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A really interesting podcast from NPR discusses postpartum depression experiences and myths.
"An estimated one in seven women experiences depression during or after pregnancy. Among some groups, such as teenage moms and women with a history of trauma, the rate can be even higher. Left untreated, depression during this time can have serious consequences on the health of the mother, the baby and the entire family."
"...depression during and after pregnancy (called perinatal depression) is treatable, and women with the right treatment do recover."
The article lists five things to know about postpartum or perinatal depression:
As an acupuncturist specializing in maternal care, I offer various treatment options to support new moms. This article describes other, non-medical, ways that they can be supported.
"While physical gifts are thoughtful, if you’re a close friend or relative, what a new mom will really appreciate are small acts of encouragement and kindness in the days after delivery."
Examples include: cooking dinner, getting groceries delivered, providing compassionate emotional support, asking specific questions when helping:
"Often, new moms get asked things like, ‘What can I do?’ or ‘What can I bring?’ With all the things going on in mom’s head, making another decision is hard. So, use more focused questions like ‘Is it OK if I do the dishes?’ or ‘I made you cookies, when can I drop them off?’ or ‘Where’s the diaper bag, I’ll change him.’”
The article also describes what to avoid - baby visits, welcome parties, and giving unsolicited advice.
This article describes the latest research in China on treating tumors with electro-acupuncture.
"Electrically charged acupuncture needles that can significantly reduce the size of tumours could open the way for a safe, low-cost cancer treatment, according to a new study."
"A team of Chinese scientists adapted the traditional technique to create a form of 'electro-chemotherapy' to treat laboratory mice with brain tumours, shrinking them to less than 1 per cent of their initial size. The mice were given a twice-daily, 10-minute dose of the treatment over three consecutive days. Sixteen days after the treatment started the tumours, which were around the size of a bean, had shrunk to just 0.38 per cent of their original size – scarcely visible to the naked eye."
This article by a mental health counselor describes the physical and emotional changes that women face when they go through menopause. Acupuncture can help provide support during this life transition.
"Sleepless nights. Sudden temperature spikes and night sweats. Fluctuating moods. Brain fog. Sudden hair loss (head). Sudden hair growth (face). Dry skin, leaky bladder, pain during intercourse."
"Menopause is part of a process. Menopause refers to a specific point 12 months after a person’s last menstrual cycle. Perimenopause, which can begin up to 10 years before menopause, is the transitional time during which most menopausal symptoms occur. Perimenopause usually begins in a person’s 40s but can start as early as a person’s mid- to late 30s."
For sleep issues, the article recommends a number of solutions, including: "Try acupuncture. This ancient Chinese remedy uses tiny needles to unblock energy points in the body and may help balance hormone levels to ease hot flashes and trigger the release of more endorphins to offset mood swings."
"Vascular cognitive impairment is characterized by symptoms ranging from forgetfulness to more serious problems with attention, memory, language, and problem-solving. Heart disease and stroke are two of the major risk factors, as both involve compromised blood supply to the brain."
A 2019 study compared two groups of patients, with one receiving donepezil hydrochloride for vascular cognitive impairment, and another receiving acupuncture. "Following treatment, both patient groups showed improvements in scores at four and eight weeks, although significantly greater improvements were noted in the acupuncture group as compared to the medication group."
Tufts Health Plan serving the Northeast is now offering unlimited access to acupuncture for all the members. The members will be able to "visit an acupuncturist without prior authorization."
"'Acupuncture has a wide range of uses and can particularly be helpful in the are of pain management,' said Claire Levesque, MD, chief medical officer for commercial products at Tufts Health Plan. 'Expanding our acupuncture coverage is just another way we are working to help our members receive the holistic care they need and deserve.'"
A meta-study of the effect of acupuncture on the human brain is described. Studies that used fMRI showed that "acupuncture modulates activity within specific brain areas, including somatosensory cortices, limbic system, basal ganglia, brain stem, and cerebellum. Meta-analyses for verum acupuncture stimuli confirmed brain activity within many of the regions mentioned above."
"... most studies suggest that acupuncture can modulate the activity within specific brain areas, and the evidence based on meta-analyses confirmed some of these results."
"Elix, a new start-up that launches today that is the first tech-enabled hormonal health brand to personalize Chinese herbal medicine remedies that are backed by science to address women’s health issues."
"When I ask Glathe how Chinese medicine looks at and addresses women’s health issues she tells me, 'Like western medicine, the menstrual cycle is divided into 4 segments corresponding to bleeding, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phases. These phases are always taken into account when prescribing herbs, so we can address the specific hormonal process at that particular time. This combination of Eastern wisdom with Western science is the foundational basis for Elix as well.'"
"'Chinese medicine doctors use a technique called pattern diagnosis in addition to a diagnosis of a western-defined disease such as dysmenorrhea,' explains Glathe. 'The syndrome is determined based on the signs and symptoms displayed by the patient, their physical condition, disease status, and constitution. Only after which herbal medicine prescriptions for treatment are given. There are herbs to relieve primary symptoms, but if the root cause is not solved, those symptoms can easily recur month after month.'"
"'The tongue is the only internal organ visible without a scalpel,' explains Glathe. 'The tongue may not seem like an organ in the traditional sense, but it is 100% pure muscle, fed directly by blood and nerves, with cells that regenerate every 10 days, much like the cells lining the digestive tract. Looking at it can give us clues about what’s happening with the other organs and general internal environment.' Specifically, Chinese medicine looks at the color, moisture, shape, and strength of the tongue in order to determine the state of health."
To help the migrants pass the time and deal with stress, teams of volunteers led by Acupuncturists Without Borders, or AWB, a nonprofit that treats people in disaster zones and refugee camps and trains other acupuncturists around the world, are providing free acupuncture treatment at border towns in Mexico.
The acupuncturists use a five-point protocol known as NADA, where five needles are stuck in specific points in the ear to reduce stress. The group has helped hundreds of migrants in Mexican border camps this year, said Diana Fried, AWB’s founder and co-executive director. For migrants who don’t want the needles, there are tiny Chinese radish seeds that can be adhered to the ear, to similar effect."
"Fried, 61, who got into acupuncture as a way of quitting a 20-year smoking habit, started AWB by taking a group of fellow volunteer acupuncturists down to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005. Camped out in a FEMA tent city in Algiers, across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, they treated residents, first responders, roofers, construction workers and federal officials – more than 8,000 people in the course of a year."
"Fried said she chose the NADA five-point protocol because, unlike other acupuncture treatments, it could be used in group settings and requires no talking. Started in the 1970s as a way to combat heroin addiction, the treatment requires five needles poked into specific points in the ear that, according to ancient Chinese medicine theories, alters the autonomic nervous system, lowering stress levels and enhancing relaxation, Fried said."
"This solution to better posture is something you can do completely on your own, anywhere, anytime, without ever opening your wallet. You don’t even have to get up from the couch."
"The DIY solution to better posture - Turn up your palms. That’s it."
"This palms-up position may be familiar to committed meditators and yogis who practice shavasana, but it’s foreign to those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer, behind the wheel of a car, holding babies, making lattes, or doing pretty much anything else that requires constant hand use. Even when we’re not using our hands, it’s just habit to sit, walk or stand with our hands facing down or behind us."
Welcome to ASK Acupuncture Blog! I enjoy keeping up with research and news articles in my specialty areas and I publish articles that may be of interest to my patients.