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Acupuncture Can Improve Chronic Pain and Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Can Improve Chronic Pain and Depression Treatment

Author: Justin Mckibben

Using needles to heal addicts is nothing new. Those who practice and promote holistic healing are often familiar with the concept. In recovery, the needle can mean something totally different than what it meant in addiction. For some it opens up a new world of medical treatment they never knew was possible. Acupuncture itself is actually much more powerful than some may realize, and a recent study only magnifies the usefulness of going under the needle for chronic pain and mental health.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library now features a report where the researchers show there is significant evidence to demonstrate that acupuncture provides more than a placebo effect.

To clarify, a placebo is a substance or treatment with no active therapeutic effect. These kinds of treatment may be given to a person in order to trick the recipient into thinking that it is an active treatment, meaning the answer is all in the mind.

This new data suggests there is an active therapeutic element to acupuncture.

Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Pain

Professor of Acupuncture Research, Hugh MacPherson, helped bring together this research with a team of scientists from the UK and US. The data is strung together using the results of 29 high-quality clinical trials. These trials specifically reviewed patients treated with acupuncture, alongside standard medical care.

For most of the clinical trials, patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture and standard medical care were tested against those who were provided with standard medical care alone. The standard medical care includes treatment such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physiotherapy

Those examined were approximately 18,000 patients diagnosed with chronic pain of areas such as:

  • Neck
  • Lower back
  • Head
  • Knee

According to the published reports, the addition of acupuncture to complement standard medical treatment has a few powerful effects. Acupuncture was able to:

  • Significantly reduce the number of headaches and migraine attacks
  • Reduce the severity of neck and lower back pain
  • Reduce the pain and disability of osteoarthritis, which led to patients being less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs

Clinic Trials: Acupuncture VS Depression

The teams report also includes a new clinical trial for the impact on depression. During these trials acupuncture or counselling was compared to the effectiveness of antidepressants and related medications.

Researchers sourced from 755 patients with depression in the North of England. The new study shows that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depression. Not only did they reduce the severity, but the benefits were generally continuous for up to 12 months after the initial treatment. So the long-term implications alone are pretty exciting to see.

Professor MacPherson, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, has said:

“The front-line treatment for depression in primary care usually involves antidepressants; however, they do not work well for more than half of patients.

“In the largest study of its kind, we have now provided a solid evidence base to show that not only can acupuncture and counselling bring patients out of an episode of depression, but it can keep the condition at bay for up to a year on average.”

Professor MacPherson believes that because patients and health professionals can now make decisions on using acupuncture for treatment with more confidence, this new data provides a significant step forward in managing and treating chronic pain and depression.

Clinic Trials: True Acupuncture VS Sham Acupuncture

As stated in the beginning, many believed acupuncture’s benefits to be at least partially associated with placebo effects. With this doubt hanging over it, the uncertainty of it’s clinical effectiveness has stunted its growth.

Professor MacPherson says that this new research provides definitive evidence that acupuncture can work to treat chronic pain; that in doing so the reductions in pain are substantially more than those measured from what is called “sham acupuncture.”

Sham acupuncture is only for clinical trials for research purposes. This “sham” method involves inserting needles at the ‘wrong’ locations, or using non-inserted needles (fake needles) at the correct locations. Having data to attest that ‘true’ acupuncture has significantly more effect in reducing pain than ‘sham’ acupuncture offers evidence that it is not simply a placebo effect.

In Conclusion

This research also asserts that this kind of treatment is cost effective. With the value for money being rated as less than the threshold of £20,000 cost per quality of life year; a metric for measuring cost-effectiveness used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). MacPherson went on to state:

“There has been a question mark for many years over whether policy and decision makers should or should not provide wider access to acupuncture. Our aim was to bring together data from high quality clinical trials and provide a robust evidence base that will help reduce this uncertainty and support commissioners and health professionals in making informed decisions backed up with research.”

Professor MacPherson insists that not only is it more cost effective than medications, but acupuncture reduces pain levels and improves mood levels, which could reduce over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects, such as physical dependence or abuse.

In the world of addiction, pain and depression are often simultaneous with substance use disorder. Many people who battle with addiction also fight to overcome depression, and countless people have become addicted to opioids as a result of prolonged dependence on prescription pain medications. As we move toward more innovations in prevention and intervention, innovations in treatment are more important than ever.

For years Palm Partners has believed in the healing power of acupuncture and offered the opportunity for people struggling with substances to have access to this powerful resource on their path to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!

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Medical Schools Try Substituting Opioids With Nerve Blocks

 

Medical Schools Try Substituting Opioids With Nerve Blocks

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

A discovery may help keep patients off addictive opioids while still providing the pain relief they desperately need. Just recently, Nashville Public Radio reports that the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia (MTSA) has restructured its program, so students do not lean on prescribing opioids. Instead, a more innovative approach will be considered. What could this be?

The answer could be nerve blocks. Nerve blocks deaden a particular area instead of knocking a patient out completely.  Nerve blocks are commonly associated with epidurals however improved technology is allowing them to be more widely used.

Chris Hulin, president of MTSA, recently had success with a nerve block while undergoing foot surgery. During the surgery, Hurlin even said hi to the surgeon a couple of times during the operation. During the entire procedure, he felt zero pain. He elaborated stating he “didn’t have any sensations” in his foot for 24 hours. Post-surgery, he simply took ibuprofen to manage post-op pain.

Still, nerve blocks are not commonly used in the medical field. MTSA students struggle even to find operating rooms that allowed the practice, according to NPR. However, with opioid addiction reaching epidemic proportions, MTSA believes it is important to increase access to this service.

“We want to eliminate or potentially decrease the probability that the patient is going to be exposed to those opiates for the very first time,” said Patrick Moss, who teaches acute pain management at MTSA. “We want to do everything we can to make that patient happy. And I think sometimes that’s been unfortunately the inadvertent withholding of therapies such as what we’re teaching here at our institution.”

Despite new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which call for limiting the number of opioid prescriptions, recent findings reveal that most surgeons are disregarding these limitations. A study released last month at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire found that out of the 642 patients they followed post-surgery, more than 90% were prescribed opioids.

Why? Jane C. Ballantyne, Professor of Education and Research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Washington, mentioned to The Fix that it has to do with our desire to find a quick solution to every ailment.

“We live in a culture in which the expectation is that we can ‘fix’ everything,”  she said. “It’s hard for physicians to say ‘no’ when patients demand opioids for pain because both patients and physicians have come to believe that opioids offer a solution.”

The important thing to recognize is that pain is real. People do experience pain and pain management is always going to be a necessity. However, how the medical community approaches treating pain does not have to stay the same. A few decades ago, we saw the rise of opioid prescriptions in the medical community. Now, they have become the norm, but there are other options. A solution like nerve blocks could be a useful tool for managing pain without the use of opioids.

More people are dying from overdoses than car accidents. It is the time we make a change in our approach treating patients with pain. The disease of addiction is not something anyone ever desires. Often, a visit to the doctor for a broken bone can spiral into a full blown opioid dependence. This has to stop.

Regardless of what methods we use to treat pain, the important thing is that we consider alternatives. There are so many people struggling. If you are alone, reading this article should confirm that you are far from the only one. The good news is we can teach you the tools to live a healthy life in recovery. Gain your life back. Call today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

How Daniel Radcliffe Maintains His Sobriety

How Daniel Radcliffe Maintains His Sobriety

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The actor most known for his role as Harry Potter has come a long way since the days of dark arts and wizardry. Daniel Radcliffe received his first role in Harry Potter at age 11. Now nearly 15 years later, the 26-year-old actor speaks out about his battle with alcoholism, being “attracted to chaos,” and how he managed to stay sober for the past three years.

Daniel Radcliffe revealed his struggles with alcoholism back in 2011. He admitted that he has struggled with alcohol for quite some time and even was drunk during the filming of some of the Harry Potter movies.  As a Harry Potter nerd, it was hard to imagine Radcliffe intoxicated in scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Escaping Harry Potter

Furthermore, to escape the Potter Role and become a “real actor,” Radcliffe says he began dabbling in casual sex and whiskey.

I don’t think I was consciously trying to rebel or sabotage everything,” he said,  “It felt more like there isn’t any blueprint for how to get through this. And the reason I spoke out about it was because I felt someone else would and I should take control…which is exactly what I did.”

Radcliffe said he believed his acting and performance in the movies were subpar, due to a variety of factors including his drinking behaviors. However, he managed to stay sober for a few years before relapsing in 2012.

NYC Bar Scandal

In December of 2012, Radcliffe was allegedly booted from a bar in New York City.  Patrons witnessed Radcliffe “pounding Jagerbombs” before he ended up in an alcohol-fueled fight with the DJ.

The good news is after his brief relapse; the 26-year-old actor has now been sober for three years. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the 26-year-old actor reflected on his battle with alcoholism.  These days, Radcliffe says he feels much more stable.

“I feel a lot more settled mentally, and am more comfortable with what makes me happy,” said Radcliffe about his life today. “More comfortable with the fact that I am a person that loves just hanging out with my friends. Or watching quiz shows. I am comfortable with the things about myself that I used to think, man, am I really boring? Should I be going out and getting wasted all the time?”

