What We Treat

Below is a partial list of conditions that we commonly treat. Click each topic to read more.

Allergies

According to Chinese medical theory, the symptoms and signs that indicate a Western diagnosis of allergies relate to imbalances in the meridian and Organ Systems of the body. These imbalances may stem from a variety of causes, including stress, poor diet, constitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins.

Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affect the functions of the Organ Systems. Some of these Organ Systems are involved in the production of Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). According to the theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it is important to have
the correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating around the body in order to stay healthy.

What is Wei Qi?

The Chinese concept of Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system. Wei Qi functions to protect and defend the body against foreign substances, that if not caught can lead to allergies. When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we remain healthy. When the supply of Wei Qi becomes deficient, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to foreign invaders such as dust, mold, animal dander, bacteria, viruses and pollen. People who have a Wei Qi deficiency are prone to allergies and frequent colds.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in the production of Wei Qi. By building up the supply of Wei Qi, and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it through the body, symptoms and signs related to allergies could be greatly reduced or eliminated.

Allergies according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be due to a variety of factors. Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist
may discover and treat.

  • Wei Qi deficiency
  • Spleen weakness
  • Kidney deficiency
  • Lung deficiency

What will an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough exam, taking a complete health history. They will then develop a unique treatment plan that will address your specific concerns. The goals of the treatment plan will be to eliminate visible symptoms and signs, while addressing the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances affecting the quality and quantity of Wei Qi.

Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbs, dietary changes, massage (tuina), or exercise. These therapies accelerate the healing process in order to balance, build, and support the body’s Wei Qi.

Seasonal allergy tips:

  1. Flush your nose with a Neti pot.
  2. Add spicy foods and omega-3’s to your diet.
  3. Keep your windows closed during allergy season to prevent dust and pollen from entering.
  4. Put on a dust mask when you are doing yard or house work.
  5. Do not hang your clothes out to dry in the sun, as they
    will gather dust, mold and pollen.
  6. Come in for an acupuncture tune-up.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a drug-free, safe, natural and effective way to eliminate hay fever, allergies or the common cold.

Anxiety

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults and costing more than $42 billion a year.

Feelings of anxiety, worry and fear related to significant and challenging events are justified and very common. Anxiety becomes a problem when emotional reactions are out of proportion with what might be “normally” expected in a situation, and when symptoms interfere with a person’s daily functioning or sleep patterns. Mild anxiety leaves a person feeling a bit unsettled, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating.

Anxiety is used as a general term for several disorders that have common symptoms – such as nervousness, worrying, apprehension and fear. Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common are briefly described below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by unrealistic, persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. People with this disorder often expect the worst and experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

Panic Disorder is characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and seemingly out-of-the-blue, causing the individual to become preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.

Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias commonly focus on flying, bridges, insects, heights, dental or medical procedures and elevators. Having phobias can disrupt daily routines, reduce self-esteem, limit work efficiency and put a strain on relationships.

Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a fear of being negatively judged and scrutinized by others in social or performance-related situations. Different variations of this type of anxiety include a fear of intimacy, stage fright and a fear of humiliation. People suffering from this disorder can sometimes isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid public situations and human contact.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted or intrusive thoughts, which often make the sufferer feel compelled to repeat certain behaviors or routines. Even when the OCD sufferers know the irrationality of their compulsions, they feel powerless to stop them. They may obsessively wash their hands, clean personal items or constantly check light switches, locks or stoves.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, rape, a natural disaster, a serious accident or other life-threatening events. Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be anxious and severely depressed for months or even years following the event. They often experience flashbacks and behavioral changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.

Acupuncture Can Help. A clinical study conducted in China in 2010, has concluded that acupuncture is a “safe and effective” treatment for mood disorders including depression and severe anxiety, in some cases proving to increase the effectiveness of medication-based treatments. Additionally a 2009 study, again in China, determined that acupuncture alone could help patients who suffer from anxiety but cannot be chemically treated due to intolerable side-effects of medications.

In many Western schools of thought, anxiety disorders are considered to be dysfunctions in a person’s brain chemistry. An acupuncturist does not view anxiety as a brain dysfunction, but rather as an imbalance in a person’s organ system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this imbalance is called Shan You Si (“anxiety & preoccupation”), and is believed to affect the main organs: the Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver, and Kidneys. Each organ is related to different aspects of a person’s emotions.

