Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine can be beneficial.
Acupuncture treatments are completely customizable. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners don’t treat based on the Western medical diagnosis. They attack the disease based on its diagnosis in Chinese medicine. This means that they not only want to treat the symptoms, but also get to the root of the problem. This is much different from Western medicine with its one-size-fits-all type of treatments. The ability to treat each person as an individual with their own unique diagnosis is why traditional Chinese medicine is so successful.
Many factors play into an autoimmune disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment, usually with better results. Since autoimmune diseases are thought to be a deficiency in people’s immune-system responses, TCM practitioners will work to restore and rejuvenate the factors that are vital for good immunity. These things include blood and the energetic life force known as qi (pronounced “chee”). There can also be underlying genetic factors involved in autoimmune diseases, so acupuncturists may also work on building up a patients essence or jing. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.
The use of electroacupuncture may prove useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases too. Electroacupuncture emits mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles. These light shocks trigger the body to produce hormones that suppress pain and inflammation. This helps raise endorphins circulating in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.
Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Chinese herbs have specific qualities that can help boost blood, qi and jing. When acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined, the effects can be quite favorable. The herbs will actually compliment the acupuncture treatments by extending the effects of the needles. Many times this will shorten the number of treatments required, as the patient will start to see results sooner.
Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases also experience high levels of stress because of their disorder. It can be very stressful trying to lead a “normal” life with severe pain and other symptoms. Studies show acupuncture is very relaxing, and it helps reduce excess cortisol levels in the brain that contribute to chronic stress.
As autoimmune sufferers start to see improvements with acupuncture treatments and herbs, they may also be able to do things they couldn’t before, like exercise. Exercising not only improves blood flow, but it also increases immunity. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in the body. So just by receiving regular acupuncture treatments and herbal supplements, those suffering from autoimmune diseases may be able to lead a much more normal life with a lot less pain and suffering.
If you are dealing with some type of autoimmune disease, consider giving Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance. The outcomes may be life changing.
Fall is a favorite season for many people. The weather starts getting a little cooler, things are beginning to slow down and preparations for the holidays are in full swing. For many others, fall is not so festive. Many people get sick during the fall months, allergies can flare up for some, and many don’t like the steady decrease in hours of sunlight, sometimes leading to seasonal depression. Here are some tips on how to get through the season without incident.
1. Wear a scarf.
The large intestine channel runs up the arms, across the shoulders, up the neck, over the face and ends next to the nose. As many people now know, the health of our gastrointestinal tract plays a big part in our immunity, so keeping the large intestine channel warm and preventing exposure from the elements will help keep you healthy. Cold pathogens can enter the body through the pores or nasal cavity, but wrapping the neck and shoulders with a scarf can help ward them off. Scarves don’t have to be thick or heavy, but they should cover the neck.
2. Eat according to the season
Eating foods readily available during the autumn months and foods that boost the energy of the lung and large intestine meridians is a great way to keep the organs associated with fall - the lung and large intestine - in balance. In the fall, you should eat fewer cold and raw foods like salads and instead eat more warm and cooked foods. Foods to enjoy during the fall months include apples, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pears, yams, bananas, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, ginger, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and wild rice. Hot herbal teas are another good addition to your daily diet, especially those containing ginger and lemon, which act as natural antibiotics.
3. Stay hydrated
The large intestine and the lungs need to stay moist to function properly, so drinking lots of water is important during the fall. Without proper hydration, the skin, which is controlled by the lung meridian, can become dry and cracked, allowing pathogens to easily enter the body. The large intestine meridian also needs proper hydration in order to expel any pathogens that do get into the system.
4. Let it go (literally and metaphorically)
Fall is the season of letting go. Just as the trees let go of brightly colored leaves, you too should let go of whatever is bogging you down. This can include physical items like clothing, as well as items that are clogging up your mental closet, like unresolved emotions. Letting go of attachments can make way for growth and regeneration to occur in the spring.
5. Get acupuncture!
As the fall months approach, it is a good idea to increase your regular acupuncture treatments. There are many acupuncture points that help boost immunity, fight off colds, help with releasing emotions and improve digestion. Why not utilize the natural power we have to offer? By doing so, you might just survive the fall without ever getting sick and be better prepared for the upcoming months and seasons that follow.
A study published by the National Institutes of Health evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture for stimulating or regulating the immune system by comparing the results from several studies that each used different methods of acupuncture. Through the use of electroacupuncture, moxibustion, herbs and acupuncture, the studies concluded Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, can be helpful for the immune system. The combined studies demonstrated that moxibustion helped repair the gut mucosa of rats suffering from ulcerative colitis, electroacupuncture can increase the number of T cells in the body and that general acupuncture can decrease inflammation, which plays a vital role in the immune system.
Your immune system is what keeps you healthy and helps you ward off pathogens like the flu or a cold. Most of us don’t spend a lot of time worrying about our immune system until we’re sick. Then we reach for the over-the-counter medications to help relieve our symptoms. By looking to TCM instead, we can be proactive about supporting our immune systems in a safe and natural way.
According to TCM, the body is protected by something known as the Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). The Wei Qi, or defensive Qi, is comparable to the immune system in conventional medicine. It acts as the first line of defense when the body is under attack from external pathogens. If the Wei Qi is strong, then the body is capable of fighting off bacteria and viruses. Extreme stress, lack of sleep and a poor diet can all play into how strong the body’s Wei Qi is and how well it performs.
There are multiple tools in the TCM practitioner’s tool box that can assist in keeping the immune system strong and healthy, including acupuncture, moxibustion, electroacupuncture, herbs, cupping and nutrition.
Each of these tools has a similar effect on the body. TCM can regulate immune function, while also treating the underlying causes of the disease. This is done by reducing the symptoms, speeding up the healing, decreasing excess phlegm, decreasing inflammation and boosting the immune-mediated cells in the body that help ward off invasions.
Studies show regular acupuncture treatments can actually increase the number of T cells the body produces. T cells destroy harmful bacteria and viruses in the body. Acupuncture needles stimulate the brain into thinking an invader (virus or bacteria) has entered the body. The brain signals the increased release of T cells and white blood cells to fight off the intruder. The amazing part is the increased cellular response lasts for several days after the acupuncture treatment. Thus, receiving regular acupuncture treatments can actually prevent the body from getting sick.
Heart health is extremely important. Without a healthy heart, the body does not function properly. The same can be said for a healthy state of mind. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be extremely beneficial. TCM, a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years, uses multiple modalities to treat illnesses and conditions of the mind and body.
When the heart is strong, circulation will be sufficient, the body will be well nourished and the pulse will reflect that by being full and regular. Both TCM and conventional medicine agree a weak heart can manifest as palpitations, chest pain and even heart disease or a heart attack. Where the two medical systems diverge is this: Traditional Chinese Medicine also acknowledges that the heart “houses the mind.”
In TCM, the heart and the mind are virtually inseparable. The heart governs the ability to think clearly and sleep soundly. Our emotional state is strongly influenced by how healthy or unhealthy our heart may be. A weak and deficient heart may create feelings of anxiety and mania, while also contributing to insomnia, forgetfulness and lack of concentration. And conversely, a weak mind or uncontrolled emotions can lead to a sick heart.
Heart health can be reflected in the facial complexion also. A nice rosy complexion indicates a strong, healthy heart, while a pale or sallow complexion is indicative of a deficient, weak heart. If the heart blood becomes stagnant, the complexion may have a purplish tint. When the complexion is reddish, this may indicate heart heat. This is one of the diagnostic tools that TCM practitioners use to determine the disease pattern of their patients.
Looking at some of the different modalities incorporated into TCM, there are many ways a person can manage their heart health. Here are some ways that TCM can help.
Acupuncture for Heart Health: Inserting hair-thin, solid, filiform needles into acupressure points along the body can help tremendously to keep your heart healthy. Acupuncture has been shown to lower blood pressure, calm the mind, relieve stress and decrease any pain that might be occurring. Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow, making circulation more effective.
Favorite Acupuncture Points for Heart Health:
· Governing Vessel 20 – This point is located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of both ears. GV20 stimulates circulation throughout the body and calms the mind.
· Heart 7 – This point is located bilaterally on the underside of the wrist, at the outermost end of the wrist crease. H7 can help with heart arrhythmias, panic attacks, hypertension, insomnia and much more.
· Liver 3 – Located bilaterally on the top of the foot, in the depression about one thumb-width from the edge of the webbing between the first and second toes. L3 is a great point for improving blood circulation and relieving anxiety.
Chinese Herbs and Formulas for Heart Health: Another important component of TCM is the use of herbs and herbal formulas. Many times the herbs can be used alone, but there will be a more synergistic effect when single herbs are combined to make a formula. One such herb is San Qi. San Qi invigorates the blood, removing blockages, and it is also known to lower blood pressure. One of the most popular herbal formulas is Suan Zao Ren Tang. This formula nourishes the blood, calms the spirit and clears heat, which are all symptoms that can be associated with an imbalanced heart.
