Sunday, August 10, 2014

Acupuncture, Dopamine, and Addiction

Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells. It is very prominent in the transmission from the nerve cells of the substantia nigra to those of the corpus striatum, to facilitate smooth, purposeful muscle activity. Dopamine is the immediate metabolic precursor of norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) and epinephrine (also called adrenaline), i.e., it is the raw material from which the other two chemicals are made. Dopamine can have either an excitatory or inhibitory effect on nerve cells, depending on the characteristics of the protein it combines with.
Dopamine is associated with the perception of pain and pleasure. Increased dopamine in the frontal lobes lessens pain and increases pleasure. If a person naturally has a higher level of dopamine because of a good personality, good genes and a diet, he or she tends to tolerate pain better. That is why even when different people have the same kind of arthritis or back problems, some people have unbearable pain while others have no pain at all. On the TV show House, the foster parents of a girl were suspected of abusing her. Although her body showed many signs of physical abuse, she did not complain about the pain to the physician. One of the residents used a bucket of ice to test her tolerance to coldness. Although the resident started screaming due to the extreme pain induced by the cold ice when he took the test, the little girl stayed very calm. Later, her physicians found out that she had a gene that made her pain threshold above average. She may have had increased amounts of dopamine in her frontal lobes, making her more tolerant to physical pain.
Dopamine is greatly involved in feelings of reward, alertness and purposeful behavior. Dopamine is commonly associated with the 'pleasure system' of the brain, providing feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate us to do, or continue doing certain activities. Dopamine is released by naturally rewarding experiences such as food, sex, the uses of certain drugs and stimuli that become associated with them. In milder disorders, too much dopamine in the limbic system (a network of brain structures) is associated with emotion and memory problems, and not enough in the cerebral cortex may produce an overly suspicious personality prone to bouts of paranoia that may inhibit social interaction.
Alcohol can increase dopamine levels in brain regions collectively called the mesolimbic system by curtailing the enzyme activity that breaks down dopamine. When alcoholics suddenly stop drinking alcohol, their dopamine levels plunge, causing dysphoria, an unpleasant feeling, and anhedonia, the inability to experience the pleasure from normally pleasurable events, such as eating, exercise and social interactions.
The sudden drop of dopamine might contribute to the intense ethanol craving experienced by addicts, explained by Weiss et al. in the Journal of Neuroscience 1996. These ethanol-induced changes in dopamine levels provide positive reinforcement that contributes to continued alcohol abuse. People that have stronger releases of dopamine when they drink alcohol or coffee tend to be addicted to alcohol, especially people who are very smart and do not enjoy social networks. Other people do not have enough enzyme to process alcohol, so they feel stomach pain, nausea, dizzy. A certain group of people will never be able to enjoy alcohol.
Acupuncture at the specific point Ht7 (at the ulnar end of the transverse crease of the wrist, in the depression on the radial side of the tendon of medial flexor carpi ulnaris), but not at control points PC6 (2 inches above transverse crease of wrist, between tendons of medial palmaris longus and medial flexor radialis) or tail, prevented both a decrease of dopamine levels in a specific brain region called the nucleus accumbens during ethanol withdrawal and an increase of dopamine levels induced by an ethanol challenge. Stimulation of Ht7 facilitates normalization of dopamine levels in the brain following chronic ethanol exposure. If people are trying to quit drinking, acupuncture 2 to 3 times a week can help their body stabilize their dopamine level so they do not get depressed or agitated.
Nicotine induces tolerance and addiction by acting on the central dopaminergic pathways (those using dopamine as a neurotransmitter), thus leading to pleasure and reward sensations. It stimulates the central nervous system, enhances alertness and reduces appetite. Many women are reluctant to quit smoking because they are afraid to gain weight. A 50% reduction of nicotine consumption may trigger withdrawal symptoms in addicted individuals including anxiety, anger, sleep disorders, hunger, cognitive dysfunction and cigarette cravings. Certain drugs that inhibit the reuptake of dopamine are used for quitting smoking. However, those drugs can be dangerous to people who have epilepsy, eating disorders, uncontrolled hypertension, recent alcohol abstinence, or are undergoing current therapy with mono-amine oxidase inhibitors (drugs increase norepinephrine and epinephrine levels).
If you have smoked for more than ten years, certain enzyme activities have changed. When you suddenly quit smoking, reduced dopamine levels will make you feel miserable. Ear and body acupuncture can help your body rebalance the brain chemicals, producing more feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin, and reducing stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Acupuncture stimulates your own body to rebalance those complicated hormones instead of just inhibiting or stimulating the metabolism of specific hormones. It is hard to use just one chemical change to explain the response of the entire body.
One lady had smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years before she started acupuncture treatments. After her best friend died of lung cancer at the age of 50, she finally decided to quit. She had acupuncture twice a week for 6 weeks. Surprisingly, she did not have any withdrawal symptoms or even gain any weight. Another lady had a couple of ear needles for 3 months; she never went back to smoking. Her daughter said that she was extremely surprised because her mother had been a heavy smoker for more than 20 years. However, not everybody has successful stories. Two major factors affecting success are the extent of a person's determination to quit and the busyness of the person's schedule during the quitting process.
Morphine can also induce dopamine release, causing addiction. Acupuncture can suppress Morphine Withdrawal Syndrome. In 2005, Dr. Kim and his colleagues in South Korea reported results of a study on how acupuncture can change dopamine levels and influence behavior in rats sensitized to morphine. They posted their results in the magazine Neuroscience Letter. Acupuncture at the specific acupuncture point HT7, but not at control points (TW8 and tail), significantly decreased both dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and behavioral hyperactivity induced by a systemic morphine challenge. These results suggest that the therapeutic effect of acupuncture on morphine addiction occurs through normalization of dopamine and reduction of behavioral sensitization by morphine.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Postpartum Doulas of the East: Sitting the Month


The Chinese tradition of “sitting the month” is a combination of medical, behavioral and dietetic practices designed to maximize recovery from the adverse effects of childbirth and pregnancy in postpartum women during the first month after childbirth. According to Chinese Medical theory, two main issues afflict all postpartum women: qi/blood deficiency and blood stagnation in the area of the uterus. These two deficiencies, if not properly attended to, can give rise to any number of illnesses – sometimes illnesses manifest instantly, others begin in the post-partum period but do not surface until later. Common afflictions include anemia, insufficient breast milk, lightheadedness, constipation or oliguria, a bloated sensation, and immune system deficiency. If the symptoms are left untended, more serious illness, such as hypothyroidism, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and debilitating menopause may result. “Sitting the month” uses a combination of personally tailored Chinese herbal formulas, food therapy and lifestyle changes to alleviate the above symptoms and ensure that more serious illness does not result from the temporary weakness which all women experience in the early postpartum stages.

Due to some of the more anachronistic practices associated with “sitting the month,” – a moratorium on showering, air conditioning and going outside in the wind, a diet of relatively bland foods, etc. – the tradition had all but vanished, but new “sitting centers,” which cater to the needs of modern women, have helped foster an unprecedented resurgence in popularity all while retaining the core theoretical principles on which the practice was founded. Today in Taiwan, the top sitting centers have waitlists backed up for years – perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that treatments not only restore health and vitality, they also help women to recover their pre-childbirth physique using herbal therapy and acupuncture.

Now, as interest in “sitting the month” continues to grow, new research has put the old tradition to the test of modern “evidence-based” standards with highly positive results. A new retrospective cohort study conducted by the China Medical University of Taiwan found that a standard “sitting the month” regimen - including herbal medicine, dietary restriction and lifestyle change- significantly raised erythrocyte levels, increased breast milk, decreased lochia elimination time and decreased likelihood of depression in a group of post-partum women compared with a group of post-partum women who had not sat the month. [1]

In recent times, commentators have compared sitting the month to the increasingly popular western practice of hiring a “postpartum doula.” In fact, the two practices do hold a lot in common, but with some key differences. Both practices honor the importance of the mother’s health postpartum and work to recover and maintain health during this crucial period. Both practices also decrease the demands and stress on the mother directly following birth by providing cooking and cleaning services throughout the first month. Sitting the month is distinguished from having a postpartum doula insofar as it incorporates a system of medical knowledge into the recovery and care process. According to Chinese medical gynecology, the body is in a weak and deficient state following birth: sitting the month is designed to not only assuage the daily stresses associated with new-motherhood, but to treat the specific imbalances that afflict all postpartum women. In this regard, sitting the month is actually a more holistic, multi-faceted approach to postpartum care.

