What does Acupuncture have to do with the Quantified Self?


Ancient Medicine Made Measurable

Graph showing increased health with Acupuncture

Higher is Healthier: More Vagal Activity Better HRV

According to Wikipedia, “The Quantified Self is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (eg food, quality of air, surroundings), states (e.g. mood), and performance (mental and physical).  The corollary in my work is to quantify inputs (specific acupuncture treatments) with states (autonomic balance) and clinical outcomes (reduction of symptoms).”

In the clinic, I use  Heart Rate Variability to measure patients’ stress levels (autonomic balance). Some wearables such as FitBit report HRV levels, but the system I use provides more specific, nuanced data. Gathering this data has been my research project for many years.

By analyzing this heart beat and I learn about the person’s stress levels (autonomic balance) and how they react to their environment and subtle stressors (like needling). This data is useful over seconds and minutes, but also provides a record of stress over the days and weeks of treatment. I use this data to improve treatment for better, faster results. Remember, stress affects your mood, pain levels, sleep and immunity. By reducing stress with acupuncture, patients not only experience their bodies becoming tougher and more resilient, but can see it in their data i.e. quantified response for the quantified self.   Reducing the stress response is important for almost all conditions.  But for conditions characterized by periodic episodes such as panic attacks, allergy attacks, migraines, and spikes in blood pressure, it takes on even more importance.  Lowering the stress level makes the body more stable and sturdy so it takes a lot more to trigger an attack. They take less medicine, and have many more “good” days for work and play.

My patients receive a report which looks like the report below, which shows their progress in reducing their stress. Ancient Medicine Made Modern, Ancient Medicine Made Measurable!  Examples of Clinical Cases and their data are here.












This is particularly nice illustration of a patient’s “rest and digest” activity increasing with regular acupuncture treatment.














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