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Acupuncture and the Journey to Motherhood

When it comes to the “journey of motherhood”, balancing yin and the yang becomes even more important. No matter what issues and history you may have — painful, irregular, absent or heavy menstrual cycle; PCOS — or if you want to increase your chances of conceiving, and/or keep yourself and baby healthy through pregnancy, labor and delivery — acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help tremendously.

Many of the acupuncture points used for the above issues are the same or used in different combinations depending upon our Chinese diagnosis and the desired outcome. Each acupuncture point has its action and effects, but when 2 or more are combined, they can have additional actions and effects as well. Points will usually change according to what day of your cycle you are on when you come in for a treatment.

Regular weekly acupuncture treatments can regulate, jumpstart or even stop your menstrual cycles. This process can take up to 3 monthly cycles or more, depending on a number of different factors such as your age and your menstrual history. The needles serve to increase blood and fluid flow in the body, breaking up any energetic “blockages” or nourishing any areas that are lacking blood and fluids. Of course, this also alleviates any PMS symptoms as well.

Though we may talk with patients about these various western “conditions” or symptoms, we don’t look at them in the same way as your western doctor. Remember, we are considering  the “whole” picture of who you are — mind, body and spirit. We always remind you — your body is malfunctioning and that this didn’t happen overnight — it took some time for the symptoms and effects to manifest and it will take time to set everything back on course.

Ideally, a normal menstrual cycle is 28-30 days with a 4-5 day medium flow of red blood that is not too dark and not too light, and devoid of clots. This is what we strive to help your body come back to — this is “balanced” in the Chinese way of looking at menses.  It’s necessary to get as close to these parameters as possible when trying to get pregnant.  The more “routine” and regular your cycle is, the easier it will be to help you facilitate conception, whether naturally or through IUI or IVF.

Once you are pregnant, regular acupuncture treatments for “mom and baby wellness” can help you stay on track and feeling good throughout your 39 weeks.  They can also help to condition your body, preparing you for the “marathon” of labor and delivery.

And one last note regarding pregnancy: remember the 4th trimester! Just because the baby has been delivered and is physically outside of you, doesn’t mean that the work is over!  It’s just changed gears, so to speak. Acupuncture is very helpful for keeping hormones regulated as they return to pre-conception levels and decreasing any feelings of depression. And now Mom has her baby who needs her for breast milk. Acupuncture can increase, decrease or stop lactation, depending on what you and baby are needing.

Yin-Yang Balancing for Optimal Health

The Chinese symbol for yin and yang has been around for many centuries and is widely recognized throughout the world. The meaning behind “yin” and “yang” however and what the symbol depicts are not as clearly understood. Since our medicine is in large part based on the principles of yin and yang, here’s a bit more information for you:

The white portion of the symbol represents Yang energy. Yang is traditionally associated with light, sun, male energy, activity/productivity, heat, and moving forward and out in the world. Yin is traditionally associated with dark, moon, female energy, rest and hibernating, cool/cold and receptivity/inward focus and passive energy.

Since we’re focusing on motherhood this month, think of the “yin” as being the 9 months of pregnancy — carrying the baby and having it grow inside of the womb, in darkness; and the “yang” is the act of labor and delivery — the dramatic and energetic pushing of the baby out into the world, into the light. You need both the yin and yang phases to give birth to a healthy baby. The same principle can be applied to any life process and any healing journey.

No matter your gender, you have yin and yang energies in your body.  When we talk about “balance” in Chinese medicine, these are the energies we are working with.  If you have too much heat or yang rising up to your head, that may be the cause of a migraine, for instance. We need to cool the heat (calm the excess yang) and bring it back down. At the same time, we don’t want to put out the fire all together — we need that yang energy; it just needs to be in check and not flaring up and out of control.  An over-abundance of yin energy on the other hand would present as cool or cold in the body — we need to warm the channel and organ associated with the root issue.

The needles can serve to nourish the deficiency and calm the excess energy. This is a very simplified version of how we are able to help your body to come back into balance — and this is what drives up the cellular function and heals at the root level.

In the visual symbol of the Yin and Yang, you notice that the white and black are separate but connected in a circle; the white part always has a black dot in it and likewise, the black portion always has a white dot. This illustrates how the opposites need each other to be fully functioning and whole — and how even the yang has a little bit of yin and the yin has a little bit of yang. The two energies are interdependent.

Acupuncture for Hay Fever and Allergies

Every year it’s the same thing; your eyes get red and itchy; your sinuses begin to fill up. You feel like you’re swimming in your own head. It’s hard to think. Sleeping is harder. You roll to one side and your sinuses drain or clog. You roll over. Ugh! And you can stand it any longer, so you reach for the Allegra or the Claritin, but is there a better choice?

There are a lot of options available to you through Western medicine. You can receive allergy shots, prescription medications or over the counter medicines, but all of these just treat the symptoms of allergies and hay fever. So, what can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine do that’s different or more effective?

