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Maggie Ju (2014) Current opinion in acupuncture on stroke rehabilitation
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 21 Issue 2 September 2014 P9
Maggie Ju. (2015) What Part Does Acupuncture Play in IVF?
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 22 Issue 1 March 2015 P21
Maggie Ju (2020) The Potentiality of COVID-19 Treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine in the UK
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 27 Issue 2 November 2020 P9
Sunday, 25 June 2017
Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands. There are many endocrine glands in the body, such as the pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas, testis in men ad ovaries in women. These glands produce specific chemicals and these chemicals act on the target organs and play a role in body function such as growth, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction and mood etc. Hormones are powerful molecules and only a tiny amount can cause big changes in the body. Too much or too little hormones can cause serious conditions. For example, if ovaries don’t produce enough hormones ie oestrogen and progesterone, it can cause infertility. If pancreas does not produce enough insulin, it can cause diabetes.
Hormonal balance is very important to the health. If the hormones are not balanced, there are many signs to indicate.
Irregular periods and spotting, Women in reproductive ages have regular periods. If the periods are not regular, or there are spotting between periods or missing periods. This indicates that the hormones are not balanced. They should not have vaginal bleeding between the periods, but many women experience spotting (light vaginal bleeding) between their periods sometimes. This is considered not normal. If you have difficulty to get pregnant and you have persistent spotting every month, this could be the problem. One of the common causes of spotting is hormone imbalance. Eostrogen and progesterone levels drop causing uterine lining breaking down which leads to spotting. Chronic acne, chronic acne is caused by excess of adrogens. If your acne does not clear up for long period of time, this indicates imbalanced hormones. Chronic fatigue and headaches, if you always feel tired, this can be caused by imbalanced hormones. Periodic headaches can be caused by imbalanced hormones. Mood swing and depression, hormones imbalanced can affect the brain and cause mood changes and depression, sleep problems and poor memory. Digestion problems such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, appetite changes etc. Other signs include vaginal dryness, loss of libido and breast changes.
Light period, Periods are menstrual bleeding from the uterus. Every month hormones produced in the ovaries have cyclic changes. These changes cause uterine inner lining shed from the uterine wall and bleeding from the uterus. The normal bleeding days are 5 days from 4-7 days and the normal blood loss during the period is between 20-60 ml. The period with less 20 ml of blood loss is light period. Imbalanced hormones causing thin uterine lining is the common cause for this. Inflammation in and around the pelvis is another common cause and this can cause tension and block the blood flow to the uterus. If your period is too light, this could affect you from getting pregnant, because the uterine lining is not good enough for embryo to implant into the uterus and pregnancy would not occur.
Acupuncture can help improve hormone balance and reproductive blood flow and improve the chance to get pregnant.
Hormones and pain
Many chronic pain conditions have cyclical variation. This variation is related to menstrual cycles. Clearly period pain is a typical one. Other conditions such as chronic pain syndrome, chronic pelvic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), interstitial cystitis (IC) and migraine can also show cyclical variation. Research has shown that chronic pain symptoms occur when oestrogen levels are low or fall rapidly. This supports the use of the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) to give a more constant hormonal level can improve pain and other symptoms. β-endorphin produced in the brain had a potent analgesic effect, and up to 33 times more potent compared to morphine on a molar basis. Acupuncture treatment raises β-endorphin level and improves pain.
Oestrogen and menopause
Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop permanently. This could be a life change in the women. As women are approaching menopause, the ovaries function is declining and the body makes less oestrogen and progesterone. Eostrogens are produced in adrenal glands and fat instead of ovaries. The periods become irregular and less frequent and eventually stop. Menopause occurs naturally when a woman is in her 50s, but some women may experience early menopause in their 30s or 40s. Due to hormones change, there are some symptoms associated with it. The most common symptoms is hot flushes --- suddenly feeling hot and going red in the face. These may be associated with bouts of sweating during the day as well as at night. It is also common to find that the vagina feels dry and uncomfortable, which may make sex painful. Other symptoms include tiredness, irritability, trouble sleeping, feeling depressed and less interest in sex.
For most women, menopause is not an illness, but a phase of natural transition in later life. Sometimes the symptoms associated with menopause can be distressing and they may last for several years. If you are bothered by the menopause symptoms, you need to do something to help. Acupuncture is a natural way to help to reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flushes etc.
