1. Matters of the Womb
The Uterus is an important female organ, and its health is an
integral part of the health of the entire reproductive system. In recent years,
problems with the uterus have been on the rise, because of lifestyle and
environmental changes. Each year, more than half a million women undergo
hysterectomies, the second most common surgery in America among women of
reproductive age. And it’s major surgery. Recovery can take weeks or months,
and as with any surgery, there is a real risk of death – an estimate one in
1,000 women die from this procedure. But it’s usually unnecessary.
“About 90 percent of women who have hysterectomies could have been
offered an alternative,” says Brian Walsh, M.D. director of the menopause
clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. But most women are never
given the choice.
Why? Some doctors don’t know about the options. Today, there are
safer alternatives. Acupuncture and Herbal therapies are some of them, which
involve fewer risks, less bloodshed, and no recovery time.
1. Menstrual Cramps
As many as 30 to 50 percent of all women suffer from pain during
their menstrual period, though until recently the medical community has
considered this a “minor” complaint, with the implication that it was “all in a
women’s head.” New thinking takes menstrual cramps seriously, and, in terms of
hormones, proposes that primary dysmenorrhea is caused by a constriction and
tightening of the uterine muscle. Blood circulation and oxygenation of uterine
muscle and blood vessels is diminished and waste products of metabolism, such
as carbon dioxide and lactic acid, build up and the pain and discomfort are
In contrast, primary congestive dysmenorrhea produces a dull aching
in the low back and pelvic regions; often accompanied by bloating, weight gain,
breast tenderness, headaches, and irritability. Says Jane Liu, “Unlike
spasmodic cramping, these symptoms don’t improve with age. Some of the worst
symptoms are seen in women in their thirties and forties. Excessive amounts of
estrogen can worsen these symptoms, since estrogen increases fluid and salt
retention in the body.”
According to Chinese medicine, menstrual cramps are due usually to
either Qi stagnation (when the vital energy is unable to move freely through
the body) in the lower abdomen, or blood stasis, or a combination of both, says
Jane Liu. Treatment can involve the use of both acupuncture and herbs according
to the individual patient’s needs.
2. Uterine Fibroids
A fibroid is a non-cancerous tumor that arises from uterine muscle
and connective tissue, almost all cases of which are benign. Since fibroids
develop following the onset of menstruation, enlarge during pregnancy, and
decrease after menopause, fibroids are thought to be estrogen dependent. One in
five women in the United States has at least some evidence of fibroids,
according to a National Institutes of Health report.
Fibroids are usually firm, spherical lumps that often occur in
groups. They are of varying sizes, usually described in terms of fruits and
vegetables – pea, lemon, apple, cantaloupe, etc. They can grow near the outer
surface of the uterus, where they are easily detected during a pelvic
examination, as well as near the inner lining of the uterus, where they may
need ultrasound for detection. Birth control pills, with high levels of
estrogen, and estrogen-replacement medication for menopause symptoms can also
accelerate tumor growth. Fibroids normally shrink in size after menopause.
From a “whole-body” view, fibroids are an indication that something
is not flowing or is stagnate, but fibroids can also have an element of
dampness and phlegm involvement. Each woman is unique.
In this condition, endometrial cells from the lining of the uterus
migrate to locations where they are not normally found – in the uterine
myometrium and outside the uterus on the ovaries, bladder, and gastrointestinal
tract. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of all women in the United States
have endometriosis. The probability of contracting the condition increases
until age forty-four and then declines.
Studies on the immune systems of women with symptomatic endometriosis
show that they often have antibodies against their own tissue, called
autoantibodies. This means that at some level, the mind of their pelvis is
rejecting aspects of itself. “Endometriosis has been clearly associated with
decreased egg fertilization, decreased egg fertilization, decreased success
rates for in vitro fertilization (IVF),” says Jane Liu.
Acupuncture for Women treats endometriosis with a range of herbs. Liu
explains, “Our goal is to increase circulation in the pelvic area and regulate
the immune system, thereby promoting drainage, discouraging adhesions, and
facilitating removal of inflammatory substances. In addition, hormonal balance
is reestablished, decreasing PMS.” The herbs chosen for treatment are designed
to balance the immune system and improve liver function and digestion. “The
result is usually symptom relief as a result of treating the underlying cause.”
