While treatment plans for allergies vary greatly, with results ranging from temporary relief to complete remission, acupuncture and related therapies can often relieve allergy symptoms within a short period of time. The first objective is to reduce the acute allergy symptoms so that an effective strategy can be developed to address the underlying condition. As we are able to develop a holistic program we can effectively work to prevent the disease process from reoccurring in the future.
Allergies usually occur when our immune system is unable to digest or effectively process (i.e. metabolize or protect against) something within our environment. Allergens can vary from pollen, pet dander, mold, various foods, drugs and more. The body tends to react via an inflammatory process as a means of trying to remove the allergen or protect the body from it doing further harm.
When a client presents with allergy symptoms, we’ll need to perform a full intake and make the proper diagnosis. Symptoms may include a stuffy nose, copious mucus, lung/sinus congestion, fatigue, headache, indigestion, irritable bowels, redness, swelling, etc. To develop a holistic program to reduce or eliminate the condition it is important that we consider the whole pattern of symptoms that the client is experiencing. This includes considering dietary habits, energy levels, sleep patterns as well as other lifestyle practices.
Together with your practitioner, you can begin to understand how all those elements of your life may relate to the allergy symptoms you are experiencing. Effective therapy strategies will first focus on the acute symptoms in an effort to reduce them enough to address the underlying condition, then follow-up care for the chronic, remission stage begins. Oftentimes the acute stage is so influential that the chronic symptoms must be address in the opposite season (i.e. fall vs spring, winter vs summer) to make an effective investment in the underlying cause.
Acupuncture as well as chiropractic therapy supported by dietary therapy and herbal therapy will form the main components of most people’s health program for the treatment of allergies. Acupuncture may include the use of point local near the nose/sinuses, on the arms/hands and legs. Dietary changes are likely to be very beneficial in the effort to control the symptoms through the elimination of food and drinks that may cause mucus to form. When our diet is optimized for our constitution and for our presenting condition, clients will experience less mucous, less inflammation, increased energy, better breathing and a greater sense of well-being.
To answer the question. Yes, Everspring Health has a number of strategies to help clients reduce or eliminate chronic headaches. There is growing research demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture as a great resource for reducing intensity and frequency of headaches. For the millions of people who regularly suffer from chronic headaches, the experience can be debilitating and affect our quality of life. The spectrum of primary type headaches are quite diverse, ranging from the common tension headache to the more painful chronic migraine and cluster headache. Secondary headaches result from another medical condition, such as hormone imbalance, sinus problems and other inflammatory processes. Associated symptoms can include muscular tension, mood changes, appetite irregularities, stress and sleep cycle changes.
As suggested above the means in which headaches manifest in our lives can vary so it is important that we not focus solely on the isolated symptoms or one isolated treatment method. We should seek to balance the whole person so that optimal results are achieved. It is important that we have a conversation with each client about their particular sleep patterns, dietary habits and the levels of stress. Each client’s unique symptom pattern will help us plan the right combination of therapies, lifestyle considerations and beneficial dietary changes.
In addition to beneficial diet and lifestyle changes, an effective therapy program for headaches may include acupuncture, medical massage therapy and herbal therapy. If the client is experiencing a headache during their office visit, this can give us an opportunity to help provide some measured relief before they leave the clinic. This experience can be understandably challenging at times. While immediate relief may not be possible in all cases, the benefit of our clinical approach is that we will take the time to determine the most effective course of therapy. For example, acupuncture and targeted massage therapy has been effective in our clinic for relieving headache symptoms and reducing chronic resurgence of the headache symptoms. To offer more complete relief, herbal therapy is often used resulting in rather significant relief within the first few months of a program.
The course of therapy is determined by the goals discussed during the initial few visits. The goal of therapy may be to relive the headache symptoms, but the true goal for any program should be to reduce or eliminate the condition permanently. By properly implementing a complete therapy program we can begin to reduce the underlying cause while making positive progress in reducing pain levels and lowering headache frequency. We have the opportunity to reduce pain symptoms in the short term and also enhance the client’s long term quality of life.
