About alternative

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far alternative has created 45 blog entries.

Acupuncture For Rheumatoid Arthritis Success

Lucy with a valued patient

Lucy with a valued patient

Visit me at

Acupuncture is more effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis and improving markers of oxidative stress than pharmaceuticals. This was discovered in a recent study conducted at Gansu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Affiliated Hospital. [1]

This study compared treatments of hot-filling acupuncture to pharmacology for 68 patients presenting with wind-cold-damp type rheumatoid arthritis. Outcomes were determined by measuring both pain relief by VAS (visual analog scale) and oxidative stress markers such as GSH-Px (glutathione peroxidase), SOD (superoxide dismutase), and MDA (malondialdehyde). Oxidative stress describes increased levels of ROS (reactive oxygen species), which damage cells and are believed to be participatory in the pathology of rheumatoid arthritis.

Following treatment, the total effective rate in the acupuncture group was 91.2%. The control group measured at 76.5%. At the 3 month follow-up, the acupuncture group continued to experience greater improvements with an effective rate of 88.3% while the control group measured lower at 70.6%.


Patients were recruited and randomly assigned to the acupuncture or control group. The acupuncture group was comprised of 16 male and 18 female participants 41–70 years old with a mean age of 56. This group’s disease duration spanned 9–75 months, with a mean duration of 30.5 months. The control group was comprised of 18 male and 16 female participants 42-69 years old with a mean age of 54. This group’s disease duration spanned 10–72 months, with a mean duration of 32.3. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of gender, age, disease severity, or pain scores (p>0.05) at the onset of the study.

Rheumatoid arthritis severity was assessed with the DAS-28 (Disease Activity Score 28), where a combination of examination, global pain scores, inflammatory markers, questionnaires, and medical imaging are all considered; total scores are calculated using a complex formula. Scores of >5.1 indicate active disease, scores of <3.2 indicate low disease activity, and scores of <2.6 indicate remission.

TCM diagnostic criteria include primary symptoms of severe joint pain in a fixed location, stiffness in the morning, and limited ability to bend and stretch. Secondary symptoms include heavy limbs, reduced joint mobility, numb skin or muscle, a white and greasy tongue coating, and a taut or bowstring pulse.

In addition to meeting the above criteria, participants were also required to be 40–70 years old with a disease duration of 5–80 months and a DAS-28 score of >2.6. They were also required to be able to give informed consent and not be participatory in glucocorticoid or DMARD (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug) therapy.

Exclusion criteria included concurrent respiratory, hemopoietic, psychological, or other primary disease, suspected or confirmed lesions or skin disease in knee joints or surrounding areas, other immune disorders, pregnancy or lactation, and poor treatment compliance.


Acupuncture group patients received hot-filling acupuncture administered at the following primary acupoints:

  • Hegu (LI4)
  • Zusanli (ST36)
  • Sanyinjiao (SP6)
  • Guanyuan (CV4)
  • Qihai (CV6)

According to each patient’s most severely affected joints, additional acupoints were selected:

  • For the elbow, Chize (LU5), Quchi (LI11), and Shousanli (LI10) were added.
  • For the wrist, Yangchi (TB4), Wangu (SI4), Yangxi (LI5), and Waiguan (TB5) were added.
  • For the knee, Yinlingquan (SP9), Yanglingquan (GB34), Heding (MLE27), Dubi (ST35), Xiyangguan (GB33), Liangqiu (ST34), and Xiyan (MNLE16) were added.
  • For the ankle, Jiexi (ST41), Kunlun (BL60), and Xuanzhong (GB39) were added.

Stainless steel, disposable, filiform needles (0.30 × 40 mm) were inserted bilaterally using the following technique: Following standard procedure, the selected points were disinfected while the patient was in a supine position. The researcher then applied pressure to the selected acupoint with their left thumb or forefinger. Next, they used their right hand to insert the needle 30–40mm deep. After achieving deqi, the needle was pressed and rotated forward 5 times using the right hand while continuous pressure was applied with the left finger or thumb.

To elicit sensation in the surrounding area, needle depth was increased in 5 stages. The needle was then gently lifted in 5 stages before it was pressed and rotated 5 times more. This process was repeated continuously for 1 minute before allowing the needle to rest at an appropriate depth. Needles were retained for 30 minutes, and treatment was administered once daily. A total of 4 courses were administered. Each course was comprised of 5 consecutive treatments, separated by 2–day breaks. Control group patients received pharmacological intervention with the following drugs and dosages:

  • Etoricoxib 60 mg daily, after food
  • Leflunomide 20 mg daily, after food
  • Methotrexate 5 mg twice weekly, after food

All pharmaceuticals were administered for a total of 4 weeks.


Outcomes and Discussion
Outcomes for this study were measured after 4 weeks of treatment and at a 3 month follow-up. These outcomes were measured by VAS for pain, serum GSH-Px, SOD, and MDA. Total effective rates were also calculated for each group.

Mean pretreatment VAS scores were 7.12 in the acupuncture group and 6.99 in the control group. Following treatment, these scores fell to 1.32 and 2.96 respectively. At the 3-month follow-up, they had risen to 2.97 and 3.98. Although both groups experienced significant improvements in pain scores, improvements were significantly greater in the acupuncture group (p<0.05).
Serum levels of the biomarkers GSH-Px, SOD, and MDA were also assessed before and after treatment. GSH-Px and SOD are enzymes with antioxidant properties, while MDA is a marker of oxidative stress.

Mean pretreatment levels of GSH-Px were 67.34 U/L in the acupuncture group and 67.40 U/L in the control group. Following treatment, these scores increased to 80.50 U/L and 77.70 U/L respectively. They fell to 76.98 U/L and 69.00 U/L at the three-month follow-up.

Mean pretreatment levels of MDA were 5.57 µmol/L in the acupuncture group and 5.66 µmol/L in the control group. Following treatment, these scores fell to 3.55 µmol/L and 3.94 µmol/L respectively. They increased to 4.88 µmol/L and 4.29 µmol/L at the three-month follow-up. Although both groups experienced improvements across all biomarkers, improvements were significantly greater in the acupuncture group (p<0.05).

