CT scans reveal anatomical structures of acupuncture points. A CT (computerized tomography) scan is a series of X-rays used to create cross-sectional images. In this study published in the Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena, researchers used in-line phase contrast CT imaging with synchrotron radiation on both non-acupuncture points and acupuncture points. The CT scans revealed clear distinctions between the non-acupuncture point and acupuncture point anatomical structures.
Acupuncture points have a higher density of micro-vessels and contain a large amount of involuted microvascular structures. The non-acupuncture points did not exhibit these properties.
The researchers note that the state-of-the-art CT imaging techniques used in this study allow for improved three-dimensional (3D) imaging of a large field of view without artifacts. This greatly improves imaging of soft tissue and allowed the researchers to make this important discovery.
The acupuncture points ST36 (Zusanli) and ST37 (Shangjuxu) were shown to have very distinct structural differences than surrounding areas. At the acupuncture points, microvascular densities with bifurcations “can be clearly seen around thick blood vessels” but non-acupuncture point areas showed few thick blood vessels and none showed fine, high density structures. The acupuncture points contained fine structures with more large blood vessels that are several dozen micrometers in size plus beds of high density vascularization of vessels 15-50 micrometers in size. This structure was not found in non-acupuncture point areas.
The researchers note that the size of an acupuncture point “can be estimated by the diameter of microvascular aggregations….” They also commented that other research has found unique structures of acupuncture points and acupuncture meridians using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), infrared imaging, LCD thermal photography, ultrasound and other CT imaging methods. The researchers commented that many studies using these technological approaches have already shown that acupuncture points exist. They note that “the high brightness, wide spectrum, high collimation, polarization and pulsed structure of synchrotron radiation” facilitated their discovery. They concluded, “Our results demonstrated again the existence of acupoints, and also show that the acupoints are special points in mammals.”
In another interesting study, researchers used an amperometric oxygen microsensor to detect partial oxygen pressure variations at different locations on the anterior aspect of the wrist. The researchers concluded that partial oxygen pressure is significantly higher at acupuncture points. Below are images from the study measuring the increase of partial oxygen pressure combined with an overlay of the local acupuncture point locations. The images map the Lung, Pericardium and Heart channels and their associated local points. Acupuncture points P7 and P6 clearly show high oxygen pressure levels as do the other acupuncture points in the region.
These measurements are not needled points but are natural resting states of acupuncture points absent stimulation. A truly unique finding, acupuncture points exhibit special oxygen characteristics. Acupuncture points and acupuncture channels are scientifically measurable phenomena in repeated experiments.
- See more at: http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1230-new-ct-scans-reveal-acupuncture-points#sthash.lKAuDkjq.dpuf
By Andrew M. Seaman
NEW YORK | Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:02pm EDT
(Reuters Health) - People with depression may benefit as much from acupuncture as they do from counseling, suggests a new study.
Researchers found one in three patients was no longer depressed after three months of acupuncture or counseling, compared to one in five who received neither treatment.
"For people who have depression, who have tried various medical options, who are still not getting the benefit they want, they should try acupuncture or counseling as options that are now known to be clinically effective," said Hugh MacPherson, the study's lead author from the University of York in the UK.
Previous studies looking at whether acupuncture helps ease depression have been inconclusive. Those studies were also small and didn't compare acupuncture to other treatment options.
"What's more important for the patient is does it work in practice and that is the question we were asking," MacPherson said.
For their study, he and his colleagues recruited 755 people with moderate or severe depression. The researchers split participants into three groups: 302 were randomly assigned to receive 12 weekly acupuncture sessions, another 302 received weekly counseling sessions and 151 received usual care only.
About 70 percent of people had taken antidepressants in the three months before the study and about half reported taking pain medications. People did not have to stop taking their medicine to participate in the study.
At the outset, participants had an average depression score of 16 on a scale from 0 to 27, with higher scores symbolizing more severe depression. A 16 is considered moderately severe depression.
After three months, people assigned to the acupuncture group had an average score of about 9 - on the higher end of the mild depression category. Scores fell to 11 among members of the counseling group and about 13 in the usual care group, both considered moderate depression.
Participants who received acupuncture or counseling saw larger improvements over three months than those who had neither treatment. Those benefits remained for an additional three months after the treatments stopped.
However, any differences between acupuncture and counseling could have been due to chance, the researchers reported Tuesday in PLOS Medicine.
They found doctors would need to treat seven people using acupuncture and 10 people with counseling for one person to no longer be depressed.
"What this says is if you don't get completely better, there are other options," Dr. Philip Muskin, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, told Reuters Health.
"One option would be to take a different medication, but by this study these would be valid options," said Muskin, who was not involved with the new research.
He cautioned, however, that counseling and acupuncture are not replacements for medication. The majority of study participants were still taking antidepressants at the end of the three months.
Muskin said the study also doesn't show what types of patients respond best to acupuncture or counseling.
"What I can't tell from this study is who's who. Not everybody got better," he said.
MacPherson said it's best to ask patients for their treatment preference.
"If you talk to people, they would almost always have a leaning one way or the other," he said.
Acupuncture is only covered by health insurance in the UK for chronic pain, MacPherson said. In the U.S., some plans also cover acupuncture for pain or nausea.
According to online information from the Mayo Clinic, the risks of acupuncture are low if people hire competent and certified practitioners. Complications can include soreness, organ injury and infections.
"Cleary acupuncture is a new option," MacPherson said. "This is the first evidence that acupuncture really helps."
SOURCE: bit.ly/1803MNo PLOS Medicine, online September 24, 2013.
In clinic so far this year I have seen a huge increase in Hay fever sufferers, many of who have never had such symptoms before. The arrival of summer is not welcomed by everyone, longer evenings, better weather and the flowering of plants in gardens and in the countryside may herald the onset of sunnier times for most people. But for those with hay fever, the blooming of nature means pollen and pain. Early summer is the 'sneezing season' dreaded by all sufferers of hay fever.
Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis as it is known medically, is an allergic reaction to pollen and spores, the microscopic grains that plants, trees, grasses or fungi use for fertilization. While many plants rely on insects to transfer their pollen, others release their pollen onto the wind. It tends to be this wind-borne pollen that causes problems for people with allergies.
Grass pollen is implicated in most hay fever allergies in Ireland, as up to 90% of people with hay fever are allergic to it. A person with hay fever may simply be allergic to grass pollen, or they may be allergic to a number of other varieties of pollen too. In Ireland, the high pollen season usually begins sometime in June, depending on which part of the country you happen to live. Obviously, there is seasonal variation and the exact start date will depend on what the weather is like throughout March, April and May. The warmer weather in South West Cork means that the grass pollen season tends to start there in mid-May. In Dublin and the midlands the high season usually begins at the start of June and in North West Donegal a fortnight later.
"The earliest onset of the pollen season in Ireland was the last week in May one year", says Dr Paul Dowding of Trinity College Botany Department. "The latest recorded onset was the last week in July. The better the weather, the shorter the pollen season is, but pollen levels will be higher. If the summer is bad, pollen levels will be lower, but the season will last longer. It's a catch-22 for people with hay fever".
As in other countries, the worst days in Ireland for hay fever sufferers are hot, sunny days with light winds and no rain. The heat and sunshine encourages plants to open their pollen sacs, the wind disperses the pollen and the lack of rain means that the pollen remains in the atmosphere longer.
In Ireland, 2013 sees a rise in hay fever because trees, crops and even grass have seen delayed growth due to the cold spring, causing them to release particles at the same time and making symptoms more severe than normal.
A survey by the Asthma Society of Ireland showed that hay fever can have a significant effect on people’s daily lives. One quarter (25%) of hay fever sufferers say they have had to take a day off work or school because of hay fever while almost two-fifths (39%) have had to cancel a date or not attend a social occasion.
The World Health Organisation includes acupuncture in its list of conditions which acupuncture has been proved-through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment. Acupuncture treats your hay fever by gently strengthening the immune system and its ability to cope with the allergens that trigger the symptoms such as itchy and sore eyes and throat, sneezing, nasal inflammation and other related discomforts. For best results, you should start the treatment before the pollen season begins or as soon as you experience the symptoms.
New research, published in the journal Allergy, shows the ancient Chinese medicine can dramatically reduce symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy eyes. Researchers found that when they used acupuncture, the number of patients feeling better was over double that in a group not given the treatment.
To date I have seen very positive and often instant results in my clinic. That means relief for runny noses, stinging, swollen eyes and return to a healthy social life indoors and out!
Book now on 0867777897 to see results and feel relief.
Understanding acupuncture through eastern and western medical traditions: New book on managing pain with acupuncture
Irish Times article by Sylvia Thompson 09/04/2013
More and more people are drawn to acupuncture as an alternative treatment for pain yet many find it difficult to understand how it works.
A London-based GP, Dr Richard Halvorsen offers explanations for the use of acupuncture in the western and eastern medical traditions in his new book, Managing Pain and Other Medically Proven Uses of Acupuncture (Gibson Square, London).
He also rates the value of acupuncture across a range of medical conditions based on research studies.
Let’s start with the explanations. Many people have a vague idea that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is based on a completely different understanding of the body than western medicine. For instance, in western medicine, the kidneys are organs that preserve the chemical balance of blood by filtering it and producing urine. In TCM, however, the kidneys store the body’s “essence” and produce marrow and manufacture blood.
Halvorsen admits that when he first studied TCM at the former British College of Acupuncture, he was completely confused by these contradictory explanations.
