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Dr. Mercola: Acupuncture and Chronic Pain

 

I am happy to pass on this article by Dr. Mercola about Acupuncture and Chronic Pain. It includes a study, an overview, and other alternative measures for pain.  Please comment below with your much welcomed feedback and…Enjoy!

cupuncture Confirmed Helpful for Chronic Pain

September 29 2012 | 5,880 views | + Add to Favorites
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By Dr. Mercola

Chronic pain is an exceedingly common condition impacting an estimated 76.5 million Americans, one-third of whom describe their pain as severe and “disabling.” When it comes to treating ailments such as chronic pain, I definitely prefer non-toxic options to modern medicine’s poor excuses for “cures.”

One such option is acupuncture, which can be an effective option for a number of health problems, but pain in particular.

In a recent analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,1 researchers concluded that acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing chronic pain, such as back pain and headaches – more so than standard pain treatment. Real acupuncture also produced slightly better results than using sham needles, which suggests the benefits of needling are due to more than the placebo effect.

According to Time magazine:2

“The findings counter those of the last large study on the subject, which found that the needle technique was no better than a fake acupuncture treatment – using random pricking with toothpicks – in reducing people’s pain. But Vickers says his meta-analysis of the data, in which researchers reviewed 29 previous studies involving 17,922 participants, does a few things the previous studies did not.

For one, he and his colleagues began by looking at only the most rigorous trials involving acupuncture and pain relief – those that directly compared acupuncture treatment with some type of sham needle therapy in which needles were either inserted only superficially or placed in locations that are not known by acupuncture standards to be key treatment points in the body.

The authors of the analysis contacted each of the researchers on the previous studies to discuss with them how they separated the two treatment groups. By limiting their review to the most robust studies published, the authors could assess with more confidence acupuncture’s true effect on participants’ reports of pain before and after treatment.”

Clear and Robust Effects of Acupuncture

The researchers also went the extra mile by retrieving the raw data on self-reported pain. By standardizing the various study participants’ responses, they were able to more accurately assess and compare them as a whole. The team discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment of:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Headaches

On a scale of 0 to 100, participants who started out with a pain rating of 60 experienced an average 30 point drop (a 50 percent reduction) in response to the real acupuncture treatments (using needles); a 25 point drop when receiving sham acupuncture; and a mere 17 point drop when receiving “standard pain care” that did not include acupuncture. According to the lead author:3

“The effects of acupuncture are statistically significant and different from those of sham or placebo treatments… So we conclude that the effects aren’t due merely to the placebo effect.”

Furthermore, as reported by HealthDay:4

“The authors stressed that although the superiority of true acupuncture over sham acupuncture appeared to be relatively small, the real-world choice patients face is not between acupuncture or fake acupuncture but rather between acupuncture or no acupuncture at all. And in that context they suggested that their findings are ‘of major importance for clinical practice.’

‘Basically what we see here is that the pain relief difference from acupuncture versus no acupuncture is notable, and important, and difficult to ignore,’ [lead author] Vickers said.”

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice with roots that go back thousands of years. According to the Eastern mindset, your body is a cohesive unit, or whole – a complex system where everything within it is inter-connected, and where each part affects all other parts. A major component is the acceptance of an invisible flow of chi (or ki). This chi can be translated as “energy” or “life force,” which circulates through meridians in your body. When energetic blocks or deficiencies occur within a meridian, an imbalance is created that can cause a ripple effect of physical symptoms. Needles inserted into certain points along the meridians can stimulate sluggish chi, disperse blocks, or otherwise manipulate the flow of energy.

In essence, lack of balance within this bio-energetic system – which also includes blood flow and nutrients – is the precursor to all illness. Your body exhibits symptoms when suffering from inner disease and if it is not rebalanced, these symptoms may lead to acute or chronic illnesses of all kinds.

Chinese medicine, contrary to Western allopathic medicine, does not treat symptoms, but rather seeks to find the origin of the imbalance that produced the symptoms in the first place. Another major difference is that acupuncture, which is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is remarkably safe with few, if any, negative side effects, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

Traditionally, acupuncture is used to treat all kinds of health problems. In many Asian cultures, you see an acupuncturist in the same way you’d see a primary care physician here in the West, and in someUSstates acupuncturists are in fact considered primary health care physicians. Still, many Westerners have been slow to grasp this type of holistic view, where your body is perceived as being perfectly capable of self-correction and healing without drug intervention. Scientists are still at a loss to explain why acupuncture works, but for those who get relief or healing, the mechanics may not be of great importance.

