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Ask an expert - general
Q: Can acupuncture be used to help the symptoms of travel sickness? My job involves travelling in the back of a vehicle and can be quite unbearable sometimes.
A: Although the use of acupuncture for the treatment of motion sickness has not been researched that thoroughly, there have been a relatively large number of studies of acupressure because of the prevalence of the 'Sea Band' type of acupressure devices. These make use of a well-proven link between the use of acupressure on a point on the forearm near the wrist crease and the reduction in nausea after surgery. The studies into nausea and motion sickness are less conclusive, with the best results achieved being usually only the increase in the delay before the onset of the problem.
That said, we hear enough anecdotal reports from members to suggest that there can be improvements but that it is difficult to predict which patients this might apply to. We do not think that treatment with acupuncture could do any harm, and a properly trained and qualified practitioner may be able to make sense of the symptom within the wider context of the understanding of the system in Chinese medicine. Motion sickness has been around since ancient times, and the Chinese had a clear understanding of certain presentations of it within their conceptual frameworks, and with this some very clear patterns of treatment to pursue. If the way in which your problem manifests is similar to these defined syndromes it may make a practitioner feel more confident in offering some hope of a reduction in symptoms, but sight unseen it is difficult for us to say. It would be best to seek advice from a brief face to face conversation with a BAcC member local to you.
Q: Can Accupuncture help in excess sweating of face and scalp
A: We have been asked this question before, and the response we gave was
Q: I suffer from severe hyperhydrosis, (severe excessive sweating), specifically of the head, face and neck. This condition is very distressing and frankly is ruining my life. Please can you tell me if acupuncture is an appropriate therapy for this condition?
A: We replied:
We always stress in cases such as yours that the different way of looking at the body and its functions in Chinese medicine can sometimes offer additional possibilities for treatment. Although, as we said, there is not a great deal of research evidence accepted in the West, in China nearly every condition has been researched at some stage, including hyperhydrosis. Results are often slightly equivocal - the question becomes not 'does it work?' but 'how much does it work and how sustainable is the improvement?' - but this reflects life; some people improve after treatment, others don't.
We can say with certainty that treatment at the hands of a properly trained and qualified practitioner will not do you any harm, and the practitioner may, by assessing your problem in the light of what else is happening in your system, be able to offer some help. The best advice, as always, is to contact a BAcC member local to you and ask their advice face to face.
We would also add now that there are a number of specific syndromes recognised in Chinese medicine where sweating is a central symptom, and if there were other confirming evidence of this syndrome the practitioner could say with some confidence that they could offer some hope through treatment. Even where the symptom stands alone, the essence of Chinese medicine is to treat the person, not the condition, and the older systems were premised on the simple belief that if everything was functioning as it should then symptoms of whatever nature would resolve.
Q: Can an armpit lump be treated by acupuncture sessions. On average how many sessions are requried for such kind of health conditions ?
A: Our first response to this question would be to ask whether you have had this problem examined by your GP. Any unusual lump on the body needs to be examined carefully, and especially in the areas where there is a concentration of lymph glands. If you have not done so already we advise you to see your GP soon to have the lump examined. The majority of lumps are benign but if this indicates a problem the sooner it is dealt with the better.
From a Chinese medicine perspective there are a number of systemic reasons why lumps appear, and also local blockages. In either case a practitioner should be able to give you a rough indication of whether they think it can be treated with acupuncture and if so how likely it is to resolve. Most BAcC members are very careful not to commit patients to extended treatment unless the treatment is showing signs of really benefiting the problem, and most again would not go beyond four or five sessions if there was no real sign of change. They would at very least review the position with a patient at this point.
It would be impossible to say how many treatments would be needed, however. There is such a large variety of possible causes, some of which might be easier to treat than others. we advise you to seek the advice of a BAcC member local to you. They will be able to give you a much clearer idea in a brief face to face assessment.
Q: My son was born with a rare liver condition. He had his first operation at 2 months old to try to save his failing liver. Sadly this operation was not successful and at the age of 8 months he had liver transplant. Again his luck was not so good and this failed after 3 days leaving him massively brain damaged due to global hypoxia. His limbs are somewhat uncontrolled, he cannot support his head and dystonia makes him have rigid posses. He is now 11 months old and going through PT, OT and some SLT. From your experience can acupuncture help my son ?
A: We are very sorry to hear of your son's plight, and cannot begin to imagine what you have been going through.
Much as we would like to have positive news, we are not that confident that acupuncture would provide enough measurable benefits. There is no doubt that there have been one or two studies which have shown that acupuncture has had positive effects, but these date back twenty years or more and have not been followed up by more recent research. We are sure that acupuncture could do no harm, but how successful it might be is difficult to say. As a general observation children do seem to respond very well to treatment, often achieving considerable improvements after very little intervention, and that may be a positive encouragement to giving it a try.
The one thing we would say is that while we do not recognise specialisms - our stance is one of generalism, all members are equipped to deal with any patient - there are a number of areas where are looking closely at the standards of training needed to claim expertise, and one of these is paediatrics. There are a couple of recognised postgraduate courses which qualify people to treat children and babies, and it is true to say that babies and small children are not simply tiny adults; there are specific treatments which apply to them alone.
We aren't able to give out specific recommendations but searching google with 'acupuncture treatment children' will quickly identify someone in your area who may be able to help you and with whom you can discuss your son's problems.
A great deal depends on the amount of alcohol you are drinking. There have been many studies over the years which have tried to establish whether acupuncture can be used to deal with acupuncture addiction and dependence, and few have shown that acupuncture in any of its forms has had any material advantage when used alongside the other methods which people employ to deal with their problem. That said, there are a great number of practitioners who use auricular acupuncture to help with substance abuse, and there are three organisations, NADA, EAR and SMART-UK, which have large registers of members who provide the protocol treatment which is offered alongside other services to help people try to deal with their addictions.
If the problem is of a less severe nature, as in social drinking which is starting to go out of control or an increasing use of alcohol to deal with negative emotions, there may be some benefit to have acupuncture treatment to help with the underlying causes. Chinese medicine sees the body, mind and spirit as interdependent and inter-related to the extent that treatment has a wide ranging effect on both physical and mental functions. It may be worth your while seeking the advice of a BAcC member local to you for them to assess whether they feel that they can help, if the drinking is a symptom of a cause which they believe acupuncture treatment can address. If the decision is that your problem is beyond their scope of competence, we are sure that they will be able to direct you to colleagues locally using the protocol-based treatments and throught them to the wider range of support services which are available to help with your problem.