What Problems Does Acupuncture Treat?

What Problems Does Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture, a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine, has traversed centuries, evolving from ancient art to a modern-day therapeutic practice recognized globally. This technique involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate healing and wellness. Despite its historical roots, acupuncture has gained widespread acceptance in Western medicine due to its effectiveness in treating a variety of ailments. Below, we explore what problems does acupuncture treat.

Pain Management

One of the most common applications of acupuncture is in pain relief. Numerous studies have demonstrated its efficacy in treating chronic pain conditions, including:

Chronic back pain: Acupuncture can help reduce the intensity and frequency of back pain by promoting blood flow and triggering the release of natural painkillers in the body.

Arthritis: Particularly for osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, acupuncture has shown promise in reducing pain and improving mobility.

Headaches and migraines: Regular acupuncture sessions can decrease the frequency and severity of migraines and tension-type headaches.

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Acupuncture is known for its ability to reduce stress and improve emotional health by balancing the body’s energy or Qi. The practice is believed to stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, which can change the experience of stress, and promote physical and emotional well-being.

Stress: By reducing stress hormone levels, acupuncture can help mitigate the physical and psychological impacts of stress.

Anxiety and depression: Several studies suggest that acupuncture can have a positive effect on anxiety and depression, making it a complementary treatment for these conditions.

Digestive Disorders

Acupuncture has been found useful in managing various gastrointestinal disorders by enhancing digestive functions and alleviating symptoms of discomfort.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements can be effectively managed with acupuncture.

Nausea and vomiting: Especially postoperative nausea and chemotherapy-induced nausea, acupuncture at specific points has been shown to be particularly beneficial.

Respiratory Conditions

Traditional Chinese medicine uses acupuncture to treat and manage symptoms of several respiratory conditions.

Allergic rhinitis: Acupuncture may help improve symptoms of nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose associated with seasonal allergies.

Asthma: While not a substitute for conventional asthma treatment, acupuncture can be used as a complementary therapy to help manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups.

Fertility and Women’s Health

Acupuncture has been touted for its role in enhancing fertility by improving blood flow to reproductive organs and balancing hormone levels. It is often used in conjunction with other fertility treatments.

Menstrual cramps and PMS: Regular sessions can help alleviate the severity of menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome.

Menopausal symptoms: Acupuncture can help manage symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.

Conclusion

Acupuncture is effective for many health issues. Patients interested in acupuncture should seek treatment from a licensed practitioner to ensure safety and effectiveness. As with any medical treatment, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to see if acupuncture is right for you and how it might fit into your overall health plan.

If you are ready to see how acupuncture can benefit you, schedule a consult today by contacting Affinity Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine at 615-939-2787 and discover how acupuncture can transform your approach to managing ailments, paving the way for a healthier, more vibrant life.

4/17/2024

By Dr. William Alexander

Acupuncture and Fertility: A Natural Path to Conception

Acupuncture and Fertility: A Natural Path to Conception

In recent years, many individuals have turned towards holistic health practices in their journey towards conception, with acupuncture emerging as a popular and effective method. For women who have been facing challenges in trying to conceive, acupuncture offers a natural and gentle approach to fertility enhancement, rooted in ancient traditions yet supported by modern research.

Acupuncture can be an integral part of your fertility journey. In this article we will highlight its benefits, the science behind it, and how it complements conventional fertility treatments.

Understanding Acupuncture and Its Role in Fertility

acupuncture for fertility

Acupuncture, a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific points on the body. It’s based on the principle of balancing the body’s energy flow (Qi) to improve health and well-being. When it comes to fertility, acupuncture is believed to have a multifaceted impact, addressing both physical and emotional aspects of conception.

How Acupuncture Enhances Fertility

Regulating Hormonal Balance: One of the primary ways acupuncture aids fertility is by helping to regulate hormonal balance. It can influence the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis, which plays a critical role in the menstrual cycle and ovulation. By promoting hormonal equilibrium, acupuncture can encourage regular ovulation and healthy menstrual cycles, which are essential for conception.

Improving Blood Flow to Reproductive Organs: Acupuncture is known to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, enhancing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the ovaries and uterus. This improved circulation can help create a more favorable environment for egg quality, fertilization, and implantation.

Stress Reduction: The fertility journey can be emotionally taxing, leading to stress that can adversely affect hormonal balance and ovulation. Acupuncture has been shown to trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural stress-relievers, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels, which is beneficial for fertility.

Supporting IVF Treatments: For those undergoing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproductive technologies (ART), acupuncture can be a supportive therapy.

Research suggests that acupuncture, when used in conjunction with IVF, can improve the success rate of embryo implantation and increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Addressing Underlying Health Issues: Acupuncture can also tackle underlying health conditions that may affect fertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and thyroid disorders. By targeting these conditions, acupuncture can further enhance fertility potential

Integrating Acupuncture into Your Fertility Plan

If you’re considering acupuncture as part of your fertility journey, it’s essential to consult with a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in fertility. A personalized treatment plan will be developed based on your unique health profile, fertility goals, and any ongoing fertility treatments.

