Traditional Chinese Medicine
Treatment of Neurological Disorders with Acupuncture
By: Acufinder Staff Writer
A neurological disorder refers to a problem with the nervous system, which is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates the body’s activities. Nerve pain can arise from trauma, inflammation, stroke, disease, infection, nerve degeneration, exposure to toxic chemicals, and nutrient deficiencies.
Nerve pain is usually a sharp shooting pain or a constant burning sensation. Typically occurring in the same location with each episode, it can often be traced along the nerve pathway. Sometimes weakness or impaired function in the affected area occurs and the skin may be either overly sensitive or numb.
Some common neurological disorders acupuncture treats include:
Peripheral Neuropathy – damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. Neuropathy caused by diabetes often affects the feet.
Trigeminal Neuralgia – facial pain, sometimes called Tic Douloureux, affects the trigeminal nerve which is responsible for impulses of touch, pain, pressure and temperature sent to the brain from the face, jaw, and gums.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – also known as median nerve entrapment, it occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.
Headaches – Headaches that can be treated with acupuncture include migraines, tension headaches, headaches occurring around the menstrual cycle, sinus headaches and stress-related headaches.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been found effective as a conjunctive therapy for neurological disorders and in treating pain and inflammation. Visit Glow Acupuncture & Wellness Center today to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your neurological health plan!
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In 1990, the Director General of the World Health
Organisation proclaimed to an international gathering
that – “Auricular acupuncture is probably the most
developed and best documented, scientifically, of all
the microsystems of acupuncture and is the most
practical and widely used.”
Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture as it is more commonly known, is similar to body acupuncture but with ear acupuncture stimulation is only to the external ear. It is a method of treating a variety of physiological and psychological health problems by the stimulation of certain acupuncture points on the external ear.
Classical body acupuncture is thought to have been originally discovered in China over 5000 years ago; ear acupuncture was also thought to have been discovered in China around the same time, however it has been, until fairly recently, a poor relation of classical body acupuncture. It was the French Physician from Lyon in France, the late Dr Paul Nogier, in the 1950’s after seeing one of his patients cured of sciatic back pain with the use of ear acupuncture, who then began to research and develop modern ear acupuncture, and carried on researching and refining the therapy for over 40 years until his recent death in the late 1990’s. In fact his work is so well regarded that the Chinese refer to him as the Father of modern Ear Acupuncture.
Dr Nogier’s research indicated that there are over 100 or so separate acupuncture points on the external ear and that when these points are stimulated they are believed to influence the various organs and systems in the body. Nogier discovered that the position of the ear points and zones were approximately in the position of an upside down foetus, super-imposed on the external ear, with the head located around the lobe of the ear. His research also indicated that every part of the body has its own representative acupuncture point on the external ear, and that stimulation one of these points can influence the corresponding organ linked to that particular ear point.
The Chinese version of ear acupuncture is still based on the traditional Chinese medicine model, whereas the western Nogier version is based more on a western scientific format.
HOW ACUPUNCTURE WORKS
There is still a great deal to learn about how acupuncture achieves its therapeutic effect. Some people dismiss acupuncture’s therapeutic action as being due to a placebo effect – the client believes it will work and so it works. This is too simplistic because acupuncture has been successfully used to treat animals who are not affected by the placebo response. Even the USA’s conservative National Institutes of Health has reviewed existing acupuncture studies and concluded that people who receive acupuncture actually undergo physiological and biochemical changes that are not just produced by a placebo response. The effects of acupuncture have been shown to be brought about through the nervous system. The external ear itself is richly supplied by nerve endings which are linked to the brain and other organs via the central nervous system and so stimulation of these nerve endings is thought to influence the relevant organ being stimulated. Every organ has a nerve supply which can either speed up or slow down the functions of that particular organ, and due to a variety of factors like chronic stress, these organs can become over stimulated or understimulated. It is known that acupuncture causes the release of many potent, morphine like, pain relieving chemicals called endorphins, which are drop for drop more powerful than morphine, and the neurotransmitter serotonin which affects mood.
