Stickin’ It Tue You: Beat Holiday Stress with Acupuncture

Depression is a condition that involves both the mind and the body and affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves, and can often make a person feel anxious and apathetic. People who suffer from depression or anxiety can experience muscle pain, headaches, upset digestion, fatigue, and loss of interest, among other symptoms. Anxiety, in particular, can be triggered by stress. With travel, big family reunions or party plans, and gift-buying frenzies, the holidays are a particularly stressful time and many people feel the effects of anxiety or depression in December and January.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) evaluates the entire body system, including physical conditions and emotional symptoms, and treatments are uniquely tailored to each patient with the goal of healing the body and mind, as well as revitalizing the spirit. While this is fundamental in any TCM treatment, this treatment of the mind, body, and spirit together is especially fitting for depression and anxiety. Each traditional Chinese medicine treatment, including acupuncture, is an individual treatment plan devised for the patient’s specific issues and health history. An integral part of acupuncture practice is the total evaluation of a person’s “qi”, pronounced “chi”, the body’s vital life energy, and how to accelerate the circulation of qi and blood through a system of specific channels running throughout the body, called meridians. Each meridian relates to major body organs and functions, as well as emotions.

The emotions associated with loss, repressed expression, and other stressful events will cause the muscular structure surrounding the chest cavity to constrict and tighten near the lungs and heart. The chest constriction restricts the qi flow to the liver and heart, a condition diagnosed in TCM as qi stagnation in the liver. Without release, the tension now contained within the chest cavity will continue to strain the heart, which, left untreated, results in panic attacks, anxiety, and panic syndrome, also described in TCM as a condition called ‘Heat in the Heart’.

Because TCM connects the mind, body, and spirit and recognizes this connection, anxiety often leads patients to try acupuncture for the first time, as they realize the important tie between their physical and emotional health.

Acupuncture involves the strategic placement of fine needles on specific points of the body related to meridians. This increases blood circulation and stimulates qi, removing energetic blockages and restoring the flow of vital qi energy throughout the body. Once inserted, the needles remain in body for anywhere between fifteen to thirty minutes, during which time the practitioner may rotate the needles or add a mild electric pulse or vibration to further induce relaxation of the muscles.

Studies show that most Americans report unhealthy levels of stress, and holidays can add to anxiety, stress, and depression—particularly in challenging economic times. As use of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication continues to increase, a natural, safe and cost-effective antidote to stress might be just what the doctor orders.

Hospitals and larger medical practices are increasingly embracing alternative therapies. Studies suggest that acupuncture–which is focused on restoring the body’s “qi”, can indeed reduce symptoms of depression, decrease anxiety, and help relieve stress. Practicing a little self-care this holiday season need not deplete scarce holiday funds: 70 to 80% of insurers now cover all or part of acupuncture treatments.

Chinese medicine has been used in China for over five thousand years and is a holistic, natural alternative to antidepressants or medications that may have side effects. Acupuncture is a drug-free way to feel deep relaxation and to revitalize the spirit.

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Stickin’ It Tue You:Boosting Your Immune System This Flu Season

It’s now December. It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s not Christmas yet.  AND, it’s now flu season!

Also known as the season for drugging yourself silly and making yourself go to work even when you’d rather curl up in bed and do nothing for at least 48 hours.The ironic commercials touting the importance of the flu shot followed by ads for an anti-viral after you get the flu are in full force and on every channel.

Every holiday season we hear about people get whacked left, right and center with colds and many people simply take them as par for the course: you just deal with it. You know at least one person will be sick every place you go, so you just give in to the fact that, at some point, this winter you will be sick.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to strengthen your immune system without the use of expensive and sometimes dangerous drugs. Diet helps as does exercise and rest, but if you’re looking for a method to fill in the weak gaps in your immune system and promote relaxation and pain relief, you’re looking for acupuncture. How does acupuncture boost your immune system and prevent colds?

From the standpoint of the ancient practice of medicine, the reason why acupuncture works is because of the manipulation of energies in the body. Everyone has varying weaknesses in their energy; places where the Chi naturally has problems. Acupuncture can address these weaknesses in the same way a vaccine addresses weaknesses; by boosting energy and giving the body what it needs to strengthen itself. At the root of it all, we see the movement of energy. When the body’s Chi is moving sluggishly and brokenly, the body falls prey to viruses more readily; when the body’s Chi is in balance, the body stays healthy and can fight off viruses.

