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Role of Acupuncture in treating Eczema (Case study included)

by Hui Xu

Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) represents a chronic, relapsing, itchy, inflammatory skin condition that poses significant therapeutic challenges and has no known cure. It primarily involves the epidermis and includes atopic, contact, stasis, seborrheic, nummular, dyshidrotic, generalized, or localized scratch dermatitis. Eczema affects 2 to 7% of the population and has a prevalence exceeding 10 % of children in some populations. Family history of allergic rhinitis, asthma, or atopic dermatitis often exists. Neurodermatitis is used to describe eczematoid rashes that seem to have a major stress-related component.

Research indicates that eczema is partially, an allergic disease. Evidence includes: Levels of serum IgE (allergic antibody) are elevated in 80% of cases. Many patients develop hay fever and/or asthma. All eczema patients test positive for allergies. There is a family history in two-thirds of eczema patients. Most patients improve with a diet that eliminates common food allergens

Eczema can be caused by allergies, allergies secondary to digestive disorders (hydrochloric acid deficiency, for example), drugs, environmental exposures, or be secondary to immune diseases, genetic metabolic disorders, or nutritional deficiencies.

Acupuncture may stimulate Raphe’s nuclei, which increases serotonin production. This, in turn, sets off a series of reactions which culminates in the increase of glucocorticoids that modulate inflammation and other aspects of the body’s immune response. Stimulation of acupuncture points may also increases the production of endorphins and simultaneously activates the immune and endocrine systems.

In conjunction with Chinese Medicine prospective, Acupuncture points are specific nerve points that give particular access to the system of energetic meridians/ channels, which may balance energy (Qi), blood, yin and yang, tonify organ’s function, promote inner healing and restore health and wellbeing.

I recently treated a 9-year-old boy with allergy/intolerance to a variety of allergens and eczema since birth.  Skin conditions of inflammation with extreme itchiness have gotten worse over the last 6 months. After only one acupuncture treatment, the itchiness was noticeably getting better. After the second treatment, both itchiness and rash inflammation were about 50% improvement. Within three weeks’ time, the overall improvement reached 80%. I continued pure acupuncture and acupressure treatments with modification of acupuncture point selection each time, three and half months later with only 13 treatments, the rashes are gone and the skin recovered completely. What a happy boy and family! I am so glad that I can help them with this pure natural and effective treatment!


-Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Atopic Dermatitis: An Evidence-Based Review
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2016 Dec; 17 (3): 557–581

-ANTA IMgateway

Hazards of insomnia and the effects of acupuncture treatment on insomnia

Modified by Hui Xu

Insomnia is a common disease in modern society; it is made worse by increasingly fierce competition in the workplace and elsewhere, along with rapid economic and social development. Sleep disorders can result in changes in serum biomarkers and decreased immunity, and may cause maladies such as depression and cardiac diseases, as well as many other somatic symptoms. Western medications for treating insomnia can easily lead to addiction and other adverse effects. Fortunately, acupuncture can ease the symptoms of insomnia. In the review published in 2016, a group of doctors and scientists from Shang Hai China summarizes the hazards associated with insomnia and the use of acupuncture in its treatment. Furthermore, the authors introduce an effective and low-cost method of treating insomnia with acupuncture. This review indicates that insomnia poses a major threat to mental health through its effects on serum components, heart function and the immune system of patients, which may lead to other physiological disorders. Anxiety and depression are the two main negative emotions affected by insomnia. Acupuncture, which has showed effectiveness against insomnia and its complications, may be an effective and complementary method for the treatment of insomnia and associated maladies.

Journal of integrative medicine 2016 May;14(3):174-86.

Acupuncture for the management of chronic headache: a systematic review

Summarized by Hui Xu

In the review article from Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University Medical Center, USA, Doctors and scientists aimed to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for treatment of chronic headache.
They searched the databases of Medline (1966-2007), CINAHL, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (2006), and Scopus for randomized controlled trials investigating the use of acupuncture for chronic headache. Studies were included in which adults with chronic headache, including migraine, tension-type headache or both, were randomized to receive needling acupuncture treatment or control consisting of sham acupuncture, medication therapy, and other nonpharmacological treatments. They extracted the data on headache intensity, headache frequency, and response rate assessed at early and late follow-up periods.
Thirty-one studies were included in this review. The majority of included trials comparing true acupuncture and sham acupuncture showed a trend in favor of acupuncture. The combined response rate in the acupuncture group was significantly higher compared with sham acupuncture either at the early follow-up period or late follow-up period. Combined data also showed acupuncture was superior to medication therapy for headache intensity , headache frequency, physical function, and response rate.
They concluded that needling acupuncture is superior to sham acupuncture and medication therapy in improving headache intensity, frequency, and response rate.

Anesthesia and analgesia. 2008 Dec;107(6):2038-47.

Acupuncture and Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can occur anywhere in the intestine, often in patches surrounded by healthy tissue, and can spread deeper into the tissues. Symptoms include chronic bloody or watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and loss of appetite. Symptoms tend to come and go, with the disease becoming active or going into remission several times during the person's lifetime.
Crohn's disease can cause intestinal obstructions, ulcers, fistulas, and anal fissures. In addition, people with Crohn's disease are at risk of malnutrition, because their intestine cannot absorb all the nutrients they need from their diet.
Crohn's develops mostly between the ages of 20 - 40, although children and older adults may also develop the condition. There is no cure for Crohn's disease. Medication and diets can help control the condition and sometimes bring about long-term remission. Some people with Crohn's disease will require surgery to remove part of the digestive tract at some point in their lives. However, surgery does not cure the disease.
Acupuncture has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat IBD. One study in Germany found that acupuncture and moxibustion were effective specifically for treating Crohn's disease. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials from a Chinese group indicated that Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy demonstrates better efficacy than oral sulphasalazine (SASP) in treating IBD. However, definitive conclusions regarding the exact efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for IBD need further investigations. Double-blind RCTs with large sample sizes are needed to provide higher-quality evidence.
I treat people with IBS based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of Qi (energy) located in various meridians. Moxibustion is sometimes used because it is thought by some to reach deeper into the body than using needles alone.

TCM Acupuncture treatment for Allergy--Study Finds Acupuncture Effective For Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Acupuncture is commonly used for a range of lung and related respiratory issues and problems. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is a runny and stuffy nose caused by allergies, usually to plant pollen. Standard treatment is anti-allergy medicine known as antihistamines; however, many people with allergies get no relief of their symptoms with this treatment. People who are not adequately treated with antihistamines and those who prefer more natural remedies often use nonstandard treatments for their symptoms.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese procedure that uses special needles inserted at defined points on the body to treat or prevent medical conditions. Mainstream medicine is increasingly recognizing acupuncture as an effective treatment for some disorders, but the results of past studies about acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis have been inconsistent.
In a recent study, researchers from German and USA conducted a randomized trial to evaluate whether acupuncture would be effective in treating the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. 422 people who tested positive for birch and grass pollen allergies and had allergic nasal symptoms were recruited in the study. The researchers first asked the volunteers about their symptoms and about how much medicine they were using to treat them. They then randomly assigned the volunteers to 3 groups. The first group received 12 acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines as needed for their symptoms. The second group received 12 fake acupuncture treatments as a comparison with real acupuncture and took antihistamines as needed for their symptoms. The third group took antihistamines only, without acupuncture. At the end of treatment and 2 months later, the researchers assessed changes by re-measuring the severity of the volunteers’ symptoms and the amount of medicine they were using. Study indicated that comparing with volunteers who did not have acupuncture, those who received it reported improvement in their symptoms and a decrease in their use of medication at the end of treatment. However, those differences disappeared within another 2 months. The limitations of the study lie in the fact that the improvements may not have been large enough to be noticeable or to make much of a difference to people. The way in which acupuncture might reduce allergy symptoms is unclear. Acupuncture seemed to improve symptoms for people with seasonal allergic rhinitis, but the effects were modest and did not last much beyond treatment. The improvement might have been caused in part by the volunteers’ preexisting beliefs about the treatment.

Annals of Internal Medicine 2013 Feb 19;158(4):225-34.

TCM,Acupuncture treatment for Women’s health and infertility

by Hui Xu

Resolve breech presentation
Treatment: acupuncture plus moxibustion
Result: the proportion of Cesarean sections indicated for breech presentation is significantly lower in the treatment group than in the observation group
Possible mechanism: increase the probability of the fetus turning by increasing active fetal movements
Conclusion: Acupuncture should be attempted in cases of breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth.

Induce Labor
The popularity of labor induction using Acupuncture is increasing because it helps women with uncomplicated pregnancies seek to avoid conventional medical induction, imposition of medical time frames, and the cascade of interventions that often follow.
Acupuncture induction is safe and effective. It works harmoniously with the delicate hormonal balance of pregnancy to promote labour.
Acupuncture has remarkable effects and advantages in facilitating contractions, shortening birth process, and alleviating labor pain. However, the clinical trials demand large sample of multi-center randomized controlled trials, improved standard evaluation system, consistency in research, and further exploration in basic research.

Treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Acupuncture reduces hyperandrogenism and improves menstrual frequency in PCOS. Acupuncture’s clinical effects are mediated via activation of somatic afferent nerves innervating the skin and muscle, which, via modulation of the activity in the somatic and autonomic nervous system, may modulate endocrine and metabolic functions in PCOS.

Control menstrual pain
Acupuncture has become a popular treatment for menstrual pain. The National Institutes of Health recommend acupuncture either by itself or along with other treatments for menstrual pain. In a well-designed study of 43 women with menstrual pain, women treated with acupuncture had less pain and needed less pain medication.
Acupuncturists treat people with dysmenorrhea based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of energy (Chi) located in various meridians. In the case of dysmenorrhea, a Chi deficiency is usually detected in the liver and spleen meridians. Moxibustion is often added to enhance needling treatment, and qualified practitioners may also recommend herbal or dietary treatments.

Alleviate menopause
Seventy percent of perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women will experience menopause symptoms. Primary menopause symptoms include hot flashes, insomnia, somatic pain, depression, and fatigue. Hot flashes are most commonly treated. Acupuncture is an effective and valuable option for women suffering from menopause. Mechanism includes regulation of nerve-endocrine-immunity net, regulation of free radical metabolism, regulation of blood lipid and bone metabolism.

Support IVF and fertility
·         Acupuncture may improve ovulation by modulating the central and peripheral nervous systems, the neuroendocrine and endocrine systems, the ovarian blood flow, and metabolism
·         Acupuncture can improve the outcome of IVF-ET (embryo transfer), and the mechanisms may be related to the increased uterine blood flow, inhibited uterine motility, and the reduction of depression, anxiety and stress
·         Acupuncture may also assist in improving the outcome of IVF-ET by modulating the immune function
·         Acupuncture plays a positive role in male infertility, the mechanism may involves relief stress and anxiety too

·         J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2010 May;23(5):455-8
·         J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2004 Apr;15(4):247-52
·         Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 Oct;30(10):877-80
·         Chin J Integr Med. 2011 May;17(5):386-95
·         Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jul;301(1):E1-E10
·         http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/menstrual-pain-000052.htm
·         Chin J Integr Med. 2011 Dec;17(12):893-7
·         Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 Mar;30(3):257-60