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78 questions

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:  My mother has been experiencing pain across the bridge of her nose, which causes considerable discomfort, especially when wearing glasses.    She has been to her doctor and had a MRI scan which has shown no problems. Her doctor now says that because there are no visible issues, there is nothing further they can do.

Could Acupucture help with this and what sort of treatment may be subscribed?

 

A: Although acupuncture treatment is very often one of the therapies most used for 'orphan' symptoms, symptoms which can't be placed within any recognised condition or disease pattern, we have to be careful not to give the impression that anything is treatable by acupuncture. The fact that Chinese medicine treats the person, not the symptom, can be mis-read as a claim to be a panacea, and there are clearly many conditions which are highly unlikely to respond to treatment.
 
Chinese medicine, though, is based on a fundamental premise that there is an energy, called 'qi', which in its many forms makes up the human body and mind and which treatments like acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage help to re-balance and improve the flow. In that sense it is probable that any of these treatments will always help the person to a degree, but whether they help a specific symptom depends a great deal on the factors which have made it appear where it appears. As a consequence most treatment is aimed at the overall picture and also at local or specific blockages. If something has been caused to block by, for example, the pinching effect of glasses on the bridge of the nose or behind the ear there is likely to be pain and discomfort, and locally placed needles may be able to reinstate good flow.
 
We know that many of our members work closely with osteopaths, especially those who use cranial osteopathy, and this might be another option your mother might want to consider. Minute variations in the way that the bones of the skill and face are positioned can be the cause of considerable local pain and also have an effect on other parts of the body.
 
The best advice, however, is to take your mother to a BAcC member local to her and ask their advice based on what they can glean from a face to face conversation. This will get you the clearest asessment of whether treatment may be beneficial.
 
 

 

 

 

There is very little published research for the use of acupuncture in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. If you google 'ncbi acupuncture cystic fibrosis', NCBI being an American resource for healthcare information, you will find one or two reviews of the paediatric uses of complementary medicine which suggest that there may be some benefit in using acupuncture and other complementary medical treatments alongside conventional treatment, but as is often the case, there is a call for better research which we are fairly sure has not yet been heeded - research is expensive.
 
However, it would be unfair to be so weakly positive. Chinese medicine has an entirely different way of looking at the human body and its energy flows, and the symptoms of the disease labels of western medicine are often dis-aggregated and understood within an entirely different conceptual structure. This does not mean that anyone would claim that a condition like cystic fibrosis would be treated successfully, i.e. removed, but it may mean that some of the symptoms which condition generates might be helped, and given the distressing nature of these, small changes are often very welcome.
 
In Chinese medicine, however, each person is seen as a unique individual, and there are no general statements which one could make which would be better than asking the advice of a practitioner face to face. We would recommend that you contact a practitioner local to you to discuss a specific presentation of the problem. Acupuncture will certainly not do any harm alongside other treatment, and there are preliminary indications that it may be of benefit.
 
 

Q. Hi, I have been having acupuncture to help with my fertility aswe had bern trying for 2 and 1/2 years and feel pregnant after 3 sessions. My energy was very low ad increased after the first 3 sessions I took Chinese herbs too. Having fallen pregnant I ave carried on with acupuncture. I am 11 weeks and was told by my acupuncturist that my pulse isn't as strong as she would like it to be. Just s but anxious as to what this means? Am now taking more herbs to help.

 

A. When you spend your whole time practising Chinese medicine it is easy to forget sometimes that the people to whom you are talking, which is most often patients, are not quite so well trained or savvy as you are. Pulse taking is a subjective as well as objective art and skill, and most practitioners have in mind a sense of what a good strong pulse will be for each individual. This will differ greatly for an 80-year old granny and a teenage athlete, and the practitioner will often find on taking on a patient that the whole system is a bit run down and needs to be brought back to the best possible balance and health.

We suspect that all your practitioner is saying is that after the years of trying for a child and while adjusting to the early stages of pregnancy your energy has probably dipped a little, and she believes that her role is to ensure that it is as strong as possible for a successful and happy pregnancy. The strains of modern life mean that the majority of people, including sometimes ourselves, are not as well-balanced as we could be, and this means our pulses are probably not as strong as our practitioners would like. There is nothing to worry about in this. If the practitioner had serious concerns about anything, as a responsible professional she would already have raised these with you and referred you to your doctor.

One small note of concern, though, is that you said you are taking more herbs to help. We weren't quite sure whether this was at the practitioner's suggestion or whether you were increasing your own dose because you were worried that you needed boosting. If it is the latter it would be a good idea to check with your practitioner if this is OK.

There is some evidence that acupuncture may be of benefit in treating bedwetting in children
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15791606
 
but as is the case with a great deal of the research which is conducted in China, it often falls below the standards required for acceptance in the west. Invariably authors of systematic reviews such as this will make generally encouraging noise about meriting further research, but until and unless major funding is provided for such studies the evidence will remain thin.
 
However, Chinese medicine has been dealing with problems such as this for over two thousand years, and operates from an entirely different theoretical base in understanding how the body functions. This is expressed in the concept of energy, 'qi', and its balance in and flow around the body, and uses concepts such as 'yin' and 'yang' which we're sure you've come across. There will be a number of ways of understanding the balance of the functional relationships in the body which might explain the symptoms, and the practitioner's skill is used to ensure that the treatment not only resolves the symptom but tries to deal with underlying patterns of imbalance to stop their recurrence.
 
One note of caution is that although we do not recognise 'experts' in treating particular diseases or patient groups, there is no doubt that children are not simply 'little adults', and the consensus is emerging that some of the diagnostic conclusions and ways of treating are slightly different from the adult versions of the same problems. A growing number of members now seek postgraduate training in paediatric acupuncture, and while we would not say that someone without this training may not be able to help you, we believe that we are fast approaching the point where we say to a prospective patient that we would expect someone who focuses their work on children to have made the effort to undertake further study, be it in the form of a course or a programme of self-study.
 
Our best advice is to ask a BAcC member local to you whether they or someone they know focuses their work on treating children, and failing that to use 'google' and search under 'acupunture treatment of children' alongside where you live. Many of our members now have their own websites, and usually mention their areas of primary focus (children, pregnancy and fertility, if they have them.

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