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Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
Chronic pain in America has become a serious national health issue that continues to grow exponentially every year. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their 2011 report on pain in America, 100 million adults are affected by chronic pain[i], although, this number is probably much higher, because it does not include children, veterans, or institutionalized individuals. Regardless, this is a staggering number, especially when compared to other diseases that receive extensive media and funding, as can be seen below.
Chronic pain can be defined as a pain that persists longer than 3 months, which is the normal tissue healing time.[v] In addition to this we can include any disruption of the individual’s quality of life caused by the persistence of chronic pain. In a 2012 health survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the top four reported types of chronic pain reported by Americans were: Low back pain (28%), neck pain (14%), headaches / migraines (14%), and facial / jaw pain (5%).[vi] Another survey conducted by the Betty Ford Center found similar results: Low back pain (55.90%), Headaches (33.30%), neck pain (26.30%), and osteoarthritis (21.30%). “Based on the survey, Americans with chronic pain say current treatments don’t work, leading to years of intense suffering, thoughts of suicide and often dependence on medications.”[vii]
Why the Western medical paradigm fails in the Treatment of Chronic Pain?
There are two major problems with the Western model to treat chronic pain. Firstly, and most importantly, Western Doctors don’t have the necessary training in pain – management. In a 2011 study, pain education was assessed in 117 U.S. and Canadian medical schools. Alarmingly, it was found that a large number of U.S. medical schools did not report teaching any pain courses, and an even larger number reported teaching less than 5 hours on the topic of pain. Only 4% of U.S. medical schools reported having any kind of integrated pain courses. In comparison, Canadian medical schools devote twice as many hours as U.S. medical schools for the instruction of pain topics.[viii]
Unlike Western medical training, the curriculum for Eastern physicians includes pain management from the beginning all the way through to graduation. In fact, pain is one of the major focal points in Eastern medicine, and it’s not limited to classroom lectures, but most importantly, includes the clinical setting where we are required to not only treat pain, but listen with empathetic ears to the patient’s story of how their chronic pain has affected their life and daily routines. I stress empathetically, because you’ll find that most Eastern physicians found their way into Alternative medicine after Western medicine had failed them in their own suffering from pain or other disease. All of us found Eastern medicine to be so incredible that we ourselves became practitioners.
Another important characteristic that should be included in a comprehensive pain – management training course is the, how to be a human, aspect of treating pain sufferers. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many of my patients about extremely poor, and in some cases, utterly deplorable bedside manner in which there is a complete lack of empathy or understanding of the patient’s situation, which in most cases has completely changed their lives, their daily routines, as well as, affecting the lives of their families, friends and co-workers. Another major complaint is the lack of communication from their doctors. This includes not reviewing lab test results with patients; in some cases patients were just sent the results via email with no explanation. In other cases, there was mis-interpretation of results in which immediate action was needed, but not taken. Often there is a lack of communication of pertinent information about the patient’s condition, treatment and prognosis. And finally, the inability of the doctor to merely listen to what their patients are saying.
The second problem with the Western paradigm is that the Western treatment for pain is not a treatment at all, but rather a numbing of the mind by blocking pain signals with pharmacological agents, many of which were never intended to be used as pain medication like anticonvulsants . What happens is that you take these medications and you think you feel better, but in reality the pain is still there; you just don’t perceive it anymore. In fact, you probably have problems perceiving many things, because you’re so drugged – up that you start to lose the ability to function on a daily basis. This type of big pharma pseudo - treatment reaches far beyond just pain cases, this is the protocol for the treatment of all diseases - suppress the symptoms with drugs and ignore discovering what the root of the problem is; and by the way, you have to take these drugs for the rest of your life. Does that sound like a treatment to you? This is why we have a “sick care” system instead of a “health care” system.
This indiscriminate prescribing of painkillers for chronic pain relief has become a grim epidemic in the U.S. that has caused increased rates of overdoses, addiction, depression, and suicide. According to the (CDC), overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990. In the same report they found that 3 out of 4 prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers (opioid and narcotic). In 2008, the number of prescription painkiller overdose deaths surpassed the number of heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined.[ix] Even worse, due to the addictive nature of opioid painkillers, we are now seeing a rise in the number of heroin users. According to recent research by the U.S. government, half of young heroin users interviewed said they had abused prescription painkillers prior to trying heroin. Two of the most common responses for why they switched to heroin were; 1) heroin was easier to obtain, and 2) heroin was much cheaper.[x]
Major contributors to this epidemic are the doctors/MDs who are senselessly prescribing opioid pain killers without considering the negative consequences their patients will most likely face down the road, like built up tolerances, addiction, further depression, a myriad of other side-effects related to the drugs themselves, and suicidal tendencies; but don’t despair, they have a drug you can take for each and every one of these situations. This raises the question, who’s really benefiting from all these drugs; it certainly isn’t the patient.
Unbeknownst to patients, the vast majority of doctors don’t receive any special training for prescribing these potent pain killers, and even worse, they aren’t required to obtain training. In2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put together a panel of outside experts to explore the need for specialized training for doctors in the area of prescribing pain-killers. The panel was unanimous in its opinion that doctors should be required to have this training. Despite expert recommendations by their own panel, the FDA decided to make the training voluntary. To make things even more unregulated and unethical, the FDA left the training and course design up to the discretion of the pharmaceutical companies, who then outsourced everything to training companies that know nothing about pharmaceuticals.[xi] This is another blatant example of a government agency sitting in the pocket of big-pharma, and how our “sick care” industry is driven by profits, rather than having the best interest of the patient in mind. Just think for a moment how different (better), things would be if we removed profit from our so – called “health care” system, and focused on disease prevention.
How Does Acupuncture Reduce Chronic Pain
The human body is an amazing organic system that has the ability to self-regulate and heal itself when something is out of balance or injured. Sometimes we impede this process by leading lifestyles that negate health and homeostasis. Acupuncture is a simple and marvelous tool that is used to restore balance by both inhibiting and sending signals through the vast network of the nervous system, which enables a wide array of therapeutic effects both locally and systemically.
For the treatment of chronic pain it’s more common to use electro-acupuncture (EA), because it has a stronger analgesic effect compared to regular acupuncture. EA is acupuncture, but with the addition of a low frequency (20Hz), electrical current that is passed through a pair of selected needles. This constant and consistent stimulation produces rapid therapeutic effects, which usually take longer to achieve with manual stimulation (twirling the needle between the fingers). Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of EA in the treatment of chronic pain through the release of opioids in the brain and spinal cord, as well as, the stimulation of neurotransmitters; both of which reduce pain.[xii] [xiii] Data confirms the following effects elicited by EA treatment for pain:
An interesting study out of Germany used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with and without acupuncture to see which parts of the brain were activated during pain stimulation. Scientists initiated a pain stimulus without acupuncture to volunteers to record the areas of the brain that were activated. Researchers found that there was a significant reduction in most of the areas of the brain that perceive and process pain, which led to the conclusion that acupuncture is an effective therapy for pain. The study showed that acupuncture inhibits the incoming signals to the brain much like opioid drugs do, and it also alters the patient’s perception of pain by producing a placebo-like analgesic response in the brain.
