Monday, November 17, 2014

Self-Care Techniques for Chronic Pain

Below is a continuation from our last blog post "Your Pain is in Your Head".

In addition to the use of acupuncture needles and herbs to address deficient Blood, an acupuncturist treating chronic-pain symptoms may suggest some simple self-care techniques.

Mindfulness, for example, teaches people to be inquisitive rather than judgmental about their ailments. It teaches us to approach our issues with an open mind and to let go of expectations. Cultivating greater self-awareness helps to bring balance to the body and mind. It also makes it easier to determine when medical intervention is necessary or when it may be okay to wait for the discomfort to pass.

Chronic pain sufferers often feel as though they are constantly in pain. But by using mindfulness to bring increased awareness to their symptoms, many realize that their pain actually has ups and downs, and sometimes disappears completely. 

Mindfulness is just one self-care technique that can be helpful in addressing the physical and emotional components of chronic pain. Your acupuncturist may also recommend pressure points that you can massage on yourself, self-administered moxibustion, movement therapies such as qigong, and changes to your diet. Ask your practitioner about steps you can take at home to support your acupuncture treatments.

If you suffer from chronic pain, pain medications may not be the only answer. Whether it’s an acupuncturist, naturopath, or Western medical doctor, find a clinician who is open minded and understands the importance of treating your body and mind as one. It may be just the change you’ve been hoping for.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Your Pain is in Your Head

Chronic pain is a growing and complicated issue. Millions of people feel stuck with their pain, suffering day in and day out with no resolution in sight. For many, acupuncture can shed light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

We know that the nature of chronic pain can vary widely, from musculoskeletal and neurogenic to gastrointestinal, urogenital, and gynecological. However, less attention gets paid to the emotional component of chronic pain, which can be caused and exacerbated by negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety.

Pain conditions that are emotionally charged—which, ultimately, describes all cases of pain, since being in pain produces negative thought patterns—often are unabated by the pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications that are so commonly prescribed.

Treating chronic pain effectively requires approaching it holistically. This is where acupuncture excels.

Acupuncture Approach to Chronic Pain
In Chinese medicine, there is no separation between mind and body. The two are inexorably linked, constantly influencing and regulating each other.

This philosophy runs counter to the way chronic pain is typically tackled by mainstream medicine, which tends to approach the problem strictly through a biological lens. Biologically, chronic pain is fairly straightforward. Misbehaving nerve impulses fire consistently, alerting the brain to the presence of inflammation or tissue damage.

When we look at chronic pain holistically, there’s more than nerve impulses to consider.

Our thoughts have a profound effect on how our bodies function. Negative thoughts and emotions increase stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine, which overtime can lead to systemic inflammation and a deterioration of overall health.

Emotions, like physical activity, require the expenditure of energy—energy that could otherwise be directed toward helping to heal the body. This is why you can have days when you barely exert yourself physically yet feel exhausted by the end.

Our emotions can wear us out. Many people are overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, and other types of emotional turbulence yet remain unaware that it’s contributing to their physical health problems.

Acupuncture refuses to let emotional turbulence fly under the radar.

In acupuncture theory, the Heart is at the center of all human life and plays a role in all emotions. Appropriately, another term for the Heart in Chinese medicine is Emperor. If the Emperor falls ill, he loses his ability to maintain order in his empire.

When we apply that metaphor to human health, it goes something like this: The Heart, ruler of the emotions, must be healthy for the rest of the body to follow suit. In other words, it is impossible to effectively treat chronic pain (or any other chronic condition) without addressing a person’s state of mind.

So, how do acupuncture and Chinese medicine address our states of mind?

One way is by choosing acupuncture points and prescribing herbal formulas that boost or tonify Blood. In acupuncture, negative emotions, particularly when chronic, create internal heat, which eventually consumes and depletes the nutritive Blood of the body.

Blood in acupuncture is more than just the red liquid that flows through our veins and arteries. Blood is viewed as a substance of nutrition and healing, the conduit through which our emotions flow.

When negative emotions become consuming, as is often the case in people who live with chronic pain, it can lead to signs of what acupuncturists call Blood deficiency. Symptoms may include dizziness, heart palpitations, insomnia, fatigue, poor memory, pale skin and tongue, weak pulse, and scanty or light menstrual periods.

Read "Self-Care Techniques for Chronic Pain" in our next post!

- Written by Adam Cantor

Monday, July 7, 2014

Acupuncture & Herbs Best Pharmaceutical For Headaches

A new study concludes that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is more effective than drugs for the treatment of headaches. This confirms similar results found in a prior study wherein acupuncture was found comparable to drugs for the treatment of migraine headaches. The new study finds acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is effective for the treatment of vascular headaches whereas the prior study found acupuncture, as a standalone procedure, effective for the treatment of migraines. The results agree that acupuncture and/or acupuncture combined with herbs produce positive patient outcomes for headaches.

The prior study concluded that acupuncture is “of comparable efficiency to several proven drug therapies for the treatment and prevention of migraine(s).” The meta-analysis examined 25 randomized controlled trials involving a sample size of 3,004 patients. True acupuncture significantly outperformed simulated sham-acupuncture. In addition, true acupuncture was comparable to drug therapy for the treatment and prevention of migraines.

Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine is more effective than nimodipine for relieving vascular headaches. These headaches include cluster headaches, migraines and toxic headaches. Migraines involve unilateral or bilateral head pain and may combine with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual auras. Toxic headaches occur during fevers. Cluster headaches are focal and recur in severe episodes.

The researchers conducted a randomized acupuncture continuing education investigation of 92 patients with vascular headaches at the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Chongqing Medical University (Sichuan). Group #1 received oral administration of nimodipine at 40 mg per dose, three times per day. Group #2 received acupuncture and a Chinese herbal formula. A course of treatment for both groups consisted of two weeks and the entire treatment lasted for two courses. 

After two courses of treatment, both groups achieved varied degrees of curative effects in terms of reducing headache attacks, duration of each attack and the intensity degree of headaches. The acupuncture group outperformed the drug group in all of the aforementioned indices. As a result, the researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with Huo Xue Qu Feng Tong Luo Tang is superior to nimodipine for the treatment of vascular headaches.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Acupuncture with electrical stimulation may treat muscle atrophy caused by kidney disease

Acupuncture may help treat muscle wasting that can occur as a result of kidney and other diseases, according to a study appearing in an the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The technique may be an attractive non-drug strategy that could help many patients.

Muscle atrophy is a serious consequence of spinal cord injuries and other traumas as well as diseases such as heart failure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), cancer, and diabetes. While there are several drug-related strategies to help prevent or treat muscle atrophy, there are no simple and effective treatments.
Xiaonan Wang, MD, Li Hu, MD (Emory University), and their colleagues looked to see if electrical stimulation delivered through acupuncture might lessen muscle atrophy associated with CKD. The investigators treated CKD mice and healthy control mice with the technique, which mimics resistance exercise by inducing muscle contraction, for 15 days.

The researchers found that the treatment improved muscle regeneration in mice by activating M2 macrophages, which are specialized immune cells that stimulate an anti-inflammatory response. Activation of M2 macrophages stimulates the insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway, which promotes increased muscle protein synthesis and new muscle cell growth. "Our study explains how acupuncture is able to produce positive effects against muscle atrophy," said Dr. Wang. "Patients with severe disease are frequently unable to withstand routine daily physical activity, let alone therapeutic exercise. This treatment is an alternate way to achieve the benefits of exercise," she added.

The researchers noted that more work is needed to determine the optimal timing and intensity of LFES as a possible treatment for muscle atrophy.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Farewell to Iowa City!

To My Wonderful Patients,
It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing my departure from Health On Point in Iowa, effective May 17, 2014. I feel fortunate you trusted me with your healthcare needs, often including me in your lives and always encouraging involvement with our wonderful Iowa City community. This has been my home over the past seven years. Needless to say, it is not easy for me to give up.

Robert Weingeist LAc, an Iowa City native, will be taking over my practice. I am thrilled that you have the opportunity to have him as your acupuncturist.  Rob is a well-trained graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Since his graduation in 2008, Rob moved to Cambrige, Massachusettes to practice Chinese medicine where he’s worked in a variety of clinical settings around the Boston area. While my departure is bitter sweet, I feel fortunate to leave you, my patients, in his capable hands.
Rob and I will begin working side by side this week. During this transition time, we will continue to offer you top care. Should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Sarah or me.
I have greatly valued our relationship, and thank you for your loyalty and friendship over the years. Best wishes for your future health. If I can be of service in the upcoming weeks, please do not hesitate to contact me.

In Health and Wellness,


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Three Surprises About Acupuncture

As someone who’s an acupuncturist, updates her blog and talks to other acupuncturists on a daily basis, it’s easy to become convinced that everyone is an educated acupuncture junkie. The truth is, this this is not the case.
I find myself having more frequent conversations with people who have never had acupuncture. It’s been a great reminder of how foreign acupuncture—the experience of getting a treatment as well as the underlying theory—still is to the majority of Westerners.
Myths and misconceptions about acupuncture are rampant in a society whose medical culture is dominated by pharmaceuticals, surgeries, and other quick-fix interventions. In my recent encounters with the uninitiated, three themes come up again and again.

Here are the top three things that surprise people about acupuncture.

Acupuncture is not just for pain
Ask most people why other people get acupuncture and the majority will say pain. It’s true that acupuncture can work wonders on pain conditions—for everything from low back pain and shoulder pain to migraines and TMJ, acupuncture is on it.
However, acupuncture can alleviate a wide variety of ailments that have nothing to do with physical pain. Whether you have digestive issues, gynecological conditions, emotional concerns such as anxiety and depression, asthma, seasonal allergies, you name it, acupuncture can help address your symptoms.

Acupuncturists go to school for a LONG time
People tend to be unaware of the extent to which acupuncturists train to become licensed in their profession. Many assume becoming an acupuncturist is similar to becoming a massage therapist or Reiki practitioner or yoga instructor. Not so much.

At minimum, a licensed acupuncturist in the United States has been to three years of graduate school. Four years is more common. They hold masters degrees. Some acupuncturists with doctorates have studied at the graduate level for five-plus years. Upon graduating from an accredited school, all acupuncturists must pass multiple board exams to become licensed in their state.
In addition to the academic and state requirements for practicing acupuncture, many acupuncturists seek hands-on training and mentorship in the form of apprenticeships and continuing education seminars. When choosing your acupuncturist, please make sure they have received the appropriate schooling and passed board exams. A list of board certified acupuncturists in your area may be found here.

Acupuncture is relaxing
“So you lie still while someone sticks multiple needles into your body?”
“And this not only doesn’t hurt but also relaxes you?”
Weird, I know. But true.
Acupuncture needles are surprisingly thin. They do not bear any resemblance to needles that are used for injections or to draw blood. (I often compare them with a cat's whisker.) In most cases, the insertion of acupuncture needles does not hurt. It can produce a variety of sensations but frequent acupuncture goers will tell you it doesn’t hurt.