Total effective rates were calculated for each group according to TCM syndrome scores. Patients with a ≥95% improvement in symptoms were classed as recovered. Treatment was classed as markedly effective for patients with a 70–90% improvement in symptoms, effective for patients with a 30–70% improvement in symptoms, and ineffective for patients with a ≤30% improvement in symptoms. Recovered, markedly effective, and effective scores were added together to calculate the total effective rate.

There were 12 recovered, 13 markedly effective, 6 effective, and 3 ineffective cases in the acupuncture group, giving a total effective rate of 31/34 (91.2%). There were 8 recovered, 7 markedly effective, 11 effective, and 8 ineffective cases in the control group, giving a total effective rate of 26/34 (76.5%).

At the 3-month follow-up, there were 9 recovered, 14 markedly effective, 7 effective, and 4 ineffective cases in the acupuncture group with a total effective rate of 30/34 (88.3%). There were 5 recovered, 8 markedly effective, 11 effective, and 10 ineffective cases in the control group with a total effective rate of 30/34 24/34 (70.6%).

The results indicate that acupuncture effectively relieves pain and improves biomarkers for rheumatoid arthritis patients, and is more effective than conventional, pharmacological treatment.


1. Zhang Fengfan, Yuan Bo, Tian Liang, Wang Yixin, Qiao Xiang, Zhang Tingzhuo, Li Xinglan, Wang Jinhai, Tian Jiexiang, Du Xiaozheng (2019) “Clinical Efficacy of Hot Needling Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Its Effects on Oxidative Stress” Chinese Journal of Information on TCM Vol. 26 (2) pp. 26-30.

2019-09-02T11:17:35+00:00September 2nd, 2019|

Acupuncture option gaining popularity

Lucy Postolov and one happy patient

Journal Review Aug. 19, 2019

Dear Doctor: What do you think about acupuncture for lower back pain? What is it, and how does it work?

Dear Reader: Acupuncture is a key component of traditional medicine in China, but until recently, it was viewed as alternative therapy here in the United States. Then, in 1997, the National Institutes of Health issued a pro-acupuncture consensus statement, acknowledging acupuncture as an effective tool for managing pain and nausea. The agency also recommended that acupuncture be taught in medical schools. As doctors, we both see a role for acupuncture in our practices. Dr. Ko recently finished her training in acupuncture and uses this treatment.

Acupuncture is a centuries-old practice that builds on the premise that the human body contains energy pathways, known as meridians, which are comprised of more than 2,000 specific points. During an acupuncture treatment, a practitioner stimulates certain groups of points by inserting hair-thin sterile needles. The feeling is more of a distinct sensation than actual pain. Acupuncture needles may also be heated during a treatment, or they can be stimulated to conduct a mild electric current. A usual course of treatment typically includes multiple sessions that can continue for weeks or months.

Despite centuries of use, modern medicine doesn’t really understand how this ancient technique works. One theory ties the stimulation of acupuncture points to the release of specific biochemicals, which play a role in healing, as well as physical and emotional well-being.

A study published in 2014 used advanced 3D imaging techniques to examine acupuncture points at the cellular level. The researchers found that, unlike neighboring tissues, acupuncture points contained a high density of micro-vessels and other vascular structures. Not a definitive answer to the mysteries of acupuncture, but certainly an intriguing start.

Clinical studies have shown the value of acupuncture for pain relief, nausea, headache and osteoarthritis. A growing number of medical insurance plans cover acupuncture treatments. The U.S. armed services now use acupuncture as a form of pain management. And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is considering a proposal to cover acupuncture treatments for patients with chronic lower back pain participating in certain clinical trials.

If you do decide to try acupuncture, please be sure to find an experienced practitioner. As with many integrative therapies, licensing requirements vary from state to state. If you live in an area that doesn’t have licensing requirements or oversight for acupuncturists, consider looking for a practitioner certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, a national oversight and advocacy organization. You can find more information at


2019-08-26T10:17:15+00:00August 26th, 2019|

Acupuncture Is More Popular Than Ever—Here Are 4 Proven Benefits to Know About

Written by Claudia Fisher for Real Simple

Acupuncturist Los Angeles

Lucy Postolov applying needles to a patient

More people than ever swear by acupuncture for everything from alleviating chronic pain to tempering stress. Here’s what the pros have to say about this alternative remedy’s most common benefits.

Even if you’re scared of needles, the thought of acupuncture has probably crossed your mind at least once during a bout of anxiety, a wellness kick, after an injury, or myriad other common conditions people have sought out the treatment to alleviate.

Acupuncture is the 2,000-year-old practice of inserting very thin needles through the skin to stimulate specific points of the body, called acupoints. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice, there are hundreds of acupoints on the human body, each connected to a meridian, or energy pathway, that runs through our bodies. The idea is that by stimulating the chi—or energy—at these specific points, we can prompt our bodies to heal themselves. Two of the most multitasking areas for acupuncture are the Zusanli (below the knee) and in your ear because both spots are believed to treat a wide range of issues, including anxiety, chronic pain, headaches, sleep troubles, and digestive problems. The practice has evolved with scientific advancement, with research itself showing continuous improvements of acupuncture in China over the past 10 years.

Despite long being considered more of an outlier or complementary remedy to mainstream medicine, acupuncture has also attracted a fair amount of attention in the scientific community. Many studies now link the treatment to major health concerns, like diabetes and heart disease.

Earlier this summer, Medicare even began covering the traditional Chinese practice for patients participating in a certain pain study. While Medicare coverage is limited only to this use case right now, the goal is to determine whether acupuncture is effective enough to treat chronic lower back pain and, hopefully, find a reliable alternative to narcotic pain killers as a result. Some healthcare providers outside of this Medicare example already include acupuncture in coverage plans, so this new study is just more fuel to the already growing fire—and by “fire,” we mean body of research exploring whether or not acupuncture is a viable addition to certain treatment plans.

