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What Can Acupuncture Treat?

A common question in my office is: What Can Acupuncture Treat? 

It is difficult for me to answer this question because it can treat a variety of conditions. I typically like to list them by specialist.  We can work with the same conditions a Rheumatologist, Orthopedist, ENT, Gynecologist, Gastroenterologist, Cardiologist, and Internist would treat. The list is ongoing, so I tend to focus on the most difficult to treat with the least response from conventional medicine. The conditions are:

Migraines

Fibromyalgia

Insomnia

Anxiety/Depression

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If you think about it, these are usually conditions the doctor cannot explain why you have and tries to medicate, hoping for the best with your symptoms. Yet, it is funny that all four of these will have some commonalities. 

First of all, when an acupuncturist treats you for any condition, we are not typically concerned with your signs and symptoms. We are more concerned with how your body is communicating and functioning. Therefore, our approach to an exam may be different than most.

When you come in for an acupuncture treatment, we may ask strange questions, look at different areas of your body, look into your eyes, your ears, your tongue, and feel your wrist. Your body tells us what is going on with your systems, and sometimes we use that as a diagnosis instead of just signs and symptoms. Be patient! We want to get to the root cause of the condition.

Acupuncture finds these 4 conditions to have some similarities. Most of these are due to a liver congestion. I personally like to clean the liver out and open the channel to see if we have any change in signs and symptoms of your current condition or other issues not noted. Many times, my patients will notice other changes in their body that they did not mention during the exam. This is a good sign. It means we are waking the body and cleaning out the debris. When we start this process, we can sometimes narrow down why the condition is occurring.

Let’s discuss the many reasons for each symptom and why acupuncture treatment is beneficial.

Migraines:

Migraines and headaches can occur for many different reasons. Many women like to blame hormones for this reason. And hormones can play a large part. As we have discussed in past lectures concerning hormones, many times the issue is due to a dysfunction in another organ or gland.  It is very important to us to discover where and when the headache starts. Sometimes hormonal migraines could be due to a congested liver, a deficient pituitary gland, a week ovary, or an over stimulated adrenal gland. Each of these will produce a different type of headache pattern, that we in the Western Society just dub as MIGRAINE. Be patient with your acupuncturist as we try to get more detail from you on this headache pattern. 

Typically, a pituitary headache will occur during a cycle time, it is all over pressure in the head where you feel like you want to squeeze the brain, and weather will upset it as well. Therefore, if we find these findings, we would want to treat that pituitary dysfunction and not treat it like a sinus headache.

Other reasons for migraines and headaches can be musculoskeletal. Many people do not realize that your first, second, and third nerves in your spine run into the brain and face. Chiropractic care will look at the C1, C2, and C3 vertebrae to see if there is an impingement of these nerves causing your headaches. Many times, patients get immediate relief after treatment in this area. Acupuncture focuses on the energy in this area as well. These headaches typically present across the forehead, under the checks, and behind the eyes.

Other reason for Migraine or headache issues is: SINUSES. I hear this constantly from patients that say they have a sinus headache and then get on some form of medication. I am not a fan of this because, as I always say, we are masking the symptoms. Most sinus headaches and issues are coming from the GUT. Yes, the GUT. Chinese medicine concluded this centuries ago, but for some reason we want to ignore it in today’s society and resort to medications and surgeries. With acupuncture, we typically work on the large and small intestines to resolve this issue, as well as, recommend herbal treatment to repair the gut lining. This chronic condition will soon be an event from the past once we fix these issues. On top of that, other conditions will begin to resolve!

Along with sinuses, I hear, “It’s due to Allergies”.  Allergies fall along the same concept with some dysfunction on Blood Chi. Allergies can be due to that leaky gut, letting all those nasty bugs into your blood system and causing a cascade of inflammation in the body. When we breath through our nose, we have these built in defense mechanisms to block a lot of these toxic and invading particles from entering the body. That is why we sneeze, to get it out of our system. This is why our nose and eyes run, to pick off these outside particles and get it out of the body. Yet, when we have too much inflammation in the body, the system goes in overdrive and allergies begin. Acupuncture wants to help decrease the inflammation in the body, fix the gut, and help repair the natural protectors of our system. So sometimes we don’t focus on just the allergies, but on how we can get the body back to its optimal state. This may take time, to resolve since so many processes are involved.

Eastern medicine describes the reason for this condition in many ways: too much wind, dispel heat, Qi/Chi blockage, deficiencies, blood stagnation, liver, yin/yang, etc. It would be too complicated for the average person, so I find it easier to break it down into more Western medicine description. Therefore, if you speak to an acupuncturist, they may use these terms so don’t be confused or frustrated. This is a more detailed language defining exactly the reason for your headache, and not actually a western diagnosis of your organ function.

Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is not really a diagnosis. As in, they don’t know why you have this condition. It is just an easier way to describe what is going on in your body.

Basically, breaking down the meaning:

  • Fibro: Fibers
  • Myo: Muscle
  • Algia: Pain. 

You have fiber and muscle pain. That is it! Now, in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, we know that there is toxicity in the body, and it cannot get out, therefore destroying your organs and housing these toxins in the fibers and muscles of your body causing pain. Our job here is to figure out how to get these toxins out of your body, balance your organs, and feed your system to get you out of that pain.