Hot flushes are the most common symptom of the menopause. Three out of four menopausal women have hot flushes. The symptoms include a sudden feeling of heat which can be accompanied sweating, palpitation, red flush, sleep disturbance, and mood changes. The severity varies from woman to woman. Estrogen levels decline in menopause, norepinephrine levels rise, leading to an upregulation of hypothalamic serotonin receptors, which are involved in temperature regulation. However, absolute estrogen levels are not solely responsible for hot flashes, because researchers have found no significant correlation between plasma, urinary, or vaginal estrogen levels and the appearance of this symptom. Instead, it is the relative decline in estrogen levels that appears to mediate these central changes in norepinephrine and serotonin. Significantly lower levels of plasma beta-endorphin levels were found at the onset of the hot flushes than five to 20 minutes before. These changes affect the brain temperature control center causing hot flushes.
Treatment suggested effectively for hot flushes is HRT. Apart from medication, do you know acupuncture can stop hot flushes? Acupuncture is effective for controlling hot flushes by stimulating the body releasing b endorphins It has no side effect and is a safe method to treat hot flushes.
Hot flushes treatment HRT vs acupuncture
Hot flushes are the most common symptoms of menopause. Most women experience hot flushes going through the menopause. Women with hot flushes can have sudden feeling of heat and sometimes a red, flushes face and sweating. If this happens at night, they are called night sweats. It may disturb sleep. The severity varies from person to person. Some women have occational hot flushes, while others have it every hour. Hot flashes happen when the bloodvvessels near the skin's surface dilate to cool, making you break out in a sweat. Some women have hot flushes for a very short period of time during menopause, while others may have it for several years or for the rest of their lives. The cause of hot flushes is not clear. They may be caused by hormone changes affecting the body’s temperature control. Recent study has shown that beta endorphins level is low when women have hot flushes.
Hormone replacement therapy known as HRT is recommended by doctors. It can help with hot flushes in many women and other symptoms including vaginal dryness and mood problems. When you stop HRT treatment the hot flushes may come back. Also there is risk of taking HRT including risk of blood cloting, breast cancer, endometrial cancer.
Hot flush, acupuncture is a good choice of treatment
Due to the risk of HRT, an alternative treatment is a good choice. Acupuncture is an effective treatment for hot flushes and is recognised as an effective way to reduce hot flush and there are no side effects and no risk of cancer. The possible mechanism is that acupuncture releases beta endorphins in the body. Borud et al performed a randomised controlled trial to study effectiveness of acupuncture for hot flush. 10 sessions of acupuncture were given to acupuncture group and advice on self-care was for control group. The results showed that acupuncture group has significant improvements in hot flush, sleep and other symptoms. Borud also analysed 16 clinical trial studies. Some studies showed that acupuncture reduces about 50% in hot flush frequency comparing with no specific treatment; the effect of acupuncture on frequency is smaller than that oestrogen therapy. They concluded that acupuncture reduces hot flush. Sunay D et al carried out a sham controlled clinical trial to investigate effect of acupuncture on hot flush and hormone levels. They not only showed that acupuncture relieved hot flush, but also showed that acupuncture lowered LH levels, increased oestrogen levels.
There are other promising research data supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture in hot flushes in menopausal women. Recently Baccetti et al from Italy conducted a randomized trial to investigate the effect of acupuncture treatment for hot flushes. One hundred women in spontaneous menopause with at least three episodes of hot flushes daily were randomly allocated to two treatment groups (50 per group): Women in group A were given diet, self-massage training, and treatment with acupuncture, and women in group B (the control group) were given the same diet and self-massage training. 6 weeks acupuncture treatments were offered for these women. They found that treatment with acupuncture significantly reduced the occurrence of hot flushes and sudden sweating. They also found that other symptoms including sleep disorders, tightness in the chest, irritability, bone pain, feeling depressed were also significantly improved after acupuncture treatments. They suggested that Acupuncture in an integrated system that includes therapeutic techniques such as diet therapy and Tuina self-massage can be used to treat hot flushes and selected symptoms in postmenopausal women.
A study of acupuncture on hot flushes was performed by Borud EK et al from the National research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine University of Tromso Norway in 2006/2007. There were 267 participants with hot flashes. Mean age was 53.8 year old. 134 women were in acupuncture group receiving 10 sessions of acupuncture treatment over 12 weeks. The most frequently used 10 acupuncture points were SP6, HT6, KI7, KI6, CV4, LU7, LI4, LR3, ST36 and KI3. 133 women were in control group receiving self care only. In acupuncture group 67 women responded to the acupuncture treatment. 64 women did not respond to the treatment. There were no serious side effects found in acupuncture treatments.