For more information on sitting the month, please see the Time article below.





(Traditional Mandarin Chinese)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sanfujiu: A Traditional, Non-Invasive Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma and Chronic Respiratory Illness.

    In recent years, Taiwan has seen a resurgence in the use of a traditional treatment called “Sanfujiu” (三伏灸) for patients with a wide variety of respiratory problems. The treatment is simple – herbal patches are placed on specified acupoints on the back and left for one day three times throughout the summer – but the results, both anecdotally and scientifically, have attracted increasing attention from patients and practitioners in Taiwan and abroad.

    According to Chinese Medical theory, allergies, asthma and chronic bronchitis are often caused by deficiencies in the yang qi of the lung. Sanfujiu uses herbal patches that supplement yang qi on points corresponding to the lung. Additionally, practitioners traditionally choose to treat on three days in the summer when “environmental yang qi” and the body’s yang qi are both thought to be at their highest. The rationale is that a treatment for supplementing yang qi will be most effective when environmental yang qi and bodily yang qi are at their respective peaks. [i]

    Until recently, the efficacy of Sanfujiu had only been corroborated on an anecdotal level, but a growing body[ii] of scientific evidence now confirms that Sanfujiu can be effective in treating allergic rhinitis, asthma and chronic bronchitis. In particular, a research study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and a team of Taiwanese collaborators found that:

 The acupoint herbal patch (sanfujiu) is a valuable treatment for allergic rhinitis, especially in the symptoms of sneezing, running and itchy nose. The results of the SF-36 indicate a distinct improvement in GH (general health) and VT (vitality) in patients treated with acupoint herbal patches. This study supports the belief that the acupoint herbal patch is an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis and can significantly improve general health, social life and vitality in quality of life.[iii]

    Additionally, informal studies carried out within the China Medical University of Taiwan report 80% efficacy in patients with asthma and seasonal allergies who have received 3 consecutive years of treatment. Such efficacy rates help explain why Sanfujiu has achieved such wide-ranging popularity in Taiwan and receives increasing attention abroad.

A video showing a Sanfujiu treatment (in Chinese): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tzaHuFmEjTc#t=64s

By: William Ceurvels



·                                 [i] Chen-Jei Tai, Chia-Pei Chang, et al. (2007) Efficacy of Sanfujiu to Treat Allergies: Patient Outcomes at 1 Year after Treatment. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. 2007 June; 4(2): 241–246. PMC1876606
[ii]  See reference section of above article for a long list of related studies.    
            [iii] Wei-Hung Hsu, et al. (2010) Chinese Medicine Acupoint Herbal Patching for Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. No.4 661-673. DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X10008135.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Excessive Sweating

