Friday, December 20, 2013

Nurture Your Emotional Wellness

The holiday season may be filled with a dizzying array of demands, visitors, travel and frantic shopping trips. For many people, it is also a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. Compound the usual seasonal pressures with economic strain and you may find this to be one of the most emotionally trying times of the year.

At some point in life everyone deals with major upheavals or emotional distress. These events can trigger a host of unexpected feelings and behaviors, from depression and panic attacks to major disruptions in sleep and eating. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can alleviate symptoms associated with mental and emotional health issues by treating the root cause of the problem to help restore balance to the body's internal environment.

Mental health disorders are medical conditions that can disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to cope with the daily demands of life or relate well to others. Affecting people of any age, race, religion, or income, mental health issues are more common than you might think. In fact, experts estimate that a significant number of people report symptoms that indicate sufficient qualifying criteria of a mental disorder.

Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine does not recognize any mental disorder as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques including acupuncture, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 100 patients are treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for anxiety, each of those 100 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.

Mental health issues are best managed when health professionals work together to meet the unique needs of each individual. Acupuncture is an excellent addition to any treatment plan as it is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while also diminishing symptoms. If you or someone you love is suffering this season, call for a session in our clinic. We're more than happy to work with you one on one, and to discuss what you can do at home in terms of self care to support our work together.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Research: Acupuncture Lowers Fatigue & Ups Endurance

Many of us struggle to maintain physical strength during the long cold winter months. Acupuncture in conjunction with exercise protects not only your heart, but builds endurance too! If you feel ready to be a healthier, stronger you, call Rachel to schedule your acupuncture sessions!
New research demonstrates that acupuncture prevents fatigue and enhances athletic endurance. Scientists measured the effects of three acupuncture points on the swimming task ability and liver mitochondrial function of laboratory rats in a highly controlled investigation. The results revealed that the normal control group and model group had significantly shorter swimming exhaustion times than the acupuncture group, which demonstrated objective improvements in athletic endurance. The acupuncture group also demonstrated improvements in liver mitochondrial-respiratory function with a significantly lower oxygen consumption rate than the normal control and model groups. The acupuncture group also demonstrated significant improvements in the liver mitochondrial respiratory control rate (RCR) and the ratio of phosphorus to oxygen (P/O).

 The researchers measured additional interesting findings. They compared acupuncture point prescriptions. Group 1 received electroacupuncture at CV4 (Guanyuan) and ST36 (Zusanli) plus manual acupuncture stimulation at GV20 (Baihui). Group 2 received electroacupuncture at CV3 (Zhongji) and SP9 (Yinlinquan) and manual acupuncture stimulation at Yintang (EX-HN3). Group 1 demonstrated significantly better scores than group 2 thereby demonstrating that the CV4, ST36, GV20 acupuncture point prescription has markedly greater anti-fatigue effects.

The investigators note that the treatment principle for the CV4, ST36, GV20 acupuncture point prescription is Shuanggu Yitong, “strengthening both the congenital foundation and the acquired constitution and regulating the yang-qi of the body.” The measurements were geared to quantify the anti-fatigue effects of the point prescription by measuring physical activity capabilities and liver functions in laboratory rats. The researchers concluded that, “Electroacupuncture of CV4 and ST36 plus manual acupuncture stimulation of GV20 can improve the anti-fatigue capability in aging rats with yang-deficiency, which may be related to its effects in reducing liver mitochondrial oxygen consumption and increasing liver mitochondrial RCR and ratio of P/O.”

Another study took a different tack to determine if acupuncture has beneficial effects on bodily strength and endurance. Researchers from the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience discovered that acupuncture controls the heart rate and increases the strength of cardiac autonomic function. The research indicates that specific acupuncture points may help to prevent heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) and arrhythmias.

Researchers conducted a study of acupuncture points CV17 (Shanzhong) and CV16 (Zhongting). Needling acupoint CV17 decreased the heart rate and increased the power of the high-frequency component of the HRV (heart rate variability), an index of the body’s ability to maintain control of the heart beat rate and rhythm through vagus nerve activity. The researchers conclude that CV17 “causes the modulation of cardiac autonomic function.” CV16 did not change the HRV or demonstrate the same level of beneficial effects on the heart rate as CV17. CV17 is able to activate the autonomic nervous system to control the heart rate by increasing vagal activity. Depressed HRV after MI, a heart attack, reflects a decrease in vagal activity and leads to cardiac electrical instability. Since acupuncture at CV17 increases the cardiac vagal component of HRV, it is an important acupuncture point for patients recovering from MI.

Wang, H., J. Liu, J. M. Liu, J. F. Lü, M. Y. Chen, and J. Z. Wang. "Effect of electroacupuncture stimulation of" Guanyuan"(CV 4), bilateral" Housanli"(ST 36), etc. on anti-fatigue ability and liver mitochondrial respiratory function in ageing rats with Yang-deficiency." Zhen ci yan jiu= Acupuncture research/[Zhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan Yi xue qing bao yan jiu suo bian ji] 38, no. 4 (2013): 259.

Kurono Y, Minagawa M, Ishigami T, Yamada A, Kakamu T, Hayano J. Auton Neurosci. Acupuncture to Danzhong but not to Zhongting increases the cardiac vagal component of heart rate variability. 2011 Apr 26;161(1-2):116-20. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Study: Hate going to the dentist? Acupuncture could help ease some anxiety

Acupuncture may provide relief for dental patients who reflexively gag during procedures like teeth impressions, according to Italian researchers.
Up to 20 percent of the U.S. population has severe anxiety at the dentist's office. People who cannot help their gag reflex may unintentionally deprive themselves of the best dental care, write Giuseppa Bilello and Antonella Fregapane, both from the University of Palermo in Sicily.
Acupuncture may be one strategy to solve that problem, the pair suggests.
"It is a small study," Dr. Palle Rosted told Reuters Health. "But it is a good start."
Rosted is a consultant acupuncturist with Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield, England. He was not involved with the current study.
The researchers recruited 20 people with a history of gag reflex in the dental chair to have upper and lower teeth impressions taken under normal circumstances and then immediately after acupuncture.
Participants ranged in age from 19 to 80. For the first round of upper teeth impressions, they reported an average gag reflex score of 7 on a 0-10 scale, with 10 representing the maximum nausea sensation.
During the second round, the researchers applied acupuncture needles about 30 seconds before taking impressions and left the needles in until the procedure ended. On average, gag reflex scores dropped to just 1.
The pattern was similar for gag reflex scores during lower teeth impressions done with and without acupuncture, according to findings published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
The researchers point out that they can't be sure the improvements were due to the acupuncture needles themselves — in part because there was no comparison group that didn't get acupuncture. Another possibility is that gag reflex scores improved because participants were more used to the impressions the second time around.
Still, "It has certainly given us some more evidence that acupuncture may be effective," Rosted said.
The study's positive result "is something that we doctors definitely need exposure to and to keep in mind as a possible option," Dr. Preeti Nair told Reuters Health. "We rarely think of acupuncture, and usually use local anesthetics."
Nair was not part of the current research. She has studied gag reflex at the People's College of Dental Sciences & Research Centre in Bhopal, India.
One difference between a drug like local anesthesia and acupuncture could be side effects.
"We haven't gotten all of the details in our hand, but with acupuncture, the side effects could be less," Nair said. Much more research is needed on the subject, she added.
In order for a large, randomized controlled trial — the gold standard in medical research — to be done on this subject, dental offices and academic institutions may have to work together, said Chris Dickinson of King's College London Dental Institute at Guy's Hospital in England.
In England, the British Dental Acupuncture Society offers training for dentists in certain dental applications of acupuncture, said Dickinson, who was not involved in the new study.
"There are very few contraindications associated with acupuncture and dental operations that we've experienced," Dickinson told Reuters Health. "But we don't use the technique in patients with metal allergies, pregnant women and those with needle phobias."
Dickinson noted that other acupuncture points could have been used for gag control such as ear points and LI4, also known as the Hegu point.
Researchers in the current study placed needles in the PC6, EX 1 and CV24 acupuncture points on the face and wrist.
"The message to dentists is that it's a simple technique and easily learned," Dickinson said. "It's also cost-effective. Even though it does not work in every case there's very little lost by trying it."
In the U.S., acupuncture typically costs about $100 per session.
One of the positive aspects of acupuncture is that after an operation, a patient may choose to drive home, which is not possible with other treatments, such as general anesthesia, Rosted said
"The risk of causing harm with this treatment is nearly non-existent," he said.

SOURCE: Acupuncture in Medicine, online November 5, 2013.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Who's Who: Virginia Join the Health On Point Family!

Hello!  My name is Virginia Dreier and I am a licensed massage therapist at Health on Point. I graduated from East-West School of Integrated Healing Arts this past summer in North Liberty specializing in Swedish and blended Swedish-Shiatsu style massage.  Although I grew up in Iowa City, I left for 6 years during which I attended Oberlin College and travelled as an outdoor educator.  As a teacher I learned many lessons: about compassion, empathy, patience, and care.  I still work as a teacher at Willowwind School in the Montessori preschool-continuing to learn these lessons.  
I chose massage therapy because I wanted to live a life of balance and peace. I wanted to be healthy and less worried.  I wanted to improve my quality of life.  I feel very grateful to walk a new path as a healer.  I offer to each client the same desires for optimal health and well-being. 
Massage therapy, the practice of using touch to heal, is an ancient healing art and is found throughout the world in many different forms.  Swedish massage refers to the use of oil or lotion on the skin to provide smooth strokes, compression, and percussion focused on muscle relaxation and circulation.  Swedish massage is perhaps the most commonly known form of massage in the US because of its use at spas for gentle relaxation.  Shiatsu originates from Japan and uses the meridian energy system (used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture) to guide and focus treatments.  It is performed using point pressure on certain parts of the body on top of the clothes and also involves passive stretches.  Traditionally performed on the floor, I use a blended style that uses the massage table instead, appropriate Swedish strokes, and promotes balance of the energy meridians.  It is a very relaxing experience. 
Massage can strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce headaches, and improve your mood.  Massage is finally being studied, accepted and promoted by health officials and is now commonly used as complementary and alternative medicine.  It is increasingly being offered along with treatment for a wide array of medical problems such as anxiety, insomnia related to stress, migraines, sports injuries and of course muscular ‘knots’.  
Massage is not simply a source of relaxation it is a powerful tool for treating dis-ease and promoting a life of healing and health.  My clients choose me because I have a deeply caring, intuitive touch and confident presence that builds trust; allowing them to relax and start healing themselves immediately. Please check out my Facebook page for more information about me and my practice, Renew Massage, or if you have any questions at all please email me.   I am very grateful for and look forward to becoming a part of the Health on Point community and working towards healing for us all.   

Monday, November 18, 2013

Acupuncture Offers Holistic Alternative to Botox

If you are interested in trying acupuncture for yourself, or want to give the gift of younger, healthier skin, contact Health On Point! Rachel trained in facial acupuncture with Virginia Doran in New York, and is using these techniques with patients here in Iowa City since 2007. You don't have to take our word for it...

As Lora Lipman entered her 60s, she began to notice not only fine lines around her eyes and lips, but an uneven skin tone she described as somewhat grayish and ashy.

She was reticent to opt for chemical enhancements, or the typically invasive nips, tucks, and pokes of plastic surgery.

So instead, on a recent afternoon, she lay perfectly still on a spa table as dozens of the tiniest of acupuncture needles were gently inserted into the skin of her face and head. It was her fourth week undergoing a cosmetic treatment at the steady hands of Stephanie Kula at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore in Marblehead.

“Now,” said the 62-year-old from Beverly, “people say ‘Your skin looks so nice, so clear and healthy.”

Cosmetic acupuncture — new to the North Shore JCC but reportedly favored by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna — is on the growing list of natural alternatives to procedures such as face lifts and Botox and collagen injections.

It targets specific points on the face, with the tips of dozens of tiny needles — just as with other acupuncture procedures — placed beneath the skin to stimulate blood flow as well as the production of collagen and elastin. The goal, according to Kula, a licensed acupuncturist, is essentially to “overstimulate” certain areas.

The process can help to fade age spots, improve fine lines, diminish deeper wrinkles, even out and brighten skin tone, reduce jowls, rosacea, and acne, and reduce puffiness, Kula said.

She listed reducing pain, stress, symptoms of depression and anxiety, minimizing hot flashes and night sweats, and improving digestion and sleep cycles as some of the overall holistic benefits of acupuncture.

“It’s an internal and external process, and it works to relax your whole system,” said Kula, who studied the ancient practice at the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Gainesville, Fla., and owns the Salem-based North Shore Community Acupuncture. “It’s a way to really take care of yourself. Self-care is something we don’t really do that much of.”

While acknowledging that people can be put off by the very idea of becoming the equivalent of a human pincushion, she said it’s a relatively painless procedure because the needles are thin, less than an inch in length, and akin to a “cat whisker.”

“A lot of people come in with the fear of getting blood drawn,” she said, but having an acupuncture needle inserted is “a sensation you feel for a couple seconds, then it goes away.”

At the JCC in Marblehead, Kula offers what’s known as the Mei Zen method of cosmetic acupuncture, as developed by Denver-based practitioner Martha Lucas. The protocol involves placing 90-plus needles in various points in the face and head; Kula also has incorporated “cupping” into the process, which she says helps to speed up results through the use of suction cups placed and drawn across the skin on the face, neck, and chest to pull up the underlying muscles and tissue and increase blood flow.

She began offering the service at the JCC on Oct. 1. A full run of the procedure is five weeks — twice a week in 60- to 90-minute sessions — with follow-up maintenance once a month after that. Kula charges $150 per session throughout the five-week period, then $85 for follow-ups.

“This is a commitment you make to yourself,” said Lipman, who has been getting general acupuncture treatments for more than 30 years, and reports that they have helped her deal with reflux, sciatica issues, and a sprained ankle. And when the treatment is over, she feels “very relaxed,” she said. “My mind seems clearer. If I have any stress, it’s gone.”

On a recent afternoon, her session began as she lay down on a spa table in a private room, pillows beneath her head and calves. Her long hair was pulled back with a headband, jeans rolled up above the knees.

Kula asked how Lipman was feeling; then, after swabbing each area with antiseptic, she stuck various-sized needles into the tops of Lipman’s feet, around her ankles, below her knees, in her hands, and at her wrists.

