Acupuncture Helping San Diego's Homeless

“I was desperate. My back was so sore.”

The above was said by David Knoles, of San Diego. David is homeless, living alone in a canyon. Being homeless takes an unbelievable toll on the body. Constantly trying to create comfort in the places that most of us use for walking, traveling, hiking or other activities puts tons of strain on the bones and muscles of the homeless. David, in particular, once threw out his back while trying to move a rock that he says weighed about 150 pounds.

When you or I get injured like that, we have the benefit of seeking a number of medical care options. The homeless don’t have that luxury, if they can even receive any care at all.

But at the Pacific Beach United Methodist Church in San Diego, Knoles and the areas other homeless are being offered free acupuncture every week.

“Primarily, it’s for chronic illness and injuries,” Robin Kohler of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and the UC San Diego School of Medicine told the San Diego Tribune. “A lot of them had injuries sustained on a job where there was no insurance.”

Acupuncture is an especially beneficial treatment for folks like Knoles because of its versatility. Acupuncture is well known for it’s effectiveness at treating physical pain, but also emotional and mental conditions like insomnia, stress and anxiety, and depression—which our homeless are unfortunately susceptible to.

“I liked it so much, I kept coming in,” Knoles said, speaking to acupuncture’s wide-ranging benefits. “I wanted to keep doing it. It was not just healing my back, but other pains I was having.”

Hopefully, other locations around the country will follow this community’s lead and help those out who need our help the most.

Acupuncture At The Zoo: The Story of Lottie The Koala

Anyone who suffers from arthritis, or is close to someone suffering from it, knows how debilitating it can be to live with. That isn’t limited just to us humans, either.

Lottie is a Koala bear that has been at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina since 2002. Any mother knows that raising young ones can be a physical burden, and since Lottie arrived at Riverbanks Zoo in 2002, she has given birth to 11 joeys. All that joey-rearing (Koalas use their back to carry their children) and climbing and the physical rigors of everyday life have taken their toll of Lottie, who the staff at Riverbanks found had began suffering from arthritis and muscle tension.

However, Lottie has been showing signs of improved motion and strength recently, and the credit can be granted to the veterinary staff at Riverbanks, who treated Lottie’s arthritis and muscle tension with acupuncture.

“The animal care team at Riverbanks currently performs acupuncture on Lottie once every two to three weeks,” said John Davis, the director of animal care and welfare at Riverbanks told the Free Times. “Each treatment session last about 15 to 20 minutes, with the staff veterinarian inserting at least 10 small needles (about the size of a human hair) into Lottie’s lower back and hip area.”

If you’re wondering how easily a wild animal takes to acupuncture, Lottie has her days.

“We realized that she’s okay with it some days and not OK with it on other days,” Davis says. “If she starts to retreat up the tree in the middle of a session, then we just end the session.”

But based on Lottie’s improvement, it looks like she’s been OK with acupuncture more than not.

Using Acupuncture to Treat Trauma

The mind/body connection is truly undeniable. When one isn’t working properly, you can bet the other isn’t either. This is perhaps nowhere more complicated than in individuals dealing with trauma.

  

Trauma is a multifaceted word that embodies so much. Pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, memory issues, terror, difficulties adjusting to post-trauma life — it’s almost endless. But if you work to heal the mind, you can often heal the body. And you can use the body to heal the mind, too.

 

But with what, you might ask? Acupuncture, of course. In fact, it’s a proven way to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep, which naturally lends itself to improved mental health. In dealing with something as serious as trauma, the smallest improvement can mean a world of difference.

 

As reported on Rfi News, acupuncturist Elise Boghossian packed up her acuneedles and headed to Iraq, leaving her lie behind in Paris and setting out to bring healing to kidnapped and enslaved women in northern Iraq.  

 

She told the site, ““The first time I went to Iraq I was completely alone. I didn’t have colleagues or work with a specific organization. I just had my acupuncture needles to offer people pain relief.”

 

Through her experiences, she eventually founded NGO EliseCare, an organization with six sites throughout Iraq that offer free medical consultations, continuous psychological care to patients, and medical training in acupuncture, emergency medical care, gynecology, radiology and biology.

 

You can watch her story, here.

Acpuncture For Bell's Palsy? Just Ask Angelina Jolie

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Bell’s Palsy comes without warning. One day, one side of the face becomes weak and/or numb, and within a few days the affected person may experience severe drooping and temporary paralysis. It can last up to six months, depending on the severity.