With Medicare and researchers delving more into the science of why acupuncture works and trendy treatment facilities opening in major cities, it looks like acupuncture’s popularity has nowhere to go but up. Acupuncture may have been associated with specific demographics and age groups before, but Google searches for “acupuncture near me” have grown dramatically over the past five years, suggesting people aren’t just curious about the treatment, but actually trying it. As the wellness industry continues to boom, it makes sense people both young and old would seek out clinics like this to complement their athleisure-leaning lifestyles. (Believe it or not, you can even get acupuncture for dogs and cats now—and if that doesn’t show a changed public perception, we don’t know what does.) So, what are all these people turning to acupuncture for?

RELATED: The Unassuming Trick That Helps You Kick Back Pain From Sitting All Day

“The most common conditions we see people for are stress and anxiety, women’s health (pregnancy, fertility, painful periods, and more), pain relief, and workout recovery,” says Shari Auth, a holistic health practitioner in New York and co-founder of WTHN, a New York City acupuncture studio.

If you’re still feeling a little unsure about what all the acupuncture hubbub is about, we did the research and spoke to the experts on acu (as they call it) to find out everything you need to know about this treatment and its associated benefits. Here are four ways the mind and body can benefit from acupuncture, according to pros.

Acupuncture for Anxiety and Stress

“Acupuncture lowers cortisol levels, ‘your stress hormone,’ and increases your serotonin and dopamine levels, your ‘happy hormones,’ to treat stress, anxiety and depression,” Auth says. “Acupuncture also balances our two nervous systems, the sympathetic and parasympathetic, to promote a feeling of well-being.”

Researchers in a 2013 study conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., observed four groups of rats over a 10-day period, looking for changes in stress as a result of acupuncture. The researchers measured the rats’ blood hormone levels associated with stress, mood, digestion, and energy, as well as the secretion levels of peptides associated with the fight or flight response after the rats received acupuncture.

“Our growing body of evidence points to acupuncture’s protective effect against the stress response,” Ladan Eshkevari, the study’s lead author, explained. The research still needs to be replicated in humans, but the results help elucidate the “how” behind “why” acupuncture may work to treat anxiety and stress.

Most studies reviewed by Psychology Today note a generally positive effect of acupuncture on anxiety and depressive moods, too, though more research is also needed here to confirm the results after study flaws were identified.

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

As mentioned earlier, acupuncture is a promising area for the treatment of back pain, and many migraine sufferers also seek out the treatment. “Acupuncture is a natural anti-inflammatory that relieves pain from head to toe,” Auth explains. “Acupuncture can increase circulation to soothe tight muscles, decrease inflammation, and boost the production of your body’s natural pain-killers, known as endorphins and enkephalins.”

Research also supports the use of acupuncture for pain—specifically when the needle is inserted at the Zusanli, one of the most frequently used acupoints, below the knee. The Zusanli is attached to the stomach meridian, making it a common acupuncture spot for improving digestive issues as well.

Based on scientific studies, the NIH has stated that acupuncture “appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.” After examining the body of research on the subject, the organization specified neck, lower back, headaches, and knee/osteoporosis pains can be alleviated by the TCM.

Acupuncture for Women’s Health

Issues related to pregnancy, fertility, and painful periods frequently motivate people to seek out acupuncture, and WTHN’s treatment menu, Auth explains, caters to “some of the key health conditions for acupuncture—pain relief, women’s health, digestion, and sleep.”

For period cramps, acupuncture has been shown, in small-scale studies, to reduce peak menstrual pain over time and with consistent treatment. According to the NIH, acupuncture also has the potential to significantly alleviate menopausal symptoms, like the severity of hot flashes, trouble sleeping, memory loss, anxiety, and other physical implications of hormonal changes.

While research hasn’t laid definitive evidence that acupuncture can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, scientists have suggested the needling practice can help people cope with related problems during fertility treatments, like the emotional and psychological repercussions.

Acupuncture for Mental Clarity

“Acupuncture is a natural nootropic—it enhances cognition to give you greater focus,” Auth explains. “In fact, a recent science analysis showed that acupuncture is more effective in treating Alzheimer’s than conventional Western medicine.”

Acupuncture may enhance your focus directly, but another reason the treatment could make you feel more alert is that it’s often used to combat sleep-related issues, like insomnia and chronic fatigue. If your brain fog is caused by a lack of sleep or general drowsiness, acupuncture may boost your energy levels by treating the root of such problems and getting you a better night’s sleep.

RELATED: The Counterintuitive Thing to Do When You Can’t Sleep

Does acupuncture hurt?

A practitioner, or “healer,” at WTHN says that the needles she uses are so small, 30 can fit into one needle at the doctor’s office. While some spots can pinch a little as the needle goes in, acupuncture is not typically associated with a lot of pain when done correctly. In fact, Auth says, “it’s common for people to fall asleep on the table because acupuncture is so relaxing.”

What are the potential risks?

There aren’t many potential side effects of acupuncture, but Psychology Today identified some mild adverse reactions that can happen: bruising, nausea, and fatigue. In extremely rare cases, needles administered incorrectly or not sterilized have been reported to cause collapsed lungs, infections, punctured organs, and damage to the central nervous system, the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health cautions. Similar to how you would vet a traditional doctor, you should check the credentials of an acupuncturist before you visit the clinic. Standards and requirements to practice acupuncture vary state-by-state, but most practitioners are required to have a diploma from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to grant a license.

Acupuncture May Not Work If…

Research has suggested that acupuncture is ineffective at treating pain when mixed with caffeine, so you might have to forgo your daily coffee or matcha habit to reap the full benefits of the treatment. Auth does “not recommend acupuncture if you’re intoxicated or have a bleeding disorder.” To prepare as best you can for a successful acupuncture appointment, she recommends “eating something within six hours of your acupuncture session and drinking water after your session.”

2019-08-23T12:46:58+00:00August 23rd, 2019|

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Why I Changed My Mind on Weed

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and is an American neurosurgeon and news reporter who wasn’t always in favor of cannabis . In 2013 he wrote:” We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States. He created a 3 part documentary series #weed, presenting compelling evidence that #marijuana has real #medical value. Gupta’s stance is now in favor of using the #plant as a #medicine. #integrativemedicine #chinesemedicine #pain #headache #lowbackpain #cannapyhealth #womensupportwomen #womenempowerment #health #healing #lucypostolovacupuncture

Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”
They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.


2019-08-21T10:50:51+00:00August 21st, 2019|

Dr. Jasmin Hurd and her stance on CBD

Dr. Yasmin Hurd

Yasmin Hurd is a professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, was interviewed by New York Times. “The #brain is about a #symphony and #cbd brings the entire symphony into #harmony “ #healing #neuroscience #mountsinaihospital #mountsina #askdrsuzanne #cannapyhealth #womenempowerment #womensupportwomen #newyorktimes #lucypostolovacupuncture

2019-08-21T10:51:53+00:00August 21st, 2019|

Acupuncture And Herbs Alleviate Diabetic Neuropathy

Courtesy of Health CMI-August 5, 2019

Acupuncture and herbs are effective for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Gansu Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine (endocrinology department) researchers conducted a controlled clinical trial comparing drug therapy with acupuncture and herbs. Patients receiving both acupuncture and herbal medicine had a total effective rate of 96.67%. Patients receiving Chinese herbal medicine monotherapy had a 73.33% total effective rate. Drug therapy patients had a 53.33% total effective rate for the alleviation of DPN (diabetic peripheral neuropathy). [1]

All patients were monitored throughout the investigation for adverse effects, including liver and renal function tests. No serious adverse effects were reported in any of the clinical trial groups, indicating a high degree of safety for all three treatment protocols. Outcome measures for the study included nerve conduction tests, TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) syndrome scores, and treatment efficacy rates.

Nerve conduction tests were conducted on the common peroneal nerve (along the lateral aspect of the calf) and the median nerve (medial aspect of the forearm). For the common peroneal nerve, mean pre-treatment scores were 29.91 m/s in the drug monotherapy group, 29.91 m/s in the herbal medicine monotherapy group, and 29.90 m/s in the acupuncture plus herbs group. Following treatment, scores increased to 32.22 m/s, 36.62 m/s, and 39.92 m/s respectively.

For the median nerve, mean pre-treatment scores were 34.60 m/s in the drug monotherapy group, 34.60 m/s in the herbal medicine monotherapy group, and 34.56 m/s in the acupuncture plus herbs group. Following treatment, scores increased to 35.52 m/s, 36.52 m/s, and 39.60 m/s respectively. All groups demonstrated significant improvements. The acupuncture plus herbs group had the greatest improvements (p<0.05).

TCM syndrome scores were calculated by the participants subjectively rating symptoms including dry mouth and thirst, fatigue and lack of strength, shortness of breath and dislike of speaking, sweating, insomnia, limb numbness, and formication (the sensation of insects crawling on the skin). Each symptom was rated on a scale of 0–3, with higher scores indicative of severe symptoms. Mean pre-treatment TCM syndrome scores were 16.78 in the drug monotherapy group, 16.85 in the herbal medicine monotherapy group, and 17.54 in the acupuncture plus herbs group. Following treatment, scores fell to 13.47, 12.74, and 9.68 respectively. Improvements were the greatest in the acupuncture plus herbs group (p<0.05). Treatment efficacy rates were calculated for each group. Patients whose self-rated symptoms had fully resolved and whose reflexes were normal, with nerve conduction test improvements of ≥5 m/s, were classified as recovered. For patients whose self-rated symptoms and reflexes had clearly improved, with nerve conduction test improvements of 2–5 m/s, the treatment was classified as effective. For patients with no clear changes in their condition, the treatment was classified as ineffective. In the drug monotherapy group, there were 2 recovered, 14 effective, and 14 ineffective cases, giving a total effective rate of 53.33%. In the herbal medicine monotherapy group, there were 5 recovered, 17 effective, and 8 ineffective cases, giving a total effective rate of 73.33%. In the acupuncture plus herbs group, there were 11 recovered and 18 effective cases, with 1 ineffective case, yielding a total effective rate of 96.67%. Design A total of 90 DPN patients were recruited for the study and, using a random number table, were assigned to either the drug monotherapy group, the herbal medicine monotherapy group, or the acupuncture plus herbs group. The drug monotherapy group was treated with epalrestat, an aldose reductase inhibitor used in the treatment of DPN. The herbal medicine monotherapy group was treated with Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. The acupuncture plus herbs group was treated with Tao Hong Si Wu Tang in combination with acupuncture. Baseline The drug monotherapy group was comprised of 16 male and 14 female patients, ages 40–74 years (mean age 57.60 years). The participants in this group were diagnosed with diabetes for 5.5–21 years (median duration 9.8 years) and suffered from DPN for 1.2–6.8 years (mean duration 4.3 years). The herbal medicine monotherapy group was comprised of 16 male and 14 female patients, ages 41–72 years (mean age 57.03 years). The participants in this group were diagnosed with diabetes for 5–18 years (median duration 9.6 years) and suffered from DPN for 1.5–7.0 years (mean duration 4.3 years). The acupuncture plus herbs group was comprised of 17 male and 13 female patients, ages 40–75 years (mean age 59.03 years). The participants in this group were diagnosed with diabetes for 5–20 years (mean duration 9.5 years) and suffered from DPN for 2–7 years (mean duration 4.5 years). There were no statistically significant differences in baseline characteristics between the three groups (p>0.05).

Diagnostic criteria included a previous history of diabetes with signs of DPN present either at the time of (or after) diagnosis, signs and symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of DPN such as pain, numbness, formication (the sensation of insects crawling on the skin), and other abnormal sensations. The participants’ reflexes were tested including the ankle jerk reflex and responses to needle pain, vibration, pressure, and heat. In the absence of clinical symptoms, two of the above reflexes were required to be abnormal for inclusion in the study.

