Dec
09
2017

Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

A person with chronic back pain has several treatment options, but only stem cells cure back pain. Stem cell treatment has been available in the US and Canada and many other countries for approximately 10 years.

I come from a family with a strong history of back pain (mother, maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather). They all got their back pain in their mid to late 40’s. From my growing up years I remember that they complained about chronic back pain on and off. Sometimes they had to cancel events they wanted to attend because they could not tolerate sitting. In those times there were no CAT scans or MRI scans. If you had back pain, you just had to put up with it.

My personal experience

Given my family history of back pain I was surprised that my back pain was only a more persistent problem in the last 1.5 years, but not earlier. Normally a monthly chiropractic adjustment would keep my back symptoms under control. But in the last 1.5 years I needed to see a chiropractor more often than that. I took omega-3 fatty acid supplements for the past several years (two capsules twice per day) thinking that this should halt the development of degenerative arthritis in the lower back joints. When I turned 71, it was clear to me that I was now at the point where my immediate relatives were when they were in their late 40’s. Therefore, diet, exercise, weight loss, good nutrition and supplements can only do that much for you. If there is a familiar disposition, it will eventually catch up with you.

Conventional medicine’s approach to lower back pain

I have practiced as a general practitioner for 16 years in the past. In addition I joined Workers’ Compensation for another 16 years as a medical advisor. From this clinical activity I knew of hundreds of cases first hand what the steps were in the treatment of chronic back pain. First of all, physiotherapy treatments or chiropractic treatments were the treatment protocol. In minor back pain cases this would often help the pain symptoms. Furthermore, if residual pain persisted, the patients received anti-inflammatory medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAID’s). Finally, if symptoms continued to persist, a CT scan or MRI scan was necessary for assessment. If it showed moderate changes like my findings, the patient received intermittent physical therapy, chiropractic therapy or acupuncture therapy. 

Surgical procedures for chronic lower back pain

If there were more severe degenerative changes or spinal stenosis with severe degenerative changes, a referral to an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon would be necessary. But this was often the point of no return. If the surgeon felt that the condition was severe enough to do back surgery, various procedures could follow. For disc herniations irritating one of the nerve roots, laparoscopic discectomy was the treatment of choice. For severe spinal stenosis or intractable pain from end stage facet joint disease instrumentation was an option.

Fusion surgery

Under a general anesthetic the surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s back over the lumbar spine. The surgeon identifies the diseased disc level and places stabilizing stainless steel plates over the affected facet joints or the narrowed disc space. Many people think that fusion surgery would be the end of their trouble. In many cases this can actually be the beginning of chronic back trouble. The problem is that the body is designed to move. If the surgeon takes movement away in one area of the spine, the levels above and below have to work harder. It often takes only a few months or a couple of years, and the patient is back with excruciating pain from degenerative changes in the levels above and below the previous surgery. What does the surgeon usually do? He does more fusion surgery above and/or below the previous area of surgery.

Alternatives to back surgeries

New treatment options have opened up new possibilities. On the one hand there is prolotherapy treatment that I have described under this link. On the other hand stem cell therapy is another popular regenerative technique. Prolotherapy strengthens tissues, relieves pain and increases the range of motion in joints. There is 80 to 85% full pain relief and more than 80% improvement in range of motion. Prolotherapy promotes the healing of torn ligaments and tendons. There are many suitable conditions that lend themselves to the treatment with prolotherapy like the hip, knee, shoulder, ankle, neck, lower back and elbow. With prolotherapy the physician uses hyperosmolar dextrose injections into the affected area. Current thinking is that this irritates the tissues, which mobilizes local stem cells to heal the area.

In my case I had two prolotherapy treatments of my lower back, but it did not change my lower back pain.

MRI scans of my lumbar spine

We needed to find out what was happening in my lower back. My general practitioner ordered MRI scans of my lower back in summer of 2017. There are 5 levels of the lumbar spine from L1 to S1. In my case one level of 5 was normal. The other levels showed bulging of the discs. The scans also showed signs of arthritis in the small joints adjacent to the spine. Lucky for me, there was no sign of spinal stenosis. It was not good news: overall 4 levels of my lumbar spine showed signs of  degenerative disc changes. At the same levels I also had arthritic changes in the facet joints. This was enough to consider some intervention, or I would be headed for trouble in the future.

