Monday, March 5, 2012

Acupuncture During Labor: 7 Things Your Acupuncturist Should Know

1. Respect the process of labor. Don’t try to distract women during contractions. Contractions are necessary and require a woman’s full attention. Instead, hold a space of focused “yang within yin” energy.
2. In between contractions get consent. This should not be a long conversation. The long conversation about the types of support you can offer should have happened well before labor begins, as you met with the couple and discussed your role. Instead this should be a simple request, such as, can I place a few needles (or press balls) in your ears now? Or, we might be able to lessen the back labor if you get on all fours and I put some needles in your back. Is that OK? These are scenarios you hopefully discussed fully beforehand. Don’t expect more than a grunt or a nod, but make sure you get some form of expressed consent. Stop insertions immediately during a contraction, and be prepared to whip out the back needles if the woman needs to change position during a contraction, because…
3. Women often want and need to change positions during labor and your treatments should always allow for that. Ear needles are great as they don’t inhibit movement. But points on the body will–that means you may be taking the needles out before you otherwise would. Never leave the room. Be alert. Be flexible. Move quickly. Laboring women can be extremely non-verbal.  If you’re using body points, ask her to let you know if she needs to move.  But she may not—If you see her moving, get cracking!
4. The birthing woman is the QUEEN, and can make and change rules at any time. You have to be willing and able to get out of the way at a moment’s notice. That being said, most birthing moms need help remembering to drink water between contractions. If no one else is remembering to help with this, you can help by bringing a cup forward (with a straw) after every contraction. Water is nature’s lubricant.
5. Women who become deeply focused and engaged in labor do not need acupuncture. At this point, you may be able to offer some support to the woman’s partner, or to other members of the birthing team. Be humble. If you’re at a home birth, be willing to wash the dishes or cook food, or otherwise attend to tasks outside your job description.
6. After the need for acupuncture has passed, offer to leave, or (if it’s possible for you) to stay. Every birthing woman I have assisted has asked me to stay and be present for the birth, although that won’t necessarily always be true. In the conversations you had with the couple before labor began you should make it absolutely clear to them that the choice is always theirs, and there will be no hard feelings if they prefer that you bow out gracefully.
7. If you are in a hospital you need to have permission to do needles, but you don’t need permission to do acupressure.

Can Acupuncture Be Used To Induce Labor?

It is a common question in my practice, “have you induced labor with acupuncture.” The answer is a profound yes. I have induced several women and have watched other practitioners induce many more. All of the women I have seen use acupuncture induction gave birth within 48 hours. They were all slightly “over due” according to their physicians. They all sought out acupuncture as an alternative to Pitocin. The average labor time was 4 – 5 hours.

Understanding how acupuncture can induce labor:

Acupuncture is different than western induction drugs. It is an alternative to Pitocin, yet acts in a very different way. First lets look at Pitocin. Pitocin creates an immediate reaction which begins labor whether the mother’s body and baby are ready or not. Contractions start almost instantly with pitocin in labor induction, making it an extremely predictable drug. However, the effects of pitocin on children are not fully known. Possible side effects for the mother have been reported to include:

  • Anaphylactic reaction
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Fatal afibrinogenemia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Premature ventricular contractions
  • Pelvic hematoma
Using acupuncture to induce labor is a whole different experience. Depending on the practitioner, acupuncture needles are inserted into strategic locations in the hands, lower leg, and feet. These needles are not like what the average person thinks of when they imagine getting a shot. The needles are solid, yet extremely thin (about 5 can fit inside the hole of your average hypodermic needle). For the most part the insertion does not produce pain. The needles create a stimulation in the body which is used to reprogram the mother’s energy in such a way as to get her body ready for labor. With some women this can be a significant change, as I will describe in a minute. Labor is rarely expected to start right away, although I have been lucky enough to witness it on several occasions.
Birth Stories With Acupuncture

#1 - My first acupuncture induced labor – Observation Clinic with Dr. Daniel Diamond:

I mentioned that for some women, acupuncture induction can create a significant reaction in the women being treated. The first time I ever witnessed acupuncture to induce labor was in an acupuncture techniques class. My teacher, Daniel Diamond, was looking for a subject to discuss for the evening. One of my classmates was a day overdue for her child’s birth and decided to be the volunteer for the day’s discussion rounds. Needles were inserted in the hands and feet with electro- stimulation set to mild (many practitioners use electro-stimulation for inducing labor. I do not as I have not found it necessary, however, it is safe and effective as the levels are set to very low and the electricity is not allowed to pass through the uterus). Within five minutes my classmate, the women being treated, started to have contractions. She packed up her bags in the middle of class and left the classroom to give birth to her child within five hours of the end of class.

#2 - My first time inducing labor with acupuncture:

Sarah, a 20 year old women came into my clinic complaining of being overdue for her delivery by one and a half weeks. She had already seen two other student acupuncturists who had both provided her with the textbook induction technique of four needles, one in each hand and foot, combined with electro-stimulation. I wanted to do something different. I sat down with her and talked about her pregnancy. Her partner paced around in the background and when they communicated I sensed some tension. So, what to do? Acupressure induced labor…. In Acupuncture and Acupressure there are “pressure points” on top of the shoulders that can be stimulated to induce labor. Yes it is a wives tail if you have never seen it done (it will probably not work and can be categorized as myth), but it works if you know what you are doing and how to press the points. I had the patient sit in a chair and breath deep. As she exhaled I would follow the breath pushing into the point imagining the energy going into her feet. At the very bottom of her breath I noticed that her belly was coming up, almost contracting, instead of relaxing down with the exhale. I pointed this out to her and helped her relax all the way through the breath. She started to feel more relaxed and actually had a little small contraction. I then had her partner do the massage technique, and taught him how to press. To my amazement, her belly contracted up at the end of her breath twice as much as the first time when I had pressed down. I pointed this out to both of them and asked why she would be contracting against him. She broke down crying. She cried about her hesitations to bring the baby into the world without her partner’s support. He cried about not being ready to be a father but wanting to fill that role to the best of his ability. It was fairly amazing to witness as there had obviously been a barrier, which was now falling. After a few minutes of talking I had her lay down on the table and I put in some acupuncture points, which were different than the treatment she had already been receiving (Lv 8, Lv 2, LI 4, St 36, St 38). I also treated the partner to help him relax. Her contractions did not start on the table, but the baby began to kick immediately. She went into labor that evening and gave birth to a healthy baby before dawn.

#3 - Acupuncture Induction - The Case of The Anti-Induction:

In some instances I have used acupuncture to slow down contractions so the mother could sleep (her husband was an internal medical physician and had just gotten off of a very stressful 36 hour shift). Her contractions were too mild to be real labor, but enough to keep her awake. The more relaxed she became, the more intense the contractions. If she had stayed up, she would have gone into labor that evening. Her husband, however, was very tired and would not have made it through the night as an active supporter in the process. We used acupuncture to slow down the contractions and to help her calm down. She fell asleep and woke up with regular contractions. Her baby was delivered later that day.

In summary Acupuncture can be an effective means to induce labor. I have seen it work time and time again. When compared to the possible side effects of pitocin on children and the known potential side effects for mothers it is clear that acupuncture should be our first line of induction. Acupuncture has no known side effects and as the needles do not come close to the abdomen, there is no potential negative side effect for the child. The down side is that the induction is not always an immediate process. In hospitals, the trend is to want to get women in and out of labor. A hospital bed is expensive and so is a physician’s time. If you or a friend you know is considering using acupuncture to induce labor, you should visit the acupuncturist prior to the seventh month and expect to begin treatments to induce the labor just before or after your due date. An experienced acupuncturist will know how close you are to going into labor and can give you a clear view of how long you can expect to wait for labor to begin.

Labor is a spiritual journey. When your spirit, the spirit of your child, and the spirit of the father are ready the birth will begin. Have patients and see the experience as the most amazing passage you will most likely have as a family. You are ushering a new life into this world. Breathe and observe every second with awe, love and hope for the new life. Using acupuncture to induce labor does not push you through the experience prematurely or too quickly. Acupuncture balances you and prepares you for the passage. Take a deep breath and say hello to a new life.

Acupuncture and Pregnancy ii

Why should I get Acupuncture during Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is an exciting and wonderful time. However, with the many physical and hormonal changes that occur, it can also be a time of discomfort. Many pregnant women suffer from fatigue, nausea, backache and other conditions that are considered a "normal" part of pregnancy. Acupuncture is a safe, gentle and effective way to address these complaints, especially since many Western medications can't be used during this time.
Regular acupuncture during pregnancy sets the foundation for a healthy mother and baby. In addition, women who receive acupuncture during pregnancy often have a shorter and easier birth experience than women who don't receive acupuncture. Several European studies concluded that women who received acupuncture once a week during the last month of pregnancy had significantly shorter labor than women who did not receive any acupuncture.
House calls are available for pregnant patients who are on full or partial bed rest. House calls are also available for postpartum treatments. Postpartum patients are welcome to bring their baby with them for office appointments.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Conditions Treated

Some of the conditions that acupuncture can treat are:
  • nausea, vomiting, and hyperemesis gravidarum
  • insomnia
  • low energy
  • anemia
  • anxiety/depression
  • constipation
  • heartburn
  • back pain and sciatica
  • symphysis pubis pain
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • gestational diabetes
  • high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
  • PUPPs & other pregnancy-related skin conditions
  • certain types of threatened miscarriage
  • breech presentation
  • posterior presentation
  • pre-term labor
  • delayed labor
  • labor pain
  • lactation problems
  • postpartum depression

Is Acupuncture Safe during Pregnancy?

Yes. Prenatal acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to help patients support a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery. An Australian study conducted by Adelaide University in 2002 found that acupuncture during pregnancy had no adverse effects and was completely safe when done by a trained acupuncturist. You may have heard that some acupuncture points are forbidden during pregnancy. This is true - certain points are to be avoided during pregnancy as they may stimulate uterine contractions. However, a practitioner trained in prenatal acupuncture, as Cindi is, will know which points can safely be used and which should be avoided. Also, all pregnant patients are seen regularly throughout their pregnancy by an OB/Gyn or midwife, which allows Cindi to be well informed of any complications or health issues.

Are Chinese Herbs Safe during Pregnancy?