“For prevention, I recommend that a woman reduce her activities as
much as possible for the first three days of her period each month, though this
might be an unpopular suggestion to most busy women today,” explains Jane Liu.
“and take a gentle walk rather than exercising strenuously at this time
2. Reproduction & Pregnancy
For many couples, infertility is a crisis, often accompanied by
feelings of guilt or inadequacy – the “who’s to blame” game. Truth is, about
half the time it’s the man’s issue, and half the time it’s the woman’s. Twenty
percent of the time both parties affect the problem.
But a diagnosis of infertility is not a verdict of sterility. While
about 15 percent of all couples are infertile (that is, they are unable to
conceive after a year of trying), only one percent is sterile (meaning that
conception is physically ruled out). Of couples who seek help, about half can
eventually bear a child.
In the past three years, Jane Liu has successfully treated over 100
cases of infertility patients by reviving aging eggs and regulating hormonal
and physiological imbalances with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
What causes the rate of infertility to be so high?
“Stress and age are playing major roles in infertility,” Jane Liu
In the modern world, stress usually takes many different forms. But
the fight-or-flight response hasn’t changed. Sometimes, it’s still useful: a
demanding job can lead to a sense of pride; a bout of precurtain jitters can
motivate a spectacular performance. But many modern stresses are continuing,
not acute, and arise in situations we can neither flee nor fight: an
unreasonable boss, a harrowing commute, a stormy relationship, a plummeting
stock market, a general sense that life is out of control. While some stress
hormones can’t stay elevated indefinitely, glucocorticoids can raise its level.
It can weaken the reproductive system, potentially making infertility worse.
As we know, among healthy couples in their mid-20s who are not using
birth control -- at a time when most American women have babies – about one in
four will get pregnant each month. By 30, fertility rates begin to slowly
decline. But the greatest risk, says Jane, is pushing child-bearing to the late
30s and 40s, when the chance of conception drops by 5 to 10 percent a year. By
43, when older eggs are far more likely to develop chromosomal abnormalities,
the odds of getting pregnant through fertility treatments are so grim that most
clinics strongly resist performing IVF – they don’t want to offer an
ineffective option, nor do they want to drag down their own success rates.
Miscarriage soars as women age – from about 15 percent in women aged 25 to 30,
to about 40 percent in women over 40.
Advances in fertility treatment have given women a lot of hope. Women
have had strong reasons to believe in the promise of technology, which had
worked wonders for tens of thousands since test-tube baby Louis Brown’s birth
in 1978. Researchers can now not only mix egg and sperm in a petri dish, they
can genetically test embryos for certain abnormalities, then weed them out
Unfortunately, the methods are difficult and seldom succeed on the
first attempt. Neither conception nor a successful outcome of pregnancy is
satisfied by the IVF procedure. There are many, often complex, reasons why
pregnancy may not occur with the procedure.
Recently, the Sandra Emmons, M.D. and Phillip Patton, M.D. of Oregon
Health Sciences University applied acupuncture treatment before the IVF
procedure. That can help to improve the success rate of pregnancy. Also, a
subsequent pregnancy rate is significantly higher than expected if the patient
combine the Chinese herbal treatment with IVF techniques. Acupuncture for Women
has been successfully using this new approach on IVF patients with significant
In June 2002, 42-year-old Kristine*, of Dallas, Texas, was diagnosed
with “unexplained infertility.” Her reproductive endocrinologist urged her to
consider in vitro fertilization (IVF), which she did. It was determined that
her ovaries were not producing enough eggs and therefore two times of IVF
process was not successful. She was understandably discouraged.
Before the third cycle of IVF, Kristine came to see me. After a
thorough consultation, including discussion of her and her husband Michael’s
medical history, lifestyle, nutrition and exercise habits, job factors and
stress levels, I told Kristine that an underlying imbalance in her body was the
root issue – the state of “un-ease” or “dis-ease” in her body was making it
impossible for her to conceive. The remedy? A plan of several months of
acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine to restore her body’s normal
function and balance.
“I was reluctant at first and surprised that my symptoms such as
insomnia, bloating and hot flashes were improved after treatment. I found Liu’s
approach and thought that the process made sense to me, so we decided to give
it a try,” said Kristine.
After six months of acupuncture and herbal therapy to enhance her
fertility health, Kristine started her third IVF cycle. Her reproductive
endocrinologist was surprised by her improvement in the quality of the eggs,
and the IVF procedure resulted in her becoming pregnant.
Kristine, at age 44, carried her baby full-term and was rewarded with
a beautiful daughter. “I now realize that traditional Chinese medicines and
acupuncture work quite differently than western medicines,” says Kristine.
“They are gentle and deep acting rather than flashy and bright. I really feel
better overall and healthier than I did before.”
“Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have provided natural
treatments for infertility related to hormonal and physiological imbalances for
over 2,000 years,” says Jane Liu. “Acupuncture techniques can take some
pressure off the reproductive system, and help patients restore the ability to
Researchers have long touted the health benefits of acupuncture and
Chinese herbal medicine. “Western medicine relies on scientific measurements to
determine the problem, and then it provides remedies that are supposed to
overcome that particular effect. Eastern medicine, on other hand, looks at the
whole patient, seeking imbalances in the system rather than focusing on
disease,” says Randine Lewis, Ph.D., author of The Infertility Cure.
Most hormonal imbalances respond to this traditional Asian method of
treatment. Many patients who have been diagnosed with high FSH level, luteal
phase defect, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or who have
gone through months or years of trying to get pregnant using assistant
reproductive technology (ART) can be helped by complementary treatments like
acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. People quite often come to me, and
other acupuncturists, as a last resort, after everything else they’ve tried has
failed. They become believers when they achieve a successful pregnancy, and
then they become more open to acupuncture as a whole-body prevention approach
to health and well-being.
A study at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College summed up
acupuncture’s positive effect on infertility issues when it noted, “There is
sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional
medicine and treatment of female infertility.”
Today patients and researchers are becoming increasingly interested
in this age-old healing technique for fertility issues, women’s concerns and
general health. Acupuncture has been shown to enhance hormone regulation and
regular menstrual cycles, protect the fragile embryo, reduce stress and
strengthen the immune system. Consider these recent findings:
Acupuncture & Hormone Balancing
Abnormal male and female hormone levels affect up to 90 percent of
women with irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. Clinical observation in
Shanghai, China of patients whose ovaries were not producing eggs showed that,
at a highly effective rate, after receiving a series of acupuncture treatments
their ovaries began producing eggs. Experimental results suggest that
acupuncture may regulate the function of our hormonal systems, which means that
acupuncture could influence some gene expression in the brain, normalizing
secretion of some hormones, such as GnRH, LH and E2.
Many Chinese herbs affect many different parts of the reproductive
cycle by triggering the bodies’ own natural processes to work better. For
instance, they trigger the hypothalamus and pituitary to release hormones that
stimulate the timely production of FSH and LH, two necessary hormones in
preparing for ovulation.
Eggs and sperm become less healthy and of poorer quality as we age –
thus women have a diminished ability to conceive. Experience has shown that if
the hormonal system is in perfect working order and a woman has clockwork
menstrual cycles, a healthy egg can be released on time. It then has a good
chance of becoming fertilized, implanting, and making it through embryologic
development to become a child. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy help.
Acupuncture & Protection of Embryo
Researchers have discovered that acupuncture can boost blood flow to
women’s reproductive organs, providing them with better nourishment.
Acupuncture appears to improve the lining of the uterus, the place
where the embryo becomes embedded after conception. So acupuncture can improve
implantation and prevent some of the risk of miscarriage.
Reproductive endocrinologists have recognized that immunologic
factors play a key role in habitual miscarriages. One study has shown that the
process of conception and pregnancy involves a suppression of the T-helper
immune response so that the woman can carry the fetus to term. A 2001 study at
Fudan University in Shanghai found that herbal medicine could inhibit specific
immune injury, reprogram the immune system to not react to self-issue, allow
the normal suppression involved in implantation to occur, and therefore to
protect the women who carry children to term.
Acupuncture & Sperm Quality Improvement
Men suffer from infertility issues just as frequently as women.
According to statistics from the National Infertility Association, 35% to 40%
of infertility problems among couples are actually caused by male conditions.
Many studies on male infertility have been conducted and the evidence suggests
that acupuncture can have an effect on sperm production and quality, without
causing any changes in behavior and sexual desire. A recent trial of 28 men who
were diagnosed with idiopathic infertility received acupuncture twice a week
over a period of five weeks was published in Fertility and Sterility. It has
shown acupuncture can significantly increase in the number of normal sperm and
equally reduces in structural defects.