Perhaps the best explanation to date for how acupuncture works is by Fara Begum-Beig, formerly a biochemist who worked at the Medical Research Council’s Neuroendocrinology Unit at Newcastle-upon Tyne, who suggested the following explaination for the effects of reflexology but which is equally applicable to acupuncture:-
“From the work I did in the field of neuroactive chemicals and their effects on the brain, I feel it is also possible that pressing reflex points stimulates the subcutaneous nerve endings which then cause the brain to release certain pain and mood mediating chemicals. These chemicals include endorphins, enkephalins, and neuroactive amino acids such as glycine, glutamine, and GABA, all of which act upon different tissues and parts of the body and affect its response to stress and discomfort.”
It may seem strange that stimulating certain areas on the body or ear with acupuncture can help to restore health, however if it were not successful at restoring health it would not have survived the 5000 years that it has. Perhaps the final word should be left to the people who use acupuncture. According to a survey of 20,000 people by the consumer association WHICH magazine, acupuncture is the fourth most popular treatment among the different complementary therapies. Over 80% of those who received acupuncture reported that they had benefitted from the treatment.
METHODS OF ACUPUNCTURE STIMULATION
Many people think that acupuncture needles are the only method of giving acupuncture treatment and for many the thought of having needles stuck in to them can put them off having treatment. However needles do not have to be used, there are other non-needle methods available for stimulating ear acupuncture points – such as:-
2. Low powered lasers
4. Electronic stimulation
So if you do have a fear of needles it need not preclude you from having acupuncture therapy.
CONDITIONS HELPED BY ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture is thought of by many people as being a treatment for pain and addictions, which it is, but pain is not the only condition that ear acupuncture can help. It can be of help in a wide range of psychological and physiological health problems. Like any other therapy acupuncture is not a panacea for all ills but it is worth trying a course of ear acupuncture treatment for any health problem that you have, providing you have been to your doctor and have received a diagnosis for your problem. Ear acupuncture certainly cannot cure all diseases, for example Multiple Sclerosis, but that doesn’t mean it is not of therapeutic value in treating such problems; it can help to manage the disease symptoms and the anxiety and depression that can so often accompany many chronic illnesses, as well as improving the person’s quality of life. It is important to realise that ear acupuncture is an aid and should not be used in isolation, it is vital to also consume a healthy diet, take regular, gentle exercise, use talking therapies and deal with any chronic stress or psychological problems.
It has been said that every disease which is physiologically reversible can be treated by acupuncture.
ANXIETY AND ACUPUNCTURE
Research has indicated that acupuncture can be of therapeutic value in the management of stress, anxiety, depression and associated health problems. It is far from being a panacea for all ills and should not be used as an alternative to orthodox, psychological treatment techniques like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and lifestyle changes where indicated. Psycholoical health problems like anxiety and depression are thought to be due among other factors, to low levels of mood enhancing brain chemicals called dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and GABA. Research has indicated that acupuncture can help to boost these mood lifting chemicals. Research has also indicatated that acupuncture can influence the sympathetic nerve activity and so lower stress. Excess stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system by chronic stress is known to cause the chronic excess release of stress hormones like cortisol which can interfere with brain chemicals like serotonin and other mood enhancing chemicals and leave us more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other related problems. Further research has indicated that when our levels of serotonin fall, this makes our sympathetic nervous system more sensitive and more easily triggerd by stress.
Acupuncture also induces relaxation. Professor Pierre Huard, of the Medical Faculty in Paris, says that acupuncture also has the same effect as tranquilizer medication in treating anxiety, insomnia and nervous disorders.
Finally, research published in the Traditional Chinese Medical Journal has indicated that acupuncture can cause a decrease in delta brain waves and increases in fast alpha brain waves that are associated with relaxation.
DEPRESSION AND ACUPUNCTURE
Clinical depression is thought to be caused by (among other factors) low levels of certain brain chemicals like noradrenaline and serotonin. Serotonin and noradrenaline are mood enhancers. Acupuncture has been shown to boost serotonin levels. Clinical depression can be due to chronic excess stress, and acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress and induce relaxation. Acupuncture should not be seen as an alternative treatment to the talking therapies, but used as complemntary to it.
