Acupuncture Can Help End The Opioid Epidemic- by Dr. Richard Firshein

As an Integrative physician with over 25 years of experience, it’s hard to understand how the current opioid epidemic got started. Like other medically induced epidemics (Premarin which led to a serious uptick in great cancer) incentives got ahead of the science. The difficult truth is that there are situations when pain medicines are needed.

There are also many situations where these often casually prescribed narcotic medicines, could have been substituted with other more holistic approaches such as acupuncture or even meditation.

That’s why the FDA recently recommended doctors prescribe acupuncture -because it works.  Not for everyone. But when it works it’s a life saver. And the science to back it up is getting better as well.

Here is the deal, the Opioid epidemic in our country has reached a critical level, and garnered the attention of the media, the government, and the American people. Research from The National Institute on Drug Abuse, has shown an alarming increase in drug overdoses, rising from 4,000 American Deaths in 1999 to over 52,000 American Deaths as recently as 2015.

Two-thirds of these overdoses stem from opioids, resulting in numerous states declaring a medical emergency to combat the epidemic. These overdoses are believed to be attributed to the rapid increase of prescription narcotics, which has quadrupled since the early 1990’s. The CDC has since announced that urgent and critical action needs to be taken.

Numerous studies have shown that Acupuncture works as a highly effective treatment method for chronic pain in a plethora of ways understood by those who use traditional medicine. In comparison to traditional pain management treatment; which work on a specific receptor in the brain, acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins, increases immune response, and increases blood flow.

Originating in China, acupuncture is one of the oldest continually practiced forms of medicine. In Chinese Medicine energy is also known as Qi (chee). It is believed that blockages in our energy pathways lead to an imbalance in the way that energy flows through our nerves, muscles, tendons and blood vessels.  When Qi is blocked, it results in our bodies experiencing a sensation of pain.

To alleviate pain, Acupuncture needles are placed in strategic pressure points- known as meridians- on the body, acting as a bridge/detour around the areas of pain density/blocked energy. This is believed to result in a normal flow of “energy” being released throughout the body and a reduction of symptoms

With my 25 years of experience as an Integrative Physician, I have found that while Acupuncture is not designed to treat every painful medical condition; it does serves to mitigate numerous painful conditions, as well as a host of others. As a Certified Acupuncturist, I use Acupuncture as treatment for many ailments including Chronic Pain, Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Sinus Pain, Asthma, Sciatica, Migraines, Headaches, Insomnia, PMS, Menopausal Symptoms and Pain due to Acute and Chronic Injuries. It has proven to be one of the most effective therapeutic options that I have in my medical arsenal.

There are very few adverse effects and patients can resume normal activities right after receiving treatment. Generally, I recommend that acupuncture is used as an initial or adjunctive form of treatment, for anyone that has been prescribed a mild pain medication. These results have a significant effect on the way my future treatments are administered for each patient.

In some cases, I’ve found that Acupuncture is not the only form of treatment that I use.  When a patient needs additional treatment, I recommend other natural modalities such as cold laser, ultrasound, osteopathic manipulation treatments and physical therapy.  Occasionally, certain analgesics are used before considering a narcotic medication.

There is something truly exciting on the horizon as well. PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) is a ground-breaking new treatment for damaged joints and ligaments, that has also proven to be one of the most effective, and promising treatments methods for pain management. I will discuss PRP Therapy and its many advantages in greater detail in a future blog, where I will also explain how to Naturally Reduce Chronic Pain and Inflammation.