Acupuncture for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – Treatment Protocols

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for multiple sclerosis (MS) and related issues. There are many ways to treat this condition with Eastern Medicine and our presentation is only one of many possible options.

Acupuncture treatments for multiple sclerosis are performed according to each patients signs and symptoms. Multiple Sclerosis follows a loosely defined progression in most cases with periods of remission which vary greatly in duration. The stages Multiple Sclerosis may follow are as follows:

  • Stage I: MS symptoms usually begin with visual disturbances a/or a period of muscle weakness, this may clear up on its own or with treatment and the patient may not experience any more symptoms for an indeterminate duration.
  • Stage II: If MS is to progress to the next step it may cause obstruction in the channels of dampness, possibly with heat. A patient may experience this as stronger symptoms of muscular weakness, pain a/or numbness, urinary issues a/or further developments of visual disturbances.
  • Stage III: The Qi and Blood of the body begin to be effected at this level leading to more systemic issues such as fatigue, listlessness, poor appetite, muscle cramping a/or spasticity.
  • Stage IV: At this level the foundation of Yin and Yang in the body is greatly depleted. A patient may experience significant fatigue, more extreme urinary issues such as incontinence a/or increased severity of muscular issues possibly leading to atrophy.
    • Etiology & Pathology:
      • Differentiation:
      • Phlegm Damp Obstruction – Stage II
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Heaviness, weakness a/or numbness of the limbs, visual disturbances such as blurred or double vision.
          • Tongue:  Greasy white coat
          • Pulse:  Slippery, possibly thin or empty
        • Treatment Points:
      • Damp Heat Obstruction – Stage II
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Heaviness, weakness a/or numbness of the limbs, limbs a/or feet feel hot, painful joints, prefer cooler weather/environments, frequent and urgent urination, chest oppression.
          • Tongue:  Greasy yellow coat
          • Pulse:  Slippery, rapid
        • Treatment Points:
      • SP Qi Deficiency – Stage III
      • LV Blood Deficiency – Stage III
      • KD Deficiency – Stage IV
        • Severe weakness, chronic fatigue, pale complexion, muscle stiffness a/or atrophy, tremors, low back pain, urinary disturbances such as urgency, incontinence a/or retention.
        • Tongue:  Red w/little coat, pale, wet
        • Pulse:  Deep, thin
      • Treatment Points:

The information on our site is reprinted from YinYangHouse.com

Treating Multiple Sclerosis with Chinese Medicine

By Catherine Hollingsworth

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure. A person suffering from multiple sclerosis may show demyelination in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves due to overactive antibodies. Physical symptoms range from person to person, as does the severity of the disease. According to a paper published by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, “this variability has led some to conclude that MS might be a syndrome or spectrum of different disorders rather than a single disease.” (MSIF, 2009) Naturally, a successful treatment for MS must be highly individualized, with a focus on relief from symptoms and preventing progression of the disease. Unfortunately, biomedical treatments for MS can come with significant side effects, and may not always be effective. Chinese medicine, including both acupuncture and herbs, offers a valuable alternative approach to treating MS. This form of medicine considers patients and diseases as individual cases with potentially varied causes. As anecdotal evidence attests, Chinese medicine is well equipped to address the complex and varied presentations of the disease—without accompanying side effects.

The Varied Symptoms of MS

Multiple sclerosis manifests in the physical body in many ways. Social and emotional problems including stress, depression and anxiety are often a secondary result. Some common symptoms are:

  • Weakness, tingling and/or numbness
  • Spasticity, tremors and gait disturbance
  • Speech problems
  • Visual problems
  • Digestive disturbances and incontinence
  • Stress, anxiety and depression

Just as the symptoms may vary from person to person, so does the severity of the disease. For some, multiple sclerosis is so mild that it can barely be diagnosed. For others, it is disabling. Multiple sclerosis is categorized by disease progression and the presence of flare-ups, or relapses. The four categories are:

  • Relapse-Remitting (RRMS): alternates between relapse and nearly full recovery.
  • Primary Progressive (PPMS): steadily progresses from onset.
  • Secondary Progressive (SPMS): initially RRMS, progresses to a steady worsening.
  • Progressive-Relapsing (PRMS): progressive from onset, with clear acute relapses.

