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Research Update – Acupuncture for Pain Management

Multiple studies have shown acupuncture can be very effective at managing pain. But a study performed by Albrecht et al, is probably one of the most frequently referenced studies. The researchers studied the effects of acupuncture on 424 patients who suffered with chronic shoulder pain. The analysis of the results showed acupuncture as an effective treatment, the participants reported decreased pain and increased range of motion and that it was even superior to the results achieved using conservative orthopedic treatments. This, as well as many other studies, show hope for the future of acupuncture becoming mainstream medicine in the battle against pain.

THE PAIN METRIC


Pain. Who hasn’t dealt with it? It is so common in the United States that it affects more people than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Pain is the most common reason people go to see their doctor and also why we are currently experiencing an unprecedented opioid epidemic. Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Approximately one in every four Americans have suffered from pain that exceeds 24 hours. The type of pain and location of the pain will determine how it is treated when you go to see your doctor. And typically, the doctor will prescribe over-the-counter or prescription pain medications and they may also order more tests to determine if there is something more serious going on.

ACUPUNCTURE AND PAIN

This is where acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can work in conjunction with your primary care physician. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture can be quite effective at treating pain, both acute and chronic. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration is now urging doctors to obtain information about alternative treatment methods like acupuncture and chiropractic care. This came about in response to the opioid crisis occurring in the U.S. and killing thousands of people, including the rich and famous.

Since acupuncture has no real adverse side effects when performed by a qualified and professionally licensed practitioner, pain relief can begin the very first time a patient is treated.

Acupuncture treatments are very customizable because as a medicine, it’s not a “one size fits all” type of solution. This means that as the pain shifts and changes, the patient will receive customized treatments that not only address the pain and inflammation, but also work on resolving the root of the problem. Most patients who are dealing with pain also have added stress, insomnia and depression or anxiety. Acupuncture is great at treating all of these conditions. So the patient gets more than just pain relief.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ACUPUNCTURE

The stimulation of acupuncture points triggers the brain to release endorphins, which are painkilling chemicals that saturate the brain and decrease pain signals, both short-term and long-term. Acupuncture is so effective at treating and relieving pain it is now showing up in hospitals and emergency rooms. In fact, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota is now successfully using acupuncture in its emergency room to treat conditions ranging from car accident injuries to kidney stones. Their initial results show that pain scores are just as low with acupuncture as they are with those given analgesic painkillers.

With these kinds of recommendations, it is hard to believe only about 10 percent of Americans have ever tried acupuncture. But that statistic is slowly changing as more and more people are seeking natural and alternative methods of dealing with pain and disease. If you suffer from pain of any kind and you are located in Duluth Minnesota, give us a call at (218) 724-3400 so we can give you the relief you’ve been seeking.

SOURCE: Science Direct Article

Opioid Addiction: What Is It and Why Is It Prevalent Today

Opioids. A word all too common to today’s society. Since the late 1990s, the number of opioid-related deaths has increased dramatically, having taken the lives of nearly 64,000 Americans each year.

The opioid epidemic is considered to be the deadliest crisis in United States history and overdoses have also become the leading cause-of-death in people under the age of 50 in the United States.

OPIOID HISTORY

There are many theories regarding the opioid epidemic and how we got to this point. One thing is for certain is that it began in the 1990s and it started in the medical pharmaceutical industry.

During this period of time, medical doctors were being pressured to treat chronic pain more aggressively. In response to this pressure, doctors began prescribing long-term use of opioids so that patients could better deal with their pain. At the same time that this was happening, pharmaceutical companies were touting opioids as non-addictive and not harmful.

Doctors were prescribing drugs at higher rates and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), by 2015, there were enough pills being prescribed to medicate every American daily for three weeks straight.

ADDICTIVE NATURE


There are many who may not know just how addictive opioids can be. Studies have shown that patients who take the medications for as little as a week have a higher chance of developing an addiction.

It’s a common occurrence for those who have previously been prescribed opioids to begin misusing them. Oftentimes, if their supply ran out or their prescription expired, getting medication from friends, family or buying them illegally was how people gathered them.

This behavior led to the medications being harder to obtain and people turning to black market forms of the drugs or using illegal drugs like heroin, to help battle their chronic pain.

USE OF OPIOIDS


Opioids are used to relieve pain because they lower the number of pain signals the body sends to the brain. They also change how the body responds to the pain. Opioids include codeine, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and tramadol.

They tend to be safe when taken as prescribed, but since they are highly addictive, they can be easily misused and people don’t even realize they have an addiction.