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating chronic condition that often involves long-term, widespread pain throughout the body most often focused in the muscles and nerves. Often experienced with Fibromyalgia are symptoms such as distinct fatigue, insomnia/sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition where the diagnosis primarily refers to the severe and prolonged tiredness or exhaustion that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other medical conditions. Secondary symptoms for chronic fatigue often include body aches, headaches and depression.
The similar nature of these conditions has these two diagnoses often going hand in hand and/or are often interchanged depending on the pattern of manifesting symptoms. This often makes it challenging to effectively treat, which in turn is understandably frustrating for client. So, when we get asked if acupuncture can help with either Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue we confidently say yes but with the caveat that a holistic program should be the base of any program whether it includes acupuncture or not.
Like so many chronic conditions these conditions are not a simple one-to-one, cause and effect situation. To effectively address the personalized symptoms one may be experiencing we must look at the whole picture and then determine the appropriate strategy for optimal long-term quality of life. As a part of a holistic program based on personalized diagnosis acupuncture can be a great resource for those suffering from Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue and, besides many personal case results, the research supporting this conclusion becomes more and more prevalent every day. (See references below).
The challenge in any holistic program is that it often takes time to provide optimal results. Conditions like these require a layered approach often including many integrated therapies. Therapies require consistency and time to provide optimal long-term results. This is mostly because we do not want to just address the symptoms we want to dissolve the condition as a whole. Effective personalized diagnosis leading to the appropriate treatment program plus a consistent time frame leads to the best possible results.
There may be times where acupuncture is not appropriate and so you want a practitioner who can substitute and integrate therapies to provide the optimal treatment each time you visit your practitioner. At the same time focus should be on developing a lifestyle that supports each individual in his or her own experience. This is where success rates go up, as our ability to incorporate a program within an individual’s lifestyle improves so do the results.
Understandably, this can be a challenge for the client in the beginning so having the ability to customize the program for each client and as best as one is able support them through the initial stages until there is traction on the condition is crucial. The benefit of this approach is that success won’t only be measured by management of the symptoms but slow and gradual improvement across one’s lifestyle.
Many individuals ask about herbs or supplements they have found via various advisory resources and the truth of the matter is that supplements will likely prove to be the primary source of a long-term solution. However, the most common mistake across the board is people taking supplements because someone mentioned it might be good. The truth is that with the appropriate diagnosis the precise supplements for each client’s specific condition can be identified which reduces the risk of side effects, regression or relapses, wasteful spending and most importantly dramatically improves outcomes. All supplements have a time and a place and we will always improve our investment when we have the right supplement for the appropriate condition.
It is important that we understand that no one can guarantee specific results. However, by customizing treatments, whether it include therapies like acupuncture, dietary therapy, supplements or lifestyle practices, if they are based on a sound diagnostic protocol we dramatically increase the chances of improved quality of life.
Excerpt from Fibromyalgia Research Article
“CONCLUSIONS: The limited amount of high-quality evidence suggests that real acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture for improving symptoms of patients with FMS. However, because this conclusion is based on a single high-quality study, further high-quality randomized trials are needed to provide more robust data on effectiveness.” Source: UK PubMed
To study the impact of De-qi (, obtaining qi) and psychological factors on the efficacy of acupuncture treatment for primary dysmenorrhea, with an attempt to explore the relationship among De-qi, psychological factors, and clinical efficacy.
The patients with primary dysmenorrhea were randomly assigned to a group of acupuncture with manual manipulation (manipulation group, n=67) and an acupuncture group without manipulation (non-manipulation group, n=64). Pain intensity and pain duration were used as measures for evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of the acupuncture treatment. De-qi, the sensations a patient experienced during the acupuncture treatment, was scored on a 4-point scale by the subjects. In addition, the psychological factors, including belief in acupuncture, the level of nervousness, anxiety, and depression, were quantitatively assessed. The personality of the subject was assessed using the Eysenck personality questionnaire (EPQ) and 16 personality factor questionnaire (16PF).
