This BBC documentary features Kathy Sykes on her trip to China as she discovers incredible demonstrations of the use of acupuncture - from a woman undergoing heart surgery with acupuncture as her only anesthetic to what needle stimulation looks like in the brain using an MRI.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health produces videos about the research on complementary health approaches. The three videos presented here explain some of the most popular integrative medicine practices: acupuncture, qigong, and meditation.
What happens during an Acupuncture session?
This video narrates the basic historical and theoretical background of acupuncture while also giving a step by step guide on what to expect during an acupuncture treatment such as possible physical sensations, different acupuncture techniques, and the importance of finding a qualified practitioner.
This video explains how the practice of Qigong can enhance the flow of energy in the body through movement, meditation, and regulation of breathing; and in turn, how it can benefit your daily life.
This video shows the practice of meditation and how it can result in a state of greater calmness, physical relaxation, and psychological balance.
John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc is AOMA’s director of research, as well as doctoral program director. Dr. Finnell’s latest research project “Unravelling the Relationship between Biomarkers of Aging and Vitamin D Metabolism” investigates the possibility that correction of vitamin D insufficiency in humans may result in increased expression of Klotho, an anti-aging protein tightly involved in vitamin D homeostasis. Deficiency of Klotho confers an age-like phenotype in multiple mammalian species. Decreased Klotho protein expression has been implicated in rapid aging and increased oxidative stress, and potentially contributes to increased disease risk and all-cause mortality associated with vitamin D insufficiency. Dr. Finnell and his research team hypothesize that treating vitamin D insufficiency may result in changes in circulating Klotho levels. They expect that this research may lead to a better understanding of the health benefits of sufficient vitamin D status.
The first results of this research were published online on March 31, 2014 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism as “Impact of Vitamin D3 Dietary Supplement Matrix on Clinical Response”. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2013-3162
Read more about current research project at AOMA.
On Friday March 21st, AOMA will sponsor a round-table discussion about the role of acupuncture & Oriental medicine (AOM) in integrative pain care. Licensed acupuncturists can earn one free Continuing Acupuncture Education (CAE) credit (*pending) by attending.
Speakers will identify challenges within AOM research, integrative practice & pain care, and discuss opportunities for advanced clinical practice. Speakers include Dr. John Finnell, Dr. Daniel Weber, and Dr. Rosa Schnyer.
John Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc
Dr. John Finnell is an accomplished researcher and skilled health care practitioner with a rich academic and professional background. In addition to being an active practitioner of naturopathic & Chinese medicines, he has completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and served as the acting Director of Research for the True North Health Foundation. He is currently the Director of the Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (DAOM) program at AOMA.
Daniel Weber, PhD, MSc
Daniel Weber is a pioneer in complementary medicine committed to fostering dialogue between all types of health care professionals. His extensive academic history spans over 3 decades and includes in-depth study in Japan, the UK, and China. In addition to serving as the vice-chair of the oncology section of the World Federation of Chinese Medical Societies, he is a Visiting Professor at TianJin University, and President of Panaxea International. His research is conducted at Guang 'Anmen hospital in Beijing and at TianJin Unversity.
Rosa Schnyer, DAOM, LAc
Dr. Rosa Schnyer has two decades of clinical research experience and is a leading figure in the development of methodologies for the study of acupuncture & Oriental medicine. She is a faculty member within AOMA's Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Program as well as UT Austin's College of Pharmacy & School of Nursing. She maintains an active clinical practice in Austin, Texas and has completed extensive training in both Toyo-Hari Japanese Acupuncture and acupuncture treatment for pain management.
Attendees will have the opportunity to present questions to the panel and participate in this important discussion about the future of acupuncture research & integrative pain care. Information about AOMA’s doctoral program, which has a clinical specialty of pain management and the accompanying psychosocial concerns, will also be available.
In addition to the engaging discussion with one free CAE credit, participants may also receive 10% off the registration cost of Dr. Daniel Weber’s Integrative Oncology CE Workshop on Saturday March 22.
Join us in the dialogue that will shape the advancement of TCM.
