Acupuncture Works

A Natural Way of Healing


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Nontraditional Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

A traumatizing event, such as a human-caused disaster or the experience of combat in a war, could cause an individual to develop what is defined as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the National Institute for Mental Health, an individual with PTSD may experience debilitating flashbacks or nightmares, and feel as if they are in constant danger. Other symptoms of PTSD include depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and more. Traditional treatment of PTSD includes anti-anxiety medication and forms of group therapy, but alternative methods, such as acupuncture and massage and yoga therapy, have been studied as potential treatment options for PTSD patients.

Acupuncture vs. group cognitive-behavioral therapy

In a clinical trial conducted by a group of researchers, 77 participants with PTSD were assigned intervention in the form of acupuncture or group cognitive-behavioral therapy. Another group was put on a waitlist for treatment as part of the control group. After the 12 week period, the researchers found that both acupuncture and group cognitive-behavioral therapies were similarly superior to no intervention, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. More research is needed, but the results of the pilot study suggest acupuncture may have a future as treatment for PTSD.

Massage and yoga therapy for soldiers

General massage therapy, acupuncture and yoga therapy are becoming more popular as a form of treatment for individuals with PTSD, according to an article in Massage Today. In 2008, a clinical psychologist began using specialized therapies on soldiers diagnosed with PTSD at the Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center. Many Fort Bliss patients recovered enough to return to service. Forms of yoga, massage therapy and other nontraditional bodywork methods like Qigong, a Chinese system that uses physical postures, breathing techniques and intense focus, were incorporated into traditional treatment with much success. The Center was able to scale back the amount of medication given to its patients due to the success of the therapies. The therapies allowed soldiers to fight their symptoms and socialize with other patients.

Daily routine can be difficult for those with PTSD. Fortunately, researchers have studied alternative methods, such as acupuncture and massage and yoga therapy, as treatment options. Both have displayed promising results, and should be studied more in the future as methods to treat PTSD and other disorders. Complementary and alternative methods like the ones discussed have lower chances of medical malpractice and don’t utilize prescribed medication as often as traditional healthcare.

— By Ashely Burns, a guest writer, journalism graduate, from Orlando, FL


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Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated two percent of the population. It is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body. In addition to musculoskeletal pain, patients with fibromyalgia can suffer fatigue, sleep disturbance, memory loss, mood swings, and digestive problems.

From the perspective of western medicine, fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, and depression.

On its own fibromyalgia does not result in any physical damage to the body or its tissues and there are no laboratory tests which can confirm this diagnosis. Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. Women are more prone to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age.

Research shows that up to 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary or alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has been shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

Oriental medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the symptoms unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, the intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms.

Since pain is a hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia, an Oriental medicine approach will incorporate treatment for pain, though this may differ from western “pain management” therapies. The Oriental medicine theory of pain is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”

Pain is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the body. The disruption of Qi that results in fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney and Heart systems.


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Oriental Medicine for Weight Management

In Oriental medicine the root of excess weight is an imbalance within the body caused by malfunctioning of the spleen and liver organ systems. A combination of auricular (ear) and body acupuncture points, as well as foods and herbs selected to assist with weight loss can directly influence the Qi of the spleen and liver systems and treat the imbalances that have caused weight gain.

The spleen is responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system, ensuring that the food we eat is transformed into Qi, the vital substance of life. Disharmony of the spleen will result in symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stool and a feeling of heaviness.

The liver’s job is to keep the flow of your body’s Qi, blood and emotions running smoothly. Our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which, in turn, can cause the spleen and the entire digestive system to function poorly. One result can be a decrease in your metabolism. Liver disharmony can also cause some of the “triggers” that lead to cravings and compulsive eating.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been shown to have positive effects on the functioning of the nervous, endocrine and digestive systems. They provide a comprehensive therapy for weight issues that promote better digestion, balance emotions, reduce appetite, improve metabolism and eliminate food cravings.


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Acupucnture and Oriental Medicine for Digestive Disorders (IBS)

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).

A common disorder affecting 10 to 20 percent of adults at some point in their lives, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was once called “spastic colon” and has a combination of symptoms that may include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, fatigue and headaches that can be worsened by certain foods, stress and other irritants. IBS results from nervous interference with the normal function of the lower digestive tract. The symptoms are variable and change over time.

While other patterns may be present, IBS is typically considered a disharmony between the liver and the spleen meridians in Oriental medicine. The liver meridian is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. This flow can be upset by emotions or stress, causing stagnation of Qi or blood. Oriental medicine views the spleen meridian as being associated with the function of digestion and transforming food into energy (Qi and blood). This can be weakened by a number of factors including overeating unhealthy foods, overwork, stress, fatigue, and lack of exercise. When the spleen meridian is weak and the liver meridian is not moving smoothly, the liver overacts on the spleen and can manifest as symptoms of IBS. Symptoms can be managed by avoiding overeating, exercise, identifying trigger foods and reducing stress.


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Relief Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Acupuncture

Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve entrapment, occurs when swelling or irritation of the tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve causing pain in the palm side of the wrist and pain and tingling in the fingers. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the index, middle and ring fingers. Pain can sometimes travel up the arm and affect the shoulder. The symptoms often first appear during the night. As symptoms worsen, people might feel pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. If not properly treated, CTS can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.

From an Oriental medicine perspective, carpal tunnel syndrome is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi and Blood (Xue) within the area and associated with cold, dampness or wind penetrating the muscles and sinews. Acupuncture points, stretching exercises, herbal remedies and nutritional supplements are chosen to treat accordingly.

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

According to a randomized, controlled study published in the May 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain, acupuncture is as effective as the corticosteroid, prednisone, for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).


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Alternative Medicine for Flu/Common Cold

Flu and cold season is here, and this year, it’s a earlier and rougher one. Just because people around you are sick, you don’t have to get sick, too. You can keep yourself healthy by getting a preventive treatments with alternative medicine, including acupuncture, cupping, Chinese herbs and Tuina massage. These treatment are also safe for children and infants. I will show special infant and children Tuina massage treatment for flu and common cold in next post. And if you do catch a flu or cold, alternative medicine can help as well. Chinese medicine is very effective for early stage of flu and cold. Remember, viruses, not bacteria, cause flu and cold. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so they don’t work for flu or cold.

Acupuncture for flu and common cold:

Fengchi (GB20), Zusanli (ST36), Hegu (LI4), Kongzui (LU6)

— Zusanli (ST36) has the function of strengthening the immunologic function of the human body and treating the disease caused by lower immune system.

zusanli

Cupping for flu and cold:

Dazhui (DU14)

cupping dazhui

Besides alternative medicine, handy tips for staying healthy.

1. Wash your hands often.

2. Use hand sanitizer.

3. Keep your face hands-free.

If you get sick, be mindful to help protect others.

1. Stay home and rest.

2. Drink lots of fluids.

3. Cover your sneeze or cough.