For instance, worry is said to affect the Spleen, grief affects the Lungs, anger the Liver, fear the Kidneys, and lack of joy the Heart. If a person experiences one or more of these emotions over a long period of time due to lifestyle, dietary, hereditary and environmental factors, it can cause an imbalanced emotional state and lead to various anxiety disorders.

The role of an acupuncturist is to investigate the underlying causes of the anxiety by carrying out a thorough diagnostic evaluation in order to determine which organ system has been affected and is out of balance. The acupuncturist will then seek to restore the imbalance by inserting fine, sterile needles into the points correlating to those organs. Additionally, acupuncture helps to reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting a greater sense of well-being and balance.

Resources:

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_july10/anxiety.htm

Zhang (2010). “The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis”. Journal of Affective Disorders, 124, 1-2, July 2010.

Wen (2009). “Combination of acupuncture and Fluoxentine for depression: A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial”. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15, 8, August 13, 2009.

Arthritis

If you live with arthritis, you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many things you can do to manage and control your arthritis and live a healthy, active life. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful additions to any treatment plan, without causing harmful side effects.

Arthritis according to Western Medicine

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 21 million Americans. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.

Some factors can increase your risk, including a joint injury, being overweight, aging, and genetics. Putting stress on a joint through repetitive motion can also increase your risk.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common type, affecting 2.1 million people in the United States. This chronic condition occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to long-term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women are two to three times more likely to get RA.

RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Symptoms include:

  • Warm, swollen or tender joints
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever
  • Muscle pain and weakness

Treatment options

Western treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as through self-care and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may even be needed.

Causes of arthritis from a TCM perspective
  • Weakness or deficiency of the internal organs
  • Constitutional imbalance
  • Physical injury and/or trauma
  • Changes with the quality and quantity of Qi
  • Blockage or inadequate flow of Qi
  • Invasion from external factors such as Wind, Cold and Heat
  • Unresolved emotional upset, mainly related to stress and anxiety

Acupuncture offers a safe, natural way to control joint pain and other symptoms and maintain overall health. In fact, a 2004 study showed that patients with OA of the knee experienced a 40 percent decrease in pain and a 40 percent increase in function after receiving a series of acupuncture treatments.

A whole-body approach to relief

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) take a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. According to these theories, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. It flows through pathways called meridians, providing nourishment for every cell, tissue, muscle and organ. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms may result.

During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific acupoints along the meridians in order to unblock any obstruction and allow Qi to flow freely.

Your practitioner may also recommend herbal remedies, massage, and stretching. Be sure to discuss any new medications with your doctor to avoid any potential interactions.

What you can do

It’s important to remember that there is no “quick fix” for arthritis, and it may take time to achieve results. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make that may help you find relief faster.

  • Exercise can help increase your flexibility, strengthen muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Diet is another important issue. Stick to a healthy diet made up of a wide variety of unprocessed, organic foods. Your acupuncturist may also suggest adding natural anti-inflammatories to your diet.
  • Stress relief can also help. By learning to identify your stressors and lowering your stress through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, you can improve your state of mind and your health.
  • Maintaining balance in your life is also key. A balance of rest and relaxation with activity and exercise will keep you feeling your best.

By working closely with your acupuncturist and other treatment providers, you will be taking charge of your arthritis and taking a step toward a healthier life.

References:
Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, Lee WL, Gilpin AMK, Hochberg MC. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004; 141 (12):901-910.
What is Osteoarthritis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. September 2006.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. May 2005.
Joswick, Diane L.Ac. Acupuncture for Arthritis. 2006.
Osteoarthritis Fact Sheet. Arthritis Foundation. 2005.

Asthma

Asthma is a long-term condition that affects more than 20 million Americans. Caring for a chronic condition such as asthma can sometimes be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that it can be controlled. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be powerful allies in the management of asthma, and they work well in conjunction with other types of treatment.

The facts about asthma

Asthma is an inflammatory disease in which the airways become blocked or narrowed, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Some people have long periods without symptoms, while others may always experience difficulty breathing. Asthma attacks occur when something triggers the inflammation of the respiratory system. Flare ups can be severe—sometimes even life-threatening.

A partnership for a healthier life

It is important to remember that you are a key part of controlling your asthma. Here are a few ways you can take an active part in your treatment:

  • Try keeping an asthma diary to track your specific asthma triggers.
  • Be sure to keep all of your health care providers fully informed. This includes talking to them about any medications or herbs you may be taking, as well as any changes in your symptoms.
  • Follow your practitioner’s recommendations for self-care. These might include exercises such as Qi Gong, yoga, dietary changes, or stress-relief measures such as meditation.

