The Intersection of CBD and Acupuncture
I ran into a former patient of mine (let’s call her Jane) in the grocery store a few months ago. She had stopped regular acupuncture treatments a few years ago once we had resolved both her chronic migraines and severe abdominal cramps (a result of endometriosis). I asked her how she was doing.
“Great,” Jane said, “even though my symptoms started coming back a few months ago.”
“Well, what the heck?” I said, “why haven’t you come back in for treatment?”
“I haven’t needed to,” she announced proudly, “I’ve been using CBD oil.”
Being in the natural health field for over a decade, I’ve learned to consider any new “miracle cure” with a generous dose of skepticism. There is a huge appetite and general public longing for non-pharmaceutical relief from the day-to-day maladies that so negatively impact our quality of life. In the case of CBD, the buzz has become something of a cacophony over the past year or so. I had even experimented with it myself and had found it thoroughly underwhelming.
I asked Jane what exactly she was taking. She had been using two separate products – one topical for the endometrial pain and one internal, taken as a tincture, for sleep. Both products rang a bell – our acupuncture/herb supplier had been glowingly promoting their recent addition of these products to their offerings. Jane was thoroughly convinced – and convincing. Even though I’ve had hundreds of patients swear that a particular product was a cure-all for them, I’ve seen those same products produce zero effects in other patients. But the buzz has been so loud with CBD, I just couldn’t ignore it anymore.
I was inspired to do some more research into CBD. When I did, I was struck by a singular fact. CBD has incredibly similar actions to acupuncture – both induce anti-inflammatory and stress-relieving processes in the human body and do so with little-to-no side effects. Acupuncture evokes these effects via the insertion of tiny, hair-thin needles into the skin. The body responds to these foreign objects in the system by generating significant anti-inflammatory processes and by decreasing sympathetic nervous system activity, thus producing stress-relieving effects.
CBD achieves the same ends through different means. Researchers have determined that our body has a very complex endocannabinoid system which can regulate various anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective processes (along with other well-known systems such as the adrenergic, cholinergic and dopaminergic systems). Put simply, CBD interacts with cell receptors in this system to elicit beneficial effects in the human body. There are mountains of research being done on CBD, and all point to the same conclusion – this stuff really does work. We ordered the same products Jane was taking from our and they didn’t disappoint.
The first patient we used a CBD product on was an 86-year-old woman with chronic sciatic pain. We had greatly reduced the intensity of her pain over a handful of acupuncture sessions, but the icing on the cake was when we applied a topical CBD cream during a treatment. Our patient was so overjoyed, she called her acupuncturist the next day. “This is the first time in years that I have felt no pain at all!” she proclaimed overjoyed.
Since then, we’ve used both topical CBD ointments and a line of highly refined CBD tinctures that are brilliantly combined with specific Chinese herbs to enhance their effects. The results are invariably the same – accelerated resolution of a patient’s health concerns, specifically in regards to inflammatory and stress-related conditions.
Of course, as with any product, make sure you’re procuring CBD products from reputable, ethical sources. As CBD products are not currently regulated by the FDA, potency and consistency of quality can vary greatly. Our access to a highly-respected supplier has afforded us the luxury of obtaining our products with a high degree of confidence. The products we use are backed up by verifiable research and provide specific dosing recommendations. As quality can vary widely between brands, make sure you do your homework when choosing CBD products (hint: unfortunately, the good stuff is currently not inexpensive, although prices are expected to decrease in coming years as the market grows).
Although CBD may be as ancient as acupuncture itself, its acceptance and clinical use is relatively recent. There is reason for great optimism in the potential of achieving even better and faster patient outcomes through utilizing these two natural therapies in concert.
Hear from one of our patients:
“I walked into CT Family Acupuncture with 6 out of 10 pain. Having struggled with rib pain for almost 5 years, acupuncture was the only thing I had not tried. I avoided it because I felt it was expensive and was not covered by my insurance. But walking into my appointment, I was full of hope that it would help. Madeline Del Sol, licensed acupuncturist, was very kind, full of empathy and genuinely wanted to help.
After my second treatment of electroacupuncture, I noticed my pain was gone! I felt so free. I could work all day without having the nagging pain in my ribs always there in the background. I had more energy because pain wasn’t taking all my energy and I finally could sleep at night. It has been worth every penny and I wish I had tried it sooner.”
~ Amy G., Coventry Lake
Matt Maneggia is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Connecticut Family Acupuncture with offices in Coventry, Glastonbury and West Hartford. As a board member of the CT Society of Acupuncturists, Matt advocates for increased access to acupuncture through insurance coverage and integration of acupuncture into the mainstream healthcare system. He can be contacted through his website at: www.CTfamilyacupuncture.com or via the main office at: 860-503-3676.