Research suggests that acupuncture may be helpful to people with very dry mouths (xerostomia), a circumstance that can affect the taste of food, as well as the health of one's teeth and gums. Dry mouth occurs with Sjogren's syndrome, and sometimes after radiation therapy that is directed at the head and neck. A recent study used a special kind of "x-ray" to expore how acupuncture might work in this setting (magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, and in this instance functional mRI, or fMRI, which shows what part of the brain is activated with certain actions).
Healthy volunteers were chosen for the study. When an acupuncture needle was inserted at a specific point on the index finger called "Large Intestine 2," or LI-2, specific parts of the brain lit up on the fMRI, and a mild increase in the flow of saliva was detected. Interestingly, when "fake" acupuncture was used, there were no significant changes on the fMRI.
When we consider that inserting a fine needle into a specific point on one's skin can create changes in a distant part of the body, it almost seems unbelievable. No one understands exactly how acupuncture works. And yet, there is a wealth of research showing that acupuncture, when provided by a well-trained practitioner, is both safe and effective for the treatment of certain disorders, especially painful conditions. The simple, yet elegant, way that acupuncture can help address complex health disorders was one of the driving forces that led me to explore new paths of healing.
Some medical doctors are trained in Western medical acupuncture, but true Asian-style acupuncture is performed by specialists, like practitioners of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). If you're considering a visit to an acupuncturist be sure to seek out a licensed practitioner, preferably one you've heard good things about from your friends, and include your primary care physician in your decision.
For those of you with a dry mouth, acupuncture may add to the benefits offered you by more conventional medical therapies.
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **