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Mechanism: Experimental Approaches to Understanding Acupuncture, Part 1
The clinical benefits of acupuncture are difficult to ignore, but also can be difficult to explain to a Western audience. For nearly 50 years, relentlessly inquisitive scientists and physicians have been working toward a conceptual model to explain acupuncture.
Footsteps of the Sages: An Apprenticeship with Dr. Kezhan Zhang
When I met Dr. Kezhen Zhang in May 2013, I was his translator and the integrity, creativity, and passion he demonstrated as a practitioner and advocate of the medicine convinced me to travel to Beijing to study with him.
Diagnose Sprain Injuries in MVA Cases With Dynamic X-Rays (Pt. 1)
Am I the only person to notice hospitals are doing a seemingly insufficient job lately in their initial radiological workup of motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims?
It's Time to Review
It is amazing to see the changes that are occurring in the acupuncture profession. Let's look at some of the news and events that have contributed to this growth and awareness.
Acupuncture Rising: From Acupuncture Anesthesia to Assisted-IVF, Part 2
Acupuncture's cultural and historical roots go back to the emergence of Chinese civilization. For more than 2,000 years, acupuncture needling has been continuously practiced on the largest population in the world.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 1)
It doesn't matter if you come to my practice for pain relief, weight loss, healthy aging or something else. The formula I talk about for each patient's fitness strategy is pretty much the same.
Pro-Con: Swaddling for Newborns
The practice of swaddling has been used for thousands of years and was popular until the 1700s, when it was slowly abandoned by many cultures that considered it old-fashioned or barbaric.
Too Many to Remember: Tips to Revive Your Ortho / Neuro Test Skills
When I was at Palmer in the mid-1980s, we were given a set of notes in one of our diagnostic courses. The notes covered approximately 70 orthopedic and neurological tests for various regions of the body.
Chinese Herbs and Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Case Study
"Mary M."* recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Even the former sheriff dropped by to kiss the hand of this diminutive retired teacher, to honor the years she interpreted for him during interviews with Latinas and Latinos.
Born to Energize the Human Spirit: Recollections of Sig Miller
Sig Miller, longtime executive director of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC), passed away on Sept. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
Syncretism: Acupuncture and Public Health in Cuba
"Syncretism" is defined as a union of diverse tenets or practices. On a recent trip to Cuba designed to demonstrate the integration of Traditional Medicine and biomedicine, our group witnessed this union firsthand.
Targeting the Bad Apples in the Bunch
While everyone was focused on the conversion to ICD-10, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services released a new report on chiropractic titled "CMS Should Use Targeted Tactics to Curb Questionable and Inappropriate Payments for Chiropractic Services."
The Modern Application of Ancient Mei Rong
Chinese Medical Cosmetology (Mei Rong) has a well-documented and venerated history dating back to the Qin (221-206 BC) Dynasty.
Making Sense of an Increasingly Obvious Conclusion
Where's U.S. health care heading? Like it or not, the list of telltale signs is growing to a point that stands out to even the most myopic observer. Consider this list of facts as you look into the future of health care in the United States:
F4CP Making a High-Impact Impression
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released details of its 2016 strategy, certain elements of which are already in play. The strategy includes ads, posters and other resources available to all F4CP members.
The Concussion-Subluxation Complex
In the Aug. 1, 2014 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, I reviewed some of the literature demonstrating the role of the chiropractic adjustment in post-concussive care.
Dietary Fat and Prostate Cancer: An Important Update
K.M. Di Sebastiano and M. Mourtzakis published a review paper examining the role of dietary fat on prostate cancer development and progression late last year that does a stellar job of summarizing the available data on fat and prostate cancer.
Which Way is the Energy Going? Are You Burning Yourself Out?
One of the simple methods that I use to define Yin/Yang theory to patients is to ask the question, "Which way is your energy going?"
Omega-3 Fish Oil: An Underappreciated Element of Men's Health
As a clinician with many male patients -- and as a man myself -- I am all too aware of the fact that we like to convince ourselves that we are doing great, when that may be the farthest thing from the truth.
North Carolina Acupuncture Board Files Dry Needling Lawsuit
In early September, the NCALB filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners over the issue of dry needling, a form of acupuncture that uses solid needles to puncture the skin and muscle tissue to relieve pain.
One Size Does Not Fit All: Exercise and Nutrition According to Your Yin/Yang Body Type
There are countless new exercise and nutrition plans out there, emphasizing the latest ground-breaking research and claiming to revolutionize the way we view health.
Tailor-Made Knee Pain: The Sartorius Muscle
A patient was referred to my office after receiving treatment from various providers with no results. The patient was training for the Olympics as a marathon runner and was unable to run or walk without severe medial knee pain.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the West
We know acupuncture and Oriental medicine as the indigenous medicine of East Asia; in particular China, Korea and Japan are the countries of origin of this wonderful healing system.
December, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 12
Effects of Healing Touch in Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Energy-based healing practices have been part of various cultures throughout history. Use of these complementary therapies, referred to as biofield therapies, is gaining popularity in the U.S.The theory behind energy-based healing practices is that humans have an energetic dimension necessary for sustaining life. A healthy person's energy field is symmetrical and balanced, allowing optimal energy flow. Imbalances in the energy field might result in pathological physical and psychological symptoms.
Scientific study of the biological mechanisms, effectiveness and safety of biofield therapists is limited. However, this month's Massage Therapy Foundation research column reviews an interesting, systematic, evidence-based approach study of the biofield therapy Healing Touch that was conducted at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and recently published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing.
Healing Touch is a "hand-mediated" therapy involving the practitioner using his or her hands, either on or above the client's body, to restore, energize and equilibrate imbalances in the client's energy field, with the goal of health, well-being or to alleviate specific conditions. Healing Touch originated in the nursing field in the late 1980s as a patient-centered modality in which the practitioner and client both participate in the healing process. Reported benefits include reducing stress, anxiety, pain and depression symptoms, while increasing relaxation and an overall sense of well-being.
This published systematic review evaluated data from randomized clinical trials (RCTs). The systematic review examined the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch as supportive care for medical conditions. Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, and ClinicalTrials.gov) were searched for peer-reviewed articles about Healing Touch. Of the 332 potentially relevant articles, five were included in the review (327 articles were excluded). The five articles selected, involved studies which used random assignment to the treatment condition. Some of the five articles were selected because they employed a blinded study design, which means the studies had data collectors or participants who did not know what type of treatment the participants received (e.g. treatment or control).
The five selected studies involve the use of imagery, stress-relaxation therapy, prayer, therapeutic massage, Healing Touch, mock Healing Touch and presence (as in the presence of someone with the participant, but who did not perform any type of treatment). The sample sizes ranged from 62 to 237 participants. The participants included both men and women who had a mean age between 50 and 65 years old. The studies included multiple conditions including cancer, coronary artery bypass surgery or surgery to enlarge coronary arteries blocked by plaque (percutaneous coronary intervention).
While one study had no significant results with Healing Touch alone, the other four studies show significant findings. One study showed that recipients had significant improvements in respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, pain and mood disturbance after receiving Healing Touch. Two of the studies showed that recipients who received Healing Touch had a significant increase in overall functioning, satisfaction, emotional role functioning, mental health and health transition and a decrease in worry. And the fifth study showed that Healing Touch recipients had a significant decrease in anxiety and the length of their hospital stay.
More studies about the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch for improving health-related quality of life are required, given the inconclusive findings and limitations of the studies reviewed. Limitations included one study which did not include a "usual care alone" group, i.e. a control group, which is a group of participants that received only the usual medical care and no biofield therapy or other type of therapies. Usual care alone groups are essential when making comparisons with the standard of care. One study used a standardized Healing Touch method involving a "modified" chakra connection, but the modification was not explained. This makes replicating the study difficult. In another study, music was played during Healing Touch treatments; in this case, theoretically the music could have been the reason recipients felt more relaxed. Also, a standard Healing Touch protocol was not used and recipients had different types of cancer. Both of these factors could have potentially contributed to some of the variability in the results. Further, one of the studies used Healing Touch involving different lengths of treatment without the use of a standard protocol, again making replication of the study difficult.
None of the studies justified the protocol or length of time chosen for the Healing Touch treatments. Additionally, because there are several levels of training, the experience of the Healing Touch practitioners should have been described.
Additionally, a limitation of systematic reviews is that studies with positive results are more often published than those with negative results which can lead to a bias toward the publication of studies that are more positive rather than representing all RCT findings.
Research in biofield therapies is difficult because there is a question about whether it can be analyzed using conventional scientific approaches, such as RCTs. Few clinical trials use adequate research methods, including the use of blinding and control treatments; which can result in exaggerated treatment effects. Sometimes trials do not have large enough sample sizes. Another issue is that biofield therapy practitioners are not always involved in developing research protocols and researchers might be unfamiliar with the language used in complementary therapies. Yet another potential problem is that many different types of subjective assessments can be used to determine treatment outcomes; this makes it difficult to compare studies. An approach using mixed-methods including both quantitative and qualitative data, might prove vital to understanding the effects of Healing Touch.
How exactly Healing Touch has an effect is currently unclear. The biofield has only recently begun to be measured. Future research in biofield therapies such as Healing Touch should continue to improve in rigor and detail, as well as investigate whether the effects of these therapies are comparable to the effects of other complementary modalities such as massage therapy.
In closing, though inconclusive, the results of the effects of Healing Touch are promising. It is encouraging that research is increasingly being done to address the effectiveness of therapies based on ancient healing practices involving the human energy field. The current challenge in this field of inquiry is to develop rigorous and replicable scientific research protocols that will demonstrate both the effectiveness and therapeutic capabilities of biofield therapies such as Healing Touch.
Source: Anderson, Joel G., Taylor, Ann Gill. Effects of Healing Touch in Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of Holistic Nursing. Published online 12 January 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0898010110393353
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