Dietary Recommendations for Heart Health: Nutrition can also be very important in keeping the heart healthy. Berries are loaded with antioxidants that can reduce the risk of heart disease. Chia seeds and flax seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids that can help lower blood pressure. Other foods like asparagus, nuts, dark chocolate, beans and green tea can also help to maintain a healthy heart.
Seeking help from a locally licensed acupuncturist is a great way to take care of your health. If you are experiencing any chest pains or stroke symptoms, it is best to go to urgent care first, just to make sure there is no serious damage.
Acupuncture is part of a medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. The practice uses hair-thin needles to stimulate acupressure points, specific points on the body that regulate the flow of energy through pathways called meridians. The free and balanced flow of this energy, or Qi, dispels pain and illness from the body, according to TCM. For many years in the Western world, in fact for most of the 3,000 years acupuncture has existed, people have been skeptical about placing their faith in a medical system that looks at energy pathways instead of veins.
Today, a growing body of research on acupuncture is going a long way to prove the efficacy of acupuncture for a variety of afflictions, and the practice is growing in popularity. If you’re one of those people still on the fence, take a closer look at these five prevailing myths about acupuncture before deciding it’s not for you.
Myth one: Acupuncture is painful.
It’s understandable to think being pricked with multiple needles will be painful or at least uncomfortable. In the West, our experience with needles is primarily through getting shots with hypodermic needles. Those needs are significantly larger than acupuncture needles, which are only about twice the diameter of a human hair. Acupuncture needles are also extremely flexible and can bend to a 90-degree angle without breaking. Rather than pain, most patients report a vague numbness, heaviness, tingling or dull ache around where the needles are inserted.
Myth two: Acupuncture only works to treat pain.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Asia, acupuncture is used to treat just about everything, and stateside, research is showing it alleviates a multitude of ailments. Acupuncture has been shown to help everything from allergies to arthritis. Some hospitals are now offering acupuncture to help alleviate stress and anxiety in the emergency room, and the U.S. military is using acupuncture on the battlefield to help with PTSD.
Myth three: Acupuncture doesn’t really work: it’s just a placebo effect
Over the past decade, scientific studies have come a long way in disproving this claim. Most studies today test the efficacy of acupuncture treatments by performing true acupuncture on a portion of the study participants and sham acupuncture on another group. The sham acupuncture, placing needles in people at random points rather than known acupoints, is meant to test the strength of the placebo effect in acupuncture. Several studies have found that while people in both groups report some change (pain relief, less nausea etc. depending on the study), the group that receives true acupuncture consistently reports more significant change, for a longer period of time, and system-wide change rather than just localized effects where the needles are inserted. In May 2018, the Journal of Pain published a study that looked at acupuncture and chronic pain using data from nearly 21,000 patients. In their study, patients who received sham acupuncture did not see significant changes in their pain whereas the group that received true acupuncture did, adding to the body of evidence showing acupuncture cannot be explained away by the placebo effect.
Myth four: Acupuncture works miracles: it only takes a couple needles to cure you
The truth is that acupuncture works on a cumulative basis, just like building muscle or losing fat by going to the gym. You can’t expect to go to the gym once and look like Dwayne Johnson. It takes time. And depending on how long you’ve been dealing with your ailment, it may take quite a bit of time and multiple treatments. There are no instant fixes when it comes to health.
Myth five: Acupuncture is expensive
This all depends on the practitioner, the type of acupuncture being performed and whether or not you use insurance. Practitioners sometimes offer sliding scale pricing. Community style acupuncture, typically performed in an open setting with the practitioner treating multiple people at once, is quite affordable. And, as more and more insurance policies start to cover acupuncture, it is becoming more accessible to more people.
Summer is a time of abundant energy, long sunshine-filled days and warmth. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, summer has many different associations that help define it and therefore help us understand how to stay in balance with the season. The element of summer is fire, the color is red, the emotion is joy and the governing organs are the heart and the small intestine. One way to stay healthy this summer is to adjust your habits to support your heart.
The heart is the main organ associated with the season of summer, and as such it should be paid close attention to and nourished to remain healthy. The heart’s main function is to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. In TCM, mental activity is also associated with the heart. This mental activity is known as Shen in Chinese medicine. Often compared to our mind, the Shen goes deeper to include our thought processes, memory, consciousness and emotional well-being.
