IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disorder in which the intestines lose their ability to efficiently move their contents. The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Less common symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Symptoms may be triggered by stress, diet, emotional factors, hormone levels and medications.

Let’s talk acupuncture

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can offer a safe, effective, natural and drug-free way to address IBS. This holistic healthcare system looks at the body differently than Western medicine. According to Chinese medicine, the body is like a garden that must be cultivated and maintained in order to grow strong and remain healthy. Good health happens when all of the organs and meridian systems are balanced and working together.

How does your garden grow?

According to Chinese medical theories, there are several possible causes for IBS.

One of these is an imbalance of the spleen. The spleen is the organ in charge of digestion and assimilation of foods and liquids. One of the main functions of the spleen is to aid in the production of spleen Qi. Spleen Qi is the energy that provides power and nourishment for the entire body.

Another function of the spleen is to produce blood from the food it breaks down and to convert it into usable energy to power your body. If your spleen isn’t properly cared for, the body’s energy levels will not be supported and illness may occur.

The spleen is easily affected and weakened by poor eating habits and diet, antibiotics, excessive worry, or a weak constitution. When a weakened spleen cannot metabolize or process food efficiently, “dampness” appears in the body. Dampness occurs when rotting, undigested food sits in the gut, causing a variety of symptoms. If dampness “rises” to your head, you may experience headaches, a “foggy” feeling and an inability to concentrate. Over time, dampness can lead to bloating, fullness and loose stools.

Another possible scenario is an imbalance in the liver. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with emotional health. Stress and anger directly influence the function of your liver. Alcohol, drugs and medications, or a poor diet further compromise its function. When this happens, your liver energy overflows, in a figurative sense, and attacks the spleen. If your spleen is already weakened, it can be easily overcome. The result can be stress-induced IBS.

If your liver is compromised, you may experience alternating diarrhea and constipation, as well as bloating, gas, headaches, and dull pain. In this case, your liver may be the root of the problem, and your spleen the secondary problem.

An imbalance in kidney Yang could also cause IBS symptoms. kidney Yang is energy that provides warmth for your body. This energy warms up your spleen to aid in the digestion and breakdown of food. If your kidney energies are compromised, you may experience early-morning diarrhea and possibly bladder incontinence, cold limbs, weak knees and a sore back.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can create a clear picture of the root imbalance(s) that lead to IBS symptoms. When you meet with your practitioner, he or she will determine what organ and meridian systems are contributing to your IBS. They may also suggest adjunct therapies such as herbs, dietary changes, breathing techniques and exercises in order to maximize your healing.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to address IBS.

Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more than one in three Americans, but most people may not even know they have it. Since hypertension can lead to heart attacks and other life-threatening health problems, it’s very important to learn all you can and take action to lower your risk.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe, natural, and pain-free way to keep your blood pressure in check.

What is hypertension?

Blood pressure is the actual force of blood flowing against your artery walls. Getting your blood pressure tested is a quick, simple process. It’s measured in two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is considered high if your systolic pressure is at or above 140 mm Hg, and/or your diastolic pressure is at or above 90 mm Hg.

Often called “the silent killer,” hypertension doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it gets severe enough to lead to major health problems such as heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and metabolic disorders. It has also been linked to dementia and cognitive impairment.

Self-care for lowering blood pressure. Consider these self-care techniques:
  • Get daily aerobic exercise.
  • Add Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong to your workout.
  • Meditate or sapend time alone to reduce stress.
  • Practice slow, deep breathing.
    Get plenty of rest.
  • Reduce the amount of fat and salt in your diet and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods.

What causes hypertension?

More than 90% of cases of high blood pressure are known as “essential hypertension” and have no identifiable cause. “Secondary hypertension,” on the other hand, is caused by underlying conditions such as kidney disease or certain medications.

The risk factors for essential hypertension include age (the risk is higher after age 35), race (African Americans are at higher risk), and a family history of the condition. While you can’t control those factors, there are many you can control, including:

  • Being overweight
  • Being stressed
  • Consuming too much salt
  • Drinking heavily
  • Not exercising
  • Using tobacco

How can acupuncture and TCM help?

Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your blood pressure. Typical Western treatments includes controlling your risk factors and taking medication if needed. By incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your treatment plan, you can treat your hypertension and improve your overall health and well-being.

Acupuncture and TCM practitioners take a holistic, or “whole body,” approach for the treatment of hypertension, and take into account inharmonious conditions of the whole system than can involve the function of the liver, kidneys, digestive system and heart.

Treatment is based upon the idea of Qi (pronounced “chee”), the vital energy that flows through pathways called meridians, providing nourishment for all of the body’s organs and protecting it from illness. When the flow of Qi becomes diminished or blocked, disease and illness result.

The goal of treatment is to find and address the underlying imbalance(s) affecting the flow of Qi, leading to the elevated blood pressure and various symptoms. By addressing the root cause of your high blood pressure, TCM can help your body regain its natural balance. In doing so, you’ll also be strengthening your health and reducing the risk of future health conditions.

Acupuncture and TCM have proven effective against a wide variety of health concerns. Studies have found that a special form of acupuncture called electro-acupuncture, which uses electrical stimulation, may be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By working together with your practitioner, you’ll be on your way to successfully treating your hypertension and improving your health, for today and the days ahead. Similar to healthy eating and regular exercise, consistent acupuncture treatments should be considered for the greatest long-term results.

References:
High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association. March 20, 2008. Link
High Blood Pressure. MayoClinic.com. June 5, 2007. Link
Hypertension. Acupuncture.com. Accessed April 20, 2008. Link
Williams T; Mueller K; Cornwall MW. Effect of acupuncture-point stimulation on diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. Physical Therapy. 1991 Jul, 71(7):523-9.
Wood, Shelley. Blood Pressure Changes with Acupuncture Comparable to Those with ACE Inhibitor Monotherapy. Medscape, Medical News. 2007, June, 15.

HIV & AIDS

Living with a positive HIV diagnosis means focusing on your health in a whole new way. Caring for your body’s needs and your emotional well-being is more important than ever, and is the key to living well with this disease.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful allies in staying as healthy as possible and slowing the progression of the disease.

A Western view of HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This virus works by attacking a part of the immune system known as CD4 cells, or T-cells. These white blood cells fight off disease, so if a person’s CD4 count gets too low, the immune system becomes compromised, rendering you susceptible to illness and disease. AIDS, the final stage of HIV, occurs when the body’s immune system becomes so weak and imbalanced that it can no longer fight off illness.

The progression of HIV can take from months to many years, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you are diagnosed. Your medical doctor will work with you to determine the best strategy to slow the progression and relieve your symptoms. This will generally include the use of antiretroviral drugs in various combinations designed to lower the amount of virus in your blood. These are very powerful medications, and they may lead to a wide range of side effects, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

These side effects can have a major impact on the quality of life, especially when combined with some of the more common symptoms of the virus itself, such as:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Night sweats
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Acupuncture can be used as an effective adjunct therapy to help support you and your immune system while receiving traditional Western medicine treatment.

A whole-person approach

It makes sense that acupuncture and TCM are one of the most commonly used complementary therapies for HIV. Practiced for thousands of years, TCM is a complete medical system known to be especially effective in supporting the immune system, strengthening the body, as well as calming the mind and spirit.

TCM tells us that Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. When a powerful external invader such as HIV attacks the body, it causes a severe disharmony and imbalance of Qi. Incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your healing process, can serve to address various signs and symptoms associated with the virus and the side-effects of HIV “cocktail” medications.

Your practitioner will work to restore the natural harmony and strengthen your body. Acupuncture and TCM offer a holistic, or whole-body, approach to care. This means that your mind, body, and spirit will all be taken into account, not just your symptoms. Practitioners understand that your emotional state is tied to your health, and that it’s critical to tackle the stress, anxiety, and depression that can accompany a diagnosis of HIV.

