Welcome to my blog

Acupuncture specialist for Fertility, Facial rejuvenation, Pain relief.
Based at Kensington Central London.Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine over 20 years ago in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences

Doctor who is passionate about acupuncture

I love what I do, I am good at it and I am always there for my patients. If you come and see me, you will know why I am standing out.
This blog is to introduce latest development and research of acupuncture and offer a chance of awareness of more treatment options for your condition. The blog is for information purpose only.

About Me

My photo

My specialised areas include fertility for women and men, facial rejuvenation, acne, various pain conditions, chronic fatigue and hormone regulation with acupuncture treatment.

Practice contact for appointments and address

Kensington: for appointments (Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Thursdays) at Anamaya center Kensington please call at 02030110355 or email at info@anamaya.co.uk

Address: 1 Adam and Eve Mews, Kensington, London W8 6UG

2 min walk from High Street Kensington underground station

My background: I became a qualified medical doctor in Western medicine 20 years ago in China and was well trained in Western medicine together with Chinese medicine in the best Medical University in Beijing, China. Also I was trained with Dr Zheren Xuan--famous orthopedics expert and founder of soft tissue surgery in China. I am dedicated to treat patients with acupuncture and am recognized as one of the world leading acupuncture specialists.

I obtained a PhD degree in the University of Leeds in the UK.

I had post doctoral training and worked as a senior researcher in St George's hospital, London, UK.

I had frequently presented my research findings in the top international conferences in the field.

I have many publications including ebooks and articles.

I have many year clinical experiences. Over the years of practicing, I have developed unique treatment approaches for infertility, skin aging, acne, vulvodynia, neck pain, headache, migraine, shoulder pain, back pain, fatigue and hot flushes etc to achieve best treatment results. My devotion and skills are highly praised by my patients. 


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Energy resources and acupuncture

This is general knowledge that our body’s energy comes from food we eat. There are three resources of food that provide us with energy: carbohydrates such as sugar and starch, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred and principle source of energy and they break down into glucose which is an immediate source of energy or fuel for the body especially for the brain and muscles. Fat is the storage of the energy and is the body’s most concentrated source of energy, providing more than twice as much potential energy as carbohydrate or protein. Protein is used to build, maintain, and repair body tissues, as well as to synthesize important enzymes and hormones. It is only used as small percentage of energy source. In some situations when the glycogen reserve is depleted such as when we eat too few calories daily or not enough carbohydrate, as well as during latter stages of endurance exercise, the body will sacrifice to break down protein to keep constant energy supply.

The brain is a large energy consumer. Although the brain constitutes only 2% of the body mass, it consumes 50% of total body glucose utilization. The brain does not store energy and it needs constant energy supply. On the contrary, the muscles can store energy and use it later on during exercises when more energy is needed.

Blood circulation plays a key role to provide the body including the brain with energy supply to maintain health. Circulation is the cell’s connection to the outside world bringing oxygen and nutrients and removing the wastes and toxins from the cells.

Why you are very tired? No medical causes found. Poor circulation is contributing to the fatigue. Acupuncture improves blood circulation to help the body obtain energy and get rid of the tiredness.

References
Fehm HL et al Prog Brain Res (2006) 153:129-40

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Research has shown that acupuncture is effective for headaches

Headaches, including primary headaches such as migraine and tension-type headache, are a common clinical problem. A recent review summarizes the literature on the use of complementary medicine for primary headache and is based on five meta-analyses, seven systematic reviews, and 34 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). They suggested that acupuncture, massage, yoga, biofeedback, and meditation have a positive effect on migraine and tension headaches. Spinal manipulation, chiropractic care, some supplements and botanicals, diet alteration, and hydrotherapy may also be beneficial in migraine headache.

References
Millstine D et al BMJ 2017 May 16;357:j1805. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1805.

Acupuncture is recommended in health guidelines in Denmark and North America

Acupuncture is recommended for non specific neck pain by two guidelines from the Danish Health Authority. There are twelve recommendations for neck pain treatment based on research evidence. . For neck pain treatment, guidelines suggest different types of supervised exercise and manual therapy; combinations of exercise and manual therapy are recommended before medicine and acupuncture is also recommended. Oral NSAID (oral or topical) and Tramadol after careful consideration are also recommended. These guidelines are agreed with the guidelines from North America.

References
Kjaer P et al Eur Spine (2017) May 18. doi: 10.1007/s00586-017-5121-8. [Epub ahead of print]

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Acute pain vs chronic pain

Acute pain usually comes on suddenly and goes away a few weeks to a few months, if the cause has gone and is treated properly. For example, sudden pull of the back muscles causes back muscles damage and acute back pain. The pain could be severe and accompanied by anxiety and emotional distress. It goes within a few days to a week time. If acute pain persists, it can become chronic. Chronic pain is pain that usually lasts longer than six months, such as headache, back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain. Chronic pain can cause stress on the body and mind, such as tense muscles, limited ability to move around, a lack of energy and fatigue, anxiety, change of mood, depression and agitation etc. Acupuncture can help both some acute and chronic pain.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Three types of pain

Somatic pain is caused by the activation of pain receptors in either the body surface skin and connective tissues or musculoskeletal tissues. It is usually dull pain or aching. Generally speaking, somatic pain is usually provoked by activity and relieved by rest. It is often caused by inflammation, trauma, excessive activity, vigorous stretching, and muscle contractions etc.
Visceral pain is pain coming from the internal organs. It is deep, dull or dragging pain . It can be associated with autonomic changes such as nausea, vomiting, and changes in heart rate or blood pressure. It can also evoke strong emotional responses. visceral pain is triggered by smooth muscle distension or contraction, stretching of the capsule surrounding an organ, ischaemia and necrosis, or irritation by chemicals produced during inflammatory processes. Referred pain could occur at a site distant from source of the pain. It is due to the convergence of different afferents on to the same dorsal horn neurones in the spinal cord.
Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to nerves in the central or peripheral nervous system. For example, trauma, diabetes mellitus, ischaemia etc can cause the damage. Pain is burning or like an electric shock. Pain is likely spontaneous.
Acupuncture can reduce pain.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Because of pain receptors, it is why you feel the pain. Acupuncture releases pain

If there is injury somewhere in the body, it leads to the feeling of pain. Pain is a vital function of the nervous system. It is both a sensory and emotional experience, affected by psychological factors such as past experiences, beliefs about pain, fear or anxiety. We feel the pain because we have pain receptors in the body. Pain receptors are specialized sensory receptors. They are responsible for the detection of noxious stimuli (including mechanical, thermal or chemical stimuli), transforming the stimuli into electrical signals (these signals will then be conducted to the brain). Inflammatory mediators (such as bradykinin, serotonin, prostaglandins, cytokines, and H+) are released from damaged tissue and can stimulate pain receptors directly. They can also act to reduce the activation threshold of the receptors so that the stimulation required to cause activation is less. This process is called sensitisation. Acupuncture can stimulate the body to release anti-inflammatory substances to reduce the stimulation of the pain receptors and desensitize the pain receptors to release the pain.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Muscle tone

Muscle tone is formed from the continuous and passive partial contraction of the muscles at resting state. Because of the muscle tone, muscles are resistant to passive stretch. It helps maintain posture, balance and respond to sudden pull and stretch. If a sudden pull occurs, the muscles are automatically increased the tension to prevent the body from danger. Generally speaking, low tone increases flexibility and decreases strength and high tone decreases flexibility and increases strength. However there are many exceptions. For example, if the muscle becomes cramped, it loses its strength. Poor posture can result in high muscle tones in related group of muscles.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Acupuncture releases tension of the body and mind

Lives nowadays are so busy and hectic, sometimes are extremely stressful. When the body or mind is stressed, muscles reflex and are tense up instantly. This creates lot of tensions to the body and mind. If the stress is prolonged, muscles are constantly in contracting state and tension is building up. This constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow and energy supply to the organs and tissues such as muscles, tendons and nerves etc. One may feel stiff or tight with or without pain in the body. This may trigger stress related disorders, for example, anxiety, tension type headache, migraine, other chronic pain conditions and this also affects many systems in the body such as nervous system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system and endocrine system, reproductive system etc. Initially this affects system function in short term and this can cause pathological changes of the affected system in long run. There are many tips to teach you how to relieve stress and release the tension of the body and mind. Which one works for you? Sometimes you might find none of the tips works. Do you know acupuncture is very effective to release tension from the body and mind?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Connective tissues in the body

Connective tissue is the tissue between organs and tissues and it provides structural and metabolic support for other tissues and organs. It links whole body together. All connective tissue consists of three main components: elastic and collagenous fibers, ground substance and cells. Cells are spread through an extracellular fluid. Variations of the fibers and ground substance determine the property of the tissues. For example, Bones, tendons, cartilages have specific forms of fibers and ground substance. There are three types of connective tissues: loose connective tissue, dense connective tissue and special connective tissue such as bone, cartilage adipose, reticular connective tissue and blood etc. Loose connective tissue contains many cells, a loose arrangement of fibers and moderately viscous fluid substance such as the tissue in lymph gland. Dense irregular connective tissue contains a dense network of collagenous fibers arranged irregularly, for example the tissues in joint capsules and muscle fascia are this type of tissue. Dense regular connective tissue which is a special connective tissue contains cells and all aligned fibers and it is found in tendons and ligaments.

Loose and dense irregular connective tissue provides a medium for oxygen and nutrients to diffuse from capillaries to cells and carbon dioxide and waste substances to diffuse from cells back into capillaries. They protect organs from stretching and tearing forces. Special connective tissue’s function depend on the types of the tissues.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Acupuncture is effective for leaking urine

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. It affects 10% of the population. Women are more commonly affected. The most common types of leaking urine are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks out at times when the bladder is under pressure, such as coughing, sneezing, heavy lifting exercising and laughing. Stress incontinence is usually the result of the weakening of or damage to the muscles used to prevent urination, such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter. Urge incontinence is when urine leaks as a sudden, intense urge to pass urine is needed. Urge incontinence is usually the result of overactivity of the muscles, which control the bladder. It is also known as overactive bladder. Pelvic floor muscle training is one of the treatments used to treat this condition. Acupuncture is also used to treat this condition. Research on leaking urine with acupuncture treatment is emerging. For example

Recently Xu et al investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture on stress urinary incontinence. Before treatment a 72-hour bladder diary recorded by participants at baseline (week 0) and then acupuncture treatment was applied and the bladder diary was recorded during the treatment period (weeks 2, 4 and 6) and follow-up period (weeks 15–18 and weeks 27–30). In the bladder diary, the participants recorded in detail the time and frequency of UI, activity that occurred at the time of leak, and the type and volume of liquid intake.

80 women participated the study and they reported significant improvement after 6, 18, and 30 weeks acupuncture treatments.

References
Xu et al PloS One ( 2016) 11(3):e0150821.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Wrinkles and acupuncture

Facial expression muscles contracting create lines on the face, such as smiling, frowning, and squinting and so on. These lines will disappear when the muscles are relaxed. If these muscles are constantly contracting, the wrinkles will stay. With age, skin cells change as well to contribute to the wrinkle formation. For example, with age the skin loses its ability to hold on moisture, makes less oil and has less ability to repair any damage. This all contributes to the wrinkle formation in some stages. Exposure to the sun too much damages the skin. This leads to wrinkles. Acupuncture can relax facial expression muscles and wrinkles will disappear. Acupuncture can improve circulation on the face and help skin repairing.

Gravity line and gravity center of the human body

The human body encounters gravity constantly in posture and movement. There is gravity line and gravity center of the body. The gravity line is located frontally along a vertical line passing through the middle of the sacrum and perpendicular to the ground, and laterally through a vertical line situated slightly to the rear of the femoral heads. This gravity line must fall within the base of support. The gravity center of the human body is the point where the human body rests under normal conditions without rotating, remaining balanced without active effort to remain upright. This center lies in anterior to the second sacral vertebra and it shifts following the posture and movement to keep the body in balance without falling. When the gravity line falls outside supporting base, compensation is required. Long term compensation can result in overuse the muscles and create inflammation causing pain. Such as low back pain. Acupuncture can help reducing pain.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Muscle knots and muscle pain, acupuncture can help

Muscles in the body are connected and overlapped. This brings the body moving around and doing various activities without problem. Sometimes for some reasons, the muscles can lose some mobility and flexibility. Injury and overuse are common cause for muscles problems. For example muscle knots are one of the common problems. It can happen to any muscles. Muscle knots are initially formed by muscle fiber contraction or spasm. This is commonly caused by acute injury or chronic overuse. The muscles knots are very sensitive causing stillness and pain. Severity of the pain varies. If the knots are not treated properly, inflammation can persist, and adhesion and scar tissues make the knots and related muscles lose elasticity and the knots become harder and more difficult to get rid of.
Do you know acupuncture can help to get rid of muscle knots effectively?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

How does acupuncture help IUI?

What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)? IUI is a procedure which is used to help people with infertility. In this procedure, good quality of sperm is selected and placed into the woman’s uterus in the middle of the monthly cycle when egg is released from ovary. In order to process IUI unblocked tubes are essential. IUI may be one of the options for you if you have unexplained infertility or you have ovulation problems or your partner experiences impotence or premature ejaculation or you don’t have a male partner and are trying for a baby using donated sperm. For women, each cycle of IUI is timed to fit with the woman’s natural menstrual cycle. You will only be able to receive one cycle of IUI treatment a month. If you have ovulation problems, you can choose to use fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation. The sperm sample will be taken on the day of the treatment and washed. Good quality of sperm will be selected and placed in the uterus through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. This process is mostly painless, although some women may experience mild cramping, similar to period pains. The success rate per cycle is up to 15% depending on women’s age. As with most other types of fertility treatment, the younger a woman is, the greater her chance of having a successful pregnancy. Other things that can affect the success of IUI include sperm count and sperm quality – using fresh sperm is associated with higher conception rates than frozen and thawed sperm; technical aspects of IUI, such as working out the time of ovulation correctly.

How can acupuncture help IUI? Acupuncture before IUI could help improve egg and sperm quality in both female and male by helping hormonal balance and improving local microcirculation. Acupuncture could also help uterine inner lining development and ready for implantation. Acupuncture could also help relax fallopian tubes and uterus for eggs, sperm and embryo passing through and embryo implantation. Acupuncture could help reducing stress, any inflammation in the body to improve fertility.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Acupuncture helps lymphatic circulation

The lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system and it also involves immune function of the body as a part of the immune system. It consists of a network of lymphatic vessels which carries lymph-a clear fluid in the body which formed from tissue fluids known as interstitial fluid from the tissues. It carries large amount of lymphocytes and other white blood cells which play a role in the immune function. Its main function is to help tissue fluid circulation. The lymph capillaries absorb the interstitial fluid from the tissues and lymph vessels conduct the fluids to the blood vessels. As a part of the defence system, it also contains waste products and cellular debris together with bacteria and proteins etc which are toxic to the body.

The lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining the balance of the body fluids. Its network of capillaries and collecting lymphatic vessels work to efficiently drain and transport the fluid, along with proteins and antigens, back to the circulatory system. The lymphatic system is not closed system and the vessel walls are not as strong as blood vessels. If the circulation is blocked for various reasons, e.g. there is tension on the body, the transportation is disturbed and the fluids cannot be drained properly causing water retention. Also the toxins could remain in the body longer than they should be causing toxic to the body.

Acupuncture can help lymphatic circulation, improve water retention and help get rid of toxins of the body.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Dr Maggie Ju acupuncture in Anamaya Kensington central London

Dr Maggie Ju’s acupuncture is available at Anamaya Kensington located at 1 Adam and Eve Mews, a historic street in central Kensington, a quiet street just off Kensington high street. http://anamaya.co.uk/practitioners/dr-maggie-ju/

About Adam and Eve Mews

Adam and Eve Mews is the former home of the Adam and Eve pub, which was often visited by playwright, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and also a favourite of writer G.K. Chesterton. The name of Adam and Eve mews is associated with the old Adam and Eve pub, established before 1730 and surrounded by open countryside. The pub was rebuilt in 1823, meanwhile other building began to emerge west along Kensington High Street. The land was sold to builder William Willett who was a successful builder during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is most remembered as the inventor of Daylight Saving Time for development in 1876. Building along Adam and Eve Mews, off the High Street, was completed by William Willett from 1880. Some buildings were used as stables for police horses. It was originally planned to name the street “Palace Stables”, but it later changed to “Adam and Eve Stables” and then “Adam and Eve Mews”.

About Anamaya

As soon as turning to the street Adam and Eve Mews, the noise from Kensington high street was left behind and instant tranquillity was felt. Anamaya is on the number one of the street. Anamaya is a modern health center. Its reception area is generous, stylish and modern. The therapy rooms are beautifully decorated which are shown on the website http://anamaya.co.uk/.