The cause of Bell’s Palsy is still not totally known, though experts have an idea—that the seventh cranial nerve, the nerve that is responsible for allowing us to make the facial expressions that we do, becomes afflicted with swelling or inflammation.

As we know, swelling and inflammation are a result of blockages in the body’s meridians, causing energy, or qi, to become stagnant. Acupuncture is uniquely suited to regulating the body’s energy by opening up the blockages, resulting in lessening of inflammation and thus the pain and discomfort associated with it.

While there is no recognized cure for Bell’s Palsy, acupuncture can help ease the symptoms and speed up the recovery. But don’t just take our word for it. Actress, director and philanthropist Angelina Jolie told Vanity Fair about how a number of stressors affected her health. “Sometimes women in families put themselves last,” she said, “until it manifests itself in their own health.” One of the conditions that Jolie got? Bell’s Palsy. However, she credits acupuncture for “her full recovery from the condition.”

While acupuncture is only a part of a healthy routine and treatment for various disorders like Bell’s Palsy, it’s a big piece of the puzzle that’s always there to help.

Acupuncture In The Media: GQ Covers Acu!

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It’s always good to see when a big media outlet takes a deep dive into the wonderful world of acupuncture. Though acupuncture has been on this earth for thousands of years, and in the United States for around a half a century, there still remains plenty of room for awareness around acupuncture to grow. So we were encouraged to come across a new article in GQ by Emily Abbate that breaks down how acupuncture can help folks manage pain avoid injury.

One of the interesting notes in the article is, indeed, how popular acupuncture is becoming. More than 14 million people in the US have tried acupuncture, and while we’d love to see that number go up, there’s reason to believe that it is. The article notes how the number of Veterans Health Centers that offer acupuncture has nearly doubled over the past seven years. As opioids and other potentially damaging drugs are too often prescribed to veterans, seeing that more will have access to acupuncture is a welcome sign.

The article highlights that acupuncture is effective at treating “chronic pain, including back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as conditions like chronic headaches and osteoarthritis,” as well as helping athletes’ bodies recover quicker from soreness and improve range of motion. That’s all true, but a quick look at our blog shows that acupuncture is an effective treatment for so much more, too. It’s always worth asking us if we can help you with your specific pain management issues; acupuncture can address just about any issue in the body where the energy is out of whack.

Finally, it’s good to see that the article also took a little bit of time to speak to the preparations that a new patient should take before their first visit. Since acupuncture is foreign to many people, it’s understandable to be intimidated. But as the article states, there isn’t much one needs to do before coming. Wearing some comfy clothes and coming in with a positive attitude and ready to relax is pretty much it. Leave the rest up to us!

How Acupuncture Can Help Those With Diabetes

Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes every year, with about 30 million people suffering from it across the country. Chances are we all know somebody directly or indirectly who is living with diabetes.

For those who are unaware, diabetes is a disease that causes the body to be unable to properly process food to be used as energy. The result of this inability is a buildup of sugar in the blood. These high glucose and low insulin levels can lead to a number of symptoms that affect daily life, like fatigue, frequent urination, frequent hunger and thirst, and weight loss.

There are medications available that diabetics can take to help ease the burden brought on by these symptoms, but there’s also a holistic, safe and effective way to treat many of the side effects too—acupuncture.

A study in Beijing found that consistent acupuncture lowers glucose levels, increases insulin levels, and improves glucose intolerance, which all combines to keep symptoms in check. In particular, “low intensity and low-frequency electroacupuncture could help in reducing insulin resistance and increasing insulin sensitivity,” says Medical News Today. And, in 2015, a study showed that acupuncture treatment combined with an anti-diabetic medication called metformin produced better results for patients than just taking the medication alone.

Of course, there is no cure for diabetes, and those who live with it will always have to consider the best diet and treatment options for their specific case. But acupuncture can play a role in making dealing with diabetes just a little bit easier.

Acupuncture Can Reduce Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause.

It’s something every woman must face, eventually. And it’s a solid guarantee that nobody looks forward to it.

A time of great change and transition, it’s a milestone that comes with the aging process and can be quite difficult on the female body.

But what if we told you acupuncture can help?

It can.

In a recent article from Medical News Today, it was revealed that just a short time spent with acupuncture treatments could significantly reduce some of the harshest symptoms of menopause.

Researches of this study decided to focus on one of the most common complains — hot flashes.