Stem cell treatment for chronic back pain

Following the failed prolotherapy for my lower back pain I needed to figure out what to do next. The MRI scans had shown degenerative changes in the discs of the lower 4 levels of the lumbar spine. There also was arthritis in eight facet joints (two on each side of each of the four L2 to S1 levels). Conventional medicine would have offered corticosteroid injections into the facet joint areas. My experience with many patients who had this procedure was that the effect of the corticosteroid injections wore off after 3 to 6 months. If a patient had more than 3  injections, there usually was a point of no return, and fusion surgery would be next.

Best therapy for my own chronic lower back condition

For me there was no question that stem cell therapy would be the best fit for treating my back condition. In addition platelet -rich plasma and low-level laser therapy could activate the stem cells. This would be the ideal non-invasive treatment option to treat my chronic lower back pain. I had met Dr. H. Michael Weber before. He is a well-known laser expert from Germany who has a double certification as an engineer and as an internist treating various clinical conditions with laser and stem cell therapy. In addition he is an expert of regenerative medicine methods. Also, he invented and designed the laser machines himself. I set up an appointment in the fall of 2017 at his clinic in Lauenförde, Germany.

First day of stem cell treatment

On the first day fat tissue was removed under a local anesthetic from my lower left buttock area. Next a cell separator divides the tissue into connective tissue, fat cells and mesenchymal stem cells. Two blood samples were also taken from me for processing platelet rich plasma (PRP). PRP is a natural stem cell activator. Growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines were also part of the mix together with the stem cells.

The very same afternoon I received the stem cell mix by injection. Eight needles, four on each side, were necessary to administer the stem cell combination. I also had a treatment on a light therapy bed with red light to activate stem cells in general. The stem cell injection was a pain free procedure, as I received a shot of a  local anesthetic in the area before. After that the physician inserted laser applicators through the interstitial needles.

Laser activation of injected stem cells

The next step was to use laser treatments with 5 different colors (infrared, blue, red, yellow and green) for 10 minutes for each of the 8 interstitial needles. The laser activation and the PRP mixed with the mesenchymal stem cells were the two main stem cell activators. They are crucial for activating the stem cells. But growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines also aided stem cell activation.

Second day of stem cell treatment

On the second day I received an infrared light treatment over my back for 20 minutes. Following that I received light therapy bed treatment for 20 minutes. The physician told me  that all of this was to activate the stem cells further. The next step was a bone marrow low-dose laser therapy.

Bone marrow stem cell activation by low-dose laser therapy

Often stem cell therapists mix mesenchymal stem cells from fat tissue with bone marrow stem cells which they harvest before from pelvic bone marrow. Dr. Weber told me that he would do a direct bone marrow laser activation of the pelvic bone marrow instead. He anesthetized the tissue above the pelvic bone. Following this he made a small hole into the pelvic bone through which he inserted a laser applicator into the bone marrow cavity. 5 different colored lasers were again applied for 10 minutes each to activate the bone marrow stem cells. Studies have shown, as Dr. Weber stated, that low-dose laser activates bone marrow stem cells. They can be found in the blood circulation within 1 hour. This is similar to mixing stem cells in a Petri dish and then injecting it as a mix, except it is a less invasive approach.

Further activation of stem cells

Following these procedures Dr. Weber felt that another light bed therapy was necessary for 20 minutes. He also gave me a Weber medical laser watch called “Regenerate+”. This device fits on the wrist. It is programmed to generate a number of different lasers to shine against the underside of the wrist. This is the area where the ulnar and radial arteries run close to the surface. This device will shine the laser lights for 30 minutes, and the laser light reaches the arterial blood. The circulating stem cells from the stem cell therapy are receiving a further boost this way. Dr. Weber told me to use this device twice a day on an ongoing basis. The Weber medical laser watch stimulates the immune system.  Jet lag also responds to, and it can stimulate stem cells as they circulate in the blood.

Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

Conclusion

Medical tourism is flourishing. I have become a medical tourist myself because I did not want to get crippled by conventional medicine regarding my lower back pain. Two days after my stem cell treatment my back pain was significantly improved. There was mild pain in the area of the fat liposuction site. Four days after the treatment the lumbar spine pain was gone. Innumerable chiropractic treatments and two prolotherapy treatments had not given me relief. Now stem cell therapy in Germany has taken my chronic back pain away in only a few days. I realize that the healing process will take 3 to 6 months to complete, but as a patient what counts most is pain relief.

