Optimizing Results With Electro-Acupuncture

Electroacupuncture is an acupuncture technique that, comparatively speaking, has only recently come into use. Some scholars believe electroacupuncture was first used by physicians in France and Italy as far back as the early 1800s. Others attribute its discovery to Japanese scientists in the 1940s who were interested in making bone fractures heal more quickly. Still others claim that electroacupuncture wasn't really developed until 1958, when acupuncturists in China began experimenting with it as a form of pain relief. Whatever the case, electroacupuncture is an increasingly popular form of treatment, and is used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for a wide array of conditions.

What's the difference?

Electroacupuncture is quite similar to traditional acupuncture in that the same points are stimulated during treatment. As with traditional acupuncture, needles are inserted on specific points along the body. The needles are then attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses using small clips. These devices are used to adjust the frequency and intensity of the impulse being delivered, depending on the condition being treated. Electroacupuncture uses two needles at time so that the impulses can pass from one needle to the other. Several pairs of needles can be stimulated simultaneously, usually for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

One advantage of electroacupuncture is that a practitioner does not have to be as precise with the insertion of needles. This is because the current delivered through the needle stimulates a larger area than the needle itself. Another advantage is that electroacupuncture can be employed without using needles. A similar technique called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, uses electrodes that are taped to the surface of the skin instead of being inserted. The advantage of this procedure is that it can be used by people who have a fear of needles or a condition that prohibits them from being needled.

What conditions can electroacupuncture treat?

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, illness is caused when qi does not flow properly throughout the body. Acupuncturists determine whether qi is weak, stagnant or otherwise out of balance, which indicates the points to be stimulated. Electroacupuncture is considered to be especially useful for conditions in which there is an accumulation of qi, such as in chronic pain syndromes, or in cases where the qi is difficult to stimulate.

In the United States, electroacupuncture has been studied for a variety of conditions. It has been effectively used as a form of anesthesia; as a pain reliever for muscle spasms; and a treatment for neurological disorders. Other studies have examined the role of electroacupuncture in treating skin conditions such as acne, renal colic, and acute nausea caused by cancer medications. There is also some evidence that electrical stimulation of acupuncture points activates the endorphin system, which could lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease.

Does electroacupuncture hurt?

Patients may experience a tingling sensation while being treated with electroacupuncture, which is most likely due to the electric current. In most cases, however, the effect produced by the current is subsational; in other words, the tingling sensation will not be felt. Some minor bruising or bleeding may occur, which is the result of a needle hitting small blood vessels.

Are there any risks involved?

Electroacupuncture should not be used on patients who have a history of seizures, epilepsy, heart disease or strokes, or on patients with pacemakers. It should also not be performed on a patient's head or throat, or directly over the heart. Another recommendation is that when needles are being connected to an electric current, the current should not travel across the midline of the body (an imaginary line running from the bridge of the nose to the bellybutton).

Before trying electroacupuncture, patients should make sure to discuss the potential risks and benefits with their practitioner.

This article originally appeared on acupuncturetoday.com

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The Power of Using Acupuncture as Preventative Medicine

Healthcare in the United States is undergoing a significant transition as large portions of the population are now looking for wellness solutions that are proactive and forward-thinking.  For far too long, medicine in the West has relied upon a reactive model of treatment, one that offers relief after an ailment has occurred and already affected quality of life.  This shift in perspective is becoming quite prevalent; an example is currently being seen within the options presented by insurance providers.  These companies are now beginning to cater to their customers’ preferences for alternative medical options—something that was unheard of in the past.

Can Acupuncture Be Used As Preventative Medicine?

Over the past ten to twenty years there has been a considerable rise in the popularity and notoriety of alternative medicine—specifically acupuncture, which is now seen as a viable solution to promoting and supporting health and well-being.

Many people are looking outside the boundaries of Western medicine, as they now understand that maintenance of the body and prevention of illness require a forward-thinking and holistic approach.  Acupuncture offers this perspective as it has the ability to maintain health and the capability to resolve sickness, pain and suffering.

Research studies are currently being done to test the validity of the claims being made regarding the effectiveness of certain alternative modalities when treating specific ailments.  There are numerous studies that have been completed—and many that are now underway—which present supporting evidence regarding the efficacy of alternative medicine as either a complement to or a replacement of Western medicine.

The University Of Maryland Medical Center completed their research and concluded that acupuncture provided true pain relief and was not just a placebo effect. [Link] The Harvard Medical School published an article that also provided support stating that there is clear benefit to using acupuncture; specifically how low the potential adverse affects can be when compared with Western medications. [Link]

In a previous post titled “Why Do I Need Acupuncture,” we presented information about how useful acupuncture is to promote good health.  There was an analogy we shared which is applicable to the premise that acupuncture can be used as a preventative medicine.  The analogy is that every automobile that runs on gasoline is required to get its oil changed after driving a specific number of miles.  By performing this scheduled maintenance, the integrity of the engine will be maintained and mechanical issues will be prevented.  The engine needs fresh oil to properly function.  When the oil breaks down, friction can occur, leading to serious—and possibly catastrophic—issues.

The human body can be likened to a car engine as it has specific functions that require maintenance, care and attention.  Energy flows throughout the body.  When it gets blocked or becomes stagnant, health issues can arise.  When energy is able to move freely, the mind, body and spirit will be peaceful and harmonious.  Receiving regular, or semi-regular, acupuncture treatments provides the necessary support the body needs.  It will address any issues that might need to be focused on before they become a bigger problem.

So, to answer the question as to whether acupuncture can be used as a preventative medicine, the answer is yes, it certainly can be.  We wanted to also share our thoughts on how it can be used as a complement to Western medicine.  Let us be clear in this regard.  There is a place for both medicines to co-exist, and it is our hope that in the future Eastern and Western medicine can finally come together to provide a more holistic solution for humanity.  Each side has its strengths and weaknesses, its advantages and disadvantages.  To choose one without consideration of the other is to negate the potential for health and set aside possibilities for healing.

This article originally appeared on collective-evolution.com and was written by PAUL KERZNER

How Acupuncture Helps You To Control Blood Pressure

People have known for centuries that acupuncture helps with a number of conditions, including high blood pressure and pain, and now advances in modern science can help explain exactly why this ancient Chinese treatment is so effective.

According to research carried out by the University of California Irvine's Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, regular electroacupuncture treatment boosts the release of an opioid in the brain stem. This particular opioid controls blood pressure, which explains why the treatment is so helpful in reducing hypertension.

Electroacupuncture entails sending pulsating electrical currents through acupuncture needles to stimulate acupoints. It does not require the super-precise needle placement that is so crucial to traditional acupuncture, because the electrical current can reach a wider area. While it offers a lot of the same benefits as traditional acupuncture, it seems to work particularly well on pain.

Rats that underwent electroacupuncture noted a drop in blood pressure that persisted for three days after the treatment. This came about as the result of a boost in the gene expression of one of the body's major opioid peptides known as enkephalins.

This is the first time that research has proven the molecular activity responsible for the hypertension-reducing effects of electroacupuncture. The landmark study was published in Scientific Reports.

Hypertension affects a third of the world's adults

In the U.S., more than $30 billion is spent each year unnecessarily to treat hypertension, which equates to more than 1 percent of the nation's annual healthcare costs. Many patients are being prescribed strong blood pressure medications despite only having mild hypertension, putting them at risk for a number of side effects, including digestive disorders, anxiety, kidney damage and cholesterol problems.

Untreated hypertension can cause serious problems, including heart and kidney damage, stroke, the buildup of fluid in the lungs, and vision loss, so alternative treatments could help make significant inroads in this major health problem. Lifestyle changes such as improving one's diet and getting more exercise should always be the first line of defense, and for many people, acupuncture could also make a big difference.

With hypertension affecting around a third of the world's adult population, this could lead to much better treatment than the current medication, which has a host of unpleasant side effects. The UCI team found that acupuncture at particular places on the wrist brings about the drop in blood pressure, illustrating its promise as a simple treatment for clinical hypertension.

Electroacupuncture also helps relieve stress, pain

The benefits of electroacupuncture don't stop at hypertension. Georgetown University Medical Center researchers have found that the treatment can block the release of the body's stress hormones, helping to protect people from the impact of stress.

It has also been shown to reduce pain and the need for painkillers following operations like Cesarean sections. In a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal, researchers found that women who had been administered acupuncture or electroacupuncture for pain relief had significantly lower levels of pain than the placebo group in the two hours after surgery. They also asked for morphine 10 minutes later on average, and used about a third less of it in the first 24 hours following the surgery. As such, they also noted fewer opioid-related side effects.

Another study out of Duke University, meanwhile, found that acupuncture resulted in significantly lower levels of pain and painkiller use in patients post-surgery, regardless of whether it had been administered before the operation or afterward.

While some people claim that acupuncture's benefits come from a placebo effect, the research shows that changes do occur in the brain during electroacupuncture. This treatment, along with other ancient Chinese remedies like cupping therapy, is growing in popularity as people increasingly seek alternative treatments that do not have harmful side effects.

This article originally appeared on naturalnews.com

5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture Right Now

In the West, acupuncture is still sometimes dismissed — even as more western doctors are incorporating the practice into their treatment plans. Nonetheless, acupuncture is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective treatment for relieving pain, easing stress and even combating insomnia. And in the right hands, acupuncture can also be used to treat a wide array of other symptoms and disorders — as it has been in China and many other countries for centuries.

There is nothing magical or superstitious about it. A doctor's office in Shanghai or Hong Kong is not so different from what you'd find in the United States. What is different however, is that acupuncture is a highly respected and frequently used modality for a range of health and medical conditions.

As practitioners and patients in Asia know quite well, the benefits of acupuncture extend much farther, into areas that might even surprise you. Here are five reasons why acupuncture could soon go mainstream as a form of treatment:

1. Allergies

While Western medicine focuses on treating the uncomfortable symptoms of allergies, Traditional Chinese Medicine — using a combination of acupuncture and herbal treatments — treats the whole person from the inside out. This approach works not only to treat the acute symptoms felt during an allergic reaction, but to regulate the immune system. A healthy functioning immune system will improve an individual's health overall, and reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms.

2. Weight Loss

The inability to achieve a healthy weight can be one of the most stubborn problems patients face, and part of the problem lies in the hypothalamus — the part of the brain that regulates hunger, among other things. Acupuncture can be used to stimulate the hypothalamus, quieting its hunger signals and normalizing appetite. And because acupuncture also relieves stress, it inhibits "stress-eating" and rids the body of fat-storing stress hormones like cortisol.

3. Chemotherapy Side-Effects

Chemotherapy uses drugs to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, a critically important action in fighting cancer. But its side effects — nausea, sore joints, dry mouth, hot flashes and fatigue — are tough on the patient. Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture work to activate chemicals in the brain that block pain. This creates relaxing, pleasurable sensations that can provide much-needed relief for patientsundergoing treatment. Patients can also choose acupressure and cold laser acupuncture, which achieve similar results without the use of needles.

4. Infertility

When the body's physiological systems are impaired by stress, or when neurological connectivity is unbalanced and hormones are being triggered in unhealthy ways, infertility can result. Frustratingly, modern fertility treatments are often hampered by these underlying issues. Acupuncture works to help reset neurological circuits. This can reduce hormonal imbalances and overall stress, and boosts the efficacy of fertility treatments.

5. Smoking Cessation

Nicotine is highly addictive, and the symptoms provoked by quitting smoking include intense cravings, irritability, anxiety, poor sleep, headache, increased appetite, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Western aids like the nicotine patch merely delay the onset of symptoms. True relief and success in quitting are possible through the use of acupuncture, which can reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. When you add stress relief to the process, quitting smoking can become easier and totally possible. A qualified practitioner will also provide personalized exercise and dietary recommendations, herbal supplements and an analysis of your triggers for smoking and how to avoid them.

Acupuncture has countless applications for patient health. When combined with other modalities from Traditional Chinese Medicine, or in an integrated fashion with western medicine, the results can be highly effective. This ancient discipline treats the whole person, restoring balance, strengthening immunity and helping physiological systems thrive.

This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen.com and was written by Dr. Daniel Hsu