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.

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.