Here’s how the study went down.

Of seventy women experiencing menopause, half were given a 15-minute acupuncture session once a week for 5 weeks. All were given a questionnaire about their menopause symptoms and it was filled out at 3, 6, 8 11 and 26 weeks. In only 3 short weeks, the group receiving acupuncture noticed a decrease in their hot flashes.

Even better?

After six weeks, EIGHTY percent of the women receiving acupuncture believed it had helped. And, they also experienced relief in severity and/or frequency of sweating, sleep issues, emotional and mood problems, and their skin nail issues.

We also know that it can help with reduction in anxiety, depression, weigh management and anti-aging, too.

Though the study has faced some criticism, largely due to the ambiguity surrounding what’s called the “placebo effect” of acupuncture, it’s evident that a large number of women were left feeling better after just once weekly acupuncture. And that’s good enough for us.

So, what are you waiting for? Give acupuncture a try today.

Acupuncture = Less Opioid Prescriptions?

The opioid epidemic our country is currently facing takes the lives of 130 Americans each and every day.

 

In 2017, overdose death counts were six times higher than those of 1999. And since then, more than 700,000 people have died due to overdosing on the potent prescription pills.

 

Unfortunately, often the people we trust the most — our physicians, can put people’s lives at risk by over prescribing these pills as a means of pain management. But, acupuncture can help.

 

How?

 

The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that recent results from a survey of Uniformed Services AFP members revealed that, ”family physicians who received training in acupuncture prescribed fewer opioids for patients, especially ‘strong’ opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.”

 

 

As part of the survey, doctors were asked questions investigating their prescribing habits when it comes to opioids including the frequency they use nontraditional therapies, “such as nutrition, acupuncture and massage.”  

They were asked to estimate the number of patients they had written a prescription for “weak” and “strong” opioids for chronic, noncancer  pain.

The difference lied in the those that prescribed strong opioids — like morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl.

 

“More than 5 percent of family physicians with no training in acupuncture reported that on average, they wrote prescriptions for strong opioids for 11 or more chronic noncancer pain patients each month.” But of those family physicians who are trained in auricular acupuncture, only two percent wrote that many.  

 

The bottom line?

 

Though not a scientific study, it’s promising to know that those doctors who are familiar with the power of acupuncture are writing less prescriptions for such dangerous drugs.

 

Being aware of nontraditional therapies is important for all who are seeking pain relief, as these types of pills should be considered a last resort in most cases.

 

 

 

New Study Recommends Acupuncture as Alternative to Opioids

We’ve mentioned this before, but now even more research has emerged supporting the fact that acupuncture can be so powerful at relieving pain, it may even take the place of opioids in many patients.

In fact, the Joint Commission (an organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States while developing performance standards that address crucial elements of operation, such as patient care, medication safety, infection control and consumer rights) recently released a statement that explained one of the new elements of pain . management performance, “requires that organizations provide non-pharmacologic pain treatment modalities.”

This includes acupuncture. But what does it mean, exactly?

Essentially, organizations are now required to provide non-pharmacologic (aka non prescription) pain treatment modalities relevant to its patient population and assessed needs of the patient. Noninvasive treatments, like acupuncture, can be used as a complementary and in some cases, in place of opioid medication in many circumstances. Thus potentially reducing the amount of people prescribed painkillers — which . is great news.
 
The Joint Commission also noted how important it is to have non-pharmacologic pain treatment modalities available for patients who refuse opioid treatment, or are deemed ineligible. This population, including recovering addicts, may be able to experience relief without prescription pills.

Aside from acupuncture, they write that recommended non-pharmacologic strategies, “include, but are not limited to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, physical modalities (i.e.: acupuncture therapy, chiropractic therapy, osteopathic manipulative treatment, massage therapy, and physical therapy) relaxation therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.”

While supportive evidence varies by modality and specialty, more research is consistently supportive.

The bottom line? The Joint Commission states, “our standards do not mandate that any specific complementary options are provided, but allow organizations to determine what modality(s) to offer.”
 

