Friday, April 22, 2011

Acupuncture and Neck and Shoulder Stiffness

Acupuncture can be a very effective solution when treating most neck and shoulder problems. Neck and shoulder muscle tension and stiffness are very common concerns, especially of people who work in an office. Sitting in front of a computer and typing for extensive periods of time causes a lack of circulation in the tissue and fatigue of the muscles involved. Neck stiffness can be also aggravated by other common reasons, many of which can be effectively treated with acupuncture.

At the top of your neck, just below the hairline, there is a important acupuncture point called fuchi (GB20) which has been known to be closely connected to the eye. If you watch a computer screen or television for long periods of time and continuously strain your eyes, tightness can develop in this area, and sometimes a tight muscle mass forms. This area can also become quite tense with prolonged periods of thinking or mental concentration.

As a result, tightness at the top of the neck can influence autonomic nervous functioning and prolonged period of tension can cause a various symptoms such as headache, lack of concentration, poor memory, insomnia or irritability.

Other common sites of muscle stiffness that can be treated with acupuncture include the large muscle between the neck and the shoulder joint (the upper trapezius ) and the muscles between the shoulder blades. Some psychologists believe that the amount of muscle tension in the upper trapezius reflects the emotional state of a person and consequently, attach electromyographic (EMG) electrodes to these muscles to help analyze a patient’s emotional state.

The region in between the shoulder blades is traditionally referred to as the heart reflex area in oriental medicine. In oriental medicine, the heart does not refer solely to the heart organ as in western medicine, but rather encompasses a system that includes the circulatory system and emotional state. According to Nan-jing , an ancient medical text written over 2000 years ago, the area between the shoulder blades reflects the emotional state, a theory which agrees with my clinical experience. Many of my patients who are under constant worry or anxiety develop tension in the left side of the spine between the scapula. The left shoulder blade can be considered to be a reflection of the cardiac sympathetic nervous system. Tension here indicates hyper-sympathetic activity and prolonged inhibition of the parasympathetic nervous system due to consistent mental and emotional stress.

How can acupuncture help treat your neck and shoulder pain and stiffness?

As explained earlier, most neck and shoulder stiffness results from two factors: continuous mechanical strain and emotional stress. The treatment approach, then, must consider both aspects. In today’s stressful society, since most people have chronic parasympathetic inhibition and excess sympathetic activation (typical symptoms include: irritability, insomnia, cold hands, feet, digestive problems, palpitations), we begin by balancing the nervous system. For this purpose, a parasympathetic activation method referred to as SES is used. Indirect Moxa (heat therapy) treatment may also applied to certain acupuncture points to increase local tissue circulation and to induce an additional relaxation response.

SES can relieve general tension, but more chronic, deep muscle tightness requires more direct stimulation. Needling stimulation is applied to the neck and shoulder muscles to further release muscle tightness. Low-frequency electric acupuncture treatment may also be utilized for certain cases.

Acupuncture for Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most pervasive diseases in the United States and is the leading cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one out of every three Americans (an estimated 70 million people) is affected.

For most people arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis. Joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can often be managed Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis isn't just 1 disease; it's a complex disorder that comprises more than 100 distinct conditions and can affect people at any stage of life. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While these 2 forms of arthritis have very different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body, they often share a common symptom—persistent joint pain.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting an estimated 21 million adults. OA begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness.
OA commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Other joints affected less frequently include the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles. When OA is found in a less frequently affected joint, there is usually a history of injury or unusual stress to that joint. Work-related repetitive injury and physical trauma may contribute to the development of OA. If you have a strenuous job that requires repetitive bending, kneeling, or squatting, for example, you may be at high risk for OA of the knee.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect many different joints and, in some people, other parts of the body as well, including the blood, the lungs, and the heart. Inflammation of the joint lining, called the synovium, can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, warmth, and redness. The affected joint may also lose its shape, resulting in loss of normal movement. RA can last a long time and can be a disease of flares (active symptoms) and remissions (few to no symptoms).

Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to Chinese medical theory, arthritis arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes blocked. This blockage is called, "bi" type pain and is widely studies and successfully treated using a combination of acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine have been found to be extremely effective at treating the pain and inflammation associated with all types of arthritis. The acupuncture points and herbs that are used depend on if the blockage of Qi (arthritis) is caused by the pathogen wind, cold, damp or damp-heat.
Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize arthritis as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for joint pain, each of these 10 patients will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.

Your acupuncturist will examine you, take a look at the onset of your condition and learn your signs and symptoms to determine your Chinese diagnosis and choose the appropriate acupuncture points and treatment plan.

The Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture points to treat Arthritis are located all over the body, not just directly over the affected area. During the acupuncture treatment, tiny needles could be placed along your legs, arms, shoulders, and perhaps even your little toe!

There seems to be little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. Occasionally, there is a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin, but once the needles are in place, most people relax and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Chinese Herbs for Arthritis

There are many Chinese Herbal formulas that are prescribed for arthritis. Your acupuncturist will examine you, take a look at the onset of your condition and learn your signs and symptoms to determine which herbs are best for you.

Here are some commonly prescribed Chinese herbal formulas for arthritis:

* Remove Painful Obstruction Decoction (juan bi tang)- For joint pain that increases with cold and is possibly accompanied by heaviness and numbness in the limbs.
* Cinnamon Twig, Peony, and Anamerrhena Decoction (gui zhi shoa you zhi mu tang)- For swollen and painful joints that are warm to the touch and worse at night.
* Angelica Pubescens and Sangjisheng Decoction (du huo ji sheng tang)- For heavy and painful sensations at fixed locations in the lower back and lower extremities accompanied by weakness and stiffness.

Studies on Acupuncture and Arthritis

Several studies have shown that acupuncture can help people with arthritis and related auto-immune diseases.

In one Scandinavian study 25 percent of arthritis patients who had been scheduled for knee surgery cancelled their operations after acupuncture treatment. In the study, researchers compared acupuncture with advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip. Thirty-two patients awaiting a total hip replacement were separated into 2 groups. One group received one 10-minute and five 25-minute sessions of acupuncture, and the other group received advice and hip exercises over a 6-week period.

Patients were assessed for pain and functional ability: Patients in the acupuncture group showed significant improvements, while no significant changes were reported in the group that received advice and exercise therapy. The results of this study indicate that acupuncture is more effective than advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip.

Another study at the University of Maryland showed that elderly arthritis patients with knee pain due to arthritis improved significantly when acupuncture was added to their treatment.

The randomized clinical trial, performed at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, determined whether acupuncture was a clinically safe and effective adjunctive therapy for older patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

The study addressed these questions:

1. Would the addition of acupuncture to conventional therapy produce an added measure of pain relief?
2. Would the effects of acupuncture last for 4 weeks following the end of treatment?
3. Would acupuncture have any side effects?

Seventy-three patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received twice-weekly acupuncture treatments and conventional therapy for 8 weeks, and the other group received conventional therapy only. Patients who received acupuncture had significant pain relief and showed improvement in function. Those who did not receive acupuncture showed no significant change. No patients reported side effects from any acupuncture therapy session.

Safe Alternative to Medication

Even without the studies, the popularity of acupuncture for arthritis continues to grow because more and more people have found significant relief from Oriental Medicine without the negative side effects that come from Western pharmaceuticals.

Lifestyle and Dietary Instructions

Your diet plays a crucial role in helping you avoid or control arthritis. The first objective of a healthy diet is to help you lose weight if you are overweight. Being overweight can cause additional stress to your joints.

The second way a balanced, varied diet can help ease the pain of arthritis is by providing vitamins and minerals that keep your joints healthy and avoiding “damp” foods such as dairy products and greasy or spicy foods.

If you have arthritis or knee or hip pain, vitamin C and vitamin D can help prevent bone and cartilage destruction. And a multivitamin can help ensure that you always get the nutrition you need.

Here are some other healthy (and delicious) choices to include in your diet.

* Ginger - A natural anti-inflammatory, available as powdered extracts in capsules as well as alcohol-based extracts. Follow the dosing directions on the label. Or make tea by combining one-half teaspoon of grated ginger root with eight ounces of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain and add honey to taste.
* Fresh pineapple - Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, reduces inflammation. Be sure the pineapple is fresh, not canned or frozen.
* Cherries - Recent research has shown that tart cherries are an excellent source of nutrients that may help to reduce joint pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
* Fish - Cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep joints healthy as well as reduce pain and swelling. If you don't care for fish, consider supplementing your diet with fish oil capsules.
* Turmeric - Another natural anti-inflammatory. Look for an extract of whole turmeric, in health-food stores; follow the dosage directions on the label.

Stop Smoking with Acupuncture

Stop Smoking with Acupuncture

Among current U.S. adult smokers, 70% report that they want to quit smoking and millions try to quit every year. If you have attempted to quit smoking, you know how difficult it can be. Nicotine is a powerful addiction. In fact, research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

It is estimated that most smokers will attempt to quit two or three times, or more, before finally kicking the habit. When conventional methods to quit smoking have failed, smokers often look outside mainstream approaches and turn to alternative medicine.