In addition to acupuncture, your treatment may include the use of herbal remedies. It’s important to discuss these with all of your medical care providers in order to prevent any potential interactions. Other therapies your practitioner may recommend include diet and nutrition counseling, exercise programs and stress relief techniques to support your mind, body, and spirit.

During this challenging time, it’s important to take as much control as you can over your health. By working with a team of medical care providers and incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your treatment, you’ll be taking an important step toward regaining balance and living your healthiest possible life.

References:
HIV & AIDS Guide. WebMD. Accessed Feb. 15, 2008. Link
HIV/AIDS. MayoClinic.com. January 30, 2008. Link
Ruth Cohen, Misha. HIV Wellness: Living well with HIV. Link
Webber, Eleanor. Acupuncture and HIV: The ‘New’ Weapon in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS. Acufinder Magazine: Summer 2007. AcuFinder.com. Link

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects about 3-6% of the world’s population, an estimated 200-400 million people worldwide, with higher numbers among women than men.1 People diagnosed with fibromyalgia experience a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, pain, stiffness, aches and muscle tenderness, along with sleep disorders and intestinal and bowel troubles.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be confirmed when eleven out of eighteen specific points on the body are tender to pressure. Interestingly, some of these tender points closely correspond to the location of ancient acupuncture points.2

How acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help.

According to
the theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, an imbalance in the flow of Qi can create symptoms and signs that reflect a Western diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called meridians,
and provides nourishment
for the entire body.

When Qi is abundant and freely circulating throughout the body, there is health and pain-free living. When Qi becomes “blocked,” or the supply is inadequate, pain, stiffness
and other symptoms related to fibromyalgia can appear.

What does an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will take a complete health history in order to find out where Qi has become blocked, and/or why the amount of Qi within the body has changed. He or she will then develop a treatment plan tailored to address the meridian pathways that are out of balance. The goal of such a plan will be to eliminate visible symptoms, while addressing the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances.

What is out-of-balance?

The body constantly strives to maintain a healthy balance of Qi traveling through the meridian pathways. When the flow of Qi has been disrupted, or the supply of Qi has changed, the body becomes unbalanced and the meridians cannot properly nourish the body. This is when signs and symptoms appear.

Most cases of fibromyalgia fit into the Chinese diagnosis of a Liver, Spleen, and/or Heart disharmony. This does not mean that these organs have a problem, it means that the functions of these organ/meridian pathways according to Chinese medical diagnosis are out of balance.

Liver. The functions related to the Liver organ, according to Chinese medicine, are to control the smooth flow of blood, Qi, and emotions and to nourish the tendons. When the Liver meridian becomes blocked there will be an inadequate supply of blood and Qi flowing throughout the body. The tendons and muscles will not be properly nourished, leading to stiffness and pain. Other symptoms of a blocked Liver are depression, anger, anxiety, and insomnia. A Liver imbalance may be caused by improper diet, stress, deep, unexpressed anger, drugs, and alcohol.

Spleen. The Chinese function of the Spleen is to transform the food that we ingest into Qi and blood. The health of the Spleen is affected by diet, over-concentration, and worry. An unbalanced Spleen can result in fatigue, digestive troubles, muscle stiffness, and pain.

Heart. When there is an insufficient amount of Qi and blood produced by the Spleen, the Heart organ will be affected. The role of the Heart is to pump blood throughout the body. It is also considered to be the home of the Spirit. If the Spleen cannot generate enough blood to nourish the Heart, the Heart Qi does not have enough control to properly house the Spirit. Symptoms can include anxiety, palpitations, insomnia, and emotional unrest.

A study conducted in 2010, suggests that acupuncture treatment is effective in relieving pain and improving quality of life for fibromyalgia patients.3 Not only can Acupuncture treat the pain and discomfort, but it can also address the underlying problems that have caused the imbalance.
In other research, subjects who received acupuncture experienced an overall improvement in fatigue, anxiety and the hypersensitivity associated with fibromyalgia.4

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe alternative in
the effective treatment of fibromyalgia. Along with acupuncture, natural herbal formulas, dietary recommendations and calming exercises can also help promote balance and health.