These categories are based on a consensus of members from the international MS clinical research community. Notably, no reliable markers have been found that correspond to the clinical presentations of the disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides increasingly advanced diagnosis of MS, yet there are no specific MRI findings that directly correspond to these four clinical subcategories. Further, reproducible biomarkers in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid have been elusive. (MSIF, 2009).

Biomedical Versus CAM Treatment of MS

In the biomedical approach, oral or intravenous steroids are often used to treat the acute symptoms of MS. This treatment, however, produces undesirable side effects and is not always effective. Dan Jiang, a practitioner of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), describes one patient’s experience with steroids:

One month prior to presenting at the clinic her health had suddenly deteriorated, with paralysis of the limbs on the right side of her body, ataxia, weakness of her right eyelid (which would not open), diplopia (double vision) and numbness on the right side of her face. She was admitted to hospital for three days to receive mythylprednisolone infusions [a synthetic glucocorticoid or corticosteroid drug]. After she was discharged her symptoms became even worse. The weakness of the right eyelid spread to the left and the diplopia now affected both eyes. She reported feeling stressed and depressed, and suffered from insomnia and anxiety, hot flushes and constipation (Jiang, 2010).

Western medical researchers report that in the treatment of MS, “patients turn to CAM because these methods are perceived not only as effective, but also as milder and causing fewer adverse side-effects” (Appel-Neu and Zettl, 2008). Due to the enormous impact that MS can have on a person’s life, patients also tend to value emotional support in the treatment room. The time and level of attention afforded by CAM practitioners is often cited as a reason for choosing alternative therapies. (Appel-Neu and Zettl, 2008). The choice between conventional and CAM approaches is not necessarily either/or. Researchers have found that patients often combine CAM and conventional medicine, finding value in both (Nayak et al, 2003).

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine for MS

Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine, is one of many CAM therapies available to MS patients. Chinese medicine views disease from a holistic perspective, seeking a root cause for varied symptoms. Further, according to Chinese medicine, patients with similar presenting symptoms may have different underlying imbalances requiring individualized approaches to treatment. From this perspective, each case of MS could theoretically be linked to a different root cause, and treated as such. This approach is in alignment with the theory that MS is not one single disease but a spectrum of related diseases, with no consistent markers or predictable progressions of demyelination in MRI findings.

In clinical practice, Jiang did find that MS patients with similar symptoms showed different underlying patterns of disharmony, based on tongue and pulse. Compare the following diagnoses for separate patients (2010):

  • Liver and Kidney yin deficiency causing interior Liver wind
  • Liver, Spleen and Kidney qi and yin deficiency, empty heat causing interior wind
  • Spleen and Kidney qi and yin deficiency causing accumulation of turbid dampness
  • Liver wind agitating within

Jiang also observed that acupuncture and herbal medicine in combination provide effective treatment of MS symptoms. One patient experienced a nearly full recovery from severe physical and psychological symptoms in just over two months, which Jiang describes in detail. Another regained control of her head and limbs, and established regular digestion, although she still experienced weakness in her legs. In a study of 20 patients, Jiang describes four categories of treatment success (2010):

  • First class recovery: all symptoms disappeared, and MS was completely controlled. (20% of patients)
  • Second class recovery: primary symptoms were controlled and the patient’s deteriorating state was improved. (40% of patients)
  • Third class recovery: severe symptoms were reduced and patient was stabilized. Patient was still affected significantly by the disease. (25% of patients)
  • No change: acute and chronic symptoms remained the same. (10% of patients)

Jiang’s findings are echoed by other Chinese medicine practitioners:

Oriental medicine posits a 40 percent chance of success with treatment that is positive and better than a zero percent prognosis by Western doctors. In some cases, this edge can take the patient to the point of remission, and in others to that of management of the illness’ symptoms, much akin to a pain management protocol, to the point the patient can cope with many of the symptoms of MS (Abbate, 2003).

Side effects and complications from acupuncture are uncommon. A survey of British acupuncturists reported only 671 minor adverse events in 10,000 sessions, none of which were life threatening. In the United States, the numbers are even more favorable—only 9 cases of medical complications from acupuncture were reported in over 20 years (Rabenstein and Shulman, 2003).

