Got Pain? Research Shows Acupuncture and Chiropractic Top Opioids.


It is likely that you are aware of the fact that we have an opioid crisis. The increase in opioid overdose deaths has been dramatic, and opioids are now responsible for 49,000 of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths overall in the US in 2017. Below is an alarming statistic when it comes to opioids. Have you or a friend or family member been prescribed opioids for pain? If so, please read on to discover safe and natural alternatives.



Federal officials cite the rising numbers of drug overdose deaths in pushing for changes in policy direction and public perception. Most drug overdose deaths (more than six in ten) involve opioids, according to the CDC. The number of overdose deaths have increased fourfold since 1999. More than a half million people have died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015. Opioid overdoses kill 91 Americans every day.

One of the major issues with opioids or pain medication in general is the fact that they are merely treating symptoms. If your smoke alarm were going off, would you pull out the battery or find the cause of the smoke? By altering brain chemistry, medications simply block pain signals (like pulling out the battery). Unfortunately, over time the body becomes accustomed to the original dosages and the brain requires more and more medication to attain the same response. As you might imagine, this is a recipe for disaster.

The most dangerous of all opioids is heroin. Study’s show that 4-6% of those who abuse opioids transition to heroin abuse. Rather than trick the brain with potentially deadly and addictive chemicals, let’s look at some treatments that can not only help with pain, but will often eliminate it for extended periods if not for good.


Opioid receptors in the brain are so named because they are stimulated by opioid structured compounds such as those found in common pain medications. New research has proven that acupuncture stimulates these same receptors!

Recent data, obtained by using functional magnetic resonance imaging, suggest that acupuncture has regionally specific, quantifiable effects on relevant brain structures. Acupuncture may stimulate gene expression of neuropeptides.

Read this bold sentence once again: “Acupuncture may stimulate gene expression of neuropeptides.” This means that acupuncture not only creates short term relief but may also change how your genes function, helping to eliminate pain long term. Neuropeptides are the chemical messengers that the brain uses to communicate with the body. Doesn’t it make more sense to activate them naturally by employing acupuncture rather than utilizing potentially harmful and addictive medication?


In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for prescribing opioids that also promote non-pharmacologic alternatives for the treatment of chronic pain. In 2015, the Joint Commission, the organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care systems in the U.S. including every major hospital, recognized the value of non-drug approaches by adding chiropractic and acupuncture to its pain management standard.

If you believe the medical community rejects chiropractic, times have changed. Research continues to mount touting the benefits of chiropractic care. The following study is from the prestigious medical journal Spine:


Don’t become a statistic. Find the relief you desire without the use of medication. Join the millions of satisfied patients who have regained their health naturally through integrative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic!



Acid Reflux Has Met It’s Match With Acupuncture


Acid reflux, also known as heart burn, dyspepsia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is one of the most common conditions treated in our society. While there are many dietary recommendations I could make, this blog will focus specifically on acupuncture.

Symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Burping
  • Regurgitation (sensation of acid backing up into the mouth and throat)
  • Nausea after eating
  • Stomach fullness or bloating
  • Upper abdominal pain and discomfort

While reflux is believed be the result of the over-production of acid, for many people it is actually the opposite. There are special cells in the stomach that secrete acid. This acid is essential for proper digestion to occur. Low acid causes gas buildup in the stomach that increases the pressure in the stomach, forcing stomach contents back up into the esophagus.

There is no doubt that acid blocking medication help relieve symptoms for many people, but it does not address the issue. If your smoke alarm was going off, would you pull the battery (cover up the burning pain) or fix the problem (restore normal stomach function)?


So if medication works, what’s the big deal? According to the British Medical Journal:

Long term use of drugs to curb acid reflux linked to doubling in stomach cancer risk.

Now THAT is scary! It’s most likely that this is news to you. If so, you are not alone. The media is constantly filled with advertisements for reflux medication. These medications are quite lucrative as patients will generally remain on them for long periods because they merely cover the symptoms.



Stomach acid plays an important role in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients as well as killing bacteria and microbes that enter the stomach. Long-term maintenance use of acid-suppressing drugs like proton pump inhibitors may disrupt these processes and make people more susceptible to both infections and nutritional deficits. The use of these acid inhibitors for any period of time is also associated with an increase of intestinal infections and a higher risk of Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea, a potentially life-threatening disease.

Unless you enjoy spending lots of money month after month while increasing your risk of serious side effects, let’s see how acupuncture can help. Researcher’s evaluated the effects of acupuncture for patients who had failed traditional drug therapy. Drumroll, please…

Researchers find acupuncture effective for alleviating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients unresponsive to drug therapy saw significant improvements after receiving acupuncture care. High resolution measurements of the esophagus confirm that acupuncture improves the activity of the valve whose proper functioning prevents acid reflux.

