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Acupuncture reduces inflammation and researchers have discovered how it works. In a laboratory controlled scientific investigation, a key biological marker has been identified, quantified, and directly correlated with the application of acupuncture. Acupuncture successfully down regulates a pro inflammatory biochemical (tumor necrosis factor alpha), which results in anti-inflammatory responses. In addition, the researchers have mapped the neural pathways by which acupuncture signaling stimulates anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers in Korea have identified a mechanism by which acupuncture stimulation at the acu-point ST36 (Zusanli) has an anti-inflammatory effect. By down regulating tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), acupuncture relieves systemic inflammation. By testing the effects that a splenic neurectomy and vagotomy have on TNF-α levels in the spleen and the brain, Lim et al. found that the anti-inflammatory effects of ST36 (Zusanli) rely on the vagus nerve pathway. Both manual acupuncture stimulation (MAC) and electroacupuncture (EAC) induce c-Fos protein generation. However, only manual acupuncture stimulation has the effect of down regulating TNF-α; electroacupuncture has the opposite effect when applied to ST36.
Chronic inflammation is involved in a variety of disease processes. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to injuries, but if the condition persists it can lead to further damage. There are a number of factors related to chronic inflammation, including TNF-α. As an endogenous pyrogen, TNF-α is primarily involved in the regulation of immune cells. It is able to induce fever, inflammation, apoptosis, inhibit tumor growth, and inhibit virus replication.  However, its dysregulation is implicated in the processes of a number of diseases including major depression, cancer, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  The researchers in this study used lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce TNF-α production in lab mice. Next, they performed a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA analysis, which “showed that TNF-α mRNA was highly induced in the spleen following LPS administration and was down regulated by MAC.” 
The researchers also gave the mice either a splenic neurectomy or a vagotomy to discern which nerve pathway was responsible for transmitting the anti-inflammatory responses induced by the acupuncture treatments. They found that the TNF-α levels decreased with MAC but were re-elevated in mice with a splenic neurectomy and vagotomy, suggesting that “TNF-α induced in the spleen and the serum after LPS administration may be modulated by AS [acupuncture stimulation].”  Another trial showed that CNQX (AMPA receptor blocker) and PPADS (selective purinergic antagonist) — which both inhibit the dorsal vagal complex (DVC) — also decreased splenic TNF-α, which implies the direct involvement of the vagus nerve in the modulation of TNF-α. 
The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve best known for innervating the viscera. However, “growing bodies of evidence indicate that vagus nerve activity is important not only for homeostatic regulation of internal organs but also for the regulation of pathologic inflammatory reactions; thus, the vagus nerve acts as a bridge between the neural and immune systems. Notably, VNS can activate the a7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor on the macrophages in the spleen.” 
The cholinergic response, mediated by the vagus nerve, directly controls a proinflammatory response by way of the inflammatory reflex. Several inflammatory diseases are regulated by the ‘cholinergic anti-inflammatory reflex,’ including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and obesity.  Additionally, previous research finds that insulin resistance is caused by chronic inflammation resulting from immune and metabolic dysregulation; in addition, a decrease in vagus nerve activity is correlated with obesity.  “Selective cholinergic activation within the efferent vagus nerve-mediated arm of the inflammatory reflex can suppress obesity-associated inflammation and reverse metabolic complications. These findings raise the intriguing possibility that dysregulation of vagus nerve-mediated signaling might contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity and its related comorbidities.” 
Obesity has reached epidemic levels in many countries and is a precursor for many chronic diseases, including diabetes. Chronic inflammation is “a critical step in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cholinergic mechanisms within the inflammatory reflex have, in the past 2 years, been implicated in attenuating obesity-related inflammation and metabolic complications. This knowledge has led to the exploration of novel therapeutic approaches in the treatment of obesity-related disorders.” 
