Acupuncture Continuing Education News

Acupuncture & Herbs Outperform Sleep Drug

on Monday, 15 December 2014 17:21.

Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine improves sleep. Patients suffering from insomnia underwent a study comparing acupuncture plus herbs with the drug estazolam. The acupuncture plus herbs group obtained a “significantly better overall effective rate” than the estazolam group. Manual manipulation of the needle. Patients in the acupuncture plus herbs group enjoyed a 96.8% total effective rate compared with the estazolam group receiving a 74.2% total effective rate.

Estazolam is a benzodiazepine. It is used in the treatment of insomnia and exerts its effective action by depressing the central nervous system. This induces drowsiness and assists in overcoming sleeplessness. The researchers found estazolam effective but it caused several adverse effects. Patients experienced headaches, fatigue, dry mouth and dizziness as a result of taking the drug.

Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine had significantly better patient outcomes than estazolam with no adverse effects. The researchers document that the acupuncture plus herbs “improve(s) the patients’ sleep quality….”

The acupuncture points used in the study were:

Sishencong (EX-HN1)
Shenting (GV24)
Fengchi (GB20)
Xinshu (BL15)
Pishu (BL20)
Shenmen (HT7)
Neiguan (PC6)
Zusanli (ST36)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Zhaohai (KI6)

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula used in the study was Shen Zao An Shen Tang. The ingredients in this formula are:

Dang Shen (Radix Codonopsis)
Suan Zao Ren (Semen Ziziphi Spinosae)
Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae)
Huang Qi (Radix Astragali)
Fu Shen (Sclerotium Poriae Pararadicis)
Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae)
Long Yan Rou (Arillus Longan)
Bai Zi Ren (Semen Platycladi)
Ye Jiao Teng (Caulis Polygoni Multiflori)
Fu Ling (Poria)
Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)
Chen Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae)
Cu Chai Hu (vinegar-processed Radix Bupleuri)
Yu Jin (Radix Curcumae)
Gan Cao (Radix et Rhizoma Glycyrrhizae)

The researchers defined a total clinical recovery as patients restored to normal sleep or having greater than 6 hours of sound and refreshing sleep per night. A marked improvement was defined as patients having better sleep quality with an increase of sleep time greater than 3 hours per night. A minor improvement was defined as sleep increased by less than 3 hours and a failure was defined as no improvement or worsening of the condition. 

Acupuncture Migraine Remedy Found

on Sunday, 14 December 2014 22:00.

Acupuncture relieves migraines. Researchers conclude that acupuncture decreases the frequency of migraine attacks and reduces migraine intensity. Additionally, researchers have discovered biological mechanisms activated by acupuncture in the alleviation of migraines. Yin Tang was used in the treatment of migraines in the study.

Vijayalakshmi et. al., finds electroacupuncture more effective than “conventional drug therapy” for the treatment of migraines. Electroacupuncture significantly outperformed the drug flunarizine in the treatment of migraines. Patients showed superior patient outcomes using acupuncture including pain relief, psychological profile and quality of life improvements, and reductions in migraine related disabilities. The researchers formally recommend acupuncture as an alternative or adjunct method of care for migraine patients.

One key pain relieving mechanism may be acupuncture’s ability to stimulate a pain relieving substance. Goldman et. al., from the University of Rochester Medical Center (New York) and the Boston University School of Medicine (Massachusetts) note that “acupuncture releases a natural pain-relieving molecule into the body…. Adenosine is a key to reducing pain during acupuncture treatment.”

Ling Zhao et. al., conclude that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of migraines and reduces pain intensity levels. Zhou et. al., find acupuncture effective in the prevention of migraines and links acupuncture’s therapeutic benefits to its ability to stimulate MLCK expression. The expression of myosin light-chain kinase (MLCK) is involved in the regulation of smooth muscle contraction. The researchers document a correlation between acute migraine attacks and decreases of MLCK via the CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) signal system. The researchers discovered that applying acupuncture to acupoint GB20 (Fengchi, Wind Pool) successfully upregulates MLCK expression and has “preventative and curative” effects for migraine patients.

The research confirms Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory stating that acupuncture point GB20 is effective in the treatment of headaches. According to TCM theory, GB20 benefits the head, benefits hearing and vision, clears the sense organs, and alleviates pain. This acupoint is located below the occiput in the hollow between the origins of the sternomastoid and trapezius muscles. It is a pair of acupoints found in the depression at the base of the skull. Indications for application of GB20 include headaches, migraines, eye disorders, vertigo, tinnitus, insomnia, febrile diseases, seizures, sinusitis and rhinorrhea. This point is important in TCM because it is the meeting point of the gallbladder and sanjiao channels with the yang motility and yang linking vessels.

Dr. Cayir et. al., conclude that there is a “clinically relevant decrease in MMP-2 activity in patients with migraine treated with acupuncture. The mechanism underlying the effect of acupuncture in alleviating pain may be associated with a decrease in MMP-2 activity.” Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) is an enzyme involved in vascularization, tissue remodeling, and inflammatory responses.

Dr. Cayir et. al., administered migraine patients a total of “10 sessions of acupuncture treatment. The points selected were bilateral ST8, ST44, LI4, LI11, LIV3, SP6, GB1, GB14, GB20, GV14, GV20, Yintang, Taiyang and ear Shenmen.” Blood samples were taken before and after treatment to determine MMP-2 concentration and activity levels. Acupuncture significantly alleviated the migraine pain intensity. Notably, MMP-2 concentrations remained relatively stable but MMP-2 activity significantly decreased.

Jie Yang et. al., note that acupuncture “induce(s) different cerebral glucose metabolism changes in pain-related brain regions and reduce(s) intensity of pain” for patients with migraines. In a randomized-controlled study using PET-CT neuroimaging, acupuncture was shown to be effective for migraine pain reduction. The imaging revealed that acupuncture raised glycometabolism in the middle temporal cortex, orbital front cortex, middle frontal gyrus, angular gyrus, post cingulate cortex, the precuneus and the middle cingulate cortex. Acupuncture simultaneously lowered glycometabolism in the parahippocampus, hippocampus, fusiform, postcentral gyrus, and the cerebellum in migraine patients. The study also showed that acupuncture point choices determined the changes in brain glycometabolism. The researchers note that this measurable phenomenon indicates acupuncture point specificity; specific acupuncture points have specific effects.

Subjects with migraines were separated into three groups: traditional acupuncture group (TAG), controlled acupuncture group (CAG), non-intervention group. The TAG group received acupuncture stimulation at TB5 (Waiguan), GB34 (Yanglingquan) and GB20 (Fengchi). The CAG group received acupuncture at ST8 (Touwei), LI6 (Pianli) and ST36 (Zusanli). The non-intervention group did not receive treatment.

The TAG group was more effective than the other groups at reducing migraine related pain. Additionally, the glycometabolism was higher in the TAG group than in the non-intervention group in the middle temporal cortex, orbital frontal cortex, middle frontal gyrus, angular gyrus, post cingulate cortex, precuneus, and the middle cingulate cortex. The TAG group decreased glycometabolism in the parahippocampus, hippocampus, fusiform, postcentral gyrus and cerebellum more than in the non-intervention group. The CAG group more greatly increased glycometabolism in the middle temporal cortex, supratemporal gyrus, supramarginal gyrus and the middle cingulate cortex than was measured in the non-intervention group. The CAG group decreased glycometabolism more greatly than the non-intervention group in the cerebellum.

Guo et. al., conclude that acupuncture is more effective than flunarizine hydrochloride for controlling migraines. Researchers compared a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) combination of acupuncture and tuina massage with the oral medication flunarizine hydrochloride. The TCM treatment was significantly more effective than the drug treatment for reducing pain frequency, intensity and duration due to migraines. The acupuncture combined with tuina group had a total effective rate of 93.8% whereas the medication group only achieved a 63% total effective rate.

Additionally, the acupuncture with tuina group had significantly fewer relapses. As a result of the findings the researchers conclude, “Combining electroacupuncture and local tuina can obtain better effect and lower relapse rate than oral Flunarizine Hydrochloride capsules in migraine patients.” 

Acupuncture Soothes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:27.

Acupuncture and moxibustion alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Research confirms that acupuncture and moxibustion significantly reduce abdominal pain, diarrhea, and the ratio of abnormal stools. The research was conducted on patients with IBS-D, a type of irritable bowel syndrome characterized by insidious attacks of diarrhea. The total effective rate was 96.7% with many patients experiencing a complete recovery with no relapses. The positive patient outcomes for IBS-D patients suggest that additional research on IBS-C (constipation IBS) and IBS-A (alternating stool IBS) is warranted. Lower abdominal acupoints with four needles inserted.

Over 65% of patients in the study demonstrated “marked effect.” The study’s criteria for marked effect are: completely asymptomatic, normal frequency of bowel movements, normal stools, no relapse after three months. An additional 30% of patients experienced improvements. The criteria for “improvements” are significant reductions in symptoms and relapse within three months but only with mild symptom intensity.

As a standalone procedure, acupuncture demonstrated a 76.7% total effective rate including reductions in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and frequency of bowel movements. Acupuncture combined with moxibustion increased the total effective rate to 96.7%. The researchers note that “acupuncture combined with ginger and salt-partitioned moxibustion can obtain a remarkable effect for IBS-D. This integrative therapy is simple and convenient.”

The researchers note that the biomedical definition of IBS includes abdominal pain or discomfort with 2 out of 3 of the following symptoms: relief by defecation, changes in frequency of stools, changes in the form of stools (hard, loose, lumpy or watery). IBS may be further differentiated by greater than 3 bowel movements per day and urgent bowel movements. The symptoms occur for 12 weeks during a 12 month period but are not necessarily consecutive.

Traditional Chinese Medicine
The researchers note that IBS-D is differentiated into 3 patterns within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) according to the Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol of Integrative Chinese and Western Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Chen, et. al. Type 1 is liver qi stagnation with spleen deficiency. Symptoms may be triggered by emotional disturbances and include: diarrhea, abdominal pain, alleviation by defecation, and lower abdominal cramping. Secondary symptoms of type 1 IBS-D are: borborygmus, flatulence, mucus in stools, depression, sighing, irritability, poor appetite, and abdominal distention. Signs include a thin-white tongue coating and a wiry pulse.

Type 2 IBS-D is due to spleen and stomach deficiency. Diarrhea, especially after food intake, is a primary symptom along with loose stools, watery stools, mucus in stool, poor appetite, and abdominal distention after eating, gastric fullness and general digestive organ discomfort. Secondary symptoms include abdominal pain relieved by pressure, borborygmus, mental and physical fatigue, abdominal bloating, and reluctance to speak. Signs include a sallow complexion, a pale tongue with teethmarks, a white tongue coating, and a thready-weak pulse. 

Acupuncture Warms And Alleviates Neck Pain

on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:57.

Acupuncture is highly effective in reducing neck pain and restoring range of motion. A study comparing two manual acupuncture techniques finds one technique has a very high total effective rate and recovery rate. A second technique examined in the study, although effective, had lower scores. A computer monitoring thermographic changes within the neck measured significantly higher neck temperatures induced by the superior acupuncture technique. The researchers link the ability of this acupuncture technique to reduce pain with its ability to warm the neck. Huatuojiaji points warm the neck and stop pain.

The setting the mountain on fire (Shao Shan Huo) needle manipulation technique produced a complete recovery rate of 68.3% and a total effective rate of 98.3%. The even reinforcing-reducing technique produced a 28.3% complete recovery rate and an 81.7% total effective rate. Complete recovery from neck pain was determined by the following criteria: no remaining symptoms, complete improvement of positive signs, normal neck range of motion. The total effective rate was calculated by adding the following groups: complete recovery, significant improvements, and slight improvements.

Needles were applied to local acupuncture points of the neck known as Huatuojiaji acupoints. The Huatuojiaji points were needled lateral to the cervical vertebrae from C4 to C7. In classical Chinese medicine texts, Huatuojiaji points begin below C7 at T1, however, modern day licensed acupuncturists often use Huatuojiaji points located 0.5 to 1 cun lateral to the cervical vertebrae. Needle retention time for both acupuncture technique groups was 20 minutes following manual needle manipulation techniques. All needles were 0.30 mm x 40 mm. All patients were treated one time per day with ten treatments comprising one course of care. The results were tabulated after two courses of treatment.

The setting the mountain on fire technique demonstrated significantly superior objective and subjective clinical outcomes. The researchers note that this technique was first described in the Jin Zhen Fu (Ode to the Gold Needle), a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) classic text written during the Ming Dynasty. They add that modern studies confirm that the setting the mountain on fire technique increases blood circulation to the limbs and induces “dilation of capillaries.”

This study compared two standard acupuncture techniques used for the treatment of cervical radiculopathy. This condition was the inclusion requirement for participation in the study. All participants had cervical radiculopathy characterized by neck pain that radiates to the upper limbs, decreased sensation in the irritated nerve pathway, muscular atrophy, and decreased muscle strength. Objective measurements for cervical radiculopathy included the following inclusion criteria: positive Spurling sign, positive brachial plexus tension test, X-rays showing vertebral bone hyperplasia, joint hyperplasia, intervertebral space narrowing, decreased intervertebral foramen size, CT or MRI scan demonstrating “vertebral outgrowth and nerve root canal stenosis.” An additional inclusion criterion was the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis of “neck pain due to wind-cold obstructing the meridians.”

A total of 120 patients met the criteria for inclusion and were randomly divided into the setting the mountain on fire and even reinforcing-reducing acupuncture groups. Both groups demonstrated high levels of efficacy but the complete recovery rate of the setting the mountain on fire group was significantly superior at 68.3% versus the even reinforcing-reducing group at 28.3%. 

Acupuncture Rejuvenates Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

on Monday, 08 December 2014 15:19.

Acupuncture benefits Alzheimer’s disease patients. Clinical research published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science finds acupuncture plus moxibustion effective in improving cognitive function and improving the general quality of life for Alzheimer’s disease patients. The research, supported by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, measured an 83.3% total effective rate of acupuncture combined with moxibustion. Scalp points for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease are in the study.

The acupuncture points used were GV20 (Baihui) and Sishencong (Ex-Hn-1). Filiform acupuncture needles (0.30 mm x 40-50 mm) were inserted at a 30 degree angle to the area just below the galea aponeurotica. Twirling method was applied without lifting and thrusting at a rate of 200 times per minute for 2-3 minutes followed by a needle retention time of 5 minutes prior to repeating the process. Engagement by family members involved instruction to verbally communicate and help the patient move their limbs during the needling regime.

Moxibustion was applied on top of an herbal cake comprised Fu Zi (Radix Aconiti Laterails Preparata), Ma Huang (Fructus Aristolochiae), Rou Gui (Cortex Cinnamoni), Gan Jiang (Rhizma Zingiberis), and other related herbs. The cakes were placed at GV14 (Dazhui) and BL23 (Shenshu). Moxa cones were placed on top of the cakes. The acupuncture and moxibustion treatments were applied once per day for 10 days. A three day rest period followed the treatment and this process was repeated two more times prior to clinical evaluations. The researchers concluded that acupuncture and moxibustion are “safe and effective” and are “beneficial to the general improvement of the quality of life of AD (Alzheimer’s disease) patients….”

These findings involving human clinical trials are confirmed by electron microscopy laboratory research demonstrating that acupuncture protects the brain cells of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Published in Neural Regeneration Research, investigators identified major brain structures that are preserved by using electroacupuncture and moxibustion. The research team documented a powerful neuroprotective effect induced by electroacupuncture including specific beneficial changes in brain chemistry. 

Acupuncture was applied to acupuncture points GV20 (Baihui) and BL23 (Shenshu) on laboratory rats with induced Alzheimer’s disease pathology. The brains were examined with electron microscopy which revealed that rats treated with electroacupuncture preserves the hippocampus structure of the brain. The researchers discovered that “neuronal cell injury was markedly reduced” as a result of acupuncture. On the other hand, the control group that received no acupuncture or moxibustion showed enormous damage to the hippocampus.

Additional benefits were discovered. Transmission electron microscope findings revealed that electroacupuncture and moxibustion successfully downregulated axin protein expression and upregulated β-catenin protein expression. This was true for all three treatment groups: electroacupuncture only, moxibustion only and a third electroacupuncture combined with moxibustion group.

The research team reports, “The present study demonstrates that electroacupuncture pretreatment has a neuroprotective function in the hippocampus, suggesting that this technique could be used to protect learning and memory functions, and prevent senile dementia.” They added that in the hippocampus “neuronal cell injury was markedly reduced in all three pretreatment groups; organelles were visible in the cytoplasm, and chromatin appeared normal.” The researchers add that optimal results identified in the study were achieved by combining electroacupuncture with moxibustion. The investigators concluded, “The combination of moxibustion and electroacupuncture obtained a better neuroprotective effect than either technique alone….” 

Electroacupuncture and moxibustion regulate axin and β-catenin in the brain. The proteins interact with each other and are part of Wnt signaling pathways, a group of signal transduction pathways composed of proteins that signal from outside a cell to its interior. The researchers note, “We therefore propose that the mechanisms of action underlying the potential benefits of acupuncture and moxibustion in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease involve the regulation of Wnt signaling via alterations in axin and β-catenin expression.”

MRI imaging confirms that acupuncture benefits brain activity in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Researchers investigated the effects of two acupuncture points on the brains of human Alzheimer disease patients using fMRI imaging with a SIEMENS verio 3-Tesla scanner. They found that acupuncture “can enhance the hippocampal connectivity in AD (Alzheimer’s disease) patients.” The MRI scans demonstrate that acupuncture “increased connectivity” in the hippocampus in patients with AD. Alzheimer’s disease damages the hippocampus resulting in memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, dementia and disorientation.

The controlled clinical investigation of human subjects measured multiple regions of disrupted connectivity in AD patients. After acupuncture, MRI imaging revealed that AD patients had significant improvements in connectivity for both frontal and lateral temporal regions of the hippocampus. The researchers note, “Due to the cognitive impairment associated with AD, acupuncture on specific acupoints can modulate the cerebral blood flow and strengthen the hippocampal connectivity in AD patients.”

The fMRI imaging measured the effects of acupuncture points LV3 (Taichong) and LI4 (Hegu) on the brain. The researchers added that acupuncture has long-lasting and beneficial effects on the human brain. They note, “Our study provides new evidence that acupuncture has a striking, sustained effect on AD patients.”

Related research reveals that acupuncture prevents brain cell loss in memory related areas of the brain and improves cognition. The laboratory findings show that acupuncture prevents neuron loss in the hippocampus. Using a water maze test, mice who received acupuncture showed significantly less cognitive deficits. The combination of improved maze test results combined with greater preservation of brain neurons prompted the researchers to suggest that acupuncture may help human subjects suffering from cognitive disorders. The researchers note, “These results suggest that reducing neuron loss in the hippocampus by acupuncture is a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairment diseases.” 

Acupuncture Soothes Fibromyalgia And Helps Sleep

on Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:43.

Acupuncture reduces pain and improves sleep for fibromyalgia patients. Researchers determined that “acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for individuals with fibromyalgia” in a meta-analysis of eleven studies. The investigators add that additional research can help to “enhance and extend the effective therapeutic use of acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia.” Acupoints relieve pain of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread pain, heightened sensitivity to pain upon pressure, exhaustion, insomnia and aching joints. Other symptoms include digestive complaints, numbness, tingling, headaches, anxiety and impaired cognition. The overall presentation of fibromyalgia is pain throughout the body and tenderness.

The researchers cited studies finding acupuncture effective for reducing pain at tender points. Overall quality of life scores improved with acupuncture including significant reductions in sleep disturbances. Patients receiving acupuncture treatments also demonstrated lower rates of relapses and significant reductions in analgesic medication dependence.

One of the studies in the meta-analysis used CT scans on the acupuncture patients treated for fibromyalgia. The CT scans revealed “increased u-opioid receptors” involved in the reduction of referred pain as a result of acupuncture treatments. The u-opioid receptors are a class of opioid receptors with an affinity for enkephalins and beta-endorphins. Activation of u-opioid receptors causes pain reduction and sedation. Another study in the scientific review found electroacupuncture especially helpful in reducing pain levels.

