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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Acupuncture for Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has become a major healthcare problem in the United States.  Obesity, lack of exercise, and a diet with too much sugar and processed foods, have all contributed to the growth of this disease.  Above all, it affects those over 50 and studies have shown that up to 20% of Americans over 65 suffer from diabetes.  It is not commonly known in the US that diabetes can be treated with acupuncture.  But in China, where the population’s level of blood sugar is gradually rising due to modernization and the adoption of the western diet, acupuncture is used to treat diabetes.  As a result, western physicians are increasingly recommending the treatment of acupuncture for diabetes.

Acupuncture physicians apply the needles to about 20 points on the body that they have learned are effective in lowering blood sugar. In fact, many of the points on the body used to treat diabetes are the same as those used for many other disorders, such as dietary problems, poor circulation, obesity or neuropathy. Stress can also be a common cause of diabetes.  Acupuncture is especially helpful in helping the body relax and restore a sense of well being, thus reducing the stress.

Treating diabetes also means examining your diet and lifestyle – in combination with any treatment.  Acupuncturists tend to spend more time consulting with their patients and combining their treatments with additional information about diet and exercise.  Carolyn Cook also combines her treatment with the use of Chinese herbs, which are commonly prescribed for diabetes.

Acupuncture For Lower Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor.  It is said that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, and most will eventually seek treatment from an acupuncturist as it has been found that acupuncture is one of the best treatments for this type of pain. The American Pain Society and American College of Physicians recommend acupuncture as an alternative treatment when lower back pain persists after conventional treatment.

When treating a patient for back pain, the acupuncturist inserts extremely thin needles in specific points of the body.  These points are connected by pathways (or meridians) facilitating a flow of energy known as Qi or the body’s life force.  The stimulation of these pathways helps correct any imbalance or disease in the body. The theory behind the effectiveness of this treatment for back pain is that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system which then releases chemicals or endorphins into the muscles of the back, the spinal cord and even the brain, allowing the muscles and the entire body to relax.  It takes a number of acupuncture treatments for the pain to completely disappear, usually two or three times a week for 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the patient and the extent of his or her back injury.

Back pain comes in various forms.  If it is caused by an injury the pain is usually severe, a stabbing or shooting pain.  However, with treatment it is generally cured in a relatively short time – the two to three week period.  Back pain can also be chronic – which means it is a dull ache in the lower back, stiffness and difficulty in standing up straight, and tends to last for months.  Chronic back pain has many causes; it can be caused by overdoing exercise over a long period of time, arthritis, or a damaged disc that is impinging on the nerves.  It can also be due to depression or stress.  Chronic back pain is especially responsive to acupuncture treatment. The relaxation of the muscles caused by acupuncture allows the body to relax and induces a feeling of overall wellbeing.

Another benefit of acupuncture treatment for back pain is that it can lead to fewer unfavorable side effects than many of the conventional treatments. You must remember, however, to check the credentials of the acupuncturist.  When you are treated by an experienced acupuncturist it is safe, and you will not experience any serious side effects.

Controlled trials have been carried out in many countries to find out how effective acupuncture is for lower back pain.  The majority of the trials have concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment, especially for chronic lower back pain.  The trials also recommend it as an important supplement of conservative orthopedic treatment. It is always best to discuss the option of acupuncture treatment with your doctor and to keep him informed of your progress.  In turn, the acupuncturist will study the notes provided your doctor before starting treatment so as to be aware of the history of your ailment.

What is Acupuncture?

Millions of Americans receive acupuncture treatment every year for many ailments, primarily to relieve pain. So I’m sure you are familiar with the term and probably know many people who have received acupuncture treatment. But do you know how it is administered and how it relieves pain?

The history of acupuncture goes back at least 2500 years to ancient Chinese medical practices. Scholars of Classical Chinese Acupuncture studied nature’s patterns and rhythms and investigated how this wisdom applied to health and disease in the human body. The process has evolved over time and recently begun to gain a lot of attention in the western world; today many insurance companies even cover it as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

There are more than 2,000 points on the human body connecting with pathways (called meridians) which conduct an energy or life force throughout the body known as chi or qi. This energy travels through the body unless disrupted by some force. This disruption causes, or results in, discomfort or illness.

The treatment of acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin medical-grade needles into specific combinations of these 2,000 points in order to correct and/or maintain the normal flow of qi. Acupuncturists review the patient’s symptoms along with their medical history in order to determine where the flow of qi is disrupted. The needles are then placed into locations known to be associated with the difficulties the patient is experiencing and may be left in place for a span of ten minutes to an hour while the patient relaxes in a comfortable room. The treatment may also include the manipulation of the needles in order to enhance the session. In addition to heat, the acupuncturist may send electrical impulses through the needles.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the central nervous system and patients usually experience an agreeable tingling sensation, making them feel relaxed or even energized. Of course, these feelings vary depending on each individual patient. Acupuncture is not painful as the needles are so thin and the tip has a smooth point, unlike hypodermic needles used for injections. The needles are regulated by the FDA in the same way other medical equipment is regulated. They are sterile, are in individual sealed packets, and only used once.

How does acupuncture relieve pain? It is thought that acupuncture is successful because it releases certain chemicals into the body which relieve pain both physically and psychologically. By stimulating the body’s chi or life force, it activates a flow of endorphins, otherwise known as the body’s natural painkillers. It has also been documented that acupuncture helps the body’s immune system.

As a general rule, a treatment will consist of 3 to 10 one-hour sessions. Some medical insurance companies will cover the cost, but it is advisable to check with your acupuncturist beforehand.

Acupuncture for Headaches

Headaches are one of the most common ailments that acupuncturists are accustomed to treating.  Acupuncture has been found to be effective in healing headaches from migraines to chronic mild headaches.   Acupuncture is known for correcting energy imbalances in the body, and headaches occur when this flow of energy, or “chi”, is interrupted.  When your “chi” is flowing easily, your physical, mental and emotional health is in balance and your immune system can accomplish its healing powers.

As in the acupuncture treatment for other ailments, the needles are strategically placed in your body stimulating the nerves and leading to the release of endorphins (chemicals in the brain).  The needles are so fine that almost everyone will agree that they experience no pain as they are inserted.  This reduces inflammation and increases blood flow in your brain, allowing your muscles to relax.  The pain is lessened and you experience a feeling of overall well being.  Usually treatments are prescribed for a few weeks, especially in the case of migraines or recurring headaches.

Studies show that patients who undergo regular acupuncture over a period of months have fewer and less intense headaches. And in the case of severe headaches, they need to take less or no medication.  Acupuncture also has no side effects and its benefits are longer lasting.  The World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, and The American Headache Society all recognize the benefit of acupuncture in the treatment of headaches, keeping in mind you should usually combine it with the treatment of traditional medicine and work together with your doctor.

However, you must realize that conditions such as chronic headaches or severe migraines cannot be cured overnight.  Acupuncture treatment takes time and patience.  Maybe you might need to slow down or maybe change your approach to life.  Your acupuncturist physician, Carolyn Cook, will take the time to help you and discuss how you can improve your overall health and maintain your “chi” and achieve a healthy balance in your body. Her goal will be to first reduce the acute pain and then to prevent future occurrences.