Anamaya is the Sanskrit word for health. It offers arrange of therapies including acupuncture, craniosacral and osteopathy, dietetics, energy healing, massage, pilates, psychotherapy, reflexology and mind, body, spirit.

About Dr Maggie Ju acupuncture

Dr Maggie Ju in Anamaya Kensington offers

Fertility acupuncture treatments:

Acupuncture boosts women's fertility by stimulating nerve endings and brain, as a result increases reproductive system blood flow, reduces inflammation, improves hormone balance, egg quality and reduces stress. Acupuncture also releases tube spasm and improves uterine lining. Please see Dr Maggie Ju’s book to learn more information about fertility and the ovaries and how acupuncture can help http://www.amazon.com/Know-Your-Ovary-Get-Pregnant-ebook/dp/B00P4K5AUQ;

https://www.amazon.com/Know-Fallopian-tubes-Uterus-Pregnant-ebook/dp/B01A3COPWI/

https://www.amazon.com/Get-pregnant-fast-naturally-Maggie-ebook/dp/B01C4AP57Q

https://www.amazon.com/Know-sperm-boost-male-fertility-ebook/dp/B00W04F1Z8


Acupuncture also boosts men's fertility: Acupuncture increases sperm counts, improves sperm quality and motility.

IVF acupuncture support:

IVF is one of the most successful infertility treatments and this treatment brings hope for pregnancy for many people. However, the majority of IVF cycles do not result in pregnancy. It is important to maximize the efficiency of the procedure. Many patients have turned to acupuncture treatments to increase the success rate of IVF. The first report was by Stener-Victorin et al. 15 years ago suggesting that acupuncture can increase the IVF clinical pregnancy rate (CPR). In recent years, there have been many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating acupuncture in IVF. There were more positive effects from acupuncture during IVF from these researches if treatment times are appropriate and the treatment course is enough. Acupuncture supports IVF by improving egg quality, relaxing uterus, increasing uterine receptivity and of course reducing stress.

Acupuncture is used to help many gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), period pain, missing periods, high FSH, low AMH, primary ovarian insufficiency (Premature ovarian failure), dysfunctional irregular uterine bleeding, chronic pelvic inflammation, tube spasm, menopausal syndrome, and hot flushes.

Facial acupuncture: Recently, cosmetic acupuncture has been introduced as an intervention for skin rejuvenation. It is natural and health way to look and feel years younger. Why acupuncture can play a role in cosmetic purpose? Treatment benefits include elimination of some wrinkles and decrease in length and depth of others, decrease of facial edema, decrease of acne, improvement of facial muscle tone, improveing skin texture with tighter pores, and decrease of sagging around the eyes, cheeks, chin, and neck, lifting of droopy eyelids, clearing or fading of age spots. Skin becomes more delicate and fair and at the same time overall appearance and health enhanced.

https://www.amazon.com/Facial-Aging-Rejuvenation-Acupuncture-ebook/dp/B01E4H3RPO/

Acne treatment with acupuncture: Acne is a very common skin disease affecting a majority of the population at some point in their life. Acne is caused by bacteria infection, increased oil production and inflammation. Acupuncture is used to treat acne effectively.

https://www.amazon.com/Acne-treatment-acupuncture-Dr-Maggie-ebook/dp/B018GD8GYY

Acupuncture is used to relive pain including vulvodynia, neck pain, back pain and other pain conditions

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vulvodynia-vulval-pain-your-mind-ebook/dp/B010R2596K/

Acupuncture stimulates nerve endings located in muscles and other tissues leading to production of endorphins and other neurohormonal factors. Acupuncture reduces inflammation by releasing vascular and immunomodulatory factors. Acupuncture increases local blood circulation and improves muscle stiffness, joint mobility and swelling. Also brain and spinal cord processing pain has been altered.

Acupuncture helps neurological conditions: such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, peripheral neuropathy etc.

For an appointment with Dr Maggie Ju at Anamaya, please call Anamaya at 0203 011 0355. Dr Maggie Ju's personal webpage at Anamaya is here http://anamaya.co.uk/practitioners/dr-maggie-ju/

Mind body connection and acupuncture

Connection between mind and body has been discovered for centuries. In ancient time, it was believed that emotions were linked to disease and patients were advised to visit spas or seaside resorts when they were ill. Today it is widely accepted that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect our health. There is common sense ‘too much stress makes you sick' which means that there is a links between stress and health. There was a survey in the UK has shown that workers have high stress and little autonomy, have more than twice the risk of developing metabolic syndrome—a precursor of heart disease and diabetes. By measuring heart rate, and cortisol and adrenaline levels, researchers also found that stress affects the autonomic nervous system and neuroendocrine function. Other recent research showed that acute and chronic psychological stress, related to low socio-economic status, can increase the risk of heart attack by increasing circulating levels of platelet–leukocyte aggregates. It was also suggested that there was link between stress and othere conditions, such as infertility, chronic pain, fatigue, acne etc. Mind body therapies are helpful in managing these conditions by promoting relaxation. Acupuncture is one of the mind body therapy techniques that can relax body and mind to ease the symptoms of the conditions and improve psychological functioning and quality of life.

References
V Brower EMBO Rep (2006) 7:358-361

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Abdominal pain

Everyone at some point of their life will experience abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is one of the most complicated symptoms which can be caused by many factors. Most of the causes are not serious and the pain can be diagnosed and treated and prognosis is good. However abdominal pain can be a sign of very serious illness. If the abdominal pain is severe or recurrent and there are some other symptoms associated such as fever, inability to keep food down for more than 2 days, signs of dehydration, bloody stools, inability to pass stool and there is persistent nausea and vomiting, painful or unusually frequent urination, severe tenderness when you touch the abdomen, swelling of the abdomen, skin appears yellow, weight loss, pain is caused by injury to the abdomen etc, it is important to recognise the symptoms that are serious and see doctors to get it diagnosed. Be careful if you want to take over the counter pain killer. Pain killers sometimes can mask the severity of illness. Acupuncture is not recommended for severe acute abdominal pain.

Most of the abdominal pain is visceral pain which is pain arising from the internal organs. Visceral pain is triggered by smooth muscle distension or contraction, stretching of the capsule surrounding an organ, ischaemia and necrosis, or irritation by chemicals produced during inflammatory processes. It is often deep, dull or dragging and is typically diffuse and poorly localised. It can be associated with nausea, vomiting, and changes in heart rate or blood pressure. It can also evoke strong emotional responses. There can be a referred pain which is pain experienced at a site distant from source of the pain. It is due to the convergence of different afferents on to the same dorsal horn neurones in the spinal cord.

Abdominal pain can be muscular as well. The abdominal wall muscles are the source of the pain. Chronic abdominal pain may be intermittent, or episodic, meaning it may come and go. This type of pain may be present for weeks to months, or even years. Acupuncture can help with some chronic abdominal pain such as indigestion, inflammatory bowel diseases or muscular pain, benign ovarian cysts, pain with frequent urination etc.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fertility acupuncture for women and men

Acupuncture is used to treat infertility for women and men

Infertility is a disorder of reproductive system and it is when a couple failed to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex. Getting pregnant for some couples is natural, but for others it becomes difficult. Due to delayed child bearing age, environmental changes, and other reasons, one in seven couples have difficulty to conceive in the UK. After years of trying and no cause found, they could be put on IVF treatment straight away. In 2011, 48,147 women had a total of 61726 cycles of IVF or ICSI in the UK. Is there any other less invasive treatment available to help these couples to conceive?

Acupuncture is an alternative way to treat couples with infertility. Acupuncture is called ancient art. The use of acupuncture treatment in couples seeking fertility care is dramatically increased in last decades. A survey in the US has shown that one in five couples with infertility have tried acupuncture over 18 months of observation period. In the UK treatment for infertility with acupuncture increased fivefold in 10 years time. In Switzerland, Germany and Austria, one third of the fertility centres offer acupuncture treatments. If you are seeking IVF treatment for your fertility, acupuncture treatment as an adjunct treatment helps you to achieve best IVF success rate.

Fertility acupuncture, how does it work?