What, if someone criticizes me for choosing stem cell treatment?

It is difficult to argue with success. Whether somebody criticizes me for having followed a non-conventional treatment protocol does not matter to me. My question back would be: what do you do when conventional methods fail? Are you willing to suffer chronic pain and swallow pain pills that could either get you addicted or have serious side effects? I would try stem cell therapy again, if I had a problem that does not respond to conventional therapy.

Nov
23
2013

Stop Obesity

Introduction

Being obese is not just a problem that is known as “middle age spread’. It has become an alarming condition that affects all age groups, children, adolescents and adults; it has escalated into a health problem that affects a large percentage of the US population. Statistics are hard to ignore: in 2012 one third of adults in the US were overweight. Another third was obese. That means that  two thirds of the population exceeded the upper limit of a normal body weight (a body mass index of less than 25.0). Other countries in the Western world share in the record of being the fattest nations: they are Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, Ireland and Finland. Not every country with high living standards has high obesity rates. Japan and Korea by comparison have obesity rates of 3 to 4%.

Health consequences

The diseases resulting from obesity as a direct consequence include high blood pressure, cardio-vascular problems (heart attacks and strokes), and type II diabetes. This results in health expenses spiraling upwards. The excessive weight creates additional problems. Not only the heart and blood vessels face an overload, but the joints are also bearing the brunt in the form of joint diseases like arthritis or back pain. These conditions are not fatal, but they account for less productivity at the work place and they create disabilities. In the public sector obesity presents more problems: how can an obese individual be accommodated in a standard airline seat? How can nursing personnel in a hospital manage to lift or transfer a very heavy patient without a mechanical lift?

Obesity can be compared to a snowball that is on a downhill run and if it is not stopped in time, will turn into a deadly avalanche.

Stop Obesity

Stop Obesity

Causes of obesity

In the last few years it has become clearer how obesity was created. It originated from the perfect storm that a number of practices of the food industry brought about:

1. Processed food has become more prominent in the super market, laden with salt (creating high blood pressure) and sugar (causing diabetes).

2. Wheat and wheat products are contained in a lot of processed foods, and if they are not in it directly, food manufacturers add MSG (mono sodium glutamate) to stimulate your taste buds. This leads to food addictions encouraging you to eat bigger portions and to eat more sweet, calorie-laden foods.

3. Wheat has undergone forced hybridization in the 1970’s changing the genetic make-up of wheat significantly. The result is much more gliadin, the gooey substance that stimulates your opiate receptors and makes you addicted to food and sweets (Ref. 1).

4. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are a huge problem for our bodies: sugar consumption in any form leads to overproduction of insulin, insulin resistance and diabetes. 10 to 15 years of life can be lost from premature death due to sugar overconsumption. The causes are accelerated hardening of the arteries with premature heart attacks, strokes and kidney damage. Alcohol in its many disguises is also a problem. The body metabolizes it similar to sugar, excess calories from alcoholic drinks are stored as fat.

5. The oils that are now used to produce baked goods are the cheaper omega-6-fatty acid containing oils derived from safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and canola. The result is a disbalance of the omega-3/omega-6 ratio in our diet, which causes inflammation in our bodies. This in turn causes heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and Alzheimer’s disease (Ref. 2).

6. In the US there are problems with bovine growth hormone in milk and milk products unless you buy organic milk and milk products. This too causes your fat to accumulate as it blocks your own growth hormone receptors. Antibiotic residuals in beef from feedlots also contribute to obesity in humans.

7. Add to this the fact that we have become more sessile, driving cars, watching games rather than playing games, watching TV and sitting in front of the computer for hours on end. All this burns up less calories than if you work out in a gym.

Knowing the enemy helps us to fight the causes of obesity. Here is my recipe to counter what the agro industry has been doing to us.

What can be done to stop obesity?

1. The biggest factor is to cut out genetically modified wheat that is now the only source of wheat around the world. When you cut out all wheat and wheat products from your diet, you will lose 400 calories every day. Ref. 1 describes this in detail and provides 150 recipes of tasty foods. Dr. Davis allows you a fair amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, which makes dieting a lot easier and you will find that once you have lost the necessary pounds, you will keep your weight down easily. How come I know? Because I have done this myself since 2001. Why does it work? Because gliadin from wheat is an addictive protein that stimulates your opiate receptors in the brain and makes you want to eat more wheat and wheat products, which means taking in more and more calories (Ref.1). It also stimulates your taste buds to eat more sugar and starchy foods. So you need to cut out wheat.

2. Next you need to look at the glycemic index of your foods. Low and medium glycemic foods are OK to eat, but not the high glycemic index foods. It is clear from this link that white bread, pasta, rice, low-fiber cereals and baked goods are not desirable, because they are high glycemic on the index. On the other hand fruit, vegetables and legumes are desirable food choices, as they are low glycemic index foods. Legumes are higher in their carbohydrate content, and a helping of ca. ½ a cup should not be exceeded. Fruit that are high in fruit sugar (grapes, pineapple, mangoes, papayas, bananas) should be consumed in moderation. Fruit juices present an overload of sugar; just remember that it takes several apples to make one serving of apple juice! The same goes for alcoholic drinks. It likely is responsible for much of the obesity wave.

3. Perhaps the most important step is to look at the food that goes into your mouth, eliminate all MSG (monosodium glutamate) and then switch to organic food. I remember that 1/3 of the items on the kitchen shelf and in the fridge had to be thrown out when my wife and I first learnt about this in 2001. We studied the food labels of every food item that was in our kitchen. We added the switch to organic food in the last three years, after hearing about it from Suzanne Somers’ books and at several A4M anti-aging conferences in Las Vegas. Take the time to prepare most of your food that you eat yourself at home from natural, organic  ingredients. This way you can avoid sugar and extra salt, which would be present in processed foods.

4. Watch oils and fat when you cook: extra virgin, cold pressed organic olive oil is your best friend when it comes to cooking Mediterranean type food. Lately there is a trend of cooking with coconut oil, but I think this is a marketing hype (if you decide on coconut oil, make sure it is virgin and fresh pressed, not processed).  Ref. 2 explains that it is important to avoid all polyunsaturated oils as they turn rancid and lead to free radicals in your blood and in your fatty organs like the brain. In order to reintroduce the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats, it is useful to take 3 capsules or more (up to 6 or 7 per day in persons with arthritis) of a strong, molecularly distilled EPA/DHA  supplement daily that will restore your prostaglandins. This ensures that no inflammatory reactions take place in your tissues preventing heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Fish has been and still is highly recommended as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is also anti-inflammatory. But, unfortunately it is contaminated with various amounts of mercury wherever you are in the world, so I find it difficult to recommend it as healthy unless you are willing to undergo chelation therapy on an ongoing intermittent basis to remove heavy metals and this method may not be perfect either. Fish like sardines or wild salmon are the better choices. Tuna, swordfish or shark should never be consumed as their toxic load is dangerously high.

5. Finally, a word about reintroducing exercise. As kids we were more active. You may have played games as a youth. What our bodies need at all times is movement, walking, dancing, in short some form of activity every day. The easiest is to work out in a gym for 1 hour every day (30 minutes of aerobics like a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes and isometric exercises like working with machines or weights). Add on top of this whatever you can. This stimulates your metabolism, your blood circulation and rebalances your hormones.

Conclusion

Obesity is a national concern and a concern that affects nations internationally. Bear in mind that the food processors and the associated industry is not on a mission to increase the well being of the consumer, but is driven by the motivation to increase profits. In the past bad dietary advice added more injury to this situation, when the science behind diets was not yet developed. But now we know that a low fat high carb diet does not work; instead a balanced fat, low glycemic index diet as in a Mediterranean diet is what is beneficial. The large amounts of sugar that are currently added and consumed in many processed foods have no place in sensible human nutrition. The senseless overfeeding with grain has also presented its results: it has fattened up North America and other nations. We need quality fats (olive oil, omega-3-fatty acids and nuts). Organic food whenever possible is important in order to avoid poisoning ourselves with pesticides, antibiotic residues or bovine growth hormone. Add regular exercise to this and your recipe for treating and preventing obesity is complete.