Borud EK et al Acupunct Med (2009) 27:101-10
Borud EK et al Menopause (2009), 16: 484-93
Borud E et al Auton Neurosi (2010), 157: 57-62
Sunday D Acupunct Med (2011), 29: 27-31
Baccetti S et al J Altern Complement Med (2014) May 14
Thursday, 22 June 2017
Spinal column or spine provides the main support for the body, allowing the body to stand upright, bend, and twist, while protecting the spinal cord from injury. The spine is made of 33 individual bones (vertebrae) stacked one on top of the other. Strong muscles, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves are surrounding the spine. Any of these structures affected by strain, injury, or disease can cause pain.
Spinal nerves and acupuncture
Spinal nerves are mixed nerves carrying motor, sensory and autonomic nerve fibers and conducting signals to innervate whole body. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves which are on each side of the spinal column. They are divided into four groups by their location: eight pairs of cervical nerves at the neck, twelve pairs of thoracic nerves at the upper back, five pairs of lumbar nerves, five pairs of sacral nerves and one pair of coccygeal nerves. Motor nerves innervate muscles and bring nerve signals to the muscles to perform motion task. Sensory nerves innervate organs, carry different sensory signals to the spinal cord and the brain. Autonomic nerves innervate internal organs such as smooth muscles and glands and a control system for internal organ function such as cardiac vascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system and reproductive system. If there is a problem with the neck and back, this may irritate autonomic nerves and have related symptoms, such as abnormal urination, infertility, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation etc.
Muscles, tendons and ligaments problems are very common.
There are two main muscle groups that affect the spine are extensors and flexors. The extensor muscles which are attached to the back of the spine enable us to stand up and lift objects. The flexor muscles which are in the front and include the abdominal muscles enable us to flex, or bend forward, and are important in lifting and controlling the arch in the lower back. The ligaments are strong fibrous bands that hold the vertebrae together, stabilize the spine, and protect the discs. There are two ligaments anterior longitudinal ligament and posterior longitudinal ligaments which located in the front and at the back of vertebras separately and run from the top to the bottom of the spinal column. They prevent excessive movement of the vertebral bones. Between the lamina of each vertebra there are also ligaments attached called ligament flavum. Between adjoining spinous processes of each vertebra thin and membranous Interspinous ligament is attached. They limit the flexion of the spine. Supraspinous ligament lie on the tips of the spinous processes from the seventh cervical vertebra to the sacrum. They continue above seventh cervical vertebra with ligament nuchal. They limit the over flexion of the spine.
How tendon changes with aging
Aging is natural and inevitable. The rate of aging is highly individual and depends on many factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and former disease processes. The degenerative changes can be seen in late thirties. Tendon also has aging changes. There are many cellular and vascular changes within the aging tendon. As a result the aged tendon becomes weaker than it used to be and more likely to tear or get overuse injury, when there is increased stress and strain. With aging process, the density of tendon cells decrease and nucleus becomes bigger, long and thin; cell metabolic activity decreases such as protein and amino acids synthesis. Extracellular changes occur with aging: for example, Elastic fibers and water content decrease which contribute to the tendon stiffness and gliding reduction; collagen content changes little, but the relative amount of collagen, volume density and mechanical stiffness increase due to decrease of water content; collagen synthesis and mechanical properties, solubility decrease. Blood Vessels in tendon change. Tendon blood flow and the number of capillaries per unit of surface area decrease with increasing age. The decreased arterial blood flow and thus decreased nutrition and oxygen transport have been suggested to be the main etiological factors behind the age-related tendon degeneration.
How the spine is related to back pain? There are many structures around spine as mentioned above which can be the source of back pain. For example, nerves around the spine are irritated; muscles are strained; ligaments, bones and joints are injured are worn; disc is slipped etc.
Gravity line and gravity center
The human body encounters gravity constantly in posture and movement. There is gravity line and gravity center of the body. The gravity line is located frontally along a vertical line passing through the middle of the sacrum (lower spine) and perpendicular to the ground, and laterally through a vertical line situated slightly to the rear of the femoral heads. This gravity line must fall within the base of support. The gravity center of the human body is the point where the human body rests under normal conditions without rotating, remaining balanced without active effort to remain upright. This center lies in anterior to the second sacral vertebra and it shifts following the posture and movement to keep the body in balance without falling. When the gravity line falls outside supporting base, compensation is required. Long term compensation can result in overuse the muscles and create inflammation causing pain. Such as low back pain.
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