Trust Your Gut

Trust Your Gut

Trust Your Gut

In recent years, “gut health” has become a popular buzz phrase with scientists, physicians, and on social media. The idea isn’t new – Hippocrates once said that “all disease begins in the gut.” Improving digestive health has been a foundational ethos of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. As a society, we’ve strayed from prioritizing health and nutrition over convenience, and are seeing the ramifications in increased obesity, heart disease, and other ailments that weren’t as prevalent before processed foods became a mainstay in our diets.

So why does the gut matter? Does having a drive-thru meal once a week really make that much of a difference? Your immune system, mood, sleep, digestion, heart, and brain all say yes.

Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at why gut health is important, and the roles of some of the unsung heroes of the digestive system.

 

Why it Matters

 

More than 100 trillion bacteria live in the gut.
That’s not a typo. There are more bacteria than human cells in the human body. Gut bacteria help our esophagus, stomach, and intestines work together to comfortably digest foods. When the biome is thrown off, it can lead to heartburn, bloating, constipation, nausea, and loose stools. The little bacteria can’t ward off infection or communicate well with the brain through nerves and hormones.

Roughly 70% of the immune system (by weight) lives in the digestive tract.
Without getting too technical, the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) is the largest mass of lymphoid tissue in the body, and helps protect the body from infection in the gut. The gut’s mucosal surface is thin – it to be in order to allow food absorption. That also means that it’s vulnerable to infection. GALT helps protect the body from a large population of plasma cells (which produce antibodies) – larger than the spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow combined.

90-95% of serotonin (the body’s mood boosting chemical) is produced in the gut.
You read that right. You’re probably familiar with serotonin as a brain neurotransmitter, right? A recent Caltech study shows that certain bacteria in the guy play a pivotal role in serotonin production. The foods we eat impact our moods beyond what we refer to as “comfort food.”

Up to 90% of diseases can be traced back to the gut microbiome.
An estimated 70 million Americans have digestive diseases, and almost 1 in 5 have IBS. Those little bacteria strengthen the digestive tract’s wall, protecting us from pathogens. When the pathogens get through, it leads to inflammation and digestive disorders.

 

Help a Gut out Already

 

There are some easy things you can do to help give your gut a break (while avoiding any allergens):
1) Eat a variety of whole grains and legumes
2) Minimize eating out
3) Stop eating when you’re full
4) Eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day
5) Have a handful of nuts each day
6) Drink lots of water
7) Avoid artificial sweeteners and minimize candies and confections
8) Keep a food diary. If you get heartburn, feel bloated, or experience other digestive distress after eating certain foods, try eliminating or minimizing them in your diet.
9) Get some exercise
10) Sleep
11) Be careful with antibiotics. If you need them, add yogurt to your diet for the duration of the prescription.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

 

Acupuncture Helps Clear Acne

Acupuncture Helps Clear Acne

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:

Shenque (CV8)
Qihai (CV6)
Guanyuan (CV4)
Shenshu (BL23)
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.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture today for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and appointments!

References:
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.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1645-acupuncture-and-moxibustion-clear-acne

Acupuncture relieves neck pain and improves range of motion.

Acupuncture relieves neck pain and improves range of motion. Chen et al. find acupuncture effective in alleviating cervical spondylosis, a painful disorder caused by intervertebral disc degeneration. Zeng et al. conclude that acupuncture alleviates cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy. The data demonstrates that acupuncture is more effective than NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Zhou et al. find acupuncture effective for the alleviation of pain after surgery to the cervical spine. Li et al. conclude that acupuncture plus herbal medicine is effective for the relief of spasmodic torticollis, a disorder wherein the head becomes turned to one side, often due to painful muscle spasms. Liu et al. find acupuncture plus herbs effective for the relief of neck and shoulder pain. Neck points with sitting style technique are applied. 

Let’s take a look at each one of these discoveries. Chen et al. measured the effects of acupuncture on cervical spondylosis. Their findings indicate that a combination of auricular acupuncture with body style acupuncture is more effective than body style acupuncture as a standalone procedure.

Body style acupuncture combined with auricular acupuncture yielded the following results

70% recovered
26.67% significantly effective
3.33% ineffective
Body style only acupuncture yielded the following results

43.33% recovered
50% significantly effective
6.67% ineffective
Recovery was defined as: asymptomatic, muscular strength returned to normal, neck and limb function returned to normal, patient can return to normal work life and carry out more labor intensive activities. Significantly effective was defined as: mitigation of overall symptoms, neck and limb functional improvement, less pain of the neck, shoulder, and back.

Participants received acupuncture every other day for a total of ten sessions of care. Auricular acupuncture, also known as ear acupuncture, was applied to the intersecting region of the thoracic and cervical spine area on the outer ear. The needle was threaded subcutaneously through the cervical spine area. Needle retention time was thirty minutes and manual stimulation was applied 2 – 3 times during needle retention with 5 – 7 rotations each time.

Body style acupuncture was applied to acupoints including

Fengchi, GB20
Hegu, LI4
Jiaji (2 – 3 cervical points, affected side)
Mild reinforcing and reducing techniques were applied to elicit deqi. Needle retention time was thirty minutes, timed from the arrival of deqi. The researchers conclude that auricular acupuncture combined with body style acupuncture is highly effective in the treatment of cervical spondylosis. 

The findings are consistent with those of Zeng et al. whose research at the Guangzhou Dongsheng Hospital finds acupuncture plus herbs effective for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and related radiculopathy. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) group receiving both acupuncture and herbs had a 96.67% total effective rate. The control group received pharmaceutical medications and had an 83.33% total effective rate.

The control group received an NSAID (diclofenac) and mecobalamin (a form of B12). Diclofenac was administered in 75 mg doses, once per day. B12 was administered in 0.5 mg doses, three times per day. The drugs were administered for twenty days.

The primary acupuncture points used for the treatment group were

Fengchi, GB20
Bailao, M-HN-30
Jiaji (4 – 6 points)
Dazhui, DU14
Ashi
Tianzong, SI11
Supplementary acupoints were added based on diagnostic parameters. For yangming meridian pain or numbness, the following were added

Binao, LI14
Quchi, LI11
Shousanli, LI10
Hegu, LI4
For shaoyang meridian pain or numbness the following secondary acupoints were applied

Waiguan, SJ5
Zhongzhu, KD15
For pain or numbness of the taiyang meridian the researchers added Houxi (SI3). Manual stimulation was applied to acupoints until the arrival of deqi. Next, electroacupuncture was applied to 3 – 4 acupoints with a continuous wave. Intensity was set to tolerance levels. Additional manual techniques were applied to 1 – 2 spots of localized pain using the green dragon tail sweeping method. Needle retention time was thirty minutes per acupuncture session. A total of twenty acupuncture treatments were applied at a rate of once per day.

Herbal medicine was decocted in water and was administered orally once in the morning and also at night for twenty days. The formula included

Gui Zhi 15 g
Ge Gen 30 g
Bai Shao 15 g
Dan Shen 30 g
Yan Hu Suo 15 g
Fang Feng 10 g
Xu Duan 12 g
Dang Gui 10 g
Gan Cao 3 g
Additional herbs were added based on indications and differential diagnostics. For chills and aversion to wind combined with painful obstruction of the meridians, the following were added

Qiang Huo 12 g
Zhi Cao Wu 10 g
For dampness with heat and numbness, the following were added

Cang Zhu 15 g
Huang Bai 10 g
For blood stasis with painful blockage of the meridians, the following were added

Chuan Xiong 12 g
E Zhu 10 g
Acupuncture plus herbs yielded a 96.67% total effective rate and the medications yielded an 83.33% total effective rate. Acupuncture outperformed the medication group by 13.34%. The researchers conclude that acupuncture plus herbs is effective for the alleviation of cervical spondylosis and associated radiculopathy. Electroacupuncture applied to upper back and neck points is shown. 

Foshan Chinese Medicine Hospital researchers (Zhou et al.) looked at a very different type of neck pain. Their investigation examined the efficaciousness of electroacupuncture as a means to minimize pain after cervical spine surgery. Perioperative application of electroacupuncture to LI4 (Hegu) and PC6 (Neiguan) successfully reduced pain after surgery. In addition, patient controlled analgesia requests dropped sharply.

Several other clinical advantages to perioperative acupuncture were documented by the researchers. Electroacupuncture significantly reduced the dosage needs for remifentanil (synthetic opioid analgesic) and propofol (sedative). Acupuncture stabilized the heartbeat rate and the average arterial pressure. In addition, the time needed to regain consciousness after surgery was reduced by acupuncture. The time reduced from an average of 22.31 minutes for the medication only group to 7.01 minutes for the acupuncture plus medication group. Electroacupuncture significantly reduced the frequency of nausea, vomiting, and constipation after surgery.

LI4 and PC6 were needled perpendicularly and manual stimulation was applied to elicit the arrival of deqi. Continuous wave electroacupuncture was applied with a frequency increasing from 100 Hz to 1,000 Hz. The researchers concluded that electroacupuncture is effective in providing significant pain relief and minimizes complications due to surgery of the cervical spine.

Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine First Hospital (Li et al.) researchers document that acupuncture frees neck movement and stops pain. Their research also finds that combining Chinese herbal medicine with acupuncture increases the efficacy rate. A one year follow-up demonstrated that the acupuncture plus herbs protocol provides significant long-lasting clinical results.

Exclusion criteria were applied. For example, CT scans were used to ensure that participants did not have intracranial lesions. X-rays ruled out cervical spondylosis. Neurophysiological exams were used to determine inclusion criteria for spasmodic torticollis.

The treatment protocol featured strong acupuncture techniques. Bird-pecking-pulling (Que Zhuo Xie) manual acupuncture was applied to acupoint Shuigou (DU26) upwardly at 45˚. A pulling technique (Ti Cha Xie Fa) was applied with perpendicular insertion to Laogong (PC8) and Yongquan (KD1). Que Zhuo Xie was applied to Baihui (DU20) and Yintang was inserted to the bridge of the nose. Additional acupoints included

Tianzhu, BL10
Fengchi, GB20
Tianrong, SI17
Renying, ST9
Tianding, LI17
Ahshi
The herbal medicine decoction was based on the formula Zhen Gan Xi Huo Tang. The base formula consisted of

Sheng Long Gu 30 g
Zhen Zhu Mu 15 g
Jiang Can 10 g
Ci Shi 30 g
Additional herbs were added for specific conditions. For severe neck stiffness, the following were added

Bai Shao 45 g
Ge Gen 15 g
Gou Ji 15 g
For heat with phlegm, the following were added

Shi Chang Pu 15 g
Yuan Zhi 15 g
Zhu Ru 10 g
For participants with depression, the following herbs were added

Yu Jin 15 g
He Huan Pi 15 g
The herbs were decocted once per day and were administered in two doses, one in the morning and one at night. Outcomes measures included documentation of range of motion changes, shoulder lift, twitching, and tremors. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of spasmodic torticollis but acupuncture plus herbs is even more effective.

Liu et al. find acupuncture plus herbs effective for the relief of neck and shoulder dysfunction characterized by pain, numbness, inflammation, range of motion impingement, and hypodynamia (decrease in strength). The researchers commented that, statistically, white collar workers that spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk are particularly susceptible to this condition. In these cases, workers noted that their neck and shoulder tension and pain was partially alleviated by days off from work.

Acupuncture was applied to 2 – 4 points from a set of primary acupoints including

Taichong, LV3
Zulinqi, GB41
Xuanzhong, GB39
Fenchi, GB20
Jianjing, GB21
Zhongzhu, KD15
Manual needle stimulation was applied while patients actively and passively moved the neck and shoulder. Needle retention time was twenty minutes for this portion of the treatment session. Supplementary points were added for specific indications. For these points, electroacupuncture was applied. For posterior neck pain, Houxi (SI3) was added. For dampness, Fenglong (ST40) was added. For blood stasis, Xuehai (SP10) was added. An additional twenty minutes of needle retention time was added for the secondary electroacupuncture portion of the treatment session.

Herbal medicine was prescribed based on diagnostics. Patients with cold type pain were given Xiao Yao San. If neutral temperatures were determined, Si Ni San was prescribed. Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San was prescribed for patients with heat. For patients with deficiency, a combination of Xiao Yao San and Dang Gui Shao Yao San was prescribed. For cases of excess, Chai Hu Shu Gan San with Si Ni San was prescribed. Customization formulas based on differential diagnostics included the addition of herbs including Bai Shao, Gui Zhi, Huang Qi, Chai Hu, Fu Ling, and Ge Gen.

The researchers note that both the total recovery rate and the total effective rate was significant for participants receiving acupuncture plus herbs. All of the aforementioned studies indicate that acupuncture is an effective modality for the treatment of neck pain. The investigations demonstrate a variety of clinical scenarios and treatment protocols for the resolution of neck pain using acupuncture or acupuncture plus herbs.

References: 
Chen XP, Liang Q & Zhou SM. (2014). Controlled Clinical Studies on Treating Neck Cervical Spondylosis with Combination of Point-to-point Auricular Acupuncture along the Skin and Body Acupuncture. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 6(36).

Huang LC. (1991). Auricular Acupuncture: Diagnosis and Treatment. Beijing: Journal of Science & Technology.

Zeng R & Huang HF. (2015). Clinical observation on treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy by floating-acupuncture, electro-acupuncture plus TCM medicine. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 7(29).

Zou XG. (2012). TCM, acupuncture, moxibustion, Tui Na and cervical traction in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy: 19 cases.China Modern Applied Medicine. 6(3): 42-43.

Zhou W, Chen YX & Ou JY. (2014). Electro Acupuncture on Hegu Point and Neiguan Point to Treat Acute Pain after Surgery on Anterior Cervical Spine. World Chinese Medicine. 9(4).

Li ZR. (2003). Acupuncture Experiments. Beijing: China TCM Publisher. 154.

Li, W. W. & Wu, L. Z. (2015). Clinical Observations on Combined Use of Acupuncture and Medicine for Treatment of Spasmodic Torticollis. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 34 (2).

Chen, Y., Qiao, K. & Jiang, W. X., et al. (2006). 146 cases of clinical study on EMG-guided botulinum toxin type A treatment of spasmodic torticollis [J]. Chinese Journal of Clinical Neurosciences. 14(2).

Liu YD. (2014). The treatment of neck-shoulder syndrome from liver and gallbladder theory by acupuncture plus TCM medicine. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 6 (16).

Shao SJ, Xie Q. (1999). Wei Jia Acupuncture Therapy. Shanghai University of TCM Publisher. 66.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1585-acupuncture-alleviates-neck-pain-increases-motion

The Science of Acupuncture

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.[1] 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.[2][3]

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.”[4] 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.”[5] 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….”[6] 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.[7] Investigators from the University of California (Los Angeles and Irvine) “have shown that electroacupuncture stimulation activates neurons” in specific brain regions thereby reducing hypertension.[8]

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.”[9] 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.

Footnotes:
[1] 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.
[2] Point specificity in acupuncture. Chin Med. 2012 Feb 28;7:4. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Choi EM, Jiang F, Longhurst JC.
[3] Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine CA 92697-4075, USA.
[4] Point specificity in acupuncture. Chin Med. 2012 Feb 28;7:4. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Choi EM, Jiang F, Longhurst JC.
[5] 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.
[6] 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.
[7] 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.
[8] 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.
[9] Ann Intern Med, Berman, Lixing, Lagenberg, Lee, Gilpin, Hochberg. 2004; 141:901-910.

Acupuncture and Aging

Growing older is an inevitability. Feeling older is not. Many of the conditions experienced as we age are treatable, if not preventable, through massage therapy, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We often hear about growing older gracefully, but that doesn’t mean we have to look and feel old. 

Massage Therapy is a wonderful tool to help keep the body relaxed and improve circulation. Poor blood flow and low oxygen in the blood can lead to a lot of issues, including chronic pain.

Acupuncture can also help with many conditions related to aging, including: 

High Cholesterol & Hypertension
Mental Acuity
Stroke Paralysis
Arthritis
Osteoporosis
Menopause
Cancer
Sleep Issues
Boosting Immunity
Digestive Issues
Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Health
Fatigue
Facial Rejuvenation

High Cholesterol & Hypertension 
Acupuncture can help lower cholesterol, and acupuncture and massage can help lower blood pressure, as well. Acupuncture also helps to curb cigarette cravings, which has a highly negative impact on cardiovascular health.  Dietary recommendations also play a role; heart disease is not as common in those following diets popular in Asia. Additional information is available at https://www.affinityacupuncture.com/conditions-treated/#/circulatory-disorders/. 

Cognitive Function
Acupuncture and massage therapy help improve circulation and cell proliferation, which may contribute to cognitive improvement.  Studies show encouraging results for acupuncture performed on Alzheimer’s patients, as well, with improvements in mood, cognitive function, and verbal and motor skills.

Stroke Paralysis
When treatments are received shortly after a stroke, acupuncture can help reduce and improve resulting paralysis. 

Osteoarthritis
A landmark 2004 study proved the effectiveness of acupuncture in providing pain relief among those with osteoarthritis in the knee.  On its own or as a compliment to standard care, acupuncture decreases inflammation and provides relief for those with Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis. 

Osteoporosis
When started early in life, acupuncture can help reduce the impact of osteoporosis, which affects 80% more women than men. 

Menstruation and Menopause 
Hot flashes are normal but not natural. Yes, you read that right.  Women in the US are far more likely to suffer through negative symptoms during menstruation and menopause than women in China who regularly receive acupuncture treatments. Our diet, lifestyle and environment affect our reproductive systems, and acupuncture and TCM can help rebalance the cycle.

Cancer
Acupuncture is not a treatment for cancer, but can be used as a preventative measure as it reduces inflammation. For individuals going through cancer treatment, acupuncture can provide relief from nausea and soreness experienced during chemotherapy. 

Sleep Disorders
There are dozens of reasons people struggle with having restful sleep. Acupuncture and massage therapy are potent ways to increase blood flow and oxygenation, which impact the quality of sleep. Acupuncture also helps to regulate the stress hormones released by the adrenal gland, which can keep our minds overly active and our bodies awake when overstimulated. Additionally, acupuncture an relieve some of the pressure felt on the bladder during the night, decreasing night wakings to use the bathroom. 

Boosting Immunity
The immune system is easily compromised as we get older. Regular massage and acupuncture sessions can help increase the immune system and resistance to illness. When a virus or infection occurs, acupuncture and TCM can help speed up recovery time. 

Digestive Issues
The body’s ability to metabolize and break down food changes as we get older. The majority of our immune system is in our gut, and when there are issues with digestion, health can be compromised in other ways as well. Acupuncture and TCM can support healthy digestion and caloric use. Learn more at https://www.affinityacupuncture.com/conditions-treated/#/gastrointestinal-problems/.

Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Health
Sex is good for you. It can boost immunity, lower blood pressure, improve bladder control, reduce risk of heart attack, reduce stress, and improve sleep. It might even lower the risk of prostate cancer. Approximately 18 million men in the US have ED, and medication is not a safe option for an estimated 30% of that population. An untold number of women experience decreased libido and discomfort during sex, especially after menopause. Acupuncture is a safe, natural way to help… stimulate the body. 

Fatigue
It’s no secret that our bodies tend to slow down as we age, and many people experience fatigue. This sense of lethargy can contribute to individuals “feeling old” at any age. Acupuncture and TCM help stimulate the adrenal system and balance the body’s natural energy cycles. 

Facial Rejuvenation
Facelifts, microderm abrasion, and Botox are not the only options for reversing the appearance of aging in our skin. Acupuncture can help maintain elasticity, reduce the appearance of fine lines, decrease sagginess, and fade age spots without the use of a scalpel or toxin. More information is available here

Beginning the practice of acupuncture and incorporating regular massage therapy early on help prevent many of these conditions altogether. Wherever someone is in their health, it is possible to make positive changes to improve wellness and prevent illness.   In addition to massage therapy, acupuncture, and TCM techniques, a healthy diet, active lifestyle and emotion well-being are components that guide us on the path of a long and high quality life. 

Western medicine can be effective in treating aging-related conditions, but tends to rely on treating symptoms with medications, whereas acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on prevention and treating the disease itself.  Yes, a pill can help lower your cholesterol. Acupuncture helps your body better metabolize and process foods. Medication can also lower your blood pressure. Acupuncture and TCM can help regulate your hormones, improve circulation, and improve the oxygenation in your blood as well. Viagra and other medications help with ED and other sexual changes that occur with age, but are not options for individuals on certain medications.  

As compliments to Western techniques or as independent treatments, acupuncture, massage therapy,  and Traditional Chinese Medicine can prevent and treat many of the conditions that affect us as we age without surgery or the long-term commitment and side effects of medications. 

Affinity Acupuncture is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of care. You are more than a number to us. Our team personalizes treatments specific to the individual, considering health history, medications, lifestyle, and wellness goals. We reserve a generous amount of time for each session to ensure you get the time you deserve. Your care will be customized to your needs, and we will treat the illnesses, not just the symptoms. Call us at 615-939-2787 today to book your treatment or schedule a free acupuncture consultation.