Acupuncture Dramatically Reduces Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors, Penn Study Suggests

Acupuncture Dramatically Reduces Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors, Penn Study Suggests

Findings also Highlight Acupuncture’s Ability to Induce a Stronger Placebo Effect than Oral Medications

Released: 3-Sep-2015 11:05 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA — Acupuncture may be a viable treatment for women experiencing hot flashes as a result of estrogen-targeting therapies to treat breast cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Hot flashes are particularly severe and frequent in breast cancer survivors, but current FDA-approved remedies for these unpleasant episodes, such as hormone replacement therapies are off–limits to breast cancer survivors because they include estrogen. The results of the study are published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Though most people associate hot flashes with menopause, the episodes also affect many breast cancer survivors who have low estrogen levels and often undergo premature menopause, following treatment with chemotherapy or surgery,” said lead author Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, associate professor of Family Medicine and Community Health. “These latest results clearly show promise for managing hot flashes experienced by breast cancer survivors through the use of acupuncture, which in previous studies has also been proven to be an effective treatment for joint pain in this patient population.”

Hot flashes are brief episodes of flushing, sweating, racing heartbeat and sensations of heat. Precisely how hot flashes arise isn’t known, though they are closely associated with decreased estrogen levels.

In the trial, the research team enrolled 120 breast cancer survivors, all of whom reported experiencing multiple hot flashes per day. Participants were randomized into four different interventions that would analyze how effectively an acupuncture technique known as electroacupuncture – in which embedded needles deliver weak electrical currents – reduces incidents of hot flashes as compared to the epilepsy drug gabapentin, which was previously shown to be effective in reducing hot flashes for these patients. For an eight-week period, participants received gabapentin (900 mg) daily, gabapentin placebo daily, electroacupuncture (twice per week for two weeks, then once weekly), or “sham” electroacupuncture, which involves no actual needle penetration or electrical current.

After the eight-week treatment period, the subjects in the electroacupuncture group showed the greatest improvement in a standard measure of hot flash frequency and severity, known as the hot flash composite score (HFCS). They were followed by the group that had received the “sham acupuncture” treatment. The gabapentin pill group reported less improvement than the sham acupuncture group, and the placebo pill group placed last.

In addition to reporting the greatest reductions in hot flash frequency/severity, both acupuncture groups reported fewer side effects than either of the pill groups.

The Penn researchers surveyed the subjects sixteen weeks after treatment ended, and found that the electroacupuncture and sham electroacupuncture groups had enjoyed a sustained—and even slightly increased—abatement of hot flashes. The pill-placebo patients also reported a slight improvement in symptoms, whereas the gabapentin pill group reported a worsening.

A Better Placebo
Compared to its sham version, electroacupuncture produced a 25 percent greater reduction in HFCS, suggesting that it really could work better – though the modest size of the study precluded a statistically definitive conclusion. However, the study did show with confidence that the sham acupuncture procedure worked better than a placebo pill at relieving hot flashes, presumably by creating a stronger expectation of benefit.

“Acupuncture is an exotic therapy, elicits the patient’s active participation, and involves a greater patient-provider interaction, compared with taking a pill,” Mao said. “Importantly, the results of this trial show that even sham acupuncture – which is effectively a placebo – is more effective than medications. The placebo effect is often dismissed as noise, but these results suggest we should be taking a closer look at how we can best harness it.”

The sham acupuncture procedure also seemed to create a strikingly lower experience of adverse side effects, which were virtually absent in this group. Only one woman reported an episode of drowsiness from the sham acupuncture, whereas the placebo pill recipients reported eight adverse events such as headache, fatigue, dizziness and constipation.

Some have questioned whether acupuncture has a biological effect apart from the power of suggestion. There is evidence from prior studies that it can boost bloodstream levels of endorphins and related painkilling, mood-elevating molecules more directly than via suggestion. Studies also have found that traditional acupuncture works differently than sham acupuncture in the brain. But for patients, that issue may be moot if they can enjoy dramatic improvements in their quality of life, especially compared to no improvement if they receive no treatment.