Then, she placed a half-dozen smaller needles into the top of her head, and, finally, moved to her face, inserting numerous miniature needles above her eyebrows, on the sides of her nose, around and behind her ears, and tracing her cheekbones, lining her lips, and crowning her chin.

“I feel totally relaxed,” Lipman said as Kula softly pricked her skin. “I really don’t feel most of them. With some, it’s just a little bit of pressure — hardly at all.”

Roughly a half-hour later, Kula carefully removed the tiny implements — Lipman’s skin tinged pink in some areas where they had been applied — then proceeded to place cups on her neckline and face.

“I feel great, wonderful. It’s like having a minivacation,” Lipman reported when it was over.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Who's Who: A look at Health On Point

Hello, My name is Mario Corella and I am a Reiki practitioner at Health On Point. I provide several services to clients including singing bowl therapy, reiki, and chakra balancing. There are numerous benefits from these therapies. Holistic medicine is becoming more and more popular. Funding and research in alternative therapies helps to enhance knowledge of these types of healing. 

Reiki is a subtle therapy used to promote overall well being. Reiki involves a practitioner holding their hands over various areas of a patient’s body to correct energy imbalances. It is practiced in over 800 hospitals in the United States. Relaxation and stress reduction are two of the major benefits of Reiki. This type of healing can be beneficial for anyone. People who suffer from chronic pain, stress, depression, cancer, migraines, insomnia and pre and post surgical patients are a few examples of those who benefit. One session is enough to feel benefits and notice a change in condition. Multiple sessions help to perpetuate feelings of general well being. After a session, patients typically feel relaxation and a sense of calm and peace. 

Singing Bowl sessions are another type of therapy that assist in relaxation and the promotion of well being. I use a set of 7 crystal quartz singing bowls. Each bowl is specially tuned to affect a different area of the body and produce a unique sound frequency. The vibrations of the singing bowls are intended to permeate the cells of the body and facilitate healing and balancing of the body’s energy. The sounds produced are quite distinct, especially when multiple bowls are played, enhancing the depth of sound. This therapy can be used for meditation and allows the listener to enter a state of great relaxation. 

I am available for appointments on Friday afternoons and other days by appointment.  I invite you to experience the benefits of Reiki and Singing Bowl Therapy. Give yourself or someone you love the gift of  healing and relaxation!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Study: Acupuncture Improves Eyesight for Vision Disorder

A new pilot study finds acupuncture effective in significantly improving eyesight for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This disorder is a genetically inherited condition that may lead to blindness. Acupuncture improved overall eyesight and improved issues of dark to light adaptation and nyctalopia (night blindness).

Patients received 10 thirty minute acupuncture treatments over a two week period. Acupuncture styles included electroacupuncture, local acupuncture and body-style acupuncture. Local points included acupuncture needles on the forehead and below the eyes.

Testing showed that some of the subjects improved in both eyes after only one week of acupuncture treatment and the results lasted between 10 to 12 months. Dark adaptation increased significantly in the subjects. Night vision and the ability to see in darkened regions improved significantly in subjects. Several other visual field improvements were noted in the subjects including expansion of visibility within are larger visual field. The researchers concluded that acupuncture “entails minimal risk if administered by a well-trained acupuncturist and may have significant, measurable benefits on residual visual function in patients with retinitis pigmentosa, in particular scotopic sensitivity, which had not previously been studied.”

This recent study was published in the prestigious Clinical and Experimental Optometry journal. Treatments for retinitis pigmentosa with acupuncture and herbal medicine have demonstrated positive clinical outcomes in several studies. A groundbreaking study was published in 2011 wherein it was discovered that acupuncture protects the optic nerve from damage caused by intraocular pressure by alleviating stresses on retinal and optic nerve axonal ultrastructures. Another study showed that Chinese medicine improved retinal cone activity for patients with retinitis pigmentosa, even in cases of advanced retinal degeneration. Using electroretinograms for the investigation, the study also concludes that, “TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatment could also enhance the bioactivity of (the) nerve network and therefore have a definite significance in retarding the progression of disease and keeping the central vision.

A more aggressive study wherein She Xiang was injected into acupuncture points UB18 and UB23 found that acupuncture improved eyesight for patients with retinitis pigmentosa. The study concludes that injection of She Xiang into Ganshu (UB18) and Shenshu (UB23) “can improve effectively the function and metabolism of optic cells, promote blood circulation of the retina, enhance the visual acuity, and protect the central vision for the patient of retinitis pigmentosa.” In yet another study of retinitis pigmentosa, patients receiving acupuncture (ranging from ages 7 – 75 years) showed significant improvement and a halting of deterioration of the visual field.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three Easy Tips for a Healthy Autumn

It’s happening...the weather is changing and everyone here in Iowa City has pulled their fleece jackets out of the closets. So, here are some easy, surefire tips to a healthy Autumn.

1) Eat warmer foods and seasonal foods - Instead of summer’s raw salads which can cause gas and bloating, try to eat more stews, soups and steamed vegetables. This is beneficial for your digestion, warms you up on cold nights and supplements your qi. Good food suggestions for Autumn include spicy/pungent foods like onion, garlic, radish, and ginger. Apples and pears (especially Asian pears) benefit the respiratory system. Pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potato warm your yang energy as the weather becomes cooler.

2) Let It Go - Whatever it is! Nature instructs us about the cycle of creation and letting go every year. Autumn marks the end of the growing season and is a time to turn inward, conserving energy. Trees lose their leaves in preparation for winter. How can we expect a healthy harvest next year if we don’t release the old and stagnant aspects of our lives? The most powerful lesson of Fall is to release the clutter that unnecessarily complicates our lives in order to discover all that is meaningful and fresh.

3) Protect - As the weather changes, it’s easier for us to catch colds and flus. Certain areas of our bodies are more vulnerable when left exposed, so it is particularly important to protect the back of your neck and chest from the wind with a scarf or collar. Also, no bare feet, especially if you have hardwood floors. Walking around on cold floors chills the entire body.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Acupuncture eases symptoms of severe depression

Acupuncture therapy combined with anti-depressants has been found to relieve symptoms of depression more effectively than drugs alone

Acupuncture alongside anti-depressants can help ease depression, a British study found.
New research, conducted by Dr Hugh MacPherson and colleagues from the University of York, found patients who had acupuncture alongside their antidepressants improved more after three months than those who simply took medication.

Their symptoms reduced on the same scale as those who had counseling alongside their normal treatment. The researchers felt the study was of great importance as many patients would like to be offered non-pharmacological treatment options such as acupuncture or counseling.

At present, the vast majority of sufferers are only offered antidepressants, which are ineffective for 60 per cent of people. 

The study included 755 men and women with moderate to severe depression. The patients were divided in groups to receive up to 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), up to 12 weekly sessions of counseling plus usual care (302 patients) or usual care alone (151 patients).

The findings, published in the PLoS Medicine Journal, found that the 2,000-year-old Chinese method improved symptoms for up to six months.

It is thought that it alleviates symptoms such as overwhelming sadness and hopelessness, by stimulating the release of endorphins and other "feel-good" chemicals.

Mandy Laing, a qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council comments: "For some anxiety sufferers, life is extremely tough. A lot of people don't realize that this condition can cause a considerable amount of stress and disability for the person... Traditional acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment choice."