Complete data were obtained from 120 patients, 60 patients in each group. There were statistically significant differences in pain intensity (W=2410.0, P<0.01) and pain duration (W=3181.0, P<0.01) between the two groups. The number of De-qi acupoints (W=1150.5, P<0.01) and the average intensity of De-qi (W=1141.0, P<0.01) were significantly higher in the manipulation group as compared with their non-manipulation counterparts. The correlation coefficients between De-qi and therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture were greater than those between psychological factors and therapeutic efficacy.
Compared with the psychological factors, De-qi contributed more to the pain-relieving effect of acupuncture in subjects with primary dysmenorrhea. Moreover, manual manipulation is a prerequisite for eliciting and enhancing the De-qi sensations, and De-qi is critical for achieving therapeutic effects.
PMID: 21994026 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]Source: PubMed
Ernst et al. claimed “acupuncture is neither a safe procedure nor superior to placebo.”
One of the last review articles on acupuncture research from Professor Edzard Ernst, prior to the announcement of his retirement, was met with broad dissatisfaction from the acupuncture research community, with concerns raised that he had presented a biased picture of the state of the science. A summary of the published letters rebutting Professor Ernst’s conclusions is presented below. We urge acupuncture researchers and practitioners to read Professor Ernst’s article in Pain (as well as the full complement of letters to the editor published in a subsequent issue of the journal (Witt et al.; Manheimer and Berman; Karst; Baumler; Usichenko; Henke 2011). For the sake of brevity, we summarize the letters to the editors.
A letter by Witt and colleagues found the article “highly misleading” and criticized the authors’ choice of evidence from different levels within the evidence hierarchy for different parts of the paper. In particular, the writers of the letter criticize the use of case studies to determine the safety of acupuncture and cite several larger-scale studies that had different results.
A letter by Manheimer and colleagues criticized Ernst et al.’s methods of data analysis and evaluation as neither systematic, reproducible, nor transparent and found Ernst et al.’s evaluation criteria for assessing the quality and results of systematic reviews to be poorly defined. The writers of the letter also suggest that Ernst et al. succumbed to presentation bias, presenting data in the Discussion section which were not included in the review.
A letter by Matthias Karst notes that the paper misinterprets one of the cited cases, and suggests that the paper’s other conclusions should be suspect, and also warns of a possible “efficacy paradox” which can lead to false positives when testing complex interventions by means of randomized controlled trials.
A letter by Baumler and colleagues pointed out several inconsistencies and accuses the authors of failing to incorporate basic scientific methodology. Specifically, the writers of the letter find the paper’s aim vague, study eligibility criteria absent, and (like Witt et al.) the choice of case reports in the assessment of acupuncture risk questionable. Like Manheimer et al., the letter-writers found Ernst et al.’s methods of determining the quality and outcome of each review unclear. The letter-writers determine that the paper is “not … based on a careful and scientific analysis of the literature.”
A letter by Usichenko and colleagues, like Witt et al. and Baumler et al., criticized the authors’ use of case studies to determine the adverse effects of acupuncture.
A letter by Christian Henke points out the relatively high instance of drug-related adverse events compared to acupuncture-related adverse events and criticizes Ernst et al.’s choice to include the conclusions of various acupuncture experiments in their discussion, despite the fact that conclusions of papers do not reflect statistical outcomes. The letter-writers also note that some important studies were overlooked.
Finally, a letter by James Mooney criticizes the authors’ addressing of the broad spectrum of acupuncture as little more than a single treatment. The letter-writers note that if only the highest-quality reviews are examined, the results are no longer condemning of acupuncture. Mooney also dismisses the authors’ conclusion that acupuncture should be questioned since it reduces pain in “some conditions while failing to work in many others,” noting that the same can be said about acetaminophen.
The authors’ response ran in the same issue of PAIN: Ernst E. Response from Author. Letters to the Editor / PAIN 152 (2011) 2184–2186. As of Oct 13, it is noted this is withdrawn at authors’ request.
