Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Migraines

Migraine headaches are a bit of mystery to the medical world. This ailment tends to be poorly understood and frequently undiagnosed and under-treated. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, this neurological disease affects nearly 39 million Americans. Migraines are characterized by severe, throbbing pain usually found on only one side of the head. Migraine headaches can also be accompanied by visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. These types of headaches can last from four hours to several days. Because modern medicine doesn’t completely understand this neurological phenomenon, the typical treatment is somewhat hit or miss. continue reading »

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Pain Management

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined how acupuncture can be used to treat low back pain. The researchers looked at multiple trials to determine that acupuncture shows great promise in relieving chronic low back pain. The trials were inconclusive about acupuncture for acute low back pain. Since chronic low back pain is more common, it makes sense the majority of the trials scrutinized found more evidence to support acupuncture usage for this condition.

Pain affects everybody at some point in their lives. It may be either acute or chronic.  But regardless of the type of pain, it can be debilitating. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 100 million Americans have suffered from pain that lasts more than 24 hours and millions more suffer from acute pain. Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States also, which ultimately affects not only the pain sufferer, but also those around him or her.

Many people go to see their regular doctor when they have pain. Many more go to the emergency room. But the treatments received don’t always provide relief. Everything from pain pills to surgery may be suggested to help pain sufferers. And because of over-prescription of pain medications, there is now an epidemic in the United States.  Opioids, one class of prescription painkillers, has turned into a legitimate killer, causing more and more people to overdose and die. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that nearly 2.1 million people in the U.S. are suffering from substance abuse disorders directly related to opioid pain relievers.

This is where acupuncture comes in. Acupuncture is part of a nearly 3,000 year old medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate specific pressure points on the body. By invigorating these points, the brain is triggered to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. The energy within the body is also moved and adjusted. According to TCM medical theory, when the energy is blocked or weak, then pain and illness can attack the body.

One of the advantages of utilizing acupuncture to treat pain is the acupuncturist doesn’t need to diagnose the cause of the pain before treating it. Since acupuncture has no real adverse side effects when performed by a qualified and professionally licensed practitioner, pain relief can begin the very first time a patient is treated.

The treatments are very customizable because this medicine is not a “one size fits all” type of solution. This means that as the pain shifts and changes, the patient will receive customized treatments that not only address the pain and inflammation, but they also work on resolving the root of the problem. Most patients who are dealing with pain also have added stress, insomnia and depression or anxiety. Acupuncture is great at treating all of these conditions. So the patient gets more than just pain relief.

Acupuncture is so effective at treating and relieving pain now showing up in hospitals and emergency rooms. In fact, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota is now successfully using acupuncture in its emergency room to treat conditions ranging from car accident injuries to kidney stones. Their initial results show pain scores are just as low with acupuncture as they are with those given analgesic painkillers. Another positive action regarding the utilization of acupuncture came just recently. The Food and Drug Administration released proposed changes that plan to educate health care providers about treating pain. The new guidelines recommend doctors get information about acupuncture and suggest it to their patients before prescribing opioids.

With these kinds of recommendations and testimonials, it is hard to believe only about 10 percent of Americans have ever tried acupuncture. But that statistic is slowly changing as more and more people are seeking natural and alternative methods of dealing with pain and disease. Why not check it out for yourself? Contact me to find out more information.

SOURCE: http://annals.org/aim/articleabstract/718336/metaanalysisacupuncturelowbackpain

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Migraines

In a 2017 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers tested the efficacy of regular acupuncture treatments as a preventative measure to reduce the number of migraine headaches their subjects experienced. From a group of 249 participants, ages 18 – 65 years old, the researchers split up the participants into three groups. One group received verified acupuncture once a day for four weeks, one group received so-called “scam acupuncture” during that time and one group was told they had been placed on a waiting list and would receive free acupuncture eventually.

The group that received regular true acupuncture treatments experienced a significant reduction in the number of migraines they experienced compared with members of the other two groups. Researchers also conducted follow-up interviews with all participants for 24 weeks after the treatment ended and found the frequency of migraines, the number of days people had a migraine and the intensity of the pain of those migraines were significantly lower for the group that had true acupuncture treatments than for those in each of the other groups. This study suggests acupuncture can be a powerful preventative measure for migraine headaches as well as a method of reducing the intensity of migraine pain.

In Western medical circles, the jury is still out on the cause of migraines, but doctors largely agree on a few of the factors that can contribute. Many researchers and doctors believe migraines involve some kind of inflammatory response by the body. Acupuncture is often used to manage inflammation in the body. Some researchers have suggested a connection between serotonin production and migraines. Acupuncture can be used to balance serotonin production in the body, thus helping to prevent a migraine from developing. Pain, including migraines, is often connected to reduced blood circulation in the body, which can also be restored through acupuncture.

To be most effective, acupuncture is often combined with herbal medicine and prescribed exercises, such as Tai Chi. Some common herbs, easily found in Western grocery stores, have also historically been used to address headaches. Ginger, peppermint, coriander seed, caffeine and rosemary all have headache-mediating properties. None of these herbs or roots are proven to prevent headaches on their own, however. If you’re curious, contact a licensed acupuncturist for a personalized prescription based on your symptoms.

Overall, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine seek to address the causes of pain and migraines rather than medicating their symptoms. By reducing inflammation, balancing serotonin production and increasing blood flow, regular acupuncture can help prevent migraines and mitigate their intensity. If you or someone you know suffers from regular migraine headaches, maybe acupuncture can help them! Contact a licensed acupuncturist in your area for more information.

Study: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2603492

 

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How Can Meditation Help Me?

