Endometriosis Awareness – Ending the Silence

Endometriosis Awareness 

This month is Endometriosis awareness month and I have been invited to be a guest speaker for Endometriosis Australia and their endometriosis awareness campaign called “Ending the Silence.” Our aim is to bring awareness about this disease that is often overlooked. It is an issue myself as an endometriosis expert feels very passionately about. I treat women suffering from this disease every day and I hope that one day, endometriosis can be a word of the past.

Through awareness and education, let’s try and get women the early intervention and help they need sooner, rather than later.

What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis, which is an inflammatory gynaecological disease, by which endometrial like tissue grows outside the endometrium. It can spread outside the endometrium into the pelvis, bowel and intestines. It has even been known to get into the brain, joints and around the heart.This disease affects 1 in 10 women, often causing immense pain for them.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist Guidelines for the Management of Endometriosis, it can cause the following symptoms:

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Period Pain
Pain with sex
Ovulation Pain
Irritable bowel like symptoms
Bladder issues
Chronic fatigue
Pain with bowel movement

The disease can also cause other symptoms such as :

Bloated belly that looks pregnant around your period (known as endo belly)

Bloated belly that looks pregnant and you are told it is from certain foods, but it isn’t, or may be a combination of food and inflammation from endometriosis (also known as endo belly)

UTI like symptoms that aren’t a UTI

Bleeding from the bowel with your period

Low Iron with no explanation

Being told you have IBS, but you don’t have IBS

Migraines/Headaches that are worse around your period

Irrational mood swings

There are so many other symptoms that could also be pointers to endometriosis. 

This disease can also play major havoc with hormones and the libido. Many women with can have pain on intercourse which further lessens the desire around sex.
Women with endometriosis often have painful periods and can’t get out of bed, so if you experience this, there is a good chance that you actually have it.
Women with endometriosis can also have other hormonal disturbances such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness etc. They can also have other symptoms such as migraines, headaches, dizziness, constipation, pain with bowel movements, joint pains and all manner of symptoms created from the inflammation that endometriosis is caused by and also creates

How Many Women Suffer from Endometriosis?
Endometriosis has now reached an all time high in its ever-growing presence. While the current research says that 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, as an endometriosis expert, I believe, as do many others, that these figures may be grossly under exaggerated. Research also shows that a significant portion of women affected with endometriosis are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and may only ever get diagnosed if they are having issues with having a baby, or they may never be diagnosed at all. In addition to this, many women diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome actually have endometriosis and not IBS.

Many women have also been told period pain is normal and hence many never seek help for a condition that can be debilitating on their life and those around them. Women who suffer period pain and other menstrual related symptoms caused by endometriosis are often ‘missed’ and ‘dismissed’ by multiple healthcare professionals and it can take up to 12 years from onset of symptoms to a definitive diagnosis being made. Women with period pain caused by endometriosis have to live a life of pain, trauma and physical and emotional torment. Many of these women are barely getting through a day, let alone a whole month of exhausting symptoms related to this disease. Some sadly even turn to suicide.

The Western Medicine Approach on the Causation and Treatment of Endometriosis
To date, Western medicine does not know how or even why it occurs. The only solution that has been offered in the past was to laser it. This usually has a recurrence rate of up to 80%. Recently many doctors have been treating this disease by excising (cutting it out), which offers better relief with less recurrence. I do need to stress that when a surgeon is needed, it needs to be done by an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon, who has had extra specialised training, and is an expert in endometriosis excision and management, and is not just any gynaecologist. This is where many go wrong and haven’t had the disease treated properly.

Despite the increased success in treating endometriosis through a surgical procedure, it still usually recurs in a majority of women.

So why isn’t the medical option alone working?

