A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine saw the efficacy of acupuncture treatments improve the respiratory status of patients on prolonged mechanical ventilation. The patients involved in the study were in critical care and treated with acupuncture four times a week. Of the 16 participants, 11 were successfully weaned off of mechanical ventilation once acupuncture treatments began. All factors evaluating the patient's breathing showed improvement. This study shows regular acupuncture treatments can be beneficial to those suffering from both acute and chronic respiratory issues.
Respiratory issues and the deaths associated with them have shot up tremendously over the past 35 years in the United States. The number of deaths from chronic respiratory illnesses jumped from 41 in 100,000 in 1980 to 53 in 100,000 by 2014. COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the leading cause of respiratory deaths, but other ailments like asthma, interstitial lung disease and pneumoconiosis are also contributors to the aforementioned numbers. In many cases, symptoms are merely masked or managed through the use of pharmaceuticals. But there are alternatives like Traditional Chinese Medicine that can address both the symptoms and the root causes of the disease.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses a holistic approach to the body. Everything exists within the circle of nature according to TCM theory. Balanced elements lead to a harmonious life and a balanced body, mind and soul. TCM also considers how the psyche affects the physical body, making emotional wellness just as important as physical health.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, every organ is associated with a series of properties. These associations provide clues that help the TCM practitioner locate the root of the physical problems, while guiding them through the treatments. The associations of the lungs include the emotion of grief/sadness, the season of fall, the color white and the pungent flavor. When the body is imbalanced, disease or illness my take root. Traditional Chinese Medicine views this as an imbalance of vital energy. The energy of the lungs is extremely important to all aspects of human life.
The lungs are known as the Prime Minister in TCM and as such, they control breath and energy, while assisting the heart with the circulation of blood throughout the body. Without energy, the blood will not flow causing illnesses. The lungs also control the skin, which breathes through the opening and closing of the pores, thus helping regulate body temperature. This is done through both perspiration and shivering.
Acupuncture can be a great asset in balancing the energy of the lungs. The function of the lungs is to descend and dispense energy downwards and to dissipate it outwards. Acupuncture points on the body, when stimulated, can greatly improve the flow of lung energy, while opening up the airways and increasing the uptake of oxygen within the cells of the whole body. Acupuncture also helps relax the muscles associated with breathing, allowing lung energy to flow properly. This is what is commonly known as gasotransmitter therapy. Gasotransmitter therapy allows for the proper exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitric oxide between all the cells in the body. When this happens effectively and efficiently, disease is less likely to occur.
Ask me to find out more about how acupuncture can help you with any respiratory issues you might have.
Research Update: Acupuncture and Stress
A study published in the Annals of Yoga and Physical Therapy looked at how acupuncture treatments affect stress levels in administrative workers at a local hospital. The study included 58 participants who reported high levels of stress associated with their jobs. The participants were treated with eight weeks of auricular acupuncture. After the eight acupuncture sessions, the workers reported their stress levels had decreased from high to moderate.
The study hypothesizes reduced stress levels are associated with regular acupuncture treatments due to the release of neurotransmitters in the body. This study and many others are providing evidence that acupuncture can indeed decrease stress levels and improve overall health.
Stress is defined as either pressure or tension exerted on an object or a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Here are some facts from the Global Organization for Stress:
● Americans report higher levels of stress than most people in other countries around the globe.
● Surveys show nearly one out of 75 people worldwide, experience panic attacks.
● Stress in American teenagers is now one of the top health concerns and it is being found that teenagers experiencing stress are more likely to develop long-term health problems.
We all experience stress in our lives. But learning how to deal with it can be crucial for a happy, healthy life.
One way to deal with stress involves the use of a 3,000 year old medical system, known as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. TCM uses many different modalities or tools to treat the human mind and body. The most commonly used modality is acupuncture. And while acupuncture is still not widely accepted in the United States, it is gaining ground.
Studies show acupuncture can reduce stress when used regularly. The Journal of Endocrinology published a study showing stress hormones, like cortisol, were lower in rats that had received electroacupuncture. The use of electroacupuncture actually blocked the chronic stress hormones in the rats. It does the exact same thing for humans. TCM practitioners have known this for thousands of years and they didn’t need the research to prove it.
Specific acupuncture points on the body are better for relieving stress and are used frequently by licensed practitioners. One of these points is Yin Tang. Yin Tang is located directly between the inner edges of the eyebrows. It is a reflex point of the pituitary gland. Yin Tang calms the mind and relaxes the body by helping control hormone secretions.
Another acupuncture point, Kidney 1, is not as frequently used because of its location. But it can work wonders for decreasing stress. Kidney 1 is located on the bottom of the foot, at the junction of the anterior one third and posterior two thirds of the line connecting the base of the second and third toes and the heel. This point is VERY sensitive, but it has amazing properties. Kidney 1 can sedate and calm the mind, while also regulating blood flow to the upper part of the body, aka the brain.