Ernst E, Lee MS, Choi TY. Acupuncture: does it alleviate pain and are there serious risks? A review of reviews. Pain. 2011 Apr;152(4):755-64.
Karst M. Comment on ''Acupuncture: does it alleviate pain and are there serious risks? A review of reviews" Ernst et al. [Pain 2011;152:755-764]. Pain. 2011 Sep;152(9):2181
Bäumler P, Irnich D. Pain. 2011 Sep;152(9):2181-2
Henke C. Pain. 2011 Sep;152(9):2183-4.
Manheimer E, Berman BM. Pain. 2011 Sep;152(9):2179-80Source: Society for Acupuncture Research
Study Suggests Acupuncture Can Improve Recovery, Physical Functioning in Stroke Patients
By Editorial Staff
Nearly five years ago, Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine received a $40,000 grant from The Center for Integrative Health, Medicine and Research to conduct a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of stroke patients.1 The results of that study have been published in the official journal of the American Society of Neurorehabilitation,2 and suggest that acupuncture provides "statistically significant" benefits in physical functioning and recovery when used as an adjunct to conventional stroke rehabilitation measures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in adults. The American Heart Association estimates that between 500,000 and 750,000 strokes occur in the U.S. each year, with approximately 150,000 dying from the stroke itself or from related complications.
The Daniel Freeman Rehabilitation Center was the site of the acupuncture-stroke rehabilitation study.
The object of the pilot study was to address inconsistencies in the published literature with regard to whether acupuncture improves physical and mental abilities of stroke patients when combined with traditional Western rehabilitation procedures. While some trials have suggested that acupuncture provides no additional benefit in the rehabilitation of stroke patients, other studies have reported that stroke patients receiving acupuncture have demonstrated significant improvements in certain aspects, such as recovery of motor skills and overall physical functioning.
The study was conducted at the Daniel Freeman Rehabilitation Center's inpatient stroke rehabilitation unit in Los Angeles. In the trial, 29 patients who had suffered a stroke within the previous 60 days that resulted in hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body) were randomized to either a control group or an acupuncture group. The control group received conventional stroke rehabilitation care (consisting of three hours of physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy, six days per week) for the duration of the inpatient stay. The acupuncture group received the same care as the control group, along with an additional 30 minutes of acupuncture therapy, seven days per week, for two weeks during the inpatient stay. Acupuncture was provided by eight licensed acupuncturists who had trained at Emperor's College and had a minimum of one year of clinical experience.
To ensure consistency, a standardized treatment protocol was used among all patients in the acupuncture group. Needles were inserted into specific points on the affected limb. Acupuncture points included Du 20, Du 19, Du 21, UB 7, GB 20, Du 14, Ren 6, Ren 12 and St 25.
Supplementary points for the upper limbs (LI 15, LI 11, SJ 5, LI 4, and Lu 7) and lower limbs (GB 31, St 36, GB 34, Sp 6, St 40, St 41, and Liv 3) were selected depending on the patient's condition. Within two weeks of the stroke episode, the acupuncturists added ba feng (an extra acupuncture point), Ren 23 and Ht 5 for aphasia; St 4, SI 18 and St 6 for facial paralysis; and UB 6 and GB 37 for vision problems.
To measure the effects acupuncture might have, the researchers used a tool that assessed aspects of physical performance in a person's upper and lower extremities, along with a functional independence scale that evaluated a person's ability to complete certain activities of daily living without assistance. Patients were evaluated at baseline (within three days of being admitted to the stroke rehabilitation unit) and after being discharged. At baseline and after the completion of the study, evaluations were performed by therapists who were blinded as to the randomization of each patient.
While a general analysis of the data appeared to show no real difference in physical performance scores between patients in the control and acupuncture groups, closer inspection revealed that acupuncture patients experienced "significantly greater" lower extremity motor function compared to the control group. Acupuncture patients also fared slightly better than control patients in terms of lower extremity joint pain.
