Dealing with mesothelioma can be difficult, especially for those who are undergoing an aggressive form of chemotherapy in order to better combat the effects of the dangerous cancer. For many patients, it can be difficult to continue intensive treatments, and many doctors recommend supplementary care systems to improve the individual's health in their fight. Numerous alternative medicine options are available to provide patients with additional relief, and many choose acupuncture as a primary supplementing treatment option. Those who are interested in how this system works can look forward to a number of health benefits that can assist them with their primary cancer treatment.
Many people find the practice itself extremely soothing. By targeting specific pressure points with thin needles, the practitioner is able to help provide patients with a deeper state of relaxation. This can be invaluable in the fight against cancer, as many may feel stressed throughout their treatment, which can result in a number of detriments. When the body is stressed, it does not optimize healing as well as it could, which can lead to a slower healing process and an increased rate of remission. Through the stress relief benefits of acupuncture, individuals can reduce their levels of stress and allow their body to focus on healing more actively.
Many patients swear by the fatigue-reducing and appetite-boosting benefits that come with this method of treatment. The proper manipulation of the needles can help individuals feel less nauseous throughout the day, which can be an invaluable way to boost the appetite. When the patient is able to eat more, they are able to build up their strength reserves and immune system. This is critical to their health, as it helps them fight back against the cancer and improve their odds of a full and healthy recovery. With more energy throughout the day, the individual may also begin to move around more and regain their sense of self.
There are some who believe that this method of treatment may also provide them with deeper benefits. This can greatly improve their state of mind and body's will to fight against the cancer, which can be crucial in all situations. No matter how effective the treatments are, if the patient's heart is not set on recovering, they may not be able to optimize their healing. Through the spiritual benefits of this treatment, patients may feel better about how they are doing, which can encourage the recovery process and reduce the individual's downtime, especially when it comes to a cancer as aggressive as mesothelioma.
There are many unique styles of needle insertion, many of which are designed as a specific way to help individuals achieve a certain result. As such, some options may be better suited to help cancer patients than others. Speaking with the appropriate medical professionals is strongly recommended, as knowing what the primary caregiver may recommend as an acupuncture option can greatly increase the positive effects of the treatment itself. Patients are strongly encouraged to shop around before they settle with one specific practitioner.
by Katherine Keys
Most people have heard of the field of acupuncture by now, but did you realize the scope of the practice encompasses Chinese medicine, which includes so much more than needles? Let’s explore this ancient therapy.
First of all, the practice of Chinese medicine starts with a diagnosis. The practitioner asks many questions to build a history; this includes the answers to digestion, appetite, diet, sleep patterns, bowel movement urination, pain, lifestyle, and stress level, for example. The acupuncturist will also be noting the voice pitch, hair luster, skin color and tone, as well as posture and mood of the patient and any significant odor. After that, there is a pulse and tongue analysis to determine where the pattern and root are, primarily. Finally, blood pressure is measured and other applicable tests done, including palpation of the body. After this history, a diagnosis and treatment plan is determined. What might be included in this plan?
Needles: Acupuncture needles are very fine, sterile, painless and safe. They are, of course, the main component of the treatment plan. They are placed into certain acupuncture points on the body, either locally (at the pain site) or distally (away from the pain). The needles are retained anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes and most find the treatment to be relaxing and calming.
Herbal formulas: Chinese medicine includes herbal formulas for the most part. The herbs and acupuncture needles work together to bring the body into harmony naturally. Herbal formulas come in either patent formulas, or the practitioner will make you your own formula. What is special about formulas is that they are designed to not overdo the amount of one herb that might cause harm in another part of the body; for example, if you are trying to get rid of heat, there will be herbs to clear heat (by promoting urination perhaps) but also herbs to mitigate the strong effects a heat-clearing herb might have on other organs. In this way, there is always a balance. Herbal formulas treat not only the symptoms but also the root cause.