Not enough? Studies have shown that acupuncture helps the brain increase the body’s level of T-cells; cells which destroy bacteria and harmful viruses in the body. It is thought that acupuncture does this by provoking the body’s immune response through the use of the needles: the body thinks the needles are a threat and marshal their white cell and T-cell count to fight them off. However, the effect of this lasts days after the acupuncture session and so works on viruses and bacteria as well.

So, sick and tired of being… well, sick and tired? Acupuncture may be a great way to fill in the missing gaps in your immune system and keep you healthy this flu season.

Sources: http://rootwholebody.com/how-acupuncture-boosts-your-immune-system-to-prevent-colds

Stickin’ It Tue You: Acupuncture May Reduce Severity and Frequency of Hot Flashes

Menopause is a time of natural change in a woman’s body. Hormones and chemistry are shifting because of lower estrogen and progestin produced by the body. For some women, these shifts in hormones can cause hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. It can be a challenging time.

For women going through menopause, hot flashes can be one of the most uncomfortable symptoms. But a new study suggests that acupuncture may help to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes among menopausal women.

Hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, are a sudden feeling of heat over all or parts of the body. They may also cause redness on the face and neck, red blotches on the arms, back and chest, and heavy sweating or cold shivers. Many health conditions can cause hot flashes, but they are most common among women going through menopause. The study found that menopausal women who underwent acupuncture experienced a reduction in the severity and frequency of hot flashes for up to 3 months.

The most effective treatment for hot flashes is hormone therapy (HRT) – the use of medication that contains estrogen and/or progesterone. However, such treatment can increase the risk of other health conditions, including stroke, heart disease and cancer.

In this latest study, recently published in the journal Menopause, researchers wanted to see how acupuncture affected the regularity and severity of hot flashes a woman experienced while going through natural menopause.

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that is more than 2,500 years old. It incorporates a number of procedures that stimulate anatomical points on the body as a form of healing. The most common form of acupuncture involves the use of thin, metallic needles that penetrate the skin. The technique is most commonly used to help treat chronic pain, but past research has indicated it can help reduce inflammation and may even boost weight loss.

The research team analyzed 104 studies that assessed the effectiveness of acupuncture. The team included 12 of these studies in their research, involving 869 women between the ages of 40-60 who were going through natural menopause.

The women included in the study underwent various forms of acupuncture, including acupressure, electro-acupuncture, laser acupuncture, ear acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture.

The investigators found that women who underwent acupuncture experienced a reduction in the severity and frequency of hot flashes for up to 3 months. Furthermore, the treatment appeared to have a beneficial effect on hot flashes regardless of the number of doses, sessions or duration of treatment received.

The team is unable to explain why acupuncture appears to help alleviate hot flashes among menopausal women, but they hypothesize that acupuncture may trigger a reduction in the concentration of beta-endorphin – a neuropeptide found in the cells of the central and peripheral nervous system – in the hypothalamus of the brain. They say lower levels of beta-endorphin may activate the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which regulates body temperature.

Commenting on the team’s findings, Dr. Margery Gass, executive director of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), says:

“More than anything, this review indicates that there is still much to be learned relative to the causes and treatments of menopausal hot flashes. The review suggests that acupuncture may be an effective alternative for reducing hot flashes, especially for those women seeking non-pharmacologic therapies.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279714.php

http://www.mainlinehealth.org/oth/Page.asp?pageID=OTH006124

Stickin’ It Tue You: Traditional Chinese Medicine to Treat PMS

PMS Relief with Traditional Chinese Medicine

PMS is a disorder characterized by a set of hormonal changes that trigger disruptive symptoms in a significant number of women for up to two weeks prior to menstruation. Of the estimated 40 million suffers (between 50% and 70% of women, or more than 1 in 2), more than 5 million require medical treatment for mood and behavioral changes. Often symptoms tend to taper off with menstruation and women remain symptom-free until approximately two weeks prior to the next menstrual period. These regularly recurring symptoms from ovulation until menses typify PMS.

