Treating Back Pain with Acupuncture & TCM

Treating Back Pain with Acupuncture & TCM

By: John Lally Lic.AC.TCM, Clin.AC, Clinic Director

Chronic Back Pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. It has been estimated that up to 80% of the world’s population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, with the lower back as the most common location of pain.

Though most occurrences of back pain last less than two weeks, research has shown that recurrence rates for low back pain can reach as high as 50% in the first few months following the first episode.

Why Use Acupuncture for Back Pain?

The use of acupuncture to treat back pain has increased dramatically in the past few decades, based to a large degree on placebo-controlled studies that have validated it as a reliable method of back pain relief. The results of a recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain provide further proof that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for low-back pain, and that acupuncture can maintain positive outcomes for periods exceeding six months or longer without producing the negative side-effects that often accompany more traditional pain remedies such as anti inflammatory steroids or pain medication.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Definitions of Back Pain

Kidney Chi Deficiency
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory the Kidney and Bladder Acupuncture Meridian govern the back. When there is a deficiency in Kidney Yin or Kidney Yang this may have a negative effect on the Acupuncture channels on the posterior of the body resulting in weakness, stiffness and/or pain in the back.

Liver Chi Stagnation
The body’s Chi (Vital Energy) must flow freely for abundant health. In TCM the Liver organ governs the free flow of Chi in all areas of the body including the upper and lower back. Any impediment to the free flow of energy in the back will result in moderate pain and stiffness. As the Liver organ in TCM is closely associated with emotions such as stress, frustration and anger – we would often observe case histories where back pain is triggered or exacerbated by emotional triggers such as pre menstrual syndrome.

Blood Stagnation in the Lower Back
A severe form of Chi stagnation (above) blood stagnation or blood stasis in the lower back can result in severe stabbing pain on movement or rest. This is a result of long term Chi stagnation which eventually causes the flow of blood in the affected area to effectively become stuck. As in TCM theory the Chi (especially Liver Chi) moves blood in the acupuncture channels – any impediment to the free flow of Chi results in internal “friction” which almost often transforms into severe pain and stiffness. Blood stagnation in the lower back may form as a result of physical issues such as injury due to a fall, impact, exposure to cold wind or overwork and emotional issues such as long term stress.

Invasion of Wind Cold
According to Acupuncture theory the Kidneys are susceptible to invasion of wind cold or damp cold. This occurs when the lower back is frequently exposed to cold or damp weather resulting in depletion of the kidney Yang energies and as cold obstructs movement the eventual stagnation of Chi in the affected area. Invasion of cold may be accompanied by symptoms such as feeling of cold, tightness in the lower back, frequent urination and low energy.

Common Medical Causes of Back Pain

Lumbar Muscle Strain
Muscle strains are the most common cause of low back pain. Patients may or may not remember the initial event that triggered their muscle spasm, but the good news is that most episodes of back pain from muscle strains resolve completely within a few weeks.

Ruptured Disc
A ruptured intervertebral disc, also called a herniated disc, is another common cause of back pain. How to treat the back pain from a herniated disc depends on the particular individual and situation.

Discogenic Back Pain
Discogenic back pain is thought to be a common cause of low back pain. Discogenic back pain cis the result of damage to the intervertabral disc, but without disc herniation. Diagnosis of discogenic back pain may require the use of a discogram.

Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis causes back pain in the aging population. As we age, the spinal canal can become constricted, due in part to arthritis and other conditions. If the spinal canal becomes too tight, back pain can be the result.

Lumbar Spine Arthritis
Arthritis most commonly affects joints such as the knees and fingers. However, arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the small joints of the spine. Arthritis of the spine can cause back pain with movement.

Spondylolisthesis causes back pain because adjacent vertebra become unstable and begin to “slip.” The most common cause of spondylolisthesis is due to degenerative changes causing loss of the normal stabilizing structures of the spinal column. If the spine becomes unstable enough, back pain can become a problem.


Reduce Migraine and Headache Pain with Acupuncture

Reduce Migraine and Headache Pain with Acupuncture

Are you plagued by chronic headaches?

More than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives.  A widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years.  Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables including:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
  • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.  According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some headaches, migraines and related symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Headaches Dramatically Reduced by Acupuncture

Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines and headaches.  Researchers at Duke University Medical Center analyzed the results of more than 30 studies on acupuncture as a pain reliever for a variety of ailments, including chronic headaches. They found that acupuncture decreases pain with fewer side effects and can be less expensive than medication.  Researchers found that using acupuncture as an alternative for pain relief also reduced the need for post-operative pain medications.

In a study published in the November 1999 issue of Cephalalgia, scientists evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of migraines and recurrent headaches by systematically reviewing 22 randomized controlled trials. A total of 1,042 patients were examined. It was found that headache and migraine sufferers experienced significantly more relief from acupuncture than patients who were administered “sham” acupuncture.

A clinical observation, published in a 2002 edition of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, studied 50 patients presenting with various types of headaches who were treated with scalp acupuncture. The results of this study showed that 98 percent of patients treated with scalp acupuncture experienced no headaches or only occasional, mild headaches in the six months following care.

In a case study, published in the June 2003 Issue of Medical Acupuncture, doctors found that acupuncture resulted in the resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches, and a decrease or discontinuation of pain medications. It was concluded that acupuncture can be used to provide sustained relief from cluster headaches and to stimulate the body’s natural production of adrenal cortisol to aid in discontinuing corticosteroids.

According to the July 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal, a randomized controlled trial in Germany found that acupuncture cut tension headache rates almost in half.  Researchers divided 270 patients who reported similarly severe tension headaches into three groups for the study. Over the project’s eight-week period, one group received traditional acupuncture, one received only minimal acupuncture, and the third group received neither treatment. Those receiving the traditional acupuncture reported headache rates of nearly half that of those who received no treatments, suffering 7 fewer days of headaches. The minimal acupuncture group suffered 6.6 fewer days, and the non-acupuncture group suffered 1.5 fewer days.  The improvements continued for months after the treatments were concluded, rising slightly as time went on.


Conquering Arthritis with Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Conquering Arthritis with Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

By: John Alderman, L.Ac.

Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering daily pain when you perform simple mundane tasks such as turning a key, getting up from a chair, reaching to grasp something, holding an object, throwing a ball to your grandchildren, writing a note or letter to a dear friend or loved one, or just trying to move without constant sharp, throbbing, gnawing aches? More than 20% of all Americans report excruciating inflamed joint pain that hinders their recreational activities and productivity at work, and many lose their jobs because their pain affects decision making and causes absenteeism. Fatigue, sleep disruption, and depression are side effects that affect relationships with friends and family. Sometimes even the best of marriages cannot withstand the crippling affects of physical and emotional decline caused by this devastating progressive disease.

Arthritis is not just an older person’s disease, either. Nearly two thirds of people with arthritis are younger than age 65, and are affected by over 100 types of arthritis, rheumatic diseases, and related conditions. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These two forms have very different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body, yet they often share a common symptom–persistent joint pain.

Although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis affect the majority of Americans, infectious arthritis, chemically-induced arthritis, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and gout have a major impact on our health as well and tend to be statistically increasing.

Why suffer? Eliminate your pain and inflammation and increase your mobility. Acupuncture and TCM have treated thousands of patients with arthritic conditions having dramatic positive and life changing results.

Acupuncture Gains Recognition for Success with Arthritis

Traditional Oriental Medicine and Acupunctures effective and time tested medical care concepts and theories currently find great scientific support. More and more scientifically-designed clinical studies support the use of acupuncture for arthritis. One study examined the effects of acupuncture on 32 osteoarthritis patients waiting for knee replacement surgery. After nine weeks, patients receiving acupuncture treatments reported a decrease in pain, while pain increased in untreated patients. The patients with acupuncture treatments were able to walk farther and faster, compared with the untreated group.

Another study at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine found that 12 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee improved significantly after acupuncture treatments. These results encouraged the researchers to do a larger study which is currently under way.

Western medical science is embracing Acupuncture administered by highly qualified Doctors of Oriental Medicine and licensed practitioners. The National Arthritis Foundation medical director, Dr. John Klippel, vigorously supports acupuncture therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. This endorsement followed another dramatic research study of patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. This study involved 570 patients in Maryland and New York who had moderate to severe pain despite treatment with pain medicine. Researchers randomly assigned patients to get acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or education in addition to their pain pills. Those who got the acupuncture indicated a 40 percent reduction in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function by the 14th week, which lasted through week 26.

A recent Scandinavian study showed it relieves osteoarthritis symptoms – so well, that 25 percent of patients previously scheduled for knee surgery canceled their plans. That same study showed booster treatments once a month sustained the pain relief.

Studies show that acupuncture can stimulate the production of endorphins (natural pain-killing hormones in the brain), and the anti-inflammatory hormone adrenalcorticotropin. Acupuncture triggers the body to heal itself by producing hormones that reduce pain and inflammation. Acupuncture can then be used on an ongoing basis to prevent re-occurrence of arthritis once it has been successfully cured.

Arthritis Treatments: What Works and What’s Dangerous

“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) account for more deaths in the United States than AIDS or Cervical Cancer.”  The pain and inflammation of arthritis is crippling America, but our pharmaceutical companies are killing the uninformed consumer. This double-edged sword of pain and death is unchecked in our modern Western medical model. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) account for 20% of NSAID patients experiencing dyspepsia and NSAID-associated upper gastrointestinal adverse events are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year in the United States, and represent 43% of drug-related emergency visits. These drugs cause more deaths in the US than AIDS or cervical cancer. Small intestine problems can be easily undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, thus it is important to be aware of the risks associated with long term NSAID use.

In Traditional Oriental Medicine, the condition that is congruent with arthritis is called “Bi syndrome.” Bi syndrome manifests as pain, soreness, or numbness of muscles, tendons and joints, and is the result of the body being “invaded” by the external climatological factors of Wind, Cold, Heat, and/or Dampness. The symptoms manifested by the individual depend on which external pathogenic factor is strongest. These pathogenic factors lodge in the body’s meridians (energy pathways) and obstruct the free flow of Qi (energy) and blood in those meridians. When blood and energy are not able to flow naturally, they stagnate, causing pain, heat, and other symptoms. Acupuncture and herbal therapy help to open the blockage, balance the energy, and harmonize Qi and blood, eliminating pain, inflammation and greatly increasing mobility and range of motion in the joints.


Oriental Medicine Lays Insomnia to Rest

Oriental Medicine Lays Insomnia to Rest

By: Lily Rogers, PCOM Staff

Insomnia is more than tossing and turning. It’s more serious than an inability to fall asleep early and has more debilitating effects than are commonly recognized. An estimated 32 million people suffer from insomnia in the U.S. Oriental medicine, with its focus on healing whole syndromes rather than individual symptoms, is widely used as an insomnia remedy and has shown great success treating those who experience insomnia.

Insomnia may present itself in different ways. For some, the inability to fall asleep is the most noticeable insomnia symptom while others are unable to reach a deep level of sleep and are startled awake by every noise. Any insomnia symptom would frustrate most sleepers, but night after night for months or years, the most serious issues of insomnia accumulate – the daytime effects. These can include physical tiredness, difficulty concentrating and feeling depressed, irritable or lethargic. Oriental medicine is a great insomnia remedy . It focuses on patients’ individual insomnia symptom and builds a whole-healing plan from each symptom. It also has been widely successful in treating depression, stress and physical pain.

While these are standard symptoms of a poor night’s sleep, they are magnified by chronic conditions and can have severe negative setbacks in a person’s life. True insomnia is defined as poor sleep followed by daytime fatigue. Because sleep needs, such as number of hours, varies for different people, the real issue of insomnia is quality of feeling during the day.

Insomnia may have a number of causes, including stress, depression or anxiety; irregular work schedules; medications, drug or alcohol abuse; major life changes; chronic pain, hyperthyroidism or arthritis. Acupuncture and herbs for insomnia have high success rates with each insomnia symptom and can therefore treat insomnia at its root.

A study published recently in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, reports that patients who received acupressure and transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) experienced a significant improvement in their insomnia symptom, including problems of fatigue, sleep quality and depression. The results from this study suggest that acupressure or TEAS might have an important role in managing patients with fatigue, poor sleep quality and depression.

