The kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine are a vital energy system. They are the root of all yin and yang in the body, and they store our essence. They govern growth, reproduction and healthy progression through the different cycles of life. They play a role in healthy aging and preventing lots of age-related decline. They also control the bones, the low back and the knees. On a mental-emotional level, the kidneys are associated with fear - an imbalance in the kidney energy often leads to irrational or pervasive fear. On a spiritual level, the kidneys are the source of our Zhi, or will-power - our drive to succeed, to thrive and to be alive.
So a weakness in the kidney energy can create any number of problems in the body. An accurate diagnosis of a kidney weakness requires evaluation by a practitioner of TCM, but most people can benefit from some kidney tonification, particularly if trying to get pregnant, when healing from a chronic illness and after the age of 65. Chinese Herbs are safe and effective when prescribed by a licensed practitioner. Below are some of the most common tonic herbs we prescribe in TCM to nourish the kidneys.
Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia Root, Chinese Foxglove Root): Shu Di Huang tonifies and nourishes the yin aspect of the kidneys. It also strongly nourishes the blood energy of the body. Shu Di Huang is used in many herbal formulas for insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety.
Gou Qi Zi (Chinese Wolfberry Fruit, Goji Berries): Gou Qi Zi nourishes the yin and blood of both the Kidneys and the Liver. It benefits the essence stored in the kidneys, and has a specific function of brightening the eyes. It can be used in the appropriate formulas for issues such as weakness in the low back, trouble sleeping, dizziness, blurry vision, nocturnal emissions and infertility.
He Shou Wu (Polygonum, Fleeceflower Root): He Shou Wu is another herb to nourish the yin and blood of the liver and kidney. It has a specific function of nourishing the hair to prevent premature thinning and graying. It can also be used in formulas for chronic constipation, dizziness, vertigo, blurry vision, infertility or weakness in the low back and knees.
Rou Cong Rong (Broomrape Stem): Rou Cong Rong strengthens the yang aspect of the kidneys, or the source of warm, fiery energy in the body. As such, it is used in formulas for infertility, impotence and urinary disorders such as urinary dribbling or incontinence. It also has a function of moistening the intestines and can be used for certain types of chronic constipation.
Rou Gui (Dried Cinnamon Bark): Rou Gui also strengthens the yang of the kidneys, and warms the kidneys and the channels. It is used in formulas for symptoms such as a deep feeling of cold, cold limbs, weakness in the low back, impotence, frequent urination, chronic pain worse in the cold, wheezing and certain types of menstrual pain.
Most of these herbs need to be prescribed by a licensed practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine. If you want to nourish the kidneys on your own, consider adding Shan Yao (Chinese Yam) into your diet, and picking up some Goji Berries at your local health store. You can also incorporate kidney-nourishing foods into your diet, such as fish, seaweed, miso, kidney beans, black beans and bone broth.
A study published in Anesthesiology: The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., tested electroacupuncture for its effectiveness in treating persistent pain. Although the subjects used in the study were animals, the findings can be easily translated and adjusted so the same methods can be used to treat human beings. The studies showed that electroacupuncture can greatly decrease several types of pain, including neuropathic, inflammatory, cancer-related and visceral pain. The studies showed solid evidence that electroacupuncture can indeed be used for analgesia in patients that are suffering from chronic pain, regardless of the type of pain.
Acupuncture is a modality used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which a practitioner inserts hair-thin, solid, stainless steel needles into the body, under the skin along energetic pathways. These energetic pathways, or meridians, are invisible lines that run throughout the body. These meridians allow energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) to flow throughout the body, keeping the body in balance and alignment. For optimal health to be achieved, Qi must flow freely without any blockages. Blocked or stagnant energy can result in disease or decreased vitality.
Electroacupuncture is a variation on acupuncture. Electroacupuncture works the same way as regular acupuncture, but it uses the needles as conduits that administer small jolts of electricity that invigorate the skin and muscles of the body. Electricity increases the effects of acupuncture. This can lead to increased energy, pain relief, and much, much more. The electrical charges encourage additional physiological processes that go beyond the mere stimulation of Qi. Acupuncture coupled with electricity, encourages the body to release neurotransmitters that can act as natural painkillers. Because of this, electroacupuncture is becoming more common in the treatment of pain.
Electroacupuncture is especially useful for conditions in which there is an accumulation of Qi, such as chronic pain. This type of acupuncture can be used as a pain reliever for muscle spasms, neurological disorders and possibly even heart disease. There is evidence that electrical stimulation of acupressure points can activate the endorphin system. This can actually lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Electroacupuncture produces a rhythmic, non-painful muscle twitch just below the needle through the use of a very small milliamp current. This stimulation triggers perfusion of blood flow locally. This blood flow carries essential nutrients that promote muscle regeneration. The use of electroacupuncture can break pain cycles, while smoothing the way for a person’s own pain-relieving mechanisms. Electroacupuncture also relaxes muscles.
Electroacupuncture does come with risks and it is not appropriate for everybody. Anybody who has a history of seizures, epilepsy or stroke, would not be an ideal candidate for the use of electroacupuncture. Also, it is not recommended for people who have pacemakers, as it can interfere with the electrical current of the devices. Before trying electroacupuncture, the practitioner should verify that you are not at risk. If they do not, it is vital for the patient to bring this up to avoid any complications.
Rebecca here, EXTREMELY proud and excited to announce the addition of a NEW ACUPUNCTURIST to my Portland office (yay! cheering in the background, huzzah!!!)
Jonathan Irvin, LAc graduated from the New England School of Acupuncture in Newton, MA in 2015 and has a passion for helping patients unlock their healing potential using Chinese Medicine.
With a history as an urban farmer before finding his way to Chinese Medicine, herbs are of particular interest to him and I couldn't more excited by the fact that he is offering herbal consultations in addition to Acupuncture treatments for those who might be on the fence about the needle part, but want the incredible healing that goes along with 3,000 years of Chinese Medicine.
Jonathan is also an accomplished Tuina (chinese bodywork) practitioner, so he will also be offering 90 minute Acupuncture + Massage treatments. One of the best options available, especially for auto accidents and injuries.
He is offering hours on Saturday to start and we're hoping to expand that into the week as quickly as possible. We are also working away on contracting him with insurance companies, so for now treatments must be paid for out of pocket only (except for car accidents and worker's compensation, no network contracts for those!). We hope the first insurance companies will come online within a few weeks, so please don't hesitate to email anytime to ask about Jonathan's in-network status.
Jonathan will be accepting Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pacificsource, MODA, Providence, Kaiser and United Healthcare plans in network as quick as we can make that happen.
So please book now if you want to get in on the awesome weekend hours, and stay tuned to the FAQ page for updates about Jonathan's in network status.
Hooray! Happy December everyone, great time to book in for the holidays!
A recent article published by Sepalika.com provides information from multiple research studies that confirm the best way to manage diabetes is through proper diet. More specifically through the use of “superfoods.” The multiple studies showed various superfoods such as oily fish, broccoli, blueberries, beets and chia seeds can all help in the fight against diabetes. These foods have been shown to lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar control. This is very promising for those suffering from diabetes because it may ultimately help them reverse this disease.
With diabetes being the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, the research never seems to end. Over 29 million Americans suffer from this disease and the numbers aren’t getting any better. Diabetes is caused by a dysfunction of the pancreas. There are two forms of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 can be reversed through the use of proper diet and exercise. This is where superfoods come into play.
Superfoods are defined as foods thought to be nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health. There is no set criteria for determining what is truly a superfood though. Superfoods don’t have their own food group, as they can be either plant-based or animal-based. Popular superfoods have very large doses of vitamins and minerals that can help us fight off diseases and live longer lives. Some of the nutrients found in certain superfoods include antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber and phytochemicals. However, just because a food is considered a superfood, that doesn’t mean that one should eat unlimited quantities. For example, many superfood juices are still high in sugar and should be used in moderation.