What is PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome)?

It is believed that there are about 150 physical and emotional symptoms that women may experience. However, the most commonly reported symptoms are:

Physical Symptoms of PMS:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Generalized Aches and Pains
  • Joint Swelling
  • Weight Gain
  • Intense Food Cravings
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Skin Problems
  • Fatigue

Emotional Symptoms of PMS:

  • Sadness, Tearfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Poor Concentration

The number, type and severity of symptoms experienced can vary from woman to woman, and from month to month. Symptoms increase about 7-10 days before the onset of the period, then immediately decline. Symptoms are not experienced throughout the menstrual cycle. If a woman reports experiencing symptoms throughout the menstrual cycle, it is not PMS.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) occurs in about 2-5% of all women. PMDD is when the symptoms are so severe that they interfere with normal daily activities.

Causes of PMS

There are various theories as to the cause of PMS. These include:

  • Hormones – PMS symptoms can be triggered by menstrual hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
  • Metabolism – Some PMS symptoms may be caused by the inability to properly metabolize fatty acids
  • Calcium – Some researchers believe the cause of PMS may be linked to a calcium deficiency
  • Environment – Factors such as the increased use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides may be linked to an increase in rates of PMS
  • Combination – PMS symptoms are possibly brought on by a combination of diet, stress, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies

The lives of women today are very different from those of women 100, 50 or even 20 years ago. Constant physical and emotional demands combined with environmental and societal factors can offset a woman’s equilibrium and leave her experiencing symptoms of PMS.

PMS in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Balanced nutrition is crucial for overcoming PMS. Certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, cold temperature foods, sugar, salt, and animal fats exacerbate symptoms of PMS and should be avoided. In addition, commercial red meats and poultry, which have a residue of steroids composed of female animal sex hormones, should be eliminated from the diet. Food necessary for a harmonious menstrual cycle include: plenty of organic vegetables, small amounts of fruit, whole grains, legumes (especially soy), seaweed, small amounts of lean hormone-free meats, and fish (especially salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel).

Exercise plays an important role in the treatment of PMS. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week improves blood circulation and significantly helps reduce symptoms.

In addition to diet and exercise, some form of meditation can be very helpful. Our emotions and hormones influence each other, since they are registered in the same part of our brain. Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and therefore worsen the symptoms of PMS. Some quiet time everyday helps bring emotional and physical equilibrium.

Chinese medicine offers even more tools to address premenstrual syndrome. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the basic energetic imbalance that causes premenstrual syndrome is “liver qi congestion,” meaning that the qi’s free flow in the body is compromised. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs often provide enormous relief from PMS. Acupuncture removes energy blockages and in turn stabilizes hormonal fluctuations. It also provides deep relaxation that helps to calm the mind. Chinese herbs work together with acupuncture to regulate the flow of energy and substances in the body. Together they stimulate the body’s natural functions and encourage it to establish optimum balance.

Sources: http://www.nyacuhealth.com/pms-menstrual-problems

http://www.acupuncture.com/Conditions/pmsconsu.htm

Stickin’ It Tue You: CAM Treatments for Asthma

Many people try complementary and alternative asthma treatments, ranging from herbs to yoga, in conjunction with their traditional medicine presecriptions. Never stop taking any prescription drug without your doctor’s approval. None of these treatments are meant to replace a fast-acting inhaler in the event of an asthma attack.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) asthma treatment ranges from breathing exercises to herbal remedies. Here’s a list of treatments that may be beneficial if you are suffering this allergy season:

 Acupuncture:
 Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into your skin at specific points on your body. Some studies suggest that asthma symptoms may improve with acupuncture.

If you decide to try acupuncture, work with an experienced, licensed acupuncturist, preferably one who is also a medical doctor.

 Breathing exercises:
 Breathing techniques used for asthma, including the Buteyko breathing technique and yoga breathing (pranayama), are aimed at reducing hyperventilation and regulating breathing. They don’t seem to improve the underlying allergic reaction that causes asthma symptoms. In some studies, however, people who did breathing exercises reported improvement in symptoms.
Herbal remedies:
 Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years to treat lung problems in Asia. Some have shown promise in research, but more studies are needed.