The illness currently affects more than 350 million people worldwide and about one in six people will have an episode of depression during their lifetime.

For people who are clinically depressed, feelings of severe sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and worthlessness can last for months and years. And affected individuals lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and sometimes have physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep, leaving many unable to work.

This research could open up new treatment options for those who suffer from moderate or severe depression.

If you or someone you knows suffers from depression, let them know that acupuncture with Health On Point may help!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumn Means Change Within... and Without

September 22nd marked the beginning of Fall this year....

In the spirit of Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is the time of the Lung. This means that our lungs and skin are more likely to have problems now with complaints such as eczema or psoriasis, and coughs, colds and flu. This season requires that we start dressing a warmer, eat nourishing foods, drink plenty of fresh water, and get enough sleep.
Fall in TCM is also the time of dryness, much as we see all around us in the trees. Autumn leaves turn beautiful - often vibrant - colors, then fade as they dry out and ultimately fall from their branches. This may be reflected in each of us when we consider this on an emotional level.
Just this week many patients are noting an awareness of grief for past losses. Several individuals on my table shared their struggles with this season and its 'timing' - be it in terms of the academic calendar or the sense that winter is not far behind.
I'd love to remind you what my medicine tradition teaches us. This a time for us to practice letting go. We may struggle, dig our heels in and resist! But this just exhausts us physically and emotionally. Consider that much as a tree losing its leaves is inevitable this season, so too are losses and change in our lives. How would it feel if you didn't fight, didn't struggle? What would that mean for you in your life?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Drink More Tea

As if overnight, Autumn has arrived! Ease your body through this month of transition with our herbal tea bundle. Choose any three of our all organic, fresh hand-crafted herbal teas and you'll receive a gift that makes those mugs filled with deliciousness all the more satisfying.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Patients with Back Pain Find Relief with Acupuncture

Humans have always sought relief when they are in pain, so it is no wonder that an ancient practice has come to the aid of people suffering from low back pain.
Acupuncture is a procedure that started in Chinese medicine and has been adapted and is widely accepted in Western medicine, particularly to promote good health or to relieve pain or create a numbing sensation in a particular area of the body. In its Eastern tradition, the practice regulates chi in the body (its life force, or flow of energy) by placing needles in meridians (the channels through which chi flows) near the surface of the skin.
"When you insert needles, you release natural opiates such as endorphins," said David Mortell, an acupuncturist. "And MRI studies indicate acupuncture raises the threshold for pain in the brain."
Acupuncture heightens the effectiveness of the areas of the brain responsible for regulating pain signals, doctors at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan found in a 2009 study.
In a clinical trial in South Korea in 2011, patients with severe back pain reported significantly more relief from acupuncture than did those in the control group, who were treated with the prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. A metastudy of 13 trials in China indicated acupuncture "achieved better outcomes when compared with other treatments."
In a German study in 2007, low back pain sufferers who were treated with acupuncture reported more relief than those who were treated with drugs, physical therapy and exercise.
"Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain," concluded the researchers. "Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain."
It worked for Neal Griebling, 70, of Mount Washington. Mr. Griebling injured his back shoveling heavy snow in 1994, and has had low back pain off and on ever since. He sought treatment from a pain physician and from a chiropractor before trying acupuncture.
"On a scale of 10, the pain relief I get from a session with acupuncture is an 8, sometimes a 9," Mr. Griebling said. He gave the therapy he received from a chiropractor only a 4 on his pain relief scale. The injections he received from a physician didn't help at all. "They were a zero."

(original article printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Migraine Treatment and Prevention

The countdown is on for Migraine Awareness Week. My patients (and friends!) will concede that one of my favorite parts of my practice is providing acupuncture for migraine sufferers. The techniques available to individuals when they come to our clinic are unique in our community. Many find immediate and profound relief from acupuncture, for others it may take a few sessions. Regardless, however, I believe that resolution IS possible. Offering education and guidance for at home care is always part of the regimen. Below are some of the key points. Read on and let us know - what is your experience with migraines and acupuncture relief? Have you discovered any techniques you can use on yourself that provide immediate relief?

Try massage at the red points above!
Many people find that applying gentle pressure to the head, face, and neck during a migraine can help ease the pain. Techniques to try:
  • Press the brow line and under the eyes.
  • Rub the temples and jaw in a circular motion.
  • Massage the base of the skull with a tennis ball.

Diet Changes
Some people find that certain foods trigger their migraines. Common trigger foods include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, canned foods, cured or processed meats, aged cheeses, cultured dairy, MSG, and aspartame. Keeping track of what you eat with a food diary can help you identify what you ate before a migraine came on. Try eliminating these foods one at a time to see if it improves your migraines.

Good Habits Fight Migraines
Your lifestyle can have a big impact on how often you get migraines. These tips can help:
  • Keep a migraine diary to track your triggers.
  • Don't skip meals.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Be Like The World’s Top Men’s Tennis Player - Drink Warm Water!

Djokovic May Be Hot But His Drinks Are Warm
Novak Djokovic is the No.1 male tennis player in the world right now, and he follows a strict diet to maintain his health and superiority on the court.
The Wall Street Journal wrote about Djokavic’s new book, in it he explains his diet. He writes that he does not consume caffeine or sugar and only drinks warm water all day long. Yes, warm water! This fact caught my interest because Chinese Medicine advocates that we drink water at room temperature or warm and that  to avoid ice water. In his book, Djokavic’s writes that cold water "slows digestion” and "diverts blood away from where I want it—in my muscles." He seems to have a philosophy that  is very similar to Chinese Medicine. In traditional Chinese Medicine, the constant consumption of cold water and the use of ice in drinks is harmful because our bodies need to maintain an internal heat in order to absorb nutrients. Cold, when ingested, constricts the blood vessels and hinders our digestive process. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Djokovic uses acupuncture and herbs.

What temperature is the water you drink? Are you willing to try to only drink warm water all day and see if you feel the benefits? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tis the Season....

This month we're finding family, friends, and patients alike are MISERABLE. As if over night, the weeds are in bloom bringing sniffles, coughs, itchiness and general discomfort. Seems like the perfect storm - and also the perfect time to remind you that studies show Acupuncture will help!
Don't be miserable this week, we're here to help!
Most patients plagued with sniffles brought on by seasonal allergies turn to antihistamines for relief, but when they don't get relief, some opt for alternative treatments like acupuncture.

In a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers examined 422 people who tested positive for pollen allergies and had allergic nasal symptoms such as a runny nose. The participants reported their symptoms as well as what medication and doses they used to treat them.

The researchers then divided them into three groups; one received 12 acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines as needed, a second group received 12 fake acupuncture treatments (needles placed at random, non-meaningful points in the body) and took antihistamines as needed, while the final group only took only antihistamines for symptoms.

After two months, the researchers asked the patients about their symptoms and how much medication they used. The participants who received the real acupuncture treatments with their antihistamines showed the greatest improvement in their allergy symptoms and less use of antihistamines compared to the other groups.

Dr. Remy Coeytaux of the Duke Clinical Research Institute and Dr. Jongbae of the Regional Center for Neurosensory Disorders and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote an editorial accompanying the study. They write: "It may be time to begin asking such questions as: How does acupuncture compare directly with other therapeutic approaches? Which of the many acupuncture traditions or approaches is most effective or appropriate for a given clinical indication? What outcomes or process measures should we be assessing in clinical trials of acupuncture? Is the magnitude of effect, if any, associated with acupuncture for a given clinical indication 'worth it' from the perspective of patients, payers, or policymakers?"

In the meantime, study author Dr. Benno Brinkhaus of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at Charité University Medical Center in Berlin wrote in an e-mail response describing the study that "From my experience as a physician and acupuncturist, and as a researcher, I would recommend trying acupuncture if patients are not satisfied with the conventional anti-allergic medication or treatment or they suffer from more or less serious sides effects of the conventional medication. Also because acupuncture is a relative safe treatment."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Can Acupuncture Cure My Migraine?

Migraines affect up to 12% of the US population (36 million people). Around two thirds of sufferers are women. The first week of September is Migraine Awareness week. We at Health On Point would like to offer special sessions, additional education and support for those in the community who suffer with migraine headaches.

This week we will start with a personal story. Jane Elliott is a health reporter at BBC News. Below is an excerpt in which she discusses living with this condition and how acupuncture is offering a respite.

Even as a tiny baby, I am told, I used to hold my head, go pale, and vomit. As I grew older the migraines started to follow a more defined pattern.

It seemed that anything that I liked and enjoyed could prove a trigger: chocolate, too much orange juice, Coca cola, excitement over parties or school trips.

In the end my parents would not tell me about a planned treat until minutes before we left in the hope I would keep calm and avoid 'getting worked up'.

I can remember a sudden attack on the way home from school, aged about 10, left me in agony, being sick on the roadside and wondering how I was going to manage the short distance home.

And as I got older, I quickly learnt that even a small glass of red wine always has disastrous results, although I can drink small amounts of white wine with no ill effect.

Exhaustion is another big trigger, and as a mother of two young children I have found the frequency of my attacks increasing over the last four years.

I know I can probably survive with one broken night's sleep, but any more than that will always mean a migraine.

In any given month I can have between one and six attacks, although during both pregnancies I was migraine free.

Some weeks are so bad that I get one horrendous attack and what I can only describe as aftershocks over the next few days.

Darkened room
In the worst attacks I am so debilitated that the pain, concentrated mainly on my left temple, seems unbearable and I have to retire to a darkened room.

First comes hours of excruciating pain and feelings of depressing nausea, then a welcome relief as I eventually vomit and as the pain recedes and I can fall into sleep.

My migraines last on average eight hours - some people suffer days of pain.

Over the years I have tried every sort of pain relief, from over-the-counter headache tablets - which only work sometimes in the very early stages - to targeted migraine drugs, which worked on many of the attacks but left me feeling nauseous.

This year, after my migraines reached an intolerable level and I found myself getting as many as three attacks a week, I decided to take immediate action.

My doctor recommended Imigran Recovery (sumatriptan), which has recently been made an over-the counter drug. He warned me that it didn't work for everyone - but it worked for me.

If I took the tablets everywhere with me and took them as soon as I started to feel the familiar warning signs they did not develop.

Not wanting to become reliant on too many drugs however, I decided to explore other ways of alleviating my migraine.

My mother recommended acupuncture, and I must admit that I was at first sceptical.

She had seen a TV programme which seemed to show a link between acupuncture and migraine relief, and she offered to pay for a course of treatments for me to see if it worked.

I didn't hold out much hope of it working, but was prepared to give it a go.

Diet changes
As well as the acupuncture, I was told to make some changes to my diet - only two cups of tea a day and no diet Coke (I normally have at least six teas daily and about one or two diet cokes a week).

Christina, my acupuncturist, warned that I was using the caffeine to boost my energy levels and advised more water instead. Cutting out the caffeine from my diet was extremely hard and I had more than a few withdrawal symptoms, although in the long-term a relatively caffeine free diet is no bad thing for my overall health.

Sessions took an hour and consisted of gentle head massage as well as the strategically placed acupuncture needles.

The first week I had two attacks, the next week I had one and I was beginning to worry that I might be one of those for whom acupuncture did not work.

But at the start of week three I had a revelation - no migraines.

I went for treatment once a week for about two months and was completely migraine free. Apart from pregnancy this was a first.

Over three months later I have had one bad migraine (last week) which I put down to an enforced break of six weeks, while the acupuncturist and I both had three week holidays.

But I am amazed it has worked. I have read reports which say acupuncture and sham acupuncture both work, although other reports have disputed that. To be honest I don't care whether it is real, or as some say an effect 'in my mind'. I can't explain why it worked for me. All I can say is that it has worked for me and I intend to keep going. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Mini-Vacation

Some of my friends who grew up in the Northeast recall that it was commonplace for families to take at least two weeks, often a month or a whole summer and go to the beach every year. Of course an annual retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation is routine in Europe; businesses there will commonly shut down for the month of August. Unfortunately, in our youthful American enthusiasm for getting ahead, we have forgotten the value of balancing productivity with plain old rest and relaxation.

Even when we do take “downtime” our consumer-driven culture has managed to make us feel as though we need special clothing or accessories to relax correctly.  And as far as I can tell, vacation has become a myth...some fantasy for the future that we use to justify working too hard now.  

And yet,  as trite as the new age jargon makes it sound, balancing work and play really is crucial for our health and wellbeing. In medical literature, psychosocial stress is accepted as a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Giving our central nervous system a break by slowing down both physical and mental activity allows our entire system to function more smoothly. Digestion and sleep are improved, our immune system can respond appropriately and we become able to think more clearly.

With rest, our brain can become more creative, seeing solutions that simply weren’t there before.  Athletes know that optimum performance comes when you are able to get in “the zone” when your body is doing what it needs to without your brain having to think through the motions. Other work is the same way. We all have access to brilliance, but being able to focus that “knowing” into our work requires that we periodically take a step back and do nothing, just as an athlete would stop training and rest before a big competition.

So how do we integrate rest and relaxation into our lives with the kinds of intense schedules we have created for ourselves? For me the solution is one I'm calling the "mini-vacation." Working with many patients this summer who share the desire for a 'break'  - and the benefit from one - but can't seem to get the time away, I've structured a soothing acupuncture treatment - it's our own "mini-vacation". During this session, you are able to take time off and away without the pressure of feeling like something else needs to get done. I choose acupuncture points, essential oils, and music to leave you feeling refreshed. 

The purpose of our mini-vacation session is an experience of pure presence, of listening to what inspires you in the moment. 

Patients who have received this special treatment tell me they feel grateful and re-energized about  work. These mini-vacations work beautifully to keep us from wearing ourselves thin the rest of the year. Even if we aren't able to truly "balance" work and play, at least we ought to have a time-out every once in a while to reconnect to our own brilliance. Schedule your mini-vacation session - or gift one to a friend - and receive a 10% discount off a retail item of your choice during the month of August!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Treatment of Skin Conditions with Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms and significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.

The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body's internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution, as well as environmental influences such as wind, dryness, dampness, and heat, can all contribute to the development of a skin disorder. To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin's natural healthy color.

Promotion of collagen production increases muscle tone and elasticity, helping to firm the skin. Stimulating the formation of body fluids nourishes the skin and encourages it to be moister, softer, smoother and more lustrous.

