What We Treat

Why Acupuncture for Treating Back Pain

Americans spend at least $37 billion annually on back pain. There are many patients with this painful condition who are unsatisfied with the traditional medical care. A lot if these people seek help from complementary and alternative care providers, including acupuncturists. “Back pain is one of the leading reasons for visits to licensed acupuncturists. Trained acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain.

Chronic Back Pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. 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. Though most occurrences of back 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 the first episode.

The use of acupuncture to treat back pain has increased dramatically in the past few decades. The results of a recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain provide further proof that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for low-back pain, and that acupuncture can maintain positive outcomes for periods exceeding six months or longer without producing the negative side-effects that often accompany more traditional pain remedies such as anti-inflammatory steroids or medication.

The most common back pain conditions are Lumbar muscle strain or strain, ruptured disk, Discogenic back pain, Spinal stenosis, Lumbar spine arthritis, Spondylolistesis. These conditions can all be helped to a large degree or another with acupuncture. There are many different acupuncture patterns that contribute to the development of these conditions. As a acupuncturist in order to optimize the treatment we must determine the underlining dysfunction to the condition. Once we have determined the underlying oriental medicine pattern we can begin to treat the whole person in an addition to the symptoms.

Because of how complex and holistic the medical approach of Oriental medicine is we must look at the bodies overall function or lack of it. We use diagnosis systems to evaluate organ function or the lack of them to determine the correct treatment approach. This comprehensive diagnosis process is a important part of why Oriental medicine has been a very effective treatment modality for back pain. When we assess Kidney, Liver, Blood, vitality, Coldness and Heat levels in the body we can determine the correct and most effective treatment approach for back pain conditions.

My clinical opinion is that people and their conditions are a manifestation of the choices they have made over weeks, months, and sometimes years. Buy treating the individual as a whole not only the symptom, Oriental medicine can help dismantle the errors in choice that create Back pain. Choose well.

Landmark Study Finds Previously Unknown Link Between The Brain And Immune System

Neuroscientists have uncovered a previously unknown direct connection between the brain and the immune system — a finding that could have significant implications for the treatment of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and autism.

The discovery came as a surprise to Dr. Kevin Lee, chairman of the University of Virginia’s neuroscience department.

“The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks,’” Lee said in a press release Monday.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis of the University of Virginia’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, echoed the sentiment.

“When we discovered the lymphatic vessels we were very very surprised, because based on the textbooks — these vessels do not exist,” Kipnis said in an email to The Huffington Post.

A direct connection. While previous research held that there was no direct connection between the brain and the lymphatic system, the new findings, which were recently published in the journal Nature, present a model of the lymphatic system that includes the brain.

Though not a part of the immune system, the lymphatic system carries lymph, a clear fluid filled with white blood cells that helps remove toxins from the body. The lymphatic system is connected to every other system in the body, and was believed to end at the base of the skull.

But the researchers noticed something strange while looking through their microscopes at slides containing the membranes of mice’s brains. They saw lymphatic vessels, which had never before been observed above the base of the skull.

brain immune system

An old map of the lymphatic system (left), and a new map updated to reflect the discovery of the brain’s lymphatic vessels (right).

Why have they never been observed before? Kipnis explained that the vessels are “well hidden” behind a major blood vessel to the sinuses in an area of the brain that’s difficult for scientists to image.

While the observation was made in mice, the same anatomy is believed to exist in humans as well.

New questions. A next step of the research is to determine how the vessels might be involved in diseases involving the brain and the immune system, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

“We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role,” Kipnis said.

Though the findings are preliminary, the researchers hope they’ll open up a number of new possibilities for treating these and other neurological disorders through therapies that target the lymphatic vessels of the brain.

For example, Kipnis explained that the findings could shed light on why large protein chunks accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels,” he said.

Other members of the scientific community have expressed excitement about the discovery, while cautioning that the findings have not yet been replicated or confirmed.

“With further research, the findings could help scientists to target inflammation in the brain, which is a factor in many neurological conditions,” James Nicoll, professor of neuropathology at the University of Southampton in England, told The Guardian.

Weight Loss

If you struggle with your weight, you’re not alone. In fact, more than 30% of all U.S. adults meet the criteria for being obese.1

A Variety of Reasons:

Acupuncture works to control weight on various levels.

Release Endorphins – With diet changes, many people experience cravings, which can lead to binge eating. Cravings in the body are often due to a lack of endorphins. Acupuncture can help to balance out the cravings by helping the body to release endorphins.

Reduce Stress – An increase in the “stress hormone” cortisol can alter the metabolism. Through the release of endorphins, the “stress hormone” can also be neutralized.