By making positive lifestyle choices and working closely with your practitioner, you’ll truly be taking charge of your asthma and your life.

Asthma attacks are generally caused by one or more triggers, including:

  • A cold, flu, bronchitis, or sinus infection
  • Allergens including dust mites, tree and grass pollen, mold, and animal dander
  • Irritants that include tobacco smoke, strong fragrances, and air pollution
  • Certain foods and food additives
  • Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Changes in weather
  • Strong emotions such as anxiety, stress, grief and anger

Generally, the available approach of asthma treatment is to try and prevent attacks. This is usually done with regular use of anti-inflammatory medications, inhaled steroids and leukotriene inhibitors. Once an asthma attack is underway, quick-acting medications like corticosteroids may be able to relieve it.

Most of these medications can cause side effects such as nausea, headaches, muscle tremors, and insomnia. However, many people have found that acupuncture treatment may help reduce asthma attacks, improve lung function, and even lower the amount of medication needed.

Asthma according to ancient principles

In TCM, asthma is known as “Xiao Chuan”, which means “wheezing” and “shortness of breath”. It is caused by a variety of factors that involve an imbalance with Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”), and an imbalance with one or more of the organ systems, generally the Lungs, Spleen or Kidney.

Asthma according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) goes beyond a simple diagnosis of “asthma”.

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

  • Invasion of Wind
  • Lung weakness
  • Kidney weakness
  • Spleen weakness
  • Liver imbalance
  • Liver Heat
  • Wei Qi deficiency
  • Phlegm/damp in the Lungs

An acupuncturist will take a holistic, or whole-body approach in order to determine what areas of the body are affected and out-of-balance and contributing to the attacks.

Since acupuncture and TCM take into account your overall well-being, your practitioner may also address other issues that may be contributing to your asthma, such as exercise, diet and stress. Acupuncture is a safe, effective, and pain-free approach to many conditions, and you may find that your overall health improves along with your asthma symptoms.

References:
Asthma. U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia. 10/30/2006. Link
Alternative Therapy for Asthma. WebMD. 12/1/2006.
Chen, J., Pharm, D. Treatment of Asthma with Herbs and Acupuncture. Acufinder.com Acupuncture Learning & Resource Center.
Facts about Asthma. American Lung Association. 10/2006.

Back Pain

Back pain is a very common problem–one that will strike four out of five Americans at some time in their lives. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons people seek medical care. Unfortunately, back pain isn’t always easy to diagnose or relieve. Low back pain in particular can become a chronic or ongoing problem.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are very effective in treating back pain naturally. They can also be used together with traditional Western treatments to maximize your healing and recovery.

How back pain happens

There are many possible causes for back pain, including strained muscles or ligaments, often caused by improper lifting, sudden movements or traumatic injury. Other culprits can include arthritis, structural abnormalities of the spine, or the disks between the vertebrae bulging or rupturing and pressing on a nerve. Depending on the specific diagnosis, back pain is generally treated with medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and in some cases, surgery.

“Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain. Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain, and therefore in their quality of life.” – H. Endres, MD

 

A more natural approach

Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM view back pain another way. An acupuncturist will not only work to relieve your symptoms, but will also work to find and treat the underlying cause of your pain. In a study conducted at a Swedish hospital, doctors concluded that acupuncture provided long-term relief along with improvements in physical activity levels, quality of sleep and the diminished use of pain medication.

Acupuncture and TCM are based on the concept that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows through the body in channels called meridians. If Qi becomes stagnant, unbalanced or deficient, symptoms such as back pain, ache and inflammation can result. This can happen for any number of reasons, from injury and illness to stress or external invaders such as wind or dampness. Back pain can arise from disharmonies such as:

Stagnation – type pain that is often linked to sudden, stabbing, severe pain and related to sprains, strains or trauma. It can be accompanied by stiffness and tightness and becomes worse with rest. If it occurs often in the same area(s) it may reflect an underlying deficiency.

Cold, damp obstruction – type pain that is generally worse in the morning and exacerbated by cold or damp weather. This type of pain condition may be associated with numbness, swelling and a sense of “heaviness.” Heat improves this condition.

Deficiency – type pain that is usually
a chronic condition that presents with
a “dull” pain and improves with rest.

Restoring balance

Once your practitioner has determined the cause(s) of your back pain, he or she will create a specific treatment plan designed to address your concerns and boost your overall health and vitality. During acupuncture treatments, your practitioner will insert fine, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points along the meridian pathways in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi. He or she may also perform acupressure or other types of therapy, based on your unique issues and symptoms.

