Acupuncture for Opioid and Substance Addiction Recovery

Overcoming Addiction with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, emotions originate internally from different organs inside the body. Conditions and events in the external world may provoke specific reactions but, ultimately, each person is responsible for the emotion generated.

Any addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, food, work, or other activity or substance, effectively blocks intelligence and suppresses healing abilities. Through these behaviors we choose to rely on the demands of
addiction to dictate our lives, rather than taking responsibility to conduct ourselves in a healthy, life-affirming way.

Is there a body/mind connection to willpower? According to the principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there is. The zhi represents willpower, drive, and determination. It manifests as the urge to persist in one’s efforts and, when in deficiency, feelings of defeat, pessimism, and depression may occur. Without strong willpower, or zhi, one may easily succumb to the temptations of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help cleanse and re-balance your body and mind to manage cravings and overcome a variety of addictions, and can help manage cravings. The safe space provided during treatment is both literal and metaphorical.

Several approaches may be used when treating addictions, generally starting with therapies that help cleanse and balance. Sometimes a vague, uneasy sensation takes over after or during the process of releasing an addiction. Perhaps for the workaholic patient, it is strange and alarming to experience leisure time. Addicts require fortitude to find replacements for the dependence on substances or addictive behaviors. This is why willpower, or zhi, needs treatment to provide support and determination to discover the power within oneself–a universal necessity for overcoming any addiction.

To aid your transformation from addiction and addictive behaviors to healthier practices, try focusing on routine. Routine provides stability, and a new routine is necessary to break old habits. If your first thought
in the morning is to reach for a cigarette, replace that action with another, healthier ritual.

The replacement ritual could be anything from reaching for warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne to refresh your system, or singing your favorite song or stating out loud your plans for the day. As long as the action is positive and consistent, it will serve your new routine and changing thought processes.

Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen willpower and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings. Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture treatment alone, but special herbs, healing foods, and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.

Everyone experiences addiction in different ways with varying symptoms, and treatment is adjusted to the individual needs of the person seeking treatment. Some respond better to a sudden, jarring change in habits, whereas others may require a slower process to adjust to the changes that must be made. At some point during the detoxification process, the next step necessary to your healing will be addressed, helping to ensure that your strengthened willpower and emotional balance lasts a lifetime.

Are there cravings or an addiction you are working to overcome?

Call today to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you reach optimum health!

The Opioid Addiction Epidemic and How Acupuncture Can Help

The United States loses approximately one hundred lives a day as a consequence of the current opioid epidemic–addiction and abuse of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. If projections prove
correct, another half a million more casualties may be on the way over the next ten years. Opioid overdose now ranks as the number one killer for Americans younger than 50 years old.

Opioids are a class of powerful drugs used primarily as a treatment for pain and provide relief in the most excruciating of cases. Morphine, codeine, heroine, fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) are all classified as opioids.

The High Risk of Addiction to Opioids

Unfortunately, the risk of addiction with these drugs is high because opioids are so effective and can give users a feeling of euphoria. Short term use of these drugs is the safest option as it lowers the chances of developing a drug tolerance.

Developing a tolerance means a patient must take higher and higher doses of the drug to experience the same euphoric effects. This deadly cycle of increasing drug amounts can destroy lives and lead to a potentially deadly overdose.

Treatment and Recovery from Opioid Addition

In cases where an opioid addict undergoes detoxification, withdrawal symptoms often make the process a terribly difficult experience. Signs and symptoms associated with withdrawal from opioids include: pain, intense emotional anguish, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hypertension, tachycardia and seizures.

Treatment options for rehabilitation generally include a gradual reduction from the drug. Special drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine can help assuage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. These drugs do not produce euphoric effects and have a lower risk of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Opioid Dependence

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine treats opioid addiction in a holistic fashion. Not only is the physical body addressed, but the heart and mind as well. The heart represents the emotions, and the mind refers to the logical, cognitive functions.

A great start to assisting patients during the rehabilitation process is the utilization of a simple and effective ear acupuncture protocol. The treatment consists of ten acupuncture needles applied to five points on each ear. After needle insertion, all a patient needs to do is sit quietly in a cozy chair for at least 20 minutes, up to one hour.

