Acupuncture Associates

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September 2009

In Tibetan Medicine, pulse diagnosis is an important examination


For the past 30 years, a phalanx of chemical, pharmaceutical, and industrial factories have discharged billions of tons of untreated wastewater, chemicals, and other pollutants into the country’s rivers and lakes. The results have been chilling:

Global warming and worsening drought conditions are exacerbating the situation, with 400 cities facing serious water shortages.

(China Strategy Newsletter Aug 6, 2009)


N-acetyl cysteine is a source of the amino acid cysteine that also boosts the body’s level of glutathione, a major antioxidant and co-factor in detoxifying a wide range of drugs and chemicals.

Studies have indicated that supplementation with N-acetylcysteine reduces the number of complications in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, supplementation with this over the counter supplement reduces the severity of influenza infection in “frail, older adults”. Dosing patients before and after intravenous radiographic dyes are used seems to reduce toxic effects of the dye on the kidneys.

Finally, 1200 mg of N-acetylcysteine appears to improve ovulation and subsequent pregnancy in patients who have polycystic ovary syndrome. (American Family Physician, August 1, 2009 p. 265)


“Evidence based medicine” is the latest scam to be foisted upon the American public, but the “volunteers” who are studied in drug trials may not be reflective of the population of patients who will eventually depend on the drugs.

A recent article in New Scientist details how perhaps tens of thousands of people make a living continuously participating in drug trials. “Oliver” made $34,000 last year allowing himself to be injected with HIV and cancer drugs, antibiotics, and anti-cholesterol medications. The author suggests that “offering substantial sums to human lab rats could be producing misleading data that might allow unsafe treatments to reach the market.”

Subjects are supposed to have a 30 day break between trials often flout this requirement for financial reasons. As career volunteer “Brandon”, who lives in his car between trials, states: “Break means broke”.

Not only does this raise questions regarding the effects of the many drugs these volunteers are exposed to, but also whether they are representative of patients who actually have a disease.

The pressure to maximize income may influence volunteers to both suppress information about side effects, so they are not dropped from the trial, and sometimes falsify side effects so they can drop out and enter another, more lucrative trial.

Some organizations which oversee trials also demonstrate questionable ethics; an investigation published in 2003 by Bloomberg Markets discovered that one contract research organization had for years been running trials at a dilapidated hotel, using undocumented immigrants as guinea pigs. Other trials were found to be supervised by doctors who had no license to practice or had criminal convictions. (New Scientist July 25, 2009 p. 41) ( Just Another Lab Rat Website )


As most of our patients have discovered, moxibustion is often used during treatment. Classical tradition and clinical experience has demonstrated the value of both the needle and the fire in the treatment of acute and chronic disease. Inherent in the name for this form of Chinese medicine, zhen-jiu, both methods are equally important.

However, many practitioners in the U.S. do not use, and perhaps do not know how to use, burning mugwort to treat the channels and points.

One of the reasons is convention: In many locations, the use of any burning material that creates smoke is prohibited, and doctors who work in these areas are not permitted to ever use this most important modality. However, there is no reason that fire cannot be used safely even in hospitals. The prohibition reflects cultural prejudice and ignorance, inasmuch as electricity is just as dangerous as fire but can be managed safely with the right protocols.

The same would be true for moxibustion, if its value in treatment was more widely recognized.

In addition to the actual application of fire, the Chinese also developed the therapeutic use of “hot” liniments and applications, using plants such as cayenne, mustard, and garlic, to treat acupuncture points. This use was known in ancient times as “heavenly moxibustion”.

Researchers in Seoul, Korea studied using capsicum (the “hot” ingredient in cayenne pepper) to acupuncture points in patients undergoing jaw surgery.

A capsicum containing rubber patch was placed on the point before anesthesia was given, and maintained for 8 hours for each of 3 post surgical days. Patients were permitted to self administer pain relieving medications as they felt the need.

When compared with patients who received placebo patches or a patch at a non acupuncture point, those who had the real patch on the LI4 point needed 40 per cent less pain medication. Additionally, they experienced less postoperative nausea and vomiting. (Anesth Analg 09;108:992-996).

Earlier studies indicated a similar benefit for women undergoing hysterectomy and children having inguinal hernia repairs. In this case the patch was placed on the ST36 point. All of the studies were double blind, so neither the doctors nor the patients knew who was receiving the capsicum patch. (Anesth Analg 06;103:709-713)

Any treatment that can reduce the discomfort as well as the amount of potentially dangerous pain medications given to post surgical patients is a valuable addition to medicine. The only risk seems to be that of latex allergy, as the patches are made of natural rubber.

The techniques that worked for people six centuries ago are often still valid, though this vast compendium of knowledge rarely trickles into the lives of modern doctors and their patients.



The FDA has required the strongest warning possible for varenicline as reports of suicide and serious psychiatric disorders associated with the use of the drug increase.

The agency has reports of 98 suicides and 188 suicide attempts. There is also concern regarding increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.

Another drug prescribed to help people stop smoking, Buproprion, is also receiving the warning label, though it already carries a warning for increased suicide risk in patients being treated for depression. The director of the FDA Office of Drug Evaluation stated that the risks of the drugs need to be weighed against the health benefits of quitting smoking. (JAMA Aug 26, 2009 p 834)

Ed. note: There is no need to “weigh the risks” with acupuncture to stop smoking, but you won’t hear this from the medical establishment or government “watchdogs”. Low risk modalities should always be the first recommendation of doctors before prescribing dangerous drugs, but millions of dollars of marketing and billions in profits seems to be able to counteract common sense: Smoking may be dangerous, but death right now from suicide and vehicular homicide takes precedence.


In a study of 367 women who had estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, five years of tamoxifen therapy was found to reduce risk of a recurrence of estrogen receptor positive cancer by 40 percent, but the risk of estrogen receptor negative cancer recurrence was increased by 440 per cent.

Estrogen negative cancer patients generally have a poorer prognosis than those who are found to have estrogen receptor positive tumors. (Cancer Research 10.1158/0008-5472.can-09-1355 Aug 25, 2009)


Two studies have demonstrated benefit from acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia. In the first, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 21 patients completed the study. All received 16 treatments over eight weeks, alternating points on the back with points on the front of the body.

The Fibromyalgia Impact Scores (twenty questions designed to assess how fibromyalgia affects physical and emotional functioning and quality of life) fell from a mean of 53.6 prior to treatment to 38.9 after the first month and to 30.5 at the end of the second month of treatment. (Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2006;12(2):34-41).

In the second, a Mayo Clinic prospective, partially blinded, controlled, randomized clinical trial found acupuncture to be more effective than sham acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. Total fibromyalgia symptoms were significantly improved in the true acupuncture compared to the sham controls, with the greatest improvements in symptoms of fatigue and anxiety. (Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(6):749-757).


The FDA has received 24 reports of serious kidney damage in patients taking the once-a-year infusion of the drug marketed as Reclast, a drug given for osteoporosis and some other disorders of bone. 18 required hospitalization and 7 died. (JAMA Aug 26, 2009 p 838)


Community acquired pneumonia is one of the most common diseases requiring antibiotic treatment in hospitals, with 7-10 days of treatment recommended. This practice has now been challenged by a study which found that patients who had improved substantially after three days of antibiotic treatment fared as well if the antibiotics were then discontinued as did those who completed the recommended full course. Shorter treatment by antibiotic may contribute to containing increased resistance rates. (BMJ 2006;332:1355).


A review of ten different trials has concluded that there is evidence that acupuncture can relieve chronic neck pain. Different trials found that i. Acupuncture offered better pain relief than sham Tens or sham laser or sham acupuncture (needles inserted in unsuitable locations), ii. Acupuncture provided better pain relief than just waiting, and iii. Acupuncture provided better pain relief than massage. (Trinh KV et al. Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 3. Art. No. CD004870).


"Is Anyone Thinking?" Department

Reconstructing America

Reconstructing Health Care, Part I

Unfulfilled promises are the currency of all politicians)

Our plan will lower annual health care costs by $2500.00 for a typical family. For Americans satisfied with their current health insurance, nothing will change except their costs will go down.

Americans will also be able to choose from a range of private health insurance options though a new National Health Exchange, which will establish rules and standards for participating plans. The Exchange will also include a new public plan that will provide coverage similar to the kind members of Congress give themselves.

Senator Barack Obama, "Affordable Health Care for All Americans", Journal of the American Medical Association, October 22/29, 2008 p. 1927

Golly Gee Wilikers, Mr. Obama. Why can't Americans just have the health care that “members of Congress give themselves”?

The answer is that members of Congress are so over-paid and over-privileged, that the Average American, whose income is less than a quarter of your average Senator, cannot afford what “members of Congress give themselves”. In healthcare or anything else, Mr. President.

Let’s also remember that the Average American has to work and fulfill their job requirements to be paid. Legislators seem to do nothing resembling work and can’t be fired for accomplishing nothing in their “legislative sessions”.

Even when convicted of a felony related to their responsibilities as legislators and serving jail time, they still receive their generous pension benefits. Which of us Average Americans have as many perks as our “public servants”?

(In 2007, taxpayers forked over $900,000 in benefits to congressional felons, to which we must now add Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), who was convicted in 2009.)


Now that it is clear that the campaign promises of Senator Obama for his health care plan cannot be fulfilled, the reality now facing the citizens of this country will certainly be a much more expensive and unproven expansion of third party interference in every doctor patient relationship in America. That is, if the dream of centralized control by government planners becomes reality.