Is there scientific ground for the application of acupuncture on infertility treatment? Or is it only based on ancient theory? Or is it like some people thinks: acupuncture will work, if I believe it. As a matter of fact, there were many research data available to support this application. Since 1990s, much research has been done in animal experiments and clinical trials. Based on recent research evidences, it is suggested that for women acupuncture mediates endogenous opioid peptides in the central nervous system affecting fertility hormone balance; it increases uterine artery blood flow; it reduces inflammation; and it reduces stress which affects fertility hormone balance. Acupuncture also relaxes fallopian tubes. As a result, it could help improving egg production and egg quality and improving uterine receptivity and embryo implantation. Consequently reproductive health is improved and there is better chance to get pregnant. Acupuncture also helps improving men’s fertility. Research data on this aspect start emerging and suggested that acupuncture can increase sperm counts and improve sperm quality by improving testicular blood flow and reducing inflammation.

If you are interested in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) idea, any blockage of Qi in the body will cause illness in TCM theory. Acupuncture acts at the specific acupuncture points in the meridians and clears off the blockage and makes Qi flowing freely in the body, as a result the organs will function well again. This improves your fertility as well as your overall health.

Acupuncture helps your fertility return after stop contraception methods

Women are fighting not to get pregnant and then fighting to get pregnant. When you start using contraception methods do you ever think about that your fertility will return when you stop? What is the chance to get pregnant, if you want to? A research has shown that women who stopped using a barrier method to achieve a planned pregnancy conceived most quickly: 54% were delivered after one year vs 39% of intrauterine device and 32% of oral contraceptive users. There was no association between fertility and duration of oral contraceptive use: However, short term intrauterine device users (< 42 months) showed a fertility pattern more favourable than seen in those discontinuing oral contraceptives, with increasing duration of intrauterine device use being associated with decreasing fertility. The fertility of women who had used the intrauterine device for 78 + months was the most impaired (28% were delivered by 12 months vs 46% of short term users). What is the chance to get pregnant, if you don’t have fertility problem? 92% will get pregnant during one year at ages 19-26 and 82% will get pregnant during one year at ages 35-39.

Do you know that acupuncture improves ovarian and uterine blood circulation and helps with your return of fertility, after you stop discontinuing contraception methods?

Stress affects fertility in both female and male and acupuncture reduces infertility related stress

Psychological stress is strongly associated with infertility. Infertility itself is stressful, due to the pressures, testing, diagnosis, treatments, failures, endless waitings and associated economic costs. There is an association between stress and infertility. Infertility causes stress and stress (both acute and chronic) may cause infertility. Stress can increase after diagnosis of infertility, follow-up appointments, and failed IVF treatments. Coping with various life styles also affects fertility.

Psychological stress affects 30% of women who attend infertility clinics, possibly due in part to infertility diagnosis and treatments. Women with infertility experience emotional stress. They tend to keep things to themselves and delay starting the treatments because of a desire to conceive naturally. This does not happen and makes them very stressed which turn to have negative impact to their fertility. There is a link between infertility and psychological distress. Greil et al studied the variation of fertility specific distress (FSD) associated with different types of infertility. They found that women with infertility have intention to have a child and seek treatment have higher levels of FSD than those women without intention to have a child and don’t seek treatment. Women with primary infertility (They have no prior pregnancy) have higher level of FSD than those women with secondary infertility (They have had at least once prior pregnancy with or without live birth. Older women with infertility tend to have higher distress level than younger women. General distress doesn’t vary between different types of infertility. A study of 430 couples on association between stress and conception showed that decreased conception occurred in those most stressed women. Women received treatment showed less stress and more hopeful. Fertilization of oocytes also decreased when stress increased. Stress acts through different mechanisms, not only by inhibiting the HPA axis but also by altering the concentration of fertility hormones (FSH, GnRH and LH) as well as other substances such as cortisol, opioids and melatonin. It alters the follicular levels of glucocorticoid hormones. The blood flow in the fallopian tubes could be reduced.

Males who experienced more than two stressful life events before undergoing infertility treatment were more likely to be classified below WHO standards for sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. Stress such as a job, life events, and even social strain were seen to have a significant impact on sperm density, total sperm counts, forward motility and morphology. Semen parameters may potentially be linked to stress. Actively coping with stress, such as being assertive or confrontational, may negatively impact fertility by increasing adrenergic activation, leading to more vasoconstriction in the testes. This vasoconstriction results in lower testosterone levels and decreased sperm production. Stress and depression are linked to reduce testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) pulsing, disrupt gonadal function, and ultimately reduce spermatogenesis and sperm parameters.

Very recently there was a study about stress on male fertility. This study evaluated the effect of psychological stress on male fertility hormones and seminal quality in male partner of infertile couples. Seventy male partners of infertile couples were evaluated for level of psychological stress using Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score (HADS) questionnaire, serum total testosterone, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) by electrochemiluminescence assay and serum GnRH by ELISA. Seminal analysis was performed. 27% of them had HADS anxiety and depression score ≥8 which was abnormal HADS score showing stress condition. The persons having abnormal HADS had lower serum total testosterone, higher serum FSH and LH than those of persons having normal HADS. Serum total testosterone correlated negatively with HADS. Sperm count, motility and morphologically normal spermatozoa were lower in persons having abnormal HADS. Abnormal sperm motility and morphology were related to lower testosterone and higher LH and FSH levels. This study suggested that psychological stress affects male fertility and sperm quantity and quality.

Stress is also accompanied with fertility treatment. Before start of treatment such as IVF, fear of failure makes women stressed. Unsuccessful treatment raised stress level, while success treatment makes negative emotion disappeared. Studies found that high stress level reduced IVF success rate and live birth rate. Higher stress level during egg collection and embryo transfer was found in women failed IVF cycles than those who achieved pregnancy in IVF cycles. As mentioned above stress affects women’s fertility. Stress affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) altering hormones including CRH, ATCH and cortisol production. These hormones also mediate hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadotropic axis (PG) which is an axis regulating sexual hormone secretion. As a result follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) level decreased which affects fertility. Coyle M and Smith C conducted a survey to study the health status for women undergoing ART and examined the relationship between health status, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine diagnosis underlying the cause for their infertility. Women with infertility undergoing ART were recruited and health was checked by TCM and western medicine questionnaire. They found that mental health status not physical function for these women was lower than that for general population. For TCM diagnosis, Qi and blood stagnation was common. And these women tend to have low score in the health questionnaire.

Stress management and stress reduction should be an important part of the infertility management. Lower stress levels improves female and male natural fertility and lower stress levels result in better fertility treatment outcome. Acupuncture is a useful treatment for reducing fertility related stress in female and male.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) provides great chance for those couples who have difficulty to conceive. However IVF does not always produce pregnancy, actually the success rate is not high. It can be physically and emotionally challenging. Isoyama et al studied the effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing IVF. 43patients participated in the study. 22 patients were in acupuncture group while 21 patients were in the control group. The anxiety level of each patient was analysed before and after treatment. Four weekly sessions were performed. Acupuncture points including HT7, PC6, CV17, GV20 and Yingtang were used for the needling. Their result showed that after 4 week treatment the anxiety score for acupuncture group was significantly lower than for the control group. This indicated that acupuncture can reduce anxiety symptoms in women undergoing IVF.

There is perceived stress on the day of embryo transfer (ET). Balk J et al in University of Pittsburgh studied effect of acupuncture on perceived stress and pregnancy rate on the day of ET. In this study, 57 patients with infertility and undergoing IVF or IVF/ISI were involved. These patients were undergoing ET with or without acupuncture as part of their standard clinical care. The result showed that women who received acupuncture treatment achieved 64.7% pregnancy rate while those who didn’t receive acupuncture treatment had 42.5% pregnancy rate. Women with acupuncture had lower stress score both pre-ET and post-ET compared to those without acupuncture. Women with lower stress score had higher pregnancy rate. They concluded that acupuncture reduced stress both before and after ET and it is the possible reason for improving pregnancy rate. Lower perceived stress on the ET may improve pregnancy rate.

