Ear Acupuncture relieves back pain in pregnant women

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 by: E. Huff, staff writer

The September issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology contains a report that illustrates the effectiveness of ear acupuncture in alleviating lower back and pelvic pain in pregnant women. The study revealed that among 159 women who were given the acupuncture treatment, all reported reduction in overall pain and functional improvement in mobility.

The unique circulatory network that exists between the mother and her developing child is delicate, leading many prenatal health providers to shy away from prescribing any pharmacological methods of intervention to alleviate the lower back pain associated with pregnancy. Since drugs carry heavy side effects for both mother and child, researchers have continued to investigate safer, simpler, more natural methods of mitigation.

Dr. Shu-Ming Wang of the Yale School of medicine suggests that simple, inexpensive acupuncture treatments offer a drug-free method of easing common back and pelvic pain in pregnant women and may help stave off perpetual chronic back pain throughout their lives.

Three groups of women were included in the study; one group receiving real acupuncture, the second group receiving acupuncture in “sham” points, and the third group receiving nothing but self-care. Eighty-one percent of the women in the legitimate acupuncture group experienced a 30 percent or greater reduction in pain while only 59 percent in the phony acupuncture group experienced such results. Of the group receiving no treatment, 47 percent indicated reduction in pain.

After only one week, 37 percent of the women receiving genuine acupuncture treatment were pain free compared to 22 percent in the fake group and only 9 percent in the self-care control group. Those who received veritable acupuncture treatment also experienced a significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the other two groups.

Though not all women remained free of pain in the weeks following the study, researchers indicate that longer-term treatments may produce more sustained relief. Further study is also needed to verify characteristically why some women respond more favorably than others to acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture continues to make inroads into mainstream medicine due to its veritable effects on reducing pain. Studies conducted on a wide cross-section of pain conditions have seen favorable results, leading the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to support acupuncture as a viable treatment option.

From fibromyalgia and chronic headaches to cramps and arthritis, alternative and complementary doctors are witnessing excellent results in prescribing this inexpensive treatment option for their patients’ ailments rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

Acupuncture relieves lung disease symptoms

Acupuncture may finally be poised to earn some long-sought respect from the medical
establishment — and perhaps better insurance coverage — with a new clinical trial showing that the technique works better than a sham treatment to relieve not just pain but other symptoms that are less subjective to measure.
The small but well designed study, published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine,
involved 68 Japanese patients with difficulty walking and breathing from a chronic lung condition.

Half were randomly assigned to have acupuncture with hair-thin needles that penetrated the skin — to press on certain pressure points — while the other half had fake treatments using blunt needles that didn’t pierce the skin.
After 12 weeks, those who received the real acupuncture were able to walk and breathe more easily during a six-minute walk test, while those who had the fake treatments experienced no improvement in their previous walking test scores.
The paper suggests acupuncture may be a potential treatment for a lung condition — calledchronic obstructive pulmonary lung disease — that doesn’t have many effective treatments to halt the lung deterioration that leads to the need for an oxygen tank for breathing and eventually can be fatal.

The study is “thoughtful and methodologically rigorous, indicating that acupuncture creates significant improvement for patients with COPD across a range of patient-centered and physiologic outcome measures over and above standard care,” wrote George Lewith, a researcher from the University of Southampton, in an editorial that accompanied the study.

But he also told me via e-mail that it’s too early for acupuncture to become the standard of care to treat the lung condition; results need to be replicated in larger studies.
A bigger issue is the wide variation in acupuncture practices, even among practitioners in a single city such as Boston.

The researchers used a traditional Chinese medical (TCM) acunpuncture technique, pressing on a standard set of pressure points in a prescribed order.

Having a standardized practice is common in clinical trials, said acupuncture researcher Vitaly Napadow, an assistant professor of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
But, he added, “there is very little agreement as to how acupuncture should be practiced” in the real world. As part of his training at the New England School of Acupuncture, Napadow said he studied TCM as well as techniques from Korea and other countries and learned to personalize treatment plans, even for patients with the same medical diagnoses.