References

  1. National Fibromyalgia Association.
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia-symptoms/AR00054.
  3. Itoh K, Kitakoji H. Effects of acupuncture to treat fibromyalgia: A preliminary randomised controlled trial. Chinese Medicine Journal. 2010, 5(1):11.
  4. Sletten, C., Berger, I., et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings Report, June 2006.

Fertility

The treatment of infertility with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back 2,000 years. These ancient, time-tested techniques improve fertility rates and support a woman’s whole body, unlocking unlimited potential for health, healing and childbearing.

Studies reported by The American Pregnancy Association suggest that the most effective fertility treatments involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional medical interventions. However, conception does sometimes occur without traditional medical interventions when acupuncture and herbal medicines are used alone.1

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York reviewed recent studies and concluded that acupuncture helps to:

  • Increase blood flow to the uterus, which improves the chances of an ovum implanting on the uterine wall.
  • Reduce anxiety and stress. The hormones that are secreted during stressful situations can significantly decrease fertility.
  • Normalize hormone and endocrine systems that regulate ovulation, especially in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
  • Positively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which plays a key role in fertility.
  • Regulate menstrual cycle.2

In a 2007 study, researchers found that acupuncture may improve the quality of life in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). It was also found that women receiving acupuncture reported significantly
less abdominal pain, other pain, nausea, and stress two hours after
oocyte aspiration (egg collection) compared to women receiving conventional analgesia.3

In 2008, the British Medical Journal published research which
concluded that acupuncture can be offered as a significant, clinically relevant adjunct to IVF, relaxing the uterus and increasing blood flow
for the successful implantation of an embryo within the uterine lining.4

An acupuncturist’s approach to fertility.

According to the theories of acupuncture and TCM, infertility is caused by an imbalance of Qi (pronounced “chee”) and blood affecting the healthy functioning of one or more of the organ systems. When Qi, also known as our vital energy, and blood are circulating freely throughout the body, every cell, tissue and organ is properly nourished and can function well. Acupuncture and TCM can raise the fertility potential of women by effecting the quality, quantity, balance and flow of Qi and blood (keep in mind that the organs described reflect Chinese medical theories and philosophies).

Kidney Organ System. The release of an ovum is controlled by the kidneys. The kidneys also create a substance called Jing Qi, which is required in order to have a healthy body, mind, and pregnancy. If an imbalance exists within the kidneys, Jing Qi may be inadequate in supply and may be a cause for infertility. Chinese herbal medicine, along with acupuncture, can nourish and support Jing Qi and overall kidney health.

Spleen Organ System. An adequate supply of blood is required by a woman’s body to sustain a normal menstrual cycle, a growing fetus, and a healthy pregnancy. Disharmony within the spleen can result in an inadequate supply and imbalance of blood. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can build and nourish blood in order to promote a healthy flow
of blood to the uterus.

Liver Organ System. In order to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy, it is important to have a free flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. The liver is in charge of facilitating this function. When it is out of balance, areas of the body will not receive the required supply of Qi and blood. This imbalance can lead to depression, anxiety, stress and increased possibility of infertility.

Acupuncture and TCM provide a safe, effective, drug-free, and natural approach to treating infertility and enjoying a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few reasons to try acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine:

  • An acupuncturist does not treat just symptoms and signs, but instead activates the body’s natural healing potential by treating
    the root causes that have lead to the problem or disease.
  • Acupuncture and TCM are completely natural. No drugs are ever used. Invasive procedures and drug therapies that are used in the Western treatment of infertility can cause undesirable side effects and accumulated toxicity in the body.
  • Acupuncture and TCM can be used to strengthen, support, and balance overall health and well-being, therefore can increase the effectiveness of other procedures.
Also consider acupuncture during your pregnancy and birth. According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture has been found useful for relieving labor pain, nausea, vomiting, and significantly reducing the duration of labor. There is also strong evidence that acupuncture can help with a breech birth.5,6
  1. American Pregnancy Association. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/acupuncture.htm.
  2. Five ways acupuncture can boost fertility. Prevention.com. 2002.
  3. Alternative Therapies, May/June 2007, Vol. 13 No.3.
  4. Manheimer, E., et. al. Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. February 2008;336:545-549.
  5. World Health Organization. www.who.int/medicines.
  6. A Manual of Acupuncture. Deadman P. & Mazin Al-Khafaji. Eastland Press, 2007. Page 326.