Embracing a Holistic Approach

While acupuncture can play a crucial role in enhancing fertility, it’s most effective when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management techniques can all contribute to improving your overall fertility health. Additionally, considering other complementary therapies, such as herbal medicine (under the guidance of a healthcare professional), can further support your journey towards conception.

Conclusion

For women who have been striving to conceive, acupuncture offers a promising and supportive path towards achieving their fertility goals. With its ability to regulate hormonal balance, improve blood flow, reduce stress, and complement conventional fertility treatments, acupuncture embodies a holistic approach to fertility enhancement. By integrating acupuncture into your fertility plan, you embrace a journey that not only aims at conception but also at nurturing your overall well-being. Remember, every fertility journey is unique, and acupuncture can be a valuable ally in navigating the path to parenthood with grace, balance, and hope.

We’ve walked alongside 100’s of women during the fertility process. In most cases, pregnancy can occur within 3-9 months.

From the lows to the highs we are with you every step of the way to your bundle of joy.  Book your consultation today and start your journey to fertility with us.

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Study Shows Acupuncture Normalizes Hormones, Ups Pregnancy Rates

Study Shows Acupuncture Normalizes Hormones, Ups Pregnancy Rates

Researchers document that acupuncture produces higher pregnancy rates than fertility medications for women with hyperprolactinemia (HPL).

Acupuncture produces a higher rate of pregnancies than fertility medications with significantly less adverse effects. In a controlled clinical trial, researchers document that acupuncture outperforms bromocriptine and bromocriptine plus clomiphene for the treatment of infertility for women with hyperprolactinemia (HPL). Acupuncture produced a 43.3% pregnancy rate whereas fertility medications produced 20% pregnancy rate.

One important mechanism responsible for the fertility treatment success with acupuncture is hormonal regulation. Acupuncture more rapidly normalized levels of prolactin than fertility medications. In hyperprolactinemia, elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone causes infertility by inhibiting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) production. GnRH is responsible for stimulating gonadotropins (Gn), luteinising hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) production. As a result, hyperprolactinemia affects the overall function of the ovaries, ovulation, and corpus luteum formation because Gn, LH, and FSH play an important biological role in reproductive health.

The study (Hu et al.) confirms that acupuncture normalizes prolactin levels more rapidly than receiving bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene. Patients receiving acupuncture averaged a normalization of prolactin levels within two weeks. Patients receiving bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene experienced normalization of prolactin levels within four weeks. The research indicates that acupuncture produces a faster homeostatic response for prolactin production in women with hyperprolactinemia.

One significant advantage to acupuncture treatment for the treatment of fertility emerged; acupuncture did not produce a high adverse effect rate. Conversely, fertility medications produced a high adverse effect rate. Patients receiving bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene had a 63.33% adverse effect rate.

Hu et al. (Mawangdui Hospital of Hunan Province) determined that acupuncture is a preferential fertility treatment option for women with hyperprolactinemia. Production of greater positive patient outcomes combined with a significantly lower adverse affect rate was the basis for the conclusion. Let’s take a look at the treatment protocols for both the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach and the pharmacological approach.

The investigation included 60 female patients with infertility due to hyperprolactinemia. They were randomly divided into two equal sized groups. Patients ranged from age 26 to 33. The duration of illness ranged from 2 to 8 years. Acupuncture group patients received only acupuncture. Medication group patients received bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene. The clomiphene was added for patients with thermoregulation irregularities. The primary acupoints selected for acupuncture therapy were the following:

Qihai (CV6)
Guanyuan (CV4)
Zusanli (ST36)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Taichong (LV3)
Taixi (KD3)
Ligou (LV5)
Therapy commenced on the 8th day of menstruation. A 0.30 mm x 40 mm disposable needle was used to administer acupuncture on all acupoints. For Qihai and Guanyuan, the needle was inserted in a slanted orientation and an upwards direction, thereafter manipulated with the Bu (tonify) technique. Zusanli was pierced perpendicularly for a depth of 1.5 inches, and the needle was manipulated with the Bu technique. Taichong and Ligou were both pierced for a depth of 0.5 inches, perpendicularly and horizontally respectively, then treated with the Xie (reducing) needle manipulation technique. For Taixi, the needle was inserted perpendicularly 0.5 inches deep and manipulated with the Bu technique. A needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed. During each menstrual cycle, one daily acupuncture session was conducted for a total of 10 days. The above treatment was administered for a period of 1 year.

For the fertility medication control group, an initial dosage of 1.25 mg of bromocriptine was administered twice per day after meals for 7 consecutive days. After that, the dosage was increased to 2.5 mg. Patients remained on the medication for a period of 1 year. In cases where the patient did not experience changes in dual-directional thermoregulation after 3 months of bromocriptine treatment, clomiphene was administered to facilitate ovulation. Bromocriptine is a synthetic drug and is an analogue of ergot alkaloids. It stimulates cortical dopaminergic receptors thereby inhibiting prolactin release. Clomiphene is a fertility drug that stimulates ovulation.

In hyperprolactinemia, women have unusually high levels of peripheral prolactin (PRL) and experience hypothalamic pituitary gonadal axis dysfunction. This often causes menstrual disorders, galactorrhea, reproductive dysfunction, and infertility. The rate of occurrence of hyperprolactinemia is 0.4% among healthy women and 7% – 9% for infertile women (Zhang, 2012). The authors focused on the benefits of acupuncture for promoting fertility. However, the normalization of prolactin levels may have additional benefits for the patients. Further studies to examine the more global effects of acupuncture on PRL normalization and bodily health are required to quantify and confirm these additional benefits.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hyperprolactinemia results from a Chong and Ren meridian imbalance. The acupuncture point prescription chosen for the treatment protocol reflects this principle. The signature Zusanli acupoint is effective in promoting overall qi circulation. Together with Qihai and Guanyuan, these three acupoints consolidate yuan qi, revitalize the body, nourish body cells, and strengthen the reproductive system. Taichong and Ligou are acupoints located along the liver meridian, making them significant acupoints for promoting liver health. Taixi, being a kidney meridian acupoint, is ideal for promoting kidney health. Sanyinjiao is a powerful acupoint that maintains general bodily health and has proven efficacy in treating gynecological disorders. Acupuncture administered to Taichong, Ligou, Taixi, and Sanyinjiao has an overall effect of promoting qi circulation along the liver, spleen, and kidney meridians. Acupuncture on all of the aforementioned acupoints collectively promotes liver and kidney health, dredges liver qi, and benefits the Chong and Ren meridians.

As part of continuing education in the field of acupuncture and clinical research, additional studies using this acupuncture point prescription protocol with larger sample sizes will help to confirm the findings of Hu et al. It will also be interesting to see a third study group added to future investigations comparing acupuncture combined with medications to groups receiving medications or acupuncture only.

Rubin et al. conducted an investigation of acupuncture combined with medications. The research team consisted of investigators from the University of Washington, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences. Their meta-analysis confirms that live birth rates increase when acupuncture is added to standard care protocols for women receiving donor egg IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Xu et al. conclude that acupuncture benefits fertility rates for women with anovulatory infertility. The Ruikang Hospital researchers had a sample size of 40 patients. The effective rate was 85% based on the pregnancy rates measured in follow-up examinations. Acupuncture normalized FSH, LH, and E2 levels. Additionally, the thickness of the endometrium and the follicle diameter increased. Zigong, CV4, and CV3 were the primary acupoints used in the treatment protocol supplemented by additional Ling Gui Ba Fa acupoints. Ling Gui Ba Fa (eightfold sacred tortoise method) employs the addition of acupoints from a selection from the eight confluent points based on the time of day.

Overall, there is wealth of information indicating that acupuncture is successful in promoting reproductive health. Pregnancy rates increase accompanied by measurable improvements in hormonal regulation. Additional research is warranted based on the evidence.

 

References:
Hu J, Yan XL & Wang ZX. (2014). Acupuncture and Bromocriptine in the Treatment of Special HPL in Infertile Women. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 30(7).

Zhang P. (2012). Bromocriptine in treating hyperprolactinemia. Journal of Jingchu University of Technology. 24(7): 50-52.

Hullender Rubin, Lee E., Michael S. Opsahl, Lisa Taylor-Swanson, and Deborah L. Ackerman. “Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization: A Retrospective Chart Review.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Feb;32(2):113-6. Effects of electroacupuncture on embryo implanted potential for patients with infertility of different symptom complex]. Kong FY, Zhang QY, Guan Q, Jian FQ, Sun W, Wang Y. Department of Reproduction, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of TCM, Jinan, China.

Xu, Yin, and Miao Zhang. Efficacy observation on 40 cases of anovulatory infertility treated by acupuncture and moxibustion. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 23, no. 1 (2013): 40-43.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1668-acupuncture-normalizes-hormones-ups-pregnancy-rates

Congrats coffee drinkers!

A very recent study found that ‘moderate’ coffee drinkers (1-2 cups a day) have 26% lower odds of developing colorectal cancer. The risk is reduced up to a 50% when the coffee intake is more than 2.5 servings of coffee daily. This included decaffeinated coffee.

This data comes from a large study conducted in Israel. There were 5,145 participants who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 4,097 people, as controls, who did not have the disease.

Coffee has caffeine and polyphenols which have antioxidant effects that can reduce the growth of colon cancer cells.

Other beneficial compounds found in coffee include melanoidins and diterpenes which help reduce bile acid secretion, and improve bowel function.

I plan to really enjoy my next cup of coffee!

*Source: Cancer Epidemiology, April 2016:25:634-639.

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