Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Needling Addiction

Having worked in in-patient psych facilities as a nurse, I often wanted to do a little community acupuncture while the patients were in group therapy. The big problem (especially in KY where we received and "F" for mental health) is insurance companies don't want to pay for the minimum proven therapies, let alone anything extra like acupuncture. 28-day programs are reserved for those with tri-care, those with MDs who want to milk every possible day out of Medicaid/Medicare benefits (whether the patient needs it or not), or the affluent. Luckily, there are some progressive thinkers who see acupuncture as a useful tool for fighting addiction and helping prevent relapse.

Acupuncture-based pilot program helps fight addictions

Mike Allen had tried to stop drinking before.

And he'd succeeded for a few months at a time. But he always went back to the bottle.

That was until he was arrested on a drug charge, served a short time in jail as part of a probation sentence and then started receiving acupuncture this spring while on probation.

Allen said the acupuncture helped with the physical symptoms of withdrawal and supplemented the work he was doing through recovery groups and counseling.

Allen was one of 30 clients of three agencies who received acupuncture as part of a voluntary pilot program started in March. Fort Collins licensed acupuncturist Abbye Silverstein treated the clients in the joint venture of Larimer County Community Corrections, the state 8th Judicial Probation Department and Larimer County Department of Human Services.

A high percentage of offenders who have been through the criminal justice system have substance abuse problems, said Les Rudner, probations supervisor for the state 8th Judicial Probation department.

"We were seeing offenders with substance abuse problems coming back through the system again and again. We were trying to look at what we could do that we weren't doing now to prevent present relapses. When I started doing the research, one thing that came up was acupuncture," Rudner said.

Research in other communities has shown that offenders who receive acupuncture as part of a recovery program were more likely to complete treatment for substance abuse. And there were lower re-arrest rates among those who received acupuncture in court-mandated programs.

Read More

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mentor Spotlight

The word about acupuncture facelifts is getting around thanks to the New York Times, and two of my mentors, Mary Elizabeth Wakfield (Constitutional Facial Renewal) and Martha Lucus (Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture), are mentioned. This comes just in time for my post-holiday promotions and will make a good addition to in-office literature.

Skin Deep
Hold the Chemicals, Bring on the Needles
Published: December 13, 2007

JANE BECKER, a composer and solo pianist, celebrated her 50th birthday at the dermatologist, paying $1,500 for shots of Restylane and Botox. But three months later, their wrinkle-smoothing effects wore off. So, she turned to a less-artificial youth tonic: facial acupuncture.

Like many women who have tried acupuncture in pursuit of beauty, Ms. Becker hoped that having needles strategically inserted into her face would be cheaper and last longer than her birthday injections.

Ms. Becker, now 53, started with 10 sessions in five weeks ($1,000) and has gone for monthly maintenance since ($105 a session).

Acupuncture didn’t end up being much of a bargain, but it pays in other ways, she said.
“I can really see a difference in my face,” said Ms. Becker, who sees Steven Sonmore, a licensed acupuncturist in Minneapolis. “It looks younger, smoother, brighter and uplifted.”

Early adopters like Ms. Becker first spread word of the virtues of a so-called acupuncture face-lift. Then before the 2005 Academy Awards, a crew of facial acupuncturists descended on Soho House, a makeshift celebrity hangout in Los Angeles, and A-listers jumped at the chance to transform their skin from the inside out.

Now, thanks to more robust marketing, cosmetic acupuncture has caught the attention of more of the wrinkled public. Its holistic approach appeals in particular to women who want to slow signs of aging, but don’t want to undergo surgery or to inject chemicals.

Read More

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I had a wonderful time at this year's Pacific Symposium in San Diego. Although I only went for the weekend portion, I have already implemented many of the principles I learned from Alex Tiberi, Kiiko Matsumoto, Effie Chow, and Mark Kastner. Yet between flight, hotel, food, rental car, and incidentals, I could have paid for a the next 10 years worth of CEU credits. Lately I have been doing the one hour CEUs by Bob Flaws from Blue Poppy which are excellent, but there is a new company that has also started offering courses for those of us who live in the (acupuncture) sticks. I have yet to participate, but I will provide an update and review when I take a class.

Acupuncture continuing education courses online are offered by the Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMI) at . Acupuncture courses can be downloaded instantly and an online quiz is provided so that acupuncturists may receive California CEU, Florida CE, and NCCAOM PDA credit towards acupuncture license renewal. All acupuncture classes are certified for continuing education credit in all states that license acupuncturists. HealthCMI is currently upgrading their open source code to make the online experience more accessible and looks forward to presenting an expanded offering of online classes. All courses feature a secure online payment system using Geotrust SSL encryption. "Online classroom technology continues to expand at an incredible rate. HealthCMI will present several new classes using these open source solutions. Participants can look forward to a more streamlined online experience for immediate access to medical educational courses," said Executive Director of the Healthcare Medicine Institute, Adam White, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. .

HealthCMI is pleased to announce several upcoming acupuncture continuing education courses online. "Acupuncture courses for continuing education credit provide important resources for clinical treatment to acupuncturists. The Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMI) has contracted with professors from several acupuncture colleges and schools to provide high quality continuing education courses online. Our goal is to provide quality educational materials for licensed acupuncturists," said Adam White. "We expect our next course on the topic of pediatric disorders to be published shortly and several new courses will provide continuing education credits both for nurses and acupuncturists in all states that license acupuncture." HealthCMI plans to launch the nursing continuing education online department in early 2008 to complement its acupuncture continuing education department.

Read More

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Study

Polycystic Ovary Disease/Syndrome seems to be cropping up more and more. It seems every one of my female clients having fertility issues have all been diagnosed with PCOS and the medications they are prescribing to aid it are less than friendly. Noe the University of Virginia is announcing a call for volunteers for a study to test the effectiveness of acupuncture on this growing disorder. Unfortunately, they are going with sham acupuncture as the control rather than no treatment, or doing a drug versus acupuncture study, but at least it is a beginning.