Friday, March 21:
7:30pm – 8:30pm - Roundtable Discussion
8:30pm – 9:15pm - Questions, Comments, and Cocktails
28.5 million men, women and children have diabetes in the U.S. This dis-ease affects the function of the pancreas. Classic Chinese practitioners were writing about the symptoms of diabetes (excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination, and rapid weight loss) over 2,500 years ago in the ancient medical text called the Nei Jing.
Food therapy can also be an effective way to control blood sugar. Acupuncturists can recommend combinations of foods that help the individual to regulate the blood sugar and the internal heat created by the dysfunction of the pancreas.
Acupuncture & TCM can help Diabetics
The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine published a study recently that showed regular acupuncture treatments can help control the function of the pancreas and help regulate the blood sugar levels in diabetics. Other symptoms that acupuncture and herbs can address for diabetics are fatigue, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst, urination and hunger, poor wound healing, infections, irritability, blurry vision, and numbness in fingers and toes.
What is acupuncture?
The most well-known traditional Chinese medical procedure, acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into the body at specific points to relieve pain or treat a disease. Acupuncture triggers spontaneous healing reactions in the body, and scientific studies have proven its efficacy for treating inflammation, pain, depression and a host of other disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes 28 diseases, symptoms, or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven to be an effective form of treatment. The WHO also recognizes acupuncture’s therapeutic effects for over 55 diseases, symptoms, or conditions, but noted additional controlled trials are needed.
Insomnia is often not used to refer to a disease or condition, but rather a symptom of several sleep disorders. According to Western medicine, there are two types of insomnia, primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not directly related to any other health problems whereas secondary insomnia is difficulty sleeping due to another issue such as asthma, pain, arthritis, cancer, depression or due to a side effect of a medication.
Common symptoms associated with insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking too early in the morning and feeling tired upon waking. Insomnia is also categorized based on the duration of the symptoms.
Episodes of insomnia may occur naturally from time to time, but when the condition continues for some time it can become pathological and sets off a whole cascade of events. Acute insomnia is short term and may last for a few nights to several weeks. Chronic insomnia is defined as having symptoms at least three nights per week for one month.
How Is Insomnia Treated with Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Chinese medicine and acupuncture have been used to treat insomnia for thousands of years. TCM recognizes the proper flow of Qi of the body to be influential in healthy sleep. We look at the underlying issues causing sleep disturbances such as pain, stress and anxiety or night sweats and work to eliminate these issues.
An ancient Chinese physician, Zhang Jing-Yue, wrote: “Sleep is yin and ruled by the spirit. If the spirit is quiet there will be sleep. If the spirit is not quiet there is no sleep.” TCM theory begins with the theory of yin yang. Most basically, Yang is associated with day, activity and wakeful hours. Yin is associated with night, stillness and sleep. The spirit, or ‘Shen’ in Chinese, is a combination of the heart and mind; the two are inseparable in Chinese medicine.
Insomnia, often associated with disturbances of the psyche, will affect the state of the heart. The spirit is quiet when anchored by the yin. When the yin is deficient, or the yang energy overactive, the spirit has nowhere to rest. Yin is the energy responsible for night time and sleep and if our bodies are depleted in yin energy we experience insomnia, often with night sweats and a host of other symptoms. With the TCM treatment of insomnia, there is also a strong focus on the health of the kidneys and the balance of the fluids of the body.
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine treat insomnia by taking into consideration your overall balance of mind, body, and spirit. The condition may be treated using acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet and lifestyle changes, and relaxation techniques. Treatment will be highly individualized and will depend on the underlying cause of the insomnia, which will be differentiated by your practitioner. A proper diagnosis is key to successfully treating insomnia, which may be caused by a number of factors including physical strain, mental and emotional stress, or improper diet. All these things must be examined in the patient’s life and adjusted to increase their state of balance. This will be different for each person and tailored to fit their specific needs. Patients with insomnia often have deeply relaxing treatments and fall asleep during their sessions.
Western science has recognized acupuncture's effects on insomnia and attributes it to the natural release of melatonin and dopamine with acupuncture. Read an article about curing insomnia with acupuncture here: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-cure-insomnia-with-acupuncture/.