Co-authors of the paper were Sharon X. Xie, Angela DeMichele and John T. Farrar of Penn Medicine, Marjorie A. Bowman of Wright State University’s School of Medicine, and Deborah Bruner of Emory University’s School of Nursing.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health (K23-AT004112).


Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.9 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $409 million awarded in the 2014 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania — recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2014, Penn Medicine provided $771 million to benefit our community.


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Moxibustion And Acupuncture Alleviate Parkinson’s Disease

31 JULY 2015

Researchers confirm that acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) procedures are effective Parkinson’s disease treatment modalities. Specialized TCM procedures demonstrating efficaciousness include scalp acupuncture, moxibustion, and acupotomy. Deqi achieved at back shu points. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis and concluded that acupuncture significantly improves the overall condition of Parkinson’s disease patients.

Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder characterized by tremors, slow movements (bradykinesia), rigidity of musculature, balance disorders, and difficulty with daily activities including writing and speaking. There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. Medications used to control Parkinson’s disease include levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, COMT inhibitors, anticholinergics, and amantadine. Additionally, deep brain stimulation and surgery may be employed.

Parkinson’s disease was recognised as a biomedical condition in the occident after the publication of James Parkinson’s An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817. James Parkinson became a surgeon at the age of 29 in 1784 after graduating from London Hospital Medical College. A decorated humanitarian, Dr. Parkinson advocated for progressive social reforms.

Various forms of tremor disorders and their treatment regimens have been documented for over 1,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The research conducted by Qiu Congsheng et al. evaluates several approaches to symptomatic improvements. The researchers add that an advantage to acupuncture treatments is that, unlike many medications used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, it does not cause dyskinesia.

The meta-analysis examined the groundbreaking work of Zhou Sha. A sample size of 40 patients was treated with the following primary acupuncture points:

  • Ya Men (DU15)
  • Feng Chi (GB20)
  • Wan Gu (SI4)
  • Tian Shu (ST25)

The research demonstrates that the patients had significant improvements in physical, behavioral, and mental indices. Yuan Yin et al. used the same primary acupuncture points and achieved significant improvements for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The acupoint prescription is referred to as the ‘Lu Di 7 point’ combination. Three of the acupoints are bilateral and one acupoint is unilateral for a total of 7 acupuncture points. In another body of work examined in the meta-analysis, Huang Na et al. demonstrated that scalp acupuncture benefitted patients and significant reductions of insomnia were achieved.

TCM body style acupuncture has been shown to benefit Parkinson’s disease patients. Ren Xiaoming et al. targeted their treatment strategy towards befitting the liver and kidney and achieved significant positive patient outcomes for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The primary acupuncture points were:

  • Gan Yu (BL18)
  • Xian Yu (BL23)
  • Feng Chi (GB20)
  • Qu Chi (LI11)
  • He Gu (LI4)
  • Yang Ling Quan (GB34)
  • Tai Xi (KD3)
  • Tai Chong (LV3)

Yao Xiaoping randomly distributed 57 patients with Parkinson’s disease into a treatment group and control group, which consisted of 30 and 27 patients respectively. The treatment group patients received acupuncture plus levodopa. Patients from the control group received only levodopa. After a month, researchers compared results obtained from both groups and assessed criteria such as facial expression, posture, linguistic ability, pace, dyskinesia, shaking, rigidity, etc…. The treatment group achieved a total efficacy rate of 93.3% and the control group achieved a 66.7% total effective rate. The results indicate that combining acupuncture therapy with levodopa has additive or synergistic effects. In other findings, Zhu Fangjian et al. demonstrated that acupuncture alleviates constipation for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Wang Shun et al. employed the use of threading style acupuncture with a high total effective rate for relieving the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Primary threaded acupoint pairs included:

  • Qian Ding (DU21) – Xuan Lu (GB5)
  • Nao Hu (DU17) – Feng Fu (DU16)
  • Yu Zhen (BL9) – Tian Zhu (BL10)
  • Nao Kong (GB19) – Feng Chi (GB20)

Xu Guoqing et al. focused on the TCM principles of alleviating liver and kidney disorders, controlling damp stagnation, and improving blood circulation. The researchers note that this acupuncture treatment protocol lessened the toxic adverse effects due to medication consumption and reduced tremors.

