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- Treatment of Stroke with Acupuncture By Du Li, LAc, OMD
- Acupuncture Shows Promise in Cancer Treatment
- Acupuncture Helps with Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Treatment of Stroke with Acupuncture By Du Li, LAc, OMD
A stroke is a “brain attack” that happens when blood flow suddenly stops. Stroke is the major form of cerebrovascular disease, or CVD, and is usually caused by long term hypertension or diabetes.
There are two main types of stroke:
- Stroke caused by a blockage in the artery supplying blood to a particular region of the brain (called cerebral infarction).
- Stroke caused by bleeding within the brain (called intracerebral hemorrhage). In addition, some people experience brief warning signals that a major stroke could happen in the near future. The medical term to describe these symptoms is transient ischemic attack or TIA. Sometimes TIA symptoms are called a mini-stroke because symptoms are exactly like a stroke, but they last only a few minutes (or sometimes as long as an hour) and leave no disability.
A disruption in blood flow cuts off oxygen to the cells in a part of the brain and cells without oxygen begin to die. Damage to various parts of the brain can cause slurred speech; deviation of the mouth and eye; paralysis; weak movement in the arms and legs; or numbness and tingling in the limbs. Strokes cause immediate death or shortened lifespan. Inflammation around the area of the stroke causes further injury to brain tissue as the body tries to heal itself. Stress, depression, anxiety, impaired memory and worsening of medical illnesses are very common complications. In medical circles the neurological, physical and emotional consequences of strokes are considered difficult to treat.
After a stroke, Western medical science relies on the use of anticoagulants, diabetes or blood pressure control, and protection against secondary bacterial infection. In, neuro-protective medications to prevent secondary damage caused by the brain’s healing process are more commonly used. In, my practice as a doctor specializing in acupuncture was devoted mainly to stroke rehabilitation. I usually treated 15-30 hospital patients per day. In my experience, the use the acupuncture is very effective in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. But if acupuncture treatments start right away, the results are better.
Although large scale trials using Western research standards must be done, in we found that early and regular treatment of stroke patients using acupuncture therapy proved to be very effective clinically. I believe that acupuncture works to preserve brain tissue by decreasing the stress response, stabilizing the brain’s healing process, and signaling the brain to keep making active connections to arms and legs which have lost their normal brain control systems. Clinical studies at Emory and other medical research centers are underway now hoping to demonstrate that forcing a patient to use damaged limbs prompts the brain to make new connections and control systems. I believe that acupuncture stimulation of nerves is a more specific and more forceful way to accomplish this healing effect. In our hospital we found that acupuncture improved facial paralysis, impaired speech, swallowing difficulties, double vision, incontinence of urine, and reduce depression. Two or three treatments per week are best.
Thanks to modern biochemistry analysis and neuroimaging techniques we have many ways to understand how acupuncture works. However, acupuncture treatment began about 1,000 BCE, before these scientific systems were available. Over the centuries a traditional diagnostic and treatment system with a unique set of medical terms was developed to guide the acupuncturist’s efforts to help patients most effectively. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the old medical language would say that strokes are due to a yin and yang disorder that makes Chi (body energy) and blood go upward, obstructing the brain orifices and hiding the mind and spirit, resulting in loss of consciousness and vital activities. In acupuncture the treatment principle is to balance the yin and yang, open the blood vessels, promote the flow of energy, while stimulating blood circulation and decreasing blood or Chi stagnation.
For 14 years before I came to, I worked in the First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University of TCM (). This hospital is known for its outstanding patient care and noted both in and abroad for its acupuncture treatment of stroke patients. The acupuncture treatment we developed is called “activating the brain and opening the orifice” or Xing Niao Kai Qiao therapy. This method uses points on the energy channels (Yin meridians and Du meridian). The system we used, studied, and quantified is quite different from traditional systems of acupuncture point selection and from traditional acupuncture needling methods used elsewhere in the treatment of stroke. Since 1972 our hospital has treated more than two million patients with strokes by using the Xing Nao Kai Qiao (XNKQ) method. In 1995 our research project entitled, “Clinical and Experimental Research on Apoplexy Treated with XNKQ,” won an award for Science and Technology Progress of China. This award is the highest honor possible for clinical research achievements in .
Our clinical research using XNKQ showed that acupuncture has a protective function in the brain while it also activates mental processes and quiets the mind. These effects may be due to increased of cellular excitability in pathologic cerebral tissue, improved microcirculatory blood flow at the ischemic site, and decreased damage caused by an inflammatory response around the injury. Acupuncture treatment can also improve the function of the reticular activating center in the brain stem which the main system for keeping a person awake and alert. Since XNKQ acupuncture treats the whole body system and is suitable to correct clinical symptoms, it can help to prevent further strokes. In a case study with 9,005 patients, a very substantial improvement occurred in 59% of the cases and overall some positive effects were noted in 98% of the cases.
