Acupuncture for Autoimmune Conditions

Integrative medicine solutions including acupuncture and East Asian Medicine have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment providing pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms, and improving overall quality of life. In addition, acupuncture increases the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy for women with autoimmune conditions.

Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 100 serious chronic illnesses in this category including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison's disease, pernicious anemia, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain–Barré syndrome.

The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not entirely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. It is theorized that the inflammation initiated by these agents, toxic or infectious, somehow provokes in the body a "sensitization" (autoimmune reaction) in the involved tissues.

As the disease develops, vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, possible rashes or low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss. The following symptoms may indicate something wrong: numbness and tingling in hands and feet, dry eyes, hair loss, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or repeated miscarriages can also be caused by an autoimmune response.

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), more than 24 million people in the US have autoimmune diseases and another 8 million have autoimmune markers without a clear disease diagnosis. Of these, more than 80% are women. Each disease appears uncommon on an individual basis but, as a group, the disorders make up the fourth-largest cause of disability among women.

How Acupuncture Treats Autoimmune Disorders

According to East Asian Medicine theory, autoimmune disorders occur when there is an imbalance within the body systems related to immune functions. Imbalances can come from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of Qi through the body. While these explanations sound strange, when the model is applied to the body, the treatments are very effective. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance; treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.

Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, organ function, and parts of the brain. These responses help the body rebalance. As a result things like blood pressure, body temperature, and the immune system return to a more normal and healthy state.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine provide safe and effective options for the management of autoimmune conditions and improving quality of life. Please contact our office with any questions.

Many of our patients are familiar with one of the frequency therapies we currently provide here, FSM (Frequency Specific Microcurrent). This new therapy is called Frequency Specific Pulsed Electromagnetic Field or FSPEMF for short. Unlike most PEMF therapies which use generic frequency bands, FSPEMP allows us to fine-tune the treatment to the condition and/or tissues being treated with specific frequencies.

What are Electromagnetic Fields?

An Electromagnetic Field (EMF) is the field of force that is created due to the interaction of electric and magnetic forces of charged bodies. Any charged particle can create these fields, including our cells. Every organ in the body produces its own signature bio-electromagnetic field. Every single cell in the body communicates via these electromagnetic fields at the overall rate of trillions of chemical reactions per second.

What is a Frequency Specific Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Treatment?

It is a therapy which uses specific frequencies of pulsed electromagnetic fields to trigger the body’s natural healing processes. FSPEMF stimulates and activates cells to help resolve cellular dysfunction, promote healing, and support overall wellness. It has been scientifically documented to have beneficial effects on multiple biological tissues ranging from bone to brain. FSPEMF triggers a cascade of biological processes that supports ailing tissues to promote optimum functioning and health. 

There are 3 main ways electricity is at play in our body on a cellular level. The human body requires electricity to send signals throughout the body, including to the brain. Our own cells communicate with each other through electromagnetic exchanges in addition to chemical signaling. Each cell in our body acts as a small battery which stores bioelectricity. Any disruption in any one of these or all of them can lead to illness, dysfunction, and/or an increased risk of injury. Multiple factors can disrupt these electromagnetic communications, including aging, physical injuries, poor nutrition, and excessive physical or mental stress. FSPEMF is able to effectively help realign the electrical signaling at a cellular level and recharge the cells in order for them to function optimally. When the voltage of a cell falls below 15 millivolts, the cell malfunctions and emits receptors that trigger pain and inflammation. Restoring a cell to 20-25 millivolts permits the cell to operate normally. When a cell’s voltage is at 50 millivolts, it actively repairs itself, regenerating its internal components and expelling harmful toxins. What FSPEMF does is to provide the energy necessary to raise the cell’s voltage to 50 millivolts to actively repair itself.

FSPEMF Therapy has many potential benefits:

  • accelerate healing
  • increase relaxation
  • help to balance energy
  • reduces inflammation and pain
  • improve sleep quality
  • improve in blood circulation and blood oxygen level
  • improve digestion and the uptake of nutrients from the bloodstream to the cells
  • stimulate the immune system
  • dissipate allergies and hypersensitivities
  • support detoxification
  • help with muscle and joint aches
  • reduce inflammation
  • improve sports preparation, performance, and recovery
  • support efficient cell function and regeneration
  • reduce anxiety and calms the mind
  • create synergies with other modalities to improve results

What can this help with?

FSPEMF may be helpful for all of the same conditions as FSM, however it is not a replacement. It can be used separately as its own powerful stand-alone treatment as part of a series of treatments or it can be used in conjunction with FSM and acupuncture with great synergy. 

How is it applied?

Unlike FSM, FSPEMF doesn’t use wet towels because it doesn’t require direct skin contact, and it is able to penetrate deeper into the tissues because it does not have to overcome the tissue resistance electrical current does. Small field generators are placed on or near the body and the FSPEMF is able to work non-invasively and safely. Most patients feel only a general sense of relaxation and well-being during treatment. There is no pain, or pulses of electricity as there is no direct contact with the body. 

Robert Cecil, LAc

PEMF Case Studies: By Robert Cecil, LAc

Patient#1

History

Has a long history of migraines which have been on and off with varying degrees of intensity. Over the last two weeks, she has had a constant debilitating migraine she describes the headache as if her head is in a vise. In an effort to provide her with relief, her doctor has prescribed 250mg of Topamax. Even with this amount of Topamax, she continues to have a constant migraine with 25% improvement. On top of all of this she currently in the midst of a contentious divorce which is causing her a considerable amount of stress.

Summary

After five treatments she was off all of the Topamax and Immitrex and was headache free. Treatment consisted of acupuncture using a nanopuncture protocol to improve vagal nerve function and FSM to increase Vagal nerve function as well.

After 1st Treatment on 2/13:  

She had a small amount of relief after the treatment, however the next day the migraine was completely resolved.

She was HA free for a week. 

After a very stressful encounter with her ex-husband, the migraine began to return, however it was about half of the intensity of prior to the treatment.

She also took Imitrex the entire week without any relief.

After 2nd Treatment on 3/6:

She noticed a small improvement initially after the treatment, however it was gone the next day and never returned.

She also decreased her Topamax from 350mg to 200mg (a 150mg decrease).

After 3rd Treatment on 3/17:

She remained headache free and decreased the Topamax to 100mg.

After 4th Treatment on 4/7:

Still no headaches

Has stopped taking Topamax

After 5th Treatment on 4/28:

She still had no migraine (she did have a tension headache)

She said she is feeling great and she is still not taking Topamax.

After 4/28 I have not seen her again; her father is also a patient who comes in bi-monthly. I regularly ask him about her and she continues to remain headache free.

Introduction
Frequency specific microcurrent, or FSM, is a very gentle electrical stimulation modality developed by Carol McMakin, a Washington State chiropractor utilizing specific frequencies and microcurrent to change the state of injured or diseased tissues, which effectively treats a variety of physical and emotional conditions. It does so by using specific frequencies and a type of electrical current called microcurrent. Microcurrent is one millionth of an amp, an amount so minute our nerves are unable to feel it. Additionally, microcurrent has been found to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the molecule which serves as the major source of energy for all chemical reactions up to 500%. This is extremely beneficial because injured or dysfunctional cells require increased level of ATP to return to normal and to restore their function to normal. This is in comparison to the thousandth of an amp delivered by a TENS unit which has been found to decrease ATP production.

What is FSM?
The frequency specific aspect refers to the use of pairs of specific frequencies relating to conditions and tissues. Conditions such as inflammation, congestion, increasing vitality etc., and tissues such as nerves, bone, tendons, etc. all have a specific frequencies which are then paired according to the type of dysfunction and/or damage in the tissues. For example, if a nerve is inflamed, the frequency for inflammation will be paired with the frequency for nerves which neutralizes the inflammation in the nerve.

Mechanism of Action
How FSM works is not exactly understood, however, it is thought that one mechanism is through its ability to increase ATP production which is something desperately needed during recovery. Another model is the way in which the frequencies alter cellular signaling. When a cell is damaged through injury, disease, or environmental factors, its ability to function normally is compromised due to DNA damage. The frequencies alter the cellular signaling thus altering DNA transcription and normalizing cellular functioning.

What FSM Treats
FSM can treat a variety of physical and emotional complaints. Examples are fibromyalgia, weight loss, concussion, PTSD, depression, stress, and much more. Nerve pain which is extremely difficult to treat with mainstream medicine is easily and affectively treated with FSM.

What is a Treatment Like?
Unlike traditional electrical stimulation or TENS, which has a biting, stinging sensation, FSM is painless. Due to the current being at a level which is below the nerves ability to feel it, nothing is felt. Patients often feel very relaxed and some even fall asleep.