Once the needles are in, they start working their magic, which is where the relaxation part comes in. Acupuncture helps shift your body out of sympathetic mode (fight or flight) and into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). It mellows out the nervous system, decreases muscular tension, and helps quiet internal chatter.
People who get acupuncture on a regular basis are familiar with the term “acu-land,” a magical place where many find themselves during and after acupuncture treatments. It’s a state of blissful relaxation in which you feel lighter, calmer, and better equipped to manage stress. You ought to check it out some time!

Call to schedule your appointment today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

8 Things to Remember Before an Acupuncture Appointment

Acupuncture isn’t really into hard-and-fast rules. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. This is the beauty of acupuncture—it meets us wherever we are.
However, there are some general rules of thumb when it comes to preparing for an acupuncture appointment. All are changeable based on your constitution and preferences, but in my experience, these guidelines tend to improve the treatment experience and outcome for most people.
Are you ready to get the most out of your next acupuncture treatment? Remember these eight things.

Schedule wisely
Avoid scheduling acupuncture before or after something really strenuous. You don’t need to be sedentary on either side of an appointment, but nor should you be going nuts at the gym or suffering through an extremely stressful meeting. Also avoid sandwiching—squeezing in acupuncture immediately between two other events—as this has a tendency to make you either late for or stressed out during your treatment.

This is an important one, and it’s something I get asked about a lot. Everyone metabolizes food at different rates, so adjust as you see fit, but a good guideline is to eat about two hours before an acupuncture appointment. You don’t want to show up really full, or after having eaten something heavy, fried or spicy, but do not go for acupuncture on an empty stomach. It can leave you feeling lightheaded or physically depleted. If you’re debating whether it’s too close to your appointment to eat, eat. Better to be a little full than distracted by hunger during your appointment.

Coffee is not your friend
That is not to say that coffee is never your friend, but coffee is not your friend immediately before acupuncture. If you have a morning appointment and can’t go without your morning cup, do what you have to do. But if you’re going for acupuncture later in the day, avoid coffee for at least two hours before.
Coffee is a stimulant. It has been shown to release norepinephrine and epinephrine, which kick your body into fight-or-flight mode. Acupuncture works to shift you away from that sympathetic (fight-or-flight) state and toward a parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) one, so coffee inhibits the process. It also makes it difficult for the acupuncturist to get accurate readings on your pulse and tongue, since coffee increases your heart rate and stains your tongue.

Neither is alcohol
One of acupuncture’s greatest gifts is its ability to help us see more clearly. Not literally, as in improved vision (although it has been known to do that too), but it helps us see situations and our symptoms with more clarity. Alcohol does the opposite. It numbs us, takes the edge off, which during acupuncture is not a good thing. One goal of acupuncture is to bring more awareness to how we feel. Impairing the senses with alcohol is not helpful.

Remember where you’ve been
Before acupuncture, spend some time thinking about—or even making a list, if that helps—any significant medical events in your life. For example, family disease history, car accidents, broken bones, other serious injuries, long-term illnesses, surgeries, etc. Also make note of any medications you are taking currently as well as any that you took long-term in the past (e.g., birth control pills).
We tend to forget these things, or assume they’re irrelevant, but from an acupuncture perspective they help contribute to your overall picture of health. Your acupuncturist will want to hear about them. When in doubt about whether to include something, it’s always better to mention it.

Wear loose clothing
This is so the acupuncturist can easily access the places where he or she wants to place needles. It’s especially important if you’re going for a community acupuncture appointment, because treatments are performed in a group setting with clothes on. However, even for private acupuncture appointments, loose clothing usually makes things easier for you and the practitioner.

Don’t rush
Even when we schedule wisely, there is still a tendency to leave at the last minute for appointments. This makes most appointments more stressful than they need to be, but especially with acupuncture, arriving at your appointment amped-up is counter productive. It’s similar to how coffee works against the process of calming the nervous system. When you rush into an appointment, your pulse is higher than normal, your mind is spinning, and you’re tense with worry about the prospect of being late.
Many of us already deal with these qualities during our regular stress-filled days—and they’re often the reasons for coming to acupuncture in the first place—so why make them worse by rushing? Regardless of when your appointment is, put it in your calendar as 15 minutes earlier. The worst than can happen is you sit for 15 minutes in a quiet waiting room. Finally, time and space to hear yourself think.

Turn off your cellphone
Last but not least, please turn off your phone. Not on vibrate. Off. Do it before your appointment actually starts, to avoid forgetting and/or getting distracted by a call or message immediately before you’re about to begin. This is your time and no one else’s. Make it count.

Some of these things are easy to forget. If you can remember even a few of them, I promise it will make a world of difference in your experience. We look forward to continuing to offer wonderful care and as always, encourage you to call with questions or to schedule an appointment.

(originally authored by Sara Calabro)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Research: The Plantar Fasciitis Cure

Debilitating foot or heal pain limits many of us - regardless of age or activity level. One thing is for certain, while there are numerous regimens for this (read more below), our experience at Health On Point demonstrates that acupuncture is an incredibly successful option for treatment. With the warming weather, many of us are increasing our activity. Should you or someone you know suffer from food or heal pain, please call our clinic to schedule an appointment!
Recent research indicates acupuncture is an effective and safe treatment for heel pain. Heel pain is a common foot condition often characterized by intense pain, especially when placing weight onto the foot. Pain on the back of the heel often indicates achilles tendinitis and pain on the underside of the heel often indicates plantar fasciitis.
One of the most common causes of heel pain, plantar fasciitis involves pain and inflammation of the band of tissue running across the bottom of the foot. New research indicates that acupuncture is effective for plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis and many other forms of heel pain.
Biomedical approaches to heel pain treatment include behavioral therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, small needle knife therapy, block therapy, shockwave therapy and surgery. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) historical records document success in the treatment of heel pain using acupuncture. This new scientific investigation confirms the historical data.
The researchers from Guangzhou Dongsheng Hospital and Guangzhou Social Welfare House examined 19 separate clinical investigations and discovered that 16 of the 19 studies made extensive use of ahshi ("trigger point") acupuncture points to achieve optimal patient outcomes. In one investigation carried out by Xu Xuemeng et al., 66 patients were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a control group. The acupuncture group received filiform acupuncture needle method treatment and the control group received injections and local blocking therapy. The results were assessed six months following the treatment. The acupuncture group achieved an effective rate of 97% and the drug therapy group had only a 76% effective rate.
Based on the 19 reviewed studies that were performed in the past five years, the researchers conclude that acupuncture is safer, easier to apply, and more effective than conventional treatments for heel pain.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Your Seasonal Acupuncture Session

