Monday, December 27, 2010

Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury Report Relief With Acupuncture

Veterans are at high risk for traumatic brain injury and blast-related concussions because of the frequent exposure to improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers, land mines, mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. These types of injuries account for more than 65 percent of combat injuries, and of these vets, 60 percent have symptoms of traumatic brain injury.

Symptoms can be mild to severe and many are debilitating. Too often, returning veterans are unemployable and unable to attend school for retraining. This presents a tough challenge for a young veteran who has their whole life ahead of them.

Medical treatment often consists of rehabilitation, mental health counseling, vocational rehabilitation and group therapy. Patients often are on a long list of medications to treat the various symptoms. Common medications are antidepressants, sleep aids, migraine medications, anti-seizure medications and narcotics.

Good news for those in Utah (and Iowa City)! At the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, acupuncture is utilized to provide some relief to these patients. Acupuncture has become one component of the integrative medicine program being offered under the umbrella of holistic medicine. Patients are seen on an outpatient basis and are being treated for a variety of health issues including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

With the use of even a few basic acupuncture points, patients are reporting a decrease in the intensity of their headaches, better sleep and an ability to cope on a daily basis. We have found that by also teaching veterans how to use acupressure on their own while at home, they report improvements in areas affecting their well-being.

If you or a loved one is a victim of traumatic brain injury, please call us to schedule an appointment or complementary consultation today.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Acupuncture Helps Infants with Colic

Acupuncture comes to the rescue for exhausted new parents! According to a study published by Acupuncture in Medicine (a BMJ journal), a 5 minute treatment using one acupuncture point (locate on the hand) "shortened the duration and reduced the intensity of crying in infants with colic”.

New research shows that acupuncture reduces crying in infants with colic. A randomized, controlled, double-blind study of 90 infants ranging from 2 – 8 weeks of age were given six acupuncture treatments over a three week period.  
Approximately 10 percent of newborn children experience colic. In western science, the etiology is often attributed to gastrointestinal disorders and allergic reactions to milk from cows. In some cases, colic may be behavioral manifestations from emotional imbalances due to parent-infant interaction difficulties. The importance of acupuncture in the treatment of colic cannot be underestimated in that some of the western medicine treatments for colic have potential severe side effects including seizures, asphyxia and death. The acupuncture study also points to two other studies showing the positive outcome for acupuncture in the treatment of infant night crying. In addition, the acupuncture study notes that a reduction in colic also reduces the chances of child abuse.
The infants chosen for the acupuncture study met basic criteria. All infants were born after the 36th week of the pregnancy, did not receive treatment with dicyclomine, and exhibited crying or fussing for no less than three hours per day and no less than three days per week. Additionally, cow’s milk needed to be excluded from the diet prior to inclusion in the acupuncture study to ensure that this was not the sole causative factor of colic.
A registered nurse skilled in the application of acupuncture applied the acupuncture point to the infants. A 0.20 x 13mm uncoated, all stainless steel needle was applied to acupuncture point LI4 for 2 seconds at an approximate depth of 2mm, unilaterally. Next, the same acupuncture procedure was applied to acupuncture point LI4 on the other hand. Total time in the treatment room was approximately 5 minutes. Six acupuncture treatments were applied over a three week period using this procedure.
The study notes that bilateral stimulation of acupuncture point LI4 for a longer duration of 20 seconds has a more immediate effect but that the role of this study was to show that even modest stimulation reduces colic. The study concludes, “Standardized, light stimulation of the acupuncture point LI4 twice a week for 3 weeks reduced the duration and intensity of crying more quickly in the acupuncture group than in the control group. No serious side effects were reported.”
You can view the abstract and links to the full text article here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Could acupuncture be used to treat "lazy eye?"

This past week several patients and staff at the Opthamology Dept at UIHC have mentioned this new outstanding research that demonstrates acupuncture is twice as effective at treating lazy eye than the standard care in this country (of patching). My brother was a pirate kid, his kindergarten photos prove it. As hip and stylish as a patch may be, think of how popular kids on the schoolyard will be when they're getting treated with acupuncture! I've done my research on this topic, and am ready to treat the children of Iowa City!
(photo from
Here is an excerpt from a Reuters Health article published on December 13, 2010: Sticking acupuncture needles into points on the body classically associated with vision in Chinese medicine could prove to be an alternative to bothersome patches or drops for older children with a "lazy eye," suggests new research.
Children who received needling from a certified acupuncturist saw similar improvement in their affected eyes as those who underwent the standard treatment of wearing a patch over the strong eye for a couple hours a day in order to strengthen the weak eye: Most participants in both groups advanced two lines or more on an eye chart over the course of the study.
Up to 5 percent of people around the world suffer from amblyopia, a condition characterized by poor vision in one eye and colloquially called lazy eye. It is the most common cause of vision problems in children.
Between 30 and 50 percent of amblyopia cases are caused by differences in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes, termed anisometropic amblyopia.
The problem can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses if caught at an early age. But both are less effective for children beyond about the age of 7, who have traditionally been treated with patches.
"Patching can be annoying for kids," Dr. Matthew Gearinger of the University of Rochester, New York, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health. "It may be socially tough to wear a patch at school, and wearing a patch at home can interfere with homework."
Specially medicated eye drops, another common treatment, blur sight in the good eye and can also make homework difficult, added Gearinger.
In the new study, Ritch and Chinese colleagues looked at 88 children in China between the ages of 7 and 12 who suffered from lazy eye and had already been wearing glasses for at least 16 weeks. They randomly assigned about half the children to wear a patch over the good eye for two hours every day, and the other half to attend five acupuncture sessions weekly; both groups underwent their respective treatments for up to 25 weeks.
All the children were also given new glasses to wear and asked to perform an hour of daily near-vision activities.
By the end of the 25 weeks, the researchers found that at least 7 out of 10 children in each group saw their lazy eye's sight improve by at least two lines on an eye chart -- from 20/40 to 20/25, for example.
More than twice as many children who received acupuncture overcame the condition compared to those who wore an eye patch: 42 percent versus 17 percent.
The researchers speculate in the Archives of Ophthalmology that acupuncture needles placed at vision-related points on the body might work by increasing the blood flow to both the eye and brain. But they acknowledge that what lies behind acupuncture's apparent success remains unclear.
Ritch and his team are following up with more studies to improve the understanding of how acupuncture may be helpful for lazy eye.
"Don't knock Chinese medicine," said Ritch. "It's been around for more than 3,000 years and there's a lot we don't understand yet."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Doctors Use Acupuncture as Newest Battlefield Tool