The selection of ear points includes lung, shen men, autonomic point, liver and kidney. The lung point helps maintain an even, steady breathing pattern. This helps keep emotions such as grief and sadness from becoming an overwhelming burden. Additionally, it supports the respiratory and cardiovascular system. It is particularly useful for addictions related to smoking.

Shen men addresses the stress, anxiety, anguish and depression associated with opioid withdrawal. It also reduces the physical pain which may occur during the process. The autonomic point works on the nervous system by balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic system. The former calms bodily functions, while the latter speeds things up.

The liver point aids the liver organ in cleansing the blood and removing toxic material. The kidney point is similar in function, as the kidney also plays a major role in ridding the body of harmful substances. A key
difference between the points is the emotions they treat. The liver point works to reduce anger and frustration, while the kidney point helps to alleviate fear.

Some patients may require additional acupuncture points. For example, a person manifesting signs and feelings of rage could benefit with the addition of an ear point called limbic system. It reduces aggressive, compulsive behavior which may lead to violence.

The NADA Protocol and Addiction

This particular auricular therapy is known as the NADA protocol. Developed in the 1970s due to the efforts of Dr. Michael Smith at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York, NADA stands for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. Dr. Smith created the NADA protocol as a treatment to help many suffering with heroin addiction in the local community.

The success of the NADA program helped recovering addicts lower their chances of recidivism and increase their chances of entering society as healthy, drug-free individuals. In 1996, the World Health Organization
declared acupuncture as a viable method to assist patients in withdrawing from chemical dependencies.

Three reasons why acupuncture receives such high accolades for its success in treating opioid addictions, and other substances as well, is due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness and absence of negative side effects. It is also safe for patients of virtually any age group, and in most cases, for pregnant women.

Sometimes it is not only the patients who need treatment, but family members and loved ones who also suffer as their loved ones go through the withdrawal process. Application of the NADA protocol is safe for them and may help in dealing with their heavy emotions. It is support for the support team, so to speak.

With an estimated 2.5 million people dealing with opioid addiction, safe and effective methods are needed more than ever to curb this national public health crisis. Whether the addiction is from doctor prescribed
opiates, or illegal street drugs like heroine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine provides treatment.

Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic

A recent 2017 White Paper “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management” investigated acupuncture as part of a solution to the current opioid epidemic in the US.

The paper provides evidence that acupuncture is effective for managing pain. This applies to pain from numerous medical conditions including migraine headache, low back pain, neck pain, nausea resulting from
chemotherapy and others. The author referenced several scientific studies in order to reach this conclusion.

There are two other important reasons to utilize acupuncture. One is the relatively low cost of the treatment, which can save money for patients and insurers. The other reason is the risk of negative side effects occurring is minimal, especially when compared with the adverse events associated with some medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs. Acupuncture is a safe procedure when performed by a qualified practitioner.

The paper reaches the conclusion that acupuncture is appropriate and useful as an adjunct therapy to treat and rehabilitate those contending with an opioid addiction. The FDA recently recommended in May of 2017 that non-pharmacologic options be explored before doctors prescribe extended-release and long-acting opioids, in an effort to reduce the problems associated with opioid dependence.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, hospitals will also provide non-pharmacologic options to help patients manage their pain. This mandate was set by the Joint Commission, a prominent, non-profit organization which certifies health care organizations in the United States. Acupuncture meets the requirements necessary to satisfy this mandate.

Source: Abel Bolash, Bonnie M., et. al., “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management .” The Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, 2017, http://www.asacu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Acupunctures-Role-in-Solving-the-Opioid-Epidemic_Final_September_20_2017.pdf.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Relief

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, memory loss, mood swings, digestive problems and depression. Anyone who is female or has a family history of fibromyalgia or a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) or rheumatic disease (i.e. lupus) has an increased risk for the disorder.

Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. It is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months. To aid in diagnosis, there is a map of 18 specific points on the body prone to pain. To qualify for an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a patient must experience pain in 11 out of the 18 sites when pressure is applied.

While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together — chronic pain, debilitating fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, joint stiffness, chronic headaches, dryness, hypersensitivity, inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”), incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, numbness, tingling or poor circulation in the hands and feet, painful menstrual cramps or restless legs syndrome.

