Acupuncture and moxibustion are effective treatment modalities for acne sufferers. Zhang et al. conducted a clinical trial to determine the efficaciousness of acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of acne due to yin deficiency with internal heat. While both modalities produced positive patient outcomes, moxibustion was slightly more effective than acupuncture for the treatment of this particular class of acne.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acne due to yin deficiency with internal heat has a complex pathology. It is a result of many different types of bodily imbalances. Symptomatic presentations of this disorder appear as excess conditions involving toxins, damp-heat, etc… However, the root of the condition is yin deficiency leading to internal heat. As a result, this type of acne is often pernicious and insidious.
Zhang et al. comment that according to TCM principles, the treatment of acne due to yin deficiency with internal heat focuses on nourishing the root of deficiency and clearing excess heat. To bring a yin deficient bodily state to a yin and yang balanced state, effective medical treatments often follow these principles: facilitate the balance of yin and yang, promote circulation, improve internal organ health, release heat and toxins from the body.
In this study, acne patients who received acupuncture treatment had an 83.33% total treatment effective rate. Participants receiving moxibustion treatment had a 90% total treatment effective rate. In both groups, patients demonstrating significant improvements in acne did not experience a relapse of the condition in the four week window after completion of treatment.
A total of 66 patients with acne due to yin deficiency and internal heat participated in this study. They were randomly divided into two groups: acupuncture group, moxibustion group. Each group received only acupuncture or moxibustion therapy respectively. Due to external factors, 6 patients were eventually disqualified from the study, therefore, the final results were tabulated from a total of 60 patients. The acupoints selected for both moxibustion and acupuncture were identical:
Both groups underwent the same preparation procedures before starting their respective treatments. Firstly, the affected areas were disinfected. For each pustule, a disposable needle was used to gently pierce the pustule and release the pus. Disinfection was performed again after removal. Thereafter, each group underwent their respective treatments.
For the moxibustion group, edible grade salt was spread on the selected acupoints. Next, a slice of raw ginger (with a hole pierced in the center) was placed over the salt. Subsequently, 20 g of conical moxa was placed on top of the raw ginger slice and lit. Each acupoint was treated with a grand total of 60 g of moxa, 5 minutes per each 20 g dose. Throughout the treatment, consistent checks were made with the patients to ensure that they felt warmth at the acupoints, but not excessive heat. Moxibustion treatment was conducted twice per week, on Monday and Friday. One treatment cycle consisted of four consecutive weeks. The entire treatment course was comprised of three treatment cycles.
For the acupuncture group, a 0.30 x 25 mm disposable filiform needle was perpendicularly inserted (after disinfection) into each acupoint until a deqi effect was achieved. Standard insertion depths of the acupoints were followed with one exception, the Shenque (CV8) acupoint was pierced up to a 3–5 mm depth. Normally, this acupoint is contraindicated for needling. A total needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed. The acupuncturist applied the reinforcement manipulation technique every 10 minutes. Acupuncture treatments were conducted twice per week, on Monday and Friday. Identical to the moxibustion protocol, one treatment cycle consisted of four consecutive weeks. The entire treatment course was comprised of three treatment cycles.
The total treatment effective rate was assessed according to skin improvements and changes in yin deficiency patterns. Yin deficiency improvements were evaluated by changes in the clinical presentation of symptoms. Skin improvements were categorized into 4 tiers:
Recovery: >90% reduction in acne, or only pigmentation change observed
Significantly effective: 60%–89% reduction in acne
Effective: 30%–59% reduction in acne
Not effective: <30% reduction in acne, or condition worsened
Zhang et al. conclude that both acupuncture and moxibustion are effective in treating acne due to yin deficiency with internal heat. Moxibustion outperformed acupuncture in this clinical protocol. Based on the findings, further research is warranted.
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Zhang XP, Tong YN, Xue D, Li M, Fu JY. (2013). Clinical Research on “Yin-deficiency with internal heat” Acne Treatment Using Acupuncture and Moxibustion. World Science and Technology-Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 15(6).
