Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Acupuncture Point Standardization

From a scholastic standpoint, it means there will be less controversy over point location questions on the national exams, especially with non-TCM trained acupuncturists. From a research perspective, standardizing conflicting acupuncture point location was essential to decrease the amount of limitations in a study. From a practitioner standpoint, I just hope the CEU class I will doubtless be required to take will be someplace tropical.

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006
Acupuncture point standard nailed down

Kyodo News

Acupuncturists from Japan, China and South Korea ironed out long-standing differences over the precise location of acu-points during a recent conference held under the auspices of the World Health Organization.

With the successful results of the conference on the international standardization of acu-points -- or "tsubo" as they are known in Japan -- the practitioners hope that acupuncture and moxibustion will become more popular in the United States and Europe.

Acupuncture is believed to have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. It was introduced to Japan via the Korean Peninsula during the sixth century.

There are 361 acu-points in the human body. In 1989, the WHO standardized their international names.

But there was no agreement concerning their precise location until participants reached an agreement at the WHO conference held in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.

While Japan, China and South Korea each boast a long history of administering acupuncture and moxibustion, the location of 92 acu-points differed slightly among the three countries.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Everyone is a acupuncturist

I hope none of our politicians are getting any ideas from this . . .

Angry Chinese acupuncturists declare war over bill
Updated Thu. Nov. 23 2006 7:23 PM ET
Canadian Press

TORONTO -- Furious Chinese acupuncturists are threatening to mobilize half-a-million people against Ontario's Liberal government over legislation making their profession self-regulating.

The bill, which passed unanimously on Thursday, entrenches "quackery'' and puts the public at risk, critics said.

"Bill 50 discriminates against the Chinese medicine profession and against the Chinese community and is a second head tax,'' said Stephen Liu, co-chairman of the Canadian Society of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.

"We will fight to the last.''

The reference to the hated tax once imposed on Chinese immigrants indicates the depth of anger over the legislation among many of Ontario's 3,000 practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.

Critics say they find it offensive that the law allows other groups of health professionals -- such as physiotherapists, massage therapists or chiropractors -- to continue using acupuncture under standards set by their own regulating bodies.

Liu said Chinese acupuncturists opposed to the legislation will call on their patients, their families, friends, relatives and members of their churches -- 500,000 people in all -- to fight the Liberal party in next year's provincial election.

Dr. Stanley Shyu, a Chinese-trained doctor of traditional medicine who has practised in Canada for 32 years, said it's ludicrous to allow others to perform acupuncture without rigorous training.
Doing so waters down a profession that can cure a wide range of ailments when done by properly trained experts, but harms patients when done improperly, he said.

"You don't let laymen stick needles in people and call it acupuncture,'' Shyu said.

"That's called needling.''

Health Minister George Smitherman, who introduced the bill almost a year ago, acknowledged divisions over the legislation.

However, he said there was no reason to stop other medical professionals from performing acupuncture.

"Each of those colleges will be looking to work together in terms of making sure that there is a consensus that the standard is consistent and appropriate,'' Smitherman said.

Proponents say the college that will regulate the profession when it's up and running, likely in about two years, will set high standards, protect the public, and enhance the overall credibility of the profession.

Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia along with close to 50 American states already regulate Chinese medicine.

Critics also railed against the legislation because practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine would no longer be able to prescribe and dispense herbal formulas and compounds.

Naturopaths could get the exclusive right to do so, even though they might have less training.

"Where is the fairness in this?'' said Marylou Lombardi, president of the Ontario Association of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Opposition Leader John Tory said he supported the legislation because it at least imposes a regulatory framework.

"We're hopeful that as the college is set up that some of the issues that have not been adequately addressed might be addressed at that time,'' Tory said.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Basketball and Acupuncture

For all you sports fans . . .

Pacers' Harrington says he's healed

By Mark Montieth

Indiana Pacers forward Al Harrington pronounced himself ready for tonight's game with Milwaukee, thanks to an acupuncture treatment.