This type of medicine alters the brain by creating artificial endorphins, which make you feel good. Overuse of them can cause the brain to actually stop making natural endorphins if opioids are used too frequently and at high dosages. Thus, the body becomes dependent on the synthetic drug and builds up a tolerance, which requires more and more of the drug to achieve the same level of pain relief.

ACUPUNCTURE AND OPIOIDS


Unfortunately, it seems this epidemic is not going away anytime soon. As doctors start to crack down on the prescriptions they are handing out, more and more people are seeking out other forms of pain-relief and that’s where Acupuncture comes into play!

The stimulation of acupuncture needles improves blood circulation and helps you heal naturally. Undergoing treatment from Traditional Chinese Medicinal practices can also help your body begin producing natural chemicals that are used as painkillers, thus relieving chronic pain without the addiction. 

Acupuncture is believed to rebalance energy and qi (the body’s life force) in order to alleviate pain and boost overall health from the inside out!

While there are numerous ways to treat opioid addiction, the fact remains the crisis is one that will be dealt with for generations to come, both physically and financially. If you have additional questions about opioid addiction and how you may benefit from acupuncture treatments, reach out to us at (218) 724-3400 and schedule an appointment!

Research Update: Acupuncture and TCM for Motivation

A study published by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the holistic effects of acupuncture treatments. The study looked at how acupuncture treatments were conducted and evaluated. One of the areas this study looked at is how acupuncture influences the function of the brain. By using functional MRI imaging, the researchers were able to see certain areas of the brain were stimulated during the acupuncture treatments. The study confirmed acupuncture on specific points can activate motivation centers in the brain, thus leading to increased physical motivation in the participants.

Everybody experiences times where they have no motivation. Lack of motivation can be caused by many things: weather, depression, nutritional deficiencies, rejection, and even not exercising.

Lacking motivation can be detrimental to your health. Even though everybody knows they should be exercising and eating right and getting proper sleep, many of us choose not to. This becomes a bad habit that can actually develop into depression, fatigue, insomnia, and even nutritional deficiencies that can cause even worse physical problems. We tell ourselves we don’t have time or we have no motivation or willpower. These are just stories we tell ourselves. EVERYBODY has time to care for themselves. It’s just a choice we have to make.

Acupuncture can help put the “pep” back in your step when it comes to motivation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lack of motivation is considered some sort of blockage along the energetic pathways that run throughout the body. Over time, this lack of motivation frequently develops into depression. When the body is depressed, nothing seems possible. But the fact of the matter is that there are underlying causes of depression that begin with the lack of motivation.

The reason TCM works so well at addressing and correcting motivation problems is that it addresses the body holistically. When people go to their doctor and tell them that they have no motivation, they are frequently prescribed antidepressants. But the problem with antidepressants is they don’t address the underlying causes of the issue. TCM looks at everything: the body, the mind, the environment, and the emotions. This allows for treatments to be customized to the needs of the patient instead of a one size fits all approach.

One of the first things to happen when then emotions become involved, our body begins to send signals to the digestive tract. This is why those who lack motivation or become depressed often have no appetite. Energy comes from eating healthy foods. When we have no appetite, we tend to reach for those things like sweets and carbohydrates. These foods give us the quick “emotional high” that temporarily sedates the depressive feelings. But the excitement quickly goes away, leaving us right back where we started.

If you or someone you love is lacking in motivation, why not give us a call, acupuncture and self-care techniques may be able to put the “pep” back in your step!


CITATION: Hindawi Journal

Negative Ions and Positive Health

In a study published by the National Institute of Health, researchers found negative air ions had a positive effect on the physiological parameters of blood pressure and heart rate, as well as neuronal activity when applied to a group of rats. It was observed that the negative air ions significantly decreased heart rate and blood pressure. These findings suggest negative air ions can influence health through the inhibition of neuronal activity.

Negative ions may sound like something unhealthy, but in fact, they have quite the opposite effect on the body. Negative ions are oxygen atoms charged with an extra electron. And recent studies suggest breathing air rich in negative ions can have a very positive effect on a person, both physically and mentally.

Negative ions are commonly found in natural places close to moving water. But they can also be felt in the air after a thunderstorm. You know that taste noticed near a beach or waterfall, or after a strong thunderstorm? These are all examples of negative ions saturating the air. Negative ions can clear the air of pollutants like mold, pollen, pet dander, bacteria, dust, and foul odors. They do this by attaching to positively charged particles, causing air pollutants to become too heavy to stay airborne. Once they become too heavy, they drop to the ground, which prevents them from becoming respiratory pathogens.

