Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Acupuncture and PCOS

Why are ovarian cysts becoming more and more common?
There are several possible bases for the increasing prevalence of ovarian cysts:
1. High insulin levels due to high sugar intake: Many doctors including Dr. Steven Hotze and Dr. Carolyn Dean suggest a connection between obesity coupled with high sugar intake and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The term Syndrome X indicates a group of symptoms including hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, elevated triglyceride, and elevated uric acid, a chemical causing severe joint pain and kidney stones. High sugar intake can trigger insulin secretion, and the high insulin level shuts down the body’s ability to burn fat, thus moving the sugar into fat cells. Furthermore, high insulin interrupts the balance between estrogen and progesterone, causing many cysts formed in ovaries.
2. Birth control pills: Many women take birth control pills to treat acne, menstrual cramps and irregular periods as well as for preventing pregnancy. Long-term use of birth control pills causes an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
3. Hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system: When scientists transected the sympathetic nerve control over the ovaries in rats with chemically induced PCOS, the rats started ovulating again, and their cyst sizes were reduced.

Electro-acupuncture activated certain muscle-nerve fibers to deactivate the sympathetic nervous system. It also changed neuronal activities in the spinal cord and induced the release of a number of chemicals, which are important in balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves over the uterus and ovaries. Raja-Khan N. et al. published an article in Am.J.Physiol Endocrinol Metab recently, explaining that acupuncture may modulate endocrine and metabolic functions through activation of somatic afferent nerves innervating the skin and muscle. The somatic afferent nerves sends the information to the brain, which adjusts hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axes, hypothalamic-pituitary-ovary axes, and the immune system, leading to reductions in blood pressure, glucose, and inflammation.

PCOS are not always associated with obesity:
More and more women developed PCOS even though they are not overweight. They can be very fit with well-developed muscles, yet their periods are very irregular with an abnormal hormone profile, such as an increased ratio of LH/FSH, testosterone and lowered level of progesterone. They usually eat a lot of sweets, but exercise intensely, so they never gain weight, but because of higher levels of testosterone, they tend to develop acne and their periods tend to be scanty with severe cramps. Because there are many small cysts in their ovaries to release testosterone, the corpus luteum function is abnormal, leading to spotting for many days before the period comes. Very often they have periods every two to three months or eventually the periods would stop. The PCOS can lead to infertility and early menopause if it is not treated properly.

Acupuncture and Diabetic Neuropathy

In a 2011 Journal of Endocrinology Investigation, Dr. Jiang YL, et. al used a single abdominal injection of a chemical called streptozotocin (STZ) to induce high blood sugar in rats. Rats were randomly divided into six groups: control, diabetes, preventive acupuncture plus streptozotocin injection, STZ injection plus therapeutic acupuncture, streptozotocin injection plus preventive and therapeutic acupuncture, and preventive and therapeutic acupuncture control. Body weight, blood glucose, serum insulin, lipid peroxidation, and antioxidant enzymes were measured by routine standard methods. Histological analysis of pancreatic islets was conducted. Their results showed preventive acupuncture significantly reduced blood sugar levels, enhance insulin efficiency, reduced body weight and pancreatic islet damage in rats with streptozotocin injection; it also significantly reduced serum lipid peroxidation and enhanced superoxide dismutase in the serum and the pancreas, which reduced the oxidation stress and prevented the blood from clotting.
Glucose intolerance is the condition in which insulin cannot function normally due to too much sugar intake every day, which desensitizes the insulin receptors. The sharp elevated blood sugar levels right after the meal can damage the blood vessels and nerves irreversibly. The above study indicates that acupuncture treatment can prevent the blood sugar surge induced by chemicals artificially, thus acupuncture can prevent neuropathy, stroke and even dementia. The healthy blood vessels and nerves are crucial for the normal function of the heart and brain function.
In clinical practices, when we applied acupuncture to type I and type II diabetes patients after each meal, their blood sugar reading usually is lowered within two hours. Since people cannot have acupuncture everyday to lower their blood sugar, eating low glycemic index food and doing regular exercise are also very important to resensitize the insulin receptor, so that with the lowered level of insulin, people can still achieve the optimized blood sugar level. Insulin itself is a growth factor, which can cause the imbalance of the estrogen and progesterone and chronic inflammation.
Acupuncture not only can help the body stabilize the blood sugar level, but also can be used to treat neuropathy because it can improve the blood circulation to your hands and feet to facilitate the peripheral nerves’ regeneration. The most recent article in Neuroscience. 2011 by Cidral-Filho FJ et. al. indicates that manual acupuncture inhibits mechanical hypersensitivity induced by spinal nerve injury in rats. Jin Z et. al did human clinical research in 2011 and found that electroacupuncture and acupoint injection with methylcobalamin can increase motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity, control and relieve the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.