Facial Rejuvination

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can provide a safe, effective, natural, and drug-free approach to reducing the signs of aging. A facial rejuvenation using this ancient technique can improve muscle tone of the face and neck while addressing underlying imbalances that may have contributed to the aging process.

Why does skin sag?

According to TCM, wrinkles begin internally from a constitutional imbalance and fundamental weakness of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi circulates throughout the body within a series of pathways called meridians. Flowing through these pathways, Qi provides nourishment, support, and energy to every cell, tissue, muscle, and organ.

As we get older it becomes more difficult for Qi to flow upwards to “lift” the face. This leads to inadequate muscle tone, and over time, wrinkles and sagging skin. A variety of factors can contribute to this—poor diet, digestion and circulation, or emotional and environmental stresses.

Give your skin a lift

A facial rejuvenation using acupuncture, tightens pores, improves muscle tone and dermal contraction, while enhancing and increasing the elasticity of the skin. Acupuncture can reduce signs of aging by strengthening and stimulating the circulation of Qi within the meridian pathways, especially those of the face. You will look and feel more energetic, calm, vibrant and healthy.

Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbal supplements, exercise and acupressure in order to maximize results.

Facial rejuvenation with acupuncture and TCM is virtually painless, and a non-surgical method to reduce the signs of aging. Before using drugs or surgery to improve appearance, consider acupuncture. It is an effective, natural, safe, drug free and painless alternative. It helps your whole body to look and feel younger.

Self-care techniques:

1) Herbal poultice—Thoroughly clean face. Make a poultice using equal parts of ground organic almonds, lavender and rose flowers, ground flax seeds, and oats. Add water and French clay, and stir into a thick paste. Apply to the face, avoiding the eyes, and let dry. Wash off after 15-20 minutes.

2) Stay hydrated— drink plenty of fresh spring water. This can keep the muscles and skin hydrated to prevent drying.

3) Gently massage the face.

4) Walk at least 20 minutes a day, and remember to breathe deeply.


Diabetes

Chances are that you or someone you know has been affected by diabetes. It’s an increasingly common condition—one that approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with this year alone. While it is generally a long-term condition, diabetes can be managed through self-care, nutrition, and medication. Another safe, effective approach to managing diabetes and its symptoms is acupuncture. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help promote health and well-being. Both can be used safely along with your current medical treatment to provide the best results for you.

Understanding a complex condition

The body gets its energy from food through the process of digestion. Food is broken down into glucose (or sugar) which passes into the bloodstream. Then the glucose is moved into muscle, fat, and liver cells by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. However, if you have diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin, or doesn’t respond to it properly, and this leads to high levels of sugar in the blood.

Uncontrolled blood-sugar levels can cause serious complications if left untreated, including blindness, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage.

There are two main types of diabetes

Type I diabetes: Usually diagnosed during childhood, type I is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells. Symptoms usually come on suddenly, and treatment includes daily injections of insulin.

Symptoms of Type II Diabetes include:
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing infections
  • Impotence in men

Type II diabetes: This type accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes cases, and is usually diagnosed during adulthood. Major risk factors include family history, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol and being overweight and sedentary.

Since symptoms may be mild, many people don’t know they have diabetes, which is why it’s important to get tested regularly, especially after age 45. Testing can also detect pre-diabetes, where blood sugar is high, but not yet at diabetic levels. With early detection and treatment, it is far easier to stop the disease from progressing, control your symptoms, and prevent complications. Treatments often include regular blood-sugar monitoring and medications to control blood sugar, as well as diet and exercise.