Zhang XP, Li M, Xue D, et al. (2012). Acupuncture and Moxibustion in treating Yin deficiency diseases. Journal of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 26(6):30-32.
Zhang SJ. (2008). Moxibustion in treating terminal illnesses. China Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 28(10):739–741.
New CT scan technology reveals acupuncture points. Click the following to read the story: Acupuncture Point Discovery.
Researchers have discovered how to measure and validate the existence of acupuncture points and their meridians. MRI studies and oxygen sensor studies come from some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Today, I want to start with remarkable research from investigators at one of the most prestigious universities in Korea.
Sungkyunkwan University (Seoul) was founded in 1398. Yes, over 600 years ago! It was recently acquired by the Samsung Group in 1996, which has helped preserve its legacy of excellence with substantial financial support. The university is a leader in many fields including nanotechnology and natural sciences, features a dual degree program with Ohio State University and has a collaborative program with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Sloan School of Management.
Two researchers from Sungkunkwan Univeristy worked with another researcher from the Department of Chemistry and Nano Science at Ewha Womans University on this ground breaking research. Notably, Ewha Womans University is considered one of the most prestigious schools in Korea and produced Korea’s first female doctor, lawyer, justice on the Constitutional Court and the first female prime minister of Korea.
Why all the fuss about researchers and the schools they hail from? In the many years I have worked in Chinese and Oriental Medicine, I have uniformly come across skepticism and resistance to valuable, peer reviewed research. I want to give a little background before going forward with something as important as this research. For some it seems, no research institute or study is sufficient so long as it says something positive about acupuncture and herbal medicine. Ethnocentrism abound, I wanted to stave off imperious pans decrying putative proofs and to assuage presumptive skepticism and concomitant guetapens. Perhaps establishing the authenticity and seriousness of the institutions from which the research emanates helps equanimity to mollify incredulity and for rapprochement to exist between the skeptic and modern scientists whose works demonstrate the existence of acupuncture points and their functions.
The research from Sungkyunkwan University and Ewha Woman University is entitled Heterogeneity of Skin Surface Oxygen Level of Wrist in Relation to Acupuncture Point. The study used an amperometric oxygen microsensor to detect partial oxygen pressure variations at different locations on the anterior aspect of the left wrist. The researchers concluded that partial oxygen pressure is significantly higher at acupuncture points.
Below are two images from the study measuring the increase of partial oxygen pressure combined with an overlay of the local acupuncture point locations. The images are representative of typical readings found in the study and remarkably map the Lung Hand Taiyin, Pericardium Hand Jueyin and Heart Shaoyin channels and their associated local points. Depicted are P7 and P6 clearly showing high oxygen pressure levels. The same is true for LU9, LU8, HT7, HT6, HT5 and HT4. Note that non-acupuncture point regions do not show higher oxygen pressure levels. These measurements are not needled points but are natural resting states of acupuncture points absent stimulation. This biomedical research gives us insight into the structural makeup of acupuncture points. This type of basic research is not isolated and numerous studies from multitudes of the top research centers and universities demonstrate specific properties and physiological actions of acupuncture points.
Wrist acupuncture points including the Peridcardium channel and Lung channel. (Seen Above)
The nexus of most research on the physical existence of acupuncture points and acupuncture meridians is hemodynamic, MRI, oxygen pressure, histological, physiological, clinical and electroconductivity research. Researchers at the University of California School of Medicine (Irvine, California) noted, “Recent evidence shows that stimulation of different points on the body causes distinct responses in hemodynamic, fMRI and central neural electrophysiological responses.” The investigators reviewed MRI results and noted that “stimulation of different sets of acupoints leads to disease-specific neuronal responses, even when acupoints are located within the same spinal segment.” This summarizes research in the vanguard of technical documentation on acupuncture.