Primarily it is because they are just treating the symptoms and not the cause. You can take away most physical symptoms very easily, but if the real cause isn’t addressed at the same time, you have no chance of a full recovery. This includes emotional factors. In addition, many of the hormones that women are put on after surgery, mask the problem and can actually make it worse. By actually stopping the period, like many of these hormones do, there is an increased risk of further endometriosis growing. Sure, while you have no period, you have no pain or symptoms, but internally it is still there waiting to flare up again. Oral contraceptive pills containing estrogen must be avoided as they only add to making the problem worse. Progesterone only options should be looked at rather than a combined pill, if using hormones. These treatments also have limitations that include side effects in some women and contraceptive action for women desiring to conceive.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach on the Causation & Treatment of Endometriosis
Firstly, I can only pass on what the Chinese have known and studied for 10,000 or more years, much longer than western medicine. They had the body and its internal organs mapped out longer before medical science in the west did.
In Chinese Medicine, they believe the liver governs the menstrual cycle, and that it also governs our emotions.They believe that through poor diet, lifestyle, medicines, environment etc, that these can then cause disruption to an organ in the body. Emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, stress, irritability etc, can also cause the liver to be in disharmony. In Western Medicine terms, we know that poor diet and emotional factors can unlock predisposed hereditary issues, or dispositions through DNA recoding. Yes, diet can affect your DNA coding and so can emotional issues. Similarly we can reverse some disease states, and reprogram DNA coding through a healthy diet and fixing our emotional health.

When the liver is in disharmony, the Chinese believe it can cause blockages in our system. Western medicine now also believes that emotions can cause physical symptoms and we often see this is psychiatric, or body-mind medicine. These blockages then cause what we call stagnation. The Chinese believe that when the Qi (energy) becomes stagnant, it causes what they call Liver Qi Stagnation, and this is the cause of many gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and PMS. As the Qi stagnation is left long term, it then affects the blood and turns it stagnant too. Imagine damming a river and the longer the water sits, the more stagnant it becomes because it no longer flows. This is where the Liver Blood Stagnation comes from and what they believe endometriosis is manifested from. When we look at endometriosis, it does present as blood clotting and pain. Basically it is like a varicose vein that has all that old, stagnant blood in it. The circulation is no longer moving and the blood now turns dark and causes pain.

Chinese medicine believes that not only is diet and herbal medicine needed to move the stagnant blood and help prevent the disease coming back, it also believes that the emotional component behind it also needs to be addressed. In Chinese medicine they use lots of warming and blood thinning herbs that are also anti-coagulants, but are also anti-spasmotics. The Chinese medicine also has herbs to help the liver function and also help with emotional wellbeing.

Chinese VS Western Medicine
The only difference between Chinese Medicine and Western medicine is the treatment principles. Chinese medicine looks at treating the cause of the issue, which means the symptoms get sorted by addressing the cause. Western medicine only treats symptomatically and therefore the cause of the issue is often not treated. That huge difference is why Chinese Medicine does get such great results. But like anything, it also depends on who you see and their experience in that field. But, I must stress that both medicines are equally as important and both are needed to get the best results possible. It is about a team effort and using a multi modality approach. It is also about finding your rich team too. I will talk about this now. 

Dr Andrew Orr’s Recommended Approach to Treating Endometriosis
Endometriosis has a highly variable disease state, and thus a multi-modality approach is needed to treat it. Targeting different pathways is likely to be important to move toward precision health (personalized medicine) in endometriosis. People with endometriosis need a team of people looking after them, not just one person and one approach.
For severe cases you will need to see a good advanced laparoscopic surgeon to get as much of the endometriosis cut out (not lasered). Surgery is a much needed option if the pain is severe because it helps get rid of the endometriosis that can be seen. However, it does not deal with the microscopic implants of endometriosis that can’t be seen, and this is why endometriosis is likely to occur again. This is where the Chinese Medicine can help. You then use the Chinese medicine to treat the microscopic implants of endometriosis and stop it progressing further and therefore treat the cause. This will be the primary treatment after surgery and help stop it from recurring. This can be done along side medical hormone treatments as well.

Following the correct diet can also aid this healing process. The modern Western diet consists of many foods with high GI levels, causing inflammation to the body and therefore fueling conditions such as endometriosis. There are all sorts of diets out there attesting to be the cure for endometriosis, but half are them are actually making it worse. Unless the diet is about reducing grains, high GI carbs, sugars, and increasing proteins, then it isn’t going to help endometriosis.

