Monthly Archives: February 2015

Can Acupuncture Help Fibromyalgia?

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
Fibromyalgia is a common disorder of the central nervous system which manifests as a vast array of physical and emotional symptoms in the affected individuals. It affects more than 5 million people in the US alone, is more likely to occur in adults between 20 and 50 years old, and is far more common in women than men. There is no specific medical test that can detect fibromyalgia, but rather it is diagnosed based on the following criteria:
▪ Widespread body pain which presents as a specific and recognizable pattern in those affected. This includes having pain in all 4 quadrants of the body (both sides of the body and above and below the waist), and tenderness at at least 11 out of 18 specific trigger points. It can also be associated with an increased sensitivity to light and sound. The majority of people with fibromyalgia find themselves very stiff after sleeping or prolonged inactivity (this typically improves with movement). Pain can often be worse in cold and damp weather and during times of increased stress
▪ Difficult or disordered sleep patterns, often referred to as non-restorative sleep (one sleeps “lightly” and does not wake feeling rested or refreshed).
▪ Memory problems and/or difficulty concentrating.
▪ Significant and ongoing fatigue.
Other symptoms and coexisting disorders often found with fibromyalgia include:
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Interstitial Cystitis
• Anxiety and/or depression
• Chronic tension headaches and/or migraines
• Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
• Tingling of the hands and feet
• Painful menstrual cycles
The causes of fibromyalgia remain unclear, and there is no known cure for the disorder. Symptoms are typically managed with a wide variety of over the counter and [...]

Acupuncture and Weight Loss

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Happy 2015, everyone! The new year is here and, as you might guess, the #1 question we are asked every January is “Can acupuncture help me lose weight?”. The answer, of course, really depends on how motivated you are to change your habits. If you are looking for acupuncture as a quick fix to losing weight, then of course, just like any quick fix weight loss solution, it’s not going work for you. There are no magic points that will somehow amazingly help you shed pounds with no additional effort. What we do find, however, is that many individuals benefit from adding acupuncture as an adjunct therapy while simultaneously modifying their diet and boosting their daily exercise. Since the endorphins released during acupuncture are helpful in reducing one’s stress response and elevate the mood, it helps many to control their impulse to eat or overeat when stressed, and can also help take the edge off grouchiness and cravings for sugar that can occur in the beginning of cleaning up one’s diet.

If you do an internet search of acupuncture for weight loss you will find most information surrounding the use of 5 specific points located in the ear (shen men, stomach, spleen, hunger/appetite, and endocrine). This specific treatment protocol will come up often due to a Korean study published in 2013 that specifically included these 5 auricular points. For 8 weeks, study participants received either 5 points in the ear, 1 point in the ear, or no points (sham acupuncture). The study concluded that participants who had received 5 ear points had a 6.1% overall reduction in weight, compared to 5.7% for the 1 point group and 0% for the sham group. [...]

Acupuncture and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Many people have been turning to acupuncture for chronic digestive issues, with especially good outcomes for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common, chronic condition that affects the large intestine, causing uncomfortable symptoms which include:

Constipation and/or diarrhea (can alternate between both)
Bloating and gas
Abdominal pain and cramping

 

A diagnosis of IBS is given based on the presence of the above symptoms, but without bloody stools, weight loss, or inflammation so severe that it causes discernible changes in the tissue of the large intestine. If you present with the above symptoms, your doctor may run tests to rule out other diseases (e.g., stool sampling tests, blood tests, and x-rays). If something more serious is suspected, you may also undergo a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Contrary to more serious gastrointestinal disorders, there is no increased risk of colon cancer with IBS. While the symptoms that do exist can be ongoing, they are rarely severe, though they can cause enough physical discomfort or embarrassment to interrupt one’s regular daily activities. Currently, there is no known cause of IBS, though there has been some speculation that it may be caused by incorrect signals to the bowel from the brain. It is recognized that it is common to have an IBS flare up after stressful life events or a gastrointestinal illness, and it is more common among those who suffer from anxiety or depression.

IBS typically affects people younger than 45, and is about twice as common in women as in men.

How does acupuncture help?

A great number of acupuncture points exist on areas of the body that correspond with many large nerve branches of the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system that [...]