More about metabolic syndrome (the metabolic changes associated with obesity): http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/metabolic-syndrome/

 

References

1. William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

2. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

 

Last edited March 4, 2015

Sep
07
2013

Preserve Your Muscles And Joints

Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, constantly on the go. They did not have to think too much about their muscle and joint health, they simply moved them. In our society this has changed a lot. At work we spend hours sitting at a desk, and then we use computers and watch television at home. Instead of walking to the neighborhood store, we use our car.

Here I will review what we can do to keep our joints and muscles in top shape until a ripe old age.

Brief intro regarding the anatomy of joints and muscles

Our joints are designed to give us full mobility. But the joints cannot do it alone. The muscles are designed to allow the joints to move in a full range. Without exercise the muscles will shrivel up (medical term “atrophy”) within only 2 to 3 weeks. So without regular exercise your joints won’t do you any good. Besides the joint capsules need regular stretching in full range exercises to produce the lubricating fluid (synovial fluid) that nourishes the joint surfaces and the menisci of the knees. Think of muscles and joints as being a functional unit designed to move you about.

Our joints have aerodynamic designs to do the most optimal job for our body. For instance the knees have more of a hinge design that includes menisci for shock absorption while the shoulders and hips have more of a ball and socket type construction.

Wear and tear with aging

It is usually thought that injuries and aging wear down the joints. But there are other factors such as the wide spread use of statins that can contribute to muscles weakness. Ironically statins are taken to protect the heart, but side effects can interfere with the ability to exercise your heart because of aching muscles and joints.

With optimal nutrition and avoidance of wheat and wheat products to prevent autoimmune arthritis (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis) your joints can stay young for much longer (explained further below). But your joints and muscles need to move through a full range of motion regularly to keep the blood circulation and nutrition of their tissues in top shape.

What causes joint deterioration?

Aging, weight gain, diabetes, smoking and lack of exercise all are known to cause a worsening of arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, but also rheumatoid arthritis. The wrong diet with lots of sugar and starch and trans fats (hamburgers, pasta, sugar soda drinks) causes hyperinsulinemia (insulin overproduction, like in type 2 diabetes) and is almost guaranteed to make you sick with arthritis, obesity and diabetes.

There is also evidence that wheat causes inflammation and arthritis by stimulating your pancreas to produce too much insulin. This has been proven for dogs and for humans. A good diet book to follow is Dr. William Davis “Wheat Belly Cookbook” (Ref. 1) with 150 recipes. If you are overweight, these recipes will also help you to lose some weight effortlessly.

A caution to marathon runners: the constant pounding of prolonged jogging can cause osteoarthritis of hips and knees decades down the road. You may want to switch to different exercises before this happens.

Preserve Your Muscles And Joints

Preserve Your Muscles And Joints

What helps joints?

Molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acid helps to prevent inflammation of your joints. Vitamin D3 will help your bones to be strong to support the tendons and ligaments. Chicken cartilage can build up joint cartilage within a few weeks! So, if you feel pain in your joints use 3 capsules of omega-3 (the strong, molecularly distilled ones) twice per day. This will help your joint inflammation within 3 to 4 weeks. If this alone is not enough add chicken cartilage from the health food store, which will help to build up the hyaline cartilage within your joints. For those who are questioning the effect of chicken cartilage, here is a 1993 chicken cartilage Harvard study proving it.

Below are more general steps that will help your joints, ligaments and muscles.

Maintaining health of joints and muscles

a)    It starts with good nutrition.

Hamburgers and deep fried French fries will not do the trick. Muscles require protein from meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. If you are a vegetarian you need to become knowledgeable on what essential amino acids are and what combination of vegetables will give you the amino acid composition to build up a full protein.

Joints need ingredients from cartilage, which you find in chicken cartilage (available in health food stores as fikzol (type II cartilage). I you prefer, chicken soup would also give you the ingredients to build up cartilage, but it would require a lot of regular chicken soup consumption to achieve this.