The anti-inflammatory effect of ST36 (Zusanli) has also been explored by other researchers. A study at Rutgers University (New Jersey) found that “stimulating ST36 (Zusanli) with an electrical current passed through an acupuncture needle activated two nerve tracts in mice that led to the production of a biochemical that quieted a sepsis-like inflammatory reaction that had been induced in mice”  by stimulating a release of the anti-inflammatory neurotransmitter dopamine from the adrenal glands. When the Rutgers University researchers traced the nerve pathway, they found that it led up the sciatic nerve — near the location of ST36 (Zusanli) — to the spinal cord and the brain, and back down the vagus nerve to the adrenal glands.
Another study, conducted at Daejeon University (South Korea), finds that the incidence of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), which is most commonly used to study the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, “was reduced and histological destruction of joint was prevented by EA [electro-acupuncture] at ST36 (Zusanli). These results suggested that EA at ST36 (Zusanli) may reduce arthritis incidence and prevent joint destruction in CIA.”  By decreasing inflammation, further damage is preventable.
Chronic inflammation is related to a wide variety of health concerns, many of which increase morbidity; therefore, finding ways to relieve inflammation is of great importance. According to the aforementioned research, splenic factors affect inflammation. This is consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory; regulation of the spleen is understood to resolve what is termed ‘dampness’, which can manifest in the body in a variety of ways, including inflammation and obesity.
The researchers here have illuminated the mechanism of action by which the spleen affects systemic inflammation and the complex nature of the neural pathways that these signals travel. This study provides a solid groundwork for further trials; having a serum marker (TNF-α) for chronic inflammation provides researchers with an objective measurement to gauge the effects of acupuncture treatments on the modulation of chronic inflammatory diseases. Using TNF-α measurements to understand the effects of acupuncture on inflammation, acupuncturists gain a greater understanding of the systemic biochemical changes induced by acupuncture treatments.
In related research, Lin et al. from the University of South Florida (Tampa) and the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Fuzhou) prove that acupuncture alleviates pain, at least in part, by regulation of microglial cells. Lin et al. demonstrate that acupuncture reduces “microglial and astrocytic proliferation coupled with improved functional recovery after SCI [spinal cord injury] …. acupuncture exerts a remarkable analgesic effect on SCI by also inhibiting production of microglial cells through attenuation of p38MAPK and ERK activation.”  Their study finds “clinical evidence demonstrating that acupuncture is capable of producing analgesia in neuropathic pain by suppressing microglial activation.” Funding for the research was provided by the US Department of Defense, University of South Florida Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, and the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Foundation. Lin et al. also note that acupuncture prevents damage to structures of the brain. The researchers note that electro-acupuncture reduces oxidative damage to the hippocampus by “preventing microglial activation.”
Lin et al. note that their research is not isolated. The researchers cite several examples demonstrating that specific therapeutic biochemical reactions are stimulated by acupuncture. One citation presents hope for integration of acupuncture into conventional medical protocols for the purposes of pain management. Lin et al. note that University of Maryland (Baltimore) researchers conclude that, “Electro-acupuncture blocks pain by activating a variety of bioactive chemicals through peripheral, spinal, and supra-spinal mechanisms. These include opioids, which desensitize peripheral nociceptors and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines peripherally and in the spinal cord, and serotonin and norepinephrine, which decrease spinal N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor subunit GluN1 phosphorylation.” 
The aforementioned research gives us important scientific measures regarding the specificity of acupuncture point stimulation. Scientists demonstrate that acupuncture produces biological responses that are both anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The objective data quantifies specific actions and helps us gain a greater understanding as to how acupuncture exerts beneficial responses.
3 HD Lim et al., “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve,” PloS one. 11, no. 3 (March 19, 2016), accessed February 3, 2017, pp 4-5. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26991319
4 Lim et al., Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve, Pg 5
5 Lim et al., Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve,Pg 1
6 Lim et al., Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve, Pg 7
7 Lim et al., Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve, Pg 7
8 Valentin A. Pavlov and Kevin J. Tracey, The Vagus Nerve and the Inflammatory Reflex—linking Immunity and Metabolism, 8, no. 12, accessed February 3, 2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082307/
9 Pavlov et al, The Vagus Nerve and the Inflammatory Reflex
10 Pavlov et al, The Vagus Nerve and the Inflammatory Reflex
12 Yun-Kyoung Yim et al., Electro-Acupuncture at Acupoint ST36 Reduces Inflammation and Regulates Immune Activity in Collagen-Induced Arthritic Mice, 4, no. 1 (August 18, 2006), accessed February 3, 2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1810363/
13 Lin, Lili, Nikola Skakavac, Xiaoyang Lin, Dong Lin, Mia C. Borlongan, Cesar V. Borlongan, and Chuanhai Cao. “Acupuncture-induced analgesia: the role of microglial inhibition.” Cell transplantation 25, no. 4 (2016): 621-628.
14 Zhang, Ruixin, Lixing Lao, Ke Ren, and Brian M. Berman. “Mechanisms of acupuncture–electroacupuncture on persistent pain.” The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists 120, no. 2 (2014): 482-503.
People used to think the mind and body were separate and that emotions were a product of the brain only. However, science has shown that other parts of the body can hold or generate emotional charges as well. If you’re in a weakened state due to factors such as stress, illness, toxicity or physical trauma, everyday emotional responses may not fully resolve, as they naturally should.
Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) is based on the concept that unresolved emotional trauma is stored in the body. Emotions such as excessive, unresolved anger, grief and fear may long affect us even after we have forgotten the event that caused them. Since our emotional reality dramatically affects our health, using NET to identify these “stuck” negatively charged emotions (Neuro-Emotional Complexes) and releasing them can normalize abnormal physical and behavioral patterns.
NET is safe and effective, and is a natural way to resolve long-standing health problems by resolving the emotional components that accompany the physical symptoms. NET practitioners can find unresolved, negatively charged emotional responses that are stored in your body and help you release them. NET practitioners are nearly unlimited in their ability to address physical and behavioral stress-related conditions.
NET has been used to successfully treat:
- body aches
- chronic pain
- digestive issues
- general anxiety
- organ dysfunction
- self-sabotaging behaviors
It is important to note, NET does not cure or heal the patient, but rather removes blocks to the natural vitalism of the body, allowing the body to heal and/or repair itself.
We our dedicated to healing with acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, while helping maintain a healthy life balance. ICFOM serves Dallas, Plano, Carrollton and the surrounding areas.
By Iva Lim Peck
Dallas, March 6, 2014…As published in D Magazine, Online Edition, Dallas/Ft. Worth Healthcare Daily, The Business of Healthcare in North Texas
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease wherein the body’s white blood cells attack the moisture-producing glands in the body. These glands are primarily the tear and salivary glands. It is estimated that as many as 10 million people worldwide have this disease. While it attacks all ethnic and racial groups, estimates say that 90 percent of its victims are female and that symptoms began in their 40s.
If you have received a diagnosis that you have Sjogren’s syndrome, you may actually be quite fortunate. With standard medical tests,it generally takes about six years to come up with a proper diagnosis. Symptoms are not consistent from person to person, and there is a complex set of problems that may lead a person on a wild goose chase from doctor to doctor, trying to cure or manage a small segment of the overall package of symptoms. Using integrated medical protocols to differentiate will determine the cause so as to provide more thorough non-invasive treatments in managing the progress and relief of the disease more effectively.
Very often the early warning signs are dryness, pain, and fatigue. The Classic Sicca symptoms are: dry, gritty eyes; dry mouth; dry skin and rashes; dry cough; vaginal dryness; joint or muscle pain; sore tongue or throat; swollen glands; thyroid problems; and overall tiredness and feeling lethargic.
Unfortunately, seeking medical attention for one or two of these symptoms veryoften leads patient to go from one specialist to another, each of whom addresses a part of the problem. Without incorporating and attending to the other symptoms, the patient may develop additional complications, such as pneumonia, pancreatitis, and vasculitis. Untreated or diagnosed improperly could lead to further complications, such as severe abdominal pain; swollen lymph nodes; eye sores or pain; jaundice; or persistent cough with colored phlegm. Each of these might be perceived as separate and distinct health issues, instead of seeing them as a dynamic, interactive group of health culprits.
In the standard conventional healthcare model, the only treatment used for autoimmune diseases is total immune suppression, e.g., Cortisone or drugs that shut down immune functions. There are different protocols for diagnosing and treating patients. Western practitioners tend to specialize in a particular problem, such as those who treat allergies, or those who specialize in eyes and ocular issues, or those who treat arthritis. The system of treatment tends to rely on drugs and even surgery. The worst scenario is to surgically remove the thymus gland.
Standard tests are often run before a proper assessment can be done to reach an accurate diagnosis. Blood tests with CBC and differentials is absolutely necessary to determine blood glucose levels; evidence of inflammation; signs and symptoms indicating liver and/or kidney problems. Others might be eye tests, chest x-rays, imaging of the salivary glands, urine analysis, and biopsies of the gum to confirm the clusters of inflamed cells.
Alternative medicine definitely has more treatment options. The model of simply fixing the gut, stabilizing the blood sugar level, balancing the hormones, taking enough essential fatty acids and anti-inflammatory protocols, and so forth, are effective. However, they are not any different than treating any type of autoimmune disorders.
The major deficiency is actually how to actively identify the autoimmune mechanism.In order to figure out the autoimmune mechanism, one must dissect the person’s cytokines production and the breakdown of T cells and B Cells to figure out what’s going on with the immune patterns.
By contrast, integrated medical practitioners treat the whole body as a single system and work with interdependent, oscillating energies and seek to achieve balance and integration of the entire body. There are natural, non-invasive, and wholistic approaches that incline toward discovering the imbalances, and integrate to correct them through diet and nutrition, exercise, acupuncture, massage, and individual customized education.
One of the basic theories of oriental medicine, used in the integrated model, is that of yin and yang. The foundation is to view the body as a microcosm of nature, one that seeks homeostasis or balance. The theories and patterns of movement and interaction are quite complex, and it is not within the bounds of this article to fully describe or explain them.
While Yin and yang are oppositional, they are also interdependent, each always containing a bit of the other within and, together, they strive to be in a constant state of dynamic balance. When they go out of balance, the vital life force energy may be pooling, stagnating, or flowing in the wrong direction in the body’s innate energy pathway.
The role of an acupuncturist, for example, is to detect where the energies are out of balance and use acupuncture points to redirect the body’s energies in such a way that they “self correct.” (This is just a small piece of the process.)
While this concept of yin and yang interacts dramatically and in a complex way with other systems in the body, and the practitioner uses these concepts in the diagnosis, along with integrating other treatment protocols, we can see that this would tend to take a person’s entire physiology into consideration. By analyzing, evaluating, and diagnosing from a vast menu of tests and data, a treatment plan is developed to address the interaction of all conditions in the system that signal disharmony.
In addition to various acupuncture protocols, an integrated medical practitioner might incorporate other treatments, over time, to treat Sjogren’s syndrome. These could include, but are not limited to: pain and stress management with acupuncture, allergy elimination and desensitization, neuro-emotional technique to address domino effects of emotional complexes, enzyme and nutritional recommendations for digestive disorders, herbs and supplements to support the overall excess or deficiencies, and
last but not least, homeopathy to address the totality of each person’s individual make up, in an attempt to communicate with the psychological and spiritual components as well as the physical essence of the person.
With the variety of symptoms that encompass Sjogren’s syndrome, it is very important to have a plan and a practitioner who works with full oversight and a set of complimentary skills under one roof, so to speak. For anyone who feels they may have Sjogren’s Syndrome, there are excellent resources in terms of support groups in the greater Dallas area. Having support and sharing information—and having a positive attitude—contribute to positive outcomes.
Credentialed in both Eastern and Western modalities of medicine, Iva Lim Peck is a co-founder of the Integrated Center for Oriental Medicine in Plano.