Diabetes according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) goes beyond a simple diagnosis of Type I or Type II diabetes.

Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist may discover and treat.

  • Upper Wasting
  • Middle Wasting
  • Lower Wasting
  • Spleen deficiency
  • Liver Qi Stagnation

A natural approach that works

The good news is that certain types of diabetes respond very well to acupuncture along with other holistic health care choices and lifestyle changes—sometimes even making medications unnecessary.

Acupuncture and TCM can help put you on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Since diabetes has an impact on every part of your body, it makes sense to try a therapy that takes a holistic, or whole-body, approach to health.

According to TCM, Qi (pronounced "chee") is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. Qi flows through pathways called meridians and provides nourishment to all of the body’s organs and glands. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, symptoms associated with diabetes may appear.

According to TCM, diabetes is known as "Xiao Ke" or "wasting and thirsting disease", caused by an imbalance of Qi and Yin. This produces heat which drains and consumes the body’s fluids. That is why symptoms related to heat appear—excessive thirst, irritability, itchy skin, dry mouth and red, swollen gums.

During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted in specific acupuncture points along the meridian pathways in order to restore the flow of Qi and nourish Yin. This can ultimately relieve symptoms, improve pancreatic function and control blood sugar levels. Your acupuncturist will also work to resolve other imbalances or concerns that may be complicating your condition, and can help with common symptoms such as pain.

In addition to acupuncture care, your practitioner may offer recommendations for dietary changes, exercise plans, and herbal remedies.

Acupuncture and TCM address each patient’s individual needs in eliminating symptoms and potentially reduce the need for medication. The best approach to controlling your diabetes is to work with a team of health care providers who can address the many aspects of diabetes. Including an acupuncturist to your team—and working together to manage your diabetes—can have lasting benefits and help you live a healthy, active life.

Choate, C. Diabetes Mellitus From Western and TCM Perspectives. Accessed 2/10/2007.
Diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia. 2/8/2007.
Diabetes Overview and Facts. WebMD. Accessed 6/9/2007.
Treating Diabetes with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Acufinder.com. Accessed 6/4/2007.

Depression

Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide and can be debilitating for those who experience it.1 Prolonged feelings of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness greatly affect the quality of life.

At one time or another, most of us have experienced some form of depression. It is a healthy response to events in our lives that seem overwhelming. When we are balanced, physically and emotionally, we can easily bounce back from a depressed state and move on with our lives. When negative feelings and emotions become persistent and consistent, depression may set in.

A meta-analysis published in Journal of Affective Disorders in 2010 covered 207 clinical studies conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating depressive disorders. According to this, the efficacy of acupuncture was comparable to antidepressants alone in improving clinical response and alleviating symptom severity of Major Depressive Disorder. Additionally, the incidence of side adverse reactions in acupuncture treatment was significantly lower than that
of antidepressants.2

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) incorporate thousands of years of experience in treating depression. Not only can they help to alleviate the signs and symptoms accompanying depression, they can address the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances that have contributed to the problem, safely and naturally.

Acupuncturists are aware of the powerful interplay between our body and emotions, and that the two are inseparable. When we experience emotional upset, our physiological state may become disrupted. Likewise, when we experience physical problems, our emotions can become greatly affected.

Depressed Qi?

Over time, this disruption leads to what an acupuncturist calls “stagnant” or “depressed” Qi, (pronounced “chee”) or vital energy. Qi is a concept unique to the theories and principles of TCM. According to these theories, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness and pain. Qi flows through the body in pathways called meridians. When Qi becomes stagnant or depressed, physical and/or emotional symptoms result. Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM are specifically trained to detect and correct the balance and movement of Qi within the human body. Treatments are focused on balancing and activating the Qi by manipulating corresponding points
on the body.

The stagnant or depressed Qi diagnosis is unique to acupuncture and TCM. Over time, if it is not addressed it can lead to a disharmony
within our body, affecting our physical and emotional well-being.
If not properly treated, this imbalance may lead to depression.