How Radcliffe Leads An Exciting Sober Life

Radcliffe is far from boring. He now enjoys leading a sober life.  He has starred in a variety of plays and has two new films this year, Now You See Me 2, and Swiss Army Man.  Although Radcliffe’s social life may differ from the habits of the average twenty-something, Radcliffe knows his old ways were “clearly not good” for him.

“I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes,” he said.

 Behavioral change is a common symptom of alcohol dependency. These days, the actor stays sober in various ways. One of the main ones is exercising. Radcliffe said he was taking five-hour walks in the beginning whenever he had the craving to drink. Now, he sticks to running and going to the gym.

“Like the cliché of anybody who is quitting something, I really got into exercise,” he said.

The actor also enjoys reading and going to restaurants and supermarkets. He stated that he had regained his love for reading that he had lost because of his drinking behaviors.  While Radcliffe occasionally still will frequent bars and clubs, he now had limits to this kind of behavior.

“I go to restaurants. I go to the pub for a bit but then I’m like, OK, if you’re all staying and getting drunk then I’m going to go because I can’t do that,” he explained.

Exercise and Books

Exercise and reading are excellent ways to overcome any addiction. Exercise releases endorphins that help regenerate happy chemicals in the brain. Reading is a great way of entering a whole new world with different stories. Finding activities you enjoy and learning how to have fun sober is the key to having a successful recovery.

Recovery can be different at first, but it does not have to be challenging. The key is to find your interests and focus on those instead of abusing substances. However, if you are struggling, we are always here to help. Call today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

E-cigarette Alter Genes Involved In Airway Immune Defense

Author: Shernide Delva

When e-cigarettes entered the market, they were marketed as the revolutionary way of quitting traditional smoking. However, evidence has come out to state that e-cigarettes may be just as unhealthy as cigarettes. Recent articles we have written on the manner mention the side effect of “popcorn lung.”  Popcorn lung gets its name from popcorn factory workers who  started to get respiratory issues from breathing in the artificial popcorn flavoring. The condition is officially known as Bronchiolitis obliterans, and recent studies have shown that the artificial flavoring in e-cigarettes could result in the same side-effect.

Now, more research is revealing the harmful effects of smoking e-cigarettes. While the long-term effects of e-cigarettes remain unknown, toxicologists at UNC are uncovering how e-cigarettes affect genes involved in the upper airway immune defense.  So far, what they have found is not promising.

Smoking cigarettes have been known to alter dozen of genes important for immune defense in the respiratory tracts. These changes to our respiratory tract increase our risk of bacterial infections, viruses, and inflammation. Now, scientists are reporting that e-cigarettes are altering hundreds of genes, including the same ones that smoking suppresses.

UNC School of Medicine conducted the study, and it confirmed that e-cigarettes and cigarettes both alter genes important for immune defense in the upper airway.

“I was really surprised by these results,” said lead researcher Ilona Jaspers, professor of pediatrics, and microbiology and immunology at UNC. “That’s why we kept going back to make sure this was accurate.”

The findings, published in the American Journal of Physiology confirmed that inhaling vaporized flavor liquids in e-cigs are not without consequences. When it comes to epithelial cell gene expression, there is damage that occurs. Smoking e-cigarettes pose harm to the critical process in which our genes give rise to protein important for various functions in cells.

Despite these new studies, UNC researchers warn that e-cigarettes are not yet associated with long-term cigarette smoking risks such as cancer, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The long-term effects of e-cigarettes are not fully known.

“We honestly do not yet know what long-term effects e-cigarettes might have on health,” said Jaspers, senior author, and director of UNC’s toxicology curriculum. “I suspect that the effects of e-cigarettes will not be the same as the effects of cigarette smoking.”

Still, so far the evidence suggests that long-term e-cigarettes use are not harmless.

E-cigarettes have only been on the market in the United States since 2006. Usage skyrocketed only a few years ago. The FDA currently approves more than 7,000 flavors however that approval remains based on data generated for oral consumption, not inhalation.

The study conducted at Jaspers’lab in collaboration with the University of California at San Francisco yielded these results. Together, they recruited 13 non-smokers, 14 smokers, and 12 e-cigarette users. Each participant kept a journal documenting their cigarette or e-cigarette use. The team later analyzed participant’s urine and blood samples to confirm nicotine levels and biomarkers relevant to tobacco exposure.

After about three weeks, researchers took samples from the nasal passages of each participant. They wanted to analyze the expression of genes crucial for immune responsibly. Visually and functionally, the epithelial layers along our airways need to function properly to trap and dispatch particles and pathogens, so we do not get sick. It is known that cigarettes smoking modify this gene expression which is why researchers believe cigarette smokers are more prone to respiratory problems.