Research Challenges

While anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture exists, favorable evidence-based research is scarce and many researchers in the Western medical community remain skeptical. This is more an issue of research methods than actual effectiveness of treatment. In their research on acupuncture in clinical neurology, Rabenstein and Shulman (2003) write:

Studies of the therapeutic value of acupuncture are fraught with challenging methodological problems. Recognizing these problems constitutes a necessary first step before analyzing the numerous clinical trials on acupuncture. Moreover, a clear understanding of these difficulties may help explain why the evidence offered by these clinical trials is often contradictory and inconclusive.

They go on to name the near impossibility of designing a clinical trial. To begin with, the term “acupuncture” describes a highly varied practice. Any study would have to focus on a single tradition of acupuncture, and even within that restriction, individual practice may be inconsistent in approach or even in quality.

Acupuncture is more an art form than a science. The practitioner’s intention, awareness and experience are considered to be extremely important in the effectiveness of treatment. Such subtle factors do not lend themselves to controlled research, and are essentially impossible to standardize or measure. Further, research opportunities and funding are limited. (Rabenstein and Shulman, 2003)

Acupuncture’s sister modality, Chinese herbal medicine, has not been effectively studied by Western researchers. Again, standardization is a problem. Herbs may come from different sources with varying degrees of purity. The compounds in herbs also resist understanding by Western standards. Any one compound within an herb would not be sufficient on its own to produce measurable results. Chinese herbalists rely on the synergistic action of all compounds in a single plant or formula (Beinert, 2012). This does not fit neatly with Western medical thinking.

Conclusion

Whether or not acupuncture and herbal medicine have been thoroughly researched, anecdotal evidence suggests that Chinese medicine can be of great value in treating the symptoms and progression of MS. Case studies provide the most revealing insights into the effectiveness of Chinese medicine, illustrating its usefulness as an approach to the variety of manifestations that this disease may present.

Acupuncture Today
April, 2013, Vol. 14, Issue 04

Acupuncture One Step Closer to Medicare Inclusion

By Brenda Duran, Senior Associate Editor

The new year has proven to be a promising one for acupuncturists nationwide. On the start of the Chinese New Year, the White House petition to recognize acupuncture as a profession and have it included in the Medicare system met the White House standard of having more than 25,000 signatures in order to mandate a formal response by the White House. As of press time, the petition had a total of 27,347 signatures.

The petition was created on Jan. 11 and has gained fast momentum in the last few weeks with thousands of acupuncturists nationwide logging on to sign the petition.

In an effort to make a case, the petition notes studies have shown that when an acupuncturist is directly involved in patient care for pain management and other issues, the patient recovers quicker with less medication required.

The petition also noted that many professions such as dieticians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives and clinical social workers are already recognized in the Social Security Act and are therefore included in the Medicare system.

The petition was widely supported by many acupuncture organizations nationwide, including the NCCAOM, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the AAAOM, American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

At this time, as a formal response is pending from the White House many states such as California, Maryland, New Mexico and Washington have already made major strides by including acupuncture for treating pain, nausea and other ailments in their state essential health benefit packages. Acupuncture is also likely to be an essential benefit in Alaska and Nevada, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Now, acupuncturists nationwide await a response to have acupuncture finds its place in the mainstream Medicare system.

Acupuncture Today
April, 2013, Vol. 14, Issue 04

Why We Are Fat: It’s More Than You Think

 

By Marlene Merritt, DOM, LAc, ACN

You know you’ve done it — seen someone morbidly obese and thought to yourself, “Why couldn’t they just control themselves?” or stood in the supermarket, comparing people’s carts to how they look, or any other myriad of judgments we have when we see someone who is overweight. Many of us have this overly simplified view that it’s just a matter of exercising more and eating less, that it’s the first law of thermodynamics with its “calories-in-calories-out” model. I’m here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong.

“But it’s the fault of the fast food restaurants!” people cry out. Soda! Larger portions! High fructose corn syrup! Yes, that’s all true. It’s also because we spend more time in front of computers with less exercise, we eat out more, and we eat more processed food, right? There are a lot of reasons, and many of them are reasonably accurate. But there’s a bit more to the picture than you realize.

