The Art and Science of Cupping
By now you’ve probably heard of or experienced cupping. Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps sporting nothing but a speedo and purple cupping circles while winning gold in 2016 drew a storm of media attention to this ancient healing practice. Hollywood movies (ie: The Godfather, part 2) have cupping scenes, while celebrities have exposed their cupping marks on the red carpet. If you have relatives from other parts of the world, perhaps you got to experience the benefits in childhood. Or maybe your first encounter with cupping was (or will be!) on your acupuncturist’s treatment table.
Cupping therapy has managed to stay on trend for some years now, but it’s long since proven its staying power. Cupping therapy spread throughout Europe during the renaissance. It dates back much further though, to ancient Egyptian, Greek, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C.
China is famous for cupping and its use there also dates back thousands of years. The earliest record of cupping in China was from the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD). Back then, cupping was applied using cattle horns or cross sections of bamboo. Now, Chinese Medicine Practitioners generally use round glass or plastic cups.
Traditionally, all cupping involved a flammable substance set on fire and placed in a cup. As the fire goes out, the cup is turned upside down on your skin, creating a vacuum. Wet cupping involves bloodletting enhanced by the suction of the cups. This is thought to draw out thick, stagnant blood, generating healing through improved blood flow. Dry cupping is the more commonly used method in most modern clinics today, and is any type of cupping that doesn't involve a puncture to draw blood. During stationary cupping the cup is generally left in place for up to 3 minutes. Moving (aka sliding) cupping, is where the skin is lubricated with oil to allow for massage-like strokes with the cups as they create a gliding suction over areas of the body such as the back muscles. A convenient cupping tool used by many acupuncturists today uses a pump instead of fire to create the vacuum. This style allows for the use of smaller cups to work with bony joints and even face muscles. Some therapists also use silicone cups, which are easily maneuvered with a squeeze of the hand to create the desired level of suction.
Cupping is understood in TCM to assist with qi and blood flow. It also opens the pores to draw out pathogenic factors such as wind, cold, damp and heat. Biomedical research has found that, cupping does, in fact, increase local blood flow through microcirculation and capillary cell repair , and wet cupping has been shown to help remove toxins from the blood.
One of the reasons it has stood the test of time is because it is safe and beneficial for so many conditions. Here are some examples of uses where research supports effectiveness :
So, the big question: How does it feel?
Like a massage! (especially the sliding cups) but instead of a push you feel a pull. Patients sometimes describe it as ‘a good hurt’, followed by a release of pressure. A good practitioner will communicate with you to find your balance point to make sure it is a relaxing, comfortable experience. And yes, you may leave with the famous ‘cupping marks’, but these are not bruises, as they are not caused by injury and do not hurt, rather they are evidence that stagnation has been released.
While it is generally considered a very safe technique, it is important to make sure your practitioner is skilled and taking proper precautions. Licensed Acupuncturists have extensive training in cupping, so call today and experience the benefits yourself!
The shriveled red Goji berry doesn’t look like much at first, but this Himalayan fruit, otherwise known in Tibet as the “key to eternal youth”, is a superfood packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. You can add it to almost any meal, it tastes delicious, and it may add some pep to your step.
Chinese medicine has known about this berry, Lycium barbarum, or “wolfberry”, for many years, and it’s used as an herbal remedy to treat many age related ailments, as it’s been known to treat the root and essence of the body, the kidneys, and the liver, which stores blood. You can eat it alone or along with other herbs that boost the benefits to create a formula specific to your individual needs. Your acupuncturist is the best person to assess and create a formula for you.
The Goji has 21 minerals, including beta carotene, and trace elements. It also has a powerful antioxidant called zeaxanthin, B vitamins, and has more vitamin C than oranges. The Goji berry also has fiber so you feel full (hello weight loss!) and has about 13% protein depending on the dosage. The Goji contains lutein, which benefits the eyes, as well as the mentioned beta carotene which also benefits the eyes and skin.
What all of these nutrients tell us is that this berry helps keep the blood more alkaline, white blood cells are fortified along with your immune system, and all the amino acids, vitamins and minerals means oxygen is transported nicely through the body. So what do you get? Well-being, more energy, vitality, stronger immunity, and healthy eyes.