FSM + Acupuncture = Better Results
While FSM and acupuncture are excellent stand-alone treatments when combined I have found it to further increase the effectiveness of each modality. It is believed this is due to acupuncture and FSM’s abilty to modulate and regulate the body’s natural electrical system.

FSM Patient Success Stories:

Shoulder Replacement Avoided!

A patient came into Raja Wellness who was scheduled for total shoulder replacement. The reason for the surgery was pain and extremely limited and painful range of motion. She wanted to avoid surgery for multiple reasons with the biggest being she is only in her mid-50s, especially considering that most joint replacements will need to be re-done within 10-15 years. She received treatment with acupuncture and FSM 2 times a week for 5 weeks, to increase circulation, promote tissue healing, and decrease scarring and adhesions. This resulted in her regaining 95% of her range of motion and is pain free.

Professional Athlete Returns to the Field Amazingly Fast with Acupuncture and FSM

Over the summer, a professional athlete came to Raja Wellness with a torn thigh muscle - an injury he sustained during a game. His leg was quite swollen and severely bruised. So much, that in parts the leg had a blackish-purplish hue. Walking was extremely difficult; he could barely tolerate bearing weight on the injured leg. He also said that moving was very painful especially getting in and out of a car almost impossible for him to do. Even though the injury was quite severe in three weeks with a total of six treatments, this athlete returned to the field and won MVP for the first game of his return. Pretty amazing, yet this is the power of acupuncture and frequency specific microcurrent (FSM). Each of his treatments consisted of acupuncture and FSM to promote increased circulation and tissue healing. After the first treatment, the bruising decreased by 75%. After the second treatment the patient was able to resume light exercise. By the third his gait had normalized without a limp and he was able to get in and out of a car with ease. After the sixth treatment he returned to play as if nothing had ever happened winning the game’s MVP after three weeks of being sidelined.

Nanopuncture is an acupuncture system developed by acupuncturist Dr. Clayton Shui. It is based on a system of acupuncture he learned in China while studying for his PhD.

The system, called Xing Nao Kai Qiao, which translates “awaken the spirit and open the orifices” was developed over the last 50 years by Dr. Dr. Shi Xue Min of Tianjin hospital, Tianjin China for the treatment of stroke. This hospital treats approximately 10,000 stroke patients a day and is featured in the documentary “9,000 Needles”, a film that followed the treatment of Devin Dearth a 39-year-old stroke patient from Central City KY.

After being hospitalized until he was stable, Devon was sent for physical rehabilitation where he made good progress considering the extensive, life-threatening nature of the stroke he sustained. Even though he was making excellent progress, he was discharged from the rehab hospital due to insurance issues.

At this point he was still unable to walk and required extensive 24-hour care. With Devin’s wife struggling to care for him at home, his family began searching for other treatment methods that would help him regain some of his function and increase his independence. It was during this time when Devin’s brother Doug discovered the cutting-edge stroke treatment at Tianjin Hospital.

He found that people from around the world were going to Tianjin hospital and were obtaining excellent results. It was then that Devon and his family knew this was something that they needed to try. After months of preparation Devin, his wife, and his brother Doug (who is also is a documentarian) set off for Tianjian. Devin spent the next three months receiving intensive treatment which included acupuncture, herbal medicine, and physical rehabilitation.

Upon arriving, Devon was wheelchair bound, unable to move the side of his body effected by the stroke, had moderate speech difficulties, and dependent upon assistance to perform even the most basic of tasks. At the end of his time at Tianjin, Devon was able to walk with limited assistance, he had movement of his effected side, required minimal assistance to perform basic tasks, and his speech was substantially improved.

Based on his study under the supervision of Dr. Shi Xue Min, Dr. Clayton Shui (as mentioned above) developed and systematized a new acupuncture technique that applies essential elements of stroke acupuncture protocol to orthopedic and sports medical treatments for injury rehabilitation and prevention.

The result is a new, highly efficient system that can used to analyze the nervous system to determine where the its circulation and function is inhibited and will directly reset and reboot the patient’s nervous system in various parts of the body. This offers the patient significant neurovascular circulation benefits. Nanopuncture does this by using specific point protocols and needling techniques to activate the local nerve plexus, transmitting nerve impulses to the injured tissue, and increasing circulation. This increases range of motion, strength, relaxes tissues, and improves nerve firing.

