Acupuncture Alleviates Depression

Acupuncture alleviates depression: new research

Acupuncture alleviates depression by normalizing gene expression. A new laboratory investigation demonstrates that acupuncture benefits brain biochemistry and regulates gene expression related to depression. The researchers conclude that electroacupuncture treats “depression by modifying or regulating the expression of various genes.”

Acupuncture was applied to acupuncture points Baihui (DU20) and Yintang on depression model laboratory rats. Electroacupuncture was applied the needles at 2 Hz with an intensity of 1 mA. Needle depth was 2 mm. Needles were applied once per day for 21 days and were retained for 20 minutes during each acupuncture treatment.

At the Healthcare Medicine Institute, we provide many acupuncture continuing education courses for acupuncture CEU and PDA credit on the treatment of depression and emotional disorders. This new research conducted by Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Chinese PLA General Hospital, however, adds the first ever examination of electroacupuncture on the whole-genome level in relation to the treatment of depression. All prior research and acupuncture continuing education focused on single gene level expression.

The multi-gene approach was discussed by the research team. They note that depression causes “abnormal gene expression” in “a large number of genes” and add that this deleteriously affects “multiple brain functions” and affects nerve cells. Depression causes deleterious biochemical changes and these changes cause more depression. The researchers note, this “vicious circle makes it difficult to cure conditions such as depression.” The researchers note that this educational investigation indicates “that electroacupuncture at Baihui and Yintang modulates depression by regulating the expression of particular genes.”

A total of 21 genes imbalanced by depression were normalized by the application of electroacupuncture. Depression abnormally upregulates some genes and downregulates other genes. Electroacupuncture homeostatically balanced both up and downregulation of gene expression to normal levels. Electroacupuncture also restored normal behaviors in the laboratory rats including actions in sucrose consumption, the swim test and the open field test.

All 21 genes examined “were closer to a normal level” after the application of electroacupuncture. Genes were examined in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotions. The hippocampus was selected because “depression is attributable to comprehensive regulation of multiple hippocampal genes….” The researchers conclude that the effective action of electroacupuncture on relieving depression is “related to gene regulation.”

The genes Tmp32, Vgf:Tmp32 and Vgf are downregulated during depression and are normalized by upregulation with electroacupuncture. These genes regulate neuroactive steroid hormones that affect the nervous system. They regulate the function of the synapses, inflammation, myelination, the central nervous system and the HPA axis. The gene Trim32, involved in cell regulation, “was downregulated in depression and returned to normal after electroacupuncture.” The same was found for Igf2, a gene that promotes nerve cell proliferation and increased neurotransmitter levels between synapses. In the same way, Loc500373 was normalized. This gene is involved in ATP formation and energy metabolism. Electroacupuncture was shown to “promote ATP formation” and therefore benefitted cell function. Depicted is the human brain and hippocampus.

Brain protein synthesis is damaged by depression. This is reflected in the downregulation of gene Rtn4. Electroacupuncture normalized Rtn4 levels and facilitated restoration of normal protein biosynthesis in the brain. Also, electroacupuncture normalized levels of Hifla, an important gene involved in cellular apoptosis. In all, acupuncture normalized all 21 genes studied.

Electroacupuncture successfully downregulated genes involved in oxidative stress and inflammation that had been upregulated by depression. This normalization benefits the brain by “maintaining tissue structure” and “restoring cell function.” The researchers note that this effect provides “evidence to the observed clinical effect of electroacupuncture on depression.” Overall, electroacupuncture demonstrated the ability to normalize gene levels involved in transcription/translation, neurotransmission and signal transduction, inflammation relating to the immune system, metabolism, enzymatic reactions and protein biosynthesis.

Depression is a serious mental disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Neuroendocrinological studies now demonstrate a connection between human biology and depression. This latest research, combined with a series of other recent investigations, demonstrates that acupuncture regulates biochemical reactions in the hippocampus including effects on gene expression. Criticisms of acupuncture as a “pseudoscience” by authors in publications such as Forbes Magazine will hopefully be redacted given the enormous body of new research to emerge in the last 2 years on the biochemical effects of acupuncture on the endocrine system and brain chemistry. The new research helps to bridge the gap between biomedical research and the efficaciousness of acupuncture. Hopefully, a new consensus will emerge wherein effective medicine can be judged by patient outcomes and scientific research.

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Duan, Dongmei, Xiuyan Yang, T. Ya, and Liping Chen. “Hippocampal gene expression in a rat model of depression after electroacupuncture at the Baihui and Yintang

Acupuncture Benefits Cognition in Children

Acupuncture benefits cognition in children: Research


Researchers conclude that acupuncture benefits cognition in children with mental retardation. The research team also found that acupuncture improved social adaptability. In this randomized study, participants were placed in either a medication group or an acupuncture group. The medication did not provide any statistically significant improvements. Acupuncture improved both the intelligence quotient and the social adaptability score.

A total of 60 children with mental retardation were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a medication group. The acupuncture group received primary acupuncture point stimulation at acupoints Sishencong, GB13, Niesanzhen, GV17 and GB19. The medication group received piracetam tablets. Piracetam is a nootropic drug that is a cyclic derivative of GABA. It is sometimes taken as a cognitive enhancement drug, however, its primary clinical application is for cortical myoclonus. A course of treatment totaled 4 months of either acupuncture or piracetam ingestion. Efficacy was evaluated following a course of treatment using the China-Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and the Infant-Junior School Student Social Life Ability Scale.