Acupuncture for PCOS

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stickin' It To Us

I came across this parody today that was marginally funny, although some of the other material on this site is downright hilarious. Have a laugh, check it out.

Acupuncture Proven to Relieve the Suffering of the Dead

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Using the Needle After the Knife

Numerous articles came out today about the effects of decreasing the need for pain medicine following surgery. Of course, this came along with an onslaught of articles refuting the success of acupuncture for IVF, but I wanted to focus on the positive.

Studies find acupuncture cuts post-surgical pain
Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:35pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The use of acupuncture before and during surgery reduces patients' post-operative pain as well as the need for pain-killing medication, researchers said on Tuesday.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina analyzed the results of 15 clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture -- a practice that originated in China of inserting thin needles into specific body points.

They concluded that it is valuable for pain control in surgery patients.

The 15 trials showed that patients getting acupuncture before or during various types of
operations had significantly less pain afterward than patients who did not get acupuncture.
These patients also required less morphine or other opioid pain medication after surgery, which reduced the side effects like nausea and vomiting from these types of drugs, the researchers said.

In terms of pain-drug side effects, the acupuncture patients experienced 1.5 times lower rates of nausea, 1.6 times fewer reports of dizziness and 3.5 times fewer cases of urinary retention compared to the other patients, the study found.

These findings augment a growing body of evidence on the value of acupuncture in improving the surgical experience for patients, the researchers said.

Read More

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Weekend with Mei Zen

Since I can never get enough CEU's, this past weekend I attended the Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture for the Face and I wanted to share a breakdown of the 2-day seminar.

The System: As I had to sign a releases that I cannot talk about specifics of treatment, I will leave the description general. As in other systems, Mei Zen includes a total body acupuncture treatment, uses the eight extraordinary point combinations, and is affiliated with a product line. What makes this system unique is that the same facial protocol is used on every patient and that it makes use of crossing and apex groups as described in the Huang Di Nei Jing. While I cannot disclose the points, I can tell you there are nearly 85 specialty needles in the face, all of which are inserted without a guide tube.

After watching the demo, I was surprised at the lack of "facial" as I typically incorporate masks and massage in my treatments, but the instructor states that is the practitioner's preference how much of this they want to incorporate in addition to the protocol. A wealth of nutritional, herbal, and marketing materials are provided which would be useful even if you did not want to practice cosmetic acupuncture.

Aside from cosmetic acupuncture, Mei Zen is about branding. At the seminar, T-shirts, hats, logo CDs, and cards were for sale, and Martha sponsors a Google group so the Mei Zen community has an open discussion forum. In order to be "certified" and listed on the main website, you must present cases and have your needling technique observed at a special certification seminar. This ensures standards of practice and is a good device for building further branding and loyalty. Above everything else, this is a well conceived business plan!

The Instructor: Martha Lucas is all knowledge and no fluff - her matter-of-fact method really gibes with my learning style. She had a strong foundation in her particular style of acupuncture and is an enthusiastic, articulate presenter. Her supervised practice was invaluable, she was open to knowledge offered by seminar participants, and she was humble enough to only answer questions she knew the answer to. She kept good control over the seminar in terms of ensuring everyone stayed on task, was able to give detailed, individualized feedback of needling technique, and demonstrated great respect and deference to her own teachers.

My only criticism is that she did make some disparaging and somewhat uninformed comments about "rival" facial acupuncture instructors and their techniques. I have never taken Virgina Doran's seminar, but I did participate in Mary Elizabeth Wakefield's and there are many similarities between the two systems. That being said, I am would love to attend her Pulse Seminar and Mei Zen system for weight loss, infertility and health issues should they ever be located nearby.

The Product: Lili Flora is the affiliated skin care line that uses all natural western herbal ingredients. I was able to pick the founder's brain about the products, but I would have liked for her to have had some presentation time during the seminar. There was no sales pressure to buy these products and in fact, if you are at all crafty and like to experiment, it would be easy to make most of them in your kitchen. I have been using some of the products at home and feel they are of good quality and smell wonderful.

I am glad I attended this seminar if only for the great nutritional/herbal information and marketing ideas presented. I think Mei Zen is a solid system, and while the apex and crossing points are a good theory, but honestly, threading works and is no more uncomfortable that the Mei Zen way if performed properly. Ultimately, it is my patients who decide what method they prefer. I hope to continue to study with Martha in the future as she is a dynamic, innovative, and practical instructor who provides good value and knowledge for your CEU dollar.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stabbed in the Back

The proclamation that acupuncture significantly outperforms conventional medication and physical therapy was published on multiple sites this morning. The only downside to the research is that they found sham acupuncture works almost as well, upping the potential for "quackery."

Acupuncture better at treating low back pain than conventional therapy
From our ANI Correspondent

Washington, Sept 25: A new study has revealed that six months of acupuncture is more effective than conventional therapy for treating chronic low back pain.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of Regensburg found that both sham acupuncture and traditional Chinese verum acupuncture, seem effective in treating chronic pain.

"Low back pain is a common, impairing and disabling condition, often long-term, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 70 percent to 85 percent," the authors wrote."

It is the second most common pain for which physician treatment is sought and a major reason for absenteeism and disability," they added.

Michael Haake, Ph.D., M.D., of the University of Regensburg, Bad Abbach, Germany, and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical trial involving 1,162 patients (average age 50) who had experienced chronic low back pain for an average of eight years.

"At six months, response rate was 47.6 percent in the verum acupuncture group, 44.2 percent in the sham acupuncture group and 27.4 percent in the conventional therapy group."

"The superiority of both forms of acupuncture suggests a common underlying mechanism that may act on pain generation, transmission of pain signals or processing of pain signals by the central nervous system and that is stronger than the action mechanism of conventional therapy," the authors said.

"Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contraindications. The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment.," they added.

Read More

From the Associated Press: Study: Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Funny Tidbit

Okay, this is not stricly acupuncture related, but it is amusing and possibly something to consider when treating patients with implants.

Bee sting burst breast implant

A Taiwanese woman's breast implant was reportedly burst by a bee sting.

The 31-year-old woman, from Miaoli town, was wearing a low-cut dress while riding her motorcycle when her right breast was stung by a bee.

"My right breast disappeared in only two days," said the woman, who received the implant three years ago, according to Southern China City News.

Surgeon Zeng Dingchang says the saline implant is supposed to resist pressure of up to 200 kg, and said it was "very strange" for one to deflate because of a bee sting.

"She is very skinny, and the implant made the skin of her breast even thinner, and therefore easy to penetrate," he said.

The surgeon has now performed a replacement implanted operation - but warns that acupuncture or yoga could cause it to burst again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Obituary of an Acupuncture Hero

I came across this lovely story and thought I would share.

Peter Wang, 88, acupuncturist who bridged cultures: A Life Story
Teacher, author helped Chinese newcomers settle in NE Ohio
Monday, August 27, 2007
Alana BaranickPlain Dealer Reporter

At his Chester Township acupuncture clinic, Peter C. Wang helped folks quit smoking, relieved their arthritis pain and immersed them in Chinese culture.

The former Gates Mills resident, who died July 26 at age 88, opened the clinic with his wife, Rose, in the late 1970s.

"[Acupuncture] was something you didn't talk about then," said Ann Volk, who was Wang's patient in the late 1980s. "It had not gained the status that it has today. He gave successful treatments for weight loss, smoking, drinking. I had a cyst on the back of my knee. He helped me immeasurably."

Wang, whose wife had been trained in acupuncture in Hong Kong, returned to his homeland around 1980 to take acupuncture courses given by traditional Chinese medical colleges and to receive certification. He found the political climate had changed dramatically since 1949 when Mao Tse-tung's Chinese Communist Party took power.

Wang, the son of a teacher, was born Wang Chieh in Shanxi, a province in northern China. He grew up in a rural area, where he learned horticulture, culinary arts and equestrian skills that had been handed down from his ancestors.

Read More

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Sign of Things to Come?

As the country moves toward self-funded insurance while listening to presidential candidates debate the merits of everything from national healthcare to requiring all employers to provide coverage, it is hard to predict where intergrative modalities will fit in. But they say everything starts at the coasts and moves inland. As usual, California is at the forefront of advancing coverage, and therefore legitimacy, of acupuncture practice.

Bill would require insurance to cover acupuncture

By Hector Trujillo/Staff Writer

A bill requiring health-care service plans and health insurers to provide coverage for acupuncture under a group plan or policy is being considered in the Legislature.

Assembly Bill 54, introduced by Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, creates new coverage requirements on health-care service plans and would impose state-mandated local programs.

"Every insurer issuing group health insurance shall provide coverage for expenses incurred as a result of treatment by holders of licenses under Section 4938 of the Business and Professional Code...,” according to the bill.

Section 4938 says any person other than a physician, surgeon, dentist or podiatrist who is not licensed and practices or supervises an acupuncture procedure involving the application of a needle is guilty of a misdemeanor.

“About 70 percent of insurers are currently offering acupuncture coverage in their plans,” said Janet Leach, a licensed acupuncturist. “It will make a huge difference with 100 percent of patients being covered.

“This bill will significantly affect the way acupuncturists are perceived in the medical profession,” added Leach, who has worked at the Five Cities Medical Building in Pismo Beach for the last seven years.

Read More

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

While I give dietary recommendations to the majority of my clients, I do not do a lot of acupuncture for weight loss as a stand alone treatment. I advise patients to speak with a nutritionist, preferably holistic, to devise a solid meal and activity plan. Here is an article from the that gives an informative break-down with some free dietary advise - I would skip the "downward purging" though!

TCM take on fat: Vent your spleen
By Zhang Qian 2007-8-15

If you want to fight fat the TCM way, you should eat foods to promote a healthy spleen — like Chinese pearl barley, known as Job's tears — and drink lots of Pu'er tea. Both are also diuretics, writes Zhang Qian.

A sun top, miniskirt and high-heel sandals - that's the outfit that catches men's attention and other girls' envy on the streets in summer. In order to show off their figures in skimpy clothes, girls started their weight-loss battles months ago, but it's never too late to lose weight.Drinking slimming tea (a laxative), staying on a diet, and going to the gym frequently are widely used weight-loss methods. But eating certain foods or being pierced by fine silver needles may also help you to get rid of excessive weight.

Most people believe that obesity results from eating too much, which is certainly true in most cases. But it fails to explain why some people gain weight even though they eat little and drink lots of water while others keep slim though they eat a big dinner every day.

"It is not simply the case that the more you eat, the more weight you gain," says Dr Zhang Zhongyi, deputy director of the Acupuncture Department of Yueyang Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital. "Whether your stomach and spleen work well plays a much more important role."

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the spleen, together with the stomach, digest and absorb nutrients (the spleen function in TCM differs from that in Western medicine). TCM holds that the spleen is responsible for sending the nutrients from the stomach to all the organs, and also for expelling excessive body fluid. If the spleen doesn't function well, excessive body fluid will collect and turn into fat.

Fat not only collects on muscles, destroying a nice figure, but also on organs and in the blood, which can cause health problems.

Read More

Friday, August 10, 2007

What's In A Name?

There has been some debate lately on the name "alternative medicine." Much of the head-butting between Western and Eastern styles of practiced had diminished as more and more primary health care providers are suggesting massage, yoga, and acupuncture. "Complementary medicine" has been the preferred term over the past few years, however that does not tell the entire story either. The new title seems to be "integrated medicine" which doesn't make any one therapy primary and allows for a broad range of therapies to be considered legitimate. Guess I am going to have to change the wording in my website!

Integrating alternatives into Western medicine

August 10, 2007

Alternative medicine isn’t really “alternative” any more — in fact, the medical community isn’t even using that term.

Now it’s “integrated” medicine, and after years of being considered a fringe practice, treatments such as massage and acupuncture have found their way into mainstream medicine.

So why the name change?

“Years ago it was called alternative because it was Eastern vs. Western medicine and they knocked against each other often,” said Theresa O’Toole, associate administrator of rehabilitative services at Memorial Health System. “They use integrated because it’s part of the total treatment, not an alternative, but in tandem with other, more Western treatments.”

More than 60 percent of adults say they’ve tried some kind of integrated medicine, according to studies. And the number reaches 70 percent when surveying people who are 60 and older.

What is integrated medicine? According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, one of the National Institutes of Health sites, it’s everything from acupuncture to vitamin regimens to prayer.

The center released a study in 2004 that showed that as many as 62 percent of U.S. residents have used some sort of integrated medical treatment — with most saying that they include megavitamin therapy and prayer as part of their health programs.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dynamic Duo

Several years ago a Mexican friend and I were discussing acupuncture when the subject of cupping came up. He exclaimed "my mom did that to us on our backs when we were sick as kids - it's a Mexican thing!" It is also an Oriental Medicine "thing." Imagine - two toatally different cultures developing the same type of treatment oceans apart. Now there is a deeper cross-cultural sharing as acupuncture sweeps Mexico thanks to an educational exchange with Viet Nam.

Viet Nam, Mexico pin down acupuncture education deal

HA NOI — Viet Nam and Mexico inked an agreement in Ha Noi yesterday to develop acupuncture education and exchange between the two countries.

The plan, which will see Viet Nam help train Mexican doctors in acupuncture and set up a drug rehabilitation centre in Zacatecas, was signed by Director of the National Hospital of Acupuncture Nghiem Huu Thanh and Rector of the Zacatecas Autonomous University, Mexico Alfredo Femat Banuelo.

Also on the agenda is an international conference aimed at bringing acupuncture to a wider audience and discussing techniques. The conference will be held for the first time in Zacatecas this November with the support of Viet Nam Acupuncture Association and the National Hospital of Acupuncture.

The contributions of the Viet Nam Acupuncture Centre in the Zacatecas Autonomous University pointed to the special relationship Viet Nam shares with Mexico, rector Banuelo said at the signing ceremony.

According to statistics from the National Hospital of Acupuncture, nearly 50 Vietnamese doctors have come to work in Mexico, providing acupuncture treatment for 12,000 Mexican patients so far. With the support of Vietnamese experts, 17 Mexican masters in acupuncture have been trained at Zacatecas University. — VNS

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Teeter-Tottoring with Community Acupuncture

Lately there has been much buzz concerning community acupuncture as such clinics have been popping up all over the country. These clinics offer acupuncture on a sliding scale fee from between $15-$40 per session with treatment taking place in a group setting, These patients are typically placed in a recliner rather than on a table, and remain clothed as the majority of points used are distally located. According to the Community Acupuncture Network:

Acupuncture has been a community based medicine for most of its long history. In Asia, acupuncture has traditionally been practiced in group rather than individual settings. For acupuncture to be most effective, patients need to receive it frequently and regularly -- far more frequently and regularly than most insurance plans will pay for. As acupuncture has moved toward the mainstream, it has been forced into a paradigm of one-on-one treatments and high prices, which has decreased not only patient access but treatment efficacy.

While on one hand, this may be a cost efficient delivery model, the first thing that comes to mind is "what about HIPPA?!" Where is the patient confidentiality? I suppose this differs from clinic to clinic, but I can't help getting the image of the dryer section in a beauty salon with everyone knowing each other's business. The range of reactions to treatment, especially in those with mental/emotional issues, are not often things to be shared with strangers.

I am interested in the use of the word "efficacy" when they are cutting out a good number of acupuncture points and limiting available modalities. Sure, you can get great effect using the yuan primary, xi-cleft, and eight-extra meridian points, but you mostly eliminate Mu and Shu points as well as the local ashi for pains on the back and lower abdomen. What about moxa, plum blossom and cupping? Is there time for electro-stim or tui na? Is several affordable treatments lacking in completeness truly better than one full, private session?

Also, I wonder about the patient-client relationship. Much of the reason many of us go into alternative medicine is to have a more personal contact with our clients than many of us may have experienced with our primary health providers. This model sounds dangerously close to factory mill. It also increases the possibility of mistakes or accidents.

By providing lower cost service, are you still providing the same quality care that you would one-on-one or is the client, "getting what I paid for?" You are also undercutting other practitioners by providing a cheap service that does not represent the full spectrum of the medicine. It is up in the air whether this coveted "boost in awareness" of acupuncture will serve to bring the profession up or put it on the level of the corner trend market (remember the oxygen bar?). To put it another way, you don't see internists or GPs hanging out there shingle with an advertised price. Sliding scale fees in western medicine are typically done through organizations that verify employment and income. And no one I know has a very high opinion of the "stop and doc."

Lest you think I am totally dismissive, this style does have advantages, especially for new practitioners, in that you can see more patients and gain rapid assessment skills while honing your treatment style. You can see a broad range of people and conditions that may have otherwise not had access to treatment, potentially put new clients at ease by the casual atmosphere, and, pardon the bluntness, increase your income stream in a way traditional acupuncturists cannot accomplish. There are all kinds of things you can add, such as auricular acupuncture, foot cleanses, and massaging chairs, that would add to the experience and effectiveness. Just as cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be a good adjunct to traditional psychotherapy, perhaps group acupuncture for people with similar ailments would have have an amplified effect.