Many Chinese herbs are safe to use during pregnancy. In fact, some herbs are very beneficial, such as herbs used to prevent a threatened miscarriage or herbs used to calm uterine contractions during pre-term labor. Some herbs, however, are not safe during pregnancy. These herbs can initiate uterine contractions or may be toxic to the fetus. A practitioner trained in prenatal acupuncture will know which herbs are safe to use and which are to be avoided. The need for Chinese herbs during pregnancy is evaluated on an individual basis. Herbs are usually prescribed only when absolutely necessary.

General Treatment Plan for Pregnancy

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) provide specific treatments for each of the three trimesters of pregnancy: setting the foundation, maintaining balance / offering relief from common complaints, and preparing the body for labor and delivery.

Breech Presentation

The traditional Chinese medicine treatment for breech presentation has been used for thousands of years. It is successful 75% of the time and carries no risk to the mother or baby.

Labor Induction

Acupuncture for labor induction is safe for both the mother and baby as long as there are no serious complications with the pregnancy.

Pain Management during Labor

If your doctor or midwife allows acupuncture during labor, Cindi is available for acupuncture treatments either at your home or at the hospital or birthing center.

Postpartum Treatment

In addition to returning the body to a state of balance and optimal reproductive health, many postpartum conditions are successfully treated with acupuncture.

Acupuncture and Pregnancy

Since Confucianism involves ancestral worship, the Chinese have been strongly committed to having healthy children. A sturdy son was desired in particular, since it would be he who would tend the shrine of his departed antecedents. Chinese Medicine developed to address the expectations of the faithful follower of that tradition. Treatment evolved to help couples to conceive and then to foster a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery.

Acupuncture as it is practiced today is a safe, comfortable and cost effective treatment for many of the problems that commonly develop in pregnancy. This is especially true since pharmaceuticals are contraindicated in pregnant women in most cases.

How can acupuncture be used in pregnancy?

   1. Acupuncture for the healthy mom:
   2. Acupuncture for pre-existing medical issues:
   3. Acupuncture for pregnancy related conditions:

  • Psychological issues
  • Physical problems
  • Fatigue
  • Morning Sickness
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Back Pain and Sciatica
  • Edema
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Rhinitis of pregnancy
   4. Breech Presentation
   5. Induction for post due date
   6. Labor
   7. Acupuncture for Post-partum disorders:

  • Fatigue
  • Postpartum vaginal discharge
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Mastitis
  • Insufficient or Excessive Lactation
  • Post Operative Healing
Historical Context:

It is useful to look at the historical context in which acupuncture for pregnancy developed to realize the ways that it may be utilized today.

Since Confucianism involves ancestral worship, the Chinese have been strongly committed to having healthy children. A sturdy son was desired in particular, since it would be he who would tend the shrine of his departed antecedents. Chinese Medicine developed to address the expectations of the faithful follower of that tradition. Treatment evolved to help couples to conceive and then to foster a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery.

Acupuncture as it is practiced today is a safe, comfortable and cost effective treatment for many of the problems that commonly develop in pregnancy. This is especially true since pharmaceuticals are contraindicated in pregnant women in most cases.

That being said, it is important to receive acupuncture with a well trained practitioner because there are some acupuncture points that are traditionally forbidden to do during the nine months of gestation. These points are the ones that are known to strongly move Qi (energy) and blood through the pelvis, including obvious points like those on the lower abdomen, and also the famous points we use to treat gynecological disorders: LI4 and SP6

In fact these two points when strongly stimulated have been used to induce abortion. I have read that they were frequently used in Maoist China when the one child per family edict was strictly enforced. Acupuncture, of course, when properly applied can help to prevent, not cause miscarriages.

Acupuncture for the healthy mom:

Acupuncture treatment is recommended once a month to ensure the optimal health of the mother and the developing fetus at different stages of growth and differentiation. Tradition has it that Zhubin (K9), the "beautiful baby point", should be needled at the end of the third and sixth months to ensure a happy, healthy, and of course, gorgeous baby. The Chinese name for the point means "guest house". The Zhubin point, located just below the calf muscle and above the inner ankle bone, is known to calm the mind, relieve anxiety and help to build blood.

It is claimed that "stimulating this point minimizes the transmission of toxins from the mother to the child, increases the health of the baby and its resistance to disease and also tonifies the mother's Qi."

In preparation for labor and delivery during the last month of the pregnancy the expectant mom should be seen weekly.

Acupuncture for pre-existing medical issues:

While the focus of this article is to address the treatment of conditions that arise as a direct result of pregnancy, acupuncture can be used to treat conditions that antedate the pregnancy, such as migraine headache or allergies. In most cases acupuncture is a safer approach than the use of prescription medications.
Acupuncture for pregnancy related conditions:

The severity of symptoms in the pregnant woman often reflects the health and lifestyle choices of the woman before getting pregnant: Did she have a healthy diet? Did she smoke or drink alcohol or use caffeine on a regular basis? Did she have a lot of emotional stressors? If so, her Qi may be depleted, out of balance or blocked and the added burden of the growing fetus may make her more symptomatic.

1. Psychological issues

The most common symptoms we treat at Turning Point Acupuncture are worry, anxiety and overall tension. All pregnant women are concerned about their pregnancy and the transition happening in her life. As a New Yorker she is probably also juggling a hectic schedule of appointments and responsibilities. At the very least, acupuncture is deeply relaxing and helps to promote internal balance as well as an outwardly balanced perspective.

Some women are clinically depressed in the course of their pregnancy. This can occur when there is blocked energy in the liver organ system from anger, resentment, frustration or mechanical damage to the liver from chemical or viral sources. By addressing the underlying disharmony we can help ameliorate the symptoms in pregnancy and potentially avoid post-partum depression of the same origin.

Substance abuse can also be addressed using acupuncture. The treatment can help women who are trying not to smoke cigarettes or who have trouble avoiding alcohol or psychoactive drugs including sleeping medication. Even the severely dependent can benefit from the treatment as is evidenced by pioneering work at Lincoln Hospital with crack-addicted mothers. Women with addictions who are hoping to have a healthy pregnancy should seek psychological support in individual counseling and 12 Step programs.

2. Physical problems

Because of the intense demand placed on the mother's resources by the growing fetus, all pregnant women experience fatigue. While nothing can substitute for sleep and a nourishing diet, acupuncture ensures that the internal organs are functioning optimally, that the Qi is flowing freely without blockages and that there is a harmonious balance of the yin and yang forces in the body. Acupuncture also helps with the increased production of blood and other fluids in pregnancy.

Morning Sickness
The first trimester is often accompanied by morning sickness marked by nausea and sometimes vomiting. The symptom is a reflection of an underlying Qi imbalance in the digestive function of the internal organs. Often it can be attributed to the spleen organ system. The spleen is particularly sensitive to worry. This condition is responsive to acupuncture treatment. Pericardium 6 is the most famous point used since it harmonizes the digestion. The aim of the treatment is to subdue rebellious stomach Qi moving in the wrong direction. Sea bands, easily found in health food stores to treat sea sickness and vertigo, work by stimulating this point and can be used to treat morning sickness. Ginger, an ingredient commonly used in Chinese herbal formulas to assist assimilation, can also be used as a digestive aid.

Excessive vomiting is referred to as hyperemesis gravidum in the medical literature and can be severe enough to require hospitalization. The usefulness of acupuncture treatment for this condition has been widely studied and found to be superior to pharmaceutical intervention. *

Other common digestive tract issues that arise in pregnancy that can be treated with acupuncture include:
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
Back Pain and Sciatica
Back pain and sciatica from mechanical compression are common complaints in pregnancy especially in the later months. Up to ¾ of women experience some form of this discomfort.  The pain can interfere with sleep. Here again is an instance in which acupuncture treatment can relieve the discomfort when medication is not an option.


Swelling is common in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy due to the increase in circulating fluid in the body. Fluid accumulates most often in the hands, feet and ankles, but the face and legs can also get puffy. The condition is usually worse at the end of the day and in warm weather. Acupuncture is appropriate to treat this kind of mild swelling. From a TCM perspective the fluid may be from stagnant Qi, or deficiency in the spleen or kidney organ systems.

The presence of severe swelling, an increase of blood pressure and protein in the urine, are possible warning signs of preeclampsia, a potentially serious complication, and should be evaluated by an obstetrician.
Here are two less common pregnancy associated conditions for which acupuncture is helpful:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Because of the extra fluid circulating in the pregnant woman, there can be compression of the median nerve in the wrist resulting in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Other than wearing a wrist brace there is no other Western medical treatment except surgery for this condition. Since it will resolve after delivery, acupuncture is an ideal temporary treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during the pregnancy.

Rhinitis of pregnancy
The significant nasal congestion that accompanies some women's pregnancy is a hormonal effect. In fact, some women on birth control pills also have this reaction. Since most decongestant medications are contraindicated in pregnancy, this is another condition for which acupuncture is applicable.

3. Breech Presentation

A fascinating use of Chinese Medicine in pregnancy is its role in turning a fetus that is presenting breech, i.e., feet first. The technique is most effective between the 28th and 34th week, up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. The optimal time for effectiveness is 32-34 weeks. Past the 36th week there is usually not enough room for the fetus to turn around.

The treatment uses the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) called "moxa' in Chinese. Moxibustion is the burning of the herb moxa and the application of the generated heat to certain acupoints. For turning the fetus we primarily use the point Zhiyin (Bladder 67) located on the outside corner of the nail on the little toe.

Using a Moxa stick, a tight roll of powdered herb that resembles a large cigar, an acupuncturist holds the smoldering, non-toxic stick a half inch away from the Zhiyin (UB 67) point on the foot. The procedure is repeated on the opposite foot and continued for 15-20 minutes, alternating between the right and left foot.

Although it is ideal to have a therapist or partner apply the stick, a woman can apply the Moxa stick herself. The whole procedure (either with the Moxa stick or the needle) should be repeated twice a day for a maximum of ten days, yet most babies turn within three days.

Once turned into the appropriate headfirst position, patients should stop using the technique, as it could cause the baby to turn back to breech.

Zhiyin (UB 67) must not be used in patients who have high blood pressure, any kind of infection or higher-than-normal body temperature or are expecting twins. Women should stop Zhiyin (UB 67) if it causes sleep difficulty or uterine cramping or makes the baby overly active

A Japanese study published in 2000 confirmed that stimulation of acupuncture points is effective in correcting breech positioning. By studying 357 women with breech presentation they found that the moxibustion treatment group had a correction rate of 92.48 percent compared to the control group which had a spontaneous correction rate of 73.66 percent. *

Other studies have not shown such spectacular results, but all show that the use of Zhiyin stimulation produces a large, statistically significant improvement over the control group.

