Women's Health_acupuncture_newcastle

Womens Health Acupuncture and Chinese medicine

Women’s health is a specific area of focus for many health care practitioners. The reason for this focus as opposed to just general health is there are significant differences between male and female biology. Hormones play a distinct role for women in regard to gynaecology, reproductive health, urinary health and the risks of some types of cancer.

How does Chinese medicine work with women’s health?

Chinese medicine attempts to work with more than just symptoms. By viewing the body as an entire organism Chinese medicine attempts to understand why the symptom is occurring. By recognising the complex relationships between your digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal, endocrine, and nervous systems greater understanding is achieved as to why a symptom may be occurring and how to treat it more effectively.

Chinese medicine may incorporate a range of different approaches to assist you toward better health including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese herbal medicine
  • Massage
  • Moxibustion
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Lifestyle advice

What does a holistic approach to women’s health really mean?

Taking what is termed as an holistic approach means considering all aspects of women’s health to make sure the results achieved are sustainable over the long term.

For instance you may on a monthly basis suffer from severe PMS, Premenstrual syndrome, or PMT, Premenstrual Tension, and period pain. Now medicine both modern and ancient understands that there is a hormonal imbalance occurring in cases like these. However symptoms associated with PMS such as mood swings, anxiety, depression, food cravings, acne, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, headache, migraine, back pain and abdominal pain can be significantly impacted by other factors. Understanding these factors can help practitioners to address the symptoms from multiple directions.

What can be some contributing factors to women’s health issues?

An example is high levels of physical and emotional stress can affect the nervous and musculoskeletal systems which in turn can magnify PMS symptoms. Working on these systems while they may not be the main cause of the PMS or period pain can help to improve the outcome.

The digestive system is directly involved in our immune system. If the digestion is not functioning at it’s best then you can experience an increase in inflammation in the body. And guess what? Inflammation can significantly increase the severity of PMS and period pain. So by looking at the digestive, nervous and musculoskeletal systems in this case we have a much stronger opportunity improve symptoms and the overall health of your body.

The long term aim of any health care is to completely remove your distressing symptoms and banish them for good so you can get on with your life.

What are some common women’s health issues seen in a health practice?

While Chinese medicine traditionally has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions current western scientific research has been able to show clear proof of effect in only some conditions. Under national law claims to treat symptoms or conditions effectively without citing a high level of evidence is not permitted. For clarification on the evidence associated with specific symptoms or conditions please visit our ‘conditions’ page.

Women’s health covers more specific ailments associated with the biological differences of women. Some common issues women seek help for include:

  • PMS
  • Period pain
  • Reproductive issues
  • Menopausal hot flushes
  • Pregnancy and post pregnancy help
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Morning sickness
  • Cancer related symptoms
  • Recurring Urinary tract infections
  • Insomnia

What’s the scientific evidence for women’s health?

Unfortunately research to date on acupuncture evidence based medicine and Chinese medicine is far below that of many other medical interventions due to funding issues. Research is more and more becoming funded by commercial interests that seek to benefit financially through the patenting of interventions. The difficulty with acupuncture and Chinese medicine is that they are difficult to patent and so do not offer viable financial returns for commercial investment in research.

  • A review (1) in 2016 of 122 conditions found evidence of effect of various levels of 117 conditions of which a significant number relate to women’s health.
  • Reproductive function – A review (2) in 2010 on experimental studies showed acupuncture to have a substantial effect on reproductive function. The study states ‘Clinical and experimental evidence demonstrates that acupuncture is a suitable alternative or complement to pharmacological induction of ovulation, without adverse side effects.’

The list of conditions below may be related specifically to symptoms associated with women’s health. Other conditions may be secondary symptoms associated with gynaecology, reproductive health, hormonal health, symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment. The list is broken up into categories of evidence associated with the impact acupuncture may have.

Evidence of positive effect

  • Chronic low back pain – a systematic review (3) showed a high quality of effect using acupuncture to assist with pain relief and improved function when incorporated with exercise and physical therapy.
  • Migraine/ headache – a review (4) of 10 trials including 997 participants found superior effect of acupuncture when used in migraine. The effectiveness related to reduction of frequency of migraine and intensity of headache. Another study (5) showed acupuncture to be as effective as conventional proven migraine medications.
  • Post-operative nausea and vomiting – the use of acupuncture in the treatment of post operative nausea and vomiting has shown positive results assisting in the reduction of occurrence (6). It was also found to have less associated risks and greater effect than conventional medication (7).
  • Post-operative pain – improved pain relief has been shown with the use of acupuncture, which has also resulted in reduced use of opiod pain medication. (8). Recently opiod use for pain relief has been found to have significant risks with regard to addiction and long term potential organ damage. The use of low risk methods to assist with pain relief is becoming a preferable method of intervention.
  • Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting with anti-emetics – acupuncture showed a reduced frequency of acute vomiting and nausea (9) and has been found to be an appropriate method of intervention in conjunction with conventional treatment (10).

