Acupuncture for better sleep

Approximately 51% of the British population suffers from insomnia at some point in their lives and women make up a whopping 75% of this number. If you are one of the many Britons suffering from the condition, you are probably familiar with its harsh effects on your physical and mental wellbeing.

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We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms and if our sleeping patterns become erratic, these rhythms are thrown out of balance. This affects us in many ways such as doubling your risk of developing heart disease. Extensive medical research has also shown links between lack of sleep and worsening symptoms of depression and a decline in general mental wellbeing. Insomnia also leaves you feeling drained, which affects your performance and alertness during the day.

The modern way of treating insomnia involves copious amounts of prescription drugs that will ensure a good night’s sleep in the short-term. However, the long-term side-effects of these drugs include addiction, changes in appetite, daytime drowsiness and sensory impairment, stomach cramps and headaches among many others. These drugs also only treat the symptom itself (insomnia) and not the underlying disruption in the body’s natural rhythms.

Why choose acupuncture?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method of acupuncture is used to treat insomnia by focusing on imbalances in the body’s natural rhythms. It also stimulates the production of melatonin, your body’s natural sleeping hormone. Whereas prescription hypnotics and over-the-counter drugs focus only on the symptom of sleeplessness.

A report from a study conducted in 2004 found that people who suffer from anxiety and insomnia had an increase in melatonin production and total sleep time after receiving acupuncture treatment. These patients also reported falling asleep faster and not waking up during the night as often as they used to.

Going for your first acupuncture session

Firstly, you need to find a reputable and qualified acupuncturist. When you meet with him/her, you need to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities. Your treatment will be much more pleasant and comfortable if you get along with your acupuncturist and he/she understands your condition and attitude towards the treatment. Understand that acupuncture isn’t a silver bullet that will do away with all your symptoms in one session. In some cases you’ll notice immediate results and in others it may require several session. Give it time and go for at least a couple of treatments before deciding to continue or end your treatment.

Christine Kleyn is a writer for Sussex Acupuncture in the UK. She has a keen interest in health and fitness, and thrives on multiple cups of coffee per day. You can connect with her on Twitter.

High Blood Pressure Misdiagnosed Because of Waiting Room Nerves

Research suggests that many people who are prescribed medicines to treat high blood pressure do not actually have the condition, they are simply anxious about visiting the doctor which has been shown to raise their readings.

Over a third of patients that have been diagnosed in the surgery by traditional methods and considered to have seriously high blood pressure were found to have readings well within the normal range when it is measured at home, a study concluded.

It has been suspected for some time that the “white-coat effect” was partly contributing to the diagnoses of high blood pressure, but this large-scale study reveals that the number of patients affected is even higher than previously thought.

Doctors in Britain were told by the health watchdog that they should send patients home with a monitor for 24 hours rather than rely on armband readings taken in the surgery, saying that millions could be misdiagnosed because of waiting-room nerves.

Now a large-scale study of 8,300 people with high blood pressure that had not responded to treatment has found that 37 per cent did not have the problem when measured at home.

Women proved most susceptible, with 42 per cent of those diagnosed found not to have the condition, compared to 34 per cent of men, according to results published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

The researchers compared traditional diagnoses with results from a monitor that checked blood pressure at regular intervals under normal living and working conditions.

“Many of these patients’ blood pressures were in the normal range when they were at home or participating in their usual activities,” said Alejandro de la Sierra, the lead author of the study and director of internal medicine at Hospital Mútua Terrassa, University of Barcelona.

“Those with true resistant hypertension showed high blood pressure at work, during the day and at night. The true resistant group also was more likely to have blood pressures that abnormally rose during the night when they were sleeping.”

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended that people with two high blood pressure readings should take a third at home to rule out “white coat” syndrome, but Dr de la Sierra said measurements at home should be standard.