Oriental medicine relates insomnia to the heart. Of course, an insomnia remedy would include a complete diagnosis and treatment system that would focus on each individual, and the many syndromes that are differentiated within the context of insomnia would be explored. Other organ systems and syndromes may be involved, and until the body is brought back into balance through Oriental medicine treatment such as herbs for insomnia and acupuncture, each insomnia symptom will continue.

One contributor to insomnia, stress, weakens the function of the Liver, which in turn affects the health of your nerves. According to the 5 Element Theory, the relationship between the Liver and nerves flows both ways, causing the function of the Liver to be weakened from the accumulation of things that “get on your nerves.” Stress-related insomnia is often accompanied by another nerve-induced problem: restless leg syndrome. This can make bedtime even more of a battle for sleep. When your Liver is unbalanced and being asked to deliver energy it does not have, uncomfortable symptoms are your body’s way of signaling the need to get things back into harmony, the need for an insomnia remedy .

Acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system. It clears obstructions in the muscle and nerve channels, facilitates the flow of oxygen-enriched energy and relaxes the system. Common noted benefits of acupuncture include deeper breathing, improved digestive abilities, better sleeping patterns, decrease in various pains and a general sense of well being, which are all excellent treatments for insomnia. General acupuncture protocol for the treatment of chronic insomnia includes 10 initial treatments at two to three treatments per week, followed by a two to four week observational period and possibly one treatment per week.

Acupuncture and herbs as an insomnia remedy can greatly improve sleeping patterns, but in order to successfully and completely resolve sleep disturbance one must address all the contributing factors. Oriental medicine helps do this by treating the whole person and focusing on bringing the entire body into balance. Other suggested actions include:

Learn to relax physically

Techniques such as yoga, meditation, biofeedback and progressive relaxation, as well as acupuncture and massage, can help your body become more restful.

Have a regular bedtime

If you are not asleep after an hour, get up, go to another room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Don’t try to force yourself to sleep.

Reduce food and drinks that increase sleep problems

Heavy meals before bedtime, late afternoon or evening consumption of alcohol, chocolate, tea, coffee and caffeinated soda should be avoided. Consider adding herbs for insomnia to your diet as well.

Keep in shape

Regular exercise helps with stress and reduces fatigue, both of which can exacerbate insomnia. Systems such as Tai Chi or Qigong are gentler exercises that balance staying fit with staying relaxed.

Treat physical problems

If physical pain or discomfort is a factor in the inability to fall asleep, don’t put up with it. Acupuncture has proven successful in treating pain associated with arthritis and many other physical conditions.

Nutritional Counseling and Lifestyle Changes

Nutrition can contribute to the cause and cure of insomnia. Excess protein and the over reliance on stimulants and quick-energy foods contribute to fatigue by weighing on the liver, kidneys and intestines. Quick fix foods increase the depletion of the body-mind energy reserves. Tailoring a diet that includes foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits to the individual replenishes energy and diffuses built-up stress.

Chinese Herbal Medicine and Supplements

Chinese herbs and herbal medications are also useful in combating insomnia. An Oriental medicine practitioner can recommend an insomnia remedy to best suit individual insomnia symptoms. Herbs for insomnia such as longan fruit, golden thread, sour jujube seed, fossil bone or mimosa bark may be prescribed.

Insomnia should not dictate when or for how long you sleep. It can be frustrating and scary when any disease or disorder takes away control. Oriental medicine will lead you back to a place of balance and calm, giving you the power to lay insomnia to rest.


Childhood Allergies and Acupuncture

Childhood Allergies and Acupuncture

By: Lori Gilbert, L.Ac.

Childhood Allergies: Treatment Without Trouble.

Allergies afflict millions of children nationwide. Traditional Chinese medicine offers a healthy way of getting rid of allergic reactions without resorting to expensive medicines or regular injections. For children who are shy around needles, the best news is that no needles are involved – it’s all done by acupressure.

Kids don’t like allergies, and kids certainly don’t like needles. What a blessing that traditional Chinese medicine has the perfect remedy for both!

Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) is a gentle, effective therapy that diagnoses and effectively eliminates allergic symptoms due to foods, environmental allergens, chemical sensitivity, and more. And since it can be done with acupressure, no needles need be used. This makes the technique ideal for children and anyone who is needle-shy, and for anyone who is looking for a natural way to have a normal, healthy life, free of allergic symptoms.