Nanopuncture has been able to effectively treat neurological conditions such as:

  • Hemiplegia, head injuries, concussions, Parkinson’s disease
  • Poor balance
  • Different forms of neuropathy
  • Dysphagia (inability to swallow)
  • Vocal paresis
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Orthopedic conditions and sport injuries
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Chronic pain
  • And much more

Robert Cecil, one of our acupuncturists here at Raja Wellness, has received advanced training in this treatment technique and has been successfully implementing Nanopuncture with excellent results. While results are frequently seen after the first treatment, a treatment frequency of 3 times a week for 4 weeks is recommended. After this, a reassessment is performed and need for further treatment is then determined.

Did you know we can do Dry Needling?

It’s true, the needling techniques used in Dry Needling are among the first we learn in school. Dry Needling is an Acupuncture technique and as such should be performed only by professionals with an appropriate level of training such as a licensed acupuncturist or medical acupuncturist. Knowledge of anatomy and physiology is only one portion of the required skill set to safely and effectively use needles as a therapeutic tool. It is not a skill set that can be mastered in just a few hours.1

Acupuncturists understand the physiological basis for acupuncture as well as the underlying East Asian Medical Systems theory that underpins traditional treatment approaches (diagnosis, needling techniques, etc). Just because our licensure scope of practice isn’t full of biomedical definitions of acupuncture, it doesn’t mean that we don’t understand the physiological effect of our needles on our patients' bodies.  A close examination of the acupuncture research literature easily shows the validity of this. Some acupuncture points and trigger points can be described using almost identical language when using biomedical definitions of these structures:

Trigger Point is a sensitive area in the muscle or connective tissue (fascia) that becomes painful when compressed. Pressing on a trigger point can cause referred pain and can help identify the external area in the body generating the pain.

Ashi acupuncture involves treating areas causing pain and dysfunction that are usually unknown to the patient, and which actually constitute the root cause of their physical pain or dysfunction. Adopting Ashi acupuncture as the primary treatment method when treating physical pain, numbness, tingling or burning due to inhibited circulation or nerve impingement, as well as a range of motion issues, is critical to clinical success.2

The term Ashi - literally 'Ah yes!' - Qian Jin Yao Fang (Thousand Ducat Formulas): ‘In terms of the method of Ashi, in speaking of a person who has a condition of pain, when squeezing, if there is a spot inside [we] do not ask if it is a [recognised] acupuncture point, because [we] located a painful spot and they said, “Ah yes!”. Needling and moxa-ing [the points] have proven effective in the past, thus they are called Ashi points.3

Use of Ashi or Trigger Points has been part of accepted acupuncture practice for over 4,000 years - the advent of biomedical terminology to describe them does not negate the long-standing history of these points as part of acupuncture practice.  Simply needling a trigger point without addressing the underlying pattern of the patient (as is done in “dry needling” by those without in-depth training) can lead to poor outcomes for patients. Further, without appropriate training the idea that a “twitch” response is necessary for therapeutic benefit can lead to unnecessarily deep and aggressive needle techniques, undue pain and risk of injury to the patient. Lastly, without an understanding of acupuncture theory, efficacy of such techniques is often short-lived.

This issue is also complicated by the fact that most research into acupuncture and dry needling uses the same points, so it’s important to understand that many “trigger points” coincide with mapped acupuncture points and have actions far beyond the release of simple muscle tension.

“Trigger points can be verified objectively using magnetic resonance or ultrasound elastography or with intramuscular electromyography,”4 - As can acupuncture points - it is unclear in this article if trigger points are described as having the same anatomical structure as acupuncture points.

To get the most out of your “dry needling”, it is important to see a practitioner who understands the deeper framework behind these points, when to safely use trigger point needling, and when to use the other techniques and points to address any underlying issues causing the dysfunction in the first place.


Sources:

 1AAMA Policy on Dry Needling | NCCAOM

2http://www.liveoakacupuncture.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/JCM-Ashi-Points-Article.pdf

 3ibid

4http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3201653/

Just how good is our burn cream? 

Red says it's good enough to eat! And while we don't recommend eating it this all natural blend of oils and healing herbs soothes minor cuts, scrapes and burns and it's safe enough to accidentally get a little bit in the mouths of horses, humans and dogs. It's actually a favorite lip balm in our office during the dry winter months. You can order it online here or pick it up in the office. It's a great addition to any first aid kit. Here's some of the reviews: 

“I burnt my finger on an industrial iron and it was close to the bone. Because of my allergies the emergency room wasn't able to prescribe much and it was extraordinarily painful. Not only did this take the pain away it healed very quickly and without a scar.”  

