Acupuncture Works

A Natural Way of Healing


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Effective Acupuncture Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are the most common job-related injuries and are responsible for the highest number of days lost. One of the most well-known types of repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) accounts for over two million visits to physicians’ offices and approximately 465,000 carpal tunnel release operations each year, making it the most frequent surgery of the hand and wrist.

Acupuncture is as effective as the corticosteroid, prednisone, for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), according to a 2009 study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain. The randomized, controlled study investigated the efficacy of acupuncture compared with steroid treatment in patients with mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome as measured by both nerve conduction studies and symptom assessment surveys. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is just as worthy and viable a treatment for those suffering from mild to moderate symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome as taking the drug prednisolone. This is good news for patients who cannot tolerate oral steroids or prefer to handle their condition without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

In addition to reducing swelling, inflammation and pain, acupuncture also addresses headaches, neck pain, shoulder stiffness and sleeping problems that often accompany this condition.

Managing repetitive stress injuries often requires some lifestyle changes. It can take time to find a strategy that works best for you. Here are a few minor changes you can implement to minimize stress on your hands and wrists:

Alternate Tasks — avoid doing the same task for more than a couple of hours at a time and alternate between tasks that use different muscle groups where possible.

Take a Break — fatigue is a sign that you need to take a break. Take small breaks to gently stretch and bend your hands and wrists and readjust your position.

Reduce Pressure — many people use more force than needed to perform tasks involving their hands, which can increase pressure and cause irritation. Be mindful of the speed and amount of pressure used to perform tasks. Ease up, slow down and grip using your palm or whole hand to distribute the load. If using tools such as riveters or jackhammers for extended periods, take frequent breaks or operate the tool at a speed that causes the least amount of vibration.

Cultivate Good Posture — incorrect posture can cause your shoulders to roll forward, shortening neck and shoulder muscles and compressing nerves in your neck, which can affect your wrists, hands and fingers. Your shoulders and neck should be relaxed to open the chest and allow your head to float upwards without strain. When using a keyboard, wrists should be in a relaxed middle position and in a straight line with your forearms at elbow height or slightly lower.

 

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Boost Your Mental Energy, Recall, and Focus

Are you having difficulties recalling what you ate for dinner last night, or do you tend to forget what you are talking about in mid conversation? Do you have trouble coming up with new ideas or find yourself having to study twice as much to retain half the information?

Fuzzy thinking can muddle our words as much as our thoughts. It can drain our creative juices, zap our confidence and make us question our intelligence.

Here are a few acupressure exercises to improve your mental function:

Mental Energy Boost
For a quick boost of mental energy, press point Shuigou. It is located between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip, in the vertical groove that is technically called the philtrum. Simply tap the area with moderate force for about 30 seconds to help revitalize your mind and bring your awareness back to the present moment.

Memory Recall Boost
When you’re struggling to recall information and can’t quite do it, try applying pressure to point Yangbai. To locate this point, find the middle of your eyebrows with your fingertips and slide upwards about half an inch. Just press and make tiny circular motions for a minute or two. Doing this gentle exercise may help coax the information from your mind you are looking for.

Focus and Learning Boost
To enhance your focus and learning ability press on point Yintang, located between the eyebrows and sometimes referred to as “the third eye.” The translation for Yintang, is “hall of impression.”

A “hall” is defined as a corridor or passageway, or the large entrance room of a house. An “impression” is defined as a strong effect produced on the intellect, emotions or conscience. Thus, Yintang is the entrance or passageway to the mind.

Yintang is used to improve mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function, as well as soothe emotions and relieve stress, anxiety and agitation.

For effective self-administered acupressure:

-Breathe deeply

-Focus on the point as pressure is applied

-Pressure should be strong but not uncomfortable

-Begin when you first feel symptoms and continue until they subside


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Acupuncture’s Helpful Role in Cancer Therapy

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments because they address many of the unpleasant symptoms and side effects that come up during and after chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy and surgery.

According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may cause physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. It is proposed that, by stimulating physical responses in these areas, acupuncture positively affects blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity, and causes the body’s natural painkillers, such as endorphins, to be released.

Clinical trials have examined the effects of acupuncture on cancer as a disease, as well as the symptoms caused by cancer treatments. Results have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.

Relief for Nausea and Vomiting:

The strongest evidence of the beneficial effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials that investigated its use for relieving nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and surgery.

