The acupuncture petition must hit its goal of 25,000 signatures by the Chinese New Year. If the goal is not reached by the Year of the Snake, February 10th, the petition dies and President Obama will not act on it. Currently, the Social Security Act recognises many types of healthcare practitioners including dieticians, nurse practitioners and midwives, social workers and physician assistants. However, licensed acupuncturists are not recognized as healthcare providers.
The goal of the petition is to recognise acupuncture as a profession and to have it included in the Medicare system. The petition cites the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture. The petition states that patients receiving acupuncture recover more quickly and less medication is required to achieve recovery.
At the moment, there are approximately 12,500 signatures on the petition with another 12,500 to go. Showing the cost-effectiveness side of this equation may help promote the popularity of this process. A recent study finds that acupuncture is cost-effective for the treatment of chronic pain. Researchers investigated the economic value of acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain, neck pain, dysmenorrhea, migraines, arthritis and headaches. They discovered that, “Acupuncture appears to be a cost-effective intervention for some chronic pain conditions.” In another recent study, acupuncture was proven more cost-effective for the treatment of herpes zoster, shingles, than pharmaceutical drugs. Although acupuncture demonstrated equal clinical efficaciousness, the financials show that acupuncture costs significantly less money than the drug therapy.
Another recent study concluded that acupuncture reduces health care expenses when used for the treatment of lower back pain. Researchers in Calgary, Alberta discovered that patients receiving acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain have a 49% reduction of doctor visits in the following year. In the same study, patients who did not receive acupuncture had only a 2% drop in doctor visits in the following year. The total cost of medical services, including acupuncture, dropped 37% for the patients receiving acupuncture care. Those patients who did not receive acupuncture but received only care by a doctor had only a 1% drop in medical expenses for the treatment of their back pain conditions.
The cost-benefit analysis looks good for the acupuncture petition hopefuls. However, can the numbers add up? It’s up to you. Visit the White House petition page and sign the petition online if you think acupuncture should make it into the Medicare system. The following link takes you to the official White House petition page: Acupuncture Petition.
References: Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Volume 20, Issue 5 , Pages 364-374, October 2012. Costs and consequences of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain: A systematic review of economic evaluations conducted alongside randomised controlled trials. E.M.M. Ambrosio, K. Bloor, H. MacPherson. Department of Health Sciences, University of York, UK. published online 08 June 2012.
Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1-2012. Economic Evaluation of Treating Herpes Zoster with Various Methods of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur. Volume 55, Issue 3, 2012, Pages 25–26. Reduced health resource use after acupuncture for low-back pain. S Moritza, MF Liub, B Rickhia, b, c, TJ Xua, P Paccagnana, H Quand.
February rings in the Chinese new year with the California Acupuncture Board acupuncture written licensing exam. The exam will be given on February 21, 2013 at the Ontario Convention Center in Ontario, California. February 10th brings the Year of the Snake. Traditional wisdom is that the snake waits patiently and then strikes. A wise snake will carefully review each question, take a moment to reflect and then decisively answer.
Pulse DiagnosisAll attendees must present an official photo ID prior to taking the exam. Attendees are not allowed to bring personal pens or pencils, cell phones, coats, multi-layered shawls and scarves and puffy vests into the exam room. Other items that are banned include purses, food, drinks, herbs, over-the-counter medicines and acupuncture needles. Water will be made available in the exam room. Sweaters and pullovers are allowed.
The exam is a total of 200 multiple choice questions. After the first 100 questions, there is a lunch break. Attendees get 2.5 hours to answer the first 100 questions and another 2.5 hours to answer the second 100 questions. The test will be given in three languages: English, Chinese, Korean. The Chinese version of the test will primarily appear in traditional print style with the addition of some simplified characters. Translators and interpreters will be present to administer oral instructions in both Chinese and Korean.