Traditional Chinese, Indian and Japanese medicine usually involves using blends of herbs. Taking certain herbs in combination may be more effective than taking only one herb.

Use caution with herbal remedies and always discuss the use of herbs or dietary supplements with your doctor. Consider these concerns before taking any herbal remedy:

  • Quality and dose. The content of herbal remedies is often not standardized and may vary in quality and potency. Herbal remedies may contain ingredients that aren’t listed, and they may contain contaminants.
  • Side effects. Side effects caused by herbal supplements can range from minor to severe, and depend on the herb and the dose you take. Be especially cautious of herbal asthma remedies that contain stimulant substances, which may cause high blood pressure, heart attack and/or stroke.
  • Drug interactions. Certain herbal remedies can interact with prescription medications.

These concerns don’t necessarily mean trying an herbal treatment is a bad idea — you just need to be careful. Talk with your physician before taking an herbal remedy to make sure it’s safe for you. Also, contact a Functional Medicine or Naturopathic physician to be prescribed pharmaceutical grade supplements and remedies to ensure quality ingredients and the proper dosage.

 Vitamins and supplements:
 Three supplements that seem promising include:
  • Antioxidants. People with severe asthma appear to have decreased levels of these protective nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants such as magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E may have some effect on asthma.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Found in several types of fish, healthy oils containing omega-3s may reduce the inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. They also appear to have a number of other health benefits. It isn’t clear whether omega-3s from vegetable sources, such as flaxseed and canola oil, have the same beneficial effects as omega-3s found in fish.
  • Vitamin D. Some people with severe asthma have a vitamin D deficiency. Researchers are exploring whether vitamin D may reduce asthma symptoms in some people.

A multivitamin or supplement pill may help you get nutrients, but the best way to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition is to eat a varied diet rich in fresh, unprocessed foods. There’s no downside to increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold-water fish, nuts, greens and ground flaxseed.

Stickin’ It Tue You: Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Conventional therapies are limited in the success of treating this complex and unexplained condition. Current treatment is largely comprised of prescribing different medications for the varying symptoms in a trial and error approach. Research shows that as many as 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary and alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together:

chronic pain
debilitating fatigue
difficulty sleeping
anxiety and depression
joint stiffness
chronic headaches and jaw pain
difficulty swallowing
dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes
hypersensitivity to odors, bright lights, and loud noises
inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”)
incontinence
irritable bowel syndrome
numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet
painful menstrual cramps
poor circulation in hands and feet (called Raynaud’s phenomenon)
restless legs syndrome

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months and pain when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body. This condition does not result in any physical damage to the body or its tissues and there are no laboratory tests which can confirm this diagnosis.

Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. Women are more prone to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age.

From an Eastern Perspective

The Oriental medicine theory of pain is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”

Pain is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the body. The disruption of Qi that results in fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney and Heart Systems.

The Acupuncture Treatment

Oriental Medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. Therefore, if 10 people are treated with Oriental medicine for fibromyalgia, each of these 10 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are highly variable form one person to another, a wide array of traditional and alternative treatments has been shown to be the most effective way of treating this difficult syndrome. A treatment program may include a combination of psychological or behavioral therapies, medications, exercise, acupuncture, herbal medicine and bodywork.

Source: https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Acupuncture+for+Fibromyalgia+Syndrome?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=B2B+ACU+July+2015&cm_pla=2+I-Am-A-Licensed-Acupuncturist+%28B2B%29&cm_ite=https%3a%2f%2fwww.acufinder.com%2fAcupuncture%2bInformation%2fDetail%2fAcupuncture%2bfor%2bFibromyalgia%2bSyndrome&cm_lm=tchambers1st@aol.com&cm_ainfo=

Stickin’ It Tue You: Can Acupuncture Help Me?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are extremely successful in the treatment of a multitude of conditions. Many people try Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as a “last resort” to serious and complex medical problems and find that it can help them when other treatments could not.

Acupuncture is also often used as a preventative medicine. Many people see their acupuncturist only 2-4 times a year for a “tune up” or “balancing” treatment. This can prevent disease and promote health, energy and vitality.

