Acupuncture Research lecture at UPENN

A strong presence and a plush accent dusted with the remains of her worldly travel are only a few of the stunning attributes that made Dr. Claudia Witt’s recent lecture stand above the fray. She came to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine to inform us that Acupuncture combined with Primary Care has brought about a “new era in Conventional Medicine.” The research is being done, getting funded and people are getting much better with the combination of the two worlds of care.

As a guest of our Integrative Medicine Pioneer, MD and Acupuncture physician here at Penn Jun Mao, Dr. Claudia Witt talked to us about Acupuncture Research around the world and how it’s infusing the practice of Acupuncture medicine at home and abroad.

Currently a resident of Switzerland where acupuncture is covered by insurance when practiced by a Medical doctor, Witt describes the large variety of regulations that swirl through Acupuncture practice. It all relies on one factor, how much has been proven and among how large of a sample size it has been proven with.

Simply put, we need more people recruited for the studies, more funding for more research studies to be conducted to continue to prove the multitude of benefits that people are experiencing with this penetrating practice of Acupuncture medicine.

Witt says regarding increasing the size of the population these studies are conducted on, “Often it is a cultural issue. During a clinic holding pediatric acupuncture research, to see a room filled with children with a lot of needles sticking out of their heads, for some cultures this would be strange, but not for others. It has been difficult to recruit for these studies. Large sample sizes in the US are needed to ramp up the research. It’s mostly small scale studies that have taken place thus far as opposed to the Meta analysis coming out of other countries.”

Most people I know have had a good experience with acupuncture. For them, that is the proof. It makes them feel better, that proves that it works. However this will not help to get Acupuncture practitioners paid as they deserve insurance companies to reimburse so patients can get more acupuncture, research studies funded, or other physicians to refer their patients for treatments. In China Acupuncture is free and you can get as much as you need.

Research on preventing disease, Immunology research, measuring Qi and functional imaging to prove pain (possibly through PET) were among the topics that were discussed among the viewers. According to Witt, prevention research may be taking place in China; however in the US this would be a costly endeavor considering the long term observation that would be required.

For tension headaches (HA) research shows that needling points do not matter. “No matter where you put the needle, the headaches get better” says Witt. Sham research, needling points and mechanisms such as turning the needle and making deeper skin penetration (always done in China- “I beg for the western style Acupuncture when I am in China because it is quite painful,”) as well as trigger point acupuncture (palpating points to find pain and find the points) are huge topics amongst researchers and Acupuncturists.

Placebo always has to be considered. According to Witt this is one of the largest areas of research going on right now, Placebo research. An individual’s expectation of a treatment to work and make them feel better, has seen to impact patients with chronic pain, who are receiving acupuncture treatments.

Patient- Doctor Interaction’s research in Zurich showed that it mattered more the type of relationship that was being developed between patient and doctor, than the treatments themselves. Studies on arthritis, tension headaches, migraines, pain, Bells-Palsy are among what we have currently published in JAMA, Lancet and Journal of Clinical Oncology. Stronger needle stimulation was seen to help for Bells-Palsy. Mao recently published research for those suffering from the side effects of breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Brian Czerniecki is referring his patients to Mao for acupuncture since the recently published study came out. “He’s been sending his patients more and more for Acupuncture” Says NP of Czerniecki.

One topic I meant to bring up was the use of pulsation. Monitoring the pulse to determine diagnosis and treatment is practiced among one fully trained pulsation practitioner that I know of in Philadelphia, but also by other Acupuncturists on a smaller scale. According to Witt, “Diagnosing and individualized care is not showing much evidence to make a difference e.” The Acupuncturist at Five Virtues mixes her own herbal formulas and went through specialized Chinese medicine training to do so. “If we use fixed formulas, standard care for everyone we are no better than western medicine.” Five Virtues Acupuncturist sees a remarkable difference in her patients when treating with emphasis on diagnosis and individualized treatments. Fixed formulas and standardized care vs. individualized care have not yielded much research, as of yet. Another Acupuncturist working out of Society Hill says, “The standard formulas have shown to be very beneficial for my clients. I use them and pulse points to approach the types of treatments I deliver.”

