Category Archives: Acupuncture

Acupuncture For Veterans and Others With PTSD

Ears in NOLAFor vets and others in NYC, CRREW run a clinic by donation that treats PTSD with ear acupuncture. It is on the Lower East Side at the University Settlement House, 184 Eldridge Street (corner of Rivington and Eldridge streets) on Wednesdays at 5:40-7:00 in the conference room.  The F train Second Avenue stop is closest to University Settlement House.

Wendy Henry and I run the clinic.  We  have been working through CRREW (Community Relief and Rebuilding through Education and Wellness) since 9/11 using acupuncture and related techniques to help people suffering from PTSD.  We have worked on 9/11 rescue workers, Katrina survivors, residents of Lower Manhattan and veterans.  CRREW also has worked in Vietnam and Cambodia.  Other notable founders and volunteers include Laura Cooley, Marcella Robinson and Rachel Kaplan. All workers have trained at the Lincoln Hospital drug treatment facility in the NADA technique and are licensed acupuncturists.

Vets  who want something besides talk therapy are especially welcome. When events are overwhelming physical treatment can sometimes reach you when words are inadequate. One fireman who spent time being treated with us said that we opened him up to the point that he could discuss and deal with the horrors of digging through the pile at 9/11.

In 2008, 14 times as many US veterans died from a lack of health insurance than the US military death toll in Afghanistan the same year. Even with the VA, 1.5 million veterans lack access to health care. We all need to reach out to veterans in need.

CRREW has been running auricular acupuncture clinics and events since 9/11, working with residents and rescue workers.  We extend the invitation to vets who are finding the transition to civilian life to be difficult.

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Ear Acupuncture Curbs Back Pain in Pregnant Women

I’ve been in California this week and after kayaking, fellow acupuncturist Bob Linde noticed that the guide was suffering from back pain and put zaccaria seeds in her ear on the auricular points dealing with back pain.  She felt changes immediately and claimed it was the best tip she’d received yet.

We know that acupuncture works for back pain and since treating back pain in very pregnant Continue reading Ear Acupuncture Curbs Back Pain in Pregnant Women

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Should I See An MD for Acupuncture?

In most states a medical doctor can practice what is called “Medical acupuncture-modelAcupuncture” with a couple of hundred hours in a video course.  And in others, Chiropractors and sometimes Podiatrists can practice with a 300 hour course.  Compare this to the at least 1250 hour training with clinical practice and continuing education of a real Licensed Acupuncturist.  Most real acupuncturists study considerably more:  my Masters in Oriental Medicine took 4500 hours postgraduate and I have continuing education requirements that an MD or Chiropractor who needles does not.  In some states a MD can practice “acupuncture” with no educational requirement!

The real genius of Oriental Medicine is in its diagnosis, Continue reading Should I See An MD for Acupuncture?

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Acupuncture Affects Brain’s Ability to Regulate Pain

This study is quite important because it explains one way that acupuncture works to regulate pain at a cellular level.  While those of us who have experienced acupuncture need no proof that it works for pain, it is still useful to have a mainstream university explaining the mechanism for doctors and (dare I say it) insurance companies who restrict coverage to one or two codes. 

Pain is regulated in a variety of ways by acupuncture.  Like all medicine there is the reassuring placebo effect.  But gate theory explains how the presence of a little pain drives out great pain which is why lancing or electrostimulation works.  And when a needle is inserted, blood rushes to the site with all of its hormones and immunological constituents.  Here is one other way acupuncture helps:

U Michigan Study; How Acupuncture Affects the Brain’s Ability to Regulate Pain

The University of Michigan Health system has just released the results of a new UM study that showed Chinese acupuncture affects your brain’s ability to regulate pain.

Continue reading Acupuncture Affects Brain’s Ability to Regulate Pain

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Acupuncture Helps Digestive Problems in Pregnancy

Today I ran into a former patient who had suffered hyperemesis, vomiting during her entire pregnancy.  She lives far away but came in because she was desperate for relief.  She thanked me and introduced her new son.  It was a reminder of how much help acupuncture can be during pregnancy.

by Lief Parsons
by Lief Parsons

Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy providing that certain traditional points are avoided (unless there is a very good reason like stopping a miscarriage.)  Since Chinese medicine was so well documented over the years, it was possible to categorize points that would help or hurt a pregnancy and these points are well known by licensed acupuncturists.

Here is a good article from CBS news:

Acupuncture helps pregnancy symptom

Updated on 09 June 2009

Source PA News

Acupuncture can help relieve the symptoms of indigestion in pregnancy, new research suggests. Continue reading Acupuncture Helps Digestive Problems in Pregnancy

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Chinese Medicine Treats Seizures in Dogs

Only veterinary acupuncturists can work on animals, but acupuncture works on seizures in both people and animals.  In fact Chinese Medicine is very good on neurological

Chinese Veterinary Medicine Aids Seizures

By Dr. Connie Clemons-Chevis
McClatchy Newspapers
Sunday, July 5, 2009

There are many causes for seizures in animals. The overall incidence of seizures in dogs is estimated at 1 percent, but goes up to 15-20 percent in purebred dogs. Continue reading Chinese Medicine Treats Seizures in Dogs

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Acupuncture Beats Aspirin for Headaches

Acupuncture works better than drugs like aspirin to reduce the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, U.S. researchers reported.Acupuncture works better than drugs like aspirin to reduce the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, U.S. researchers reported.

