Tag Archives: Acupuncture

Reading Pulses at the End of Life

Pulse diagnosis Credit unknown
Pulse diagnosis
Credit unknown
In Chinese Medicine reading the pulse is one of the two key diagnostic methods, tongue diagnosis being the other. We use 3 fingers below each wrist where we can access different depths of the radial artery as it lies over the curved bone. The different positions under each finger have been correlated over the centuries with different organs. We listen to the movement of blood in the blood vessels and note the speed, shape and any rhythmical irregularities coming from the heart or other tissues. We feel the thickness or thinness of the blood vessels, how deeply they lie, how full of blood they are and note their resilience and vitality. And we note the tension of the tissue around the blood vessel. Radio signals communicated between the brain and heart gives information we may not be able to verbalize. It is a deep listening.

Too often we practitioners draw from a pool of similar patients and are not able to experience the vast information potentially read from pulses. Even more infrequent is the pulse experienced at the end of life when many are in hospitals hooked up to machines that may interfere with natural death.

I was fortunate to be able to listen to my father’s pulse as he passed away at home and I thought you might find it interesting.

Burton Vaughan 1927-2015
Burton Vaughan 1927-2015
Ever the teacher he would not mind my sharing this with you.

My dad was an 89 year old man in otherwise good health who had leaky heart valves. He had chosen not to get them repaired as it usually involves some mental impairment and he was teaching graduate school classes until last year. So the ability of his heart to support his activities was substantially reduced as the valves were unable to push blood through the heart.

During his last day his pulse was very rapid as his heart was compensating for the low force. Qi could not command blood. The beat started strong then fizzled out as the weak valves could not push the blood. It was regularly irregular but the “fizzle” took a third to a half of the beat. He was so hot he required fanning, but his hands and feet were icy cold. This would be what we call false heat caused by the stagnation of blood due to low qi/ force. The force of the pulse was low but curiously his Kidney pulses were not inordinately weak compared to the others.

As he died his breathing was reduced and it was hard to find what had become a feeble pulse. The pulse got deeper and deeper until it was hidden. His forehead was still hot as was his vertex but the warm area moved up and the cold overtook him. The pulse diminished and he peacefully died.

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How Long Does it Take After a Stem Cell Implant to See Results?

Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatm...
Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatment is promising or emerging. (See Wikipedia:Stem cell#Treatments). Bone marrow transplantation is, as of 2009, the only established use of stem cells. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How long does it take before I will see the results of the stem cells? The short answer is that it varies considerably, as stem cell proliferation and concentration increases.

One woman in my group was so pleased with the turnaround in her  30 year MS that she came back for more, In her first treatment she had absolutely no improvement for 6 months, when all of a sudden she could raise her leg two feet instead of two inches. She subsequently went from not being able to turn over in bed to being able to drive herself to the gym and work out and she has retained her improvements for several years. But she went through the treatment with another woman with longstanding MS whose improvements mostly happened the first month.

So far my improvements are subtle. My foot spasms which have interfered with exercise are significantly reduced, I am told that I look livelier. My win rate at Solitaire (hand and mind) is up 5 points. And my blood sugar is somewhat reduced.  After three months I will have my blood retested and after 6, my vision evaluated. My stamina is notably improved:

(The first day of hyperbaric treatment in Great Neck I was let out of the bus at the bottom of a steep hill with no center in sight. I phoned and they told me to walk up the hill and turn left. That left me in the LIJ hospital parking lot where I questioned a guard only to find that that I had climbed the wrong hill and needed to walk back down again and climb an even steeper hill. It would be fair to say I couldn’t have done that before.)

You can’t smoke anything:  a single cigarette or joint during the initial month can knock out the new proliferating cells.  And you can’t drink at all for 9 months.  They told us of a COPD client who went on a $15,000 bender,wiping out all of his progress.  We are to eat a whole food diet high in flavanoids.  I have added huperizia and vinoceptine supplements to oxygenate my brain and wear my SomaPulse electromagnetic frequency pulse generator which was designed to proliferate stem cells.

I am still fundraising. I have 40 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen at $200-$250 a pop and they need to be done together, which cuts into my income, I have a Groupon for the first 5, but after that I don’t have the money. This is necessary to cause the stem cells to proliferate.

I am including a link to a tremendous story on stem cells helping a stroke victim, former Redwings hockey player Gordie Howe. This is from a different company, Stemedica Cell Technologies of San Diego, and they injected the cells directly into the spinal fluid which had to take place in Mexico. He got up and walked at once. http://blogs.windsorstar.com/…/howe-makes-phenomenal-recove… Let’s hope this technique gets approved here!

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Dealing with Constipation


Constipation refers to bowel movements that either occur less often than expected or with a stool that is hard, dry and difficult to pass.  (Types 1-3 on the Bristol Stool Chart, below.)  A healthy adult should pass one to two stools a day, although some otherwise healthy adults pass a stool every other day.  There are a number of reasons one might not pass feces, including diet, fluid intake, medications, stress, anal pain from hemorrhoids  or fissures, lack of probiotic gut bacteria, laxative abuse, specific diseases, such as stroke, diabetes, thyroid disease and Parkinson’s, change in circardian rhythm (due to irregular sleeping while traveling) and a poor posture while eliminating Continue reading Dealing with Constipation

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Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease has four components: What to Eat, What Not to Eat, Useful supplements and How to Eat, given symptoms of the disease.  This will be a four piece series.  Some of it is basic: the foods and superfoods that enrich the diet.  Some is specific to the typical complaints from either the disease, the medications and the often restrictive lifestyles that PD patients often adopt.   And the how-to acknowledges that the disease creates some physical problems that adaptive devices might help.

Mucuna in flower, source of L.Dopa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease Part 1:  Continue reading Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1

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Doctors speaking a different medical language with a 70% overlap

posterior tibial nerve stimulation

I spoke with a medical doctor, a women’s urologist, the other day about a mutual client. The discussion was frustrating for both of us, with disagreements about what I thought were perfectly obvious physical characteristics.  Afterwards it hit me that we were speaking different languages with enough overlaps that we didn’t realize there were  two different sets of definitions.  For those of you going between two practitioners with different paradigms or for practitioners of Chinese or Naturopathic medicine who need to communicate with medical doctors, I thought I’d write about this. Continue reading Doctors speaking a different medical language with a 70% overlap

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Is Acupuncture Useful for Labor Induction?

Woman Giving Birth
Image by Travis S. via Flickr

A recent study purports to show that acupuncture does not induce labor.  What it actually showed was that mild stimulation of a specific set of points did not  affect the onset of labor in 125 women who were characterized as “past due,”  at 41 weeks.  The points chosen were the same for all women, half of which got acupuncture with needles and the other half had stimulation of the same points with a blunt needle, described as “fake acupuncture.”  There was little appreciable difference between the two groups, although the acupuncture group which was slightly older ended up with slightly earlier labor and slightly lower birthweights. The headlines proclaimed, “Study: Acupuncture Doesn’t Help Induce Labor.” Continue reading Is Acupuncture Useful for Labor Induction?

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In Praise of Physical Medicine

The number one cause of death in the US is medicinal drugs, accounting for approximately 784,000 deaths anually. In-hospital adverse reactions to properly prescribed medicines is 2.2 million per year. So why is our instinct to pop a pill when there are physical methods like acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, osteopathy and massage that may be less dangerous, cheaper and more effective?

December 7th 2005 – In Praise of Physical Medicine
Copyright Karen S. Vaughan, L.Ac., MSTOM

We live in a country where the number one cause of death is medicinal drugs, accounting for approximately 784,000 deaths anually. In-hospital adverse reactions to properly prescribed medicines is 2.2 million per year. Dr. Richard Besser of the CDC    Continue reading In Praise of Physical Medicine

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Non Pharmaceutical Ways to Deal With Pain

Pain can be caused by physical or emotional blockages to the free flow of blood and energy. Gate theory says that a little pain can block out larger amounts of pain.

July 26th 2006 – Copyright by Karen S. Vaughan.

There are different nonpharmaceutical ways to deal with the pain.