Smith CA et al studied the effect of acupuncture on psychological distress for women with infertility. They run a pilot randomized controlled trial to investigate effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing infertility related stress. They found that 6 sessions over 8 weeks of acupuncture could reduce infertility related stress. Women in acupuncture group have less social and relationship concerns. They have improved self efficacy and less anxiety compared to waiting-list control group. Women described the experience and impact of acupuncture as positive relating to a sense of relaxation and time out, the engagement with the practitioner, and an intervention that had very few negative side-effects. Changes were also perceived after treatment with women describing a physical and psychologic sense of relaxation and calmness, and a changed perspective in relation to coping. This suggested that acupuncture may be a useful intervention to assist with the reduction of infertility-related stress.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characteristic of polycystic ovaries, hyperandrognism, irregular menstrual cycles, and abnormal metabolism including insulin resistance and obesity. PCOS increases risk of depression and anxiety and negatively affects health-related quality of life. Life style change on diet and exercise is essential and proved that this decreased depression and improved quality of life. E Stener-Victorin et al studied the effect of acupuncture and exercises on depression, anxiety and impaired quality of life in women with PCOS. 72 women with PCOS were recruited in the study. 28 women were offered acupuncture and 29 women were offered physical exercise and 15 women were assigned with no intervention. The treatments were lasted for 16 weeks for different interventions. Acupuncture was given twice a week for 2 weeks, once a week for 6 weeks and once every other week for 8 weeks. Total 14 treatments over 16 weeks were offered. Physical exercise program included regular exercise, such as walking, cycling or any other aerobic exercise at a self-selected pace. The frequency of exercise was at least 30 min and at least 3 times a week. This lasted 16 weeks. The assessment was at the end of 16 week treatment and 16 week follow-up after the last treatment. The results showed that depression and anxiety scores were reduced at the end of the treatment and the follow-up in the acupuncture group; the quality of life such as physical, energy/vitality, general health perception and the mental component was also improved in the acupuncture group. The quality of life such as general health perception, physical functioning and emotion was improved in exercises group.

References

Doll H et al BJOG (2001) 108:304-14

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2295.aspx?CategoryID=54

Campagne Hum Reprod (2006) 1651-8

Smith et al J Altern Complement Med (2011) 17:923-30

Bhongade MB et al Andrologia (2014) 10.111and 12268

Sharma R et al Reprod Bio Endocrinol (2013) 11:66

Greil AL et al Hum Reprod. (2011) 26:2101-12

Balk J et al Complement Ther Clin Pract (2010) 16:154-7

Isoyama D et al Acupunct Med (2012) 30:85-8

Coyle M, Smith C Acupunct Med (2005) 23:62-9

E Stener-Victorin et al BMC Complement Altern Med (2013) 13:131

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Acupuncture improves uterine receptivity and helps implantation

When an egg is fertilised by a sperm, an embryo is formed and developing. At the same time, there are also changes in the uterus to prepare the arrival of the embryo. When an embryo arrives at the uterus, it will implant into uterine wall. A successful implantation depends on the synchronous development of both the endometrium and embryo. Uterine inner lining gets thicker, uterine smooth muscles are relaxed after ovulation. There is also communication between the uterine cells and the embryo to get the best time of implantation. Delayed implantation time will lead to implantation failure or miscarriage. During the development of uterine inner lining uterine blood circulation is the key factor to get ready for implantation. After embryo implanted, the embryo initially takes nutrients and oxygen from maternal blood circulation system and removes the waste via maternal blood circulation system. Good uterine blood circulation is essential for early stage of embryo development. To improve uterine blood circulation, acupuncture is the best candidate. Since a decade ago, acupuncture was suggested that it increases uterine blood flow. This will help embryo implantation and embryo development in the uterus.

Acupuncture improves uterine receptivity

If an egg is fertilised, it will be transported to the uterus and it will be implanted into uterine endometrium. Within the uterus, the foetus develops during pregnancy. Endometrium is the inner lining of uterus. It goes cyclic changes responding to ovarian hormone oestrogen and progesterone levels and sheds off each month with new endometrial lining replaced, if the egg is not fertilised. If pregnancy occurs, the endometrium will retain. After ovulation, the uterine endometrium becomes thicker to prepare for embryo implantation. If endometrium is not thick enough (less than 6 cm), implantation does not occur. If the thickness of endometrium is greater than 12 cm, there were three times more chances to get pregnant. To get embryo implanted, there must be a receptive uterus. Ovarian hormones oestrogen and progesterone are involved in regulating uterine receptivity. Uterine smooth muscles tend to contract especially at low progesterone level. Increased progesterone level makes uterus more relaxed. The thickness of endometrium and contractility of uterine smooth muscles are the key factors for the uterus becomes receptive.

Age and uterine receptivity

Women’s fertility is declining with advanced age which is attributed to declining of egg quality. A significant low success rate in IVF is an example. Success rate could be 48.8% for women younger than 30 years old while in comparison to 13.6% in women with 42 years old. Embryo implantation rates also decline in a linear fashion, from 29% in women younger than 34 years to approximately 5% at age 42. Apart from egg quality what other factors contribute to this change? This could be because of poor uterine receptivity in women with advanced age. This was suggested that in the case of egg donation, there was also low pregnancy rate in women with increased age.

Conditions of the uterus that affect uterine receptivity

Luteal phase deficiency (LPD) is a condition in which there is either no enough progesterone production or poor endometrial response. This is a major cause of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. In luteal phase defect, there is no enough progesterone produced which shows either low progesterone or too much fluctuation of progesterone levels. Or the uterine endometrium does not respond well to the progesterone stimulation because of lack of progesterone receptors or lack of cell surface adhesive proteins. There is poor endometrial development or delayed endometrial development, as a consequence, uterine receptivity is poor and the embryo loses its chance to implant.

Endometriosis

Uterine endometrial tissues grow outside of uterus. Women with endometriosis were found to have decreased fertility. Poor egg development and poor egg quality, impaired fertilization lower the embryo ability to implant. Also failing to respond to progesterone well makes their uterine endometrium less receptive.

Hydrosalpinx

Hydrosalpinx is distally blocked, dilated, fluid-filled fallopian tube caused by infectious diseases. Women with haydrosalpinx have difficulty to get pregnant. Tube blockage is not the only factor that is contributed to the cause. Women with hydrosalpinx have lower implantation, pregnancy and delivery rates and a higher incidence of spontaneous miscarriage after IVF–embryo transfer compared with women with tubal infertility of other causes. The inflammation of the tubes could spread to the uterus and make inflammatory environment in the uterus.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are the most common uterine benign tumours in women of reproductive age. They can distort the uterine cavity or obstruct the fallopian tubes or cervical canal affecting women’s fertility. They may also change uterine receptivity and cause infertility.

Endometrial polyp

Endometrial polyps are benign, localized overgrowths of endometrium. It may affect infertility by mechanically disrupting the transport of sperm and embryo and making endometrium not responding to progesterone.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common endocrinological disorder in women of reproductive age. Infertility associated with PCOS is mainly because there is no ovulation or less frequent ovulation. When ovulation was introduced by drugs in women with PCOS, implantation rates are lower than fertile controls and early pregnancy loss rates are increased which suggested that implantation failure is also contributing to the causes. The hormone imbalance in women with PCOS makes the endometrium less receptive.

Endometritis

Chronic endometritis causes prolonger inflammation in endometrium and affects endometrial receptivity which is associated with infertility and implantation failure.

Acupuncture can help uterine receptivity by regulating hormone balance, increasing uterine blood flow, improving uterine lining and relaxing the uterine smooth muscles. Whether you like to get pregnant naturally or via IVF, acupuncture can help your uterine receptivity to increase your chance to get pregnant and stay in pregnancy.

Acupuncture helps, if your abdomen is bloated

Bloating is a common symptom in digestive system. Most people have experienced this symptom, when the abdomen is stretched, puffy and uncomfortable. The common cause is constipation which is caused by too little fluids and fibers and lack of exercises. Food allergy and intolerance can be caused excess wind production causing bloating. Inflammation in digestive system such as irritable bowel syndrome can lead to bloating. Pain conditions such as low back pain, hip pain can accompany bloating because of alteration of the nerve activities. Acupuncture can help reduce bloating and its associated symptoms.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

How long does it take for you to get rid of the pain?

Pain and burning in the affected area, decreased strength and flexibility, and pain caused by everyday activities are very common. This is often caused by tendinopathy-tendon injury.

Tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone. It is responsible to transmit muscle force to the bone. A healthy tendon is up to twice as strong as the muscle, making the body of the tendon unlikely to tear before the muscle unless the tendon has already been weakened by degenerative changes. The effects of ageing, wear and tear, genetic pre-disposition and inflammation are known factors contributing to tendon injuries. Injured tendon can cause pain, loss of limb function and prevent exercise and activities of daily living. Injured tendons heal by fibrotic repair and are highly prone to re-injury.

Tendons consist of collagens, proteoglycans, glycoproteins, water and cells. It takes over 100 days to make new collagen.

The healing time for injured tendon varies depending on whether treatment starts with early presentation or chronic presentation. Healing time for acute injury can be a few days to 6 weeks. Treatment at an early stage can be as brief as 6–10 weeks. Once it becomes chronic the treatment can take 3–6 months. The effective treatment might take up to 9 months when it is chronic. Knowing these timelines is part of creating an effective treatment plan.