For those suffering from diabetes, superfoods can provide a plethora of nutrients that can help balance blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which may ultimately provide for disease reversal.
Here are some examples of superfoods that are very beneficial for diabetics to consume. Beans are a great source of protein and they are high in soluble fiber, which lowers blood glucose levels. Berries have been shown to decrease insulin resistance due to the content of compounds known as anthocyanins, which are members of the phytochemical family. Flaxseed has been shown to decrease fasting blood glucose levels.
Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates, which means a little goes a long way when it comes to filling up the gut and fighting hunger. Polyphagia or the urge to excessively eat, is a common symptom in diabetics. Non-starchy vegetables may be the answer to this problem. These veggies are also high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. Non-starchy vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, broccoli and beets. The American Diabetes Association also endorses most non-starchy vegetables as low glycemic index foods, which means diabetics can eat them with abandon and still avoid excessively high blood glucose levels.
As with anything, moderation is the key. But the use of these superfoods may be very helpful for those suffering from diabetes. In most cases, Type 2 diabetes is reversible. The question becomes what does the patient desire more. This will ultimately determine the outcome.
A study published by the Healthcare Medicine Institute found acupuncture can effectively decrease symptoms of diabetes. This study actually looked at two clinical trials and determined both showed improvement for the participants. The first trial focused primarily on the usage of acupuncture, coupled with moxibustion. The second trial aimed to study diabetic gastroparesis and how it can be treated using acupuncture. Both trials concluded the overall symptoms of diabetes sufferers can be greatly decreased through the use of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The trial that used both acupuncture and moxibustion yielded an 84.78 percent efficacy rate for those diagnosed with yin deficient diabetes and a 69.75 percent efficacy rate for those diagnosed with yang deficient diabetes.
Diabetes is now labeled as an epidemic in the United States, with nearly 29 million Americans suffering from the disease and another 86 million on the verge of becoming diabetic, as they deal with prediabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations and adult-onset blindness.
Diabetes is caused by dysfunction of the pancreas. There are two forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and it affects the way the body processes blood sugar or glucose. While Type 2 diabetes is usually reversible through proper diet and exercise. The usual treatments include daily injections of insulin and blood sugar monitoring. But due to the standard American diet (SAD), many people in the U.S. are constantly struggling and unfortunately, losing the battle. This is where TCM may be able to help.
In numerous studies, TCM has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, decrease the symptoms of polyphagia (urge to eat constantly), polydipsia (excessive thirst) and polyuria (excessive urination), improve microcirculation and enhance blood flow to the peripheral areas of the body.
Acupuncture, one of the many modalities used in TCM, uses hair-thin, solid needles to trigger the body’s regulatory systems that then release chemicals that stimulate the secretion of hormones, reduce pain and inflammation and help the body restore homeostasis. The blood glucose lowering effects of acupuncture are due to the down-regulation of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that encourages the liver to create glucose, which is thought to be the reason that insulin sensitivity is increased.
Another facet of TCM that can help greatly with diabetes patients is diet and herbal formulations. There are many foods and herbs that have showed significant hypoglycemic action. These include mung beans, rehmannia, astragalus, lycium bark and fruit, ginseng and even asparagus root.
TCM offers hope for those suffering from diabetes without the adverse side effects frequently associated with the prescribed medications. If you or somebody you know suffers from diabetes, consider contacting a fully licensed TCM practitioner to see what they can do for you.
During an initial session of acupuncture, most practitioners began with an extensive health intake that goes over all of the systems in the body. We use this to determine certain patterns of imbalance, allowing us to treat the root cause of issues. This is one way we differ from Western medicine.