Having research studies that document effectiveness for specific acupuncture techniques, however, might help convince some acupuncturists — especially those affiliated with academic teaching hospitals — to follow standard techniques proven effective by research.
A large review of clinical trials testing acupuncture against sham treatments for arthritis, back pain, and other chronic pain conditions is slated to be published soon, according to Napadow, and it clearly shows that the real pinpricks are better than the fake ones.

Interestingly, it also found that even fake treatments work better than other placebos, such as a doctor visit without touching any pressure points.
Another review of 21 studies recently published online found that acupuncture was effective at combating nausea after surgery, and others show acupuncture can help alleviate migraines and improve outcomes of in vitro fertilization.

How acupuncture works depends on whom you ask.

Chinese philosophers believe the body has an energy flow that runs like rivers, or meridians, which can get blocked up as if behind a dam at certain points, leading to illness.

The needle treatment unblocks this dam making the body healthy again.
Western scientists, however, hypothesize that acupuncture likely works by stimulating the central nervous system at various pressure points, releasing chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals may alter the brain’s perception of pain or release other chemicals that influence self-regulating systems like breathing or digestion.

“Usually the benefits don’t occur after one treatment,” Napadow said. “It requires a minimum once-a-week treatment for several weeks, but some practitioners advise twice a week for those in severe pain.”

In China, some get treated every day with acupuncture, but treatments are much cheaper there.

In this country, treatments run $50 to $125 per session and often aren’t covered by insurance. Veterans Acupuncture Care offers free sessions every Saturday in Framingham to veterans and their families. And the New England School of Acupuncture offers reduced prices for sessions conducted by students in training.

Insurance coverage might improve in the future, Napadow added, if larger clinical trials
demonstrate acupuncture’s effectiveness over sham procedures and practitioners are willing to adopt standardized practices.

Chinese herbs may hold back diabetes: study

Chinese herbs may hold back diabetes: study

www.chinaview.cn 2009-10-15 Editor: Wang Guanqun

BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhuanet) — Traditional Chinese herbal medicines may help prevent the development of diabetes in the early stages, new research suggests.
The research, conducted by a research team of Center for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, was carried out in April 2008 and March this year in conjunction with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.
In the study, the researchers examined 16 clinical trials including 1,391 people of 15 different herbal formulations. The results were positive, but more evidence is still needed, researchers say.
The research concluded that the herbs generally helped lower blood sugar levels in people with “pre-diabetes.”
It also suggested that adding an herbal remedy to lifestyle changes doubled the chance of participants’ blood sugar levels returning to normal.
The Chinese herbal mixes, which have been used for a long time to treat diabetes in China, Korea and Japan, are thought to work in many ways to help normalize blood sugar levels, including by improving pancreatic function and increasing the availability of insulin.
But Suzanne Grant, the lead researcher of the study, pointed out that the Chinese herbs are only to recommended on a patients’ individual situation.
By far, the study did not find serious side effects caused by the herbs. However, Grant noted, like all medicines, herbs may have potential side effects or interactions with other drugs.

Carrot & Leek Soup

Cream of Carrot & Leek Soup

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tbsp safflower oil
3 leeks, white part cut into 6mm slices
1.5kg large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup low-fat milk
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground white pepper to taste

1. Toast the cumin in a hot, dry pan, shaking constantly over medium heat for 2 minutes. Grind the seeds into a coarse powder in a spice grinder, or crush them with a rolling pin. Set aside.

2. In a medium stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the leeks, and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, reserving ½ teaspoon for garnish, and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot, pour in the milk and warm over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, garnish with a sprinkle of the reserved cumin. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Nutritional breakdown per serving (1 cup):
840 Kilojoules, 3g Protein, 26g Carbohydrates, 6g Fibre, 5g Total Fat
(1g Saturated, 1g Monounsaturated, 3g Polyunsaturated), 0mg Cholesterol, 150mg Sodium, 20mg Vitamin C,
48,930 IU Vitamin A.


Acupuncture for Frozen Shoulder

10 November 2013 by Heiko Lade

Even though research has confirmed that acupuncture for Frozen Shoulder works very well, many people coming to The Acupuncture Clinic are still curious as to how acupuncture actually can do it. From a western medical perspective, modern physicians don’t actually know what causes frozen shoulder and their treatments are basically ineffective. The most intriguing aspect of frozen shoulder is that there is usually no history of injury which has led some researchers to believe that there is an auto immune component but researchers are still not clear why the problem can rectify itself after 18 months or so without any treatment.