Congress and the President have the power to make a truly terrible system worse, as evidenced by the fact that all of the problems we presently face are the direct result of 70 years of government mandates and regulations.

One only has to look at the legislative process to see how special interests and cronyism have transformed an ancient craft and profession into a giant cash flow machine, a parody of a true medical system.

And, the model of centralized medical control in other countries hardly inspires confidence: John Stossel investigates government run health care.

Centralized control of medicine is a way to consolidate power and money for fat cats. It is not a path to effective treatment. If it were, the Medicare and Medicaid and Veterans’ Administration single payer plans would be shining examples of effective care.

In fact, physicians who practice in these systems are time pressured, overly regulated, and subject to arbitrary treatment denials. The systems are not efficient, create massive numbers of medical errors, and violate patient privacy on a regular basis. They are expensive to the point of looming financial insolvency, and still remain ineffectual at relieving suffering.

Lawyers and politicians with no experience or expertise in medicine are not qualified to mandate a system of medical care. One need only examine our present system for confirmation.

Yet more alarming is the prospect of allowing technocrats, lawyers, and politicians to determine clinical truth, restricting all practices that are not approved by the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.

You might not remember, but this Orwellian bureaucracy was created with 1.1 billion dollars by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (that eleven hundred page bill that no one had time to read before it was rushed to a vote with thundering warnings that without this vast expansion of government spending and power, “consequences will be dire”)

If such an entity existed when I was in medical school, there is no doubt that any attempts to introduce “alternative” medical practices would have been prohibited. As it was, because of prevailing elitism and close mindedness, the use of acupuncture by physicians in the 70’s was sufficient grounds for disciplinary action and loss of license to practice medicine in Ohio.

Even presently, despite vast evidence that acupuncture is a low risk and effective means to relieve suffering, Medicare and Medicaid regulations prohibit its use with “beneficiaries” of these systems. It is largely unavailable within the private hospital systems, also.

Instead of creating a ponderous and all-powerful Ministry of Truth, we must look to ancient China, where enlightened medical thought allowed many schools of practice and freedom to employ many systems of treatment.

Only by promoting a diverse and grass-roots system of medicine will we have a responsive medical program that meets the needs of patients and physicians.

The alternative, as physicians leave medical practice, is an army of technicians providing Soviet-era medical care according to inflexible regulations.

We have too much of that kind of medicine already.

Next: Reconstruction, not Reform


Viruses don't care which entrance they use

Help is at hand for the embattled at the front lines of medical practice. A front page article from the September 14th American Medical News reveals how mainstream practitioners should prepare for the coming flu season. "Those who don't prepare will quickly be overwhelmed", said John Fontanesi, Ph.D. and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Scary stuff.

One of the cutting edge recommendations is to have nurses determine by phone if someone could "possibly have the virus" and then tell the patients to enter "by the back door".

The picture above was published with this article so that physicians could have an image of what this advanced strategy would look like.

Other useful advice is to keep patients at least 3 feet away from each other, and to post signs educating patients about respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Unless you have a separate waiting room with laminar flow decontamination features, and a restroom with the same, I don't quite understand how coming in through a different door is going to make things safer. On keeping people 3 feet apart, I have no clue. But, expert advice is expert advice.

I'm not an expert, but I have treated a lot of people with viral syndromes over 29 years. As a result, here's my suggestion.

If you have a viral illness, don't go to the mainstream doctor's office at all. This doctor cannot treat the viral syndrome, and you are exposing yourself to other hazards in the waiting room with a lot of sick people. You may also be endangering those of them who are not infected, with your presence.

You are better off at home, even if all you have are folk remedies, than driving around while ill.

Now is the time to establish a relationship with a physician or practitioner who has the skills to guide you to the professional use of traditional medicines to treat viral syndromes.

These can be started and maintained at home, which avoids a trip to this doctor's waiting room as well. Sometimes acupuncture or moxibustion can be helpful.

The source of the medicines can be Chinese, Ayurvedic, Unani, West African, or chosen from many others, but your doctor should explain how and when to use the each formula or treatment before you become ill.

Ask if they have any suggestions on preventative actions you can take, and whether vaccination is appropriate.

They should also discuss with you the reasons you might have to be seen or hospitalized, and what symptoms should prompt a call to the office.

Preparation is key. Have a supply of the formulas or drugs at hand before a regional epidemic develops. Seasonal influenza can emerge very suddenly with severe symptoms and can last for several weeks when untreated.

It may also be wise to prepare for at least two weeks of medical, household supplies and water as it may be difficult to shop if you are ill. If many people are affected, some businesses, including groceries and gas stations may close. Hospitals and doctor's offices will also be affected if a pandemic develops.

The solution to increasing levels of infectious diseases is not to use a different door. It is to promote the medical relationships that create more effective strategies for treatment. Patients can be educated in skills that will enhance their likelihood of staying out of the doctor's office, as well as establishing better health.


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