Beach Community Acupuncture

Acupuncture for Boosting the Immune System

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

September has arrived, and for educators and parents alike this means one obvious thing in particular—back to school time is here! And while there are plenty of viruses and bacteria to go around all year long, many people (especially parents and teachers of younger children) also view back to school time as the inevitable kickoff to cold and flu season (because, let’s face it, kids aren’t exactly known for their stellar hand washing). For this reason in particular we get lots of questions this time of year as to whether or not acupuncture can help boost and support the immune system.

Whether you have young kids, work in an office where everyone around you is sick, are undergoing chemotherapy, or simply have been feeling “run-down”, we believe that acupuncture (in addition to a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate sleep) can help strengthen the immune system and possibly stave off some of those looming fall and winter illnesses!

There have been many small scale randomized, controlled studies regarding acupuncture and the immune system. These studies typically look at cancer patients due to the fact that individuals undergoing chemotherapy often have drastic lowering of white blood cells and are highly susceptible to infectious diseases. One study of interest followed 40 postoperative cancer patients for 3 days (20 patients received daily acupuncture and 20 serves as the control group).

At the end of the 3 days, when compared to the control group, those patients who had received acupuncture had a higher instance of leukocyte phagocytosis than those who did not receive treatments. [1] Another study looked at interleukin-2 and natural killer cell activity in a group of patients with malignant tumors. Of this group, 25 patients received [...]

Successfully Treating Neck and Back Pain in Recliners

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

A lovely woman recently stopped into BCA. She lives right nearby and decided to come in to ask about how we would handle her neck pain. She asked a lot of questions and seemed willing to try a treatment here, but not without thoroughly checking us out. Her most pointed question was, “Where would you put the needles?” I told her that it would depend, just a little, on where her neck hurts, how deep the pain is, etc. But I said, “I won’t put the needles in your neck.”

And she smiled for the first time.

I briefly said that there are two basic approaches for treating pain. One is to needle where it hurts, and make a change right there in the local pain spot, enough to make it better.
That’s not usually what we do here, I said, in part because we can’t get to every painful spot when people are in recliners. But also because our approach works! We needle into points away from the painful area, often in the arms or legs. There are many ways to apply the system, and different acupuncturists will do different things.

She didn’t care about any of that. She was sold when I told her that acupuncture can effectively treat neck pain without ever putting a needle in her neck.

She had already given that a try. Her insurance covered a course of six acupuncture treatments. Each time, her practitioner put the needles right where it hurt. And then her neck hurt even more. And, she said, “I forced myself to go to every treatment, thinking eventually, it has to get better.” It never did. This is NOT to say that acupuncture treatments for pain are not effective when the [...]

Labor Induction…

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac., MSTOM

…(otherwise known as “Get this baby out of me!!!)

While we see a great many women at BCA for a wide variety of fertility concerns and help with conceiving, we often see these same women (and MANY others as well) at the end of their pregnancies when they are ready, or way more than ready, to get that baby OUT! Women that want to help prepare their bodies for labor or to induce their labor with acupuncture are encouraged to start coming in for treatments ideally starting around the 39th week of their pregnancy. We do see our fair share of women earlier than the 39th week in which it had been deemed medically necessary or advisable to labor earlier than the 39th week (and have been cleared by their OB/GYN or midwife), and we definitely see a huge number of women well past their due dates.

While it’s fine to wait until past your due date to come in, please try not to wait until the day before you are scheduled to be induced to come in. There definitely are women who do go into labor after one treatment, but more commonly it takes an average of 4-6 treatments in a row for most women to progress into fully active labor. In order to keep costs low and affordable for patients, BCA offers labor induction patients the option to come in twice in one day (on the days we have two shifts) for the price of one treatment. Yep, that’s right! That means Monday-Thursday you can come in once in the morning and once in the afternoon/evening for $20

Does it really work?
From personal experience as a mother who used acupuncture [...]

Arthritis and Acupuncture

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

You don’t have to suffer with arthritis, we can help you! We want everyone out there to know that arthritis is treatable with regular acupuncture treatments! It is important to note that one treatment will not cure your arthritis. Depending on the severity we recommend 3 to 5 days in a row followed by weekly, bi-weekly, to monthly treatments-whatever works for you! Read on to learn more about arthritis types and ways to treat it.

About Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation in one or more joints, and is characterized by pain and stiffness.
Arthritis affects an estimated 70 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Arthritis is a “complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders” (Arthritis Foundation).

▪ The two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other arthritic diseases include gout, lupus, lyme disease, juvenile arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting an estimated 21 million adults. It’s a joint disease affecting mostly cartilage (the tissue covering the ends of the bones that form a joint). Cartilage allows the bones to glide smoothly, and absorbs shock from movement. With osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage begins to break down, allowing bones to rub together. Symptoms begin gradually, and become more severe over time.

There are several risk factors of osteoarthritis, including: age, weight, joint injury, and stresses on the joints from certain jobs or sports.

The most common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

▪ Joint soreness after periods of overuse or inactivity.
▪ Stiffness after periods of rest that goes away quickly when activity resumes.

Acupuncture and Menstrual Pain (Dysmenorrhea)

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems at BCA.

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems here at BCA, but by far the most common (and one that almost every woman has experienced at some time in her life) is due to pain occurring before or during the period (otherwise known as dysmenorrhea). Pain severity ranges from mild to debilitating, and while it most often manifests as cramps affecting the lower abdomen, it can also present as pain or pressure in the lower back or hips, groin, and inner thighs. This pain can be dull, aching, sharp, and/or radiating, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In a study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a randomized controlled trial that included 201 women with dysmenorrhea showed that the women who received acupuncture had lower pain intensity and concluded that “Additional acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea was associated with improvements in pain and quality of life as compared to treatment with usual care alone and was cost-effective within usual thresholds.”

What Causes Dysmenorrhea?

During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) thickens to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If a fertilized egg does not implant into this lining, it will begin to break down in order to be passed out of the body in preparation for a new cycle. As the endometrium deteriorates, the cells release prostaglandins, a specific type of lipid (fat) molecule that can have a strong physical effect on smooth muscle tissues of the body. Specifically in the uterus, this can cause painful contractions as the lining is preparing to or being shed during menstruation.

Types of Dysmenorrhea

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary [...]

Acupuncture for Foot Pain

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

At Beach Community Acupuncture, we treat quite a few people with foot pain. We see people diagnosed with tendonitis, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, gout, arthritis, and more. Feet are prone to injury and pain because they bear the weight of the whole body. Strain and injury can affect any part of the foot, and may include bones, tendons, ligaments and/or muscles. We’ll look at some of the more common ailments we treat.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis in the feet may be due to stress from overuse like running, walking, and excessive standing. Signs of tendonitis include stabbing pain and swelling. The pain will be worse while standing and better with rest. If the stress goes on for too long, the tendons may start pulling apart, causing more inflammation and pain. We work with tendonitis anywhere, and often see a painful rupture in the Achilles tendon. Medical doctors may advise using anti-inflammatory drugs, resting and elevating when possible, and stretching. We prescribe acupuncture as often as is practical for a short period of time (for example, 5 times in a week), to decrease inflammation and pain. We get excellent results for this condition. There are also a few incredibly effective herbal liniments, like “Zheng Gu Shui,” that are applied directly to the painful area to speed healing.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is an extremely painful condition affecting the ball of the foot, usually between the 3rd and 4th toes. It is caused by a “thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your foot…” (Mayo Clinic). The nerve pain that results will be a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, sometimes radiating to the toes. There may also be numbness in the [...]

Acupuncture and Sciatica Relief

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Many people think of acupuncture in relation to helping ease general low back aches and pains, but did you know it is also incredibly effective in reducing and easing symptoms associated with sciatica?

Sciatica [sahy-at-i-kuh] is caused either by compression or irritation to one of the lower lumbar
or sacral nerves that lead directly to the larger sciatic nerve (located in the buttocks), or by compression or irritation directly to the sciatic nerve itself. Symptoms of sciatica often include low back or hip pain but will also consists of all or some of the following complaints:

▪ Deep gluteal pain
▪ Pain that radiates down the side or back of the leg, sometimes past the knee and/or into the foot
▪ Paresthesias–otherwise known as “pins and needles”, tingling, burning, or numbness in the leg or foot

The main causes of sciatica are as follows:

▪ Spinal Disc Herniation: This occurs when the gelatinous substance within the spinal disc protrudes out and presses on the surrounding spinal nerves, causing pain to those nerves directly and to associated nerves (such as the sciatic nerve).
▪ Piriformis Syndrome: A less common cause of sciatic pain, it is caused by the spasm of the piriformis muscle (which runs from the sacrum into the buttocks). The spasm of this muscle then compresses or squeezes the sciatic nerve.
▪ Pregnancy: Pressure caused by the weight of the growing fetus can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve.

How can acupuncture help sciatic pain?

▪ Acupuncture may change and improve circulation in blood flow leading to the sciatic nerve (Inoue, 2008).
▪ Acupuncture stimulates the nerves, thereby leading to a release of endorphins in the body. This then changes how the brain perceives and [...]

