What To Do During Allergy Season in Houston, Texas?

You can tell it’s allergy season when people at the office are sneezing and can’t stop blowing their noses and rubbing their red eyes.

Are you like these millions of people who suffer from these springtime allergies?

Do you have irritating nose congestion, sinus issues, red itchy eyes that water, and runny nose?

Do you end up taking decongestants like Sudafed and western drugs like Claritin and still suffer from allergies?

If the answered is yes to all these, then we have a solution for you.

Here at Houston Acupuncture and Nutrition Clinic we are providing gentle, relaxing allergy relief by using Acupuncture.

You may not know that continually using decongestants may make your allergies worse from unwanted side effects like insomnia and increasing blood pressure. Likewise, antihistamines like Claritin and Zyrtec may cause drowsiness.

If you want to avoid these side effects and greatly reduce your allergy symptoms, you can consider Acupuncture.

Acupuncture relieves itchy red eyes, sinus congestion, and inflammation by using your own body’s immune system to heal and balance itself. Acupuncture primes or jump starts the body’s own defense system to rid they body of allergens.

Call us at 713-721-7755 to see how acupuncture can help you go about your day feeling healthy and symptom free!

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Acupuncture for Knee Pain and Flexibility

My mother loves to tell her orthopedic doctors about why she is still walking. According to her xrays, she should not be able to walk at all. They all said it’s not a matter of if, but when she will need a knee replacement. Mom has been getting acupuncture treatments for her bad knees. It all started when her original bad knee (from a childhood skiing accident) was reinjured after slipping on some ice about twelve years ago. As she limped along favoring her bad knee, she damaged her good knee. So, two bad knees. A friend of hers suggested going for acupunture. Ironically, she started the acupuncture about the same time I went to get my degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She may still need to get a knee replacement at some point, but in the meantime, she is walking, virtually pain free about 85% of the time. So, the doctors keep saying, not yet…

The article below suggests via research that acupuncture is a good option for treating knee pain.

A new study concludes that acupuncture reduces knee pain and increases mobility for patients with osteoarthritis. This new randomized, controlled, double-blinded study also revealed some differences in acupuncture treatments. The researchers compared non-specific (sham) needling, modern acupuncture and classical acupuncture treatments.

The results showed that sham acupuncture only achieved a patient pain reduction rate in 48% of patients while modern acupuncture achieved a 64% rate and classical acupuncture achieved a 73% rate. Sham acupuncture did not improve knee mobility but modern and classical acupuncture made significant, measurable improvements in knee mobility. The researchers concluded that there is “a specific effect of acupuncture in knee mobility.” The researchers also note, “With respect to knee motility, individualised classical acupuncture achieved twice the effect of semistandardised modern acupuncture.”

Acupuncture for Knees
The sham acupuncture bodily points were those not specifically noted for the treatment of knee pain in Chinese medicine texts. The modern acupuncture points were those suggested based on the biomedical condition of knee osteoarthritis. The acupuncture points were: ST36, ST34, EX32, SP9, SP10, SP6, GB34, LI4. The classical acupuncture points chosen were based on a customized differential diagnosis based on tissue tenderness, tongue diagnosis, pulse diagnosis, syndrome differentiation and symptoms. Needles chose for the study in all cases were 0.22 X 40mm copper needles. Ear and hand points were excluded from the study. Needle stimulation was applied and needle retention was a total of 30 minutes per treatment.

The researchers note, “This suggests a considerable specific effect of acupuncture in objective knee flexibility, an effect that appears to be method-specific as well… we observed a rapid improvement of knee flexibility immediately after classical acupuncture, which was twice the effect observed after modern acupuncture and absent after non-specific needling.”

This is not the first study showing the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of knee disorders. One recent study discovered that acupuncture is more effective than both sham acupuncture and biomedicine for the treatment of knee pain. A meta-analysis of 14 random controlled clinical trials involving 3,835 patients states, “Acupuncture provided significantly better relief from knee osteoarthritis pain and a larger improvement in function than sham acupuncture, standard care treatment, or waiting for further treatment.” The study notes that acupuncture for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis is “better at relieving pain and restoring function” than both standard biomedical care and sham acupuncture.