(photo by Cheryl Pellerin)
The US Department of Defense published the article below this week (I'm publishing an excerpt). Acupuncturists in the article are utilizing what is known as the NADA protocol. I was training in this method several years ago in New York City, and continue to use it for my patients. If you are new to acupuncture, Health On Point here in downtown Iowa City is a wonderful choice. 

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2010 – J.D. Nichols, a retired Navy flight officer and cryptologist, limped into the Air Force Acupuncture Center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland early yesterday morning, leaning heavily on a cane.
A couple of hours later, moving easily without the cane and with the ends of tiny gold needles glittering in both ears, he waved goodbye to the military doctors who had reduced his pain using a technique called battlefield acupuncture.
The doctors, from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, were part of a workshop on the technique developed by Dr. Richard Niemtzow, a retired Air Force colonel who practiced medicine as a radiation oncologist before he studied acupuncture in 1994.
Nichols was one of four patients who volunteered for treatment at the 779th Medical Group’s acupuncture clinic, where Niemtzow and Dr. Stephen Burns, a retired Air Force colonel and full-time Air Force acupuncturist, train military doctors and treat patients.
“I walked yesterday and I barely made it home with the cane. That’s how much pain there was,” Nichols told the doctors after his treatment. “Now I’m walking without pain, as though I didn’t have the problem.”
“You said you felt like you could walk a mile,” Niemtzow said. “Would you have said that this morning when you first came here?”
“I didn’t think I was going to make it to the car,” Nichols said.
Niemtzow estimates that he and Burns have trained 60 physicians so far this year at Andrews and at Air Force and Army bases in Germany, Korea, Washington, Florida and Alaska.
“The Air Force Acupuncture Center is the first facility of its kind in DOD ever,” Air Force Col. (Dr.) John Baxter said. “It is a full-time acupuncture facility, and not only is it here to treat patients, it’s here to teach other providers and to do research.”
Baxter is director of the Pentagon Flight Medicine Clinic and a credentialed acupuncturist.
Acupuncture is being used as a treatment everywhere in the Defense Department, “but the Air Force led the way with two formal training programs of 20 physicians each,” Baxter said. “The Navy has one training program with 20 physicians and efforts are underway to have another tri-service training program.”...
And in June, the Army surgeon general released a report that recommended “a holistic, patient-centered approach” to pain management that uses all kinds of therapy, from conventional medicine to “complementary and alternative modes such as acupuncture, meditation, biofeedback, yoga and others.”
In traditional acupuncture, practitioners use all 20 or so meridians. For battlefield acupuncture, Niemtzow uses only five points on each ear. Small, 1-millimeter gold or stainless steel needles are inserted and stay in place until they fall out or the patient removes them several days later.
The positive effects, Burns said, “last two hours, two days, two weeks, two months or two years -- we’ve seen everything.”
Most patients receive three to four treatments over several months and come to walk-in acupuncture clinics, held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, if their pain returns.
“Doctor Niemtzow developed the technique over many years of working with patients,” Baxter said.
“He localized five points and prioritized them into a protocol that any provider can use, without knowing anything else, like on a battlefield when you’ve got someone in serious pain,” he added. “It will take you five minutes or less and chances are you’re going to drastically reduce that patient’s pain.”
Before the workshop began, Niemtzow said, “All the patients we see at the U.S. Air Force Acupuncture Center have not responded well to Western medicine.”
Many patients “have complicated medical problems and traditional medicine hasn’t helped them. They’ve been to the orthopedic surgeon, to traditional pain management clinics, to neurologists and dermatologists and they’ve taken drugs for pain relief,” he said.
“The majority of patients come to our clinic seeking relief from pain. The pain medication they’re taking has not been satisfactory or they’ve not responded well,” Niemtzow said.
“For many patients it is a last resort, but our success rate is very high here, which is very rewarding for the patient and also for myself and Doctor Burns,” he added.
Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Christian Hanley, also a credentialed acupuncturist, said acupuncture hasn’t replaced traditional medicine, but it’s a very good adjunct.
“This is a great gift we’ve been given,” he said, “so we take it and use it.”
During the workshop, the doctors treated three more patients, all of whom left the clinic with less pain than they arrived with.
“Nowhere in my experience of medicine in all these years have we had so many people walking away happy right from our interaction,” Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Dan Balog said.
Balog, who practices psychiatry and family medicine at the 79th Medical Group at Andrews, has used acupuncture on patients he treats for anxiety and depression.
“It’s pretty rewarding from the clinical side to see this,” he said, adding that acupuncture is also an avenue for patients who already take a lot of medications.
With multiple medications, Balog said, “there’s a lot of collateral damage that we don’t always anticipate.”
“There are people who still doubt this and I think they always will,” Niemtzow said, “but for us who are in the clinic every day, we see people suffering from the war and from this or that and there’s nothing left to offer them. And we can put 50-cent needles in an individual’s ear, and they look at you and smile and say, ‘my God, I feel better!”
“The question that comes to my mind is,” Baxter said, “if you can make the majority of patients better during their clinic visit without medicines, then why are you still treating patients the old way?
“We certainly would never go back [to practicing without acupuncture],” he said, “and I think the future for acupuncture will be bright.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

