Acupuncture and related therapies

Acupuncture Appears to Aid COPD Breathing—New Study


We can add another benefit to the things acupuncture can do or may do to help our health. New research published online in Archives of Internal Medicine on May 14 found that acupuncture appears to help people who have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) breathe better on exertion. 

COPD causes dyspnea (labored breathing) because it damages the lungs and clogs them with mucus,which causes symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, a feeling of tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Exertion makes it even harder for people with COPD to get enough airflow.MC900438748[1]

No wonder it is the third leading cause of death in the USA. More than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with this debilitating condition, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. And, NHLBI notes, many more may have it without having been diagnosed. Since we have not yet found a way to cure COPD or reverse the damage it cause, and there’s no known way to slow its progress, the next best option is to look for ways to ease breathing difficulties.

A randomized controlled trial by researchers from Japan’s Kyoto University and Meiji University of Integrative Medicine included 68 patients with COPD. The patients were divided into two groups (34 patients per group). For 12 weeks, in addition to being given medications and either acupuncture or placebo treatments. The acupuncture group received real acupuncture treatment with real acupuncture needles while the placebo group received the same treatment using blunt needles that did not actually penetrate the skin. When the 12 week series of treatments was completed, the patients were given a six-minute walk test while their breathing was assessed.



Breathing was rated using a Borg scale of zero to 10, with zero meaning “breathing very well, barely breathless” and 10 meaning “severely breathless,” according to a news release that explains the study in layman’s terms. The real acupuncture group showed notable improvement in breathing – from a poor Borg score of 5.5 at the start to 1.9 after 12 weeks – which also helped their health quality of life, the researchers said. The placebo group treated with blunt needles did not show improvement.

Larger studies and follow-ups will be needed to confirm the findings, the study authors say, and to show whether acupuncture can be a useful treatment for COPD.

Read the study here: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The COPD-Acupuncture Trial.

Read a commentary about the research here:  Reevaluating Acupuncture Research Methods

© 2012, All rights reserved

(Illustrations courtesy of Office.Microsoft.Com)

Alternative Medicine Wordle

On this Memorial Day (in the US), as we honor those who have fallen in wars and we take a day off from work to reflect on the past and honor their memories, AltMedForYou brings you a lighter topic.


Today’s theme for the WordCount 2012 Blogathon challenges bloggers to create a Wordle “word cloud” image composed of words that define the blog or that are used in the blog. Users choose the layout, colors, fonts, and other design elements that best suit the blog.


Here’s our AltMedForYou Wordle for today:





It’s interesting to see the same image presented vertically, too:



Alternative Medicine Thoughts in Haiku…


Today is Haiku Theme Day for bloggers who are participating in the 2012 Blogathon


My first thought was “haiku on an alternative medicine blog?  Seriously?” I can’t recall ever seeing the art of haiku blended with the concepts of alternative medicine… but since both are about the beauty and wonder of nature, perhaps this is not as unlikely a pairing as it first seems. 


The form of haiku, when written in English, is simple enough: a first line of five syllables, a second line of seven, and a third line of five, for a total of seventeen. And the object, purpose, or goal of haiku is to capture and distill into those seventeen syllables the purest possible essence of a moment, an experience, a phenomenon, or a thought.


As a former poetry editor who judged haiku contests in times long past but has not dabbled in the poetic arts for many years, this theme day posed a unique challenge.


I look forward to seeing your comments. Thank you for stopping by today and be sure to visit again tomorrow when this blog returns to more traditional ways of exploring the world of alternative medicine. 


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on herbal therapies)

fragile flowers soothe

jangled nerves and angry skin

gentle healing herbs …



 first to be planted

as settlers conquered the west

herbs for medicines …



*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on acupuncture)




               tiny needles rouse 

                    powerful healing genie

                                life-force energy…



*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

 (on nature’s vitamins)


  Assorted fruit 


bright colors wrapping

tempting fragrance and flavor

fruit-borne vitamins …




*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on medical practice)

    MP900321070[1]open western eyes

to ancient eastern healing 

health must integrate …


*  *  *




healing universe

grows when alternative is

mainstream medicine …









© 2012, all rights reserved (haiku and layout)


(Images courtesy of Microsoft

Benefits of New “PAP” Acupuncture Method Last 100 Times Longer

Here’s another news item from the world of acupuncture.


A new approach to this 4,000-year-old treatment for pain relief and other problems may prolong the benefits of treatment by as much as 100 times longer than traditional acupuncture, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported in the April 23 online edition of a journal called Molecular Pain.


The new element is a substance called prostatic acid phosphatase, or PAP for short. The same researchers had previously tested PAP by injecting into rodent spines and found the substances relieved chronic pan and the effects lasted as long as three days. But that procedure is usually reserved for those in excruciating pain. And, lead researcher associate professor Mark J. Zylka, PhD, said in a UNC news release, “spinal injections are invasive and must be performed in clinical setting.”


Zylka became interested in how acupuncture relieves pain. When an acupuncturist inserts a very fine acupuncture needle into a specific spot called an acupuncture point and manipulates the needle to stimulate that acupuncture point, molecules called nucleotides are released and converted into pain-reducing adenosine. The resulting pain relief usually lasts for hours after treatment.

PAP makes adenosine too and when injected in the spine, its pain relieving effects last for days. Zylka wondered if blending the two could boost pain control even more so his team tested the idea by injecting PAP into an acupuncture point behind the knee.

They learned two key things: 

1. When PAP was paired with acupuncture, pain relief lasted 100 times longer than conventional acupuncture. Researchers dubbed the combo “PAPupuncture.”