Acupotomy has also demonstrated benefits to Parkinson’s disease patients. This is an aggressive style of needling and is a form of microsurgery often used to remove adhesions. Researchers have combined acupotomy with scalp acupuncture and have achieved significant clinical results.

Moxibustion applied with a moxa stick to the back.

Deng Xianbin et al. used moxibustion and achieved significant clinical results for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Significant improvements were noted in the relief of myotonia and improvement of functional bodily movements. The following were primary acupoints receiving moxibustion:

  • Zhong Wan (CV12)
  • Qi Hai (CV6)
  • Guan Yuan (CV4)
  • Dan Shu (BL19)
  • Ge Shu (BL17),
  • Da Zhui (DU14)
  • Ming Men (DU4)

Zhong Ping et al. evenly distributed 60 Parkinson’s patients into a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group received Madopar, a Parkinson’s disease medication, plus moxibustion at the following acupoints including:

  • Zhong Wan (CV12)
  • Xia Wan (CV10)
  • Qi Hai (CV6)
  • Guan Yuan (CV4)
  • Ming Men (DU4)

The control group only received Madopar. After 7 months of treatment, the moxibustion plus Madopar group achieved a total effective rate of 93.3% whereas the Madopar only group achieved a 63.3% total effective rate. The results indicate that an integrative therapy model improves patient outcomes.
Qiu Congsheng, Wang Xuhui, Development of acupuncture treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Hunan Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2015 (31).


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Acupuncture Relieves Hyperthyroid Leukopenia Condition

01 AUGUST 2015

Acupuncture improves leukocyte counts in patients suffering from hyperthyroidism combined with leukopenia. Hyperthyroidism is a disorder wherein the thyroid gland, located in the anterior aspect of the neck, produces excessive quantities of thyroid hormone. Application of CV6 and CV4. Lower Abdomen AcupunctureThis may lead to a variety of symptoms including anxiety, tremors, fatigue, weight loss, rapid heart beat, sweating, and insomnia. Hyperthyroidism may cause leukopenia, which is a pathological decrease in the white blood cell (WBC) count. Several types of medications may also cause leukopenia. Research published in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicinedemonstrates that acupuncture successfully increases leukocytes for patients with hyperthyroidism combined with leukopenia.

The experiments compared two groups. The integrative medicine group received both acupuncture and a pharmaceutical medication. The biomedical group received the identical medication but did not receive acupuncture. A total of 42 patients were randomly and evenly divided into the two groups. The combined numbers included 24 male and 18 female patients with an average age of 34 years.

Inclusion criteria specified three primary requirements. All patients must have hyperthyroidism combined with leukopenia, no signs or symptoms of infection, and must be between 18 and 70 years of age. Patients were excluded from this study using the following criteria:

  • Use of antimalarial drugs, chemotherapy, antibacterials, anti-inflammatories, etc….
  • Pregnant or lactating
  • Severe mental disturbance diagnoses
  • Allergic to the drug Leucogen
  • Patients taking part in other clinical experiments

All patients in both groups took 40 mg Leucogen tablets at a rate of 3 times per day. Patients in the integrative medicine group received acupuncture in addition to the medication regimen. Acupuncture was applied once per day for 4 weeks with a needle retention time of 30 minutes per session. The primary acupuncture points used in the study included:

  • Ge Shu (BL17)
  • Pi Shu (BL20)
  • San Yin Jiao (SP6)
  • Guan Yuan (CV4)
  • Qi Hai (CV6)
  • Zu San Li (ST36)
  • Xue Hai (SP10)

The total efficacy rate was based on a combination of full efficacy and notable efficacy. Full efficacy involved the complete restoration of leukocyte counts to normal with concomitant improvement of clinical symptoms at a 4 week check-up. Notable efficacy documented specific and significant increases in leukocytes concomitant with improvements in clinical symptoms.

The integrative medicine group receiving both acupuncture and Leucogen achieved a total efficacy rate of 90.48%. The biomedical group receiving only Leucogen achieved a total efficacy rate of 76.19%. A total of 21 patients in the integrative medicine group had a full recovery and 14 patients in the biomedical group had a full recovery. Back shu points with copper wound needles.

