Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wanna look refreshed and glowy? A safe alternative to Botox, face lifts or peels....And NO, I don't use that many needles...!

 'Cosmetic' acupuncture is the newest weapon in the anti-ageing war, but can it really give you a facelift? Or does it just leave you with pins and needles? 

By Frances Childs

Out of the corner of my left eye, I can see the red tip of a long needle protruding rather alarmingly from my cheek.

If I look down I can see another needle, this one stuck into my chin, and I daren't move my head in case I dislodge or snap off the needles sticking out of the top of my head and both temples.

I resemble a human pin cushion. I am lying in a pristine white room in a clinic in central London, only just daring to watch as acupuncturist Samara Reid gently taps super-fine, sharp needles into my flesh. It doesn't hurt, there's just a slight tingle as each of the 25 needles sinks in.
Needle work: Frances underwent facial acupuncture to improve the quality of her skin
Needle work: Frances underwent facial acupuncture to improve the quality of her skin

Once Samara has finished, I lie still, reflecting on the fact that I've willingly subjected myself to this bizarre experience.

I am having facial acupuncture because, put simply, I am terribly vain and at 44 I am becoming increasingly depressed about losing my looks. The turning point came recently when an idiot on the train asked me to move my son's bag.

The man he thought was my son was a complete stranger of at least 30 years old. I was already concerned about my drooping jaw line and deepening crevices, but now I had confirmation that urgent action was required. If I did nothing, I'd soon be mistaken for my seven-year-old's grandma!

'That's it. I'm having Botox,' I later wailed to my friend Lisa, who has a suspiciously taut face. She looked shocked, but not, alas, at the idea that my face needed a bit of strategic intervention.
'Botox is so passé. Facial acupuncture is where it's at,' she told me, confiding that regular sessions keep her looking rejuvenated.

'Cosmetic' acupuncture is the latest weapon in the anti-ageing war, and a favourite among stars such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston.

Like me, these A-listers are past the first flush of youth. Unlike me, they have glowing, smooth, impossibly perfect complexions.

Samara Reid, who has been a facial acupuncturist for more than two decades, says there has been a rise in those wanting the treatment in recent months.

'It's driven by a fear of fillers and Botox,' she says. 'Clients are looking for natural solutions to the ageing process. People don't really want to inject poison into their faces.'
...and after (three sessions)
Before and after: Frances looks fresher after undergoing three sessions of acupuncture

Practitioners claim acupuncture can reduce wrinkles, eliminate fine lines, lift sagging skin and improve skin colour and texture. Its effects last for about three months, and it only takes about 45 minutes. What's not to like?

Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body. It originated more than 2,000 years ago, and is used to treat everything from backache to migraines and fertility problems. Some acupuncture - though not cosmetic - is even funded by the NHS.

But how can sticking needles into the skin improve our faces?

Samara explains that when needles are inserted at pressure points, energy and endorphins are released. This minor trauma improves blood flow and stimulates cell re-growth.

'We put needles in at vortex points where energy is travelling to and from organs along lines we call meridians,' she explains. 'When energy flows more efficiently, circulation is improved, helping the body rejuvenate.

'Traumatising the skin by inserting tiny needles will also encourage the production of healing collagen, the protein which the body uses to keep the skin youthful and elastic.'

'When I look in the mirror, I am pleasantly surprised. I can't say my face looks younger, but it definitely has a glow which it lacked before.'

It certainly sounds convincing.

When I arrive at the Hale Clinic, my nerves swell into full-blown panic when Samara tells me to remove my shoes and tights. 'But I'm having a facial!' I protest.

Samara says she works on the whole body, not just the face. I tell her that I hate my feet, but Samara insists she needs access to them as the feet and hands contain the calming and cleansing meridians, and before she can work on my face these must be activated.

'Come on. I've seen worse,' she says encouragingly, before tapping a needle between my big toe and the one next to it. It doesn't hurt, though once the needles are in I can feel a faint tingling sensation.
One by one, she inserts ten needles in my feet, legs, and hands before putting 15 more into my face, head and temples. The experience makes me slightly queasy. But then, suddenly, I relax.

Samara explains: 'The needles between your toes increase blood flow around your body. They target the kidneys and cleanse the system.'

The needles in my legs will help the energy flow to my digestive system which is sluggish, she adds. This accounts, in part, for my grey complexion. 