Further inclusion criteria included the age range of 40–70 years with a clinical diagnosis of DPN, fasting blood glucose levels of ≤8.0 mmol/L, postprandial blood glucose levels of ≤10.0 mmol/L, diastolic blood pressure of 60–90 mm Hg, and systolic blood pressure of 90–140 mm Hg. All patients were required to give informed consent to participate in the study. Exclusion criteria included infections, external trauma, chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, drug-induced nerve dysfunction, concurrent cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, neurological, hematologic, immune, endocrine, or psychological disorders, pregnancy, or simultaneously participating in other clinical trials.

Acupuncture, Herbs, And Drugs
All patients received appropriate dietary, exercise, and health education with the aim of regulating blood glucose levels. Any patients taking medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, or coronary heart disease maintained their original treatment and dosage throughout the study period.

Participants in the drug monotherapy group were treated with epalrestat, an aldose reductase inhibitor drug commonly used in the treatment of DPN. A 50mg dose was prescribed, to be taken three times each day. Participants in the herbal medicine monotherapy group were prescribed Tao Hong Si Wu Tang comprised of the following herbs:

Dang Gui 15g
Bai Shao 15g
Chuan Xiong 10g
Shu Di Huang 15g
Tao Ren 15g
Hong Hua 15g

The herbs were decocted in water daily and were split into three doses to be taken morning, noon, and evening. Participants in the acupuncture plus herbs group were prescribed the above herbal formula and also received acupuncture treatment administered at the following acupoints:

Sihua points: Geshu (BL17), Danshu (BL19)
Feishu (BL13)
Pishu (BL20)
Shenshu (BL23)
Yanglingquan (GB34)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Quchi (LI11)
Bafeng (MLE8)
Baxie (MUE22)

Needles were inserted using the standard method and, after the arrival of deqi, were manipulated for 30 seconds using a balanced reinforcing-reducing method comprised of twisting, rotating, lifting, and thrusting. Manipulation was repeated at 10-minute intervals and needles were retained for a total of 30 minutes. Treatment was administered daily.

All three treatment groups received two full courses of treatment, with each course comprising two weeks. During the treatment period, patients were advised to avoid cold temperatures and drafts, emotional stress, and overexertion, while refraining from smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy, fatty, or greasy foods.

The results of this study indicate that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is a safe and effective treatment for DPN and its associated symptoms. Acupuncture and herbs outperformed epalrestat and all treatment modalities used in the study had a low risk of adverse effects.

1. Wu Guannan, Meng Caizhou, Zhang Dinghua (2019) “Randomized controlled study of acupuncture combined with Taohong Siwu Decoction in the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy” Journal of Gansu University of Chinese ​Medicine Vol. 36 (1) pp. 64-67.

2019-08-21T10:52:23+00:00August 12th, 2019|

How acupuncture could help with your seasonal allergies

Wonderful article by Kelsey Roy:

Spring is here, and for many that means seasonal allergies are too.

There are many ways to handle itchy eyes, runny nose or uncontrollable sneezing of allergies, both natural or with medication.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a 2015 evaluation of 13 studies showed that acupuncture could help with symptoms of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.

The studies involved almost 2,400 people. The review found that the groups that received acupuncture reported reduced nasal symptoms compared to the groups that didn’t.

That same year, the American Academy of Otolaryngology issued practice guidelines that recommends clinicians to offer or refer acupuncture to patients suffering with allergies that would like an alternative to medicine.

2019-05-13T12:22:49+00:00May 13th, 2019|

Should You Try Acupuncture to Treat Arthritis Pain?

Should You Try Acupuncture to Treat Arthritis Pain?

While more research is still needed, some experts point to this as way to relieve joint discomfort.

Wonderful article by Michael O. Schroeder, Staff Writer
U.S. News & World Report

Should I Try Acupuncture for Arthritis?

About 1 in 4, or more than 54 million, adults in the U.S. have arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The umbrella term describes various conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. The most common type, osteoarthritis, involves the breakdown of cartilage in joints, such as the hips and knees, and it’s particularly prevalent as people get older.

“Osteoarthritis is a degenerative mechanical condition that causes loss of cartilage resulting often in joint pain and sometimes loss of function,” explains Dr. Charis Meng, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. As with many causes of chronic pain, there’s no quick fix.

A Patient’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis

In some cases, surgery such as knee replacement is recommended to treat advanced osteoarthritis. That’s “probably the closest thing we come to a ‘cure’ quote unquote, because you’re replacing the joint,” Meng says.

Still, she and other experts reiterate that right now there’s no therapy to reverse the cartilage loss that happens inside the knee or another joint with OA. And for many surgery isn’t necessary or recommended, even while joint pain from arthritis may limit function and daily activities and undermine quality of life.

To try to tame that chronic pain and improve function, experts recommend everything from losing weight (to take stress off joints) to exercise to over-the-counter and prescription medication and injections of cortisone in the joints, depending on the individual, to ease discomfort.

In addition, some people turn to acupuncture – a form of traditional Chinese medicine that typically involves practitioners inserting ultra-thin needles into the skin – in an effort to relieve or reduce arthritis pain. “Right now we don’t have a medical cure. So we rely on treatment, and I look at acupuncture as a traditional treatment for osteoarthritis pain,” says Meng, who is certified in acupuncture. “I always make it clear it’s not a cure, because nobody’s replacing the cartilage with acupuncture or anything else for that matter in Western medicine.”

Practitioners say acupuncture may also help to relieve pain from rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body’s immune system “attacks” the joints, causing painful inflammation.

Where many with arthritis use more than one approach to address pain and improve function, Jamie Starkey, manager of the Eastern medicine program and lead acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, sees it as complementing other options for treating arthritis. “It really oftentimes does take a multidisciplinary approach to care,” she says.

A research review published last year in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concluded “acupuncture alone or combined with other treatment modalities is beneficial to the clinical conditions of RA (rheumatoid arthritis) without adverse effects reported and can improve function and quality of life and is worth trying.” Another meta-analysis published in The Journal of Pain in 2018 found acupuncture to be effective for treating osteoarthritis pain, among other types of chronic pain, and that the benefits persist over time and pain relief can’t be explained solely by a placebo effect.