The mechanism of action of the treatment is unknown but here are some findings that suggest what is happening:
  • Increased fetal activity
  • Relaxation of the uterine myometrium (muscle layer) making a more favorable environment for the fetus to move
  • Increased blood flow in the uterine and umbilical arteries
The Zhiyin treatment is cheap, safe, effective, simple, painless and generally well tolerated. It can be self-administered, but preferably done by a partner or acupuncture practitioner.

4. Induction for post due date

Having carefully avoided needling the "forbidden points" during the pregnancy, the acupuncture practitioner can now freely apply all of theses points to move energy through the pelvis. This disruption of the flow of Qi can result in uterine contraction.
5. Labor

Acupuncture use in labor and delivery is a common practice in China where the birth process is considered natural and to be interfered with as little as possible. Acupuncture's use is to assist Nature. It can be used to strengthen weak contractions and to diminish pain.

In England it has been observed that acupuncture assisted delivery is shorter, less painful, less stressful for the mother and less likely to result in post partum hemorrhage.

Acupuncture for Post-partum disorders

Although she will be very busy, the new mother should be encouraged to get acupuncture treatment after delivery. The restoration of her own health is imperative for her own well being and for her ability to be present for her newborn. Among the conditions that acupuncture can address after birth are:
  • Fatigue
  • Postpartum vaginal discharge
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Mastitis
  • Insufficient or Excessive Lactation
  • If there has been caesarian section, acupuncture can help with the post operative healing. 
Note:  Care has to be taken using Chinese herbs after delivery if the mother plans to breast feed.

Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Lifesaving treatments for breast cancer come at a cost -- many women experience hot flashes, fatigue, night sweats and more.

Now new research suggests that acupuncture may help ease some of these side effects, and it may be more effective than antidepressants for relieving hot flashes and more.

"This study compared the effectiveness of acupuncture to drug therapy, and we found acupuncture was just as effective and had no side effects," said study author Dr. Eleanor M. Walker, director of breast radiation oncology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

"We were also able to show that the effect of acupuncture was longer lasting. After about two weeks of stopping drug therapy, women started having symptoms. With acupuncture, it was 15 weeks," she said.

Walker was expected to present the findings Monday at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's annual meeting, in Boston.

Acupuncture is an ancient treatment that's a mainstay of Chinese medicine. It has been practiced for thousands of years, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Acupuncture involves the placement of very slender needles into the skin along certain points.

In Chinese medicine, it's believed that acupuncture works by unblocking the flow of energy along meridians. In Western medicine, the exact reason acupuncture might work isn't clear, but some theorize that the placement of needles may release endorphins, a chemical that make you feel good. Walker added that the meridian lines from Chinese medicine closely correspond to the body's network of nerves.

Treatments for breast cancer can induce early menopause, and many dampen the production of estrogen, leaving women with hot flashes, excessive sweating, fatigue and more.

Women with breast cancer can't be given hormone replacement therapy, so doctors often prescribe antidepressants, which can have their own side effects.

In the current study, Walker and her colleagues compared acupuncture with the use of the antidepressant Effexor in 47 women with breast cancer. Each woman was randomly assigned to receive a 12-week course of the antidepressant or acupuncture. Prior to the study, the women reported having at least 14 hot flashes per week.

After the study intervention, both groups reported similar improvements in hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. However, there were no side effects reported in the acupuncture group, whereas some women in the antidepressant group had nausea, dry mouth, headache, trouble sleeping, constipation and other side effects.

Walker also said that many of those receiving acupuncture reported having more energy, a greater sense of well-being, and an improved sex drive.

"There are alternatives to drugs. This is a viable treatment without side effects, but it's going to take patients pushing insurance companies to get them to pay," said Walker. Currently, most insurance companies won't pay for acupuncture.

Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La., said that this is "an interesting, but very small study. Right now, I wouldn't recommend acupuncture to patients outside of a clinical trial. We need a larger prospective trial. Because the symptoms you're measuring are so variable, it really requires a large number of people to answer."

According to World Health Organization Diseases and disorders that can be treated with acupuncture

The diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into four categories as shown below.
1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved-through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment:
Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Biliary colic
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Dysmenorrhoea, primary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Hypertension, essential
Hypotension, primary
Induction of labour
Knee pain
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Periarthritis of shoulder
Postoperative pain
Renal colic
Rheumatoid arthritis
Tennis elbow
 Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:

Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
Acne vulgaris
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Bell’s palsy
Bronchial asthma
Cancer pain
Cardiac neurosis
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Competition stress syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female infertility
Facial spasm
Female urethral syndrome
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Gastrokinetic disturbance
Gouty arthritis
Hepatitis B virus carrier status
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Labour pain
Lactation, deficiency
Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
Ménière disease
Neuralgia, post-herpetic
Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Pain due to endoscopic examination
Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
Postextubation in children
Postoperative convalescence
Premenstrual syndrome
Prostatitis, chronic
Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Raynaud syndrome, primary
Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic
Sialism, drug-induced
Sjögren syndrome
Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Spine pain, acute
Stiff neck
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Tietze syndrome
Tobacco dependence
Tourette syndrome
Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Vascular dementia
Whooping cough (pertussis)
Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:

Choroidopathy, central serous
Colour blindness
Irritable colon syndrome
Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
Pulmonary heart disease, chronic
Small airway obstruction

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:

Breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Convulsions in infants
Coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)
Diarrhoea in infants and young children
Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage
Paralysis, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar

world health organization on Traditional medicine

Key facts

  • In some Asian and African countries, 80% of the population depend on traditional medicine for primary health care.
  • Herbal medicines are the most lucrative form of traditional medicine, generating billions of dollars in revenue.
  • Traditional medicine can treat various infectious and chronic conditions: new antimalarial drugs were developed from the discovery and isolation of artemisinin from Artemisia annua L., a plant used in China for almost 2000 years.
  • Counterfeit, poor quality, or adulterated herbal products in international markets are serious patient safety threats.
  • More than 100 countries have regulations for herbal medicines.

Traditional medicine is the sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures that are used to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.
Traditional medicine that has been adopted by other populations (outside its indigenous culture) is often termed alternative or complementary medicine.
Herbal medicines include herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations, and finished herbal products that contain parts of plants or other plant materials as active ingredients.

Who uses traditional medicine?

In some Asian and African countries, 80% of the population depend on traditional medicine for primary health care.
In many developed countries, 70% to 80% of the population has used some form of alternative or complementary medicine (e.g. acupuncture).
Herbal treatments are the most popular form of traditional medicine, and are highly lucrative in the international marketplace. Annual revenues in Western Europe reached US$ 5 billion in 2003-2004. In China sales of products totaled US$ 14 billion in 2005. Herbal medicine revenue in Brazil was US$ 160 million in 2007.


Traditional medicine has been used in some communities for thousands of years. As traditional medicine practices are adopted by new populations there are challenges.
International diversity: Traditional medicine practices have been adopted in different cultures and regions without the parallel advance of international standards and methods for evaluation.
National policy and regulation: Not many countries have national policies for traditional medicine. Regulating traditional medicine products, practices and practitioners is difficult due to variations in definitions and categorizations of traditional medicine therapies. A single herbal product could be defined as either a food, a dietary supplement or an herbal medicine, depending on the country. This disparity in regulations at the national level has implications for international access and distribution of products.
Safety, effectiveness and quality: Scientific evidence from tests done to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of traditional medicine products and practices is limited. While evidence shows that acupuncture, some herbal medicines and some manual therapies (e.g. massage) are effective for specific conditions, further study of products and practices is needed. Requirements and methods for research and evaluation are complex. For example, it can be difficult to assess the quality of finished herbal products. The safety, effectiveness and quality of finished herbal medicine products depend on the quality of their source materials (which can include hundreds of natural constituents), and how elements are handled through production processes.
Knowledge and sustainability: Herbal materials for products are collected from wild plant populations and cultivated medicinal plants. The expanding herbal product market could drive over-harvesting of plants and threaten biodiversity. Poorly managed collection and cultivation practices could lead to the extinction of endangered plant species and the destruction of natural resources. Efforts to preserve both plant populations and knowledge on how to use them for medicinal purposes is needed to sustain traditional medicine.
Patient safety and use: Many people believe that because medicines are herbal (natural) or traditional they are safe (or carry no risk for harm). However, traditional medicines and practices can cause harmful, adverse reactions if the product or therapy is of poor quality, or it is taken inappropriately or in conjunction with other medicines. Increased patient awareness about safe usage is important, as well as more training, collaboration and communication among providers of traditional and other medicines.

WHO response

WHO and its Member States cooperate to promote the use of traditional medicine for health care. The collaboration aims to:
  • support and integrate traditional medicine into national health systems in combination with national policy and regulation for products, practices and providers to ensure safety and quality;
  • ensure the use of safe, effective and quality products and practices, based on available evidence;
  • acknowledge traditional medicine as part of primary health care, to increase access to care and preserve knowledge and resources; and
  • ensure patient safety by upgrading the skills and knowledge of traditional medicine providers.

Obama Positive Toward Acupuncture

During a recent Q&A session of a Presidential Town Hall meeting in St. Louis, one licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist in Florissant, Mo., got to ask President Barack Obama what must certainly be one of the most important questions in the minds of all alternative health practitioners. Below is a transcript of the question and President Obama's answer, which does appear to be positive toward the inclusion of alternative therapies into health care reform.  
President Obama: I could use one right now. (Laughter.) My back is stiff. I've been working hard.
Q: I'll be happy to help you. (Laughter.) And this kind of fits into what you were just talking about as far as health care. I'm wondering, as a practitioner of Oriental medicine, knowing that the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have discovered through their studies that alternative medicine often is more cost-effective and very effective, how will alternative medicine fit in your new health care program?
President Obama: Well, look, my attitude is that we should - we should do what works. So I think it is pretty well documented through scientific studies that acupuncture, for example, can be very helpful in relieving certain things like migraines and other ailments -- or are at least as effective as more intrusive interventions.
I will let the science guide me. We just swore in an outstanding new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of Kansas. (Applause.) It's good to see that a Jayhawk got applause on this side of the border here. (Laughter.) But she's going to do an outstanding job. And my charge to her is, as we're going through health care reform, let's find out what works.
I think one basic principle that we know is that the more we do on the prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road. So giving children early checkups, making sure that they get immunized, making sure that they are diagnosed if they've got eyesight problems, making sure that they're taught proper nutrition to avoid a life of obesity - those are all issues that we have some control over. And if we're making those investments, we will save huge amounts of money in the long-term.
Unfortunately, the hardest thing to do in politics - and certainly in health care reform - has been to get policymakers to make investments early that will have long-term payoffs. Because people - their attitude is, well, I'll be out of office by the time that kid grows up; and the fact that they're healthy, that doesn't help me. And in the private-sector insurance system, oftentimes insurers make the same calculation. Their attitude is, well, people change jobs enough for us to pay for the preventive medicine now when the problem may not crop up for another 20 years and they'll be long out of our system, so we don't want to reimburse it because it will make things more costly. That's the logic of our health care system that we're going to have to change.
The recovery package put a huge amount in prevention. We are, in our budget, calling for significant increases in prevention. And my hope is that, working in a bipartisan fashion, we are going to be able to get a health care reform bill on my desk before the end of the year that will start seeing the kinds of investments that will make everybody healthier.

President Obama Supports Acupuncture

Healthcare reform may include alternative medicine therapy language. In a recent town hall meeting in St. Louis, MO, President Obama noted that he supports acupuncture. A licensed acupuncturist noted that the National Institutes of Health and the Wold Health Organization have “discovered through their studies that alternative medicine is often more cost-effective and very effective”. The President replied, “it is pretty well documented through scientific studies that acupuncture, for example, can be very helpful in relieving certain things like migraines and other ailments — or at least as effective as more intrusive interventions”. He also discussed the challenges of integrating preventative medicine into policy making noting that the new Secretary of Health and Human Service, Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of Kansas, is charged with the task of implementing effective healthcare solutions.

In the St. Louis 4-29-09 meeting, Obama noted that policymakers are reticent to invest in preventative medicine because the political payoff is long-term and therefore does not help with immediate re-election concerns. The President further commented that “in the private sector insurance system, oftentimes insurers make the same calculation. Their attitude is, well, people change jobs enough for us to pay for the preventive medicine now when the problem may not crop up for another 20 years and they’ll be long out of our system, so we don’t want to reimburse it because it will make things more costly. That’s the logic of our health care system that we’re going to have to change”. Obama went on to state that the “recovery package put a huge amount in prevention”.

Acupuncture first received national attention in 1972 when President Nixon went to China and New York Times reporter James Reston successfully received acupuncture resulting in successful post-operative pain control. In 1997, the US National Institutes of Health published a report supporting the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture treatments for a wide range of healthcare issues. Under the Clinton administration, the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy was formed and The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) became part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Great Britain recently added acupuncture into its national healthcare system. Private insurers in the US including AETNA, United Healthcare, Blue Cross, and Blue Shield offer acupuncture insurance coverage options in their policies. However, it is unclear at this stage whether or not acupuncture and alternative medicine regulation will appear in federal law. Technically, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) does not list acupuncture as a unique profession in the US Standard Occupational Classification codes. Rather, acupuncture is listed only as a modality. This technical glitch prevents acupuncture by licensed acupuncturists from inclusion into Medicare and Medicaid along with insurance coverage for federal employees. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has collaborated with other national organizations to fix this omission.

Acupuncture is already practiced in several major hospitals including Cedars Sinai, UCSF, Maui Memorial, Clifton Springs, and Novato hospitals. The Harvard Medical School Osher Institute also supports the use of acupuncture and conducts ongoing studies. The advent of healthcare reform sheds light on the cost-effectiveness issue. Given the research and practical application supporting acupuncture as an effective means to control pain and treat illness, the federal government may open the door to alternative therapies in an attempt to reduce healthcare costs.

Laser light Acupuncture

What is Laser Acupuncture About
Within the Usa there is currently an obsession with research that requirements to go into the study of acupuncture so that you can realize just how helpful the method can be. Nevertheless, even before the complete advantages of acupuncture could possibly be realized inside the Usa the entire procedure from the therapy is about to change. Although this alter has not been genuine widespread, certainly one of the significant modifications within the acupuncture planet is the truth that lasers have now been added for the currently overly-complicated technique of acupuncture. There are numerous causes why lasers have already been added to the method and a few of those factors will be focused on inside this article. However the truth from the matter remains that the complete face of acupuncture has changed, but whether or not it has been for the much better or for the worse still remains to become noticed.
Why Lasers Had been Added
There are many theories on the concern why laser acupuncture evolved into the Usa, but the most well-liked theory and maybe probably the most reasonable 1, states that laser have already been added to the acupuncture procedure to be able to be a lot more correct in the remedies of patients. As an example, many people currently understand that sticking and pricking needles into a body could be a hard process to duplicate over and over. Nonetheless, with lasers that happen to be added for the procedure they’re able to be pricked in to the physique through the use of a laser beam and computer. The laser beams usually are not only advantageous for the entire process of acupuncture since the lasers could be adjusted to every individual’s physique, but they have also been beneficial simply because it really is the quickest way to undergo acupuncture therapy.
How Lasers Have Changed Acupuncture
A lot of conventional people who happen to be advocates of acupuncture for really some time in the Chinese culture have mentioned that the addition of laser therapy to acupuncture techniques have already been fantastic for the growing quantity of people which have shown an interest within the healing technique. Alternatively, there have also been acupuncture professionals who’ve stated that combining two completely various types of therapy should by no means happen to be carried out. The main purpose that laser therapy is guarded against when utilizing acupuncture will be the fact that the entire acupuncture procedure has not however been mastered by lots of people in the United states. This addition towards the entire procedure won’t only complicate matters, but it will also make the original procedure of acupuncture a whole lot more tough to perform.
All issues regarded as, though, it really is definitely correct that lots of people agree that laser therapy, combined with acupuncture therapy, are two totally different therapies that must or should not have been added together. Although there are many differentiating opinions on the matter, what matters most is whether the procedure of acupuncture as well as the effectiveness in the therapy is any various with all the lasers added. Lots of people say that it has taken away the effectiveness of acupuncture, however it is ultimately up to the individual to realize regardless of whether or not acupuncture has changed!