Your practitioner may also suggest lifestyle changes and self-care techniques, especially if you struggle with chronic pain. These may include:

Improving your posture – Examine your posture in a mirror. Try to stand with your head up, shoulders back and pelvis in a neutral position. When sitting, try to sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and your knees and hips level. Try to balance your weight evenly when walking and standing.

Exercising – Keep your back and abdominal muscles strong with regular exercise. Yoga and Qi Gong are both gentle and effective. Consider adding aerobic exercise as well to improve your overall health and reduce stress.

Managing stress – Stress can take a real toll on your health and contribute to muscle pain. Meditation or deep-breathing techniques can help you stay calm and relaxed. Massage is another great way to help relieve stress and loosen tense muscles.

More and more people are finding relief for both acute and chronic back pain through acupuncture and TCM. If you or someone you love is struggling with back pain, call today to find out how acupuncture can help.

References:
Back pain. MayoClinic.com. Feb. 8, 2008. Link
Sollars, David W. L.Ac. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Acupuncture and Acupressure. Alpha Books, 2000.
Stone, Al. L.Ac. Chinese Medicine for Back Pain. Acupuncture.Com. Link

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Headaches

If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. Over 50 million of us experience some form of a severe headache at some point in our lives. Whether you experience minor head pain or severe migraines, headaches can take valuable time out of your day and your life, and leave you searching for relief.

One way to seek relief is by reaching for drugs and other medications. This is fine for the short run, and can help you get out of pain fast. Unfortunately, common headache medications do not address the root cause(s), and when used over long periods of time can cause unwanted side effects.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe and effective approach to relieving headache pain, without causing harmful side effects, and incorporate a comprehensive diagnostic protocol that can help your acupuncturist understand and address the root cause(s)
of your headaches.

Understanding headache types.

There are many factors in TCM theory that may play a key role in the root cause(s) of a headache.
These include body constitution, emotional health, excessive work,
social and exercise activities, improper diet, physical trauma and hormones. Headaches can also be diagnosed according to specific symptoms, times of occurrence, location on the body, type of pain, triggers and remedies which provide relief.

A natural path to relief.

Acupuncture and TCM takes a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. Your practitioner will take a detailed health history, and perform a physical exam to determine how and why your body’s vital energy, or Qi, is out of balance and identify what type of headache you are experiencing. He/she will also attempt to determine what root cause(s) are contributing to the overall problem. By identifying and treating the underlying cause(s), not just the symptoms, he/she can apply the most effective care.

What do you mean my Qi is out of balance?

An important part of acupuncture and TCM is the concept of Qi. Qi (pronounced “chee”)
is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness.
It flows through pathways called meridians, and provides nourishment
to all the body’s organs. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms may result. Qi stagnation may be the cause of your headaches.

During treatment, in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi, fine sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridian pathways. Based on your unique symptoms, your acupuncturist will choose to concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs. Afterwards, a variety of self-care techniques may be prescribed to
further expedite your healing process.

It is important to remember that acupuncture is not a “quick fix.” Changes may occur quickly or over a longer period of time, depending upon your overall constitution and health. It is also important to closely follow care recommendations suggested by your acupuncturist. Whether it is one visit to address an acute problem, or several visits to address a chronic problem, your acupuncturist will create a treatment protocol
that will maximize your healing potential.

Below are a few ways that you can participate in your own healing, by making simple lifestyle changes that may help soothe—or even prevent—head pain.

  • Track those triggers: Try to keep track of when your headaches start. Migraine sufferers may find it especially helpful to keep a diary of symptoms and possible causes. Triggers might include anything from eating chocolate, to anxiety or inhaling specific smells. Pinpointing these triggers—and avoiding them when possible—could help.
  • Stress relief: Stress puts a lot of strain on the body, and can contribute to many types of health concerns, including headaches. Talk to your practitioner about healthy ways to
    handle stress, such as meditation or breathing techniques.
  • Exercise: Physical activity is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, and is a great antidote to stress. Your acupuncturist can recommend types of exercises that may work best for you.
  • Healthy habits: Making minor changes can make a big difference in your overall health and vitality. Do your best to eat healthy, organic foods, and make sure to get enough sleep every day.

Naturally, acupuncture care is extremely effective in reducing the frequency and severity of many types of painful conditions, including headache pain. By working with your acupuncturist and adopting some simple lifestyle changes, you will be on your way toward a healthier, happier, pain-free life.

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.