Nutritional counseling: In Chinese medicine, food is medicine, and if you don’t get an herbal remedy, you will probably get dietary advice tailored to your specific constitution. For example, if someone has a pale tongue with a white coating, and it is puffy with teeth marks on the side, this might indicate this person has too much cold in the stomach, which is hampering the digestive fire. Chinese medicine rates food according to its temperature, season, color, shape and whether it’s right for your individual body. Cold foods include too many cold, raw vegetables, iced drinks and smoothies. A food such as ginger might be a nice addition to one’s diet in this case.
Cupping and Gua Sha: Cupping uses glass cups heated with a small flame to create a suction on the skin. This dissipates stagnation of blood and lymph fluid, promotes blood flow, eases stiffness, encourages better circulation to muscles and tissues, and feels great. It leaves a purple bruise and “cup” mark, only temporarily.
Gua sha uses a flat edged tool that is scraped in one direction on the skin, usually on large areas such as the back. Gua sha is used for many ailments, but especially for pain and stiffness. It removes blood stagnation and promotes the smooth flow of oxygen and blood. Waste and toxins are removed, and the scraping helps circulate fluid and nutrients, encouraging microcirculation in soft tissue. Gua sha can be used on the face for health and beauty, as well.
Moxibustion: Moxibustion is heated mugwort and comes in many forms. Usually this smoky herb is held over an area of the body to warm and circulate. It’s great for menstrual cramps and chronic pain. Smoky moxibustion is used less nowadays due to shared office space and its smoky quality, but there are plenty of practitioners who still use it; find one and you’ll be happy you did. Alternatives to the smoke are smokeless moxa sticks and oil moxa.
As you can see, the wide practice of acupuncture is much more than just needles. In addition to the above mentioned supplements to treatment, some practitioners use massage techniques, a form of manipulation called Tui Na, or acupressure.
In my practice I utilize a little bit of all of these different modalities on a case by case basis. In particular I always add some gua sha, cupping, Tuina or Foot Reflexology. In my personal philosophy, a little bit of bodywork goes a long way to help integrate the energetic work we do into the physical body so I always include a little bit to help the body along.
Interested in more? contact me or book now!
One of the best gifts you can give your mother this Mother’s Day is the gift of acupuncture. Acupuncture can help with an abundance of health problems and get you feeling one hundred percent again. Mom’s make the world work, it’s a known fact. So this holiday season you should give your mother the gift of acupuncture, here are seven reasons why.
1. Acupuncture is great for pregnancy. In the first trimester of pregnancy, many women turn to acupuncture when they are looking for a non-medicated way to treat what ails them. The number one reason women seek acupuncture in their first trimester of pregnancy is morning sickness.
2. Acupuncture can help cure and alleviate stress. Mom’s have to deal with a lot of stress, so what is better than getting a cure for that this mother’s day? Send your mom to an acupuncturist so she can reap the benefits of calming stress relief.
3. Acupuncture is a great cure and preventative measure for anxiety. There are many acupuncture points on the body to calm the mind and bring us down from our stresses and anxieties. Such as Pericardium 6, Liver 3 and Stomach 6.
4. Acupuncture is very beneficial for those experiencing arthritis. There are different types of arthritis and different treatment plans which include acupuncture, herbs, changes in diet and exercise. Traditional Chinese Medicine just might be able to help you move better and find relief.
5. Kiss migraines goodbye. Acupuncture is a great cure for migraines, it also can help prevent them from happening too. It is possible to stop a migraine in its tracks if one is able to see an acupuncturist during the acute stage of migraine.
6. Acupuncture can alleviate insomnia. We all know that mom’s have to put up with so much throughout the day, by being overworked and overstressed it may cause them to get insomnia. Acupuncture needles are strategically placed on points that will calm the mind, balance hormones and settle the nervous system. Most people will notice some change after just one treatment, but to get the full effect and truly eliminate insomnia, you should commit to several treatments.
7. It improves digestive function. Acupuncture is effective in improving the digestive function within individuals. There are numerous acupuncture points on the body that can help with digestion. Two of the best are located on the stomach energetic meridian, Stomach 25 and Stomach 36 (that means specific acupoints on the belly and the shin! Ask, I'll show ya sometime...).
Having children was the BEST decision of my life. All the excitements, joys, sorrows and everything in between that go with it are worth every minute. That doesn't mean every minute is magical or easy. Moms are some of the hardest working women in the world and it is my privilege both to be part of that community and to have tools in my Acupuncture toolbox to help those of us who are mothers to be the best that we can be.
Interested in learning more? Email me or book online any time and allow me to be part of your mommy support group!
The gallbladder is one of the most commonly treated yang organ energetic systems we treat with acupuncture. Each system in Chinese medicine is designated as either yin or yang. Very generally speaking, the yin organ systems store vital substances, whereas yang organ systems fill and empty themselves more dynamically. Each yin organ system is paired with a yang organ system and vice versa. In modern acupuncture practice, most acupuncturists pay a lot of attention to the yin organ systems, but the yang systems are very important too.
The gallbladder is one such system. Now, it is important to note that from a Chinese Medicine perspective, when we talk about a particular organ, such as the liver or heart or gallbladder, we are not talking about the physical organ that sits inside your body. Rather, we are talking about a complex system of energy that flows within particular pathways and has a particular physiological function.
In Chinese Medicine, one of the essential functions of the gallbladder system is to control the flow of bile. This is its yang organ function of filling and emptying. Each yang organ is paired with a yin organ - the gallbladder is paired with the liver. The liver and gallbladder work together on many physiological functions, including bile production and excretion.
The gallbladder system controls the sinews (or ligaments and tendons.) Thus, points on the gallbladder meridian are often treated for any sort of soft tissue injury, such as tendonitis, muscle sprains, strains and tendon tears. The gallbladder meridian itself runs along the sides of the body - making it doubly useful for musculoskeletal pain affecting the neck, shoulders, ribs, lateral abdominals, hips, IT Bands, knees, shins and ankles.
On a mental-emotional level, the gallbladder system is related to decisiveness and courage. A strong gallbladder gives us the ability to make decisions, and the courage to see them through. A weak gallbladder leads to lots of second-guessing, timidity and fearfulness.
On both a physical and a mental/emotional level, the gallbladder is about stability and the boundaries of self. Physically, the gallbladder meridian traverses the borders of our body - when its function is impaired, musculoskeletal problems easily arise and our balance and equilibrium are weakened. Emotionally, a weak gallbladder means our sense of self is endangered - we are unable to fight for what we believe in, we waver in our opinions and we are apprehensive with our interactions with the outer world.
Nourishing the Gallbladder through Food
Because of the gallbladder’s close relationship with the liver, any liver-nourishing foods will benefit the gallbladder as well, such as liver, mustard greens, goji berries, beets, broccoli and sprouts. Because the gallbladder is closely tied to digestive function through bile production, when trying to balance the gallbladder energy, it is important to limit fried and greasy foods, as well as dairy, sugar, caffeine or highly acidic foods.
Nourishing the Gallbladder through Lifestyle
Of all the systems in the body, the gallbladder system perhaps craves movement the most. The gallbladder meridian will become cranky and painful with lack of movement. So do your best to incorporate some sort of exercise each day.
Stretching enlivens the connective tissue, which the gallbladder system controls. Take a yoga class, or devote some extra time to stretching post-workout. In particular, try to incorporate stretches that get to the sides of your body, as this is gallbladder meridian territory.
Work out the muscle knots.
Use massage, acupuncture or foam rolling to break up adhesions in the connective tissue of the IT Bands, neck and shoulders or back. Physically, this will help you to recover more quickly after exercise and help alleviate pain and tension. Emotionally, it may also let you free from old emotions, as emotions are often stored in the body in the form of tension, knots and pain. Releasing those knots, particularly along the gallbladder meridian, can help you find strength and flexibility you didn’t know you had.
