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Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain's Ability To Regulate Pain.

 
 

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 provides novel evidence that traditional Chinese acupuncture affects the brain's long-term ability to regulate pain.

The results appear online ahead of print in the September 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. These findings could spur a new direction in the field of acupuncture research following recent controversy over large studies showing that sham acupuncture is as effective as real acupuncture in reducing chronic pain.

"Interestingly both acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups had similar reductions in clinical pain," Harris says. "But the mechanisms leading to pain relief are distinctly different." 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.

Additional authors were Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., David J. Scott, Vitaly Napadow, Richard H. Gracely, Ph.D, Daniel J. Clauw, M.D. Funding was provided by the Department of Army, and the National Institutes of Health.

 
  Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain's Ability To Regulate Pain. Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain's Ability To Regulate Pain. Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain's Ability To Regulate Pain. Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain's Ability To Regulate Pain.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Acupuncture Aid For Diabetics.

 
 

More than 2.2 million people in Britain suffer from type 2 diabetes, a chronic progressive disease which usually affects the over 40s. The number of people diagnosed with the disease has increased dramatically in recent years and this has been linked to the increase in sedentary lifestyles and obesity. Caught early enough, lifestyle changes that promote good blood sugar control may be enough to stop the development of diabetic complications, which can potentially be as serious as blindness and heart disease. However maintaining these changes can be challenging.

Traditional acupuncture, which has been shown by research to be effective in alleviating diabetic symptoms, can be easily implemented into a person's routine and can form an effective part of an overall diabetes management plan. Because type 2 diabetes starts out with mild symptoms, many people (estimated at up to a million in the UK) have the condition without knowing it. The first noticeable symptoms are typically constant thirst, needing to urinate frequently, tiredness and weight loss. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which develops when the body can no longer make enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly any more (insulin resistance). Although insulin injections may be needed in the later stages of the disease, it is initially treated by diet and lifestyle modifications or by oral drugs. Acupuncture, which involves inserting fine needles into different parts of the body, has been found to increase insulin production, regulate blood sugar and improve blood circulation, as well as helping treat obesity.

Lisa Sherman, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member says: "Acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with Western medicine and can play an effective role in an integrated diabetes treatment plan. "As well as applying the technique of needling, which has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on blood sugar control, an acupuncturist will often suggest beneficial lifestyle changes such as changing to a healthier diet, losing weight and increasing physical activity. Maintaining these changes is important; to prevent type 2 diabetes from getting worse and working with a supportive acupuncturist can help people commit to taking positive steps.

"The main aim of treatment for type 2 diabetes is to achieve blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as near to normal as possible. This prevents development of diabetic complications which damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels," she concluded. Acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. It aims to treat the root cause of a condition and promote long-term wellness, rather than just alleviating symptoms. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and, in the past decade, traditional acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream healthcare in the UK. There are two types of diabetes, of which type 2 makes up about 90%. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, typically diagnosed in young people, in which the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

About the BAcC. The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,800 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK's largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture. BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture. 

Traditional acupuncture is a complete system of medicine, which uses a holistic Eastern diagnostic system. Traditional acupuncture promotes the maintenance of good health and wellbeing, rather than just dealing with symptoms. Western or medical acupuncture is a more recent development practised predominantly by doctors and physiotherapists, who use acupuncture techniques within their existing scope of practice on the basis of a western medical diagnosis.

 
   
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Acupuncture may help you through allergy season.

 
 