Photograph by: China Photos/Getty Images, Getty Images

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acupuncture works better than drugs like aspirin to reduce the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

A review of studies involving nearly 4,000 patients with migraine, tension headache and other forms of chronic headache showed that that 62 percent of the acupuncture patients reported headache relief compared to 45 Continue reading Acupuncture Beats Aspirin for Headaches

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What is Wrong With Toothpick Acupuncture?

A recent study indicating that stimulating skin with toothpicks was nearly as effective as puncturing the skin with acupuncture needles is being touted in the medical skeptics circles as proof that acupuncture is  some kind of placebo.

There was no sham acupuncture involved.  Acupuncture is a technique of stimulating, not puncturing, points on the body for physiological effect.  Any kind of acupuncture that touches the skin, including so-called sham acupuncture needles, is acupuncture.  The Japanese have developed entire systems of noninvasive acupuncture.

While I am more likely to use a stainless steel probe when I use noninvasive acupuncture techniques, the toothpicks touched the skin at the acupoints. The skin contains threetoothpicks afferent sensory nerves that signal the central nervous system as well as modulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, specifically the vagus nerve.

The toothpicks stimulated the cutaneous nerves to send a signal to the spinal cord activating the spinal neurons that secrete enkephalin and dynorphin that inhibit pain messages. Then the signal continued up to the midbrain and pituitary to activate the raphe descending pain-inhibitions system which secretes monoamines, serotonin and norepinephrine.  Those further inhibit pain.

Once the sensations from the toothpicks reached the spinal cord several nerve pathways were excited, reaching the cerebral cortex which released neurochemicals that not only inhibit pain but also promotes homeostasis. When the body is in distress, homeostasis does help balance the mind.

The study showed that three techniques of acupuncture beat out western medicine for back pain.

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Acupuncture found Effective in Treating Breast Cancer Side Effects from Chemotherapy

Women who are being treated for breast cancer often have side effects like debilitating hot flashes, other vasomotor conditions, and depression that cannot be treated with carcinogenic hormones.  A 2008  study, in The International Journal of Radiation Oncology, found  acupuncture equal in effectiveness but superior in side effects to treat women coping with the side effects of conventional breast cancer medicine.

Dr. Elanor Walker’s study involved 47 patients who received the common breast cancer treatment of Tamoxifen or Arimidex and as a result had at least 14 hot flashes per week as well as excessive sweating, night sweats and depression. breast-cancer1

The Results

Both of the groups showed significant improvement in the adverse effects of breast cancer treatment. The study reported “that acupuncture is at least as effective as venlafaxine in reducing vasomotor and other symptoms associated with anti-estrogen hormonal treatment of breast cancer.

Although the main symptoms were decreased relatively equally among the two groups, the venlafaxine group reported a host of negative side effects such as nausea, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, dizziness, double vision, increased blood pressure, constipation, fatigue, anxiety, feeling ”spaced out,” and body spasms at night.

Patients from the acupuncture group experienced side effects as well, however they were positive in nature. The acupuncture-treated group experienced increased energy, clarity of thought, sexual desire, and an increased sense of well-being compared to before the treatment. After the 12 week trial was complete, the reduction in hot flashes lasted longer for the acupuncture patients than for the venlafaxine group.

In other words, although both conventional and acupuncture treatments decreased the negative effects of breast cancer medicine significantly, conventional treatment produced negative sides effects while acupuncture treatment provided additional benefits.

See the full article at:

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Medical Acupuncture vs. Real Acupuncture

Many people ask why they shouldn’t go to an MD for acupuncture if they can find it. Isn’t that the best of both worlds?

Acupuncture needles in hypodermic needle.
Acupuncture needles in hypodermic needle.

Simple answer: most MDs aren’t appropriately trained. They may do some simple neuromodulation with needles (which real acupuncturists are also trained to do,) but they never learn the diagnosis that is the genius of Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine has featured an almost obsessive attention to cataloging the clinical treatment of patients for thousands of years. We can go back to doctors Zhang Zhong Jing or Sun Si Miao and read their prescriptions and exactly what patterns of diagnosis they apply to. Having been cured myself of a nasty case of cellulitis with a 1500 year old formula (after my MD missed the problem) I have great respect for the classical formulas. These things are never studied in a 100-300 hour video course that a medical doctor (and in some states a Chiropractor or Podiatrist) will take to call himself a “Medical Acupuncturist.”
Continue reading Medical Acupuncture vs. Real Acupuncture

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