Acu-therapies restore 'balance and harmony' in the bodyHow effective acupuncture is “depends on what we are asking it to do,” said Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Department of Internal Medicine’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine program at Mayo Clinic, in an email to the the Herald.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
How effective acupuncture is “depends on what we are asking it to do,” said Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Department of Internal Medicine’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine program at Mayo Clinic, in an email to the the Herald.
“Cure cancer? Probably not. But help with many types of pain (such as musculoskeletal, headache, post-operative, etc.)? Definitely.”
At the Mayo Clinic, Bauer and his colleagues use acupuncture for pain, including back and neck pain, fibromyalgia and headaches, he said, as well as nausea after surgery or with chemotherapy.
Researchers there are looking at the effects of acupuncture on patients with fibromyalgia, nausea post-operatively, and other areas.
Bauer also cited “some very interesting work at the University of Michigan… looking at different responses to opioid receptors in the brain in response to real versus sham acupuncture which further makes me believe there is ‘something there.’”
He also recommends a TIME publication on alternative medicine, released this month, which “was supported by physicians and researchers at Mayo.”
Dr. John Dallman, a Grand Forks chiropractor, uses acupressure on almost all of his patients, but they may not always realize it. He also does acupuncture.
The practice, based on ancient Chinese theory, is based on the movement of energy.
“When energy is stagnant or not moving freely there’s a problem,” he said. “You can change the flow of energy through the use of pressure, needles (acupuncture), electricity or heat.”
A lot of research has proven that therapies such as acupressure and acupuncture work, he said, but not why they work.
“There are a lot of theories, having to do with neural stimulation — stimulating nerve- endings just under the skin.”
Stress — whether physical, emotional or chemical — causes energy to be backed up, he said.
“The goal is to create balance, to achieve harmony in the body.”
Acupressure and acupuncture use points on body to move energy, he said. “There’s a lot of different ways to get to those points.”
Western medicine has been slow to recognize and appreciate alternative approaches to healing because of its demand for scientific proof. But that is changing.
The local medical community “has become tremendously more accepting than it was,” he said. “I encounter very little resistance from doctors anymore.”
Dallman used acupuncture primarily for pain relief in the joints such as back, neck, cervical and lumbar disks, and knee problems.
Chiropractic and acupuncture are extremely safe, he said.
As evidence, he said, compare malpractice insurance rates.
“I pay less in a whole year for malpractice insurance what many doctors pay in a week.”
Medical doctors who don’t believe alternative therapies work are “burying their heads in the sand and not giving an informed opinion,” he said. “They’re giving views based on opinion, not based on facts.”
Wide spectrum of patients
Dr. Michael Waind, chiropractor in Grand Forks, pursued certification in acupuncture along with his training in chiropractic “so I could have more options and work on more cases,” he said.
He sees patients as young as a few days old to those 90 and older.
During birth, babies’ necks or spines may be adversely affected in ways that chiropractic treatment can alleviate, he said.
Chiropractic can also be used to help babies with ear infections, constipation and colic.
He uses acupuncture for patients who are coping with sinus headaches and congestion, neck and low back pain, anxiety, stress, depression and fibromyalgia.
Integrating alternative methods
David Magnuson, who practices acupuncture and acupressure at the Center for Healing and Wholeness in Grand Forks, said most of his patients come to him for pain — migraines, tennis elbow, tendonitis and back, ankle, knee and shoulder pain.
They also seek his services for insomnia, digestion problems, sinus congestion, infertility, anxiety or depression.
Acupressure and acupuncture are gaining acceptance, he said, noting that Mayo Health System has opened clinics in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., where people seeking alternative therapies can receive information and treatment.
Mayo is “very progressive,” he said. “They’re open to what is working.”
Acupressure and acupuncture “are really mainstream in larger communities. It’s fairly integrated into Western medicine.”
In this area, Magnuson said he has a “very positive” relationship with medical doctors who refer patients to him.
“When the focus is on the patient — and we step out of it — that’s a really good thing.”
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