Piracetam failed to create a significant clinical benefit for the patients. Acupuncture improved the final intelligence quotient, the social adaptability score and the performance intelligence quotient. Neither group made a significant change in the verbal intelligence quotient.

In related research, investigators discovered that acupuncture can “effectively relieve child autism symptoms and enhance the intelligence, language ability and social adaptive ability.” The research documented that age was not a factor. The 4 to 6 years of age group improved and the 2 to 3 years of age group improved similarly. The scalp acupuncture treatment principle used in the study was “regaining the consciousness and opening the orifice.” A similar study concluded that scalp acupuncture combined with language therapy “has a significantly positive effect on language development in children with autism.” In yet another study, 12 acupuncture visits using electro-acupuncture improved functions in children with autism. Electro-acupuncture caused improvements in language comprehension and self-care ability for the children in this randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled, clinical trial of acupuncture for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Huang, J. B., H. F. Cao, J. Hu, L. H. Liu, Z. Wang, and H. Lin. “Clinical research on children mental retardation treated with acupuncture.” Zhongguo zhen jiu= Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion 33, no. 8 (2013): 682.

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 Aug;31(8):692-6. Treatment of autism with scalp acupuncture. Li N, Jin BX, Li JL, Liu ZH. Neuro-Rehabilitation Department, Nanhai Women and Children Hospital Affiliated to Guangzhou University of CM, Guangdong, China.

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):109-14. Scalp acupuncture effect on language development in children with autism: a pilot study. Allam H, ElDine NG, Helmy G.

Altern Med Rev. 2010 Jul;15(2):136-46. Randomized controlled trial of electro-acupuncture for autism spectrum disorder. Wong VC, Chen WX. Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

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Blessed Heart, Body and Soul

Why Blessed?

Blessed to be in your true, divine nature and know that truth from the spirit of your heart.

Blessed to be in your body, love your body and treat it as your temple.

Blessed soul because beauty lies in your depth.

The definition of blessed is holding in reverence.

Revere, honor and worship your heart, body and soul first and that love will emanate outwards and attract love because that energy is a magnet.

I am a mother, first and foremost, of three beautiful, children.

I am definitely blessed with their presence.

I have an acupuncture practice and am grateful to practice Chinese Medicine. I have learned much over the last 10 years of this medicine and will always continue learning and adding to my practice because that is what adds depth and breadth to what I do. And I love it!

My practice is a general practice, with much of my focus on women’s health and pediatrics due to my initial interest in women’s health through nursing and then pediatrics, due to having three children of my own. I am often adding new information to my education, like Body Talk and more recently, Esoteric Acupuncture and Sports Medicine. Sports Medicine and treating pain is pretty basic in the acupuncture world and I am ready to treat more of it. It’s very satisfying for the client and the practitioner to see that pain subside. I have spent the last 3.5 years doing Crossfit and know the benefits of acupuncture for injuries sustained in that environment.

I was grateful to be a labor and delivery nurse prior to becoming an acupuncturist.

I had the privilege of seeing over 300 babies enter the world and take their first breath.

Talk about reverence and miracles.

That one makes you drop to your knees.

The greatest miracles seem to be the most natural: a baby being born, a sunrise, the way the light hits the mountains on a fall afternoon in Colorado, listening to your own breath inhale and exhale, how our bodies operate perfectly everyday without us having to consciously do a thing, a sunset.

Being a labor and delivery nurse allowed me to make a conscious, educated decision about having three home births, knowing that babies have no more than 20 minutes of distress lent to them for a solid survival.

That experience was a miracle every time!

Let’s talk about how powerful that experience (birth) is, let me just add right here that the power of a woman in that moment is monumental enough to move mountains. That IS the type of power women possess. Every woman possesses that strength, whether that child comes into the world vaginally or via c-section, or in her life outside of childbearing. The power that our bodies contain is AMAZING.

That experience led me to holistic health, I just knew I wanted to help harness that power that all of us have in our bodies to heal. Our bodies inherently know how to heal. If the human body is given the right messaging, it knows what to do with the message and the brain connects the dots to heal.

Again, blessed.

Reverence and awe for the human body.

The greatest gift of my acupuncture practice has been being able to treat my family. Chinese medicine has carried my children through childhood without use of antibiotics and doctors visits. The continued use of the gifts of herbal medicine and acupuncture (needle less shonishin for children) help all of us through our health difficulties.

I also use food for health and truly believe that is where most of our health decisions are made.

But these days, it’s hard to make positive food choices as we are bombarded all the time with unknown elements, food sensitivities, leaky guts, choices between organic and non organic, grass fed and grain fed beef, antibiotics in our food and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It gets really overwhelming!

In my private practice, I treat many pediatric clients and adults who suffer from food sensitivities and leaky guts.  Food sensitivities are increasingly common and alarming.

I am becoming more and more convinced that a diet consisting of lots of vegetables, meat, small amounts of grains, nuts, seeds and small amounts of fruit is the best way to eat. I think you can throw some dairy in there, too, but it’s gotta be hormone free and antibiotic free.  No processed food and no GMO’s (which is so hard, because they are not labeled). Processed food is creating very unhealthy societies in developed countries, as we know. The miracle of our bodies does not know what to do with chemicals and additives and plants that are created in a lab. Real food from the earth, natural food seems like the only way our body knows how to survive in a healthy way.

I am also convinced that exercise and spiritual practice is vital to our well being and health.

I am looking forward to sharing information regarding acupuncture practice, research, nutrition information, dietary, lifestyle, exercise and spiritual thoughts… It will constantly be a work of progress coming from new ideas and exciting research that I come across.

Looking forward to this journey with you!

With love and in reverence,