Research shows that up to 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary or alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has been shown to be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia.

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, pain is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the body. The disruption that results in fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney and Heart systems. The Oriental medicine theory of pain is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”

Oriental medicine aims to treat the symptoms unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, the intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. A treatment program often includes a combination of Oriental medicine modalities, including acupuncture.

If you have fibromyalgia, acupuncture and Oriental medicine may be what you’ve been looking for to ease your symptoms and reclaim your health and vitality. Call to schedule your appointment today.

Use Self-Acupressure to Relieve Fibromyalgia Symptoms

For anyone suffering from fibromyalgia, knowing where to apply self-acupressure may help ease some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. The most common tell-tale symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread
body pain. Although each patient may describe their pain with different terms like dull, achy, piercing or burning, the one commonality between them is the constant, unrelenting experience of discomfort.

It is important to recognize that psychological stresses can play a significant role in the presentation of fibromyalgia. Employing self-acupressure can help one regain emotional well-being and better control the onset of symptoms. For best self-acupressure results, apply gentle yet firm pressure from your middle-finger as you make tiny circular motions. This may be done as little as once a day or as much as once every hour.

Here are a few areas self-acupressure can be applied to provide symptom relief:

Yintang -located between the eyes, at the level of the eyebrows. This point is renowned for its ability to soothe anxiety and promote a general relaxation of the body. Stimulation of this point may help with obsessive and unproductive thoughts.

Ear Shen Men – located on the upper portion of the ear in the triangular fossa, nearly a perfect fit to gently place a fingertip and press. The name of this point speaks for itself, stimulation here brings the potential for great relief from any kind of physical and/or emotional pain, metaphorically allowing the patient to enter “heaven.”

Ren 17 – located in the center of the chest at the level of the fourth
intercostal space, at the same level as the nipples. This is a great point
to help relieve the sensation of rising anxiety and help the body
physically relax as well.

Pericardium 6 – located on the side of the arm, four finger widths from the wrist crease and between the two tendons in the middle of the arm. Gentle pressing can help promote a sense of well-being and relief from nausea.

Stomach 36 – located about four finger widths down from the outereye of the knee, then over about the width of the middle finger from the shin bone. This invaluable point is known for its ability to promote general wellness by stimulating the immune system, stopping pain anywhere in the body and calming the shen. “Calming the shen” refers to the stabilization of negative mental and emotional states.

To learn more about self-acupressure for your specific symptoms of
fibromyalgia, call to make an appointment today!

Study Supports Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Relief

The British Columbia Medical Journal (BCMJ) published a revealing study investigating the effectiveness of using acupuncture plus counseling to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Twenty female patients with an average age of 46 underwent twice-weekly acupuncture sessions for 12 weeks. They also received counseling sessions to learn more about nutrition and stress management to cope with their disease. All study participants received the same acupuncture points during their treatments. At the end of the trial, researchers evaluated the progress of each patient.

Seven of the participants showed significant progress in dealing with their symptoms. This group experienced a 50% or higher improvement in their personal evaluations of pain and other symptoms. One patient even reported a 78% improvement. Ten patients declared a moderate improvement, between 21-50%, while only three patients reported minor progress, between 10-12%. Thus researchers concluded the efficacy of using acupuncture combined with counseling for reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Source: Clarke T. Treatment of fibromyalgia with acupuncture and counseling. BCMJ, 2004;46:1 21-23 Retrieved online at http://www.bcmj.org/article/treatment-fibromyalgia-acupuncture-and-counseling

Strengthen Your Respiratory Health

Staying Healthy during Cold and Flu Season

This year it is predicted that there will be 1 billion colds and 95 million cases of the flu in the United States alone. While the misery of cold and flu season might be inevitable, one thing is changing: where we look for relief.

The easiest way to protect against the flu is to have a healthy immune system. However, that doesn’t mean you still won’t come into contact with airborne virus particles. That’s why your first line of defense against the flu, or any other illness, is to strengthen your immune system.

When it comes to staying healthy during cold and flu season, acupuncture and Oriental medicine have a lot to offer. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help prevent colds and flu by strengthening the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways.