Spring is officially here!  And that means change right?  Longer days, warmer weather, flowers blooming…just to name a few, but what about us?  With all these changes going on around us, our bodies are naturally bound to react, and to prevent flu-like symptoms or other negative effects this spring, we recommend getting your dose of seasonal acupuncture.

Whenever there is a season change, according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) beliefs, the energy frequency of the body or a person’s “qi,” may not be in harmony with the season’s frequency. A person’s may be blocked, leading to negative side effects from bodily sickness to mood swings. Acupuncture move you so that you may easily align yourself with the season's shift.

Why is now the perfect he time to get acupuncture? According to TCM, transitions like season changes are times of turmoil.  People by nature are imbalanced and so these transitions exacerbate the imbalances in a person that are already there.

People may argue, why receive a treatment for something if I’m not sick?  The answer is this: prevention.  Here are the top three reasons why you should come in for an acupuncture treatment at the beginning of Spring and every season:

  1. Prevention – Help your body avoid illness during a seasonal transition.
  2. If you have had issues in the past like chronic illness or allergies, this is the time to get a tune-up!
  3. Acupuncture strength is that it works beautifully at prevention.

Call Health On Point today to schedule your Seasonal Session!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Acupuncture Emergency Room Hospital Care Gets A Yes

Acupuncture integrates into hospital emergency room care and helps relieve pain and nausea.

A new study conducted at the Northern Hospital in Melbourne, Australia demonstrates that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of pain and nausea in the emergency room setting. The research reveals that adding acupuncture to conventional biomedical care results in better patient medical outcomes.
The study was conducted between January and August of 2010. A total of 200 patients presenting to emergency room triage with pain and/or nausea were treated with both acupuncture and biomedical care. This integrative medicine group was compared with another group receiving only biomedical ‘western medicine’ care. The acupuncture group responded with an 84.8% response rate that they would consider repeating acupuncture care. Of that 84.8%, a total of 53.5% noted “definitely yes” to repeating acupuncture care in the emergency room setting.

The most common conditions treated with acupuncture were musculoskeletal concerns. Abdominal and flank pain were the second most common condition. Reviewing all conditions, the integrative medicine acupuncture group demonstrated significant gains over the biomedicine group in significant decreases in both pain and nausea.

The researchers conclude that acupuncture is both safe and effective. They also note that acupuncture is “acceptable” to patients in the emergency room setting. As a result, the researchers have called for a study to understand the cost-effectiveness of implementing acupuncture into the emergency medicine department.

Related research finds acupuncture cost-effective for the treatment of pain. 
Researchers from the University of York, UK, investigated the economic value of acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain, neck pain, dysmenorrhea, migraines, arthritis and headaches. The researchers documented correlations between the clinical benefits of acupuncture and medical cost savings. The researchers concluded, “Acupuncture appears to be a cost-effective intervention for some chronic pain conditions.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Research: Acupuncture Reduces Pain

Acupuncture effectively reduces pain according to research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Acupuncture groups had significantly greater reductions of pain than both non-treatment control groups and sham (imitation/placebo) control acupuncture groups in multiple high quality studies. Specifically, acupuncture was found effective for reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis, chronic headache, shoulder pain, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and back pain.
Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York and Technical University, Munich underscored the importance of this latest research. They note that prior meta-analyses and systematic reviews of acupuncture for the treatment of pain included research of “variable quality.” In this new study, the scope was “restricted to high-quality trials.”
The researchers started with 31 eligible studies with a total of 19,827 patients. Studies were accepted only from the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Only studies with controls were included. Controls included no-acupuncture and sham/placebo acupuncture. All studies were conducted between 1996 and 2008. The researchers refined the studies down to 29 from the original 31 to preserve the highest quality evidence profile.
The clinical results demonstrated acupuncture to provide a “good response” to pain reduction in 50% of all cases. Sham/placebo acupuncture groups demonstrated the ability to reduce pain in 42.5% of cases and no-acupuncture controls demonstrated pain reduction in 30% of all cases. Some concern was expressed by the researchers that the sham/placebo acupuncture groups received active true acupuncture because some of the sham/placebo techniques “involved skin penetration.” They note that the sham/placebo acupuncture may not be “physiologically inactive.” As a result, some of the successes with sham/placebo acupuncture may reflect true acupuncture results. The researchers note “trials that include sham acupuncture as a comparison may underestimate the effects of acupuncture on pain reduction.” Another consideration is that these controlled studies involve blinding and standardization. As a result, the benefits of acupuncture may be underestimated because a true clinical setting involves customization of acupuncture procedures according to an individual patient’s differential diagnosis.
The researchers note that many established guidelines recommend acupuncture. They cite, for example, that the American College of Physicians’ guidelines recommend acupuncture for the treatment of back pain. Also, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines officially recommend acupuncture treatments for both chronic headaches and migraines when unresponsive to pharmaceutical medications.
This level of meticulous review establishes acupuncture as a standard and effective tool for the treatment of pain. This research has been published just after a recent discovery by investigators at Rutgers University Medical School, New Jersey that acupuncture reduces inflammation. The surgery department researchers proved that electroacupuncture fights infections including polymicrobial peritonitis and reduces severe systemic inflammation due to infections, sepsis. The researchers documented that the anti-inflammatory effects of electroacupuncture “are voltage dependent.” Non-acupuncture points (sham points) did not exert anti-inflammatory responses and “electroacupuncture with a wooden toothpick” did not reduce inflammation. Only true acupuncture was effective in regulating both dopamine and cytokine levels and produced anti-inflammatory effects that prevented death.
The researchers note that the anti-inflammatory mechanism of electroacupuncture is “mediated by the sciatic and vagus nerves that modulates the production of catecholamines in the adrenal glands.” The researchers documented that electroacupuncture reduced lipopolysaccharide-induced serum levels of cytokines, reduced inflammation and prevented death due to sepsis.
There is a powerful take away from the latest research. Not only is acupuncture effective but it is irresponsible and uninformed to dismiss it. The data is in and acupuncture is a valuable treatment modality. There is a great need in modern clinical settings to provide enhanced relief from pain to alleviate suffering. Moreover, acupuncture’s anti-inflammatory actions demonstrate that it saves lives by preventing sepsis.
If you are curious about acupuncture and would love to experience the benefits for treatment firsthand, call Health On Point to schedule a consultation today.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You're Invited! An Insomnia Workshop

