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Fibromyalgia, TCM & Acupuncture

What Is TCM & Acupuncture
And Can It Help Fibromyalgia?

Have you tried acupuncture? Share your experiences here...

Acupuncture is a complementary medical technique that uses the specific placement of needles in the skin to help restore your health. It is part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing system, which originated in China about 3000 years ago.

 

"[TCM] Treatment focuses on the well-being of the entire person, not simply on the physical complaints and symptoms.

(…) Oriental medicine’s aim is to improve the patient’s health both physically and spiritually by rebalancing the body’s own healing mechanisms."

-- Rebecca A. Wilkowski, B. A., Acupuncture : Ancient Medicine For A New Millenium [ref 32] --

TCM and acupuncture works in harmony with your body’s natural ability to heal. They are based on the idea that you have a life energy called Qi (pronounced Chi) that flows throughout your body along invisible channels called meridians. This vital energy (Qi) is believed to be responsible for your entire well-being: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. But…

… when the flow of your vital energy becomes imbalanced, your Qi can become blocked. And it is believed that these Qi blockages’ are what make you ill.

So, to improve the flow of your Qi, TCM practitioners use a combination of acupuncture, herbs and Qi Gong or Tai Chi (martial arts which combines meditation, slow, gentle movement and breathing exercises). With acupuncture for example, a trained TCM acupuncturist would place special disposable, hair-thin metal needles into your skin at specific points along the meridian channels in your body, to bring your Qi back into balance.

In terms of TCM , Fibromyalgia is apparently regarded (primarily) as a liver problem. The liver is responsible for making sure your Qi moves throughout your body, and when there are problems with the liver, pain can occur.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Well it seems that the explanation depends on which approach you take...

"The intent of acupuncture is to stimulate the body, release energy blocks, and reestablish normal equilibrium, thereby facilitating the body's natural ability to heal itself. In the last 40 years, Chinese and Western studies have suggested that the insertion of needles at acupuncture points helps release some chemical neurotransmitters in the body, including endorphins."

-- Rebecca A. Wilkowski, B. A., Acupuncture : Ancient Medicine For A New Millenium [ref 32] --

You can read personal reviews by ME/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia sufferers who have tried acupuncture here...

 

The TCM Explanation Of Acupuncture:

The TCM (Eastern) explanation is that you have a life energy called Qi (pronounced Chi) that flows throughout your body along invisible channels called meridians. Your Qi (Chi) becomes imbalanced when you become ill, and by placing the acupuncture needles in your skin (in specific locations on your body), a qualified acupuncturist can ‘rebalance’ your Qi, and thus restore your health.

The Western Explanation Of Acupuncture: Endorphins

The Western explanation focuses on the connection between acupuncture and endorphins...

You see, your body actually releases endorphins naturally. These hormones are known to bring about a sense of well-being. Endorphins also enhance your immune system and (among other things) relieve pain. In fact...

...you are likely to feel more pain and to feel more anxious when your endorphin levels are low. And the Western explanation is that acupuncture actually increases your body’s production of these endorphins.

Dr Bruce Pomeranz from the University of Toronto studied the effects that acupuncture has on endorphins for 20 years.

"According to [Dr Pomeranz’s] hypothesis, acupuncture stimulates peripheral nerves that send messages to the brain to release endorphins, which then block pain pathways in the brain."

-- Leena Sikand-Cook, US-based licensed acupuncturist and herbalist [ref 33] --

Acupuncture - Is It A Recognized Medical Procedure?

In a word? Yes!

Acupuncture is widely used to treat a number of musculoskeletal pain conditions. It was formally recognized in 1997 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

"(…) acupuncture is effective in adult post-operative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofacial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma where acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program."

-- National Institutes of Health [ref 33] --

"It is important to understand that Acupuncture (and Traditional Chinese Medicine in general), is not "folk medicine". It is a highly developed, systematic, recorded, researched, and peer reviewed form of medicine with several disciplines that continues to evolve. It has a massive amount of real-world data to justify the application of techniques based on several thousand years of human trials."

-- qi-journal.com, Acupuncture FAQ [ref 34] --

Fibromyalgia & TCM Acupuncture

In a study of 50 patients in 2005, Dr David Martin and his colleagues from the Mayo Clinic investigated the efficacy of acupuncture on moderately- to severely-affected fibromyalgia sufferers. The study revealed that not only did acupuncture provide pain relief, but it also eased fatigue and anxiety - all common symptoms of fibromyalgia. What’s more, patients experienced minimal side effects; a welcome bonus for many fibromyalgia sufferers who often have to live with the unpleasant side effects of their medications.

In a Mayo Clinic press release, Dr Martin talked about the positive findings of his fibromyalgia study:

"This study shows there is something real about acupuncture and its effects on fibromyalgia. (…) Acupuncture is one of the few things shown to be effective for [continuing pain and fatigue]. It may be particularly attractive to patients who are unable to take medications because of intolerable side effects."

-- Dr David Martin, M. D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Anaesthesiologist [ref 35] --

Another acupuncture study (led by Daniel Feldman et al. in 2001) compared 3 groups of Fibromyalgia sufferers:

  • one group of Fibromyalgia sufferers were given real acupuncture sessions and amitryptiline (25mg);
  • another group of Fibromyalgia sufferers were given sham acupuncture sessions and amitryptiline (25g);
  • and the third group of Fibromyalgia sufferers were given only amitryptilline (25mg).

The study found that the group of Fibromyalgia sufferers who had the real acupuncture improved the most:

"[The Fibromyalgia] patients treated with acupuncture were the only ones to show a statistical significant improvement on all outcome measures, from week 4 up to week 16. Patients in the other 2 groups failed to improve significantly over time. (…) In conclusion, Acupuncture is a valuable method to increase pain control in these patients, and this effect does not seem to be due to a placebo effect."

-- Daniel Feldman, Evelin Diana Mariano da Costa [ref 36] --

Commenting on the study, Dr Feldman said:

"The intriguing thing is this is not a placebo effect. The results lasted for up to 16 weeks, at which time the patients began regressing slightly and would need reinforcement acupuncture sessions. It’s not a one-time treatment."

-- Dr Daniel Feldman [ref 37] --

How Long Does It Last?

The subjects of Dr Martin’s study (mentioned above) apparently experienced the most significant pain, fatigue and anxiety relief, one month after their treatment (which was six sessions of acupuncture). But the study also found that the fibromyalgia sufferers’ symptoms had returned to their original severity by seven months after treatment.

It’s also worth noting that, in Dr Martin’s study, the fibromyalgia sufferers’ physical abilities did not apparently improve even though their symptoms had improved:

"(…) you can relieve pain, but it’s a lot harder to prompt activity changes. A chronically ill person needs more than symptom relief to resume a normal lifestyle."

-- Dr David Martin, M. D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Anaesthesiologist [ref 35] --

 

Category: Fibromyalgia : fibromyalgia TCM acupuncture : What is acupuncture ? What is TCM ? How can TCM acupuncture ease Fibromyalgia symptoms ? Does TCM acupuncture ease Fibromyalgia symptoms ?

Common misspellings of fibromyalgia : fibro myalga, fibro mialga, fibro maligia, fibro mailgia, fibro mayaglia, fibro milagia, fibro myealgeia, fibro myalja, fibro myalgea

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