Telehealth is the use of technology to support long-distance health and clinical care. This has become a widely used practice in recent years, with the ASPE tallying 52.7 million telehealth visits in 2020, a huge boost compared to an approximate 840,000 visits in 2019. This shows how telehealth has become an invaluable innovation in the field of public health that could continue to develop over the next several decades.
On another hand, we have acupuncture, a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has already been around for the last 3000 years. Acupuncture is deeply personal, requiring a licensed acupuncturist to locate the meridians in your body where qi resides. With how telehealth has come to be a staple in healthcare, long-time enthusiasts who swear by the benefits of acupuncture have questioned whether harmony is possible between tradition and innovation.
Let’s take a closer look at this below.
Benefits of acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient practice that bases itself on the idea of qi, the body’s vital energy. Using very thin needles, acupuncture can stimulate pressure points and meridians on your body to correct any imbalances of qi, which is oftentimes the cause of a variety of ailments and conditions that you may currently have.
The practice can thus have a range of uses! Our previous write-up on Benefits of Acupuncture Care lists arthritis, chronic pain, depression, and weight loss among several other health conditions that acupuncture care can help with. Here, the very thin needles can stimulate the production of brain chemicals like endorphins that promote relaxation and boost mood while also reducing blood pressure and boosting immune system functions.
Telehealth reached the heights of its popularity in recent years. However, the concept of delivering medical care using information technologies can actually date back to a century ago. Only the telegraph and the telephone accommodated communication then, and it wasn’t until 1958 that two-way video communication became a reality for telemedicine.
Today, this seamless innovation is adopted across the globe. Wheel highlights how telemedicine software and services ease burnout for nurse practitioners in Minnesota and other states across the United States, as well as other healthcare staff shortages by allowing healthcare providers to offer flexible clinical services. These platforms can also adapt to patient needs and remove obstacles from the patient journey such as transportation and waiting times.
This could become key for a number of senior patients who depend on acupuncture for their care. While acupuncturists can’t needle someone through a screen, practitioners of acupuncture therapy can rely on their wider arsenal of tools beyond needles to provide other holistic healing techniques. That’s because part of the underlying wisdom of TCM is its focus on self-care and health promotion.
With telehealth, acupuncturists can impart dietary advice, lead people through breathing exercises or body awareness techniques, and offer herbal medicine. Some can also guide patients through self-applied acupressure treatments. A survey in NIH recounts how telehealth eased stress and pain, and provided immune support to patients who were simultaneously educated on nutrition- or herbal-based therapies.
Research on acupressure continues to grow as its positive impacts on the treatment of chronic medical conditions develop. A study published in the Journal of the ASPMN looks into the development of an auricular point acupressure (APA) mobile app that patients used to guide themselves when learning and self-administering APA to manage their chronic low back pain. They were then provided the opportunity for questions and were able to verify the accuracy of the self-administered APA using telehealth. After four weeks, participants in the app and telehealth group experienced a 29% decrease in pain intensity during the post-intervention time point.
This shows us the potential for acupuncture to remain relevant in the time of digitally-provided healthcare. Acupuncturists and acupuncture enthusiasts alike can look forward to how the century-long tradition can only evolve along with the times to offer more holistic and accessible care.
Unfortunately, statistics show that men often have shorter life expectancies and poorer overall health when compared to women. The reasons for these poorer health outcomes may be a combination of genetic and social influences. Genetically, men are more prone to heart disease than women. In addition, social constructs around masculinity may contribute to the fact that men are much less likely than women to look after their health and see physicians.
According to the CDC the two most common causes of death for men are heart disease and cancer. June is a time to talk about these looming killers and encourage health screenings that can help promote longer lives for men, but it is also a time to consider quality of life.
‘Healthy aging’ is a buzz phrase often focused on women, but men also want to retain the energy and strength (and good looks!) of their youth once they've got the wisdom to go with it. One of the main threats to quality of life for aging men is testosterone decline. Testosterone is a hormone that maintains sex drive, sperm production, body hair, muscle and bone. While not as dramatic as women’s plunging hormones in menopause, all men go through a period of many years known as andropause, marked by a gradual decline in testosterone.
Generally this plays out as about a 1% decrease a year after the age of 40. For many men, this is a normal transition that comes without noticeable symptoms. And many continue to have testosterone levels within normal ranges. But for some men, there are accompanying symptoms or further decline in levels that drop them below normal range. About 10-25% of men experience what has been called: “Aging Male Syndrome” and this can be a serious threat to their quality of life. The struggle can include weight gain, insomnia, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, sweats and hot flashes, trouble concentrating, irritability, depression, increased urination, and bone, hair and muscle loss.
The western approach to this problem, in addition to encouraging a healthy lifestyle and regular health screenings, offers drug therapy in the form of hormone replacement for men with severe symptoms. Testosterone therapy has shown some benefits for some, but for others, these benefits are not always clear. And the risks are concerning, as hormone therapy can stimulate the growth of metastatic prostate or breast cancer. It may also increase formation of clots and risk of heart attack or stroke.
When Chinese Medicine talks about aging, the focus is on the kidneys. Kidney energy (qi) and essence governs the life cycles of human development. Testosterone, in general, is thought of as a manifestation of Kidney Yang (the hot, active aspect of kidney qi) As this declines, it is associated with low back pain, cold limbs, lower libido, paling complexion and weakness.
The TCM approach is therefore to boost kidney yang. This is mainly done through acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs. One herb used to boost the kidney yang is called: yin yang huo, commonly known as horny goat weed. This and other individual herbs are known for strengthening kidney yang, but it is more likely that your practitioner will prescribe a multi-herb formula to address the issue from a few angles. Depending on the individual pattern, Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan is a formula that may be prescribed to supplement yang and warm the kidneys, while restoring balance in the system.
Even without herbs, getting in for regular treatment proves very beneficial for men looking to maintain healthy testosterone levels. An eight week protocol of electro-acupuncture and moxibustion given to aging men at acupuncture points UB23 and DU 4 (known for tonifying the kidney yang energy), significantly increased total and free testosterone . The best part? This acupuncture-induced hormone boost comes without the unwanted side effects.
Acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs are some of the best ‘healthy aging’ tools available for both men and women! Improve your quantity and quality of life by calling to schedule your next appointment!
Essential oils can work wonders on the body when combined with massage and other healing modalities. Each essential oil has their own distinctive properties that work on different parts of the body, mind and spirit. There are many different essential oils that can be incorporated into a self-care session, but there are also a few essential oils recommended to get you the most out of your self-care.
As always with any therapy, it is recommended to receive multiple treatment sessions in order to reap the most rejuvenating and healing effects possible. