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Acupuncture Continuing Education News

A recent study reveals that acupuncture has a curative effect on patients with cerebral vasospasm. Acupoint Yintang is helpful in relieving vasospasm and may help to save lives. Acupoint Yintang This is a severe vasoconstriction of arteries and is located in the subarachnoid cavity covering the brain. The vasospasm decreases blood flow to the area and may cause ischemia, infarction, stroke and death. This new research demonstrates that combining acupuncture, herbal medicine and pharmaceutical medication together is significantly more effective than using only drugs.

During a randomized controlled trial, researchers divided 60 patients equally into a control group and an acupuncture treatment group. Patients in the control group received conventional medication. Patients in the acupuncture treatment group received the same medication as the control group plus acupuncture and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang (Decoction for Driving Out Blood Stasis in the Blood Mansion). After 4 weeks of treatment, the outcome of the acupuncture treatment group was better than that of the control group and the difference was statistically significant (P<0.05).

TCM Perspective
Generally, cerebral vasospasm is commonly a response to an aneurysmal hemorrhage. Symptomatic cerebral vasospasm often occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque in the internal carotid or vertebral arteries narrows the lumen. This leads to the dysfunction of cerebral vessels. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), symptomatic cerebral vasospasm is often listed in the headache category and is usually caused by a weak constitution plus the influence of exogenous pathogenic factors. The vasospasm leads to yang qi deficiency that causes blood to flow outside normal pathways eventually leading to blood stasis in cerebral channels.

The Experiment
In this study conducted by the neurosurgery department of Shanxi People's Hospital, the patients' courses of disease ranged from 48 hours to 2 weeks. TCM diagnostics confirmed these patients' symptoms belong to the category of stasis blocked tracts. Both the control group and the acupuncture group took comprehensive therapeutic measures addressing dehydration, hemostasis and prevention of gastrointestinal bleeding. Patients of the control group received nimodipine via intravenous pump at the rate of 2-4 ml per hour for 2 weeks. Next, they received oral administration of nimodipine for 2 weeks. Nimodipine is a calcium channel blocker used to prevent complications from a subarachnoid hemorrhage related vasospasm. 

Researchers at Xinjiang Medical University conclude that Shan Yao (Dioscorea opposita, wild yam) shows antihypertensive properties. Shan Yao reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in laboratory rats with high blood pressure. Shan Yao They were fed a water based solution of Shan Yao for 6 weeks. The researchers measured Shan Yao’s ability to inhibit endothelin converting enzyme and improve antioxidant activity. They suggest that Shan Yao’s ability to lower blood pressure may be due to these biochemical changes.

The research suggests that Shan Yao’s medicinal benefits are due, in part, to its effects on the kidneys. The researchers measured reductions of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum creatinine (Scr) in the Shan Yao group over the control group. Based on these findings, the investigators conclude that Shan Yao improves renal function. Shan Yao demonstrated antioxidant properties. Lower MDA (malondialdehyde) and higher SOD (superoxide dismutase) levels were measured in the Shan Yao group. 

Research published in the American Journal of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine documented that herbal medicine helped a bottlenose dolphin overcome ulcerative stomatitis. This study shows that dolphins benefit from herbal medicine.  A differential diagnosis was made of excess stomach heat and blood heat. An herbal formula was then powdered and put in fish that were fed to the dolphin. The dolphin showed significant improvements and no adverse effects occurred. 

The bottlenose dolphin had multiple ulcerative lesions in both the gingiva and hard palate. A combination of antibiotics and anti-fungal medications did not affect the condition. Based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis, an herbal formula consisting of Mu Dan Pi, Mai Men Dong, Xuan Shen, Di Fu Zi, Huang Bai, Sheng Di Huang, Chi Shao, Dan Shen and Yu Jin was prepared. The dose was 4 grams of powdered herbs placed in fish and fed to the dolphin at a rate of 2 times per day for 6 months.  

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. 

Acupuncture improves the functional and physical health of the heart in cases of chronic heart failure (CHF). Research published in the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology demonstrates several major clinical benefits provided by acupuncture in cases of CHF. One of the most important discoveries is that acupuncture reduces the physical size of damage to the heart, infarct size, due to heart failure.

The researchers note that CHF is associated with significant neurohumoral responses including excess sympathetic nervous system activity. In this laboratory experiment, acupuncture demonstrated significant homeostatic regulatory effects on sympathetic nervous system responses. Excess cardiac sympathetic afferent reflexes resulting in overactive sympathetic tone combined with deficient parasympathetic activity is contributory towards heart failure and the risk of sudden death. Acupuncture successfully demonstrated regulatory responses on these systems to improve overall cardiac health. 

A new meta-analysis finds evidence that acupuncture is effective in controlling cancer related symptoms. Acupuncture has now been proven to relieve cancer related pain, nausea and depression. Studies support the use of acupuncture for the treatment of cancer related pain, nausea, fatigue, hot flashes, insomnia, vomiting, anxiety, depression and dry mouth. Based on these findings, the researchers suggest expanding studies into the beneficial clinical effects of acupuncture for cancer patients. Further, the researchers note that acupuncture used in the field of oncology requires a “constant dialog” between acupuncturists and other treating physicians for improved clinical outcomes.

The researchers note that acupuncture promotes several biological changes. Acupuncture activates neural, endocrine and immunological regulation. Citing modern evidence that acupuncture regulates the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, the researchers suggest that this may be a biomedical correlate for the ancient Chinese theory that acupuncture balances yin and yang. They added that electro-acupuncture induces “serotonin release from the upper brain stem region and hypothalamus and stimulates endogenous opiate release (b‑endorphin, enkephalin, endomorphin, and dynorphin) which then alleviates cancer pain.” The research team also notes that acupuncture regulates the immune system in part by stimulating leukocytes, both granulocytes and lymphocytes. This is accomplished by acupuncture’s ability to stimulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. Additional research presented demonstrated that acupuncture benefits both T-lymphocyte and Natural Killer cell (NK cell) function. 

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.”