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Acupuncture Effective for TMJ

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 2.05.11 AMPatients suffering TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) can find relief from acupuncture.  Research conducted at the Ribeirão Preto Dental School, São Paulo University in Brazil, found that after 3 months of acupuncture, patients with TMJ experienced significantly less pain, increased strength of their bite and decreased EMG activity of the masticatory muscles.

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.  17 patients were studied using acupuncture points for TMJ.  EMG measures were acquired before and after the treatment. The data collected at rest, protrusion, left and right laterality, and clenching were normalized by maximum voluntary contraction. Maximal bite force in right and left molar regions were also measured.

The researchers found decreased EMG activity at rest, protrusion, left and right laterality, and clenching; as well as increased values of maximal bite force after acupuncture treatment.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15 Issue 12: December 15, 2009

Study Supports Acupuncture Effects in Pain Control

By: International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS)

The scientific validity of traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of pain received a nod of support in the May issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).

Dr. Philip Lang and colleagues of the University of Munich used quantitative sensory testing to identify changes in pain sensitivity with acupuncture in 24 healthy volunteers. After applying acupuncture to the leg, the researchers found that pain thresholds increased by up to 50 percent. Effects were noted in both the treated leg and the untreated (contralateral) leg.

Tests Show Measurable and Specific Effects of Acupuncture on Pain

Quantitative sensory testing is used clinically to help physicians understand specific injuries in nerve fibers associated with chronic pain. It includes tests of both thermal perception (heat and cold), and mechanical perception (pressure applied to the skin). The patterns of response provide diagnostic information in patients with nerve injury regarding the type of nerve involved, and possible treatments.

The results pointed to two nerve fibers—the “A delta” pain fibers and the “C” pain fibers—as being specifically affected by acupuncture. Although the effects were modest, the researchers believe they provide the basis for future studies in individuals with chronic pain, where the effects might be more dramatic.

The study also supported the effects of three different forms of acupuncture: manual acupuncture needling alone and with the addition of high-frequency and low-frequency electrical stimulation. All treatments were performed by an experienced acupuncturist, applied to acupuncture points commonly used in pain management.

The results provide a scientific background for the ancient practice of acupuncture, according to Dr. Dominik Irnich, Head of the Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Munich, and the study’s leading author. Additionally, Dr. Irnich notes, “Our results show that contralateral stimulation leads to a remarkable pain relief. This suggests that acupuncturists should needle contralaterally if the affected side is too painful or not accessible—for example, if the skin is injured or there is a dressing in place.”

Dr. Steven L. Shafer, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia and Professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia University, views the results as an important preliminary finding. “Reproducible findings are the cornerstone of scientific inquiry,” Dr. Shafer comments. “The authors have clearly described their methodology, and their findings. If other laboratories can reproduce these results in properly controlled studies, then this provides further support for the scientific basis of acupuncture. Additionally, the ability of quantitative sensory testing to identify specific types of nerves involved in pain transmission may help direct research into the mechanism of acupuncture analgesia.”

Are you plagued by chronic headaches?

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 2.00.33 AMMore than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives.  A widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years.  Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables including:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
  • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.  According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some headaches, migraines and related symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Headaches Dramatically Reduced by Acupuncture

Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines and headaches.  Researchers at Duke University Medical Center analyzed the results of more than 30 studies on acupuncture as a pain reliever for a variety of ailments, including chronic headaches. They found that acupuncture decreases pain with fewer side effects and can be less expensive than medication.  Researchers found that using acupuncture as an alternative for pain relief also reduced the need for post-operative pain medications.

In a study published in the November 1999 issue of Cephalalgia, scientists evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of migraines and recurrent headaches by systematically reviewing 22 randomized controlled trials. A total of 1,042 patients were examined. It was found that headache and migraine sufferers experienced significantly more relief from acupuncture than patients who were administered “sham” acupuncture.

A clinical observation, published in a 2002 edition of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, studied 50 patients presenting with various types of headaches who were treated with scalp acupuncture. The results of this study showed that 98 percent of patients treated with scalp acupuncture experienced no headaches or only occasional, mild headaches in the six months following care.

In a case study, published in the June 2003 Issue of Medical Acupuncture, doctors found that acupuncture resulted in the resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches, and a decrease or discontinuation of pain medications. It was concluded that acupuncture can be used to provide sustained relief from cluster headaches and to stimulate the body’s natural production of adrenal cortisol to aid in discontinuing corticosteroids.

According to the July 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal, a randomized controlled trial in Germany found that acupuncture cut tension headache rates almost in half.  Researchers divided 270 patients who reported similarly severe tension headaches into three groups for the study. Over the project’s eight-week period, one group received traditional acupuncture, one received only minimal acupuncture, and the third group received neither treatment. Those receiving the traditional acupuncture reported headache rates of nearly half that of those who received no treatments, suffering 7 fewer days of headaches. The minimal acupuncture group suffered 6.6 fewer days, and the non-acupuncture group suffered 1.5 fewer days.  The improvements continued for months after the treatments were concluded, rising slightly as time went on.

Do you or someone you know suffer from headaches or migraines?

More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders

More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.  In fact, more than 35 million physician office visits a year are due to gastrointestinal complaints.  Reports are confirming that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

Evidence that Oriental medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain and diarrhea with pain are discussed.

According to Oriental medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and qi (energy). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ; the premise being that the proper functioning of the”‘middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality.

By taking into account a person’s constitution and varied symptoms, a treatment plan is designed specifically for the individual to bring their “middle” back into harmony and optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system. A variety of techniques can be used during treatment including acupuncture, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore digestive health.

Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could? Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are extremely effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders.

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