NEW GUIDELINES for BLOOD PRESSURE!

November, 2017:

After analyzing data from a survey of over 9,000 people, the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) released new guidelines resulting in:

…a substantial increase in the prevalence of hypertension but a small increase in the percentage of U.S. adults recommended antihypertensive medication. …” More information (including this quote) found here.

More from the American Heart Association here. 

If you’re concerned about how this may affect you, any diagnosis or treatment you have or may need, please consult your doctor. You might consider how acupuncture may help.

RESEARCH ON ACUPUNCTURE FOR TREATMENT OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Searching PubMed (US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health) for “acupuncture + high blood pressure” currently returns 473 results with links to published research. Included below is a sample (with quotes from the articles):

 

Acupuncture Lowers High Blood Pressure

“The study discovered that patients taking antihypertensive medications benefitted from further reductions in blood pressure by adding acupuncture to the treatment regime. As a result, the researchers concluded that ‘acupuncture should be in the hypertension treatment guidelines and widely used for blood pressure regulation.’ ”

Acupuncture Lowers Hypertension Finding

“…This is a modern example of combining acupuncture with medications to achieve optimum results in patient outcomes. …

Abdominal and auricular acupuncture reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients

“CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrated that abdominal electro-acupuncture for 6 weeks reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and auricular acupuncture had a short-term adverse effect on both SBP and DBP.”

Acupuncture Reduces Hypertension…

Research conducted at the University of California Los Angels [sic] and UC Irvine has uncovered a mechanism by which acupuncture lowers blood pressure for hypertension patients.”

Acupuncture Lowers Hypertension…

“Published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the research team discovered that acupuncture exerts long-lasting therapeutic effects for hypertension patients. The normalization of blood chemistry in response to acupuncture stimulation allows the effects of the acupuncture to last well beyond the treatment period. …

… In a related study, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and University of California, Los Angeles concluded that acupuncture lowers high blood pressure. The investigated the effective action of acupuncture points P5, P6, LI10 and LI11 combined with electroacupuncture. The researchers found that acupuncture successfully reduces hypertension. Additionally, it was discovered that the application of this acupuncture treatment prescription protocol protected heart tissues and reduced arrhythmias.

They also measured how acupuncture achieves positive clinical outcomes for patients with high blood pressure. It was discovered that electroacupuncture stimulates neurons in specific brain regions that control sympathetic nerve stimulation throughout the body. The investigators mapped the neurological network stimulated by acupuncture and concluded that it is acupuncture’s ability to activate brain centers that allows it to lower high blood pressure.”

The effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using antihypertensive drugs

“The aim here is not to compare the effectiveness of acupuncture and drug therapy on blood pressure, but to simply report that on patients currently using antihypertensive medication, acupuncture facilitated a significant reduction in blood pressure and reduced the patients complaints. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggest that acupuncture should be in the hypertension treatment guidelines and widely used for blood pressure regulation.”

SOME RESEARCH ON CHINESE MEDICINE

Acupuncture, Botanical Medicine, etc. (includes some online articles)

Included below is a full or partial statement (verbatim) of the article’s conclusions. Click on each hyperlinked Title to read more.

WOMEN’S HEALTH

Acupuncture in Menopause (AIM) study: a pragmatic, randomized controlled trial.

“CONCLUSIONS: We found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in VMS, and several quality-of-life measures, compared with no acupuncture, and that clinical benefit persisted for at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment.”

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Effect of Nei-Guan point (P6) acupressure on ketonuria levels, nausea and vomiting in women with hyperemesis gravidarum.

“CONCLUSION: Nei-Guan point acupressure is a useful treatment for relieving symptoms experienced by women with hyperemesis gravidarum.”

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Does acupuncture have a place as an adjunct treatment during pregnancy? A review of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews.

“CONCLUSIONS: Interest is growing in the use of acupuncture to treat some complaints during pregnancy and childbirth, and evidence is beginning to consolidate that acupuncture may assist with the management of some complaints during pregnancy. However, definitive conclusions about its effectiveness cannot be reached and further research is justified.”

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The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review.

“CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture during pregnancy appears to be associated with few AEs when correctly applied.”

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Migraine During Pregnancy: Could Acupuncture Play A Role?

Excerpt from Conclusions in this paper: “Acupuncture, an ancient therapy in TCM, has been recognised to offer good analgesic relief during acute migraine attacks and helps in the reduction of further migraine episodes.”

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Repeated cupping manipulation temporary decreases natural killer lymphocyte frequency, activity and cytotoxicity
“CONCLUSION: CT decreased NK cell numbers, their activity and cytotoxicity. Low cost, safety, non-invasive nature and ease of administration make CT a promising approach for NKc down-regulation.”

A Quick Survey: the Results!

I had made a quick survey and am posting the results here. Thank you to all who participated!

THE SURVEY WITH RESPONSES: 

Thank you for taking a short survey (8 questions) about Chinese medicine. Understanding more about what people want to hear about helps acupuncturists focus our attention on providing you information that is most relevant to your interests. Help us serve you better! 