The researchers note that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory categorizes hyperthyroidism with leukopenia as blood, qi, and jing related disorders. Internal organs in the Zang-Fu system commonly associated with this disorder are the heart, liver, spleen, and kidney. A general principle in TCM is to benefit the qi and blood and to balance yin and yang.

The researchers note that the acupuncture point selection was based on the TCM principles concerning this condition. Acupoints ST36, CV6, and SP6 were selected for their nourishing properties. ST36 and CV6 are noted for benefiting overall qi and SP6 is noted in TCM for its ability to nourish the spleen and kidney. SP10 was chosen for its ability to treat blood related disorders. The researchers elucidated the theoretical basis for all points in the acupuncture point prescription protocol.

The tone of the research is geared towards maximizing positive patient outcomes rather than promoting a particular methodology. The integrative medicine approach outperformed the drug only approach. As a result, the researchers note that combining acupuncture with Leucogen provides significantly better clinical results than receiving Leucogen as a standalone procedure.
Li Jie, Clinical research on treating hyperthyroidism plus leukopenia by acupuncture, Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2015 (13).


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Scalp Acupuncture Restores Function After Stroke

04 AUGUST 2015

Scalp acupuncture enhances neurologic repair and reduces cerebral edema due to an intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), a type of stroke. Researchers conducted a laboratory experiment on laboratory rats and discovered that acupuncture improves neurologic functions following an ICH. Head and scalp acupoints are located on this acudoll. Additionally, a biochemical analysis reveals that acupuncture regulates expression of MMP-9 (matrix metallopeptidase), an enzyme that breaks down extracellular matrix and is involved in tissue remodeling.

Functional improvements included significant enhancements of limb bending, ability to stand, performance of voluntary movements, and a reduction of paralysis. The procedure used to achieve the clinical results was the application of the threading needle technique combined with scalp acupuncture. Acupuncture point Baihui (GV20) was connected to Xuanli (GB6) using the threading technique. The procedure was tested against a control group and demonstrated significant clinical efficacy in cerebral edema reduction, functional improvements, and regulation of MMP-9.

Acupuncture enhanced resorption of blood stasis due to internal bleeding. Combined with acupuncture’s ability to regulate of MMP-9, the researchers suggest that these objective results contributed to the enhanced neurologic functional recovery and reduction of internal bleeding. The researchers gave a brief summary for the basis of the investigation citing prior research.

Wang Qiang et al. concluded that brain internal bleeding leads to toxic reactions and therefore cerebral edema. GB6 is located on the side of the head. Hence, controlling toxic reactions and cerebral edema is a key factor in the treatment of brain internal bleeding. Yin Nina et al. concluded that pain reduction on patients has a direct impact on the reduction of cerebral edema and controlling MMP-9 expression. Huang Wei has also concluded that cerebral edema can be ameliorated through controlling MMP-9 expression. Prior research demonstrates that acupuncture regulates MMP-9 expression in a homeostatic manner, both in cases of upregulation and downregulation as required by differing medical disorders.

The acupuncture points chosen for the study are on the scalp. GV20 is referred to as Baihui, which is translated as hundred meetings. Located at the vertex, this acupoint is indicated for the treatment of stroke and related conditions including headache, heaviness of the head, dizziness, hypertension, hemiplegia, loss of consciousness and blindness. This acupoint is also used in the treatment of fright, palpitations, poor memory, irritability, and disorientation. GV20 is closely associated with benefitting the brain and is known as a point of the sea of marrow. GV20 was threaded to acupoint GB6. This gallbladder channel acupoint is known as Xuanli, which translates into suspended hair. The acupoint is located within the hairline on the temporal aspect of the scalp.

In related research, Wang et al. conclude that scalp acupuncture combined with local acupuncture to the hand restores hand function. In a human clinical trial, the researchers achieved an 85% total effective rate for patients recovering hand functionality after a stroke. Given this investigation and the prior research, scalp acupuncture presents as a central component to functional recovery after a stroke.
Li Xueyan, Zhang Liang. Experimental Study on Neuroprotective Effects of Acupuncture and Intervention on MMP-9 Expression in Rats with Intracerebral Hemorrhage, Information on Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2015 (4).