Again, we will go back to the primary root cause of this condition: your GUT. So many times, the gut has been destroyed and all the chemicals you ingest are leaking into the blood system causing inflammation.  Heavy metals seem to be one of the main culprits for robbing the essential minerals for your muscles and tissues and then residing in these tissues like a cozy little home, leading to the pain. We find that the liver is important for cleaning out these heavy metals. Wow, I see same similarities between the Gut and the Liver as in the Migraine paragraph above.  

Acupuncturist will treat this condition differently. They may want to needle the trigger point areas to help release the toxins from the tissue. They may want to treat the liver to clean it out and begin the detox process, they may want to include the intestines to help rebuild and repair to decrease the inflammation.  And they may include all three factors. As we have discussed before, the exam will help each doctor determine where the path should begin and end in treatment.  

We find patients will fibromyalgia symptoms get great relief from treatment especially with acute pain.  We do encourage patients, if they want to resolve the condition completely, they need to do a complete dietary change and incorporate supplementation to help repair and detox the body.

Insomnia:

Insomnia is a very difficult condition to treat, because of the multitude of factors for this condition. Do you have difficulty going to sleep, do you wake in the middle of sleep, do you wake up throughout the night, or do you wake up to early? We find that most insomnia patients have other health issues as well, yet they do not think they relate. Reasons for insomnia are: Adrenal fatigue, pineal gland dysfunction, calcium deficiency, blood sugar dysregulation, anxiety, liver congestion, and drug interaction, and gut disorders. So many of my patients have been placed on Gabapentin (one of the top opioid addiction drugs prescribed in Alabama) for sleep and it is difficult to wean off this drug without worse side effects. Again, it is our job to find out why insomnia has occurred. Remember, it is not just insomnia, but it is the cause from something else going wrong with the body. Many times, you will hear an acupuncturist mention the treatment of heart points, liver points, spleen points and kidney points. These do not have to deal specifically with your organs but the flow of energy through the body. Because insomnia can be due to many different conditions, as an acupuncturist we try to discover why the patient has this condition. Typically, we may start with traditional insomnia points and if we do not get a result, we may change to a new set of points. This is where acupuncture may take some time to get results. Be patient and work with your doctor in trying to find the root cause of your condition.

Anxiety/Depression:

This is a condition on why the doctor does not know why you have this, so they prescribe medication. It may work, it may not, or it may have worked but it is not anymore. We want to address the most common reasons for this condition: adrenals, thyroid, blood sugar dysregulation, hormones, pituitary gland and hypothalamus dysfunction, liver dysfunction, and gut.

There are so many interesting correlations between the body and emotions. Typically, if you feel angry all the time, we notice you have a liver issue. If you are weeping and crying it can be a kidney issue. Depression with fatigue can be an Adrenal issue. Bipolar disorder and OCD can be related to a blood sugar and spleen issue. With acupuncture our job is to discover why you have this emotional sensation. Many times, this diagnosis will be related to a hormone issue. Yet if you have read my past blogs, hormone issues can be due to the Adrenal gland, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus gland. With this condition, acupuncturist may recommend supplementation and herbal therapy to help support these glands as well as balance the body with acupuncture treatments. This current symptom or diagnosis is usually due to something else going on with the body, that leads to this sign or symptom. So, taking a medication to change a receptor in the brain, may not be fixing the long-term damage that is being done by this deficient body process. It becomes a cascading effect of symptoms that never seems to end. It may give temporarily relief, but does it give permanent changes to your health?

Acupuncture has been used for centuries to not only resolve your symptoms, but to get your body back to optimal health, so you can thrive. Below is some current statistics of the effects of opioids on our state of Alabama. Acupuncture is a technique that avoids the use of opioids.


OPOID USE:

In 2017, Alabama providers wrote 107.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons. The average U.S. rate is 58.7 prescriptions. Alabama is almost double in prescriptions per person. Do we not see the need to try something alternative such as Acupuncture which requires no drugs for pain and symptom relief and possibly chiropractic? 

Research per BCBS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alabama ranks highest in the nation as having more opioid prescriptions than people. Alabama physicians wrote an alarming 5.8 million prescriptions for opioids in 2015. Alabama also ranks number one as the highest prescribing state in the nation for opioid pain reliever prescriptions, according to the CDC.

6.5 percent of BCBS members were on a long-duration opioid regimen in 2015, compared to 3.8 percent nationally.

16.4 per 1,000 members were diagnosed with opioid use disorder in Alabama in 2016, double that of 8.3 nationally.

29 percent of BCBS members with opioid use disorder received medication-assisted therapy in 2016, compared to 37 percent nationally.

Opioid use disorder diagnoses among BCBS commercially insured members spiked 493 percent from 2010 through 2016.

Among those 45 and older, women have a higher rate of opioid use disorder than do men. Among people younger than 45, men have higher rates of opioid use disorder than women. Women fill more opioid prescriptions than males across all age groups.

Long-duration prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder overlap by region, with the highest rates in the South and the Appalachian Region.

The 65 percent rate of increase in the use of medication-assisted treatments lags the 492 percent rate of increase in opioid use disorder diagnoses from 2010 through 2016.


ISN’T TIME YOU LOOK FOR AN ALTERNATIVE!

Listen to this week's podcast as I go in depth on what acupuncture treats.

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