Acupuncture & Stress Relief
Stress and the brain play an important role in fertility, because
stress can prevent a woman from ovulating entirely, while a lack of stress
often promotes fertility. This trend explains why women under extreme stress
often stop menstruating, and why couples often conceive while on a cruise or
other relaxing holidays. Acupuncture is proven to reduce stress and relax the
body. Different study findings suggest that simply using acupuncture can be as
effective for relieving depression symptoms as the psychotherapy and drugs
typically used in conventional therapies. Perhaps it is why acupuncture can
help ART patients go through their procedure smoothly.
Acupuncture & IVF Procedures
In a study of 160 women getting IVF, researchers from the Christian
Lauritzen Institute in Germany used acupuncture before and after the embryo
transfers in half the patients and found it increased the number of successful
implantations. In the IVF-only group, 21 of the 80 patients (26.3 percent)
became pregnant; in the IVF-plus-acupuncture group, 34 of 80 (42.5 percent)
became pregnant. The researchers said acupuncture might reduce the uterine
contractions that typically occur with embryo transfer and may inhibit
If you would like to add acupuncture and herbal medicine to your
infertility treatment program, please consider making a treatment plan. It
takes a minimum of three cycles to do the regulating and balancing work. If a
woman is over 30 years old and has used birth control pills for many years or
had ART procedures, elevated FSH, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and sperm
antibodies, then it usually takes longer to balance her reproductive system.
Also, correct diet and lifestyle are just as important for women as for men.
Eat well, exercise and supplement your diet with a natural, high-potency
multivitamin and minerals is the way to go.
3. Maternity Support
A. Eliminate/Minimize Morning Sickness
During the first three months of pregnancy, most of the women
experienced nausea, possible vomiting, a bloated feeling in the pelvic area and
breast. These are normal effects.
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Jane Liu says. “Besides avoiding
extremely salty foods, getting plenty of rest, and eating small meals several
times a day instead of three large meals, they should try acupuncture to help
adjust the symptoms specially if they can not eat a normal amount of meal.”
To back up her claim, Jane offers the neiguan point – also know as
PC-6 – which lies about three fingers’ width above the crease on the inside of
the wrist, between two tendons. For reasons that defy scientific analysis, a
firm pricking of that point seems to settle the stomach.
Several studies during the past ten years have shown that pregnant
women who receive needle stimulation of the neiguan point are far less likely
than their unstuck counterparts to suffer from nausea or vomiting in the first
three months of pregnancy. Equally good results have been obtained with cancer
patients using the lifesaving but usually nauseating chemotherapy drug
cisplatin. In at least two studies of more than 100 patients each, better than
90 percent of them had significantly less nausea when treated with acupuncture
just before taking the drug.
B. Mothering the mother: post-labor recuperation
Too often, when we think of labor support, we think of C-sections,
epidurals, and sepsis for newborns. But in China, mothers pay more attention on
recuperation after delivery. Post-labor nourishment is centuries old in Asia,
and it is intuitively obvious that those women who feel most supported in labor
are apt to do the best.
The technical aspects of the various delivery procedures are very
simple and don’t usually cause women any physical problems. “But we notice that
there are some labor traumas due to hormonal and physiological imbalances,”
Says Jane. “If we can help mothers to recuperate after delivery, it will make
the difference in the later years. The mothers who had post-labor care seem to
suffer less from arthritis, irregular periods, heavy flows, and low back pains.
It is the best time to nourish the mother.”
How does a mother nourish herself after giving birth? “Mothers need
to make informed choices about special diet, exercise, and stress management
while taking care of their babies,” says Jane Liu. “This adjustment alone can
produce great results. I’ve been very impressed in my own practice by how much
women can really modify their health problems, just by modifying their
C. Correct the breech presentation & Induce labor
past the due date (post-term)
Breech baby and post term are the childbirth emergency situations.
Acupuncture therapy can help to prevent the disorders without drugs or
4. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Alternatives
Sandy is a 48-year-old woman who enjoyed a healthy sexual
relationship with her husband. However, since her total hysterectomy five years
ago, she has noted a sharp decline in her sex drive. It has also become
uncomfortable to have sex and it’s causing problems in her marriage. Her
husband is very loving and tried to be understanding, but she worries that he
will lose patience with her. She wonders if she is just too old to still enjoy
sex as she once did. In addition to libido and discomfort with sex, she also
has problems with insomnia, depression, fatigue and irritability. Since her
hysterectomy, she has gained 30 pounds and feels trouble with memory and
concentration. She feels like she is in fog all the time and worries about
getting premature Alzheimer’s.
