A woman recovering from surgery.

Steering Clear of Hysterectomy Infections: Does Acupuncture Work?

Women may be on pins and needles before undergoing an hysterectomy procedure, but according to a new study, the needles used in acupuncture may be exactly what's needed to lower the risk of infection following the operation.

A hysterectomy involves removal of a woman's uterus, and a radical hysterectomy may affect urination while nerves in the region recover from surgery. The new clinical trial examined 120 women between the ages of 20 to 65, who were randomly divided into two groups: an acupuncture treatment group and a sham acupuncture control group, also known as a placebo form of acupuncture. None of the women had any prior acupuncture experience. 

The researchers initiated acupuncture on the sixth day following radical hysterectomy. They focused on points Sanyinjiao (right above the ankle), Zusanli (below the kneecap), Shuidao (belly) and scalp, with a needle insertion of 22 millimeters. Manual needle manipulation techniques were used to elicit deqi, often described as a sensation of soreness, pressure or heaviness. Deqi is essential for clinical efficacy according to traditional Chinese medicine. 

Patients also received electroacupuncture to a few acupressure points. Meanwhile, sham acupuncture employed the insertion of a single acupuncture point to a depth of 3 millimeters.

In contrast with the sham control group, the acupuncture treatment group showed a significant reduction of urinary tract infection. Patients reported improved bladder function in terms of bladder compliance, decreased bladder sensory loss, incontinence and flow rate after two weeks following the operation. 

"Acupuncture has positive effects on nerve regeneration process and provides an alternative treatment on nerve-injured patients," the researchers explained in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Thus, the researchers concluded that acupuncture in healing improves post-operative bladder function and drops the frequency of bladder disorder. They noted that both manual and electrical stimulation of the pudendal nerves may be responsible for the patient outcomes.

In addition, the investigative team cite other studies that needle acupoints below the kneecap and above the ankle to regulate neurotransmitters, including catecholamines. One physiologic purpose of the catecholamines is to aid in smooth muscle relaxation. They said this may play a role in the mechanisms of acupuncture to reduce post-operative complications.

Ilchi Lee, a New York Times best-selling author, adds out that acupuncture's healing benefits span beyond medical operations. Everyone from athletes to mailman to new mothers utilize the ancient Chinese technique to boost recovery times from injuries from work or recreational activities.

Acupuncture could be the key to reducing shoulder pain following surgery.

Acupuncture May Reduce Shoulder Pain After Surgery

New research has put another notch in the belt of acupuncture benefits. According to a study conducted at the department of surgery at the Bnai-Zion Medical Center in Israel, acupuncture was found effective at lowering pain after shoulder surgery. 

The focus of the study was to integrate acupuncture into conventional post-surgical pain intervention while producing the most effective method to combat pain. A total of 25 patients received acupuncture during a 14-moth period, and pressure points were customized for each individual based on traditional Chinese medicine diagnostics. 

The severity of shoulder pain, assessed with a Visual Analogue Scale from 0 to 10, was conducted prior to and two hours after acupuncture treatments. Typically after laparoscopic shoulder surgery, pain levels vary from 3 to 8, and lasts up to 72 hours after surgery. Doctors are still working on ways to lower discomfort, using current methods such as lying flat on the back with one's feet raised higher than the head and analgesic medications. However, these treatments have often proven unsatisfactory. 

So, locating specific acupressure points, researchers conducted dispersing needling for half an hour, balancing needling for 20 minutes and tonifying needling for 15 to 18 minutes. The total number of needles ranger for four to eight per treatment session. Deqi sensations, or the feeling of grabbing or pulling felt by both the patient and practitioner, were elicited at acupuncture points and needle stimulation techniques.

The patients' average pain level before receiving acupuncture was 8.3. Yet two hours after treatment, pain decreased by up to 20 percent. Nearly every patient showed improvement after the needles were removed, further underlying the effectiveness of acupuncture in healing.

Researchers have tackled several main issues associated with merging acupuncture into the traditional post-surgical setting. By comparing patients who took analgesic medications and those who received only acupuncture, acupuncture was differentiated and deemed more effective than than previous pain reduction interventions. 

While the research team favored individualized acupuncture point prescriptions based on differential diagnostics, they added that future investigation is needed to determine if the approach produces the most beneficial patient outcomes as well as easiest administrative integration. As they pointed out, this could be the beginning of incorporating the ancient medicine into modern-day practices.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture is both safe and effective, and no significant side effects occurred.

Ilchi Lee, a New York Times best-selling author, added that acupuncture can be a great outlet to lower pain for injuries that span beyond the shoulder, from backs to hands to elbows. Acupuncture has more than its fair share of healing purposes!

Those struggling with dementia could turn to acupuncture to try to ease their symptoms.

Acupuncture Could Reduce Vascular Dementia

A recent study has shown that acupuncture treatments may help patients with vascular dementia. Vascular dementia (VaD) is a syndrome caused by brain damage from cerebrovascular disease, where blood flow to the brain becomes altered. After Alzheimer's disease, VaD is the second-most common form of dementia. With people living longer than ever, VaD has become more prevalent, and patients who suffer from it have trouble with day-to-day functions such as memory, language, judgment and reasoning. So, according to the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, researchers turned to ancient Chinese medicine.

The preliminary study found that acupuncture had positive effects on mild and moderate VaD, significantly improving the cognitive and self-managing abilities of patients. The technique enhanced memory, comprehension, calculation ability and orientation of patients.

In the past, acupuncture in healing has been shown as an effective, safe and inexpensive physical therapeutic technique. The ancient Chinese medicine, which dates back thousands of years, has been used widely in a variety of forms.

For the actual study, VaD 63 patients were divided into three groups. The first was a randomized group that received acupuncture, the second was non-randomized acupuncture group that self-selected to undergo care. The third had rehabilitation training for six weeks. Using a CM scoring systems that weighs a range of syndromes of vascular dementia, researchers evaluated patient syndromes and severity before treatment, at the end of treatment and at the 4-week follow-up after completion of treatment.

Promising Results
The first two groups that had acupuncture treatment showed substantial improvement, whereas the rehab group did not. Fascinatingly, improvement in the acupuncture groups did not start until after the entire treatment regimen was completed. At the four week post-treatment follow-up, both acupuncture groups demonstrated notable improvements in the reduction of vascular dementia syndromes with the patients who opted for the treatment of their choice indicating the biggest steps forward. 

Patients who suffered from excess syndromes, particularly Liver Yang hyperactivity and phlegm obstruction of the orifices, made the most headway. On the other hand, those with deficiency syndromes, including kidney Jing deficiency, demonstrated the least improvements. 

The bottom line: Researchers highlighted that acupuncture treatments reduced the severity of VaD, placing it among the long list of acupuncture benefits.

Ilchi Lee,  the president of the International Brain Education Association, pointed out that whatever anything we can do to maintain mental clarity as we age should be seen as a step in the right direction. Slowing dementia's effects can both improve quality of life of the patient and lessen the burden on the family. 

Acupuncture can be used to quell symptoms of sickness in kids.

Mom Uses Acupuncture in Healing Her Kids

When you or your loved one gets sick, how fast do you turn to modern medicine like sleeping pills, nasal sprays and cough syrup? Most of us would answer, within the first 24 hours. But one mom on the East Coast has a different idea of what to do. 

Kim Ricard has two daughters. Like most affectionate mothers, Ricard's kids mean the world to her, and when they get sick, the whole family is down. She said she's found a way to help her one- and seven-year-olds get better within a day with acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture dates back more than 2,000 years in ancient China. The technique involves pricking needles into specific pressure points that dot the body's energy channels, or meridians. Yet instead of a needle, acupuncturist Netta Hart uses a small metal tool to stimulate acupuncture points. 

"A needle would be just way too much stimulation for a baby," Hart said. Hart owns an acupuncture clinic in New Hampshire and has been providing treatment for more than 25 years.

Hart focuses on the points on the stomach, chest, back and legs that are connected to the immune system. 

"Certainly medications have their place, but they're used way too frequently and way too soon," she said. "[However], acupuncture stimulates your own body to respond."

According to the National Cancer Institute, the technique causes physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland and parts of the brain. These responses can make the body release proteins, hormones and brain chemicals. In this way, acupuncture in healing can boost immune system activity among other effects, like affecting body temperature and releasing the body's natural pain killers, endorphins. 

About 150,000 kids get acupuncture each year. And research has indicated that's helpful for more than just colds. Studies have shown that acupuncture can ease crying babies with colic, asthma in preschool kids and pain in kids after tonsillectomies.

Scientists at Boston Children's Hospital discovered that after a year of receiving acupuncture with traditional needles, kids said their pain from stomach aches and headaches dropped from an average score of eight out of 10 score to a three.

Many parents might be concerned if it's safe for their kids. In a review of 37 studies, Australian researchers noted that when receiving acupuncture treatments from a trained practitioner, the technique is safe for children. Only one out of 10 kids experienced mild side effects like pain or bruising.

Ilchi Lee, a New York Times best-selling author, adds that acupuncture can help treat people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. Stimulating blood flow and the body's healing mechanisms work wonders for colds, nausea and much more.

Acupuncture meridians

How Energy Relates to the Body

According to Chinese philosophy, the human body is full of energy that circulates from head to toe. By understanding how this energy, or chi, works, we can grasp the full acupuncture benefits.

To start, chi flows through channels in the body that are known as meridians. There are 12 primary meridians that relate to all of the organs and bodily regions, and each of which is believed to have a certain direction, or flow. Like rivers that nourish their surrounding environments, meridians flow into each other to distribute life-giving energy to the body, creating a complete cycle of energy throughout a 24-hour period. The heart, for instance, has a meridian that runs down the side of the arm. 

Disrupted Meridians
However, there are many ways energy can become disrupted. Imbalances in diet and traumatic injuries are big causes of blockades, or dams in the river if you'd like to think about it as a body of water. The Chinese also found that restricted meridians have the potential to affect the organ that the meridian feeds or nourishes. An overload of energy in the form of strong emotions can also inhibit energy flow. Living healthy relies on energy flowing consistently in a balanced and uninterrupted manner throughout the body. 

With the understanding of meridian lines mapped out across the body, acupuncture was developed to balance chi. This Oriental medicine entails inserting very thin, shallow needles into the patient's skin at meridian points. While acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, it has only recently become popularized in the West. Everyone from Olympians to musicians to office workers have taken to the ancient technique, helping to cure a troublesome body part.

There are a variety of acupuncture treatments used to focus on certain areas of the body and even more benefits. For one, acupuncture helps reduce healing time from injury by stimulating blood flow to the damaged tissues. For on-going problems, it lowers pain. Many athletes use it to conquer debilitating pain levels. Moreover, acupuncture has also been shown to alleviate nausea caused by chemotherapy. 

Similarly, Dahn Yoga, which is a physical exercise system, concentrates on improving circulation and alignment to stimulate energy in meridians. Many people who practice Dahn Yoga find enhanced energy levels and improved relaxation that leave them feeling strong, calm and refreshed. 

Acupuncture helps reduce risk of stroke.

Acupuncture May Decrease Stroke Risk

Recent research has shown that acupuncture may reduce the risk of stroke for patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI, which is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, is a serious public health concern, and its connection to acupuncture had never before been examined. 

The retrospective study, conducted at Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database, involved 7,409 TBI patients who received acupuncture and 29,636 TBI patients who did not. Both cohorts were monitored from 2000 through 2010, while the association between acupuncture treatments and stroke risk was investigated by sex and age. To ensure more accurate results, the researchers sorted for sociodemographics and preexisting medical conditions.

TBI patients with acupuncture treatment (4.9 per 1,000 people) indicated a lower incidence of stroke compared with those without acupuncture treatment (7.5 per 1,000). Taking gender into account, the risk for men who received no acupuncture went from 7.9 per 1,000 compared to 5.2 per 1,000 of those receiving acupuncture. Women without acupuncture had an incidence of 6.5 per 1,000, while those with the treatment had an incidence of 4.6.

The Taiwanese research is promising because the sample size is large. By prickling needles underneath the skin, acupuncture helps channel new energy in the body.

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer stroke worldwide each year, and the majority of all strokes occur in people older than the age of 65. For seniors, acupuncture treatments could be a fruitful method to help keep strokes at bay.

More acupuncture benefits
As it turns out, acupuncture mitigates several different phases of the stroke process. Investigators found that combing acupuncture with conventional medications decreases post-stroke depression. Researchers pointed out that acupuncture paired with medications improved limb function, decreased post-stroke syndrome and enhanced serum biochemistry. The participants who had both acupuncture and medication had significantly better patient outcomes than the medication only and acupuncture only groups.