One study in the meta-analysis emphasized the importance of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differential diagnostics. Mist et. al., examined a group of women diagnosed with fibromyalgia and further differentiated the disorder into TCM diagnostics: deficiency of qi and blood, stagnation of qi and blood, stagnation of liver qi. Mist et. al., concluded that TCM diagnostics can be used in conjunction with scientific investigations to “form more homogeneous groups” thereby improving the accuracy of findings. The meta-analysis also demonstrates that acupuncture is effective as a standalone treatment modality or as an adjunct modality to other forms of medical care. 

Acupuncture Boosts Drugs For Depression

on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 22:35.

Acupuncture enhances the therapeutic effects of paroxetine, a drug often given the trade name Paxil, Aropax or Seroxat. Patients receiving acupuncture plus paroxetine showed greater clinical improvements in obsessive-compulsive symptoms, depression and anxiety than patients receiving only paroxetine. Researchers discovered the synergistic effects of acupuncture combined with paroxetine plus another important advantage of adding acupuncture to paroxetine intake. Yin Tang and othe acupoints are needled here. Acupuncture sped up the effective action of therapeutic benefits. The researchers note, “acupuncture/electroacupuncture has a rapid onset of therapeutic effect and produces a noticeable improvement in obsessive-compulsive, depressive and anxiety symptoms.”

Acupuncture and electroacupuncture were found equally beneficial in overall therapeutic results. Scores in individual areas of improvement varied between acupuncture and electroacupuncture therapy when combined with paroxetine. Importantly, electroacupuncture showed significant improvements over manual acupuncture in reducing recurrent and multiple medical symptoms of no known organic cause. Electroacupuncture also demonstrated significant efficacy over manual acupuncture in reducing depression related hostility and phobic anxiety. Both manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture showed significant clinical benefits in reducing primary unipolar depression when combined with paroxetine with significant improvements over and above those of paroxetine only.

The researchers cite several important findings as the basis for the investigation. Roschke, et al. published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, “Acupuncture is more effective than oral antidepressants in improving depressive symptoms.” Yeung et al. document that acupuncture is effective for patients with “poor outcomes after antidepressant medications.” Zhang et al. confirm that acupuncture is both safe and effective for treating depression.

The study confirms three major findings. Acupuncture, electroacupuncture and paroxetine are effective in the treatment of primary unipolar depression. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture combined with paroxetine has a “rapid onset of therapeutic effect.” Additionally, acupuncture and electroacupuncture combined with paroxetine synergistically improves conditions of obsessive-compulsive behavior and anxiety in patients with depression. The results are better for patients combining acupuncture or electroacupuncture with paroxetine than those only taking paroxetine. The researchers also note that acupuncture and electroacupuncture combined with paroxetine “is a safe treatment for primary unipolar depression.”

The researchers used a standard set of acupuncture points with minor modifications for all patients in the study. This varies from customized clinical care wherein a licensed acupuncturist has more flexibility in the acupuncture point prescription based on differential diagnostics. Although the approach of using one set of acupuncture points for all patients is common in many research models, it is considered a variation from the norm according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles wherein each patient receives a custom acupuncture point prescription based on an exact presentation of conditions.

The research team cited several studies finding the governing, pericardium, spleen, liver and stomach meridians effective for the treatment of depression. These findings combined with a presentation of Chinese medicine principles for the treatment of depression were given as the reasoning for the acupuncture point choices. The primary acupuncture points used in the study were Baihui (DU20), Yintang (EX-HN3), Fengfu (DU16), Fengchi (GB20), Dazhui (DU14), Neiguan (PC6) and Sanyinjiao (SP6). Minor customizations based on some indications were added. Zusanli (ST36) was added for cases involving poor appetite or fatigue. Shenmen (HT7) was added for patients with sleep disturbances. Shuaigu (GB8) was added for patients with headaches. Zhigou (TB6) was added for patients with constipation.

Wang, et al. confirm that acupuncture combined with SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) is more effective than using SSRI medications alone. The additional research also confirms that acupuncture potentially reduces the “delay before the onset of the therapeutic action of SSRIs.” Wang, et al. note, “Acupuncture combined with SSRIs shows a statistically significant benefit over a 6-week period compared with SSRI administration only.” The research team notes that acupuncture is safe and produces no adverse effects. Wang, et al. add that acupuncture may allow for “the reduction of the dose of antidepressants and their associated adverse clinical outcome.”

The researchers note, “We showed that acupuncture combined with SSRIs produces statistically significantly larger reductions of HDRS (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) values than SSRIs alone. This additional benefit was evident from the first week and continued throughout 6 weeks of treatment.” The investigators note that these findings are consistent with another body of research including a 6 week controlled, randomized trial of acupuncture combined with paroxetine. 

Acupuncture Eases Pain For Children, Stanford University

on Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:18.

A Stanford University study finds acupuncture safe and cost-effective for relieving pain in children. Dr. Golianu, MD (Department of Anesthesiology, Stanford University), et. al., note research confirming that acupuncture is “useful in chronic pain conditions” adding that it may be clinically valuable in an integrative medical setting. A child is in a health care clinic in this photo. The research documents acupuncture’s ability to stimulate natural pain killers within the body, dynorphins and endorphins, along with several other important biological responses involved in pain management. The researchers cited multiple findings of acupuncture successfully relieving headaches, migraines, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, pelvic pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), acute post-operative pain, and post-operative delirium.

Children Accept Acupuncture
The Stanford University research team cites findings that “53% of children were initially apprehensive of acupuncture needles, following their first needle 64% felt it did not hurt, and furthermore would recommend it to someone else.” In adolescents, 67% report acupuncture as “pleasant” and 70% report that acupuncture reduced pain levels. The receptivity to acupuncture may be due, in part, to acupuncture’s ability to induce deep relaxation in patients combined with lasting analgesic effects.

The researchers note that, “Acupuncture can be a useful adjuvant in the care of pediatric patients with painful conditions, both in the chronic and acute setting.” Citing Lin, et. al., young children and adolescents experienced significant pain relief from acupuncture treatments. The children also found acupuncture “highly acceptable.” On safety, the research confirms “that acupuncture is safe when performed by appropriately trained practitioners.” In the United States, acupuncturists are licensed medical professionals with medical board oversight in most states.

The researchers note that acupuncture decreases headache frequency and severity across several controlled studies. In addition, acupuncture reduces the need for medications and is proven effective in treating migraines. The research team cites a randomized trial of children with migraines finding acupuncture effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines. Another pediatric study meeting the review standards of the research team finds cold laser acupuncture effective for reducing the frequency of migraines and tension headaches.

Abdominal Pain
The researchers cited findings showing acupuncture in adults effective for treating IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, “a comparative effectiveness trial of acupuncture compared to two antispasmodics (pinaverium bromide and trimebutin maleate) showed acupuncture as more effective than these standard therapies for IBS.” A pediatric study found acupuncture effective for the treatment of intermittent abdominal pain. Given the prevalence of abdominal pain in children, the researchers recommend further studies investigating the “dose or frequency and duration of acupuncture treatment required.”