The TCM Approach to Allergies

TCM defines allergy more loosely than Western medicine does. In terms of energy, an allergen is anything that the body rejects on some level. It’s as if the body says, “No, I am not OK with this substance!” when it encounters an allergen, and a reaction of some kind occurs. That is when we see the allergic symptoms.

An NAET acupressure treatment works on specific acupuncture meridian points to remove the blockage (allergy) from the body’s energy system. In this way, the nervous and immune systems are reprogrammed with the new information from the acupressure treatment. Now the body can say, “Yes, I am OK with this substance,” and no reaction will occur.

Most of the time, one treatment for a particular allergen group is all that is needed (in addition to avoiding the treated allergen for 25 hours following the treatment) to clear the allergy to that particular substance. On occasion, more treatments may be required for the same substance.

What sorts of allergic symptoms can NAET treat? Here are a few of the most common:

  • Digestive disorders and IBS
  • Asthma, hay fever, and sinus problems
  • Eczema and hives
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Heartbeat irregularities
  • Arthritis and other physical pain

Any of these symptoms that are allergy-related can usually be treated effectively using NAET.

Diagnosing with NAET

To diagnose the allergies, practitioners use muscle testing to see which allergens need to be treated first. This process may even diagnose allergies that the body isn’t yet responding to. Once diagnosed, the practitioner will systematically treat the allergies that are affecting the body, one allergen group at a time. Most patients need between five and 15 treatments initially. Children often respond faster and need fewer treatments than adults do.

Diagnosing allergies with NAET sometimes reveals underlying infections, especially candida, which can be treated with natural products that are pleasant-tasting and easy for children to take. I also teach my patients how to do some simple acupressure treatments on themselves or their children at home, so that they can continue experiencing the benefits without losing the effects of the treatment – particularly if they cannot avoid the treated allergic group for 25 hours
following treatment.



Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

By: Diane Joswick L.Ac.

Low back pain is an extremely common concern, affecting anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of people at some point in their lives. Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost days at work and is one of the most common reasons to seek medical care, including acupuncture. In fact, one of the top reasons that people get acupuncture treatments is for low back pain.

The Oriental Medicine Perspective of Low Back Pain

In spite of the large number of pathological conditions that can give rise to low back pain, up to 85% of the cases are classified by Western physicians as ‘non-specific’. When low back pain is looked at from an Oriental medicine perspective, it is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the area, associated with a specific disharmony and then treated accordingly.

The basis of acupuncture 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.”

In other words, any kind of pain or illness represents an obstruction in the normal flow of Qi or life force. Simply put, acupuncture moves Qi, restoring free flow.

The disruption of Qi that results in low back pain is usually associated with the following three disharmonies:

Weak Kidney Qi – In Oriental medicine, the lower back is referred to as the “dwelling of the Kidneys”. The majority of chronic low back pain conditions are associated with Kidney Deficiency. Kidney Deficiency type pain is dull and comes and goes. It is usually aggravated by over tiredness and improves with rest.

Stagnation of Qi and Blood – When the flow of Qi along the meridians that traverse the lumbar region becomes congested, it is referred to as the stagnation of Qi and blood. This presents with a severe stabbing pain that is worse with rest and better with movement, tender to touch and can be accompanied by stiffness and tightness.

Invasion of Cold and Dampness – Cold, damp type pain is worse in the morning and when the weather is cold and damp. This type of pain improves with movement and the application of heat. Stiffness and contraction of back muscles that is aggravated by rest indicates cold predominance while swelling, numbness and a heavy sensation are indicative of dampness.

Studies on Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

While acupuncture is readily accepted as a viable option for low back pain in mainstream modern medicine, there has been little research to prove that it works. Now there are studies that support the clinical evidence.

In a German study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 1,162 adults with chronic, lower back pain were divided into groups treated with the standard pharmaceutical and exercise therapy commonly used in Western medicine and acupuncture. The researchers reported that acupuncture provided relief and lasting benefit to nearly twice as many lower back pain patients as drugs and exercise. Forty-eight percent of the acupuncture patients reported at least a one-third decrease in pain along with improvement in their ability to function, versus 27 percent of the patients treated with conventional methods reporting such benefits.