TIME: Study: Acupuncture May Change the Way the Brain Perceives Pain

(photo by S. Ross, TIME magazine)
Pain is one of the most challenging, elusive obstacles that affects individuals of all kinds. Often, regardless of health history, we see members of our Iowa City community (and well beyond) plagued by pain that is not being managed with standard care. Pain is especially challenging for practitioners because it is completely subjective and in many cases, leads to long term drug use which may or may not be effective.
This past week, TIME published an article reviewing research undertaken at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany. The purpose of this study was to document a specific pattern of brain activity during acupuncture that may represent an accessible pathway for addressing pain. At Health On Point, not a week passes when a patient who has been struggling with pain - the sort of pain that may be debilitating or affecting quality of life - finally finds relief with Rachel's acupuncture and lifestyle counseling. If you or someone you love is in pain, please call for a consultation today.

An exerpt from the TIME article:
The idea of pricking your body with needles in order to relieve pain seems nothing if not counterintuitive, but thousands of acupuncture patients swear the treatments are effective in addressing pain of all kinds.

But how does it work? How much of the relief is due to the placebo effect — the mere perception that the needles are actually dulling pain — as opposed to a real biological change in the way nerves signal the brain to pain?...
“This study helps to clarify the brain's function in terms of how or where it processes pain and where that processing can be modified by the application of acupuncture intervention,” says Dr. Michael Brant-Zawadzki, an adjunct professor of radiology at Stanford University, commenting on the study.

What's most exciting, says Brant-Zawadzki, is that the brain regions identified in the fMRI scans may lead researchers to find a more standardized approach to treating pain that may help more sufferers. “If we could find one part of the brain that modulates the pain response in the vast majority of individuals, we could address pain through acupuncture or drugs or even sham acupuncture,” he says, “and we would have a better approach to the pain conundrum than we currently have.”
Interested in the full article? You can read it here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Acupuncturist Treats 40 N.F.L. Players in 4 Cities

Jets fullback Tony Richardson recently had an acupuncture session at his apartment.
(Michael Nagle for The New York Times)
Today's New York Times has a wonderful, interesting (and INSPIRING) article about Lisa Ripi, personal acupuncturist to the pros. I've posted one of the photos here, as well as an excerpt from the full article. Wouldn't we at Health On Point be wonderful at treating local athletes? No need to fly all over the country when there are so many students in the athletic department in need! But you don't have to take our word.

Stretched out on a massage table in his Long Island City condominium, Jets fullback Tony Richardson closed his eyes. Over the next hour, he groaned and grimaced and eventually fell asleep, as Lisa Ripi, the traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist, went to work.
Ripi poked and prodded Richardson on a recent Tuesday, using blue and pink needles, until his body resembled a road map marked with 120 destinations. “SportsCenter” provided mood music. Afterward, Richardson said his soreness had mostly vanished.
“They always tell me I’m their little secret,” Ripi said. “I feel like the little mouse who takes the thorns out of their feet.”
Professional football players partake in a violent game, and as the season progresses, they spend more time in training rooms than on practice fields. They visit chiropractors and massage therapists, practice yoga, undergo electronic stimulation and nap in hyperbaric chambers.
Yet relatively few receive acupuncture, which brings smiles to the faces of Ripi’s clients. They remain fiercely territorial. They fight over Fridays because it is closest to their games. They accuse one another of hogging, or trying to steal her.
All swear by Ripi’s technique, which she described as closer to Japanese-style acupuncture than to traditional Chinese methods. She focuses less on established points and more on sore areas, using needles to increase blood flow, relaxing muscles tightened in the weight room.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Acupuncturist traveled to Mexico with U.S. archery team

Members of the U.S. archery team traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, last month for the Pan American Championships and a chance to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic games in London.
But they aren't the only ones with London in sight.
Their athletic trainer, Jody Murray of Brookfield, has similar high hopes, saying her dream is to make it to the 2012 games as well.
"I'm very patriotic and I love sporting events," Murray said. "Combining the two things is great."
Murray, the owner and sole practitioner of Acupuncture Therapy, will travel with the team and help them relieve their physical pain and stress.
She traveled with some of the same team members to Shanghai, China, in August for the Archery World Cup. She stayed out on the field with them all day, and after dinner they would come to her room and she would treat them with acupuncture.
"A lot of them have back issues from repeatedly holding the same posture (as they pull the arrows back to shoot them)," Murray said. "Plus stress, traveling, jet lag. I relieved them from whatever they needed."
Murray is one of only a handful of people in the United States who has an athletic training license and acupuncture license. She is the only Olympic athletic trainer with acupuncture credentials, she said.
"Acupuncture is beneficial to Olympic athletes because it has no side effects," Murray said. "They're constantly being tested for drugs, and they won't have to worry about failing. And it relaxes the muscles and promotes tissue healing."
Murray's work is a great step forward for the acupuncture profession, said Jonathan Lavelle, another acupuncturist in Brookfield.
"Sports medicine acupuncture is important because of the extreme stress that the athletes place on their bodies," Lavelle said.
The U.S. team pays for Murray's travel and expenses, but otherwise she does not get paid for her services, and she has to shut down her office while she is gone.
But for her, it's worth it.
"I do it because I love working with athletes and the opportunity to work with the highest caliber of athletes is my gold medal," Murray said.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Acupuncture eyes UNESCO

BEIJING - Acupuncture has been selected as a candidate for Unesco intangible cultural heritage status.

