Acupuncture Associates

News News News

May 2010

In Tibetan Medicine, pulse diagnosis is an important examination


Can there be anyone in the United States who believes that adding toxic chemicals to "disperse" a poison and make it harder to collect is a good idea? Who thinks that adding millions more gallons of who-knows-what-the-long-term-effect toxic chemicals to our ecosystems will lead to anything other than disaster?

Within the entire government structure, including all the environmental and "protection" agencies, as well as the bloated academies of sciences, the institutes of "health", and the vast, lazy university systems, is there no one to speak out against the colossal stupidity of the present "solution" to the epic calamity brewing in the Gulf of Mexico? (Ed.)


Acupuncture can lower high sympathetic nerve activity, which may be a contributory factor in the etiology of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

A Swedish team, which has previously found that women with PCOS have significantly higher sympathetic nerve activity than controls, investigated the effect of low-frequency electroacupuncture (EA) and physical exercise on the sympathetic activity of a muscle fascicle of the peroneal nerve.

In a randomized controlled trial, twenty women with PCOS were randomly allocated to low-frequency EA, physical exercise, or no treatment for a 16 week period. Both EA and exercise were found to decrease muscle sympathetic nerve activity although no differences were found between the groups in hemodynamic, endocrine, and metabolic variables. (Low-frequency electroacupuncture and physical exercise decrease high muscle sympathetic nerve activity in polycystic ovary syndrome. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Aug;297(2):R387-95).

Researchers at the same institute have also carried out animal studies that have shown that EA and exercise downregulate the expression of gene markers of sympathetic activity and improve ovarian morphology.

The ovaries of rats treated with EA or exercise display a higher proportion of healthy antral follicles and a thinner theca interna cell layer than those of untreated PCOS rats. (Acupuncture and exercise restore adipose tissue expression of sympathetic markers and improve ovarian morphology in rats with dihydrotestosterone-induced PCOS. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Apr;296(4):R1124-31).


Taiwanese researchers have found short term acupuncture to be as effective as short-term low-dose prednisolone for mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Seventy-seven CTS patients were randomly divided into two treatment arms: drug treatment consisting of four weeks of prednisolone (20mg daily for two weeks, then 10mg daily for two weeks) or acupuncture administered in eight sessions over four weeks.

There was a high percentage of improvement in global symptom scores for both groups at weeks two and four, with no statistically significant difference between the two groups.

The acupuncture group showed a significant decrease in nocturnal awakening compared with the steroid group at week four. (Acupuncture in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. Clin J Pain. 2009 May;25(4):327-33).


Two different imaging methods have provided evidence for the existence of acupuncture channels. In one Chinese study, the optical transport properties along the Pericardium channel path and a parallel non-channel path one centimeter away from it were measured.

Lasers were shone onto volunteers’ arms on points at one end of the path and the amount of emitted light was measured at points on the other end. Light propagation characteristics along the pericardium channel path differed from that along the non-channel path, with less attenuation of the light occurring along the channel.

This suggests that that the optical properties of the channel differ from those of the surrounding tissue. (Differences in Optical Transport Properties between Human Meridian and Non-meridian. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(5):743-52).

Another study, also carried out in China used infrared thermal imaging to observe the time-dependent development of infrared radiant tracks along the course of channel pathways in volunteers. The authors conclude that thermography is a potentially useful method for noninvasive study of the physiology and pathology of channel and acupuncture points. (Appearance of human meridian-like structure and acupoints and its time correlation by infrared thermal imaging. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(2):231-40).


Research has shown that the parasympathetic nervous system, and in particular the vagus nerve, plays an important part in the regulation of the immune system.

A new review explains the neuroimmunoendocrine mechanisms that underlie this interaction, emphasizing the role of the vagus nerve in an ‘inflammatory reflex’ which is capable of suppressing inflammation.

Since acupuncture and other CAM modalities have been shown to be capable of enhancing vagus nerve activity, this pathway provides a plausible neuroimmune mechanism of action for the ameliorating effect of these therapies on the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory conditions. (The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Sep;6(3):251-7).

Another review article presents evidence demonstrating that the anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture may be mediated via reflexive central nervous inhibition of the innate immune system.

The American authors report that both laboratory and clinical evidence have recently shown the existence of a negative feedback loop between the autonomic nervous system and the innate immune system. Experimental evidence suggests that the electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve inhibits macrophage activation and the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

It is therefore possible that (along with hypnosis, meditation, prayer, guided imagery, biofeedback, and the placebo effect) the systemic anti-inflammatory actions of traditional and electro-acupuncture are mediated by activation of efferent fibers of the vagus nerve with consequent deactivation of inflammatory macrophages.

They further suggest that a more objective assessment of the efficacy of acupuncture compared with placebo could consist of measuring its specific effects on the biochemical markers of autonomic tone and inflammation. (The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Sep;6(3):251-7).



The FDA is finally getting around to evaluating the effect of triclosan and other antibacterial products that are added to soaps and consumer products have in disrupting endocrine functions.

Perhaps they’ll get back to us in a year.

The bottom line is that these products have never proven themselves to be clinically superior to soap, but marketing hype and fear have been employed to insinuate these products into the kitchen, the bathroom, the baby’s room, and the laundry.

(Ed.) The sum total effect of endocrine disruptors that continue to be blithely released into our water, air and food is truly unknown, but increasing exposure is likely to be associated with increased toxicity.


A compound extracted from a Chinese herb traditionally used in the treatment of cancer has been shown to have potent neuroprotective activity.

Gambogic amide, derived from the resin of the Garcinia hanburryii tree (known as gamboge or tom rong), provides protection by mimicking the behavior of nerve growth factor (NGF). Both molecules bind to neuronal TrkA receptors and trigger activation of numerous signaling cascades, which play critical roles in preventing neuronal cell death.

Gambogic amide might therefore provide the basis for effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. (Gambogic amide, a selective agonist for TrkA receptor that possesses robust neurotrophic activity, prevents neuronal cell death. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 9;104(41):16329-34).


The American Air Force is to teach ‘battlefield acupuncture’ to doctors stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This marks the first high-level endorsement of acupuncture by the traditionally conservative military medical community.

Colonel Richard Niemtzow, the Air Force doctor who developed the technique claims that it can relieve even severe pain for days at a time. "This is one of the fastest pain attenuators in existence - the pain can be gone in five minutes," says Niemtzow, a physician, acupuncturist and senior adviser to the Air Force Surgeon General.

He stresses that acupuncture cannot replace drugs like morphine in combat medicine, but emphasizes that it does not provoke the side effects, allergic reactions and potential addiction associated with opiates.

Niemtzow uses one or more intradermal needles inserted into any of five points on the ear. According to Colonel Anyce Tock, chief of medical services for the Air Force Surgeon General, 32 active-duty physicians have been authorized to begin battlefield acupuncture training.

The technique has already been used by doctors at an Air Force base in Germany to treat severely wounded troops in transit from the battlefield to medical centers in the US. It has been found to be especially effective for patients suffering from a combination of combat wounds, typically a brain injury or severed limbs, burns and penetrating wounds along with severe disorientation and anxiety.

The US Navy has begun a similar pilot program to train its doctors in California. (Medical News Today)


A meta-analysis of three trials (496 women) into the use of acupuncture to relieve pain in labor suggests that women receiving acupuncture required less analgesia, including the need for epidural analgesic and a reduced need for augmentation with oxytocin. (Complementary and alternative therapies for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006 Issue 4).


A UK-based study has compared the acupuncture needling sensation felt by chronic pain patients with those felt by healthy volunteers.

Data obtained from two small randomized controlled studies, one involving patients with chronic pain and the other which recruited healthy volunteers, were compared. Both studies used real acupuncture and a non-penetrating placebo needle in a crossover design, with a needling sensation questionnaire as the primary outcome. Compared with healthy volunteers, there was a difference in the sensations experienced by patients, who tended to feel much stronger sensation.

Neither group differed in distinguishing between real and placebo needling, however patients were more likely to state that both needles were real, whereas healthy participants were more likely to suggest that neither were real. The authors conclude that if the nature of the needling sensation felt is of importance, then it might be inappropriate to recruit healthy volunteers in lieu of patients as controls for acupuncture trials. (Should we recruit patients or healthy volunteers for acupuncture studies of chronic pain? Clin J Pain. 2007 Oct;23(8):714-9).


The brains of healthy people mimic pathological psychiatric patterns when deprived of sleep.

Researchers in the USA studied two groups of undergraduate students, one of which had been kept awake for 35 hours. Both groups were then shown images ranging from emotionally neutral to highly disturbing (e.g. mutilated bodies) while undergoing brain fMRI scans.

They found that the amygdala, the brain’s emotional processing centre, was about 60% more active in response to the negative images in people who had lost a night's sleep, compared with the control group.