Witt conducts both Clinical Research and experimental research while also practicing Acupuncture medicine in Switzerland, where Acupuncture is covered by insurance if the practitioner is also a Medical Doctor. We hope she will come back and keep talking to us. I will be assisting flood Jun Mao with patients for his two active research studies on breathing and pain, taking place at Penn’s Perelman Center.

Liver Yang Rising

Photo Credit:
Visit the link above for mantra meditation guidance
It's a part of Spring, but more than that for some who face an imbalance.

At the seat of any health issue is a lack of ease.
An emotional, psychological battle at the helm.
Resentment is a big obstacle for those facing disease. It can lead to the terminal, if not faced down harmoniously.

Issues with ones liver yang rising can lead to self medicating, which only exacerbates the issue facing your health, as well as the resentment.
It can be that your not feeding yourself right(what are you feeding?), or that you are harboring resentment among the many symptoms.

See below a link, for perhaps those Irish catholics that are working towards freedom, or those who just may have a bunch to be angry and resentful about.

With all of our scientific knowledge, our ancient medicinal modalities, our spiritual crusades, meditation remains the key to health, happiness and wholeness. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, everything is possible. It's the one super power that we all have. Now use it.

Diet guidelines for liver yang rising, take control of the heat.

Transformation & more metamorphosis: Clips from the Novel

The room was dimly lit with candles, chakras were all aglow.
Liana lightly touched my shoulder like a fairy, "do you have any health issues" she asked with a smile so bright, if my answer was, 'yes,' she would have melted the disease in that moment. I replied "no," and introduced myself. She reached for me, scooped me up and gave me one of those giggly girly hugs where you can transcend back to your childhood.
Two sisters, or friends hugging and jumping lightly at the same time, feeling each others giggles from the gut, laughing as though you just rolled down a grassy hill together.

Within moments I'm sweating, working on my
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana I, moments later I'm crying after feathering out of Ustrasana. She walks around the room on tippy toes so delicately considering your senses at every moment. Liana is such a gentle guide. She tickles your underarm to get it to move where she thinks you might like it better. Gracefully stands before you demonstrating just how it will feel best. Encouraging with heart and divinity, all the way.
Like a mommy, like a mermaid she is one I will remember and cherish.
The onset of my current direction, Liana was a part of it.
Her lemongrass sealed it with a kiss. She showed me what a teacher is supposed to feel like. She showed me, I would love to do this. Once you find what it is you love, I realized, don't ever let it go.

I've been calling her Caroline, Caroline Grace Ashurst, but her name is clearly Grace. Gracie when I feel like super cozy with her. And she is so cozy even with her sharp needles. Like a lily, petite and present, she places them so precisely, as I feel the steam of qi, like butterfly kisses, along my left foots arch. She has created movement, blood flow and feeling. She asks very intently, "does it hurt here, is it achy, what about here?"
She finds that perfect place to place what will be liberating me.
She touched my pulses, glanced at my tongue and seemed to get my entire health story, leaving no stone unturned.
She understood everything with such depth. My fire constitution, or maybe earth or water. It takes awhile to find sometimes. We're pretty certain, I'm a fire.
We're balancing my metal and my fires, so that we can see more clearly. It's a dance you do together practitioner and the one seeking the healing, in order to see the results.
Punctured to the fullest she smoked the room with incence and mugwort torched my belly as I requested. "This definately looks like you went to China and had this done."
She said at my follow up visit. Some like it hot, I don't think she was pleased.
She told me, as she crouched down closely to my belly whispering to it, almost as seductively as the one who kisses it softly and keeps going, but very differently than that, like it was her belly, one she loved, "How can we talk nicer to this belly." I realized then, I can't tell my belly I may cut her again. I have to thank her for bringing life and try to heal her from deep inside.  I can feel the vibrations changing in me. I'm now putting my fire into my earth. My scars are healing.

Cindy, with her cable TV network show came to interview amidst all of this change. She has Grounded me, all seven of my chakras to be exact, and it sent me to my core. Helped me to silence that chatter, in order to conduct an interview. Airing on 3-11 in NY and Saturday in Manhattan. "Who are you giving your power to, girly?" She asked, shocked. "I instantly felt a ping in my heart and sick to my stomach when I touched your heart and your belly." She told me I'm definately all in my head, but that I'm not reaching from the divine space to deliver what I'm delivering so freely. "You're around really sick people all day. In that line of work, it's important to balance and ground the chakras." I was calmed, finally. I stopped talking too fast, thinking too fast and losing focus on the now. I had confidence and delivered the interview with ease.

