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.

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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.

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