Let’s start with some basics, and ones that are irreconcilable truths. The first one is, our systems are designed for times of feasting and times of starvation. There is no getting around that. Remove those periods of starvation, and our systems start to break down with the caloric overload. And once our systems are broken, it can be nearly impossible to get them completely “fixed.” The other fact is that there are a lot of weird “things” in our environment nowadays that our system doesn’t know how to handle, and those molecules are causing changes from the genetic level on up (that’s what the study of epigenetics looks at — the impact of “foreign” molecules on cellular processes). Bring those two pieces together and we have a virtual tidal wave of obesity, and no way to turn it around.

Most people know that, at some point, calories DO count. The problem is that a calorie is not just a calorie. A carbohydrate calorie, for example, comes with insulin (which, when present in the blood stream, completely prevents you from burning fat). If you eat too much protein, your body will turn it into fat as well. And not all fats are calorie-bombs that make you fat: coconut oil and it’s medium and short-chain fatty acids gets burned in your body as quickly as carbohydrates and won’t turn into fat. So the model of “calories-in-calories-out” isn’t fully accurate because you are not a furnace. Calories count, sort of, but not totally.

Then there’s the low-carb movement, of which I am a proponent. I made a very popular video about blood sugar and how we progress to diabetes on YouTube, but it basically comes down to this: we were given a certain amount of “points” for carbs in our lifetime, and most people have used those “points” up by the time they’re 30 years old. Which means that after that, carb intake starts to cause biochemical breakdowns, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and all the problems that are associated with too much insulin and too much glucose in the body. This is a big foundation for our practice, and, without question, can improve a lot of symptoms that people struggle with, as well as reverse blood sugar imbalances. And yet, that’s not the whole problem either. So what else is “broken” that is contributing to our obesity problem?

Sometimes it’s an easy change — the way most people exercise, for example, is often not helping them lose weight. Studies have consistently shown that the 45-60 minute cardio session people are doing simply makes them hungrier, and they end up eating more. Spending 30 minutes walking, for example, is definitely better than nothing, but your body gets accustomed to easy exercise like that. On the flip side, high intensity exercise done over a longer time (think spin classes) can increase inflammation which then contributes to weight gain (or, at least, inhibits weight loss). Exercise, without question, is beneficial in many ways and we are large proponents of varying forms of exercise, but if you think it’s going to help you with weight loss, well… just check out all the overweight people training for marathons. You can’t tell me they need more exercise!

Here’s a crazy one you might not have heard: did you know that if you have the wrong type of gut bacteria, those bacteria can cause weight gain? In studies done with morbidly obese people, it was observed that certain strains of bacteria more efficiently extracted calories and nutrition out of food than others. It just depends on what combination of gut flora you have — that same handful of crackers you eat may or may not have the same caloric impact on the next person. And how do we have such wildly differing gut bacteria? Well, the average child, by the time they start school, has had 20 different antibiotic prescriptions. How many have you had over your lifetime?

Which brings us to the direct impact of antibiotics on obesity. This research study bluntly said, “…both antibiotics and probiotics, which modify the gut microbiota, can act as growth promoters, increasing the size and weight of animals. The current obesity pandemic may be caused, in part, by antibiotic treatments or colonization by probiotic bacteria.” That’s right — conventionally raised animals are treated with antibiotics and probiotics so that they gain weight. In fact, these researchers pointed out that conventionally-raised feed-lot animals are treated with antibiotics and probiotics to cause weight gain and they wanted to see if short-term antibiotic treatment to humans, given after endocarditis, caused weight gain (it did). Another reason to buy grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens.

Of course, there is always the issue of hormones. About 10 percent of the population has hypothyroidism and that’s always an area to check when working with weight gain. But why is there such an epidemic of hypothyroidism? Is it the lack of iodine in the diet? High stress (the stress hormone cortisol inhibits T3)? High estrogen levels (often from insulin resistance, and estrogen inhibits T3 as well)? Fat cells actually make their own estrogen, so take a look around you and think about how much estrogen might be in someone’s system. Or what about xenoestrogens — chemicals that act like estrogen in the body? They also will contribute to obesity. What about adrenal disorders like Cushing’s syndrome?

It’s rare, but imagine if all of a sudden you started gaining weight, and yet people told you it’s because you were eating too much. And then it took the doctors years to figure out you had a hormonal problem like Cushing’s syndrome. Yes, you’d feel hopeless too. You are probably starting to see that these hormonal issues don’t stand by themselves, but can be interwoven with other hormonal problems or other issues altogether.

What about the metabolic damage that comes with a history of dieting? Yo-yo dieting (which, for most people, happens over years) severely stresses the thyroid. When caloric intake is low, the metabolism slows down, and it ultimately starts to stay low. So if you have patients who have a history like this, they may always struggle with weight, even if they are doing all the right things.

Then there’s stress. Muffin top is a common complaint for many people, but what most people don’t realize is that the stress hormone cortisol is responsible for that central obesity. And stress looks very different than most people think it does. I will talk to many of my patients about carbs, and they will lose weight around their middle when they change their diet, but that’s because a high-carb diet is stressful for the body. Stress isn’t just your job, or how you react to situations — it’s also how much sleep you get, because not enough sleep is an independent risk factor for obesity.

It is also how much inflammation you have, whether it’s from chronic pain, unknown food intolerances, intestinal permeability, allergies, low-level sinus infections that you know (or don’t know) you have, teeth and mouth problems like gingivitis or untreated periodontal disease, over-exercising – the list goes on and on. This is probably the biggest area that people don’t deal with, because many of them don’t realize the impact or the need to change.

Wait! We’re not done yet! Let’s look at the issues with chemicals that are KNOWN to cause health and weight issues — polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB’s), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and Bisphenol A (BPA). While PCB’s and DDT are, thankfully, a bit more limited in society now, the prevalence of BPA and its health risks should shock you. BPA has been directly linked to obesity, hormone disruptions, and increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. While it only take about three days to clear from the body, the problem lies in our continuous exposure to it, as it’s found in most plastics (like those disposable water bottles, take-out containers, plastic wrap, food storage containers), as well as food and soda cans. When you microwave in plastic, or put hot food in plastic containers, or drink water in containers that were exposed to heat (think about how those cases of water are shipped in trucks) you begin to get a sense of where you ingest it. Even worse, it’s found in credit card receipt paper and other thermal papers. In fact, paper money also carries BPA from rubbing up against it in your wallet. And the most vulnerable victims are children and babies, as their immature livers cannot process this chemical to clear the body as well as adults.

What about prescribed medications? Entire classes of drugs are known to cause weight gain and ironically, one class of them is anti-depressants. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), and monamine oxidase inhibors (MAOI’s) all have been known to increase weight in at least 25 percent of people taking them. Of course birth control pills are known to cause weight gain, beta blockers, and, of course, steroids, will also increase weight. And, according the CDC, 22 percent of children are on prescription meds, 30 percent of teenagers, 88 percent of people over 60 years old are on at least one medication, and one-third of them are on five or more. If you are 20 to 59 and are on a medication, statistically it’s probably an anti-depressant.

Can you start to see how some of these things tie together? Like antibiotic use damaging the gut biome, causing intestinal permeability, resulting in the body reacting to food proteins that should have stayed in the gut, causing inflammation around the body. Here’s another example: high-carb intake causing insulin resistance, in turn causing high estrogen (which just by itself causes weight gain — why do you think they inject estrogen into cattle?). Or someone is on a prescription med, doesn’t eat ideally, and then has an injury that prevents exercise. And we look at them and think it’s that they’re undisciplined and lazy.

Then, of course, there are factors like Vitamin D levels contributing to obesity, leptin resistance causing people to never feel full, and how diet sodas increase obesity even more than regular sodas. And naturally, people are quick to say that obesity can be genetic, but you want to think about that: have our genes really changed in the last 25 years? No, they have not, but a lot of other things have. Put all of these factors together in some combination, add in the cultural pulls we have in TV commercials, that we have the cheapest food in the world (literally and nutritionally), a subsidized farming culture, food marketing to children, and a plethora of other factors, and you can see that it’s simply wildly inaccurate (not to mention statistically ineffective) to tell people to count their calories and exercise more.

So what should people do? Well, no matter what, sugar and insulin cause huge amounts of damage so people should manage their carb intake. People should do short, intense exercise, like intervals. All the different elements that affect stress need to be looked at and addressed, including finding hidden infections, coaching people on lifestyle practices, and supporting adrenal health. Proper thyroid panels need to be run (TSH is not enough), training people to not automatically get antibiotics, learning how to repair gut flora… yes, there are many avenues to work with, but hopefully this has opened your eyes to the complexity of the situation, and you can begin to unravel this tangle for people. Believe me, they will be beyond grateful.

Acupuncture Today
May, 2013, Vol. 14, Issue 05

Best practice in acupuncture for assisted reproduction

An international panel of acupuncture fertility experts has collaborated to establish a consensus on what is considered to constitute ‘best practice’ acupuncture for the support of assisted reproduction technology (ART). Fifteen acupuncturists with extensive experience treating women during ART interventions participated in three rounds of Delphi questionnaires. Significant agreement was achieved on the parameters of best practice acupuncture, including an acupuncture protocol suitable for future research. Study participants confirmed the importance of acupuncture ‘dose’, the therapeutic relationship, tailoring treatment to the individual and the role of co-interventions. A consensus was achieved on the design of an acupuncture treatment protocol to be used in a future clinical trial of acupuncture as an adjunct to ART. The protocol includes the use of manual TCM acupuncture, with a first treatment, individualised to the participant, administered between day 6–8 of the stimulated ART cycle, plus two further treatments, to be administered on the day of embryo transfer. The pre-transfer treatment will include points Diji SP-8, Xuehai SP10, Taichong LIV-3, Guilai ST-29, Guanyuan REN-4, while the post-transfer treatment will include Bauhui DU-20, Taixi KID-3, Zusanli ST-36, Sanyinjao SP-6, and Neiguan P-6. Auricular points Shenmen and Zigong will also be used. (Using a Delphi consensus process to develop an acupuncture treatment protocol by consensus for women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Jul 7;12:88).

Acupuncture affects pain processing in migraineurs

Chinese researchers have found traditional acupuncture to be more effective for pain reduction in migraine sufferers than a control acupuncture treatment and have correlated this effect to differences in activity in pain-related brain regions. Thirty patients with migraine were randomised into three groups: a traditional acupuncture group (TAG), a control acupuncture group (CAG) and a migraine group (MG). The TAG was treated with acupuncture at Waiguan SJ-5, Yanglingquan GB-34 and Fengchi GB-20. The CAG was treated at Touwei ST-8, Pianli L.I.-6 and Zusanli ST-36. The MG received no treatment. Positron emission tomography with computed tomography (PET-CT) was used to test for differences in brain activation between the groups. The clinical results showed that, while visual analogue scores for pain intensity were significantly reduced in the both TAG and CAG after treatment, compared with before, traditional acupuncture treatment was significantly more effective for pain reduction than control acupuncture treatment. There was no significant reduction in pain intensity in the MG. Both acupuncture groups showed cerebral patterns of metabolism that were distinct both from eachother and from the no-treatment group. Greater changes were seen in the TAG compared with the CAG in brain regions associated with pain processing, particularly the limbic system. The authors speculate that stimulation of acupoints that are traditionally used for migraine treatment may deactivate brain regions associated with the processing of pain and its emotional consequences. (A PET-CT study on the specificity of acupoints through acupuncture treatment in migraine patients. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Aug 15;12(1):123).

Acupuncture promotes weight loss by regulating hunger hormones

Acupuncture may help to regulate weight in obese subjects because of its beneficial effects on hormones that influence hunger and satiation. Turkish researchers randomised 40 women with body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 to either an acupuncture group or a sham (non-penetrating) acupuncture group. Both groups received the intervention at bilateral Hegu L.I.-4, Shenmen HE-7, Zusanli ST-36, Neiting ST-44 and Sanyinjio SP-6 during two 20 minute sessions per week, for a total of 10 sessions. Comparing pre- and post-treatment, acupuncture was shown to decrease insulin and leptin levels and induce weight loss, as well as decreasing BMI. Between-group analyses also demonstrated increases in plasma ghrelin and cholecystokinin (CCK) levels in subjects who received acupuncture treatment compared with sham acupuncture. (Influence of acupuncture on leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cholecystokinin in obese women: a randomised, sham-controlled preliminary trial. Acupunct Med. 2012 Sep;30(3):203-7).

Price Change Notice to Our Valuable Patients and Friends

After 10 years offering our quality services for the very low price of $35 per treatment, we face the need to increase our fee. Our cost of operations has increased steadily over the years and we need to adjust accordingly.

Beginning on March 1st 2015 we will be charging $40 per treatment ($80 for the initial evaluation)

We hope you understand and continue to appreciate our efforts to offer the highest quality services and the lowest possible price.

 

Treating Placenta Previa Naturally

What is Placenta Previa?

Placenta previa occurs in about 1 out of every 200 pregnancies.  Many times, previa is detected in the third trimester, but it’s sometimes spotted at as early as 17 weeks usually either in a routine ultrasound or because some bleeding or pain is occurring.  In this condition the placenta lies low in the uterus and may grow to partially or completely cover the opening of the uterus, the cervix.

The concern with placenta previa is that the birth canal could be blocked by the placenta, either partially or completely.  It’s possible the placenta could be pulled from the uterine wall when the cervix dilates during labor.  This could cause bleeding and potentially be harmful to your baby, which is why unresolved placenta previa may result in Caesarian section delivery.

Previa nearly always turns out to be a minor complication that resolves itself.  But if treatment is necessary, both baby and Mom will be fine with proper care.

Treatment for Placenta Previa

In nearly all cases, placenta previa resolves itself as the uterus enlarges throughout pregnancy.  Debra Betts (2006) notes in her book, Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth, “Although it has been estimated that as many as 30% of placentas on ultrasound are positioned low at 20 weeks gestation, less than 1% require further monitoring by 32 weeks, with only a small proportion of these requiring any medical intervention” (p.11).

If you’re planning a home birth or natural childbirth, placenta previa will need to be resolved before your doctor or midwife will give the go ahead for natural birth.  Even if you’re not planning on natural childbirth you may choose to treat it to avoid bed rest or further complications .

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a safe treatment option that can resolve placenta previa.

TCM Approach to Placenta Previa

Traditional Chinese Medicine views placenta previa as “Sinking Qi.”  The goal of treatment is raise qi, stop vaginal bleeding, and calm the fetus.

TCM practitioners use two techniques to treat placenta previa:  herbal formulas and acupuncture.  Usually, practitioners employ a combination of these two treatments.

  • Herbal Formulas – An experienced TCM practitioner will administer an herbal formula  designed specifically for your condition.  Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is a classic  Chinese formula used for raising qi. It’s very safe for pregnancy and is  often used to prevent recurring miscarriages as well as for treating  placenta previa.
  • Acupuncture –Acupuncture treatments are very successful, especially if the previa isn’t  fully covering the cervix.  Your practitioner will recommend a schedule of  acupuncture sessions to treat your individual condition.  Du 20 is the key  acupuncture point for treating placenta previa.  This point is located at the  very top of the head, and it’s very effective at raising qi.

TCM is a safe treatment option that can both alleviate symptoms and resolve previa.  If you’re interested in treating placenta previa with TCM, contact a qualified practitioner.  In cases where patients are confined to complete bed rest, it’s even possible to find a practitioner who will make house calls.

References- Betts, D. (2006).  Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth. Hove: The Journal of Chinese Medicine Ltd.

New Evidence that Acupuncture Works for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Researchers at the University of Michigan Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center are first to provide evidence of acupuncture’s effect on opoid receptors.

Acupuncture has been used in East-Asian medicine for thousands of years to treat pain, possibly by activating the body’s natural painkillers. But how it works at the cellular level is largely unknown.

Using brain imaging, a University of Michigan study is the first to provide evidence that traditional Chinese acupuncture affects the brain’s long-term ability to regulate pain. The results appear online ahead of publication in the September issue of Journal of NeuroImage.

In the study, researchers at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center showed acupuncture increased the binding availability of mu-opoid receptors (MOR) in regions of the brain that process and dampen pain signals – specifically the cingulate, insula, caudate, thalamus and amygdala.

Opioid painkillers, such as morphine, codeine and other medications, are thought to work by binding to these opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord.

“The increased binding availability of these receptors was associated with reductions in pain,” says Richard E. Harris, Ph.D., researcher at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center and a research assistant professor of anesthesiology at the U-M Medical School.

One implication of this research is that patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture might be more responsive to opioid medications since the receptors seem to have more binding availability, Harris says.

The study participants included 20 women who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, for at least a year, and experienced pain at least 50 percent of the time. During the study they agreed not to take any new medications for their fibromyalgia pain.

Patients had position emission tomography, or PET, scans of the brain during the first treatment and then repeated a month later after the eighth treatment.

Reference: Journal of NeuroImage, Volume 47, Issue 3, September 2009, Pages 1077-1085 doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.083