Benefits of Acupuncture

Benefits of Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese medicine describes acupuncture as a means of balancing energy that flows through pathways within your body. This is done through the insertion of very small needles at strategic points on the patient’s body. It is generally used to treat pain although it can also be used to treat mental health issues like the management of stress.

This practice has been around for over 4,000 years. Acupuncture has remained a steady source of treatment since then, although it has gone through some changes throughout the years. The same basic concept has remained the same, however. And whether you’re seeking acupuncture for neck pain, fertility, or any of the other positive outcomes you can visit Affinity Acupuncture for help in Nashville.

Let’s look into the specifics of acupuncture to see how we can benefit from it.

Are you interested in seeing what acupuncture can do for you? Visit Affinity Acupuncture to set up an appointment today.

How it Works

The systems by which acupuncture affects the patient differs depending on who you ask. The traditional Chinese interpretation is based around energy.

The energy inside your body is referred to as qi (pronounced “chee”). This qi travels throughout your body by way of 12 separate pathways, known as meridians. And although these meridians don’t follow similar pathways of blood flow and nerves, they do represent the major organs as well as the functions of the body.

Our bodies contain competing energy flows, known as the yin and the yang. These make up our qi. And it is the harmonious congruence of these two forces that keep our bodies in good health and make us feel better. An improper balance of these forces is what leads to illnesses.

There are 361 points on our bodies that can manipulate the flow of our qi. Strategic placement of tiny needles helps direct our energy in the appropriate way to balance out our yin and yang, resulting in a more well-balanced qi.

Western scientists have further studied acupuncture and come up with other theories as to why it works. The first theory is that acupuncture works by stimulating neurohormonal pathways. The needle effectively stimulates a nerve in the patient’s body. The nerve sends a signal to the brain which releases hormones such as endorphins, which promote good feelings in the body which increases the pain threshold.

Another theory is that acupuncture reduces proteins in the body that promote inflammation. This reduction in inflammation is linked to a reduction in pain.

Yet another theory relates directly to acupuncture’s positive effects on nerve damage. It says that insertion of the needle stimulates the brain to secrete a factor that stimulates nerve growth, effectively re-growing the damaged nerve.

But whether you subscribe to the eastern or western explanation of why acupuncture works, the benefits are all the same. But what can acupuncture be used to treat?

What It Treats

Acupuncture is used to treat a number of various conditions. Most notably, it is used to assist in general health, sleep, and digestion. It reduces stress, inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Acupuncture also increases fertility and energy.

Acupuncture has been proven through clinical trials to be an effective treatment for the following:

  • Allergic rhinitis

  • Biliary colic

  • Depression

  • Dysentery, acute bacillary

  • Dysmenorrhea, primary

  • Epigastralgia, acute

  • Facial pain

  • Headache

  • Hypertension, essential

  • Hypotension, primary

  • Induction of labor

  • Knee pain

  • Leukopenia

  • Low back pain

  • Malposition of fetus, correction of

  • Morning sickness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Neck pain

  • Pain in dentistry

  • Periarthritis of shoulder

  • Postoperative pain

  • Renal colic

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Sciatica

  • Sprain

  • Stroke

  • Tennis Elbow

These and other conditions have shown positive effects from acupuncture treatment.

What to Expect

Many people feel somewhat lethargic after an acupuncture appointment. This is commonly related to a feeling of deep relaxation. However, treatments affect everyone a little differently. In fact, some people feel energetic from a quick boost of adrenaline after the appointment.

It’s generally recommended to continue seeking relaxing atmospheres after an acupuncture session. Find a quiet place to sit down or even go for a massage. This is a healing process so more the more time you give yourself to take it easy, the better your chances become of experiencing the benefits of the treatment.

Try It for Yourself

The best way to learn about the benefits of acupuncture is to try it firsthand. Those in the Nashville area interested in acupuncture for neck pain, fertility, or any other ailment should visit Affinity Acupuncture.

Affinity Acupuncture serves both the Nashville and Franklin areas. Visit us today to set up an appointment.

Acupuncture Moves Stool, Relieves Constipation

Acupuncture Moves Stool, Relieves Constipation

Clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture relieves chronic constipation and produces greater long-term patient outcomes than drugs.

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers find true acupuncture more effective than sham acupuncture for the relief of constipation. In another study by Yang et al., acupuncture combined with herbal medicine relieves constipation in the elderly and demonstrates superior patient outcomes to pharmaceutical medications. Acupuncture plus herbs produced a high total effective rate and very low relapse rate. Let’s take a look at the results of the investigations.