Sugar and starchy foods, which are broken down within half an hour after a meal into sugar in your blood, cause an insulin response from your pancreas. This in turn can cause inflammation in your joints and tendons. It is interesting to note that type 2 diabetes and arthritis are associated. A ketogenic, low sugar/starch diet will prevent arthritis and diabetes as it reduces the insulin level in the blood, which in turn turns off inflammation in the joints.

b)   Supplements:

Omega-3 fatty acids will help control any inflammation including the inflammation from arthritis (you need 3 capsules of the concentrated, molecularly distilled fish oil twice per day to achieve this).  DMSO gel, available in health food stores in the US, can also be used to rub onto inflamed joints. It will penetrate tissues rapidly, is nontoxic and helps control inflammation along with the omega-3 fatty acids. Regular anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) are harsh on your kidneys and can irritate the gastric lining causing bleeding gastric erosions, so definitely not recommendable.

Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, or a combination of both is available in the health food store and has been shown to help with osteoarthritis. I contributes to building up hyaline cartilage.

c)   Watch your weight:

It has been shown that the rate of degenerative arthritis (=osteoarthritis) in obese people is much higher when compared to slim people.

d)   Exercise:

You need to move your joints, ligaments and muscles every day to maintain their strength and range of motion. A daily workout at home or in a gym is best. I recommend 30 minutes of a treadmill or equivalent (jogging, Stairmaster etc.) as aerobic exercises. Then you need 30 minutes of isometric exercises like a circuit on exercise machines in the gym or dumbbells and expanders (resistance bands) at home. I consider this as the basic fitness routine every day.

Ballroom dancing and Latin dancing or Zumba is also a good combination exercise, which I would recommend on top of the basic exercise. Dancing helps to maintain your balance as well, which is something the older population tends to lose. In addition dancing stimulates your brain cells and makes you less vulnerable to develop dementia in old age.

Other aerobic exercises that can be recommended are walking (brisk walk) and/or intermittent jogging. Swimming has the advantage particularly for arthritis sufferers that you are floating. It allows you to exercise your leg and arm muscles, even if you have some arthritis pains.

e)  Pain relief: What could you do for pain relief? I do not like NSAIDs as this will damage your kidneys on the long-term and cause gastric erosions that can bleed massively. Electro acupuncture is very useful for muscle and joint pains and has no side effects. Physiotherapy treatments are useful to recondition your muscles and build up the range of motion of your joints. Chiropractic treatments for back and neck pain will also help. Instead of narcotics, why not try low dose Naltrexone (LDN). It has been shown to help with the pain of fibromyalgia.

Conclusion

In this brief review I have attempted to show you that your body is not on a one-way street in the direction of disability and death. There is a lot we can actively do to prevent this from happening prematurely. Just eat right, supplement (if you have symptoms), exercise and be active. Soon you will no longer be aware of your previously achy joints or muscles, as the pain tends to melt away when you are reconditioned.

More information on fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

References:

1. William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

Jun
15
2013

Electro-Acupuncture Is Twice As Effective As Conventional Acupuncture

I am discussing here that electro-acupuncture is twice as effective as conventional acupuncture. Imagine that you had lower back pain and your doctor said that physically everything was OK. Would you consider traditional Chinese acupuncture? According to Ref. 1 chances are that 70% of patients with back pain will get better with a few visits to an acupuncturist. In 1972 Dr. Ulett’s laboratory at the University of Missouri succeeded in getting the first NIH research grant for the study of acupuncture in the US. During these studies they found remarkable facts, the most important perhaps that electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles resulted in a doubling of the effectiveness of traditional Chinese acupuncture. After extensive research Dr. Ulett stated: ”The ancient practice of traditional Chinese acupuncture is now obsolete” (Ref.1). The much simpler, but more effective electro-acupuncture using electrical skin pads instead of needles replaced traditional Chinese acupuncture.

The science of electro-acupuncture

In 1958 news came from China that they were doing major surgeries with patients staying awake and pain free only with the use of electro-acupuncture. In other words no chemical anesthesia was necessary to make patients comfortable. Professor Ji-Sheng Han from the Beijing Medical University observed that only electrical stimulation was powerful enough to produce the pain relief that was necessary to allow general surgery. Dr. Han conducted systematic experiments to study the phenomenon of electro-acupuncture and published this in Ref. 2. One of the experiments consisted of two rabbits. Electro-acupuncture anesthetized the donor rabbit. The vet removed spinal fluid from the first rabbit and transferred it into the second rabbit (the recipient rabbit) that did not receive further treatments.

