The crack plague is centered on the poorest neighborhoods, where hundreds of thousands of lives revolve around buying and smoking the drug. Officials are desperately seeking treatments for addiction that could be relatively inexpensive.
Acupuncture costs $15 a treatment, Dr. Smith said. The patients receive it daily for at least 10 days, to relieve agitation, paranoia and craving. The patients continue with less-frequent visits for several months and attend meetings of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, groups that do not charge the patient or government.
Although the scientific basis is unclear, some medical authorities believe that placing needles into selected areas stimulates the release of endorphins, a natural pain-killing substance, which could lead to reduced dependence on drugs. 'I Felt a Chill'
Sport-induced physical and mental stress disturbs metabolism, and body systems seek for the natural way to reestablish inner balance. Association of acupuncture with endogenous release of opioid peptides (6) is evidenced in favor of immunomodulating properties of this ancient treatment modality (7). Hutchison et al (20) investigated the effect of acupuncture on immune cells and found some changes in immune cells' status. Eight sessions of acupuncture treatment for 4 weeks did not significantly alter response of natural killer cells to a 60-minute bout of cycling, but they increased their degranulation at rest in 13 well-trained aerobic athletes (20).
Mo et al. reported that manual acupuncture treatments (average: 30 sessions) normalized the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, regulated ovulation and thus improved the pregnancy outcome in women with ovulatory dysfunction . Cai showed that one single acupuncture or two to three sessions of needling induced ovulation in ten out of 11 gonadotrophin-induced cycles, and suggested that acupuncture could be used as a substitution for human chorionic gonadotrophin in triggering ovulation with no occurrence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome .
In practice, acupuncture treatment methods vary substantially. Treatment typically is individualized based on assumptions about the causes of symptoms and the best techniques to address them.3,4 Practitioners vary in terms of training, styles, experience, and use of related modalities such as traditional pulse diagnosis (based on palpating and interpreting the qualities of the radial artery pulsation in both wrists), tongue diagnosis (based on inspection of tongue shape, color, coat, size, and other characteristics), herbal therapies, and dietary modification.5 Some practitioners use ear, hand, or scalp acupuncture in addition to (or instead of) body acupuncture.
Since the early 1970s, more than 500 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating acupuncture have been performed in the Western world.12A National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Panel on Acupuncture held in 1997 sifted though this mountain of evidence and reached the conclusion that "needle acupuncture is efficacious for adult post-operative and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and probably for nausea of pregnancy .... There is evidence for efficacy for postoperative dental pain.":i For all other conditions, the evidence was inconclusive or contradictory.
About 2 million Americans use acupuncture for various problems, according to a federal survey, and it is increasingly offered by hospitals and other mainstream health professionals. Several smaller, less rigorous studies have indicated that acupuncture is helpful in treating nausea after chemotheraphy or surgery, and can alleviate postoperative dental pain. Studies are also underway to test whether it can reduce high blood pressure or ease depression.
But researchers yesterday cautioned against extrapolating the new findings to other common arthritis symptoms, such as hip or back pain, without further study. Other studies on pain have yielded conflicting results , and a separate, smaller study published yesterday in the same medical journal found that acupuncture reduced chronic neck pain, but not enough to make a difference to patients.
Acupuncture was just as effective as Effexor, also called venlafaxine, in managing symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats, according to researchers led by Eleanor Walker of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
After 12 weeks of treatment, symptoms were reduced for 15 additional weeks for women who had undergone acupuncture, compared with two weeks for those who had taken Effexor, Walker said.
"It was a more durable effect," said Walker, whose findings were presented at an American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Boston.
There were no bad side-effects with acupuncture, and women reported increased energy, overall sense of well-being and sexual desire, the researchers said.
Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine, and involves inserting of very thin, metal needles into specific 'points' on the body.
The theory, says Dr Marc Cohen, a professor of complementary medicine at RMIT University, is that inserting the needles stimulates these 'points' and unblocks the natural flow of light energy (qi or ch'i) through your body. Blocked qi is thought to cause disease. Unblocking qi allows your body to heal itself, says Cohen.
You can also think of acupuncture as a way of defusing pain trigger points, says Cohen. "If you can find a trigger point that reproduces the pain you're experiencing... that's a point where you put the needle [to relieve it]," he says.
Acupuncture has been used in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years to treat a variety of diseases and symptoms. In 1970, acupuncture began to increase in popularity in the United States, and by 1994, approximately 1 million persons annually were using it as an alternative form of treatment,1 most commonly for chronic pain.2,3 The interest in acupuncture also is growing among family physicians, evidenced in survey results showing that 18% have had some training in acupuncture.4
How does it work? The Eastern explanation: When the body's energy flow (Qi) is disrupted, disease and pain result; acupuncture helps restore the flow of energy and thus relieve pain. The Western theory: It stimulates the release of the body's own pain-relief chemicals. It also may stimulate the hypothalamus and pitutary gland, encourage secretion of some neurotransmitters and neurohormones, alter inmune functions, and change the regulation of blood flow.