In another recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine analyzed 33 studies covering more than 2,100 patients from around the world on acupuncture for low back pain.

They found acupuncture provided definite pain relief in the short-term (defined as relief sustained for three weeks after the end of the acupuncture sessions).


Enhance Your Endocrine Health With Acupuncture

Enhance Your Endocrine Health With Acupuncture

By: Georjana Shames LAc Dipl.OM CMT

The endocrine system is responsible for hormonal functions in the body and produces thirty distinct hormones each of which has a very specific job to do. This system controls your physical growth, mood, hormone output, reproduction, mental functionality, and immune system. When not working properly you become more susceptible to disease and your ability to fight off infection is weakened. Endocrine glands and their functioning impacts 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”) that crisscross the body. If the meridians within your body have become depleted you can suffer from tiredness, infertility, weight gain, depression, digestive problems, hair loss, arthritis, and feeling chilled no matter the temperature.

What are the endocrine glands and what do they do?
The major endocrine glands include the adrenals, pancreas, pineal, pituitary, reproductive and thyroid glands.

Adrenals – Adrenal glands regulate the body’s response to stress and are made of two parts, each of which secretes a separate set of hormones. The outer part produces corticosteroid hormones that regulate the balance of salt and water, stress response, metabolism, immune function, and sexual development and function. The inner part secretes adrenaline hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress. Over time chronic elevated stress levels can lead to weight gain, decreased resistance to infections, fatigue, muscle aches and low blood sugar.

Pancreas – The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon-two hormones that work together to supply the body’s cells with a constant supply of energy in the form of glucose.

Pineal – The pineal gland is also known as the epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis or the “third eye”. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.

Hypothalamus /Pituitary – A collection of specialized cells that provide the primary link between the endocrine and central nervous systems. Nerve cells and hormones signal the pituitary gland to secrete or suppress the release of various hormone messages to the other glands. The pituitary gland is also responsible for secreting growth hormones.

Reproductive – These glands secrete hormones that control the development of male and female characteristics. In males these glands secrete androgen hormones, most importantly testosterone. In females they produce estrogen, progesterone, eggs and are involved in reproductive functions.

Thyroid – Thyroid hormones control the growth, temperature and function of every cell in the body. The gland acts as the metabolic engine of the body – if it secretes too little hormone the body slows and dies; if it secretes too much the body burns out and dies.

A healthy endocrine system that continues to secrete adequate amounts of hormones will slow the aging process and keep you vibrant and healthy as you age.

When treating a suspected endocrine condition with acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the acupuncturist seeks the root cause of the patient’s imbalance. 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 the Yin energy is the coolant for the car’s engine. Without the coolant, the engine overheats and begins to burn out. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine work to make sure the Yin and Yang are equal within the body restoring your essential internal balance. The root of the body’s energy in Oriental medicine is the Kidney meridian. Treatment used to strengthen the Kidney 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. Treatments take all symptoms into account and are aimed at balancing the energy in your body, optimizing your health, restoring immune function and balancing the production and release of hormones through a variety of approaches ranging from acupuncture and herbal remedies to lifestyle changes and special exercises. 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.


Acupuncture For Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Acupuncture For Fibromyalgia Syndrome

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Conventional therapies are limited in the success of treating this complex and unexplained condition. Current treatment is largely comprised of prescribing different medications for the varying symptoms in a trial and error approach. Research shows that as many as 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary and alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together:

• chronic pain
• debilitating fatigue
• difficulty sleeping
• anxiety and depression
• joint stiffness
• chronic headaches and jaw pain
• difficulty swallowing
• dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes
• hypersensitivity to odors, bright lights, and loud noises
• inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”)
• incontinence
• irritable bowel syndrome
• numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet
• painful menstrual cramps
• poor circulation in hands and feet (called Raynaud’s phenomenon)
• restless legs syndrome

Fibromyalgia 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. This condition 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.

From an Eastern Perspective

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.

