AOMA Blog

How Auricular Acupuncture Can Help with Opiate Use Disorder

Posted by Victor S. Sierpina, MD on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 @ 11:37 AM

Previously published, Galveston County Daily News, Jan 23, 2019

Opiate Use Disorder is claiming lives by the tens of thousands. The Center for Disease Control reported 47,600 deaths in the US involving opioids in 2017, concluding that the opioid overdose epidemic continues to worsen with increased in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. In the state of Texas, deaths attributable to opioids rose three times from 1999-2015 with increasing impact on maternal mortality and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The UTMB Department of Family Medicine recently submitted a grant proposal to improve education and clinical practice by training and outreach to rural areas hardest hit by this growing scourge. Many of those with OUD started on prescription medications and then moved onto black market products like heroin, fentanyl, and diverted OxyContin.

Controlled substance contracts, the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program, limiting initial opiate prescriptions, automated electronic medical record notifications about the use of Naloxone, medical provider and public awareness are all part of the solution.

The use of auricular (ear) acupuncture for substance abuse, alleviating withdrawal symptoms, behavioral health, and pain management is a safe, widely researched, and long-standing adjunctive treatment modality. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA protocol) is the best known of the methods and has been practiced widely for over 30 years. It involves application of 3 to 5 needles at specified ear points, is simple to learn and to apply, and enjoys wide patient acceptance.

The clinical application of ear acupuncture for substance use since it was first found effective in easing withdrawal symptoms from opium and heroin in Hong Kong in the 1970’s. Since then, research and practice-based evidence continues to accumulate and drive its use along with safety, ease of application, and patient acceptance.

The broad application of NADA to alcohol, opiate, nada pictobacco, methamphetamine, and cocaine abuse makes it a promising adjunct to medical and behavioral treatment methods in a very challenging patient population. Additionally, the NADA protocol has been used for stress management, including post-traumatic stress, treating addicted pregnant women, sleep disorders, and anxiety. It has been used in refugee camps, post-hurricane settings, prisons, hospitals, rehabilitation treatment centers, as well as outpatient clinics, predominantly in a group treatment context.

Practitioners emphasize that so-called “acudetox” is an adjunctive, not a standalone treatment for easing withdrawal symptoms as well as maintenance of abstinence. It is most effective when applied with standard therapy, behavioral interventions, and/or 12-step programs.

Physiological studies have shown auricular acupuncture acts on neuroendocrinological pathways include serotonin, dopamine, endorphin, dynorphin, and GABA receptors which mediate its effects on pain management. The Battlefield Acupuncture protocol using 5 tiny tacks in each ear has been increasingly used since the early 2000’s when it was first applied in military settings. It can also be highly and immediately effective in acute problems like migraine and chronic problems such as back or muscle pain.

Other non-pharmacological treatments such as mindfulness, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, chiropractic, massage, hypnosis, diet, exercise, physical therapy, yoga and tai chi can also be part of a rational integrative pain management plan that doesn’t involve the risk of using addicting opiates.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, efficacy of acupuncture, chinese medicine, tcm education, prevention, acupunture

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Posted by Shengyan (Grace) Tan, MD (China), LAc on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 @ 10:57 AM

AbdominAcupuncture.jpeg

The world we live in is changing at a rapid pace. The American healthcare system has shifted in recent decades; notably, patients are asking more from their healthcare providers. The traditional Western medical approach of specialist referral for each symptom is giving way to alternative forms of healthcare like acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

In contrast to Western medicine, the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) looks at the whole person—his or her dietary preferences, lifestyle, exercise, and the strength of his or her connections in different types of relationships—as well as to the particular symptoms and signs which brought the patient in for treatment in the first place. In order to truly address the root of a patient’s illness or complaint, TCM pays great respect and close attention to what the patient eats and drinks and what preventive treatment the patient needs to receive according to the four seasons, as well as to the physical and spiritual living conditions of the patient.

According to TCM belief, we are what we eat, and we are also a part of the greater universe. Our wellness is affected by factors such as seasonal changes, monthly lunar changes, physical and spiritual activities, etc. The winter season, which we are currently in, requires hibernation and storage. Water turns into ice because of the cold; the earth is cracked because of the cold. Winter is considered the best season for rejuvenation and recuperation, conservation and revitalization. Ingestion of tonics in wintertime has been the traditional life cultivation method in China for several thousands of years.

Modern researchers believe winter is the season in which nutrients are most easily accumulated. Therefore, nutrients can be transformed into energy to the greatest extent and stored inside the body by means of recuperation with proper diet recommendations and preventive treatment, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, to maintain balance and nourish the internal organs and essence. TCM will change the patient’s overall condition so that both the symptoms and the underlying disharmony disappear. The body may then be sufficiently supported in such a way as to remove all unpleasant symptoms.

In addition to seasonal nutritional recommendations, the effectiveness of abdominal acupuncture to support and harmonize the body’s organ systems, treat illness, and strengthen Essence and Qi is based on ancient theories of Daoism. In the past, an old qigong master imagined a three-cun taiji (yin/yang) symbol centered below the umbilicus. Embraced in the center were two energies, one being yang and the other being yin, the ascending/descending, the entering/exiting of Qi and Blood throughout the body. Because most of the body’s organs or their external–internal pair reside in the abdomen, needling abdominal points can affect the entire internal system. 

The abdomen is recognized as our second brain; in ancient times, the abdomen was used for diagnosis, and still today the abdomen is used in TCM as a means of treating the entire body. In TCM, we believe our health does not occur in a vacuum; rather it has its roots in our total being. The body does not work as a series of parts in isolation, but rather as a whole, dynamically integrated with our entire system. Every cell is a nerve cell.

This biological awareness of every cell is really the foundation of wellness and health. The abdomen has more nerve cells than the brain and spinal cord combined; as a result it has huge control over our emotional wellbeing as well as on our overall health, and it is particularly important in the regulation of digestion, hormones, emotions, and pain. The abdomen produces about 80% of all serotonin, a hormone responsible for mood, sleep, learning, and blood pressure. Abdominal acupuncture therefore can have far-reaching effects on digestive problems, women’s health issues, stress, and immune and adrenal support, and can also help to relieve pain syndromes and sleep disorders.

Abdominal acupuncture can only be achieved with ideal effect through deep understanding and years of practice of the theory, philosophy, and techniques of abdominal acupuncture, which are all quite unique and different from other acupuncture methods. The AOMA Clinic team of highly skilled and trained professional acupuncturists can help you experience the preventative health benefits of abdominal acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and season-specific and personalized diet and nutrition recommendations. Support your body, mind, and spirit this winter with the rejuvenating, recuperating, and revitalizing benefits of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

 

 

Topics: acupuncture, prevention, preventative medicine

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