Insomnia

You settle into a warm, comfortable bed, close your eyes and nothing happens, you just can’t fall asleep. Hours go by and still you’re awake. The next day you feel tired, grouchy, and are unable to focus. Does this sound familiar?

Sleepless nights happen to almost everyone at some time, but ongoing insomnia can indicate a deeper issue and could lead to further health concerns. Unfortunately, a common approach to treating insomnia includes prescription sleeping medications, which can cause side effects or even dependence. That’s one of the many reasons to consider an all-natural approach to treating your sleep problems. Acupuncture can be a very effective way to improve your sleep quality without side effects.

Tips for healthy sleep
  • Stick to a regular schedule.
  • Plan to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Stay active. Exercise regularly, but not within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Don’t eat large meals before bed.
  • Try not to nap. If you really need to nap, try to keep it short, less than 45 minutes.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. All of these can add to sleep problems.
  • Relax. Try taking a warm bath, meditating, or reading to wind down before going to sleep.

One bad night…or an ongoing issue?

Occasional insomnia is a very common problem, affecting about one in four Americans. It can happen to anyone, but is more common in older adults. Its symptoms include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Daytime fatigue and irritability
  • Frustration and moodiness

Insomnia can be very frustrating, but it’s more than an annoyance. When insomnia becomes ongoing, or chronic, your body is unable to get the rest and renewal it needs so that you can feel your best. In fact, a lack of quality sleep can cause problems such as difficulty concentrating, diminished energy, low mood, and trouble performing everyday tasks. Since sleep strengthens the immune system, insomnia can leave you susceptible to many other health concerns. Luckily, you don’t have to just “put up with” chronic insomnia.

How acupuncture can help

According to the theories of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), conditions such as insomnia are a sign of an imbalance in Qi (pronounced “chee”), the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness.

Here are a few questions your practitioner may ask. They help to refine your specific diagnosis.
  • Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
  • Do you have difficulty staying asleep?
  • Is your sleep filled with vivid dreams?
  • Is it difficult to calm your mind at night?
  • Is it difficult to sleep on your back? This can relate to a excess condition of the Lungs or Heart meridians.
  • Do you only sleep on your back with outstretched arms? This can reflect a pattern of excess heat.
  • Do you prefer to sleep on your stomach or side? This could indicate a deficient condition.

This imbalance can stem from a number of causes such as stress, anxiety, medications, depression, and chronic pain. To determine the underlying causes of your insomnia, your acupuncturist will take into account many factors, including your lifestyle and emotional and mental well-being. They will then work to restore the balance and flow of Qi by inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points along the body.

Your acupuncturist may also suggest aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, or other additional therapies. You may find that you sleep better after your very first session, though you will most likely receive the most benefit from a series of treatments.

Your acupuncturist can get to the root of your sleep issues by taking into account all of the factors that may be contributing to your sleep disturbance. With this ancient form of health care, you can treat your symptoms, improve your overall health and well-being, and start looking forward to a great night’s sleep, every night.

References:
Overcoming Insomnia: How to achieve peaceful quality sleep. Acupuncture.com. Accessed Feb. 1, 2008. Link
Insomnia. MayoClinic.com. March 16, 2007. Link
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Acupuncture. Alpha Books, 2000.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex condition that currently affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States—with 200 more people diagnosed every week. This chronic disease causes uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating symptoms that can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

An unpredictable condition

The exact causes of MS are not entirely understood, and there is currently no cure, though there have been many advances in treatment in recent years. Western medicine considers MS an autoimmune condition–a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. In the case of MS, the immune system starts attacking and breaking down a substance called myelin, the sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers of the central nervous system. Myelin increases the speed of the transmission of nerve signals.

When myelin becomes “broken” or destroyed, nerve impulses are slowed down, leading to a progression of nerve-related problems. When these nerve fibers become damaged, symptoms can result, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Numbness or weakness of
    the limbs

The symptoms of MS vary from person to person, can range from minor to severe and can even disappear for a period of time only to flare up unexpectedly.

Treatment options

Depending upon your symptoms and the progression of the disease, your doctor may suggest medications designed to slow the disease and/or medications for the symptoms.

It is important to take an active role in your treatment. More and more, people living with MS are choosing to complement their Western treatment with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, natural way for those living with MS to stay as healthy as possible. Including acupuncture and TCM in your treatment plan can help boost your overall health and relieve symptoms. Practitioners of TCM view MS differently than Western medicine practitioners, taking into account each individual’s overall health, lifestyle and emotional well-being—not just their symptoms.