Summer is the most appropriate time to calm the Shen and provide it with enrichment that will last throughout the whole year. When the fire element is balanced, the mind is calm, sleep is sound and the heart organ is strong and healthy. If the fire element is not balanced, there may be depression or an excess of joy which manifests as mania. Symptoms of an unbalanced fire element include heartburn, insomnia, agitation, nervousness, digestive upset, rashes, palpitations and excessive perspiration.
The small intestine, the second organ associated with summer in TCM, is responsible for separating the pure from the impure, allowing the body to use the pure and dispose of the impure. When the heart is not balanced, the small intestine, the brother to the heart, will not function properly either. For many people, this manifests as digestive upset of some sort: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, etc.
Going outside and engaging all of your senses is an easy way to nourish the heart. A technique known as “grounding” has been gaining popularity over the past decade, and science is showing that it can be very beneficial. All one has to do is walk or stand in the grass while barefoot. The energy from the earth is incredible, and it can be very healing. While you’re there, take time to listen to the sounds of nature that surround you and enjoy the fragrances of the flowers. Taking in the experience with all your senses can be very grounding and have a calming effect on the mind and body.
Probably the two most important things you can do for heart health during the summer months is drink plenty of fresh water and eat cooling foods. No matter what season of the year, water is vital. It is recommended we drink at least 64 ounces per day. Cooling foods like fruits are good at keeping fire under control, which is healthy for the whole body. Other foods that are beneficial for the summer months include peppers, eggplant, cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, melons of all kinds, beets, radishes, jicama, carrots, berries, pineapple, cucumbers, peaches, peppermint, grapefruit and mushrooms.
If you notice yourself experiencing a heart or fire imbalance, consider adding acupuncture to your routine. Acupuncture is very good at reducing or increasing the body’s yang or fire energy, depending upon your individual needs. Ask me if you have any questions about using your acupuncture treatments to support your health this summer.
A study published by the National Institutes of Health looked at the prevalence of acute myocardial infarction, or heart attacks, on participants that received acupuncture treatments compared with those who did not. The group of participants that were selected to receive acupuncture went through at least one acupuncture treatment course (six sessions). The results showed those receiving the acupuncture treatment series were less likely to experience a heart attack. And the more treatment sessions, the less likely a heart attack would occur. This study shows regular acupuncture treatments can indeed be helpful at preventing heart attacks.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), just like Western medicine, believes the heart is responsible for the circulation of blood. When the heart is strong, circulation will be sufficient, the body will be well nourished and the pulse will reflect that by being full and regular. Both medical systems agree a weak heart can manifest as palpitations, chest pain and even heart disease or a heart attack. Where the two medical systems diverge is this: Traditional Chinese Medicine also acknowledges that the heart “houses the mind.”
In TCM, the heart and the mind are virtually inseparable. The heart governs the ability to think clearly, sleep soundly and maintain a good memory. Our emotional state is strongly influenced by how healthy or unhealthy our heart may be. A weak and deficient heart may create feelings of anxiety and mania, while also contributing to insomnia, forgetfulness and lack of concentration. Conversely, a weak mind or uncontrolled emotions can lead to a sick heart.
Regular acupuncture treatments have been found to be very helpful in lowering blood pressure. The needles stimulate the release of opioids, which then decrease the heart’s activity and its need for oxygen. This in turn helps lower blood pressure. Acupuncture also decreases the resting heart rate and blood pressure by helping to decrease stress levels.
Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and even heart attacks. Numerous studies have shown that stress can be managed through the use of acupuncture. TCM offers more than just acupuncture to treat stress, though. Herbal formulas and exercises like tai chi and qi gong are all wonderful tools for managing stress and keeping the heart healthy.
Poor sleep and insomnia have been linked to heart failure, heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes too. TCM can help treat a wide array of sleep problems without the harsh side effects of many pharmaceuticals. When a person is rested, their heart will generally be healthier.
Without a healthy heart, the body cannot function properly and the mind may be clouded and disconnected. Contact a licensed acupuncturist in your area to see how TCM can assist you with all of your heart health needs.
Add: https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1886-acupuncture-prevents-heart-damage-confirmed?fbclid=IwAR2n8K4PA7pIQIM_eUPEwCYgxFEHb-HztbXIwcw6mzNYRnZGE7DCpJUzo20 ?
A 2017 study from researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine helps to show how electroacupuncture can stimulate tissue repair after an injury and relieve pain through a specific neurological mechanism. Over 40 scientists at research institutions in the United States and South Korea collaborated on the study. Through a series of tests, first on horses and then humans, the final study offers the most comprehensive view yet of how electroacupuncture stimulates the release of stem cells, special cells that develop into a variety of kinds of cells and repair cells.