Boosts the Immune System:

Human studies on the effect of acupuncture on the immune system of cancer patients showed that it improved immune system response, including an increase in the number of white blood cells.

Improves Pain Management:

In clinical studies, acupuncture reduced pain levels for some cancer patients. In one study, most of the patients treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking drugs for pain relief or to reduce their doses.

Relieves Pain and Stiffness during Hormone Therapy:

In 2010, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published the results of a small study that concluded that acupuncture helped relieve pain and stiffness in breast cancer patients who were simultaneously being treated with hormone therapies.

Minimizes Dry Mouth:

In 2009, the medical journal Head and Neck reported the results of a pilot study done at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The subjects were people suffering from head and neck cancer. The authors concluded that the pilot study demonstrated that acupuncture can improve the subjective symptoms of radiation-induced dry mouth as early as two weeks after starting treatment. They found that benefits can last for one month after treatment ends.

A study published in January 2000 in the medical journal Oral Diseases, confirms the efficacy of treating xerostomia with acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Researchers analyzed the data of 70 patients who suffered from dry mouth due to radiation therapies, Sjogren’s disease, and other causes. Researchers discovered that patients who received 24 acupuncture treatments had an outstanding improvement in their salivary flow rate (SFR) for up to six months after treatment. It was also concluded that continued acupuncture treatments could increase one’s salivary flow rate for up to three years.

Reduces Pain and Shoulder Dysfunction:

In 2008, Dr. David Pfister, chief of the head and neck medical oncology service at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, reported that patients found significant reductions in both dry mouth and pain and shoulder dysfunction after neck dissection with the help of acupuncture. Dr. Pfister highlighted the potential role of acupuncture in oncology.

Reduces Hot Flashes:

In 2011 a Yale University/University of Pittsburgh study of women with hot flashes brought on by conventional breast cancer treatment, found that women who received acupuncture had a 30 percent reduction in hot flashes.


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Enhance your Endocrine Health with Acupuncture

The endocrine system is responsible for hormonal functions in the body and produces 30 distinct hormones, each of which has a very specific job to do. This system controls your physical growth, mood, hormone output, reproductive system, mental function and immune system. When it’s not working properly, you become more susceptible to disease and your ability to fight off infection is weakened. Endocrine glands and how they function impact every area of your health.

The keystone of acupuncture and Oriental medicine has always been awakening the body’s natural intelligence to heal itself and restore balance to the system of energy pathways (called “meridians”) in the body. If the meridians within your body have become depleted, you can suffer from fatigue, infertility, weight gain, depression, digestive problems, hair loss, arthritis and feeling chilled no matter the temperature.

The major endocrine glands include the adrenals, pancreas, pineal, pituitary, reproductive and thyroid glands. The endocrine system is closely tied to the internal balance of the Yin energy and the Yang energy. Imagine that the Yang energy is like gasoline that fuels a car, and Yin energy is the engine coolant. Without the coolant, the engine overheats and burns out. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine work to make sure the Yin and Yang are equal within the body to restore balance. The root of the body’s energy in Oriental medicine is the kidney meridian, so strengthening that meridian also restores nourishment to your endocrine glands. Acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions, and help manage sleep and menstrual problems.

Many patients benefit from an integrated Eastern and Western medical approach to endocrine health. The strong point of Western medicine is intervention in life-threatening illness, whereas the strong point of Eastern medicine is increased quality of life. Therefore, it is optimal to have both Eastern and Western medicine options available for the most comprehensive care.

 


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Stay Healthy during Cold and Flu Season

This year’s flu season is one of the worst on recent record. There are three different strains of virus circulating this year. The flu vaccine is meant to fight against H3N2, H1N1 and influenza B. The predominant virus this year has been H3N2, which means there have been more complications among the young and elderly. The flu vaccine isn’t as effective against this strain as it is for the others. While the misery of cold and flu season might be inevitable, one thing is changing: where we look for relief.

The easiest way to protect against the flu is to have a healthy immune system. However, that doesn’t mean you still won’t come into contact with airborne virus particles. That’s why your first line of defense against the flu, or any other illness, is to strengthen your immune system.

When it comes to staying healthy during cold and flu season, acupuncture and Oriental medicine have a lot to offer. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help prevent colds and flu by strengthening the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways.