I have learned throughout the years when someone makes an appointment to deal with their pain, this is all they are concerned about. I understand completely. If I pulled a muscle in my back and went to a doctor who gave me medication to help with digestion, I would be confused and annoyed he wasn’t dealing with the issue I came in with. So, when I see patients, I focus on their presenting issue. I know once this problem has resolved, they will likely see other beneficial side effects from the treatment, such as:
If you're intrigued or interested in learning more, please don't hesitate to book in using the links above and below or to contact me for more information. I'm happy to help!
Yours in Health,
Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years, views the body differently than modern medicine. When the body is broken down to its core, its tiniest molecules can be classified as energy. This means every element of the universe resides within the human body, to some degree. And every organ has its own properties and energies that must remain balanced for the body to function properly.
The energies within the body must be a perfect synergy of elements. This allows for homeostatic balance, biochemical balance, longevity and harmony between the body and mind.
The food we put in our mouths can either fuel us or slowly kill us. By knowing which body type we fit into based on the five elements, wood, fire, water, earth or metal, we can then eat a balanced diet that will allow us to remain healthy and strong throughout our lives. Here are some guidelines that may be helpful.
The wood element body type tends to be slender with a long face, body and fingers, similar to a tree. The liver, gallbladder, tendons, ligaments and sinews are all controlled by the wood element. Recommended foods for the wood body type include anything sour, and green foods with stalks. Make sure to exclude alcohol, processed foods, high fat foods and most dairy, as these foods can restrict the free flow of energy and blood, while wreaking havoc on the function of the wood element.
The fire element body type tends to possess a pointy nose, chin and top of the head. The fire element body is shaped like a torch, pointed on the top, narrow at the bottom and flared in the middle. The fire element handles the circulatory, glandular and immune systems. This includes the heart, small intestine and the lymphatic system. Recommended foods for the fire body type include bitter foods, grains, vegetables, dark leafy greens, beans and seeds. These foods tend to keep the fire at bay, avoiding an overabundance. Foods to avoid include chocolate, salt, meats, stimulants and hot spices.
The water element body type has a tendency towards “thickness.” The face tends to be large and round, with a wider base, while the body is full and chubby. The water element rules the kidneys, bladder, bones, nerves and teeth. Recommended foods for the water element body type include pure water (not what is contained in juices, coffee, etc.), blue, purple and black foods, root vegetables and seaweeds and seafood. Foods to avoid include sugars, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, frozen and excessively raw foods.
The earth element body type tends to be short in stature, with a short body, short fingers and neck. The face tends to be square, while the body is pear shaped with rounded buttocks. The earth element rules the digestive and structural systems within the body. This includes the stomach, spleen and muscles. Recommended foods for the earth element body type include root vegetables, leafy greens and light proteins such as legumes and fish. Foods to avoid include refined carbohydrates, dairy, iced drinks and processed foods as they gunk up the digestive system and overtax the spleen and stomach.
The metal element body type tends to have defined facial features and broad, square shoulders. However, their features tend to be thin in nature, such as thin lips and eyelids. The metal element rules the intestinal, respiratory and skin systems, as well as assisting with the immune system. Recommended foods include those that have a dispersing effect and promote energy circulation. Foods sour in nature are best for this body type. Also foods high in minerals like leafy greens and vegetables are good choices. Foods to avoid include dairy, red meat and bitter foods.
Once we know our elemental body type, we can effectively nourish our body without wreaking havoc. Want to know more about optimizing YOUR body according to Chinese Medicine? Book online using the links above or below or contact us for more information!
Problems with pain management are almost always the primary complaint in patients suffering from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Much of this pain is musculoskeletal in nature such as a sprain, tendinosis or joint subluxation. But often our patient's pain complaints are less clear. This pain can be described as a burning, stabbing pain that moves throughout the body inexplicably and without identifiable causes. Recent research by Cazzato, et al. has demonstrated that patients with EDS have a very high chance of manifesting small fiber neuropathy in the sensory fibers of their skin.