University of California researchers Choi, Jiang and Longhurst note of acupuncture, “hemodynamic, functional magnetic resonance imaging and neurophysiological studies evaluating the responses to stimulation of multiple points on the body surface have shown that point-specific actions are present.” Naturally, they are running into the difficulty of AhShi points and their specific actions. Perhaps they will discover new effective actions for AhShi points as a result of basic research. Other research shows point specificity in brain physiology and reflects the overall direction of scientific investigation in the field of acupuncture.
The Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging featured research on the neurophysiological effects of acupuncture points using MRI imaging noting that acupoint GB40 stimulation enhanced “connectivity between the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and anterior insula.” The investigators concluded, “The current study demonstrates that acupuncture at different acupoints could exert different modulatory effects on RSNs. Our findings may help to understand the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying acupuncture specificity.” Here, the researchers have validated acupuncture point specificity and suggest a possible physiological model of understanding acupuncture points.
HRV (Heart Rate Variability) is a measure of cardiovascular health. One study notes that, “HRV changes significantly during auricular acupuncture….” This research also notes that, “HRV total increases during auricular acupuncture….” Another related study from the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience notes that acupuncture “causes the modulation of cardiac autonomic function.” These are but two examples of investigations citing specific medicinal actions of specific acupuncture points and is in no way exhaustive of the vast body of research demonstrating acupuncture point specificity for the treatment of hypertension, atrial fibrillation and other cardiovascular disorders. Investigators from the University of California (Los Angeles and Irvine) “have shown that electroacupuncture stimulation activates neurons” in specific brain regions thereby reducing hypertension.
Dr. Berman, M.D. served as a lead researcher in a University of Maryland School of Medicine investigation published in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine. The research concludes that, “Acupuncture seems to provide improvement in function and pain relief as an adjunctive therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee when compared with credible sham acupuncture and education control groups.” What is interesting in this clinical trial is that it was an early study showing that sham acupuncture was not as effective as verum acupuncture. The study sought to isolate and address the placebo effect and found that it is not responsible for the medical benefits associated with acupuncture therapy. There are many papers showing the specific medical benefits of acupuncture on internal organs, tissues and towards the resolution of specific ailments. I thought I would highlight this investigation given its historical value.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity initially did not catch on and was ridiculed before acceptance. The same is true for much of medicine both old and new. People’s presuppositions often circumvent equanimity and receptiveness to new insights. Backing up a bit, one might have thought that a basic neurologic test for the Babinski Sign was pure fiction. It may have seemed logical and self-evident that rubbing someone’s foot and looking for dorsiflexion of the great toe and fanning of the other toes could not possibly indicate brain or spinal cord damage. Yet, the great French neurologist of Polish origin, Babinski, discovered that this plantar reflex identifies central nervous system damage, which is now an accepted medical reality by medical doctors and is an effective diagnostic tool for central nervous system damage.
Acupuncturists and herbalists have faced acrimonious traducements and caluminiations towards substantiated supportive research. Often there is a predilection towards rejecting the efficacy of Chinese and Oriental Medicine that trumps the realities of hard evidence and smacks of ethnocentrism. The Flat Earth Society felt the same way about the infidels suggesting that the earth is round. Galileo had his fair share of troubles too. It cannot be underestimated how high the stakes really are for patient care and beneficial patient outcomes. At risk is non-integration of cost-effective medicine that roots out the source of suffering by healing illness. A time honored traditional clinical medicine history combined with supportive modern research data suggests that acupuncture is an effective modality of therapeutic care. Acupuncture seems impossible? Recall the words of Mark Twain, “Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.”
It may appear to some that it is self-evident and logical that acupuncture points exist only as part of some sort of chimerical hermeneutic system. However, extensive research has already been conducted at major universities worldwide demonstrating not only that acupuncture points and meridians exist but also how they physiologically function. There is a resistance to an enormous body of research. Cloaked in veil of mature skepticism and realism, naysayers grasp at piecemeal attack pieces to fight off what has already been measured, documented and peer reviewed both in individual studies and large scale meta-analyses. I suggest an era of open-mindedness towards the modern research documenting the efficacy of Chinese and Oriental medicine, acupuncture and herbal medicine.
 Minyoung Hong, Sarah S. Park, Yejin Ha, et al., “Heterogeneity of Skin Surface Oxygen Level of Wrist in Relation to Acupuncture Point,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 106762, 7 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/10a6762.
 Point specificity in acupuncture. Chin Med. 2012 Feb 28;7:4. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Choi EM, Jiang F, Longhurst JC.
 Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine CA 92697-4075, USA.
 Point specificity in acupuncture. Chin Med. 2012 Feb 28;7:4. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Choi EM, Jiang F, Longhurst JC.
 Zhong, C., Bai, L., Dai, R., Xue, T., Wang, H., Feng, Y., Liu, Z., You, Y., Chen, S. and Tian, J. (2011), Modulatory effects of acupuncture on resting-state networks: A functional MRI study combining independent component analysis and multivariate granger causality analysis. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 817378, 7 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/817378. Sino-European Transcontinental Basic and Clinical High-Tech Acupuncture Studies—Part 1: Auricular Acupuncture Increases Heart Rate Variability in Anesthetized Rats. Xin-Yan Gao, Kun Liu, Bing Zhu and Gerhard Litscher.
 Kurono Y, Minagawa M, Ishigami T, Yamada A, Kakamu T, Hayano J. Auton Neurosci. Acupuncture to Danzhong but not to Zhongting increases the cardiac vagal component of heart rate variability. 2011 Apr 26;161(1-2):116-20. Epub 2011 Jan 7.
 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 878673, 9 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/878673. Neuroendocrine Mechanisms of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Hypertension. Wei Zhou and John C. Longhurst. Department of Anesthesiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Department of Medicine, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA.
 Ann Intern Med, Berman, Lixing, Lagenberg, Lee, Gilpin, Hochberg. 2004; 141:901-910.
A lot of people have feet aversions. They sweat, they smell, they tickle, they hurt, and sometimes they pick up a fungus and itch and burn. Most of us will deal with athlete’s foot at some point in our lives, and not everyone will know how to choose the best course of action to treat it. Some will even ignore it for long periods before treatment, which makes it harder to actually cure the condition.
With wet autumn weather, and the reintroduction of socks, it’s very important to take care of your foot health. A few simple things you can do to prevent athlete’s foot:
1) Take the time to dry between your toes!
2) Put on a fresh pair of socks after exercise or sweating, or if your feet get wet walking in the rain and snow.
3) Let your feet breathe. Go barefoot for periods during the day.
4) Avoid a diet high in sugar and fruit.
For treatment of athlete’s foot:
1) Vitamins, including A, E, and C stimulate the immune system and promote healthy skin.
2) Garlic is a natural anti-fungal, and 2 capsules 2-3 times per day can help combat fungus like athlete’s foot.
3) Probiotics help normalize the good and bad bio-flora in your system.
4) Essential fatty acids help the body heal from skin disorders.
5) Topical application of tea tree oil.
Affinity Acupuncture can also help restore your body to balance through acupuncture sessions at our Brentwood, TN location, and with the assistance of Traditional Chinese Medicine such as herbal remedies.
Hardly a day goes by that we don’t treat someone living with conditions related to chronic inflammation. In addition to regular acupuncture sessions, there are certain herbs that you can include in your diet to help reduce the inflammation that you are living with. These include:
Interested in learning more about how diet affects inflammation? We include nutritional counseling in our services. Call us at 615-939-2787 or schedule online.
Is How You (Don’t) Sleep Making You Sick?
We all know that there are short term problems with not getting a good night’s sleep – a lack of mental sharpness, irritability, falling asleep at inopportune times, etc. Did you know there are potential long-term risks to your health also? For instance, people who sleep less than 6 hours per night are twice as likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to have a stroke than those who sleep more than 6 hours. They are also at greater risk of diabetes and obesity. Extreme fatigue increases appetite and decreases metabolism, and individuals who regularly get less than 4 hours of sleep 4 nights or more a week may easily be in a pre-diabetic state.
