What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the world. Originating in China some 3,500 years ago, only in the last three decades has it become popular in the United States. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that Americans made up to 12 million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners and spent upwards of half a billion dollars on acupuncture treatments.

Traditional Chinese medicine hold that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by 20 pathways (12 main, 8 secondary) called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or qi (pronounced “chi”), between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it. Qi is believed to help regulate balance in the body. It is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang, which represent positive and negative energy and forces in the universe and human body. Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between yin and yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of qi throughout the body and restoring health to the mind and body.

How does acupuncture work?

Most people tend to push aside their true feelings in order to cope with their daily stressors. Acupuncture can lower stress and anxiety overall, so that daily life challenges can be better managed. Acupuncture also brings balance to the mind, body and spirit. When the emotions are as well taken care of as the body, true balanced is achieved.

Acupuncture for Pain and Inflammation

Acupuncture has long been known as a method of coping with physical pain. With an increase in blood circulation, a reduction in inflammation, the relaxation of the muscles, and a release of endorphins, it can assist your body in healing itself. The ancient Chinese believed that Qi, the universal life energy present in every living creature, circulates throughout the body along specific pathway meridians. As long as this energy flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained, but once the flow of energy is blocked, the system is disrupted and pain and illness occur. Acupuncture works to re-pattern and restore normal circulation and functionality by stimulating certain points on the meridians to free up the Qi energy. Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances called endorphins, which reduce pain. Other studies have found that other pain-relieving substances called opiods may be released into the body during acupuncture treatment.

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Using Acupuncture on Children

Most people believe that acupuncture cannot be used on children. The reason behind it, as in many cases for adults as well, are that most people are afraid of needles or potential pain. The majority of my patients are pleasantly surprised when during their first visit, their treatment is virtually painless. In cases with children younger than 3-years-old, I use 24-karat gold plated beads instead of needles. It tell them that ‘we are playing stickers.’ The beads are attached to a surgical adhesive tape, so I am able to place a bead first on Mom’s hand, then on mine, and then the child usually asks me to place one on him or her as well. Little do they know that I am placing the beads in a special spot called acupressure points. Frequently all three of us will cover the spots with small cartoonish stickers also. For the children over 3-years-old, I use needles with a gauge as thin as a human hair.

The latest study on the subject of treating kids with needles was conducted in Harvard Affiliated Children’s Hospital. The study included 243 children and teenagers, their ages ranging 6 months to 18 years old. It was a one-year study. They were treated for headaches, stomach pain and back pain specifically. They used a 1 to 10 scale for pain, where 1 is no pain and 10 was the worst pain tolerable. In one year, the level of pain went from an 8 to a 3 overall. They also observed that the participants in the study missed less school, slept better and were able to participate more in extra curricular activities.

What kind of conditions can acupuncture help in children?

  • Pain: All types from headaches or stomach aches to structure related neck and back issues.
  • Asthma: In my practice many children (under their pediatrician’s observation) were taken off of steroid inhalers by using acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
  • Strengthening of the immune system: Children frequently come to my office with their parents complaining about six to eight colds or flus a year. Being in crowded classrooms, cross contamination can happen frequently. It’s almost impossible to avoid contact with other children who are sick. So keeping their immune systems strong is one of my first priorities when working with them.
  • Acne: From the Chinese viewpoint, acne is a result of toxins being blocked in the skin. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs in addition to small changes in hygiene and one’s lifestyle are very helpful to alleviate acne whether it occurs on the body or face.
  • Nervous system issues, ADHD, and insomnia or other sleep disorders such as night terrors: Acupuncture is especially helpful for kids with active and mixed sub type ADHD. With 5 percent of the world’s population, “the United States consumes 90 percent of Ritalin,” says Dr. Hong, who has conducted a clinical study on this subject. Many parents come into my office sleep deprived for 4 or 5 weeks because their children are not sleeping for a variety of reasons. Acupuncture is helpful in getting things back on track.

In conclusion, parents interested in pursuing natural therapies should consult a practitioner of TCM and their pediatrician both. If a pediatrician is not familiar with acupuncture in the treatment of children, or recommends avoiding acupuncture all together, I usually provide the pediatrician with scientific and clinical data to better educate them on making their decision.

2017-05-19T12:59:14+00:00May 18th, 2017|

Can Acupuncture Boost Pregnancy Rates?

I came across an interesting article this week that I wanted to share on the growing scientific evidence that shows acupuncture can boost pregnancy rates when combined with other fertility treatments. It discusses a couple in Connecticut who were trying to conceive and finally decided to try acupuncture as a complement to their IVF treatments. You can read more about it by clicking here. Enjoy!

2017-05-19T13:00:12+00:00May 18th, 2017|

Electroacupuncture for Hot Flashes Among Breast Cancer Survivors

According to a new study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, electroacupuncture may be more effective and safer than gabapentin for managing hot flashes among breast cancer survivors. Even though more studies need to be done, it’s an exciting start to see that the safer electroacupuncture treatment can be considered effective instead of relying on prescription drugs. I’ve been offering electroacupuncture for years and have seen amazing results with its use. You can read more about the study here.

2017-05-19T13:00:19+00:00May 18th, 2017|

Relieving the Pain of Chemotherapy with Acupuncture

People often ask me how acupuncture is used as support for Cancer patients. One of the most important ways is during cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, to offset the pain and other symptoms associated with the treatment. According to this article I recently found by Martha Shade of CNN, the doctor featured breaks healing into three phases. “In phase one, acupuncture helps to manage side-effects during chemotherapy, like the nausea. Then it helps balance the nervous system and reduce the pain and issues that arise post-treatment. In phase three, acupuncture minimizes stress and inflammation to keep cancer at bay.” You can read it here in its entirety to get the full story. Enjoy!

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Acupuncture Treatments Help Reduce Hypertension Levels

Reposted as Postolova Acupuncture News from HospiMedica

Hypertensive patients treated with electroacupuncture (EA) experienced long-lasting drops in their blood pressure that lasted up to a month and a half, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI; USA) and Shanghai East International Medical Center (China) conducted a randomized controlled study of 65 hypertensive patients not receiving medication to examine the effectiveness of EA at select acupoints to reduce systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressures (DBP). The hypertensive patients were randomly to one of two acupuncture interventions once weekly for 8 weeks. The main outcome measures were effectiveness of EA and average SBP and DBP.

The results showed that in the group receiving EA on both sides of the inner wrists and slightly below each knee [PC 5-6+ST 36-37], a noticeable 6–8 mmHg drop in SPB and 4 mmHg drop in DBP occurred in 70% of participants, when compared to sham EA controls; the improvements persisted for a 45 days. The researchers also identified significant declines in blood levels of norepinephrine (41%), renin (67%), and aldosterone (22%), a hormone that regulates electrolytes. The study was published on August 18, 2015, in Medical Acupuncture.

“Because electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure, and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients,” said senior author cardiologist John Longhurst, MD, of UCI. “By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the United States.”

Acupuncture is an ancient alternative methodology that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians. Scientific research, however, has not found any histological or physiological correlates for qi, meridians, and acupuncture points.

2017-05-19T13:00:32+00:00May 18th, 2017|

Lucy and Anna Postolov Join Forces to Announce East-West Organic Herbs

My dear patients, as many of you already know, my daughter Anna Postolov, M.D., MPH completed her residency at Stanford Medical Hospital, and recently she also received an offer to continue her academic career in medicine by doing a fellowship in immunology-oncology-rheumatology and allergy at Stanford as well. What I’m even more excited about is that she and I recently became partners in our new company, East-West Organic Herbs, with our intention to manufacture the best in organic herbal formulas for optimum health.

We both feel so strongly that pesticides and GMOs are a major threat to our patients’ health. It applies not only to food, which I’ve already stressed the importance of over the years, but also to the herbal formulas and supplements we consume daily. I was recently reading a great article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) called “GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health” that supports our beliefs and came to realize our food is becoming a bigger concern for a variety of reasons.

They highlight several studies that show that GM foods, herbicides and pesticides may pose serious health risks to human health, with “the potential to produce unanticipated allergens” as well as being “probable and possible human carcinogens,” with growing concern for the potential hazard to infants and children.

This is the reason it is our desire to deliver to our patients the finest quality organic products that Mother Nature has to offer, ensuring they are of the highest quality and in their purest form. The NEJM podcast is also very informative and we highly suggest listening to it so that you can better understand the seriousness of the situation and our joint mission to change it.

READ the New England Journal of Medicine’s Full Article Here.

LISTEN to their podcast Here.

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