How Acupuncture Can Help With Insomnia

Acupuncture and Insomnia

Each night millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. For some this is only a fleeting problem. But for others, insomnia can become a severe, ongoing struggle with a devastating impact on everyday life.

How common is insomnia among adults?

Here are the numbers:
• 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia.
• 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months.
• 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.

Chronic insomnia robs your body and mind of essential downtime to “rest and digest.” It can increase your risk of depression and high blood pressure and can lower your quality of life.

Common symptoms of insomnia include:
• Fatigue
• Inability to focus or concentrate
• Poor memory
• Mood disturbance
• Daytime sleepiness
• Low motivation or energy
• Increased errors or accidents

Insomnia also can keep you from performing your best at school or work. One study estimated that an employee with insomnia loses approximately eight days of work performance each year. For the entire U.S. workforce, this adds up to an estimated $63 billion in lost work performance due to insomnia each year.[1]

How do we view “insomnia” in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?

An old Chinese quote says that “replenishing health with medicine is not as good as replenishing health with diet, but that replenishing health with sleep is the best treatment of all”[2]. In China, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to assist in recovery from insomnia.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pays a lot of attention to sleep issues and differentiates between trouble falling sleep, difficulty staying asleep (“light sleep”), and having dream-disturbed sleep, as each is related to an imbalance in a different organ system.

How can acupuncture help?

When a Chinese Medical practitioner is gathering information to put together a treatment plan, the pattern of the sleep disturbance will be taken into consideration. Treatment may include 1) acupuncture, first and foremost, 2) herbal medicine, 3) nutrition or a combination of any of them.

In Chinese Medical theory, night time is Yin, while daytime is Yang. Similar to the idea of circadian rhythms, TCM also respects the rhythm of our bodies throughout the day and night. The Chinese meridian clock is divided into 2-hour sections, each corresponding to an organ system that is at its strongest and rules over the function of the body during this time.

After conducting a thorough evaluation and a complete health history, an acupuncturist will use the information gathered to create a unique treatment plan to address your individual needs and concerns. Once they have identified which organ system or line of energy has become unbalanced, this helps them to find the “root” of your symptoms to treat you more effectively.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are a safe and natural way to treat your insomnia. Acupuncture, herbs, meditation, dietary changes and gentle movement may be offered to you. These natural therapies support the body by nourishing and re-balancing and have no side effects.

[1] www.sleepeducation.org

[2] Huang Di Neijing — The Yellow Emporer’s Inner Canon

Your Winter Herbal Pharmacy

Ah, winter-time . . .

Here in Cornelius, Winter can be downright “un-wintery.”  We go from a nice, toasty warm indoor heat out into 30-40◦ weather.  Sometimes the winds blow, sometimes it’s rainy.  Sometimes, just when we get used to using indoor heat, the Cornelius area Winter decides to let the sun shine and the temperatures to turn into Spring.

How is a body to keep up?  So many of us end up with colds, flu, sinus infections and the like.  This is one area where Chinese Medicine excels.  Herbal medicine and acupuncture can help the body adapt to the frequent weather changes, maintain healthy immunity, and even speed up the recovery process once you are sick.

Here are a few Herbal formulas, and a general description of what they do.  But remember to consult with your Licensed Acupuncturist to decide which are best for you!

Gan Mao Ling – This can be taken, preventatively for the common cold and the flu.

Jade Windscreen – If you’re susceptible to catching cold, this is a “go to” formula.  It is beneficial for immunity, but can also be used for an acute or sudden onset.

Jade Screen & Xanthium – This formula adds certain herbs to help combat sinus symptoms such as allergic rhinitis and sinusitis.  It’s a great allergy formula for people with hypertension that can’t tolerate some of the “over the counter” pharmaceutical decongestants.

Viola clear fire – This formula contains herbs found to be especially effective against respiratory infections.  Many of these herbs inhibit viruses, bacteria, and even fungi.

Acupuncture for Winter Health and Wellness

Why wait until you are sniffling, sneezing or coughing?  You can easily PREVENT the common cold using acupuncture to head it off at the pass!

Our bodies don’t always adapt well to sudden fluctuations in temperature, and we are traditionally more vulnerable to catching colds during change of season. This, combined with the busyness and stress of the holiday season, calls for some extra help to boost the immune system. Acupuncture is the best way available to do this as it naturally drives up function in your body.

Using acupuncture for wellness and prevention is like going to the gym or to a fitness class:  the needles help to condition your body to run more efficiently. We all know that doing 1 workout or 1 acupuncture treatment, will not change much of anything, however, a steady routine of wellness or maintenance treatments, repeated over time, will keep you in a state of optimal health.

If you take the time and energy to give this gift to your body, it will pay off in ways you cannot imagine. You will be able to stay well when everyone else around you is getting sick.

And if you do happen to get caught off guard and the cold sets in, we can also help you to move it through and out of your system FASTER, using our medicine.

This Winter, let acupuncture help you to stay balanced and feel good!

Winter Wonderland & Chinese Medicine

Winter is a time when things stay inside, hibernate, regroup, and get ready for the start of a new year and a new period of growth.  Chinese medicine describes the Winter in much the same way.  However, there are some fascinating things we can learn from this perspective.

We all know someone who catches the cold or flu during this season.  We’re used to hearing about viruses and bacteria.  Chinese medicine describes “catching” illness in a little different way.  During the winter, wear that scarf and turn up that collar.  There is a set of acupuncture points called “wind pool” or “wind gate” at the back of the neck and base of the skull that is particularly susceptible to what we call a “wind invasion.” In other words, the wind carries the cold and/or damp from the weather.  And if our defenses are down, we might “catch” the cold at these points.

The Winter is associated with the “Water” systems of Chinese medicine.  These include the functional aspects of both the Kidneys and the Bladder.  Makes sense, right?  Would you want water that needs to keep moving getting cold or frozen?  Of course not!  So, when it’s too cold outside, we need to avoid foods like ice-cream, cold or iced drinks and cold foods.  What’s better on a cold day than tea, a warm bowl of soup, or foods that warm our middle?  Eating seasonally is less mysterious than you would think.  We don’t eat watermelon and cooling fruits in the winter.  Those are Summer foods, eaten when we need to cool down.  Likewise, there are plenty of hearty, warming foods for the winter.  Onions and string beans are warming.  Spices, such as garlic and ginger are also warming.  Most animal proteins are warming.  While tofu is neutral, you can actually alter the temperature of certain foods by the cooking method you choose.  For example, Deep frying creates dampness, while flash-frying or cooking in a wok actually creates warmth without the dampness we’d be better off without.  What’s so bad about dampness?  Nothing in and of itself.  However, if your internal body environment is too damp, and if the outside environment is too damp, you’ll probably start getting some symptoms.  For example, sore knees and sore backs are common during the winter, especially if we’re not mindful of keeping a balance with our internal environment.   Remember, we said that the Chinese Medical view of Winter included the “Water” organs of the Kidney and the Bladder.  Well, it just so happens that the Kidney system governs the knees and the lower back.

So, get yourself in to your Acupuncturist for more information on how to stay well, in balance with the season, and with a strong immunity to ward off any bugs out there!  And Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!