Last week we announced our first joint event with Hearland Yoga! On the evening of March 26th, join us (1/2 block west) for an incredible hands-on event. You will receive auricular acupuncture in conjunction with guided breathing and relaxing yoga poses to enhance your sleep. Let us help you feel settled both physically and emotionally. We at Health On Point are preparing care packages for each individual attending. You may register by phone or directly online. Information is found in the poster below! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Acupuncture Reduces Stroke Risk Discovery

Acupuncture decreases the risk of stroke for patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Stimulation of acupoints has been proven to reduce stroke risk and post-stroke depression. An investigation of 29,636 patients with TBI reveals that patients receiving acupuncture have a “lower probability of stroke than those without acupuncture treatment during the follow-up period.” Patients from 2000-2008 were reviewed from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. Follow-ups continued through the end of 2010. The study “showed significantly decreased risk of new-onset stroke events for patients with TBI who received acupuncture treatment. The present study is the first to report that acupuncture treatment was associated with reduced stroke risk for patients with TBI.”

The researchers note that acupuncture provides other medical benefits to patients with TBI. They noted, “Our previous study found that patients with TBI who received acupuncture treatment had less emergency care and hospitalization in the first year after injury compared with control.” Another study cited in the research “proved that acupuncture improves cognition and perception of sleep or sleep quality.”

The researchers uncovered numerous studies demonstrating that acupuncture is effective “in improving stroke patients’ physical abilities.” They also found concrete evidence showing that acupuncture helps to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve the “lipid profile.” They note that this type of research helps to explain why acupuncture is effective in reducing the risk of stroke in TBI patients.

The study is important in that the sample size is large and that strict study designs were used. Additionally, the researchers sorted for socio-demographics and preexisting medical conditions to ensure accurate results. As a result, the researchers give a 95% rating of confidence to the study’s outcome.

The breakdown shows some interesting results. Overall, incidence rates for strokes in TBI patients decreased from 7.5 per 1,000 patients in the non-acupuncture group to 4.9 in the acupuncture group. Sorted by gender, females without acupuncture had an incidence of 6.5 per 1,000 but with acupuncture had an incidence of 4.6. For males, the incidence was 7.9 per 1,000 for non-acupuncture patients and 5.2 for acupuncture patients. For TBI patients from ages 20-44, the incidence was 2.1 for non-acupuncture patients and 1.2 for acupuncture patients. For ages 45-64, the incidence was 10.6 for non-acupuncture patients and 7.4 for acupuncture patients. For TBI patients 65 and older, the incidence was 28.4 per 1,000 for non-acupuncture patients and 18.0 for acupuncture patients.

In other recent related research, investigators discovered that combining acupuncture with conventional medications decreases post-stroke depression (PSD). Researchers examined 150 patients in a controlled single blind study. They concluded that acupuncture combined with medications synergistically improves patient outcomes by decreasing post-stroke syndrome, improving limb function and benefitting serum biochemistry. The study group receiving both acupuncture and medications had significantly better patient outcomes than the medication only and acupuncture only groups. This research supports the integration of acupuncture into conventional medical settings for patients who have suffered a stroke.

If you or a loved one have suffered a stroke, consider trying acupuncture at Health On Point. Appointments are available throughout the day to suit your needs!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Research: Acupuncture Holds Promise for Treating Inflammatory Disease

When acupuncture first became popular in the Western Hemisphere it had its doubters. It still does. But over time, through detailed observation, scientists have produced real evidence that ancient Chinese practitioners of the medical arts were onto something. 

Now new research documents a direct connection between the use of acupuncture and physical processes that could alleviate sepsis, a condition that often develops in hospital intensive care units, springs from infection and inflammation, and takes an estimated 250,000 lives in the United States every year. 

Luis Ulloa of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School says there may 
be future treatments for deadly inflammation that use either 
acupuncture or medications.
“Sepsis is the major cause of death in the hospital,” says Luis Ulloa, an immunologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who led the study, which has been published by the journal Nature Medicine. “But in many cases patients don’t die because of the infection. They die because of the inflammatory disorder they develop after the infection. So we hoped to study how to control the inflammatory disorder.”