The examination covers five basic areas of medicine: patient assessment, developing a diagnostic impression, acupuncture, herbs, public health and safety. Patient assessment is broken down into the patient history, physical exam, evaluation of supplements and pharmaceuticals and diagnostic testing. Developing a diagnostic impression is broken down into four parts: diagnosis, syndrome differentiation, patient education and referral, treatment plan. The acupuncture section is subdivided into six parts: acupoint selection principles, acupuncture point categories, point location and needling techniques, axillary treatments, microsystems (scalp and auricular acupuncture), observation and modification of the treatment plan. The herbs section is subdivided into two categories: identification of herbs, prescription and administration of herbs. Regulations for public health and safety involves knowledge of infectious disease control, maintenance of patient records and legal requirements for reporting abuse.
One interesting choice of the California Acupuncture Board is to use the abbreviation ‘Liv’ to identify the Liver meridian when choosing numbered acupuncture points. Many abbreviations are used across a variety of texts including LR, LV, LIV and Li. The choice of ‘Liv’ seems logical as it will not be confused with ‘L’ for the Lung meridian.
The California Acupuncture Board provides a list of all the individual herbs and herbal formulas on the exam. Some of the formulas are: Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang, Xie Xin Tang, Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang, Zhen Wu Tang, Bai He Gu Jin Tang, Li Zong Wan, Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang and Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan. Attendees may also download sample questions from the California Acupuncture Board website at www.acupuncture.ca.gov . Good luck to all those sitting for the boards!
Researchers have discovered that laser acupuncture significantly reduces depression symptoms. Laser acupuncture is the stimulation of acupuncture points with light instead of needles. Laser acupuncture uses low intensity laser beams and does not damage the skin, burn or cause discomfort.
Acupuncture for DepressionLaser acupuncture was applied to acupuncture points LV14, CV14, LV8, HT7 and KI3. Laser acupuncture treatments were given two times per week for four weeks and then one time per week for an additional four weeks. The study, conducted at the University of New South Wales, used strict protocols to ensure accurate results. The methodology ensured that the study was double-blinded, randomised and placebo controlled. All patients admitted to the study suffered from major depressive disorder. After three months, a follow-up investigation showed that the laser acupuncture group showed clinically significant improvements in depression recovery outcomes over the control group.
This is not the first modern study to show that acupuncture and Chinese medicine relieve depression. Another recent investigation finds that acupuncture effectively treats depression for patients undergoing treatment with the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil, Sereupin, Aropax). The researchers discovered that both acupuncture and electroacupuncture improved “the quality of life in depressed patients undergoing paroxetine treatment.” In this study, electroacupuncture edged out manual acupuncture for the greatest improvements in the reduction of depression. The acupoints used in the study were: GV20 (Baihui), Yintang, GV16 (Fengfu), GV14 (Dazhui), P6 (Neiguan), SP6 (Sanyinjiao). Overall, the emphasis of this research showed that acupuncture treatments enhance and complement the beneficial effects of the pharmaceutical medication paroxetine for patients suffering from depression.
References: Quah-Smith, I., C. Smith, J. D. Crawford, and J. Russell. "Laser acupuncture for depression: A randomised double blind controlled trial using low intensity laser intervention." Journal of affective disorders (2013).
Ma SH, Qu SS, Huang Y, Chen JQ, Lin RY, Wang CQ, Li GL, Zhao CH, Guo SC, Zhang ZJ. Improvement in quality of life in depressed patients following verum acupuncture or electroacupuncture plus paroxetine: a randomized controlled study of 157 cases. Neural Regen Res. 2012;7(27):2123-2129.
A new scalp acupuncture clinical case study concludes that acupuncture benefits patients with multiple sclerosis. The study finds that acupuncture relieves the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, increases the patient’s quality of life, slows the progression of physical disability and reduces the frequency of relapses.
Acupuncture for MS Scalp acupuncture was applied to several standard scalp zones: motor, sensory, foot motor and sensory, balance, hearing, dizziness, tremor. Acupuncture was applied once a week for the first ten weeks followed by once a month for the next six treatments. The patient in the study had multiple sclerosis (MS) for 20 years.