Zheng et al. (Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of functional constipation, often referred to as chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This type of constipation does not have a known anatomical or physiological etiology in biomedicine. CIC often involves infrequent defecation, hard stools, straining during bowel movements, and incomplete evacuation of stools. Secondary symptoms include stomach cramping, pain, and abdominal bloating or distention.

The study examines the efficaciousness of front mu (ST25) and back shu (BL25) acupoints of the large intestine meridian. This approach is consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. The large intestine foot-yangming channel is often an integral aspect to treatments for constipation.

The researchers note that functional constipation is classified in the Da Bian Nan (difficulty in bowel movement) category in TCM. They cite prior research indicating that acupuncture effectively treats the root causes of constipation. As a result, acupuncture patients have lower relapse rates than patients having taken mosapride, a medication used to facilitate bowel movements. Although the drug is effective, the research indicates a relatively high relapse rate (54.2%) following discontinuation of the drug. The researchers add that acupuncture is effective without significant adverse effects whereas mosapride may cause loose stools, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, abdominal pain, and borborygmus. Mosapride is a serotonin 5HT₄-receptor agonist and serotonin 5HT₃-receptor antagonist that is a gastroprokinetic agent.

Acupuncture at the large intestine foot-yangming front mu and back shu points was compared with sham acupoint controls to ensure validity of the data. In a prior meta-analysis, acupuncture had a 72.8% total effective rate for the treatment of constipation. In this study, the classic front mu and back shu combination achieved an 82.56% total effective rate.

The active sham control group had a 67.65% total effective rate compared with the 82.56% total effective rate of the true acupuncture group. Notably, the sham points were located and needled 1 cm laterally to the true acupuncture point locations. This active sham control method may have contributed to clinical successes in the sham group. Nonetheless, the true acupuncture group significantly outperformed the sham control group. True acupuncture had better frequency of bowel movement scores, difficulty of bowel movement scores, and a higher total effective rate. The study involved 72 voluntary patients from the gastrointestinal department at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Inclusion criteria were established and included the following:

Visited the hospital between October 2010 and December 2014

Met the Rome III diagnostic standard for functional constipation

Between 18 – 75 years old

Did not take any stomach or intestinal prokinetic medications within one week prior to the research starting date

Not participating in any other clinical research

Patients who had the following conditions were filtered out of the selection:

Constipation secondary due to biologically identified illness

Unable to describe symptoms due to ambiguous consciousness or psychosis

Progressive malignant tumors or other severe consumptive diseases

Prone to infection and bleeding

Severe primary and concomitant cardiovascular, liver, kidney, digestive or hematopoietic diseases

Pregnant or lactating

Participating in other clinical research

The patients were randomly divided into two groups of 36 patients each: true acupuncture treatment group, sham control group. The average age of participants was 44 years. There were 9 males and 27 females in the treatment group. There were 11 males and 25 females in the control group. The acupoints selected for the treatment group were the following:

Tianshu (ST25) – Large intestine front mu acupoint

Dachangshu (BL25) – Large intestine back shu acupoint

For the control group, body points selected were neither meridian acupoints nor special acupoints. They were located at the following areas:

 

1 cm to laterally to ST25

1 cm to laterally to to BL25

For both groups, each point was pierced with a disposable 0.3 mm X 50 mm needle (Huatuo brand, Suzhou Medical Equipment Ltd.), adhering to standard piercing depths. For each acupuncture point, the following protocol was observed. After regular disinfection, the needle was inserted into the point and manipulated with pulling, pushing or twisting techniques at a speed of 60 – 90 times per minute. The angle of twist was 90 – 180 degrees and the depth was 0.3 – 0.5 cm. Next, a needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed. Thereafter, the needle was removed and pressure was applied to the point with a dry cotton ball to prevent bleeding.

One 30 minute session was conducted per day. A full treatment cycle consisted of 5 consecutive days. The entire treatment course comprised 4 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 acupuncture treatments. To evaluate the treatment effective rate, patients were scored before and after the treatments. The constipation signs and symptoms were evaluated for the following:

Frequency of bowel movement

Difficulty in bowel movement

Time taken to bowel movement

Comfort during bowel movement (strain, incomplete bowel movement, bloating, etc.)

Type of Feces

Treatment effective rates were categorized into 4 tiers:

Full recovery: No functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥90%

Significant improvement: Significant improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥70%

Improvement: Moderate improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥30%

Ineffective: Little improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score <30%

The clinical results of the study by Zheng et al. demonstrate that acupuncture is an effective procedure for the treatment of functional constipation. Compared with prior investigations, the classic front mu and back shu acupoint combination of the large intestine meridian demonstrates excellent rates of positive patient outcomes. Let’s take a look at another study.