Spring is generally regarded as a happy season, especially for those that live in areas where winter is cold and dark. Spring brings with it longer days, more sunshine, the rebirth of plants and more activity. But for many, the months of spring can also bring irritability, anxiety, sinus issues, allergy flare-ups and even colds.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been around for nearly 3,000 years, which gives the medical system, as a whole, a lot of credibility. TCM classifies things in many different ways. There are five seasonal associations in TCM - winter, spring, summer, late summer and fall. Each season has its own unique set of properties and associations. Spring is associated with the wood element. The wood element governs the liver and the gallbladder and their energetic pathways in TCM. The five seasons and their corresponding elements interact with one another daily, creating balance and harmony or complete chaos within the body.
The season of spring is a time of expansive movement and growth. Spring is a time of creativity and planning. Since the liver and gallbladder are associated with the tendons and are responsible for the smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body, our daily activities should reflect this. Being more active and spending more time outside can be great ways to strengthen the liver and gallbladder energies during the months of spring. We should imitate the budding trees and flowers and allow ourselves to grow and reach for bigger and better goals during the spring.
The color green is the color of spring in TCM. During these months, fresh greens are abundant. It is highly recommended that we incorporate more fresh greens into our daily diets. Greens have been shown to be very beneficial for helping the liver do its job, detoxifying the blood. Dandelion greens, in particular, are a good source for detoxification, which ultimately strengthens the liver and gallbladder meridians.
It is also recommended to avoid excessive stimulants during the spring months. Things like coffee are considered expansive and energizing, which can be somewhat helpful during the cold winter months. But during the spring, when life is abounding, excess energy can actually be harmful to the body. It can create headaches, insomnia, anger and more.
When a person is completely balanced, transitioning from one season to another is not such a big deal. However, knowing what elemental type you are can also be very beneficial in determining how you will react to each passing season. For instance, a person who has a wood element constitution, may experience anger during the spring. This is because the wood element is already closely associated with the emotion of anger and spring brings added stimuli that can trigger fits of rage.
One way to keep the body balanced is through acupuncture and TCM. The body is designed to maintain proper balance, but we tend to not pay attention to the warning signs until we experience pain or illness. Getting regular acupuncture treatments can work as preventive medicine, providing harmony throughout every season of the year.
If you experience feelings of anxiety, anger or even self-loathing, acupuncture can help. It can also help with those seasonal allergies that might flare up. Acupuncture is a wonderful way to maintain health and balance all year long. Be sure to find a fully licensed acupuncturist in your area, so you can enjoy spring without any emotional or physical impairment.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by a particular organ system and spring is connected to the liver. What does this mean? Well, you probably notice changes in the way you feel, both physically and mentally, as the seasons change. I know I tend to feel a bit more contemplative and introspective during the winter months. Once spring hits, I'm ready to recharge and get things done. The liver energy is strong and assertive, the type of energy you need to create plans and then propel them into motion. However, if your liver is a little out of balance, you might notice you are more irritable or on edge than usual. Here are a few signs that your liver is in need of an acupuncture tune-up:
1. You've noticed an increase in headaches lately, and these headaches seem to feel worse when you aren't active. Generally these headaches tend to manifest at the vertex of your head.
2. You might begin to feel constipated or bloated. Your bowel movements might become irregular, alternating between constipation and loose stools. Hard, difficult stools that appear pebbly are also a sign of liver imbalance.
3. Your friends or coworkers are scared of you, because you are cranky, cranky, cranky. When liver energy is out of balance you might feel agitated, irritated and generally out of sorts. Sometimes irritation can expand into outright anger more easily than it would if this energy was flowing smoothly.
4. Ladies, you may notice your PMS symptoms have been worse lately. Bloating, breast tenderness, sensitivity...you can blame all of the above on your liver. If your periods are more painful or clotted, this is also due to a stagnation of liver energy.
5. Your eyes are red, itchy or irritated.
6. Your shoulders, neck or jaw are uncomfortably tight. If the liver energy is out of balance, it can flow upward. This causes everything in your body to rise up: you might grind or clench your teeth, your shoulders will levitate up around your ears, and you might experience symptoms of TMJ.
7. Your allergies are in full force, complete with itchy, red, watery eyes.
If you are suffering from any of these issues, your body is crying out for a visit to your acupuncturist!
As some of you may know, my family and I moved from SW Portland to Ridgefield, WA (right on the border of La Center, as in our windows literally look at the town) and as part of that transition, I realized that I could no longer commute into Portland on Tuesdays anymore where I worked one afternoon a week for a Naturopath friend of mine on SW Macadam. At long last, I finally found the perfect opportunity to replace that Tuesday afternoon, a practice of my own in La Center!
La Center is the sweetest community and I couldn't be more excited to be opening a small shop. I will be there Tuesday afternoons only to start. For my Portland patients please don't fret, I'm not closing shop! Just opening that Tuesday afternoon. As the year progresses I may add one more day in La Center, but I'm taking it one step at a time.
My La Center practice is located inside The Heritage Building on 4th & Cedar in the heart of town. There is a lovely massage therapist there who also houses yoga classes out of her suite, a salon, a lovely counselor, Docudriven and a local nonprofit called La Center United, a home builder and a construction company. I highly recommend them all!
My schedule at La Center is online and ready for booking - you can book in using the button below. My insurance contracts are in process, but I am already contracted there to see Kaiser patients and my BCBS contract should come through in a few days! All the rest are in the queue just waiting their bureaucratic turn.
Questions? Shoot me a message! Or go ahead and book in below. Look forward to seeing you there, spread the word if you know anyone looking for experienced care in the area!
Yours in Health,
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the TCM practitioner is known as moxibustion.
Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed on the acupuncture point, lit, extinguished and removed before it burns the skin.
Non-scarring moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deeply into the skin, but does not create a scar or any pain. Indirect moxibustion is the more popular of the forms. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a stick of moxa and holds it close to the acupuncture point for several minutes until the area turns red.
Moxibustion is used to help people with cold or stagnant conditions. Burning moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the energetic meridians, which creates the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Moxibustion also supports the yang energy, which strengthens and increases the original Qi. Moxibustion can be used to treat many conditions including back pain, muscle stiffness, headaches, tendonitis, arthritis, digestive disorders, anxiety, menstrual cramps, irregular periods and infertility. Moxibustion is not recommended for diabetic patients, since they have decreased sensitivity to pain and compromised circulation.
Moxibustion is very effectively used in patients that have a cold constitution. Many chronic conditions, even the ones that manifest as heat conditions, can have chronic cold as the underlying situation. A cold constitution is triggered or aggravated by over cooling the body systems. Because of technological advances, our bodies are exposed to cold at a much higher rate than in the past. Things like refrigeration, air-conditioning, iced beverages and even ice cream have created a society of people with cold constitutions. Also many pharmaceutical drugs including over-the-counter pain medications are known to decrease body temperature. Large consumption of fruits and raw vegetables and ongoing mental and emotional stress can also create cold constitutions. Therefore using moxibustion is frequently warranted in the treatment of many illnesses and diseases.
Moxibustion on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 also has the function of preventing diseases and maintaining health. In ancient China, this technique was known as reverse moxibustion. Even if a person is quite healthy, regular moxibustion on this point can invigorate healthy Qi and strengthen the immune system, thus increasing longevity. Perhaps this is why the point has been nicknamed the “longevity point”.
As with acupuncture, only a licensed practitioner should be called upon for treatments such as moxibustion. If you believe that moxibustion may be helpful with your medical conditions, be sure to discuss it with your acupuncturist.
Created by Stanley Burroughs, author of the book The Master Cleanser, the master cleanse is a great way to cleanse the body while giving the digestive system a much-needed rest. The master cleanse, usually used to achieve rapid weight loss, can also be used to heal and nourish the body.
The cleanse is a liquid diet, which some refer to as a juice fast. It effectively supplies all of the healthy and essential nutrients and calories the body needs to function. The beauty of the master cleanse is that in addition to being rewarding and beneficial for your body, it is also extremely easy to follow and inact.