References:
Max Karner, Frank Brazkiewicz, Andrew Remppis, et al., “Objectifying Specific and Nonspecific Effects of Acupuncture: A Double-Blinded Randomised Trial in Osteoarthritis of the Knee,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 427265, 7 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/427265


Sau. Med J. 2012 May;33(5):526-32. Needle acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Cao L, Zhang XL, Gao YS, Jiang Y. Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shanghai Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China.

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Acupuncture for Chronic Pain-Research Study

The source of this study is from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Acupuncture has been used to treat chronic pain. Even so, there remains considerable controversy as to its value. The researchers of this study “aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture on four (4) chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. Individual patient data meta-analyses were conducted using data from 29 of 31 eligible RCTs (random control trials), with a total of 17,922 patients analyzed.”

“In the primary analysis, including all eligible RCTs (random control trials), acupuncture was superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for each pain condition (P < .001 for all comparisons). After exclusion of an outlying set of RCTs that strongly favored acupuncture, the effect sizes were similar across pain conditions. These results were robust to a variety of sensitivity analyses, including those related to publication bias."

The authors concluded that "acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo. However, these differences are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.”

Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis.
Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration.
Collaborators (32)
Source
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA. vickersa@mskcc.org

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Doctor Heal Thyself

Over one month ago I was eagerly picking Satsuma oranges off the drooping branches of the tree in my backyard. I was excited to have a big bowl of this delicious fruit in the office to give to patients as they checked out. I had my arms full with harvest and was walking over to put the oranges into a nearby bag when I tripped over a brick and twisted my ankle. Historically, when I’ve stepped funny or slightly twisted my ankle, I’ve been able to shake or walk it off. But this time was different. I couldn’t put any weight on my foot and I had that sick feeling that I did some damage.

I was scheduled to start seeing patients shortly after I fell, so I quickly iced the ankle and then wrapped it in an ace bandage. I hobbled to the office and remembered that my associate David would be there seeing some patients. What a stroke of good luck, as I knew I was in trouble and needed to have my ankle treated ASAP.

So, like a good girl, I had David treat my ankle two times that week and just assumed the healing would take place and it would be better in no time. I did go to the podiatrist the next day who confirmed my fears of having done ligament damage to the outer ankle and also to the inside tendons. He put me in a soft cast for a week and then told me to keep it iced and wrapped.

Since I rarely get sick or hurt, I just assumed after a couple of weeks I’d be back and up to my usual walking ability. Well, a good month or so later, I was still in pain. Not only was the outside of my ankle still swollen and tender, I was having horrible pain along the inside part of my arch and heel. I was having great difficulty walking as well as finding shoes that did not hurt as I am on my feet pretty much all day long.

I decided to go back to the podiatrist and suggest an x-ray since I was in so much pain. He did a few movements with my foot and concluded that there were no stress fractures or broken bones, but that the ligament damage would take months—emphasis on the “s”—to fully heal. His suggestion to me was, (get this): get acupuncture treatments two times per week for a few weeks and it will speed up the healing process.

Of course I laughed because that is exactly what I would tell my patients. I started off right with two treatments immediately after the fall, but I didn’t stay with it. Silly me, thinking I would be different and would heal faster than most people. After the doctor’s wise counsel, I went back to the office with my tail between my legs and told David what the podiatrist told me. We all had a good laugh at the obvious recommendation.

As I was lying on the table yesterday during my treatment, it occurred to me that I needed to share this experience about the healer needing to heal herself. After four treatments and taking the ankle herbal formula, I suddenly realized that I had not taken any Aleve in two days and that I wasn’t limping quite as much.