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Least Interested
Most Interested

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* Question text is cut off in this auto-generated chart, so I’m including the full copy here:
What is your interest level in learning more about the growth of Chinese medicine in the US and the integration of Chinese and Western medicine as seen by its inclusion of hospitals, medical groups, insurance acceptance, etc? 
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Optional Question: Please let us know if there is a specific condition for which you’d want to hear how acupuncture treats, its approach and effectiveness.
Was this survey too long and is there anything else you’d like to share?

Chinese Herbs

Differential Diagnosis in Chinese / Asian Medicine: 

As acupuncturists / herbalists, we sometimes hear people say things like, “I’ve heard this particular herb helps [some condition]. Should I take it?” and so starts a conversation about how Chinese medicine works. 

One thing to consider is that Chinese Medicine doesn’t tend to use herbs singularly. They’re often combined with other herbs to create custom formulas based on the individual presentation of the patient. These formulas may be modifications of base formulas and there are many, many options here. It’s sort of like being a cook in the kitchen deciding whether your chicken preparation will be based predominantly by flavors in a curry, a basil-cream, lemon-tarragon, or whatever sauce. The options are endless. 

There are advantages of using multiple herbs over singular herbs. An herb in a formula may be considered a primary herb in the formula and be called its Chief. We might use herbs that reduce or increase the effects of other herbs making them stronger or weaker in the formula, depending on what we’re looking to achieve. We may have Deputy, Assistant – Envoy herbs depending on the function of a particular herb, or group of herbs, in the formula.

A formula that works wonders for one patient may not be effective for another patient with the same condition.

This is because in Chinese medicine, we look at varying patterns present in a person, ascertain Chinese medical diagnoses that represent those patterns, and recommend herbs, acupuncture, or other modalities/procedures based on those working (and changing) diagnoses. 

Let’s consider an example. A patient comes in with a request for herbs and acupuncture to help resolve previously diagnosed eczema. The practitioner will take a look at the patient’s primary concern and consider common Chinese diagnoses that those with eczema may have, ask broad questions to consider other patterns of disharmony, come up with a working Chinese medical diagnosis or diagnoses, and make treatment recommendations based on the diagnoses. Please note that diagnoses change over time as do individual practitioner approaches to treatment. 

It’s not uncommon for a patient to seek treatment for one particular health concern, but have other health issues. For example, someone’s little toe is bothering them every time they walk and so they may be looking for support in this one area. An herbalist building a custom formula will take into consideration whether that person has ample digestive strength to tolerate an herb formula, if they sleep poorly, are in a high stress environment, etc. Herbs will be added or removed from base formulas to accommodate the individual presentation of the person seeking remedy.

We choose treatments based on the constellation of multiple patterns of disharmony present and we change the formula as that constellation changes. 

So here’s the thing: this is also true for acupuncture. The practice of acupuncture includes individual or combinations of points. There are countless approaches to point selection. The practitioner may select points based on their unique studies under specific teachers who may have their own stylistic approaches.

The medicine is old, but it’s not stagnant and evolves over time. The options are also endless.

I’m always saying to people that when choosing an acupuncturist, ask them questions about how they approach treatment, what kinds of studies they undertake (we keep studying long after school), and look to see if you resonate with the conversation and approach. Be open to new ideas but understand that if one practitioner doesn’t “fit” with you, there’s many more in practice who may have a style that feels better to you. 

A short herb story…

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One time traveling, a nice thing happened in regards to Chinese herbs. I met other travelers along the way and all of us were trying to avoid local drinking water since our bodies weren’t used to it and we certainly didn’t want the experience of diarrhea, abdominal spasms, and pain. 

Over lunch one day, it came up in a conversation and most the travelers were saying they had at least a bit of diarrhea or abdominal discomfort. We had been eating together for a few days and it was asked why nearly all at the table had symptoms but I did not. They asked if I was taking something. I was. A single Chinese herb taken at a prophylactic dose of one small tablet daily. 

I’m not sure if that’s why I didn’t share their symptoms, but I thought it might be.

[ Thank you for the use of free clip art! http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/abdominal-pain-clipart-1-59922934 ]

Acupuncture Anesthesia / Analgesia in Surgery

In 2002, I was part of a delegation that traveled to Cuba (on a license through Global Exchange) to attend a medical conference and associated events. It was an incredible trip! Here are some photos from a carpal tunnel surgery at the hospital where acupuncture was used, as well as photos from the conference itself. I included a photo of myself because I was so excited to be able to attend the surgery and witness this with my own eyes, something evident in the photo.

The surgery as I remember it: A needle was inserted deep into the axilla (armpit) with electrical stimulation for approximately 20minutes. When the patient reported numbness down her extremity, a local anesthetic was injected at the surgical site (her wrist) to further produce numbness. There was a drape hung so that the patient would not see the surgery itself. As far as I know she was not given any oral sedatives: she was alert, calm, and able to respond to physician questions. As the doctor performed surgery, he would ask questions to the patient such as, “please move your index finger” and the patient, non-drowsy and fully awake, would do so with ease. There was an explanation provided that being able to communicate well with the patient helped the surgeon because he could confirm which tendons he was working with, which of course was useful since he was about to surgically cut one. After the surgery, the patient was calm, happy, and shared a beautiful smile with us. No stress.

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Here’s a 2016 video about acupuncture anesthesia in the US: http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/02/07/us-patients-offered-acupuncture-as-anesthesia-alternative