Acupuncture as an alternative approach to smoking cessation has a growing number of converts. In fact, acupuncture is often a court mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

A Formidable Addiction

More than 50 million Americans smoke. The numbers are even higher in other parts of the globe, with worldwide statistics showing that one out of three people over the age of 18 are smokers.

The reasons to quit smoking are endless. Cigarettes have 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT. According to the CDC, tobacco is the cause of 443,000 premature deaths each year, and is associated with emphysema, lung cancer, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic cough and an increase in frequency of colds and flu.

Many people want to quit because of the enormous expense of a cigarette habit or are just plain tired of being dependant on a substance. There is also considerable social pressure not to smoke. Most smokers can recall a dirty look or rude comment from someone that was nearby when they lit up.

How Does Acupuncture Help Break the Cigarette Habit?

Acupuncture is successful with smoking cessation and has turned a growing number of cigarette smokers into permanent ex-smokers. Treatments take all of your symptoms into account and aim at balancing the energy within the body to optimize health.

The acupuncture treatments focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness; all symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

In one study conducted at the University of Oslo, Norway, acupuncture was found to significantly reduce the desire to smoke up to five years after the initial treatment. Subjects of the study also reported that cigarettes tasted worse than before treatment and that the treatments had effectively reduced their taste for tobacco.

The acupuncture needles used are hair-thin. They are superficially inserted into various points in the ears and body to assist with smoking cessation. In between treatments, small pellets are often taped to the acupuncture points on the ear. When a cigarette craving hits, gently pressing on the pellets stimulates the acupuncture points to calm the mind and eliminate the craving.

Acupuncture is not a panacea or a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free for good.

If you are ready to quit, call an acupuncture provider near you for a consultation to see how acupuncture can empower you to take control and begin a healthy and smoke-free life!

What Points Are Used?

Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and points on the ear are used that are believed to influence the organs and energetic pathways associated with smoking.

Commonly Used Points for Smoking Cessation include:

Ear points:

* Shenmen
* Kidney
* Sympathetic
* Lung Upper and Lung Lower
* Hunger or Mouth

Body points:

* Tim Mee- an extra-meridian point located on the wrist between LU-7 (Lieque) and LI-5 (Yangxi), a specific point to quit smoking.
* The Four Gate Points (LI-4, LV-3)- would be used to circulate energy (Qi) throughout the body and calm the nervous system.

Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. After removing the needles, ear press needles or silver pellets are often applied to stimulate the points between treatments and reduce cravings.

Are There Herbs To Help Me Quit Smoking?

Often you are prescribed herbs or supplements to control cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
There are three areas to address for herbal support; dryness and tissue repair, irritability and cravings.

* A Lung Yin Tonic such as Ophiopogonis Combination (Mai Men Dong Tang) is often used to moisten the lungs and mouth which can prevent cravings and repair tissue damage caused by smoking.
* A Chinese herbal formula to calm the spirit may be used for irritability. Bupleurum plus Dragon Bone and Oyster Shell (Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang) can help relieve irritability and anxiety associated with detox. Many people use this formula to help them through stressful situations and prevent relapses.
* Lobelia Tea (Ban Bian Lian) or Green Tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings. (Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.)

NOTE: The improper use of Chinese Herbs can be dangerous. Please consult with a licensed acupuncturist and herbologist before taking any herbal products.

Eight Tips to Quit Smoking

What Lifestyle and Dietary Changes Should You Make?

* Exercise more. Getting moving is a great way to remind yourself why you shouldn't smoke. Exercise can reduce your stress and help you relax far better than cigarettes.
* Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices to neutralize and clear the blood of nicotinic acid and to fortify blood sugar.
* Carrots, Carrot juice, celery, leafy green salads and citrus fruits promote body alkalinity and decrease cravings.
* Avoid junk food, sugar and coffee. They can upset blood sugar levels and increase blood acidity which can aggravate smoking withdrawal symptoms.
* Lobelia Tea or Green Tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings. Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.
* Drink water. Research shows that dryness causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day.
* Practice deep breathing exercises to increase body oxygen and keep calm.
* Schedule your acupuncture treatment!

How Many Treatments Will I Need and How Long Do they Take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

A stop smoking program will often consist of 4-6 initial treatments scheduled in the first few weeks followed by monthly treatments for four to six months.

Stop Smoking with Acupuncture

Stop Smoking with Acupuncture

Among current U.S. adult smokers, 70% report that they want to quit smoking and millions try to quit every year. If you have attempted to quit smoking, you know how difficult it can be. Nicotine is a powerful addiction. In fact, research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

It is estimated that most smokers will attempt to quit two or three times, or more, before finally kicking the habit. When conventional methods to quit smoking have failed, smokers often look outside mainstream approaches and turn to alternative medicine.

Acupuncture as an alternative approach to smoking cessation has a growing number of converts. In fact, acupuncture is often a court mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

A Formidable Addiction

More than 50 million Americans smoke. The numbers are even higher in other parts of the globe, with worldwide statistics showing that one out of three people over the age of 18 are smokers.

The reasons to quit smoking are endless. Cigarettes have 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT. According to the CDC, tobacco is the cause of 443,000 premature deaths each year, and is associated with emphysema, lung cancer, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic cough and an increase in frequency of colds and flu.

Many people want to quit because of the enormous expense of a cigarette habit or are just plain tired of being dependant on a substance. There is also considerable social pressure not to smoke. Most smokers can recall a dirty look or rude comment from someone that was nearby when they lit up.

How Does Acupuncture Help Break the Cigarette Habit?

Acupuncture is successful with smoking cessation and has turned a growing number of cigarette smokers into permanent ex-smokers. Treatments take all of your symptoms into account and aim at balancing the energy within the body to optimize health.

The acupuncture treatments focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness; all symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

In one study conducted at the University of Oslo, Norway, acupuncture was found to significantly reduce the desire to smoke up to five years after the initial treatment. Subjects of the study also reported that cigarettes tasted worse than before treatment and that the treatments had effectively reduced their taste for tobacco.

The acupuncture needles used are hair-thin. They are superficially inserted into various points in the ears and body to assist with smoking cessation. In between treatments, small pellets are often taped to the acupuncture points on the ear. When a cigarette craving hits, gently pressing on the pellets stimulates the acupuncture points to calm the mind and eliminate the craving.

Acupuncture is not a panacea or a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free for good.

If you are ready to quit, call an acupuncture provider near you for a consultation to see how acupuncture can empower you to take control and begin a healthy and smoke-free life!

What Points Are Used?

Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and points on the ear are used that are believed to influence the organs and energetic pathways associated with smoking.

Commonly Used Points for Smoking Cessation include:

Ear points:

* Shenmen
* Kidney
* Sympathetic
* Lung Upper and Lung Lower
* Hunger or Mouth

Body points:

* Tim Mee- an extra-meridian point located on the wrist between LU-7 (Lieque) and LI-5 (Yangxi), a specific point to quit smoking.
* The Four Gate Points (LI-4, LV-3)- would be used to circulate energy (Qi) throughout the body and calm the nervous system.

Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. After removing the needles, ear press needles or silver pellets are often applied to stimulate the points between treatments and reduce cravings.

Are There Herbs To Help Me Quit Smoking?

Often you are prescribed herbs or supplements to control cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
There are three areas to address for herbal support; dryness and tissue repair, irritability and cravings.

* A Lung Yin Tonic such as Ophiopogonis Combination (Mai Men Dong Tang) is often used to moisten the lungs and mouth which can prevent cravings and repair tissue damage caused by smoking.
* A Chinese herbal formula to calm the spirit may be used for irritability. Bupleurum plus Dragon Bone and Oyster Shell (Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang) can help relieve irritability and anxiety associated with detox. Many people use this formula to help them through stressful situations and prevent relapses.
* Lobelia Tea (Ban Bian Lian) or Green Tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings. (Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.)

NOTE: The improper use of Chinese Herbs can be dangerous. Please consult with a licensed acupuncturist and herbologist before taking any herbal products.

Eight Tips to Quit Smoking

What Lifestyle and Dietary Changes Should You Make?

* Exercise more. Getting moving is a great way to remind yourself why you shouldn't smoke. Exercise can reduce your stress and help you relax far better than cigarettes.
* Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices to neutralize and clear the blood of nicotinic acid and to fortify blood sugar.
* Carrots, Carrot juice, celery, leafy green salads and citrus fruits promote body alkalinity and decrease cravings.
* Avoid junk food, sugar and coffee. They can upset blood sugar levels and increase blood acidity which can aggravate smoking withdrawal symptoms.
* Lobelia Tea or Green Tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings. Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.
* Drink water. Research shows that dryness causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day.
* Practice deep breathing exercises to increase body oxygen and keep calm.
* Schedule your acupuncture treatment!

How Many Treatments Will I Need and How Long Do they Take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

A stop smoking program will often consist of 4-6 initial treatments scheduled in the first few weeks followed by monthly treatments for four to six months.

Read more: Quit Smoking with Acupuncture http://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Quit+Smoking+with+Acupuncture#ixzz1KEZFgm8d