The first uses of electroacupuncture are attributed to a Chinese doctor, Tang She-cheng, in 1934. In the West, the term is attributed to Dr. Roger la Fuye of France in 1947.
Electroacupuncture uses the same principles as acupuncture, which involves inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points on the body. In electroacupuncture, however, practitioners add a small electrical current to the inserted needles, rather than simply stimulating the points by tapping or gently twisting the needles as they’re inserted.
Through brain MRIs, this research showed electroacupuncture activates the hypothalamus – a part of the brain responsible for controlling the nervous system and subconscious functions like the heart rate. Electrical stimuli from the needles reached the brain of the subjects within nine to 22 minutes, depending on the species. From there, reparative stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, were released into the bloodstream within two hours. These cells can differentiate into bone, cartilage and muscle cells, among others, aiding in repairing injured areas of the body. In order to access this response, researchers administered the electroacupuncture at specific acupoints related to the immune system.
The study found increases in a type of collagen that promotes tendon repair, which contributes to research looking to better understand stem cells. The collagen also produces anti-inflammatory cells known to be predictors of faster healing time.
From an acupuncture perspective, your body is made up of lots of different kinds of Qi, or energy. These different types of Qi have specific physiological functions in the body. One essential type of Qi is the Wei Qi. Roughly translated as “immunity,” the Wei Qi is your body’s natural strength and ability to fight off pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
The Wei Qi, also called “protective Qi” flows in the space between the skin and muscles, and is the first line of defense against sickness (after your skin). The Wei Qi also controls the opening and closing of the pores, so spontaneous sweating is a sign of a weakness in your protective Qi.
When the Wei Qi is not strong enough, we are not able to fight off outside pathogens, and we get sick.
A number of other energetic imbalances can weaken our Wei Qi:
So, how do you make sure your Wei Qi is healthy and strong?
We’ve all been there - you have the best of intentions to do something positive or productive (go to the gym, make healthy dietary changes, start working on a new project around the house, finish a work assignment, study for an upcoming test) - but you end up spending hours procrastinating, making excuses to yourself and not doing the thing you need to get done. Why is it so hard to get motivated sometimes?
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, lack of motivation may stem from multiple different types of energetic imbalances in the body - and how to overcome that lack of motivation depends on what type of imbalance is holding you back.
You are stuck.
In TCM theory, the liver energy system is in charge of the “smooth flow” of Qi, or energy, throughout the whole body. When liver Qi flows smoothly, we are physically and mentally healthy, vibrant and on top of our game. But when liver Qi gets stuck, a whole lot of problems can ensue, such as neck and shoulder tension, headaches, irritability, impatience and lack of motivation.
This type of lack of motivation is the kind where it is hard to get something started...but once you start, you feel so much better and have no problem continuing. A perfect example is wanting to exercise, but having a really hard time motivating yourself to get out the door because you feel tired and angsty. However, if you overcome that feeling and push yourself to exercise, you will notice your problem with motivation decreases drastically, and you’ll feel like a different person when you come back home. This is because the original problem was that your Qi was stuck - and exercise got it going again.
The liver energy is also related to our ability to plan, create a vision for the future and set goals. When the liver energy is stuck, it is harder for us to see how our daily tasks relate to the future we want for ourselves.
Physical movement helps motivation problems connected to Qi stagnation. Push yourself in your workouts to clear your head and overcome the stagnation, or take a break at work and go for a walk to regain your motivation and focus.
You are damp.
Dampness is a concept somewhat unique to TCM. It refers to an abnormal processing of fluids in the body. These fluids coalesce in various places – for instance, when dampness accumulates in the joints, there may be joint pain that is worse in rainy weather. When dampness accumulates in the mind, it can lead to a lack of motivation.
This type of problem with motivation is associated with a lack of mental clarity, foggy-headedness, a general feeling of sluggishness and an inability to keep focused on any given task. Dampness is slow and cloudy, and creates a haze over our mental functioning. This extends into our ability to start tasks, as well.
To overcome a lack of motivation associated with dampness, it is important to look at environmental factors that may be making you damp. Are you living in a damp house? Are there things you can do to clean up that aspect of your living area? For instance, consider using a dehumidifier if you live in a basement apartment, or adding houseplants and natural sources of light to your space.
It is also very important to look at your diet. If you are struggling with dampness, avoid dairy, sugar, and fatty or greasy foods. Also eat warm, cooked foods as much as possible, and limit your intake of raw or cold foods, which tax the digestive system and can lead to dampness.
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