This is a typical case of woman, who is in her 40s with deficient
hormone levels. Sexual function is a product of multiple complex interactions
among endocrine, metabolic, psychological and nutritional factors. It is
important to recognize that symptoms of sexual dysfunction in women can
represent an underlying medical problem. Chronic low levels of sex hormones in
women are often associated with long-term complications including osteoporosis,
premature heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. If properly diagnosed and
treated, it can slow the progress of aging and restore hormonal balance.
A graceful symmetry between the opposing forces of yin and yang
provides the foundation for many medical treatments developed in China.
Maintaining the symmetry – balance -- is the key to health. “There must be a
balance between the mind and body,” explains Liu. “The body follows the orders
of mind. We ask our body to do hundred of things at once, and the body tries.
But if the body is overwhelmed it can’t comply, that’s when the problems come.
Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, disturbed sleep, weight gain,
dysmenorrhea, infertility, endometriosis, depression, stress, hypertension. We
live in a high-stress society and need to know our limitations.”
Medical practitioners in China have been honing techniques to achieve
that balance by harnessing and manipulating internal and external energy forces
for centuries. Acupuncture, Jane’s specialty, is one such technique. The
premise is that imbalances in energy flow cause disease, and acupuncture is a
way to create and maintain the proper symmetry.
When you seek acupuncture and oriental herbal treatment for your
hormonal imbalance disorder, you may receive one of numerous diagnoses,
including deficient Qi (energy), deficient blood of the heart, spleen, or
liver, stagnant Qi, etc. Depending upon your history or physical symptoms, as
well as your physical examination, specific acupuncture points and herbs will
be selected that are appropriate for your condition.
Needles are inserted in various patterns into the series of energy
pathways throughout the body and then manipulated. Manipulation of needles –
usually by twirling or gentle pumping - in specific locations affect specific
body organs and functions include the hormones system. Energy flow is
increased, decreased, or redirected as need.
Chinese herbs are used to regulate the female endocrine system. Jane
Liu treats PMS with a range of herbs. She explains, “balance the estrogen,
progesterone and testosterone, and regulate the hormone system, thereby
hormonal balance is reestablished, decreasing premenstrual syndrome.” The herbs
she chooses for treatment are intended to act as hormonal precursors and
balancers, and also to improve liver function and digestion, all components of
the disease. Jane Liu states, “ The result is usually symptom relief as a
result of treating the underlying cause. Patients consistently report a marked
decrease in hot flashes, pain with intercourse, digestive symptoms, along with
an improvement in mental outlook and decrease of lassitude.”
5. Urinary Tract Disorders
A. Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis is another disorder, which is most commonly
found in women. It is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder wall.
Unlike common cystitis, interstitial cystitis is believed not to be caused by
bacteria and does not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy. It is
important to note that interstitial cystitis is not a psychosomatic disorder.
Patients may present some or all these symptoms: frequency of
urination at day or night, the sensation of having to urinate immediately, and
pain in the lower abdominal, urethral or vaginal area. Pain is also frequently
associated with sexual intercourse. Jane says, “Some patients also report
muscle and joint pain, migraines, allergic reactions and gastrointestinal
problems. It appears that interstitial cystitis has an as yet unexplained
association with certain other chronic diseases such as vulvar visibilities,
fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.”
“Though the cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, I feel that it
is, in part, an autoimmune disorder.” Jane says. Making antibodies against the
body’s own tissue is the characteristic of autoimmune diseases that stymie
conventional medical science and that cannot be “cure” in the conventional
sense. The immune system is highly sensitive, and our survival depends on its
ability to recognize and distinguish self from non-self. What can possibly be
going on when the immune system carries out self-destruct orders? “ To help
ourselves heal, we can use the evidence that the immune system carries out the
messages from our neuro-endocrine-immune network. And acupuncture and oriental
herbal medicine may heal the interstitial cystitis by regulating this
self-adjust network.” Jane explains. “That is why acupuncture and herbal
B. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Most of us experienced a few urinary tract infections over our
lifetime. The “honeymoon cystitis” is one of the primary causes of UTI, which
under the right conditions causes bacteria from the vaginal area to get into
the bladder. The symptoms include burning on urination, blood in the urine, and
fever. Married women, however, experience recurrent bladder infections, which
are treated with repeated courses of antibiotics. This is a different story,
and requires a different approach. Chronic use of antibiotics to treat
recurrent UTI doesn’t address the underlying imbalance in the body that is
leading to the infections, and antibiotics can also kill off helpful vaginal
flora, resulting in yeast infections, diarrhea, and – unfortunately – recurrent
urinary tract infections.