TCM is based on the concept that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows through the body in channels called meridians. If Qi becomes stagnant, unbalanced or deficient, symptoms such as those linked to MS can result. This can occur for any number of reasons, from an inherited constitutional imbalance or illness to stress or an external invader such as wind or dampness.

Your practitioner will work to determine the condition at the root of your symptoms in order to create a treatment plan. For example, the muscular stiffness and numbness associated with MS are often related to excessive dampness within the meridians, or a deficiency in the liver and kidney organ systems.

Based on their diagnosis, your acupuncture practitioner will work to balance the Qi in the body’s organ systems by manipulating corresponding points on the body with hair-thin acupuncture needles. While acupuncture alone can’t cure MS, it has been found to be particularly useful in managing symptoms such as pain, muscle spasms and bladder problems.

Self-care for MS

MS can have an impact on every part of your life. To help support both your physical and emotional well-being, your practitioner may suggest some of these lifestyle changes and self-care techniques.

Herbal remedies – Your practitioner may provide herbs or nutritional supplements designed to help relieve symptoms and boost your overall health. Be sure to let your other health care providers know if you take supplements in order to avoid any potential drug interactions.

Staying cool– Heat can make symptoms of MS worse. Tepid baths, cool drinks and air conditioning may help make you more comfortable.

Exercise – Yoga and Qi Gong can help improve strength, balance and depression. Consider adding gentle aerobic exercise as well to improve your overall health and reduce stress.

Stress relief– Stress can exacerbate symptoms and cause other health problems, so it’s important to keep your stress levels in check. Meditation or deep-breathing techniques can help you stay calm and relaxed. Massage is another great way to help relieve stress and loosen tense muscles. If your anxiety becomes overwhelming, consider talking to a professional.

MS is a serious condition, but many people with MS live long, happy, fulfilled lives. Acupuncture and TCM can provide the support you need to cope with MS and its effects. If you or someone you love is facing MS, contact an acupuncturist today.

References:
Chinese herbal treatment for Multiple Sclerosis and other flaccidity syndromes. S. Dharmananda, Ph.D. Inst. for Traditional Medicine.
Traditional Chinese medicine and Multiple Sclerosis. A patient guide. E. Vickers, N.D., L.Ac.
Acupuncture for Multiple Sclerosis. 6/27/08. Link

Neck Pain

At some point in our lives, each of us will most likely experience some type of neck pain and/or whiplash. However, certain people may be predisposed to acute and chronic neck pain due to their occupation. Employees who perform repetitive tasks, sit for prolonged periods of time and use their upper extremities are at a greater risk of developing neck pain.

The neck is one of the most flexible—and delicate—parts of the body. Throughout the day, many of us put stress on our neck without even realizing it. Unfortunately, this can result in a literal “pain in the neck,” causing stiffness, pain and limited movement in the neck and even the shoulders and arms.

If you suffer from neck pain, whether it is occasional or chronic, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may just provide the relief you need. In recent years, acupuncture has become well-known as an effective treatment for various types of painful disorders. Acupuncture and TCM provide a natural, safe approach to treating
neck pain and whiplash.

What is behind that pain in the neck

Neck pain can be caused by a wide range of factors, including wear-and-tear, strains or sprains, or inflammation. A few of the most common culprits include:

  • Bad posture: Bending or hunching forward for prolonged periods can cause strains (overstretched muscles), sprains (injuries to ligaments) or other problems. This can happen at work when sitting in front of the computer, during long drives, when reading in bed or even talking on the phone. Sleeping in an awkward position is another common cause.
  • Injuries, trauma and motor vehicle accidents: This is a major cause of acute neck pain and whiplash. Common injuries include falls, sports-related injuries, direct trauma and auto accidents.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions such as arthritis can cause chronic pain and stiffness. Herniated disks in the neck can also cause pain, as can illnesses like the flu. Jaw injuries or conditions may also cause neck pain.
  • Stress: Being stressed or anxious can cause tension in the muscles of your neck, shoulders and back.
Neck pain according to TCM can be caused by a variety of factors. Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist may discover and treat.
  • Overuse
  • Strain
  • Muscle tension
  • Invasion of cold, wind and/or damp
  • Bi Syndrome

How acupuncture can help.

