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*HOW* acupuncture helps depressed patients

depression-acupuncture-cytokines
Recent research discovered that depression is not only a psychiatric condition – it has a physiological manifestation in the brain. Scientists found that depressed patients have higher levels of cytokines. Cytokines are proteins which have an ability to switch on inflammation in your body. These proteins can turn the brain into sickness mode – feeling down, lethargic, sleepy.

Acupuncture effective treatment for depression

This scientifically justified therapy showed promising results in patients who are diagnosed with depression, and especially, in patients with treatment resistant depression. Recent systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture combined with antidepressant medication is effective, has an early onset of action, safe and well-tolerated over the first 6-week treatment period. Moreover, this treatment combination appears to result in greater therapeutic efficacy than SSRI therapy alone.

How acupuncture helps and why you should consider it

Previous experimental studies found that acupuncture can reduce cytokine levels in chronic headache patients. Research on rodents has shown that it can reduce cytokine levels in the brain.

One of the ways how acupuncture regulates your body is through the vagus nerve. This important nerve connects the organs with the brain. Via the Vagus nerve acupuncture can directly reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. And long term treatments can increase levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines. To achieve this benefit you need 3 or more months of regular treatment. This is not only beneficial for depression. Inflammation has been linked to heart disease, increase the risk of cancer, affect your sleep, it makes it hard to lose weight, increases bone loss, damages your gums… Reducing inflammation can benefit your health significantly.

Currently, there are a few theories explaining the therapeutic effects of this time-tested therapy for depressed patients. Cytokine theory is one of the most promising theory explaining how acupuncture treats depression.

5 New Discoveries about how Acupuncture helps Fertility

A number of recent studies focus on how reproductive acupuncture helps fertility and improves IVF success rates. Here is a summary of most important discoveries.

Acupuncture perfects the uterine lining

It improves the chances of triple-line pattern uterine lining. This kind of lining is much preferred when you’re trying to conceive, as it gives you a higher chance of successful pregnancy.

Improves blood supply

Acupuncture improves blood supply to the uterine lining. Previously we already had studies showing improved blood flow to uterus and ovaries. This study has shown that even uterine vasularisation has improved following 3 months of treatment. Uterine blood flow is essential for conception.

Increases uterine receptivity

This time-tested therapy also improves uterine receptivity. A protein HOXA10 has been measured in uterine lining. HOXA10 has an important function in regulating endometrial development during the menstrual cycle and in establishing conditions necessary for implantation of embryo. Hoxa10 expression is lower in women with Endometriosis, PCOS and hydorsalpinx.

Regulates sugar levels

It helps to regulate sugar levels. The glucose levels are especially important to both PCOS and diabetic patients.

Optimises ovarian volume and AMH

Acupuncture benefits PCOS patients by normalising ovarian volume and AMH.

How much acupuncture does one need to have to improve fertility? One session can already make a difference, but to see measurable improvements to your fertility, you need to commit to at least 18 sessions or three months of treatment.

Contact Dr Vitalis to discuss your situation or learn more about reproductive and IVF acupuncture.

Insomnia – brain imaging studies show how acupuncture helps

I’ve written about how brain imaging helps to understand how acupuncture works a couple of weeks ago.  Now I stumbled upon a study about acupuncture for insomnia and sleep deprivation. The study was conducted by JiaoTong university in China.

They only chose one acupuncture point on a leg, which could be used to treat insomnia. To test if acupuncture really made a difference, the researchers used another area on the same leg, only 2 centimetres away from the real acupoint. To further help to understand the effect of acupuncture they scanned people who were not sleep deprived but received the same treatment.

You can see the results on the image above. The first horizontal row shows the brain of people students who received stimulation when they weren’t sleep deprived. The second row is where we can see significant changes to various areas of the brain; this is where real acupuncture was used on the same students after total sleep deprivation for one night.

The third row shows sham or fake treatment, where they used exactly the same needle, but on an area away from an acupuncture point.

The researchers conclude, that the difference in brain activation suggests the importance of SP6 in the treatment of sleep deprivation. Thanks, to the technology of FMRI we’re a little closer to understanding the mechanism of acupuncture for insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Reference: Differential activation patterns of fMRI in sleep-deprived brain: restoring effects of acupuncture