Posts Tagged ‘hormones’
Oct 28, 2011
Chronic pain is mysterious. It can come and go. It can get worse, or get better. Often without explanation.
Chronic pain is serious. It interferes with work, school, and relationships. Chronic pain is the most common issue that comes into my acupuncture clinic. Pain can effect almost any place in the body: headaches, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, knee pain, and any other location.
Acupuncture for Chronic Pain
Acupuncture is a complex therapy and works in a combination of ways to reduce pain and inflammation.
Acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relieves 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, such as cortisol. Interestingly, many of the hormonal and neural effects last long after the acupuncture treatment has finished, suggesting that acupuncture has both immediate and long term regulatory effective in reducing pain.
What is the acupuncture needle doing?
We also can think about what the acupuncture needle itself is doing. When inserting a needle, the muscles near the acupuncture needle or along the acupuncture channel will often twitch. Many scientists have looked at this “twitch response” which can change the inflammatory mediators in the area of the acupuncture point. This could point to a mechanism related to local pain reduction.
Connective tissue stimulation is another possible mechanisms for pain relief that the acupuncture needle site.
Acupuncturists will twirl the needle many times during the treatment. Researchers have shown that this stimulates subcutaneous loose connective tissue. Helene Langevin, the remarkable researcher who discovered this, writes, “Fibroblasts (the cells) within the loose connective tissue respond to the mechanical stimulation with active cytoskeletal remodeling that may have important downstream effects within connective tissue.”
We do not know the specific clinical effects of the connective tissue responses. But Langevin believes these results may eventually lead to an explanation of the acupuncture channel circulation and connecting the body.
The next steps in acupuncture research will look to understand how these complex mechanisms work together for long lasting pain relief.
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.
Langevin HM, Churchill DL, Wu J. Et. al. Evidence of Connective Tissue Involvement in Acupuncture. FASEB Journal. April 10, 2002. Published Online.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Website. Acupuncture for Pain. Accessed 4/30/2013.
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.
Aug 24, 2009
Chinese medicine believes in the body’s power to heal itself. As clinicians, we remove the imbalances that are keeping you from being healthy.
Interestingly, modern acupuncture research is beginning to show how it actual does to stimulate the body’s own power to heal itself. The acupuncture needle does not inject any medicine, nor is it coated. It is simply reprogramming the body to be healthy again.
The research is still young and we don’t know everything. It is probably a complex series of events which occur in many systems across the body. But we do know that it works to regulate the nervous, endocrine, and the immune system. We also think that it works on a cellular level to influence intercellular communication and regeneration.
The brain and nervous system
Using a type of brain scanner called an fMRI, scientists have shown that acupuncture regulates pain centers in the brain.1 When there is chronic pain, the brain can get stuck in an unhealthy pattern of pain and illness. For example in back pain, your back can be healed, but the brain remembers the pain and still feels it. The acupuncture helps to reset this pattern as a way of reteaching the body to be healthy.
Although not fully understood, acupuncture also has been shown to affect the release of many neurotransmitters such as opoids, endorphins, and endocannaboids that regulate pain, emotion, and possibly help with addiction.
It has also been suggested that acupuncture can help regulate hormones. This is because we know it works great for conditions like PCOS, hot flashes, diabetes and infertility. In one study, electroacupuncture was shown to increase estradiol and other hormones in rats who had their ovaries removed.2 This suggests that electroacupuncture stimulates the hypothalamus to release the hormones that help to treat infertility.
Healing also occurs at the place where the needle is inserted, on a cellular level. The surrounding connective tissue cells actually grabs hold of the needle and expands.3 Some scientists believe this begins the replication and repair of the cells around the needle.
This needles grasp by the cells also represents the beginning of the communication within the acupuncture channels and may signal that the channels are alternative communication system through the connective tissue.
The immune system is tricky. Without it, we could not live. But often it can overreact and attack ourselves, causing autoimmune conditions like asthma, allergies, and eczema. Acupuncture may help to down regulate the overactive immune system as well as give a boost to those with poor immune systems.
In one study, electroacupuncture was shown to lower the number of inflammatory cells in asthmatic rats compared to placebo acupuncture. It also lowered the number of cytokines, which are proteins that signal the inflammatory reaction.4 In another rat study, electroacupuncture to the point ST 36 showed to decrease inflammation through release of opioids.5
This shows that acupuncture has both a analgesic effect and an anti-inflammatory effect. This is good news, because so many disorders with pain also have significant inflammation.
A Glimpse into the Research
This is a glimpse of what modern research is explaining about acupuncture. There is still a lot more to learn, but what we know is really exciting.
In the next post I will explain acupuncture theory of channels and meridians.
Read more about acupuncture and…
¹ Napadow, V. Kettner N., Liu J. Et. al. Hypothalamus and Amygdala Response to Acupuncture Stimuli in Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Pain. 2007; (130): 254-266.
2. Zhao H, Tian Z, Feng Y, Chen B. Circulating estradiol and hypothalamic corticotrophin releasing hormone enhances along with time after ovariectomy in rats: Effects of electroacupuncture. Neuropeptides. 2005; (39): 433–438.
3. Langevin HM, Churchill DL, Wu J. Et. al. Evidence of Connective Tissue Involvement in Acupuncture. FASEB Journal. April 10, 2002. Published Online.
4. Carneiro ER, Et. Al. Effect of Electroacupuncture on Bronchial Asthma Induced by Ovalbumin in Rats. JACM. Volume 11, Number 1, 2005, pp. 127–134.
5. Kim HW, Et. Al.The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Low- and High-Frequency Electroacupuncture Are Mediated by Peripheral Opioids in a Mouse Air Pouch Inflammation Model. JACM. Volume 12, Number 1, 2006, pp. 39–44.