The researchers already knew that stimulation of one of the body’s major nerves, the vagus nerve, triggers processes in the body that reduce inflammation, so they set out to see whether a form of acupuncture that sends a small electric current through that and other nerves could reduce inflammation and organ injury in septic mice. Ulloa explains that increasing the current magnifies the effect of needle placement, and notes that electrification is already FDA-approved for treating pain in human patients.   

When electroacupuncture was applied to mice with sepsis, molecules called cytokines that help limit inflammation were stimulated as predicted, and half of those mice survived for at least a week. There was zero survival among mice that did not receive acupuncture.

Ulloa and his team then probed further, to figure out exactly why the acupuncture treatments had succeeded. And they made a discovery that, on its face, was very disappointing. They found that when they removed adrenal glands – which produce hormones in the body – the electroacpuncture stopped working.

Evidence that acupuncture produces beneficial effects continues to grow.
That discovery presented a big potential roadblock to use of acupuncture for sepsis in humans, because most human cases of sepsis include sharply reduced adrenal function. In theory, electroacupuncture might still help a minority of patients whose adrenal glands work well, but not many others.
So the researchers dug even deeper – to find the specific anatomical changes that occurred when electroacupuncture was performed with functioning adrenal glands. Those changes included increased levels of dopamine, a substance that has important functions within the immune system. But they found that adding dopamine by itself did not curb the inflammation. They then substituted a drug called fenoldopam that mimics some of dopamine’s most positive effects, and even without acupuncture they succeeded in reducing sepsis-related deaths by 40 percent.

Ulloa considers the results a double triumph. 

On the one hand, he says, this research shows physical evidence of acupuncture’s value beyond any that has been demonstrated before. His results show potential benefits, he adds, not just for sepsis, but treating other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and Crohn’s disease.   

On the other hand, by also establishing that a drug reduced sepsis deaths in mice, he has provided an innovative road map toward developing potential drugs for people. That road map may be crucial, because no FDA-approved drug to treat sepsis now exists. 

“I don’t even know whether in the future the best solution for sepsis will be electroacupuncture or some medicine that will mimic electroacupuncture,” Ulloa concludes. The bottom line, he says, is that this research has opened the door to both.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Acupuncture for stress

Many feel immediate stress release from acupuncture.
When it comes to calming down, more and more people are turning to acupuncture for stress relief.
Jamie Starkey, an acupuncturist at Cleveland Clinic, said acupuncture for stress has a two-fold effect.
"So, as we’re treating patients, patients are not only engaged in that relaxation response, but also the brain begins to release endorphins and the endorphin response gives you that euphoric-like sensation," said Starkey.
Starkey said, when it comes to stress, most people feel an immediate response to acupuncture.
Some studies have found acupuncture lowers stress hormones, while others report a release of endorphins triggered by the technique.
Acupuncture works well as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to managing stress. If you would like to try acupuncture for stress relief, call to schedule a session. We also introduce patients to herbs and essential oils to support change at home.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Acupuncture Found Superior To Drug for Neck Disc Pain

Acupuncture is found more effective than drug therapy for the treatment of neck disc herniations. We encourage you to review the study highlighted below. Whether you are an acupuncture 'pro' or are curious about finding long term pain relief, call our clinic for a phone consult and to schedule a session today!

This disorder is characterized by neck pain, numbness and/or weakness that often radiates towards the hands. Researchers compared electroacupuncture with the medication Meloxicam and discovered that electroacupuncture is more effective in both the short and long-term for the treatment of cervical intervertebral disc herniations.
A total of 420 patients were investigated in this randomized controlled study. An electroacupuncture group was compared with a Meloxicam group. Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with analgesic and anti-febrile effects. 

Acupuncture was applied to acupoints GV14 (DU14, Dazhui), UB11 (BL11, Dazhu) and SI3 (Houxi). All participants were screened with strict inclusion and exclusion criteria based on objective testing including standard X-ray findings and CT (computed tomography) scans. 
GV14 was needled upwards and obliquely between 0.5 to 0.7 cun. A cun is an anatomical measurement that is approximately 1 inch. SI3 was needled perpendicularly towards LI4 (Hegu) between 0.5 to 0.7 cun. Upon the arrival of de Qi needling sensation, a manual acupuncture technique of lifting and thrusting was applied with mild intensity for one minute for each of these acupuncture points. De qi is a combination of bodily sensations induced by acupuncture needling techniques combined with physiological responses to the stimulation. De qi sensation is often described as dull, heavy, deep pressure, pulling, numb, aching, spreading, radiating, electrical, refreshing, relieving and tingling. The requirements for the de Qi sensation at SI3 were that of extending to the entire hand.

GV14 and UB11 were connected by electroacupuncture stimulation with a continuous wave at 40 Hz with an intensity of 2 mA for approximately 20 minutes. Acupuncture treatments were administered once per day. A total of 10 acupuncture treatments consisted of one treatment course. A day off was taken following the first course. This was followed by another treatment course of identical procedures and quantity. The Meloxicam medication group received a 7.5 mg/tablet at a rate of once per day. The oral tablet was taken after dinner for a total of 20 days. 

Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, a total of 145 patients recovered in the short-term. Of the 208 medication patients, 93 recovered in the short-term. Improvements also occurred in an additional 53 acupuncture patients and 90 medication patients. A poor response was indicated by no improvement of symptoms and the decrease rate of symptoms and signs was less than or equal to 30%. The electroacupuncture group had 9 poor responses and the medication group had 25 poor responses to treatment.