Our clinical research demonstrated that patients got well faster, performed better in normal activities, and required less nursing and rehabilitation therapy. Since acupuncture itself is a highly safe therapy, the risk to benefit ratio is very favorable especially if treatment begins immediately after the stroke. I treated my patients as soon as possible after hospital admission. Overall, acupuncture treatment is well worth the effort and relatively low cost for stroke patients hoping to preserve brain function and to achieve significant rehabilitation improvements.
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There have been many advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer. While the standard medical care for cancer is effective, the treatments are aggressive and cause numerous unwanted side effects as well as a lowered immune system. Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving quality of life.
What Acupuncture is used for during Cancer Treatment?
Acupuncture provides a total approach to health care for people with cancer. It can be used to address many of the concerns that come up during and after chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy and surgery.
According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may cause physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity, and causes the body’s natural painkillers, such as endorphins, to be released.
Areas that acupuncture has shown the most promise include:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Dry Mouth, Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
- Stress, Anxiety and Fatigue
- Pain Management
- Increasing White Blood Cell Count
Nausea and Vomiting
The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and morning sickness. It appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.
Other symptoms caused by cancer treatment
Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, cough, chest pain, fever, anxiety, depression, night sweats, hot flashes, dry mouth, speech problems, and fluid in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.
Boosting the Immune System
Human studies on the effect of acupuncture on the immune system of cancer patients showed that it improved immune system response, including increasing the number of white blood cells.
In clinical studies, acupuncture reduced the amount of pain in some cancer patients. In one study, most of the patients treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking drugs for pain relief or to take smaller doses.
Acupuncture is also very useful for support if you are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or hormonal therapy. Because chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s immune system, a strict clean needle method must be used when acupuncture treatment is given to cancer patients.
To learn more about how acupuncture can safely and effectively be incorporated into care for people with cancer, please call an acupuncture practitioner in your area for a consultation today.
Source: National Cancer Institute. www.cancer.org
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The June 2007 edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports on a study that found acupuncture helpful in treating the fatigue and anxiety commonly experienced by fibromyalgia patients. The study lends credence to patients’ belief that nontraditional methods may improve their health. In Mayo’s trial, patients who received acupuncture to counter their fibromyalgia symptoms reported improvement in fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms. Acupuncture was well tolerated, with minimal side effects.
In the double-blind study, Mayo Clinic doctors gave 25 fibromyalgia patients acupuncture, and 25 “sham” acupuncture treatments. Patients received six treatments during the two- to three-week study. Their answers to the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire revealed that those who received acupuncture treatments reported less fatigue and anxiety one month following after treatment than did the “sham” group.
“The results of the study convince me there is something more than the placebo effect to acupuncture,” says David Martin, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the acupuncture article and a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist. “It affirms a lot of clinical impressions that this complementary medical technique is helpful for patients.”
Fibromyalgia is a disorder considered disabling by many, and is characterized by chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain and symptoms such as fatigue, joint stiffness and sleep disturbance. No cure is known and available treatments are only partially effective.
Dr. Martin says Mayo’s study demonstrates that acupuncture is helpful, and also proves physicians can conduct a rigorous, controlled acupuncture study. Future research could help physicians understand which medical conditions respond best to acupuncture, how to apply it to best relieve symptoms, and how long patients can expect to their symptoms to decrease after each treatment.
Dr. Martin performed the study at Mayo Clinic Rochester with co-authors Ines Berger, M.D.; Christopher Sletten, Ph.D.; and Brent Williams. The study used only two acupuncturists and examined only patients who reported more severe symptoms, offering better experimental control. Still, the Mayo Clinic doctors urged more study to see how acupuncture can best be used in treating fibromyalgia patients.
Source: Mayo Clinic (2006, June 13). Acupuncture Relieves Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia, Mayo Clinic Study Finds.
Tudy Shows that Acupuncture Effective in Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM
Acupuncture is as effective as the corticosteroid, prednisone, for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), according to a new study.
The randomized, controlled study that was published in the May 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain, investigated the efficacy of acupuncture compared with steroid treatment in patients with mild-to-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome as measured by both nerve conduction studies and symptom assessment surveys.
Seventy-seven patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received eight acupuncture treatments over four weeks, and the other group received oral doses of prednisone, daily, for four weeks. The results showed that acupuncture was just as effective as the corticosteroid for pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. For the symptoms of night time awakening and motor function, the acupuncture group had better results.
The researchers concluded that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment option for CTS for those who experience side effects to oral steroids or for those who do not opt for early surgery.