General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques with acupuncture, such as herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for eczema, each patient will receive a unique, customized treatment with different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

If you suffer from a skin condition or would like to know how to optimize your skin health, call or email Health On Point and learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you.

(article originally written by Diane Joswick LAc)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Acupuncture Ups Pregnancy Rates for Infertility Patients

New research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine concludes that acupuncture increases pregnancy rates for women receiving IVF at medical clinics that otherwise have low success rates with the fertility procedure. The study was a systematic review of 16 clinical trials with a total of 4,021 subjects. Acupuncture was compared with IVF as a standalone treatment and also with IVF combined with simulated-sham acupuncture. The researchers discovered some very interesting results.

Across the 16 separate and independent clinical trials, acupuncture was successful in increasing pregnancy rates in clinics with a lower than 32% IVF success rate. On the other hand, acupuncture did not enhance the IVF procedure in clinics wit a higher than 32% success rate. Lead author Eric Manheimer notes that this may be due to the fact that acupuncture and other fertility enhancement procedures have a lessened clinical value for IVF when the pregnancy rates are already high. The study concludes that in cases where pregnancy rates are low, acupuncture offers a significant clinical benefit to those receiving IVF by increasing the pregnancy rate.

Another recent study concludes that acupuncture and moxibustion significantly increase pregnancy rates for women receiving IVF fertility treatments. The study investigated infertile women who had at least 2 unsuccessful IVF fertility treatments. True acupuncture, sham acupuncture and a control group were compared. The acupuncture group showed a significantly higher clinical success rate the IVF procedure than both the sham acupuncture and control groups. The acupuncture group had a 35.7% success rate whereas the sham group had a 10.7% success rate and the control group had a 7.1% success rate. These findings are consistent with the University of Maryland Study in that acupuncture has been shown to significantly increase IVF success rates for individuals and clinics with a prior history of failed IVF procedures respectively.

This second study investigated both acupuncture and moxibustion for the enhancement of IVF success rates. Acupuncture points on the Conception Vessel, Governing Vessel and Urination Bladder Channel were chosen: UB18, UB22, UB23, UB52, CV3, CV4, CV5, CV7 and GV4. Acupuncture needling was administered on the first and seventh days during which ovulation was medically induced. Acupuncture was also administered on the day prior to medical intervention of the ovary and on the day after the embryo transfer.

Yet another study presented conclusive evidence showing that acupuncture is more effective than clomifene (Clomid, Omifin) for the treatment of infertility. Acupuncture had a 76.8% success rate for the induction of ovulation and clomifene demonstrated a 48.1% success rate. More than this, an important study discovered that acupuncture increases live birth rates. Women receiving IVF treatments had significantly higher live birth rates if acupuncture was applied on the day of embryo transfer. Researchers from the University of Washington (Seattle), Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (Portland) and the Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences (Kirkland, Washington) applied acupuncture prior to the IVF procedure to GV20, CV6, ST29, SP8, P6, and LV2 along with auricular points: uterus, endocrine, shenmen, brain. Afterwards, acupuncture points LI4, SP10, ST36, SP6 and K3 were applied along with the same auricular points. Notably, prior to IVF the uterus and endocrine points were applied to the right ear and the shenmen and brain auricular acupuncture points were applied to the left ear. After the IVF procedure, the auricular points were applied to the opposite ears.

Another study study also concluded that acupuncture increases live birth rates for women who get IVF treatments. Scientists sought to measure the histological mechanisms by which acupuncture exerts its effective action. They were successful in discovering that acupuncture increases blood and embryo levels of HLA-G, a protein that is predictive of higher pregnancy and live birth rates when in higher concentrations.  It is important to note that this biochemical research concluded that acupuncture increased both pregnancy rates and live birth rates.

At Health On Point we offer supporting treatments to complement your reproductive care. Mention today's article and receive a 30% discount on herbal teas that benefit moms to be!

Manheimer, Eric, Daniëlle van der Windt, Ke Cheng, Kristen Stafford, Jianping Liu, Jayne Tierney, Lixing Lao, Brian M. Berman, Patricia Langenberg, and Lex M. Bouter. "The effects of acupuncture on rates of clinical pregnancy among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Human reproduction update (2013).

di Villahermosa, Daniela Isoyama Manca, Lara Guercio dos Santos, Mariana Balthazar Nogueira, Fabia Lima Vilarino, and Caio Parente Barbosa. "Influence of acupuncture on the outcomes of in vitro fertilisation when embryo implantation has failed: a prospective randomised controlled clinical trial." Acupuncture in Medicine (2013).

Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 2012, 10(2), R246.3. Teng Hui, Liu Yu-lei, Wang Jun-ling, Xie Ying. Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shenzhen Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital, Guangdong, China.

Johansson, Julia, et al. "Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism (2013).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors

New research demonstrates that acupuncture is an effective treatment for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. The research reveals that acupuncture reduces both the frequency and intensity of hot flashes while at the same time improving the overall quality of sleep. Researchers examined feedback and found that the acupuncture treatments were described as relaxing by most participants. The researchers also noted that the results show that acupuncture is cost effective, safe and does not exhibit the adverse affects caused by medications

Data from the research discovered that acupuncture improved the overall quality of life score over venlafaxine. Acupuncture improved symptoms but did not induce unwanted side effects. The medication venlafaxine, however, caused a 72% incidence of adverse affects. The researchers noted that in one study venlafaxine side effects caused 21% of study participants to withdraw due to the severity of the adverse effects. Acupuncture, by contrast, improved the overall quality of life and improved symptoms. Acupuncture and venlafaxine decreased hot flashes, improved menopausal symptoms and reduced mental health issues. The researchers noted that acupuncture is “only modestly more costly” than venlafaxine but does not have the unwanted side effects of the medication.

The researchers also discovered data showing that acupuncture decreases the frequency of hot flashes associated with tamoxifen intake. Patients are often given this estrogen antagonist as a means to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. The data showed a significant reduction in hot flashes as a result of acupuncture treatments to the point where patients were able to continue tamoxifen intake. Prior, the side effects of the drug prompted discontinuation of the cancer prevention drug. In this way, acupuncture may enable patients to continue with cancer medication therapy by controlling adverse effects.

The study showed a 71% decrease in the number of nighttime hot flashes as a result of acupuncture treatment. Prior to acupuncture treatment, participants averaged 1 - 20 nighttime hot flashes. Following the acupuncture treatment regime, the average number of nighttime hot flashes reduced to 0 - 5 per night. A 60% decrease occurred in daytime hot flashes as a result of acupuncture treatment. In addition, all participants in the study had a significant decrease in the severity of hot flashes following the acupuncture treatment regime. All participants were given a questionnaire following the acupuncture treatment regime and all participants noted they would recommend acupuncture to a family member or friend.

The patients in the study provided some interesting responses. One participant noted, “It was relaxing during the treatment.” This was a common comment with others stating, “It was relaxing. I enjoyed the quietness,” while another participant noted, “I felt relaxed, calm, and in control of my emotions.” Patients also gave personal comments on the efficacy of care in their feedback. One participant noted, “It minimized my hot flashes,” another noted that, “They actually worked. I also enjoyed the total wellness.” One patient noted that, “It decreased my hot flashes and I sweat a lot less.” Another patient provided similar feedback, “I noticed improvements immediately in sleep patterns. I didn’t wake in the middle of the night with hot sweats. My hot flashes were less often even during the day.”

Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer for women in the USA. Severe hot flashes that adversely affect the lives of breast cancer survivors occurs at a rate of approximately 85%. Pharmaceutical approaches to the management of hot flashes pose three obstacles. Many drugs are ineffective in controlling hot flashes. Many effective drugs are contraindicated for breast cancer survivors. Lastly, many drugs cause severe side effects and cause women to discontinue medication. Acupuncture was found safe, effective and well received for the treatment of hot flashes. The implications are enormous in that the overall quality of life scores increased while hot flashes decreased. Additionally, acupuncture enables tolerable intake of medications used to prevent breast cancer recurrence. Call today to schedule a session with Rachel!

Reference: Misiewicz, Hollis. "Acupuncture for the Management of Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors." Mercy Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland (2013).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Acupuncture at Tender Points Effective for Managing Fibromyalgia

Below is the summary of an article recently published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies last month. Many patients wonder how it is that acupuncture benefits those with complicated pain syndromes including fibromyalgia. One explanation that is supported by studies demonstrates that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry. It appears to do this by changing the release of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay information showed decrease pain and increased quality of life for fibromyalgia patients who had acupuncture therapy. If you or someone you love is affected by fibromyalgia, call us today to schedule a consultation and appointment.

Background: Affecting more women than men, fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a rheumatic disorder characterized by chronic, diffuse and widespread musculoskeletal pain, and its pathogenesis is still unknown. Among the recommended treatments, acupuncture (for its analgesic effects) is an effective option for reducing the pain sensitivity and improving quality of life. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether acupuncture at tender points could effectively manage FMS.

Methods: Eight female patients, with a previous diagnosis of fibromyalgia, underwent an initial assessment involving pressure algometer measurements for pain tolerance and questionnaires [Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Heath Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)], followed by treatment. 

Over a 2-month period, acupuncture was performed once per week at five tender points, located bilaterally at the occipital bone, trapezius, rhomboid, upper chest and lateral epicondyle. At the end of treatment, the participants underwent a reassessment for a final review of the applied methods.

Results: We observed a reduction in the pain threshold and sensitivity and improvement in the areas of anxiety and depression and quality of life, which were demonstrated using the FIQ, BDI and BAI but not the HAQ.

Conclusion: The results demonstrated the effectiveness of tender-point acupuncture treatment on the patients' overall well-being, not only by improving quality of life, but also by reducing the pain sensitivity of FMS.

Source: Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, June 2013. By Jessica Lucia Neves  Bastos, Elisa Dória  Pires, Marcelo Lourenço  Silva, Fernanda Lopes Buiatti de  Araújo and Josie Resende Torres  Silva. Acupuncture Specialization Course, Instituto Paulista de Estudos Sistêmicos (IPES), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Acupuncture Improves Depression & Anxiety for PCOS

New research demonstrates that acupuncture reduces both depression and anxiety in women with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. The researchers hailed from State University of New York, University of Gothenburg and the Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine. The findings show that acupuncture helps with the emotional component of PCOS. Overall, the researchers note that acupuncture improved the health related quality of life for the patients. Scores for social functioning, energy and vitality, and general health improved for the patients receiving acupuncture. In addition, the control group did not show any improvements in anxiety and depression, however, the acupuncture group showed significant improvements.

Acupuncture was applied 2 times per week for 2 weeks followed by 1 time per week for 6 weeks and another session of 1 acupuncture treatment every other weeks for 8 weeks. The total was 14 acupuncture treatments over a period of 16 weeks. Acupuncture points were selected on the abdomen, lower leg, hand and arm, bilaterally. Manual stimulation and electro-acupuncture were applied to the needles. All patients received the same acupuncture point prescriptions for their treatments.

In a related study, acupuncture successfully induced ovulation in women with PCOS. Acupuncture successfully normalized sex steroid and hormone levels while simultaneously increasing ovulation frequency. In yet another study, electro-acupuncture and manual acupuncture were shown to “improve menstrual frequency and decrease circulating androgens in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).” Moreover, the electro-acupuncture group demonstrated effects in the central brain opioid receptors indicating that electroacupuncture may be “mediated by central opioid receptors….” The manual acupuncture group showed changes in brain steroid receptors indicating that acupuncture “may involve regulation of steroid hormone/peptide receptors.”

Stener-Victorin, Elisabet, Göran Holm, Per Olof Janson, Deborah Gustafson, and Margda Waern. "Acupuncture and physical exercise for affective symptoms and health-related quality of life in polycystic ovary syndrome: Secondary analysis from a randomized controlled trial." BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 13, no. 1 (2013): 131.

Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 2012, 10(2), R246.3. Teng Hui, Liu Yu-lei, Wang Jun-ling, Xie Ying. Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shenzhen Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital, Guangdong, China.

Johansson, Julia, et al. "Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism (2013).

Electrical and manual acupuncture stimulation affects estrous cyclicity and neuroendocrine function in a DHT-induced rat polycystic ovary syndrome model. Yi Feng1,2, Julia Johansson1, Ruijin Shao1, Louise Mannerås Holm1, Håkan Billig1, Elisabet Stener-Victorin1,3 . Experimental Physiology. DOI: 10.1113/expphysiol.2011.063131.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Israeli zoo tries acupuncture to cure tiger’s chronic ear infection

A zoo in Ramat Gan, Israel, used acupuncture to deal with their 14-year-old Sumatran tiger's chronic ear condition, after conventional treatments failed to cure the problem.

RAMAT GAN, Israel — Veterinarians are trying acupuncture to cure a Sumatran tiger at an Israeli zoo.

The 14-year-old tiger, named Pedang, suffers from a chronic ear infection. On Sunday, a holistic medicine professional tried acupuncture on him, pricking him with several pink needles in his ear and at other points of his body.

The tiger was sedated during the treatment.

The Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan said this was the first time it used Chinese medicine on an animal. The zoo said other conventional treatments, like antibiotics, failed to cure the infection, which has lasted more than a year.

Mor Mosinzon, who treated Pedang, said the acupuncture was meant to strengthen his immune system and open his ear canals so that his body can better absorb the antibiotics.
By Associated Press

Monday, June 10, 2013

Relieve Stress Naturally with Acupuncture

Your body is hardwired to react to stress. But if you are constantly on alert, your health can pay the price. We recently received this email from a woman looking for some relief:

I heard acupuncture can help relieve stress, but how many treatments do you need?
Thanks, MaryAnn

Long-term stress on the body can put you at risk for numerous conditions:
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • And new research shows you can actually wear the effects of stress on your face!
Acupuncture can be a great way to relieve stress naturally. Each person responds to treatment in a different way, so the number of sessions required can vary.

Experts recommend a minimum of one session per week for five to eight weeks, and patients often start to feel an immediate reduction in stress after just one session.

You should always talk to your doctor before making any lifestyle changes, and make sure you find a licensed practitioner for treatment.

This week's original content available here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Acupuncture Lowers Blood Sugar for Obese Diabetics

New research finds that acupuncture lowers elevated blood glucose levels related to obesity and diabetes. A laboratory experiment using obese diabetic rats incorporated electroacupuncture applied to Zhongwan (CV12) and electroacupuncture applied to CV4 and CV12 “was effective in lowering baseline BG (blood glucose) and modulating the change in BG.”