“Physicians should be encouraged to use ambulatory monitoring to confirm resistant hypertension in their patients as it would ensure the most effect treatment options are used,” he said. “Patients benefit by knowing whether their blood pressure is normal during daily activities or still needs the reinforcement of dietary and drug measures to achieve the goal.”

More than 8.5 million Britons have been told they have high blood pressure, defined as systolic [pumping] blood pressure of 140mmHg and diastolic [rest] pressure of 90mmHg. That total could fall dramatically if ambulatory measurement was adopted.

Some studies have shown that those with “white-coat” hypertension are more likely to go on to develop true high blood pressure, possibly as they are more prone to stress.

Dr de la Sierra said: “While those who actually had ‘white-coat’ hypertension are not risk free, their cardiovascular outcomes are much better.”

Ellen Mason, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study looked at a minority of people who still had high blood pressure despite being on at least three drugs to treat it. Visiting the doctor seemed to make some people falsely appear resistant to the effects of these drugs so the study was helpful in trying to identify which people seemed to be truly resistant and therefore more at risk of organ damage. It also adds weight to new draft guidelines to include a home blood pressure test for hypertensive patients here in the UK.”

Related internet link

For more information visit  this healthcare information website that which gives visitors the opportunity to find out more about high blood pressure, why it is important to know what your blood pressure is, how blood pressure is measured and what can be done to help lower it.

MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy

This article has been provided by www.brightonandhovepsychotherapy.com, an experienced UKCP registered integrative psychotherapist company offering a range of counselling, psychotherapy and psychological services from Hove, East Sussex.

Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration allowed for the limited clinical study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. It’s an intriguing decision that leads to many questions, including how effective MDMA could be as a therapeutic drug and whether it would be a wise decision to legalise such a controversial substance.

In order to realise why the decision has been made we need to look back in time before the 1980’s when MDMA was readily available as an aid during therapy sessions. Some of the many reasons MDMA was utilised in this way include attempts to rekindle loving relationships between partners and helping traumatised soldiers returning home.

However, MDMA was soon classed as a Schedule 1 Narcotic, a drug that offers little to no therapeutic value, and subsequently became less available. It was from 1985 that MDMA became much harder to get hold of and chemicals posing as the drug were introduced, such as ecstasy. The likelihood is that many of these substances would have had very little MDMA in them, instead incorporating non-descript and potentially dangerous chemicals. The decision to allow for limited clinical studies came about after a trial period carried out by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies reached a conclusion to Phase II of its clinical trials.

A small US-based study related to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) found that 83 percent of those treated showed little to no symptoms after a handful of treatments. The study, carried out in 2010, was followed up in 2012 and the majority of subjects remained symptom-free. They also reported no harm from the initial use of MDMA. Researchers felt that the study proved MDMA could be an effective psychotherapy treatment and have lasting effects after a handful of treatments.

MDMA-assisted therapy has been widely debated since the studies were published, with those against it citing the drug’s potential ease of access. It could be used as a common anti-psychotic or anti-depressant; taken on a schedule a few times a week. However, those for assisted therapy say that MDMA would be used solely to enhance therapy between a patient and their therapist. MDMA would not be prescribed and taken home, nor would patients have access to the drug outside of therapy.

Another argument against MDMA-assisted therapy is that anyone would be allowed to join the trials. In truth, the trials are open only to people who have no alternative form of treatment, such as those who have suffered for many years with little change to their symptoms and those who have relied on anti-psychotic and anti-depressants with little effect.

As well as having very little therapeutic value, Schedule 1 drugs are regarded by the federal government in the US as being “the most dangerous” and having the potential for “severe psychological or physical dependence”. If you referred to the previous studies mentioned already, it would seem that MDMA falls short of this description. Psychoactive, therapeutic substances such as MDMA continue to be the centre of a major debate surrounding potential legalisation. While the support for the legalisation of MDMA grows, support from medical communities could ultimately lead to MDMA being lowered from its Schedule 1 status in the near future.