Half of adults 55+ have at least 1 symptom of insomnia at least 3 times per week including:
– Trouble falling asleep
– Waking during the night
– Waking to early and being unable to fall back to sleep
– Not feeling refreshed upon waking
Women suffer from insomnia more than men due to pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
Twenty million Americans take prescription sleep pills regularly. Over $100 million is spent in the US on over the counter sleep aids per year, and that number does not include prescriptions. Drug oriented OTCs have been studied and found no more effective than a placebo. Medications alter sleeping cycles, and suppress REM sleep. This can lead to light, restless sleep with nightmares once medications end, or “REM Withdrawl Sleep.” Many individuals often return to these sleep aids, even the ones advertised as “non-habit forming,” and the cycle continues. Medications can cause long-term harm to your body. Additionally, they are expensive, and only treat the symptom of an underlying problem.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the symptoms of insomnia are the branches of a disease. An imbalance in the body, usually Chi, blood, Yin, Yan, Jing, or Shen, or a major organ system (lung, liver, heart, spleen, kidney, or liver) causes the imbalance or dysfunction, and acupuncture treatments help realign the body’s systems and help you find balance once more. Additional methods in Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as herbs, may also help your body better process energy and achieve restful sleep.
The following may lead to a lack of restful sleep:
Overeating, especially protein
Irregular sleeping hours
Lack of physical exercise
Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
Sleep apnea (Associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, emotional disturbances and even psychoses.)
Emotional or mental stress
Overstimulation to the nervous system
TV/video game excess
Lack of adequate ventilation; oxygen debt
Allergies – an increased heart rate follows exposure.
Lights left on at night (disrupts the pineal gland producing melatonin, a sleep hormone)
Temperature extremes in bed
Restless Sleepers may have excessive amounts of the following in their diets:
Heavy metals (such as mercury found in high fructose corn syrup, tuna, swordfish, and mackerel
Salt, which increases blood volume, heart output, and blood pressure.
Food additives, preservatives, and colorings
Refined carbohydrates, sugar, soda, ice cream or other sweets
They may be deficient in:
Lycopene (found in red and orange foods such as tomatoes, bell peppers)
Selenium (found in nuts, mushrooms, meat, and shellfish). Selenium helps with inflammation.
Lutein (found in green, leafy vegetables)
Iron or copper (found in shellfish, clams, lentils, nuts, and whole-grain foods). Deficiency may make it take longer to fall asleep, and sleep may be less refreshing.
The body converts tryptophan into seratonin, which is then converted into melatonin. Both make you feel relaxed and sleepy. Foods with tryptophan include bananas yogurt, dates, figs, warm milk, dairy, and turkey. These foods are metabolized best in combination with starches, which make the body release insulin. This pushes the amino acids except for tryptophan into the muscle cells, leaving the tryptophan alone in the blood stream and ready to go to the brain. Niacin, a B-vitamin, makes tryptophan work more effectively, and is found in lean meats such as canned tuna. Melatonin naturally exists in oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, bananas, and barley.
Magnesium rich foods can also help you relax and have restful sleep. Low magnesium levels will stimulate brain-activation neurotransmitters, which leads to overstimulation of the brain. This is especially common in the elderly taking meds that may block magnesium absorption. Dried beans such as pinto and navy beans, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and almonds are all rich in magnesium.
Folic acid in spinach, especially if muscle cramping or restless leg syndrome keeps you awake, are good additions to your diet. Inosytol enhances REM sleep
Avoid red meat, chocolate, ham, bacon, sausages, cheese, tomatoes, which contain the CNS stimulant tyramine.
Alcohol does not, in fact, help you get a good night’s sleep. You may fall asleep easily, because alcohol turns off the hypocretin neurons which keep you awake, but it has a rebound effect and can wake you quickly.