Thursday, 21 May 2009

Acupuncture helps back pain

As recently covered in the Times, acupuncture is an effective treatment for back pain:

This study does bring up questions commonly asked when looking at the effect of acupuncture treatment: is it an effective treatment or is it just an effective placebo? Like with virtually any form of treatment or drug trial, the placebo group will show an improvement, which is the case here as well. However, in the design of this trial, the foour groups were defined as follows:
- individualised treatment was diagnosed by one set of acupuncturists and performed by another set
- the standardised group’s formula was derived from ‘expert’ opinion, meaning acupuncture treatment was not practiced as a treatment tailored for the individual, as it should be, but made standardised, in order to fit the requirements and expectations of Western medical trials
- the sham treatment used a cocktail stick in a guide tube (commendably cheaper than the special ‘placebo’ needles) to prick the skin at the same standardised points
- patients wore eye masks and lay prone the whole time
- no adjunctive procedures were allowed, just needling

Hence even the individualised acupuncture is far removed from what happens in normal practice and we don’t know from the paper how different the point choice was for this and the standardised group. The comparison against sham acupuncture here is akin to TCM acupuncture vs some styles of acupuncture where the point is only stimulated for a very short time, or where we use very superficial needling, in effect not practising "sham" acupuncture. It is encouraging to see that the overall conclusion is positive, although unfortunately Western Medicine style trials appply poorly to holistic medical systems such as that of Chinese Medicine.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Acupuncture to boost fertility

According to a US study published on 7th February 2008 in the British Medical Journal, acupuncture can increase the chances of getting pregnant for women undergoing fertility treatment by 65%.

Guardian's article - Friday 8th February 2008
Acupuncture may help increase IVF success rates by 65%

British Medical Journal - Thursday 7th February 2008
Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis

More information on acupuncture for fertility
Acupuncture and Female Fertility - London-Acupuncture website

Happy New Year - Year of the Rat

February 7th, 2008 in the Chinese calendar is the first day of the Year of the Rat. The Rat is the first in the 12-animal signs in the Chinese zodiac and represents the start of a new 12 years cycle. As such, the Rat year can usher in a shift or new beginnings. So this is a good year to start new initiatives, make a new start, or simply do lifestyle changes. It is also a good time to start new relationships or renew old commitments.

The year 2008 corresponds to Earth and Water elements. These elements are symbolized as a mountain atop the ocean, which gives the appearance of stability but is actually fragile underneath as the earth is floating above water. Having an understanding of the energetic dynamics of a new year can help you increase awareness and preparation to take advantage of the natural cyclical trends in every aspects of your life. In summary, 2008 may bring you new relationship opportunities and renewal of previous associations, fresh endeavors and a whole new life direction. So go forth with an open mind, earnest heart and a firm life purpose that will help you profit from opportunities and weather any and all challenges!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Five Elements

The ancient Chinese believed that all things in the Universe were manifestations of the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water), and that the human body was a microcosm of the Universe. Hence the laws applied governing Nature were also applied to man, and at the level of the body, the Five Elements were associated to specific organ system, sensory organs, emotions, physical and emotional symptoms, disease tendencies and a general orientation toward life.

Within the framework of the Five Element system, physical findings as well as the person’s history enable the practitioner to organise a diagnosis. This leads to identifying the Element that, under internal or external stress, becomes imbalanced and initiates a state of disease. The resulting treatment will then be designed specifically for each individual, and take into account age, symptoms, general constitution as well as life circumstances. The aim of Five Element Acupuncture is to treat the underlying weakness, and the person will often report not only the disappearance of the symptoms, but also feeling better generally, referring to such things as increased energy and vitality, greater enjoyment of life, greater confidence, better sleep and a more normal appetite.

Five Element Acupuncturist in London