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Acupuncture and Stress

According to Health and Safety Executive 2011 report, up to half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress every year, which often results in illness. There are many  factors that affect stress levels including alcohol, smoking, exams, pregnancy, divorce, moving, death in family, lifestyle, drugs, poor nutrition and unemployment.

Lead author Dr Ladan Eshkevari, of Georgetown University, In the first study of its kind,  found the ancient Chinese therapy reduces levels of a protein linked to chronic stress. This is reported by Daily mail.

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Acupuncture and Obesity

According to research in Birmingham University, Obesity rates in the UK are the highest in Europe and have increased dramatically over the past few years to such an extent that in excess of 20% of the population are now obese and the costs to the UK economy exceed £3 billion per year. In Birmingham, over 25% of the population are obese – the third highest rate in the UK.

The Nature magazine published an article on Acupuncture treatment for obesity:

“Although acupuncture is being utilised to treat a variety of important health problems, its usefulness in obesity management has not yet been fully evaluated. The aim of this review paper was to survey and critically evaluate the descriptive and controlled trials of acupuncture for enhancing weight loss. The underlying principles of acu-point stimulation are described, with an emphasis on auricular (ear) acupuncture, the method most often chosen for obesity studies. The difficulties of selecting suitable placebo controls are highlighted. To date, most trials have been descriptive in nature, of short duration (12 weeks), and designed using nonstandard treatment protocols. Despite the unique challenges involved, further careful study of acupuncture’s potential usefulness as an adjunct in weight management is recommended. An agenda for future research in this area is provided. ”

 

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A molecule which may control how acupuncture relieves pain has been pinpointed by US researchers.

From BBC:

Experiments in mice showed that levels of adenosine – a natural painkiller – increased in tissues near acupuncture sites.

The Nature Neuroscience study also found that in mice resistant to the effects of adenosine, acupuncture had no effect.

Pain experts said the findings may partly explain how the treatment works.

Adenosine is known to have many roles in the body including regulating sleep and reducing inflammation, the researchers said.

Other research has shown that it becomes active in the skin after an injury to act as a local painkiller.

In the latest study, the researchers were looking at the effects of the molecule in the deeper tissues which acupuncturists target with fine needles.

The team performed a 30-minute acupuncture session at a pressure point in the knee of mice that had discomfort in one paw.

They found that in mice with normal functioning levels of adenosine, acupuncture reduced soreness by two-thirds, as assessed by nerve sensitivity measurements.

In mice specially engineered to lack the receptor for adenosine, acupuncture had no effect.

And during and immediately after an acupuncture treatment, the level of adenosine in the tissues near the needles was 24 times greater than before the treatment, the researchers said.

Then using a drug which extends the effects of adenosine, they found that the benefits of acupuncture lasted three times as long.

Variety of effects

Study leader Dr Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said: “Acupuncture has been a mainstay of medical treatment in certain parts of the world for 4,000 years, but because it has not been understood completely, many people have remained skeptical.

“In this work, we provide information about one physical mechanism through which acupuncture reduces pain in the body,” she added.

Acupuncture is used for a wide range of treatments but on the NHS its use is limited to lower back pain.

Experts pointed out that acupuncture may mediate its effects in a number of different ways.

A spokesman from the British Pain Society said: “We have known for a long time that acupuncture alters the response to pain by modulation of some of the pain pathways in the spinal cord, and also by the release of endorphins.

“It is very interesting that scientists have found an alteration in the tissue levels of adenosine, which helps to explain some of the modulatory effects of acupuncture on pain perception.”

Professor Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School agreed the study might go some way towards explaining how acupuncture reduces pain.

“We need, I would argue, independent replications with more rigorous controls before we can fully accept its findings.

“The curious thing with acupuncture is that we seem to understand better and better how it might work and, at the same time, we have more and more reason to doubt that it works.”

Source of Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10185247

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Proving a point

There is growing evidence that acupuncture can greatly increase a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant. Rowan Pelling is not surprised – she has first-hand experience of the link between fertility and needles

I was last in the queue for the BCG jab at school and am not the sort of person who generally embraces needles. So it’s with considerable surprise that I have had to admit that acupuncture works for me. Over the four years I have received treatment, I have discovered its efficacy in all manner of areas, none more so than in boosting fertility.

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Full article here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/19/health1

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Acupuncture and Infertility
Acupuncture works best when a functional problem is the cause of infertility, specifically when endometriosis, ovulatory problems or hormonal imbalances are the cause for not getting pregnant.

On the other hand, acupuncture has not been proven to be effective when structural problems, such as an improperly formed epididymis or a blocked fallopian tube, are the cause of infertility.

Acupuncture and Female Infertility
Many women chose acupuncture infertility treatment either on its own or in conjunction with assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures, such as IVF.

Studies have proved the effectiveness of acupuncture for infertility. A 2004 study conducted by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado found that 51% of women who underwent both IVF and acupuncture treatment at the same time became pregnant, while only 36% of those who only underwent IVF did. The latter group also had higher rates of miscarriage stillbirth (20%) compared to those women who had received acupuncture (8%).

Acupuncture and Male Infertility
Men can also use acupuncture to treat their fertility problems, including erectile dysfunction or sperm health problems, such as low sperm count.

Also, a 2005 study conducted by Shanghai University in China found that acupuncture also helped treat male infertility. Of the men who participated, those who had acupuncture had an increased percentage of sperm in their semen; their sperm structure and morphology was also healthier than their counterparts who did not undergo acupuncture infertility treatment.

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Chinese Herbs and fertility

Chinese herbs that aid fertility:

The collection of herbs that are used for the purpose of aiding fertility comprises of well over 150 different herbs. Each formula contains up to fifteen or more ingredients. These formulas can help cope with an organic or functional problem that causes infertility.

Over the years the formulas were modified by practitioners based on experiments and the results that were obtained. There are some Chinese herbs however that have gained preference in this case. Similarly there are certain formulas that are recommended by the Chinese medicine practitioners.

One of the things that contributes to the variations in formulas for treating infertility is that Chinese medicine takes the specific condition of the patient into account when prescribing a herbal remedy. Hence the various formulas came into being as they were catering to patients with different disorders.

The prominent materials that make up herbal formulas include materials that are derived from barks, roots, flowers, leaves and fruits of plants. Fertility formulas cater to both men and women and vary accordingly. Some exotic materials like sea horse and deer antlers are also used along with herbs.

Using Chinese herbs

Generally fertility formulas are now widely available and can be readily purchased in China. This is recommended for ordinary cases. In cases where infertility is persistent it is advised to consult an expert practitioner of Chinese herbs. The availability of Chinese fertility herbal formulas outside of China is limited although their popularity is slowly and gradually increasing. Generally they are prescribed by medical experts in Chinese herbology.

Today patients will be able to find these formulas in various different forms such as pills, granules, tablets and teas. Generally the treatment is based upon the use of a single herb combination. Depending on the condition of the patient however two or three herbal combinations may also be prescribed.

Success with Chinese fertility herbs

Success with Chinese fertility herbs depends on finding the right kind of herb combination for which one needs to consult a medical expert who has knowledge about Chinese herbs. The other thing to ensure is to stick to the recommended dosage for the prescribed period of time.

In general the fertility formulas are prescribed to be used on a daily or periodic basis. The desired results are usually achieved within a span of three to six months. Doctors suggest waiting for a maximum of nine months to see if fertility will be restored after which they say that it is unlikely for the treatment to work.

Statistics show that one third of infertility cases do not get restored. The good thing about making use of Chinese fertility herbs is that even if they fail to restore your fertility they will load you up on a number of health benefits.

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Acupuncture can increase the chances of getting pregnant for women undergoing fertility treatment by 65%, a review of the evidence concludes today.

Acupuncture, which involves inserting fine needles under the skin at particular points in the body depending on the condition being treated, has long been used in China to help with a range of diagnoses, including regulating female reproduction.

To establish how effective the treatment is, doctors in the US collated evidence from all relevant, well-conducted studies and published their conclusions in today’s British Medical Journal.

Eric Manheimer, research associate at the centre for integrative medicine at the University of Maryland school of medicine and colleagues looked at seven studies. All had been published in English since 2002 and conducted in four different western countries. The trials involved 1,366 women undergoing in vitro fertility treatment – where eggs and sperm are removed and mixed in the laboratory and one or more resulting embryos returned to the womb.

In the trials some women were given genuine acupuncture, others “sham” acupuncture, such as putting needles in the wrong places, and some no treatment at all. Overall the genuine acupuncture improved a woman’s chances of pregnancy by 65%. All the acupuncture took place within a day or so of embryo transfer. Not all the pregnancies would have resulted in a live birth. In trials where the clinic’s pregnancy rate was already high, there was a smaller, non-significant increase. Manheimer said the results were not necessarily a reason for every infertile woman to seek out acupuncture.

“I think the findings should be regarded as somewhat preliminary,” he said. “Acupuncture can improve the rates of pregnancy and live birth. Some couples might want to choose acupuncture but others might want to wait until further research has been done.”

But Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula medical school, Exeter, urged caution. “IVF may not seem to be ‘placebo-prone’ but it probably is: if women expect it to be helpful they are more relaxed, which in turn would affect pregnancy rates.”

Manheimer argued a placebo response was unlikely, arguing that acupuncture may stimulate the body to produce neurotransmitters which influence the menstrual cycle, ovulation and fertility.

Original Article can be found at The Guardian’s Health Page

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Researchers at the Center for Integrative Medicine, at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, conducted a meta-analysis of several research studies on the effects of acupuncture on IVF outcomes. (A meta-analysis is a research study that gathers information from several studies and evaluates them together.) The meta-analysis considered seven trials, which all together included 1,366 women.

The researchers found that when acupuncture took place on the day of embryo transfer, statistically significant improvements were found in the rates of clinical pregnancies, ongoing pregnancy, and live births. They also found that 10 woman would need to be treated with IVF and acupuncture to see one additional pregnancy.

In another study, often referred to as the “German study,” a German fertility clinic offered 160 IVF patients who had good-quality embryos an opportunity to participate in a study on acupuncture and IVF outcomes. Half of the patients received acupuncture treatment, 25 minutes before and after embryo transfer. The control group did not receive any supportive therapy.

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