Wang, D. Y., Wang, F. F., Li, X. Y. & Zhao, X. (2014). Effect of Cluster Needling of Scalp Acupuncture Combined with Hand Penetration Acupuncture on the Recovery of Hand Function after Stroke. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion (11).

Lu. B. W. & Chen. H. B. (1996). Normal Human Anatomy [M]. Ha Er Bin: Heilongjiang Scientific Education Publisher (222).

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Acupuncture May Treat Radiation-Induced Anorexia in Thyroid Cancer

Acupuncture may be an effective treatment for patients with thyroid cancer who experience radioactive-iodine-induced (RAI)-induced anorexia, according to a South Korean study published inIntegrative Cancer Therapies.Researchers led by Ju-Hyun Jeon, KMD, PhD, of Daejeon Korean Medicine Hospital examined 14 patients with thyroid cancer who were randomized to either “true” or sham acupuncture, with patients in both groups given six treatment sessions in two weeks.

Measured outcomes included change in Functional Assessment of Anorexia and Cachexia Treatment (FAACT), Anorexia/Cachexia Subscale (ACS), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), weight, body mass index (BMI), and cortisol levels.

The researchers found that true acupuncture demonstrated a higher increase but with no statistical significance, although there were significant differences between the two groups in an intent-to-treat (ITT) and per protocol (PP) analyses of Table of Index (TOI), FACT-G, and FAACT scores.

They also found no significant differences in VAS, weight, BMI, and cortisol levels between the groups.acupuncture needle inserting

“Although the current study is based on a small sample of participants, our findings support the safety and potential use of acupuncture for RAI-induced anorexia and quality of life in thyroid cancer patients,” the authors concluded.


  1. Keon, Ju-Hyun, KMD, PhD, et al. “Effect of Acupuncture for Radioactive-Iodine-Induced Anorexia in Thyroid Cancer Patients A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Sham-Controlled Pilot Study.”Integrative Cancer Therapies. doi: 10.1177/1534735415570634. [epub ahead of print]. February 17, 2015.


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Acupuncture Plus Herbs Cures Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

05 AUGUST 2015

Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine cures pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This disorder is an infection of the female reproductive organs and may present as an acute emergency or a chronic illness. Lower abdominal acupoints are used for PID treatments. PID commonly involves infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. In many cases, bacteria from the vagina or cervix transmits to these regions leading to PID. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of this disorder but there are many other causes including infections following abdominal surgery. Congealed exudate from the infection may cause salpingitis and subsequent infertility.

In China, approximately 2 million new cases of PID are reported every year. In the US, is it estimated that over 1 million women experience PID every year. The major symptoms are abdominal pain accompanied by leukorrhea, vaginal discharge.

Researchers published their findings in the Medical Innovation of China journal. The study involved 90 patients with chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. A comparison was made between using only herbal medicine and another group receiving herbal medicine combined with acupuncture. The average age of the patients was 35 and the average symptoms duration was 1.7 years.

The herbal medicine given to patients in both groups contained:

  • Dang gui 10g
  • Gan Jiang 5g
  • Xiao Hui Xiang 10g
  • Wu Ling Zhi 5g
  • Wu Zhu Yu 10g

A decoction was made and was consumed twice per day, morning and night. For patients with severe PID, the consumption rate was increased to 3 times per day. The group receiving acupuncture combined with herbal medicine received 20 minute needle retention time acupuncture sessions. The acupuncture points used for the patients were:

  • Zhong Ji (CV3)
  • Guan Yuan (CV4)
  • Qi Hai (CV6)
  • San Yin Jiao (SP6)
  • Zu San Li (ST36)
  • Zi Gong (extra point)

The group receiving acupuncture combined with herbal medicine had a 97.8% total effective rate. More lower abdominal acupoints. The herbal medicine only group had an 82.2% total effective rate. Only 1 patient in the acupuncture combined with herbal medicine group did not respond to treatment. In the herbal medicine only group, 8 patients did not respond to treatment. For the acupuncture combined with herbal medicine group, there was a 6.7% relapse rate. The herbal medicine only group had a 22.2% relapse rate. The researchers note that both groups showed significant improvements.