According to the authors, the patterns of brain activity observed in the sleep deprived healthy subjects were similar to those seen in people suffering from depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

They conclude that sleep may play a much more significant role in regulating emotional stability than previously thought. (The human emotional brain without sleep--a prefrontal amygdala disconnect. Curr Biol. 2007 Oct 23;17(20):R877-8). (Also see the online May 2010 editorial).


UK authors have carried out a systematic review of the use of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) for endometriosis-related pain and infertility. Database searches revealed 100 relevant studies, but only two Chinese RCTs were deemed of high enough quality for analysis.

Meta-analysis of the pooled results involving a total of 158 women concluded that administration of CHM after laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis has effects comparable to those achieved with the drug gestrinone (a synthetic progesterone that suppresses the secretion of oestrogen by the ovaries), but with fewer side effects.

In addition they concluded that oral CHM may have a better overall treatment effect than danazol (synthetic testosterone) and that it may be more effective in relieving dysmenorrhea and shrinking endometrial masses when used in conjunction with a CHM enema. (Chinese herbal medicine for endometriosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8;(3):CD006568).


"Is Anyone Thinking?" Department

We prefer well rested doctors with all cerebral circuitry intact! (picture by NYT)


A survey of program directors indicates their opposition to proposals from the Institute of Medicine to limit resident duty hours to 80 hours a week, with no more than 16 hours of continuous work. The proposal also includes a limitation of total shift length to 30 hours.

Program directors don’t believe this will improve safety, and will be “detrimental” to resident training. (American Family Physician March 1, 2010 p 582)

In contrast, the limitations for professional pilots (US Code Title 14, part 121.471) are as follows:

1000 hours in any calendar year

100 hours in any calendar month

30 hours in any 7 consecutive days

8 hours between required rest periods

Rest for scheduled flight during the 24 hours preceding the completion of any flight segment:

9 consecutive of hours rest for less than 8 hours scheduled flight time

10 hours rest for 8 hours or more, but less than 9 hours scheduled flight time

11 hours rest for 9 hours or more scheduled flight time.

Professional truck drivers are also restricted by safety concerns as to how long they may continuously drive. These rules are more restrictive than those applied to medical residents (Driving Limits for Professional Truckdrivers, 2010)

Aside from takeoff and landing, computerized systems guide most commercial flights for the majority of the time in the air. It is quite rare for pilots to need to make life and death decisions, whereas resident physicians will face several of these in every shift, as well as other decisions that can easily lead to permanent, bad outcomes that don’t include death.

How is it possible that physicians can work twice as long as professional pilots with no rest and still maintain top mental and physical skills?

They can’t.

My observations from the front lines are that medical decisions and reasoning are extremely challenging even for the well-rested and emotionally balanced.

With fatigue, accumulated sleep deprivation, shift change effects, and the poor nutrition that characterizes the resident life style, there is very little to promote high quality medical practice.

Residents are effectively slave labor for hospitals, as their “student” status exempts them from OSHA and minimum wage and overtime laws.

Protections for employees do not apply to resident doctors, as profits would be impacted. Hospital administrators and medical educators are just fine with this situation as one of the unpleasant realities of our inpatient hospital system is that there are not enough skilled physicians and nurses to provide an acceptable level of service.

“Mandatory” overtime for nurses and resident understaffing are the only ways to keep the cash flows moving to the fat cats, architects of atriums and city planners, along with a raft of parasites who feed from the corpus of the medical industrial complex.

As far as the false premise that doctors will miss out on important training opportunities if they are sleeping (and presumably when they are eating also); memory and motor skills deteriorate with shift change and sleep deprivation: Fatigued doctors will not be able to learn effectively, missing many opportunities during training to improve their skills. Bad habits developed during residencies are likely to persist into all aspects of later practice, also.

The airlines are running a business, and would like to exploit their employees as much as possible (they certainly don't have much regard for their customers), but it is astonishing that safeguards for passengers are stronger than those for patients. Greed, ignorance, poor character, poor judgment, and a lack of professionalism is the only explanation.


After the above editorial was published to the web, Theresa Brown, R.N., reaffirms the reality of nursing understaffing as a "standard of care" established by unquestioned allegiance to the mythology of "medicine as a business". This facade hides the machinations of the political process which favors only the elite, exploiting front line practitioners as well as patients.

More Nurses Mean More Patients Live (CNN)


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Wizards Teach Medicine to Doctors

Doctor Challenges Medical Profession to Study Magic


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