CF 186: Western Diet Hurts and Acupuncture Today we’re going to talk about new research based on chronic pain and our regular Western diet. Then we discuss  But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music

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  OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around.  We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.   If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do. 

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You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #186 Now if you missed last week’s episode , we talked about high impact chronic pain and we talked about newer research on the use of cannabinoids in adolescence. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. 

On the personal end of things…..

I’m feeling pretty good today, folks. I’m feeling pretty optimistic. If I had known what a process building a medical clinic truly is, I may have thought it through just a little bit more than I did. There really is a solid reason more chiropractors don’t take the steps to do it. And that’s because it isn’t easy.  Attorneys, medical directors, hiring the nurse pracs, setting up training, getting the malpractice in place, getting the DEA number of the medical director to have your address on it so your NP can order the things they need, getting your NP credentialed, getting the entities created correctly by the CPAs……it’s a process for damn sure. 

I remember when I started this path, my good buddy and consultant on it, Dr. Tyce Hergert in Southlake, TX, he told me get your seatbelt on because the majority of the work is in the first 90 days. I feel like it’s starting to loosen up a bit and the clouds are clearing on this integration deal. Which is exciting. Because then you can go from wading through the paperwork and minutiae and start focusing on their training and growing the word of mouth and actually start working on the business. That’s where my skill level lies.  I’m not 100% out of the initial struggle to get it set up and off the ground but I’m getting toward the rear end of it and that’s encouraging. For instance, my morning this morning was setting up an account with a medical supplies company and getting started with my first order of IV equipment, cotton swabs, medipore tape, and things of that nature.  Right…..I know…..ugh.

But it’ll be worth it eventually. At least it damn sure better be! Beyond that, last week was better as far as clinic numbers. Moving in the right direction. I believe as a solo practitioner I had about 167. Still not pre-COVID numbers but not awful. I can deal with stuff mentally when I know it’s moving the right direction. It’s when it’s staying slim and there’s no longer rhyme or reason for it that makes me lose my mind. 

So, the mind is intact today and I’m looking forward. Onward and upward today.  Still no emails from any of you on what you’ve done to help the rest of you get your patients back. So, any help and advice from the think tank here would be good for the rest of the crew. Share. Give. It’ good for you. 

Item #1

This first one his an article that appeared in the Seattle Times called “Study finds correlation between high-fat Western diet and pain” by Theresa Braine of the New York Daily News (Braine 2021). It was published on June 24, 2021 and it’s hotter than hot stuff! And on a side note, You’d be in a hell of an awkward position if you last name was Braine but you were an idiot wouldn’t you? Think about that a minute. Your name is brain but you’re basically walking around bumping into walls…..people snickering behind your back…..Brain….right, right.  Anyway, that’s a little peak into my brain for you.

Anyway…since it’s an article, as always I just basically summarize and hit the high spots. 

  • They say the Western diet is associate with many ills and now chronic pain might be added to the list. 
  • A new study looks at the potential for omega-6 fats’ influence on neuropathic pain in people with diabetes and other conditions.
  • Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio studied the effects of omega-6 fatty acids themselves by measuring the role of these dietary lipids in pain conditions and found that the substances themselves seem to cause pain and inflammation.
  • Diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular diseases are known to be affected by nutritional choices, the researchers said. But excessive consumption of omega-6 fats, which are found largely in commonly consumed processed foods, had not been studied in terms of the acids themselves and their role specifically in pain.
  • They studied polyunsaturated fatty acids in both mice and humans.
  • The five-year study was published in the June edition of the journal Nature Metabolism.
  • Omega-6 fats mainly occur in foods with vegetable oils
  • “But Western diets associated with obesity are characterized by much-higher levels of those acids in foods from corn chips to onion rings, than healthy omega-3 fats, which are found in fish and sources like flaxseed and walnuts,” the researchers’ statement said. “Generally, unhealthy foods high in omega-6 fats include processed snacks, fast foods, cakes, and fatty and cured meats, among others.”
  • Reversing those dietary habits and increasing omega-3 fats “greatly reduced these pain conditions,” the researchers found. “Also, the authors demonstrated that skin levels of omega-6 lipids in patients with Type 2 diabetic neuropathic pain were strongly associated with reported pain levels and the need for taking analgesic drugs.”

So, we’re seeing more and more studies like this talking about inflammatory diets, high-fat, and things of that nature. All being related to increased levels of pain. This is something chiropractors can get behind. I can be very honest when I say that the main gap missing in my clinic is weight loss. Diet and nutrition. Things of that nature. As a result, I’m having our nurse practitioner trained in medical weight loss so we can fill that gap and be well-rounded. 


Item #2

Next up, I’ve been asked to put together a talk based on evidence-based, patient-centered practice and what makes it the future of our profession. The special request was to end the talk with some research-based around acupuncture research. Texas chiropractors continue to go through battles and one of them is against the acupuncturists in the state.  So, with that, I’m going to offer up a couple of papers. I’ve got a bunch of good ones but thought I’d just cover a couple here. The first one is called “Clinical Evidence for Association of Acupuncture and Acupressure With Improved Cancer Pain A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” by He et. al. (He Y 2019) and published in JAMA Oncology on December 19, 2019 and it goes a little sumpin’ like this. 

The first thing that jumps out here, especially for those somewhat new to reading through research, is that this is a systematic review and meta-analysis. That is at the top of the research pyramid. For example simple little case studies and animal studies, pilot studies….things of that nature….they live at the bottom, less meaningful or less impactful part of the pyramid. As you climb the pyramid to the more important stuff, you’ll see cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. Then, at the very top, the most meaningful studies are the systematic reviews topped off by the meta-analysis.  What I’m saying is that this paper is good stuff. It’s good information. And it appears in a very respected journal. The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Oncology branch. It’s high level from several aspects.  