There are three main parts of the master cleanse. You should utilize all three of these parts in order to extract all of the healing and fasting properties of the master cleanse. The three parts are the lemon drink, the salt drink and the herbal/laxative teas.
First, you need to make sure to six to 12 glasses of the lemon drink per day over the course of a 10-day period. The lemon drink consists of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, water and maple syrup. Balance out your intake of the lemon drink throughout the day with regular water if you still feel thirsty.
The salt drink part of the cleanse is a little bit different. The salt drink consists of just lukewarm water and natural sea salt. You should make sure to drink a quart every morning, all in one sitting.
The third and final part to the master cleanse is an herbal laxative or tea. Make sure to take a laxative or drink a laxative tea before bed each night in order to complete the steps of the master cleanse.
The master cleanse is an extremely effective form of detox dieting, and if you want to pursue it you should! Spring is the time in Chinese Medicine to cleanse and the master cleanse is a strict though relatively simple cleanse to do. I highly recommend that you read reviews of the cleanse and get the precise details of the recipe from Stanley's book and consider easing in and easing out of the cleanse if you decide to pursue this option.
I personally cleanse every Spring myself, and I particularly like revisiting a basic Elimination Diet without the testing portion - making it a 4 week process - and including a detox supplement like Mediclear by Thorne. More than anything I feel like one of the most impactful parts of a cleanse is resetting your habits. Its easy to slide into bad habits and a cleanse, any type of cleanse, forces you into that resetting. If you're lucky and determined, you make the best parts of it stick - until the holidays that is...
If you have questions about cleansing don't hesitate to ask at your next Acupuncture session and if you ARE cleansing, get on the books! Acupuncture can support healthy liver and digestive function which gets you the most out of your cleanse that you possibly can.
Chemotherapy treatments for internal lung lining cancer can leave the patient feeling drained, both physically and emotionally. In order to combat the side effects of such rigorous treatments, many doctors recommend alternate treatment options to improve the patient's outlook and recovery process. One of the most highly recommended forms of therapy is acupuncture, which can provide individuals with a number of benefits.
Helping Manage Pain
Studies have found that this system of treatment has proven benefits that can provide individuals with necessary relief from pain. Those who struggle with mesothelioma typically experience pain from tumors and treatments, culminating around the lungs and chest. With these treatments, patients can look forward to immediate pain reduction, so much so that some patients were able to stop using pain medications entirely after a regimen of needle therapy sessions.
Reducing the Presence of Nausea
Nausea and loss of appetite is one of the most common and unfortunate side effects of undergoing chemotherapy. Without proper nutrition, many individuals may find it more difficult to fight against their cancer and speed up their recovery. Through the use of acupuncture, however, many are able to look forward to improved appetite and a reduction in nausea symptoms. Using specially targeted pressure points, patients could improve their desire to eat, which could speed up their recovery and help regain comfort.
Mitigating the Effects of Dry Mouth
A dry mouth is another uncomfortable side effect of radiation and chemotherapy. Not only is it an unpleasant sensation to experience, but it can also increase the risk of infection in the mouth and guns. Through certain needle treatment techniques, patients can improve their saliva flow and help reduce the risk of experiencing prolonged bouts of dry mouth. Though some may believe there is a placebo effect at work with this particular system, patients can still benefit from the mental focus and meditative benefits that needle treatments can provide.
Those who are not sure if acupuncture therapy is right for them should be sure to speak with their medical professional to determine how they can benefit. The right degree of care can provide patients with necessary relief and strength during a stressful recovery period.
To credit the author; Virgil Anderson is an author and editor at Mesothelioma.net. Mesothelioma patient and cancer victim, Virgil spends his spare time connecting with fellow mesothelioma patients and promoting awareness around a very complex cancer with a poor prognosis. For more information about Virgil, please visit https://mesothelioma.net/tech-school-students/. For more information about Mesothelioma, please visit https://mesothelioma.net.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist in La Center, Washington and Downtown Portland, Oregon.
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