Other Alternative Pain Treatments

Besides acupuncture, there are a number of treatment modalities that can help ease pain, such as:

  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): Few people want to be told that their pain is psychological or emotional in origin, but there’s quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. Underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma can have a massive influence on your health, particularly as it relates to physical pain. According to Dr. John Sarno, a psychiatrist who uses mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain, EFT has a greater than 80 percent success rate
  • Chiropractic adjustments: According to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine5 and funded by the National Institutes of Health, patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor and/or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain free in 12 weeks compared to those who took medication
  • Massage: Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline – reversing the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure. It is a particularly effective therapy for stress-related tension, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 to 90 percent of disease
  • Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST): NST is a gentle, non-invasive technique that stimulates your body’s reflexes, which can provide relief for back pain. Simple movements are done across muscles, nerves and connective tissue, which helps your neuromuscular system to reset all related tension levels, promoting natural healing. The results can be both profound and lasting, and are usually apparent within two or three sessions.

More Natural Solutions for Pain

If you have chronic pain of any kind, please understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require some patience. Among the best are:

  • Start taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they positively influence prostaglandins.) The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have also been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Reduce your intake of most processed foods as not only do they contain sugar and additives but most are loaded with omega-6 fats that upset your delicate omega 3-6 ratio, which will contribute to inflammation.
  • Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars (especially fructose) from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production. That is why eliminating sugar and grains is so important to controlling your pain.
  • Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.

In the meantime, you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily. Following are options that provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that pain medications often carry.

  • Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  • Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  • Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. In fact, curcumin has been shown in over 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind that most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider leaving a little of the pulpy core intact when you consume the fruit.
  • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used a topical preparation for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards.
  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.

 

How Acupuncture Works for Headaches

CAN ACUPUNCTURE TREAT THE CAUSE OF A HEADACHE? Usually! All bodily pains are necessary signals telling us that an imbalance has occurred somewhere in the physical-emotional body. Headaches rarely originate from problems in the head itself. They usually only occur in the thin sheet of muscle just under the scalp. An acupuncturist can diagnose the headache and determine which organ is causing it.

Immediate relief can come from breaking up the muscle spasms in the head and neck. This is achieved by: 1) Altering the electric charge in the nerves (discharging). 2) Sedating the pain sensors. 3) Using massage and gentle heat to open up the blocked circulation.

For a TENSION HEADACHE, painless needles are placed in the shoulders and neck area in order to release muscle spasms and stimulate an anti-inflammatory response. (Needle-less treatment is also available). Those muscles are holding up our 12 pound bowling ball head which, hanging forward over a desk or steering wheel, is actually equivalent to 20 lb.! Sine we don’t stand up straight allowing the chest muscles to hold it up, the trapezius gets overworked.

A special friction rub–“Gwa Sah” removes the old stagnant blood that pools in the muscle tissue causing that familiar achiness, tightness, and pressure on the affected vertebral nerves. As fresh blood flows in, this massage technique often produces immediate dramatic relief, creating a drainage, relieving the pounding arteries of the head. Along with pain relief, patients often report feeling sharper mentally and enjoying more satisfying sleep.

If any one of the following co-factors exist—ARTHRITIS, damaged HERNIATED DISCS, or BONE SPURS, this treatment will also restore oxygen to the tissue, remove toxins, and begin to dissolve the mineral buildup. One of the contributing factors in arthritis (and headaches) is FAULTY METABOLISM. Something is wrong when the minerals we ingest go and deposit themselves on our weakest joints instead of inside our bones and muscles. Accordingly, certain acupuncture points can improve the digestion and assimilation of nutrients in order to rebalance sluggish metabolism (also promoting WEIGHT LOSS). Our aim is to eradicate the systemic chemical basis for arthritis, osteoporosis, and of course, the headache.

MIGRAINES, FOOD ALLERGY HEADACHES, CLUSTER and PMS HEADACHES are caused by imbalances in the hormones, and by toxicity in the major organs, especially the liver, gall bladder and intestines. Based on traditional diagnosis, the acupuncturist stimulates those points on the limbs that relate to the affected organs, and recommends herbal formulas to support the detox and balancing process.

Sometimes the effect is immediate; sometimes it takes a series of treatments to eliminate the cause of the headache. When the deep cause is found, many future worsening conditions are thus avoided. The headache served its purpose to alert us to things under the surface and thus change the course of our lifeline.

