Acupuncture is a modality used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which a practitioner inserts hair-thin, stainless steel needles into the body along energetic pathways. These energetic pathways (meridians) are lines that run throughout the body. The meridians allow energy (Qi) to flow throughout the body, keeping the body in balance.
For optimal health to be achieved, Qi must flow freely without any blockages. Blocked or stagnant energy can result in disease or decreased vitality.
Electroacupuncture is a variation on acupuncture. Electroacupuncture works the same way as regular acupuncture, but it uses the needles as conduits that administer small jolts of electricity that invigorate the skin and muscles of the body. Electricity increases the effects of acupuncture. This can lead to increased energy, pain relief, and much, much more. The electrical charges encourage additional physiological processes that go beyond the mere stimulation of Qi. Acupuncture coupled with electricity, encourages the body to release neurotransmitters that can act as natural painkillers. Because of this, electroacupuncture is becoming more common in the treatment of pain.
Electroacupuncture is especially useful for conditions in which there is an accumulation of Qi, such as chronic pain. This type of acupuncture can be used as a pain reliever for muscle spasms, neurological disorders and possibly even heart disease. There is evidence that electrical stimulation of acupressure points can activate the endorphin system. This can actually lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Electroacupuncture produces a rhythmic, non-painful muscle twitch just below the needle through the use of a very small milliamp current. This stimulation triggers perfusion of blood flow locally. This blood flow carries essential nutrients that promote muscle regeneration. The use of electroacupuncture can break pain cycles, while smoothing the way for a person’s own pain-relieving mechanisms. Electroacupuncture also relaxes muscles.
** Electroacupuncture does come with risks and it is not appropriate for everybody. Anybody who has a history of seizures, epilepsy or stroke, would not be an ideal candidate for the use of electroacupuncture. Also, it is not recommended for people who have pacemakers, as it can interfere with the electrical current of the devices. Before trying electroacupuncture, we will verify that you are not at risk. It is vital for the patient to bring this up to avoid any complications.
A study published in Anesthesiology: The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., tested electroacupuncture for its effectiveness in treating persistent pain. The studies showed that electroacupuncture can greatly decrease several types of pain, including neuropathic, inflammatory, cancer-related, and visceral pain. They showed solid evidence that electroacupuncture can be used for analgesia in patients that are suffering from chronic pain, regardless of the type of pain.
Acupuncture for Dementia
Dementia is defined as a chronic disorder of the mental processes caused by either brain injury or brain disease.
Dementia is marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning. Dementia is not a specific disease though. Dementia is an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms characterized by a decline in mental ability that becomes severe enough to interfere with daily life. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies and even Parkinson’s disease.
Current estimates of dementia sufferers vary considerably based on the age group. But the numbers for just one segment of the dementia spectrum is staggering. This is Alzheimer’s disease, which affects up to 5.3 million Americans.
Worldwide, the prevalence of dementia, in any of its forms, affects 5 to 7 percent of adults age 60 or older. Most forms of dementia are the result of changes in the neural pathways, but the cause of these changes is still undefined in most cases, unless there was traumatic brain injury. Due to this inability to define the cause of the neural changes, the current treatment methods are also variable and definitely not reliable.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medical system that includes the modalities of acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion and herbal formulations. Of all these modalities, acupuncture has been studied the most intensely. And this has led to studies showing acupuncture can help with the symptoms of dementia.
There are many symptoms associated with dementia, aside from memory loss, including depression, anxiety and changes in sleeping patterns. Acupuncture can effectively treat depression and anxiety by balancing the hormones in the body. This will also help with insomnia, which is common in those experiencing dementia.
Electroacupuncture has also shown promise for dementia patients.
Electroacupuncture is the same as traditional acupuncture, but it adds a small current of electricity through the acupuncture needles, which increases the ability to break up blockages and get energy flowing properly. This is especially helpful for those suffering from vascular dementia, which occurs due to impaired blood flow that deprives oxygen and nutrients from the brain. Studies show the use of electroacupuncture can reduce behavioral deficits and improve memory over time.
While there is no known cure for dementia, it is clear acupuncture can help those suffering from this debilitating disease. And when used in conjunction with common pharmaceuticals that treat dementia, the studies show even greater success.