Acupuncture helps release the pain.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Frequent getting flu, acupuncture can help

Get cold or flu very often, though it is minor cold, but the cold keeps coming back and this makes one tired. Some people have this symptom, but they don’t think this is a problem and ignores it. Some people change their diets and take supplements which could work for some people, but not the others. Actually frequent getting cold or flu is a sign of weakened immune system. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with. When virus attacks the body, the weakened immune system cannot get rid of the virus and the symptoms of cold or flu occur. Acupuncture can strengthen immune function and improve the symptoms.

Facial acupuncture helps you to get rid of stress and anxiety

Stress makes you tense and aching

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental, emotional or physical pressure. Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. Health problems also cause stress such as infertility, chronic pain. Pressure turns into stress and anxiety when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.

Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you're constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.

The symptoms of stress include following aspects:

Emotional: You may feel easily agitated, frustrated, moody and overwhelmed. You may also feel lost control and having difficulty of relaxing and calming your mind and feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed.

Physical: You may feel lack of energy, always tired, have headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation and nausea, aching, pain and muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, loss of libido. You may have frequent colds and infections. You may also have nervousness, shaking, hearing problem, cold or sweaty hands and feet, dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, clenched jaw and grinding teeth.

Cognitive: You feel become constant worrying, having racing thoughts, poor memory and disorganization, lack of concentration, poor judgment and being pessimistic.

Behavioural: You may find your appetite changed—either not eating or eating too much, avoiding taking responsibilities, or increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes; showing more nervous behaviours, such as biting nails, fidgeting, and pacing.

Everyone may have a little stress every now and then which is not something to be concerned about. If one is constantly under stress, it becomes chronic. This can make your existing conditions worse or cause new health problems mentally or physically such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders; chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disease sexual dysfunction, skin problem such as acne eczema, hair loss, IBS etc.

Stress can trigger muscle tension with pain. When stressed, the body produces hormones that increase muscle tension and pain sensitivity. This can be present in a few spots.

The head

When stress strikes, it can cause tension headache. A tension-type headache is the most common type of headache and triggered by stress. It may feel like a constant ache that affects both or one side of the head. One may also feel the neck muscle tighten and feeling of pressure behind the eyes. Tension headaches are normally caused by muscle contractions in the face, neck and scalp triggered by heightened emotions, tension or stress. Pain system is sensitized resulting increased muscle tenderness and headache.

The neck and shoulder

When stress strikes, neck and shoulder can be very tense and painful and the tension and pain can radiate to the arms.

The stomach

When stress strikes, you can have abdominal cramps. You may also suffer from diarrhea and/or constipation.

The face and jaw

When stress strike, jaw muscles can be painfully tight and tender, pain is worse when chewing.

What does stress do to your face?

Prolonged both emotional and physical stress can affect your face from the skin to the contour. Stress causes facial muscles tension which wrinkles the skin and makes the skin sagging. Also the tension blocks facial blood circulation and makes the skin dry and pale. Tensed muscles drag the face down and make one look old and tired. Mind and face are connected via nerves system. Acupuncture is a good way to help you relax and solve the existing health problems at the same time. Particularly facial acupuncture can relax facial muscles and also relax the mind and take the stress away from the brain and the body.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Hay fever and acupuncture

Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life. The common allergen is pollen. When these tiny particles come into contact with the cells that line your mouth, nose, eyes and throat, they irritate them and trigger an allergic reaction. This is caused by overreacting of the immune system which releases chemical substances causing all the symptoms such as itching eyes and a running nose. Symptoms of hay fever vary depending on the severity including frequent sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears, coughing, headache, tiredness etc. Antihistamine and steroids are commonly used to treat hay fever.

Do you know that acupuncture can help improve immune function to treat and prevent hay fever?

Spotting and pregnancy

Women have periods every months normally. They should not have vaginal bleeding between the periods, but many women experience spotting (light vaginal bleeding) between their periods sometimes. This is considered not normal. If you have difficulty to get pregnant and you have persistent spotting every month, this could be the problem. You need to see a doctor to get it checked out. One of the common causes of spotting is hormone imbalance. Eostrogen and progesterone levels drop causing uterine lining breaking down which leads to spotting. Acupuncture can help restore hormone balance and stop spotting and help you to get pregnant.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Light period and pregnancy

Periods are menstrual bleeding from the uterus. Every month hormones produced in the ovaries have cyclic changes. These changes cause uterine inner lining shed from the uterine wall and bleeding from the uterus. The normal bleeding days are 5 days from 4-7 days and the normal blood loss during the period is between 20-60 ml. The period with less 20 ml of blood loss is light period. Imbalanced hormones causing thin uterine lining is the common cause for this. Inflammation in and around the pelvis is another common cause and this can cause tension and block the blood flow to the uterus. If your period is too light, this could affect you from getting pregnant, because the uterine lining is not good enough for embryo to implant into the uterus and pregnancy would not occur. Acupuncture can help improve hormone balance and reproductive blood flow and improve the chance to get pregnant.

Feeling tired, acupuncture can help

Feeling tired, tension and aching? If you are getting tired easily and not being yourself, something is not right. The tiredness can be accompanied by aching and tension somewhere in the body such as headache, neck pain, back aching, arms and legs aching. This could be caused by inflammation in the body. Inflammation is not infection, though infection causes inflammation. Inflammation is a part of the immune response of the body. Inflammation is associated with the body healing process. Too much inflammation can cause harm to the body causing fatigue and pain. Acupuncture can help get rid of the fatigue and release the pain and tension of the body.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Hormone imbalance and acupuncture

Hormonal balance is very important to the health. If the hormones are not balanced, there are many signs to indicate. Irregular periods and spotting, Women in reproductive ages have regular periods. If the periods are not regular, or there are spotting between periods or missing periods. This indicates that your hormones are not balanced. Chronic acne, chronic acne is caused by excess of adrogens. If your acne does not clear up for long period of time, this indicates imbalanced hormones. Chronic fatigue and headaches, if you always feel tired, this can be caused by imbalanced hormones. Periodic headaches can be caused by imbalanced hormones. Mood swing and depression, hormones imbalanced can affect the brain and cause mood changes and depression, sleep problems and poor memory. Digestion problems such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, appetite changes etc. Other signs include vaginal dryness, loss of libido and breast changes.

Acupuncture can help restore hormone balance.

Why the neck hurts? Acupuncture can help.

Neck pain

Neck pain is very common. About 2 in 3 people had neck pain at some point in their life. A survey in the UK has shown that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men between ages 45 and 75 had current neck pain.

The cervical spine and the muscles and ligaments are at the back of the neck. The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebraes between which is a disc. Spinal cord is within the spine and protected by the spine. Nerves come out from the cervical spine and innervated the neck and arms.

Non specific neck is the most common type of neck pain. The exact cause is unknown. It may caused by minor strains to the muscles and ligaments in the neck. Poor posture is often related to the neck pain.

Acupuncture treatment for chronic neck pain

Chronic neck pain is a long-lasting pain on the neck or back. This pain commonly started from improperly healed acute injury. Scar tissues formed during the healing process. These scar tissues are called fibrosis. They can develop inside of the body, under the skin, muscles, tendons or inside of a joint capsule. Fibrosis always occurs at the end stage of inflammation and it causes adhesion which grabs the connective tissue and surrounding muscles together causing pain and tension, limiting the function. There are more pain receptors in the fibrosis tissue making the area more sensitive to protect the area by the body automatically.

Acupuncture can help to release the pain and tension to help the area functioning. Also acupuncture can help the body repair to get rid of the scar tissue and remodel the tissue.

Acupuncture for sudden severe pain in the neck

Acute neck pain is a sudden-onset pain in the neck. It is often due to neck muscles strain and muscle spasm. This can be caused by poor posture, sleep in an awkward position, carrying heavy loads, stay in one position for a prolonged period of time etc. One might not find exactly causes. The pain is sudden and can be very severe. This makes the person with the pain panicking. Movement of the neck is restricted because of the pain. The recovery can take a few days or a week. Acupuncture can help release the pain and speed up the recovery.