'That's significant, particularly for acupuncture, which is widely practiced in more than 160 countries and regions worldwide,' said Huang Jianyin, deputy secretary-general with the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, a non-governmental organisation based in Beijing.

"Landing the status would help improve and secure the notion across the world that acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medical procedures were created in China by the Chinese," he told China Daily on Thursday.
Internationally, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture in particular, has been officially recognized and is widely practiced in countries like Japan, the United States, Germany and Republic of Korea (ROK), experts said.

Countries like ROK, Japan and France used to claim they were the cradle of acupuncture, according to Huang.
Li Zhigang, deputy director of the acupuncture school of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, told China Daily that ROK had tried to file an application for acupuncture to UNESCO.

"If they had made it before China and succeeded, people in other parts of the world might think it was South Korea that created acupuncture," he said.

Currently, China has about 600,000 licensed doctors in traditional Chinese medicine and almost all are trained in acupuncture, official statistics show.

In Beijing, a single session of acupuncture therapy costs 4 yuan ($0.59), a price set 20 years ago.
"That hurts the enthusiasm of practitioners and many acupuncture students at my school change occupation after graduation," Li said.

The final results will be announced around Nov 19.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Healthy Weight Loss - New Study Reveals Acupuncture Helps Obese Adults To Lose Weight

The results of a recent study indicate that the traditional Chinese treatment method, acupuncture, may offer significant benefits to obese adults who wish to lose weight. The study was conducted by Dr. Edward Lamadrid, who is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), and it found that almost all of the participants in his study lost weight over the six-week period of the study, whilst at least half of the participants continued to lose weight, even after the acupuncture treatments had been discontinued. The results of this study are expected to be presented by Dr. Lamadrid at the Pacific Symposium which will take place on November 4 at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa in San Diego.
Commenting on the results of this groundbreaking study, which is titled “The Effects of Acupuncture on Weight-Loss in Over-Weight and Obese Adults Over 24 Years Old,” Dr. Lamadrid said, “What’s particularly interesting and somewhat shocking about the study’s findings is that weight loss occurred across the board without much exercise or dieting, something everyone believes is essential to trimming down. I certainly don’t want to discount the importance of healthy habits such as good fitness and eating nutritionally, but this study confirms that acupuncture is a viable tool for successful weight loss.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Acupuncture: Your New Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea is one of the harshest sleep disorders around. In order to treat it, sufferers need to sleep with a CPAP mask—which can be really uncomfortable for some people. But people who aren’t compatible with CPAP now have a more feasible solution. Try acupuncture.

A recent study suggests that acupuncture is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Acupuncture reduces nocturnal respiratory events and sleep disruptions. Researchers say that its anti-inflammatory effects make it an effective sleep disorder treatment.

They say that the neck is the main acupuncture point for people with sleep apnea. One of the main symptoms of sleep apnea is gasping for breath during sleep. The neck stimulates a muscle that allows for easy air flow, resulting in better breathing for the sleep apnea sufferer.

The article is published in Acupuncture in Medicine (2010;28:115-119 doi:10.1136/aim.2009.001867), an affiliate of the British Medical Journal.

Background:  Most patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) do not tolerate treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure, the ‘gold standard’ treatment for this condition. It was shown in a pilot study that acupuncture was more effective than placebo treatment (sham acupuncture) in producing significant changes in the respiratory events assessed by polysomnography (PSG).

Objectives: To investigate the immediate effect of manual acupuncture (MA) and electroacupuncture (EA) on the sleep pattern of patients presenting with moderate OSA.

Methods: 40 patients with an Apnoea–Hypopnoea Index (AHI) of 15–30/h were randomly allocated to MA treatment (n=10), EA 10 Hz treatment (n=10), EA 2 Hz treatment (n=10) and a no-treatment control group (n=10). The patients received MA or EA (2 or 10 Hz) just before the PSG study at 20:00.

Results: The AHI (p=0.005; p=0.005), the Apnoea Index (p=0.038; p=0.009) and the respiratory events (p=0.039; p=0.014) decreased significantly in the MA and EA 10 Hz groups, respectively (AHI (21.9, 11.2), Apnoea Index (5.15, 0.7), respiratory events (120.5, 61.0) in the MA group before and after. AHI (20.6, 9.9), Apnoea Index (8.2, 0.3), respiratory events (117.0, 56.0) in the EA 10 Hz group before and after). The micro-arousals decreased only in the MA group (146.0 vs 88.5, p=0.0002). There were no significant changes in the EA 2 Hz group or in the control group.

Conclusion: A single session of either MA or EA 10 Hz had an acute effect in reducing the AHI as well as the number of nocturnal respiratory events of patients presenting with moderate OSA.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Asthma and Acupuncture

(Image courtesy
This month, I'm already seeing patients with asthma and allergy symptoms flaring up. Between seasonal changes and the cutting of cornfields, tis the season for discomfort. You don't need to suffer this fall! Acupuncture is a natural and safe method for helping your body take control. Combining acupuncture with Western medical care is also appropriate for such complaints. Take time to read this article written by fellow acupuncturist, James Kaufman, in British Columbia.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition where the airways to our lungs narrow and swell. They produce extra mucus, and breathing becomes difficult. The most common symptoms of asthma are coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath but asthma symptoms range from minor to severe and vary from person to person. Some people only experience symptoms when they have asthma flare-ups, that may primarily occur at night, during exercise, or when exposed to specific triggers, allergies, or irritants. These people may have mild symptoms and infrequent asthma attacks and to them, asthma symptoms are a minor nuisance. Others experience severe or constant asthma symptoms that are a major problem and interfere with daily activities. 