Why They Did It

The authors wanted to answer the question, “Is the use of acupuncture and acupressure associated with improved cancer pain management compared with sham intervention and/or analgesic therapy alone?

How They Did It

  • It was a systematic review of 17 randomized clinical trials and meta-analysis of 14 trials in the current English-language and Chinese-language literature
  • Three English-language databases and 4 Chinese-language biomedical databases were searched for RCTs published from database inception through March 31, 2019.
  • Randomized clinical trials that compared acupuncture and acupressure with a sham control, analgesic therapy, or usual care for managing cancer pain were included.
  • The quality of RCTs was appraised with the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool
  • The primary outcome was pain intensity measured by the Brief Pain Inventory, Numerical Rating Scale, Visual Analog Scale, or Verbal Rating Scale.

What They Found

A significant association was found between real (compared with sham) acupuncture and reduced pain, and acupuncture combined with analgesic therapy was associated with decreased analgesic use. However, heterogeneity lowered the level of certainty of the evidence.

Wrap It Up

This study found a moderate level of evidence that acupuncture and/or acupressure was significantly associated with lower pain intensity in patients with cancer compared with a sham control, which suggests a potential for a combination of acupuncture and acupressure to help reduce opioid doses in patients with cancer.

Item #3

This last one is called “Acupuncture for neck disorders (Review for The Cochrane Collaboration)” by Trinh et. al. (Trinh K 2016) and it can be found in the Cochrane Library published in May of 2016 so it’s about 5 years old at this point. 

Why They Did It

  • Acupuncture has been used as an alternative to more conventional treatment for musculoskeletal pain. This review summarises the most current scientific evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for acute, subacute and chronic neck pain.
  • To determine the effects of acupuncture for adults with neck pain, with focus on pain relief, disability or functional measures, patient satisfaction and global perceived effect.

How They Did It

  • They searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Manual, Alternative and Natural Therapy Index System (MANTIS), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and the Index to Chiropractic Literature (ICL) from their beginning to August 2015
  • They searched reference lists, two trial registers and the acupuncture database Traditional Chinese Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System (TCMLARS) in China to 2005.
  • We included published trials that used random assignment to intervention groups, in full text or abstract form. We excluded quasi-randomized controlled trials 
  • Of the 27 included studies, three represented individuals with whiplash‐associated disorders (WADs) ranging from acute to chronic (205 participants), five explored chronic myofascial neck pain (186 participants), five chronic pain due to arthritic changes (542 participants), six chronic non‐specific neck pain (4011 participants), two neck pain with radicular signs (43 participants) and six subacute or chronic mechanical neck pain (5111 participants). So there was a big mix of conditions represented with a solid sample size when you add them all up. 

What They Found

  • For mechanical neck pain, we found that acupuncture is beneficial at immediate‐term follow‐up compared with sham acupuncture for pain intensity; at short‐term follow‐up compared with sham or inactive treatment for pain intensity; at short‐term follow‐up compared with sham treatment for disability; and at short‐term follow‐up compared with wait‐list control for pain intensity and neck disability improvement.
  • This effect does not seem sustainable over the long term. Whether subsequent repeated sessions would be successful was not examined by investigators in our primary studies.

Wrap It Up

Moderate‐quality evidence suggests that acupuncture relieves pain better than sham acupuncture, as measured at completion of treatment and at short‐term follow‐up, and that those who received acupuncture report less pain and disability at short‐term follow‐up than those on a wait‐list. Moderate‐quality evidence also indicates that acupuncture is more effective than inactive treatment for relieving pain at short‐term follow‐up. Alright, for those not yet on the acupuncture train, take another look.

The VA here locally are sending veterans to us right now for our acupuncturist to work with them and these old grizzly vets absolutely love it. Yep, that’s anecdotal as hell but I’m telling you, there’s something to it and research seems to be catching up to it.  Patients ask me how it works and I have to be honest……I’m not sure. I have some guesses but it’s a lot like a damn TV. I can’t tell you the exact way a program’s signal gets to my house and shows up when I turn the damn TV on. But I know how to enjoy the results.  Alright, that’s it. Y’all be safe. Keep changing our profession from your little corner of the world. Keep taking care of yourselves and everyone around you. Tough times are upon us but, the sun will shine again. Trust it, believe it, count on it. Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week. 


Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at   

Purchase Dr. Williams’s book, a perfect educational tool and chiropractic research reference for the daily practitioner, from the Amazon store TODAY!


Chiropractic evidence-based products

Integrating Chiropractors

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  The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment rather than chemical treatments like pills and shots. When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show us patients can get good to excellent results for headaches, neck pain, back pain, and joint pain to name just a few. It’s safe and cost-effective can decrease surgeries & disabilities and we do it through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal hassle to the patient. And, if the patient treats preventatively after initial recovery, we can usually keep it that way while raising the overall level of health!

Key Point:

At the end of the day, patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment that offers the least harm. When it comes to non-complicated musculoskeletal complaints…. That’s Chiropractic!


Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show and tell us your suggestions for future episodes.  Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on podcast platforms.  We know how this works by now. If you value something, you have to share it, interact with it, review it, talk about it from time to time, and actively hit a few buttons to support it here and there when asked. It really does make a big difference. 


We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.



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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Fellow of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger


  • Braine, T. (2021). Study finds correlation between high-fat Western diet and pain. Seattle Times.
  • He Y, G. X., May BH, (2019). “Clinical Evidence for Association of Acupuncture and Acupressure With Improved Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” JAMA Oncol 6(2): 271-278.
  • Trinh K, G. N., Irnich D, Cameron ID, Forget M (2016). “Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016,.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 5.


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