What will an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will take a complete health history in order to find out where, why, and how Qi has become stagnant or depressed. They will develop a unique treatment plan tailored to specific symptoms and signs of each individual.

The goals of such a plan will be to activate the movement of Qi throughout the entire body, as well as to address the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances. By treating the body as a whole and unique organism, your acupuncturist will support you in your recovery from illness and disease, moving you toward health and happiness.

Acupuncture and TCM provide safe, natural, drug-free and effective ways to address depression. The focus is to restore a balanced and continuous flow of Qi throughout the body and mind. Acupuncture
is not a “quick fix.” You may need to receive weeks or months of treatment in order to see lasting results. Give yourself the time
required so that you can experience the maximum benefits
acupuncture and TCM have to offer.

Here are some tips to help combat depressive symptoms:

  • Surround yourself with people whom you trust to provide
    objective and unbiased input and insight. Develop a supportive
    group of friends, loved ones, family and co-workers who can
    lend an ear and listen to you.
  • Breathe, go slow, and think things through. Do not make too
    many life changes all at once. A few at a time will support you
    and not overwhelm your emotions.
  • Try to get at least twenty minutes of simple exercise at least three days per week, if not more. Take a daily walk, breathe
    deeply and let it all go.
  • Remember, you are not alone. Others are having similar experiences.
  • Smile.


References:

1 “Depression.” World Health Organization. 7 March 2011. ‹http://www.who.int/›.

2 “The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis.” Zhang-Jin Zhang, Hai-Yong Chen, Ka-chee Yip, Roger Ng, Vivian Taam Wong Journal of Affective Disorders – July 2010 (Vol. 124, Issue 1, Pages 9-21).

Colds & Flu

Each year, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized due to complications from the flu virus. Unfortunately, most of us get the “flu,” or “influenza,” virus at least once in our lifetime. The associated symptoms and signs are all-too-common: fever, sore throat, congestion, fatigue, muscle and body aches, runny nose, dry cough, sneezing and watery eyes.

Colds are much less severe than the flu, but like the flu, viruses and germs cause colds. Colds cause less severe symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and light headaches. Though it may make you feel lousy, getting a cold is not always a bad thing. Instead, it’s a sign that the body’s resources are strong and vital, working to return you to a state of good health. However, if your immune system is already compromised, a cold could further weaken your body, leaving you open to a more serious illness.

The flu, you, and Chinese medicine

Clinical studies have suggested that using acupuncture as a preventative approach to colds and flu can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of the illness. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by rebalancing the body’s systems, regulating the body’s healing energies and enhancing the immune system.

Even though germs, bacteria, and viruses are everywhere—in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink—according to Chinese medical theory, they do not cause disease. Illness occurs when certain organ systems are weak and out of balance. When our bodies are in a weakened and unbalanced state, a hospitable environment is created for germs, bacteria and viruses to thrive, leading to a cold or the flu.

One of the main theories supporting acupuncture and its treatment of colds and the flu is the concept of Wei Qi.

What in the world is Wei Qi?

The concept of Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system. Wei Qi functions as a barrier protecting and defending the body against foreign substances, which can cause illness and disease. When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we remain healthy. When the supply of Wei Qi becomes inadequate, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to outside invaders.

Tips for Staying Healthy:
  • Consume 8-10 glasses of filtered water daily
  • Exercise regularly to support the immune system
  • Eat a healthy, organic diet, including foods with beta carotene (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, garlic and tomatoes)
  • Limit sugar intake. Sugar taxes the immune system, especially when feeling under the weather
  • Take Vitamin C and herbs to support the immune system, especially in the “cold and flu” season
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Enjoy fun and relaxing activities
  • Stimulate specific acupuncture points that support Wei Qi
  • Schedule regular acupuncture treatments to support the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems

Throughout our lives, a variety of factors affect our health and well-being. Although most of the time we recover quickly and regain our health, when these factors are numerous, our internal mechanisms become compromised and weakened, our Wei Qi becomes depleted, and we get sick. By the time illness occurs, the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems have already been affected.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in the production of Wei Qi, and can help rebalance and support the immune system and stimulate Wei Qi energy. By building up the supply of Wei Qi, and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it throughout the body, the body’s organs and meridian systems become strong, enhancing their ability to effectively fight off illness and disease.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are drug free, safe, natural and effective ways to support the body’s self-regulating, self-balancing and healing systems. If illness does occur, acupuncture can help you get back on your feet again, helping to stave off prolonged illness without the use of medication and over-the-counter drugs.

