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Posts Tagged ‘acupuncture’

Seasonal allergies are a very common complaint for people to have especially in an area such as fall allergies Seattle WAthe Pacific Northwest.

Year in and year out allergy patients dread this season. The symptoms of seasonal allergies can be severe and can cause suffering for a large portion of the population. The pharmaceutical companies capitalize on it. From inhalers over shots to pills, millions of dollars are spent annually to combat the runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes.

We can draw some interesting parallel between Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine. In the traditional medicine we treat allergies by balancing the Stomach, Spleen, Lung as well as large intestine Meridians. Each have their correlated symptoms. All the organs mentioned have meridians that run or flow through the areas where symptoms bother us most – the upper respiratory tract and face.

Western medicine explains allergies as a hypersensitive reaction to airborne particles such as pollen, dust or other environmental factors. Antibodies produced by lymphocytes react to the pollen or airborne allergens and cause the most bothersome reaction.  Overall allergies are a very complex topic. Each person etiology or reason for having allergies is different. It can be genetic, exposure, autoimmune and once one allergy is present more might develop.

The following is a list of medication classes that can be obtained. Antihistamines, Corticosteroids, Mast Cell Stabilizers, Leukotriene Inhibitors, Nasal Anticholinergics, Decongestants, Immunomodulators and Autoinjectible Epinephrine.

Many more over the counter drugs are available. All of the above have side effects that you should make yourself aware of. Most will have dependency effects. The body also adapts and builds a tolerance to most of these drugs.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine will look not only at the symptoms you are experiencing, but more so will take in consideration your stress levels, overall health, diet and potential underlying causes for your suffering. As mentioned earlier we work on meridians and prescribe herbs to help your body to move from one extreme back to a centered balance. Acupuncture has been shown to have anti inflammatory effects which can help your breathing and watery eyes. Herbs can be utilized to help with nasal discharge, itching eyes and sneezing. Once the we have diagnosed the underlying cause we are able to treat it and your body will regain strength to fight off allergens on its own.

Furthermore we are able to review your daily diet habits and guide you away from foods that aggravate your symptoms. Together we can develop a plan and based on the improvement levels after a few treatments assess what your body needs.

Carsten Rode Seattle WACarsten Rode is an acupuncturist at Glow Natural Health Center. In his free time he enjoys cooking, backpacking, and spending time with his daughter.

 

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All events $10 and held at Glow unless otherwise specified.

Space is limited and will be reserved for pre-paid participants. Classes may be canceled the day before if attendance is low. Should this be the case we will post on our website.

Please call to reserve your spot: 206-568 -7545.

Women’s Health in East Asian Medicine — Monday, Nov. 7th, 12-1 PM Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

From your first period to pregnancy, find out about how to treat your symptoms and treat the root cause with East Asian medicine. Includes PMS, PCOS, fertility support, IVF, pregnancy and post partum care to name a few. Bring your questions!

Supporting Patients with Cancer through the use of Acupuncture and Asian Medicine — Wednesday, Nov. 9th, 12-1 PM Facilitated by Derek Kirkham, DAOM EAMP

Join Derek Kirkham, MS DAOM, EAMP for a discussion on how East Asian medicine can benefit individuals throughout conventional cancer treatment. The innovations of conventional care, i.e. chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, have enabled more and more people to survive cancer. However, while these therapies are powerful tools in the fight against cancer, they can simultaneously damage the systems within the body during and after treatment. This discussion will cover helpful tips on rebuilding the body’s vital energy (Qi) and creating an internal environment that promotes healthy living.

Discussion topics: – Basic theories of East Asian medicine – How acupuncture, herbs and foods can support the body before, during and after conventional treatment – The benefits of Tai Qi and Qi Gong – And much more…

Natural Weight Loss with hCG — Thursday, Nov. 17th, 6-7 PM Facilitated by Eric Nissen, ND

What is hCG? How does hCG influence weight loss? How much weight can I expect to lose? How long is the program and is it safe? Dr. Eric Nissen will answer these questions and more in this informational talk on hCG for natural weight loss.

Balancing the Elements — Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 12-1 PM Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

Do you have a condition that always flares up at a certain time of year? Are you interested in knowing the health of the elements in your body? Do you feel blocked and don’t know how to release it? East Asian Five Element Theory provides a blueprint for health and living in harmony with the seasons.

Chronic Illness & Pain Management — Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 6-7 PM Facilated by Tina Michalski, MSW

Do you have to make adjustments in your life due to your illness? Do you feel different because your body, mind and emotions have changed? Learn to restructure your thoughts to be realistic and helpful, as well as to help you deal with stress. Are you feeling anxious and depressed? Meet with others who are in the same boat and find out how individual and group counseling can create better health.

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All events $10 and held at Glow unless otherwise specified.

Space is limited and will be reserved for pre-paid participants. Classes may be canceled the day before if attendance is low. Should this be the case we will post on our website.

Please call to reserve your spot: 206-568 -7545.

Movie: Under our Skin | An Infectious New Film  -Wednesday, Oct. 5th, 6 PM
FREE

This is a fantastic film for anyone, but especially if you one of your loved ones has, or may have Lymes Disease. Engaging and informative. Our resident specialist, counselor Tina Michalski, who has battled Chronic Lymes for the last 10 years will be on hand for discussion.

The Metal Element — Tuesday, Oct. 18th, 12-1 PM
Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

Do you have fall allergies, catch cold easily or suffer from asthma? Do you have trouble staying inspired in the darker days of winter? Do you have trouble letting go? Find out how to assess the health of your Metal Element and how to best support it.

Lyme Disease — Tuesday, Oct. 25th, 6-7 PM
Facilated by Tina Michalski, MSW

Transmitted by ticks (nature’s dirty needle) and possibly fleas and mosquitos, Lyme disease is presently the number one bacterial infection in the US.

Lyme disease (and associated coinfections) can be serious, and it is well known for its variable symptom presentation, making diagnosis difficult. It is also known as the “Great Imitator”, because many of the symptoms observed in a patient can be confused with many other diagnoses, such as MS, arthritis, ALS, Lupus, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, many psychiatric disorders and Autism, to name a few.

Join Tina Michalski, MSW, to learn more about diagnosis, treatment and recovery from tick-borne illnesses.

Supporting Patients with Cancer through the use of Acupuncture and Asian Medicine — Wednesday, Oct. 12th, 12-1 PM
Facilitated by Derek Kirkham, DAOM EAMP

Join Derek Kirkham, MS DAOM, EAMP for a discussion on how East Asian medicine can benefit individuals throughout conventional cancer treatment. The innovations of conventional care, i.e. chemotherapy, radiation
therapy and surgery, have enabled more and more people to survive cancer. However, while these therapies are powerful tools in the fight against cancer, they can simultaneously damage the systems within the body during and after treatment. This discussion will cover helpful tips on rebuilding the body’s vital energy (Qi) and creating an internal environment that promotes healthy living.

Discussion topics:
– Basic theories of East Asian medicine
– How acupuncture, herbs and foods can support the body before, during and after conventional treatment
– The benefits of Tai Qi and Qi Gong
– And much more…

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All events $10 and held at Glow unless otherwise specified.

Space is limited and will be reserved for pre-paid participants. Classes may be canceled the day before if attendance is low. Should this be the case we will post on our website.

Please call to reserve your spot: 206-568 -7545.

Movie: Under our Skin | An Infectious New Film  -Wednesday, Sept. 7th, 6 PM
FREE

This is a fantastic film for anyone, but especially if you one of your loved ones has, or may have Lymes Disease. Engaging and informative. Our resident specialist, counselor Tina Michalski, who has battled Chronic Lymes for the last 10 years will be on hand for discussion.

The 5 Pathways of Detoxification — Monday, Sept. 12th, 5:30-6:30 PM
Facilitated by Dr. Rachel Erickson, ND

We live in a toxic world, so what can we do about it? Dr. Rachel will talk about the 5 pathways your body has to eliminate toxins and how you can support these pathways with a detox. Regular detoxification is a healthy way to prevent disease from toxic overload, such as allergies, autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, fatigue, anxiety, ADHD, PMS and cramps and much more!

Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Labor Preparation — Tuesday, Sept. 13th, 12-1 PM
Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

It’s common to think of acupuncture to assist conception, but the help doesn’t stop there. Learn how it can treat nausea, heartburn, back pain, sleep issues and more. Also, find out what steps to take to best promote a healthy, natural, on time delivery.
The Earth Element — Monday, Sept. 19th, 4-5 PM
Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

Is your digestion out of balance? Do you have trouble “harvesting” the fruits of your labor? Is your energy low? Find out how to assess the health of your Earth Element and how to best support it.

Supporting Patients with Cancer through the use of Acupuncture and Asian Medicine — Wednesday, Sept. 14th, 12-1 PM
Facilitated by Derek Kirkham, DAOM EAMP

Join Derek Kirkham, MS DAOM, EAMP for a discussion on how
East Asian medicine can benefit individuals throughout conventional cancer
treatment. The innovations of conventional care, i.e. chemotherapy, radiation
therapy and surgery, have enabled more and more people to survive cancer.
However, while these therapies are powerful tools in the fight against cancer,
they can simultaneously damage the systems within the body during and after
treatment. This discussion will cover helpful tips on rebuilding the body’s
vital energy (Qi) and creating an internal environment that promotes healthy
living.

Discussion topics:
– Basic theories of East Asian medicine
– How acupuncture, herbs and foods can support the body before, during and after conventional treatment
– The benefits of Tai Qi and Qi Gong
– And much more…

MOVIE: East Meets West- Oriental Medicine and the Future of Healthcare in Amercia–Tuesday, Sept. 27th, 7-8 PM FREE

A  documentary that explores the depth, richness, and clinical efficacy of Oriental Medicine, and the ways that this ancient tradition can be an integral component of an emerging system of integrative healthcare that would truly merge the best of both eastern and western medicine.

 

Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It–Thursday, Sept. 29th, 7 p.m.

Facilitated by Dr. Eric Nissen, ND

America is getting heavier and heavier by the year, and it’s not all muscle! The USDA’s website says “enjoy your food, but eat less” and “avoid over-sized portions”. That’s all there is to it? It’s really that easy? Most people trying to lose weight will attest that is is NOT that easy and that the numerous diets they’ve tried have been largely ineffective in keeping the weight off long-term.

Learn why the “calories in less than calories out” approach to weight loss is mostly ineffective. Just eating less or exercising more usually doesn’t work long-term. Find out why we gain weight and real-world approaches to losing fat and keeping it off.

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All events $10 and held at Glow unless otherwise specified.

Space is limited and will be reserved for pre-paid participants.

Please call to reserve your spot: 206-568 -7545.

Supporting Cancer Patients through Asian Medicine — Wednesday, Aug. 17th, 6-7 PM
Facilitated by Derek Kirkham, DAOM EAMP

Join Derek Kirkham, MS DAOM, EAMP for a free discussion on how
East Asian medicine can benefit individuals throughout conventional cancer
treatment. The innovations of conventional care, i.e. chemotherapy, radiation
therapy and surgery, have enabled more and more people to survive cancer.
However, while these therapies are powerful tools in the fight against cancer,
they can simultaneously damage the systems within the body during and after
treatment. This discussion will cover helpful tips on rebuilding the body’s
vital energy (Qi) and creating an internal environment that promotes healthy
living.

Discussion topics:
– Basic theories of East Asian medicine
– How acupuncture, herbs and foods can support the body before, during and after conventional treatment
– The benefits of Tai Qi and Qi Gong
– And much more…

 Intro to Chinese Medicine:Get More from Your Acupuncture — Monday, Aug. 22nd, 4-5 PM
Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

Are you new to acupuncture, or a veteran patient, who wants to learn more? Learn how diet/ herbs, exercise, Qi Gong and Chinese Medicine can enhance your health. This class varies with the season, so even if you’ve come before there’s something new. Want more information about your health concern? Bring your questions!

 

Managing Chronic Illness — Tuesday, Aug. 23rd, 6-7 PM, **FREE**
Facilitated by Tina Michalski, MSW

Any chronic illness means that the individual will make some adjustments in their life, which may include adjustment to physical limitations, as well as changes in our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behavior, in response to the illness.

Group and individual therapy can help restructure our thinking processes to more realistic and helpful thoughts, which can help to  effectively manage the stress of the illness, as well as the anxiety and depression that can manifest. Counseling also means that you are more likely to follow the treatment plans and recommendations of your medical providers, and have better physical health.

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All events $10 and held at Glow unless otherwise specified.

Space is limited and will be reserved for pre-paid participants.

Please call to reserve your spot: 206-568 -7545.


Managing Chronic Illness — Tuesday, July 12th, 6-7 PM
Facilitated by Tina Michalski, MSW

Any chronic illness means that the individual will make some adjustments in their life, which may include adjustment to physical limitations, as well as changes in our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behavior, in response to the illness.

Group and individual therapy can help restructure our thinking processes to more realistic and helpful thoughts, which can help to  effectively manage the stress of the illness, as well as the anxiety and depression that can manifest. Counseling also means that you are more likely to follow the treatment plans and recommendations of your medical providers, and have better physical health.

Postural Assessments: Your gait and spineWednesday, July 13th, 2-3 PM
Facilitated by Dr. Heather Bergdors, DC, DABCO

Curious where your body has overcompensation or imbalances? Learn how to personalize your activities based on your current musculoskeletal structure.
Supportive Care for Cancer Survivors — Wednesday, July 13th, 6-7 PM
Facilitated by Derek Kirkham, DAOM EAMP

Join East Asian medicine practitioner Derek Kirkham for a free discussion on how East Asian medicine can benefit cancer survivors. The innovations of conventional care, i.e. chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, have enabled more and more people to survive cancer. However, while these therapies are powerful tools in the fight against cancer, they can simultaneously damage the systems within the body during and after treatment. Healthy systems are crucial for recovery. This discussion will cover helpful tips on rebuilding the body’s vital energy (Qi) and creating an internal environment that promotes healthy living.

Discussion topics:
– Basic theories of East Asian medicine
– How acupuncture, herbs and foods can support the body during survivorship
– The benefits of Tai Qi and Qi Gong
– And much more…

Breaking Weight Loss Plateaus with hCG Programs — Thursday, July 14th, 6-7 PM
Facilitated by Dr. Eric Nissen ND

Find out if an hCG weight loss plan is right for you.Learn how hCG works, how to qualify for the program, potential side effects(which are minimal), and typical experiences and results you canexpect.
Get More from Your Acupuncture: Intro to Chinese Medicine — Monday, July 18th, 4-5 PM
Facilitated by Lindsey Lawson, MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

Learn how diet, exercise, Qi Gong and Chinese Medicine can enhance your acupuncture sessions. Find out how living seasonally can impact your health. Learn how to make the most of the Qi you’ve got for optimal health. This class is perfect for new patients, as well as veteran patients, who want to learn more.

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by Lindsey Lawson MS EAMP, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

I love cupping. It is useful for both  diagnosis and treatment of various conditions. Western conditions that can benefit from cupping include respiratory issues (chest congestion, asthma, and cough), pain conditions (acute and chronic neck and back pain, headaches), menstrual irregularities (PMS, cramping),stress (including sleep issues and tension,) and some gastrointestinal issues.

As an acupuncturist at Glow, I’ve been trained in the Eastern art of diagnosis according to the patients symptoms. For instance, the Oriental medical condition cupping treats is stasis or stasis with heat. This means that it is effective is treating any conditions with fixed stabbing type pain (vs. diffuse, achy pain which is better with pressure.)

Cupping is a suction technique which creates pumping action inside the muscle by drawing blood to the surface and allowing new blood to flow into the muscle to allow repair and healing. It’s kind of like a reverse massage.This can either be done using a lit cotton ball to create a vacuum (called fire cupping) or with specialized cups  that allow air to be pumped out (called air cupping.)It leaves round “hickies “ on the back which can be purple, red or dark-colored. The color and duration of the marks  indicates the amount of stasis or heat in the body. The more stagnation (or stasis) that is present, the more purple the marks. The more heat that is present the redder the marks.

Cupping is usually done on the back but can be done anywhere that suction can be created. For contradictions as well as a history of cupping see this article in Acupuncture Today.

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Congrats again to Rachel and family on little Isabella Erickson born 3/3/10. what a cutie. This is the email that Dr. Rachel sent shortly after the birth.

She’s finally here!

As some of you know, on day 13 over my due date I decided to take the castor oil route, after acupuncture, membrane sweeping, herbs and lots of other tricks. It was my last resort but it did the trick! 2 hours later, noon I started labor and whoo boy did it progress quickly! I was pretty upset because I was having 4-6 minute long contractions with a 30-90 second break in between. By the time my midwife showed up at the house at 7pm I was 8cm dilated! That gave me a second wind because I was trying to convince myself that this was a 3 out of 10 pain and I had a LONG ways to go!

At around 10:30 I started pushing and delivered her squatting on my bed! We didn’t even have time to get me in the tub!

Some nice quotes: “Oh this is WAY easier than I thought it was gonna be!” “I’ve got birthin’ hips!” chanting “every contraction is one step closer to the birth of my baby!” and “mother F&^%$#er this HURTS!, you’ve got to be KIDDING me!” haha! 

Her successful home delivery took 12 hours and 2 midwives and she was born at 12:08 on 3/3/10 on my bed at home 🙂
8# 6oz, 21 inches long, and a dark head of hair with blue eyes (for now). She came out alert and had her eyes open before her head was even all the way out, great APGAR scores and cried right away! She also came out with her arm in front of her face which came out waving first thing! She didn’t sleep for about 4 hours after she was born, and still is not super excited about sleeping. She wants to see everything!,  Both of us were in perfect condition…well I’m a little worse for wear 😉

Astrologically for those who care/believe:
– Pisces sun
– Scorpio rising
– Libra moon
– 4 planets in Pisces!
– 2 in aquarius
– Mars in Leo!

Wow, she’s quite the character. Hopefully you will all meet her soon!

Love,

Rachel, Cameron and Baby

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Decoding an Ancient Therapy

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

  • By MELINDA BECK

Acupuncture has long baffled medical experts and no wonder: It holds that an invisible life force called qi (pronounced chee) travels up and down the body in 14 meridians. Illness and pain are due to blockages and imbalances in qi. Inserting thin needles into the body at precise points can unblock the meridians, practitioners believe, and treat everything from arthritis and asthma to anxiety, acne and infertility.

WSJ’s health columnist Melinda Beck tests out acupuncture as an alternative means to reduce her neck and back pain.

Does It Work?

While scientists say further research is essential, some studies have provided evidence of acupuncture’s effects.

  • Arthritis of the Knee: Acupuncture significantly reduced pain and restored function, according to a 2004 government study.
  • Headaches: Two 2009 reviews found that acupuncture cut both tension and migraine headaches.
  • Lower Back Pain: Acupuncture eased it in a big study last year, but so did a sham treatment where needles didn’t penetrate the skin.
  • Cancer: Has proven effective in reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.
  • Infertility: Improves the odds of pregnancy for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, according to a 2008 review of seven clinical trials.
  • Addiction: Often used to help quit smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating, but there is no conclusive evidence that it works.

 

After decades of cynicism, Western medical experts are using high-tech tools to unravel the ancient mysteries of how acupuncture works. WSJ’s Health columnist Melinda Beck joins Simon Constable on the News Hub to discuss.

As fanciful as that seems, acupuncture does have real effects on the human body, which scientists are documenting using high-tech tools. Neuroimaging studies show that it seems to calm areas of the brain that register pain and activate those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture increases blood flow in treated areas. Thermal imaging shows that it can make inflammation subside.

Scientists are also finding parallels between the ancient concepts and modern anatomy. Many of the 365 acupuncture points correspond to nerve bundles or muscle trigger points. Several meridians track major arteries and nerves. “If people have a heart attack, the pain will radiate up across the chest and down the left arm. That’s where the heart meridian goes,” says Peter Dorsher, a specialist in pain management and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. “Gallbladder pain will radiate to the right upper shoulder, just where the gallbladder meridian goes.”

Many medical experts remain deeply skeptical about acupuncture, of course, and studies of its effectiveness have been mixed. “Something measurable is happening when you stick a needle into a patient—that doesn’t impress me at all,” says Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in England and co-author of the book, “Trick or Treatment.” Acupuncture “clearly has a very strong placebo effect. Whether it does anything else, the jury is still out.”

Even so, the use of acupuncture continues to spread—often alongside conventional medicine. U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army doctors are using acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal problems, pain and stress in stateside hospitals and combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Delegations from Acupuncturists Without Borders are holding communal ear-needling sessions to reduce stress among earthquake victims in Haiti. Major medical centers—from M.D. Anderson in Houston to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York—use acupuncture to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy.

In a 2007 survey, 3.2 million Americans had undergone acupuncture in the past year—up from 2.1 million in 2001, according to the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The most common uses are for chronic pain conditions like arthritis, lower back pain and headaches, as well as fatigue, anxiety and digestive problems, often when conventional medicine fails. At about $50 per session, it’s relatively inexpensive and covered by some insurers.It is also generally safe. About 10% of patients experience some bleeding at the needle sites, although in very rare cases, fatalities have occurred due to infections or injury to vital organs, mostly due to inexperienced practitioners.

Most states require that acupuncturists be licensed, and the Food and Drug Administration requires that needles be new and sterile.

Diagnoses are complicated. An acupuncturist will examine a patient’s tongue and take three different pulses on each wrist, as well as asking questions about digestion, sleep and other habits, before determining which meridians may be blocked and where to place the needles. The 14 meridians are thought to be based on the rivers of China, and the 365 points may represent the days of the year. “Invaders” such as wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness factor into illness, so can five phases known as fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

Using Acupuncture to Treat Stress

“It’s not like there’s a Merck Manual for acupuncture,” says Joseph M. Helms, who has trained some 4,000 physicians in acupuncture at his institute in Berkeley, Calif. “Every case is evaluated on an individual basis, based on the presentation of the patient and the knowledge of the acupuncturist.”

Dr. Helms notes that Western doctors also examine a patient’s tongue for signs of illness. As for qi, he says, while the word doesn’t exist in Western medicine, there are similar concepts. “We’ll say, ‘A 27-year-old female appears moribund; she doesn’t respond to stimuli. Or an 85-year old woman is exhibiting a vacant stare.’ We’re talking about the same energy and vitality, we’re just not making it a unique category that we quantify.”

Studies in the early 1980s found that acupuncture works in part by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, much like vigorous exercise does. Now, a growing body of research suggests that it may have several mechanisms of action. Those include stimulating blood flow and tissue repair at the needle sites and sending nerve signals to the brain that regulate the perception of pain and reboot the autonomic nervous system, which governs unconscious functions such as heart beat, respiration and digestion, according to Alejandro Elorriaga, director of the medical acupuncture program at McMaster University in Ontario, which teaches a contemporary version to physicians.

[healthcolJ] Vitaly NapadowA specialized MRI scan shows the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy subject. In the middle two images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (indicated by blue) in the brain after acupuncture.

“You can think Western, you can think Eastern. As long as your needle goes to the nerve, you will get some effect,” Dr. Elorriaga says.

What’s more, an odd phenomenon occurs when acupuncture needles are inserted into the body and rotated: Connective tissue wraps around them like spaghetti around a fork, according to ultrasound studies at the University of Vermont. Helene Langevin, research associate professor of neurology, says this action stretches cells in the connective tissue much like massage and yoga do, and may act like acupuncture meridians to send signals throughout the body. “That’s what we’re hoping to study next,” she says.

“ My former spouse had shingles. Doctors told her that the terrible pain would probably last 2 or 3 years. She got acupuncture treatments, plus some Chinese herbs, and the pain was totally gone with 6 weeks.:

—Alan Agardi

Meanwhile, neuroimaging studies at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have shown that acupuncture affects a network of systems in the brain, including decreasing activity in the limbic system, the emotional part of the brain, and activating it in the parts of the brain that typically light up when the brain is at rest.

Other studies at the Martinos Center have shown that patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful compression of nerves in the wrist, have heightened activity in parts of the brain that regulate sensation and fear, but after acupuncture, their brain patterns more closely resemble those of healthy subjects. Brain scans of patients with fibromyalgia show that both acupuncture and sham acupuncture (using real needles on random points in the body) cause the release of endorphins. But real acupuncture also increased the number of receptors for pain-reducing neurotransmitters, bringing patients even more relief.

The fact that many patients get some relief and register some brain changes from fake acupuncture has caused controversy in designing clinical trials. Some critics say that proves that what patients think of as benefit from acupuncture is mainly the placebo effect. Acupuncture proponents counter that placebos that too closely mimic the treatment experience may have a real benefit.

“I don’t see any disconnect between how acupuncture works and how a placebo works,” says radiologist Vitaly Napadow at the Martinos center. “The body knows how to heal itself. That’s what a placebo does, too.”

Write to Melinda Beck at HealthJournal@wsj.com

 

 

 

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