Fibromyalgia and Arthritis
The research team did not find randomized controlled pediatric studies on the treatment of fibromyalgia. However, adult studies find acupuncture “superior to standard care alone.” In addition, “Acupuncture was found to change cortical responses to painful stimuli in fibromyalgia patients, suggesting a complex inhibitory modulation may be active in the central nervous system in fibromyalgia patients.” The same scenario was found in the case of juvenile arthritis. No pediatric studies have been conducted but adult studies find acupuncture effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis. For fibromyalgia and arthritis, the research team recommends specific investigations on the effects of acupuncture on children. 

Acupuncture Vitamin Injections Ease Menstrual Pain

on Sunday, 09 November 2014 07:16.

Acupuncture point injections of vitamin K ease dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain and cramping). Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) injected vitamin K1 into acupuncture point SP6, located on the lower leg. The women participating in the study experienced less menstrual pain and a shorter duration of menstrual symptoms. The circulation of qi in the abdomen is shown. A survey of the participants finds 94% “agreeable to receiving injection therapy” and 77% would receive monthly injections if the treatment were made available. The researchers note, “This finding is consistent with outcomes from the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital in Shanghai, China, where the protocol was developed.”

A closely related investigation at the UCSF Clinical Research Center (San Francisco, California) tested plasma concentrations of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) in patients with primary dysmenorrhea. Samples were collected 1-2 days after acupuncture point injections of vitamin K1 into acupoint SP6. A direct correlation between higher vitamin K1 levels and reduced menstrual pain and cramping was observed. The researchers note that this indicates further research into the role of vitamin K deficiency in inflammation and pain.

There is a historical precedent for research and use of vitamin K in the USA. Routine injections of vitamin K1 are given to infants to prevent hemorrhage, taking advantage of vitamin K1’s anticoagulant properties. The researchers note, “Vitamin K is typically studied in the context of blood clotting and bone health although recent emerging research suggests that vitamin K may have other roles, including reproductive health.” The researchers note that prior studies show a relationship between vitamin K deficiency and menstrual disorders. Additional research demonstrates relaxation of uterine muscle spasms after administration of vitamin K. The researchers add, “Vitamin K therapy may decrease the length of prolonged menstrual flow as a result of its action on prothrombin, a vitamin K-dependent coagulation protein produced in the liver.”

The researchers describe a correlation between Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and the current research. They note that the liver is an important organ in the regulation of menstruation and is involved in the movement of qi and blood. They add that acupuncture point SP6 is commonly used in the treatment of menstrual conditions by licensed acupuncturists “because it is a crossing point of the liver, spleen, and kidney channels, which are important in creating, storing, and moving blood.” 

Acupuncture Eases Alcohol Cravings

on Tuesday, 04 November 2014 12:52.

Acupuncture reduces alcohol cravings in alcoholics. Researchers note that acupuncture is both safe and effective for reducing cravings in alcohol dependent patients. They add that acupuncture is an inexpensive modality of care for the treatment of alcoholism and “produces significant results.” Model with copper handle needles is shown here.

This study breaks from other research on this topic. Prior research focused on National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) acupuncture point prescriptions for addiction. This typically involved use of auricular acupuncture points including Kidney, Sympathetic, Shenmen, Liver and Lung. However, this study used only one acupuncture point that is located on the lower leg. The researchers note of this acupuncture point, “Traditionally, it has been used as an acupoint for detoxification.”

What’s the Point?
The acupuncture point investigated in the research is Zhubin (KI9) that is translated as “guest house.” It is located on the medial aspect of the lower leg and is 5 cun superior to KI3. It is approximately 1 cun posterior to the medial border of the tibia at the lower end of the gastrocnemius muscle. It is placed on a line drawn between KI3 and KI10.

KI9 is the Xi Cleft point of the Yinwei (Yin linking) vessel. This is the channel that connects the yin meridians of the hand and foot to the Conception channel. The Yinwei vessel may also be accessed by acupoint PC6, the confluent point of the Yinwei vessel. To achieve this, PC6 is often paired with SP4, its paired confluent point for the treatment of heart, chest and stomach disorders.

This study used only KI9, whose Yinwei vessel connection makes it especially suitable for the treatment of heart issues. In particular, this point benefits patients with heart shen (spirit) issues due to phlegm and phlegm-fire. This includes the treatment of mania, raving, bipolar disorder (manic depression) and other forms of severe mental illness. Here, there is a logical consistency with the application of KI9 for the treatment of alcohol cravings given alcoholism’s propensity for causing phlegm-fire in the heart.

The Protocol
An acupuncture treatment group was compared with a placebo controlled group in this single-blinded, randomized investigation. The acupuncturist was aware of the group allocations but the staff and patients were blinded to allocation of placebo vs. real acupuncture groups. This was made possible through the use of the Park Sham Device (PSD). Made by Acupuncture Needle Inc., Korea, this unusual sham acupuncture needle device simulates acupuncture needle insertion but never actually penetrates the skin. The researchers note, “It has a 15 mm diameter round plastic base and a shaft telescopes into the handle when downward pressure is applied. Placebo needles have blunt tips and are put into the tube to mimic the insertion of a needle.”

Exclusion criteria included drug abuse, use of psychotropic medications, cognitive impairment and other factors. The treatment procedure commenced after three weeks of patient admittance to the study to avoid intoxication and withdrawal symptom complications. All real acupuncture and placebo group patients received group therapy, education and standard hospital care. The real acupuncture group received acupuncture at KI9 using a needle guide tube with a 0.25 X 40 mm needle (Dongbang Acupuncture Inc., Korea). The Park Sham Device was used for all placebo group patients. All subjects had treatment periods of 15 minutes, twice per week for a total of 4 weeks. 

Tongue Piercings Cause GI Pain, Acupuncture Helps

on Thursday, 30 October 2014 21:12.

Tongue scars from jewelry piercings cause digestive disorders. Neural therapy and “acupuncture may be helpful” in treating the piercing related symptoms according to researchers from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (Camden, New Jersey), Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York), and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). The study was presented in The Journal of Science and HealingThe TCM stomach area of the tongue is shown in this image.

The research identified scars from tongue piercings as contributing to gastrointestinal distress. In addition, the research documented the beneficial clinical outcomes associated with an integrative medicine approach including acupuncture and neural therapy. The researchers note that there have been prior cases of abdominal pain associated with tongue piercings but that these cases were also linked to preexisting diabetes. An additional investigation linked abdominal pain to a tongue piercing wherein the patient contracted acute hepatitis from a herpes simplex virus. Other than that, the researchers note there has not been other research linking tongue piercings to abdominal pain and distress until now.

