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OCTOBER 12 2013

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The ancient medicine we still recommend

Al Día Today

Laura Vasallo practices acupuncture theraphy on Trudie Barclay in her clinic located at 1101 West Hibiscus Blvd, Suite #105, Melbourne, FL 32901 — Tel: (321)725-2438 — Web site:

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But we like this popular form of energy medicine because it’s backed by an impressive body of 21st-century research. Energy medicine? Yes, it seems to change the electric currents or nerve impulses in your body. And often, acupuncture can help when drugs can’t be tolerated or when conventional treatments fail. It’s a team player that works well alongside other treatments -- an integrated approach used successfully for everything from sinusitis and allergies to infertility, asthma and beyond. One of us -- Mehmet -- even uses acupuncture as an add-on treatment during open-heart surgery, and the other -- Mike -- uses it to treat chronic pain as well as pain and nausea post surgery.

Here’s what acupuncture clearly has been clearly shown to help so far (other studies are ongoing, so expect to see this list grow):

Peaceful sleep. Just months ago, a Hong Kong University study of 60 insomniacs found that those who got acupuncture fell asleep faster and were more likely to stay that way (instead of waking up at 4 a.m. to worry about the stock market) than those who got a fake version of the treatment.

Relief from arthritis. British researchers who analyzed five well-designed studies of 1,334 people with bum knees have confirmed that acupuncture relieves debilitating joint pain related to arthritis.

Squelching pain. In a landmark German study of 1,162 back-pain sufferers, twice as many got relief from acupuncture as from conventional fixes such as drugs or physical therapy. Acupuncture also has been proven at least as effective as pain drugs not only for treating migraines, but for preventing them, too -- making it a great choice if you can’t tolerate the side effects of migraine-preventing meds like beta blockers.

Reducing treatment side effects. Dozens of studies show that acupuncture helps quell pain, nausea, fatigue, hot flashes and dry mouth in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation.

How can one therapy do so much? Eastern and Western medical philosophies merge when a licensed acupuncturist inserts those sterile, disposable needles -- painlessly, we promise! -- into your skin. Eastern practitioners say the needles remove blockages so that the body’s energy, called qi (pronounced “chee”) flows freely. Western science shows that acupuncture boosts levels of pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory chemicals called endorphins in the brain and bloodstream. And that changes how your nerve impulses flow.

You don’t even have to believe in it for acupuncture to work its magic. Case in point: Veterinarians know that acupuncture often helps ailing horses, goats, cats and dogs (including Titan, the world’s biggest Great Dane) in measurable ways -- such as being able to walk and run again. With animals, there’s no placebo effect. It either works or it doesn’t. Same goes for people. Many skeptical consumers who’ve tried acupuncture as a last resort become believers when they see results.

Ready to get stuck? First check your insurance. Some plans cover it; some don’t. (We wish more did.) Then find a certified practitioner. Acupuncture is one of the most regulated alternative healing techniques in the U.S. and Canada, although requirements vary by state and province. More than 16,000 licensed acupuncturists and thousands of trained physicians practice this healing art. You can find a certified acupuncturist in the U.S. through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( And, of course, our institutions (The Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and the Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital) offer it. In Canada, find a health-care practitioner trained in acupuncture through the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute (

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The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV (check local listings). To submit questions, go to
(c) 2009 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

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