How Traditional Chinese medicine Works?The ancient Chinese developed a system in which practitioners look at patterns of imbalance in the body to promote self-healing. Its focus is on improving the overall well being of the patient, rather than the isolated treatment of specific symptoms.
Recent studies have shown that Acupuncture triggers the body to release endorphins and other painkillers, increase circulation and affect involuntary systems such as blood pressure and immunity, regulate the endocrine system and calm the nervous system. Recent electromagnetic reseach has also confirmed the existence of acupuncture points, and research indicates that it may enable signals in the body to be relayed at a faster rate compared to normal conditions and may stimulate nerves which transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system.
Although the exact mechanism is still being researched, many of these studies indicate that Acupuncture triggers a positive response. Consequently, many standard Western medicine treatments are done in conjunction with Oriental Medicine in order to maximize the effectiveness and reduce side effects of medication.
Treating IBS with Chinese Medicine
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic condition which upsets the bowel (with either diarrhoea or constipation or both at different times) causing discomfort or pain. When severe, it can be very debilitating and can seriously interfere with one's work and social life. It is thought that to one degree or another it affects 20% of the UK population. Symptoms are often worse with upsetting emotional events or stress at work. The first episode often occurs after a period of stress or gastrointestinal infection. Conventional medicine relies mostly on dietary recommendations and anti-spasmodic medicines for the pain. IBS is considered to be a 'functional' problem, i.e. one that does not need surgery or major drug treatment. The connection with emotional stress is recognised and that sometimes leads to the use of anti-depressants.
CHINESE MEDICINE AND IBS: Chinese medicine is very effective at treating 'functional' digestive problems, where conventional medicine may struggle. Chinese herbal treatment is tailored to you as an individual. The practitioner will take note of your digestion and bowel pattern, your energy levels, the characteristics of your tongue and pulse and the things that may trigger an attack, looking at the broader state of your health. This information will be used to assess the nature of the underlying imbalance, and to choose a herbal formula (a combination of herbs), which may be modified as the condition improves. The treatment will be aimed at calming the bowels, clearing any residual infection if it is present and supporting your digestion to make it less vulnerable to stress. The medicine may be prescribed in tea or pill form. In addition your practitioner may recommend lifestyle and dietary changes. Improvement can happen quite quickly, although you may need to continue for several months to get the full benefit.
"IBS" leaflets (above information) made by RCHM are available in our clinic: for further information on the RCHM, please go to www.rchm.co.uk
Acupuncture for Low Back PainBack pain is one of the most common reasons people see a health care provider. It has been estimated that up to 80% of the world's population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, with the lower back as the most common location of pain. Although most episodes of low pack pain last less than two weeks, research has shown that recurrence rates for low back pain can reach as high as 50% in the first few months following as initial episode.
While there is no definitive way to resolve lower back pain, the use of acupuncture to treat this condition has increased dramatically in the past few decades, based in a large extent to placebo-controlled studies that have validated it as a reliable method of pain relief. The results of a recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain provide further proof that acupuncture is a safe and effective procedure for low-back pain, and that it can maintain positive outcomes for periods of six months or longer without producing the negative side effects that often accompany more traditional pain remedies. (For further information of the study, please go to www.acupuncturetoday.com.)
Dr Li Junxue (1990) states about the treatment of back pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine as follows:"Back pain is not looked upon as a disease but as a symptom or syndrome. This syndrome can be further classified into several different types according to their pathogenesis (pathological mechanism) and clinical manifestations. Though they all belong to the category of back pain, the treatment for each type is very different, especially when they are treated with herbal medicine. Correct differntiation and classification are the basic requirements for good clinical results, and a specific prescription may effectively cure one type of back pain but does not work very well in another type. In the clinic, a practitioner will firstly examine the patient by the four methods of examination (observation; listening and smelling; inquiring; taking the pulse and palpation). He/She then analyzes all the clinical findings and the patient's physical condition, in order to fully understand the pathological state - its cause, nature and location, and the contrast between Zheng Qi and Xie Qi. As a result of this analysis, the practitioner is then able to make a final diagnosis. Both in the ancient and modern literature, there are many discussions of back pain. Generally speaking, the Kidney is the main zangfu organ, and the Taiyang and Shaoyin channels are the main channels responsible for back pain. If the back pain is due to pathological changes in the zangfu organs, it mainly manifests as dificiency, and if the pathological changes are in the channels it mostly results from wind, cold, dampness or heat".
Reference: Dr Li Jinxue (1990) The classification and Treatment of Back Pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Journal of Chinese Medicine No 34
Treating Hay Fever with Chinese Medicine
Hay Fever, otherwise known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is a common condition affecting 15-20% of the UK population annually. It often occurs in association with asthma and/or eczema. It is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, which is seen by the body's immune system as a foreign body, causing an inflammatory reaction. When this occurs in the upper respiratory system, it triggers symptoms such as blocked or runny nose, itchy, red and watery eyes and sneezing. When severe it causes misery, sometimes for months on end. People who are allergic to house dust mites or animal hair are said to have perennial allergic rhinitis, with symptoms all the year round.
CHINESE MEDICINE AND HAY FEVER: Chinese medicine has much to offer in the treatment of hay fever, as in the treatment of eczema and asthma. All these conditions are the result of an over-activity of the immune system, and one of the great strengths of Chinese medicine is in the regulation of the immune system. Recent studies have shown Chinese medicine to be effective in treating these kind of conditions (Allergy 2004; 59(9): 953-60 & Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2003; 9(5):80-7). Chinese herbal treatment is tailored to you as an individual. The practitioner will take a detailed note of your symptoms, your general health and energy levels and the things that may trigger an attack. He/she will then choose a herbal formula (a combination of herbs) in order to tackle the inflammation and irritation, and also to regulate the underlying imbalance in the immune system. The herbs may be prescribed as a tea or in the form of pills. In addition your practitioner may recommend lifestyle and dietary changes. Although changes can occur fairly quickly, you may need to continue for a few months in order to get the full benefit. It is a good idea to start the treatment before the hay fever season in order to benefit fully.
"Hay Fever" leaflets (above information) made by the RCHM are available in our clinic: for further information on the RCHM, please to go to www.rchm.co.uk.
Treating Eczema with Chinese Medicine
Eczema is a common condition among children and adults. It can be very distressing with inflammation and intense itching of the skin which can lead to misery day and night. The most common type of eczema is known as 'atopic' and is associated with asthma and hayfever in childhood. Then there are several other types of eczema which affect mainly adults. The causes of eczema are not fully understood. There is often a family history of eczema or asthma, but environmental factors (e.g. chemicals, soaps, house dust and pollens), foods and emotional stress can play an important part.
CHINESE MEDICINE AND ECZEMA: Chinese herbal medicine is excellent in the treatment of eczema, and its reputation in this field was strengthened by very good results obtained in UK trials in the early 1990s (Lancet 1992; 340: 13-17; British Journal of Dermatology 1992; 126:179-84). Treatment with Chinese medicine is tailored to you as an individual. The practitioner will note your age and family history, the extent and colour of the rash and the degree of dryness/weeping and itching, whether there is blistering or pus, and other factors such as quality of sleep and digestion. The characteristics of your tongue and pulse, and mental/emotional aspects are taken into consideration. The practitioner will then choose a herbal formula (a combination of herbs), which may be modified during the course of treatment as the condition improves. This may be prescribed as medicine to take (teas or powders or pills) or as creams or ointment. Your practitioner may also recommend certain lifestyle and dietary changes. Typically treatments may last from 3 to 6 months, but improvements can often be seen within a couple of weeks.
"Eczema" leaflets (above information) made by RCHM are available in our clinic: for futher information on the RCHM, please go to www.rchm.co.uk.
Acupuncture for Headaches and MigrainesNew research suggests that acupuncture is the best form of treatment compared to standard medical care alone for headaches. The results of the study shows that acupuncture offers substantial benefits in preventing headaches and improving the quality of life for people who suffer headaches including migraines. Published in the March 15 issue of the British Medical Journal, researchers randomly separated 401 adults aged 18-65 years old with at least two headaches a month into two treatment groups.
This is the largest study completed using acupuncture for headaches. One group received up to 12 acupuncture sessions during a three-month period in addition to standard medical care, and the other group received standard care alone. A year later, researchers found those who received acupuncture visited their physicians 25% less, used 15% less drugs, had 15% less sick days from work compared to the control group, and experienced 22 fewer days with headaches. Although some results may be due to placebo effects, acupuncture has shown in this study to have significant impacts to individuals with headaches.
The exact mechanism of acupuncture is still unknown. According to various studies conducted through NIH funding, there is evidence that there is a release of endorphins and other “pain killers” in the pain site. However, a recent BBC TV has also shown that acupuncture “deactivates the brain” by affecting the area of the brain that governs pain. Scientists at the University College London, Southampton University, and the University of York found that the deep needling deactivated the limbic system, even though most scientists believed that acupuncture activates parts of the brain.
Migraine and Acupuncture:The Evidence for Effectiveness
Anxiety is a normal human emotion and most people will experience it to some degree as a normal response to stress. Anxiety becomes pathological when it repeatedly interferes with daily life, is irrational, excessively prolonged or out of proportion with the cause. In TCM, anxiety is the emotion most frequently associated with disorders of the Heart and instability of the shen. The shen is easily agitated by Heat and easily destabilised if Heart qi, yin or Blood are weak. TCM practitioners will assess the general state of health in order to identify the underlying pattern of disharmony to give the most effective treatment.
The BAcC library presents a summary of the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of depression and anxiety. The available sources provide some evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for these conditions.
For full details of this paper "Depression, Anxiety and Acupuncture; the evidence for effectiveness", please log on to:The BAcC/research