Natural Help for Sinus Problems

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

We see a substantial amount of patients at BCA that, with acupuncture, receive considerable relief of some or all of the following uncomfortable symptoms of rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity) and/or sinusitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity):

▪ general swelling of the nasal or sinus cavity
▪ mucus and fluid retention in the sinuses
▪ post-nasal drip
▪ headaches
▪ ear, face, and/or jaw pain

About acupuncture and sinusitis:

Rhinitis and sinusitis can be caused by a number of factors, but the most frequent cases stem from allergies or viral infections. When subsequent swelling and congestion occurs within the sinus cavity, the pressure exerted in the facial region not only leads to difficulty in breathing and smelling, but can cause frontal headaches and referred tooth or jaw pain. Many of our regular patients come in with acute symptoms due to allergies or a common cold, but we also see many new faces in clinic with chief complaints of the above symptoms that have persisted months past the initial trigger and are trying acupuncture for the first time as a last ditch effort to find some relief for their residual discomfort.

After treatment

with acupuncture in both acute and chronic cases, we typically see patients leave with decreased pain/pressure, and an increased ability to breathe and smell. In cases with mucus or fluid blockage the sinuses will often open and begin draining soon after the needles are in place. As someone who suffers from chronic rhinosinusitis (say THAT ten times in a row), I personally use acupuncture successfully to keep the passages open and minimize the beating they take every year during allergy season.

Studies Prove Acupuncture for Sinus Issues Effective

A recent pilot study conducted by Dr. [...]

Acupuncture for Addiction

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

At BCA we strive to give you the best treatment for your ailments. What we also want to do is provide you with other resources that you can practice outside of BCA. We want you to be the best possible version of yourself! That is why we will be giving you informative articles (written by your favorite L.A.c.s) pertinent to many conditions our clients may face. This week is addiction. Next week…well you’ll just have to wait and see!

Patients at BCA and other clinics successfully use acupuncture to aid in detoxification from:

▪ alcohol
▪ cigarettes and other tobacco
▪ street drugs
▪ prescription drugs
▪ sugary and processed foods

What to Expect During Treatment

In most cases, the practitioner will use the proven NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol to help in detoxification and continued support of the patient. Five needles are inserted in each ear, for a total of 10 needles. Upon insertion, there may be a stinging or warm sensation that quickly subsides. After all the needles are inserted, most patients report that they feel very calm and relaxed. This can be explained by the traditional functions of the points, and also by modern studies showing that stimulation of ear acupuncture points appears to cause the systemic release of endorphins. The needles are retained for 45 minutes. It is most helpful, especially during detoxification, to get treatment as frequently as possible.

About Acupuncture and Addictions

The treatment of addictions with acupuncture is a modern application of an ancient medicine. In 1974 at the Lincoln Recovery Center in the Bronx, clinicians started using acupuncture to help people get relief from symptoms associated with methadone withdrawal. Dr. Michael Smith of Lincoln Hospital developed a basic, [...]

Acupuncture for Women’s Health

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

Acupuncture works to treat a wide range of conditions specific to women. While helping to balance the body so it can regain physiological function, acupuncture also reduces stress and restores a sense of calm. This gentle, natural medicine focuses on treating the whole person rather than the disease.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have proven effective in treating the following conditions relating to women’s health:
* PMS
* Menstrual cramps and irregularities
* Breast tenderness and fibrocystic breasts
* Endometriosis
* Uterine fibroids
* Fertility-related conditions
* Pregnancy-related conditions
* Menopause-related conditions
* Fertility

For women with fertility challenges, the use of acupuncture as a natural approach to pregnancy is well documented. A recent review of seven research trials of women undergoing in-vitro fertilization found evidence of improved rates of pregnancy and live births among groups using acupuncture (University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2008).

Acupuncture helps to restore the body’s balance. From a Western perspective, studies show that acupuncture might:
* Increase blood flow to the uterus to promote implantation.
* Improve ovarian function, which might help produce better-quality eggs and a larger number of follicles.
* Reduce side effects of drugs used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures.
* Decrease uterine contractions, intended to encourage implantation, and prevent early miscarriage.
* Reduce stress hormones and anxiety.
* Strengthen the immune system and support general health, possibly helping prevent miscarriage.

Pregnancy
Acupuncture is a safe, natural, effective treatment for many common problems that occur during pregnancy. Unlike many pharmaceutical products, it is not contraindicated, and will not cause harm to the mother or baby.

However, there are certain acupuncture points that need to be avoided during pregnancy because they are considered too strong. If there is [...]