HEALING WITH ACUPUNCTURE
By Lori Deutsch, D.A.O.M., M.S., Dipl. O.M., L.Ac. (FABORM)
Many people report headaches, upset stomachs, and muscular tension when faced with stress. Actually, when you think about it, what condition is not affected by stress? Skin problems, such as eczema and psoriasis pop up during stressful times. Emotional issues like depression and anxiety are common with excessive stress, and they in turn can exacerbate gastrointestinal conditions and other problems. Pain is a major factor. High stress can produce all kinds of bodily aches and pains as the adrenal glands become compromised and our natural anti-inflammatory hormones diminish. Pain can then lead to even more stress and depression, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health, and National Public Radio conducted a nationwide poll in the spring of 2014 on the effects of stress in America. After polling more than 2,500 adults across the country, they found that almost half the people surveyed (49%, to be exact), had suffered a major stressful event, and that health-related problems were the most common source of stress.
What can we do to reduce our stress? One solution is to increase our happiness levels with things that feel good. Having an acupuncture treatment is a wonderful way to do that. What? Getting stuck with needles feels good? That’s right. One of the reasons I enjoy my work is that people get up from my treatment table feeling relaxed, refreshed, and happy. I use sterile, disposable, hair-thin needles that do not hurt. In fact, 18-21 acupuncture needles can fit into the opening of a hypodermic syringe. It’s a totally different experience from getting a “shot.” The treatment is so painless that patients often don’t even know when the needle has gone in.
In this ancient science, needles are inserted at strategic points on the body either to move stuck energy or create a balanced flow of the precious life force known as Qi (pronounced chee). You may feel instant relaxation with the very first needle. Or, you might feel a soothing energy flow as you rest on the table while the needles work their magic. You might even get a much needed nap during the process. Either way, it’s a positive experience that triggers healing on all levels. Studies show that acupuncture increases endorphins, which are morphine-like compounds that create a sense of well-being and act as analgesics (i.e. pain-relievers). It strengthens the immune system, redistributes stagnant energy, and decreases inflammation. It can dramatically reduce your stress levels and alleviate the side effects of previous stress. Not only does it help heal current disorders, it’s a great tool for staying healthy and balanced over the long term. Acupuncture can make a huge impact on your life. All you need to do is try it.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR HEADACHES & MIGRAINES
By Lori Deutsch, D.A.O.M., M.S., Dipl. O.M., L.Ac. (FABORM)
Acupuncture is becoming the treatment of choice for a multitude of conditions. It can treat just about anything. It fully relaxes the body, which allows healing to take place on a very deep level. It’s a remarkable antidote for stress, which can create dysfunction in the body, mind, and spirit. Stress can cause aches and pains throughout the body. It can affect the gastrointestinal tract, creating stomach pain and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can affect the mind and spirit, causing depression and anxiety. It can totally overwhelm the liver, hampering its many important jobs, such as overall body detoxification. Acupuncture can treat and heal all of that and more.
Acupuncture is one of many tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) alongside herbal medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle counseling. A myriad of ailments can be treated with these tools. For example, TCM is extremely effective at treating chronic migraines and headaches. These conditions are often due to stress, but there may be other causes for these painful, sometimes life-crippling, ailments and TCM has the ability to get to the root of the problem and eliminate them for good. An excellent strategy for those who are prone to headaches and migraines is to take a preventive approach. A series of acupuncture treatments when the pain is not active can balance the body and prevent future flare-ups. Acupuncture is not only gentle and effective; it is also very enjoyable. More than that, acupuncture calms and centers the spirit and can be a transcendent and life changing experience.
FERTILITY ACUPUNCTURE & IVF
By Lori Deutsch, D.A.O.M., M.S., Dipl. O.M., L.Ac. (FABORM)
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), one of the leading advances in cutting-edge medicine, offers many couples their only chance for achieving a successful full-term pregnancy. ART’s success rate can be significantly increased when paired with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of the oldest medical systems in the world, with a lineage that goes back thousands of years. Combining high-tech modern medicine with the wisdom of an ancient science allows couples to reap the best of both worlds.
All gynecological disorders and a number of non-gynecological disorders can cause varying degrees of infertility that can potentially be treated by both Western and Eastern medicine. TCM, with its use of acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition, and Western fertility medicine, with its use of pharmaceuticals, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other procedures, attempt to overcome infertility in very different ways. The fact that these two systems are so different allows them to complement one another and enhance each other’s results. Numerous scientific studies have shown increased pregnancy and live birth rates when acupuncture is added to an IVF cycle.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems. Acupuncturists are rigorously trained to place needles at strategic points on the body to create a balanced flow of the precious life force known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is often referred to as energy. It is important to note that the procedure is painless; acupuncture is a very different experience from getting a “shot.” The needles used are sterile, disposable, and extremely thin. In fact, 18 to 21 acupuncture needles can fit inside the hollow portion of a hyperdermic syringe. Often, patients don’t even know that the needle has gone in.
Acupuncture points are selected according to the individual’s condition. Qi can be nourished and enhanced when there is deficiency, or it can be moved when there are blockages. Either way, it is a relaxing experience that triggers healing on all levels: body, mind and spirit. Studies show that acupuncture increases endorphins, which are morphine-like compounds that create a sense of well-being and act as analgesics (i.e. pain-relievers). It strengthens the immune system, balances energy, decreases stagnation and inflammation, and promotes the body’s natural healing powers.
Acupuncture works in several ways to dramatically improve the outcome of ART. For example, research has shown that stress has a detrimental effect on pregnancy outcomes, and acupuncture is one of the best ways to reduce stress and tension. The Mayo clinic website says the following about acupuncture: “This ancient therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase optimism during IVF.” In fact, acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect on the central nervous system, as well as the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Acupuncture can balance and regulate the hormones that are needed for a well-tuned menstrual cycle, often allowing an irregular cycle to return to normal, enhancing development of the follicles, and promoting ovulation. Acupuncture increases blood flow to the pelvic area, which allows nutrients and oxygen to flow in, and toxins and waste products to flow out. This improves the functioning of the ovaries and helps create better quality eggs, which lead to strong, healthy embryos. When combined with ART’s ability to increase the quantity of eggs, the two procedures form a dynamic duo that can enhance a woman’s fertility potential.
By creating a more harmonious blood flow to the pelvic area, acupuncture can help the fallopian tubes remain vital and open. It also helps to optimize the thickness of the uterine lining, which is important for successful implantation and bringing a pregnancy to full term. In fact, it is often used throughout the first trimester to help prevent miscarriage. Other benefits to having acupuncture during an ART cycle are that it helps relieve the side effects of fertility drugs, improves the response to hormonal stimulation, and speeds up recovery time after surgical procedures.
Many clinical studies have demonstrated the value of combining acupuncture and IVF. One study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the VU University in Amsterdam, reviewed seven published trials, involving 1,366 women undergoing IVF. The review found that women who received acupuncture had a 65% better chance of becoming pregnant, as compared to subjects who had sham acupuncture (needle insertion at non-acupuncture point locations) or no acupuncture at all. The researchers concluded that “current preliminary evidence” suggests that acupuncture given with an embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing IVF. That may explain why celebrities like Celine Dion have raved about acupuncture. After undergoing six unsuccessful IVF cycles, the singer turned to acupuncture to improve her chances and wound up giving birth to twins.
It is advantageous to be well prepared for an IVF cycle. Acupuncture can be started weeks or months in advance. Acupuncture is also a valuable asset the day of the transfer. First of all, it is extremely relaxing – physically, mentally and emotionally. This creates an environment most conducive to receiving the transfer. Acupuncture also improves the blood flow within the uterine cavity, removing stagnation and nourishing the lining. This can make the uterus more receptive to implantation. It can also reduce spasms, cramping or bloating that may arise in the abdominal cavity due to hormone injections, gastrointestinal upset, and/or nervous energy.
Acupuncture can also assist fertility by improving gynecological disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS, the most common endocrine abnormality in women of reproductive age, is often accompanied by infertility and frequently involves metabolic syndrome, which can include glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, obesity, and increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses various tools to treat PCOS, including acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. Other gynecological conditions that are helped with Chinese medicine include endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and premature ovarian failure. Unexplained infertility is often treated very successfully as well. In general, acupuncture is highly effective at returning the body to a state of optimum balance.
Men who wish to be fathers can also benefit from acupuncture. It appears that infertility rates are fairly equal among the sexes. In fact, it’s now known that male issues are the sole cause of infertility in around 20% of infertile couples. They are also an important contributing factor in another 20-40% of couples with reproductive failure. Conceptions resulting from men with sperm abnormalities produce higher rates of miscarriage. Chinese medicine can improve low sperm count, sperm motility, and other sperm pathologies, thereby helping to create better quality embryos.
For all of these reasons, Chinese Medicine is increasingly used to improve fertility, and it is often used in conjunction with Western reproductive medicine. While acupuncture can be helpful at any stage of the process, it is important to begin treatments as early as possible to increase the chance of a successful outcome.