Acupuncture helps a stiff neck

Neck pain or a stiff neck is a common problem. The neck becomes sore and tender and movement is limited. it is difficult to move the neck and turn the head to the side. It could be associated with a headache, neck pain, shoulder pain or arm pain. The most common cause of a stiff neck is a muscle strain or soft tissue sprain. The levator scapula muscle located at the back and side of the neck connecting the neck with the shoulder is most affected. These muscles can be strained by everyday activities: for example, sleep in an awkward position, use a computer for a prolonged period of time, have a bad posture or have some sports injury such as swimming sudden fall, hold a phone between the neck and shoulder etc. Anxiety and stress can cause tension in the neck muscles leading to neck pain. Tight muscles are often chronic and need to be treated. Tight muscles block blood circulation of the body and muscles don’t get enough nutrition and become weak and easily get further damage. Because of blocked energy supply, you will feel tired all the time. Poor posture is a common cause of tight neck and shoulders. This causes overuse some groups of muscles and causes micro injury to the muscles which become tight to protect themselves from further injury. Furthermore the tight neck and shoulders will make poor posture worse. It becomes a viscous circle. This needs to be treated, otherwise tight neck and shoulders would not resolve itself. Stretching the muscles, applying heat or warm bath may help. Acupuncture is very effective to release the muscle tension, reduce the tightness, correct poor posture and improve blood circulation. Acupuncture can help stiff neck by relaxing muscles spasm.

Poor posture, acupuncture can help

Poor posture is a major cause of neck pain; while neck pain prevents the neck from getting back to normal posture. Poor posture results from certain muscles shortening and lengthening in an abnormal way. Poor posture can place strain on the related muscles and other soft tissues causing pain, such as neck and back pain. Inflammation is one of the causes of poor posture. If there is an inflammation in somewhere in the body, it causes pain. The body automatically protects itself to avoid the pain resulting in an abnormal posture. For example, people with neck pain would tilt the head involuntarily to one side to avoid the neck pain. Acupuncture can help to reduce the inflammation and pain to help to correct the poor posture.

Acupuncture treatment is recommended for acute and chronic neck pain

Current interventions for neck pain include themal, electrotherapy, ultrasound, mechanical traction, laser, and acupuncture. But definitive knowledge about optimal modalities and dosage for neck pain is limited. Granham N et al from McMaster University, Hamilton Canada analysed existing data to provide the evidence for recommendations on physical modalities for acute to chronic neck pain. The data included was from January 2000 to July 2012. Their result showed that short term pain relief- moderate evidence of benefit: acupuncture, intermittent traction and laser were shown to be better than placebo for chronic neck pain. Moderate evidence of no benefit: pulsed ultrasound, infrared light or continuous traction was no better than placebo for acute whiplash associated disorder, chronic myofacial neck pain or subacute to chronic neck pain. There was no added benefit when hot packs were combined with mobilization, manipulation or electrical uscle stimulation for chronic neck pain, function or patient satisfaction at six month follow-up. They concluded that the current state of the evidence favours acupuncture, laser and intermittent traction for chronic neck pain.

Liang Z et al in China studied the effect of acupuncture on chronic neck pain. 178 patients with chronic neck pain were recruited. These patients were allocated into two groups 88 in acupuncture group and 90 in control group which received acupuncture and placebo treatment respectively. The Northwick park neck pain questionnaire (NPQ), visual analogue scale (VAS), short from 36 health survey (SF-36) and doctor’s judgement were applied for measuring effectiveness. The effect was assessed before treatment, immediately after the treatment, at the end of first month of follow-up and at the end of third month follow up. They found that the NPQ, VAS and SF 36 scores in acupuncture group were significantly improved after the treatment and the two follow-ups compared with before the treatment. Acupuncture group had better effect than that for control group. They concluded that acupuncture has immediate effect and lasting effect for chronic neck pain.

Another research of effectiveness of acupuncture on neck pain by Dong and Lin was published recently. They compared different effects of acupoints. 60 patients with neck pain were divided into two groups with 30 patients of each group. In first group, the acupoints selected at the start and end of trapezius muscle including Tianzhu (BL10), Fengchi (GB20), Quyuan (SI 13), Jugu (LI16) and Ashi points. In the second group, Jiaji (Ex-B2) on the neck were selected. The patients received acupuncture 5 times a week for 2 weeks. The Pain Rating Index (PRI, VAS and Present Pain Intensity (PPI) were measured before and after the treatments. They found that the scores were significantly reduced in both group. The better effect in first group was observed. They concluded that the points at the start and end of trapezius muscle had better effects than Ex-B2 points.

How many needles are suitable for neck pain treatment with acupuncture?

How many needle numbers are used to obtain best effect? Ceccherelli F et al from University of Padova Italy studied this subject. They compared the clinical efficacy of different number of needles used in patients with mayofascial pain. There were 36 patients between 29-60 years of age with cervical myofacial syndrome participated the study. These patients were divided into two groups: 18 patients were in the first group and treated with 5 needles; another 18 patients were in the second group and treated with 11 needles. The same of needle stimulating time and the same cycle of treatment were applied to both groups. Pain intensity was evaluated before, immediately after and 1 and 3 months after the treatment. The needles in the two most painful trigger points were inserted deeply and other needles were applied superficially. They found that a good treatment effect was obtained in both groups and this is not associated with the number of needles used. Their conclusion was that the number of needles either 5 or 11 used is not essential to obtain good therapeutic effect when the simulation time remains the same.

Physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments are popular options for treating neck pain. Do you know that physiotherapist and chiropractors also use acupuncture to treat neck pain? What treatment options are available for neck pain? There was an international survey with Canada having the largest response to investigate physical medicine, complementary and alternative medicine utilization amongst 360 clinicians treating patients with neck pain. Both physiotherapist and chiropractors used exercise and manual therapies which is 98-99%. Physiotherapists used exercise, orthoses and 'other' interventions more, while chiropractors used phototherapeutics more. 46% acupuncture is used by these professions to treat neck pain. If you go to see a physiotherapist or a chiropractor, you may get an acupuncture treatment from them.

A review by Trinh K et al from Canada summarised the most current scientific evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for neck pain. They found 27 studies investigated this subject. Of the 27 included studies, three represented individuals with whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) ranging from acute to chronic (205 participants), five explored chronic myofascial neck pain (186 participants), five chronic pain due to arthritic changes (542 participants), six chronic non-specific neck pain (4011 participants), two neck pain with radicular signs (43 participants) and six subacute or chronic mechanical neck pain (5111 participants). They found that acupuncture is beneficial at immediate-term follow-up compared with sham acupuncture for pain intensity; at short-term follow-up compared with sham or inactive treatment for pain intensity; at short-term follow-up compared with sham treatment for disability; and at short-term follow-up compared with wait-list control for pain intensity and neck disability improvement. Acupuncture appears to be a safe treatment with minor adverse effects. Reported adverse effects include increased pain, bruising, fainting, worsening of symptoms, local swelling and dizziness. These studies reported no life-threatening adverse effects and found that acupuncture treatments were cost-effective.

References
Ceccherelli F et al Clin J Pain 2010 26:807-12
Liang Z et al Complement Ther Med (2011) 19 supple 1:S26-32
Dong WK and Lin XH Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2012) 32:211-4
Graham N et al Open Orthop J (2013) 7:440-60
Carlesso LC et al Chieopr Man Thera (2014) 22:11
Trinh K et al Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2016) May 4;5:CD004870. [Epub ahead of print]

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

How the body heals itself

Tissue repair is involved in the healing process which allows restoration of injured tissue. There are three phases during the healing process: a inflammatory phase, a proliferative phase and a regeneration phase. The inflammatory phase begins with damage to the capillaries, which triggers the formation of a blood clot and the various recruited cells to migrate into wound, such as inflammatory cells (neutrophils and macrophages), fibroblasts and endothelial cells. The second phase is proliferative phase. In this phase, new capillaries deliver nutrients and oxygen for the development of granulation tissue and proliferation of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts differentiate to myofibroblasts which have contractile properties containing stress fibres. The third phase of healing is regeneration and scar formation which is involved in a progressive remodelling of the granulation tissue. In this phase many enzymes and their inhibitors play a major role. Vascular cells and myofibroblasts are reduced in numbers.

The healing process can become abnormal. These abnormal repair processes are the result of an impaired remodelling of the granulation tissue. If there is the noxious stimulus, excessive extracellular matrix deposition and the continued presence of myofibroblasts is observed. This excess of extracellular matrix deposition leads to the development of organ fibrosis. The installation and persistence of fibrosis is the consequence of an imbalance between extracellular matrix synthesis and degradation by myofibroblasts.

Acupuncture can stimulate normal healing process and restore the balance to speed up healing process.

References
Ludovic Micallef etc Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair20125(Suppl 1):S5

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The thoracolumbar fascia, low back pain and acupuncture

The thoracolumbar fascia or lumbodorsal fascia or thoracodorsal fascia is a deep fascia at the back of the posterior thoracic and abdominal region. It goes up and is continuous as nuchal fascia on the back of the neck. It wraps around deep muscles at the back. It is made up of three layers: anterior, middle and posterior. The anterior layer is the thinnest and the posterior layer is the thickest. Psoas major muscle lies in the front of the anterior layer; Quadraus lumborum muscle is between the anterior and middle layers; the erector spinae muscles and transversospinales muscles are between the middle and posterior layers; Latissimus dorsi and serratus posterior inferior muscles lie at the back of the posterior layer.

Thoracolumbar fascia injury or overuse can cause inflammation of the fascia leading to pain and tightness at low back, shoulder and hip pain and tightness, difficulty of breathing, difficulty of walking, muscle weakness etc. Acupuncture cane help reducing inflammation, releasing pain and improving tightness.

Erector spinae muscles and back pain

The erector spinae muscles are a group of muscle and tendons lying along the side of the spine. They arise from the anterior surface of the tendon attached to the medial crest of the sacrum, spinous processes of the lumbar and last two thoracic vertebrae, the supraspinous ligament, the innerpart of the iliac crest and the lateral crest of the sacrum. They extend up through lumbar, thoracic and cervical regions. This group of muscle include iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis. The erector spinae makes the back straight and rotate the back from side to side. Injury, strain chronic inflammation to these muscles may cause back spasm, pain and stiffness. Acupuncture can help with relaxing the muscles, reducing inflammation and releasing the pain and stiffness.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Tubal infertility and acupuncture treatment

The role of fallopian tube is in reproduction

The fallopian tube is a part of the women’s reproductive system. It plays an essential role in gamete transport, fertilization and the early development of the embryo. The tube contains inner lining and smooth muscle wall. In the inner lining there are two major cell types are the ciliated and secretory cells. The fallopian tube goes through cyclical changes responding to estrogen and progesterone levels. The ciliated cells are low in height during the menstrual periods of the cycle, increasing during the follicular phase to reach their maximal height in the periovulatory period. Around the time of ovulation, the secretory cells reach peak activity. In the luteal phase, both cell types reduce in height.

When an egg is release, it takes about 8 hours to reach the site within fallopian tube where fertilization occurs and embryo is accommodated there for 72 hours. Once progesterone dominance begins lumen opens and the embryo is transported to the uterus.

Tubal infertility and acupuncture

The fallopian tube is essential on sperm, egg and embryo transport and dearly embryo development and it is very important for women who desire to get pregnant naturally. In IVF procedure, the fallopian tube is circumvented. The fallopian tube is not a concrete tunnel. The tube wall is flexible and consisted of smooth muscles which are responding to monthly cyclic hormone changes. Sometimes the tube can be obstructed by debris in the tube and tube muscle spasm. Women with spasm tube will find it difficult to get pregnant.

Fallopian tube smooth muscle contraction is induced by sympathetic nerves. Acupuncture reduces sympathetic activity and relaxes tube muscles and the debris in the tube is flushed away by the tubal fluids. This makes the obstructed tube reopen. In this case, pregnancy occurs quickly after acupuncture treatment.

Risk factors of tubal infertility include increased age, cigarette smoking history of endometriosis and history of pelvic inflammatory disease which were significantly associated with tubal infertility.

References
R.A.Lyons et al (2006)Human Reproduction Update, 12: 363–372
Papaioannou S Hum Rreprod (2004) 19:481-5

The human body need energy to function, acupuncture helps energy flow

Where is energy coming from? It comes from the food we eat. The food goes into the digestive system where it is turned into glucose. Glucose goes into bloodstream and it is either used immediately to provide energy for the body needs or store in the body for later use. Blood circulates throughout the body and brings the energy to the cells to function.

How much energy does one need? This depends individually. Weight watch is simple and effective way to know how much energy you need and get balanced energy. If you eat food with more energy than you need, the excessive energy will turn into fat and store in the body and you gain weight. If you eat food with less energy than you need, the body will burn existing body fat to make up for the difference and you lose weight. If you eat the food with energy that equals to what you used, your weight will remain unchanged. In this case the energy is balanced. What food and how much you eat is a key step to get balanced energy. Healthy diet gives you balanced energy.

Blood circulation is also a key step to get balanced energy. If blood circulation is poor, the nutrients will not reach the cells which need energy to do the work. You will see symptoms of blocked energy. Fatigue is a typical symptom of lack of energy. Acupuncture helps improving blood circulation of the body and helps energy flow in the body.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Numbness on toes and feet, acupuncture can help

Numbness is a loss of sensation or feeling in a part of the body. It's often accompanied by other abnormal sensations, such as a pins-and-needles feeling, burning or tingling. Numb toes and feet are a common problem which generally affects the nerves that supply the toes and feet. The sensory nerves to the toes and feet receive stimulus such as pressure and temperature and send signal to the brain. If the nerve is damaged, the signals are no longer sent to the brain. In this case numbness occurs and the toes and feet are no longer feeling sensation such as touch, heat or cold. Usually this is caused by peripheral nerve damage to the toes and feet. It is rarely caused by the spinal cord or the brain. The numbness of the toes and feet can be often caused by the injury to the toes feet, hips and low back. Generally numbness is not life threatening and some people with numbness don’t bother to get it treated, but numb toes and feet do need to be checked out to find out what the cause is and be treated to prevent further damage due to lack of sensation which increases the chance of injury. Acupuncture can help nerve recovery and improve the numbness.

Chronic pain recovery, fascia remodelling and acupuncture

Nerve endings are surrounded by fascia tissue and play an important role in pain regulation. Disruption of fascia can stimulate pain receptors and provoke inflammation. Recently chronic low back pain has been suggested starting from the fascia inflammation. Pain-related fear leads to a decreased movement, connective tissue remodeling, inflammation, nervous system sensitization and further decreased mobility. The Lumbar Fascia cross the entire lower back region, and is a key component. The lumbar fascia is thickened in patients with chronic low back pain leading to stiffness of the back. Fascia remodelling is a healing process of recovery. Application of acupuncture helps fascia remodelling and reversing the abnormality of fascia.

References
Yu Bai et al Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 260510,

Fascia, meridians and acupuncture

Under the skin there is a sheet of connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is mainly made up of collagens and it surrounds the muscles and other internal organs. There are three types of fascia, superficial, deep and visceral fascia. Fascia are flexible and are resistant to tension force, this is because the collagen fibers produced by fibroblasts in the fascia are arranged in a wavy manner. Because of the fascia flexibility, it can transmit mechanical force throughout the body and prevent the body from injury. Fascia also provides support to the nerves and blood vessels in the fascia. Fascia is innervated by sensory nerve endings. If fascia is damaged and/or inflamed, it will lose its wavy pattern and flexibility, fasical adhesion and scaring will cause stiffness and pain.

In Chinese medicine, there is a concept of meridians through which the energy will flow throughout the whole body, but the anatomical basis of meridians is not resolved. The recent research data from scanning connective tissue has suggested that fascia network is clearly matched with meridian network. Disruption of fascia can trigger local inflammation and block energy flow causing pain. Acupuncture can reduce inflammation and unblock the meridians improving energy flow.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Acupuncture improves body energy supply and detoxification by increasing blood circulation

System circulation (blood circulation) is the part of the cardiovascular system. It carries oxygenated blood away from the heart through the arteries, capillaries to the tissues of the body. It provides the functional blood supply with oxygen and nutrients to the cells to all body tissue. It picks up carbon dioxide and waste products and returns deoxygenated blood through veins back to the heart. Circulation is the key for body function. It provides energy that body needs and detoxifies the body. If some part of the body or whole body circulation is compromised, the body will not function well and illness will occur.

Acupuncture improves blood circulation and this was proved by scientific research. For example, Sandberg et al investigated the effects of acupuncture on skin and muscle blood flow. Blood flow recordings were performed intermittently from 10 min prior to the intervention to the end of the trial. They found that skin and muscle blood flow increased after acupuncture stimulation. Another example Kuo et al also studied the effect of acupuncture on skin blood flow. After acupuncture treatment skin blood flow and skin temperature increased. By increasing blood circulation, acupuncture improves body energy supply and helps with detoxification of the body.

References
Sandberg et al Eur Appl Physiol (2003) 90:114-9
Kuo et al Am J Chin Med (2004) 32 :117-29