Don't Get It Twisted—What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

If you go to an acupuncture session and your acupuncturist asks to look at your tongue, don’t worry. They’re not about to plunge a needle into your mouth! The fact of the matter is that all healthcare professionals should ask their patients the same request. That’s because you can tell a lot about somebody’s health simply by looking at their tongue and knowing what to look for.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a general map of the tongue is drawn that corresponds to different parts of the body, important organs that our health depends on. The very tip of the tongue corresponds with the heart and lung; the two side edges to the liver and gallbladder; the back (near the throat) to the kidney, bladder, and intestines; and the center corresponds to the spleen and stomach. Issues on those areas of the tongue could lead an acupuncturist to treat a specific area of the body that can be the root cause of the pain or discomfort the patient is experiencing—even if it might be different from what the patient is physically experiencing. See the image below via Village Wellness:

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In general, what practitioners would be looking for is the color and texture of the tongue. A healthy tongue is pink with a thin white coating, and should be proportionate to the person’s body. If a tongue is larger than it should be, swollen or puffy, that means there is likely a qi deficiency. A dark or blue/purplish-ish tongue may indicate stagnation as well, from heat or cold, while a reddish tongue indicates the body temperature is running high. A thick coated white tongue, as many people know, usually relates to some sort of cold/sinus/respiratory issue, and likely means there is extra fluid in the body.

While it won’t tell us everything, the tongue gives a good high level indication as to what is going on in the rest of the body. If the body’s energy isn’t regulated, it will show in the most unlikely of places. So if you can’t quite articulate what’s brought you to seek out acupuncture, your tongue can do some of the talking for you.

Got Jaw Pain? We Can Help

Ever wake up with a tight, sore jaw? Heard a clicking sound when opening and closing your mouth? Or, has your partner told you you tend to grind your teeth at night?

We can help with that.

As writer NIcole Hansalik shared in her story for MindBodyGreen, she was struggling with TMD - or, temporomandibular disorder, also known as pain in the jaw that can be felt while speaking, chewing, yawning, etc.

She said,, “TMD has proved to be difficult to treat with conventional medical treatments, but luckily, acupuncture shows a lot of promise,” and she decided to personally give acupuncture treatment a try.

Unsurprisingly, it helped.

How? While we know acupuncture helps to restore proper energy flow, or “chi”, she explains that, “ Modern research also suggests that it ‘reduces pain sensation through direct stimulation of the nerve, which changes the quality of signaling along nerve cells.’"

For Hansalik, the moment the acuneedle was inserted into the ST 7 Xiaguan acupuncture point, she said, “I can feel the relief, almost instantly.” (This goes for many other painful ailments as well.)

All it took was two appointments and she said her, “jaw pain subsided and I even stopped unconsciously clenching as intensely.” Adding, “While every individual reacts differently to acupuncture, for me it's the only thing that has relieved my jaw and neck pain.”

If you’re struggling with jaw pain or have been diagnosed with TMJ, TMD or just tend to hold some of your tension in your jaw (which is super common) don’t delay — schedule an appointment today!

(And while you’re at it, be sure to share any other struggles with your acupuncturist, too. Stress, sleeplessness, anxiety and a host of other ailments can be treated simultaneously.)


8 Reasons Why Now Is The Perfect Time To Try Acupuncture

The holidays are in full swing and the end of the year is almost upon us. Which means it’s the perfect time to try acupuncture! Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. If acupuncture is covered under your insurance, and there’s a chance you’ve hit your out-of-pocket maximum at this point, why not try and sneak in your first acupuncture appointment before the calendar turns over? This is the perfect time of year to experience first hand the holistic healing benefits of acupuncture.

  2. The holidays means gifts, family…and lots of food. Did you overeat (and over drink!) a bit this season? Acupuncture is known to promote and aid in healthy weight loss.

  3. This time of year also brings about lots of traveling, which can be tiring, stressful, and take us off of our routines, often messing with our sleep. Thankfully, acupuncture is one of the best and most natural ways to help out with sleeplessness as well as the side effects that come with an interrupted sleep schedule.

  4. If you had the luxury of decorating or playing Santa this year—lugging gifts up and down stairs and in and out of cars, carrying heavy shopping bags, putting together your children’s favorite new toys—you may be experiencing some aches and pains. Acupuncture is clinically proven to help back pain and other orthopedic issues.

  5. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to begin in the new year. Why not get a jumpstart on your wellness resolution now? The more and more you put it off, the less likely you are to truly follow through. Get next year off on the right foot right away!

  6. Relatedly, acupuncture has preventative benefits as well. If you’re planning on working out more in the new year, beginning acupuncture now can help prevent much of the soreness that comes with working out and help you recover quickly so you can get back out there as soon as possible.

  7. Shopping, family, traveling…all of these put together can stress you out big time. Acupuncture is thankfully here to help, as one of the best ways you can naturally de-stress and relax your body and mind.

  8. Spending the holidays with family and friends is wonderful, but it can be a bit overwhelming at times to find yourself without any me-time. Acupuncture is a great way to reconnect with your body, mind and soul.

Acupuncture Found Effective For Helping Paraplegia Patients

Those who suffer from spinal injury-related paraplegia struggle everyday to perform many everyday self-care functions. Those of us who have full control of our limbs take for granted the ease and automatic nature of doing what we consider “routine” things. A recent study showed that acupuncture is effective at helping paraplegics improve at a number of tasks and functions, including feeding, bathing, grooming, dressing, bowel and bladder control, transfers and mobility.

Researchers at Dangyang City Chinese Medicine Hospital conducted a study on 85 patients who suffered various spinal injuries that resulted in either full or partial loss of control of their limbs. The participants were split into two groups, a control group who received usual care and another group who received usual care plus acupuncture and herbal medicine.

The great news is that both sets of patients experienced significant improvements in daily living, limb mobility and neurotrophic factors. In each case, however, the acupuncture and herbal medicine group experienced an even more significantly greater improvement. The outcome of the study showed that thirty eight percent of the acupuncture group fell under the classification of either cured, highly effective or effective after the treatment, while the control group experiences a 30% combined rate.

That acupuncture helps paraplegia patients take steps towards more control of their limbs and improved quality of life is, in some ways, not a surprise. That’s because of acupuncture’s ability to regulate the qi in the body. As HealthCMI writes: “According to TCM principles, paraplegia involves qi stagnation and blood stasis preventing proper circulation to the limbs, leading to atrophy. This may be coupled with kidney yang deficiency or depletion of yin and yang. The primary treatment principles are to warm the channels and promote circulation.”

Opening up our pathways and eliminating qi stagnation can do wonders for all sorts of ailments and associated pain. It’s great to think that those among us who suffer from life-altering injuries may be able to regain some quality of life through safe, natural and effective treatments like acupuncture.

Losing Weight One Of Your Resolutions? Add Acu To Your Plan

Thanksgiving is upon us, and that means the Holiday Season has officially begun. It’s a time for family, friends, parties and plenty of eating. It’s no wonder that the number one New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight.

Before you head out to the sure-to-be-packed gym on January 2nd, it’s important to know that eating well and exercise aren’t the only things you should do when hoping to shed off some extra pounds. Those are both paramount, but sometimes our getting in shape process need an extra boost.

It just so happens that acupuncture is a safe, effective supplement to eating well and exercising when it comes to losing weight. In fact, a study in China has recently shown that those who receive acupuncture treatment for weight loss in addition to a healthy eating and workout-led plan. Conducted by the First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University, the study determined that acupuncture enhances weight loss efforts. Acupuncture “reduces body fat and adiposity, decreases serum triglycerides and total cholesterol, reduces harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and raises beneficial high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.” The study was broken into two groups, with one receiving acupuncture on top of a dietary plan and the other just receiving the dietary plan. The acupuncture group received warm needle acupuncture in 7 distinct acupuncture points. While both groups saw decreases in BMI, body fat and cholesterol, the acupuncture group saw a more significant decrease.

The acupoints are chosen carefully and help open up energy pathways associated with areas of the body that contribute to weight gain. Specifically, these points address the endocrine system and kidneys, which are related to retention and nerve and hormonal rebalance. In addition, the spleen and thyroid gland are also targeted, which will help the body rebalance sugar and hormones, leading to more efficient and rapid weight loss.

Always consult with your doctor to map out a safe exercise and diet plan. But once you do, make an appointment with us to kickstart your weight loss journey!

New Study Shows Acupuncture's Effectiveness At Easing Pain From Cancer and Cancer Treatments

As the medical world continues to research and fight for a cure for cancer, millions of patients around the world have to deal with the daily discomfort of the insidious disease. What makes dealing with cancer so difficult is that not only do the direct symptoms cause pain and discomfort, but so often many of the treatments, like chemotherapy, bring with them a whole other host of side effects.

We don’t pretend that acupuncture is a some sort of cure-all. However, we do know that acupuncture has wide-ranging benefits for all of our health and wellness needs, is non-invasive, and is effective mainly because it naturally spurs the body on to heal itself. While acupuncture will only be a part of any cancer patient’s treatment, we’re learning more and more that it should be a key complementary part of every cancer patient’s treatment, as the recently released results of a new study show.

