Many people get the occasional heartburn or diarrhea from time to time, but when digestive problems become more frequent or continue for a longer period, it’s time to do something to address them. Do you have digestive issues? Some of the more common problems include:
- or some combination of the above
Causes can vary widely and may include emotional stress, poor dietary habits, antibiotic or drug use, or toxin exposure.
Chinese Medicine views the digestive process a little differently than the way we think about it in Western medicine. Continue reading
Getting the kids back to school can be stressful! Summer break is over and now there’s shopping to do to get the endless list of school supplies and clothing. Homework is back on the table as are stricter bedtimes for the kids. Kids are excited and anxious about what the new year will bring. And if you have more than one child, are sending one off to college, or are a teacher, the stress can be multiplied. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Are you wishing for more energy, more focus, less stress and better sleep? You may be saying “I’d be happy to just have one of these.” But really it’s not too much to expect from regular acupuncture treatments.
Research shows that chronic stress can have a cumulative effect on our physical well-being. Our response to stress affects the autonomic nervous system (fight-or-flight/rest-and-restore), as well as our cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems. Even everyday stressors can have long term consequences especially when combined with a poor diet and reduced exercise. This goes for kids as well as the adults who care for them. Sleep disturbances, headaches, stomach aches and behavior changes like anxiety and depression are common symptoms of stress.
Stress and anxiety are helped by acupuncture as it triggers the production of our natural feel-good hormones and brings the autonomic nervous system back into balance. It acts on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress promoting relaxation and deactivating the “analytical” brain which is responsible for anxiety and worry. This brings you out of “fight or flight” mode so that you can get rest and restore your energy. Also important in the new school year is boosting your immune system to protect you from both the effects of stress and the latest illness that’s going around at school. In addition to the immunity boost, many people have more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after acupuncture treatment. Patients notice improved mental clarity, which is important when exam week comes around, and you are juggling 15 things at once. It helps to strengthen your constitution. Continue reading
If you are finding it hard to arrange your schedule for a Wellness Visit, here are a few tips for helping you to cope until you can come in.
- Leverage coping skills – Whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, acupuncture, yoga, hiking, biking or another way you relieve stress, begin to manage difficult emotions and associated stress before and during this transition back to school. The idea is to balance mind and body so that you are better able to handle whatever is thrown your way. We also offer Stress Free Tea, based on a Chinese Herbal Formula used to calm stress, anxiety and depression for over 900 years.
- Get into a routine ASAP – Begin to introduce the changes before school starts back. Keeping a regular bedtime and healthy diet, while making time for relaxing playful activities are all helpful to establish a regular routine that can reduce chaos, stress and anxiety.
- Encourage healthy eating – We all know that our diet can affect both our physical and mental health. Highly processed foods that consist of high sugar, soft drinks, and nutrient poor foods can increase anxiety and depression. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and high quality proteins are important for a healthy immune system (which BTW begins in the gut).
Most importantly don’t wait until things are out of control to take action. I hope you find these tips helpful and that you will think of me when you need help.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) , a number of studies suggest that acupuncture works particularly well on chronic pain such as:
- back and neck pain
- knee pain
It often reduces the incidence and severity of tension headaches and may prevent migraines. “Therefore,” the NIH concludes, “acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.”
Late in 1997, the NIH released a consensus statement supporting the use of acupuncture as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for some conditions. According to the statement, there is some evidence of efficacy in relieving the pain of fibromyalgia, post-operative pain, osteoarthritis, and myofascial pain. The NIH panel pointed out that acupuncture is associated with a lower risk of adverse events than those associated with drugs or other medical intervention. Continue reading
The whirlwind that is the end of the school year is finally over, and there’s no homework, no carpools, no baking 50 cupcakes to take to the school party. Hopefully you are finding time to enjoy the little ones (and bigger ones too). I remember as a child we would go to the beach for a family vacation after school was out, and then my parents would send us off to summer camp. I always thought that my parents missed me terribly when I was away, but I know now that they probably couldn’t wait to get some freedom from us kids. It’s okay to give yourself a little break. Here are some suggestions: Continue reading
Have you ever come into the clinic and wondered “what is that smell??” No, we promise no one is smoking in the clinic. Moxibustion or moxa is the burning of the chinese herb mugwort on or over an acupuncture point, and is considered an integral part of the acupuncture treatment. It’s use can be traced far back to the Warring States Period (475 B.C. to 221 B.C.). The herb is dried and aged, and then ground so that the fine fibers remain. Many properties of moxa make it theraputic; even the odor can be healing.
When would we use moxa? Great question! It has many uses.
- I use it with patients who are very weak who may not be able to tolerate acupuncture.
- It is warming. Cold slows the flow of blood and contracts tissues, so I frequently use it with patients who tend to be cold, and to warm the uterus in patients who are trying to become pregnant.
- It helps to stop pain. Moxa is very penetrating and can disperse blockages that cause pain.
- It supplements and boosts your energy.
- It can be used as a preventative against disease.
- It can facilitate labor induction in pregnant patients by stimulating the body in a variety of ways, from increasing oxytocin release to cervical softening.
- It can even cause a breech baby to turn into head down position.
In the clinic, we either burn it on top of a slice of ginger placed on the skin, directly on the skin or atop an acupuncture needle. As crazy as it sounds to use something smokey around people with respiratory issues, moxa stimulates deep healing from the inside out, and actually helps strengthen the lungs. Moxibustion is great at helping to decrease inflammation and increase localized blood flow and lymphatic circulation, all of which promote healing. So you can breathe a sigh of relief that nobody is smoking here, just helping others heal.