I am not completely pain free, but I can honestly say that my pain is down from a seven or eight out of ten to a two out of ten, and that it is no longer necessary to take pain pills. The moral of the story is that the healer as well as the patient must follow up and be consistent with acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is a wonderful facilitator of healing; I know it to be true from my patients. I just had not needed it myself until now. It’s what I tell patients all the time. I just needed to listen to my own advice.

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To be Authentic or Not?

When I saw the article below, I was mystified. Why on earth should the good old baseball favorite-Cracker Jacks- be adulturated by adding caffeine to it? It’s a kids kid food and yes, it’s also an adult kids food. I had to ask myself, why would anyone do that? And who would have thought of such a thing?

I am quite often quoted as saying that our bodies were not made to take in fake food. Ergo, fake food cannot be good for our health. Fake cheese, sourcream, fat, sugar, butter? All in the name of trying to get fewer calories to be healthier? Is it actually working?

I remember sitting with a friend of mine at breakfast. She is a very thin friend and was using artifical sweetener in her coffee. I asked her if she was trying to save 16 calories by using the artifical as opposed to real sugar? She looked at me as if I had suddenly turned purple. She looked astonished at first and then a smile came over her face with the realization at how much sense it made. She no longer uses artifical sweetener in any of her beverages.

A few years ago I was at a conference on the treatment strategies for eating disorders. As a dietitian who has worked with eating disorders for almost 30 years, I frequently attend workshops aimed at creative approaches to working with this particular demographic. One of the speakers was talking about the notion of being authentic with oneself. I sat there and had an “aha” moment. Talking about authenticity in our society is like suggesting people make peace with their bodies at any size. It’s almost heretical.

After her session I went up to her to share my thoughts about authenticity and told her we are so far away from authentic that the majority of people in our society don’t even eat real food anymore. What are we to make of this?

So this brings up back to the idea of eating Cracker Jacks and getting a jolt of caffeine. Could it be abused like Red Bull or the energy shots mixed with alcohol? How about using the Cracker Jacks for energy but then getting an even higher dose of sugar and calories. Then there will be the need to eat something with fake sugar in order to reduce the caloric intake for the day after getting the caffeine boost. It’s a vicious cycle which doesn’t seem to make any sense. Are we really getting healthier as a result?

http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/cracker-jack-adding-caffeine-and-cspi-doesnt-like-it-one-bit/caffeine/

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Acupuncture Helping Cancer Patients

I have a number of patients who come to my clinic to get help with managing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Without a doubt, the treatments required to battle cancer are strong and can be debilitating to quality of life. The diagnosis is emotionally devastating and then coping with the treatments which are physically challenging becomes a double whammy.

I was pleased to read the article below because for those of us who treat patients going through the rigors of cancer treatment, we know that acupucnture is a wonderful option. One of my patients came to me after her chemotherapy, radiation and surgery was finshed. She was exhausted, anxious, not sleeping, having hot flashes and night sweats. These symptoms were a result of the post surgery medications as well as finally connecting to the emotional trauma of the battle to fight cancer. What many people on the outside don’t understand, is that the healing only begins once the treatment and surgery is over. Most patients are just too busy and preoccupied with surviving the process of fighting cancer rather than really processing what it all means.

Another patient came to me after her second diagnosis with cancer. She had been diagnosed many years earlier, had gone through chemotherapy and surgery and had been in remission for ten years. Suddenly she was faced with the diagnosis once again. She remembered what the treatment did to her physically and emotionally and had heard that acupuncture could be an option to help her get through it better. As she started her chemotherapy, she came to me with the information given to her by her doctor about what side effects to expect from the drugs she would be receiving.

As would be expected these patients were nervous. Anxious about what would be. So much unknown but at the same time aware that they would be feeling worse than horrible as the chemotherapy progressed. All I can share with you is what not only these two but numerous patients have told me during the course of their various cancer treatments.

“I feel calmer now”
“My nausea and vomitting is less”
“My stomach doesn’t hurt”
“My bowel movements are better”
“I am sleeping deeper”
“My energy is improving”
“I feel I can get through this”
I don’t ache as much all over
“I’m not getting as many headaches
“My anxiety is better”
“My hot flashes are less frequent and/or less intense”

If any of these sound familiar for yourself or your friends and loved ones, it’s helpful to know that acupuncture helps. Based on what patients say, the tongue and pulse and an assessment, acupoints are chosen to address the constitiution of the patient as well as the symptoms. Please feel free to read this article that describes what many hospitals are now encouraging for their patients.

 

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Why and How does Acupuncture Work

The most frequent question I get as I’m treating patients is how does this work? It’s a difficult explanation as their is no direct Western medicine equivalent to the concept of Chi or life energy. However, we do know that there is an energy source within our body. In an oversimplification, we can ask. What makes the blood flow? You may say, the heart pumping. Ok. What makes the heart pump? Electrical impulses. What makes the electrical impulses? You get the idea. There has to be something to set it all in motion. And that is your Chi. Some people liken it to a biolectrical field. It doesn’t matter the words, it is what it is.

If you want to get an idea of your own Chi. Try this exercise. Put your hands up with fingers apart and without touching the other hand, pump the hands together. There is a kind of resistance or pressure you can feel between your fingers as you slowly pump your hands together. The stronger your Chi, the more you can feel the energy being created as you move your hands together.

The article I quote and articulates that because the concepts behind acupuncture have been so difficult to understand, it has “taken quite a long time for Western medicine to embrace acupuncture even though it was introduced in the early 1970’s after contacts with China improved.”

Dr. Richard Niemtzow, MD, PhD, MPh is a physician who is trained in acupuncture. (I actually had the opportunity to train with him many years ago using a protocol for macular degeneration). He has developed a technique called “Battlefield Acupuncture” and has been teaching American Air Force physicians serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (2009) to use this for pain relief. His technique uses points in the ear that blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.

“This is one of the fastest pain attenuators in existence,” said Dr. Niemtzow, who is the Consultant for complementary and alternative medicine for the Surgeon General of the Air Force, and is affiliated with Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. “The pain can be gone in five minutes.”

In the article Professor Tsuei mentions: “In 1972 the respected New York Times columnist James Reston underwent an emergency appendectomy while in China. He later wrote about acupuncture treatment for post-operative pain that was very successful. This report attracted attention and many American physicians and researchers went to China to observe and learn acupuncture techniques.”

There continues to be an interest in research to help understand the mechanism of action with acupuncture. Of note was a North Korean researcher, Kim Bonghan, who published papers in the early 1960’s and his research was confirmed by the Japanese researchers Fujiwara and Yu in 1967. Unfortunately his research took almost 40 years to be confirmed through studies done on rats, rabbit and pigs with Stereo-microscope photographs and electron microsopy. If you click on the link for this article below you will be able to see the amazing photo showing the stereomicroscopic image of acupuncture meridians.

Although many of these studies are old by our standards, they are significant as they are some of the first studies to be published outside of China. “Russian researchers in 1991 at The Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Novosibirsk, USSR, in a research project lasting several years, discovered how the human body conducts light. They found that the light conducting ability of the human body exists only along the meridians, and can enter and exit only along the acupuncture points. Dr. Kaznachejew, a professor of physics said:

“This seems to prove that we have a light transferal system in our body somewhat like optical fiber. It appears that the light can even travel when the light canal is bent, or totally twisted. The light appears to be reflected from the inner surface, appearing to go in some sort of zigzag track. You can explain this through traditional electromagnetic light theory as it is used in optical fiber communications.”

“This finding has been confirmed by a 1992 study in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a 2005 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine where moxibustion and infrared thermography were used to trace meridian pathways.”

“There might be a “light body” after all.”

Studies:

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Auricular Acupuncture for Cocaine Dependence.S. Kelly Avants, PhD; Arthur Margolin, PhD; Theodore R. Holford, PhD; Thomas R. Kosten, MD Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:2305-2312.