There are other tools as TCM practitioners we can use to relieve stress, such as cupping and herbs. But acupuncture and acupressure tend to work the quickest. Ask me to find out more!
Physical Aspects Related to The Lungs
In the world of Traditional Chinese medicine, the lung is probably the organ whose TCM functions overlap the most with its Western functions. Respiration, the immune system and the skin are all systems heavily influenced by the lung, both in acupuncture and in Western medicine.
If you visualize where the lungs are located in the body, you will notice they have the most access to the world outside our bodies. They are the only organs that actually have direct contact with the environment. As such, they have to do with protection and separation from harmful pathogens, both of the physical and emotional variety. The lungs are in charge of what we call "Wei Qi,” in Western terms, the Wei Qi would be our immune system.
This Wei Qi forms a protective layer around our bodies, encasing us and acting as a barrier. If the Wei Qi is weak, then you have a person who is constantly sick. If you have a tendency to catch a lot of colds and flus, or seem to always feel run-down and prone to infectious illnesses, your Wei Qi is not doing its job. Fortunately, acupuncture and herbs can build up this Wei Qi, forming a wall of protection against these harmful pathogens.
If you are frequently fatigued or seem to often be out of breath, your lungs may benefit from a tune-up with herbs or acupuncture. Weak lung Qi can result in a soft, timid voice, shallow breathing and poor posture (often people with lung deficiencies seem to be hunched over in a posture of protection). Bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia are signs your lung energy isn’t strong enough to perform its job of keeping you healthy.
Allergies are another symptom of weak Wei Qi. The pollen (or whatever it is you are allergic to) can easily enter the body if the external barrier is weak, causing all the symptoms of misery that most greatly affect the lungs: sneezing, coughing and runny nose (the lungs also control the nose in Chinese medicine.)
Since the skin is the outermost layer of the body and is controlled by the lung, it is also affected by weakness of the lung. Eczema, rashes and excessively dry skin can all stem from an imbalance of the lungs.
On an emotional level, the lungs are affected by grief. Have you ever noticed someone who can't let go of tragedy seems to get sick more often? Constant sadness weakens the energy of the lung, lessening its protective function. If the lung Qi is weak to begin with, it will be difficult for a person to let go of their sadness and move on in a healthy way. This type of patient may also be prone to depression.
OMG you guys WE DID IT!! Not only did I win the Natural Choice Awards AGAIN this year but I won in 4 different categories. Thank you SO MUCH for all of your incredible support. It is such a humbling honor to have swept so many categories with my humble practice.
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you! What an incredible way to go into Thanksgiving, with an extra helping of deepest gratitude and appreciation to my patients and the community.
Yours in Health and Gratitude - Rebecca
Herbal Tonics to Reduce Stress
Stress is something that affects everybody. Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional tension or strain resulting from demanding or adverse circumstances. This can result in a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, pain, insomnia, worry, anxiety, depression and even disease. And according to a recent survey, nearly 77 percent of all Americans regularly experience physical or psychological symptoms caused by stress (American Institute of Stress, May 2017).
On a cellular level, chronic stress has actually been shown to shorten the immune cell telomeres. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found in chromosomes that promote genetic stability. When the body is stressed, the immune cells are less likely to duplicate and this puts the body at risk of infection or illness.
So what can be done to reduce stress? The simple answer is a ton. Some examples of ways to deal with stress include exercising, journaling, meditation, coloring, getting a massage, reading, watching a movie, talking with friends, playing games, sitting in nature, eating healthy food and even acupuncture.
This leads us to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a 3,000 year old medical system that can balance the body, relieve stress and decrease/prevent disease. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat people, but according to many scholars, it all began with herbal medicine. Herbs can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to create customized formulas that help heal the body. Here are some examples of herbs and formulas that can combat stress.
1. Eleuthro or Ci Wu Jia: This herb is an adaptogen, meaning it has revitalizing or restorative properties. In particular, Ci Wu Jia works very well for people who work high stress jobs, work long hours or have erratic schedules. It supports quality sleep and also strengthens the immune system.
2. Aswhagandha: While this herb is not regularly used in TCM, it is still a very potent herb for tackling stress. Specifically, ashwagandha helps with anxiety, fatigue and stress-induced insomnia. It is also used to support the immune system and stimulate the thyroid gland for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
3. Xiao Yao San: This herbal formula combines several herbs to become one of the most frequently prescribed formulas in TCM. Xiao Yao San soothes the liver, which according to TCM theory is where stress is controlled.
4. Cordyceps or Dong Chong Xia Cao: Cordyceps is a type of fungus found on caterpillars. It has been used by TCM practitioners for centuries to fight fatigue, support the immune system and protect the liver and kidneys.
5. Suan Zao Ren Tang: This herbal formula is very effective for treating agitation, insomnia, irritability and scattered thoughts. These symptoms are very common in people who are overworked and emotionally stressed out.
Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from stress and anxiety. To find out more about these herbs, reach out to us!
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.