There have been numerous studies published which indicate that acupuncture can be of help in the management of clinical depression. For example one group of researchers at the University of Arizona in the USA found that acupuncture seemed to be as effective as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. In yet a further study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, a group of women suffering clinical depression were treated with either acupuncture or no treatment, for 8 weeks. Not only did 64% of those receiving acupuncture say their symptoms had disappeared, but also the remission rate of those receiving the acupuncture was nearly double that of those receiving no specific treatment.
Chronic anxiety and depression are potentially serious psychological illnesses and must under no circumstances be treated lightly. It is vital that you get professional help from you GP and not delay seeing him by having complementary therapy first. As well as the conventional treatment that he can offer, he can also rule out physical causes such as thyroid dysfunction.
Inform your Ear Acupuncturist if you:-
1. Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
2. Have a cardiac pacemaker
3. Have a cochlea ear implant
4. Have epilepsy.
5. Have had rheumatic heart disease.
6. Are immune suppressed
7. Have a blood clotting problem
8. Have hepatitis or HIV
9. Have a heart rhythm problem.
You must also ensure that you are eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, practising stress management techniques and if needed, receiving one of the talking therapies, plus any medication that may be necessary. If you do not alter your diet etc, this will reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.
1. Alternatives in Health Vol 3, issue 3.
2. Bensoussan A (1991) The Vital Meridian: A Modern Exploration of Acupuncture, Churchill Livingstone.
3. Bradford N (1995) Pain Relief in Childbirth.
4. Chaitow L (1990) The Acupuncture Treatment of Pain, Healing Arts Press.
5. Health and Fitness, February 1999.
6. Kenyon J.N. (1983), Modern Techniques of Acupuncture: A Practical Guide to Electroacupuncture, Vol 2, Thorsons.
7. Kropjei H (1991) The Fundementals of Ear Acupuncture, Karl F Haug.
8. Needham J (1980) Celestial Lancets. Cambridge University Press.
9. Nogier P (1998) Handbook to Auriculotherapy, Maisonneuve.
10. Oftedal Wensel L (1994) Acupuncture in Medical Practice. The East Asia Company.
11. Oleson T (1998) Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture, Health Care Alternatives.
12. Stux G and Pomeranz B (1987) Acupuncturist Textbook, An Atlas, Springer Verlag.
13. Stux G and Pomeranz B (1997) Basics of Acupuncture, Springer Verlag.
14. Traditional Chinese Medicine (1994) 14: 14-18, quoted in Proof, Autumn 1997.
15. Wexu M (1975) The Ear: Gateway to Balancing the Body, a Modern Guide to Ear Acupuncture.
16. Xinghua B (1996) Acupuncture in Midwifery: Books for Midwives Press.
17. Yelland S (1996) Acupuncture in Clinical Practice, Churchill Livingstone.
Seasonal Changes Affect the Body’s Environment. When the hot days of summer give way to cooler temperatures, and the first windy and rainy days roll in, we become more susceptible to colds, flu and aches and pains – especially if we’ve forgotten to take a jacket or sweater to work with us.
Acupuncture for Prevention
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can prevent colds and flu by building up the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. These points are known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy and for consolidating the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them. Seasonal treatments just four times a year also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. The ultra- thin needles don’t hurt and are inserted just under the skin. The practitioner may twist or “stimulate” them once or twice and they are removed within ten to twenty minutes.
There is a one thousand year old Chinese herbal formula that forms a handy complement to these immune-boosting treatments and it is elegantly entitled The Jade Windscreen Formula. It is made up of just three herbs: Radix Astragalus, Atractylodis Macrocephalae, and Radix Ledebouriellae. These three powerful herbs combine together to tonify the immune system, strengthen the digestive system (so that we can be sure to gain the nutrients from our food), and fortify the exterior of the body so that we can fight off wind-borne viruses and bacteria. This handy formula which comes in pill, capsule or liquid form can be taken for a few days each month to stave off colds or flu or when there’s been a challenging work-load, or perhaps some loss of sleep.