If you are suffering from insomnia you can start by working to eliminate stress and worry from your life. Acupuncture can help you begin to do this by identifying factors that trigger these emotions and take steps to reduce these triggers. Chinese medicine practitioners can also help you manage and reduce your emotional stress and reduce your dependence on sleeping pills or stimulants like smoking, alcohol, coffee or tea, all of which can affect your sleeping patterns. A bit of physical activity each day will help further reduce stress and regulate the flow of blood throughout the body. Practices such as taiji, qigong, and meditation can also help to calm the mind.
For a complete consultation, individual diagnosis and treatment for insomnia, visit our request an appointment page to schedule with a licensed practitioner.
Approximately 27 million Americans suffer from the pains of arthritis, making it one of the most common causes of physical disability among adults. Although it becomes more common as one ages, arthritis can affect adults of all ages.
Symptoms of arthritis include joint or muscle pain in any joint area including the spine, hips, and fingers. Other symptoms include morning muscle/joint stiffness, loss of appetite, low-grade fever and loss of energy. Joints may become swollen when inflamed and even turn red.
Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid arthritis
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting an estimated 21 million adults in the US. It begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness in the fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Repetitive injuries and physical trauma may contribute to the deterioration of osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joints and in some cases, may affect the blood, lungs, or the heart. Inflammation is the main cause of the pain, stiffness, and swelling. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are familiar with “flares” or active symptoms and “remissions” when the symptoms dissipate for a period of time. This ebb and flow of symptoms can go on for years or a lifetime.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
According to Chinese medical theory, arthritis occurs when the Qi (energy, life-force) in the body becomes blocked. Unique acupuncture points will be determined after a careful evaluation of the patient’s medical history and once the licensed practitioner pinpoints the root cause of the patient’s Qi blockage. The practitioner will also likely prescribe Chinese herbs and make lifestyle and/or dietary recommendations.
In a study by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, acupuncture was shown to reduce the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants had a 40% decrease in pain and improvement of joint function from baseline evaluation after only 14 weeks of treatments.
Lifestyle and Dietary Recommendations
Lifestyle and diet can make a huge impact on quality of life for people who suffer from arthritis. A healthy diet can ease arthritis pain and help keep your joints healthy. Chinese medicine nutritional therapy would recommend avoiding “damp” foods such as greasy and spicy foods, as well as dairy products.
Here are some other foods to consider adding to your diet:
- Ginger - A natural anti-inflammatory. Take according to supplement label or make a tea with half a teaspoon of grated ginger root and eight ounces of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pineapple - Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, reduces inflammation.
- Cherries - Cherries are an excellent source of nutrients that may help to reduce joint pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
- Fish - Cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce pain and swelling as well as keep joints healthy.
- Turmeric - A natural anti-inflammatory. Take according to supplement label and use as a cooking spice whenever possible.
 Acupuncture Relieves Pain and Improves Function in Knee Osteoarthritis. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2004/acu-osteo/pressrelease.htm
 Acupuncture for Arthritis by Diane Joswick. https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Acupuncture+for+Arthritis
Yaoping 'Violet' Song, PhD discusses the Traditional Chinese Medicine theory of pediatric health. Dr. Song gives practical ways to improve your child's health.
Prior to beginning her employment with AOMA, Dr. Song worked as an instructor at Chengdu University, lecturing on the science of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prescriptions & TCM herbology since 2005 and on TCM pharmacology since 2002. She has participated in research studies investigating the compatibility, pharmacology, and toxicology of TCM formulas and Chinese ethnic medicine, including Tibetan medicinal herbs.
Dr. Song has also participated in research grants from the National Science Foundation of China. After graduated from the Chengdu University of TCM, Dr. Yaoping Song continued to practice acupuncture and Chinese medicine by following Professors Xunlun Zhou (expert on herbal formulas) in TCM internal medicine fields. Dr. Song has been on faculty at AOMA since 2008.
Dr. Song offers treatments for female disorders, stress, insomnia, digestive disorders, the common cold, cough, as well as pediatric herbal consultations.
