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.

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