Liana opening me to release, Grace guiding me to put my fire in my earth clearing my metals, water and wood, while freeing my qi and Cindy grounding my dreams into reality. Thankful bliss.



Submerging in the leadership of The Goddess of fire and light, Liana Cameris, and her graceful, gentle balanced soul over the course of the next month.
Connecting with something words can't describe, stretching my body, while breathing to bring a better flow until now has been a somewhat solo, instinctual, intuitive, innocent action. A dance with the universe. A meditation with the mystics.

While in search of a teacher, a mentor to grow and develop this time I spend metamorphosing, there came Liana. "There's no wrong way. Close your eyes because everything out there you don't need." I felt myself connecting deeper, as my limbs knew where to go prior to her speaking it aloud. "Thank your body." She says. That is not something I've done, lately. My body is grateful.
"A divine intervention brought us all together." Said Caroline with grace. "I tap into the divine every chance I get." Said Liana. After one hour with each one of these innocents, tears of release sprung from my eyes as I saw and felt what would come next.
Caroline Grace Ashurst, shifted my perspective, while gradually my soul gravitated to the table.
Showing me what was there in front of me.
Over a glass of green tea, I saw her, see trauma I thought I'd released fully.
She will be guiding me to a healed space;
Releasing me from the human bonds that trap my freedom to fly.
She's already revealing the war I've waged may be presenting some inherent difficulties.
I will have to let the war rage on as I retreat, I'm still present.
Cultivating this giant fire, burning so brightly, in the direction before me. Being sure to put my fire, in my earth.

Check my calendar there is a Yoga combined Acupuncture gathering that will be a life changer. March 8th. Shine your light on it.
YogaPuncture Sentiments.

Breast Cancer and the Translation required to get the care

Photo Credit: Coach Kristen Kelly
If ever I'm in a horrible accident, and at risk for losing a limb please do not take me to my Acupuncture physician. "I'm sorry, but we don't have that kind of equipment here lady! Please go to the ER." America's hospitals, if great at nothing, are the best in emergency medicine. We are designed for frenzy mode, and equipped better than any for it. It's what we know.

For the naysayers of western medicine, not many things serve no purpose at all. There is a place for most things in this world. Without blood would there be guts, without sad would there be happy, without 'evil' would there be 'good'? You get the idea.

The story of babel intrigues me. Once all humans spoke one language. Turmoil caused a great division and the worlds parted as did the languages, turning the one into many.
Truth, folklore?
That would require more research, either way the idea is a helpful one. (I've already offended someone and they have stopped reading.)
Stay with me.

Translating between 'worlds' quickly becomes fascinating. You realize how far apart our 'worlds' still are despite how sophisticated we've allegedly become as a species.
Common knowledge in one circle, is a foreign language in another.
I can't help but see the light that shines out of the merging, or gathering of these 'worlds.'
It calls to me.
Not unlike dark chocolate with strawberries, or better yet goji berries. I digress.  
Each seem to be the half of the others whole.

During a frantic surgical oncology clinic breasts are bleeding from nipples, or open sores, tumors are growing so big they push onto the outside of the body; women face new potentially terminal diagnosis, or hold their breasts in pain from hematomas; sutures need mending and panic is the pace. One of the Nurse Practitioners said during a drive by discussion regarding offering Acupuncture, Meditation, Reiki and Yoga as a treatment in clinics everywhere, “They should come hang out with us in the trenches, see what it's like.” The NP cried out, "I wish I had a prescription pad to write down, yoga qd, and meditation qd! There are just so many patients per day with such advanced illness and they are suffering, fighting for their lives.” Those in "the trenches" likely have their own personal story to tell of illness, pain or fighting for life.
The physicians and practitioners on the third floor of the Perelman Center for Advanced medicine's Abramson Cancer Center are referring patients for Acupuncture treatments, Reiki and Yoga Therapy.
Those with the talent to push through the panic pace, it's important all the right tools are at their finger tips to provide to those that are begging them for hope and relief.