The Goji berry tastes sweet and a bit sour and is bright in color. It’s best to buy organic and good quality berries, or you can grow your own.
Some benefits may include improved vision, more energy, lowering of bad cholesterol, increased energy, better sleep, weight loss, improved hair thickness and luster, and less dryness. Goji berries also may help fight depression.
You can include these berries in trail mixes, cereals, or salads, or just eat them straight from your hand. How much to eat to stay healthy? The answer to that depends on your individual needs and palate. Start with a few grams, then a handful, and go from there according to how you feel and what your body is in the mood for.
Goji berries belong to the nightshade family, foods that contain solanine. These foods include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Some individuals, like those who have arthritis, may have an allergy to these foods and it is not recommended for them in that case. If you are taking some medications like blood thinners, blood pressure medication, or diabetes medicine this berry may not be right for you. It also is a “warming” food, so refrain if you have a fever or the flu.
If you are fine with those foods and don’t run too hot, go ahead and indulge in what might become your favorite berry. Benefits may vary depending on the individual, and it’s best to start with a smaller amount and see how you feel. If these aren’t for you, you can also try similar foods like the acai berry, elderberry, or tart cherries. It’s best to eat them by themselves instead of in a juice with other fruits.
5 Ways to Use Goji Berries
Goji berries have been used for their healing and nutritional properties for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine incorporates goji berries into different meals and healing tonics in order to cleanse the body. Goji berries have been said to have many different health benefits when used as a nutritional and super-herbal tonic. From anti-aging to promoting good eye health, the goji berry works on the body in many ways. Here are five ways for you to use goji berries so they too can benefit you.
1) Make a tea. Goji berries are very popular in teas. Some people swear by goji berry tea, by making it a part of their daily diet. By adding a generous handful of goji berries to a glass of hot water you can reap their healing and restorative properties.
2) Eat them raw. This is the easiest and go-to way to consume goji berries, just eat them! These berries will give off a mild sweet and tangy taste, but can easily be enjoyed and stomached while raw. Small to medium-sized handfuls of goji berries a day will do the trick.
3) Smoothies. Goji berries are great in smoothies. They take your already healthful snack and increase the benefits. Soak the berries in cold water before adding them to your smoothie in order to get them juicy and hydrated. After the berries are plump in size, add the goji berries to whatever smoothie you are making and blend to your desired consistency
4) Trail Mix. Traditionally, goji berries have been known to be consumed once they are dried. Dehydrate some berries and add them to your trail snacks for the road!
5) Pastries. I’m sure you have had a blueberry scone before, or even a cranberry one. Try making your breakfast a little more interesting by incorporating goji berries into your pastry intake. Goji berries make for a great addition to scones, muffins and pancakes.
Sources: http://bit.ly/1rSwjDe, http://bit.ly/24Y9YCE
A healthy lifestyle is more than just eating right and exercising. It’s about making decisions throughout the day that lead to a healthier, happier, and more productive life. But for many people, it’s hard to figure out how to save money on their health-related expenses without sacrificing their overall well-being. Here’s the thing: there are many ways to enjoy a healthy lifestyle without going broke! Today, All Ways Well Acupuncture explores some practical options.
The Financial Benefits of Enjoying a Healthy Lifestyle
It’s no secret that living healthily can lead to big savings in the long run. Eating nutritious foods helps your body function optimally and reduces the risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease, which come with expensive treatments.
Regular exercise improves your energy levels so that you can push yourself further in your career or business pursuits – all while reducing stress, improving sleep quality, and having more to give to your family. These benefits alone are worth investing time and effort into incorporating healthy habits!
Starting a Side Business From Your Health Passion
If you have a passion for a health-related niche and want to take it further than your daily habits, consider making a business out of it! You could start a blog that shares tips and tricks for leading an active lifestyle, or open a wellness store or fitness studio so that others can benefit from your knowledge firsthand.
Engaging your entrepreneurial spirit will not only keep costs down but also provide an additional income source if the venture takes off. Just remember to research the necessary steps before diving in! For example, establishing an LLC (limited liability company) can provide you with the legal protection and structure necessary for success. With an LLC, you have limited personal liability for the debts and obligations of your company. It also gives you a layer of protection for your personal assets should any risks arise within your business operations, among many other perks. Find a formation service that can do most of the work and relieve your stress!
Moreover, spreading the word about your business through brochures is a great way to attract more customers. These are a great way to inform others about your health business by providing clear information supplemented with eye-catching photos. If you aren’t sure how to get started, give this a try and take advantage of these free brochure templates!
Learning To Meal Prep
Meal prepping allows you to save money on groceries while ensuring your meals are nutrient-dense and delicious. Instead of spending extra money dining out or buying premade food from the market, dedicate a few hours over the weekend (or any day) to plan out meals for the week ahead – including snacks!
When planning your meals, you know precisely what ingredients are needed for each meal, so nothing goes bad before you use it. Plus, there won’t be any last-minute trips to the store when hunger strikes after work!
You should also monitor your caffeine intake. There’s nothing wrong with caffeine in moderation, but you need to be careful about how much you’re incorporating into your diet. A good way to do this is by looking into its different forms – for instance, the difference between an americano and a cappuccino.
Working Out at Home
If you’ve ever had a gym membership, no one needs to tell you how quickly it can become expensive! Fortunately, there are many at-home workouts available to save you money and make your life more convenient, such as:
The possibilities are endless options for staying fit without breaking the bank. Besides, working at home offers more flexibility because there are no set class times, meaning you can work out when it’s convenient for your schedule.
That said, if you want the social benefits of exercising in a group, find a local class that meets at a time you can stick with. Rhythm Pilates has several upcoming workshops that could be a perfect match!
If you use the right strategies, living a healthy life doesn’t have to drain your bank account. Whether it’s starting a side hustle, sprucing up your resume, learning to prepare meals, or exercising at home, you can enjoy an active life while saving money in the process. Consider the tips above to start building your healthy-yet-affordable habits today!
If you’re interested in exploring Chinese medicine and acupuncture, All Ways Well Acupuncture is here to help. Click here to book an appointment!
Spring Wellness Fair 3/25!
Ready to Find Your Well! Come join my building mate Bhrigha, myself and some other local healers in Suite C203 on March 25th for some spring wellness vibes. Check out the flyer below for more information, I hope to see you there! - Rebecca
Research - Acupuncture for Headaches
Headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that half to three quarters of adults aged 18–65 years in the world have had a headache in the last year. Among these individuals, 30 percent or more have reported suffering from a migraine. And 1.7 to 4 percent of the world’s adult population has a headache for 15 days or more.
Headaches are disabling and can significantly influence the quality of life, especially for those suffering from chronic headache disorders. Repeated headaches affect family and personal life, affect employment and come at a great financial cost.
Research shows that complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, biofeedback, and meditation show promising results for migraines and tension headaches. Other alternative techniques like spinal manipulation, chiropractic care, some supplements and botanicals, diet alteration, and hydrotherapy are also beneficial for migraines. However, the evidence for cluster headaches is limited.
Did You Know Acupuncture Can Help You With Headaches?
Findings from selected systematic reviews and meta-analysis summarize that acupuncture is helpful in relieving migraine, tension headaches and other types of chronic headaches and can play an important role in the treatment plan for these types of headache disorders.
A Cochrane review of 22 randomized trials compared the effects of acupuncture with sham acupuncture, usual care and drug treatment specifically on migraines. Compared to usual frequency, acupuncture improved headache frequency with 41 percent of those treated with acupuncture experiencing at least 50 percent reduction in headache frequency. Acupuncture consistently reduced headache frequency compared to sham acupuncture. After three months headache frequency at least halved in 57 percent of participants receiving acupuncture compared to 46 percent in those taking prophylactic drugs and after six months in 59 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
The authors of the review concluded, “If people have six days with migraine per month on average before starting treatment, this would be reduced to five days in people receiving only usual care, to four days in those receiving fake acupuncture or a prophylactic drug, and to three and a half days in those receiving true acupuncture.”