These patients not only felt better, medical testing proved that acupuncture actually improved the function of the stomach. So how did acupuncture help with acid reflux? This study proved that the treatment improved the contraction of muscles that separate the stomach from the esophagus. This is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). By improving the function of the LES, acid was prevented from backing up.

It is essential for you to understand that acupuncture does not treat symptoms, but it works by restoring the function of the body. Any dysfunction of the body is either the result of an excess or a deficiency. The beauty of acupuncture is it simply restores this balance. (If you are interested in learning more, I wrote a blog titled How Does Acupuncture Work that explains this scientifically.)

Acid reflux is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. When the delicate tissues of the esophagus are traumatized by repeated acid  exposure, cancer risk increases significantly. So instead of medication, look to acupuncture as a safe and effective alternative.

Acupuncture Outperforms Morphine For Pain


The statistics are undeniable. Common pain medications create a wide variety of side effects―including death! Now a recent study shows that acupuncture outperformed morphine in the emergency room for 300 patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. These findings included:

  1. A reduction in pain score ≥50% was achieved more often in the acupuncture group compared with the morphine group (92% vs. 78%).
  2. Pain relief was achieved almost twice as fast (mean time 16 minutes vs. 28 minutes).
  3. Minor adverse events were more common in the morphine group (57%) than in the acupuncture group (3%).

According the the researchers:

“Our study demonstrated that in patients with acute pain syndromes presenting to the ED (Emergency Department), acupuncture is at least as efficacious and has a better safety profile than IV morphine. The results of this study suggest that acupuncture has a potential role in controlling acute pain conditions presenting to EDs and appears to be safe and effective. Future studies should be performed in international populations.”

So to summarize, acupuncture was more effective, faster, and resulted in significantly less side effects treating patients that entered the emergency room for pain. While the opioid crisis continues to destroy lives, acupuncture remains a safe and natural approach for pain.

Acupuncture Can Help Reduce Chemotherapy and Radiation Related Side Effects of Cancer Treatment


A cancer diagnosis commonly includes a significant dose of emotional turmoil filled with fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, many treatments also bring with them physical complications including nerve pain (neuropathy), joint and muscle pain, nausea, insomnia, and hot flashes to name but a few. While many cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation are life saving for many people, patients are commonly left to suffer these side effects without relief.

Enter acupuncture. For thousands of years, billions of people throughout the world have experienced the benefits of acupuncture. While Western medicine has been slow to adapt, new research continues to turn the tide of acceptance. More and more physicians and hospitals are utilizing acupuncture in conjunction with traditional medical procedures. This partnership has helped many patients find respite from the common issues related to treatment.

A recent study completed through the Oregon Health and Science University looked at the use of acupuncture in the clinical oncology setting. According to the researchers:

“The addition of acupuncture as a treatment option at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) has greatly enhanced oncology patient care, on a physical and psychosocial dimension.”

Neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapy and/or radiation with up to 40% of patients dealing with this issue. Neuropathy occurs when the nerves in the arms or legs become irritated, resulting in pain, numbness, or weakness. As no medication has been found to provide relief, acupuncture can afford a natural and effective therapy. According to one study:

“Viewed by many patients as a natural alternative to medicine, acupuncture is among the non-pharmacologic interventions already recommended for patients with cancer to address pain.”

Nausea and vomiting are often side effects of cancer treatments. Once again, acupuncture has proven it’s worth as noted here in the Journal of Clinical Oncology:

“This review complements data on postoperative nausea and vomiting, suggesting a biologic effect of acupuncture-point stimulation.”

Seeking out integrative therapies to manage symptoms is certainly a growing trend among patients with cancer as well as many physicians. With many patients receiving a combination of care that includes chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, there are countless opportunities for acupuncture in the spectrum of care. Acupuncture, increasingly available in the oncology setting, has proven to be a safe and effective treatment that can offer the additional support patients are looking for to manage symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment.

Vertigo and Dizziness Shows Immediate Improvement with Acupuncture


Acupuncture continues to prove it’s validity and effectiveness within the medical community. Many hospital emergency rooms now offer acupuncture as an alternative treatment for many common conditions. Although the benefits of acupuncture have been recognized by millions over thousands of years, Western medicine has been slow to adopt.

Within the current healthcare crisis in the United States has come opportunity. Many insurers are now measuring the effectiveness of treatment and reimbursing accordingly. No longer can doctors and hospitals bill out large amounts for services without tangible results. Acupuncture fills the gap when it comes to both cost effectiveness and clinical benefit.