Neuropathy is the inflammation or death of nerve fibers in the outer-layers of our bodies. This is commonly seen in diabetic patients with changes in their blood chemistry. However it has recently been identified that more than 90% of investigated EDS patients demonstrate evidence of localized small fiber neuropathy. This has commonly been identified and treated in the fibromyalgia populations with medications such as Neurontin/Gabapentin, Amitriptyline, Pregabalin and Cymbalta.
This type of pain would be classified as neuropathic pain and is very different from mechanical type musculoskeletal pain. Pain medications like NSAID, opioids and muscle relaxants that are prescribed for musculoskeletal pain are often unsuccessful for treating neuropathically induced pains.
The Cazzato study reported 19 of 24 EDS patients complained of moderate to severe symptoms consistent with neuropathic pain. When their research patients were examined via skin biopsy all 24 demonstrated findings consistent with small fiber neuropathy.
When discussing pain medication with your providers it is important to identify what the underlying pain generators are in order to pick efficacious medicines and interventions. If your pain is a diffuse burning discomfort that bounces around the surface levels of skin, fascia and muscle you may benefit from a medication specifically targeting neurogenic pain.
Not sure where you pain is coming from or why? That is a great reason to come see a Physical Therapist who can manually test your body and evaluate your symptoms to provide direction and advice about the best course of action. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy with advanced training it would be my pleasure to evaluate and assess what is going on to help you find relief and develop a plan of action that will lead to better quality of life. Email me or call 360-952-3074 to request an appointment today for more information.
~Brian Kitzerow, DPT, CMPT, OCS
Acupuncture is an effective method of treatment for seniors struggling with hypertension. The reasons are manifold. Doctors want to reduce medical waste and find more effective ways to actually treat disease, instead of masking symptoms. More medical professsionals and scientists are also realizing that holistic treatments offer effective, non-intrusive health solutions for many conditions. In addition, elderly people have delicate body systems. Many factors like diet, activity and emotional balance affect their blood pressure rate. Modern medicine also comes with a myriad of side effects.
Reducing Medical Waste
Thereâs no doubt the healthcare crisis in America is largely due to spending waste. Insurance carriers and patients spend money on unnecessary expenses and procedures. Yet the healthcare they receive does little to heal their conditions. To reduce waste, physicians are starting to call for better quality healthcare; and cutting out unnecessary pre-op tests, excessive care visits, and over-medication. Scientific research is also starting to show that when you add round-the-clock safety monitoring and body-balancing holistic treatments to a patients' healthcare regimen; overall medical care begins to produce more measurable results.
Ups and Downs
Everyoneâs blood pressure rate fluctuates throughout the day. Seniors are no exception. During the day your bp is higher than when itâs resting at night. It rises after a big meal or when youâre experiencing stress.
Some seniors are at significant risk for developing depression and other emotional conditions because of the drastic changes they experience as they enter their senior years. Many seniors also suffer from food insecurity because their appetites change due to stress and emotional trauma, poor cognition and simply lack of hunger. In addition to causing hypertension, malnutrition can contribute to health conditions like heart disease, gum disease, asthma, psoriasis and lifestyle limitations.
The only way to get an accurate reading at a doctorâs office is for patients to rest for 10 minutes before the doctor takes the reading. Many doctors then take a second standing reading as well. Sometimes doctors ask patients to take readings throughout over a period of 24 hours if they suspect issues like:
What Makes Acupuncture Effective?
Because blood pressure is something that can fluctuate so much, medical professionals are finding that prescribing strong medicine isnât an ideal solution. In addition, doctors readily admit that most of the popular medicines on the market have undesirable side effects.
Just like blood flows throughout the body, energy flows as well throughout body channels called meridians. Acupuncture stimulates these meridians. Each meridian communicates with the brain and corresponds with a body system governing an important function like pain perception, blood pressure, the cardiovascular system and adrenaline response. Strong scientific research backs the statement that acupuncture is an effective treatment for hypertension and many other conditions. Doctors have even performed surgery with no pain medication other than acupuncture.
âBy freelance contributor Sally Phillips
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