Support Digestion – Acupuncture can support the body to generate an efficient digestive process.

Americans spend billions of dollars annually on weight loss products, but obesity is still on the rise. People are even turning to surgery as a weight loss option. This is a drastic measure and can cause unwanted side effects.

Unfortunately, excess weight is not just a cosmetic issue. Being overweight is a risk factor for many conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. The good news is that maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk, and it’s never too late to get started. People seeking to address their weight concerns are turning to acupuncture as a natural and effective way to approach weight loss.

A traditional approach to healing

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) take a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. This ancient form of healthcare works to restore the balance and flow of the body’s Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. According to TCM, the reasons why people gain weight, or find it difficult to lose weight, are numerous. Your acupuncturist is well versed in uncovering the root cause(s) or imbalances that have affected your weight.

Your acupuncturist will also take into consideration other factors that may have led to weight gain, including your lifestyle, and emotional and mental well-being. By taking your whole self into account, you and your acupuncturist can get to the root of your health concerns, rather than just treating the symptoms.

Other ways to support your path toward a happier, leaner you!
  • Exercise is an important component of any weight loss program. Adding aerobic exercise, weight training, and other types of exercise to your daily routine will have a positive effect on your weight and general health.
  • Diet is another important issue to consider. In general, a healthy diet is made up of unprocessed, organic foods, including a wide variety of whole grains and vegetables. Your acupuncturist may offer nutritional counseling designed for your specific needs.
  • Stress relief may also be a part of your treatment. By learning to lower stress and anxiety through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle exercise, you may lose weight more easily, and possibly stop destructive habits such as overeating.

What will my acupuncturist do?

During your first visit, your acupuncturist will take an extensive health history and perform various exams. At the completion of your first visit, your acupuncturist will provide you with a comprehensive diagnosis and an explanation of your treatment plan. Your treatments will focus on correcting any underlying imbalances in your body, and will also help to support you in reaching your weight loss goals.

Based on your unique symptoms, your acupuncturist will choose to concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs. For example, restoring balance to the flow of Qi in the Stomach can help promote good digestion and suppress an overactive appetite. Emotional issues, such as anxiety and stress, both of which can lead to overeating, can be addressed by balancing the Liver.

A partnership for better health

It is important to remember that acupuncture is not a “quick fix.” By working with your acupuncturist, and committing to long-term goals, you will experience positive changes in your overall health, including maintaining a healthy body weight.

In addition to acupuncture treatments, your practitioner may also recommend other lifestyle changes. Whether you want to lose a few pounds or a significant amount, people are turning to acupuncture as a natural and effective way to approach weight loss. By working together with your practitioner, you can help your body regain its natural balance—and start taking steps toward true health and vitality.

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity
U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia, Article – Obesity. 4/19/2004.
Komada, J., Article – Acupuncture for Weight Loss, 2003.
Pitchford, P., Healing with Whole Foods, North Atlantic Books, 1993.


Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. Unfortunately, modern day stress is considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced. Today, we do not have to look much further than our windows, or computer screens, to view various forms of stressors—everything from prime-time news and road rage, to the forty-hour work week, terrorism talk and cell phones.

However, stress is not necessarily always negative. There is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stressors are usually short lived and keep us alert and motivated, and support our body’s strength and vitality.

Our response to stress can either help or hinder our body’s ability to cope with these various stressors in our lives. Healthy responses to stress include appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and reaching out to friends and family for support. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues. Over time, ongoing stress and unhealthy responses to stress can actually be detrimental to our health.

Signs and symptoms of an overactive response to stress:
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Depressed immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Weight problems

Medical studies have shown that with increased and consistent stress, our white blood cells which defend our body against viruses decrease. This results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability.

Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), kidneys and adrenal glands, which can pave the way for a wide variety of symptoms and signs.

There is Hope.

Practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been helping people cope with stress for thousands
of years. The ancient theories of TCM on how stress affects the organs are similar to those of Western medicine. However, TCM theory and treatment go far beyond treating symptoms and signs and address the root cause(s) of the problem.

One way that stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi (pronounced “chee”), especially that of the kidneys and adrenals. Qi is the vital energy or power that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called meridians, and provides nourishment for the entire body. When Qi becomes “blocked” or the supply is inadequate, the body and organ systems become “stressed out” and our health is then compromised.

With acupuncture and TCM, the practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various organs affected and depleted by the stress response, along with evaluating the quality and quantity of Qi.