Lastly, see a good counsellor. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine will help both the physical & emotional side, but sometimes solution-based talk therapy is needed for the best results. I provide clients with a list of preferred gynaecologists and counsellors within my appointments with them.

To support my view on the treatment of endometriosis, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines for treating endometriosis now states that Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine is a recommended therapy. A multi modality approach really can help, but for anything to work more effectively, you too, have to make a commitment.

Who I am and Why this Means so Much to Me
I am a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist, and an Endometriosis Expert with over 20 years of experience in Women’s Health Medicine and treating and managing endometriosis. I know all too well the trials and tribulations women have to go through before someone actually listens and gives these poor women a proper diagnosis. I also have loved ones with this disease and have also lived with a chronic painful disease too. While I may not fully understand and feel what women with endometriosis actually goes through, I do know what it is like to live daily life with a painful chronic inflammatory disease that can rule your life on every level. 

The one thing I do want all women to know is that “Period pain IS NOT normal” and all too often women are told that period pain is normal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to educate women and young girls that period pain is not normal.

I have a motto of “Leaving No Stone Left Unturned” and I apply this to every patient I see with period pain, and those potentially suffering from endometriosis. I would like to see better education and awareness for the general public, but I would also like better education and awareness for healthcare professionals. I would like to see all healthcare professional use my motto and make sure that no woman is ever missed, or is dismissed with this horrible disease ever again.

I would like to conclude with one last message “ Women need to know that period pain IS NOT normal and that early detection and early intervention and treatment is the key to treating any disease properly.”

Lets end the silence about this horrible disease. Please support Endometriosis Awareness and this month please support Endometriosis Australia with their High Teas to promote endometriosis awareness. These High Teas will be run nationally on March 25th and in every capital city and some smaller cities also. Please see the Endometriosis Australia website for details (www.endometriosisaustralia.org) 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

The Brisbane Baby Maker, Endometriosis Expert and Women’s Health Crusader

“Leaving no Stone Unturned”

“Period Pain IS NOT normal”

Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of chronic headache

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: January 4, 2017

New studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of chronic headache, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. These new findings were published in he journal – Scientific Reports.

The researchers from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, analysed the serum vitamin D levels and occurrence of headache in approximately 2,600 men aged between 42 and 60 years. The research showed that in 68% of these men, the serum vitamin D level was below 50 nmol/l, which is generally considered the threshold for vitamin D deficiency. Those with low levels of Vitamin D were more prone to Chronic headache occurring at least on a weekly basis.

In Australia over 97% of the population are known to be Vitamin D deficient. This is because we are now staying indoors longer and sunscreens are also blocking some of the absorption on this necessary vitamin. Plus, you need to be outside in the sun at certain times of the day, for certain periods, without sunscreen on for proper absorption to occur. Our diet is another source of vitamin D and we are also lacking there.

Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to other chronic disease states and is a big part of people developing osteoporosis. Vitamin D is very much needed for healthy bones and also a healthy immune system

At Shen Therapies we can help people with all sorts of Vitamin, Mineral and Nutrient deficiencies and help you get back to optimum health in no time. We also carry a high potency Vitamin D supplement that will get your Vitamin D levels back to where they should be. We can also send you for blood tests to get your vitamin D levels checked too.

When was the last time you got your Vitamin D levels checked?

New Type of Migraine May Be Due to Low Iron

As a women’s health specialist, on a daily basis I see women who have migraines and some are related to their menstrual cycle and some aren’t. Many migraines are blamed on all sorts of things from intolerances, certain foods, alcohol, preservatives, hormones and whatever else people may think that is causing their head to pound.

I know I have successfully treated Migraines for years and it does require and individualised approach and a multi-modality approach of many things.

But there is a type of Migraine that I do see often and is easily treated with a simple supplement. I often see this is vegetarian, vegans and women whom have had prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeds. A new study has given this migraine a name and also confirmed a treatment that I have used for years.