Quality of life is greatly affected by frequent headaches and a systematic review in 2018 found that acupuncture enhanced quality of life more than medication did as it exhibits greater efficacy both in treatment and prevention of migraines compared to no treatment, sham acupuncture and medication.
Other studies that have assessed the effectiveness of acupuncture when given in addition to usual care, have found acupuncture to have clinically relevant benefits for people with headaches. In one such study, patients suffering from chronic headaches who had acupuncture experienced 34 percent fewer headache days. They used 15 percent less medication, had 15 percent fewer days off work and 25 percent fewer GP visits after one year.
How Acupuncture Helps Ease Headaches
Various biological processes take place in the body during acupuncture. These mechanisms—the neural pathways from acupuncture point stimulation to the spinal cord and the deactivation of the pain centers in the brain—have been studied and mapped over time.
A 2011 study introduces the concept of neural acupuncture unit (NAU), which is a collection of neural and neuroactive components in the body that are activated when acupuncture needles are inserted and stimulated at designated points in the body.
Also known as acupoints, these designated areas represent a “landmark system” which indicates sites of relatively dense and concentrated neural and neuroactive components. Here acupuncture stimulation can elicit a more efficient therapeutic response.
Acupuncture acts through multiple pathways to produce analgesic effects and reduce central sensitization. It triggers a sequence of events that include the release of chemicals, including neurotransmitters and the body’s own opioids, within the central nervous system, which produces the analgesic effect of acupuncture.
A 2018 study investigating the neurochemical responses after an acupuncture treatment for migraines found biochemical changes of brain metabolites that may be responsible for the reduction of headache intensity.
Acupuncture views headaches differently from Western medicine. A migraine, according to Western medicine, is a recurrent headache with no known cause and is commonly triggered by stress, fatigue, insomnia, menstruation and weather changes.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, a headache is a subjective symptom that can accompany many other signs and symptoms related to each other.
According to acupuncture, a headache can be caused by problems in other parts of the body and not necessarily only in the head or due to neurovascular dysfunction.
That is why acupuncturists will diagnose and treat each individual headache accordingly. The pathological changes and conditions inside the body related to each headache is analysed by TCM practitioners to find the underlying causes of a headache before treatment begins.
If you or someone you know is suffering from pain, maybe acupuncture could help! Give us a call or check out our website to set up your complimentary treatment.
Which Migraine Are You?
Migraines affect about 10% of people worldwide. Anyone who suffers from migraines can tell you, as far as headaches go, migraines are in a class of their own. In general, migraines tend to be one-sided with severe pain, but what differentiates a migraine from other headaches are the accompanying symptoms that can include visual disturbances, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, even temporary paralysis. Western medicine subdivides and categorizes migraines based on symptomatology.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has its own subdivisions for migraines based on etiology and symptomatology. If you are someone that suffers from migraines, can you relate to any of these categories?
1) External Wind
In Chinese Medicine, external wind refers to forces of energy affecting us from the outside of the body and are often related to the invasion of bacteria and viruses when our immune system gets overwhelmed. If you have suffered from migraines triggered by the onset of a cold or flu, then you have experienced a migraine brought on by external wind. Accompanying symptoms can include a stiff neck, body aches, chills, fever, sore throat, congestion, and mild dizziness.
2) Liver Excess
This is a big category, as liver pathology expresses itself in various ways. The liver in Chinese medicine is a very important organ for its role in keeping qi (energy) flowing smoothly. Blood follows qi, so while blood stagnation is in another category of its own, one of the root imbalances that can lead to that are issues with liver function.
Women are 3 times more likely to experience migraines which is thought to be due to hormone fluctuations. The liver also regulates menstruation, according to TCM, so migraines related to cyclical hormone changes will generally fall under this category too.
Migraines related to Liver qi stagnation may come with an expanding/distending feeling and will often be triggered by stress and/or hormonal changes.
There is sometimes heat accumulation in the liver as well. Liver fire-type migraines can be identified by red, burning eyes, and occasionally labored breathing.