Long-term results were significantly better for the electroacupuncture group than the medication group. Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, a total of 180 patients showed recovery in the long-term. Of the 208 medication patients, 142 patients had a long-term recovery. Electroacupuncture caused 25 patients to improve significantly. The medication caused 52 medication patients to improve significantly. Poor results for electroacupuncture were limited to 2 patients and 14 medication patients had poor results. The researchers note, “With a randomized controlled multi-centered large-sampled method, this study has shown that the EA (electroacupuncture) group was better than the medication group in comparing both short-term and long-term therapeutic efficacies.”

Recovery was defined as a patient who is asymptomatic, has regained normal muscle strength and cervical & limb functions, is able to return to work and has a decrease in the rate of both symptoms and signs greater than or equal to 95%. Objective improvements were measured with tests including tendon reflexes, brachial plexus traction tests and spurling tests. Cervical motion was rated for improvements in lateral flexion, forward flexion, backward bending and side turning. Subjective measurements were applied to pain, tenderness and numbness scores. These measurements demonstrated that electroacupuncture proved significantly more effective in the short and long-term than the medication.

Short-Term Results
Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, a total of 145 patients recovered in the short-term. Of the 208 medication patients, 93 recovered in the short-term. Improvements also occurred in an additional 53 acupuncture patients and 90 medication patients. A poor response was indicated by no improvement of symptoms and the decrease rate of symptoms and signs was less than or equal to 30%. The electroacupuncture group had 9 poor responses and the medication group had 25 poor responses to treatment.

Long-Term Results
Long-term results were significantly better for the electroacupuncture group than the medication group. Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, a total of 180 patients showed recovery in the long-term. Of the 208 medication patients, 142 patients had a long-term recovery. Electroacupuncture caused 25 patients to improve significantly. The medication caused 52 medication patients to improve significantly. Poor results for electroacupuncture were limited to 2 patients and 14 medication patients had poor results. The researchers note, “With a randomized controlled multi-centered large-sampled method, this study has shown that the EA (electroacupuncture) group was better than the medication group in comparing both short-term and long-term therapeutic efficacies.”

Friday, February 7, 2014

Acupuncture Fights Depression

There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates acupuncture's incredible effect on anxiety and depression. Read about the newest research below - and then call Health On Point to experience it for yourself.
New lab experiments reveal acupuncture has antidepressant effects. An examination of brain cells following acupuncture treatments uncovered important mechanisms by which acupuncture exerts its antidepressant effects. Acupuncture caused the regulation of brain cell activity associated with therapeutic results.
The researchers discovered that acupuncture exhibits regulatory effects on special brain cells in the hippocampus called neural progenitor cells (NPs). These cells contribute to the maintenance of the brain and spinal cord. A major function of NPs is in the replacement of damaged or dead cells. Injured cells activate NPs to differentiate into the target tissue. NPs vary slightly from stem cells because they are more specific and tend to differentiate into a specific type of cell.
The researchers cite numerous studies showing “that acupuncture is an effective remedy for depression and it may be as effective as antidepressant drugs.” They also note that electro-acupuncture increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus as do SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), a class of antidepressant medications. Neurogenesis is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem and progenitor cells.
The focus of this new study was to map the precise cellular mechanisms responsible for the antidepressant effects of electro-acupuncture. Prior research shows that electro-acupuncture restores proliferation of NPs in the brain when impaired by depression. The focus of this study was a more precise measurement of specific biochemical actions.
The findings revealed that electro-acupuncture applied to acupuncture points DU20 (Baihui) and GB34 (Yanglingquan) on a stress induced rat model group regulated two major subclasses of NPs, quiescent neural progenitors (QNPs) and amplifying neural progenitors (ANPs). The researchers demonstrated that chronic unpredictable stress induced behaviors associated with depression and anxiety in the rat model group. The stress caused cell death of QNPs and “impaired the proliferation of both ANPs and QNPs” in the group. Electro-acupuncture “alleviated depressive-like and anxiety-like behaviors in the rat” group, restored proliferation of ANPs and limited cell death of QNPs. This caused a preservation of NPs in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is shown here.
The researchers note, “The present study revealed that chronic EA (electro-acupuncture) treatment exerted significant antidepressant effects in a rat model of depression. Further, the mechanisms underlying antidepressant effects of EA were associated with preserving the QNPs from apoptosis and ameliorating the impaired ANPs proliferation in hippocampus.” They note that the work conclusively demonstrates that electroacupuncture is “beneficial to the division of hippocampal NPs.” Further, the researchers note that these findings are consistent with other investigations demonstrating that electro-acupuncture “promotes neurogenesis in different brain regions….”
The researchers note that NPs are important in hippocampal neurogenesis and that chronic induced stress decreases proliferation of NPs and manifests in declined neurogenesis. This decrease in the birth of new brain neurons is associated with both anxiety and depression. Electro-acupuncture exhibited the opposite effects of chronic induced stress by upregulating ANPs. The researchers suggest that this is an “underlying mechanism of antidepressant-like effects of EA (electro-acupuncture).”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Research: Acupuncture & Herbs Relieve PMS