A 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas determined that acupuncture “was associated with immediate and longitudinal significant improvement across a range of symptoms commonly experienced by individuals during cancer care.” Among the symptoms that the 375 patients reported the best improvements in after receiving acupuncture were dry mouth, nausea, and spiritual pain. But that wasn’t all — every symptom observed in the study showed some level of improvement, including hot flashes, numbness/tingling, and overall fatigue.

Whether its symptoms from cancer itself or from the direct treatments for cancer, acupuncture proved once again to be an effective way to reduce pain and discomfort. It’s imperative that we get the word out about how effective acupuncture is at helping cancer patients live as best of a life as they possibly can. The fight against cancer is a difficult one, and while acupuncture won’t be a cure all, it will definitely help.

Thaw Out Your Frozen Shoulder With Acupuncture

It’s getting dark earlier, and winter and all the colder weather that follows is on its way. When things freeze over, you’ll need a little help thawing out—while acupuncture can’t help you clear your steps or driveway, it can certainly warm things up for those suffering from frozen shoulder.

What, exactly, is frozen shoulder? You may not have heard of this ailment, but it affects over 200,000 Americans each year. It’s more common in women than men, and usually affects those aged 40-60. Additionally, those who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to it. Frozen shoulder is when the shoulder capsule becomes so thick and tight that the shoulder becomes incredibly painful and can be difficult or even impossible to move.

If not treated, frozen shoulder can heal on it’s own…but it can take a very long time. The frozen stage, where the shoulder is very limited in movement, can last anywhere from 4-12 months, while the thawing stage, the gradual return of movement and elimination of pain, can last 6 months to 2 years. That is far too long.

Thankfully, acupuncture is known as an effective holistic remedy for speeding up the thawing process and healing frozen shoulder. An study conducted in Guangdong, China, revealed that acupuncture alleviates pain and restores range of motion to the shoulder for patients with frozen shoulder. Subjects receiving the local acupuncture points had a 71.8% total effective rate, showing improved pain and better range of motion in the shoulder. Patients receiving abdominal acupuncture had a 92.4% total effective rate. 

Specifically, the study concluded, “This underscores acupuncture’s ability to provide anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and recuperative effective actions.”

So if you or someone you know is suffering from frozen shoulder, let them know that cozying up to the fire this winter won’t help them out. Acupuncture will!

Why Acupuncture Should be Offered in the ER

Chances are that, unfortunately, either you or someone you know has visited the emergency room recently. Visits to the ER have become incredibly common and are continuing to rise. A study released last year showed that in 2014, ER visits spiked to 141 million in the United States, a record-high. And the University of Maryland School of Medicine estimates that nearly half of all medical care in the country is delivered by emergency room departments. That number is even higher for women and minorities.

The stark fact is that ER visits are all too common. And there are a few things that are just about consistent across all emergency rooms—the use of NSAIDs and painkillers, and a lack of choice for patients. Slowly but surely, a welcoming change may be on the horizon.

For 4 years, Adam Reinstein, LAc, has been administering acupuncture in the ER of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Five days a week, Reinstein operates in the busy, hectic environment that doesn’t seem well suited for acupuncture. But Reinstein, who used to practice communcity acupuncture, has adapted by offering shorter sessions (15-20 minutes), focusing on points in the hands, arms, ears, head, feet, and lower legs, and sees patients only once. The ER can be a stressful place, and Reinstein often focuses on helping patients to feel more comfortable.

"By and large, patients get some relaxation and decrease of anxiety or discomfort. Others get some pain relief or nausea relief...What I do just fits in with everything else that is going on [in the ER],” Reinstein said. “One talks a lot about patient-centered care but usually patients have little or no choice.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Reinstein, and would love to see more emergency departments offer acupuncture to their patients. In addition from it being a better treatment for pain, anxiety, and nausea than medication, acupuncture could also help patients recover more quickly, which allows ER staffs to work more efficiently and cut down wait times.

Acupuncture in the ER? It’s a win-win.

Kick Motion Sickness to the Curb With Acupuncture

If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, you know how rough it can be. Sometimes the simple experience of riding in a car, bus, or train can trigger headaches, sweats, feelings of nausea and at worst cases, vomiting. The unpredictable nature of motion sickness can really put a damper on one’s life, when not knowing how you’ll deal with a car ride can affect whether or not you enjoy your night out.