When the excess liver energy rises in the body we call it: Liver yang up and you may be dealing with this if you experience dizziness, a bitter taste in the mouth, and find yourself short-tempered with a flushed face. If you have high blood pressure and/or ear ringing that goes along with your migraine, you may fall into this category as well.
Since excess liver energy will often ‘attack’ the digestion, Liver excess-type migraines may also include symptoms like gas, belching and acid reflux.
3) Qi and Blood Deficiency
There are many reasons the body can be in a deficient state. Genetic, environmental and lifestyle reasons abound. Simply put though, if your migraines come along with extreme fatigue and exhaustion and possibly a pale complexion, you could fall into this category.
4) Blood Stagnation
When we think of blood stagnation in Chinese Medicine, the main symptom we think of is pain. These tend to be the most severe migraines. Pain is sharp, in a fixed location, persistent and steady. There may be associated memory loss and palpitations. These are also common with a history of head injury.
5) Retention of Cold, Damp or Phlegm
Some digestive symptoms were mentioned in relation to liver pathology, but someone who presents with an excess of damp or phlegm may have more extreme digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These may be relieved by warmth if the body is also retaining cold energy. Also, while wind-type and ‘liver yang up’ migraines may be accompanied by some dizziness, with a phlegm buildup in the body it would be more pronounced, along with heavier sensations in the head.
No matter what type of migraine you deal with, acupuncture can help! Get in for a series of treatments that will rebalance these patterns and help keep you migraine-free. Call us!
Uterine fibroids are benign growths on the wall of the uterus. They represent the most common gynecological non-cancerous tumors in reproductive females. It is estimated that 80% of women will have uterine fibroids at some point in their reproductive years.
Many are symptom free and unaware, but for some women, fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, irregular periods, abdominal bloating and back pain (even though these symptoms are often wrongfully normalized). Fibroids can even grow large and press on vital organs like the bladder or bowel, eventually leading to digestive or kidney problems. The cause is not well understood, however. The theory is that abnormal muscle cells in the uterus are affected by estrogen and other factors in a way that drives tumor growth.
Western treatment depends on severity. If asymptomatic, treatment is not needed, if the fibroid/s cause pain or other problems, treatment may involve surgery to remove the fibroids but unfortunately they can return. The rate of recurrence is high, at 30%. Estrogen contributes to the growth of fibroids which makes hormone regulation a main focus of fibroid management. Lupron is a type of hormone therapy that acts on the pituitary gland to stop estrogen production and start early menopause. A hysterectomy to remove the uterus, however, is the only known way to guarantee prevention of recurrence and is obviously not a desirable option for women looking to preserve fertility.
So, even with surgery, it is important to deal with underlying causes. Chinese medicine takes a more holistic approach. Fibroids, in Chinese medicine, fall into the larger category of Zheng Jia (masses), as do other growths related to women’s health such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis and reproductive cancers. The causes of these masses are understood to be any of, or any combination of, the following:
Liver Qi stagnation
The liver is the organ that regulates the movement of qi and stagnant liver qi can reveal itself as typical PMS symptoms: irritability, breast tenderness, and cramps. The liver is also the organ that helps to rid the body of excess estrogen, so it is definitely a worthy focus point from both an Eastern and Western perspective.
Blood follows qi, so long term qi stagnation can result in blood stasis which is considered when symptoms such as more intense cramping and clots are reported.
Improper diet and digestion is said to lead to a buildup of damp-phlegm in the body. This accumulation, when condensed by other factors (such as heat, cold or poor blood flow) is thought to set the stage for the growth of various masses in the body. Associated symptoms can include indigestion, bloating, weight gain, and sometimes a watery menstrual flow.
Exposure to the cold, especially cold that affects the uterus can be another cause of blood stasis which can eventually lead to tumors. Menstrual pain relieved by warmth is a sign of cold in the uterus.
Acupuncture and herbs can help eliminate or shrink smaller fibroids, as well as keep them from returning. Acupuncture redirects energy in the body to address patterns like blood stasis, cold, phlegm, and liver qi stagnation to help to restore a yin/yang (and consequently hormone) balance.
Chinese herbs are associated with a 72% reduction in bleeding in a study where over half of the participants experienced a reduction in size or a complete disappearance of their fibroids!
Another study compared treatment with acupuncture and herbs to treatment with a combination of herbs and steroids. All of the women saw some benefits, but the ones who had acupuncture treatment saw an overall greater reduction in the volume of their fibroids.
A 2002 study looked at alternative medical approaches for uterine fibroids. Upon comparing alternative treatments, such as TCM, bodywork and guided imagery against conventional treatment, the researchers found that the patients thrived in the alternative medical group. Fibroids shrank or stopped growing in 59 percent of the alternative treatment group compared to only eight percent of those in the conventional treatment group.
If you have any signs of fibroids, seek out a Western diagnosis, but also schedule some acupuncture to make sure you are addressing root imbalances, and so you can feel better fast!
It's estimated that more than 37 million people in the United States suffer from migraines. Migraines are characterized by recurrent headaches with moderate-to-severe pain, usually occurring in a specific area of the head. While most headaches are minor and short-lived, migraines are more debilitating, often forcing the individual to miss work and/or reschedule his or her activities.
To make matters worse, however, many doctors and physicians prescribe harsh drugs for migraine sufferers that do more harm than good. A better solution is to first try one of the following drug-free ways to fight your migraines.
Foods can actually be a trigger for up to half of migraine sufferers. So, keep a journal in which you write down every food you eat, every beverage you drink, and every time you experience a migraine. The goal in doing so is to identify a connection between a specific food and your migraines. Gluten, for instance, may trigger a migraine if you have celiac disease, or perhaps the presence of artificial food coloring is triggering your migraines.
Acupuncture has been used to treat headaches and migraines for hundreds of years, and there's no sign of this trend slowing down anytime soon. The American Headache Society has even recommended the use of acupuncture for treating migraines, attesting to its positive effects for this condition.
How exactly does acupuncture work? The practice involves the placement of thin needles in specific areas of the body with the goal of stimulating the individual's life force (Qi). The general belief is that stagnant Qi leads to illness, including migraines; therefore, correcting these blockages and restoring the Qi to its normal working order will treat migraines.
According to one study cited by Prevention, migraine sufferers who took 400 mg of riboflavin (a type of vitamin B2) reported fewer migraines after just 3 months. This water-soluble vitamin also plays a key role in maintaining energy levels and fighting fatigue.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Low-quality indoor air has been linked to an increased prevalence of migraines. Not long ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced indoor air pollution as being one of the top five environmental hazards. You can improve the air quality in your home or workplace, however, by cleaning the ductwork, changing the air filter on a regular basis, opening the windows, and adding plants.
Give me a call today for more information on how acupuncture can better your health
Spice Up Your Medicine Cabinet!
Did you know that there is such a thing as National Herb and Spice Day in June?? I had no idea, but I figured that December was still a good month to celebrate the diversity of flavors available to us through the powerful plant parts that have come to be known as herbs and spices - just in time for the winter holidays.
While National Herb and Spice Day is relatively recent in origin (first celebrated in 1999), the wonder of herbs and spices have been recognized throughout history, and not just for their culinary contributions. Former Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742-814 AD) had 74 different herbs growing in his garden and was quoted as saying:
“Herbs are the friends of physicians and the praise of cooks”
In Europe, by the middle ages, herbs and spices were commonly used in both cooking and medicine. As far back as around 2700 BC in Ancient China, however, a historical work known as The Classic Herbal mentioned more than a hundred medicinal plants, including cinnamon. It has been said that advisors to the royal court in China during the 3rd century BC carried cloves in their mouth so their breath was fresh when they addressed the emperors. In the 5th Century AD, according to Chinese records, ginger was carried on long sea journeys to prevent scurvy, as well as to delight the taste buds.
Any student or practitioner of Chinese Medicine knows that Chinese food therapy (which includes many applications of medicinal herbs) was well documented in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic dating back to the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD).
So, if your medicine cabinet is looking a little bare, spice it up! If you’ve got some of these common seasonings in your kitchen, you’ve actually got a pretty well stocked medicine cabinet!
Cinnamon: One of the most ancient spices still in use, the bark (Rou Gui) of the Cassia tree benefits circulation, and warms the body to expel cold and alleviate pain. Cinnamon is known to help support the body’s yang energy to stop diarrhea and even help with wound healing.
Ginger: Probably the most common seasoning in Chinese cooking, this root is used both fresh and dried. You may have the dried version in your cabinet as a powder. Dried ginger (gan jiang) is warming, aids in digestion, and boosts the qi for alleviating feelings of cold and fatigue.
Turmeric: Turmeric (jiang huang) is a root from a flowering plant related to ginger. It strongly moves the blood to unblock stasis, helping to ease arthritic, menstrual, and chest pain and to support liver health.
Clove: The penetrating aroma of clove (ding xiang) comes from the flower buds of a tree and when taken internally imparts a strong warming energy that boosts yang qi in the body. They can help with hiccups, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Pepper: If you can’t find any of the other spices mentioned, you probably at least have this one on hand. Peppercorn (hu jiao) is the fruit of a flowering vine that warms the core of the body, descends rebellious qi and dissipates phlegm to help with abdominal pain, vomiting, congestion, and epilepsy.
Mint: While many of these spices are considered warming. Mint leaves (bo he) are actually very strong in their ability to cool the body while promoting sweat and can ease symptoms of cold and flu, help with headaches and menstrual cramps.
Garlic: In addition to scaring away vampires, this plant bulb (da suan) that is technically considered a vegetable (like an onion), is warm and dispersing. It is known for its ability to kill parasites, relieve toxicity to treat food poisoning, and can help clean the blood and reduce clotting.
Thyme: Much more than a delicious pizza topping, this herb was used by ancient Greeks and Romans as a way to stimulate courage. The Chinese use these shrub leaves (bai li xiang) to tonify qi and warm the lungs. It has been used to treat cough and shortness of breath, and to strengthen immunity and digestion.
It’s good to know you’ve got some health resources right in your own spice cabinet, but it’s even better to know you’ve also got your local acupuncturist/herbalist on hand with even more tools to support your well-being. I look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
Moxibustion and Dysmenorrhea
“A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood” -Chinese Proverb
A study conducted by Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has determined that the use of moxibustion at specific days during a woman’s menstrual cycle can decrease pain associated with menstruation. Dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation is a big problem for many women. This study used moxibustion, an accessory modality of TCM, to treat the pain associated with menstruation. The study and its systematic review showed moxibustion treatments were more effective at relieving pain only when the moxibustion began prior to the onset of actual menstruation. This is also the theory behind Traditional Chinese Medicine, that it should be used as preventive care. The efficacy of using moxibustion during the premenstrual time period holds great promise for those who are debilitated by dysmenorrhea.
Dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation, is experienced by more than half the menstruating women in the world. It is one of the most commonly encountered gynecologic disorders and for those suffering from severe dysmenorrhea, it can mean they are incapacitated for up to three days or more every month. The main cause of dysmenorrhea is increased or abnormal uterine prostanoid production and release, which then gives rise to abnormal uterine contractions and pain. The treatment of dysmenorrhea usually involves some sort of pain medication and rest, but there are alternatives.
TCM is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the Traditional Chinese Medicine 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 blood and energy throughout the body. Moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates
deeply into the skin, but does not create a scar or any pain. To perform 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. There are also adhesive cones of moxa that can be applied to the skin. These are then lit and allowed to burn until the fire reaches the base, which is when they are removed to prevent scars.
Moxibustion is used to help people with cold or stagnant conditions. Burning moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the body, which creates a smooth flow of energy and blood. Moxibustion can be used to treat dysmenorrhea because it stimulates the flow and release of the hormones that cause uterine contractions. By stimulating the release of these hormones, the body can then expel them which leads to decreased pain. Moxibustion is also great for women who suffer from fibroids, which is a stagnation and buildup of blood in the uterus. The warmth from the burning mugwort actually increases blood flow and this can help decrease the size of the fibroids over time.
As with acupuncture, only a licensed practitioner should be called upon for treatments such as moxibustion. If you believe moxibustion may be helpful with your dysmenorrhea, be sure to discuss this with me during your next scheduled appointment.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.