The researchers note an important finding. The tongue scars from piercing associated with gastrointestinal disorders “were located on the tongue in an area that in Traditional Chinese Medicine is believed to be associated with the stomach.” In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, the center region of the tongue reflects issues related to the spleen and stomach. Other areas reflect syndromes associated with other internal organs. For example, the sides of the tongue are associated with the liver and gallbladder, the front proximal to the tip is associated with the lungs and the tip of the tongue is associated with the heart.

In one case history investigated during the study, the patient had a six month history of severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Procedures including colonoscopies, endoscopies, ultrasound, etc… were performed. The patient was unresponsive to drugs including Nexium®, Protonix®, and Percocet®. However, Carafate® (sucralfate) did provide “mild relief.” Carafate® binds to the mucosa and forms a physical barrier to block diffusion of hydrochloric acid in the gastrointestinal tract. Carafate® also stimulates bicarbonate output and therefore acts as an acid buffer. 

Laser Acupuncture Alleviates TMD Pain

on Friday, 24 October 2014 08:32.

Laser acupuncture alleviates pain for patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Laser acupuncture employs the use of cold lasers and does not burn the skin or involve the use of needles. TMD disorders include structural abnormalities and muscular disorders of the temporomandibular joint region. Internal view of the face and jaw. TMD is a major cause of orofacial pain. Researchers demonstrate that noninvasive laser acupuncture therapy applied to acupuncture points on the face and hand significantly reduce pain levels.

The acupuncture laser therapy not only reduced pain levels but also improved range of motion. The maximal mouth opening demonstrated clinically significant improvements. There were no side effects. The researchers conclude that “TMD symptoms improved with LAT (laser acupuncture therapy).” The beneficial effects were in both acute and chronic patients with treatment-resistant temporomandibular disorders.

Researchers from China Medica University Hospital (Taiwan), Kaohsiung Medical University College of Medicine (Taiwan), et. al., note that laser acupuncture’s analgesic effects are “mediated by peripheral opioid receptors.” They add that low level cold laser therapy increases pain tolerances by inducing biological changes to cellular membranes. The researchers note other biological responses induced by low level laser therapy (LLLT) including vasodilation, increasing intracellular metabolism and decreasing edema. The researchers also cite important biomodulatory effects of LLLT; it “improves local microcirculation and oxygen supply to hypoxic cells in the painful areas…, tissue asphyxia is reduced…, it restores the normal physiological condition of the tissue.”

Low level laser acupuncture therapy was applied to patients three times per week for four weeks in this investigation. Protective goggles were worn by the practitioner and patient. Yangming channel acupuncture points ST7 (Xiaguan), ST6 (Jiache), and LI4 (Hegu) plus local Ashi points were stimulated using pulsed waves. Five seconds of stimulation was applied to the stomach and large intestine Yangming points and forty seconds of LLLT stimulation was applied to each Ashi point. The researchers note that the treatment principle was based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concept that “pain results from blood stasis due to qi stagnation.” The goal was to “restore internal homeostasis” by restoring the “flow of qi and blood.” 

Pennsylvania Acupuncture Law And Insurance

on Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:21.

The Acupuncture Licensure Act in Pennsylvania has been amended. The governor signed SB990 into law and it is now officially Act 134. This makes two impactful changes to the state law. The first change affects wellness visits for patients and the second affects liability insurance for licensed acupuncturists. An image of stainless steel needles in the back of a person is shown here.

Prior to this amendment to the Acupuncture Licensure Act, licensed acupuncturists were unable to treat patients past 60 days from the date of the first acupuncture visit without a physician, dentist or podiatrist making a patient diagnosis. The new law allows acupuncturists to treat patients for longer than 60 days without a physician, dentist or podiatrist’s diagnosis if patients are free of symptoms. As a result, patients may be able to seek long-term preventative care visits from acupuncturists without first making a trip to a doctor’s office to get a diagnosis. 

Acupuncture Helps Stanford Intensive Care Infants

on Monday, 20 October 2014 22:44.

A Stanford University study finds acupuncture effective for reducing the need for sedative medications for neonates and infants undergoing treatments in the intensive care unit. Dr. Golianu, MD (Department of Anesthesiology, Stanford University), Christina Almgren, PNP (Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford University), et. al., note that high doses of opioids and benzodiazepines are often required for neonates and infants for the purposes of pain management and sedation. Cessation from medications lead to withdrawal symptoms and irritability. The researchers cite acupuncture’s documented ability to reduce pain, irritability and withdrawal symptoms in adults. Infants benefit from acupoint therapy at Stanford.

The research team applied acupuncture in the pediatric setting to see if the therapeutic effects known to help adults also applies to neonates and infants. They concluded that the pediatric patients “tolerated acupuncture well and required a decreased amount of pain medication for treating agitation and withdrawal.” The study concludes, “Acupuncture may be a useful adjunct for managing agitation and withdrawal in neonates and infants in the intensive care unit, and may lead to a decreased need for sedative medications.” Acupuncture points used in the study were Yin Tang, ST36, and PC6 plus acupuncture point protocols developed by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association.

In a related study, doctors from the University of Washington School of Medicine (Seattle, Washington) conclude, “Our experience suggests that acupuncture therapy is a safe, non-pharmacological option for prevention of emergence delirium in children undergoing general anesthesia.” The doctors note that delirium occurs in approximately 12 - 50% of pediatric patients receiving general anesthesia. They add that pharmaceutical drugs used to manage delirium often produce unwanted adverse effects including “sedation and longer recovery time from anesthesia.”

The study came up with some very interesting findings. All children in the study receiving intravenous anesthesia plus acupuncture required less quantities of propofol, an amnestic-hypnotic drug. A total of 83% of patients did not get delirium. An additional 17% had relatively mild cases of delirium and were able to “communicate the source of distress.” The acupuncture points used in the study were SP8, HT7, and LR3. Needle stimulation was applied to the three acupuncture points. Magnet therapy was applied to ear Shenmen. No complications occurred demonstrating that acupuncture is both safe and effective in the prevention of pediatric emergence delirium. 

Acupuncture & Herbs Cut Childhood Emergency Asthma

on Sunday, 19 October 2014 15:16.

Children with asthma receiving a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine and conventional medications have superior patient outcomes, less visits to emergency rooms, and fewer hospitalizations than children receiving only conventional medications. Researchers investigated 12,580 children receiving asthma medical care across 15 multi-hospitals in a five year study. Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, herbal medicine, Chinese Tuina massage, herbal pastes) was combined with pharmaceutical drugs including inhaled bronchodilators and steroids in the study protocol. Childhood asthma is treated with acupuncture. The integrative medicine approach, TCM plus conventional drugs, produced an astonishing result. Not a single child receiving integrative medicine during the study required an emergency room (ER) visit or hospitalization. The superior clinical outcomes and reduction of medical emergencies suggests that integrating TCM into conventional protocols benefits children with asthma.

