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Friday, July 28, 2006
Millions are convinced it relieves pain and helps other conditions.
Research indicates that the brain reacts to needle pricks.

MORE THAN 8 MILLION Americans at one time or another have turned to acupuncture theraphy for relief from pain or other distress. Today, thouands of acupuncturists -- as well as medical doctors, dentists and other health professionals who have learned this technique -- are using it to treat everything from migranes to nausea, menstrual cramps to tennis elbow, asthma to addiction.

In 1996, the Food and Drug Adminsitration approved acupuncture needels for leicense praticitioners, with the requirements that the needles be sterile, nontoxic and disposed of after a single use.

The needles are hair thin and introduced under the skin at one or more specific sites. When properly done under sterile conditions, accupuncture is safe and relatively painless.

Some insurers reimburse for prescrined acupuncture -- even though its effectiveness remains controversial and its presumed mechanism of action unclear. In my own practice, it has helped some patients but not others.

According to Chinese practitioners, the body's vital energy (qi) is carried by two opposing forces - yin and yang - that flow though specifici pathways called meridians. Yin reflects that are cold, slow and passive; yang's qualities are hot, excited and active. When the balance between them is disrupted, sumptoms develop. It is believed that acupuncture neeldes, when placed at the appropriate site, alleviate symptoms by restoring normal flow within the meridians.

One widely accepted medical explanation of acupuncture's claimed efficacy is that when needles prick the skin, they cause the brain to release a variety of pain killing neural chemicals, such as endorphins, encephalin and otehr epioids. The expection of relife alone may induce the same response in the brain -- the placebo effect. By whatever mechanism, modern imaging techniques have shown that acupuncture does stimulate certain areas within the brain and suppress others.

Clinical studies of acupunctures' effectiveness over the years have yielded varied results. For examples, 300 migraine patients in Germany were divided into three groups. In one, acupuncture needles were placed at the prescribed stires; the second group also was "needled", but randomly (a procedure known as sham acupuncture). The third group received no treatment. All the needeled patients underwent 12 treatment sessions, each lasting 30 minutes. The researchers found that both the real and the sham acupuncture recipients reported 50 percent fewer hadache days., while only 15percent of those untreated felt better. In this study, placement of the needles apparently made no difference.

Similarly, in another study, 43 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (which causes a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, inclduing caramping and diarrhea) improved after both true and sham acupuncture.

However, it was reported earlier this year in The Lance Neurology that 960 migraine patients responded to acupuncture and conventional drug theraphy. And, in recent research done at the Mayp Clinic, acupuncture was found to ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia (a chronic disorder characterized bymusculoskeletal dsicomfort) much more so than did a simulated procedure in which needles touched the skin but did not penetrate it.

The National Institute of Health continues to evaluate acupuncture using both traditional Oriental and Western scientific methods. Licensed acupuncturists are comfortable with this approach and confident that it will clarify how the procedure works. Many schools of acupuncture also are conducting independent research programs.

My personal experience with acupuncture helps me keep an open mind. In 1978, I was invited to China to witness an open heart procedure on a yong woman. She remained wide awake and smiling throughout the operation even though the only anesthesia administered was an acupuncture needle placed in her ear.

Obviously,more research is needed before we can draw any form conclusions. In the meantine, if you are responding to acupuncture theraphy, you should probably continue it. There's little downside to doing so, and feeling better is what counts.

(Source: PARAGEMAG by Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:21 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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