Yang et al. (Tianjin and Tongren, China) investigated the effects of acupuncture and traditional herbal medicine on constipation in the elderly. They determined that the combination of both TCM modalities is a more effective constipation in the elderly treatment protocol than a conventional pharmaceutical medication. However, the results were close. TCM yielded a 100% total effective rate and the gastroprokinetic agent cisapride had a 94.83% total effective rate.

In the elderly, constipation is a common complication secondary to other illnesses. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that 60% of the elderly suffer from constipation to varying degrees (Du et al.). The prevention and cure for constipation therefore has a high clinical value and significance. Biomedical etiologies often point to poor peristaltic movement in many cases of constipation in the elderly. This lengthens the stool retention duration and hardens stools due to excess absorption of water.

Constipation may cause acute and chronic stress in the elderly. For elderly patients, exertion during bowel movements may cause a change in coronary and cerebral vascular flow, potentially leading to more threatening conditions including angina, acute myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, cerebral vascular damage, or death. A common treatment for constipation with medications often employs the purgation method, which is effective in the short-term. However, long-term purgation treatments may result in electrolyte imbalances or varying degrees of stomachaches and diarrhea.

In TCM, chronic constipation in the elderly is often due to a weak liver and kidneys, poor qi and bood circulation, and subsequent malnourishment of the large intestine. TCM also states that long-term consumption of bitter and chilled foods damage the spleen and stomach, slows qi and blood replenishment, and ultimately weakens peristaltic movements thereby affecting the ability to evacuate feces. Professor Han Jing Xuan from Tianjin University of TCM established a protocol using the Sanjiao acupuncture method and the traditional herbal decoction Huang Di San. These two therapeutic approaches have been extensively used in the clinical treatment of a wide range of elderly related diseases including constipation in the elderly.

The acupuncture protocol involves the needling of Zhongwan, Zusanli, and Xuehai to promote spleen and stomach health. Xuehai also promotes blood circulation and minimizes blood stasis. The Waiguan acupoint circulates and nourishes qi in the Sanjiao (triple burner). The study by Yang et al. followed the protocols established by Prof. Han Jing Xuan.

Using the established protocols, acupuncture plus herbs achieved a 100% total effective rate. Cisapride achieved a 94.83% total effective rate. Furthermore, the long-term improvement rate for the Sanjiao acupuncture and Huang Di San protocol was 88.33%. Cisapride had a 46.55% long-term improvement rate.

A total of 118 elderly constipation patients were randomly divided into two groups: treatment group, control group. The control group was given cisapride and the treatment group was given the Sanjiao acupuncture and Huang Di San protocol. Upon starting and throughout the treatment, both groups were given daily activity recommendations: maintain positive emotions, consume high-fiber foods, keep warm. For the Sanjiao acupuncture therapy, the selected primary acupoints were the following:

Shanzhong (CV17)

Zhongwan (CV12)

Qihai (CV6)

Zusanli (ST36)

Xuehai (SP10)

Waiguan (TB5)

After standard disinfection, a 0.25 mm disposable needle was swiftly inserted into each acupoint with a high entry speed. The Shanzhong acupoint was needled transverse-obliquely following the path of the Ren meridian for 0.5 – 1 inches. Other acupoints were pierced perpendicularly up to a depth of 0.5 – 1 inches. The Bu (rotate and push) manipulation technique was applied for Shanzhong, Zhongwan, Qihai, and Zusanli for 1 minute. The Xie (rotate and pull) technique was used on Xuehai for 1 minute. A needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed.

One 30 minute acupuncture session was conducted once per day. A full treatment cycle consisted of 10 days. The entire treatment course comprised 2 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 days. The mandatory ingredients used in the Huang Di San herbal decoction were as follows:

Huang Jing (15 g)

Sheng Di Huang (15 g)

Sha Ren (15 g)

Pei Lan (15 g)

Shou Wu (15 g)

Dang Gui (15 g)

Additional herbs were added according to the nature of constipation. For patients with deficiency the following herbs were added:

Rou Cong Rong (12 g)

Bai Zhu (12 g)

Mai Dong (12 g)

Huang Qi (12 g)

Dang Shen (12 g)

Shan Yao (12 g)

For patients with primary deficiency with secondary excess (Ben Xu Biao Shi) differential diagnostic pattern differentiations, the following herbs were added:

Yu Li Ren (10 g)

Chuan Xiong (10 g)

Chi Shao (10 g)

Tao Ren (10 g)

Dan Zhu Ye (10 g)

