Acupuncture

Akupunktur København

Let’s conduct a hypothetical clinical trial of a new drug that may reduce pain. We’ll take 3000 patients and assign them to three groups randomly. We’ll give group 1 no treatment. Group 2 will receive a sugar pill containing no active substances, and Group 3 will get our drug. We’ll track our patients for several months and measure objective responses. I’ve drawn a chart of the change in reported pain status on a 1 to 100 scale at the time of follow-up. Notice that Group 1, our no-treatment, has essentially no change. Group 3 shows some improvement, however small, but Group 2 shows the greatest response.

Remember that this is the group that got only sugar pill. What should we conclude about our drug? What could cause such a difference between no-treatment and a sugar pill? Is sugar an effective treatment for pain? Don’t forget this example, because we’ll be coming back to it. Placebo describes our ability to respond to inactive substances or stimuli by way of suggestive guidance. A placebo sugar pill can be more effective at relieving pain than no sugar pill, even though the sugar is ineffective at biologically interfering with the pain response. The placebo response is measurable in subjective tests like the visual analog pain survey, but it’s also measurable in objective tests like blood pressure and pulse rate. It has a real biological effect, and we shouldn’t ignore it.

This says a lot about our creative brain and the power it has over our biology. It takes an expectation and turns it into a reality. Many cultural traditions recognized this long before the advent of modern psychology, and healers have been using the placebo effect for non-life threatening conditions for millennia. There’s an interesting correlation between the nature of the placebo intervention and the degree of response. Medical research has established that placebo capsules are more effective than placebo in pill form. Large capsules are more effective than small capsules. At the very top of effectiveness on the list are two placebo treatments, injection and acupuncture. It would seem the more intense the sensation of the placebo, the more confidence we gain from it, and the stronger the suggestion of efficacy. Sticking needles in our skin, we might subconsciously reason, is bound to be effective, because it’s so extreme. I want to deal specifically with the idea of acupuncture in its modern form. This is the belief that a needle inserted in the skin by a skilled practitioner can activate qi, an invisible vitalist fluid that runs through the body to give function to the organs.

Now I don’t have the time to go through the long and detailed history of acupuncture. Suffice it to say that the belief in qi and acupuncture is a largely supernatural belief akin to the belief in tumors and blood-letting in Europe, and about as accurate. There are many variations and types of acupuncture that correspond to different traditions. Some practitioners burn plant material on the needles, called moxibustion. Others use electrical stimulation through the needles, or a recent addition, cold lasers. What is most important for this discussion is that an acupuncture session involves sitting quietly while a trusted authority figure shoves needles into your skin.

There’s a great deal of manual contact, as the practitioner inserts the needles and applies certain motions and a sense of relaxation. This creates an atmosphere of high suggestibility, and various painful stimuli followed by release, something that can stimulate the release of endorphins. We could also include acupressure here, which doesn’t penetrate the skin, but just puts pressure on specific chi points. So, does it work? The short answer is yes. In the short term, say less than two days, you will feel some relief from certain kinds of pain.

The magnitude is minimal in the clinical trials that have been run, say 2 to 6 points out of a 100 improvement over no therapy for a variety of painful conditions from arthritis to tooth pain. We could undoubtedly walk away at this point and conclude that acupuncture is very slightly effective on the evidence. Many of the studies conducted by professional acupuncturists do. But the comparison doesn’t have to be between no treatment and acupuncture. We can also include a sham treatment, a placebo of acupuncture if you will, just like we would for a drug trial. We have some options here. Some have used regular acupuncture needles, but not placed them in qi points. Some use the needles in the right places, but don’t adjust them correctly, or insert them deeply enough.

My favorite, though, and the study I want to discuss, used… wait for it… toothpicks in place of acupuncture needles as a sham treatment. Can we agree in advance that if sham acupuncture with toothpicks works as well as regular acupuncture, that’s a clear placebo response? Because that’s not what they found. No, they discovered that toothpick acupuncture works better than the real thing. And not just a little, but a lot. Both of them beat the no-treatment group, but the toothpick group was the clear winner. In fact, the example I gave at the beginning are the numbers from this study, conducted by the NIH Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The other placebo group often examined, the placement of needles not in qi meridians, but somewhat randomly, or improperly placed, or placed too shallow, often outcompete the conventional acupuncture in these type of randomized patient-blinded trials.

If a drug company came up with these kinds of results, they would quietly slink away. Not the acupuncturists, though. They’re quite happy with the finding, suggesting that acupuncture works so well, it doesn’t even matter if needles are inserted or not… Clearly, they all missed the day in acupuncture class when evidence-based medicine was taught. For me, this is the end of any discussion about acupuncture.

But if anyone out there still has doubts, even after the systematic reviews by the Cochrane Institute and others dismiss any effectiveness versus placebo, I would ask you to consider the genuine risks. That’s right, sticking needles in your body has some associated risk. I know you’re all shocked. If those needles are improperly sterilized or handled, they can introduce bacteria deep into tissue. If they’re inserted too deeply, they can puncture membranes like the lungs, the spine, and the heart. If they break off inside your tissue, removal may require surgery.