Evidence Based Acupuncture is the Answer to the Chronic Pain Epidemic
There’s a reason why acupuncture has been used successfully for over 2,000 years for the treatment of pain and other conditions, and continues to become more popular today in our modern society - because it works, and it works without the need of drugs. Not until the last couple of decades has the West begun to understand the mechanism behind this non-invasive natural treatment, as well as, its clinical importance as a drug-free alternative for the treatment of chronic pain. In one study, when acupuncture was compared to conventional primary care for the treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain, it was determined that acupuncture treatments are safe, more efficacious than conventional care, provided longer lasting results, and a more cost-effective intervention for reducing chronic pain.[xx] Similar results have also been found in studies pertaining to headaches / migraines[xxi], neck pain[xxii], osteoarthritis pain[xxiii], etc. In a meta-analysis of patient data conducted by the Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Institute, it was shown that acupuncture was an effective treatment for the following pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. It also concluded that acupuncture was an acceptable alternative for the treatment of chronic pain.[xxiv]
The Final Verdict
America’s chronic pain epidemic will only get worse, with increased painkiller and heroin addictions, and higher rates of depression and suicide. This is the only future for people who choose to remain within the “sick care” system, which is unethically encouraged by big-pharma, insurance companies, doctors and MD's, and the U.S. government, all of whom seek to keep Americans on drugs for the rest of their lives. This system of medicine, which is driven by profit and strongly opposed to disease prevention and treatment, will continue to prescribe dangerous drugs that only have the sole purpose of suppressing symptoms, instead of upholding the Hippocratic Oath and solving the root cause of chronic pain.
It’s time for chronic pain sufferers to realize that we already have an evidence based solution for pain, one that has been utilized for thousands of years. It’s been proven to more efficacious, more cost-effective and safer. It’s time to end your pain America! So why aren't we using it?
Seek out your local licensed & board certified acupuncturist today, so you can have a healthier and pain free tomorrow.
Schedule an Appointment Today! (309) 764.4753
Foot & heel pain
also treats knee pain, cancer pain, headache / migraines, menstrual pain, etc.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
Vitamin C (with bioflavonoids)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid or ascorbate) is a vital water soluble nutrient that our body needs, but is unable to synthesize on its own, and therefore, must be supplemented through dietary sources like fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissues, wound healing, in the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth, as well as, the production of neurotransmitters in the brain.[i] Another crucial function of ascorbic acid is its antioxidant capability, which protects cells and tissues from oxidative damage
Ironically, not only does smoking cause oxidative stress, it also greatly depletes vitamin C levels due to an accelerated metabolic turnover of ascorbate in smokers compared to non-smokers.[ii] Similar findings occurred in a Korean study also comparing smokers and non-smokers.[iii] According to a Berkeley study, 40% of male smokers have reduced Plasma levels of vitamin C.[iv] Other researches thought theses low – levels may have been the result of decreased dietary intake, because smokers tend to eat less fruits and vegetables; but after making adjustments for dietary intakes. They still found lower plasma levels of ascorbate in smokers than non-smokers.[v] [vi]
Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol-10)
CoQ10 is an important lipid-soluble antioxidant involved in cellular functions, the production of cellular energy, and the scavenging of free radicals.[vii] Some studies suggest that there is a decline in CoQ10 after the age of 35-40. Besides aging, smoking can also deplete the body’s stores of CoQ10.[viii] It has been shown that smokers have substantially lower plasma levels of ubiquinol - 10, especially if there is co-morbidity with hyperlipidemia.[ix] More studies are accumulating evidence showing CoQ10 as an effective antioxidant therapy to counteract oxidative stress.[x] No serious side-effects have been reported from the daily supplementation of CoQ10.[xi]
Are You Ready To Quit Smoking?
If You Answered YES . . . Then Check Out The Healing Lotus Stop Smoking™ program!
To celebrate the Chinese New Year (year of the horse), Healing Lotus Acupuncture will be offering $10 ear acupuncture sessions, and $25 Tranquility Treatments until the end of January!
Also, you can register to WIN A FREE acupuncture treatment! Register online at www.HealingLotus.co. The drawing will take place on January 31st, and the winner will be notified by email.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
One of the most popular smoking cessation drugs, Chantix (Varenicline), has been associated with many adverse events and side-effects, but still remains on the market. Many users have experienced an array of neuropsychiatric events such as: depression, attempted suicide, suicide, hallucinations, aggressive behavior, etc. These adverse events have been reported to the FDA, which warranted a BLACK BOX label. Why is this dangerous drug still on the market? Simple answer . . . $$$$$$. The drug maker Pfizer is taking in billions of dollars a year from the global sale of this drug alone. Unfortunately, it’s much cheaper to pay a law suit instead of being ethically responsible.
