Category Archives: Acupuncture in the News

Stop smoking with Acupuncture

Click here for Dr Oz’s view on acupuncture to help stop smoking.

What can acupuncture do to assist in quitting smoking? Acupuncturists are trained to address addictions, especially nicotine addiction, following the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We assess the addiction from several perspectives, inclusive of the physical, mental and emotional addiction. There are many acupuncturists who utilize a technique where fine needles are inserted into a set of five acupuncture points on the ear (auricular acupuncture see photo below), as promoted by The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), a not-for-profit organization who teaches and endorses this acupuncture detoxification protocol. You may even be sent home with small bead placed on the ear using adhesive tape, that when stimulated, can continue to help curb withdrawal symptoms (an application of auricular acupressure).

In general, expect frequency of visits to be several times per week for the first week or two (recommendations vary per acupuncturist and patient’s condition). My goal in the treatment plan is to support patients through the acute phase of withdrawal, improving your success at kicking the nicotine habit.

Commonly, patients experience a decrease in cravings, changes in sensory perception as the taste and smell of cigarettes becomes intolerable, and an increased state of calm and relaxation.


Prince Charles praises acupuncture in the Daily Mail – now I’m conflicted …

You have to wade through a long online article about the Royals’ dancing abilities before reaching this statement by Charles: ‘I know lots of people who find they aren’t benefited in every case by just the conventional, orthodox drug and finally discover that actually an approach – whether it’s herbal medicine or acupuncture or various other forms of complementary medicine – actually does benefit them. Thats all that needs to be said on the matter …

Read more:

Tips for a healthy Autumn

More sensible advice from Sara Calabro – written in American.

Fall is right around the corner.

New seasons are an opportunity to assess our states of health and realign with our natural rhythms.

From an acupuncture perspective, fall is about refinement. It’s time to pare down, to let go of the excesses we allowed ourselves in summer and focus on what’s necessary for winter.

In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Weather and climate, particularly during the transition from one season to another, factor significantly into acupuncture diagnoses and treatment plans.

The transition into fall is especially noteworthy because it signifies moving from the more active seasons to the more passive. This directly impacts how we feel, and how we prevent and treat illness.

How to Stay Healthy This Fall
Each season is linked with a natural element, organ and emotion. The element, organ and emotion of fall are, respectively, Metal, Lung and grief. These three things usher us throughout the season, serving as barometers for where we’re at and offering insight on how to be better.

With Metal, Lung and grief as our guides, here are seven acupuncture tips for staying healthy this fall.

Make a list of your priorities
Fall is when we ought to embrace our Metal-esque qualities: strong, definitive, focused, discerning. It is time to get down to business, to gain clarity about what really matters to us.

As satisfying as this can be, it also can be overwhelming. If I hunker down at work, how will I make time for the kids? If I focus on cooking healthy meals and eating at home to save money, how will I socialize with friends?

Make a list of which priorities deserve your attention. Write them down and glance at the list periodically throughout the season.

Fall heightens our innate ability to get stuff done. Take advantage of it by reminding yourself where to focus.

Wear a scarf
Acupuncturists are always going on about wearing scarves. It’s for good reason.

Lung, the organ associated with fall, is considered the most exterior organ. It is the first line of defense against external pathogenic factors. As the weather turns cold and the wind picks up, the Lung organ is extra vulnerable.

Further, pathogenic factors such as cold and wind invade the body at the back of the neck, so keeping that area protected is very important in the fall. Even if it’s sunny, always bring a scarf when you head outside.

Do acupressure on Lung 7

One of the best points for strengthening the Lung organ is Lung 7. It helps promote the descending function of the Lungs, which makes it a great point for cough, shortness of breath and nasal congestion.

Lung 7 also is one of the most effective points for neck pain and stiffness. As mentioned above, wearing a scarf helps, but for protecting yourself against any residual wind and the resulting head and neck tension, Lung 7 will come in handy.

Lung 7 is easy to access yourself. Make a thumbs-up sign. When you do that, you’ll see a depression at the base of your thumb (referred to as the anatomical snuffbox). From that depression, Lung 7 is located approximately two finger widths up your arm (see picture at right).

Stay hydrated
Dryness of all kinds is common in fall. Since Lung is the most exterior organ, it is the organ that relates most closely to the skin. Dry skin and even rashes tend to show up in fall. Drink a lot of water and keep your skin hydrated with non-alcoholic (alcohol will dry you out more) moisturizer.

Another reason to stay hydrated is to regulate digestion. The Lung’s paired organ is Large Intestine, so sometimes digestive issues can flare up this time of year. Constipation, due to the dryness of the season, is most common, especially in people who struggle with the “letting go” aspect of transitioning into fall.

Use a neti pot
As fall encourages us to let go of the inessential priorities in our lives, many of us also find ourselves letting go from our nasal passages. Bring on the tissues! Fall is the most common time of year for the onset of nasal infections and post-nasal drip, both of which plague many people well into winter. Keep a neti pot in the shower and use it regularly throughout the season to help keep your nasal passages clear.

Reframe grief
The emotion associated with fall is grief. This is the time of year to pull inward, to grieve letting go and to reflect on any unresolved sadness. This can be an adjustment after the surge of energy and mood that many of us experience during summer, but it is normal to feel somewhat somber and pensive in the fall.

The inability to settle into this emotional shift, or transition out of it, may suggest an imbalance. However, before labeling yourself with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD—a common biomedical diagnosis for people who feel depressed in the colder, darker months—consider that you may be experiencing a natural heightened awareness of grief. If you sense it might be more than that, by all means, see your doctor.

Eat warm foods
Step away from the salad! The cool, raw, refreshing salads of summer will not do you any favors come fall. Just as we need to start keeping our bodies warmer on the outside, we need to stay warm on the inside as well.

In fall, eat warm, cooked food. Instead of cold cereal with milk, choose oatmeal. Trade the salads for oven-roasted veggies over brown rice. When cooking, throw in some onions, ginger, garlic or mustard—these pungent foods are known to benefit the Lung organ.

Veggie wise, root vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash are ideal. If you go for out-of-season vegetables, make sure they are cooked. If you’re craving fruit, reach for something seasonal such as apples, pears, grapes, figs or persimmons.

Wishing you a happy and healthy fall.

Be more with less

An area of life where minimalism forms a perfect synergy is health. When minimalist ideas are applied to how we care for ourselves, healthy lifestyle choices become intuitive and medical decisions are more in our control.
On our journeys toward optimum health, sometimes we need a gentle NUDGE. Acupuncture, because it is by definition minimalist, is the ideal helping hand.

Acupuncture is low-cost. One of the fundamental tenets of minimalism is to shun excessive spending. And yet American healthcare is the poster child for excess. We over test; we over medicate; and we over emphasize insurance coding at the risk of sound medical decisions. Of course, many aspects of modern medicine can be lifesaving, but as a whole, the system has become bloated and disproportionately beneficial for those who can or choose to spend a lot of money. Acupuncture is an antidote to many of the financial complexities that prevent us from getting the care we need. Not only is acupuncture an effective way to trim current costs on prescriptions, but as a preventive medicine, it also decreases long-term spending on the chronic conditions that can be financially debilitating as we age. The expense of acupuncture education combined with the lack of acupuncturist jobs within mainstream medical settings has unfortunately driven up the cost of acupuncture as well. But there are currently 166 full-time community acupuncture clinics throughout the U.S. In addition, many nonprofits and community gathering places offer affordable acupuncture. Most of these clinics charge sliding-scale fees (usually between $15 and $40), where people pay what they can afford, or are donation-based.

Acupuncture works with what you’ve already got. The driving idea behind acupuncture is that we’re already in possession of everything we need to be well. Sound familiar? Minimalists abide by the same philosophy. Buying a third flat-screen TV for the kitchen might appear to help a hardworking family decompress during dinner. It blocks out distracting stressors and eliminates pressure to make conversation. In the same way, popping a pill every time heartburn strikes offers fast, easy relief and erases the need to contemplate why the problem has become chronic. Instead of introducing an external substance to mask symptoms, acupuncture “wakes up” or redirects the body’s own healing mechanisms to resolve underlying imbalances. Most of us already have all the tools we need to have a meaningful, TV-less dinner with loved ones—voices, imagination and curiosity. Similarly, acupuncture takes what’s already there and rearranges it into something positive.

Acupuncture requires limited equipment. In his book Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, author Atul Gawande says our healthcare system would be better off investing in performance improvement than continuing to throw money at the latest new technology. He says, “We have not effectively used the abilities science has already given us.” Acupuncture has been around for 5,000 years. It has been keeping people healthy long before MRIs and CT scans became the norm for even slightly confusing symptoms. Minimalism doesn’t require much in the way of equipment—in fact, the less the better. Acupuncture is the same way. Needles and cotton balls are pretty much all you need (for extremists, even the cotton balls are optional). As Gawande points out—and as minimalists know better than anyone—if we could just get better at utilizing and appreciating the quality things we already have, we might think twice before finding comfort in new fancy gadgets.

Acupuncture is individualized. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to minimalism, just as there is no universal cure for disease. Modern medicine is centered on the idea that the body can be broken down into anatomical structures, cells and molecules that, when diseased, require pre-determined interventions. Acupuncture takes a different approach: The human body is comprised of interdependent physical structures whose condition is affected by emotional and environmental factors. Acupuncture treatments are personalized to each person’s unique constitution and circumstances. Minimalism, like back pain, is different for everyone.

Acupuncture requires an investment. As is the case with minimalism, the world does not always make it easy to embrace acupuncture. People who choose to live minimally do so in the face of powerful corporations, relentless advertising, and societal pressure to keep up with the Joneses. Likewise, those who use acupuncture do it despite pooh-poohing from pharmaceutical companies, doctors, as well as family, friends and colleagues, most of whom regard mainstream medicine as the only acceptable form of healthcare. Acupuncture is not a quick fix; it (usually) does not solve problems overnight. Nor does it have millions of dollars of advertising behind it to convince society of its benefits. Acupuncture requires that we invest time and effort into listening to our bodies and giving them what they really need rather than what someone tells us they need. Acupuncture asks us to play an active role in our health, to participate in the process and take responsibility for the outcomes. This is not always easy, but, as minimalists know, it ultimately is the most rewarding path.

Sara Calabro is the founding editor of AcuTake, a website dedicated to improving acupuncture education and access.