Take Two Needles and Call me in the Morning



Exciting new research on acupuncture, read on…

Weight Loss

A recent study found that acupuncture improves weight loss outcomes for the treatment of obesity. Using biochemical analysis, researchers discovered potentially how acupuncture stimulates fat reduction.

Electroacupuncture controls the expression of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. Leptin regulation  promotes weight loss by altering both appetite and metabolism.

The protocol involved treatment 3x/week for four weeks.


Meirong Gong et al, Am. J. Chin. Med. 40, 511 (2012). DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X12500395. Effect of Electroacupuncture on Leptin Resistance in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity. Meirong Gong. Xinjun Wang. Zhen Mao. Qinhua Shao. Xiaoren Xiang. Bin Xu. Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, China.


Acupuncture combined with a paleo-diet, weight training and interval type cardiovascular exercise is a great natural approach to weight loss and the associated co-morbidities (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, elevated cholesterol etc.).


Knee Pain

A recent study concluded that acupuncture was  effective  for the treatment of knee pain. A meta-analysis of 14 random controlled clinical trials involving 3,835 patients states, “Acupuncture provided significantly better relief from knee osteoarthritis pain and a larger improvement in function than sham acupuncture, standard care treatment, or waiting for further treatment.”

The study notes that acupuncture for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis is “better at relieving pain and restoring function” than both standard biomedical care and sham acupuncture.


Saudi Med J. 2012 May;33(5):526-32. Needle acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Cao L, Zhang XL, Gao YS, Jiang Y. Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shanghai Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.

Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture as adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004;141(12):901–910.


Knee pain often has a myofascial and mechanical component. Acupuncture to tight muscles surrounding the knee joint, in conjunction with using a foam roller and stretching, is an effective long-term strategy for increasing range of motion, reducing pain and enhancing function of the knee.



New research published in Clinical Rheumatology concludes that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition involving pain, increased sensitivity to stimuli and fatigue. Other symptoms often include sleep disturbances, joint stiffness, digestive complaints, numbness, tingling, headaches, anxiety and impaired cognition.

In study published by the Department of Anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester (Minnesota), researchers concluded that, “acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.”


An overview of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative medicine for fibromyalgia. Rohini Terry, Rachel Perry and Edzard Ernst. Clinical Rheumatology. Volume 31, Number 1 (2012), 55-66, DOI: 10.1007/s10067-011-1783-5.

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jun;81(6):749-57. Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial. Martin DP, Sletten CD, Williams BA, Berger IH. Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.


Fibromyalgia is a challenging condition to manage. The conventional approach involves several medications to manage the symptoms. Many of these have undesirable side effects and have to be changed over time because they stop working. Acupuncture, an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications are all effective measures, that when combined, can provide significant relief and enhanced quality of life for people with this condition.


Heart disease and Hypertension

New research concludes that acupuncture improves cardiac function.

Acupuncture benefits heart tissue and prevents heart disease. One recent study shows that acupuncture affects heart rate variability (HRV). HRV measures the body’s flexibility in controlling the heart rate in stressful circumstances. Acupuncture synchronizes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems thereby enhancing the hearts ability to react to stressful conditions.

Another recent study demonstrates that acupuncture reduces atrial fibrillation and notes that acupuncture has “an antiarrhythmic effect.”

Recent research also shows that acupuncture reduces high blood pressure. Investigators from the University of California in both Irvine and Los Angles  have shown that electroacupuncture stimulation activates neurons in specific brain regions thereby reducing hypertension.


Acupuncture and heart rate variability: a systems level approach to understanding mechanism. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 12 (Suppl 1), P302. B Anderson, A Nielsen, B Kligler, and D McKee.

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 878673, 9 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/878673. Neuroendocrine Mechanisms of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Hypertension. Wei Zhou and John C. Longhurst. Department of Anesthesiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Department of Medicine, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA.


Neck and Back Pain

New research concludes that acupuncture is effective for relieving pain of the neck and lower back.  Researchers studied the effects of acupuncture on injured neck and lower back discs. Spinal intervertebral disc related pain often results in local pain and radiculopathy, nerve pain that travels distally from the affected region.

In the study, acupuncture was compared with the effectiveness of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for pain relief and in some cases is more effective than NSAIDs for the relief of pain.

Acupuncture was determined to be effective for both long and short-term pain relief for lumbar disc herniations and subsequent radiculopathies.

In addition, acupuncture was determined to be effective for the treatment of cervical disc related pain for both the long and short-term. The researchers discovered that acupuncture is “significantly more effective” than NSAIDs for the short-term relief of cervical disc related neck pain.


Effectiveness of Acupuncture with NSAID Medication in the Management of Acute Discogenic Radicular Pain: A Randomised, Controlled Trial. Beyazit Zencirci1, Kasim Zafer Yuksel, and Yakup Gumusalan. Department of Anesthesiology and Reanimation, Special Devakent Hospital, Kahramanmaras, Turkey. Department of Neurosurgery, Medical Faculty of Sutcu Imam University, Kahramanmaras, Turkey. Department of Anatomy, Medical Faculty of Sutcu Imam University, Kahramanmaras, Turkey. Zencirci et al., J Anesthe Clinic Res 2012, 3:3.


Neck and back pain are some of the most common and costly reasons that people seek medical care. Pain medications are “chemical Band-Aids”, which over time can have numerous deleterious effects to a variety of systems in the body. Acupuncture and exercises aimed correcting muscle, joint and nervous system imbalances is an effective strategy for acute pain management and long-term resolution for neck and back pain.


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin