Posts Tagged ‘depression’
Nov 7, 2013
Acupuncture is very effective at treating depression without medications or side effects. Recently, a new study shows that acupuncture treatment for depression not only works quickly but also has long lasting results.
In this study, 755 patients were given acupuncture, psychological counseling, or standard care which is depression medications. After only 3 months with an average of 10 visits, the depression levels in the acupuncture group were significantly less than in the group that took medications. This reduction in depression was not only fast but it remained constant at a 1 year follow up from the acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture for Depression
Acupuncture treatment for depression does not just focus on relieving the symptoms but also improving the health of your body overall. This is because acupuncture does not focus on one single symptom but takes the whole person into consideration, both mentally and physically. Each treatment plan is individualized to your particularly health concerns.
Interestingly, in this study the acupuncture patients also had a reduction in pain. In my acupuncture office many people who come in with physical complaints like back pain find their anxiety and depression are also improved after the treatment.
There are strong neurological and hormonal effects of acupuncture. We know a lot about how acupuncture works to reduce pain. Acupuncture helps to regulate the nervous system, stimulating the release of the body’s natural pain relievers, as well as regulating pain relieving receptors. Acupuncture also has an anti-inflammatory effect reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones. It is probably that these same pathways help to reduce depression. This is particularly important now that we have a much more clear understanding of the connection between inflammation and depression.
May 29, 2012
I developed seasonal allergies in my 20’s. For years I did not notice my allergies so much as I noticed I was moody when the flower bloomed. I didn’t understand if everything is so beautiful why was I feeling so blue.
Eventually I realized my headaches, stuffy nose, and moodiness was allergies.
Scientists have reported that depression increases with allergy symptoms. Most people thought that mood changes during allergy season were simply related to feeling uncomfortable from the sinus pressure, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes. Recently researchers have suggested there is a connection between the inflammatory processes that lead to allergies and the feeling blue.
Inflammatory diseases in general, such as asthma and psoriasis, have higher rates of depression compared to other chronic diseases. This may suggest that the inflammatory process itself has some influence on the development of depression.
Apr 18, 2012
Chronic rhinosinusitis is a chronic infection of the sinuses that causes nasal congestion, sinus pain, and headaches. Chronic rhinosinusitis, commonly called chronic sinusitis, affects your energy, sleep, and work. Some research suggest that chronic sinusitis can even lead to depression and anxiety.
Conventional medication often is not completely successful in treating the symptoms. Many patients have been turning to acupuncture Chinese medicine for help. In our New York City acupuncture clinic, we often use acupuncture, acupressure, and herbs to reduce the symptoms of sinusitis, especially during the spring allergy seasons which can exacerbate the sinusitis symptoms.
A comprehensive approach to chronic sinusitis
When it comes to treating chronic sinusitis, it is important to include many of the modalities used in acupuncture therapy. I use acupuncture, acupressure, and sometimes Chinese herbal remedies to help relieve the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis, help people reduce medication, and avoid surgery.
The acupuncture therapy targets acupuncture points on channels that help reduce pain and pressure in the sinuses. Acupuncture points can be located on the arms or legs on channels which travel to the sinuses. These points are LI 4, LI 11, Lu 5, SP 9, ST 36, St 44, GB 34, and SJ 5. For some people, acupuncture points on top of or near the sinuses are needed. These points can include LI 20, ST 4, Bi Tong, and Yin Tang.
Acupuncture points selection is based upon the imbalances which cause the condition. For example, acupuncture discusses the circulation of energy, or qi, in the body. If there too little qi, a common cause of sinus headaches, then the qi should be boosted with ST 36 and SP 9. But if there is more heat which often happens with inflammation, acupuncture points such as LI 11 or ST 44 should be selected.
Acupressure on the neck, head, shoulders, and back helps to increase circulation, decrease pain, and drain the lymph. I will also instruct my patients on a self acupressure routine for patients to perform on their own. Often, patients will begin to feel relief after a few acupuncture sessions.
It is important to understand that acupuncture is not an either or when it comes to your conventional therapies for chronic sinusitis. The first goal to is help you feel better. When you are consistently feeling better you can work with your physician to reduce the amount of medication.
Research on the Integrative East West Medicine approach
A paper was recently published examining an east west integrative treatment protocol for patients with recurrent chronic rhinosinusitis (1).