Single-Payer Investigation
The Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) of Taiwan established a single-payer healthcare system in 1995 called the Taiwan National Health Insurance (NHI). Under this system, an examination of 1 million patient records yielded a sample size of 12,580 asthmatic children for investigation. The BNHI paid for all of the medical visits and examined the cost-effectiveness of combining TCM therapies (acupuncture, herbs, Tuina massage) and conventional pharmaceutical care. It was found that there is an additional upfront cost to provide TCM therapies but there is a savings on the backend in reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations. The findings demonstrate that adding acupuncture, herbal medicine and other TCM procedures to conventional protocols provides a cost-effective approach for asthmatic children while producing superior patient outcomes.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment combined with conventional treatment provided additional benefits. There was a reduction in school absenteeism. The children’s parents had less disruption of their work schedules. There was less of a burden on families to provide caregivers. The government shouldered lower overall costs and responsibilities associated with asthmatic care. The study demonstrates that combining TCM with conventional medicine for asthmatic children “may have a substantial impact” in reducing the severity of asthma, frequency of emergency services, hospitalizations and costs of providing care by parents.

Acupuncture Boosts Heart Attack Survival Rates

on Friday, 17 October 2014 16:47.

Acupuncture pretreatment increases survival rates in cases of heart attacks. Needling acupuncture point PC6 (Neiguan) protects the heart. The benefit is measurable through gene expression, histology and enzyme sections. Researchers conducted a placebo controlled experiment comparing real acupuncture with sham acupuncture. Needling of acupoints on the arm including PC6 are shown here in this image. Preventative acupuncture care reduces damage to the heart from myocardial ischemia reperfusion, a condition that occurs during heart attacks causing tissue damage. Two key physiological findings were that acupuncture reduces arrhythmias and infarction size.

Reperfusion damage is caused by the return of blood circulation after a period of ischemia, restricted blood supply. The sudden return of blood to oxygen and circulation deprived tissues causes inflammation and oxidative stress. In this study, acupuncture prevented damage to the heart caused by reperfusion. The laboratory findings measured that acupuncture prevents this damage by regulating enzyme secretions and gene expression. Lab results also demonstrate that acupuncture prevents proinflammatory responses by regulating oxidative stress, calcium channels and many other biological pathways in a broad cascade of healthy effects.

The laboratory experiment revealed that acupuncture successfully downregulated serum concentrations of CK, LDH, CK-Mb, and plasma levels of cTnT. These enzymes are proteins that significantly increase in concentration after myocardial ischemia reperfusion. Electroacupuncture at PC6 successfully reversed this pathological response.

Hundreds of genes are known to increase and decrease in concentration following myocardial ischemia reperfusion. Electroacupuncture uniquely affected genes through several pathways when compared with sham acupuncture. An RNA evaluation revealed that acupuncture successfully regulated gene expression in multiple pathways including MAPK signaling, cytokine, oxidative stress, cardiac muscle contraction, B-cell receptor and leukocyte pathways.

The research team cited one of these pathways as essential to protecting the heart. Myocardial ischemia reperfusion upregulates genes (Myh7b, My13…) relating to pathology in cardiac muscle contraction. This leads to poor functioning of the left ventricle. The research team notes that electroacupuncture pretreatment successfully “reversed” this pathological gene expression. 

Acupuncture Stabilizes Dementia Patients

on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 11:05.

Research finds acupuncture effective for improving memory, cognition and walking for patients with dementia. First up, we take a look at acupuncture points that improve walking and movement for patients with vascular dementia. Neurologic exams often reveal gait disorders. The inability to walk properly may severely inhibit the lifestyle of patients with dementia while increasing the risk of falling. Researchers have identified several key acupuncture points that significantly improve the gait of dementia patients. In addition, acupuncture produced significantly superior patient outcomes over a control group receiving conventional pharmaceutical medications. Back electro treatment is depicted with copper wound needle.

Gait disorders associated with dementia often involve circular rotations of the hip, foot drag, reduced knee movement, stooped posture, reduced arm swing, shuffling, small steps, a broad stance, unsteadiness, or difficulty initiating movement. Researchers have discovered that the application of Huatuojiaji (EX-B2) acupuncture points from L2 to L5 combined with scalp acupuncture at Baihui (DU20) and Sishencong produced a total effective rate of 90.5%. Use of the drug Almitrine (Duxil) had a total effectiveness rate of 61.9%. As a result, the researchers conclude, “The efficacy of treating vascular dementia gait disorder with electro-acupuncture (EA) on EX-B2 along lumbar vertebra combined with scalp acupuncture was superior to orally administered Duxil.”

Acupuncture Protocol
Huatuojiaji points were needled bilaterally from L2 to L5 along with DU20 and Sishencong. Electroacupuncture was connected bilaterally to the Huatuojiaji points. Treatments were administered once per day for 30 days. A significant achievement, the research data clearly shows that this protocol significantly and positively impacts the daily lives of patients with dementia.

Memory and Thinking
Acupuncture helps to reduce dysfunction of reasoning, memory and general cognition according to research by G. Shi, et al. Vascular dementia is caused by damage to the brain from impaired blood flow. Stroke or conditions leading to damaged blood vessels or poor circulation that cause deprivation of oxygen and nutrients to the brain plus hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking and heart disease are all risk factors. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differential diagnostics revealed that patients improving the most suffered from excess syndromes, particularly Liver Yang hyperactivity and phlegm obstruction of the orifices. Patients with deficiency syndromes, including Kidney Jing-essence deficiency, demonstrated the least improvements.

Luo, et al., discovered that acupuncture successfully increases glucose metabolism in the brain areas related to cognition and memory. They also found that acupuncture improves cerebral blood flow. Objective measurements reveal that acupuncture protects against oxidative damage by improving antioxidant enzyme (SOD, GSH) activity in the brain. Acupuncture also successfully downregulates inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Acupuncture was also shown to increase the expression of GLUT1 (glucose transporter 1). GLUT1 is involved in cellular respiration, regulation of glucose levels and vitamin C uptake. Upregulation of GLUT1 promotes intercellular transport and benefits brain glucose metabolism. The laboratory results indicate that upregulation of GLUT1 by acupuncture alleviates ischemia and anoxia related cognitive impairment. As a result, the researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective in alleviating vascular dementia. 

Acupuncture Helps Crohn’s Disease Patients

on Sunday, 05 October 2014 13:03.

Acupuncture and moxibustion successfully alleviate Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. Research published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology finds acupuncture combined with moxibustion effective in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Subjective and objective findings confirm the results; both laboratory results and patient symptoms demonstrate significant improvements. Needling of the abdominal area is shown here.

Crohn’s disease, also known as regional enteritis, is an inflammatory disease of the intestines affecting the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain, nausea, vomiting, mouth ulcers, weight loss, eye disorders, arthritis, fever, loss of appetite, chronic bloody or watery diarrhea, dermatological disorders, iron deficiency anemia and fatigue.