Acupuncture Needles
This finding coincides with the release of another recent study demonstrating that acupuncture significantly reduces diabetic neuropathy, a condition involving symptoms such as numbness, tingling, electrical sensations and pain in the extremities. The study showed that human patients taking medications improved only 37.45% but patients receiving medications combined with acupuncture treatments improved at a remarkable 90% rate. This finding supports the integrative medicine model of patient care wherein the synergistic effects of combined modalities yields better patient outcomes than either as a standalone therapy.

The study used acupuncture point CV4 (Guanyuan) as did the aforementioned laboratory experiment showing the blood glucose lowering effects of electroacupuncture. This acupuncture point is located on the midline, three cun below the umbilicus. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, it is the Front Mu point of the Small Intestine. CV4 nourishes and stabilizes the Kidney, regulates Qi and restores Yang. CV4 is the intersection of the 3 leg Yin channels. Historically, Guanyuan is translated as the Gate of Origin and is also referred to as the Sea of Qi, Gate of Life (Mingmen) and Lower Dantian. According to Chinese medicine principles, this point has a powerful effect on nourishing and tonifying the body. There is a long history in Chinese Medicine (CM) historical texts and modern clinical usage for implementing this acupuncture point for diabetes related conditions including enuresis (lack of urinary control), impotence, dysuria (painful urination), retention of urine and kidney related disorders. This acupuncture point is one of the main strengthening points in Chinese Medicine and is given the function of tonifying the original Qi (energy) and benefitting the Jing (essence). Researchers also used Quchi (LI 11), Weiwanxianshu (EX-B3), Shenshu (BL 23), Zusanli (ST 36), Hegu (LI 4) and Sanyinjiao (SP 6) in this study.

Dietary modifications are a common way to affect blood glucose levels. Chinese Medicine dietetics covers dietary modifications for the treatment of diabetes in detail. Take a look at the video below to see samples of Chinese Medicine dietetics. One of the foods presented in this video for the treatment of acne, bitter melon, is also commonly used for the treatment of blood glucose disorders and diabetes.

Peplow, Philip V., and Soo Min Han. "Repeated Application of Electroacupuncture Ameliorates Hyperglycemia in Obese Zucker Diabetic Fatty Rats." Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies (2013). Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Acupuncture Post-Op Halts Nausea & Vomiting

A new study concludes that acupuncture reduces the frequency and intensity of postoperative nausea and vomiting following laparoscopic surgery. This type of surgery uses a fiber optic instrument inserted through the abdominal wall to view the internal aspects of the abdomen and its organs. A problem encountered by surgeons is postoperative nausea and vomiting caused, in part, by general anesthesia.

Laparoscopic Surgery
The researchers applied electro-acupuncture to an acupuncture point located on the wrist region to patients during the surgical procedure. The acupuncture point, P6, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the treatment of nausea and vomiting for over 1,000 years. This modern study confirms this ancient medical principle. The researchers conclude that electroacupuncture effectively reduces the “incidence and the severity of postoperative nausea and vomiting” for patients receiving general anesthesia during laparoscopic surgery.

Reference: Tang, W., W. Ma, G. Q. Fu, L. Yuan, and W. D. Shen. "[Impacts of electroacupuncture at different frequencies on the postoperative nausea and vomiting of patients with laparoscopic surgery]." Zhongguo zhen jiu= Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion 33, no. 2 (2013): 159-162.

Monday, May 6, 2013

How to Know When Acupuncture Is Working

Acupuncture is not a one-shot deal. It works cumulatively, meaning one treatment builds on the next.

There are certainly instances of acupuncture producing immediate results. However, this is more an exception than the rule. If you want lasting results from acupuncture, especially for a chronic condition, you must commit to the process.

This approach to healing is unfamiliar for Westerners, who are accustomed to instant gratification in most aspects of life, including health care. Being forced to adopt a long-term, cumulative perspective can be confusing and frustrating.

Sometimes us instant-gratification junkies need to be thrown a bone! Fortunately, there are several indications that acupuncture is taking effect -- even if your primary symptoms have not yet resolved. When these signs appear, symptom relief typically is not far behind.

Here are six signs that your acupuncture treatments are working.

You're sleeping better
This is one of the most common signs that acupuncture is doing its thing. Many insomniacs who seek acupuncture for other reasons are surprised when their sleep problems resolve -- often without ever having mentioned the issue to their acupuncturist. Even if you're not someone who struggles with sleep, you still may notice yourself sleeping more deeply, waking less during the night, or feeling more rested upon waking.

You're more aware
When acupuncture starts working, it can feel as if all of your senses just got a tune up. You hear birds chirping a little louder. The sky looks bluer. You notice the texture of your shirt against your skin. You literally smell roses. Food tastes better.

You're also more in touch with sensations throughout your body. Maybe you notice the way you tense your shoulders when you sit at the computer. Or, you discover that as soon as something stressful happens, your stomach tightens and your breath becomes shallow.

If it feels like your world has gone from normal viewing to a vivid HD experience, acupuncture is working for you.

You're more emotional
Many of us are amazingly skilled at funneling emotions into our bodies. It's a defense mechanism that allows us to avoid dealing with these things -- until, of course, our bodies start paying the price for it. Most people who seek acupuncture are dealing, at least on some level, with emotional stress as a contributor to their physical symptoms.

Acupuncture is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, it exposes us until it gets to the core. Since acupuncture works by addressing the root cause of a condition, the process can cause repressed emotions to surface.

You may be quicker to cry or notice yourself feeling more sentimental than usual. In general, emotions -- good or bad -- are felt more intensely.

This is a good thing. It's a sign that layers are being peeled back, which means you're getting closer to reaching the core issue. Acupuncture is working.

You have more energy
Although receiving acupuncture is a relaxing, energy-grounding experience, your energy level may rise in the hours and days following a treatment. This means acupuncture has stirred the pot and stimulated movement throughout the meridians -- and regular, steady movement throughout the meridians is ultimately what will resolve your chief complaint.

The surge in energy that acupuncture produces is different from the somewhat frenetic energy that surrounds daily life. It's a kind of energy that makes you feel more awake and alive. You may notice that you're less tired during the day, feeling more motivated to go out for a walk, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.

You're less stressed out
Contrary to the acupuncture-as-hippy-medicine stereotype, acupuncture does not send you into la-la land. It does not put you in a daze that makes you numb. It does, however, take the edge off.

Acupuncture can even out our moods so that we are less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of our lives. The stress won't disappear, but if you find yourself feeling less bogged down by it, acupuncture is working for you.

You're more regular
Remember what I said earlier about regular, steady movement throughout the meridians being the thing that will ultimately resolve your chief complaint? Well, one of the clearest indicators of movement throughout the meridians is digestive health.

The organ systems and meridians that regulate digestion are intimately connected to all other structures and functions throughout the body, so your digestive health says a lot about your overall state of health.

If your digestion is too slow, too fast, or just generally erratic, it's a red flag. On the other hand, if you start moving your bowels more regularly, it means things are evening out and moving in the right direction.

If you recognize any of these six signs, hang in there and stick with it. Acupuncture is working!
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