The second rabbit was pain free and the vet performed surgery 

The injection of spinal fluid made the second rabbit pain free to the point where the vet could performed surgery on it without pain. Other researchers such as Dr. Pomeranz found that the brain released endorphins in response to electro-acupuncture, powerful morphine-like substances. It was the endorphins that were responsible for making the recipient rabbit of Dr. Han’s experiment pain free. Other experiments of Dr. Pomeranz showed that naloxone, a morphine and endorphin blocker also blocked the analgesic effect previously found by transferring spinal fluid. These lines of experiments also explain why some patients did not respond to electro-acupuncture, as they have a deficiency in the pain control system of their brain lacking endorphin release. Dr. Han did 30 years of experimentation and also observed patients very closely.

Placebo effect investigated by Dr. Han

Dr. Han also investigated the placebo effect and found that this can explain about 30% of healing. However, the remainder of the 70 to 75% response to electro-acupuncture in his opinion was due to the procedure. He was able to explain that traditional Chinese acupuncture points were merely spots on the body where electric currents penetrate the skin easier. When internal nerves pick up the electrical signals the also transmit to the spinal cord and to the brain. The electrical impulses then switch over in the brain and spinal cord to nerves that go to other areas of the body. This explains how electrical impulses can travel from conducting polymer pads applied over acupuncture points, release neuropeptides in the brain and help the body to heal. Functional MRI studies confirmed that certain frequencies stimulate the brain through electro-acupuncture or traditional Chinese acupuncture to give pain relief.

Electro-Acupuncture Twice As Effective As Conventional Acupuncture

Electro-Acupuncture Twice As Effective As Conventional Acupuncture

Electro-acupuncture produces stronger signals in the brain

These types of studies have also shown that electro-acupuncture produces stronger signals in the brain than traditional Chinese acupuncture.

Beside pain relief many other applications exist for electro-acupuncture. Addiction medicine makes use of electro-acupuncture in weaning people from morphine or heroine etc. The health professional can use this method to treat psychiatric illness, particularly depression. It is useful in relieving nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy with cancer treatments or associated with pregnancy without affecting the pregnancy. However, this may also be useful as an adjunct to treating high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

One area where clinical hypnosis and electro-acupuncture have a closely relationship is called “conditioned healing” (Ref.1). For instance, with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers who returned from battle or in rape victims researchers showed that hypnotherapy treatment while using electro-acupuncture for 30 minutes at the same time can be useful in alleviating the symptoms these patients experience.

A few case studies using electro-acupuncture

Here are a few case studies that illustrate the use of electro-acupuncture with regard to patients (modified Ref.1). A treatment consists of a 30-minute session where the patient is either sitting or resting comfortably on an examining table. Treatments initially are often given twice per week until the pain is only about 50% of the original pain (severity of pain is scored on a 0 to 10 scale in the beginning). From that point on the visits are reduced to weekly sessions. Most clinical problems require three to 12 sessions. If the pain goes away, but returns after a few weeks, repeat sessions can be scheduled, which often lead to pain relief in a shorter time interval than was the case with the original problem. Chronic problems can be treated on an ongoing basis once per month, if there was a clinical response, but the pain reoccurs.

A 53-year-old painter with left shoulder pain

A 53-year-old painter with left shoulder pain, which radiated into the left chest, had problems with painting above his head. His physician did heart studies, but everything was OK. He was told that this was due to a muscle spasm in the shoulder muscles. One electrode was placed over the hoku point (also called LI-4  acupuncture point), which is located over the first interosseous muscle between the thumb and index finger, the other electrode over the area of pain in the left shoulder. Only seven treatments, twice per week for 2 weeks were given, then treatments with weekly intervals were administered. This approach cured his shoulder problems, and he could return to paining.

A 39-year-old woman with lower back pain

A 39-year-old woman came to the office complaining of lower back pain, which radiated into her right leg to the knee area. After tests she was told that she had spinal stenosis with sciatica (irritation of the sciatic nerve). No surgery could be done for this. She was given twelve electro-acupuncture treatments with one electrode placed below her right knee (ST-36 acupuncture point) and another electrode placed over her right lower back over one of the BL acupuncture points. She was almost pain free for about two weeks, but the pain came back after the last treatment. Since then she has been getting ongoing monthly electro-acupuncture visits with about 80% pain relief. Keep in mind that spinal stenosis is a condition for which regular medicine has nothing to offer other than symptomatic pain medication, which she did not want.