It isn't well-understood in Western medicine why some people get asthma and others don't, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Risk factors include having a parent or sibling with asthma, having an allergic condition, a low birth rate, and being exposed to pollution, chemicals, allergens, and cigarette smoke. One thing we do know is that asthma is very common, affecting millions of adults and children and that number is growing every year. 

The Western medicine approach to asthma is to control its symptoms, rather than cure asthma. Treatment involves learning to recognize triggers and taking steps to avoid them, combined with the use of asthma medications such as inhalers and corticosteroids, among others, to keep symptoms under control. Unfortunately, many of these medications have unfortunate side effects or compromise other areas of health or daily living. 

Chinese medicine has a different approach to asthma, and can be quite effective for this condition. According to Chinese medicine, the root cause of asthma is generally due to a constitutional (hereditary) weakness in the body’s defensive qi-energy system. Our defensive qi (‘chee’) system is a part of our body’s immune system, providing resistance to outside pathogens. Because our lungs are directly exposed to things in our external environment like cold, heat, smoke or pollen, our lungs are an important part of our defense system. People who develop asthma, have a weakness of defensive qi, particularly in the lungs, that may be aggravated by lifestyle such as diet and emotional stress, and exposure to external allergens, irritants, and chemicals. These external allergens, irritants, and pathogens are called invasions of “wind” in Chinese medicine, which essentially refers to anything of external origin that has an effect on our internal health. The combination of a weakened defense system and these “wind” invasions are conditions for asthma to develop. 

Acupuncture treatments target these wind invasions which are the trigger for asthma attacks. Regular treatments during asthma attacks or severe asthma symptoms can help to reduce symptoms and lessen the frequency of the attacks. During the periods when asthma attacks are infrequent and symptoms are mild, acupuncture treatment focuses on treating the root problem- the weakness of the defensive-qi systems. By correcting and strengthening immune system functioning and influencing the body to function in a more healthy state, we can produce more lasting results for asthma sufferers. In many cases this can mean living symptom-free or with minimum symptoms for asthma sufferers. Because asthma is complex condition that has to do with the body’s constitution, the treatment of asthma with acupuncture is usually steady and gradual, requiring a longer series of treatments to produce lasting results. However, lasting results can be achieved, making acupuncture a great option for the treatment of asthma.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tattoos May Have Been Therapeutic

This weekend Sify news, an India news portal, reported the following article. Though I do not offer tattooing at my clinic, I do perform acupuncture which is known to have therapeutic effects for a host of complaints. Already have a tattoo? During treatment sessions, I'm more than happy to discuss acupuncture meridians or points that may be affected by your decorative body art. Schedule an appointment today!

Mummy tattoos offer clues to ancient acupuncture-like healing therapy
Experts have identified that mysterious circle tattoos on a Peruvian mummy contained burned plant material-a feat that sheds light on a possible ancient healing practice that may have been based on similar principles to acupuncture.

The 1000-year-old female mummy was found unwrapped in the sand of the desert at Chiribaya Alta in southern Peru in the early 1990s and bears two tattoos on the body. One of them is a tattoo of an asymmetric pattern of overlapping circles on her neck.

Maria Anna Pabst of the Medical University of Graz in Austria and her colleagues used microscopy and spectroscopy to analyse the tattoos. Almost all known ancient tattoos were made with ash or soot. But the researchers found that while this was true for the tattoos on this mummy's extremities, the circles on her neck contained burned plant material. "If you use different materials, they have different functions," New Scientist quoted her as saying. The team believes that while the soot tattoos were decorative, the neck circles were probably part of a healing or strengthening ritual.

Pabst points out that the circles are close to Chinese acupuncture points. She says that tattooing a person at these points could have worked in a similar way to how acupuncture is thought to work. The idea that some ancient tattoos have a therapeutic purpose has been suggested before but Pabst's study is the first to compare the two types of tattoo in the same mummy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Acupuncture Testimonial: October 2010

I visited Rachel when I began my journey with IVF.  I wanted to know that I was doing everything I could, to try and boost my success rate. I figured it would either increase my chances of pregnancy, or in the least, relax me during a stressful time. Rachel was wonderful, very encouraging and understanding. Her office was very tranquil (and clean).

I now have a beautiful, healthy, 9 month old daughter and I would definitely do acupunture again. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

From Medscape Medical News - Acupuncture for Cancer: Extra Training is Optimal

Medscape published an article this week, citing the importance of utilizing only certified acupuncturists trained in oncology care for cancer patients. To date, we are the only acupuncture clinic in Iowa that offers such care. Questions or interested in a session, call us today.

September 17, 2010 — Acupuncture, once deemed a marginal practice despite its long history of use in other parts of the world, has made major inroads into mainstream cancer care in the United States.

A list of American cancer centers that offer acupuncture reads like a Who's Who of clinical oncology: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City; the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts; the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Industry behemoths like Cancer Treatment Centers of America also now offer acupuncture.

Furthermore, community-based acupuncture practices all over the country see cancer patients seeking relief from symptoms such as pain, and treat related adverse effects such as hot flashes and xerostomia, according to an expert in the field.

However, acupuncturists working on cancer patients need extra education, said that expert, Barrie Cassileth, PhD, chief of the integrative medicine service at MSKCC.

Only acupuncturists trained in cancer should work with cancer patients.
"We strongly believe that only acupuncturists trained in cancer should work with cancer patients," said Dr. Cassileth. "Acupuncture schools teach acupuncture for the average patient," she said.

"We generally modify acupoints to make them effective and more appropriate for cancer patients," she explained in an interview with Medscape Medical News.

For example, the acupoints — which are predetermined places on the body where needles are inserted for therapeutic effect — for hot flashes for normal menopause are "not necessarily the same ones for early menopause due to chemotherapy."