Immunomodulatory Effects of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Controlled Study.Stefanie Joos, M.D. Department of Anaesthetics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Research:

Meridians conduct light by Dr. Sergei Pankratov, Moskow, Published by Raum and Zeit, Germany,1991.Translated from the German by Wolfgang Mitschrich

Bonghan Channels in Acupuncture By David Milbradt, LAc, Acupunture Today

Bonghan Duct and Acupuncture Meridian as Optical Channel of Biophoton

Curtin University of Technology These C fibres transmit low-grade sensory information over very long distances by using Merkel cells as intermediaries.

Scientific Evidence in Support of Acupuncture and Meridian Theory Professor Julia J. Tsuei M.D., F.A.C.O.G.

Medical acupuncture gaining acceptance by the US Air Force

Acupuncture is promising treatment for cocaine addiction, Yale researchers find

 

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Research Shows Acupuncture Effective for Chronic Pain

http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/AlternativeMedicine/34673

Of course this research comes as no surprise, but it’s nice to read that the authors of a meta-analysis concluded that “acupuncture provides more relief from various types of chronic pain than does usual care and should be considered a valid therapeutic option.” Research based on my patient base suggests the same results.

During my monthly call in radio show, people always have questions on pain. Whether it be neck, shoulder, back or migraine pain, many want to know if there are other options to hydrocodone, topomax, or even extra strength tylenol.

Part of the problem with acupuncture research is that results show benefits but the mechanism of action is very hard to define or measure. In Western style research, scientists like to be able to explain how and why the treatment works. The difficulty in part is trying to measure an abstract form of energy, we can Qi (chi). You can feel Qi, but cannot readily see it or measure it beyond feeling for it in the pulses. In spite of the mechanism of action not being completely understood, results of this study showed that acupuncture treatment for pain relief was statistically better when compared to sham acupuncture and even higher for no acupuncture.

Many researchers like to attribute the beneficial results of acupuncture due to placebo effect. To challenge that point, I often refer to veterinary acupuncture which started many years ago on race horses who were lame. More often than not, the horses and now dogs and cats, move better after being treated with acupuncture. No matter how lovable and smart our animals are, they do not have the capacity to fake it (to please their owners). Either they are limping or they are not after a treatment. The results speak for itself.

Because it is so difficult to define the mechanism of action, many researchers continue to report that treatments remain “highly controversial.” But to be fair, many results are inconclusive due to poor study parameters such as too few subjects and inconsistency of quality and reliability of studies. But it’s also worth considering whether positive results of studies should be disregarded solely due to uncertainty as to mechanisms of action.

This study however, included almost 18,000 subjects and “conducted an individual patient data meta-analysis based exclusively on high quality randomized trials that their findings should be considered “both clinically and scientifically important.” In addition, their finding of “true acupuncture having significantly greater effect than the sham procedure indicates that the effects of the procedure do extend beyond placebo.” They conclude that this is “of major importance for clinical practice,” meaning that acupuncture should be considered “a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain.”

Dr. Avins, one of the authors of the study wrote: “The ultimate question is: does this intervention work (or, more completely, do its benefits outweigh its risks and justify its cost)?” “For acupuncture, the current meta-analysis offers “some robust evidence” that acupuncture does provide greater chronic pain relief than usual care, mechanisms of effect aside.”

For many of my patients, this research will be consistent with their experience. But Chinese medicine will only be considered a valid form of medicine with medical doctors when clinically solid studies show clear benefit. More and more studies are being conducted that show thousands of years of medicine from China as being a consistently effective and safe option of treatment for many health concerns. If you are interested in reading more research on acupuncture, you can look at studies from the National Institutes of Health Complementary and Alternative Medicine Office.

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Follow up article on cupping for Olympic athletes

The price of Gold: Chinese athletes left with huge spots after ‘cupping’ therapy in quest for Olympic glory
By KATY HASTINGS

Wang Qun’s cupping marks are clear to see while she trains at the National Aquatics Centre with just a few days to the games to go.