Get Better Faster
If you’ve already happened to catch that cold, acupuncture and herbal medicine can also help with the chills, sniffles, sore throat or fever in a safe, non-toxic way that doesn’t ‘t bombard your body with harmful antibiotics.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine has been around for over 1000 years and recently many Americans have begun to enjoy the healthful and calming benefits it has to offer. Besides colds and flu, acupuncture treats various other conditions , including arthritis and pain, digestive difficulties, men’s and women’s reproductive health problems as well as mild to moderate psychological disturbances. Acupuncture helps balance the major systems of the body including the hormonal, endocrine and nervous systems and is excellent for stress and insomnia.
Acupuncture does not interfere with Western medical treatment. On the contrary, it provides a welcome complement to it in most cases, and with its emphasis on treating the whole person, recovery time for illness is often shortened.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is an art and a science that takes years to master. Look for an acupuncturist with experience in the treatment of colds and flus on www.Acufinder.com.
The first traces of therapeutic activities in the territories that are now considered China date from the Shang dynasty (14th-11th centuries BCE). Though the Shang did not have a concept of “medicine” as distinct from other fields, their oracular inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells refer to illnesses that affected the Shang royal family: eye disorders, toothaches, bloated abdomen, etc., which Shang elites usually attributed to curses sent by their ancestors. There is no evidence that the Shang nobility used herbal remedies.
Stone and bone needles found in ancient tombs have made Joseph Needham speculate that acupuncture might have originated in the Shang dynasty. But most historians now make a distinction between medical lancing (or bloodletting) and acupuncture in the narrower sense of using metal needles to treat illnesses by stimulating specific points along circulation channels (“meridians”) in accordance with theories related to the circulation of Qi. The earliest evidence for acupuncture in this sense dates to the second or first century BCE.
The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, the oldest received work of Chinese medical theory, was compiled around the first century BCE on the basis of shorter texts from different medical lineages. Written in the form of dialogues between the legendary Yellow Emperor and his ministers, it offers explanations on the relation between humans, their environment, and the cosmos, on the contents of the body, on human vitality and pathology, on the symptoms of illness, and on how to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions in light of all these factors. Unlike earlier texts like Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments, which was excavated in the 1970s from a tomb that had been sealed in 168 BCE, the Inner Canon rejected the influence of spirits and the use of magic. It was also one of the first books in which the cosmological doctrines of Yinyang and the Five Phases were brought to a mature synthesis.
The Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and Miscellaneous Illnesses was collated by Zhang Zhongjing sometime between 196 and 220 CE, at the end of the Han dynasty. Focusing on drug prescriptions rather than acupuncture, it was the first medical work to combine Yinyang and the Five Phases with drug therapy. This formulary was also the earliest Chinese medical text to group symptoms into clinically useful “patterns” (zheng 證) that could serve as targets for therapy. Having gone through numerous changes over time, it now circulates as two distinct books: the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and the Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Casket, which were edited separately in the eleventh century, under the Song dynasty.
In the centuries that followed the completion of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, several shorter books tried to summarize or systematize its contents. The Canon of Problems (probably second century CE) tried to reconcile divergent doctrines from the Inner Canon and developed a complete medical system centered on needling therapy. The AB Canon of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Zhenjiu jiayi jing 針灸甲乙經, compiled by Huangfu Mi sometime between 256 and 282 CE) assembled a consistent body of doctrines concerning acupuncture; whereas the Canon of the Pulse (Maijing 脈經; ca. 280) presented itself as a “comprehensive handbook of diagnostics and therapy.”
Famous historical physicians
Acupuncture for Healthy Skin
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms and can provide significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.
The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution as well as environmental influences, such as wind, dryness, dampness, and heat can all contribute to the development of a skin disorder. To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color.
General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual.
Acupuncture is a traditional medicine that’s been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. Its proponents say it can do everything from relieving pain to bringing a general sense of wellness. Others think the only benefits you get from acupuncture are in your head. Recent studies have found that both sides may have a point. Acupuncture can be effective for certain health problems, such as some types of chronic pain. But how it works is something of a mystery.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body. The methods can vary, but the most well known type in the United States is the insertion of thin metal needles through the skin. At least 3 million adults nationwide use acupuncture every year, according to the latest estimates.
Acupuncture is part of a family of procedures that originated in China. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body contains a delicate balance of 2 opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle. Yang represents the hot, excited or active principle. Health is achieved through balancing the 2. Disease comes from an imbalance that leads to a blockage in the flow of qi—the vital energy or life force thought to regulate your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. Acupuncture is intended to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain health.
Researchers don’t know how these ideas translate to our Western understanding of medicine, explains Dr. Richard L. Nahin of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But the fact is that many well-designed studies have found that acupuncture can help with certain conditions, such as back pain, knee pain, headaches and osteoarthritis.
“In many research studies, it’s clear that if you’re comparing acupuncture to usual care, the acupuncture group almost always does better,” Nahin says. The problem, he explains, is that when researchers have compared acupuncture to carefully designed “control” treatments, the picture becomes more complicated.
Well-designed clinical trials need control groups—people who get a sham or simulated treatment called a placebo. Placebos might come in the form of a sugar pill or a saline injection. They give researchers something to compare the real treatment with. But designing a placebo for acupuncture is a challenge.
“I don’t really think you can come up with a great placebo needling,” says Dr. Karen J. Sherman, an NIH-funded acupuncture researcher at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
For example, when researchers have compared inserting needles with just pressing a toothpick onto acupuncture points, they’ve often found both treatments to be successful. But Sherman questions whether these are really controls. Many traditional acupuncturists would consider them true treatments, too. The important thing, in their view, is to hit the right spot, not necessarily how deep you go.
Another option for a placebo would be to test a different location. But Sherman says that would be inappropriate for treating pain because acupuncturists traditionally needle tender points. “To me, there’s no place on the back, if you have back pain, where you can say you have a great control,” Sherman says, “so I don’t think that’s a really solid idea.”
Further complicating things is that acupuncture treatments are about more than just needles. “There’ll be needles,” Sherman says, “but there’ll probably be other things they do in the course of the treatment. Acupuncturists will talk to you in a particular way. They might give you dietary advice or exercise advice that stems from a non-Western theoretical construct. They’ll try to engage you in your own healing. They might give you a different model for thinking about your health.”
“It’s hard to design placebo-controlled studies of acupuncture when we don’t understand what the active component of the intervention is,” explains Dr. Richard E. Harris, an NIH-funded researcher at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Treatment for pain is the best-studied aspect of acupuncture. Many parts of the brain are connected in the processing of pain, and how much pain you feel partly depends on context. “If a person has an injury in battle, they might not feel it,” Sherman explains, “but if they have a similar injury just walking down the street, they might just think it was dreadful.”
“If you look at some of the data, what you find is that sham acupuncture and true acupuncture both produce some pain relief in whatever condition they’re looking at,” Nahin says. “But while both treatments turn on areas of the brain, they turn on different areas of the brain.”
Harris and his colleagues, in studies of fibromyalgia patients, have found differences at the molecular level as well. “We were able to show that sham acupuncture and real acupuncture both reduced pain in fibromyalgia patients equally,” he says, “but they do it by different mechanisms.”
If acupuncture truly works by a different mechanism than sham acupuncture, Harris says, then they’re not the same thing, even if they both help relieve pain. Harris and others are now trying to get to the bottom of what acupuncture is actually doing. Their ultimate goal is to see if other treatments might pair well with acupuncture to reduce pain better than either alone.
Should you try acupuncture? Studies have found it to be very safe, with few side effects. If you’re thinking about it, talk to your doctor. “We tell people they really need to talk to their primary care provider and discuss whether acupuncture is a viable option for them,” Nahin says. “While you could go to an acupuncturist independent of a medical practitioner, we feel that an integrated approach to care is always the best approach.”
“Find somebody who’s dealt with your problem before,” Sherman advises. “Talk to the practitioner about your specific situation and then see if it’s something you can live with because it might not be the right treatment for you.”
- August 25, 2010
Acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. It involves penetrating the skin with thin metallic needles at specific points on the body to encourage healing, relieve or prevent pain or improve bodily functions. Most people feel no pain when acupuncture needles are inserted.
Benefits People use acupuncture for various types of pain. There is some evidence that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for lower back pain, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, neck disorders and headache. Acupuncture treatment may take place over a period of several weeks or more.
More info from Chatelaine
Common alternative therapies – massage therapy
Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute