Acupuncture Continuing Education News

New immunohistochemical electron microscopy reveals that acupuncture protects brain cells in cases of heroin addiction. Acupuncture reduces heroin related withdrawal symptoms and restores brain chemistry. In controlled laboratory experiments of heroin addiction related brain damage, acupuncture restored nerve cells, endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria in the brain’s hippocampus and frontal lobe. The research team noted that they produced evidence demonstrating that acupuncture can partially reverse the effects of heroin related brain injuries. 

Re-addiction is the process in which addicts become addicted, withdraw and detoxify and then become addicted again in a repeated cycle. This may lead to extensive and sometimes irreversible damage to the brain by causing excessive apoptosis and nerve demyelination. The researchers studied the effects of needling acupuncture points GV20 (Baihui) and GV14 (Dazhui) based on prior research demonstrating that this point combination “reduces neuronal loss and attenuates ultrastructural damage in cerebral ischemic rats.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 4.2 million people in the USA have used heroin at least once. It is estimated that 23% of these individuals become addicted. The majority of heroin users are under the age of 26. Overdoses, unregulated purity and potency and chronic pathological damage are common consequences of illicit heroin use. 

New X-ray images of acupuncture points show that unique structures exist. New technology makes acupuncture point structures visible to CT scans. This and other incredible acupuncture research marks the start of the Year of the Horse. Additionally, new research confirms that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of depression, anxiety and hypertension. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture can avert sepsis and save lives. Let’s take a look at these discoveries.

Scholars were amazed at the new CT (computerized tomography) scans of acupuncture points. The CT X-rays, published in the Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena, reveal clear distinctions between non-acupuncture point and acupuncture point anatomical structures. New in-line phase contrast synchrotron radiation CT techniques reveal that acupuncture points have a uniquely high density of micro-vessels and contain a large amount of involuted microvascular structures that are not present in non-acupuncture points.

Acupuncture points have microvascular densities with bifurcations that “can be clearly seen around thick blood vessels” but non-acupuncture points show few thick blood vessels and none show fine, high density structures found in true acupuncture points. The researchers note that “the high brightness, wide spectrum, high collimation, polarization and pulsed structure of synchrotron radiation” facilitated the discovery. The research team concluded, “Our results demonstrated again the existence of acupoints, and also show that the acupoints are special points in mammals.” 

Tongue acupuncture is effective for the treatment of depression. Tongue acupuncture points shown here are effective for treating depression and anxiety. Tongue PointsResearchers measured the synergistic effects of tongue acupuncture combined with traditional body style acupuncture. They concluded that tongue acupuncture is an effective application modality for the treatment of depression and demonstrated significantly reduced anxiety levels and improved heart rate scores. Electrocardiographic (ECG) biosignal recordings also confirmed improvements in HRV, heart rate variability.

Tongue acupuncture is a rare form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Recent research by Sun J.G. et al. has identified 40 acupuncture points on the tongue that directly correspond to internal organs and body parts. Wong V.C. et al. cites numerous studies demonstrating that both tongue acupuncture and body style acupuncture improve central and peripheral vision in pediatric patients. Research by Li et al. concludes that tongue acupuncture has a significant therapeutic effect for stroke patients. This latest research finds tongue acupuncture effective in enhancing the beneficial effects of body style acupuncture for the treatment of depression. 

New research concludes that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. Local and distal needling for IBS is effective for pain reduction and reducing digestion disorders. IBS is characterized by chronic episodes of abdominal cramping and pain with diarrhea and/or constipation. The meta-analysis concludes, “Acupuncture exhibits clinically and statistically significant control of IBS symptoms.”

Published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, the study investigated all types of IBS: diarrhea predominant, constipation predominant and alternating. A total of 64 research papers were found on acupuncture for the treatment of IBS. The researchers used strict controls and study designs and sorted for “randomization, concealment of allocation, double blinding, and dropouts.” A total of 6 studies met the methodological quality required for trial inclusion. The researchers noted “our meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials suggests that acupuncture improves the symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain and distension, sensation of incomplete defecation, times of defecation per day, and state of stool.” 

Researchers at the Department of Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School have discovered that a form of acupuncture called electroacupuncture controls inflammation and may help to save lives. Electroacupuncture needling is now proven to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers proved that electroacupuncture fights infections including polymicrobial peritonitis. In addition, they found that electroacupuncture reduces severe systemic inflammation due to infections, sepsis.