This study was a protocolized approach to care. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture point selections and herbal formula ingredients are customized per each patient’s individual differential diagnosis. In this study, a standardized set of acupoints and herbs were selected for all patients. The protocolized approach is often used to reduce variables in the investigation.

A the Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi), we offer many acupuncture continuing education courses on the treatment of PID. The courses are in written and video format. To take a look at an example of a course on PID, click PID Treated with Acupuncture and Herbs.


Ruan Lini, Dong Yunan, Leng Xiulan, Analysis of Chinese Medicine Acupuncture Combined Treatment for 90 Cases of Chronic Pelvic Inflammatory, Medical Innovation of China, 2015 (17).


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If Western Dermatology Has Failed You, Try Acupuncture

by Noël Duan

Assistant Editor
October 13, 2015

Skincare Acupuncture

#Acupuncture can become part of your regular skincare routine. (Photo: Getty images)

Growing up with relatively severe #acne, my parents shuttled me from #dermatologist to dermatologist, trying everything from photo facials that burnt my skin to prescription lotions that made my skin flake to extractions that exacerbated the swelling. Thousands of dollars and many years later, I still suffer from acne on a daily basis. Jaded and (sometimes literally) scarred by Western medicine, I looked to my roots and sought Chinese traditional medicine, namely acupuncture, to see if it could clear my skin, and maybe even give me a health boost beyond the face. I consulted two different Manhattan-based acupuncturists, Shellie Goldstein of Hamptons Acupuncture and Su-Jung Lee of Truing Acupuncture, to teach me about skincare beyond Western medicine. Before you decide to stick needles all over your body in the pursuit of beauty though, here are eight basic tenets to know about acupuncture, skin, and wellness.

Your tongue says a lot about you
Before my acupuncture facial with Lee began, she asked me to stick out my tongue, which is a traditional diagnostic tool. “The body of the tongue can fall on a spectrum of deeper, darker, purplish reds to a light pink,” Lee explains to Yahoo Beauty. “The tongue body reflects the overall physical systems. Bright red for instance will reflect excess heat in the system. Purples could mean there is stagnation of blood or a blockage in circulation.” By checking the tongue coating and body, the acupuncturist can confirm a diagnosis. Goldstein agrees: “According to Chinese medicine, the tongue is the visible end of a long tube that extends from the mouth to the rectum,” she writes in her book, Your Best Face Now. “Your tongue can also say a lot about your Qi,” Goldstein tells Yahoo Beauty. “The Qi is a force of energy that you can’t see, but it affects the way you look and the way you feel. Many of my patients don’t just have skin issues. They are also fatigued.” It’s all connected — and it starts with your tongue.

Acupuncture needles are not one-size-fits-all
There are more than 365 points in your body, but don’t worry — the needles don’t go everywhere. This is great news if you have a fear of needles. In her office, Goldstein presented to me a variety of needles from Japan, China, Taiwan, and elsewhere. They come in different diameters and types of metal, and the Chinese needles tend to be thicker than the Japanese needles. They are pre-sterilized, single-use, and disposable (leave immediately if your acupuncturist is re-using needles). Unlike hypodermic needles, these don’t hurt because they’re extremely thin, solid (versus hollow), and have finely tapered points. You shouldn’t really feel the needles, but you may experience a slight pinch in certain areas. It’s not an unpleasant feeling, but if you already have an aversion to sharp things, this is your warning. You may actually find it relaxing: Many people claim to fall asleep during acupuncture sessions — I know I do.

Chinese medical cosmetology dates back thousands of years
“Used by the ancient Chinese Empresses and the concubines of the Emperor, this system was designed to improve the quality of the skin, reduce signs of aging, and maintain lustrous radiance,” Goldstein explains. She mentions a text, Huang Di Nei Jing, that recommends acupuncture, facial massage, and qi gong as anti-aging and acne treatments, and explains how your diet affects your appearance. The Empress Lu Zhi of the Han Dynasty, for example, is said to have started each day with a soup made of edible jelly fungus, which was supposed to minimize facial pigmentation and freckles, reduce fat absorption, and promote gut health. And Yang Guifei, the famously beautiful concubine of Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong, had her own almond skin cream recipe.