In Oriental medicine, disease prevention begins by focusing on the protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi or defensive energy. The Wei Qi involves acupuncture points known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy to boost your body’s defenses.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can also provide relief and faster healing if you have already come down with a cold or the flu by helping to relieve symptoms you are currently experiencing including chills, fever, body aches, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough. While bringing some immediate relief, treatments will also reduce the incidence of an upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of the illness.

Here are what you can do to prevent:

Schedule a Seasonal Tune-Up:
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can prevent colds and flu by building up the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. These points are known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy and for consolidating the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle (Wei Qi) so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them.

Wash Your Hands:
Good lifestyle and hygiene habits are also proven to reduce your risk of getting sick. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that we catch colds and flu in cold weather is that we are indoors and in closer vicinity to others. Protect yourself from picking up germs by washing your hands regularly and remembering not to touch your face.

Sleep In:
The Nei Jing, an ancient Chinese classic, advised people to go to sleep early, rest well and rise late, after the sun’s rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own Yang Qi for the task of warming the body. Even busy, working people can boost their health by sleeping in on weekends.

Stress Less:
Find a release valve for your stress. According to Oriental medicine, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can play an important part in throwing the immune system off and allowing pathogens to affect the body. Find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Such methods may include yoga, meditation and exercise. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments also serve to tonify the inner organ system and can correct minor annoyances before they become serous problems.

 


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Acid Reflux? Try Acupuncture!

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More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In fact, more than 35 million physician office visits a year are due to gastrointestinal complaints. Reports confirm that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.

Evidence that Oriental medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain and diarrhea with pain are discussed.

According to Oriental medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and Qi (energy). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ; the premise being that the proper functioning of the “middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality.

It is estimated that more than 20 percent of the general population is affected by acid reflux. While other groups are impacted, at least half of all asthmatic children experience symptoms, and pregnant women tend to suffer more than the average population, with half reporting severe symptoms during their second and third trimesters.

Two examples of diagnoses would be rebellious stomach Qi and food accumulation in the stomach. Qi is a vital energy necessary for all life to exist. Both of these diagnoses call for an acupuncture treatment that will redirect energy downwards, as should naturally happen just after eating or drinking. Rebellious stomach Qi is a perfect description for some of the symptoms of acid reflux.

The stomach, according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, is needed to ripen and rot food. After this process of fermentation occurs, only then may the nutrients be extracted during the next phase of digestion. Without strong stomach Qi, issues regarding malnutrition may arise. This is why an acupuncturist will need to evaluate a patient with acid reflux and address any nutritional deficiencies that may be present. Diet is very important in helping to calm symptoms.

 


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Acupressure for Nausea

Neiguan

Nausea can range from mild queasiness to serious distress. While not classified as a disease itself, it is an indicator that something else is wrong.

Depending on the severity and duration of vomiting, some level of dehydration may occur. In severe cases, this may become a medical emergency. Small sips of warm water may help the patient stay hydrated or, if this is not tolerable, sucking on ice chips may help.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offer some simple acupressure techniques you can perform at home to help alleviate nausea.

The first exercise involves the acupuncture point called Pericardium 6 (P6), or Inner Gate. To locate this point, place your hand with the palm facing up. Starting from the middle of the wrist crease, place three fingers down below your wrist. Your index finger should be in the middle of two tendons.

If you are having trouble locating the tendons, flex your wrist and they should be displayed more prominently.

Press Inner Gate lightly with the pad of your thumb. You can slowly increase pressure and go deeper into the point. Continue this exercise for up to five minutes if you are using heavy pressure.

Some people experience more relief from nausea when they continuously press with gentle to moderate pressure. If this is the case for you, it is safe to apply acupressure for longer periods of time.

If nausea still persists after applying acupressure at Inner Gate, you can activate its partner point, called Outer Gate or San Jiao 5 (SJ5). It is found on the opposite side of the forearm from Inner Gate.

With your thumb on Inner Gate and your middle finger on Outer Gate, complete the circuit by squeezing the points together using moderate pressure. Hold for a few seconds and then release. This can be done for up to five minutes.

Some people experience more relief from nausea when they continuously press with gentle to moderate pressure. If this is the case for you, it is safe to apply acupressure for longer periods of time.


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Get Arthritis Relief with Acupuncture

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For many people, arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis as joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can frequently be managed with acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

According to Oriental medical theory, arthritis arises when the cyclical flow of Qi (energy) in the meridians becomes blocked resulting in pain, soreness, numbness and stiffness. This blockage is called Bi-syndrome and is successfully treated using a combination of treatment modalities. The acupuncture points and herbs that are used depend on whether the underlying cause of the blockage of Qi (arthritis) is caused by wind, cold, dampness or damp-heat.

A pilot study found in the medical publication International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2010, demonstrated the safety and efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study criteria focused on the disease activity, pain scores, functional ability and quality of life issues for the study participants. To evaluate disease activity, researchers used the DAS28 test. This test measures and records the levels of tenderness and inflammation of 28 separate joints in the body.

The study, conducted at Kwong Wah Hospital in Hong Kong, provided an average of 14 acupuncture sessions for each patient. At the end, researchers determined that improvements in the physical, emotional and social well-being of some of the participants improved. The improvement was significant enough to conclude that acupuncture is a viable treatment method to reduce pain and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Source: Lao WN et al. Effects of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. Conference: 14th Congress of Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology, APLAR 2010 Hong Kong Hong Kong. Conference Publication 2010; 13: 231.


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Top 5 Nutrients to Boost Men’s Health

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Men have different nutritional requirements than women, due to their unique physiology. These are the five key nutrients for men’s health to keep in mind when planning that next meal.

Magnesium
Magnesium plays a key role in many important bodily functions, including the immune system, energy production, digestion and nerve and muscle activity. A man lacking in magnesium may experience painful muscle spasms and cramps, anxiety, lethargy, or an irregular heartbeat. To stave off these symptoms of magnesium deficiency incorporate dark leafy vegetables, yogurt, bananas, black beans or almonds into your daily diet.

Another way your body can absorb magnesium is through a soothing foot bath or a soak in the tub with Epsom salt. The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt will penetrate through the skin as you relax. A couple tablespoons are all that is required for a foot bath, and about a cup is recommended for the bathtub.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because the skin produces it when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium, which in turn contributes to strong teeth and bones. This nutrient also provides some protection against cancer. Foods high in Vitamin D include fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, cheese, and mushrooms

Vitamin B12
This versatile vitamin is responsible for red blood cell production, DNA production, bone health and maintaining the cardiovascular system. It is necessary for certain neurological functions and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Foods high in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, red meat, cheese, eggs, yogurt and milk.

There are no plant-based options rich in B12, so those on a vegan diet may want to consider adding fortified cereals, nutritional yeast or supplements in order to reach their daily requirements of vitamin B12.

Potassium
This nutrient serves many vital functions to keep the body healthy and strong. It delivers nourishment into the cells and removes toxins and waste products from them. Potassium also maintains the balance between the fluids and electrolytes in the body and is responsible for nerve health and muscle contraction. A lack of potassium can cause a host of symptoms including nausea, muscle cramping and heart palpitations. Potassium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, potatoes (with the skin on), squash, yogurt, bananas, white beans, and mushrooms.

Iodine
Iodine is a trace mineral that helps convert food into energy. It also plays a significant role in thyroid health and has the job of producing thyroid hormones. Consuming inadequate amounts of iodine can cause memory problems, weight gain, muscle fatigue, persistent tiredness and feeling cold.
Foods with plenty of iodine in them include kelp, hiziki, kombu, yogurt, seafood (such as cod, sea bass and haddock), cheese, potatoes, navy beans, cranberries and strawberries.


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Acupuncture for Post Operative Pain

Acupuncture is excellent for managing post-surgical side effects such as surgical pain, loss of appetite, and upset stomach or nausea. In addition to strengthening the immune system and increasing energy, acupuncture is also a great way to reduce swelling, decrease stiffness and pain, reduce scarring and scar tissue and speed up recovery.

Research from Duke University Medical Center has shown that acupuncture can significantly reduce post-operative pain and their need for powerful opioids to treat pain.

Duke University anesthesiologists combined data from 15 randomized clinical trials to reach their conclusion. Using acupuncture both before and after surgery produced the best results for patients, who reported lower levels of post-operative pain and a significantly reduced need for painkillers. In addition, acupuncture mitigated the negative side effects of opioids when they were used.

“The most important outcome for the patient is the reduction of the side effects associated with opioids,” said T.J. Gan, M.D., the Duke anesthesiologist who presented the study at the annual scientific conference of the American Society for Anesthesiology in San Francisco in October 2007.

Gan pointed out that acupuncture is a relatively inexpensive therapy that has virtually no side effects when practiced by trained professionals.