Then, he writes: “I realised that they were completely different concepts, similar only in that they share a common name. I no longer believed literally what I was being taught but saw this way of explaining the body as a template on which to devise a traditional Chinese treatment.”
One way of viewing acupuncture through the lenses of western medicine’s teachings on anatomy and physiology is that acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system which in turn stimulates the body’s organs to release hormones. So-called medical acupuncture has now become an academic discipline in itself.
At University College Dublin, for instance, there is a graduate diploma in healthcare acupuncture with credits linked to the British Medical Acupuncture Society Diploma of Medical Acupuncture. The two-year part-time course is open to doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.
In the 30 years since his initial training in acupuncture, Halvorsen says that its use has moved from being viewed “at best with baffled amusement and at worst with strong condemnation, to many western medical doctors using it in their daily practice”.
Here, outside the traditional Chinese medicine training, it is mainly GPs and physiotherapists who use acupuncture as an add-on treatment for some conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners – who are taught acupuncture within the wider teachings and traditions of TCM – aren’t always happy to see acupuncture used in this way.
“The concern with acupuncture being used as an add-on treatment by healthcare professionals is that it is being applied out of context and without the depth of knowledge and training of TCM practitioners,” says Deirdre Murphy, chairwoman of the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association.
“They are therefore treating symptoms as opposed to traditional acupuncture, which treats the root cause of the condition, tailored diagnostically to the individual’s needs.
“The limited use of acupuncture in this way influences public experience and perception and many people are not aware that this treatment can be used to treat so many other conditions within the broader scope and potential of Chinese medicine,” Murphy adds.
On the issue of safety, Halvorsen is adamant that acupuncture is a good deal safer than many drugs used to treat similar conditions. “There are very few people who can’t have acupuncture but clearly great care needs to be taken when putting needles into anyone on anticoagulation [blood-thinning] medication,” he says.
Needles should always be sterile single- use disposables and they should never be inserted into damaged or infected skin. Electro-acupuncture (a form of acupuncture using electrical pulses) should not be used for anyone with a heart pacemaker.
When seeking an acupuncturist, advises Halversen, check whether the acupuncturist is a member of a professional acupuncture organisation and has professional liability insurance.
In Ireland, the three main registers to which acupuncturists trained in TCM belong are the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association, the Acupuncture Council of Ireland and the Professional Register of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
GPs and physiotherapists here who use acupuncture will be members of the British Medical Acupuncture Society.
Acupuncture and Anxiety, a good match?
In Western medicine, generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by excessive, exaggerated Anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of GAD tend to always expect disaster and continuously worry about things such as health, money, family, work, or school. With worry out of proportion or unrealistic, daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the Anxiety dominates the person's thinking and can interfere with daily functioning.
Symptoms of anxiety may include:
· Muscle tension, trembling
· Feeling restless or on edge
· Fast heartbeat, tachycardia
· Fast or troubled breathing
· Stomach upset
· Difficulty concentrating
· Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
It has been estimated that anxiety disorders affect between 5 and 7% of the general population, and that up to 29% of people will suffer from an anxiety disorder at least once during their lifetime. Anxiety disorders affect both men and women across the world, but the burden of the disease is greater in women than in men.
At one time or another, all of us experience stress. These feelings are a healthy response to events in our lives that may feel beyond our control. When we are healthy and the stress is short-lived, we are usually able to recover without too much wear and tear to our overall health. However, when the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our emotional health and ultimately, our physical health begin to suffer.
Acupuncture and anxiety
Recently, I have been getting a lot of enquiries asking me if acupuncture can treat Anxiety disorders. The answer is always yes. I have treated many patients suffering with Anxiety of varying degrees; acupuncture is a powerful treatment for depression and Anxiety.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views Anxiety not simply as a brain dysfunction, but more as an inner organs dysfunction.
In traditional Chinese medicine there exist zang and fu organs. These are not simply anatomical substances, but more importantly represent the generalization of the physiology and pathology of certain systems of the human body.
There are five zang and six fu organs. The five zang organs are the heart (including the pericardium), lung, spleen, liver, and kidney. The six fu organs are the gall bladder, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, urinary bladder and the sanjiao (three areas of the body cavity). Zang and fu are classified by the different features of their functions. The five zang organs mainly manufacture and store essence: qi, blood, and body fluid.
In TCM theory, each of the Zang Organs plays a role in the emotions. Emotions and organ’s health are intimately connected. Zang organs can develop imbalances and dysfunctions due to dietary, environmental, lifestyle, and hereditary factors.