An acupuncturist would have to look at the onset of your condition and see what your constitutional diagnosis is to determine if Oriental Medicine can help you.  Each case is unique and it would be difficult to determine how effective acupuncture will be for you without a full assessment.
What problems are commonly treated with Acupuncture?

The most common ailments presented to an acupuncturist tend to be pain related conditions. For example; arthritis, back, neck, knee and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that is capable of diagnosing and successfully treating a wide range of conditions including:

(This is by no means a complete list of what Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat.)

Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders

  • Sinusitis
  • Sore Throat
  • Hay Fever
  • Earache/ Ear Infection
  • Nerve Deafness
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Dizziness
  • Poor Eyesight

Circulatory Disorders

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Angina Pectoris
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Anemia

Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Spastic colon
  • Colitis
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Food Allergies
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Hemorrhoids

Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders

  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
  • Endometriosis
  • Menopause
  • Fibroids
  • Chronic Bladder Infection
  • Complications in Pregnancy
  • Morning Sickness
  • Kidney Stones
  • Impotence
  • Infertility in Men and Women
  • Sexual Dysfunction

Immune Disorders

  • Candida
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Epstein Barr Virus
  • Allergies
  • Lupus
  • MS
  • Hepatitis

Addiction

  • Smoking Cessation
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol

Emotional and Psychological Disorders

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Stress

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders

  • Arthritis
  • Neuralgia
  • Sciatica
  • Back Pain
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Stiff Neck
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Polio
  • Sprains
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Shingles

Respiratory Disorders

  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds and Flus

Acupuncture Also Treats

  • Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects
  • Diabetes
  • Dermatological Disorders
  • Weight Control

If you are suffering from one or more health concerns on this list, please contact (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment to see how acupuncture can help.

Source: https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/What+can+acupuncture+treat+

Stickin’ It Tue You: Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common job-related injuries and is responsible for the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. It is the reason for over two million visits to physicians’ offices and approximately 465,000 carpal tunnel release operations each year, making it the most frequent surgery of the hand and wrist.

Acupuncture is extremely effective at treating carpal tunnel syndrome; eliminating the need for surgery or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids. In fact, one of the most common reasons that people get acupuncture is for repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.  Recent studies even suggest that acupuncture may be more effective than corticosteroids when it comes to treating CTS.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligaments and bones. The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through this tightly spaced tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve entrapment, occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.  The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. The symptoms often first appear during the night.  As symptoms worsen, people might feel pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks.  If not properly treated, CTS can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Acupuncture

From an Oriental medicine perspective, CTS is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi and Blood within the area and associated with Cold, Dampness or Wind penetrating the muscles and sinews of the wrist.  Acupuncture points, stretching exercises, herbal remedies and nutritional supplements are chosen to treat accordingly.

As well as reducing the swelling, inflammation and pain in the wrist, acupuncture addresses any headaches, neck pain, shoulder stiffness and sleeping problems that often accompany this condition.

Your treatment may also take into account any underlying conditions that contribute to the development of CTS including obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, diabetes, hormonal changes of pregnancy and menopause.

If you or someone you know suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, please call (304)263-4927 to schedule an appointment to find out more about how acupuncture can help you.

Source: https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Acupuncture+for+Carpal+Tunnel+Syndrome

Stickin’ It Tue You: Acupuncture Can Help With Pregnancy Symptoms

With all the poking and prodding that comes along with pregnancy, getting stuck with needles voluntarily probably seems like the last thing you’d want to do. But when it comes to banishing some pregnancy woes, many moms-to-be sing the praises of acupuncture. In fact, both scientific research too says acupuncture can help ease many of the common aches and discomforts of pregnancy.

Acupuncture is a healing art that originated in China thousands of years ago. Traditional Chinese medicine views the body as two opposing forces, yin and yang. When an imbalance occurs between the two, it blocks what Chinese medicine refers to as qi (pronounced CHEE), or the flow of vital energy along internal pathways (known as meridians) in our bodies. During acupuncture, a practitioner inserts hair-thin needles through the skin at points along the meridians to correct imbalances and restore health.