The Acupuncture Treatment

Oriental Medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. Therefore, if 10 people are treated with Oriental medicine for fibromyalgia, each of these 10 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are highly variable form one person to another, a wide array of traditional and alternative treatments has been shown to be the most effective way of treating this difficult syndrome. A treatment program may include a combination of psychological or behavioral therapies, medications, exercise, acupuncture, herbal medicine and bodywork.


Acupuncture, The Natural Cold And Flu Remedy

Acupuncture, The Natural Cold And Flu Remedy

While the misery of cold and flu season might be inevitable, one thing is changing: where we look for relief.

Acupuncture to Get Better Faster – If you have already come down with a cold or the flu, acupuncture treatments can help 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 reduce the incidence of an upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of the illness.

Acupuncture for Prevention – Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can 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 with a protective layer around the exterior of the body called wei qi or defensive energy. There are acupuncture points 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. If you catch colds easily, have low energy and require a long time recuperating from an illness your wei qi may be deficient.

Acupuncture Point: Du 14

One particularly important point to attend to is Du 14. Located below the spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebrae, approximately where the collar of a T-shirt sits on the neck. Du 14 activates the circulation of blood and Qi to strengthen the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle (wei qi) so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them. This point is often used to ward off as well as shorten the duration colds and flu.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.


5 Top Men’s Health Concerns And How Acupuncture Can Help

5 Top Men’s Health Concerns And How Acupuncture Can Help

Acupuncture has been used to treat men’s health concerns for thousands of years and is growing in popularity. The reason for this growth in popularity is that many health issues that men face, such as high blood pressure, prostate problems and depression, respond extremely well to acupuncture treatments.

Here is a list of five health issues that affect men and how acupuncture can help:

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading men’s health threat with heart disease and stroke topping the list of the first and second leading causes of death worldwide. By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart healthy lifestyle, you can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Taking small steps to improve your health can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease by as much as eighty percent. Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and improved sleep – all of which can be helped with acupuncture.

Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, researchers have been able to stimulate the release of opioids, which decreases the heart’s activity and its need for oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in men. Tobacco smoke causes ninety percent of all lung cancers. If you are ready to quit smoking, acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture has shown to be an effective treatment for smoking. Acupuncture treatments for addiction and smoking cessation focus on jitters, cravings, irritability, and restlessness; symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

In one study on substance addiction, a team from Yale University successfully used auricular (ear) acupuncture to treat cocaine addiction. Results showed that fifty-five percent of participants tested free of cocaine during the last week of treatment, compared to twenty-four percent and nine percent in the two control groups. Those who completed acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence compared to participants in the control groups.

Prostate Health

The prostate is prone to enlargement and inflammation as men age, affecting about half of men in their sixties and up to ninety percent of men as they approach their seventies and eighties. If left untreated, benign prostate gland enlargement, which presents with symptoms such as frequent nighttime urination, painful urination, and difficult urination, can lead to more serious conditions such as prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones, and incontinence.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to treat prostate problems to relieve the urinary symptoms and prevent the more serious conditions from occurring. The few studies completed on acupuncture and prostatitis show positive results with participants noticing an marked improvement in their quality of life, decrease in urinary difficulties, and an increase in urinary function.

Depression and Mental Health

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all men; for young men it’s higher. While experts previously thought depression affected far more women than men, it is now believed that that men’s tendency to hide depressed feelings and not seek professional help has skewed the numbers.

When suffering from depression, brain chemicals and stress hormones are out of balance. Sleep, appetite, and energy level are all disturbed. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can alleviate symptoms associated with depression and mental health issues by helping to rebalance the body’s internal environment.

The growing body of research supporting the positive effects of acupuncture on depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain syndrome is so strong that the military now uses acupuncture to treat troops with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat stress syndrome.

Sexual Health

While sexual health concerns may not be life threatening, they can still signal significant health problems. Two-thirds of men older than seventy and up to thirty-nine percent of forty year old men report having problems with their sexual health.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are well known for improving men’s sexual performance; in fact, there have been medical textbooks devoted to the subject. Chinese Emperors took their sexual health quite seriously and would consult with a team of physicians if they experienced any difficulties in the bedroom.

Acupuncture can be used to treat premature ejaculation, low sperm count, diminished sperm motility, erectile dysfunction, male climacteric (menopause) and increase libido.

Call now to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can improve your health and well being!