

The diagnosis according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is based on combination of clinical findings and laboratory evidences. The presence of at least 4 of the following is diagnostic: malar rash, discoid rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, serositis, arthritis, neurological disorders, renal involvement, blood disorders, presence of  antinuclear antibodies.

Treatment is majorly with the use of immunosuppressive drugs (e.g. corticosteroid, azathioprine, mycophenolate, cyclosporine), NSAIDS (ibuprofen, diclofenac), antimalarial (hydroxychloroquine) etc.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has demonstrated advantage over other modalities of management in terms of causing disease remission and prolongation of survival in patients with SLE. A cohort retrospective study conducted between 1999 and 2009 using the database of the Taiwan National Health Insurance program showed that combined therapy with TCM may improve the survival in SLE patients.

Newly diagnosed SLE patients (23,084) participated in the study and 9,267 (40.15%) used TCM for SLE treatment and exhibited a significant decrease in the risk of death. Patients who have also used TCM for up to 1 year before diagnosis also had reduced the risk of death.

Thus, the use of TCM in the management of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus will significantly prolong patients’ survival with improved quality of life.

 

Reference:

Ma YC, Lin CC, Li CI, Chiang JH, Li TC, Lin JG. Traditional Chinese medicine therapy improves the survival of systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2016 Apr;45(5):596-603. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2015.09.006. Link