A study published in British Medical Journal states that, “Acupuncture can be a safe form of treatment for patients with chronic neck pain if the objective is to obtain relief from pain related to movement and to improve cervical mobility. As neck pain may be a chronic condition, single forms of treatment may be inadequate, and acupuncture merits consideration.”1 Other studies suggest that acupuncture can treat degenerative disorders of the neck and spine. According to a study published by U.S. National Institutes of Health in 2010, it was concluded that, “Traditional acupuncture can relieve pain intensity and improve the quality of daily life with a relative long-term clinical efficacy in patients with chronic neck pain.”2

Acupuncture and TCM take a holistic, or whole-body, approach to health. In TCM, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. It flows through pathways called meridians to nourish all of the body’s organs, muscles and cells. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, physical symptoms such as pain may result.

Acupuncture is safe, natural and has no side effects—unlike many of the medications often used to treat pain.

Your practitioner will take a detailed health history and perform a physical exam to find out where and why your body’s vital energies have become blocked and out of balance. He or she will work to not only relieve your pain, but to identify and treat the underlying causes. During treatment, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridian pathways in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi. Your practitioner may also perform acupressure or other types of therapy, based on your unique issues and symptoms.

Your practitioner may also recommend herbs, changes in diet, stretches and other exercises to work in conjunction with acupuncture treatment. These adjunct therapies help you regain your health and prevent future problems. By working together with your acupuncturist—and taking good care of yourself—you will be on your way to a healthier, pain-free future before you know it.

References:

  1. Irnich, D., et al. Randomised trial of acupuncture compared with conventional massage and “sham” laser acupuncture for treatment of chronic neck pain. British Medical Journal June 30, 2001;322:1-6.
  2. Liang Z, Zhu X, Yang X, Fu W, Lu A. Assessment of a traditional acupuncture therapy for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled study. Complement Ther Med. 2011 Jan 19, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195292.

Pain

Most people experience significant pain at some time in their lives—whether from an injury, illness, or an unknown cause. Pain is a warning signal, an alarm that goes off when your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong and out of balance.

What can you do?

No one should have to live with pain, but which treatment is right for you? Often times, people suffering from pain take medication to dull the pain. Taking medication is understandable when pain is constant and unbearable. It may be helpful to dull the symptoms for a short period of time, but it will not get at the root of the problem and correct it. It is like hitting the snooze button on an alarm. Unless the cause of the pain is treated, your body will keep sounding the alarm and reminding you that something is wrong. Eventually the pain may get worse or become chronic. It is
also possible for the medications to cause unwanted side effects and further compromise your health.

Surgery may be another option. At times, this approach may make sense, but it could be both expensive and risky, and there is no guarantee that it will be effective.

Acupuncture is a time-tested, safe, effective, natural and drug-free way to eliminate pain. Unlike other methods of handling pain, there are no side effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledge the benefits of acupuncture in treating and eliminating pain due to a wide range of causes.

An acupuncturist’s approach to pain.

Acupuncture practitioners recognize that there is a vital energy, called Qi (pronounced “chee”), circulating within the body. Qi flows through a series of pathways called meridians. Meridians are like rivers within your body. The diagram to the right shows the meridians throughout the body. Wherever a river flows it brings with it water that provides nourishment and life to the land, plants and people around it. Likewise, meridians transport life-giving Qi that provides nourishment to every cell, tissue, muscle, organ and gland in the body.

Many things can cause
Qi to become blocked:
  • Poor diet
  • Physical trauma
  • Emotional trauma
  • Inherited weakness of Qi
  • Chemical, physical, and/or emotional stress

It is important for Qi to flow freely throughout the body. Think of water flowing through a garden hose. A blocked hose will not provide
an adequate supply of water to a plant. Eventually, the plant will be unable to thrive, grow and blossom.

Similarly, a blockage in the flow of Qi anywhere in the body will inhibit the amount of nourishment that reaches our cells, tissues, muscles, organs and glands. Under normal circumstances, your body can easily return to good health and vitality. If the disruption of Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if your body is in a weakened state, the flow of Qi becomes restricted and a variety of symptoms, including pain, may arise.

What does acupuncture do?

By inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points, an acupuncturist is able to break up blockages that have hampered the smooth flow of Qi. Once this is done, Qi can travel freely throughout the body, promoting pain-free health, well-being and vitality.

Not only can acupuncture treat signs and symptoms of pain and discomfort, it can also get to the root of the problem. When the initial cause of the pain is corrected, your body can begin to heal on deeper levels. Your acupuncturist may also suggest adjunct therapies to
enhance treatment and speed healing, such as: massage, stretching,
yoga, herbal supplements and dietary changes.

“I can not see a better solution to long-term
chronic pain. There is no question in my mind that acupuncture is safer than surgery or drugs.”

—Dr. Bruce Pomeranz, Neuroscientist, University of Toronto

Quit Smoking

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you are on your way to kicking the habit and becoming smoke-free and healthier. Every year, more than 3 million Americans try to quit smoking, but only half of them succeed. With the help of acupuncture you have a greater chance of success!

Most experts agree that quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. More than 25 diseases are associated with tobacco use, including cancer of the lungs, bladder, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, uterus and cervix. Smoking also raises the chances of developing emphysema and increases the risk of having a stroke by 30 percent.

There is plenty of incentive to quit, but it isn’t necessarily easy. The good news is that acupuncture has helped millions of people to kick the smoking habit.

How acupuncture can help

Some of the largest stumbling blocks to becoming smoke-free are the stress, anxiety and depression associated with quitting. Fortunately, acupuncture treatment is quite successful at calming and relaxing the mind, reducing anxiety and alleviating depressive feelings. Specific acupoints in the ear and wrist are used to accomplish this. Additional acupoints may be included that help suppress your appetite, stimulate repair and healing of organ systems, and reduce food and nicotine cravings.

More than just kicking the habit

Using acupuncture to quit smoking yields enormous benefits. Aside from taking care of the stumbling blocks that can cause you to resume the habit, acupuncture can help restore your body to a healthy state of balance and well-being. If you are ready to become smoke-free, acupuncture can provide you with the support you need.

Here are a few tips to guide you through your acupuncture care:

  • Drink plenty of filtered water during the process.
  • Eat balanced, healthy meals with a variety of vegetables and fruits.
  • Refrain from sugar, which can cause further sugar cravings and unwanted weight gain.
  • Manage your cravings. They will actually fade within a few minutes. When cravings arise, distract yourself. Before you know it, the craving will have passed.
  • Scrub your skin with a dry brush or loofa to facilitate the cleansing process and help blood circulation. Take daily baths or showers.
  • Avoid spending time with other smokers so that you are less tempted to smoke.
  • Take a walk outside and take deep breaths. Upon exhale, gently place your teeth together and exhaling with the sound of “sssssssss.” This sound stimulates the lungs.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to quit smoking. The focus is upon achieving a balance of body and mind, and eliminating cravings so you can become smoke-free and healthier.

Stress

Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. Unfortunately, modern day stress is considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced. Today, we do not have to look much further than our windows, or computer screens, to view various forms of stressors—everything from prime-time news and road rage, to the forty-hour work week, terrorism talk and cell phones.

However, stress is not necessarily always negative. There is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stressors are usually short lived and keep us alert and motivated, and support our body’s strength and vitality.

Our response to stress can either help or hinder our body’s ability to cope with these various stressors in our lives. Healthy responses to stress include appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and reaching out to friends and family for support. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues. Over time, ongoing stress and unhealthy responses to stress can actually be detrimental to our health.

Signs and symptoms of an overactive response to stress:
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Depressed immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Weight problems

Medical studies have shown that with increased and consistent stress, our white blood cells which defend our body against viruses decrease. This results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability.

Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), kidneys and adrenal glands, which can pave the way for a wide variety of symptoms and signs.

There is Hope.

Practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been helping people cope with stress for thousands
of years. The ancient theories of TCM on how stress affects the organs are similar to those of Western medicine. However, TCM theory and treatment go far beyond treating symptoms and signs and address the root cause(s) of the problem.

One way that stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi (pronounced “chee”), especially that of the kidneys and adrenals. Qi is the vital energy or power 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 becomes “blocked” or the supply is inadequate, the body and organ systems become “stressed out” and our health is then compromised.

With acupuncture and TCM, the practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various organs affected and depleted by the stress response, along with evaluating the quality and quantity of Qi.

Your acupuncturist may also suggest adjunct therapies to enhance treatment and speed healing. Proper eating habits, as well as exercise, stretching, movement and meditation practices, support and promote a balanced and healthy body, mind and spirit.

Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, effective and drug-free alternative for the treatment of stress.

Ways to combat stress:

  1. Get adequate sleep. Try for at
    least eight hours of restful and restorative sleep.
  2. Practice meditative exercises. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga can help create a healthy awareness of the body and mind connection, freeing your mind
    of stressful thoughts.
  3. Eat a well balanced diet. Maintain a healthy diet with adequate amounts of complex carbs, vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fats.
  4. Have fun! Make time for relaxing activities, enjoyable hobbies and lots of laughter in your life.
  5. Breathe. Relaxed deep breathing is one of the most simple and easy techniques that can be used for reducing stress.