Ilchi Lee's connection to overcoming post-stroke problems
Ilchi Lee, an author, holistic educator and founder of mind-body practices, knows that a stroke is a severe medical condition, and recovering from it can be a long process. In fact, he has first-hand experience with helping people jumping its hurdles. When Lee began teaching in South Korea, his first student was a man recovering from a stroke. Through meditation and exercise, the the student helped return to normal activities. 

Both exercises and acupuncture treatment spur new energy in the body and stimulate blood flow.


Tongue Acupuncture Treats Depression

In a new study, acupuncture used on the tongue proved effective at combating depression in patients. Measuring the synergistic effects of this rare form of acupuncture combined with traditional body-style acupuncture, the researchers concluded that focusing on the tongue's meridians reduced anxiety levels and improves heart rate scores. Electrocardiographic biosignal recording confirmed improvement in heart rate variability.

The research was conducted by Dr. Sun J.G., an expert on tongue acupuncture, who identified 40 acupressure points on the tongue that directly correspond to internal organs body parts. In the randomized trail, patients received a total of six acupuncture treatments, ranging body parts from the shin to to the forearm to the top of the head. Clockwise and counterclockwise rotation techniques were applied for 15 seconds at a rate of six rotations per second, with a total of 90 rotations were administered per stimulatory period for each needle. For tongue acupuncture, points included liver, brain and heart. Unlike other forms of this ancient therapy, the needles do not stay in the tongue, but rather are removed immediately.

The results? The combination of tongue-style with body-style acupuncture showed significant clinical improvement compared to body-style only. Patients demonstrated lowered rates of nervousness, more positive outlook and a general feeling of improved quality of life. 

Other forms of tongue acupuncture for depression
J.G.'s study lies among a wider range of healing treatments from tongue acupuncture. Numerous have demonstrated that both tongue and body-style acupuncture improve peripheral vision in pediatric patients. Other research has shown that tongue acupuncture has a significant therapeutic effect for stroke patients. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression affects about 1 in 10 Americans. While most individuals who experience this mental disorder tend to be middle-aged, female and unemployed, depression can impact anyone. Ilchi Lee, New York Times best-selling author and an innovative leader in the human brain potential development, points to a technique called the BOS (Brain Operating System) that could be used in conjunction with tongue acupuncture to overcome depression. 

BOS consists of three principles that help patients get started with effective brain management: Wake up and discover your talents, put your efforts toward what inspires you and focus on positive information to make a good brain.

Acupuncture is one type of energy healing treatment.

What is Energy Healing?

Energy healing is a system of holistic therapies that seeks to manipulate the "life force" or "vital energy" that flows through a person's body. It is used to restore balance and treat pain and anxiety. While energy therapies come in many different forms, perhaps the most well-known treatments are acupuncture and acupuncture.

Energy-based modalities involve both hands-on healing and non-touch treatments, all of which focus on promoting well-being and using the body's own natural energy flow to reduce anxiety, pain and fatigue.

Acupuncture involves prickling the skin or tissues with needles in order to alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions. With its origins in ancient China, acupuncture is now widely practiced in the West. Even Olympic athletes such as U.S. gymnast and gold medalist McKayla Maroney and Australian swimmer Tessa Wallace have used acupuncture to overcome injuries.

The practice focuses on 12 special acupressure points that lie along meridians, or channels, in your body. Through these channels flows vital energy – or the life force known as chi. It is also believed that these major meridians connect specific and networks of organs organizing a system of communication throughout your entire body. When someone gets injured, these meridians become blocked or out of balance.

As the remedy helps remove the blockage and restore balance, there are many acupuncture benefits, including reducing pain, soothing indigestion and easing heartburn symptoms.

Similar to acupuncture, acupressure is an alternative medicine technique that hones in on these same special acupressure points. Sometimes acupressure is thought of as simply acupuncture without the needles. Accordingly, acupressure practitioners use their fingers, palms, elbows, feet or special devices to apply pressure to acupoints on the body's meridians. Sometimes, acupressure includes stretching or acupressure massage. 

Qi Gong
Qi gong is another increasingly popular form of energy healing. Pronounced "chee-gong," qi gong is a series of ancient Chinese meditative exercises that incorporate breathing, simple body movements and visualization to direct the flow of energy through one's body. Qi, also spelled "chi," is defined as breath and means life energy. The practice has been compared to tai chai in its movements of the 12 major joints of the body in rhythmic and repetitive motions to increase strength and flexibility.

Another important aspect deals with the focusing on specific areas of the body to move energy, thus trying to treat pain. For example, if someone has back pain, he or she will try to concentrate on the specific pressure point to send the body's resources to it.

Dahn Yoga
Dahn Yoga, a physical exercise system, is another type of energy healing. Incorporating Korean-style yoga, tai chi and meditation, Dahn Yoga provides deep relaxation and rejuvenation. While the warm-up features focus-driven tapping, the class works on exercises that promote flexilibity, strength, balance and circulation. Energy breathing postures facilitate the intake of pure energy and the release of stagnant energy. By harnessing pure energy, your body, mind and spirit will be refreshed. 

Acupuncture proved to reduce hot flashes among women with breast cancer.

Acupuncture Improves Quality of Life Among Breast-Cancer Patients

There's not much acupuncture can't do. According to a small study from the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, both real and sham weekly acupuncture has been shown to boost quality of life among women who had breast cancer. More specifically, the ancient Chinese treatment eased hot flashes and other side effects from anticancer drug treatment.

Investigators evaluated whether or not acupuncture would reduce the severity of side effects associated with aromatase inhibitors (AI), drugs used to treat breast cancer. Since AIs block the production of estrogen in postmenopausal patients, they can lead to moderate to severe hot flashes, similar to those experienced during menopause. 

For the research, scientists looked at 47 postmenopausal women with stage 0 through III breast cancer who had been receiving AI therapy. These patients were randomly split into two groups during an eight-week period. The first group received real acupuncture while the second group was assigned to sham acupuncture treatments. The participants recorded their hot flash symptoms weekly, addressing mood changes, sleep quality, anxiety, depression and quality of life. 

The Results
Among both groups of women, there was a substantial improvement of symptoms, including depression and hot flash severity. The average reduction of hot flash ranked between 31 to 54 percent, a notable drop indeed.

"We found that patients with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer taking an aromatase inhibitor showed significant improvement in some symptoms, especially hot flashes, after eight weekly treatments with real acupuncture or sham acupuncture," Dr. Ting Bao, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, said in a statement.

Around 60 percent of the acupuncture points used, mainly to treat musculoskeletal symptoms, overlap with those used to treat hot flashes. 

"The current interventions for musculoskeletal side effects are limited to oral analgesics and exercise," Bao said. "But the efficacy of these approaches is limited, and long-term use of oral analgesics can be challenging. If patients are open to acupuncture, this is a reasonable alternative for them."

Like yoga benefits that have been shown to help cancer survivors reestablish trust in their bodies, both kinds of acupuncture in this study proved fruitful. Ilchi Lee, a New York Times best-selling author, says in his book "Human Technology" that everybody should be able to take care of their own health. In this self-help book, acupuncture, acupressure, and moxibustion are introduced as "a healing trio" that can activate the body's natural healing capacity, encouraging results similar to those from the University of Maryland and John Hopkins.

New mothers find pain relief in acupuncture following C-sections.

Acupuncture Lowers Pain in Women After C-Sections

After giving birth, women experience a mosaic of different feelings – love, happiness and relief. But pain also factors in for new mothers, especially for those who have gone through Cesarean sections.

As a solution, acupuncture has shown to significantly reduce pain and the use of painkillers following surgeries like C-sections, according to studies from the Chinese Medical Journal. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique that entails inserting thin needles into specific body locations, also called meridians. Research has shown that acupuncture is effective at treating a variety of problems, from knee injuries to arthritis to tennis elbow.

In a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal, researchers from Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan evaluated 60 women who had undergone C-sections. The participants were split into two groups: a control group and a group who received pain treatment through acupuncture or electro-acupuncture. Compared with those in the control group, women who received a form of acupuncture had substantially lower pain scores in two hours following surgery. They also used 30 to 35 percent less morphine within the first 24 hours following surgery than their non-acupuncture counterparts. 

While this ancient Chinese treatment has proven effective immediately after surgeries, women may look for methods to cut down on pain in the weeks or months following the child-bearing. For these new mothers, Dahn yoga exercises offer training and stretching treatments that combine meditation with physical fitness. During these classes, people say they feel deep relaxation and great rejuvenation – only to name a couple of the meditation benefits. Yoga stretches also may help women get back in shape following pregnancy, as the classes work on flexibility, balance and strength.

Both acupuncture and Dahn yoga help increase circulation and control pain for brand new mothers.