There are numerous health benefits to negative ions. This is why it is suggested that negative ionizers be used in the home and office. Negative ions are inhaled and once they are in the bloodstream, they produce biochemical reactions that can increase the chemical serotonin, which helps manage stress and depression. Negative ions also help increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. This can eliminate drowsiness and increase alertness and mental clarity.

The effects of ionization have been studied for decades. Many people claim to feel irritable or they may develop headaches or sinus problems when storms are brewing or approaching. Many elders claim to be able to “feel” the weather in their bones. Scientifically, this equates to the changes in electrical states within the atmosphere that typically accompany storms. In the 1970s, researchers began measuring metabolic changes in rodents in response to concentration of ions in the air. The studies showed when the rats and mice were exposed to positive ions, they became agitated, aggressive, and more prone to respiratory conditions. But these changes were not observed when the rodents were exposed to negative ions.

The best way to experience the positive health effects of negative ions is to spend more time in nature. Stepping outside after a thunderstorm blows through, walking along the beach, or even going for a hike in the mountains are all ways of getting exposure to negative ions that can ultimately lead to good health and a positive attitude. If none of these things are possible, adding a Himalayan salt lamp to the home is another great way to shift the mood. Regardless of how it’s achieved, absorbing negative ions can be a game-changer.


Sources:
Web MD Article
PubMed Article
Negative Ionizers Article

Eastern vs. Western: How the Medical Practices Differ

Almost everybody knows there are two very unique ways of treating disease and maintaining health. But not everybody knows how these two methodologies differ from one another. And depending on where you live in the world, there may be one that is more prominent than the other. Both systems have their pros and cons. So let’s differentiate between the two. This is the battle between Eastern and Western medicine. Let’s get ready to rumble!

To begin, we have to look at the history of both systems. Eastern medicine has been around for nearly 5,000 years and began when ancient herbalists experimented with plant substances and their effects on humans. There are substances that have been found to enhance health, beauty, energetics of the body, and the mind. Western medicine has only been around, in its current form, since the 19th century, although the roots began in ancient Greece and Egypt. It wasn’t until World War II that the development of synthetic drugs really began. This is also when the current Western medical system discovered it can manipulate certain actions in the human body through the use of synthetic pharmaceuticals. This difference is huge, as Eastern philosophy uses whole food formulas to nourish the body’s ability to heal itself, while Western philosophy isolates and forces therapeutic actions throughout the body by utilizing laboratory modified medicines.

Next, we compare the examination methods. Eastern medicine is much more holistic in this regard, as it takes every aspect of the body into account. Because the body cannot be compartmentalized based upon the disease, it makes sense to consider how each bodily system is affecting the others. Eastern medicine does not evaluate an illness purely based on the symptoms a person is showing, but rather, on complex patterns of disharmony in the body.

The process of determining a person’s diagnosis begins with an evaluation according to the Eight Principles, which describe the basic qualities of a disease – Yin/Yang, Interior/Exterior, Hot/Cold, Deficient/Excess.

Western medicine compartmentalizes a person’s diagnosis, looking at each system individually rather than how they work together. This could be why there are more specialists in Western medicine, such as a psychiatrist, an endocrinologist or an orthopedic surgeon. Also, Eastern medicine practitioners are trained to listen with the whole body and pay attention to every ounce of sensory input. This is quite different from Western medicine, where the focus is generally only on the system affected. Because of this way of thinking, pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures are based on how they affect each individual organ or organ system, instead of considering how the systems are intertwined with one another.

Another difference is the ultimate goals of each medical system. As Western medicine is all about fixing the physical body, the mind is also considered an organ, the brain. If the body is missing a substance, the Western medical approach is to supply that substance. And while things like nutrients may be necessary to be supplemented sometimes, most man-made pharmaceuticals have far too many adverse side-effects.

The Eastern medical approach is to engage and support the body’s own self-healing mechanisms. This is done by balancing the energetics of the body and ridding the body of energetic blockages. If the body is missing a substance, the Eastern approach is to stimulate the body to create it, thus allowing the body to heal itself. However, when the body is severely compromised, as with trauma and severe illness, the body is undermined and the capacity to heal itself may be impossible.

Obviously, there are several differences between the two medical systems. But if the two can work together, then humans will be ultimately better off. However, since Western medicine focuses so heavily on physical proof and Eastern medicine is more subtle focusing on the energetics of the body, the two systems have a long way to go until meeting eye-to-eye and working alongside one another. In the meantime, it is the decision of the patient to decide which route he or she will take. But it should be noted that the two systems can and do work very well together.