Ancient heritage: Over 2,000 years old, acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that treats everything from backache to migraines and fertility problems
Ancient heritage: Over 2,000 years old, acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that treats everything from backache to migraines and fertility problems

I try to ignore the needles while Samara taps them around my hair line, my mouth and between my eyebrows. She explains that the blood flow and oxygen to these areas will be increased. 'The skin will then plump out and regenerate,' Samara promises.

When they're removed 30 minutes later I am slightly disoriented, as though I've had a few gin and tonics. Apparently this is normal, the result of a release of feel-good endorphins.

When I look in the mirror, I am pleasantly surprised. I can't say my face looks younger, but it definitely has a glow which it lacked before.

Feeling uncharacteristically relaxed, I head off into rush hour. Even an hour-long train delay doesn't send me into my customary paroxysms of fury. I simply smile beatifically.

The next morning, I take a long, hard look at my face in the mirror. My skin looks smoother and my complexion appears brighter. I've definitely got more colour. But the most extraordinary change is that I feel totally angst-free. For the first time in months, I haven't woken up fretting.

My second session is less daunting than the first, and even baring my feet feels like less of a challenge.

The session goes smoothly, I leave, and by 9pm that evening I can barely keep my eyes open. I feel as though I've done a two-hour workout and slope off to bed. I then have one of the best night's sleep I can ever remember.

The unusual dreamy feeling stays with me days later. Even as I'm trying to hit a deadline past midnight I feel oddly carefree.

After three sessions, I can see a definite improvement. My skin is rosier and clearer, my cheeks plumper. The lines around my mouth are less visible, and my forehead unfurrowed.
I look healthier, with a much better complexion than someone whose staple diet consists of doughnuts and coffee deserves.

Samara recommends a further seven to ten sessions for maximum benefit. At £80 a session, facial acupuncture isn't cheap, but compared to around £295 for Botox, it's worth it for the relaxation alone.

Meanwhile, I know I'll never again look like I did in my 20s, but I am at least rediscovering the carefree attitude of my youth.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

You Ate It? Negate It!

You Ate It? Negate It! Summer Indulgence Edition

Before you take a bite of your favorite treats, learn what you would have to do to burn off their calories

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The debate between Gua Sha and Graston Technique....both have their place, is my conclusion

Dynamic Chiropractic - The Chiropractic News Source
DC Canada

Gua Sha: Another Form of Mechanical Load

By Warren Hammer, MS, DC, DABCO

Every technique that creates compression or tensile stretch to soft tissue creates a mechanical load that is necessary for tissue change. Gua sha represents another form of mechanical load on soft tissue that claims healing results and, like all other soft-tissue methods, begs for research to prove its value.
Arya Nielsen, PhD, adjunct faculty in the Department of Integrative Medicine at New York Beth Israel Medical Center, Continuum Center for Health & Healing, and a strong proponent of gua sha, wrote an interesting article in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (JBMT).1 
She states that often the literature incorrectly describes the results of gua sha as causing battery trauma, bruising, burns, dermatitis, pseudo bleeding and even hematoma.

Although gua means to "scrape" or "scratch" in Chinese, the skin always remains intact and there are no abrasions. Sha represents the "transient therapeutic petechiae." The extravasated blood appears as red macula and fades to ecchymosis immediately, blending into an ecchymotic patch. The scraping reveals blood stasis and its use removes blood stagnation that is considered pathogenic, thereby promoting normal circulation and metabolic processes. Gua sha lets blood from the tissue and is not let from the skin.2

This method originated in Asia and is used today in East Asian medicine and by acupuncturists. Nielsen mentions its use for colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, as well as musculoskeletal problems including fibromyalgia to severe strain. Improving blood stasis and sha may even be significant in asymptomatic subjects who are considered healthy.
A recent study using laser Doppler imaging was used to make sequential measurements of the microcirculation of surface tissue before and after gua sha treatment3 in order to relieve pain. 

