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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - October 2008 | Issue 56

 

In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Helps Those With Developmental Disabilities

By Alex A. Kecskes

In both America and China, a variety of studies have shown that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)-acupuncture, supplemented with herbs and special exercises-may be effective in the treatment of cerebral palsy. What is equally important is that the sooner treatments begin, the better the results.

In a random control trial, tongue acupuncture administered to 33 cerebral palsy children resulted in improved motor function. Another study showed promising results based on the application of a combination of combined therapies. These included TCM, Western medicine, and family supplemental therapy. The result showed that139 patients (over 99.3%) improved their motor capacity and 133 patients (over 95%) improved their social adaptation capacity.

Some studies have shown that acupuncture improved physical function or resulted in a notable therapeutic effect in people with cerebral palsy. In one particular study, 75 children were treated with a comprehensive meridian therapy. This included functional training, scalp and body acupuncture, acu-point injection and auriculo-point stimulation supplemented with acu-pressure and massage. Treatments ranged from 10 sessions within twenty days to 120 sessions within a year. The children's physical abilities and social adaptability were evaluated. This comprehensive treatment yielded improvement in the children's physical capability and also raised their IQ. Another study even suggested that acupuncture could be useful in managing pain associated with muscle spasms in Athetoid cerebral palsy.

So how do TCM and its complementary therapies work? What is the underlying mechanism that produces these observable results? Simply put, it is TCM's "holistic" approach, firmly rooted in yin-yang theory, that regards disease as an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture stimulates a body's acupoints, linked through a system of 14 meridians, to create neural signaling, enhanced electromagnetic energy, and neuro-immunomodulatory and neurochemical-hormonal effects. Stimulating the traditional acupoints on the scalp and body by massage and electrical means has shown some effectiveness in treating children with brain dysfunction. This stimulation may also improve a child's overall functional abilities.

TCM has even been shown to be effective in treating autism, a complex developmental disability that can severely affect a child's social interactions and communication skills. Here, acupuncture may improve the dysfunction by activating vital connections in the brain. The technique involves repetitive stimulation of specific tongue acupoints, which may re-signal neural circuits through the body's neurotransmitters. This works much like serotonin/5-HT, dopamine, and neurochemicals like cortisol. Applying these repetitive stimulation techniques may reverse the basic dysfunctional pathways in autism. The result may improve a patient's attention, emotion, or hyperactivity levels, and also allow communicative or cognitive skills to be introduced.

Finally, a new acupuncture method, pioneered by Professor Virginia Wong of the University of Hong Kong, has shown promising results. Brain imaging techniques showed that stimulating regions on the tongue affected areas of the brain related to autism. Children who were treated by this method showed improvements in language and social skills, cognition, hyperactivity, attention span and aggression.

It should be noted that an interdisciplinary approach-one involving Western and Chinese medicine-may provide an exciting new framework for the treatment of autism and cerebral palsy.

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Japanese Acupuncture: The Difference and the Benefits

By, Michelle Fletcher

Like its Chinese counterparts, Japanese acupuncture is praised for its ability to open energy channels within the body, relieve tension and cure other ailments. In contrast, Japanese acupuncture techniques are often gentler and more subtle than the techniques used in China.

Treatment is restorative and helps maintain overall health. Acupuncturists produce a stimulus in each technique, focusing on a specific acupuncture point or "active point." These points are a living phenomenon with changing natures and locations, so they cannot merely be found by referencing a textbook. The acupuncturist must have the awareness and palpation ability to detect the "active points." Acupuncturists of the Japanese school put a great deal of weight upon finding these precise locations, which explains their ability to produce effective results without using deep needles or strong stimulation.

Japanese acupuncture treatments have been known to assist helping a range of complaints, including aggravated stress (fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression), localized pain (headache, knee pain, back pain), gastric problems (nausea, acid reflux, gastritis), trauma (sprains, strains, bruises) and even infertility. Traditional Japanese acupuncture is particularly suited to those who are uncomfortable with strong needle stimulus or are fatigued or otherwise weakened. It is well-suited for pediatric treatments and can be done without the use of needles.

A Tokyo study has reported positive effects of Japanese acupuncture on a number of regular ailments, including the common cold. "A significantly positive effect of acupuncture was demonstrated in the summed questionnaire data…needling on the neck using the Japanese fine needle manipulating technique was shown to be effective and safe. The use of acupuncture for symptoms of the common cold should be considered." Doctors determined the preventive and curative effects of manual acupuncture on the systems of the common cold.

The Anglo-Dutch Institute of Oriental Medicine discovered similar findings, concluding the benefits of Japanese acupuncture on healing neck pain and strain. "Relevant acupuncture with heat contributes to modest pain reduction in persons with myofascial neck pain." Results proved Japanese acupuncture's ability to help cure localized pain and release overall discomfort.

Tracing its roots to early seventh-century Chinese texts, Japanese acupuncture has been making ground since the 1920s. Japanese practitioners discussed how parts of the ancient text Nan Jing [c. 250 A.D.] may be applied to clinical practice. These physicians focused on point selection, point location and needle technique, blossoming the beneficial treatments underlying meridian therapy. Today, Japanese acupuncture is beginning to gain as much publicity and credit as Chinese acupuncture.

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Oriental Medicine and the Power of Touch

By, Michelle Fletcher

Using Western and Eastern medicine in conjunction can often lead to the best health results, but there is one aspect all types of medicine have in common, one over-arching step towards serenity and well being. That common factor is touch. The healing power of touch is not to be underestimated as a powerful source of healing, although it is often overlooked.

Touch itself is an ancient form of healing that permeates various religions and societies, and that is gaining attention today in the form of massage, Reiki, and acupuncture. It is universally acknowledged that touch can simultaneously ease pain, lessen anxiety, promote healing and hope, and help one to take the obstacles in life in stride.

An instantly lowered heart rate and dropped blood pressure are just two of the physical benefits of touch. Psychologically, touch relaxes the mind as well as the body. Similar to socializing a puppy with a lot of physical activity, making it a point to get massages or touch therapy can help to subconsciously lessen a person's suspicious or tense nature promote a comfortable and warm demeanor in the patient. Comfort and care can often be best expressed in a silent manner with the use of touch.

Promoting physical contact in your life can be as simple as giving more handshakes or reading to children and grandchildren while sitting next to one another rather than across the room. Giving goodnight kisses to family members, hugs to friends, and even placing a hand on the shoulder of someone in grief can make a difference.

In Oriental medicine, touch is a powerful component of the practice. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation which is administered by "laying on hands," showcasing the practitioner's healing touch. The practice of Reiki is similar to acupuncture in that it is based on the idea of an unseen life force (much like one's qi) that consistently flows through the body. If one's qi, or life force, is low or blocked in any way, illness ensues (or, the illness can actually be the cause of the problematic qi flow).

In Reiki, much like in traditional Chinese medicine, the higher the level of one's life force indicates the higher the level of potential happiness. The name "Reiki" is made up of two Japanese words - "rei" which translates to 'God's wisdom,' and "ki," which means 'life force energy.' Patients of Reiki describe it as a glowing radiance flowing through and filling up one's physical being. It is natural and safe, and is a form of spiritual healing - one in which human touch is integral.

Tui na is another Oriental healing practice that centers on touch. Tui na has been in use for over 2,00 years. It is a Chinese hands-on body treatment that involves acupressure (pressure by the hands on the same points on the body used during acupuncture) and strives to bring the body into balance. Tui na focuses on the soft tissues of the body (including muscles and tendons), and along with acupressure, Tui na uses manipulation techniques to realign bone and muscle relationships within the body. And, of course, there is traditional massage work, a consistent success in the calming of the mind, body, and spirit through the use of human touch.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart."

~ Confucius