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Monthly Archives: August 2016

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Real and Simulated Acupuncture Appear Effective for Back Pain

Category : Blog

bluemoon-for-webReal and Simulated Acupuncture Appear Effective for Back Pain

By: American Medical Association (AMA)

Newswise — Three types of acupuncture therapy including an individually tailored program, standard therapy, and a simulation involving toothpicks at key acupuncture points appear more effective than usual care for chronic low back pain, according to a report in the May 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/archives journals.

Back pain costs Americans at least $37 billion annually, according to background information in the article. Many patients with this condition are unsatisfied with traditional medical care and seek help from complementary and alternative care providers, including acupuncturists. “Back pain is the leading reason for visits to licensed acupuncturists, and medical acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain,” the authors write.

Several recent studies have suggested that simulated acupuncture, or shallow needling on parts of the body not considered key acupuncture points, appear as effective as acupuncture involving penetrating the skin. To expand on these results, Daniel C. Cherkin, Ph.D., of Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, and colleagues compared four different types of treatment in a randomized clinical trial involving 638 adults (average age 47) with chronic low back pain at Group Health in Seattle and Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland.

During the seven-week treatment period, 157 participants received 10 acupuncture treatments in a manner individually prescribed by a diagnostic acupuncturist; 158 underwent a standardized course of acupuncture treatments considered effective by experts for low back pain; 162 received 10 sessions of simulated acupuncture, in which practitioners used a toothpick inside of an acupuncture needle guide tube to mimic the insertion, stimulation and removal of needles; and 161 received usual care. Participants reported changes in their symptoms and in the amount of dysfunction caused by their back pain by phone after eight, 26 and 52 weeks.

“Compared with usual care, individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture and simulated acupuncture had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain,” the authors write. At the eight-week follow-up, 60 percent of the participants receiving any type of acupuncture (individualized, standardized, or simulated) experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in their level of functioning, compared with 39 percent of those receiving usual care. At the one-year follow-up, 59 percent to 65 percent of those in the acupuncture groups experienced an improvement in function compared with 50 percent of the usual care group.

Several possible explanations exist for the effectiveness of simulated acupuncture, the authors note. Superficial stimulation of acupuncture points may directly stimulate physiological processes that result in reduced pain and improved function. Alternatively, the improvement may be due to another aspect of the treatment experience, such as interaction with the therapist or a belief that acupuncture will be helpful. “These findings raise questions about acupuncture’s purported mechanisms of action,” they write. “It remains unclear whether acupuncture or our simulated method of acupuncture provide physiologically important stimulation or represent placebo or non-specific effects.”

“Our results have important implications for key stakeholders,” they conclude. “For clinicians and patients seeking a relatively safe and effective treatment for a condition for which conventional treatments are often ineffective, various methods of acupuncture point stimulation appear to be reasonable options, even though the mechanism of action remains unclear. Furthermore, the reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is an important benefit that may enhance the safety of conventional medical care.”


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Oriental Medicine for Nourishing, Stimulating, or Calming the Brain

Category : Blog

 

Oriental Medicine for Nourishing, Stimulating, or Calming the Brain

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It may sound strange to learn that cognitive function is not solely the job of the brain alone; other parts and organs of the body are involved—the heart, kidneys, and liver all partner with the brain to nurture a healthy and attentive mind.

The heart is known as the Emperor, and must be protected at all times. TheEmperor is so precious that it has its own personal protection unit, called the pericardium. This is a fibrous, protective sac encasing the heart, which is why it earned its alternate name of Heart Protector.

One reason why the heart needs constant attention is because it must constantly pump blood throughout the body via the blood vessels. Oxygen and vital substances are delivered to the brain in this manner to stimulate or calm it. It only takes three minutes for an oxygen-starved brain to be at risk for permanent injuries, which only proves how vital the heart is for our immediate survival.

The heart also has another important responsibility relating to the sustainability of the brain: to house the Shen. The concept of the Shen can be described as the spirit or mind of a person. When you go to bed at night with a nurtured and healthy heart, the Shen is also able to rest comfortably, which allows you to wake in the morning, refreshed and ready for the day. When there are emotional disturbances in one’s life, the Shen can suffer and a host of symptoms may then occur.

Symptoms indicating there may be a heart imbalance are as follows:

  • Memory problems
  • Decline of mental acuity
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Inappropriate social behaviors
  • Inability to make meaningful connections with others

The brain is supported when high quality blood flows easily to the head. According to western medicine, one nutrient vital to sustaining the cardiovascular and neurological systems is iron. When the heart is functioning properly, blood rich in iron can assist the brain in fulfilling its cognitive functions, such as learning, reasoning, and concentration.