So does it work? Researchers have found that acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, so that when the needles are twirled or electrically stimulated (known as electropuncture), the nerves are activated. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help to relieve a number of pregnancy symptoms.
Benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy

Many people credit acupuncture for easing a wide range of pregnancy symptoms including heartburn, swelling in the legs, constipation, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica and more.

Here are some of the pregnancy symptoms acupuncture can relieve that science has studied:

Morning sickness: Some studies have shown that traditional acupuncture that targets the wrist can reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness.
Lower back and pelvic pain: Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reports acupuncture could reduce pain in the lower back along with pelvic pain. Pregnant women in their late second and third trimesters received acupuncture on points on the ear; sham acupuncture (so-called “fake” acupuncture, done at nonspecific points); or no treatment at all. At the one-week follow-up, about 80 percent of women in the acupuncture group had a clinically significant reduction in pain, compared to 56 percent in the sham acupuncture group and only 36 percent for the group who received no treatment.
Depression: Depression during pregnancy is common, affecting nearly one in four women — but a targeted type of acupuncture may help. For a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, during eight weeks clinically-depressed pregnant women who weren’t previously taking antidepressants received general acupuncture, acupuncture specific for depression, or massage. The severity of depression symptoms decreased most among women who received acupuncture for depression. And 63 percent of the women who received the depression-specific acupuncture responded to the treatment, compared to 44 percent in the general acupuncture and massage groups.
Headaches: Research has shown that acupuncture can reduce pregnancy-induced headaches; women who received it also used less medication.
Sleep Problems. Getting to sleep and staying asleep is trickier than ever during pregnancy — but some research has shown that women who receive acupuncture sleep better during pregnancy, too.

When done properly by a trained professional, acupuncture during pregnancy is considered safe and has few risks. Most risks are associated with acupuncture in general, such as soreness, redness or infection at the insertion sites, and injury from needles placed too deeply.

The biggest concern during pregnancy is where the acupuncture is performed: There are several acupuncture and acupressure points (like those in the ankle) that are said to induce contractions — which is why they should be avoided until term and used as an all natural form of induction.

Sources: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy-acupuncture.aspx

Stickin’ It Tue You: Acupuncture Relieves Stress and Anxiety

At one time or another, all of us experience stress.  These feelings are a healthy response to events in our lives that may feel beyond our control.  When we are healthy and the stress is short-lived, we are usually able to recover without too much wear and tear to our overall health.  However, when the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our emotional health and ultimately, our physical health begin to suffer.

Our bodies are hardwired to help us react to stressful events.  At the first sign of a threat, whether real or perceived, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and facilitates what is called the “fight or flight” response.  Our heart rate increases, our pupils dilate, and our digestion temporarily shuts down, directing blood to our extremities, so that if need be, we can either fight what is threatening us, or turn and run if the threat is too formidable.

Unfortunately, the “fight or flight” response, which worked well in caveman days, does not serve us as well if the “threat” is a demanding boss, nasty co-worker or even a worrisome situation that is not being resolved.  More often than not, the stress in our lives is long-term, and as a result, we find ourselves in a constant state of “fight or flight”, or stress.  Over time, the constant state of stress takes its toll.  Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone elevates, blood pressure increases, and our immune function is suppressed.  Over time, these symptoms become worse and can develop into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive problems, and tension headaches.

Emotions from a Chinese Medical Perspective

In Chinese medicine, stress, anxiety, depression or any strong emotion interrupts the smooth flow of energy throughout the body.  According to Chinese medical theory, energy flows through our body through a network of “roads”, almost like a highway system.  Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body.  For example, many people who are very stressed out complain of upper back, shoulder and neck pain.  This is because stress is causing tension in those areas, blocking the free flow of energy, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches.

In a highway system, when there is road construction or an accident, traffic may be also backed up on other secondary roads that feed into or out of the affected area.  This is true in the body, too.  Stress may affect many other parts of the body, most notably digestion, the ability to sleep, pain conditions, and blood pressure. Stress can also aggravate an already troublesome health condition.

Through acupuncture, theses energy blockages can be addressed. Acupuncture points serve as the on and off ramps to the energy highway, and can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself.

From a Western viewpoint, acupuncture works to alleviate stress by releasing natural pain-killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins.  In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals.  The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.

Sources: https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Acupuncture+for+Stress+and+Anxiety