Crohn’s disease is considered an autoimmune system disorder. Genetics may play a role in its etiology; those with Scandinavian or Ashkenazim Jewish heritage have an increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease. Environmental factors may also contribute to this pathology. Smokers are twice as likely to develop Crohn’s disease than non-smokers. Other risk factors include low exposure to sunlight, obesity, diets high in sugar and saturated fat but low in fruits and vegetables, and urban living.

No biomedical cure exists for Crohn’s disease. Medical doctors use colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, capsule endoscopies, barium enemas and CT scans to confirm the diagnosis. Doctors focus on controlling symptoms by suggesting dietary and lifestyle changes plus pharmaceutical medications to suppress symptoms. The acupuncture and moxibustion research is hopeful in that it provides evidence that these treatment modalities are effective tools against the spread of Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease differs from ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease commonly affects the colon, anus and the terminal ileum, the most distal aspect of the small intestine that connects to the cecum. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the terminal ileum and anus but always affects the colon. Crohn’s disease causes patchy or serpiginous (snake-like) intestinal ulcerations whereas ulcerative colitis causes a continuous area of ulceration. Shallow ulcerations are typical with ulcerative colitis. Deep and penetrating ulcerations often occur with Crohn’s disease and may cause stenosis, a narrowing of the intestinal passage. Crohn’s disease may cause growth failure in children and increases the risk of cancer in the affected regions of the intestines. 

Acupuncture Boosts Energy For Chronic Fatigue Patients

on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 18:04.

Acupuncture successfully alleviates chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Researchers discovered that the application of manual acupuncture or acupuncture with warming needle moxibustion significantly reduces “physical and mental fatigue.” As a result of the investigation, the research team concludes that acupuncture provides a significant “therapeutic effect in the treatment of CFS.” Wound handle needles of 1.5 cun length are applied to BL13, BL15 and BL17.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest and is exacerbated by physical and mental activity. Symptoms include exhaustion, weakness, musculoskeletal pain, poor memory and concentration, and insomnia.

Biomedicine does not identify a specific cause or cure for CFS and treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms. Lab tests and biomarkers specific to CFS are nonexistent. Several types of infections are considered risk factors for CFS including Epstein-Barr virus, human herpes virus 6, enterovirus, rubella, candida albicans, bornaviruses, mycoplasma, Ross River virus, coxiella burnetti and HIV. Sleep, antidepressant and pain relieving medications are often prescribed to patients to alleviate suffering.

Differential diagnostics within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) categorizes CFS into several treatable patterns. The researchers chose acupuncture points best suited for the treatment of CFS based on TCM theory. The manual acupuncture group received needling at acupoints:

Baihui (GV20)
Danzhong (CV17)
Qihai (CV6)
Guanyuan (CV4)
Zusanli (ST36)
Hegu (LI4)
Taichong (LR3)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)

The warm needle acupuncture with moxibustion group received acupoint needling at:

Baihui (GV20)
Qihai (CV6)
Guanyuan (CV4)
Zusanli (ST36)

Additionally, acupuncture treatment was administered to a third group to test for acupuncture point specificity. Nearby points were chosen between 1 - 2 cm from the real acupuncture points. This type of approach varies from high quality sham acupuncture testing for the placebo effect wherein needles only appear to penetrate the skin. In the nearby point group, the researchers applied true acupuncture needling but not in the classic, exact locations as indicated in TCM:

Baihui (GV20)
Danzhong (CV17)
Qihai (CV6)
Guanyuan (CV4)
Zusanli (ST36)
Taichong (LR3)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Hegu (LI4)

Needling was applied to the points for all three groups at a rate of once per day for a total of twenty days. CFS was evaluated based on the Chalder Fatigue Scale, a fourteen item breakdown of symptoms. The nearby point group did show improvements in the physical score but only the manual acupuncture and warm needle moxibustion groups significantly improved in the physical and mental fatigue scores. The physical score was overwhelmingly better in the warm needle acupuncture group than the other groups.

Warm needle technique applied to BL23. The nearby point needling group scored the lowest with a patient satisfaction rate of 35.7%. The acupuncture with warm needle moxibustion group scored the highest with a 72.7% patient satisfaction rate. This group achieved very high scores in both physical and mental improvements. The manual acupuncture group achieved a 36.2% effective rate.

These results point to the superiority of warm needle moxibustion for the treatment of CFS for the point selections in the study design. Interestingly, CFS responds to nearby point stimulation for physical issues as long as the points are within 1 - 2 cm of the true acupuncture point, however, the results are nowhere near as effective as true acupuncture with moxibustion.

This type of testing has come under great scrutiny because TCM theory states that the so-called nearby points may be either Ah Shi acupuncture points or acupoints that stimulate relevant acupuncture channels. Nonetheless, this is an intriguing study that was able to get clinical results with three different clinical protocols. The significant success of warm needle moxibustion in achieving positive patient outcomes suggests that additional research into this approach to care is warranted.

A related study finds acupuncture 80.0% effective for the treatment of CFS. However, adding interferential current therapy to the treatment protocol raises the total effective rate to 93.3%. The complete recovery rate also benefitted from interferential therapy. Standard acupuncture protocols achieved a 20.0% total recovery rate within 20 acupuncture treatments for CFS patients in this acupuncture continuing education investigation. Adding interferential current therapy (ICT) increased the total recovery rate to 43.3%. The researchers conclude, “Electroacupuncture plus ICT can produce a remarkable efficacy in treating CFS.” 

Acupuncture Calms Arthritis Pain, Increases Mobility

on Friday, 19 September 2014 15:02.

Acupuncture reduces pain and improves functional mobility for patients with osteoarthritis. Researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada, conducted a meta-analysis of 12 trials consisting of 1,763 patients with osteoarthritis. All trials compared true acupuncture with sham acupuncture, conventional treatments and no treatments. University of Manitoba in Canada. The study finds acupuncture effective in reducing pain intensity levels, increasing mobility and improving quality of life scores. A subgroup analysis reveals that patients receiving acupuncture treatments for intervention periods greater than 4 weeks have greater reductions in pain intensity levels than patients receiving acupuncture over a shorter duration of time.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects millions of people worldwide. It affects joints in the body including the hands, lower back, neck, knees and hips. This type of arthritis is often associated with ‘wear and tear’ degeneration of joint cartilage over time. Risk factors include aging, diabetes, injuries, gout, hypothyroid conditions and obesity. Symptoms and signs include pain, lack of flexibility and bone spurs.

Conventional treatments include medications to control pain and inflammation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cortisone and hyaluronic acid derivative injections, and joint replacement surgery. The Mayo Clinic staff notes on their website that studies show acupuncture, Tai Chi and yoga may help reduce osteoarthritis pain and improve mobility. This University of Manitoba study confirms that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis. 

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