The treatment involved a combination of the patient’s current therapies, most often nasal corticosteroid spray and nasal irrigation in addition to acupuncture, acupressure, dietary modifications, lifestyle modifications, and self-acupressure. As you can see, the researchers used a pretty comprehensive approach.
The study was small with only eleven patients. But it showed potential for this therapeutic approach. The patients, overall, reported improvements in their physical functioning, social engagement, less needing to blow their nose, and an improvement in their ability to concentrate. I hope that larger studies will be conducted to further explore the power of acupuncture to relieve symptoms, reduce dependence on medications, and help people avoid surgery.
1. Suh JD, Wu AW, Taw MB, Nguyen C, Wang MB. Treatment of recalcitrant chronic rhinosinusitis with integrative East-west medicine: a pilot study. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Mar;138(3):294-300.
Oct 21, 2011
Acupuncture is helpful to treat the symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome. This guide will explain how acupuncture works for Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome.
Interstitial cystitis (IC), also called painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition characterized by pelvic pain, urinary frequency, and urgency. Interstitial cystitis impacts almost all aspects of your life, including professional, educational, and personal, and can be an overwhelming experience.
Both men and women can get IC, although it occurs mostly in women. People with interstitial cystitis can have symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection, but without an infection (1). Often, there is painful, frequent, urgent, inhibited, or incomplete urination. Sometimes there may be blood in the urine. There may be a dull feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen and bladder. The pain in the bladder can be intense or dull, and sometimes it is located in the pelvis, or on the pelvic floor. Some people experience sexual dysfunction.
These symptoms can resemble many different conditions. It is important to see a urologist to get a complete exam to rule out other illnesses.
Acupuncture for Interstitial Cystitis
Over two thousand years ago, acupuncture physicians described a syndrome which is characterized by painful and frequent urination called Lin Syndrome (2). Accompanying symptoms can be tenderness in the lower abdomen, a feeling of incomplete urination, sexual dysfunction, changes in the color of urination, urinating at night, and also depression and anxiety. Although they were not speaking specifically about interstitial cystitis, these same principles can be used to create an effective acupuncture treatment.
During the Acupuncture and Chinese medicine diagnosis process, urinary symptoms along with your overall health are considered. This paints a picture of the underlying imbalance that is causing the disease. Common imbalances for interstitial cystitis are qi (energy, pronounced “chee”) weakness, lack of circulation of qi, and heat. It is not uncommon for women to suffer from more than one of these imbalances.
People with qi weakness, or lack of energy are often tired and have digestive problems. This can cause frequent urination, urination at night, and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen. Qi stagnation is a lack of circulation of the energy and can cause pain, bloating, and muscle spasms. Qi stagnation may cause spasm in the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Heat is also a frequent cause of interstitial cystitis symptoms. Heat in the body can cause dryness, burning urination, abnormal sweating, stiff joints, and headaches. Often, heat is a reflection of inflammation. Heat may develop after having a urinary tract infection. Infection may also lead to qi vacuity.
Once the proper imbalance is identified, the acupuncture point prescription is tailored to correct that imbalance.
How does acupuncture treat interstitial cystitis?
Traditional Chinese Medicine works by identifying specific imbalances in the body and using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and acupressure to correct them. Physiologically, acupuncture helps to reduce the symptoms of interstitial cystitis by regulating pain sensation, releasing pain relieving chemicals in the nervous system, and reducing inflammation (3). Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body.
The acupuncture point prescription will vary based upon the underlying imbalance. Generally, the acupuncture points for interstitial cystitis are located on the arms and legs, as well as the lower abdomen and lower back.
Auricular, or ear, acupuncture is very helpful for pain and spasm of the bladder. Points such as bladder, ureter, pelvis, and the spirit gate are helpful. Often, I will use small magnets on these points to stimulate them in between acupuncture treatments.
Acupressure massage helps to support the acupuncture in relaxing the muscles as well as relieve stress. Sometimes electro-acupuncture can relieve the constant feeling of fullness and urgency in the bladder.
The results of acupuncture are cumulative over a series of treatments. Once the imbalance is corrected, the body can work to heal itself and can result in long lasting benefit. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation can be a vital support for relieving stress and preventing the tension from returning.
Interstitial Cystitis Resources
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
- Interstitial Cystitis Association
- Interstitial Cystitis Network
1. Genitourinary Pain and Inflammation: Diagnosis and Management . Ed. J.M. Potts. Humana Press. NJ
2. Wiseman N, Feng Y. A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine
3. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
by Joseph Alban
Oct 1, 2011
Men with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS), or Chronic Prostatitis Category III, suffer from pelvic pain, painful, frequent, urgent, or difficult urination, as well as sexual dysfunction. The pain can be intense or dull and is generally located in the between the testicles and anus, in the penis, scrotum, lower back, or the lower abdomen. These symptoms can be severe and affect all aspects of your life, resulting in depression, lost work and educational opportunities, and trouble in relationships. CPPS is the most common form of chronic prostatitis.
What Causes Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?
The exact cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome is not entirely understood. Prostatitis was originally thought to be caused by inflammation caused by a bacterial infection. But many men have symptoms without an infection (1) Some men who have CPPS symptoms do not even have any inflammation. Some physicians believe that CPPS may be caused by referred pain from muscle tightness in the pelvis and back, contracture of smooth muscle such as the bladder, emotional stress, and inflammation after an infection. Intrapelvic congestion of fluids may also be a factor (2).
How does acupuncture help treat Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?
Treating CPPS requires a holistic approach addressing that naturally corrects the underlying cause of the pain and distress. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide a holistic approach to healing and are effective treatments to relieve the pain, improve sexual function, and decrease urinary problems, as well as relief depression associated with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Acupuncture is also a natural treatment, so as opposed to many of the medications for CPPS, there are very few side effects.
In fact, Chinese medicine’s 2000 years of history could possibly make it the most used treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome of all time. In one of Chinese medicine’s earliest text called Elementary Questions, TCM has described the diagnosis and treatment many syndromes characterized by painful, frequent, and urgent urination with pain and distention of the lower abdomen and pelvis (3). Of course, this syndrome was not called Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome or Chronic Prostatitis at the time. But the practice of Chinese medicine has shown that those same principles of diagnosis and treatment are effective when applied to the symptoms caused by Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment, identifying specific imbalances in the body and using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and acupressure to correct them. Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body. Generally, the root cause of painful urination, voiding difficulties, and depression is an imbalance of the body’s vital energy, or qi. The two most common imbalances in qi that cause CPPS are when there is too little qi or when the qi circulation becomes impaired. One way acupuncture and Chinese herbs work is by helping to improve the circulation and the amount of qi.
Those with too little qi may experience the symptoms of poor digestion, bloating, loose and sticky stools, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus headaches, soft voice, cold limbs, a weak pulse, and pale tongue. Qi stagnation, when the qi is not circulating well, can also cause pain. Those with qi stagnation will often get a cold after a stressful or emotional situation. They also may be prone to headaches, irregular bowel movements, ribside pain, irritability, anger, and depression.
Physiological, acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relievers in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Many studies have also shown acupuncture to have a anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (4).
What is the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treatment like for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?
Chinese medicine works best as a combination therapy that includes acupuncture, tui na (acupressure), and other therapies such as cupping. Chinese herbs are also effective and may be required for certain people. Acupuncture diagnosis and treatment focuses on identifying the specific root imbalance causing the condition and tailoring the treatment for you.
During the first visit, I will complete a medical history and an in depth physical examination, which focuses on an examination of acupuncture points and trigger points of the hips and pelvis. This information creates the picture of the specific imbalance causing the problem.
Acupuncture is most effective through a treatment course. The treatment should decrease pain and urinary complaints, and improvement in sexual function. Many men find rapid relief, within a week or two of beginning the treatment. For others, it may take longer to have an effect. Generally, patients come in for acupuncture once to twice a week depending on the severity, and gradually get acupuncture less frequently. The treatment generally lasts 3-4 months.
The pain and other symptoms are gradually lessened. It is like peeling off the layers of an onion until you correct the root cause of the problem. The results are usually long lasting and patents have few symptoms.
Read More about Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis and Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome:
- Electro-acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis
- Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome: Chronic Prostatitis without an Infection
- Research on Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis
1. Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (Current Clinical Urology). Daniel A. Shoskes (ed.) Humama, Totowa, NJ. 2008.
2. Honjo H, Kamoi K., Naya Y, et al. The Effects if Acupuncture for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome with Intravenous Congestion: Preliminary Results. International Journal of Urology. 2004 Aug; 11(8): 607-612.
3. Wiseman N, Feng Y. A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm; 1998:583.
4. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
Written by Joseph Alban.
Aug 25, 2011
This is the fourth in a series about acupuncture and IVF written by Jessica Yunker, my associates. Jessica is an expert in infertility, womens’ health, and acupuncture for IVF.
Acupuncture is helpful at each stage of the IVF cycle.
In our last article we introduced the IVF procedure. In this article, we’ll discuss in depth the key ways acupuncture can enhance fertility and optimize the chances of a successful IVF cycle.
Acupuncture helps IVF by…
1. Regulate the cycle: Your fertility doctor will start you on hormones to regulate your cycle. During this time, acupuncture can be used to regulate qi (energy) throughout your body, improve blood circulation, and calm your whole nervous system. Acupuncture can be very effective in regulating the cycle, too.
2. Stimulate the ovaries: Around Day 2 of your period, you will start hormone treatments to stimulate the ovaries and make more follicles. Acupuncture can help at this stage by assisting you in producing more follicles. Acupuncture can also help thicken the lining of the uterus, which allows the transferred embryos to attach more easily to your uterus.
3. Reduce side effects of IVF medications: Some women experience side effects from the medications that are used during IVF. These side effects might include things like abdominal bloating, abdominal or uterine cramping, mood swings, or mild depression. Acupuncture may help with many of these types of problems.
4. Retrieval of eggs: Your doctor will remove your mature eggs for fertilization in the lab. Retrieval is a surgical procedure which sometimes causes discomfort for women. Acupuncture can be useful at this stage to prevent or stop uterine cramping, reduce irritation or inflammation from the surgery, and address any side effects from the hormones and medication.
5. Transfer of embryos: The eggs and sperm are combined in a lab and watched carefully for three or five days. The doctor will select the fertilized eggs that look most promising and transfer them back to the uterus.
If you would like to find out more about acupuncture and IVF, please e-mail or call Jessica at 917.596.6385. Mention this article for a 10% discount on the initial consultation.
Apr 5, 2011
In my last post I discussed T.S. Eliot’s famous line, “April is the cruelest month” as interpreted by Chinese medicine scholars.
Those with allergies know that April can be cruel. Allergies cause significant discomfort and disruption to your life. But being cruel, these symptoms are not enough. There is also an increase in anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping during allergy seasons.
Acupuncture helps to relieve seasonal allergies by correcting the imbalance causing the allergies and regulating the immune system.
Here are a few of my articles on allergies and acupuncture.
If you are interested in finding out more about how acupuncture can reduce your seasonal allergies, please call us at 917.887.4946 for a free consultation.
Jan 10, 2011
I came to Joe last year after suffering through the worst months I have yet to experience. I felt the constant urge to urinate along with bladder pressure, and the UTI tests kept coming back negative. I was taking trips to the bathroom every half hour and getting up around three times a night. I went to specialists all over the city, without getting any answers. I was sent for ultrasounds and even an MRI, all tests coming back normal again and again. Some doctors simply told me there was nothing wrong with me and to go home and “relax”. Another told me it was depression and put me on anti-depressants without any history of mental issues. I was finally put on Elmiron for Interstitial Cystitis without ever being quite convinced of my diagnosis. I was terrified I would never be able to lead a normal life again – not being able to leave my apartment because of the fear of not having a bathroom close by, or not being able to resume a normal sex life with my live-in boyfriend. Riding the subway was out of the question and my lifestyle of being an outdoor enthusiast – traveling, hiking, snowboarding, etc. – was completely shattered. I tried homeopathy which improved my condition slightly although I was still suffering and completely confused with what was happening to me. I’ve never felt so disconnected and actually angry with my body. Being a healthy person my entire life, this sudden change left me incredibly depressed. I was at my lowest point – ready to give up and feeling that life was just not worth living this way. Nothing was helping and I was looking for any type of release. The battle with my mind was overwhelming, all I wanted was to feel comfortable again for even just a few hours! After being threatened with cystoscopy and being adamantly opposed to resorting to anything invasive unless absolutely necessary, I started looking elsewhere. I’ve heard many good things about acupuncture in the past, although I was not aware of it’s wide range of healing abilities. Joe was absolutely incredible – the first time I met him he gave me hope that I would get through this and a further understanding of my body and all of it’s connections. I was instantly comfortable enough around him to open up about everything I was going through and how much my life had changed in the past couple months. I started receiving treatment – a combination of acupuncture once a week and herbs taken daily – and noticed a difference almost immediately. The day after I received the weekly acupuncture treatment was always my best day. It is a relatively slow healing process because you are actually healing your body, rather than masking the real issue with a medication that has numerous side effects. Acupuncture not only alleviated the pressure in my bladder and the urge to urinate, it lifted my spirit and changed my perspective towards my body. I am forever grateful for finding Joe!
Mar 10, 2009
Sounds like a simple question, but in fact it is quite hard to answer. In many ways, it is like asking, “What does Western Medicine treat?” or ” What do medications treat?”
Unlike other therapies, such as psychotherapy or physical therapy, acupuncture can treat both physical and mental problems, as well as internal medicine. Acupuncture, as a part of Chinese medicine, has been used as a comprehensive medical system and over one billion people still use Traditional East Asian Medicine as their primary means of health care. That means that people use it to treat back pain, colds, PMS, infertility, asthma, strokes, migraine headaches, painful urination, acne, stomach aches, depression, anxiety, and all other types of diseases.
Generally speaking, people seek acupuncture for chronic conditions. Here are some various resources to help you explore “what acupuncture treats?”
1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). NCCAM has some good information about acupuncture treatment for a few conditions, like osteoarthritis of the knee, fibromyalgia, and PTSD. There is also a great video by Richard Hamershlag, a wonderful acupuncture researcher.
2. The World Health Organization published huge document on acupuncture and traditional medicine in 2003. Unfortunately it is no longer on the web, (here is a link to it’s summery on Wikipedia). The document listed over 140 conditions which acupuncture is used for and has documented efficacy. Here are a few of the conditions listed:
- Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
- Allergic rhinitis
- Painful Periods
- Facial pain
- Knee pain
- Low back pain
- Correction of Malposition of fetus
- Morning sickness
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Postoperative pain
- Renal colic
- Rheumatoid arthritis
3. A great article published in the Annals of Family Medicine in 2005, examined the most common reasons for going to an acupuncturist in Washington State and Massachusetts. This article also discusses training and background of acupuncturists and the major categories of diseases, along with specific conditions.
Some of the most common conditions included:
- back pain and stiffness
- anxiety and depression
- neck pain and stiffness
- shoulder pain and stiffness
- general wellness
- allergies to food
- knee pain
- abdominal pain, cramps, and distention
- infectious disease
- problems of pregnancy or fertility
4. From my personal experience, I think that article was pretty comprehensive for common conditions. In my clinic, other common conditions are chronic prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, migraine headaches, acne, dermatitis, and irregular or painful menstruation. If you are interested in getting acupuncture, find someone you can trust and ask them if they have experience with your concern.
5. The way that the Chinese still use their own traditional medicine should also help us understand what can Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat.
In China, Chinese medicine is completely integrated with the healthcare system. Where I studied, at the Hunan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we had an entire hospital dedicated to TCM. They also used Western medicine when needed, such as antibiotics, but the main focus was acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and acupressure.
The hospital has many departments, I rotated in acupuncture, internal medicine, Tui na (medical massage) and dermatology. They also had an OBGYN, pediatrics, and an entire inpatient department. People came to see us with all typs of pain, headaches, shoulder pain, back pain, facial paralysis, bell’s palsy, menstrual cramps, infertility, hepatitis, gall bladder disease, rehabilitation from stroke, chronic renal failure, sexual dysfunction, proastatitis, acne, and hives just to name a few.
Dr. Chan, my teacher in the photo above, is a master Chinese medicine Doctor and Acupuncturist. He is famous for his treatment of Prostatitis, Parkinson’s disease, pain, eye conditions, stroke, and cerebral palsy.
6. A similar question to what is it used for is “Is there research?” The answer to that is a wholehearted yes! There is too much to discuss hear, so I selected some of my favorite.
One of the best and most comprehensive studies focuses on acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. There is also evidence that acupuncture works for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an area I believe acupuncture is underused. Acupuncture has also been shown to help the effectiveness of IVF and improves the health of the babies at birth. Acupuncture is also great at treating headaches of all kinds. I’ve already written about acupuncture and headaches in this post.
Of course, there are millions of other chronic conditions acupuncture can treat. If you are interested in learning more about if acupuncture can address your health concern, please call us at 917-887-4946 to schedule an appointment.
Top Photo: NYCTCM