In Oriental medicine, disease prevention begins by focusing on the protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi or defensive energy. The Wei Qi involves acupuncture points known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy to boost your body’s defenses.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can also provide relief and faster healing if you have already come down with a cold or the flu by helping to relieve symptoms you are currently experiencing including chills, fever, body aches, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough. While bringing some immediate relief, treatments will also reduce the incidence of an upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of the illness.

Boost your Wei Qi and Stay Healthy

“To treat disease that has already developed is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty, and of those who begin to cast weapons after they have already engaged in battle. Would these actions not be too late?” – Huangdi Neijing

Seasonal changes affect the body’s environment. With wind, rain and snow come the colds, flu viruses and the aches and pains that accompany them.

If you catch colds easily, have low energy and require a long time recuperating from an illness your Wei Qi may be deficient. Through the process of evaluating subtle physical signs as well as the emotional
condition of a person, practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine can detect health problems in their earliest stages, before a person becomes gravely ill.

Once the nature of an imbalance has been determined, a customized program can be created for you. Your treatment may include acupuncture, herbal therapy and Tui Na, as well as food, exercise and lifestyle recommendations.

Schedule a Seasonal Tune-Up:
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can prevent colds and flu by building up the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. These points are known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy and for consolidating the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle (Wei Qi) so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them.

Wash Your Hands:
Good lifestyle and hygiene habits are also proven to reduce your risk of getting sick. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that we catch colds and flu in cold weather is that we are indoors and in closer vicinity to others. Protect yourself from picking up germs by washing your hands regularly and remembering not to touch your face.

Sleep In:
The Nei Ching, an ancient Chinese classic, advised people to go to sleep early, rest well and rise late, after the sun’s rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own Yang Qi for the task of warming the body. Even busy, working people can boost their health by sleeping in on weekends.

Stress Less:
Find a release valve for your stress. According to Oriental medicine, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can play an important part in throwing the immune system off and allowing pathogens to affect the body. Find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Such methods may include yoga, meditation and exercise. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. Call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you stay healthy this season!

Chronic Cough? Find Relief with Acupuncture

A chronic cough is more than just a nuisance and may cause some serious disruptions to a person’s health. Any cough persisting for more than 8 weeks in adults, or more than 4 weeks for children, is considered a chronic cough.

Coughing attacks during the night can interrupt sleep, resulting in day-time fatigue and drowsiness. Coughing episodes can also cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches, urinary incontinence, loss of consciousness, and rib fractures.

The most common causes of a chronic cough are smoking, post nasal drip, asthma and acid reflux. Other culprits are chronic bronchitis, the flu, pneumonia, whooping cough and certain blood pressure medications. Although less likely, lung cancer or cystic fibrosis can cause a chronic cough as well. Signs and symptoms that often accompany a chronic cough include runny nose, constant need to clear the throat, difficulty breathing, sour taste in the mouth, or spitting up blood or sputum.

When treating a chronic cough, it is important to address the underlying cause, or root cause, as it is known according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Once the root cause is cleared up, the
chronic cough will clear up. However, no matter what organs need rebalancing to address the root cause, treatment of the lungs is necessary.

Uncontrollable coughing represents a risky, potentially dangerous characteristic known as ‘rebellious Qi.’ Qi is the most fundamental energy essential for all forms of life. Just as it sounds, rebellious Qi flows in
the wrong direction and causes health problems. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help soothe and eliminate risk factors that can contribute to a chronic cough such as smoking or acid reflux.

One of the biggest risk factors is smoking tobacco, and stopping this habit is a necessity. Reducing chemical dependencies helps reduce a patient’s craving and assists the body in detoxifying harmful substances. In the case of acid reflux, acupuncture treatments can help the stomach from forcing digestive juices upwards. As the acid reflux subsides, chronic coughing should lessen as well.

Skin Health Concerns? Try Acupuncture!

Suffering from Dermatitis?

Dermatitis describes different conditions of skin inflammation. There are many kinds but the most common ones are atopic, contact and seborrheic. All three of these types manifest differently on the skin, and for different reasons.

Atopic dermatitis is more commonly referred to as eczema. The problem area typically reddens, becomes itchy, and then when scratched, the skin oozes, dries, and eventually a crust forms. It usually first appears during infancy or in young children. It often arises in the folds of the skin, where air doesn’t easily reach and the temperature may be slightly higher. The face, particularly the cheeks, may also present with symptoms.

Contact dermatitis pops up when the skin makes contact with an irritating substance. Skin usually feels itchy, looks red and may blister. An irritant can be anything from jewelry to pollen blowing in the air. A common example is the rash from poison ivy. It can be intensely itchy and take on an awful appearance, but ultimately disappears after 2-4 weeks without having done major harm. Recognizing and avoiding the irritant is sound advice in this case.

Seborrheic dermatitis is another way of describing a very bad, persistent case of dandruff. The tell-tale signs include flaky, scaly and itchy sensations on the scalp, but sometimes appear on the upper chest, back and face. When occurring in babies, the condition is known as cradle cap. The culprit is a fungus which thrives in body parts inhabited by oil-producing glands. A hair rinse made from a liter of water, mixed with 5-10 drops of tea tree oil, may help reduce skin flaking and itchiness.

Due to the variety in the different types of dermatitis, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis. Not only will any problems on the skin need immediate attention, but it is also possible that the immune system is weak and needs strengthening.

If you suffer from dermatitis schedule an appointment today!

Dry Skin Relief

The medical term for pathologically dry skin is xerosis. Xero is the Greek word for dry. Dry skin usually manifests temporarily, but in chronic cases, symptoms may persist for weeks, or in worst case scenarios, a lifetime. Certain diseases such as hypothyroidism, atopic dermatitis (eczema) and type 2 diabetes may produce symptoms of xerosis.

Xerosis presents physical and mental challenges. Some patients bear the burden of unsightly areas on the skin and suffer from pain or bouts of itchiness. For some it can be so bad as to interfere with the duration and quality of sleep.

Bleeding from cracks, or chafing from overzealous scratching open the body up to infection. For these reasons, seeking help at the first sign of any of these symptoms can help prevent symptoms from worsening.

Lifestyle factors can cause dry skin, and in these cases modifying your behavior can help reduce symptoms. Central heating units, fireplaces and space heaters generate warmth, but at the expense of moisture in the air. Try turning down the heat and using hats and blankets while indoors.

An arid environment in general, whether warm or cool, can provoke or worsen symptoms of dry skin. Adding moisture to the air can help with dry skin, so consider using a humidifier in your home. For a quick fix, place an uncovered bowl of water in your room and just let it sit. This allows the water to slowly evaporate and add moisture to the room.

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the lungs directly affect the state of the skin. This is because they are one of the organs responsible for fluid metabolism. A healthy respiratory system ensures the skin receives the proper amount of moisture. Assisting the lungs is necessary to create fluids which can nourish the skin.

Whether you experience dry skin on a periodic or chronic basis, call today to find out how acupuncture can bring you relief!

Study: Acupuncture Effective in Reducing Allergy-Caused Skin Irritation

A 2010 study showed acupuncture to be an effective treatment for allergen-caused itchiness and skin irritation in people with eczema. The study titled “Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema-a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial,” brought good news to eczema sufferers in the acupuncture and Oriental Medicine community.

Study participants included those suffering from eczema, who agreed to be exposed to an allergen in order to elicit an allergic skin reaction. The trial then rated the itch intensity, and examined the size of the wheals (a welt, lesion or swelling) and the skin perfusion rate.

Perfusion refers to the process of blood delivery through the capillaries and into skin cells. Higher rates of perfusion are generally a positive thing. This indicates that an adequate supply of blood swiftly reaches the skin in order to expedite the healing needed at the problem area.

Not only did the real acupuncture participants feel significantly less intense itchiness, but the size of their wheals measured smaller when compared with the other groups. Additionally, the higher rate of skin
perfusion observed in the real acupuncture participants also demonstrated the viability of acupuncture as a therapy for atopic eczema.

Source: Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A, Fuqin J, Athanasiadis GI, Irnich D, Raap U, Schober W, Behrendt H, Ring J, Darsow U. “Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.”, Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02284.x. Epub 2009 Dec 11.