Life is full of ups and downs. And everybody tends to get overwhelmed at times. But there are many ways of dealing with what happens. Some people go to the gym to workout. Others meet up with friends and enjoy a nice meal with lots of conversation.  But sometimes it comes down to what we can do by ourselves, for ourselves. Many things are beyond our control. However, we can take responsibility for the state of our mind and meditation is a wonderful tool that helps us do that.

Meditation has been around for millennia. The earliest written records of meditation come from the Hindu traditions around 1500 BCE. Other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India around the sixth and fifth centuries.  The exact origins are subject to debate. But regardless of the origin, meditation practices have stood the test of time and are used all over the world.

Meditation is a way to transform the mind. Meditation practices can increase concentration, emotional positivity, clarity and a sense of calmness. Meditation can also give us the ability to see the true nature of things around us. There are many different forms of meditation, but they all have the same purpose, to calm the mind and help us find our center. When we engage in a particular form of meditation, we learn the habits and patterns of our minds and then we can actually change old habits.

Scientific research tends to focus on two types of meditation, mindful meditation and focused-attention meditation. Through the use of MRIs, scientists have developed a more thorough understanding of what actually takes place in our brains when we meditate. The most dramatic effect is that our brains stop processing information like they normally would. The frontal lobe, which is responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-consciousness, tends to stop functioning during meditation. The parietal lobe, which processes sensory information, slows down. The thalamus, which is the area that focuses our attention by interpreting sensory information, actually shows a slowing of incoming information. So all of these things combined, allows our brains to relax.

Meditation is a practice of focusing our attention and being aware of when it meanders and because of this, meditation can improve our focus when we are not meditating also.  It’s a lasting effect that comes from regular meditation practices.

Another positive effect of meditation is that it allows us to have less anxiety and stress.  The more we meditate, the looser the connections of certain neural pathways become.  The area of the brain that triggers strong reactions becomes less “tight” and in contrast, the frontal lobe strengthens, allowing us to more easily look at things rationally.  For example, sometimes when we experience pain, our minds go to the worst possible scenario and we become anxious. The more a person meditates, the more rational their thinking becomes and thus the feelings of anxiety decrease.

Probably the most studied benefit of meditation is compassion. People who practice meditation regularly have been shown to have more empathy. The part of the brain that processes emotional stimuli, the amygdala, normally slows down during meditation. But just like the aforementioned lasting effects of meditation, compassion and empathy are also affected long-term. Thus those who practice regular meditation tend to look at others differently and show them more understanding and compassion.

Memory is another area that is helped through the regular practice of meditation.  Studies have shown that those who meditate are able to adjust the brain waves that screen our distractions and therefore increase their productivity. Part of this is because meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in the brain. The greater the amount of grey matter, the more positive the emotions, the less age-related diseases affect us and the less our cognitive functioning decreases.

Over time, meditation can greatly improve the quality of life in numerous ways.  Researching the different forms of meditation is the best way to get started. Try as many as possible and go with the one that resonates best with you. Your body will definitely thank you.

 

 

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Five Natural Ways to Cure Migraines

Many people get a migraine now and then, approximately 37 million Americans suffer with migraines. And usually they can be cleared up quickly with over-the-counter medication or other treatment method. Symptoms of a migraine can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and even difficulty speaking. For some, migraines become so intense they actually have to miss work and put their lives on hold.

Migraines tend to be more debilitating than regular headaches and can literally ruin someone’s life. Unfortunately, science still can’t explain what causes migraines, it makes it virtually impossible to find a cure. But this is where natural medicine and nutrition excel in the treatment of migraines.

There are many natural approaches to treating migraines. We’ll examine five ways to naturally approach and treat migraines.

  1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a part of the Traditional Chinese Medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. Acupuncture uses pressure points on the body to help decrease pain and inflammation, while balancing the energy within the body. When somebody is suffering from a migraine, all the energy is rushes to their head. By stimulating or poking pressure points on the feet, this energy can then be drawn down and reduced, thus decreasing the intensity of the migraine. Acupuncture can also help with the treatment of the other symptoms frequently associated with migraines.

  1. Diet

Your diet plays such an important role in your life. For many migraine sufferers, gluten sensitivities can be the main cause of pain. Gluten is a component found in wheat and it is known to increase inflammation in the body. Magnesium and B vitamins are also very important for migraine sufferers. Studies show many migraine sufferers actually have low levels of both magnesium and B vitamins. Magnesium blocks pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, while B vitamins help decrease oxidative stress in the body that may lead to chronic pain and inflammation.

  1. Biofeedback

Another suggested natural cure for migraines, biofeedback provides information about muscle tension, skin temperature, brain waves and other body signals that helps reduce stress levels. Small sensors are placed on the skin to measure the aforementioned items. Using that information allows the migraine sufferer to change the blood flow to the brain, which helps manage the pain.

  1. Exercise

Everybody knows exercise is good for the body. But for people with chronic pain, it is even more important. Just by sitting at a desk, working on a computer all day, we are adding an additional 20-30 pounds of pressure to our necks! This can create stress and tension on the muscles and tendons in the neck and shoulder area, which can contribute to migraine pain and frequency. Studies show by merely adding in 20 minutes of stretching daily, migraines and other chronic pain levels can be significantly reduced. Plus exercise gets the blood pumping and increases oxygenation to the tissues. Both are important for relieving pain and inflammation.

  1. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is another area proven beneficial for migraine sufferers. Chiropractic manipulation helps reduce oxidative stress at the cellular level. Oxidative stress damages tissues and can ultimately lead to disease. Studies show chiropractic adjustments can help decrease tension and relieve pain almost instantaneously.

If you are one of the 37 million Americans who suffers from migraines, you are not alone. But the silver lining is that there are natural cures out there that can help you get your life back. Hopefully one or more of these remedies will help you too.

 

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