As acupuncture gains more popularity, there seems to be many more clinical studies on how it stacks up against Western medicine. Recently, there was a study done one the effectiveness of acupuncture combined with counseling for the treatment of depression compared to the usually therapy, i.e., psychotherapy and antidepressants.
The study was performed at the University of York, located in the U.K., and was composed of 755 severly depressed patients. The patients were broken up into three groups, one that received acupuncture and counseling, one that received the usual therapy, and one that received counseling alone. The patients were re-evaluated after 12 weeks and it was found that there was a significant decrease in depression in the group receiving acupuncture and counseling over the group receiving the usual treatment. After about 9-12 months, both of these two groups appeared to be equally effective.
Acupuncture is able to tackle depression faster simply because it is set up to treat the patient as a whole, separate being. While there are certain patterns in Chinese medicine which can lead to depression, there are many different factors to look at when coming up with a Chinese medicine diagnosis. This individualized care is what matters.
One of the most common questions I receive from new patients is whether or not acupuncture is covered by their insurance company. While policies always differ, it may be more widely accepted soon due to the Affordable Care Act.
From section 2706 in this health law, it states that insurance companies are not allowed to discriminate between health providers who have a state-recognized license. This means that licensed integrative health care providers, such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, and naturopathic doctors, may be brought to the same level as medical doctors depending on each state’s licensing laws. Most states recognize acupuncture as a licensed profession, as it always should be.
I remember the first time I heard about acupuncture was on the news when I was in middle school. I remember being really curious as to what exactly it was and not seeing how it made any sense. Therefore, I should not be surprised that so many people still don’t know about all the things acupuncture can be used for.
Acupuncture has been in practice in America for over a century now. It started here when immigrants came over from China who were trained in acupuncture. Still, most Americans didn’t actually learn of acupuncture until the 1970’s when a man names James Reston, who worked for the New York Times, went over to China as part of a group to prepare for President Nixon’s visit. During his trip, he developed acute appendicitis and had to undergo surgery. His surgery went well, but left him with post-operative pain which acupuncture was able to cure. He wrote about his treatment details and experience with acupuncture which was published on the front page of the New York Times during July of 1971.
Since then, there have been numerous studies on acupuncture and the treatment of pain, including post-operative pain, many with extremely promising results over more conventional forms of treatment.
Did you know that September is national pain awareness month? Acupuncture and Chinese medicine should definitely share the lime light this month because of all it can do in the treatment of pain. Not only is acupuncture basically a painless procedure itself, it is also amazingly effective in treating either acute or chronic pain in a short amount of time. While there is a lot of chinese medical theory involved in how this happens, you can remember these three easy things about acupuncture: it reduces pain, reduces inflammation, and increases circulation.
There have definitely been more and more studies about acupuncture and treating painful conditions, especially in the past year. Take some time to check them out:
Tiredness is one of the commonly seen symptoms in the clinic by an acupuncturist. I feel that this time of the year can be especially tough as people are worn out from running around through the long summer days and are now having to get more back on track with either work or school. Many times this is unavoidable and seen as a part of life, but there are some factors that can be paid attention to in order to keep our energy up in any situation. Here are some of the main causes to take a look at in order to keep our lifestyles more balanced during any time of the year:
- Overwork – There are many reasons why people may overwork from financial demands, to peer pressure, to a means to fill a void in one’s life. The many different causes is what makes this topic so common in the cause of tiredness. Excessive work with long hours and not adequate rest can be very damaging to our health in the long run.
- Improper sleep – This of course ties in with the last topic, but many times we don’t carve out enough sleep even if we are not working long hours. There might be something else exciting going on or a need for either family or “me” time that causes us to want to stay up. A good night’s sleep of 8-9 hours is essential.
- Diet – Improper diet causes our bodies to lack the nutrition it need to keep going throughout the day. There is a whole system behind Chinese medicine and diet, so it is tough to give an exact overview, but this can play a big role in tiredness.
- Physical overexertion – This can be likened to overwork if one has a job of manual labor, but it could also be overexertion from too much recreational activities or exercise.
- Severe Illness – Sometimes it is not a lifestyle choice making us tired, but one of severe illness. This can tie up a lot of our own qi, or energy, as our body tries to heal itself. Some examples of this would be influenza, bronchitis, even cancer.
- Recreational Drugs – This falls into a smaller population, but many studies have shown that long-term use of recreational drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, can cause a feeling of unease, lethargy, and unproductiveness.
As more consumers are looking for caffeine-free energy, PepsiCo is exploring the idea of an energy drink made using Chinese herbs. One herb considered, Ci Wu Jia, is commonly known as Siberian Ginseng or Eleuthero in English. This is a herb that is used in Chinese medicine for general weakness and malaise. Another herb mentioned, Gou Qi Zi, is commonly known as Goji Berries in English. This is a herb that has many functions according to Chinese medicine, but is able to treat weakness and fatigue by generating essence and augmenting the qi, or energy.
While energy drinks are not recommended by most acupuncturists, due to the sugar content and the overstimulation, drinks using Chinese herbs like these can provide a promising change in how many people are getting their energy fix because they don’t just burn your qi, they supplement it.
Sleep loss is something many of us are familiar with. We all know the common feelings of lethargy, crankiness, and being uncomfortable that can come with a bad night’s sleep, but a new study reveals how it can also be a major cause of weight gain. The link between lack of sleep and weight gain has been recognized for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that there has been more studies on what the actual cause of this may be.
A recent study, published in the Journal Nature Communications, takes a look at what actually goes on in the brain in relations to the food we eat when we are sleep deprived. This study had the participants choose which foods they would prefer to eat after a good night’s sleep compared to foods they chose after staying up all night. The foods they chose without having any sleep were the fatty foods, such as chocolate or potato chips. On average, the foods they requested when they were sleep deprived were an average of about 600 calories more compared to that of when they were well rested. It is important to note that the participants were given snacks to eat when they did stay up all night to cover the initial calories being burned from this.
A brain scan was done on the participants, strengthening the link between the lack of sleep and the desire for high-calorie foods. One thing found was greater than usual activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that deals with our desire for food or experiences. It was also found that activity was reduced in the frontal lobe, which is related to decision making.
According to Chinese medicine, people may desire to eat more as a means to build up their qi, or energy, and provide the body with sustenance. When our bodies are lacking in sleep, this can create a deficiency in the system and this overeating may be a means for us to try to adapt. Either way, there is no substitute for sleep.
Looking to gain control of your sleep or find ways to enrich it? Try acupuncture, sometimes only one point is needed.