Non-smokers were the baseline comparison group. Jaspers’ team found that smoking cigarettes decreased the gene expression of 53 genes important for the immune response of the epithelial cells. However, e-cigarettes decreased the gene expression of 358 genes important for immune defense including the 53 genes implicated in the smoking group!

“We compared these genes one by one,” Jaspers said, “And we found that each gene common to both groups was suppressed more in the e-cigarette group. We currently do not know exactly how e-cigarettes do this.”.

This does not necessarily mean that smoking e-cigarettes are worse than smoking cigarettes,

“I think it is a mistake to try to directly compare cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use,” Jaspers said. “We shouldn’t ask ‘smoking causes cancer; do e-cigarettes cause cancer? Smoking causes emphysema; do e-cigarettes cause emphysema?'”

Smoking cigarettes and inhaling vaporized flavored liquids in e-cigarettes are completely different from each other. Furthermore, it is more likely that e-cigarettes could influence biological changes and play different roles in respiratory problems

“We know that diseases like COPD, cancer, and emphysema usually take many years to develop in smokers,” Jaspers said. “But people have not been using e-cigarettes for very long. So we don’t know yet how the effects of e-cigarette use might manifest in 10 or 15 years. We’re at the beginning of cataloging and observing what may or may not be happening.”

The next study is to understand how epithelial cells in e-cigarette users respond to a flu vaccine. This could help her team understand the immune response of epithelial cells in smokers, non-smokers, and e-cigarette users.

“We just finished our collection of samples,” Jaspers said. “We’ll see.”

While we do not know the long-term effects of smoking, it is clear that any form of smoking is detrimental. Therefore, quitting is always the ideal solution. If you are struggling with stopping any form of drug use, give us a call. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Could a New Phone App Combat Human Trafficking?

 

Slavery - Human Trafficking

Author: Shernide Delva

There are an estimated 21 million people in forced or coerced human trafficking worldwide. That number is just an estimate. Human trafficking can happen anywhere at anytime.  It is going on in our backyards, and most of us are unaware of it. Because we are unaware of it, it becomes an unspoken problem. Now, a newly released app plans to combat this epidemic. All it requires is users take photos of their hotel room.

Just by taking pictures of your next hotel room, you can take a small step in helping victims of sex trafficking around the world. The new app is called TraffickCam and allows those traveling to upload photos of their hotel room around the world.

“You just enter your hotel room and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said at a Human Trafficking Town Hall. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”

The hotel room photos go into a database that over time will help law enforcement locate where human trafficking is occurring. Pictures of Hotel rooms are matched against a police database.

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” she said.

Stylianou says the idea sparked from the times authorities have asked the public to identify a hotel room where human trafficking took place. Often, someone was able to identify the hotel room from the photo.

Now, this app aims to collect hotel room photos in advance. So the next time you check into a hotel room, take pictures of your room and upload them using the app. After all, it is only one extra thing to do on top of your Snapchats and fancy food Instagram pictures. The app is free and available for both iOS and Android devices.

Human Trafficking and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and human trafficking, unfortunately, go hand and hand. Estimates indicate that between 40 and 85 percent of all prostitutes are drug users. What the media often does not portray is the fact that many victims are not addicts before being traffic. However, when found, these victims are left with drug addictions and dependencies.

There a few ways that substance abuse and human trafficking intertwine. It can be a product of recruitment, control or coping:

  • Recruitment: Victims will sometimes end up in human trafficking before any drug abuse. This scenario is very common in the sex industry. Men and women turn to prostitution to support their drug dependencies. Traffickers use this as leverage to obtain workers.
  • Control: Traffickers will force drug use on victims as a mean of control, so they get what they want.
    “In some cases, a prostitute will be forced by a pimp or other person to take drugs to ensure that they do as they are told… This is particularly true in the case of young people and children” (DARA).
    Sadly, this method of control is even used on children as well. Children are sometimes forced to take drugs or drink alcohol, so they are more manipulated into having sex or performing sexual acts without consent. Trafficking victims are often forced to take drugs like heroin or meth because they eventually become dependent on these substances. Traffickers gain control of their victims this way because soon the victims will feel they need to fund their addiction. Now, their addiction binds them to their exploitation.
  • Coping: Drugs can be a method of coping for victims. Victims of human trafficking may use drugs as a way to numb their pain. Day after day, abusing substances allow victims to deal with the reality of their life and work. Substance Abuse is used “as a way to be able to continue to do the degrading and often violent work” (DARA). Some victims also use drugs in the aftermath to reduce their post-traumatic emotional distress.

As you can see, human trafficking is a major problem across the board. The fact that an app like this could help law enforcement find the location these horrible acts are taking place is a step in the right direction. If you or someone you know has gone through a similar traumatic experience and is struggling with any form of dependency, the time is now to call for help. Do not try to do this alone.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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