There are medications available for folks who deal with motion sickness to take, but they often come with their own host of side effects. And like most medications, symptoms are treated and temporarily improved, while the root causes of the issue remains. In 2017, researchers in China found that the treatment those who suffer from motion sickness should seek out is none other than acupuncture.

A group of 20 men were studied, broken into three groups: one that received electroacpuncture (Group A), one that received sham acupuncture (Group B), and one group that received no therapy or treatment at all (Group C). The acupuncture group received treatment in three acupuncture points: Pericardium 6, Stomach 36 and Large Intestine 4. After the treatment, all of the subjects were put into a moving chair that is meant to bring upon many of the symptoms of motion sickness. Before and after the session, the subjects’ motion sickness symptoms were checked, and compared.

The study found that: “The volunteers in Group A mentioned less sweating or cold sweating symptoms, as well as less flashing and heat sensations in comparison to their Group C counterparts. Given that peripheral symptoms are attributed to sympathetic nervous system activation, it is possible, that acupuncture alters autonomic nervous system activity in a certain way.”

Those who suffer from motion sickness know what it’s like when things are thrown just a little bit off. We know that acupuncture helps treat root causes of pain and discomfort because it targets and regulates the body’s energy flow. If you’re fearing your next car ride, perhaps you should make a pit stop here and kick motion sickness to the curb for good!

Acu Students Training With Virtual Reality

Virtual reality used to be something you’d see only in sci-fi movies. But now, virtual reality is becoming more and more popular, being used in everything from gaming to marketing to entertainment. And in fact, one of the most effective and popular uses thus far for virtual reality is with training, particularly in the medical field. And if the U.S. follows the lead from China, acupuncturists-in-training may soon be putting on those headsets themselves.

BodyMap is a virtual reality system developed here in the US that is being used at China’s top medicine university to teach students acupuncture. The program is sort of like a Google Maps for the body, showing 3D images of a human body and specifically in the acupuncture training, the different acupoints on the body. The major “qi” pathways, where the energy flows through our body, are illustrated as well, letting students more easily learn exactly where on the body they will need to treat once they become practicing acupuncturists.

Generally, training is done on 2D images or by using real people as models, but that carries both increased costs and potential risks. The software is used for other medical training purposes as well, such as brain surgery.

“There’s a very high level of requirement for precision in acupuncture teaching,” says Cheng Kai, a professor. “For example, there’s an acupoint called jinming, which is situated very near the optic nerve. Needling this acupoint carries a certain danger [if the practitioner does not grasp the precise depth and angle for the insertion of the needle].”

The founder of BodyMap, Sam Jang, says he was inspired to create the virtual reality tool for medical purposes after he received acupuncture treatment that helped cure his chronic pain.

“I met a Chinese medicine practitioner who cured my condition with acupuncture in just over a week,” Jang said. “So I was amazed by acupuncture’s efficacy and started studying it. We are the first company in the world to combine VR and acupuncture training.”

So if your medical professional of the future has been trained in VR, you have acupuncture to thank!

How Acupuncture Grew in the US

October 24 is National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day. We all know that acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that has been utilized to treat pain and illness in the far east for thousands of years. Acupuncture is now popular all over the world, including here in the US, and it is continuing to gain a foothold as a safe, effective way to treat myriad forms of pain.

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But how did acupuncture make its way to the US?

Some believe that acupuncture’s rise in popularity can be traced to the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in China on a diplomatic trip. Kissinger fell ill and was treated at a Chinese hospital where he received acupuncture as part of his treatment. A journalist for the New York Times was covering Kissinger’s trip and reported on the Secretary’s hospital stay. This was the first exposure in the popular press for acupuncture for many people, and soon after the practice started gaining traction. In 1972, shortly after the publication of the story, the first legal acupuncture center in the country was established.

But acupuncture had been around long before the 1970s. Back in the beginning of the 20th century, acupuncture-like tapping treatments were being used. In the 1950s, some treatments were occurring where needles were being kept in place for up to a week! But soon, practitioners were using correct techniques, and acupuncture started becoming more and more accepted. After the Times article, things really took off.

Fast forward to today, and acupuncture is popular all across the US. There are over 18,000 licensed acupuncturists operating in the country. So while acupuncture can and will still grow even more, now you know that it has a long and interesting history here at home!