Although spring is always welcome after a long winter, it is also the time of year when many people suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. Seasonal allergies are due to an overreaction of the immune system to certain allergens or airborne particles such as pollen. Western medical treatment usually involves the use of antihistamines or steroids to control allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, allergy medications can cause a variety of side effects and may be ineffective to some allergy sufferers or are unwelcome to those who prefer to avoid medications when possible. Fortunately for many, acupuncture offers effective relief either as an alternative to conventional methods of treatment, or in conjunction with them. Treatment can help to alleviate symptoms, improve energy levels and may also reduce the frequency and severity of future allergic reactions. With Chinese medicine, the lungs, kidney and immune system often play a role in the cause of seasonal allergies. These allergies are very often due to a kidney deficiency because the kidneys are responsible for breathing as well as sneezing. The kidneys also play a role in our immune system so when the kidneys are weak, our immunity is affected. In the case of seasonal allergies, this manifests as a hyper-reactive immune response. The more severe the kidney deficiency, the more frequently the allergies are experienced—this includes non-seasonal allergies to things such as dust, fungus or animals. A kidney deficiency leaves the body susceptible to external environmental invasions, leading to an invasion of wind in the nose when allergy symptoms begin to occur. Wind-cold pattern will produce symptoms of sneezing, profuse runny nose with white-watery discharge, pale complexion, stuffed nose, slight headache and no thirst. Wind-heat pattern will lead to sneezing, runny nose with white-watery discharge, itchy throat, itchy red eyes and slight thirst. During allergy season, frequent acupuncture treatments focus on alleviating the symptoms experienced and often yield a quick response. Patients may notice a decrease in their nose stuffiness, sneezes and number of itching episodes around the eyes, as well as an increase in overall energy levels. Outside of allergy season, treatments may be less frequent and focus on correcting the underlying imbalance in order to strengthen the body and boost the immune system in order to prevent future allergic reactions from reoccurring. Some simple lifestyle changes can also make a tremendous impact on allergy symptoms. In addition to a health-promoting diet and avoiding allergy triggers, well-ventilated living and working environments and regular exercise to help cleanse and strengthen the lungs will help with allergy symptoms. Combined with such changes, acupuncture offers an effective tool for the treatment of seasonal allergies. For those who are looking for a natural alternative to conventional allergy treatment, it is well worth considering.

 
   
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Acupuncture is grounded in science, not myth and magic.

 
 

BMJ - The principles of acupuncture are firmly grounded in science, and you don’t need Chinese philosophy either to make it work, or to practise it, says a leading medically trained acupuncturist. Dr Adrian White, who is editor in chief of the scientific journal Acupuncture in Medicine, was speaking at the launch of the journal’s transfer to publication by BMJ Group after 27 years of publication with the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS). “One of the major problems facing medical acupuncture is the preconceived notions both the public and healthcare professionals have of it,” he said. “The perception is that acupuncture is still all about chi and meridians.” This view has hindered its acceptance among healthcare professionals, and its wider use as a valid addition to pain control in conditions, ranging from nausea to arthritis, as well as after surgery, he contends. “In the past it was easy for doctors and scientists to dismiss acupuncture as ‘highly implausible’ when its workings were couched in talk of chi and meridians. But it becomes very plausible when explained in terms of neurophysiology,” he explains. Unfortunately, the scientific approach just isn’t as sexy,” he continues. “Many people, including practitioners and the public, have held on to the traditional explanations.” And there’s plenty of scientific evidence, which has been building up for the past 30 years, to show that acupuncture stimulates the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, releasing feel good chemicals, such as opioids and serotonin. The research also shows that a needle placed outside of the traditional meridians will have an impact. “Points don’t have any magical properties; they are simply convenient locations to needle,” he says. Clinging to the traditional approach also stymied good quality research, because needling outside the meridians is often used as a comparator. “This misunderstanding has been a fundamental flaw in the design of many acupuncture studies,” comments Dr White. Shrouding acupuncture in the mystery of Chinese philosophy has also prevented healthcare professionals from providing acupuncture themselves. “The already know how to diagnose, and they already know a great deal about anatomy and physiology, so they can easily learn to practise acupuncture safely and effectively,” after a short foundation course, of the type provided by BMAS, he says. “The aim of Acupuncture in Medicine is to build up the evidence base for acupuncture’s place in the modern health service,” says Dr White. While it may not be a cure all, acupuncture does have a place, and is a relatively inexpensive approach to common conditions that can be difficult and often costly to treat, he says.

 
   
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Vet points to pet acupuncture as a way to heal.

 
 

If there's ever a fan club for veterinarian Doug Knueven, it's likely that Jenn Merritt will start it. Merritt attended two lectures Knueven gave at an Association of Pet Dog Trainers conference on topics such as natural diets and minimal vaccinations. "I was just so impressed with his perspective," said Merritt, who owns Blue Dog Creature Coaching. "I just thought I have to get him to North Carolina so I can share that knowledge and common-sense perspective with other people." Knueven integrates traditional veterinary medicine with alternative modalities, including acupuncture, in his Beaver County, Penn., clinic. On March 21, he'll give an all-day Canine Health Seminar at Paws4Ever (the former Orange County Animal Protection Society) in Mebane. Knueven received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Ohio State's College of Veterinary Medicine. Seven years later, frustrated with the limitations of conventional veterinary medicine, he took the 150-hour International Veterinary Acupuncture Society Course. "It was an eye opening experience," he said. "Chinese medicine is a totally different way of looking at the body, health, and disease. Once you become aware of this new paradigm of medicine you start to apply it." The first case where Knueven used his new knowledge and ability involved a cat with mouth cancer. The cat had stopped eating and was hiding. Knueven told the owners he would try acupuncture at no charge because it was experimental for him. The cat started eating and stopped hiding, despite the cancer. Another early case involved a little Yorkshire terrier with kidney failure. He too had stopped eating. The owners brought him in to euthanize him. "I was on my way to get the solution and I came back in and said, 'Let's try acupuncture,'" said Knueven, who did a quick treatment and sent him home. He didn't hear from the owners for three days and decided the dog had probably died. When he finally called, the owners told him the dog had started eating and was bouncing around like a puppy again. "We treated him weekly with acupuncture and the dog stuck around for another six to eight months," Knueven said. Knueven is the author of "Stand by Me: A Holistic Handbook for Animals, Their People, and the Lives They Share Together," (ARE Press, 2003) and "The Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog" (TFH Publishing, June 2008). In December, Merritt took her dog Big Sandy to Knueven. In Louisville, Knueven had talked about spondylosis, a degenerative spinal condition in dogs and people too. Big Sandy was diagnosed last year. "I have been working with him to treat her using a natural diet and Chinese herbs. She is [no longer] having a lot of the other issues she was having like bladder infections, incontinence and kidney problems," Merritt said. And though she loves her local vet, acupuncturist and chiropractor, "Dr. Doug brings it all together because he is all of those things."

 
   
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Treating Allergies With Acupuncture.

 
 

For allergy sufferers, medication is the only answer to relief. And there are a lot of drugs on the market, from Claritin to Cingulair, Allegra to Zyrtec, and they all promise relief. But some people are turning to alternative medicine to clear allergy symptoms, and it doesn`t involve pills at all. For some, the answer to treating allergies is not in a bottle, but in the tiny prick of a needle. The list of allergies sisters Lisa and Lori, who didn`t want to give their last name, share between the two of them was once endless. Grass, pollen, mosquito bites... "Wheat, dairy, a lot of spices, grains, basically you name it I was probably allergic to it," says Lisa. They tried over the counter and prescription medications. Some didn`t work, some were too potent... "You eventually get to the point where you say take this pill, this pill, this pill and they have side effects for every single one and you get tired of it," Lisa says. So as a last ditch effort the women opted to try something a little different, acupuncture. "By using acupuncture I`m able to balance out all of the meridians or all of the lines of energy so they work properly with that sensitivity of with that pollen or food that`s really bothering that person," says Fay Johnson, a master of acupuncture. Johnson says at least 70-percent of her patients visit her allergy relief. And regardless of what kind of allergy she`s treating, she says the procedure is the same. "You place the needles in the same positions, they`re placed in eight different spots and those eight different spots correspond to eight different meridians you were born with when you came into this world, and that tells the body to get back to the way it used to be when you were just a little baby and everything was perfect," Johnson says. From there, Johnson says, it`s up to the body to decide which allergy it will treat. And just one treatment can often clear away one allergy for a lifetime. And the sisters says acupuncture is slowly but surely clearing away their allergies, one treatment at a time. Johnson says while acupuncture may sound painful, it really isn`t. She compares the prick of each needle to the feeling you`d experience when being bitten by a mosquito.

 
   
 

 
 
 
 
 
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