The prescribed ingredients were brewed with water to make an herbal decoction. One brew was consumed orally per day in three separate doses throughout the day. One treatment cycle consisted of 10 days and the entire treatment course comprised 2 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 days. Subjects in the control group took 10 mg of cisapride tablets, 3 times per day, before lunch, dinner, and sleeping. Treatment efficacy was categorized into 4 tiers:

Recovery: Bowel movement within 12 hours. No other symptoms. Scored 0 for interval between bowel movements

Significantly effective: Significant improvement in constipation. Bowel movement within 24 hours. Normal or slightly dry feces. No difficulty in bowel movement. Scored 1 – 9 for interval between bowel movements

Effective: Bowel movement within 72 hours. Moist feces. Slight difficulty in bowel movement. Scored 10 – 18 for interval between bowel movements

Ineffective: No changes in symptoms. Scored 19 – 20 for interval between bowel movements

The results indicate that acupuncture with herbs is more effective than the prescribed medication. Both studies mentioned in this report demonstrate that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of constipation. Important features of TCM protocols is that they produce a high total effective rate, low relapse rate, and no significant adverse effects.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

References:

Ouyang, H. & Chen, J. Therapeutic roles of acupuncture in functional gastrointestinal disorders [J]. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 2004, 20(8): 831-841.

 

Zheng, H. B. & Chen,Y. (2015). A clinical randomized controlled trial of acupuncture at the combination of back shu point and front-mu point of large intestine meridian in the treatment of functional constipation. Practical Journal of Clinical Medicine. 4 (12).

 

Yang JX, Yu JC & Han JX. (2014). Clinical Study on Treatment of constipation in the elderly with Combination of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. World Science and Technology-Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 16(6).

 

Du WF, Yu L, Yan XK et al. (2012). Meta-analysis in acupuncture therapy in treating constipation. Journal of Chinese Acupuncture. 32(1): 92-96.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1648-acupuncture-moves-stool-relieves-constipation

Misdiagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity/gluten intolerance (not to be confused with Celiac Disease) is an immensely popular buzz phrase right now.  There is a great deal of controversy around whether or not it is a truly legitimate condition, and many speculate that going gluten free is a trend that will quickly pass for those who voluntarily chose it as a lifestyle.  For people who are dealing with very real symptoms, it is a very real problem.  In some instances, though, it is misdiagnosed either by the individual or a health care provider.

Gluten sensitivity has many of the same symptoms as a condition called Candida, or Candidiasis, which is caused by an overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast (Candida albicans) in the body.  Left untreated, Candida can lead to major health issues down the line.

I’m not saying this to start a panic, and I’m not trying to alarm anyone.  The purpose of this article is to provide information.  If you or someone you know is living with the symptoms below, we strongly encourage consultation with a health care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.  If you have Candidiasis, going gluten free may not be an effective enough solution.

Shared Symptoms
Gluten Sensitivity and Candidiasis share many of the same chronic symptoms, including:

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Depression/anxiety, especially after eating

  • Digestive distress (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)

  • Mental fogginess

  • ADD/ADHD behaviors

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches/migraines

  • Muscle/joint aches and pains

Candida can lead to the following if untreated:

  • Adult-onset allergies to foods and airborn irritants. Left unchecked, the number of allergies can continue to grow to the point that some individuals essentially become shut-ins.

  • Chronic yeast infections

  • Menstrual complications

  • Infertility

  • Impotence

  • UTIs

  • Thrush

  • Chronic infections (cold, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, ear ache) due to weakened immune system

  • Athlete’s foot

  • Psoriasis

  • Rough bumps on the sides of arms

  • Jock itch

These are only partial lists.  One of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed is because it has so many symptoms (and so many shared symptoms with gluten sensitivity), and individuals do not always present with the same cluster of issues.  If not properly treated, Candidiasis can linger for life, especially in individuals who frequently consume eggs, meats, and milk treated with antibiotics, or women on oral contraceptives.

Causes of Candida
Candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast in our bodies.  Diets heavy in refined flours and sugars trigger yeast growth and its related symptoms, which is one of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed as gluten sensitivity.  Corticosteriods, chemotherapy drugs, and prolonged or frequent broad spectrum antibiotic use kill the bacteria that keep candida albicans in check, allowing for the yeast to flourish.  Additionally, individuals with long-term illnesses, excessive amounts of stress, and those who smoke, drink, or have inadequate exercise and diet programs, are vulnerable to Candida outbreaks.

Treatment of Candidiasis
Anti-yeast treatments and a modified diet help reduce the proliferation of Candida albicans in the body.  Once the yeast levels are regulated, it is necessary to repair the damage done.  Adding nutritional supplements, and acupuncture and/or naturopathy are also effective in treatment.

Candidiasis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, defines 6 Yang organs in the body.  When one of the Yang organs is over or under-stimulated, it affects balance with Yin, and overall health.  The Triple Burner is one of the Yang organs.  The Upper Burner is the heart and lungs; Middle Burner regulates spleen and stomach; Lower Burner comprises the liver, intestines, bladder, and kidney.  The spleen processes the foods we ingest into Chi and Blood, which nourish everything in the body.  When Candidiasis affects the Spleen, it can spread and create Damp Heat in the Lower Burner and Heat and Fire in the Upper Burner, leading to a variety of the symptoms listed above.

Acupuncture needles placed along the body’s meridians regulate the Spleen, which can help clear waste, toxins, and phlegm from the body.  Once the body is cleansed, it must be tonified to repair damage and restore balance.

While acupuncture and other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine are highly effective in treating Candida, it requires more than one session.  It took time for the body to get broken to the point people experience symptoms, and it takes time for the body to heal to the point symptoms are relieved.

The Candida Diet
Foods to Avoid
Highly processed and refined foods
Foods high in sugar (including honey, agave, syrup, and molasses
Alcohol
Fruit
Starchy vegetables
Mushrooms
Aged cheeses, especially blue cheese
Peanuts
Cashews
Sweetened beverages – coffee, tea, energy drinks, fruit juice
Processed meats – bacon, packaged deli meat, sausages
Condiments/Dressings/Sauces – ketchup, tomato sauce, pickles containing sugar; vinegar based salad dressings (unless apple cider vinegar)

Friendly Foods
Free-range chicken and eggs
Grass-fed beef
Nuts and seeds
Yogurt and kefir
Fermented foods (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut)
Daikon radish
Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocado
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumber
Unsweetened coffee and tea (caffeine aggravates Candidiasis in some individuals)
Leafy greens – collards, mustard, spinach, kale, endive, Swiss chard
Full-fat dairy
Eggplant
Fish – mackerel, shellfish, sardines, halibut, wild Alaskan salmon
Garlic
Non-glutinous grains such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa
Green beans
Leeks
Okra
Butter and oils – olive, coconut, sesame, flax, sunflower
Onions
Peppers
Radish, especially Daikon
Snow peas
Tomatoes
Turnips (makes a great mash in lieu of potatoes; so does cauliflower)
Zucchini

Self-diagnosis is often mis-diagnosis.  You may have noticed that your body responds negatively to certain foods, and positively when you limit those foods from your diet.  That’s a great first step.  The next step is to carefully examine how effective dietary restrictions have been.  Did they reduce or eliminate all of your symptoms?  Do you have new symptoms that didn’t appear before?  Be mindful of your body, and thoughtful in how you treat it.  Consult a health care provider if you suspect that you may be living with Candidiasis, or if eliminating gluten from your diet has not alleviated the symptoms often ascribed to gluten sensitivity.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

Squashing Stress

Your body experiences stress on a regular basis, and most of the time can manage it quite well. After a while, though, excess amounts of stress can lead to problems with digestion, circulation, sleep, and more. Acupuncture and massage therapy are wonderful ways to help your mind and body relax and de-stress, but when you need stress relief between your visits, these techniques could help. 

Balanced Breath
Inhale for 4 counts; exhale for 4 counts. Repeat 2 or 3 times. 

Divide and Conquer
Take a deep diaphragm breath. Exhale half of the breath, count to three, and finish the exhale. Repeat three times. 

If, at any point, you start to feel dizzy, resume your normal breathing rhythm. Be careful to not repeat these patterns too often, especially in the beginning of your practice. 

Is Acupuncture Right For You?

For almost everyone who has asked themselves that question, the answer is YES.

Most of us know that acupuncture can help with chronic pain associated with arthritis, injury, and demanding lifestyles. Acupuncture is growing in popularity for other areas, as well, including allergy treatments and fertility. There is a whole host of other conditions that acupuncture can bring great relief for, also, including digestive issues, sleep disturbances, menopause, stress/anxiety, smoking cessation, and weight loss. Acupuncture can even help improve your sex life and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. 

If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, or if you’ve reached a point when feeling ok just isn’t good enough, congratulations! Realizing that you deserve more is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Making a commitment to take the steps to change how you feel is the next step. Affinity Acupuncture in Brentwood can help you on your wellness journey. We offer acupuncture, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Our services are safe and highly effective, and we offer evening and weekend appointments for your convenience, as well as cost-saving packages and an exclusive membership program. 

Call us at 615-939-2787 or visit our website, to schedule a free consultation today.