Please share your experiences and questions–I invite comments and feedback!

What is PEMF? Electromagnetic Field Stim

What is PEMF?  Since the body has a magnetic field just as critical as the earth’s field, the Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field stimulator acts to strengthen the body’s magnetic field  and thus affect all bodily systems and tissue.  Just as we use MAGNETIC resonance (MRI) for diagnosis, so we can use magnetism for treatment.  PEMF can heal and regenerate damaged tissue for faster recovery from sports injuries, torn tendons,  fractured bones, and especially “incurable” neuropathy (numbness and pain in the feet).  This form of  PEMF therapy enhances cellular protein synthesis and improves circulation.  It has also been shown to improve many psychological conditions such as depression and PTSD by modulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

Dr. William Pawluk’s book on PEMF:  Magnetic Therapy in Eastern Europe explains how PEMF can provide a basic anti-aging strategy. Pathology starts in the magnetic field first and then in individual cell tissue, rising from damaging agents such as stress, pollutants, oxidation deprivation, chemical agents, genetic derangements, radiation, or drugs.

PEMF only affects damaged cells by reestablishing a normal magnetic field around them.  The normalized field then induces normal tissue regeneration. PEMF penetrates all biological tissue unlike laser or ultrasound, going right through casts and splints.  This stimulator, so popular in Europe and the Middle East, can affect every bodily system since electromagnetic fields surround the body as well as every organ and cell.  PEMF:

—Activates the metabolism.

—Helps repair torn muscles and ligaments.  Revitalizes skin tissue.

— Boosts the body’s defenses: Toxins & waste products are more rapidly broken down.

—Boosts Energy and healing processes through better micro-circulation.

—Increases formation of the body’s natural protective substances to combat free radicals, and strengthen the immune system.

Improves the rolling and adhesion behavior of white blood cells that fight infection.

—Increases usable oxygen and ATP, the body’s own energy supplier.

I use acupuncture and massage with the PEMF for an enhanced synergistic effect.  Most patients feel energized, relaxed, and usually pain free–immediately or within hours.  Just as in every other field of science and industry dependent on field theory, for our own bodily health we must all begin to THINK FIELDS…!

Breakthrough in “incurable” Neuropathy

I have just returned from two weeks in western New York where I did a power point presentation to a large group of elders at Canterbury Woods Community.  I invited audience members for demonstrations and every individual felt improved. But the biggest success lately has been the effect of my PEMF Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Stimulator on peripheral neuropathy.  This disease is terrible since it involves numbness of the feet, and often severe pain along with the numbness.  Go figure!

In L.A. I had two patients aged 78 and 88 who both had virtual total remission in single treatments.  In Amherst NY, two patients felt more feeling in their feet and ankles after every treatment.  I think this needs to be made known because there are so many sufferers out there, and in western medicine, neuropathy is generally considered to be incurable.  But the PEMF regenerates cell tissue and moves the inflammatory fluids and increases circulation.  The nerves are returned to normal functioning.  A miracle!

Here’s a testimonial from the 78 year old woman who had several miracles along with the disappearance of  her painful neuropathy!

“Since I was 77 years old, I did not expect miracles from acupuncture, but in my very first treatment with Dr. Kathleen, I got one! I had immediate relief from longstanding, severe neuropathy in my feet. When I got off the treatment table I exclaimed: “I can feel the carpet! I can feel the carpet!” Neuropathy is one of those irreversible conditions. Yet pain was gone and feeling was back!

 During that week the arthritic pain in my hips steadily declined and eventually went away after a few more treatments along with pain in my knees. I had full mobility without pain, with only some stiffness when sitting too long.

 Dr. Rosenblatt also cleared up another longstanding issue: irritable bowel syndrome. Next was my 15 year long allergic rhinitis nasal infection and asthma. I had had many rounds of antibiotics but it had never gone away. Kathleen supplied me with herbal capsules—one was the Chinese equivalent to an antibiotic.

 At first nothing happened but after three weeks, I finally woke up one morning with my nose clear, breathing easy, with little drainage or sneezing. A week later I could suddenly taste and smell after years of blockage. That was a phenomenal experience!

 I found that Dr. Rosenblatt really knows what works for every part of the body. This was all accomplished in exactly 12 treatments: Hips, knees, feet, intestines, and nose/throat. I am so improved from when I first went to her and at my age it is really wonderful.

I am so grateful!”                                                                 Nancy Simpson

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