So the possible side effects of acupuncture are an infection, tissue and nerve damage, major surgery and death. Is that worth a 2% reduction in pain? I don’t think so. How likely are these adverse outcomes? In a survey of adverse events of acupuncture given to about 1000 doctors and 200 acupuncturists in Finland in 1995 (Norheim and Fonnebo, 1995), there were 25 cases of pneumothorax, or punctured lung, reported by doctors. This gives a prevalence in Finland of about 250 cases in approximately 5 million people, or 5 per 100,000 people. But the number of licensed acupuncturists in Finland is only about 500, and presumably, they just treat a few thousand people, elevating the risk substantially for those who use the services. Now, not all pneumothorax are fatal, many spontaneously heal, but there is a risk of lung collapse and very rapid death. There are numerous case reports too horrifying to list here.

X-rays revealing broken needle points in the pericardium, post-mortem exams of spinal lining punctures, and even a few outbreaks of infection from needles called acupuncture mycobacteriosis that infected dozens of people. If you do go to get needles inserted, make sure the practitioner is at least licensed, uses disposable needles, and that they carefully sanitize both their hands and your skin. I’m not a fan of scare tactics. But I think a thoughtful examination of the risks and benefit do not support the use of acupuncture for pain management or any other condition. A placebo effect is a useful tool to be sure, but the next time you’re tempted to visit an acupuncturist, perhaps you might pursue the more effective, less expensive and probably safer alternative therapy.

It’s all natural, composed entirely of wood, and also suitable for holding olives in a martini. Thanks for watching.

 

As found on Youtube

I Tried This Intense Acupuncture Facial

acupuncture

Oh man, I can see it in my eyebrow. Yeah, when you look in your eye. -Ahh! Hey, Guys, it’s Mi Anne, and this is Beauty With Mi. If you haven’t noticed, I do a lot of crazy facials on Beauty With Mi. A couple of you guys asked me to try facial acupuncture. For those of you who are new to acupuncture, it’s an ancient Chinese medicine practice that has been used for thousands of years.

In fact, in 2003, the World Health Organization officially backed acupuncture as a medical treatment. And it was proven to help with a host of different issues, from depression to rheumatoid arthritis. I finally did it earlier this month after reading all of your kind comments and got to say it was gratifying. I headed over to see Sandra Lanshin Chu who is an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of this wellness center called “Treatment by Lanshin.” She specializes in facial acupuncture naturally. I did her facial acupuncture and gua sha treatment.

Okay Mi, so we’re going to do facial acupuncture today. The first thing that I want to know is what your concerns are. Well, I have combination oily skin to start. Okay. And I get occasional breakouts, especially along my jawline. I’m prone to puffiness and a little bit of redness. Facial acupuncture can help address a lot of the things you mentioned. Acupuncture can move the circulation in the tissues. So with acne, often the issue is stagnation in the tissues. And for puffiness, the same thing. It’s an issue of circulation, not being optimal.

Basically, we’re helping your tissues function better. Well, should we start? Yeah let’s get started are you ready? Yes. So, we’ll start with your neck. We’re going to open your neck, so you’re just going to feel a little, nothing probably. Did you think that? No. Okay, so your needle is in. Oh. What you’ll probably feel is a bit achy sensation, kind of like a toothache. That’s perfectly normal.

You also might experience a muscle jump, which is your muscle releasing if you feel that. Alright, so we’re ready to flip you over now. We need to balance the energy, so that you don’t feel like, it’s all up here and get a headache or something. Many people consider acupuncture a relaxing treatment, but I didn’t think that it was. If you have any kind of aversion to needles, you probably won’t find it all that soothing. But Sandra did do a really good job of easing my nerves. Okay, you okay? Yeah, that was fine.

One of the great things about Chinese medicine is it’s catered always to the individual. So what I will do on you will be very different than what I do on my next client. When things circulate better, they function better. And when things function better, there’s more health and vitality available to you. And that’s really what people are looking for when they are looking for anti-aging. They’re looking for that glow that comes from health. In general, this type of work, requires repetition, kind of like going to the gym. Ideally we would see you for eight weeks once a week or as close to that as possible. We’re changing a pattern, and a pattern takes time and repetition to change. Sandra made a point to needle only half of my face so that we can really see a difference between the needled side and the non-needled side. On my right side of my face there was virtually no redness, the puffiness in my face had severely been diminished. It was like night and day between my left side and my right side. After Sandra finished needling the rest of my face, she moved on to facial massage.

Sandra is known for this technique called facial gua sha. Which is basically a very deep form of facial massage using a jade tool. That combined with facial cupping helps improve circulation and increase lymphatic drainage. So, facial gua sha actually comes from a bodywork technique that we use in Chinese medicine – body gua sha – and it’s pretty intense on the body. Like it’s fast friction and lots of pressure. When we apply gua sha to the face it’s much gentler. So we’re applying less pressure, not trying to create friction. Using the tool will create more of like a fascial release.

Fascia is basically a layer of tissue that wraps your muscles. It’s an important layer to work with to release tension. So it’s really effective for lifting, sculpting, and contouring. After the gua sha, Sandra employed a bit of cupping, so she used these silicone cups and glided them along with my jaw just to remove any of the stagnation in this area. I have a lot of hormonal breakouts that occur here so she said that it would really help with that. After the treatment, I could instantly tell there was a difference in my skin. My face looked a bit more contoured, it was brighter, it was a lot less redness. Still, the treatment itself can get pretty pricey fast. It cost upward of $200. So Sandra and her team host a monthly class where they teach clients facial gau sha so they can maintain their results at home. I’ve been doing it for a few nights now and I really like it. It’s a very nice way to calm down after you put your skincare on.

All in all, I really enjoyed the experience I feel like I learned so much and I’m really excited to keep using facial gau sha in the future.