Acupuncture Associates

News News News

October 2005


As the weather becomes cooler and windier, Chinese tradition suggests that an increase in pungent foods in the diet is helpful to strengthen the digestion and protect the lungs and sinuses from infections. Even in tropical areas of Asia, peppers and pungent medicines are used extensively. In African Ifa medicine several peppers are commonly used: Ataare, which is guinea pepper or alligator pepper, iyèré or black pepper, ëërù or Ethiopian pepper, and ata pupa or red pepper.

The use of pepper in Western medicine has been primarily with the use of the active ingredients in pepper to suppress pain by reducing the amount of a chemical (substance “P”) which transmits pain signals. Local application has been helpful on painful joints in some studies and there are reasons to think that chronic itchy problems, generalized skin sensitivity and muscle pain might also respond.

New products have been introduced to take advantage of these actions, and after evaluating them carefully, we have decided to have some of them available for patients. For patients who are suffering from sun damage, acne or roseaca, and have not been satisfied with the effect of oral or topical antibiotics or prescription crèmes, two skin products look promising. One is a mixture of pepper with essential oils and black African soap, and the other is a skin protectant using pepper and shea butter. Regular use is recommended for the best effect. If sensitivity prevents its being used every day, e.f.a. crème and pure shea butter should be used on other days.

The pepper oleoresin which makes peppers “hot” has also been added to a sinus spray. Many headache and facial problems do begin in the sinuses, which is why acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been so successful with all sorts of headache and mixed allergy disorders. The theory of the inventor of the pepper sinus spray is that it will clear the sinuses and reduce the levels of substance “P”, leading to fewer headaches, sinus discomfort, and allergic symptoms. It works in much the same way that eating a little too much Chinese hot mustard can cause an opening of the sinuses and lungs and an increase in the flow of qi and blood to these areas. And, in the same way as other pepper based products are used, sinus sprays have to be used regularly. The effect is surprisingly intense, but should completely resolve in five minutes or less.



A study of the early neonatal mortality for babies in a typical rural county in a less developed province in China between 1999-2000, found that 69 per 1000 girls died compared to 29 boys. (BMJ 2003;327:1319).


Women who gain weight primarily around the hips and buttocks are described as ‘pear-shaped’, whilst women whose weight gain centers on the abdomen are ‘apple shaped’. This difference is reflected in the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR = waist circumference divided by hip circumference), with apple-shaped women having a WHR greater than 0.9, and with pear-shaped women having a WHR of less than 0.9. A new study has now found that a higher WHR rate in postmenopausal women is directly related to breast cancer (estrogen receptor-positive breast tumor) mortality, women with the highest WHR having close to three times the mortality rate of women with the lowest WHR. It is not known whether losing weight and thus changing shape can make a difference. (Am. J. Epidemiol. 2003 158: 963-968).


The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has told doctors not to prescribe all but one (Prozac) of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants to children. This follows evidence from clinical trials carried out in the late 1990s, that had subsequently been suppressed, that they can cause children to become suicidal. Trials that did not produce favorable results were neither published nor sent to the FDA (US) or the MHRA. In fact trials into one of the drugs, Lustral (manufactured by Pfizer), found that 9% of children using it became suicidal. It is thought that as many as 50,000 children are on antidepressants in Britain. With Prozac only being effective in around 10% of children, and with a significant shortage of trained counselors and psychotherapists available, severe problems lie ahead. (The Guardian, December 10, 2003).


The residues of depleted uranium (DU) shells used by the British army around Basra in southern Iraqi are putting civilians at risk from ‘alarmingly high’ levels of radioactivity. Experts are calling for water and milk to be monitored after readings taken from destroyed Iraqi tanks in Basra revealed radiation levels 2,500 times higher than normal. Children often play on or near the tanks. It is believed that inhalation of the radioactive dust can cause cancer and birth defects and there were abnormally high levels of childhood leukemia and birth defects in areas of Iraq where DU was used during the first Gulf War. Estimates of the amount of DU used in the more recent war are as high as a thousand tons. Although medical opinion is unequivocal that inhaling DU dust can increase the risk of lymphomas, the British Ministry of Defense denies that there is any such evidence. The charity Human Rights Watch has also claimed that hundreds of ‘preventable’ deaths of civilians have been caused by the use of cluster bombs by US and UK forces during the recent conflict. (The Observer, December 14,2003).



401 patients with chronic headache were recruited from general medical practices in England and Wales and were randomly assigned to receive either standard care or acupuncture (12 treatments over 3 months). Severity of headaches at 12 months after the onset of the trial were significantly lower in the acupuncture patients, and they experienced 23.4 fewer days of headache per year. They also showed significantly better physical functioning, energy and overall health, used 14% less medication and made 30% fewer GP visits. (Acupuncture for migraine  and chronic tension headache in primary care: a large, pragmatic, randomized trial, Abstract presented at the 10th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care, 2003, London).