An intriguing model would be to have a duel practice similar to the Western MD "group". Partnering with another acupuncturist(s) allows for a combination of both models thereby offering more options to your patients while having a few other professionals to consult with. Hmmmmm . . . .

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm Back

It has been a couple of months since my last post and there has been quite a bit of news in the acupuncture world. More research and testimonials as to the effectiveness of Oriental Medicine, more worldwide and national coverage of local clinics and larger hospitals, more emergence of community acupuncture clinics that, depending on who you are talking to, undercut peers and undermine the profession or provide low-cost therapy to those who could otherwise not afford treatment, . . . more "asian medicine" clinics being busted for a phony prostitution front. Any way you look at it, acupuncture has been in the news while I have been away and I am ready to pick-up and resume inserting my 2 yuan. In the meantime, here are a couple of websites/blogs I have run into in the past few days. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Old Friends, New Clinic

This morning I was pleased to read that a former instructor of mine teamed up with one of my old buddies to open an integrative health clinic. Steve Swart, infamous at IICM for being the most hard line didactic and clinical instructor (and I aced his final thank you very much), and Robert Campbell, who I remember even in his first year investigating suppliers for his future herbal pharmacy, have opened an impressive center for holistic healing in an area where "alternative medicine" has become an anachronistic term. I remember reading a statistic that there were more acupuncturists per capita in Santa Fe then there were in the major cities in China! At any rate, this pair will doubtless win over the competition.

Not-so-new healing center often a 'last resort'
By Cindy Bellinger For The New Mexican May 1, 2007

After a lot of renovation that included new walls, carpeting and the re-routing of electrical wiring, the Integrative Holistic Healing Center finally opened two years ago, and word is slowly getting around.

"We seem to be the last resort, though," said Robert Campbell, doctor of Oriental medicine and co-owner. "When people have tried every treatment in town for their health problems, they turn up here."

Steve Swart, who is also a doctor of Oriental medicine and a partner in the business, said that he doesn't see the work at the center as "alternative."

"We work with doctors of Western medicine to dovetail the treatments," he said.

That's what Nancy King finally did. She'd had leukemia, and when she began experiencing various symptoms, she knew it was coming back.

"I had a high fever and had some idea about what was happening," she said. "My oncologist knew about Steve and recommended that I go see him. (Swart) has really helped me find a level of management for my cancer."

Treatments offered at the Integrative Holistic Healing Center include acupuncture, biofeedback, neuromuscular therapy, massage and counseling. Swart and Campbell also have a hypnotherapist, herbalists, energy workers and those practiced in advanced levels of blood work on staff. Eight people, who work at the center on a contract basis, organize collective discussions when they feel a patient could benefit from several approaches.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Upcoming Battle

Great, the FDA got board again. I understand the need for regulation, but juice? How do they plan to enforce banning vegetables and stones? And Mr. McGreggor though Peter Rabbit was a nuisance!

The FDA is proposing stricter regulations for herbs, vitamins, vegetable juices and even “devices” such as massage oils, massage rocks, and acupuncture needles under a new guidance document up for review.

According to the document produced by the FDA, use of CAM therapies has risen substantially over the last few years, with one third of adults reporting using some form of CAM in the last year. Interestingly, the docket also reports that visits to CAM practitioners outnumber visits to primary care physicians each year.

The FDA claims that their regulations are simply a “guidance” as to what constitutes regulated CAM items. The CAM community disagrees. They see the defining of regulated items as an attempt to control the use of CAM within the United States—and possibly incorporate CAM devices and medicines into what some refer to as “Big Pharma,” the pharmaceutical industry.

The guidance document essentially defines any item used to treat, mitigate, cure or prevent a disease as regulated by the FDA. This means that if someone claims their vegetable juice helps cure cancer, the FDA then has the right to regulate that vegetable juice as a drug. It also means that if someone is using massage rocks as part of their therapy for a disease or disorder, those massage rocks are regulated as medical devices.

What impact does that have on the CAM practitioner and consumer? If something is regulated by the FDA as a drug or medical device, its use is restricted. People will no longer be able to legally grow or distribute herbs in their garden if those herbs are used for medicinal purposes or administer juice if that juice is said to have health benefits.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Self Acupuncture and the Fractal Body

When I first read the title I thought of one of my former classmates yelling about "recycled qi!" I have done my share of self-treatments and given many lessons to patients on how to use self-acupressure. However, I believe no matter how great of an acupuncturist or massage therapist you are, there is nothing like having it done by a fellow professional.

The title nonwithstanding, Dr. Ye has developed a "fractal needle" system drawing on concepts from the Yellow Emperor's Classic and the use of one-needle treatments. A fractal is a repatative geometric figure within a structure. In acupuncture, you can think of the ear, hands, or feet being a fractal of the whole body. This is a bit on the esoteric side, so for a more complete description with case studies and treatment protocols, visit

If it works, it would be an excellent tool for patients who could benefit from more frequent treatments but are unable to afford or schedule them. As a main treatment, however, I am a little skeptical.

Self Acupuncture
Alien Sheng
April 15, 2007

Mention acupuncture and people tend to get images of an ancient Chinese man with a long, white beard and needles. The practice of self acupuncture puts this to rest.

When the idea of writing on the subject of self acupuncture was first considered, it created a feeling of outrage. It would appear that the idea that self acupuncture was possible seemed as idiotic and dangerous as offering a guide to self-brain surgery. It seemed to insult the entire idea of Traditional Chinese Medicine and lump it into a classification with other New Age self help treatments. The theories that provide the foundation for acupuncture are grounded in centuries of experimentation, study, and philosophical contemplation. To think that you could go to Wal-Mart and buy a copy of “Acupuncture for Dummies” was insulting.