Acupuncture and Herbs For Hair Loss (Alopecia)

Hair loss is a condition that can start from a very young age, in one's 20's or even earlier. Male-pattern hair loss is extremely common. It can lead to partial or complete baldness. Female-pattern hair loss is ordinarily confined to thinning of the hair in the front and crown regions. Some causes of hair loss can be stress, thinking too much or family heredity. Feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness may be present.
Using acupuncture and herbs is a safe and effective way to help hair growth. I have had some success with hair loss cases in my clinic. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.), the differentiation mainly falls into two types: deficiency (blood and kidney) or damp heat stagnation. I combine acupuncture with herbs (both oral and external) and it works well for most clients.
The main acupuncture points are G5, 7,20, Du16, 19, Yi Ming, and St8. The treatment is given once a week or more often. Also at home everyday the client can use a seven star needle and tap the bald patch or scalp where the hair is thinning.
Many herbs can nourish the hair and help hair growth such as: He Shou Wu, Nu Zhen Zi, Han Lian Cao, Shuan Ye, Dang Gui, Shu Di Huang, etc... Herbal tea is made from the herbs and taken orally. I also make herbal tincture for topical application, especially for use with the seven star needle. The above treatment promotes scalp blood circulation. It not only helps hair growth but may also prevent graying of hair. New hair growth can be seen after two to three months of treatment.
Let me share a case study with you. C.C., male, 33 His initial visit was 10-24-96. He has had a hair loss problem for about 20 years. He had partial hair loss when he was a teenager. He had been taking steroid hormones both orally and topically. The condition was worsening during the past couple of years. His symptoms included partial hair loss and thinning of hair. For six months one bald patch, about egg size, was located on the right side of his temple. He was often nervous and suffered from headaches. His tongue was bigger than normal, slightly red in color with a white coat. His pulses were thin and weak. The differentiation was damp-heat stagnation and blood kidney deficiency. I made him herbal tea as a daily supplement, gave an herbal tincture for topical use and performed acupuncture. The office visit was scheduled for once a week. I first observed new hair growth in the bald patch at his 8th visit. The bald patch was getting smaller daily. Three months later the patch was completely filled with new hair. The new hair has remained well and is healthy. During the last five years he has been on a maintenance program and he is satisfied with the result.

Ancient therapy that still has place in 21st century

When Kerry Warren needed relief from the migraines she’d been suffering from, acupuncture wasn’t the first treatment that came to mind.
But after trying it she was so impressed with the relief that it brought that she trained to become an acupuncturist herself.
From her clinic in Southampton Road, Portchester, Kerry now treats people for a vast range of ailments, niggles, stresses and strains.
And as the UK’s first acupuncture awareness week draws to a close, she wants others to open their minds to the potential power of this ancient therapy.
‘Like a lot of people, I’d tried everything else and nothing had worked,’ explains Kerry.
‘I thought “I’ll give acupuncture a go”, which is a common comment I get from other people. They have done all the Western stuff, with various side effects from medication.’
Combined with a Chinese massage technique called Tui na, she uses thin needles to release built-up blockages of energy in the body.
‘We work with meridians, or channels, that run around your body like a network,’ she says.
‘Through these channels you get your energy, the qi [pronounced chee], and when the qi stops you get problems, like migraines.
‘We get fine needles and put them through these channels to release the energy and let the qi flow.’
She adds: ‘One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s like having an injection. It’s not painful, it shouldn’t hurt at all.’
Kerry will typically use between 12 and 14 needles per treatment and will also examine a client’s tongue and pulse to assess where their problem stems from.
Those interested in trying it should find a practitioner who is registered with the British Council of Acupuncture, the regulatory body that upholds standards within the industry.
Acupuncturists like Kerry have trained for three years and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) now recommends the treatment for those who suffer from lower back pain.
The vast majority of Kerry’s clients come to her with sports injuries but she also treats those with fertility problems, digestive ailments and stress.
While a course of acupuncture won’t cure someone of a diagnosed fertility problem, stress can be a barrier to conception and Kerry says the treatment can promote relaxation.
In September, Kerry will travel to America to learn more about how acupuncture is being used by the US Air Force on the battlefield.
But for now she’s focused on raising awareness of the practice in this country and hopes people will think about acupuncture before other types of treatments in future.
‘We want to change the order of when people come and see us,’ she adds.