The result was a fourfold increase in microcirculation for the first 7.5 minutes following treatment and a significant increase in surface microcirculation during the entire 25 minutes of the study period following treatment. There was a decrease in myalgia not only locally but also in sites distal to the treated areas. The authors stated that the distal area of relief was not due to a distal increase in microcirculation and asserted, "There is an unidentified pain-relieving biomechanism associated with gua sha."
Recent theories based on tensegrity and the fascial continuum help to explain distal results from localized mechanical load. Ingber, who has written much on our tensegrity structure,4 demonstrates how living cells and tissues sense and respond to mechanical stresses and in the rearrangement of the structure become mechanochemical transducers, whereby mechanical signals create chemical responses affecting local and distal parts of our structure.
Fibroblasts are the chief cell in the extracellular matrix and reproduce the extracellular matrix upon being loaded; it is thought by Langevin, et al.,5 that the existence of a cellular network of fibroblasts within loose connective tissue may have considerable significance, as it may support as-yet unknown bodywide cellular signaling systems. She states that fascia may serve as a bodywide mechanosensitive signaling system with an integrating function similar to the nervous system. Regarding gua sha and GT, increasing the microcirculation may stimulate platelets which release growth factors related to the healing of tissue.

Graston Technique (GT) has been compared with gua sha, and I have even heard some say that GT adopted the gua sha concept. GT was initially used on a postsurgical knee. It is extremely doubtful that the discoverers were at all familiar with gua sha, but even if they were, the GT application is significantly different. GT research has been directed toward the musculoskeletal system and its effect on various soft-tissue conditions. New studies are continually appearing demonstrating how it may be affecting soft tissue. It has its own protocol and uses instruments of different weights, shapes, and sizes to conform to the bodily contours. Its stainless-steel vibratory effect is used to detect restricted areas after functional tests are performed to determine the involved location.

While both methods can create petechiae, the stroking is not performed in the same manner. GT often achieves results without creating any petechiae at all. GT uses at least seven types of strokes, while gua sha repeats a stroke in one direction about 4-6 inches long specifically to create "therapeutic" petechiae.1
A variety of instrument angulations and pressures may be used in GT depending upon the area of the body treated.

Doctors trained in both methods realize the vast differences. Both methods have their place and there is some obvious overlap, but the differences between the methods are significant. At present, all soft-tissue loading methods are still in their infancy regarding research as to how they affect our structure and function. Einstein referred to a unifying theory of the universe. Hopefully, there might someday be one for soft tissue.

  1. Nielsen A. Gua sha research and the language of integrative medicine. JBMT, January 2009;13,63-72.
  2. Nielsen A. Gua Sha: A Traditional Technique for Modern Practice. Edinburg: Churchill Livingstone, 2002.
  3. Nielsen A, Knoblauch N, Dobos G, et al. The effect of gua sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: a pilot study in healthy subjects. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, September 2007;3(5):456-66.
  4. Ingber DE. Tensegrity: the architectural basis of cellular mechanotransduction. Ann Rev Physeal, 1997;59:575-99.
  5. Langevin H, Cornbrooks CJ, Taatjes DJ. Fibroblasts form a body-wide cellular network. Histochem Cell Biol, 2004;122:7-15.

 A little Background:

Graston Technique

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GrastonTechnique shoulder-treat.jpg
GT-Instruments 400pixelswide.jpg
Graston Technique (GT) is a trademarked therapeutic method for diagnosing and treating disorders of the skeletal muscles and related connective tissue. The method employs a collection of six stainless steel tools of particular shape and size, which are used by practitioners to palpate patients' bodies in order to detect and resolve adhesions in the muscles and tendons.[1] Practitioners must be licensed by the parent corporation in order to use the Graston Technique trademark or the patented instruments.[2]


The Graston Technique has not been rigorously scientifically tested and its evidence basis and assumptions are considered questionable by physician Harriet Hall.[3]
However several examples of Graston treatment have been tested in combat sports where scars and contusions are common.[4

Gua Sha

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gua Sha as practiced in Bali, Indonesia

Gua sha (Chinese: 刮痧; pinyin: guā shā), literally "Scrape Sand" in Chinese (more loosely, "to scrape away disease by allowing the disease to escape as sandy-looking objects through the skin"), is a form of folk medicine. Sometimes referred to as "spooning" or "coining" by English speakers, it has also been given the descriptive French name, tribo-effleurage.[1]

The Vietnamese term for this practice is cạo gió. This term translates roughly "to scrape wind", as in Vietnamese culture "catching a cold" or fever is often referred to as trúng gió, "to catch wind".
The origin of this term is the Shang Han Lun, a ~220 CE Chinese Medical text on cold induced disease - like most Asian countries China's medical sciences were a profound influence in Vietnam, especially between the 5th and 7th Centuries CE.[2] Cạo gió is an extremely common remedy in Vietnam and for overseas Vietnamese. There are many variants of cạo gió.
Some methods use oil balm and a coin to apply pressure to the skin. Others use a boiled egg with a coin inserted in the middle of the yolk. The egg is wrapped in a piece of cloth and rubbed over the forehead (in the case of a fever) and other areas of skin. After the rubbing, when the coin is removed from the egg, it will appear black.

It is also used in Indonesia. It is a traditional Javanese technique, known as kerikan (lit., "scraping technique") or kerokan, and it is very widely used, as a form of folk medicine, upon members of individual households.


Gua sha involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edge. Commonly a ceramic Chinese soup spoon was used, or a well worn coin, even honed animal bones, water buffalo horn, or jade. A simple metal cap with a rounded edge is commonly used.

In cases of fatigue from heavy work, a piece of ginger root soaked in rice wine is sometimes used to rub down the spine from head to feet.

The smooth edge is placed against the oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly, and then moved down the muscles—hence the term tribo-effleurage (i.e., friction-stroking)—or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians, along the surface of the skin, with each stroke being about 4–6 inches long.
This causes extravasation of blood from the peripheral capillaries and may result in sub-cutaneous blemishing (ecchymosis), which usually takes 2–4 days to fade. Sha rash does not represent capillary rupture (petechiae) as in bruising, as is evidenced by the immediate fading of the markings to echymosis, and the rapid resolution of sha as compared to bruising.

The color of sha varies according to the severity of the patient's blood stasis—which may correlate with the nature, severity and type of their disorder—appearing from a dark blue-black to a light pink, but is most often a shade of red.
Practitioners tend to follow the tradition they were taught to obtain sha: typically using either gua sha or fire cupping. The techniques are sometimes used together.[3]

New evidence demonstrates acupuncture activates specific regions of the brain for the treatment of specific diseases. Investigators from the Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department of Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine also find that acupuncture regulates neurotransmitters as a mechanism to modulate autonomic nervous system responses. The review article notes that further investigation is required to differentiate the effects of specific acupuncture points versus the medicinal effects elicited by needling along the acupuncture meridians.

Acupuncture exerts its effects on the nervous system. The review focused on a great body of modern research and uncovered many of the mechanisms by which acupuncture exerts its medicinal effects on human health. 
The study noted that numerous new research investigations have shown that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of autonomic nervous system related disorders including epilepsy, anxiety, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), infertility and cardiovascular disorders. 
Additional research demonstrates that acupuncture regulates the autonomic nervous system thereby modulating blood pressure, pupil size, muscle activities, heart and pulse rates, HRV (heart rate variability) and skin conductance and temperature.

The research finds correlates between biomedical and Chinese Medicine theories. The study notes that acupuncture’s ability to regulate Yin and Yang translates into the biomedical view that acupuncture regulates the flux between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system. 

Specifically, they cite the ability of acupuncture to regulate parasympathetic activity is directly related to stimulation of the De-Qi (arrival of Qi) sensation associated with acupuncture needle manipulation.
Numerous studies demonstrate that acupuncture regulates the autonomic nervous system by affecting specific activities in the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex of the brain. In the hypothalamus, for example, needling acupuncture point ST36 regulates the expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase. 
Electroacupuncture has been shown to affect serotogenic projections in the medulla oblongata and contributes to acupuncture’s ability to regulate cardiovascular activity. Electroacupuncture also activates neurons within the medulla oblongata. These responses are elicited by verum acupuncture and not from control groups receiving only sham acupuncture. In the midbrain, electroacupuncture excites neurons and plays a role in the midbrain’s modulation of blood pressure.

Many other findings were verified by the systematic review. Electroacupuncture has been shown to heal impaired gastric motility and dysrhythmic slow waves by regulation of vagal nerve activity.  The nerve activity was affected by acupuncture’s ability to affect opiod pathways. Acupuncture’s ability to decrease the heart rate, however, was shown to be elicited by its ability to activate GABAergic neurons and not opioids in one of the reviewed studies. The investigators note that this finding is confirmed by other research showing that acupuncture’s effects on opioid receptor mediated transmission is not responsible for slowing the heart rate. As a result, the investigators suggest that acupuncture may exert its medicinal effects by many types of neurotransmitters. The investigators also cited numerous studies showing that acupuncture activates enkephalinergic neurons in several different brain regions.

Amino acids have also been shown to respond to acupuncture stimulation. Electroacupuncture at acupuncture points P5 and P6 directly activates vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3), a protein that mediates the uptake of glutamate into synaptic vesicles. VGLUT3 is found in the amygdala, cerebellum, hippocampus, medulla, spinal cord and thalamus and is involved in biological processes such as hearing, ion transport, neurotransmitter transport and sodium transport. The research notes that studies point to glutamate and GABA involvement in the mechanism by which acupuncture exerts a regulatory affect on the autonomic nervous system.

The investigators reviewed over 75 modern studies on the medical effects and actions by which acupuncture exerts its effects on human health. They note that specific acupuncture points elicit specific biological processes and that sham acupuncture controls do not demonstrate the same effects as verum acupuncture points. They suggest that future research is needed to determine if it is the individual acupuncture point that exerts a specific function or it is the acupuncture meridian on which the acupuncture is located.

Li, Qian-Qian, Guang-Xia Shi, Qian Xu, Jing Wang, Cun-Zhi Liu, and Lin-Peng Wang. "Acupuncture Effect and Central Autonomic Regulation." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).

Healthcare Medicine Institute

New research confirms that acupuncture reduces pain levels. Investigators discovered that electroacupuncture decreases pain by regulating the expression of several proteins in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain responsible for autonomic nervous system, endocrine and limbic system functions. A total of 17 hypothalmic proteins demonstrated significant changes as a result of electroacupuncture stimulation for the treatment of pain.
The human hypothalamus is involved in acupuncture pain reduction. The acupuncture points chosen for the study were ST36 (Zusanli) and GB34 (Yanglingquan). Electroacupuncture at these points effectively reduced pain, enriched three gene ontologies and regulated the glycolysis-gluconeogenesis-hexose metabolism pathway. The researchers note that the data demonstrates that electroacupuncture lessens pain through the “regulation of expression of multiple proteins in the hypothalamus.”

These findings are consistent with other research on the relationship between acupuncture and brain chemistry. Researchers discovered that electrical and manual acupuncture “improve menstrual frequency and decrease circulating androgens in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).” Acupuncture caused normalization of estrogen activity and decreased excessive androgen levels. Electroacupuncture demonstrated changes in the central opioid receptors of the hypothalamus suggesting that it may be “mediated by central opioid receptors….” Manual acupuncture demonstrated changes in the steroid receptors of the hypothalamus suggesting that it “may involve regulation of steroid hormone-peptide receptors.”

Another study focusing on acupuncture’s ability to reduce carpal tunnel pain discovered a brain pathway by which acupuncture exerts its therapeutic results. The researchers measured brain responses to neuropathic pain using fMRI technology. Acupuncture caused significant activation of the hypothalamus and greater deactivation of the amygdala. The researchers concluded that acupuncture benefits chronic pain sufferers “through a coordinated limbic network including the hypothalamus and amygdala.”

A weight loss study found that acupuncture controls the expression of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. The investigators observed that “electroacupuncture treatment led to a reduction of body weight, decrease in the plasma leptin levels, and an increase in leptin receptor expression in the hypothalamus.” The researchers continue, “Our results suggested that regulating the expression of leptin and the leptin receptor might be one of the molecular mechanisms underlying the reduction of body weight in diet-induced obese rats by electroacupuncture treatment.”
Similar findings show that acupuncture regulates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis. Researchers discovered that the application of electroacupuncture to acupoint ST36 reduces the production of stress induced hormones via this cortical pathway. 
Acupuncture prevented sympathetic nervous system elevations via the NPY pathway and also prevented elevations in ACTH and CORT.

Gao, Yonghui, Shuping Chen, Qiuling Xu, Kan Yu, Junying Wang, Lina Qiao, Fanying Meng, and Junling Liu. "Proteomic Analysis of Differential Proteins Related to Anti-nociceptive Effect of Electroacupuncture in the Hypothalamus Following Neuropathic Pain in Rats." Neurochemical research (2013): 1-12.
Electrical and manual acupuncture stimulation affects estrous cyclicity and neuroendocrine function in a DHT-induced rat polycystic ovary syndrome model. Yi Feng1,2, Julia Johansson1, Ruijin Shao1, Louise Mannerås Holm1, Håkan Billig1, Elisabet Stener-Victorin1,3 . Experimental Physiology. DOI: 10.1113/expphysiol.2011.063131.
PAIN. Volume 130, Issue 3 , Pages 254-266, August 2007. Hypothalamus and amygdala response to acupuncture stimuli in carpal tunnel syndrome. V. Napadow, N. Kettner, J. Liu, M. Li, K.K. Kwong, M. Vangel, N. Makris, J. Audette, K.K.S. Hui. July 2006.
Meirong Gong et al, Am. J. Chin. Med. 40, 511 (2012). DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X12500395. Effect of Electroacupuncture on Leptin Resistance in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity. Meirong Gong. Xinjun Wang. Zhen Mao. Qinhua Shao. Xiaoren Xiang. Bin Xu. Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, China.
Eshkevari, Ladan, Eva Permaul, and Susan Elisabeth Mulroney. "Acupuncture Blocks Cold Stress-Induced Increase in Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Rat." Journal of Endocrinology (2013).

New research demonstrates that acupuncture is more effective than valproic acid for the treatment of migraines. 
A randomized study of 100 migraine patients were divided into an acupuncture group and a valproic acid group. The acupuncture study group received a total of 20 acupuncture treatments and the valproic acid group was administered a regular dose of 600mg per day. 
An additional 10mg of Rizatriptan was made available to both groups for acute migraine attacks. 
The acupuncture group required less Rizatriptan and had significantly lower pain intensity levels due to migraines than the valproic acid group. In addition, the acupuncture group showed no adverse side effects whereas the valproic acid group showed 47.8% rate of adverse side effects. 

The researchers concluded that acupuncture is more effective for the treatment of migraines and has no adverse side effects.

Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of migraines. Acupuncture TreatmentThe migraine study measured outcomes six months after the acupuncture treatments had been completed. The humanitarian implications of these finding suggest that acupuncture may be the primary choice of care for the treatment of migraines given its ability to provide long lasting relief. The difference between acupuncture and drug therapy is that the migraine study showed a lasting and enduring effect over time whereas medications provide only partial, temporary pain relief.
In related news, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco recently released findings from a study showing acupuncture having the same efficaciousness as morphine in its ability to control pain. This reveals how acupuncture provides immediate pain relief in addition to the long lasting results demonstrated in the migraine study. In another study of 17,922 patient outcomes, researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of neck and back pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis and headaches. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain.
Although studies continue to show that acupuncture is one of the most effective treatments for migraines, many insurance companies do not cover acupuncture therapy but instead cover less effective drug therapies. 
Questions remain as to how acupuncture will be integrated into the healthcare system within the United States of America. Recent healthcare legislation requires states to implement more comprehensive standards for insurance company healthcare policies, including requirements for the inclusion of preventative medicine and better standards for the treatment of pain. 
As a result, states including California and Maryland have co-opted existing health insurance plans that include acupuncture care as the statewide standard such that all small group and individual health insurance policies written or re-upped in 2014 will include acupuncture benefits.

While the new federal healthcare legislation has encouraged more comprehensive statewide standards of care, the demand for better patient outcomes and protocols for the treatment of pain is decades old. The Joint Commission, which accredits hospital and healthcare organizations, has long required medical facilities to upgrade treatment protocols for pain management. 
Recent studies now point to acupuncture inclusion across the healthcare system to meet growing requirements for expedient, effective pain relief. The growing body of evidence now shows that acupuncture is not only effective for the treatment of pain but is also more effective than existing drug therapies. However, most insurance policies cover only drug therapies and require out-of-pocket payments by patients for acupuncture therapy. 
There is an apparent disconnect between the science, politics and business of medicine. That disconnected gap, however, is shrinking and acupuncture begins its integration into standards of care within conventional medical protocols nationwide.

Facco, E., et al. "Acupuncture Versus Valproic Acid In The Prophylaxis Of Migraine Without Aura: A Prospective Controlled Study." Minerva anestesiologica (2013).
Goddard, Greg. "Acupuncture (ST 36) Reduces Jaw Open Reflex in a Rat: A Pilot Study." (2013).

Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, et al. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. Published online September 10, 2012.