I am so excited to announce the launch of a new program at Balanced Energy Wellness. This program is specifically designed to help patients suffering with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain. It is an evidence-based program that targets eight separate, overlapping causes of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Pain, and is designed to heal the body in stages for lasting results.
The Fibro-Fatigue program uses a combination of therapies such as Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Diet Therapy, Breathing Exercises and Qigong/Movement Therapy. In addition to treatments and education, I’ll provide one-on-one guidance with a focus on self-care to keep patients actively engaged in their healing process.
- Improved sleep
- Less pain
- Better digestion
- Stabilized emotions
- More energy
- Improved quality of life
Whether it’s you or your best friend that is struggling to find lasting relief from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or chronic pain, this program offers a path towards improved health. I have been working with a team of other acupuncturists, doctors, and herbalists from around the world on this program, and I’m super excited to offer these treatments to our community.
For more information about this program, please go here . I am also happy to speak with you personally to answer any questions to might have.
You may have heard in the news recently that Western Medicine has “discovered the largest organ in the body” that was previously unknown. It’s called the Interstitium and actually has been known for thousands of years as the San Jiao in Chinese Medicine. While Western medicine is just now coming to understand this “new organ”, it has long played a key role in Chinese Medicine. The San Jiao or Triple Burner as it’s sometimes called, it is said to “be everywhere”, and corresponds to the various metabolic processes of the body and the distribution of the nutrients that result from these processes. Western medicine describes it as being like an “open, fluid-filled highway.”
The Three Burners
The term San Jiao is many times translated as Triple Burner because it is related to three metabolic processes:
- The Upper Burner includes the Heart and Lung systems and metabolizes the air we breathe so that it can be absorbed directly into the blood.
- The Middle Burner is commonly what we refer to as our digestive process. The stomach breaks down the food we eat, and begins separating the “pure” from the “impure”, meaning the stuff our body needs is separated from the stuff we don’t need. The first separation of pure nutrients creates the interstitial fluids like saliva, sweat, tears, synovial fluids and mucous that go to our muscles, skin, bones and blood. The impure goes on down to the lower burner for further processing.
- The Lower Burner is where our body does a further separation of the pure and impure. The pure is absorbed via the small intestines and also goes to the gallbladder to create bile to moisten the intestines, and the impure is eliminated as waste via urine and feces. It’s this final separation of pure nutrients that is sent out to our organs and every cell in our body.
Even without an in-depth understanding of how our bodies work, you can probably see how a breakdown in any of these distribution processes can cause health issues.
A breakdown in the upper metabolic processing can impact the oxygen levels in our blood. We need oxygen in our blood where it can be delivered to our cells to create energy. If we don’t get enough oxygen, cells die. We simply won’t have the fuel for our body to function. Fatigue and muscle weakness is often related to low oxygen levels.
A breakdown in the middle metabolic processing has huge impacts. If the stomach, spleen and pancreas aren’t functioning properly, we simply aren’t able to separate the pure from the impure and aren’t getting the nutrients our cells need. This can lead to an impaired immune system because our lymph doesn’t contain enough immune fighting capability. Or we aren’t able to metabolize fluids properly leading to edema, water weight gain, fluid around the heart, excessive sweating or lack of sweating and diarrhea. This can even affect our mental capabilities leading to dementia, forgetfulness or feeling foggy headed.
A breakdown in the lower burner can lead to constipation and urinary issues, and if we aren’t able to absorb the nutrients via our intestines, our organs become unhealthy and weak. Or worse, if our separation of pure from impure is impaired, our organs can become poisoned.
To say that the San Jiao or this “newly discovered organ” is critical to our bodies is an understatement! I am always amazed at how the Chinese Medicine practitioners figured this stuff out thousands of years ago.
How Does This Apply to Acupuncture?
So you may be wondering how we affect all of this with acupuncture. The interstitial fluids also conduct electrical current and it is this electrical current that acupuncture taps into. We can direct our treatment to increasing the body’s ability to digest and absorb the food we ingest. We can increase the production and reserves of energy that our body needs and we can affect the metabolism of the body.
Who knew? It’s wonderful that Western Medicine is finally discovering this and will only help to improve our understanding of how the human body works and improve our health.
Our goal in Spring, as with other seasons, is to align ourselves with the movement of the prevailing season. Spring is a time of upward, expansive movement, and a time of creativity and new beginnings. According to Chinese Medicine, Spring is aligned with the Liver and Gallbladder which are responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body and the storage and detoxifying of the blood. In the same way that many of us engage in spring cleaning during this time of the year, our bodies do the same thing physically and emotionally. Now is the time we see the buds on plants and trees begin to swell, ready to burst forth with strong determination of new growth and beauty. Our activities should also focus on moving forward with strong determination and creativity. If you skipped the January New Year’s resolutions, now is a great time to take those steps toward making this the best year ever. Spring is the perfect time to stop procrastinating and face the challenges that can impede our forward movement and creative nature.
Now is a good time to let go of stimulants like coffee and alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. The movement of Spring gives us that boost naturally. Take advantage of this natural boost of energy to begin or renew your exercise program, to shake off the cobwebs and feel alive and refreshed. Movement helps to get the blood and lymph flowing and allows us to sweat out toxins that have accumulated during the dormant winter. This is spring cleaning for our body.
How do you know if you need acupuncture at this time of year? Continue reading