The researchers discovered that the anti-inflammatory effects of electroacupuncture “are voltage dependent.” Non-acupuncture points (sham points) did not exert anti-inflammatory responses. Additionally, “electroacupuncture with a wooden toothpick” did not reduce inflammation. Only true acupuncture (verum acupuncture) was effective in regulating cytokine levels, producing anti-inflammatory effects and preventing death.

The researchers discovered important biochemical changes stimulated by electroacupuncture. Electroacupuncture was found to significantly boost dopamine levels. Using this evidence, the researchers used the drug fenoldopam in their experiments because it has similar effective actions as dopamine. This drug was also effective in reducing sepsis. 

Acupuncture is widely used in the treatment for peripheral facial paralysis (FP). Electroacupuncture combined with physiotherapy was found especially effective in the treatment of facial paralysis. In a recent study, researchers concluded that electroacupuncture and rehabilitation training combined with conventional acupuncture and physiotherapy can significantly improve facial paralysis symptoms in the early stage. The study involved a four week long trial in which patients receiving electroacupuncture and rehabilitation training statistically outperformed those receiving only conventional acupuncture and physiotherapy.

Peripheral facial paralysis is a common condition. The cosmetic drawback for the patient is obvious; the inability to perform normal communication is impaired. Patients are typically under great psychological stress in addition to their physical limitations due to this condition. FP is caused by the inflammation of facial nerves and treatments should be carried out in the early stage aiming at restoring the strength of facial mimetic muscles. Facial mimetic muscles are skeletal muscles of the face innervated by the facial nerve, cranial nerve VII. Early rehabilitation training can help maintain and restore the shape and function of mimetic muscles on the affected side and the appropriate stimulation of electroacupuncture improves excitability, flexibility and reactivity of the nerve system.

Researchers at Shehong County (Sichuan Province) TCM Hospital selected 102 patients from the Rehabilitation Outpatient Department and randomly divided them into the non-electroacupuncture control group and the electroacupuncture treatment group. These patients’ onset of the disease was within three days. 

The control group consisted of 52 patients receiving treatments of moxibustion, acupoint application, massage, TDP and conventional medication. The acupuncture group’s acupoints were: Yangbai (GB14), Sibai (ST2), Quanliao (SI18), Cuanzhu (BL2), Jiache (ST6), Dicang (ST4), Hegu (LI4), (two) Yifeng (SJ17), and (two) Yixiang (LI20). Symptomatic and specialized point selections were added: Fengchi (GB20) for wind cold, Quchi (LI11) for wind heat, Fengchi (GB20) and Waiguan (SJ5) for pain in the mastoidea, Lianquan (RN23) for disappearance of taste or numbness in tongue and Zusanli (ST36) for use during the recovery period. All acupoints were retained for 30 minutes per day. 

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are used in the treatment of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) patients to alleviate suffering. HIV shows on the tongue body and coating according to New York University researchers. Licensed acupuncturists commonly use tongue diagnosis. A recent study of 159 patients by New York University researchers reveals that HIV patients demonstrate common tongue diagnosis signs. Tongue diagnosis is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to evaluate a patient’s health. 

Tongue diagnosis involves the inspection of the color, shape, size, texture and coating of the tongue. In TCM, this is used during differential diagnostic procedures. Tongue diagnoses help to determine the health of the internal organs. Tongue diagnoses are also helpful in determining if there are pathogenic factors affecting patients. 

The New York University study of tongue diagnostics was part of a randomized, double-blinded, controlled clinical trial investigating the treatment of chronic nausea. The study was conducted in New York City (NYC) at a large academic health facility and consisted of 159 patients with HIV infections and chronic nausea. 

The new ICD-10 acupuncture insurance billing diagnosis codes will go live on October 1, 2014. Learn how to quickly use ICD-10 codes before the deadline. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) gave the official word this week that there will be no more extensions except for rare hardship exemptionss. All acupuncturists must update their HCFA 1500 billing forms and/or insurance billing software for the launch. Insurance companies will not reimburse for acupuncture services if ICD-9 codes are used after the official launch date.

The new CMS ICD-10 codes do not open the door for Medicare reimbursement for acupuncture services. They pertain to a new ICD-10 seven character diagnosis coding system that replaces the current ICD-9 five character coding system. The Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi) publishes acupuncture continuing education online for acupuncture CEU and PDA credit. The HealthCMi news and blogging system has provided up-to-date information to streamline the process of transitioning to the ICD-10 system. Learn more by visiting the web page: Acupuncture ICD-10 Insurance Billing Codes Made Easy. 

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

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