Did you ever have the experience that you are in a fight-or-flight condition; your heart and breathing rates go up, your pupils dilate and your hands are sweating to cope with the emergency situation due to the adrenaline release? After the emergency is over, you end up with cold hands and feet and you are very tired. If this condition becomes worse, you could constantly have sweaty palms whenever you are multitasking, rushing around or nervous about something, and you may get diagnosed as excessive sweating.
We know that excessive sweating is caused by overactive sweat glands. The sweat gland is controlled by branches of sympathetic nerves in the chest area, which are controlled by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain controlling appetite, body temperature, thirst, fatigue, anger and circadian cycles. People suffering from this condition can sweat spontaneously, even at room temperature, and excessively in a slightly warm environment. The most common parts of the body that sweat are the palms, feet, armpits, chest, abdominal area and face. Unfortunately, those who sweat excessively tend to have a special body odor, so that they smell bad- another thing to be self-conscious about. 
If you have this problem, you can most likely blame your parents, because genetic make-up plays a big part. People with very sensitive sympathetic nervous systems tend to have hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating and very sensitive nervous systems tend to run in the family. Thus, you may have inherited your problems from your mom, but you do not have to accept them. You can return that bad hand you have been dealt and get a much better one, so do not worry. If you are willing to change your life style a little bit, you might be able to change the gene expression.
However, you must do some work yourself. There are lifestyle choices you can make that will lessen this problem or possibly make it go away completely. You can make decisions that will change things. Start by drinking less alcohol, which can intensify the symptoms. Alcohol can produce a lot of heat inside your body and get your nervous system going. In order to maintain a normal body temperature, you have to expel extra heat through sweat and urination. That is why people tend to drink more alcohol in cold weather.. Alcoholics tend to have clammy hands and feet. There are cases where people never had this problem growing up, only to have it appear later in life, usually triggered by drinking too much alcohol. So, please drink less for your own health, dignity and peace of mind. You do not have to stop completely, just reduce, reduce, and reduce until your problem goes away. 
Other things that stimulate your nervous system that you can reduce:
1. Caffeine stimulates your sympathetic nerves, so your body becomes even more sensitive to temperature changes and stress.
2. Warm drinks and food can make you sweat more.
3. Low and high blood sugar levels can induce adrenaline release to intensify sweating.
4. Stress can induce cortisol and adrenaline release to stimulate the nervous system.
5. Multitasking: when you do three things at the same time, your body has to release more adrenaline, which stimulates the nervous system.
6. Imbalanced progesterone and estrogen levels also sensitize your nervous system, so that your body may react very strongly to small temperature changes. That is why menopausal women sweat easily, then quickly feel chilled afterwards. Men who use testosterone cream for a long time tend to sweat a lot with a special body odor.
7. Obesity: Obese people have higher levels of cortisol and estrogen. They can tolerate stress better than skinny people, but they have less tolerance for heat. When obese women go through menopause, they have more hot flashes than average-weight women.
8. Spicy foods also produce internal heat. People can tolerate spicy foods in a very damp and cold climate, but if they leave for warmer places, they have to change their eating habits accordingly.
Acupuncture, meditation, yoga and Qi Gong will help balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The majority of acupuncture points can be used to calm down the sympathetic nerves and strengthen the parasympathetic nerves. If your sympathetic nerves are in a more stable condition, your body will not respond to temperature changes as strongly. Food and herbs, such as bitter melon and dandelion, which have a bitter taste tend to help clear the body heat and reduce the sweating and inflammation. Sour-tasting food can help your body generate more body fluids, so that the Yin ( the essence of the body) and Yang (the energy part of the body) can be balanced. In order to achieve a happier and healthier life, the Yin and Yang have to be balanced, so that your body will sweat properly.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Hypothalamus, Menopause, Weight Gain and Acupuncture