Clinicians at MSKCC pioneered this insight, having extensively studied acupuncture for women undergoing treatment-induced menopause, said Dr. Cassileth.

MSKCC offers a one-of-a-kind program for acupuncturists who want to become certified cancer care providers. "We have trained thousands of acupuncturists from all over the world," Dr. Cassileth said.

For example, she said that clinicians should only refer a patient treated for head and neck cancer to an acupuncturist who has worked with patients with swallowing difficulties and xerostomia, 2 of the most common adverse effects in these patients.

Where to Find an Acupuncturist
... Only MSKCC has a listing of acupuncturists trained in cancer care, said Dr. Cassileth. For privacy reasons, the list is not public. But clinicians and patients can contact MSKCC's integrative medicine service for a referral. "We get calls all of the time from doctors and patients looking for a cancer-trained acupuncturist, she said.

Growing Validation
Acupuncture is for treating adverse effects and symptoms related to cancer and not the disease itself, reminded Dr. Cassileth.

Acupuncture works with the idea that energy flows throughout the body along channels, or meridians. Specific acupoints are stimulated with needles to increase energy flow throughout the body to a particular tissue, organ, or organ system, according to a press statement from MSKCC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8 million Americans annually are treated with acupuncture for a variety of ailments, including back pain, chronic headaches, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, infertility, and hot flashes. There is no tally on the number of cancer patients receiving such treatments.

Still, the validations of acupuncture for the treatment of adverse effects and symptoms related to cancer have been accumulating for some time.

Perhaps most notably, in 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a consensus statement endorsing the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

In 2007, a licensed senior acupuncturist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Weidong Lu, MPH, became the first integrative therapy practitioner in the United States to receive a 5-year Career Development Award from the NIH. The grant is for studying the benefits of acupuncture on head and neck cancer patients dealing with dysphagia — one of the most vexing adverse effects of any cancer treatment.

Practitioners and researchers of acupuncture are now exploring its use for conditions that have established drug treatments.

For instance, acupuncture was as effective as the standard drug treatment — venlafaxine (Effexor) — for vasomotor symptoms secondary to long-term antiestrogen hormone therapy in breast cancer patients, according to a recent study reported by Medscape Medical News.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Acupuncture Plus ART Equals Great Fertility

"The effectiveness of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) can be significantly enhanced by complementing these fertility procedures with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)." A recent online article (view the full piece here), reflected on studies both in Germany and here in the US at Cornell University Medical School that considered an integrative approach to fertility.

Many fertility experts believe that acupuncture treatments can be beneficial during ART procedures, and there are no adverse side effects to watch out for. As is our policy here at Health On Point, "it is important that all team members, the team being the patient, the acupuncturist and the reproductive specialist, be in communication." Choosing to work with Health On Point means you are cared for completely. We have wonderful connections with local physicians and Reproductive Endocrinology practices. Learn more about acupuncture for fertility and prenatal support.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Health On Point in the paper!

In a wonderful editorial, 'Alternative' may be the way to go, Ms. Gerhild Krapf shares here experience in our clinic.

Less than one day later, we've already received emails and calls from community members exclaiming "I can't belive there is hope for me yet!". Thank you to Gerhild for her enthusiastic letter, sharing with our Iowa City community the power of integrative care. Those interested in trying acupuncture for the first time, or inspired by the Press-Citizen article receive a special aromatherapy treatment as part of your initial visit.

* * * * * * * * *

September 12, 2010

I'm writing to those who are 50-plus, have less energy than they used to -- perhaps some aches and pains, and an inability to lose weight -- and have been told that it's just part of getting old and that they should "get used to it."
These problems do not have to be accepted, they can be cured, and there is life after 50. But the road back to energy and health may not be through the practitioner who has gained your confidence over the first 50 years of your life.
As a longstanding fan of traditional medicine, I am surprised to find myself writing this. Traditional medicine has served me well through pregnancy, childbirth and broken bones. But I have found myself ill served in the last few years, during which I have slogged through tiredness, unexplained sudden weight gain of at least 20 pounds, mental fogginess, muscle soreness, headaches and food intolerances. And during which I have submitted to thousands of dollars of tests with no resulting diagnosis, treatment or support.
I ran across a website with a testimonial from a woman who had many of the symptoms I was experiencing -- all of them now resolved.
This led me to two "alternative" practitioners who collaborate, consult with and support one another in very skilled diagnosis and treatment: Rachel Weissman, an acupuncturist of Health on Point, and Jason Bradley, a naturopath from the Washington Street Chiropractic and Wellness Center. I have concluded that this "alternative" -- getting proper diagnosis and treatment -- is well worth the break with "tradition."
They found not only a thyroid problem, but vitamin D, B3, B6 and B12 deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, high glucose, insulin resistance and food allergies.
After seven months, headaches, fogginess and food intolerances are gone, and the weight is almost off.
But most remarkably, I have tremendous energy I didn't know I had lost, and I feel fabulous.
As a classically trained organist, my greatest joy is the resurgence of the will to perform, which I had given up "for good" -- not realizing that I was ill. I now have a recital scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 26 in the First Presbyterian Church. All are welcome!
Gerhild Krapf
Iowa City

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Acupuncture could be solution to pain problem

( -- As a member of the physical medicine and rehabilitation team at UC (University of Cincinnati) Health, Jessica Colyer, MD, has the latest in medical technology available to her. But she sometimes calls upon the ancient healing practice of acupuncture to relieve her patients' pain.

Colyer, who recently joined UC Health after completing her residency at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, is licensed to practice acupuncture. Based at Drake Center, she sees both inpatients and outpatients at the rehabilitative care center in Hartwell.

"What really interested me when I chose PM&R were the chances for complementary medicines such as acupuncture,” says Colyer. "It’s another way of helping injured people get back into the community with more function and a better quality of life.”

Acupuncture has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. The term refers to a variety of procedures and techniques involving the stimulation of anatomical points of the body, but it’s most often associated with needles manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children had used acupuncture in the previous year, an increase of about 1 million people over the 2002 survey.

Acupuncture practitioners in the U.S. must be licensed (Colyer, who also specializes in stroke rehabilitation at Drake, took intensive course work in acupuncture outside of her regular medical training), and acupuncture needles are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to meet requirements that they be sterile, nontoxic and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.

"There are a lot of uses for acupuncture, but the treatment I’ve learned is exclusively for pain management,” says Colyer. "So if muscles are tight, or having spasms, when we insert needles into the muscles it loosens them up and people feel a lot more relaxed and more comfortable.”

Numerous studies of exactly how acupuncture works have been inconclusive, but the Western view is that it likely works by stimulating the central nervous system to release chemicals that dull , in addition to stimulating blood flow and tissue repair at the site itself.

Treatment techniques can also include electrical stimulation, using two needles at a time so the impulse passes from one needle to the other.

"People want to see clinical trials, but it’s hard to do that because you can’t get a good control group,” says Colyer. "For example, how do you fake acupuncture well?”

Treatment regimens vary depending on the patient, and some insurance carriers may cover acupuncture while others may not. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine recommends that prospective patients check with their insurer before they start treatment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Acupuncture: the new painkiller

... More like the OLD painkiller. Last week, The Sunday Telegraph outlined current research and anecdotal evidence in support of acupuncture. Perhaps most promising were quotes from physicians and professors. See what all the hype is about and how acupuncture may help you - stop by our clinic and have a treatment today!

Australian hospitals are finally catching up with what the Chinese have long known –acupuncture is a great alternative form of pain relief.

Acupuncture is fast gaining acceptance in mainstream medicine right across the Western world. It’s already used routinely in several Australian emergency departments and is now undergoing a randomised, controlled trial in three Melbourne hospitals to alleviate pain from acute migraines, back pain and ankle sprain.

Researchers at the University of York and Hull York Medical School in the UK have just mapped acupuncture’s effect on the brain and have found that it changes specific neural structures, deactivating the areas in the brain associated with the processing of pain.

This is key, says Professor Marc Cohen, head of the trial and professor of complementary medicine at RMIT University.

“We know that pain is the most common reason for people coming to emergency departments, and we know that it’s not very well treated in that a lot of people don’t get sufficient pain relief,” he says.

“We also know that pharmacotherapy, the main method of treating pain in emergency situations, has severe side effects. Some people can’t tolerate drugs, others find that opioid medication such as pethidine or morphine causes nausea and constipation.
Once you give morphine you have to watch the patient for several hours and monitor blood pressure and nausea.

“What we’ve found anecdotally is that people who have come into an emergency department in pain and tried acupuncture, have had their pain relieved in a very short period of time.”

Acupuncture can also be safely combined with most conventional drugs and treatments and has very few side effects.

Read the
original article here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Acupuncture Poked at on NYTimes

"Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Pain" was published last week in the Times. I missed the boat on this one, only reading it last night for the first time. Once again, research shows that acupuncture works to treat pain (in this case, arthritis of the knee). And, once again, sham acupuncture works too! Most acupuncturists or those familiar with our medicine are far from shocked at results like this.

Equally valuable to the article itself, are the readers' comments that follow. Folks are very opinionated and fortunately, most are respectful in their responses.

You may wonder, why would I draw attention to an article that demonstrates 'fake' acupuncture is as effective as the real deal?? I, of course, have my own opinion on the matter. For one, trying to establish a control in any acupuncture study is difficult - placebo acupuncture is still acupuncture. And while most studies compare TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) style Acupuncture, there is much more out there.

As one of my most favorite articles boasts:
We found an 80% correspondence between the sites of acupuncture points and the location of intermuscular or intramuscular connective tissue planes in postmortem tissue sections. We propose that the anatomical relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes is relevant to acupuncture’s mechanism of action and suggests a potentially important integrative role for interstitial connective tissue. [download the full text from my site here]

As my patients and practitioner-patients will tell you, many of my acupoints are not found in any text book. And treatments work. VERY well.

But I'm curious, what do YOU think?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Red Sox pitcher seeks relief through Acupuncture

At Health On Point, we often work with athletes and dancers from the University of Iowa - and the results are astounding! College athletes aren't alone in finding relief from acupuncture...

Boston Red Sox RP Hideki Okajima will undergo a few rounds of acupuncture before rejoining the team next week, according to's Joe McDonald. Manager Terry Francona said Okajima would need a minimum of a week to 10 days before he is ready to return. Felix Doubront, who was recalled to take Okajima's place on the roster, will be moved to the bullpen for the rest of the season.

Read more about Okajima here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New and Improved!

We've come to a new chapter in the history of Health On Point. New look. New logo, New design. As of yesterday this week (August 3rd, 2010, 5:20pm), our new and improved, more mature, more beautiful version of Health On Point entered the world! We're on facebook, hosting a blog feed, and offering direct links to Google reviews and patient testimonials.

Any opinions? I'd love to get feedback. Have I sold you on trying acupuncture? Give a call to schedule your first appointment!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Balancing the summer heat from within [recipe]

"Summer Heat" is considered a pernicious influence typically occurring in the heat and humidity of summer. It is "uprising and spread out," affecting the head, causing thirst, a red face, and headaches. When summer heat combines with dampness due to humidity and over consumption of sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, this leads to a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. I've also been seeing patients complaining of more acne in recent weeks.

There are particular acupuncture points that are used to clear excess heat from the body. You may call or email us anytime to schedule an appointment.

With the farmers' markets in full swing with wonderful local produce and meats, I like to encourage my patients to eat particular foods to cool their bodies. Watermelon, tomatoes, eggplants, summer squash and sweet corn all reduce heat signs. Cucumbers are another wonderful option and I've recently discovered a refreshing, cooling summer drink. Try it at home and let us know what you think:

Cooling Cucumber Limeade (concentrated)
3 large cucumbers
6 limes (or more to taste)

Syrup (or less to taste)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
sprigs of peppermint (also cooling!)

Step 1: Bring the sugar, water and mint to boil in a small saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear, set aside to cool.

Step 2: Using a juicer*, juice the limes and cucumbers. I used the zest of two limes for a stronger flavor. Combine the cucumber-lime juice, water, and some simple syrup in a large pitcher (I used a mason jar) and chill. Pour over ice and add water or seltzer to taste. Enjoy!

* If you don't have a juicer, a blender will do, just add a bit of water, peel cucumbers and strain after blending to remove seeds

Photo courtesy of (and recipe inspired by) blog Nyam | adventures of cooking and eating...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Decoding an Ancient Therapy

It turns out even my 85 year-old grandmother is proud of the work I do. Last month, along with clipped coupons she send me this article from The Wall Street Journal.

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

This spring the Wall Street Journal ran an excellent article headlining their Health & Wellness section. The articles author, Melinda Beck, reviews the medical science behind acupuncture therapy. For example, as is demonstrated in the image to the left: "A specialized MRI scan shows the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy subject. In the middle two images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (indicated by blue) in the brain after acupuncture."

Does It Work? While scientists say further research is essential, some studies have provided evidence of acupuncture's effects.

  • Arthritis of the Knee: Acupuncture significantly reduced pain and restored function, according to a 2004 government study.
  • Headaches: Two 2009 reviews found that acupuncture cut both tension and migraine headaches.
  • Lower Back Pain: Acupuncture eased it in a big study last year, but so did a sham treatment where needles didn't penetrate the skin.
  • Cancer: Has proven effective in reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.
  • Infertility: Improves the odds of pregnancy for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, according to a 2008 review of seven clinical trials.
  • Addiction: Often used to help quit smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating, but there is no conclusive evidence that it works.
Not only does the article discuss common physical ailments, but the more allusive as well. A wonderful interactive tool reveals the common points on the ear that correspond to body conditions. If you'd like to use it, try it out here.

You may download the full text article from our resources page here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Acupuncture Triggers Natural Painkillers

Finding could lead to more effective, longer-lasting pain treatment

Researchers are closer to unlocking the mysteries of acupuncture, learning more about why the ancient Chinese needle treatment eases pain.

Last month, published a wonderful article about cutting edge research in acupuncture. The article refers to a Nature Neuroscience July 2010 published paper.
This research is so incredibly invaluable to our field, that I can't help but copy the entire article below - it does an excellent job explaining Nedergaard's research, without getting too bogged down in the science (for those who are not science-minded). I do plan on putting at least the abstract of the research paper on my site within the next few weeks - though for those who are interested, PLEASE email and I will send you the full text. Enjoy!

"Scientists have taken another important step toward understanding how acupuncture — the ancient Chinese form of needle therapy — actually eases pain. The technique has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years, but Western medicine has been slow to adopt the practice, in part because no one could explain how it worked.

One theory was that sticking needles into certain points on the body stimulated the central nervous system to release natural pain-killing endorphins in the brain. But Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, saw a problem with that explanation.

"If you have pain in the leg or in the arm, you give acupuncture close to where you have the pain," she explains. "So, a central mechanism can't explain that, because [then it] wouldn't matter where you give the acupuncture. So we felt there had to be a local mechanism and that's why we looked into adenosine."

Prodding a natural anesthetic into action

Adenosine is a natural pain killer in our cells, which works like a local anesthetic. It's released after an injury, and inhibits nerve signals so the brain never receives the painful messages. Nedergaard explains that an acupuncture needle starts that process.

"In these cells — the muscle cell and the skin cell — they contain adenosine, but normally they don't release it. But the can look at it as a small injury. It's not really painful, but still injures many cells," says Nedergaard. "As soon as adenosine is released it is very potent, so even if a few cells are damaged, it would give rise to a fairly substantial amount of adenosine release and reduction of pain."

Acupuncture's effectiveness as a painkiller has sometimes been attributed to the placebo effect; patients with chronic pain expect the procedure to work, and so they feel better after a treatment, even if their pain is not actually lessened.

Nedergaard and her team worked with mice, who, she points out, have no expectations, so their data has not been compromised by the placebo effect. The mice had discomfort in one paw. The researchers measured the level of pain before and after an acupuncture treatment by touching the paw with a filament and measuring the difference in reaction time.

Nedergaard says understanding the biological basis of acupuncture's effects can lead to improved results.

"Chronic pain is a big issue for patients. We don't have very good painkillers for a very large number of patients and they very often get acupuncture treatment," she says. "So, knowing that adenosine is at least one of the mediators of the painkilling effect of acupuncture, you can go in and simply slow the removal of adenosine and thereby the painkilling effect of acupuncture would last longer."

More than three times longer, Nedergaard found. She says participants at the Purines 2010 scientific meeting in Barcelona, where she presented her team's results, were excited about the findings.

"I think for the field itself, it is very easy to accept because the different steps in the [adenosine] pathway have all been described before. It's always been known that small injury gives rise (to) adenosine release, and it's also been known that adenosine is a painkiller. We just put it together that acupuncture is also injury and you get adenosine release."

Nedergaard is also excited because the drug they used to slow the removal of adenosine — a cancer medication called deoxycoformycin — is already approved by the U.S. government, so human trials may begin soon."
This article is a reprint from VOA News online.
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