But experts reviewing studies on acupuncture to treat arthritis have bemoaned a dearth of high quality research in that area. Further complicating matters is the heterogeneity of acupuncture itself: That is, various practitioners use different techniques, rather than one uniform type of acupuncture being applied.

A 2010 Cochrane review, including studies of people with osteoarthritis in the peripheral joints (knee, hip and hand), found it conferred a small benefit, but owed that was at least partially related to placebo effect. The findings from a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association didn’t support the use of acupuncture to relieve moderate or severe knee pain in individuals over 50 (which is typically the result of osteoarthritis). And a 2018 Cochrane review found: “Acupuncture probably has little or no effect in reducing pain or improving function relative to sham acupuncture in people with hip osteoarthritis.”See: 6 Nonopioid Ways to Ease Postoperative Pain. ]

Despite mixed research results – which have been disputed by some practitioners – acupuncture is widely used to treat chronic pain, and data strongly supports its safety.

Almost anyone can have it done with little risk or discomfort. “If somebody has very limited mobility and has trouble getting onto the table – I have had this happen – maybe acupuncture is not the best thing for them, because they do have to lie still for about 20, 30 minutes,” Meng says. “And some people, if they just have a lot of disabilities and they have trouble doing that, it won’t be a very comfortable experience for them.” One other instance where caution may be advised: “Some people are on blood thinners like warfarin or other anticoagulants, and you do have to be careful with acupuncture,” Meng says. “Because even though the needles are very, very thin, there’s always an increased risk of bleeding when you’re on those type of blood thinners.”

For those who are interested in trying acupuncture to treat arthritis pain, it’s important to seek out a licensed acupuncturist, who is board certified, says Brian Jackson, an acupuncturist in the orthopedics department at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Experts also advise not only considering the professional’s education not only in acupuncture generally, but inquiring about the practitioner’s experience treating arthritis pain and other chronic pain. “The majority of our patients are sort of neck and lower back pain patients; and we have pretty good success rates with treating those patients,” Jackson says.

A physician referral is a good place to start to find an acupuncturist – but often that’s not possible (your physician may not have any suggestions on this).

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, or the NCCAOM, provides an online directory to find a certified acupuncturist in your area. As the nonprofit’s website notes, “NCCAOM is the only national organization that validates entry-level competency in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) through professional certification.”

2019-03-11T14:56:09+00:00March 11th, 2019|

Acupuncture and related interventions for the treatment of symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome

Thank you to Cochrane library for this wonderful article and: Choi GH, Wieland LS, Lee H, Sim H, Lee MS, Shin BC. Acupuncture and related interventions for the treatment of symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD011215. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011215.pub2.

Background:Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a compressive neuropathic disorder at the level of the wrist. Acupuncture and other methods that stimulate acupuncture points, such as electroacupuncture, auricular acupuncture, laser acupuncture, moxibustion, and acupressure, are used in treating CTS. Acupuncture has been recommended as a potentially useful treatment for CTS, but its effectiveness remains uncertain. We used Cochrane methodology to assess the evidence from randomised and quasi‐randomised trials of acupuncture for symptoms in people with CTS.


To assess the benefits and harms of acupuncture and acupuncture‐related interventions compared to sham or active treatments for the management of pain and other symptoms of CTS in adults.

Search methods

On 13 November 2017, we searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, AMED, CINAHL Plus, DARE, HTA, and NHS EED. In addition, we searched six Korean medical databases, and three Chinese medical databases from inception to 30 April 2018. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing trials.

Selection criteria

We included randomised and quasi‐randomised trials examining the effects of acupuncture and related interventions on the symptoms of CTS in adults. Eligible studies specified diagnostic criteria for CTS. We included outcomes measured at least three weeks after randomisation. The included studies compared acupuncture and related interventions to placebo/sham treatments, or to active interventions, such as steroid nerve blocks, oral steroid, splints, non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), surgery and physical therapy.

Data collection and analysis

The review authors followed standard Cochrane methods.

Main results

We included 12 studies with 869 participants. Ten studies reported the primary outcome of overall clinical improvement at short‐term follow‐up (3 months or less) after randomisation. Most studies could not be combined in a meta‐analysis due to heterogeneity, and all had an unclear or high overall risk of bias.

Seven studies provided information on adverse events. Non‐serious adverse events included skin bruising with electroacupuncture and local pain after needle insertion. No serious adverse events were reported.

One study (N = 41) comparing acupuncture to sham/placebo reported change on the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) Symptom Severity Scale (SSS) at three months after treatment (mean difference (MD) ‐0.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) ‐0.79 to 0.33) and the BCTQ Functional Status Scale (FSS) (MD ‐0.03, 95% CI ‐0.69 to 0.63), with no clear difference between interventions; the evidence was of low certainty. The only dropout was due to painful acupuncture. Another study of acupuncture versus placebo/sham acupuncture (N = 111) provided no usable data.

Two studies assessed laser acupuncture versus sham laser acupuncture. One study (N = 60), which was at low risk of bias, provided low‐certainty evidence of a better Global Symptom Scale (GSS) score with active treatment at four weeks after treatment (MD 7.46, 95% CI 4.71 to 10.22; range of possible GSS scores is 0 to 50) and a higher response rate (risk ratio (RR) 1.59, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.22). No serious adverse events were reported in either group. The other study (N = 25) did not assess overall symptom improvement.

One trial (N = 77) of conventional acupuncture versus oral corticosteroids provided very low‐certainty evidence of greater improvement in GSS score (scale 0 to 50) at 13 months after treatment with acupuncture (MD 8.25, 95% CI 4.12 to 12.38) and a higher responder rate (RR 1.73, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.45). Change in GSS at two weeks or four weeks after treatment showed no clear difference between groups. Adverse events occurred in 18% of the oral corticosteroid group and 5% of the acupuncture group (RR 0.29, 95% CI 0.06 to 1.32). One study comparing electroacupuncture and oral corticosteroids reported a clinically insignificant difference in change in BCTQ score at four weeks after treatment (MD ‐0.30, 95% CI ‐0.71 to 0.10; N = 52).