Below is the warning for Chantix:
SERIOUS NEUROPSYCHIATRIC EVENTS
Serious neuropsychiatric events including, but not limited to, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide have been reported in patients taking CHANTIX. Some reported cases may have been complicated by the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in patients who stopped smoking. Depressed mood may be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Depression, rarely including suicidal ideation, has been reported in smokers undergoing a smoking cessation attempt without medication. However, some of these symptoms have occurred in patients taking CHANTIX who continued to smoke.
All patients being treated with CHANTIX should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms including changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicide-related events, including ideation, behavior, and attempted suicide. These symptoms, as well as worsening of pre-existing psychiatric illness and completed suicide, have been reported in some patients attempting to quit smoking while taking CHANTIX in the postmarketing experience. When symptoms were reported, most were during CHANTIX treatment, but some were following discontinuation of CHANTIX therapy.
These events have occurred in patients with and without pre-existing psychiatric disease. Patients with serious psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder did not participate in the premarketing studies of CHANTIX, and the safety and efficacy of CHANTIX in such patients has not been established.
Advise patients and caregivers that the patient should stop taking CHANTIX and contact a healthcare provider immediately if agitation, hostility, depressed mood, or changes in behavior or thinking that are not typical for the patient are observed, or if the patient develops suicidal ideation or suicidal behavior. In many postmarketing cases, resolution of symptoms after discontinuation of CHANTIX was reported, although in some cases the symptoms persisted; therefore, ongoing monitoring and supportive care should be provided until symptoms resolve.
The risks of CHANTIX should be weighed against the benefits of its use. CHANTIX has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of abstinence from smoking for as long as one year compared to treatment with placebo. The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and substantial.
I can assure you that none of these adverse events would ever occur if a natural therapy was utilized to quit smoking. Always remember there are no magic pills when it comes to health. Either you want to quit and be healthy or you don't. Health is about changing your lifestyle, not taking a pill.
Here are 2 links to a video report, and an abstract from a case study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices:
Part I (part II link is below video)
Get ready for The Great American Smokeout on November 21st! Take advantage of this opportunity and quit smoking. Live longer by adding up to 10 years to your life. A study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that smokers who quit between the ages of 25 and 34 can regain 10 years of their lives. Smokers who quit between the ages of 35 and 44 can recoup 9 years of life, and those who quit between the ages of 45 and 64 were able to gain 4 - 6 years of life. (view study)
If your serious about quitting smoking or would like more information, give us a call at Healing Lotus Acupuncture. We're offering a 10% discount on our 10 week Healing Lotus Stop Smoking Program until November 21st.
Contact: (309) 764.4753
Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
Are you tired of being out of breath? Do you get sick all the time? Are you unable to be active with your kids? Would you like to extend your life? Would you like to begin spring by rejuvenating your lungs and decreasing your risk for disease!
If so, read on . . .
How acupuncture can help you stop smoking?
In a typical treatment session we use both auricular and body acupuncture. The auricular acupuncture is mainly used to stem the physiological urges of smoking, but also helps to regulate the lung, heart, and calm the nervous system. While the body points in conjunction with herbs, aim at clearing heat and phlegm from the lungs, encouraging the body to rebuild damaged tissue, providing nourishment, supplementing lung Qi, and replenishing dried up and lost fluids. They also supplement other organ systems which have been compromised by the heat generated by smoking.
One of the most difficult things to control in addiction is the withdrawals; this is due to an upset in blood sugar levels. You might experience nervousness, irritability, anxiety, and mood swings. Acupuncture is very effective at restoring and maintaining both sugar and insulin levels so your urges don’t spike; and it can regulate any emotional upheaval that may occur.
If you’re ready to make a commitment, then Healing Lotus Acupuncture can help you! We are now offering the Healing Lotus Stop Smoking program to help you stop smoking, and add years to your life. The package includes: 10 acupuncture treatments, a free box of Smoke Free homeopathic tablets, ear seeds for cravings, as well as, herbal and nutritional recommendations.
Sign-up now! Your future health awaits you. Go to services.