Worry, dwelling, or focusing too much on a particular topic, excessive mental work are symptoms of a Spleen disorder. Lack of enthusiasm and Vitality, mental restlessness, depression, insomnia, despair are symptoms of a Heart disorder. Liver emotional symptoms are anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, bitterness, and "flying off the handle.” With Lung disorders, we see more grief, sadness, and detachment. And finally, with an imbalance of the Kidneys, a person may be fearful, insecure, aloof, isolated, and have weak willpower. While the Heart Zang is said to store the Shen or spirit, in all Anxiety cases, the Shen is disturbed. While a generalized Anxiety disorder always affects the Shen, either primarily or secondarily, calming and harmonizing the Shen will be the fundamental treatment. In Anxiety, the most common injured organs are the Spleen and Heart. When there is a disturbance in one or more of these Zang organs from any cause, an imbalanced emotional state can happen.
Acupuncture seeks to address body, mind, emotions and spirit. The goal is to create harmony within ourselves and between ourselves and the world. This imbalance can take many forms, and is ultimately discerned by the acupuncturist through an ongoing evaluation process which encompasses observation of posture, gait, demeanor, skin tone, brightness of eyes, voice, smell, tongue and pulse diagnosis, palpation and asking about symptoms and history.
Our TCM diagnosis describes a pattern of harmony or disharmony. This involves assessing the condition of spirit, essence, energy, blood, fluids, organs and channels.
Traditional Chinese medicine believes that health is dependent on Qi (energy) – which, when in good health, moves in a smooth and balanced way through a chain of fourteen main channels (Jing Luo in Chinese) mapped out throughout the body. Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body. For example, many people who are very stressed out complain of upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress is causing tension in those areas, blocking the free flow of energy, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches.
By inserting needles into the acupuncture points, which lie at specific predetermined anatomical locations on these channels, we stimulate body's energy (Qi) to start the healing process and assist it to restore its natural balance. Acupuncture points can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself.
Positive changes in lifestyle and exercise are also very valuable to the anxiety sufferer. Activities such as Tai Chi, Qigong and Yoga are excellent forms of mind-body exercise that can improve the ability to control both Anxiety and depression. Diet also plays an important part in the treatment of anxiety. Too much refined sugars, for example, can cause wild fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can significantly affect one's mood and mental health. They also deplete B vitamins from the body, which can affect the nervous system. Excessive amounts of caffeine can create "toxic heat" in the liver, causing a rise in anger and anxiety. As an adrenal stimulant, caffeine can ultimately lead to adrenal exhaustion and depression. Substituting refined sugar and caffeine with low glycemic foods and beverages can result in a reduced anxiety. Practicing these changes in conjunction with regular acupuncture treatments will provide the foundation for a positive change and medication free life for the anxiety sufferer. TCM treatments for anxiety and depression are unique for each patient, as every person has a unique constitution and set of imbalances. As a patient’s symptoms and issues adjust, a practitioner will likely change his or her treatments accordingly.
From a Western viewpoint, acupuncture works to alleviate stress by releasing natural pain-killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins. In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
Acupuncture and TCM Vs Western Medical prescription drug therapies
Western Medicine offers many options in the treatment of anxiety in the form of prescription medication. Unfortunately unlike acupuncture, these come with many undesirable side effects.
Benzodiazepines-Alprazolam (Xanax), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Clonazepam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan) A group of drugs that help reduce anxiety and have sedating effects. They work quickly, but they can be habit forming and are usually prescribed for short-term use. They may cause drowsiness, constipation, or nausea.
Buspirone (BuSpar)- An anti-anxiety drug that does not seem to cause drowsiness or dependence. However, you must take it for 2 weeks before feeling any effect. Side effects can include insomnia, nervousness, light-headedness, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.
Antidepressants- Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil), Venlafaxine (Effexor) A group of drugs that act on the same brain chemicals believed to be involved in anxiety.
Acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety has many excellences. In the hands of a trained, registered practitioner it is completely safe and free of side effects. It is immediate in result. While not every acupuncture session provides complete and full relief right away, as soon as you leave the acupuncturist (and in some cases the next morning), much of your anxiety should be diminished. Compare this to long-term treatments that generally require you to work on your anxiety a little at a time over a long period of time. For those with severe anxiety, that can be advantageous. It resolves the root issue of the anxiety alleviating all of the various symptoms. It does not interfere with other medications or treatments. It is suitable for all ages and states of health and perfectly safe during pregnancy.
An Acupuncture treatment is tailor-made to the patient. This means that rather than looking simply at “anxiety” and inserting “anxiety points”, it looks at how anxiety is affecting the individual specifically. What signs and symptoms are present for this individual at different times throughout their condition and treats accordingly leading to an anxiety free future.
19 Castlewood Terrace
Hannah O'Connell LicTCM. Hannah is a fully qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine specializing in Acupuncture. Graduating from the Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ICTCM), Hannah uses acupuncture, moxibustion, Gua Sha and lifestyle and dietary advice. Hannah is a board member of the Acupuncture Council of Ireland (ACI).