A 30-year-old schoolteacher with anxiety attacks 

A 30-year-old schoolteacher suffered from anxiety attacks and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) for several years. The therapist used conditioning with electro acupuncture to treat this woman. She received a series of treatments with electro-acupuncture over both interosseous muscles (hoku acupuncture point or LI-4) for 30 minutes during which time she was also listening to a relaxation tape with music in the background and suggestions for self-hypnosis. The physician taught her how to do self-imagery at home. Subsequently she did this for 10 minutes two or three times per day. Several weeks later she was able to control her anxiety attacks and overcome her fear of open spaces. In the beginning she rated her symptoms as 8 to 10 in severity on a scale from 0 to 10. At the end of the sessions, she only had occasional symptoms with a 1 to 2 rating on this scale.

A 50-year-old man with cluster headaches 

A 50-year-old man with cluster headaches who had been investigated extensively by a neurologist without any other underlying cause was treated with electro-acupuncture. The electrodes were placed on acupuncture points of the head. Within only 4 sessions most of the headaches were gone. After 8 sessions he had no more headaches. However, a few weeks later his cluster headaches returned, but with ongoing monthly treatments he is able to prevent them from recurring. He did not like the side effects of all the pain medications, so he rather goes for his monthly booster electro-acupuncture treatments.

Take-home message regarding electro-acupuncture

Many people never considered traditional Chinese acupuncture for fear of needles. However, extensive research by Dr. Han and Dr. Ulett showed that electro-acupuncture with electrically conducting polymer pads or with EKG pads will replace the acupuncture needles. Not only is this method needle free, but also the weak electrical impulses that are used with electro-acupuncture treatment double the effectiveness of the older acupuncture method.

Many acupuncturists use both methods of acupuncture, but Dr. Ulett who used traditional acupuncture in the past has completely abandoned it and uses electro-acupuncture with the HANS machine instead. It is a complementary medical treatment, which has been authorized by the FDA.

More on pain conditions: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/pain/

References

1: George A. Ulett, M.D., Ph.D. and SongPing Han, B.M., Ph.D.: “The Biology of Acupuncture”, copyright 2002, Warren H. Green Inc., Saint Louis, Missouri, 63132 USA

2. J.S. Han: “The Neurochemical Basis of Pain Relief by Acupuncture”. Vol. 2. Hu Bei Science and Technology Press, Beijing, 1998 (784 pages).

Apr
01
2008

Short Daily Exercise Helps Chronic Pain Patients

Chronic pain can be an affliction that turns normal living and functioning upside down. Quality of life will be negatively affected, and often depression and anxiety are resulting mental problems. Effective pain relief is crucial, but often there are undesirable side effects to pain medication, and the patient will explore other avenues that bring a measure of relief. Amy Burleson, Psy.D. of the Cleveland Clinic’s chronic pain rehabilitation program found that chronic pain patients were physically deconditioned due to chronic pain and a chronic lack of physical activity. Depression and other mood disorder also were very common. A 10 minute exercise program was added to the treatment of a group of 28 patients who suffered of various chronic pains: back pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathy and migraines. Patients started a simple routine of walking on a treadmill, starting with a low speed of 1 mile per hour and increasing the speed every few minutes, till they walked at a speed of 3 miles per hour, a speed which was manageable for all patients. After 3 weeks patients found that their physical endurance had increased. They also experienced less depression and anxiety. Even more remarkable was the fact that the patients’ pain perception had diminished.

Short Daily Exercise Helps Chronic Pain Patients

Short Daily Exercise Helps Chronic Pain Patients

Likert scale scores which were used in the assessment of pain perception showed a drop from 7.32 in the beginning of the program to 2.75 at 3 weeks. It is obvious that even mild exercise has benefits for patients with chronic pain: the overall well being receives a noticeable boost through an approach that has no pharmacological impact, no side effects and has no high cost of health care.

More information on the right dose of exercise: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/right-dose-exercise/

Reference: Pain Medicine, Volume 9, Issue 1, Page 88-141 (January/February 2008)

Last edited November 3, 2014