“Chinese medicine treats recurrent urinary tract infections in
different way,” says Jane. “Acupuncturist focus the body’s healing system and
not just the urinary tract area.” As we know, the immune system is the body’s
natural stronghold against viruses, bacteria, and yeast. The problem is, it
weakens over time. And for decades, conventional medicine insisted that there
is no way to block this inevitable decline. A new research is suggesting that
there may be some ways we can keep our immune system humming along with little
interference. Chinese medicine is one of the effective ways that does appear to
have immune-boosting powers.
6. Gastrointestinal Issues
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the common digestive disorders,
which usually happens in female more often than in male. It is related to
stress, eating habit, life style, medical history and women’s own constitution.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been reported to relieve the disorders
7. Stress & Pain Management
Current estimates show that between 70 and 80 percent of all visits
to physicians are for stress-related disorders.
Chronic stress directly affects the immune system, and if not
effectively dealt with, can seriously compromise health. According to Chinese
medicine, stress may be a factor in the development of many diseases. Treatment
of stress includes acupuncture and herbs to help balance the body’s energies
and relieve the tension that constricts the functioning of a particular part of
Studies suggest that acupuncture is good for just about anything that
hurts: menstrual cramps, headache, migraine, endometriosis, tennis elbow, and
muscle strain. In a small pilot study at University of Maryland, researchers
showed that in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee – a painful degeneration
of the joint lining – a twice-weekly acupuncture treatment reduced pain and
increased mobility in eight out of 12 patients over a period of two months.
Acupuncture for Women has treated patients with menstrual cramps,
headaches, migraine, endometriosis, degenerative arthritis, neuropathy,
trigeminal neuralgia, sciatica, sports injuries, such as tennis elbow, muscle
spasm and strain, hypertension and stroke.
One of Jane Liu’s patients, a fifty-five year-old store owner who
worked eighty hours a week, came to her complaining of headaches, neck pain,
low back pain, insomnia, high blood pressure, and lost interest in sex for a
six months duration. Jane Liu treated the patient with acupuncture and herbs.
After weekly treatment for one and a half months, her pain became minimal, her
blood pressure returned to normal, she regained her sexual desire, and only
occasionally suffered from insomnia. As long as a stress-filled lifestyle is
maintained, a monthly “maintenance” treatment is recommended to maintain the
8. Allergy Elimination
From the view of Chinese medicine, Allergic reaction is not only
related to antigen and antiboby interaction, but also link to body constitution
and life style. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help to improve the body
immune system, eliminate the allgeric symptoms.
9. Smoking Cessation
Acupuncture’s habit-breaking benefits have been well documented in
people hooked on heroin and crack cocaine through a problem called Drug Count,
in which felony drug offenders are given the chance to enter an intensive
program of counseling and daily acupuncture treatments as an alternative to
prison. Acupuncture stimulation on the ears and wrists has a powerful calming
effect, counselors and addicts say. It not only reduces the craving for a fix –
perhaps by substituting the brain’s own endorphins – but it also helps addicts
relax enough to think clearly about their predicament and to resolve to change
The needle has had success against other addictions, as well. In a
two-month study, more than half the alcoholics who got acupuncture stayed
sober, compared to 3 percent of those who received “sham” acupuncture
treatments, in which needles were inserted in phony acupuncture points.
And for a testimonial on acupuncture as an aid to quitting
cigarettes, just ask the judge who administers the drug count program in
Miami’s Dade County. He smoked several packs a day for 35 years until ten years
ago, when he served the same sentence on himself that he had just serving on
convicted felons. After two weeks, he kicked the habit for good.
Liu proposes a simple acupuncture treatment -- a few pins in the ears
and wrists, every week, for half an hour.