A meta-analysis of 8 acupuncture studies and 11 herbal medicine studies revealed a success rate of 50% or greater for the reduction of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). No incidence of major adverse events occurred. As a result, the researchers concluded that the acupuncture and herbal medicines investigated in the study are both safe and effective.
PMS occurs during the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The research notes that up to “25% of menstruating women report moderate-to-severe premenstrual symptoms. Approximately 5% report severe symptoms.” Acupuncture demonstrated the ability to reduce symptoms by 77.8% within 2-4 treatments. The treatment protocol yielding these results employed the use of acupuncture points DU20, LI4, HT3, CV3, CV4, CV6, PC6, GB34, UB23 and ear Shenmen. In addition, these results were significantly superior to the sham acupuncture controls.
Hand acupuncture was found more effective than traditional acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes. Hand moxibustion demonstrated very high improvement rates for the treatment of anxiety, mood swings, swelling and depression. Notably, there were no differences in treatment outcomes between acupuncture treatments given during the luteal and follicular phases. The researchers concluded that these findings demonstrate that acupuncture treatments “need not be limited only to the luteal phase.”
As with acupuncture, no serious adverse events were reported with the herbal medicines investigated in the study. The herbal medicines were effective in the relief of PMS and included the herbal formulas Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San and Xiao Yao San. Groups treated with either hand acupuncture, Vitex Agnus castus or Xiao Yao San demonstrated over a 70% improvement in the reduction of PMS symptoms. The findings of this recent study are confirmed in another study entitled the Therapeutic effect of Vitex agnus castus in patients with premenstrual syndrome. That study concludes, “Vitex agnus can be considered as an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of mild and moderate PMS.” The same findings were concluded in the study Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome with a Phytopharmaceutical Formulation Containing Vitex agnus castus.
Getting back to this most recent study, Xiao Yao San decoction demonstrated an overall reduction in fatigue by 68.9% and a 74.8% improvement rate for the reduction of insomnia. Vitex Agnus castus showed greater than a 50% improvement rate for the relief of back pain. Xiao Yao San scored the highest for the relief of anxiety, irritability, mood swings and depression. The researchers note that, “For increased anger during the luteal phase, Vitex Agnus castus and Elsholtzia splendens treatment resulted in more than a 50% improvement.” Both acupuncture and herbal medicines demonstrated significant improvements over placebo controls with the exception of Cirsium japonicum.
The researchers note that these findings suggest that a large-scale, multicenter study is warranted given the findings. They called for comparisons between treatment frequencies, dosages and treatment durations for each PMS/PMDD symptom. They note that further study will provide acupuncture continuing education and will give guidance to clinical protocols. The also note that, “Our findings were consistent with those of comparable reviews of acupuncture and herbal interventions for treating PMS/PMD.”
The researchers provided background into the use of complementary, traditional and alternative medicines for the treatment of PMS. A US telephone survey documented that 80% of women “preferred non-pharmacological interventions” including vitamins, supplements and other types of treatment modalities. Pharmacological approaches include the use of antidepressants, diuretics, psychotropics, progesterone, GnRh agonists, estrogen, oral contraceptives, “pyridoxine, ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone, and synthetic androgen and gonadotropin inhibitors.” Researchers discovered that the majority of women preferred “dietary changes, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and complementary and alternative medicine” and other non-pharmacologic approaches.
In related research, investigators find that acupuncture combined with moxibustion and cupping is effective for the treatment of menstrual pain. The study consisted of sixty-six patients with dysmenorrhea, menstrual pain. The pain was significantly relieved or eliminated in all sixty-six patients with a combination of acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion within 2-6 treatments.
If you or someone you love suffers from PMS or PMDD, please call our clinic to schedule a session with Rachel. See for yourself how acupuncture provides lasting relief!

Monday, January 20, 2014

New CT Scans Reveal Acupuncture Points

CT scans reveal anatomical structures of acupuncture points. This new finding demonstrates the physical existence of acupuncture points. A CT (computerized tomography) scan is a series of X-rays used to create cross-sectional images. In this study published in the Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena, researchers used in-line phase contrast CT imaging with synchrotron radiation on both non-acupuncture points and acupuncture points. The CT scans revealed clear distinctions between the non-acupuncture point and acupuncture point anatomical structures.
Acupuncture points have a higher density of micro-vessels and contain a large amount of involuted microvascular structures. The non-acupuncture points did not exhibit these properties. The researchers note that the state-of-the-art CT imaging techniques used in this study allow for improved three-dimensional (3D) imaging of a large field of view without artifacts. This greatly improves imaging of soft tissue and allowed the researchers to make this important discovery.
The acupuncture points ST36 (Zusanli) and ST37 (Shangjuxu) were shown to have very distinct structural differences than surrounding areas. At the acupuncture points, microvascular densities with bifurcations “can be clearly seen around thick blood vessels” but non-acupuncture point areas showed few thick blood vessels and none showed fine, high density structures. The acupuncture points contained fine structures with more large blood vessels that are several dozen micrometers in size plus beds of high density vascularization of vessels 15-50 micrometers in size. This structure was not found in non-acupuncture point areas.
The researchers note that the size of an acupuncture point “can be estimated by the diameter of microvascular aggregations….” They also commented that other research has found unique structures of acupuncture points and acupuncture meridians using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), infrared imaging, LCD thermal photography, ultrasound and other CT imaging methods. The researchers commented that many studies using these technological approaches have already shown that acupuncture points exist. They note that “the high brightness, wide spectrum, high collimation, polarization and pulsed structure of synchrotron radiation” facilitated their discovery. They concluded, “Our results demonstrated again the existence of acupoints, and also show that the acupoints are special points in mammals.”
In another interesting study, researchers used an amperometric oxygen microsensor to detect partial oxygen pressure variations at different locations on the anterior aspect of the wrist. The researchers concluded that partial oxygen pressure is significantly higher at acupuncture points. Below are images from the study measuring the increase of partial oxygen pressure combined with an overlay of the local acupuncture point locations. The images map the Lung, Pericardium and Heart channels and their associated local points. Acupuncture points P7 and P6 clearly show high oxygen pressure levels as do the other acupuncture points in the region.
These measurements are not needled points but are natural resting states of acupuncture points absent of stimulation. A truly unique finding, acupuncture points exhibit special oxygen characteristics. Acupuncture points and acupuncture channels are scientifically measurable phenomena in repeated experiments.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Birth of a New Year

With the birth of a new year is the birth of our first shared event. You are cordially invited.... (call or email to schedule!)

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