Suggestions for iron-rich foods include dark, green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach. Other choices include foods that are dark in color and naturally sweet: beets, molasses, dates, black sesame seeds, purple grapes, and figs.

The heart, as essential as it may be, is not the only organ assisting the brain; the General, as the liver is called in the system of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, plays its role. The liver controls the direction and pace at which Qiflows throughout the body. Qi is translated as the most fundamental energy needed for all life to exist. It is one aspect of the liver’s function to determine whether Qi can smoothly reach its destination at the top of the head. This is very important because blood can only flow where the Qi takes it. Put simply, where blood flows, Qi follows.

The kidneys also contribute to a healthy brain as they have a strong relationship with it and the spinal cord. The kidneys supply a vital substance called Jing, which then produces marrow. Jing is a unique, fundamental substance necessary for human life. Marrow is the material foundation for the central nervous system and is the matter that ‘fills up’ the brain, thus the brain is referred to as the sea of marrow.

The sea of marrow is indispensable for memory and concentration. It also rules over the five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing. It is natural for the sea of marrow to wane as we grow older. However, there are acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments that can help nurture even the most mature brain.

No matter what your age, if you find yourself suffering from memory loss, an inability to concentrate, a lack of creative energy, or other related issues, consider making an appointment with your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

Call Bluemoon Acupuncture And Wellness Center (520-505-1442) to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!


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Acupressure for Nausea

Category : Blog

Acupressure for Nausea

Nausea is an uncomfortable urge to vomit, which can range from mild queasiness to serious distress. While nausea is not classified as a disease itself, it is an indicator that something else is wrong.  Depending on the severity and duration of vomiting, some level of dehydration may occur. In severe cases, this may become a medical emergency. Small sips of warm water may help the patient stay hydrated or, if this is not tolerable, sucking on ice chips may help.

Fortunately, acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers some simple acupressure techniques you can perform at home to help alleviate your nausea. The first exercise involves a very popular acupuncture point for this purpose, called Pericardium 6 (P6) or Inner Gate. To locate this point, place your hand with the palm facing up. Starting from the middle of the wrist crease, place three fingers down below your wrist. Your index finger should be in the middle of two tendons. If you are having trouble locating the tendons, flex your wrist and they should be displayed more prominently.

Press Inner Gate lightly with the pad of your thumb. You can slowly increase pressure and go deeper into the point. Continue this exercise for up to five minutes if you are using heavy pressure. However, some people experience more relief from nausea when they continuously press with gentle to moderate pressure. If this is the case for you, it is safe to apply acupressure for longer periods of time. This may be especially helpful in cases of motion sickness.

If your nausea still persists after applying acupressure at Inner Gate, you can activate its partner point, called Outer Gate or San Jiao 5 (SJ5). It is found on the opposite side of the forearm from Inner Gate. With your thumb on Inner Gate and your middle finger on Outer Gate, complete the circuit by squeezing the points together using moderate pressure. Hold for a few seconds and then release. This can be done for up to five minutes. If you feel you need a little extra self-care, you can place your hands near your heart, close your eyes, and breathe deeply as you perform this technique.

The next acupressure exercise covers a larger area, and is less exacting. To find it, first put your hands on your hips, at the level of your waistline. Next, adjust your fingers so they are all below your ribs, with your pinky resting around the level of your belly button. Your fingers should be lined up with the nipples. Press into the abdomen using circular motions and gradually expand your motions outwards for another couple of inches. This technique can be quite soothing and is best when performed sitting down, for two to three minutes. For a super quick fix, try tapping your inner wrists together nine times.

One explanation for nausea, according to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, is that it can be considered rebellious Qi. Qi is the essential energy that all life needs to exist. The natural momentum of the stomach is to move in a downwards direction, and when this function is disrupted, the Qi therefore is said to ‘rebel’ by going in the wrong direction. Rebellious stomach Qi can also result in hiccups and vomiting.

There are ways to strengthen the stomach and help prevent nausea. According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the stomach is associated with the element of earth. The earth thrives on routine and regularity. To help you eat according to the rhythms of your stomach, eat breakfast every day at the same time. Ideally, this time is between 7am-9am, when stomach Qi is at its strongest. Eat at a leisurely pace; otherwise your stomach won’t have enough time to digest the food.

Avoid eating late at night, or before bed, so that energy which should be spent on rejuvenating all the organs during sleep isn’t spent on an untimely digestion. Reading or using the computer while having your meal will also interrupt your digestion. The mental energy expended on these activities will be diverted from the energy needed for your stomach. Lastly, the emotion coupled with the stomach is worry. So, when you feel worried or you find yourself overthinking, either eat lightly or wait until you feel more grounded before having your next meal.

Call Bluemoon Acupuncture And Wellness Center (520-505-1442) to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!

Category : Blog


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