Frozen shoulder and its symptoms were recorded and documented in classical Chinese medicine texts more than a thousand years ago. The condition was given the names like ‘100 Years old shoulder” or “Old Woman’s Shoulder”.

Interestingly, western medical researchers have statistics that show frozen shoulder affects more women than men and ancient Chinese physicians also noticed this. This is why the treatment of frozen shoulder in men and women can actually be different. There is not a one size fits all approach in Chinese medicine, unlike western medicine where steroid injections are the norm for young and old, male or female.

Acupuncture physicians basically aim to restore harmony between yin and yang in the body. In fact frozen shoulder has a problem with both the yin and yang. Western medical observation has actually helped reinforce the traditional Chinese medicine view of frozen shoulder.

Western medicine says that patients complain of the shoulder feeling worse in cold weather and in particular when the weather suddenly changes to extreme cold. Chinese medicine says that frozen shoulder is caused by the outside cold weather penetrating into the shoulder joint and accumulating there and then “freezing” up the joint.

Western medicine says that frozen shoulder has a lack of synovial fluid lubricating the upper arm and shoulder blade. Chinese medicine says that the watery yin fluids have become either depleted or dried up, possibly from a history of fever and flu.

Western medicine has noted that the pain of frozen shoulder increases at night. Chinese medicine says that this is due to a blockage of energy and blood circulation which becomes escalated at night from sleeping and inactivity.

Western medicine says that regular stretching and moving exercises help recovery.

Chinese medicine physicians in the treatment of frozen shoulder then simply go about and rectify the obvious.

The cold accumulation is warmed up with moxibustion.

The yin fluids are nourished by using fluid building acupuncture points or yin moistening Chinese herbs such as yu zhu.

The blockage that causes the increased pain at night is treated by acupuncture points that have the known function of mobilising energy and increasing circulation of blood. In particular cupping is used to increase blood circulation.

Women presenting with frozen shoulder have additional acupuncture points to regulate and benefit the hormonal system.

Tui na is recommended to further improve mobilization and to hasten recovery even more quickly, it is suggested to take up Tai Chi.

Potato & Watercress Salad with Mustard Dressing

Potato & Watercress Salad

Serves 6


1 kg baby chat potatoes
100g roasted red capsicum, sliced
150g marinated artichoke hearts, drained, quartered.
1 bunch watercress, sprigs picked (or baby spinach leaves)
Mustard dressing
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 small lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Place potatoes in a saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Cook, uncovered for 10 mins or until just tender. Drain. Set aside to cool slightly. Cut in half. Place in a large bowl.
2. Add capsicum, artichoke and watercress to warm potato. Toss gently to combine.
3. Make mustard dressing: Combine garlic, mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice and oil in a screw top jar. Secure lid. Shake well.
4. Pour dressing over salad. Season with salt & pepper. Toss to combine. Serve.

Warming Coconut Chai recipe


Rich in the forgotten superfood spices, this delicious coconut chai recipe is full of anti-oxidants, great for anti-aging and disease prevention.


2 cups spring or filtered water

1 Tbsp chai tea mix (nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, licorice, tea leaves)
1 whole star anise
2 whole green cardamom pods
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Homemade coconut milk or organic canned coconut milk (Use nut milk if you prefer)
Raw honey or coconut sugar to taste

1. Pour the water in a pot, add chai mix and additional spices.
2. Bring the pot to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cover and let spices infuse for 10 minutes.
3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to fill mugs 2/3 full. Top up with coconut milk and sweeten to taste.

Chinese Medicine & Pregnancy BFF


Chinese Medicine & Pregnancy BFF: Best Friends Forever!

Getting pregnant should be the easiest thing in the world right? We spend so many years avoiding pregnancy; we often expect that we will fall pregnant once we start trying to. Our bodies are also amazingly well equipped for the birthing process but sometimes we need a best friend to help us out.

Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture can greatly increase your chances of pregnancy AND a smooth pregnancy AND labour AND a healthy post partum period. In fact, Chinese Medicine is a pregnant or wannabe pregnant woman’s best friend. It can help EVERY step of the way. Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbs can regulate your hormones, get you and your menstrual cycles VERY healthy in preparation for conception. A good Chinese Medicine Doctor will work out exactly what you need to do to increase your chances of getting pregnant. The best time to consult one is 3 months before you attempt to fall pregnant. Would you plant seeds in weedy, nutrient poor, dry ground and expect any to germinate and flourish? No, either would we. Do you want to give your child to be the best possible start in life? Chinese Medicine promotes ovulation, fertilisation, AND implantation. Naturally, gently and without nasty side effects. Acupuncture can also greatly improve IVF success. Let’s not forget the seed quality. Chinese Medicine can help achieve higher sperm counts and higher motility.1 How’s that for a best friend?

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can also reduce the chances of miscarriage, AND relieve morning sickness. While you’re in your second trimester, if all is going well, a monthly acupuncture visit can provide safe, natural effect relief of symptoms while you are pregnant and help your body adjust and prepare for a smooth labour. If you need more help, I have experience in managing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and more. A good Chinese Medicine Doctor will also advise you on what exercises and diet will best suit you.

In your third trimester, Acupuncture can set you up for the smoothest delivery possible. Chinese medicine techniques, including acupuncture can help also position your baby correctly, align your pelvis, get you as well as possible for the journey to come. We can even gently promote labour if you’re overdue. Acupuncture can help prevent caesarean delivery. We can also boost your energy levels and resources to better handle the post-partum period, give you herbal tonics to take, alleviate any problems with breast feeding if you have them. That’s friendship right?

A natural, holistic approach such as Chinese Medicine can facilitate a wonderful, empowering birthing experience. I believe that is every woman’s right. As an experienced Doctor of Chinese Medicine specialising in Acupuncture, I have helped thousands of women get pregnant, stay pregnant and then smoothly deliver a healthy baby. It is a wonderfully rewarding experience for all, including me. I have even been blessed by a patient naming their baby after me. Such an honour.

We all know that life doesn’t always go as planned, but Chinese Medicine support can greatly increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy, making the journey much more enjoyable. Do you need a best friend in pregnancy?

Dr Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)

Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Roasted Vegetable Frittata


Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Serves 3


220g pumpkin

200g potato

220g sweet potato

25ml (1 tbsp + 1 tsp) oil

1 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

70g (about 6 small) mushrooms, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, separated, unpeeled

44g frozen peas

4 large eggs

44g (1/2 cup) grated parmesan cheese

40ml (2 tbsp) cream

Salt & freshly ground pepper

Extra ½ tsp oil, for pan


Preheat oven to 2000C. Peel pumpkin, potato & sweet potato and cut into bite-sized chunks. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil and toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes. Add chopped onion, chopped mushroom and garlic to tray and drizzle with 1 tsp oil. Toss with other vegetables. Continue baking for 20-25 minutes, until the vegies are cooked through. Remove garlic from its skin, place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Add eggs, parmesan, cream, salt and pepper to bowl. Whisk until combined. Heat extra ½ tsp oil in a 26 diameter frying pan over medium heat. Cover base of pan with vegies. Pour egg mixture over vegetables

Pork Goulash with Mushroom Pilaf


Pork Goulash with Mushroom Pilaf

Serves 4

Mushroom pilaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed

1 ½ cup chicken stock

200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced

Pork Goulash

1 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion, halved, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp paprika

600g pork fillets, thinly sliced

2 tbsp brandy

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup thickened cream

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


  • 1. Make mushroom pilaf: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 mins until soft. Add rice and stir to combine. Pour over stock and season with pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for 12-15mins or until rice has absorbed stock. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook mushrooms for 3-4 mins or until just tender. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and set aside.
  • 2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Add paprika and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until just browned.
  • 3. Add brandy and stock to pan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half. Stir through cream and cook for a further 4 -5 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat and stir through parsley.
  • 4. Stir mushrooms into pilaf. Spoon pilaf onto serving plates. Top with goulash and serve.