In a paper published in the journal Headache, Anne Calhoun, MD, and Nicole Gill, DO, Carolina Headache Institute Durham, North Carolina, describe a new type of headache dubbed “end-menstrual migraine.”

Many women who have migraine toward the end of menstruation may be best treated with iron supplements, a new study suggests.

They believe that end-menstrual migraine is not hormonally mediated but rather causally related to menstrual blood loss, resulting in a brief relative anaemia with consequent migraine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this type of migraine was identified thousands of years ago and long known to scholars and doctors of TCM. It was called a blood deficient headache, or migraine, because is was often seen after a loss of blood, or those who were anaemic (blood deficient)

According to the researchers: “This is migraine which occurs at the end of the menstrual period — maybe on the last few days of bleeding or after the bleeding has stopped,” Dr Calhoun, who runs a menstrual migraine clinic, explained online. “It is not the same thing as menstrual migraine, which generally occurs on the day or two before menstruation or on the first day or two of bleeding and is known to be hormonally mediated. If migraine occurs 5 days or more after the onset of bleeding this is not classic menstrual migraine.”

The menstrual migraine is very common, is normally caused by the withdrawal of estrogen, and can be treated with hormone therapy, or naturally with hormone regulation. But, this new ‘end menstrual migraine’ is different. Women getting this type of migraine will not respond to hormone treatment, or hormone regulation. Some women have both menstrual and end-menstrual migraine. Up to 25% of women will have this type of migraine.

The best way to fix this type of Migraine is with iron supplements and iron rich foods. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they would use blood-tonifying herbs that are rich in iron.

With any type of migraine, you should always consult your healthcare practitioner to check what is causing them. Many times it can be a combination of things that require several different modalities of treatment to get the best results.

At Shen Therapies we can treat all types of Migraines and will help you get the best results possible and get your quality of life back. 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

 

 

 

 

Could you be suffering Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?

pms

 

 

 

Could you be suffering Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?

Do you suffer any of the following symptoms?

Are some of these symptoms worse around your menses, or mid-cycle?

  • Mood swings (worse around your menses, or mid-cycle)
  • Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
  • Marked anger, increased interpersonal conflicts, the anger can be worse at certain times of your cycle, or near your period. You may even feel violent with the anger.
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Irritability, especially with your menses, or even mid cycle.
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical problems, such as bloating, breast tenderness, swelling, headaches, joint or muscle pain.

If you do, then you may be suffering a condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS but are severe enough to interfere with work, social activities, and relationships. It is often a very much overlooked hormonal issue and often misdiagnosed. PMDD can actually cause women to have extreme anger and extreme mood swings and even become physically violent towards a partner, or loved ones.

How Common Is PMDD?

PMDD occurs in up to 10% of menstruating women, but it may be much higher than this.  Women with family history of premenstrual syndrome or PMDD are at greater risk for developing PMDD as there appears to be a strong genetic component. There can be underlying gynaecological conditions exacerbating, or contributing to PMDD too and we will talk about this later

What Causes PMDD?

As with PMS, the exact cause of PMDD is not known. Most researchers believe PMDD is brought about by the hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Hormones can be affected from anything form dietary changes, increased stress, medications, lack of exercise, increased abdominal fats and also consumption of alcohol.  Recent studies have shown a connection between PMDD and low levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals and helps regulate moods, sleep and even pain. Changes in serotonin levels can lead to PMDD symptoms.

How Is PMDD Diagnosed?

PMMD is diagnosed by seeing a healthcare professional who knows what signs and symptoms to look for. Usually this is a gynaecologist or women’s health specialist.  PMMD can be diagnosed by charting mood swings at certain times in  the cycle, along with other changes to the body during this time.

Before a diagnosis of PMDD is made other emotional problems, such as depression or panic disorder, need to be ruled out first, as these may be a cause of all of the symptoms.  In addition, underlying medical or gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, and hormonal problems that could account for symptoms, also must be ruled out.

For the diagnosis of PMDD to be made usually at least five of the  listed symptoms listed before (including at least one of the first four) occur for most of the time during the seven days before menstruation and go away within a few days of the start of the menstrual period. If these symptoms are present every day and do not improve with menstruation, they are unlikely due to PMDD.

How Is PMDD Treated?

Many of the same strategies used to treat PMS may also be helpful in relieving symptoms of PMDD. The main ones to focus on are:

Good nutrition –  High Gi carbohydrates and highly refined grains increase insulin levels and this then in turn causes disturbances with hormone levels and can also cause inflammation. This then exacerbates the symptoms of PMDD. It is recommended that women with PMDD limit their intake of refined sugar, and alcohol. There are vitamins and nutritional supplements that will help with PMDD as well.

Exercise – Moving the body is so important  for PMDD and it is important to do some sort of weight bearing exercise, or resistance work such as weights. Exercise such as walking, or swimming appears to improve premenstrual symptoms too. Exercise will also have other benefits to the body and overall health as well.

Medications-  Medically PMDD is usually treated with medications such as antidepressants and hormone therapies. Some over-the-counter pain relievers may help some  of the symptoms of PMDD,  such as headache, breast tenderness, backache, and cramping. Diuretics, or water pills, can help with fluid retention and bloating. Hormones can be used to treat PMDD but it is unclear whether this approach is effective.

Natural Medicine– Various Herbal medicines and vitamins and nutritional supplements have all been researched and shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS and PMDD. Always consult with with a qualified natural medicine practitioner for proper treatment and advice.

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)–  Research published in the BMC (Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review) showed that Acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments provided a 50% reduction in symptoms in the first month of treatment and symptoms continued to reduce with subsequent treatments.

Counseling-  Counseling and psychology need to be a big part of the overall treatment therapy to help women with PMDD develop effective coping strategies.

Other Therapies– Relaxation therapy, meditation, reflexology, and yoga may also help, but these approaches have not been widely studied.

At Shen Therapies, Dr Andrew Orr can help you with PMDD and PMS with a combined integrative approach of using western medicine and complementary medicine and therapies. Dr Andrew Orr is a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist (medical) but also has qualifications is TCM, Naturopathy and Nutritional medicine. If you need help with PMDD, please give our clinic a call on 07 32795697, or email info@shentherapies.com.au

 

Are Gluten Free Products Healthier For Us?

Are Gluten Free Products Healthier For Us?

Each day we are seeing more and more gluten free products lining the supermarket shelves. Today you can get everything from gluten-free bread, chips, pizza bases, cookies, cakes and other gluten-free products. But are there benefits to cutting out gluten, which is found in most of our grains such and wheat, oats etc?

While many consume gluten in many of the foods and products they are consuming daily and don’t realise the the affects on their health and digestive system, for many it is also a molecule that can wreak some serious havoc when consumed by the wrong person. But while many people look at gluten free products as now being a health food, the fact is that many of the gluten free products people are consuming, have more additives, have less vitamins and minerals, and contain more sugars than the gluten containing products. Should we just be going grain free instead of trying to use gluten frre products? Are these gluten free products healthier for you?

With marketing focussing more and more on the sales of gluten free products and the high prices that are charged for these products, we really need to look at what are in these products and ask the question…… Are these products really healthier for us?

I would say no, but let me explain why.

What Are Grains and What Do They Do To Our Health?

The word “Grains” does cover many of the common foods we eat now. Grains include wheat, corn, rye, rice, barley, oats, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and sorghum – and many others. These grains are used in so many products these days and part of the reason we are having so many problems with health issues. Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits, pastries, crackers and so many other refined products consumed by many of us are all made with these inflammatory grains.

Let’s not forget that we give grains to cattle and livestock to fatten them up, make them grow faster (due to the hormone response from insulin) and add more fats into the meat for extra flavour.

The grain is the reproductive part of plant; it therefore needs to protect itself to enable future generations. The big difference with fruit; which is designed to be eaten by humans, is that when digested seeds are consumed, they are then spread further to ensure future generations.

As part of this overall protective mechanism, grains contain anti-nutrients, such as phytates, lectins, and other incomplete proteins. This is our major problem with grains. Even when gluten is removed from food products, these other inflammatory agents remain and most people are complete unaware of this and how much they are causing problems with their health and disruption to their digestive systems.

Phytates bind to minerals, vitamins and enzymes preventing them from being absorbed in your body. The Lectins found in grains have a significant impact in the gut, resulting in inflammation and poor absorption of nutrients – as well as insulin & leptin resistance. The inflammation that these anti-nutrients cause, is now known to be the cause of many modern diseases. But lets not forget that many of our grains that we consume daily are also genetically modified and this in itself is causing major disruption to our health and bodily functions. This alone could be a major factor in the increase of many disease states we are now seeing.

Refined grains are converted to sugar very quickly, which requires insulin to bring down the blood sugar level in the blood. High insulin levels cause the body to store fats and then stop the burning of fats. The high insulin also causes inflammation and insulin resistance – which is the cause of many of our health conditions. It can be the cause of anything from PCOS, Endometriosis, Depression, Diabetes, Heart Disease and many other health issues in this modern day. Consuming such a high carbohydrate load with every meal results in unstable, fluctuating blood sugar levels and this then results in hunger that is satisfied by consuming another high carbohydrate meal.

There is also differences between what we term as “Carbs”. “Good carbs” are fresh fruits and vegetables and naturally growing foods in their normal form. “Bad Carbs” are basically anything that is refined – (Breads, cereals, flour products, sugar and most of our packet based foods)

So What is Gluten and why is it so bad for our health?

Gluten is another protein that causes a lot of problems and is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats (other grains have similar, troublesome proteins). Gluten is the only protein in food that’s indigestible and those who suffer from celiac disease experience adverse side effects from consuming  and — in severe cases —  touching  gluten. Gluten can slip through the intestinal lining, causing chronic damage, inflammation, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting in these sufferers. There’s also evidence suggesting that people without coeliac can have a sensitivity to gluten, which still causes complications and forces them to live on a strict gluten-free diet. Whilst a lot of people may test negative for the autoimmune disease Coeliac, there is evidence to suggest most people do not handle this incomplete protein well.

Gluten causes gut irritation and inflammation and many people will not even realise that their problems are caused by gluten. Gluten has been linked to many autoimmune and health conditions.

The problem with Gluten Free products is that they are still highly refined and they still cause inflammation, due to high insulin, even with the gluten removed. The inflammatory lectins and leptins are still there too. Many gluten free products are also full of additives, fillers, binding agents and lots of sugar. Currently, there are no medications, treatments, or cures to successfully treat any form of gluten intolerance. But so long as they don’t consume any foods containing gluten molecules, both coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity sufferers can live a relatively normal and otherwise healthy life.

But the bottom line is that Gluten-free diets don’t necessarily mean you’ve chosen a healthier route when you run the risk of losing out on essential nutrients.

This is why a grain free, not gluten free, is the best option. If you truly want to be gluten free, just don’t eat the wheat grain, or other gluten containing and inflammatory grains in the first place. The best thing any person could do for their body, as the first step towards better health, would be to cut wheat grain from their diet completely. You will be much healthier for it in the long run.

If you do want to know more about how to follow a wheat free/grain free diet, then give Shen Therapies a call and book in a health and wellness consultation today.

Acupuncture Treats, Clears & Prevents Migraines

Acupuncture on skin,Closeup.

 

 

Researchers have successfully documented not only that acupuncture is safe and effective for the relief of migraines, but also how acupuncture achieves positive outcomes.

As a past sufferer (yes past sufferer) of Migraines, I know all too well how debilitating and painful this condition can be when an attack happens. Even when the initial stage of the Migraine subsides, the aura and residual effects can last for days. While pain medication is a much needed part of the process, I also know that if you don’t administer the medication at the right time, the medication sometimes will have little, or no effect, once the migraine takes hold. Worse still, the withdrawal effects of these very strong pain medications can often then induce migraines and headaches, which then require further medication. It really can be a never-ending viscous cycle.

Migraines really do need a multimodality approach to them because the causes of them come from neck dysfunction(sublaxations), diet, blood sugars, hormones, stress and lifestyle. This is why an individual approach is always needed to properly assess, evaluate and treat migraines is needed. Too many people are just patching their condition, with a variety of treatments that really are only just getting them through to the next attack. What people need is a treatment that will not only treat the cause of their migraines, but also help prevent further migraines and give them long term relief and even cure. Acupuncture is just one component in that overall treatment and prevention. So let’s look at how acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture has been shown to induce important biological responses to prevent and alleviate migraines. Imaging studies of the brain using fMRI technology confirm that acupuncture causes specific cortical responses to achieve lasting analgesic effects. In addition, blood level measurements document specific responses to acupuncture that play an important role in preventing and eliminating pain.

Researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. A meta-analysis of controlled clinical and laboratory investigations are the basis for the conclusion. In analysis of recent clinical trials, they showed the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for migraines, with less migraine days and less pain intensity levels when acupuncture was administered. Furthermore, no severe adverse effects occurred. A follow-up of up to three months following acupuncture treatments maintained the same results and showed that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of migraines both on the short-term and long-term basis.

In some of the investigation, researchers conducting a clinically-controlled study using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) where they found a significant decrease in the functional connectivity of the right frontoparietal network of migraine patients. This connectivity dysfunctions was found to be reversible after four weeks of treatment using acupuncture. This is another curative effect of acupuncture that is quantifiable in repeated controlled experiments.

For over 7 thousand years, people have used acupuncture in China for the treatment of various pain conditions, including migraines. It is useful, both as a supplementary treatment and as an alternative treatment, in situations where there is no response to drug therapy. Migraines are a headache disorder affecting a broad population that causes many burdens due to associated healthcare costs and people not being able to go to school and work.

Up to 25% of households in Australia and the United States have at least one member who suffers from migraines. The estimated total number of migraine patients in the United States alone exceeds 28 million and half of them have reduced work or school productivity. In Australia millions of people suffer from Migraines daily and it also affects their work, study and general day to day function, with some not even able to leave their homes due to this debilitating condition.

Scientists have uncovered some of the biochemical mechanisms responsible for acupuncture’s pain killing effects. Drugs used for the treatment of migraines not only have a analgesic action, but they also activate a reaction in the cerebral vessels. In the studies analyzed it was found that acupuncture has been found this very same analgesic action and also activated the same process in the cerebral vessels. The studies revealed acupuncture’s ability to regulate key regions of the brain affected by migraines. The areas are essentially the pain circuitry regions of the brain and cognitive components of pain processing. In addition, acupuncture also restores normal serum nitric oxide (NO) levels that have been found to be almost 55% higher in patients with migraines. Excess NO is a potent vasodilator contributing to headaches and acupuncture restores homeostasis. The regulatory effects of acupuncture can be quantified as early as the fifth acupuncture session and the effects are cumulative.

Based on these and other studies in the meta-analysis, the researchers conclude that acupuncture improves patients’ psychological profile, relieves pain, is safe and cost-effective, and has been found to be at least as effective as conventional preventative pharmacologic treatments for migraines.

At Shen Therapies we know how to treat Migraines properly and also help prevent them returning. We use a multimodaility approach that also give an individualized treatment and also looks at the individuals cause. Our aim is to prevent Migraines from happening in the first place and hopefully prevent them from returning for good. With the right care, this can be done and now research is now backing up what we have known for many years.

References:

Wang Y, Xue CC, Helme R, Da Costa C, Zheng Z (2015) Acupuncture for Frequent Migraine: A Randomized, Patient/Assessor Blinded, Controlled Trial with One-Year Follow-Up. Evid based Complement Alternat Med 2015: 920353.

Da Silva AN (2015) Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache 55: 470-473.

Vijayalakshmi I, Sjankar N, Saxena A, Bhatia MS (2014) Coomparison of effectiveness of acupuncture therapy and conventional drug therapy on psychological profile of migraine patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 58: 69-76.