After the application of 16 acupuncture treatments, standing and walking improved significantly. There was also a marked reduction in numbness and tingling in the limbs. Overall, the patient showed increased energy levels and reported less dizziness. The patient’s condition went into remission after the acupuncture treatments. At the time the research was published, the patient had been in remission for 26 months.
Reference: Hao, Jason Jishun, et al. "Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis With Chinese Scalp Acupuncture." Global Advances in Health and Medicine 2.1 (2013): 8-13.
New research shows that a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine increases the recovery of stroke victims. The Sichuan Academy of TCM conducted research on 240 post-stroke patients with flaccid limb dysfunction in a single-blind, randomized, controlled study. The patients were separated into four groups. The first group received acupuncture, herbs and standard rehabilitative therapy. The second group received only acupuncture. The third group received only Chinese herbal medicine therapy. The fourth group received standard rehabilitative therapy but neither acupuncture nor herbal medicine.
Acupuncture TreatmentThe results demonstrated that acupuncture and herbal medicine are safe and effective. More importantly, the researchers discovered that the combination of acupuncture, herbs and standard physical rehabilitative therapy is significantly more effective for the treatment of post-stroke flaccid limb dysfunction than using only standard physical rehabilitative therapy as a standalone approach to care.
This research is in concordance with many other studies to have been published within the last year. Another recent study finds that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of shoulder pain following a stroke. In a review of 453 randomized controlled studies, researchers discovered consistent and clinically significant evidence that “acupuncture is an effective treatment for shoulder pain after (a) stroke.” References: Zhou, J. W., et al. "[Post-stroke flaccid limb dysfunction treated with the comprehensive therapy of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and rehabilitation: muti-center randomized controlled trial]." Zhongguo zhen jiu, Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion 32.12 (2012): 1057.
Jung Ah Lee, Si-Woon Park, Pil Woo Hwang, Sung Min Lim, Sejeong Kook, Kyung In Choi, and Kyoung Sook Kang. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. September 2012, 18(9): 818-823. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0457.
Acupuncture has been found to increase live birth rates for women receiving IVF, in vitro fertilization. Researchers discovered that acupuncture increases the chances of producing a successful pregnancy for women receiving acupuncture on the day of the embryo transfer of donor eggs. Normally, acupuncture point selection is customized to the individual patient’s biological needs. However, a set of standardized points were applied to all women in the study. Prior to the IVF procedure, a special set of acupuncture points were applied. Next, another set of points were applied after the embryo transfer of donor eggs. The results were tabulated and the researchers found a significant boost in fertility and live birth rates for women receiving this standardized acupuncture protocol.
Acupuncture for IVFIVF is the process of fertilizing an egg with sperm in vitro, in glass. This is distinguished from IUI, intrauterine insemination, which is artificial insemination by introduction of semen into a female’s vagina or oviduct. Success rates for IVF are measured by favorable outcomes: pregnancies and liver births. Eggs are either donated by another woman or harvested from the potential mother-to-be for use in the procedure. Donor eggs are either fresh or thawed. In general, fresh donor eggs have a significantly higher live birth rate compared with thawed embryos.
The acupuncture points applied prior to IVF were: DU-20, REN-6, ST-29, SP-8, P6, LIV-2. Auricular acupuncture was also applied. The left ear was needled at the Shenmen and Brain acupuncture points. The right ear was needled at the Uterus and Endocrine acupuncture points. After the embryo transfer, a different set of acupuncture points were applied. The body style points were: LI-4, SP-10, ST-36, SP-6, K-3. Auricular acupuncture to the left ear was applied to the Uterus and Endocrine acupuncture points and the right ear was needled at the Shenmen and Brain acupuncture points.
The research team comprised members of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (Portland, Oregon), Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences (Kirkland, Washington), and University of Washington (Seattle, Washington). The study design was a retrospective analysis using chart review and the research was conducted at a private infertility clinic. The researchers discovered that live birth rates are significantly increased for women using donor egg IVF when this specific acupuncture protocol, as outlined in this article, is followed.
Another recent study discovered that the application of acupuncture points SP6 (Sanyinjiao), CV4 (Guanyuan), CV3 (Zhongji) and Zigong (Ex-CA1) increases fertility in women. For men, it was recently discovered that electroacupuncture applied to GV20 (Baihui), CV4 (Guanyuan), ST36 (Zusanli) and SP6 (Sanyinjiao) for ten acupuncture sessions increases sperm motility. These are a small sample of the studies showing the effects of acupuncture on fertility.
The mounting evidence of acupuncture’s success led to a study of acupuncture experts. A survey was taken of prominent licensed acupuncturists to determine whether or not a consensus could be reached on acupuncture points of high priority for the treatment of infertility. The researchers discovered that consensus could be reached but that pre-embryo transfer and post-embryo transfer points varied. Consensus on pre-transfer points was on acupuncture points: SP8, SP10, Liv3, ST29, CV4. Consensus on high priority post-transfer points led to the selection of the following acupuncture points: GV20, K3, SP6, P6, K3. In addition, it was agreed that auricular points Shenmen and Zigong were of high priority.
A recent biochemical discovery demonstrated that electro-acupuncture improves pregnancy rates and live birth rates for women receiving IVF. This study was able to isolate a specific and measurable response in women’s blood as a result of electroacupuncture. The researchers found that electroacupuncture increases blood levels of HLA-G (human leukocyte antigen) “and the level of HLA-G secreted in embryos for the patients in the process of IVF-ET.” Presence of the HLA-G protein is predictive of higher pregnancy and live birth rates. For women with Kidney deficiency and Liver Qi stagnation, the HLA-G levels were significantly higher during embryo transplantation as a result of electroacupuncture and directly corresponded to improvements in the “high-quality embryo rate.” The researchers team noted that “the pregnancy outcome and the pregnancy rate are improved” for all women when electroacupuncture is applied.
A major cause of infertility is pelvic inflammatory disease, PID. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have long been used to resolve chronic pelvic region infections that result in conditions such as cervicitis, oophoritis, salpingitis, endometritis and broad ligament infections. The Centers for Disease Control, CDC, notes that approximately 100,000 U.S. women become infertile due to PID annually. One way that PID causes infertility is by causing scar tissue formation in the fallopian tubes that blocks healthy egg movement. In biomedicine, PID is inflammation of the female pelvic organ and/or connective tissues, usually caused by an infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. In Chinese medicine, PID is classified as the invasion of damp-heat and toxins causing Qi and Blood stasis in the lower burner. Deficiency syndromes often complicate this diagnosis when PID becomes chronic.
Common acupuncture points for the treatment of chronic PID are: ST36, ST25, ST38, SP10, SP9, GB26, GB27, GB28, CV6, CV4 and CV3. Chronic fallopian tube infections are often treated with a modification of the classic herbal formula Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan. The modified formula contains Gui Zhi, Fu Ling, Mu Dan Pi, Tao Ren, Chi Shao Yao, Huang Qi, Zao Jiao Ci, Xiang Fu, San Leng and E Zhu. If there is heat, add Bai Jiang Cao. This formula is never used when a woman is pregnant due to its blood invigorating properties. However, it is these invigorating properties that help to clear blockages in the fallopian tubes to help restore fertility.
There is an incredible wealth of modern studies, carefully documented case histories and classic texts that demonstrate that acupuncture and herbal medicine contribute to healthy pregnancies and enhanced fertility. The Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi) offers written texts with detailed information on the treatment of both infertility and PID for acupuncture continuing education credit. In addition, HealthCMi hosts live webinars on the treatment of PID and infertility. The goal is to create awareness and provide quality educational materials for licensed acupuncturists to ensure that reproductive health is optimized and that women may enjoy a happy, healthy pregnancy.
Below is a link to a youtube video featuring excerpts from a HealthCMi acupuncture continuing education course on the treatment of PID.
References: Hullender Rubin, Lee E., Michael S. Opsahl, Lisa Taylor-Swanson, and Deborah L. Ackerman. "Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization: A Retrospective Chart Review." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).
Exploration of clinical regularities in acupuncture-moxibustion treatment for infertility. Qin-feng Huang. JOURNAL OF ACUPUNCTURE AND TUINA SCIENCE Volume 10, Number 2. (2012), 72-76, DOI: 10.1007/s11726-012-0574-0.
Electroacupuncture enhances spermatogenesis in rats after scrotal heat treatment. Volume 2, Issue 1. 3-2012. Pages 53 - 62. Jing Gao, Yan Zuo, Kam-Hei So, William S.B. Yeung, Ernest H.Y. Ng and Kai-Fai Lee.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:88 doi 10.1186/1472-6882-12-88. 7 July 2012. Development of an acupuncture treatment protocol by consensus for women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment. Caroline A Smith, Suzanne Grant, Jane Lyttleton and Suzanne Cochrane.
Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Feb;32(2):113-6. Effects of electroacupuncture on embryo implanted potential for patients with infertility of different symptom complex]. Kong FY, Zhang QY, Guan Q, Jian FQ, Sun W, Wang Y. Department of Reproduction, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of TCM, Jinan, China.
Fertil Steril. 2005 Jan;83(1):30-6. Secretion of human leukocyte antigen-G by human embryos is associated with a higher in vitro fertilization pregnancy rate. Yie SM, Balakier H, Motamedi G, Librach CL.
A new study finds that acupuncture affects sympathetic nervous system tone and increases peripheral blood flow. Researchers measured the physiologic effects of applying acupuncture to acupoint LV3 (Taichong). LV3 is located on the dorsum of the foot in the depression distal to the junction to the first and second metatarsal bones. The scientists created a study to measure the exact effects of needling a single acupuncture point on radial artery hemodynamics. Using high-resolution ultrasound with automated echo-tracking, the researchers discovered that applying acupuncture to LV3 causes an initial decrease in radial artery blood flow volume during the acupuncture treatment. Next, the radial artery blood flow volume significantly increases after completion of the acupuncture needling. The researchers also noted that acupuncture decreases systolic blood pressure following acupuncture treatments. Heart rate significantly decreased during acupuncture and returned to baseline approximately three minutes following the treatments.
Hemodynamic MeasurementsDuring the study, acupuncture was applied by a licensed acupuncturist using disposable stainless steel needles (Seirin Co Ltd, 40mm length, 0.16mm diameter). Manual stimulation was applied for 18 seconds using bidirectional 90 degree rotation. Acupuncture was applied to LV3 bilaterally.
Clinical Highlights Liver 3 (LV3, Taichong, Great Rushing) is a Shu-Stream, Earth and Source point. LV3 pacifies the Liver, regulates the Blood and opens the channels. Clinically this point is commonly used for the treatment of headaches, vertigo, insomnia, irregular menstruation and uterine bleeding, pain of the extremities and joints, eye disorders, rib pain, retention of urine and enuresis.
Other Hemodynamic Research Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, concluded, “Recent evidence shows that stimulation of different points on the body causes distinct responses in hemodynamic, fMRI and central neural electrophysiological responses.” In another study, researchers demonstrated that acupuncture benefits patients with glaucoma. Acupuncture was shown to improve intraocular pressure (IOP) and retrobulbar circulation. The researchers note that this study measured the ability of acupuncture to cause improvements in eye hemodynamics.
References: Arai, Hiroyuki, Yoshifumi Saijo, Tomoyuki Yambe, and Nobuo Yaegashi. "RADIAL ARTERY HEMODYNAMIC CHANGES RELATED TO ACUPUNCTURE."
Shin Takayama, Takashi Seki, Toru Nakazawa, Naoko Aizawa, Seri Takahashi, Masashi Watanabe, Masayuki Izumi, Soichiro Kaneko, Tetsuharu Kamiya, Ayane Matsuda, Akiko Kikuchi, Tomoyuki Yambe, Makoto Yoshizawa, Shin-ichi Nitta, and Nobuo Yaegashi. Short-Term Effects of Acupuncture on Open-Angle Glaucoma in Retrobulbar Circulation: Additional Therapy to Standard Medication. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 157090, 6 pages.
Point specificity in acupuncture. Chinese Medicine 2012, 7:4 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Emma M Choi, Fang Jiang, John C Longhurst. University of California, Irvine.
Research shows that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are successful in treating many forms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is inflammation of the female pelvic organs and/or connective tissues and is often caused by an infection. A new study, however, shows that commercial health insurance plans have only a 38% screening rate for Chlamydia trachomatis, a major cause of PID. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that can be asymptomatic and delays in treatment often lead to reproductive organ scarring, infertility and ectopic pregnancies.
Acupuncture PointsAcute PID can be life threatening. It often presents with severe symptoms and may require hospitalization, surgery and antibiotics. Over 100,000 women become infertile due to PID in the USA every year. Approximately 750,000 women contract PID and 150 women die from PID in the USA annually. The new study published in the Journal of American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association notes that, “Overall Ct (Chlamydia trachomatis) screening rates in commercial health plans are quite low, with a median rate of 35%.” The researchers note that there have been efforts to increase screening rates but that these efforts “have not been successful.”
Chronic PID often presents with lower abdominal pain and leukorrhea, vaginal discharge. PID may be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, pinworms and other microorganisms. Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of PID. Once the acute stage has been cleared, the role of the acupuncturist becomes very important. Western biomedicine often employs multiple exploratory procedures in an effort to control antibiotic resistant episodes of PID. However, a less invasive approach is to use herbs and acupuncture to clear fallopian tube blockages and lingering pathogenic microorganisms from the pelvic region.
In one study, researchers examined women with PID that did not respond to pharmaceutical medications. The women received 12 acupuncture treatments at a rate of three times per week. The researchers noted that acupuncture exhibited a significant anti-inflammatory effect measured by laboratory blood count results, “During the study, we obtained a significant drop in ESR and IgM levels together with a rise in γ-globulin concentrations.” The researchers also documented significant decreases in PID related pain following the acupuncture treatments.
The Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi) has published several acupuncture continuing education courses on the diagnosis and treatment of PID in Chinese medicine. Included are specific herbal and acupuncture protocols to clear the disease from the system. HealthCMi also hosts live webinars on the topic. Take a look at this video, pictured below, to learn more about the live webinar contents.
References: Woźniak, Piotr R., Grzegorz P. Stachowiak, Agnieszka K. Pięta-Dolińska, and Przemysław J. Oszukowski. "Anti-phlogistic and immunocompetent effects of acupuncture treatment in women suffering from chronic pelvic inflammatory diseases." The American journal of Chinese medicine 31, no. 02 (2003): 315-320.
Atherly, Adam, and Sarah C. Blake. "Efforts by Commercial Health Plans to Increase Chlamydia trachomatis Screening Among Their Members." Sexually Transmitted Diseases 40, no. 1 (2013): 55-60.
The oldest acupuncture college in Victoria, British Columbia (BC) has closed. Canadian Acupuncture CollegeAmidst an imbroglio of financial accusations and legal battles, the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has gone into receivership and the building will be sold. The school operated at the 551 Chatham Street location since 2002. One of the oldest Chinese medicine colleges in Canada, it operated for nearly thirty years.
Recently, the BC Supreme Court mandated the sale of the building and put it in receivership. Students left in mid-2011 when the school shut down educational operations. Students received refunds for pending payments and the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC paid students compensation so that they may continue their education at another school.