Your acupuncturist may also suggest adjunct therapies to enhance treatment and speed healing. Proper eating habits, as well as exercise, stretching, movement and meditation practices, support and promote a balanced and healthy body, mind and spirit.

Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, effective and drug-free alternative for the treatment of stress.

Ways to combat stress:

  1. Get adequate sleep. Try for at
    least eight hours of restful and restorative sleep.
  2. Practice meditative exercises. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga can help create a healthy awareness of the body and mind connection, freeing your mind
    of stressful thoughts.
  3. Eat a well balanced diet. Maintain a healthy diet with adequate amounts of complex carbs, vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fats.
  4. Have fun! Make time for relaxing activities, enjoyable hobbies and lots of laughter in your life.
  5. Breathe. Relaxed deep breathing is one of the most simple and easy techniques that can be used for reducing stress.


Pregnancy is a time of extraordinary physical and emotional change. It’s also a time when it’s more important than ever to support and care for your well-being. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you meet the unique challenges of pregnancy, ensuring optimal health for you and your baby in a safe and natural way, without the use of harmful medications.

During pregnancy acupuncture can help with:
  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Breech birth
  • Constipation
  • Edema
  • Excessive lactation
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Insufficient lactation
  • Labor and delivery pain
  • Mastitis
  • Morning sickness
  • Physical problems
  • Postoperative healing
  • Postpartum discharge
  • Psychological problems

What to expect

Acupuncture has been used in China for thousands of years to regulate the female reproductive system. Acupuncture and TCM are based on the concept that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows through the body in channels called meridians. Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM work to balance the Qi in the body’s meridian and organ systems by manipulating corresponding points on the body.

For a healthy pregnancy, regular weekly and/or monthly treatments are recommended. However, your practitioner will tailor your treatment entirely to your needs and suggest treatment based on your unique symptoms and concerns.

Because some acupuncture points should not be used during pregnancy, it’s important to choose a practitioner experienced in prenatal acupuncture. It’s also important to discuss any treatments or herbal supplements with all of your prenatal health care providers.

Relief for common concerns

Regular balancing treatments throughout your pregnancy can enhance your health as well as your baby’s health, potentially preventing complications and positively influencing the development of your baby. Many mothers-to-be find themselves facing anxiety, fatigue, back pain, heartburn, nausea and other symptoms as a result of the many new demands being placed on their bodies. Acupuncture has been found to effectively relieve many of these symptoms.

Acupuncture can support your health during your pregnancy by addressing these trimester symptoms:
  • First trimester – Sets the foundation for a healthy pregnancy. It can alleviate morning sickness, vomiting, fatigue and headaches.
  • Second trimester – Offers relief and balances the body from common complaints. It helps to alleviate heartburn, hemorrhoids, stress, sleep problems, edema, elevated blood pressure and weight gain.
  • Third trimester – Prepares the body for labor and delivery. It helps to alleviate sciatica, hip, joint, pubic and back pain.

Morning sickness responds particularly well to acupuncture, and your practitioner can even show you specific points that you can massage at home to help restore your appetite. Recent studies have also shown promising results in using acupuncture for depression during and after pregnancy.

Breech babies and other issues

Acupuncture can also help with more serious issues during pregnancy. Specific acupuncture points and techniques are very useful for turning “breech babies” (those positioned feet first). One study concluded that acupuncture is useful for babies that position themselves in a difficult presentation, and it is a relatively simple, effective and inexpensive method for breech birth presentation.1 Treatment involves moxibustion, or applying heat from the burning of the herb mugwort to a point on the little toes. The treatment causes no adverse side effects.

If your due date has passed, acupuncture can also be used to induce labor through gentler means than traditional Western labor-inducing treatments and medications. Acupuncture and acupressure can even be used to help control pain, calm the mind and reduce stress during delivery.

After baby has arrived

It’s important to recover properly after childbirth. Acupuncture can help you heal and regain your strength and vitality, rebalance your energy, boost your body’s defenses and help address concerns such as pain, fatigue, and postpartum depression.

Acupuncture and TCM provide a safe, gentle way to nurture and care for your health, and that of your baby, throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you are pregnant or considering having a baby, contact an acupuncturist today!

1 Acupuncture Conversion of Fetal Breech Presentation. D. Habek, et. al. Fetal Diagn Ther 2003;18:418-421
Non-Stress Test Changes During Acupuncture Plus Moxibustion on BL67 Point in Breech Presentation. I. Neri, PhD., et al. Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, Vol. 9, No. 3, 158-162 (2002)
Acupuncture during IVF improves pregnancy chances.Link
Research Articles on Acupuncture and Pregnancy.Link