A large study has analyzed the benefits of using acupuncture for chronic lower back pain in general medical practice. The study was part of a major acupuncture research initiative by health insurance companies in Germany. Patients with chronic lower back pain who attended over 1000 study centers were randomized to receive either acupuncture or no acupuncture in addition to whatever conventional care they chose to have. After 3 months of treatment, patients who received the acupuncture showed significantly greater improvements in back function and quality of life scores. (Effectiveness of acupuncture in 2807 patients with chronic low back pain in routine care, Abstract presented at the 10th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care, 2003, London). In another German study, 298 patients with chronic lower back pain were randomized to receive either ‘semi-standardized acupuncture‘, ‘minimal acupuncture‘ or no acupuncture (waiting list control). Both groups of acupuncture patients were given 12 treatments over eight weeks by ‘specialized acupuncture physicians‘ at 31 outpatient centers. Both acupuncture groups showed significant improvement in pain intensity and back function compared to controls, with no significant differences between the two acupuncture groups. (Efficacy of acupuncture in patients with chronic low back pain - the Acupuncture Randomized Trials (ART), Abstract presented at the 10th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care, 2003, London).



Data from a study primarily set up to assess the effect of acupuncture for women suffering tamoxifen-induced hot flushes and night sweats, has shown wider benefits from the treatment. 52 women who had completed active cancer treatment at least 6 months previously and who had been taking tamoxifen for 6 months or longer) were given eight individualized acupuncture treatments, one a week. Compared to baseline, there was a 33% reduction in the median number of hot flushes a day, as well as significant improvements in anxiety, depression, memory and sleep (all still significantly improved at 28 weeks). (Evaluating physical and emotional well-being in women using traditional acupuncture to manage tamoxifen side-effects, Abstract presented at the 10th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care, 2003,London).



Mothers are understandably anxious when their child goes in for a surgical procedure, and this maternal anxiety can in turn cause greater anxiety in their child. In a randomized, sham controlled study to determine the possible benefits of auricular acupuncture for both mother and child, 34 mothers received press needles in ear points Master cerebral, Valium and Relaxation (Hypertension1) half an hour before their child was given anesthesia (true acupuncture group), whilst a control group of 33 mothers received press needles at points  such as Hand and Wrist, that were not expected to have an effect on anxiety levels (sham acupuncture group). Mothers who received true acupuncture demonstrated less anxiety both after induction of anesthesia and on entry to the operating theatre, than the mothers who received the sham acupuncture, and the children of mothers who received acupuncture also demonstrated lower levels of anxiety. (American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting, October 2003).



The University of New Mexico Trauma & Anxiety Research Group is halfway through a 2-year study into the use of acupuncture in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The group worked with a panel of 22 doctors of oriental medicine to develop an acupuncture strategy. The $250,000 study, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is comparing acupuncture to cognitive behavioral therapy, and preliminary results of the treatment look very promising according to the researchers.



Patients given cyclophosphamide infusion for rheumatic diseases, suffer from nausea and vomiting as a side effect. To assess the potential benefits of acupuncture in reducing these symptoms, a Swedish study compared the use of ondansetron (an anti-emetic) alone, or ondansetron in combination with needling of Neiguan P-6 and/or ear points. Compared with ondansetron treatment alone, the combined acupuncture-ondansetron treatment significantly decreased both the severity of nausea and the number of bouts of vomiting 24 and 48 hours after the subjects had received acupuncture at the first treatment session. Nearly the same results were seen 48 and 72 hours after the subjects had had their last acupuncture treatment. The results clearly indicate that combined treatment with acupuncture and ondansetron reduces the severity and the duration of chemotherapy induced nausea as well as the number of bouts of vomiting as compared with ondansetron therapy alone, in patients with rheumatic diseases. (Rheumatology, October, 2003, vol. 42, no. 1, p. 1149-1154).


Magic for Medical Professionals

McBride School of Magic

November 4th, 5th and 6th, 2005

Las Vegas, Nevada

You'll feel different after the first class at Magic School

In collaboration with Eugene Burger, the dean of the McBride School of magic, and guest L.B. Grotte M.D., an expert in Oriental medicine, Jeff McBride presents a workshop to introduce medical professionals to the powerful secrets of magic and performance and how to use them to influence and improve the healing relationship central to all systems of medicine. The program will be limited to 15 participants.

For more information, visit Wizards Teach Medicine to Doctors

To register or learn more about the School, visit The McBride School of Magic

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