Hypertension is a series of clinical symptoms marked by increase of blood pressure in the arteries of blood circulation, according to the criteria suggested by the World Health Organization. Adults with systolic pressure greater than 140 mmHg and/or diastolic pressure greater than 90 mmHg can be diagnosed with hypertension (the result of three tests taken intermittently in one day).
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnose hypertension?
Hypertension is similar to dizziness and vertigo in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is usually thought to be caused by emotional factors, constitutional deficiencies, diet and stress that lead to an imbalance of yin and yang in the liver, spleen and kidney*. Eventually this can result in hyperactivity of liver fire, or phlegm disturbing the upper, or frequent weakness of kidney yin and the failure of yin to control yang.
How does TCM usually treat hypertension?
It is essential to differentiate hypertension which is caused by excess from that which is caused by deficiency. TCM usually treats hypertension with body acupuncture, ear acupuncture, and herbs, but depending on the cause, the acupuncture points selected, techniques, and herbs will be different. The treatment for the excess type is to calm the liver to stop wind, eliminate fire and resolve phlegm. For hypertension caused by deficiency the approach is to replenish qi and blood, while nourishing the liver and kidney.
Case Study – Mr. High
Mr. High, 65 years old, has been diagnosed with hypertension for 10 years. He told Dr. Tan that he was experiencing dizziness, headaches, red eyes, a bitter taste in his mouth, restlessness, irritability, and poor sleep. He came for acupuncture twice a week for a month and was prescribed Chinese herbs.
Dr. Tan used the following acupuncture points: GB 20, LI 11, LI 4, SP10, ST 40, LR 3, and HT7. His herbal prescription was a modified Longdan Xiegan Tang formula. One month after the treatment, all his symptoms were relieved and his blood pressure was stabilized.
Dr. Tan’s Tips
Dr. Tan also recommends qigong exercises to help his body to regain the balance of yin and yang, calm the liver, eliminate fire, and replenish qi and blood. From a TCM perspective, it would also be better for hypertensive patients to eat more fruits and vegetables and less greasy and spicy food. Also it is advisable to avoid seafood which from the TCM perspective is stimulating and cold in nature. Food that is cold in nature promotes dampness and phlegm, which can make dizziness and vertigo worse. Fish is relatively better than shrimp and crab.
Herbal Foot Soak
This herbal foot soak can help to relieve vertigo, tinnitus, headache, limb numbness, and insomnia. To prepare the foot soak, cut the herb Gouteng (Gambir vine stems) into small pieces and wrap in a cloth with a littleBingpian (Borneol) and steep them in warm water. Soak the feet twice a day after getting up and before going to bed, 30-45 minutes each time and 10 days as a treatment course. These herbs require an herbal prescription.
Unique Herbal Prescriptions
Patients who suffer from high blood pressure should make an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist as every person is unique. The practitioner will take a full medical history and do pulse and tongue diagnosis to determine the best acupuncture plan and herbal prescription.
*organs in italics refer to meridians in Chinese medicine, not actual organs.
The military seems to be leading the pack with the use of acupuncture in the treatment of psychosocial pain. To be more specific, the US Army has implemented several programs incorporating complementary and alternative medicine to treat symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). One of these programs happens to be right here in Texas at Ft. Hood. The program is titled Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program (WCSRP).
The WCSRP is an eleven week program combining the use of traditional Western therapies with traditional Eastern approaches to treat soldiers with PTSD symptoms. Various methods of complementary medicine are offered, such as acupuncture, massage, reflexology, sound therapy, meditation, reiki/bio-energy therapies, as well as mind-body practices such as yoga and tai chi. The WCSRP is a time-intensive program, requiring soldiers to show up every day for the first three weeks, participate in group-counseling, as well as individual counseling, and determine an individualized treatment plan incorporating complementary treatment methods which then continues over the following eight weeks.
Due to the success of programs like the WCSRP, there is growing support to make complementary medicine a standard in psychosocial treatment programs.
The views expressed in article titled "Acupuncture Used in Military Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program" (January 2013 AOMA Blog) are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Marines, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations herein are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines, and the U.S. Navy.