For one thing, Acupuncture can provide more than just symptomatic relief. Acupuncture is about driving up function in the body. That means:

A) If some system is not properly functioning, it either needs to work harder, or perhaps it’s over-reacting to something (like an allergen) that it shouldn’t react to.
B) If we improve or balance function, your body won’t need to trigger the alarm and react.

We’ve all heard the word “anti-histamine,” but what does that mean? A “histamine” is your body’s natural “alarm bell.” Most of the over-the-counter medications contain an anti-histamine. But if a histamine response is a natural part of the body’s defense system, do you really want to stop it?

According to a CNN Article, citing a scientific study:
“After two months, the researchers asked the patients about their symptoms and how much medication they used. The participants who received the real acupuncture treatments with their antihistamines showed a greater improvement in their allergy symptoms and less use of antihistamines compared to the other groups.”

To summarize: Most common medications for allergies/hay fever treat the alarm bell (histamine response). This is what causes the red, itchy eyes and runny nose. Allergy shots work to build a tolerance to the body’s over-reaction to a natural substance. Chinese medicine works to boost or balance the REASON or root cause of why the body is reacting to these natural substances. In other words, acupuncture and herbal medicine work together to create a healthy immune system; one that reacts to a true threat as opposed to pollen or dust.

Chinese Herbal Remedies for Allergy Season

Acupuncture is always your best “first line of defense” when it comes to allergies, but luckily, we also have herbal remedies that can boost and prolong your relief.

There are 2 “go to” remedies for seasonal allergies and many of you may already have a bottle of these tablets in your “home herbal pharmacy”: Jade Screen & Xanthium or Jade Windscreen.

Jade Screen & Xanthium is traditionally used when you have a runny nose, post-nasal drip, sneezing, itchy eyes etc. The herbs in this formula tend to dry dampness and phlegm, but if you don’t have any nasal discharge and are just experiencing congestion/sinus pressure, Jade Windscreen may be a better solution for you. Both remedies serve to boost your body’s immune system which lessens your level of reactivity to these natural allergens.

At Best Acupuncture, we carry Golden Flower herbal formulas in tablet and liquid form. This company uses the highest quality raw materials, without the impurities, adulterants, or questionable ingredients found in some other prepared formulas. Their products exceed current international GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards.

Please remember to schedule an Herbal Consult with your acupuncturist before purchasing any herbs as they can steer you towards the most effective formula for your situation. And if you are feeling those allergy symptoms coming on, make sure you call the office to get on the schedule sooner rather than later!

Arthritis

The word “arthritis” comes from the Latin root for “joint” (arthro) and the Latin/Greek root for “inflammation” (itis) and it can be used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in any joint. The standard, Western medical definition is:

Acute or chronic inflammation of a joint, often accompanied by pain and structural changes and having diverse causes, as infection, crystal deposition, or injury.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis–which often occurs as we age and is characterized by pain in the fingers, knees and hips–and rheumatoid arthritis, which represents a problem with the body’s defense system and can have an onset in the younger years. People with rheumatoid arthritis often exhibit symmetrical inflammation of the joints, commonly in the hands and feet.

In Chinese Medicine, any kind of pain/inflammation or stiffness is seen as a “blockage” of blood, fluids and/or energy. In the case of the joints and bones, we call this condition “bi syndrome.” In Chinese, “bi” means blockage. This syndrome comes in many different forms — fixed, wandering, painful, hot, damp and cold — depending on how it presents in your body.

Acupuncture can be very effective in treating arthritis. It helps increase the flow of blood, fluids and energy in the joints, decreasing stiffness and facilitating movement of the joints. And because it encourages movement, it relieves pain in the process.

Don’t let arthritis prevent you from doing the things you love. Give us a call and make an appointment to get started on your path to relief.

Injury prevention and treatment with Chinese Medicine

As we “leap” into Spring, let’s focus on exercise related injuries and pain. We tend to think that pain is a direct result of something, such as a wrong turn, distributing weight the wrong way, etc. In the case of an exercise related injury, our own joints are in danger if the conditions are wrong. Can you imagine how much more susceptible we would be to exercise related injury if that fluid was dried up? Or how about if our muscles, tendons and ligaments were less pliable and supple. You stretch and you stretch and you stretch, and you still have areas that are too tight.

Do you think these malfunctions (bad functions) might lead to dysfunction (wrong function) making you MORE susceptible to injury?

Simply put, yes! So, acupuncture, by driving up function of the organs and circulation can better protect your body and promote healthy movement.

For the same reasons, acupuncture can also work preventatively, boosting function to help you avoid injury. Ideally, if you are active or involved in sports, it should be part of any exercise or training regimen.

Should you end up with an injury, acupuncture can promote healing in the body after an injury. And for those wishing to become active, acupuncture can be a fantastic way to build you up to safely tolerate the new challenges ahead!

Think of yourself as an elite athlete. Ok, so very few people fall into this category. But pretend, okay? What do athletes do to perform better? They eat differently to counter the demands of their activity. They probably have a support staff of trainers and medical professionals in order to advance themselves. So can you! We are here to help with whatever athletic challenges you are beginning or continuing.

Ultimately, acupuncture is sort of like having money in savings. If you get an extra-large power bill and you have money in your savings to cover it, it’s no big deal. Acupuncture builds function and reserves. It’s like money in the bank for preventing injury and illness.

Chinese Medicine in Motion

What if I told you that the healthy functioning of your muscle cells requires oxygen and nutrients in and waste products out; Do you think that’s the Western or the Chinese Medicine approach?

What if I told you the answer is “both?” Cells are the cells. They all require the same things. But Chinese Medicine, because it aims to drive up function, approaches the requirements of the cells a little differently.

Chinese medicine believes that function can be improved by enhancing and balancing organ function as well as the circulation of blood and fluids. If everything is running as it should, you only need to start the car periodically to keep the battery charged, the oil circulating, and the tire pressure even. But if your automobile is already in disrepair, simple maintenance won’t do the trick.

In Chinese medicine, one of the “treasures” of health is Acupuncture. Movement is another key component of the medicine. Exactly as in nature, movement equals life.

Take Tai Chi, for example. This is not simply a dance, moving meditation, or a martial art. Tai Chi is “moving medicine.” Conceptually, it’s a similar situation with yoga. Tai Chi loosely translates as “supreme ultimate.” Sounds pretty good, right? In martial arts, it’s called Tai Chi Chuan, which means “supreme ultimate boxing.” As a form of medicine, it draws your attention to breathing methods and aligned movements clinically shown to better oxygenate the blood, improve circulation, balance and digestion.

Imagine that aligning the body, and focusing on breath and visualizing it moving the energy could improve the circulation. We can physically unblock the “kink in the hose.” While there are many other health benefits (bone density, balance, etc.) this form of medicine can be practiced by young and old, men and women of any size, age or fitness level.

At Best Acupuncture, we recognize the “8 treasures” of Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is but one treasure. With the coming of Spring, consider making sure both your yin and your yang, your internal and external, your movement and your breath are aligned in ways to drive up function, promote health, and get you ready for the growth to come!

The Role of the Heart in Chinese Medicine

In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, we will be focusing on the Heart as viewed from a Chinese Medical perspective.

The Heart is not just the anatomical organ that we usually think of, but rather it’s seen as a “channel” of energy, running from the axilla (armpit) of each arm, down the inside of the arm and wrist, running through the palm and ending at the inside of the pinky fingernail.

In the Chinese Medicine view, the heart is so much more than just a muscular pump for our blood. In fact, when heart and mind are troubled and not functioning properly, we believe this to be a possible root cause of mental/emotional upsets such as anxiety or depression.  You may also experience palpitations, have trouble sleeping and possibly uncontrolled sweating, as in the case of menopausal hot flashes and nightsweats.  Your facial color and the color of your tongue can also give your Acupuncturist more clues as to how well your heart is functioning and how well energy and blood are moving through the heart channel.

A calm mind and heart are essential for a healthy, happy life, and will benefit not only you, but the ones you love.  Consider giving someone you love the gift of Acupuncture for Valentine’s Day!

Hypertension and Acupuncture

Hypertension is the Western medical term for “high blood pressure”. It is a very common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough to eventually cause heart disease and other health problems.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries become, the higher your blood pressure.

You can have hypertension for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected with specific tests. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. [1]

Whether you are already aware you have heart disease or another medical/physical issue or not, Acupuncture and herbal remedies can help you to increase blood flow, clear out arteries and keep them in good shape. Because our medicine also calms the mind, this directly affects your heart rate and blood pressure.

At Best Acupuncture, we specialize in driving up the function in your body. We strive to work with you and your body to keep you functioning at an optimal level. Our medicine, ideally, is preventative and essential — just like taking a small dose of aspirin to keep your blood from clotting.

If you are concerned about your heart health, have a history of Hypertension in your family tree or have other related medical issues such as diabetes, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by coming in for regular Acupuncture treatments.

Give yourself a gift of love this Valentine’s month and start treatments NOW, to prevent heart disease or help heal your heart.

[1] Mayoclinic.org — Hypertension web article

Diabetes and Weight Loss in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, Diabetes is called Xiao Ke, or “thirsting and wasting” disorder.  If you or a loved one has diabetes, you’ll recognize the excessive thirst and weight loss that may accompany the onset.  Diabetes describes both a functional and a structural disorder, from a Chinese Medical perspective.  In type I (auto-immune) diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreatic Beta cells that make insulin.  In type II, the body doesn’t know how to effectively utilize the insulin it does make.

Insulin is a hormone that mobilizes fat and, allows the sugars (carbs) we eat to bind to spots on the muscle cell walls that provide energy (fuel).  Acupuncture is functional medicine.  If we drive up function to the Spleen (which includes pancreatic function), we can help your body work more effectively.  This is key for both types of diabetes.  Further, since insulin causes inflammation in the body (tied with most of the long term effects of the disease), Acupuncture can help the body manage this process.

Do you have a new goal for a new YOU in the new year?  Acupuncture can work with you to help your body take full advantage of your changes, efforts and exercise.  Call one of the trained and Licensed Acupuncturists at Best Acupuncture to find out how we can help.