How important a health problem is excessive weight gain in America? It is so important that First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her number one goal to end childhood obesity in one generation. One third of all American children and adolescents are obese. One third of all American adults are also obese, weighing 25% more than their ideal weight, while two thirds are overweight. It is clear that excessive weight gain has become America’s new epidemic.
A behavior similar to taking drugs, smoking tobacco, or drinking alcohol, excessive eating is an addictive behavior that shortens life spans and is difficult to stop by force of will. Obesity increases a person's risk of developing several serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and diabetes. Every extra pound over your ideal weight may take time from your life.
Why do people tend to overeat even if they know all about the harmful effects of being overweight?
The hypothalamus contains several groups of nerve cells, which have the ability to impact emotions, regulate body temperature, and control thirst, along with the feeling of fullness and salt cravings. Body weight is controlled by the hypothalamus through modifying metabolism. The activities of the hypothalamus are influenced by stress, light, steroids, insulin, pleasant food smells, and invading microorganisms. This explains why we tend to overeat when we are stressed out because the hypothalamus produces more hormones to stimulate the pituitary to produce more cortisol-releasing hormones. The sharp increase in cortisol stimulates the appetite, especially for junk food. Further when daylight time becomes shortened in the winter and when we smell something good, the hypothalamus changes its activity, so our appetite also changes.
When menopause comes, the imbalance of estrogen, progesterone, GABA, serotonin and dopamine profoundly influences the neuronal activity of the hypothalamus, which can cause women to be more emotional, to crave sweets and salty food, and to have insomnia, hot flushes and night sweats. Many women tell me that they cannot stop eating even though they know they are not supposed to eat too much of a certain kind of food. In this scenario, if they eat the wrong kind of food such as cookies or ice cream, or drink too much coffee, their stomachs will not receive a signal for fullness. They can keep eating until they damage the majority of their nerves and blood vessels. We have trillions of neurons and blood vessels; if we destroy 60% of them, our body can still compensate. Once the majority of the nerves and blood vessels are damaged, it is too late to change. When we consume sugary foods , our reward center lights up, our body releases dopamine and we feel happier for a moment. The problem is that our body's function is not improved by eating junk food. We have to continue eating those rewarding foods to maintain our happiness. If we instead exercise, take herbs or have acupuncture treatments to produce more dopamine, we can reap the benefits but not pay the cost. On the other hand, if we just put a piece of chocolate into our mouth, we will do damage to our nerves and blood vessels. Simple sugar is even worse than alcohol or tobacco because you can eat sugar any time in any amount without getting drunk or being punished. On the other hand you can only drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes at certain times and places. On the positive side, when people eat sugary foods, they become friendlier and more sociable during that moment. Most men eat one piece of chocolate, then stop, while women have to eat ten pieces, because women's estrogen levels fluctuate each month from 10 to 100 while men do not have these big hormone changes unless they are alcoholics or drug addicts. Furthermore, women have a very sensitive rewarding center, and they can have sudden increased levels of dopamine, while men receive a much less extreme response from eating rewarding food.
How we can control our appetite by optimizing the activity of hypothalamus?
Q. Wei et al.’s research on obese rats found that tryptophan and serotonin levels were decreased in certain areas of the brains in the obese group as compared to the control. Acupuncture could produce weight reduction by optimizing the serotonin (5-HT) level. Serotonin not only makes people relax and feel good, but also enhances intestinal motility to help discharge toxic materials that could produce food stagnation and internal heat. Internal heat, from a Chinese medical perspective, leads to increased appetite and more craving for food. In Western medicine, if food cannot be properly absorbed and converted into blood sugar to provide energy, it will be stored instead as fat in the body. Then, the person feels hungry all the time and must eat constantly to maintain his or her blood sugar level. It can quickly become a vicious cycle.
Acupuncture, herbs, meditation, Tai Ji, Qi Gong and other relaxing treatments help redirect energy and blood flow to the hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries and adrenal gland, so the above glands can produce balanced hormones. On the other hand, acupuncture can reduce stress instantly. By reducing stress, acupuncture improves your entire body function. The balance of all the relaxing and stimulating hormones is the key factor for keeping healthy weight and eating habits. When you have balanced hormones, you do not crave sweets or other junk foods.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Acupuncture and Migraines


             A migraine is a type of headache, which can repetitively happen on one side or both sides of the head. Usually, it is a throbbing, stabbing pain, which can be debilitating to people.

            Mechanisms of migraines: Abnormal brain cell activities trigger release of certain chemicals,    causing changes of blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues, according to an article in Medline Plus. CT’s or MRI’s do not show any organic changes in the brain.

What causes migraines:

  1. Changed sleep-wake cycle can cause imbalance of chemicals in the brain. If cortisol, melatonin and other chemicals peak and drop at the wrong time, brain activities will change.
  2. Artificial light, such as computer and TV light, can reduce melatonin secretion, which is associated with the hyper- excitability of brain cells and increases of certain chemicals linked with pain sensation. Many teenagers develop migraines after prolonged playing of computer games.
  3. Missing meals can cause a decrease of blood sugar, triggering adrenaline release, thus changing activity of brain cells.
  4. Strong coffee or tea can over-stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and lead to an imbalance between exciting and inhibiting chemicals in the brain.
  5. Taking medication for headaches daily can profoundly change the balance of the chemicals in our bodies.
  6. Hormone changes during puberty, menopause and menstruation can also influence brain blood flow.  Women tend to develop migraines during menopause.
  7. Birth control pills not only dramatically change your chemical balance and brain activities but also cause swelling of the blood vessels.
  8. Certain smells or perfumes.
  9. Certain foods: any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods, baked goods, chocolate, dairy products, foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), foods containing tyramine, (including red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and certain beans.). Meats containing nitrates (bacon, hot dogs, salami, cured meats), nuts, onions and peanut butter.
  10. Stress can cause increases of cortisol, adrenaline and prolactin, which lead to abnormal activities of brain cells.
  11. Lyme disease can cause nerve damage.
  12. Dehydration induces histamine release, which generally causes inflammation of the blood vessels, including brain blood vessels.
  13. Some medications, such as beta-blockers, can cause swelling of the blood vessels.
  14. Excessive noise can over-stimulate your sympathetic nervous system.
  15. Women may have fewer migraine attacks during the last two trimesters because a high level of progesterone and a certain type of estrogen (estriol) stabilize their nervous systems.
  16. Nicotine withdrawal can cause headaches. Weather changes may cause swelling of the blood vessels due to changes of humidity and air pressure.

What we can do to prevent migraines:

  1. Go to sleep and wake up at regular times in order to maintain normal brain cell activity. It is harmful to go to sleep and wake up at random times. Healthy people hardly disturb their circadian cycle. Night-shift people rarely live up to 90 years old in good condition.
  2. Avoid too much caffeine. If you have migraines currently, you need to gradually cut down the amount of caffeine that you take in. Technically, caffeine can constrict the blood vessels and help relieve headaches, but too much caffeine is always linked with frequent headaches, because caffeine can also over-stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, causing over-reaction to environmental changes. Moderation is the key.
  3. If you want to quit smoking, do it gradually, because a sudden drop in nicotine can lead to hyper-excitability of brain cells. You might want to drink some green tea when you want to light a cigarette, because theonine in green tea can help us relax but still stay alert.
  4. Do not drink wine or any other alcohol if you have frequent migraines. If you continue this habit, eventually the medication will not help you anymore.
  5. Find out what causes your allergies: nuts, onions or other kinds of food. Abnormal levels of histamine due to allergies can change our brain cell activities.
  6. Avoid intense exercises such as running more than 5 miles every day, which can trigger adrenaline release.
  7. Avoid artificial sweeteners because they have similar structures as certain brain chemicals and thus can potentially change brain cell activities.
  8. Avoid occurrences of low blood sugar by eating the right foods at the right times. Sweets make your blood sugar level go up and down like a roller coaster.
  9. Apply a cool towel during a migraine attack; it helps to reduce the swelling of the blood vessels.
  10. Avoid triggering food. Once you break the vicious cycle of your migraine attacks, your nervous system and its chemicals reestablish a new balance. You can eat small amounts of those triggering foods, such as chocolate, wine, and nuts, once or twice a week. Finding out the amount and frequency of each of these foods that your body can tolerate is the key to avoiding migraines and enjoying your life in the long run.
  11. Drink half of your weight in fluid ounces of water at least three times a week. Meaning a person who weighs 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of water 3 days during each week. When you are dehydrated, your blood vessels tend to constrict to maintain your blood pressure. Furthermore, dehydration can induce histamine release.