Evidence of potential positive effect

  • Anxiety – a review of 11 acupuncture studies showed a strong positive effect when used to assist with anxiety symptoms (11)
  • Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy – 2 studies showed significant clinical effect with the use of acupuncture to manage low back and/ or pelvic pain during pregnancy (12).
  • Cancer pain – recommendation of reviewers for acupuncture to be included into the regime of treatment modalities (13)
  • Cancer related fatigue – improved levels of fatigue with the combination of acupuncture and conventional interventions compared to conventional interventions alone (14)
  • Constipation (1)
  • Depression with antidepressants (15)
  • Insomnia – review of acupuncture trials showed benefits superior in comparison to medication (16)
  • Labour pain (17)
  • Peri menopausal and postmenopausal insomnia – 2 reviews showed acupuncture improved sleep quality (18, 19)
  • Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (20, 21)
  • Recovery after colorectal cancer resection (22)
  • Sciatica (23, 24)
  • Shoulder pain (25)

Unclear/ insufficient evidence

  • Assisted conception in Artificial Reproductive Technology such as IVF
  • Bladder Pain Syndrome
  • Cancer related insomnia
  • Cancer related psychological symptoms
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hot flushes in breast cancer
  • Induction of labour
  • Menopausal syndrome
  • Egg retrieval pain relief
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Postnatal depression
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Uterine fibroids

How can Evolve Natural Medicine help with women’s health?

At Evolve Jeff Shearer has a special interest in women’s health issues. We provide acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle advice so you can have a better kind of normal.

Contact us for more information or Book Now.

References:

  1. McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au.
  2. Stener-Victorin E, Wu X. Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture in the reproductive system. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Oct 28;157(1-2):46-51.
  3. Wellington J. Noninvasive and alternative management of chronic low back pain (efficacy and outcomes). Neuromodulation. 2014 Oct;17 Suppl 2:24-30.
  4. Yang Y, Que Q, Ye X, Zheng G. Verum versus sham manual acupuncture for migraine: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Acupunct Med. 2016 Apr;34(2):76-83.
  5. Da Silva AN. Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache. 2015 Mar;55(3):470-3.
  6. Cheong KB, Zhang JP, Huang Y, Zhang ZJ. The effectiveness of acupuncture in prevention and treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting–a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE. 2013;8(12):e82474.
  7. Shin HC, Kim JS, Lee SK, Kwon SH, Kim MS, Lee EJ, et al. The effect of acupuncture on postoperative nausea and vomiting after pediatric tonsillectomy: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Laryngoscope. 2016 Aug;126(8):1761-7.
  8. Wu MS, Chen KH, Chen IF, Huang SK, Tzeng PC, Yeh ML, et al. The Efficacy of Acupuncture in Post-Operative Pain Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS ONE. 2016;11(3):e0150367.
  9. Garcia MK, McQuade J, Lee R, Haddad R, Spano M, Cohen L. Acupuncture for symptom management in cancer care: an update. Curr Oncol Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):418.
  10. Garcia MK, McQuade J, Lee R, Haddad R, Spano M, Cohen L. Acupuncture for symptom management in cancer care: an update. Curr Oncol Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):418.
  11. Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS. Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review. Rev Bras Enferm. 2016 Jun;69(3):602-9.
  12. Close C, Sinclair M, Liddle SD, Madden E, McCullough JE, Hughes C. A systematic review investigating the effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for the management of low back and/or pelvic pain (LBPP) in pregnancy. J Adv Nurs. 2014 Aug;70(8):1702-16.
  13. Chiu HY, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS. Systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2016 Feb 7.
  14. Lau CH, Wu X, Chung VC, Liu X, Hui EP, Cramer H, et al. Acupuncture and Related Therapies for Symptom Management in Palliative Cancer Care: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Mar;95(9):e2901.
  15. Chan YY, Lo WY, Yang SN, Chen YH, Lin JG. The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2015 May 1;176:106-17.
  16. Shergis JL, Ni X, Jackson ML, Zhang AL, Guo X, Li Y, et al. A systematic review of acupuncture for sleep quality in people with insomnia. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:11-20.
  17. Levett KM, Smith CA, Dahlen HG, Bensoussan A. Acupuncture and acupressure for pain management in labour and birth: a critical narrative review of current systematic review evidence. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Jun;22(3):523-40.
  18. Chiu HY, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS. Acupuncture to Reduce Sleep Disturbances in Perimenopausal and Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Mar;127(3):507-15.
  19. Bezerra AG, Pires GN, Andersen ML, Tufik S, Hachul H. Acupuncture to Treat Sleep Disorders in Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:563236.
  20. Chang SC, Hsu CH, Hsu CK, Yang SS, Chang SJ. The efficacy of acupuncture in managing patients with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: A systemic review and meta-analysis. Neurourol Urodyn. 2016 Jan 6.
  21. Qin Z, Wu J, Zhou J, Liu Z. Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Mar;95(11):e3095.
  22. Kim KH, Kim DH, Kim HY, Son GM. Acupuncture for recovery after surgery in patients undergoing colorectal cancer resection: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2016 Aug;34(4):248-56.
  23. Qin 2015 (SR & MA of 11 RCTs; 10 acupuncture vs medications; 1 acupuncture vs sham): Acupuncture may be superior to drugs and may enhance the effect of drugs for patients with sciatica; low quality evidence
  24. Ji 2015 (SR of 12 RCTs): Acupuncture superior to conventional Western medicine in outcomes effectiveness, pain intensity and pain threshold; low quality evidence
  25. Dong W, Goost H, Lin XB, Burger C, Paul C, Wang ZL, et al. Treatments for shoulder impingement syndrome: a PRISMA systematic review and network meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Mar;94(10):e510.

Disclaimer: Each individuals’ treatment and/ or results may vary from person to person depending on the specifics of the situation. Results are not promised or guaranteed as a result of receiving a treatment with Evolve Natural Medicine.

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