“I scalded my hand with boiling water. The burn cream took the pain away quickly and by the next day you couldn't tell I had even done it.”  

“I love this because I know it's safe to use around my kids and animals. Those little nicks and cracks we come up in the winter time on your hands, the painful ones that just don't go away? They don't stand a chance against this stuff”  

Red loves it!

There are several brands of burn creams to choose from that are made with traditional Chinese herbs and ingredients. Our favorites have very similar ingredients containing these key herbs:

Dang Gui (Angelica Sinesis)

The root of this plant is a powerhouse in Traditional Chinese Herbalism - especially for women. Not only do we find it in a wide range of oral formulas it also has noted abilities to “regenerate flesh” and may help to promote healthy healing of skin.

Zi Cao Gen (Lithospermum spp.)

Another powerful healing root, commonly known as “purple root” this is a powerful herb for a variety of internal formulas that is also well known for it’s topical properties for soothing skin and antibacterial properties. It’s found in many formulas for eczema, carbuncles, boils and burns - especially where there is discoloration of the skin.

Huang Lian (Coptis Rhizoma)

This root is found in many formulas for both internal and external disorders. It has broad antimicrobial properties and in some studies has been shown to be more effective than sulfa-based antibiotics due to the high concentration of berberine in it. It is frequently used topically to soothe itching or burning skin, and can even be used as a single herb for these purposes.

Sesame Oil

Yes, this serves as a base for extracting the herbs and an emollient, but did you know sesame seed oil is also bacteriostatic? This means it doesn’t kill bacteria, but it does prevent them from reproducing, helping to safely reduce the risk of infection in damaged skin.

Beeswax

A thickening agent with protective properties beeswax helps provide a barrier against contamination that is naturally anti-inflammatory and won’t block pores. It’s also high in naturally occurring Vitamin A to promote healthy skin.

Some formulations have additional herbs and providers tend to have their own favorites - but most will contain these key ingredients.

益母草 yì mǔ cǎo

Motherwort

Latin name: Leonurus heterophyllus

This bountiful herb produces rings of beautiful purple and white flowers above a thistle-like knob. Up close, the tiny flowers are quite lovely, but the plants will quickly grow to 4+ feet tall. All of the aerial parts are used and traditionally harvested when in bloom with the flowers and all generally around the time of the summer solstice.

In Chinese Medicine terms, this herb enters the Heart, Liver and Bladder, and acts to promote circulation, dispel blood stasis, regulate the menses, reduce masses, promote urination and relieves swelling and edema. The central stalks are hollow and tube-like following the doctrine of signatures in which plants with that kind of shape are often associated with increased urination. Because of the blood moving action and how it stimulates oxytocin production, this herb is generally contraindicated during pregnancy, but it is used in several formulas for postpartum conditions including abdominal pain after childbirth, delayed menses, and helping to clear the uterus postpartum.

Its action in the heart is reflected in its effects on calming heart rhythm, increasing circulation to the coronary artery, and decreasing blood viscosity and platelet aggregation rates. It can help lower blood pressure, relieve muscle spasms and neuralgias through the ability to increase blood flow through peripheral tissues and allow for better nourishment of the muscles.

It can be safely used as a single herb for tonic purposes and is traditionally combined with Dang Gui to help with postpartum recovery. The flavor is mild, and I recently combined some of the fresh aerial parts with mint, Jiao Gu Lian (a tonic and adaptogenic herb) with a little honey to make a lovely stress-buster tea that was both tasty and effective. I like to think of this tea as my own personal potion for recovery after a stressful day.

What would you call a potion to drink after a day spent slaying dragons? (or a mountain of paperwork at the office!)

As a single herb extract, it can be helpful for headaches, insomnia, vertigo and circulatory paresthesias. Sounds like a great potion for clearing the mind after exposure to evil spells by dark wizards (or that long commute that left you frazzled!).

We will have a dried version of this tea available for sale along with some of the single herb extract. I am looking forward to seeing what other formulas we can incorporate this lovely herb into!

The seeds are also used but considered more astringent and cooling for excessive uterine bleeding or red, painful, swollen eyes. More about those at a later time, so stay tuned...

The products and statements made about specific products on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. All information provided on this web site or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a guarantee that you will achieve the same results.
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