Research about acupuncture and migraines:
Li Y published results in Headache 2009 about how acupuncture can relieve the acute attacks of migraines. A total of 218 patients with migraine were recruited for the study; 180 met the inclusion criteria; 175 completed the callback process and were randomized into 3 groups. One group received real acupuncture, whereas subjects in the other 2 groups were treated with sham acupuncture. Each patient received 1 session of treatment and was observed over a period of 24 hours. The main outcome measure was the differences in visual analog scale (VAS scores for the pain level before treatment and 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 hours after treatment.)
Significant decreases relative to baseline in VAS scores were observed in the fourth hour after treatment. The VAS scores in the fourth hour after treatment decreased by a median of 1.0 cm, 0.5 cm, and 0.1 cm in the real acupuncture group, sham acupuncture group 1, and sham acupuncture group 2. Similarly, there was a significant difference in the change from baseline in VAS scores in the second hour after treatment among the 3 groups (P = .006), with only patients treated with real acupuncture showing a significant mean decrease in VAS score at this time: median decrease 0.7 cm (P < .001). Many patients in the acupuncture group experienced complete pain relief (40.7%). 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Letpin, weight loss acupuncture


Leptin is derived from the Greek word ‘leptos’ meaning thin. Leptin is one of the key hormones involved in hunger, metabolism and how fats and carbohydrates get stored and utilized. Leptin tells your hypothalamus that you have eaten enough and need to start burning fat. The hypothalamus is the control center of the brain for fullness and fat storage. The rate of production of leptin directly correlates with weight loss or weight gain. Women have significantly higher circulating leptin than men.

Leptin resistance is very similar to insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, chronic elevated levels of insulin make your muscle and fat cells more resistance to the action of insulin. Chronic elevated leptin levels decrease the hypothalamus sensitivity to leptin. If your body produces too much fat chronically by drinking soda or eating too much ice cream, the long term elevated leptin will desensitize your hypothalamus. As a result your hypothalamus will not respond to leptin signaling, and you eat too much.

 
The following two scientific studies show that  acupuncture has a bi-directional adjustment of leptin levels. The first one shows that if rats gain weight within a short period of time before they develop resistance to leptin, acupuncture can help increase the leptin and its receptor levels to suppress food intake and burn more fat. The second experiment shows that if obese people have already developed leptin resistance due to chronic high levels of leptin, acupuncture can help lower leptin levels and make the hypothalamus more sensitive to leptin stimulation, which maybe associated with resensitizing the leptin receptor.
 

Scientist Bai CY, et al. observed the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on leptin and leptin receptor mRNA expression in the hypothalamus of rats with nonalcoholic fatty livers in 2010.  Male rats were randomly divided into a control group, model group and electrical stimulation group. The model group was established by feeding the animals a  high fat diet for 8 weeks. Electrical stimulation was applied to unilateral ST 40 and ST 36, once daily for 4 weeks. After the treatments, compared with the control group, serum triglyceride and total cholesterol levels increased significantly in the model group. While serum triglyceride and total cholesterol levels in electrical acupuncture group were reduced considerably. Electrical stimulation can lower serum triglyceride and total cholesterol levels in rats with fatty liver, which is closely related to its effects in up-regulating the expression of hypothalamic leptin and leptin receptor mRNA. This may explain how the increased leptin and leptin receptor level can help rats lose unhealthy fat induced artificially.

 
Luo HL and Li RH did human research to show how electrical acupuncture can optimize the level of leptin and help humans to lose weight. Sixty obesity patients with elevated leptin levels were randomly divided into a control, manual acupuncture and electrical acupuncture groups with 20 cases in each group. Liangqiu (ST 34), Xuehai (SP 10), Gongsun (SP 4), Neiting (ST 44), Tianshu (ST 25) and Fujie (SP 14) were punctured respectively once every other day for 27 times altogether. After the treatment, 5.0%, 85.0% and 95.0% of the control, manual and electrical acupuncture groups respectively lost weight. The therapeutic effects of both manual and electrical acupuncture groups were significantly higher than that of control group. Furthermore, serum Lepin levels in both manual and electrical groups decreased significantly and the effects on the electrical acupuncture groups were markedly better than those of manual acupuncture and control groups. No significant changes were found in Lepin level in control group. Both electrical acupuncture and manual acupuncture can effectively lower blood Lepin level in obesity patients, by resensitizing the hypothalamus, contributing to reduced food intake and increased metabolism. The effect of electrical acupuncture is significantly superior to that of manual acupuncture in the treatment of simple obesity.