An acupuncture facial requires needles all over your body
I was surprised when the needles went on my feet — the farthest points away from my body. Apparently, the points on your feet can affect parts of your head, whether you’re seeking treatment for chronic migraines, acne, or sallow skin. “As the tongue can reflect an imbalance in the overall physiology, so can the face and skin,” Lee explains. Treating the whole body, as well as locally on the face, synergistically improves the general health of the person.” For example, as Goldstein explains, the point on top of your foot between your first and second toes can be activated to treat wrinkles between the eyebrows and around the eyes, and to reduce and irritation in the eyes. Activating the point on the inside of your foot, directly below the ankle bone, can help treat dry lips, thinning hair, and ringing in your ears. Everyone has an individual experience with acupuncture, but the point is to restore the balance in your body.

Acupuncture has a cumulative effect
As with most skincare treatments that aren’t surgery, you don’t get instantaneous results — much to my dismay. “For a ballpark of number of treatments for facial acupuncture, I’d recommend working once a week for three months since acupuncture has cumulative results over time,” Lee advises. “Then, a maintenance schedule of once a month should do in most cases.” Goldstein agrees: “It’s not just acupuncture. You have to gradually change your lifestyle habits, like diet, if you want to see results.” The cost can add up, though, and even the most premium of health insurances don’t cover cosmetic acupuncture. Luckily, there are many community-oriented holistic acupuncture centers that only cost $50 per session, as long as you’re willing to get treatments done with other people in the room.

According to Eastern medicine, you can temporarily delay the signs of aging
“The muscles of your body attach from either bone to bone, or from bone to tendon or ligament,” Goldstein explains. “Contracting these muscles moves your bones.” But your facial muscles are different — on one end, they’re attached to a bone or muscle, and on the other end, they’re attached to a muscle or your skin. So, when you contract these muscles, you’re moving muscles and skin, not bone. Wrinkles are going to inevitably happen if you have facial expressions, but Eastern medicine says you can delay aging by focusing on balancing your Qi energy levels, starting with your kidneys. Kidneys perform a variety of vital regulatory and balancing functions in your body, from waste removal to blood filtering to enzyme production, and in Eastern medicine, they are also said to possess a special kind of Qi called Jing, which is passed down from your ancestors. When your kidneys are unhealthy, your mind and body suffer, from yellowing skin to memory loss. Another organ that matters a lot is your lung. “Eastern doctors believe we can all have normal skin,” says Goldstein. “All it takes is good Lung Qi.” If your lungs, which regulate moisture and air, aren’t functioning properly, your skin can be too dry, which can enhance signs of aging.

You can do acupressure at home
Goldstein’s book, Your Best Face Now, is a thorough guide to giving yourself the benefits of acupuncture without the actual needles. Acupressure uses the firm pressure of your hands, instead of needles to stimulate vital points on your body. Acupuncture is technically stronger and supposedly more effective, but you also need to see a specialist for it. Goldstein invented the 20-day AcuFacial Acupressure Facelift technique as a non-invasive way to shave years off your face, but you can also consult your own acupuncturist about the pressure points that are most effective for yourself. “Just because someone else has acne, doesn’t mean they have it for the same reasons [as another person] or that it is the same kind,” Lee explains.

You need to live a healthy lifestyle to reap the benefits
Acupuncture is all about restoring balance into your body, but a 60-minute session once a week won’t make a difference if you’re not eating well, sleeping well, wearing sunscreen, and exercising. Both Goldstein and Lee require their first-time patients to fill out an extensive multi-page questionnaire about their lifestyle habits and schedules, from coffee consumption to skincare products to menstrual cycles. It borders on TMI, but here’s the thing: It’s your body, and it requires self-healing. “To really improve and maintain a healthy body and face, we have to work together by addressing lifestyle choices and habits,” says Lee. “With regular acupuncture and herbs, if necessary, you can expect to see a healthier complexion and better overall health by calming stress, and improving digestion and quality of sleep.”


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