It might look like a giant case of chicken pox but in fact this Olympic swimmer is hoping her spots will lead her to a place on the medal podium.

Chinese swimmer Wang Qun was doing some last minute training in Beijing with marks left by cupping – a Chinese medicine technique to relieve ailments including back neck and shoulder pain.

Wang Qun’s cupping marks are clear to see while she trains at the National Aquatics Centre with just a few days to the games to go.
The procedure is said to move the energy, or ‘qi’, in the body and is used widely in folk medicine in eastern European and Asia.
It is performed by placing cups onto the skin by way of either heat or suction.

The spots are a tell tale sign of the treatment.

The swimmer limbers up at the pool following her treatment. The technique is said to help shoulder pain which swimmers in particular can be susceptible to.
The technique works by creating a vacuum inside a cup by inserting a flame, removing it and quickly placing the cup on to the body before the vacuum is lost.

The suction anchors the cup to the body and the skin covered is drawn up into it by a few millimetres.

Cupping is an ancient therapy which is said to help back complaints and draw toxins from the skin.
The cups are left on the body while the area beneath is treated and the energy, or qi, is moved.
Mild reddening is common, however this disappears after a few days.

Gwyneth Paltrow includes cupping as one of the many alternative therapies she uses.
A number of celebrities are fans of this form of acupuncture including Geri Haliwell Paris Hilton and Gwyneth Paltrow – who have even been spotted sporting the tell-tale circular marks herself.
Miss Paltrow made no secret of her preference for the remedy when she appeared at a New York premiere several years ago covered in the large circular spots.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041370/The-price-Gold-Chinese-athletes-left-huge-spots-cupping-therapy-quest-Olympic-glory.html#ixzz21pBudL6z

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Acupuncture Cupping for Pain Relief

Acupuncture cupping is an aspect of Chinese medicine that is frequently used to treat pain as well as internal medicine issues. Cupping traditionally consists of placing glass, plastic or bamboo cups on the skin to create a vacuum seal. A glass cupping seal is created when an alcohol soaked cotton ball is burned and placed inside a cup to remove the air. The cup is then quickly placed on the body which creates the vacuum. This is called fire cupping. Another type of cupping uses plastic cups with a pump to create a seal. I have attached a picture of me in China with a bamboo cup so you can see what it looks like to be “cupped” and a patient in China being treated with plastic cups.

Based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, cupping increases blood flow to the surface of the skin thereby moving pain caused by stuck energy and/or removing toxins causing disease. Cupping has been used for relieving colds, bronchitis and other lung conditions, menstrual pain, and all types of body pain. Chinese medical theory states that stagnation of blood is the cause of pain and many diseases. Cupping thereby moves the stagnation (stuck energy) and promotes the blood flow in the affected areas. When the blood flows there is less pain in the channels being treated.

Cups are applied on acupuncture points on the meridian or channel being affected by pain or disease. It is frequently used in conjunction with acupunture since cupping stimulates circulation and relieves pain and swelling. Cupping is not painful, but patients will feel a tug or pulling sensation under the cups as the vacuum seal is created. Successful cupping will usually leave a bruise on the skin. I remember the press going on about Gwyneth Paltrow attending the Oscars in a backless dress which showed the bruises left by cupping on her back. These bruises go away of course, but it is not uncommon to have them.

I like to do sliding cupping on patients with larger areas of pain. For example: sciatica down the side or back of the leg. Oil is used to moisturize the skin and then a number of cups are placed in the area to be treated. Once the suction cups are in place, I will slide the cups up and down or around the painful area, thereby promoting blood flow in a larger surface area. Usually after the sliding cupping, I will then place acupuncture needles for a complete treatment.

Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years. The ancient art of Chinese healing is time tested. If you are dealing with hard to treat, stubborn pain that has not been helped with Western medicine practices, you might consider trying Chinese medicine. When we help patients that can only be given drugs by their doctors, it speaks loudly to the power of the needle. Give it a try.

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