2. Choosing a different injection site (other than the spine) allowed PAP doses to be increased and as a result, one injection worked to reduce inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain symptoms.

The tests on animals worked so well that human trials are coming up next.


Those who want to read the study can click this title: PAPupuncture has localized and long-lasting antinociceptive effects in mouse models of acute and chronic pain, by Julie K. Hurt and Mark J. Zylka, Molecular Pain 2012, 8:28. doi: 10.1186/1744-8069-8-28


© 2012, all rights reserved

Acupuncture May Hold Key to Reducing Muscle Loss in Elderly and Infirm

A team of researchers from Japan presented their findings at the sixth annual Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in April that showed a promising new approach to combat skeletal muscle loss.

They were investigating acupuncture as a tool that could help at risk elderly and infirm people who can’t use the methods that are usually recommended to prevent muscle loss, or atrophy. Those standard recommendations — exercise, better nutrition, and mechanical stimulation – may be effective for most people but they can be too challenging for frail elders and people who have medical problems.


The researchers realized there’s a need for a different approach, ideally one that does not involve drugs, so they looked at the genes and proteins involved in muscle atrophy.


“Muscle mass and structure are determined by the balance between protein degradation [breakdown] and synthesis [building],” says Akiko Onda, an acupuncturist and graduate student at the Waseda University School of Sport Sciences, who has been conducting a series of studies on skeletal muscle atrophy for the past four years.

Their studies led to focusing on mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid), a type of gene or genetic blueprint carrier, like atrogin-1 that is specific to muscle atrophy.


Preliminary findings were presented at the April 2012 meeting and reported in a news release. The researchers showed that acupuncture treatments significantly reverse the problem-causing action of those genes, like flipping an “Off” switch to prevent genes that play a key role in skeletal muscle atrophy from working. 


“We hope to introduce acupuncture as a new strategy for preventing skeletal muscle atrophy in the future,” Onda said. 

How soon could that “in the future” be?  It will take a while. First more research will have to be done to get a clearer picture of how the acupuncture connection works. Then research will be needed to fine-tune the findings into a practical treatment for skeletal muscle atrophy.


© 2012, all rights reserved

Acupressure Tap Technique


Acupuncture can be a wonderful remedy for many conditions. It’s one of the oldest healing practices in the world.


Studies investigating its effectiveness for knee pain, lower back pain, cancer pain, alcohol addiction, chronic stress, polycystic ovary syndrome, asthma, allergies, and other ailments have been mixed, according to Research Results posted on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. 


How it works:


A trained acupuncturist inserts super-fine acupuncture needles at “meridians” or acupuncture points where energy flow may be blocked or stagnant to elevate spirits, ease pain, and promote healing. The needles are so thin that they’re barely noticeable when inserted just under the skin.


There’s also a no-needle version called acupressure that works on the same principles, but instead of using needles to stimulate acupuncture points, pressure is applied with fingers, thumbs and hands. 


Yet another variation uses tapping instead of needles or fingers to activate the same acupuncture points. It’s designed for do-it-yourselfers—people who want to learn how to use these techniques on their own to manage their own health concerns.


If you’re interested in trying it, check out the 20-something how-to demonstration video that expert Gina Green has uploaded to They show  exactly how to use the techniques for various problems. Green’s  instructions are clear, direct, and easy to swallow.


I believe many of her techniques work. What do you think?




© 2012 all rights reserved.

Coming Back to Life…

As the old Big Bands song said, It’s been a long, long time…  But now, at last, Alternative Medicine For You is coming back to life.


To help start the ball rolling, this blog will be participating for the first time ever in the annual WordCount Blogathon (learn more here: The 2012 WordCount Blogathon), starting May 1, 2012.


Tomorrow, you’ll see a report on a September 2011 study on the effectiveness of saw palmetto, a popular herb that many men use to relieve the problem symptoms of enlarged prostate.

During this month, other topics we’ll cover include:

  • Acupuncture for migraine pain


  • Cancer five-year survival rates dramatically higher for cancer survivors treated with integrative medicine


  • Medicinal food research news including olive juice for antioxidants, chili pepper for cholesterol reduction, prunes for osteoporosis


  • Verdict on vitamin E: to take or not to take, that is the question


  • Resveratrol related compound in red wine and grapes wine fights fat


There’s so much news to share, so many important developments in alternative medicine to report, so many good sites to link… it’s going to be a great month!


Stay tuned … and stay healthy!


© 2012, all rights reserved

Who uses Alternative Medicine? Some answers from a University of Michigan Health System Study


Ever wonder who is using alternative medicine?  A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System, found that a third of people who have chronic pain seek relief from complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, and physical therapy.

In fact, a U-M news release about the study says: “Chronic pain has been found to double the odds of seeking alternative services.”

Race and age also played a role. The U-M study showed that elderly people and whites used AltMed more than younger people or blacks and AltMed users have higher levels of education and income.

The income part of that finding makes sense when you think about how much herbs, supplements, a nutritious diet, and treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic can cost if they’re not covered by health insurance. 

As evidence from scientific studies supporting the use of alternative therapies grows, coverage may improve and cost may become a less important factor in deciding whether AltMed is right for you.

The U-M study was published in Vol. 11, No.1, of  the January 2010 journal Pain Medicine.

To read the U-M news release about the study, click on this link:

  U-M study: Alternative medicine use for pain increases with age and wealth

To read another News report about the study from Alternative Therapies in Health And Medicine – A Peer-Reviewed Journal, click this link: 

Study: Use of Alternative Therapy for Pain Treatment Increases With Age and Wealth

(c) 2010, all rights reserved.