Combined data from two studies comparing the responder rate with acupuncture versus vitamin B12, produced a RR of 1.16 (95% CI 0.99 to 1.36; N = 100, very low‐certainty evidence). No serious adverse events occurred in either group.

One study of conventional acupuncture versus ibuprofen in which all participants wore night splints found very low‐certainty evidence of a lower symptom score on the SSS of the BCTQ with acupuncture (MD ‐5.80, 95% CI ‐7.95 to ‐3.65; N = 50) at one month after treatment. Five people had adverse events with ibuprofen and none with acupuncture.

One study of electroacupuncture versus night splints found no clear difference between the groups on the SSS of the BCTQ (MD 0.14, 95% CI ‐0.15 to 0.43; N = 60; very low‐certainty evidence). Six people had adverse events with electroacupuncture and none with splints. One study of electroacupuncture plus night splints versus night splints alone presented no difference between the groups on the SSS of the BCTQ at 17 weeks (MD ‐0.16, 95% CI ‐0.36 to 0.04; N = 181, low‐certainty evidence). No serious adverse events occurred in either group.

One study comparing acupuncture plus NSAIDs and vitamins versus NSAIDs and vitamins alone showed no clear difference on the BCTQ SSS at four weeks (MD ‐0.20, 95% CI ‐0.86 to 0.46; very low‐certainty evidence). There was no reporting on adverse events.

Authors’ conclusions

Acupuncture and laser acupuncture may have little or no effect in the short term on symptoms of CTS in comparison with placebo or sham acupuncture. It is uncertain whether acupuncture and related interventions are more or less effective in relieving symptoms of CTS than corticosteroid nerve blocks, oral corticosteroids, vitamin B12, ibuprofen, splints, or when added to NSAIDs plus vitamins, as the certainty of any conclusions from the evidence is low or very low and most evidence is short term. The included studies covered diverse interventions, had diverse designs, limited ethnic diversity, and clinical heterogeneity. High‐quality randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are necessary to rigorously assess the effects of acupuncture and related interventions upon symptoms of CTS. Based on moderate to very‐low certainty evidence, acupuncture was associated with no serious adverse events, or reported discomfort, pain, local paraesthesia and temporary skin bruises, but not all studies provided adverse event data.

Plain language summary

Acupuncture and related treatments for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Review question

Do acupuncture and related treatments improve symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in adults?


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that may cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand. It develops when the median nerve, which stretches from the arm into the hand, is compressed as it passes through a structure called the carpal tunnel in the wrist. A person’s job could be a factor in developing CTS and it can be an additional problem in people with other diseases, such as inflammatory arthritis. CTS can be treated by hand exercises, splinting, pain medicines, and injections. Severe CTS may be treated with surgery. People with CTS sometimes choose acupuncture and related treatments to manage the symptoms of CTS. Acupuncture uses needles to puncture the skin and stimulate acupuncture points on the body. These acupuncture points lie along the meridian, which is thought of as a pathway of energy through the body. Acupuncture‐related treatments use different methods to stimulate the acupuncture points. For example, laser acupuncture uses lasers instead of needles.

Study characteristics

We found 12 studies, which analysed 869 people with CTS. There were 148 men and 579 women (1 study did not specify gender). Participant age ranged from 18 to 85 years. The number of people in each study was between 26 and 181. CTS symptoms had been present for months or years. The studies compared needle acupuncture or laser acupuncture to placebo/sham treatments or active treatments, such as corticosteroid nerve blocks, oral corticosteroids, ibuprofen, night splints, physical therapy, and vitamin B12.

Key results and certainty of the evidence

There may be little or no evidence for any difference between acupuncture or laser acupuncture and placebo or sham for symptoms of CTS. We cannot tell whether acupuncture and related interventions are more or less effective than other methods for the treatment of CTS symptoms. The studies we found were small and there may have been problems in how they were carried out. There was not much information on each comparison. The studies found some side effects from acupuncture, such as pain and bruising. None of the harms were serious. However, not all the studies provided information on side effects. We do not have enough good information from current studies to be sure about the effects of acupuncture and related treatments for CTS. We need larger and better‐quality studies to understand any effects of acupuncture and related interventions on symptoms of CTS.

This review is up‐to‐date to 13 November 2017 for English databases and 30 April 2018 for Chinese and Korean databases.

2019-08-21T10:53:04+00:00December 12th, 2018|

Acupuncture MRI Results After Ischemic Stroke

Thank you to Health CMI for this informative article:

Acupuncture regulates brain regions for ischemic stroke patients. Southern Medical University researchers gathered MRI data in a controlled clinical trial consisting of both healthy subjects and patients suffering from ischemic stroke. In a controlled human clinical trial, Waiguan (TB5) applied unilaterally to the right arm produced significant MRI findings. True acupuncture caused important changes in brain functional connectivity.

The researchers determined that true acupuncture triggers significant negative activation in the default mode network (DMN) and other brain regions specific to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) indications of Waiguan. The DMN is a network of highly correlated brain regions, which is active under resting-state conditions. In addition, they found that ischemic stroke affects the brain’s overall response to acupuncture. The healthy control group and the ischemic stroke group had different negatively-activated brain regions in the DMN when receiving true acupuncture. [1]


Waiguan (TB5)
The earliest introduction of Waiguan was found in the Huangdi Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine). Waiguan is the luo-connecting point of the hand shaoyang sanjiao meridian as well as one of the eight confluent points. It is the confluent point of the yang linking vessel. Needling Waiguan is indicated for the treatment of the following disorders: upper limb disorders (e.g., upper limb paralysis, pain, numbness, swelling and other motor and sensory dysfunction), head and sensory organ disorders (e.g., migraines, red and swollen eyes, tinnitus, deafness), fever and exogenous diseases (e.g., common cold, febrile illnesses). The researchers found that needling Waiguan raises negative activation in the somatic motor cortex, somatic sensory cortex, visual information processing cortex, and auditory information process cortex.


In the normal control group, the brain regions deactivated by real acupuncture included the left superior parietal lobule, left inferior parietal lobule, left precuneus, left superior frontal gyrus, left precentral gyrus, left postcentral gyrus, left occipital lobe, right precentral gyrus, right postcentral gyrus, right precuneus, and right cuneus. The precentral gyrus and superior frontal gyrus are involved in somatic motor functions. The superior parietal lobule and postcentral gyrus are associated with somatic sensory functions. The occipital lobe interprets visual information. The aforementioned regions are specific to the indications of Waiguan. The inferior parietal lobule, occipital lobe, and precuneus are DMN related regions. On the other hand, the brain regions deactivated by sham acupuncture included the left precentral gyrus, left postcentral gyrus, and right superior frontal gyrus. The results indicate specific brain activation patterns associated with true acupuncture and sham acupuncture respectively.

In the ischemic stroke group, the brain regions deactivated by real acupuncture included the left medial frontal gyrus, left postcentral gyrus, left middle temporal gyrus, right postcentral gyrus, right precentral gyrus, and right medial frontal gyrus. The middle temporal gyrus is associated with interpreting auditory information. It is regarded as a Waiguan indication-specific region along with the precentral gyrus, postcentral gyrus, and middle temporal gyrus. The medial frontal gyrus is a part of DMN regions. By contrast, the brain regions deactivated by sham acupuncture included the left and right precuneus.


The researchers (Zhang et al.) used the following study design. A total of 44 subjects participated in the study and were divided into two groups, with 24 and 20 subjects in each group respectively. The treatment group subjects were selected from the Nanfang Hospital and the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The treatment group patients were diagnosed with ischemic stroke. The control group subjects included healthy volunteers.

The statistical breakdown for each group was as follows. The treatment group was comprised of 10 males and 10 females. The mean age of the treatment group was 52.8 years. The mean weight was 50.3 kg. The mean height was 160.3 cm. The mean course of disease was 2.2 months. The control group was comprised of 12 males and 12 females. The mean age of the control group was 24.6±3.4 years. The mean weight was 51.4 kg. The mean height was 163.4 cm. There were no significant differences in terms of their gender, age, height, and weight. Both groups were scanned using fMRIs after receiving true or sham acupuncture intervention.


Real Acupuncture
True acupuncture and sham acupuncture were performed by the same acupuncturist with clinical and research experience. Both procedures employed the use of a tube-guided device that can be attached to the skin (Park Sham Tube, AcuPrime). The Park Sham Tube needle is a research device that mimics true acupuncture; however, the needle never penetrates the skin. Instead, the needle retracts into the handle when tapped, thereby visibly appearing as true acupuncture.

After disinfection of the acupoint site, a 0.30 × 40 mm disposable filiform needle was tapped into the acupoint of each patient with a high needle entry speed, reaching a depth of 10 (±2) mm. Upon a deqi sensation, the Ping Bu Ping Xie (attenuating and tonifying) manipulation technique was applied, with a twisting range of 180 degrees and frequency of 60 times/minute. The manipulation was not employed for the first 30 seconds, it was then initiated for the second 30 seconds, and then stopped again for the third 30 second interval. The whole process was repeated continuously for a total of 180 seconds. The device was placed on the skin until the treatment session was finished.


Sham Acupuncture Treatment Simulation
The sham acupuncture group use needles with a retractable, flattened needle point. The Ping Bu Ping Xie (attenuating and tonifying) manipulation was applied. For the first 30 seconds, the needle was slightly lifted to keep the needle point away from the skin; for the second 30 seconds, the needle was tapped into the tube to make the needle point slightly touch the skin, for the third 30 seconds, the needle was lifted again. The whole process was repeated continuously for a total of 180 seconds. The device was placed on the skin until the treatment session was finished.


According to the research, true acupuncture at Waiguan regulates DMN brain regions and raises negative activation in indication-specific regions, including the somatic motor cortex, somatic sensory cortex, visual information processing cortex, and auditory information process cortex. The process was verified by repeated applications across multiple subjects and was verified by MRIs. The results indicate that acupuncture produces point-specific effects on brain regions in ischemic stroke patients.

This type of research supports additional findings by other researchers. In another investigation, Yang et al. conclude that acupuncture has the ability to “promote the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells in the brain… accelerate angiogenesis and inhibit apoptosis…. prevent and treat neural injuries following cerebral ischemia.” [2] Yang et al. add that GV20 (Baihui) and GV26 (Shuigou) regulate cells which “increase the release of nerve growth factors (NGFs) to make nerve cells survive and axons grow, synthesize neurotransmitters, (and) metabolize toxic substances….” In addition, the researchers note that needling CV24 (Chengjiang), CV4 (Guanyuan), GV26, and GV20 “inhibit excessive proliferation of the hippocampal astrocytes and promote cellular differentiation.”

Yang et al. also note that acupuncture at GV20 and GV14 (Dazhui) affect the contents and expression of signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). STATs are active in the Janus kinase STAT pathway and transmit information from chemical signals outside the cell, through the cell membrane, and into gene promoters on the DNA inside the cell nucleus (causing DNA transcription and cellular activity). Yang et al. note that acupuncture’s influence on STATs indicates that it activates self-protection and reduction of “apoptosis of the nerve cells in and around the ischemic focus.” This indicates that acupuncture has a neuroprotective effect for stroke patients.


[1] Zhang GF, Huang Y, Tang CS, Lai XS, Chen JQ. Identification of Deactivated Brain Regions by Real and Non-penetrating Sham Acupuncture Stimulation on Waiguan: An fMRI Study in Normal Versus Pathological Conditions [J]. Chinese General Practice, 2017, 20(9):1098-1103.

[2] Zhou-xin Yang, Peng-dian Chen, Hai-bo Yu, Wen-shu Luo, Yong-Gang Wu, Min Pi, Jun-hua Peng, Yong-feng Liu, Shao-yun Zhang, Yan-hua Gou. Research advances in treatment of cerebral ischemic injury by acupuncture of conception and governor vessels to promote nerve regeneration. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 01-2012. vol. 10, 1. Shenzhen Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.


2018-12-12T10:41:13+00:00December 12th, 2018|