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.

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.

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.

The Connection Between Digestion and Emotions

You may have heard the expression “your gut is your 2nd brain.” This definitely applies in Chinese Medicine as Spleen and Stomach are not only the primary organs of digestion, but are also closely related to the emotions — worry, anxiety and over-thinking are especially connected to Spleen.

And so it follows that if you are experiencing any of these or other emotional upsets, you probably will also present with an upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation, or gas or bloating. Think of the Stomach as being responsible not only for digesting food and beverages, but also for digesting your emotions and thoughts.  It will keep what feeds your soul/spirit and let go of what does not.

When you have experienced any major, life-changing event, such as the loss of a loved one or animal companion or the break-up of a long-term relationship or marriage, grief naturally ensues. And we’ve all experienced this on some level, but what also tends to happen?  Our appetite will most likely decrease or increase significantly, resulting in weight loss or weight gain. If we feel afraid or stuck and unable to move forward — or if we feel alone and unsupported, this can also manifest in the digestive system.

Stuck/unable to let go = constipation, gas or bloating

Fear = craving salty foods

Anger = alternating diarrhea/constipation/IBS

Grief = lack of appetite/no hunger; lack of taste

Worry/Over-thinking = indigestion; gas and bloating; craving sweets

Besides it’s connection to digestion, the Spleen is in charge of the movement of blood in the vessels and it rules the muscles by transporting blood and qi to the tissues and limbs.

With a Spleen imbalance, the mind can become unable to focus, concentrate, remember, or study, as thoughts cannot be held in their proper place. The mind may simply race uncontrollable from one thought to another. Contrarily, it can become stuck and immobile, rigid and stubborn. Obsessive thinking, incessant worry, frustration, anxiety and depression are expressions of stagnancy in the physical body.  The expression “venting the spleen” means giving expression (movement) to pent up anger. There are few causes of anxiety and frustration greater than being unable to remember, feeling lost and confused. It is as if the storehouse of memory is unavailable.  Like the food and drink we consume, experience is virtually useless if we cannot digest it, glean its wisdom and put it to use.[1]

There have been a number of excellent books written in the Western world about the connection between the foods we eat and choose to eat, based on our emotions. But how amazing it is to have a system of medicine that formally connects and addresses our head brain and thoughts with our gut brain and digestion.

Chinese Medicine can help us to be more aware of what we’re choosing to eat and why we’re eating it — and to also notice how our emotions and food choices impact our processing and absorption of nutrients.  And how we also need to “process” and digest our emotions — and that may be a huge part of our healing.

There are specific acupuncture points that can be used along the Spleen, Stomach, Liver and Heart meridians to treat mental/emotional conditions and digestive conditions simultaneously.  Likewise, a Chinese nutrition consult can help you identify the foods that will help to heal your emotions via your digestion. To learn more about these foods and acupuncture points and how they can help you, please contact us to schedule a 45-minute evaluation.

[1] https://www.acupuncturepathways.com/news/2017/7/27/the-earth-element-spleen-and-stomach

Digestion as Viewed from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

The spleen and the stomach are the primary organs of digestion in Chinese Medicine. The Spleen is responsible for taking in the food, breaking it down and processing it, as well as distributing the nutrients. The Stomach is considered the “Sea of Grain and Water” and it is responsible for turning digested food into nutrients and absorbing them.

When digestion is working properly, the Spleen Qi (energy or life force) is flowing freely.  It facilitates the overall digestive process. Spleen function is ascending in nature — the pushing action of the Spleen Qi is necessary to move the nutrients up into heart and lungs and is also responsible for holding all organs in place, while the descending action of the Stomach Qi serves to absorb nutrients and move the leftover waste down to the intestines where it is separated out and further absorbed or excreted from the body as liquid or solid waste.  Stomach Qi can be thought of as “feeding” the other organs the nutrients they need to perform their special tasks.

When the Spleen Qi in your body is deficient, your digestion will most likely be sluggish with incomplete bowel movements, gas, bloating, and possible secondary symptoms of fatigue, foggy brain, heaviness in the limbs, and worry and over-thinking. If the Spleen Qi is not strong enough to push things forward, accumulation and stagnation will result in the Stomach, and also possibly in the Liver.

When  your Stomach Qi is “rebelling”, the energy is moving up when it should be going down and through your digestive system.  It is considered an excess condition and associated with fire, hence the burning sensation which comes with acid reflux, or the total upheaval of your system, i.e., vomiting.

Professor J.R. Worsley described the Stomach organ as being similar to a bakery. It receives all of the various ingredients and, if mixed and baked properly, will create a delicious cake. The Spleen on the other hand is like a fleet of trucks/drivers, working 24/7, that transport the cakes to the buyers/stores. Within our body, the Spleen organ transports and distributes the proper amount of nourishment to every cell and every level — physical and non-physical. We can easily imagine what would happen if the truck driver failed to show up for work or got lost making deliveries. Regardless of the quality and quantity of the food itself, if the transporter failed to deliver, some people would still starve while others might feel stuffed with far more than they need. [1]

So, if you have any issues with digestion, then it is most likely an issue with the function of the spleen and/or stomach.

[1] https://www.acupuncturepathways.com/news/2017/7/27/the-earth-element-spleen-and-stomach

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

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!