Other improvements were seen when the researchers compared functional independence scores. While the average score of patients in the control group increased 8.5 points between baseline and discharge, the average score of acupuncture patients increased 11.2 points. In all seven activities of daily living measured on the scale, the average score of patients receiving acupuncture was between .1 and .8 points higher than control patients. The authors noted that "patients who received acupuncture as an adjunct to standard rehabilitation demonstrated significantly greater improvement in tub/shower transfer mobility and a trend for greater improvement in toilet transfer mobility."
In a discussion comparing the results of the pilot study to similar studies, the authors suggested that the reason previous trials of acupuncture and stroke rehabilitation have produced questionable results is because the tests used to measure acupuncture's effects are often not sensitive enough to detect subtle differences. They noted that while many studies used "global measures" of motor and physical function that showed no real benefit groups of control patients and acupuncture patients, "when subscores of these global measures were used, differences between groups were apparent."
Moreover, the authors reasoned that some tests used to measure the effects of acupuncture may be incompatible with acupuncture's physiologic mechanisms. Most studies have used intentionally selected stroke measurements that are recognized internationally. In the opinion of the scientists, however, "these instruments ... are not reasonably associated with the mechanisms that may account for acupuncture effectiveness."
"This pilot study is consistent with previous studies that have examined acupuncture treatment as an adjunct to conventional acupuncture treatment as an adjunct to conventional stroke rehabilitation," the researchers concluded. "When global measures are used, there are no differences in motor recovery or physical function associated with acupuncture. However, when more responsive measures are used, acupuncture effects are evident. Future work that investigates the efficacy and effectiveness of acupuncture treatment poststroke should incorporate levels of measurement that are sensitive to the physiologic mechanisms that may underlie acupuncture effects."
In a statement to Acupuncture Today, the authors elaborated on the results of their research, and outlined ways that future studies that examine the effectiveness of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of stroke patients should be conducted.
"This study provides important insight into the design of future post-stroke acupuncture clinical trials, particularly the selection of appropriate outcome measures," they wrote. "We believe that one of the problems in past investigations of acupuncture effectiveness after stroke is that outcome measures are used that look at gross changes in motor or functional ability that may be too far removed from the underlying mechanisms that may account for acupuncture effectiveness. Recent studies that are trying to understand the mechanisms that could explain how acupuncture works after stroke suggest that acupuncture induces changes in blood flow to the brain or may stimulate the production of growth factors that can help neurons survive. If that is the case, then studies need to use outcome measures that are more sensitive and can detect relevant changes in motor control that may lead to improved function. Our study demonstrated that when more sensitive measures are used these types of motor and functional changes can be detected."3
- Emperor's College receives grant to study acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation. Acupuncture Today, May 2000.
- Alexander DN, Cen S, Sullivan KJ, et al. Effects of acupuncture treatment on poststroke motor recovery and physical function: a pilot study. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 2004;18(4):259-267.
- E-mail from Stanley Azen, PhD, to Acupuncture Today, February 11, 2005.
Stroke. 2010 Apr;41(4):e171-9. Epub 2010 Feb 18.
Acupuncture in poststroke rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials
Wu P, Mills E, Moher D, Seely D.
Department of Research & Clinical Epidemiology, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Acupuncture is a low-risk treatment with purported claims of effectiveness for poststroke rehabilitation. To comprehensively assess the efficacy of acupuncture in poststroke rehabilitation, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomized clinical trials of acupuncture for poststroke rehabilitation.
We searched 7 English and 2 Chinese databases from inception to September 2009. Eligible studies included randomized clinical trials that evaluated the clinical efficacy of acupuncture in adult patients with disability after stroke. We extracted data on trial quality, protocol, and outcomes assessed. A summary OR was calculated based on pooled dichotomous results. I(2) was used to infer heterogeneity and we conducted metaregression to determine if specific covariates explained heterogeneity.