A recent study set in a hospital emergency room looked to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture for patients presenting with vertigo and dizziness. Their findings speak for themselves:

Acupuncture demonstrates a significant immediate effect in reducing discomforts and VAS (a symptom severity scale) of both dizziness and vertigo. This study provides clinical evidence on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture to treat dizziness and vertigo in the emergency department.

Another study looked to find an alternative to traditional treatment as they noted, “No medication for dizziness in current use has well-established curative or prophylactic value or is suitable for long-term palliative use.” Their findings were just as encouraging:

The results from this study will provide clinical evidence on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in patients with chronic dizziness.

If you suffer from vertigo or dizziness, life can be significantly challenging. Even simple day to day activities can be overwhelming. Many of the common medications prescribed can result in side effects are common and include tiredness, dry mouth, and vomiting. Besides the incredible results acupuncture provides, there are no significant side effects.

Recently on a regular visit, one of my patients mentioned her concern regarding some dizziness she was currently experiencing. Most unsettling to her was a flight planned to see her grandchildren as flying would usually worsen her symptoms. Acupuncture had been of benefit for her in the past for headaches, so she asked about undergoing a couple treatments prior to her travels. Upon return, she noted significant relief as well as no symptoms as a result of flying.

Here is a testimonial I received from another patient a few years back regarding her experience with acupuncture after a bout of chronic dizziness:

About a year ago, I returned from a trip to Hawaii. I had some mild motion sickness during the trip, which is not unusual for me. When we arrived home though, the sense of mild nausea and disorientation didn’t go away. Several days passed, and it was getting no better. The only relief I could find was to sleep, but the more I slept, the more exhausted I felt.

I turned to the internet to research vertigo and the treatments that were available. When I read a recommendation to see an acupuncturist, I thought of Dr. Perrine, who is already my chiropractor. I went in to see him immediately, and the first treatment relieved my misery for several hours. I did not find the needles painful at all, and the experience was actually relaxing in a way.

Each subsequent treatment relieved the symptoms a bit longer than the last, until finally the symptoms went away 100%. As I recall it was resolved within about 2 weeks, and I have not had any problems since. Thanks Dr. Perrine!

If you suffer from dizziness or vertigo and have not tried acupuncture, it will be well worth a try! Contact our office if you would like some additional information.

Amazing Recovery from Sciatica After Acupuncture


Sciatica describes a condition that causes pain that generally starts in the buttocks and radiates down the back of the leg, possibly as far as the foot. Sometimes it is paired with numbness or tingling in the same regions. Sciatica is more of a description than a diagnosis. It is like saying you have a sore throat. That tells you WHAT you feel but not WHY you feel it. Sciatica tells us we have pain, but not why. It can be caused by arthritis, a bulging disc, or muscle spasms in the gluteal region. It is essential to visit a doctor that will uncover the underlying cause rather than simply cover up symptoms. As a chiropractor, that is what I am trained to do.

Once we know what is wrong we can focus on returning patients to health. With many of the people that see me, the pain levels are so significant that the primary focus is to simply provide relief. Jeff’s story is a great example. He was referred to me by a friend of his who had seen me for a similar issue. When we first met, he could barely walk and was in severe pain that started in his hip and radiated down to his leg. Classic “sciatica.” My initial recommendation was to begin acupuncture to help modify his pain as quickly as possible. Although a bit hesitant, he decided to begin treatment.

Jeff’s response was nothing short of amazing. He noted relief immediately after treatment and within a few weeks was pain free. This allowed us now to focus on the structural issues that set off his pain to begin with. Although the responses to acupuncture vary from condition to condition and person to person, I’ve witnessed many similar outcomes over the years.

One recent medical journal review looked at 11 different studies that were completed that evaluated the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica. A total of 962 patients were enrolled in these studies. Their findings prove what practitioners practicing acupuncture have known for thousands of years. Acupuncture works very well when it comes to treating painful conditions such as sciatica. Here is what they said:

“In conclusion, the results of this systematic review suggest that the use of acupuncture may more effectively relieve leg pain/lumbago and improve global assessment of sciatica when compared with NSAID (anti-inflammatory pain medication) treatment. Moreover, adjuvant acupuncture may enhance the effect of medications in leg pain/lumbago relief. To patients, acupuncture points appear more effective than nonacupoints. Acupuncture is relatively safe and is rarely associated with serious adverse events in patients with sciatica.”

Before you spend your time and money having a variety of tests done that rarely change treatment decisions, look towards conservative treatments like chiropractic and acupuncture. I think you will happy you did!

Is Acupuncture Scientific or Simply a Placebo?


In a previous blog, “How Does Acupuncture Work,” I explained how the nervous system is the master controller of the body and the fact that the brain controls the nervous system. Science is now proving that acupuncture works by reestablishing normal communication between the brain and the body. In this blog I will show you some of the research that proves my point.

When an acupuncture point is stimulated, it’s affects are not localized. For example, a point on the outside of the toenail on the little toe called Bladder 67 has been used for repositioning breech babies in the womb! (See the study here) How is that possible? Stimulating that specific point created a direct link through the nervous system to the uterus to trigger the change. Thanks to modern science we are now able to SEE changes in the brain through what is called functional MRI (fMRI). Think of fMRI as doppler radar for the brain. The image below is an example of fMRI. The red area shows increased activity.


This technology was recently used is a study through Harvard University and published in the prestigious medical journal Pain (access the article here). They wanted to see if there were changes in the brain that could be seen in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome being treated using acupuncture. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the nerve in the wrist is being compressed resulting in pain and numbness in the hand. The results below were astounding.

Let’s look at the images in “B”. The left brain is a healthy control. The middle shows a person suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome BEFORE treatment. Storms were definitely brewing as you can see from the bright yellow. Now look at the image on the right. That is the image of a carpal tunnel patient AFTER five weeks of acupuncture. Not only did they note improvement in symptoms, their brain activity is actually calmer than the healthy control!

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According the the authors:

“Neuroimaging studies in humans have validated that acupuncture modulates a widely distributed network of brain regions also involved in pain perception including limbic areas, sensorimotor and prefrontal cortices, brainstem nuclei and the cerebellum.”

In English, acupuncture has been scientifically proven through medical imaging to have a wide ranging affect on many areas of the brain. So now when someone asks me if acupuncture benefits are all in your head, I can honestly say YES!

Another study used PET-CT scans to evaluate brain changes for migraine patients undergoing acupuncture (see the study here). They concluded that:

“Acupuncture stimulation of different points on similar body regions in migraine patients reduced pain and induced different levels of cerebral glucose metabolism in pain-related brain regions. These findings may support the functional specificity of migraine treatment related acupoint.” 

But acupuncture is also proven to reduce inflammation. A study in the journal Molecular Biology uncovered how this happens.

  • Acupuncture downregulates (or turns off) pro-inflammatory cells known as M1 macrophages.
  • Acupuncture also upregulates (or activates) anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages, thereby reducing pain and swelling.
  • M2 macrophages are a source of anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 (IL-10); by upregulating M2 macrophages, acupuncture leads to an increase in IL-10, which subsequently helps relieve pain and inflammation.

Deep stuff for sure, but the main takeaway is the fact that acupuncture has proven physiological benefits that go beyond those of placebo. According to the researchers:

“Now, scientists can quantifiably measure specific biochemical processes triggered by acupuncture and the resultant positive health outcomes.”

This may help you understand how acupuncture has been of benefit for pain, but how can it possibly help with issues like high blood pressure or PMS? Research has shown how acupuncture points not only connect with the brain, but also the organs. If you are not familiar with acupuncture, the points are located on what are known as meridians. These meridians were discovered thousands of years ago and named after the organ systems they affect. The names include Liver, Lung, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Kidney, Bladder, Stomach, Gall Bladder, Spleen, and Heart (Triple Heater and Pericardium are not traditional organs in Western medicine). There are twelve main meridians that run bilaterally in the body.

A study in the journal Nature demonstrated the direct connection between the sensory nerves in the skin and the organs of the body. Here is what they found:

“Various studies have demonstrated that acupoints show mechanical hypersensitivity and have high electrical conductance. Stimulation of acupoints produces needling sensations caused by the activation of small diameter afferent nerve fibres and therapeutic effects on the associated visceral organs, which is likely due to the release of endogenous opioids.”

This explains how acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a variety of conditions―from asthma to irritable bowel syndrome, PMS to dermatitis. The list is much too long to mention, so for those interested in the medical research, the World Health Organization put together a comprehensive study:


If you are still a bit unsure with respect to the medical effectiveness of acupuncture, take a look at the first minute of the 2005 BBC Documentary on acupuncture below. They set out to discover whether acupuncture’s benefits were more than a simple placebo. To lay that question to rest, you will see a young Chinese patient having open heart surgery without general anesthesia!

The evidence is undeniable. Acupuncture’s effectiveness has been proven by clinical outcomes as well as scientific research.  As the title of my blog notes, “Where Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science,” I will continue to provide the latest research on acupuncture to help you live your life to it’s fullest. Please contact me if you have any questions. I’d be happy to discuss them with you!