References:

Treatment of fever due to exopathic wind-cold by rapid acupuncture. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1992 Dec;12 (4):267-71.

Preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the common cold: a multicentre randomized controlled trial in Japan. Complementary Therapeutic Medicine. 2004 Dec;12 (4):181-8.

Carpal Tunnel

Do you experience tingling in your hand or fingers? Pain that radiates from your wrist to your shoulder? Maybe even difficulty holding small objects? If so, you could be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), an uncomfortable and sometimes disabling condition that affects up to five million Americans.

The good news is that lifestyle changes can relieve symptoms, and there are many treatments available to help. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can effectively treat CTS without side effects or harmful medications.

What is CTS?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that protects the median nerve which innervates the hand as well as tendons that control the fingers. This nerve controls sensation and muscle movements in the hand. If the carpal tunnel becomes narrowed from swelling or injury, the nerve is compressed and impinged. This can cause numbness, pain, and severe weakness in the hands.

There are several causes of CTS, but the main culprit is repetitive flexion and extension of the tendons in the hands and wrists, especially when performed for long periods, leading to Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).

Symptoms usually start with dull wrist pain that gradually worsens. Other symptoms may include:

  • Loss of feeling in the fingers
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the fingers or hand
  • Pain extending from the wrist up the arm to the shoulder or down into the palm or fingers
  • Weakness in the hands and difficulty holding objects

How can acupuncture help?

Typically, treatment for CTS is based on how severe the symptoms are, and may include immobilizing the wrist and hand, using anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids to reduce swelling, and surgery in severe cases. Acupuncture and TCM can safely be used in conjunction with Western treatments to relieve CTS symptoms.

Self-care for a pain-free life

Actively taking part in your treatment is key. Consider these self-care techniques:

  • Take plenty of breaks during the day, especially if you perform repetitive tasks.
  • Try yoga to increase your flexibility and strength.
  • Remember to gently stretch your hands, arms, and shoulders throughout the day.
  • If you work at a computer, consult an ergonomics specialist to ensure that your workstation is set up properly.
  • Ask your practitioner about supplements such as B2, B6, and Omega-3 fatty acids for reducing numbness and inflammation.

Studies suggest that acupuncture can both reduce swelling of soft tissue and stimulate production of cortisol, a hormone that reduces inflammation. Since CTS is caused by the swelling of the soft tissue that leads to inflammation of the carpal tunnel, acupuncture can be effective in treating CTS. In addition to improving your CTS, treatment may also improve other symptoms often associated with this condition such as headaches, neck pain, and shoulder stiffness. More importantly, acupuncture and TCM can help relieve the emotional stress of living with this painful condition.

Your practitioner will create a unique, personalized treatment plan designed to address your body’s imbalances. During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific acupoints along the meridians in order to support and strengthen your body and eliminate pain.

Your practitioner may also recommend herbal remedies, vitamin supplements, massage, and stretching as part of your treatment.

Acupuncture and TCM offer a safe, pain-free, natural way to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. With proper care, you can recover from CTS. As you continue with treatment, you may even find that your overall health and well being improve along with your symptoms.

References:
Carpal tunnel syndrome. Mayo Clinic. Feb. 21, 2007. Link
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Nov. 2002. Link
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. American Physical Therapy Association. Accessed April 20, 2008. Link
Tanaka, Tim H., Ph.D., D.Ac., CST, RMT, BCIAC. TECH PAINS: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Eye for the Future Magazine. 1997.