Thirty-five articles written in Chinese and 21 articles written in English were included. The overall quality of the studies was "fair" and most studies were small (median n=86; range, 16 to 241). The majority (80%) of the studies reported a significant benefit from acupuncture; however, there was some evidence of publication bias. In 38 trials, data were available for meta-analysis and metaregression, yielding an OR in favor of acupuncture compared with controls (OR=4.33, 95% CI: 3.09 to 6.08; I2=72.4%). Randomization, modes of delivery, method of control, study source country, and reporting of randomization may explain some of the heterogeneity observed between the studies.
Randomized clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture may be effective in the treatment of poststroke rehabilitation. Poor study quality and the possibility of publication bias hinder the strength of this recommendation and argue for a large, transparent, well-conducted randomized clinical trial to support this claim and implement changes to clinical practice.
Medical acupuncture is acupuncture that has been adapted from traditional sources for use within conventional health practices. Traditional acupuncture practice originates within many of the whole system traditions in Asia such as Chinese medicine and even some evidence suggests historic European sources. Today acupuncture is practiced in both traditional, integrative and CAM related forms in almost every major health care system in the world.
Medical acupuncture is the classification of the acupuncture for use within the conventional medical construct. The foundation of medical acupuncture is the therapeutic insertion of solid needles in various combinations and patterns. The patterns can be based on traditional principles, modern anatomical concepts or both.
While Everspring Health is a full supporter of any therapy that is applied appropriately for the benefit of the individual and the individual's quality of life. It is equally important to note potential challenges of medical acupuncture so that the client can understand how to use this resource most effectively. Medical acupuncture can be used by licensed practitioners (MD, DO, DC) with as little as 100 hours of training, which can make it difficult to qualify the practitioner's full scope of training with this therapy. Compare this training to a fully licensed and nationally board certified acupuncturist where the practitioner has approximately 1000 hours just on acupuncture, plus clinic application experience.
Again this does not discount the opportunity for benefit via medical acupuncture but one must note that if one is not getting results from medical acupuncture or any source of acupuncture no matter the training one should not discount acupuncture therapy as a whole. Like any therapy, any service for that matter, experience does matter and we should seek the appropriate support for our specific needs.
Acupuncture has shown in many ways to help with athletic performance. Mostly utilized for recovery and maintenance, acupuncture offers support for post workout recovery by reducing pain and improving range of motion. This allows for better blood flow to aid in the recovery process thus allowing for more challenging workouts, greater frequency of workouts and better pre-event taper. Acupuncture also helps prevent potential negative posturing that one may develop by accommodating injury, post-workout soreness or any posture resulting from the "muscle bound" experience of high intensity training.
"Newsweek reported that in 1999 scientists at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine made athletes run 5,000 meters, and afterward had some of them sit for acupuncture treatments before they had a chance to catch their breaths. The heart rates of the ones who received the treatments recovered more quickly than those in the control group."
Dietary therapy can range from strict dietary protocols used in hospitals to everyday programs that can enhance an individual's quality of life. In general, for diet to be used as a therapy it does need to involve a targeted result which may range from disease abatement to the reduction of daily aggravations to weight loss/management to helping control biometrics like cholesterol or blood pressure or post operative recovery among many others.
While all of the above are a part of Everspring Health's dietary therapy service we do so with a focus on quality of life - meaning we develop a program to help make your day better. So while impeding conditions are an obvious opportunity to use diet as a therapy by pursuing quality of life we have so many more opportunities to effectively use this resource.
Anyone who has ever had an acute or chronic skin breakout, digestive malady, headache or other seemingly annoying issue that shouldn't be normal but isn't so severe for a medical procedure may distinctly benefit from dietary therapy. At the same time individuals who might be looking to refine their daily experience by possibly reducing fatigue, improving alertness, improving on a training regimen would likely see benefit from a personalized dietary plan.
It is important to note that what is good for us does not always mean that our food cannot taste good. In fact, while some habits may need to be dissolved, most experience a better quality of life not just because of what they are feeling but also because they are enjoying their food. Mealtime shifts from something we have to do to a time where we can enjoy what we are doing as well as who we are with.