This is not really wrong either. Acupuncture is not something that can be done by someone who does not have a great deal of training. On the other hand, it is not really a dangerous thing. If the needles used are at least sterile, and the insertion points are clean, there is not a lot of harm that can be done by an amateur. There is not a lot of good that can be done either.

There is a legitimate form of self acupuncture, however. It was developed a few years ago by a Dr. Zu De Ye while he was at the University of Arizona. It has since spread and is being offered in clinics in several countries. It is founded on a theory known as the “fractal theory.” This theory was developed using the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but taking some of them a step further. To understand exactly how it works, one must be able to accept the concept that the Universe is made up of parts that are microcosms of the whole.

For example, the human body is a microcosm of the Universe itself. The forces that are at play in the Universe are also at play inside the human body. When the human body is out of harmony with this cosmic oneness, illness occurs. When the body is in harmony, wellness occurs. The fractal theory takes this a step further. Parts of the body can also represent the whole. This idea is behind such things as ear acupuncture where the ear is seen as representing a human form curled into a fetal position. It also appears in Korean Hand acupuncture where all of the points and Meridians of the body are located in the hand.

The fully developed fractal theory has led to the discovery of certain points on the human body that are actually microcosms of entire organ systems. Results can be obtained by stimulation of these points with very small needles. It involves only one needle placed in certain very specific and easily located key points on the body. Dr. Ye’s treatment regime has allowed patients to practice this form of self acupuncture. The needles are small, and the points in safe locations, so the danger is minimal. The advantages of self acupuncture is that no practitioner is needed for the treatments and time and money are saved. Although much more research needs to be done here, there is some indication that the self acupuncture following principles of fractal theory might one day become another tool in the healer’s arsenal.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Job Opening, Please!

The success of this hospital based holistic program makes me want to start my own business proposal. I think one of the misconceptions about CAM practitioners is that we all believe "it's my way or the highway." Granted, there are some who do shun all things western medicine, but the vast majority believe intergrating as many modalities as possible to bring about health and wellbeing is the preferred method of practice.

Acupuncture meets antibiotics: Mercy Hospital supplements traditional care with holistic treatments
Miami Herald, The (KRT) - Mar. 27, 2007

Mar. 27--Two years ago, Ivan Toirac was admitted to Mercy Hospital in a coma following a drug overdose.

"All the doctors told us he was going to die, or was going to be like a vegetable for the rest of his life," recalled his father, Arturo Toirac.

Then Patty Hutchison began working with the hospital's doctors. Founder of Mercy's holistic care program, she began acupuncture therapy on him.

"The first thing that happened was his kidneys, which were totally closed according to the doctors, opened up," Arturo says. "My son is alive, talking to us and recognizes us."

"Patty, she's all right," adds Ivan, his voice labored but clear.

And while Hutchison is the first to acknowledge Toirac's treatment was -- and still is -- a group effort, she is at the forefront of a new era in medicine, blending Western conventions with Eastern alternative methodology under one hospital roof. Indeed, U.S. hospitals offering some form of complementary alternative medicine grew from 7.7 percent in 1998 to 18.3 percent in 2004, according to the American Hospital Association's 2005 survey of hospitals, the most current survey year.

What makes Mercy's program unusual is that Hutchison practices on site, integrating her primary treatments -- acupuncture, homeopathy and cupping -- with that of the hospital's 700 doctors.

"There is not just one way of doing things . . . we integrate," Hutchison says. "If you need an antibiotic, that is fine. But after you take the antibiotic, there are probiotics to put the intestinal flora back in so you don't catch something else."

The medical community is starting to take notice.

"It's growing because our medical knowledge only takes us so far," says Dr. Hugo Gonzalez, chief medical officer for Sister Emmanuel Hospital, a Coconut Grove facility that treats long-term care patients, in stays of 25 days or more. "Holistic offers an additional way to help people."

The University of Miami's medical school, for example, has provided alternative medical care through its Complementary Medicine Program for a decade. The program is housed in a building on the grounds of the Jackson Memorial Hospital campus.

"It's an important program for patients," says Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the UM's Miller School of Medicine.

Hutchison, who faced initial resistance before Mercy administrators green-lighted an in-patient program in 2005, has a therapy room on the first floor of the Coconut Grove hospital. There are two cots, New Age music floating from a desktop stereo, and a multicolored lamp sending a mist lazily toward the ceiling. The colors are used for therapy: orange, for instance, is effective as an antidepressant, she notes, while switching the lamp from Tang orange to a more mellow yellow and bold blue.

Hutchison works on a wide variety of patients, from cancer survivors to those suffering from stiff necks, lower back pain and mental health issues.

"With the patient population I work with . . . cancer therapy . . . Patty works on relaxation and to ease nausea and some of the vomiting," says registered nurse Karen Stephenson, oncology clinical specialist coordinator at Mercy.

Hutchison says she has treated approximately 300 patients since 2005. Each patient is visited an average of five times. Doctors are coming along, too. "It's tough to accept something new; most doctors are not educated about this in medical school. I would like to see it grow. It's a good tool to have here," Stephenson says.

Teaching hospitals, such as UM's medical school, now require courses in complementary alternative medicine (CAM). In fact, 78 percent of medical schools required courses in CAM in 2004, up from 26 percent in 2001, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Some studies on acupuncture have shown promise. A 2005 study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that Chinese-style acupuncture -- which Hutchison practices -- had a "statistically significant effect" on easing chronic lower back pain in the short term. A Mayo Clinic study in 2006 found acupuncture reduces the symptoms of fibromyalgia, characterized by chronic musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, joint stiffness and sleep disturbance.
There is no evidence, however, that acupuncture can be directly linked to bringing someone like Ivan Toirac out of a coma, says substance abuse expert Dr. Lauren Williams, assistant professor of psychiatry for the University of Miami.

"Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of addiction, but it's always been an adjunct to psychosocial programs. Proponents say acupuncture works for them, but it's not mainstream
and not a stand-alone treatment by any means," Williams says.

Goldschmidt, the UM medical school dean, urges caution when weighing conventional medicine with alternative therapies.

"There is specific management of a heart attack to save a life. There's little room in that treatment for integrative medicine or holistic to be a part of that intervention," he said. "When I was at Duke we conducted a study on various approaches to patients with heart attacks. . . . Music, massage, etc. In general, it didn't really improve the acute treatment of heart attacks. There's no replacement for that."

That's the point of programs like Mercy's.

"Cancer, in particular, is a multidisciplinary disease," says Dr. Jorge Antunez De Mayolo, a hematologist oncologist at Mercy. "It requires multiple medical specialties to handle each aspect. Patty does Oriental medicines, helps with massage, acupuncture, the control of pain. Physical therapists help us keep patients ambulatory. Nutritionists regulate caloric intake to help patients overcome the side effects of medicines. Psychologists help with coping. None of us has a predominant role."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Information for the Conciarge

We all know spas have been expanding to include acupuncture services, but now hotels are starting to get into the game. And believe it or not, the treatment rates are decent and the hotels are not grossing a large profit of their customers! If you ever wanted to break in to hospitality, you may want to use this piece in your sales pitch.

'Sticking' Your Guests for Profit
3/19/2007 5:09:46 PMBy David Wilkening

Highly competitive hoteliers looking for the next new innovative service might consider acupuncture. While the 5,000-year-old practice has been around a long time, it’s certainly far from commonplace, but some hotels are seeing green by sticking it to their guests.

The reaction when it was offered recently at the Spencer Hotel in Chautauqua, New York, was all positive, says owner Helen Edginton. She decided to introduce it after her personal experience.

“I was having some pain in my legs and toe and I used it. It worked fine,” she says. “It’s great for arthritis or for any kind of pain. You can also do it as a face lift. They’ve had quite a lot of success with that.”

Acupuncture may be best known as a surgical anesthetic but the hotel variety is perhaps more inclined to be cosmetic, though in some cases it offers relief from a variety of illnesses. Edginton says the acupuncture she offers through a licensed therapist is “fast, luxurious and painless.”

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I received an interesting e-mail today from a place calling themselves "the International Institute of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture." The headlines were:
1 - Eliminate a headache in 15 seconds
2 - An alternative to the Acupuncture needles
3 - Special tuition offered by our International Institute
4 - General notes

I did a quick browse and skimed the headache article, read the theory that underwire bras are pressing on the YangMing merdian which "accumulates energy in the breast, and becomes, with time, a stagnation and accumulation of the energy CHI. This could very well be an important cause of Breast-Cancer." Then there were several "teasers" on subjects including obesity, infertility and a piece on magnetic, needle free acupuncture. Nothing much came up a Google search of the founder of these methods, Prof. Jin Ke Yu.

You have to become a member of their organization before you are allowed to sign up for their classes. Included in the membership is a newsletter and, well, a newsletter with all kinds of "exclusive" information. No indication on class delivery method, but the company is based in Beijing. See what you think.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Runner's World

While I do not identify myself as a runner, I have managed to put away a few small races and even a mini-marathon. Needless to say, I have had my share of knee pain and ankle twists. When I sprained my ankle several years ago in a canyon, I had it lanced and cupped and within two days it was like it never happened. I have also seen my share of plantar faciitis in practice and have to admit I always feel like a bully when I administer treatment - having needles placed in your heel no matter how thin they are is uncomfortable. While most of us see patients at the chronic stage of the disease, it is a joy to be able to treat at the onset of injury. For athletes, this is especially true as it gets them back in training all the faster.

Can Acupuncture Heel an Injury?

When one of our staff members developed plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the layer of tissue that supports the arch of the foot), she sought treatment from a podiatrist and physical therapist, and iced, rested, and stretched the area. Despite her efforts, the pain continued. So she decided it was time for an alternative therapy-acupuncture.

She went to four sessions with neurologist, certified acupuncturist, and runner Robert Roeshman, M.D., of Allentown, Pennsylvania. During each appointment, Dr. Roeshman inserted 15 to 30 thin, pliable needles into her calves and feet. She felt some initial discomfort, but as she grew more comfortable with the process, the pain subsided. He next attached an electrical-stimulation device to a few of the needles. After 30 minutes, he detached the machine, removed the needles, and voil?Our runner felt better-much better.

"After the second session, I went running, and there was absolutely no pain in my heel." There are constant electrical charges flowing through the body, says Dr. Roeshman. The needles are placed in acupuncture points where there is decreased electrical activity. By generating an electric flow between these points, the brain is stimulated to release endorphins and trigger the immune system to help injuries heal. If done when an injury is "fresh," acupuncture can significantly reduce recovery time, he says. "An ankle sprain that would normally take seven to 14 days to heal could be better in one to three days."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pretty Inside, Pretty Outside

salesmanship has never been my strong point which is why facial acupuncture can be such a great marketing tool. People may shout "placebo" when a friend tells them their depression/pain/allergies are better with acupuncture, but they can't dismiss the effects when they see the results for themselves. Just one treatment can bring back a healthy, youthful glow, diminish a few of the deeper face lines, and provide a noticeable lift. Not only do you get a "qi lift," but you also get an acupuncture treatment that works on the constitutional level. Take that, spa facial!

Facial Acupuncture Said To Help Aging Process

Seema MathurReporting


Wrinkles and loose skin are a part of aging for most. But, can some well placed needles slow that aging process?

Experts say acupuncture has been around for about 5,000 years. While it's most known for promoting general health, practitioners will tell you its beauty secrets are an added benefit.

Christina Lacour, 38, began noticing signs of aging about two years ago.“I'm seeing lines around my forehead,” Lacour said. Lacour says plastic surgery or filler injections are not for her. So, instead she's going for a more natural approach--acupuncture.

First, needles are put in specific points in the feet called meridian points. These represent certain organs.“Sagging and droopy eyelids are often caused by weak digestive system,” acupuncturist Masako Wado said.

Once a good flow of energy or chi is circulating around the body, hair-thin needles are placed on the scalp and neck to lift the skin.Smaller needles are put in fine wrinkle lines. The trauma is suppose to cause collagen production and create a smoother appearance.“It gives the firm look and it brings more glow on the skin,” Wado said.

About an hour later, Lacour likes what she sees in the mirror.“The well being of that person will reflect on the skin,” Wado said.

Acupuncturists say it takes about 10 treatments for best results. But one treatment has made a believer out of Lacour.

Acupuncturists say, with booster treatments, results can last for a few years. There can be bruising and you want to make sure you are going to a licensed and experienced acupuncturist. The prices ranges from $150 to $200.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Pennsylvania Law

When I was practicing in Texas, we had a similar law that required a patient has been referred to an acupuncturist. One of the sneaky ways that I was told by the local board to get around this was to have a separate form where the patient gave the name and address of their PHP, verified they had seen an MD for the condition, and was referred by the physician to get acupuncture. Since most patients see acupuncturists after they exhaust all other possibilities, it was never a problem. Last time I checked, neither acupuncture, chiropractor, or naturopathy were extensively covered in med school, yet we had to be given "permission" while chiropractors and naturopaths were allowed to practice unencumbered. At least in Pennsylvania, the scales are beginning to balance.

PA Law Change Makes Alternative Medicine Easier to Obtain
Pennsylvania - Senate Bill 1235, eliminates the requirement for patients to obtain both a written referral and their last physical exam results to keep on file with their acupuncturist to take effect on January 28, 2007

January 24, 2007 - Backed by both Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate, "[S.B.1235] takes away a tremendous burden to our patients, who often waited weeks to procure a referral while their ailments were left untreated," Steven Mavros, Licensed Acupuncturist and representative of the Association for Professional Acupuncture stated.

Since a patient cannot be denied access to their own medical records [HIPAA], this means that the power to choose acupuncture as a complimentary therapy is now in the hands of the patient.

The original 1986 bill required acupuncturists to obtain physician referrals before providing treatment. Now, patients can come in for same day treatment with no paperwork in hand. Treatment may take place for up to 60 days without any diagnosis or referral.Governor Edward Rendell signed S.B.1235 into law on November 30, 2006.

Feel Good Acupuncture, located at 301 Montour Boulevard in Bloomsburg provides acupuncture and herbal services. "It will be a pleasure to be able to take patients for same-day visits. It's very frustrating to turn away a patient that is in pain, because they did not know that they needed to have a referral prior to treatment."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Points for Plants

Wow - better botany through acupuncture - who would have thought?

Researcher patents use of acupuncture on plants

LONG-TERM PROJECT: Hsiao Gui-wen spent eight years drawing up a comprehensive map of plant acupuncture points and another seven years perfecting the treatment By Chung Li-hua
STAFF REPORTERS Sunday, Jan 07, 2007, Page 2

Can acupuncture be used on plants?

After experimenting for 15 years, Hsiao Gui-wen (蕭貴文), a researcher of Chinese medicine, has uncovered the acupuncture points on plants.

When applied to fruit-bearing plants such as peach and apple trees, acupuncture not only advanced the harvest time by a month and a half, but also decreased damage by blight.

The technique has been patented, and many interested businesses now are in negotiation for the rights to use the technology.

Hsiao originally ran a chiropractic clinic in Yonghe. After he witnessed ginger lilies change color upon absorbing dyes, he toyed with the idea that plants may have acupuncture points like humans.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Year, New Face . . . Sort of

In Louisville, there are at least two new plastic surgery offices opening near my practice in addition to the several "botox beauty boutiques" that promise to smooth out any flaw you can think of with laser, syringe, or scalpel. Acupuncture facials can be a hard sell - people who are considering botox or face lifts are probably not going to embrace acupuncture because the results are too slow. The occasional Hollywood personality testimonial may bring some of these people in, but the majority are going to be existing clients or those who would not try anything more invasive than Oil of Olay. Here is some help in bringing that awareness.

Put a New Face on the New Year
Written by Staff
Friday, 05 January 2007

Okay, that may be a bit extreme, but with all of the natural and less invasion alternatives to plastic surgery now offered inn the Denver area, it might not be as impossible as it sounds. If you’ve been looking for a way to rejuvenate and start the year with confidence, you may be ready for an overall overhaul. There are ways to get the fresh glowing skin you are seeking without spending exorbitant amounts of money or committing to invasive plastic surgery. An easy first step is a consultation with a dermatologist and/or an acupuncturist.

Cosmetic acupuncture has been around for centuries. In the early Chinese dynasties, treatments were reserved for the wealthy, though luckily today it is available for common folks like us, and both men and women alike. Cosmetic acupuncture can eliminate fine lines and wrinkles and diminishes deeper lines. Sagging skin lifts and develops a healthy glow. rhytids (lines between the eyes) can completely disappear. Puffy eyes and sagging lids improve noticeably. Rosacea has diminished in most patients and acne becomes less of a problem. Women report that makeup slides on smoothly and less moisturizer is needed. Men have reported noticeable differences in “smile lines” and sagging jowels. Men also love the treatment because it is subtle and gradual.

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