According to gate theory, a little pain drives out a larger pain, up to a certain threshold. So for instance I might drive my index fingernail into my thumb when pain starts to get too bad. Continue reading Non Pharmaceutical Ways to Deal With Pain

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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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Sleep and Health

Summer brings more light and usually increased levels of activity.  You can indulge in more work or play.  But don’t let that extra daylight rob you of sleep.


Example of dark circles
Example of dark circles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sleep is essential for your well being.  One study published in the journal Science found that the quality of our sleep has a greater influence on our ability to enjoy our day than our income or our marital status. Yet, we remain a sleep-deprived culture.


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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 problems.dog-cat2

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 Fatty Liver and How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

fatty_liver_diseaseFatty liver is now recognized as the most common cause of abnormal liver function tests in the western world. Around one in five persons in the USA has a fatty liver and it is poised to be as big a disease as diabetes.  Fatty liver is usually associated with abdominal obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Fatty liver may be associated with or may lead to inflammation of the liver. This can cause scarring and hardening of the liver. When scarring becomes extensive, it is called cirrhosis, and this is a very serious condition which can lead to liver failure. Continue reading What is Fatty Liver and How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

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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 American study, which appeared in the September issue of The International Journal of Radiation Oncology, examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating women coping with the side effects of conventional breast cancer medicine. Eleanor Walker, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Henry Ford Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology in Detroit, led a team of researchers to compare acupuncture treatment with the common anti-estrogen treatment used to control breast cancer therapy side effects. The side effects, such as hot flashes and depression, affect about 80% of women treated for breast cancer and are usually treated by the pharmaceutical anti-depressant venlafaxine (Effexor). Many breast cancer patients refuse venlafaxine because of its own set of negative side effects.
The Study

The clinical trial, titled “Acupuncture for the Treatment of Vasomotor Symptoms in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Hormone Suppression Treatment,” compared acupuncture treatment to venlafixine therapy for 12 weeks. The trial was randomized, which means that the patients were randomly placed into either treatment group. This ensured that both known and unknown confounding factors were evenly distributed between groups. Randomization is a common scientific technique for increasing the reliability of experimental results.

Dr. 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. The 47 women were randomly divided into an acupuncture group (24 patients) and a venlafaxine group (23 patients). The patients were carefully monitored before, during and after the 12 week period.

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.

“Our study shows that physicians and patients have an additional therapy for something that affects the majority of breast cancer survivors and actually has benefits, as opposed to more side effects,” commented Eleanor Walker, M.D. “The effect is more durable than a drug commonly used to treat these vasomotor symptoms and, ultimately, is more cost-effective for insurance companies.”

“The results of this study suggest that adding acupuncture to breast cancer treatment regimens may establish an integrative approach that is more effective in managing symptoms due to treatment with fewer side effects than conventional pharmacotherapy treatment,” concluded the study.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation

This study was funded by the Susan G. Komen Foundation.


1) http://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016(0801216-9/fulltext
2) http://download.journals.elsevierhe…
3) http://www.astro.org/PressRoom/News…
4) http://www.modernmedicine.com/moder…
5) http://www.medicinenet.com/script/m…
6) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/art…
7) http://cms.komen.org/komen
8)  http://www.women.com.bd/2008/07/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-breast-cancer-in-new-study/

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Relief Acupuncture Trip to New Orleans after Katrina

  • On December 13, 2 2006 I went to New Orleans to do acupuncture under the sponsorship of CRREW. CRREW has been in New Orleans since last year doing volunteer acupuncture under the Louisiana temporary acupuncture license (which allows only NADA ear points.)

    Karen Giving Acupuncture for the New Hope Ministries Health Fair in Algiers

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2006

I arrived in New Orleans at twilight, with little view of the destruction from Katrina.  Huynh Quang, a Vietnamese-born acupuncturist picked me up at the airport. Occasionally he pointed out water marks, on the railroad tracks over the highway, by the water pumping plant that I had seen in Spike Lee’s film When the Levees Broke, and in formerly occupied shopping centers that had been completely inundated and were now vacant.
Continue reading Relief Acupuncture Trip to New Orleans after Katrina

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