Some are thriving and empowered by the chaos.
Like a lotus growing even more beautiful the murkier, the muddier the waters become- these medicine men and women in too much plush palace life, like a lotus, shrivel.
We challenge our humanity daily, for fun, for endorphins, for life, for cures, for others.
We like it and we share it.
Something about seeing the limits of human suffering pushed, poked, and prodded brings out the best of our natures.

A surrendering to each other takes place, a sort of tribe forms instantly in a battle faced better united, while you hold on trying your best to find the courage inside to rescue another, or face death with dignity as opposed to fear. Learning the delicate dance of timing that takes place in letting go.

The reality being pried from souls and bellies, the point of no return exposed before you.
How brave are we? At what point do we reach a threshold? How far will we go for another?
How much of their pain can we recycle and offer back as reward, relentlessly.

A breast cancer patient with a lot of fight in her divulged today, “I needed relief from the pain. I was desperate!” Her eyes were wide with remembrance, her spirit soft with humbleness and her emotions steady with trust in what she had found. She saw it work. It surprised her, but she delicately danced with its powers and allowed it to assist her. 
She knows she can't go back to living the way she did before.
She started with skeptical feelings towards recommendations for treatments, such as meditation.
However, she was able to attribute it to one of the many ancient remedies that were key ingredients in taking her neck pain away.

Her therapeutic therapies during chemotherapy her first time around she says, “saved me.”
“The pain stopped, Sarah. I used all of the options that were available to me. There is an opportunity for pain relief. I raised three kids while I was going through chemotherapy. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I couldn't have made it without all of that stuff. I stopped going to John Hopkins because they didn't have any of those options available to me.” She had a double mastectomy after her chemo and if you saw her you may wonder if she has graced the cover of a magazine once or twice.

The question the patient had was, will insurance cover this? Can I get these treatments as often as I need them and pay my copay for them? There was a day chiropractic care, massage therapy and physical therapy, as well as psychotherapy were called pseudo sciences and not covered by insurance. Today, they are.
Doctors of Osteopathy were not always seen equal in the eyes of the AMA, but they are now. The OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography,) which Ophthalmology practices now stop without, were once said ,"not to be helpful in a clinical setting at all" now they are the foundation.

LRSM, Lab for Research on the Structure of Matter at University of Pennsylvania
a physicist explains after reviewing a more qualitative study on Reiki done at Upenn,
“I'm surprised they are doing these types of studies at Upenn. Really what you at least need is a theoretical reason why something should work. With Acupuncture there is some proof it works through engagement with your nervous system. Reiki the theory is that there is interaction with your chi, Acupuncture originated that way too, but scientific research is replacing that with a more physiologically based framework. Whereas I think they haven't done that with Reiki, yet. People are skeptical for a good reason. I would assume it's less effective than a standard massage. Now, Yoga is totally different from Reiki and comes from different religious backgrounds too.”

When I translated for the Physicist Philosopher how touch therapy may work, I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “it's going to be okay,” you feel that and you may feel better for a bit, right?
On a very small scale, Reiki claims to do that.
That claim the Physicist Philosopher was able to accept with a bright smile of surprise, but with a resounding, “who knows...”
The translators in Translational research are the most important part. “I'm not on a side, I'm on my own side.” says the Physicist Philosopher. "Let's open our minds people." Arjun, Physicist.
Fern says, "education is key."

Abramson Cancer Center offers Yoga, Reiki, Acupuncture, Physical Therapy and other types of treatment for cancer patients and has a large Integrative Oncology Working Group with expert knowledge of the importance of care that is working when nothing else will.
What they are trying to build stronger has become very successful in Pennsylvania Hospital due to its smaller playing field. Dr. Mao says all the time, "we are looking for revolutionaries."

Amidst survival mode, medicinal mothering, and mortified, your finest of raw instincts, primal powers are on the surface ready in an instant to save a life, catch the falling with a reaction time you didn't know you had in you until you were challenged. That lift a car off of your baby kind of power was recognized seemingly by physicians like, Upledger when he had the idea to teach craniosacral therapy to mothers. 

January 18 2014- Edited, but not revised much January 2015.

Thanks for reading. Comments welcome. Sarah