Harrington, the Pacers' leading scorer (19.2) had missed Saturday's victory at Milwaukee and Monday's practice with back spasms.

Harrington had described himself as 70 percent recovered on Monday, but upgraded himself following Tuesday morning's practice at Conseco Fieldhouse.

"I'm 100 (percent) now," he said. "I'm ready to go."

Pacers' center David Harrison said an MRI on his left shoulder Monday revealed no serious injury.

"Nothing's torn," he said. "They're saying I'll be back pretty soon."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Not relevant, but . . .

My fiance and I started a blog about the fun and frustrations of getting married. If you want a laugh, check it out at:

Friday, November 17, 2006

What part of the tiger is in tiger balm?

None. (Of course)

I remember the contorversy over killing animals for their horns or their bile when I was in school. I don't remember ever coming across any of it. In fact, in our herbal pharmacy, the only animal specimes we would bag up and boil were things like cicada molting (Chan Tui), dried worms (Di Long), and my personal favorite, flying squril feces (Wu Ling Zhi). Yum yum.

Wile we are an ocean away from this scandle, it is probably only a matter of time before the next question out a patrients mouth after "what do you do with your needles?" will be, "is there any trafficed endangered specias in this formula?."

Chinese medicine interest threatens rare species
By Matthew Jones Fri Nov 17, 12:35 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons are embracing traditional Chinese medicine and unwittingly fuelling a $10 billion illegal trade in the world's most endangered species, police said.

The market in London for products made from tiger bone, rhino horn and bear bile has grown to such an extent that a special police taskforce is trying to stamp it out.

"We cannot expect the international trade to stop while it continues here in London," Janet Williams, London's deputy assistant police commissioner, told a news conference on Friday.

Rare breeds have been decimated, not just because of demand from China but also Westerners wanting alternative treatments.

Since 1970, about 98 percent of the world's black rhino have been killed for their horns -- largely to supply the Chinese medicine trade. And fewer than 5,000 tigers are estimated to be left in the wild, compared with 100,000 in 1990.

The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Charm in 1995 to tackle the trade, and since then have seized over 30,000 endangered species items, most destined for Chinese medicine.

But it is an uphill battle.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I remember Dr. Huo, one of my TCM instructors, telling me that when his son was sick he reached for antibiotics because it was to hard to force a cranky, ill child to drink cherry-flavored cough syrup let alone an herbal decoction. I also remember Dr. Zhong taking 45 minutes to describe the ingredients and uses of a particular herbal formula by describing the plot of a popular Chinese opera complete with periodic singing. Dr. Hou was all for intergrating into Western society and owned all of the latest technologies while Dr. Zhong intended to return to his home village and still spoke of "Great Leader Chairmen Mao" as though he would walk in the room any moment.

I always enjoyed speaking to my various instructors about what China was like, what they thought about America, and how things have changed since moving here. Some wanted to chase the American dream, others found out that what they had in China was what they wanted all along.

I find it interesting that decades after Mao snubbed all things western (publicly, not personally of course) and encouraged the use of TCM, many in the Chinese medical and scientific community are rejecting their heritage and doubting its effectiveness. TCM had been used successfully in hospitals in China for generations alongside western therapies but now they are suspect and "untrustworthy." Once again, even if it worked, you can't believe it worked without someone independently verifying it worked.

But then, Phizer doesn't finance large studies to investigate the effectiveness of Yin Qiao.

Chinese turning away from traditional remedies
Monday November 13, 2006
From the nzherald

BEIJING - In the West, demand for traditional Chinese medicine just goes on growing, however it's the Chinese who are taking a great big acupuncture needle and trying to prick this bubble.

More and more of them are rejecting their ancient remedies in favour of Western medicine. A proposal to remove from the Chinese health care system traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has divided public opinion and outraged the Government which backs its use.

The controversy was sparked by an online petition proposing that only Western-style healthcare be available in China's hospitals. Behind it is Professor Zhang Gongyao, who describes TCM, practised in China for 4000 years, as "untrustworthy" and "pseudo-science".

At stake is an industry last year worth £5.2 billion ($15 billion).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Schizophrenia, or Phlegm Misting the Heart Orifice?

As both a nurse and an acupuncturist, I specialize in the treatment of people with mental health conditions. I have always been fascinated by the western medical pathologies and the colorful descriptions of the TCM diagnosis. Unfortunately, most people know very little about what an Axis One or Axis Two disorder really means and there is a huge stigma on those who have psychiatric disorders. Just the other day I was relating a story about a patient and was asked "well if they know they are crazy, why can't they just stop being crazy?" I responded with, "if you know you have cancer, can you just stop having cancer?"

The treatment of mental illnesses must be holistic to be successful. Gone are the days of the asylum where nurses and doctors routinely kept patients drugged or threw them in quiet rooms in four point restraints for hours on end. In a hospital setting today, patients are provided with a therapist social worker to talk to, group processing therapy, art and activity therapy, and dietary education in addition to medication. In some settings, yoga and guided imagery sessions are available as well. There are outside groups such as depression anonymous, caregiver support, and codependency. So where does acupuncture fit into the picture?

I am, as always, an integrationist. In someone who as severe bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, western medication is nearly always in order. As one of my Chinese professors said "all window of sky points are on or near neck - when patient has crazy, they not let you put needles there." Certainly for these cases, acupuncture can be utilized as an adjunct, especially to combat some of there more unpleasant side effects like weight gain. By contrast, those with Axis Two/personality disorders, require cognitive behavioral therapy more then medication. When receptive, this population reacts most beneficially to complementary therapies.

In my practice, I see many people with anxiety and depression. In many cases, the anxiety and depression are a symptom of a root pathology, such as chronic pain, and not the primary imbalance. Some are on western medication and others want a "natural" approach. In western medicine, if you have depression or Bipolar Disorder, more than likely you will be given an SSRI of some sort and possibly and anti anxiety medication. In Chinese Medicine, you may be given herbs to reconnect heart and kidney Qi, tonify spleen Qi and heart blood, or subdue liver fire. There is no standard treatment because there is no diagnosis that can be made independent of the individual. And there come the difficulty in "proving" the effectiveness of acupuncture for mental health disorders in a research setting . . . again.

Challenges in Determining Effectiveness of Acupuncture
Western research models may be inappropriate for verifying traditional Chinese medicine treatment for depression.

By Simon Miller, Epoch Times U.K. Staff

Depression and anxiety are seen, from a TCM perspective, as both emotional/psychological and physiological in nature, resulting from imbalanced energy effecting physical and mental health. Acupuncture claims to be effective in preventing and relieving various health problems through the correction of imbalanced energy. It is a holistic approach that, it is claimed, gives patients a more optimistic assessment of their problems and has few side effects.

There are a number of conceptual problems with carrying out acupuncture research. Staebler et el (1994) describes how conventional medical research looks for a "constellation of symptoms" and tries to apply one diagnostic label and one standard treatment. Acupuncture, however, is based on the whole-person approach. It takes into consideration the constitution of the person as well as the present disposition, by paying attention to the continuously changing equilibrium of life energy due to external and internal factors such as trauma, diet, climate and social conditions.

In daily practice, an acupuncturist would design treatment according to the specific needs of the individual patient. Attempts are made to establish the causative factors, and every case of depression and anxiety has some variation requiring different strength and location of needling. This presents another challenge in experimental research: test-retest reliability can be problematic as different therapists use slightly different techniques that vary according to the idiosyncratic nature of the individual's condition.

There are further problems for researchers. The use of one diagnostic label and one standard treatment would seem to be inappropriate in most cases of depression and anxiety. There are issues to be addressed of whether conditions are assessed according to Western diagnosis or TCM diagnosis, and which model is used to measure outcomes. The researcher could use conventional Western medical indices or incorporate TCM specific measures such as pulse and tongue diagnosis.

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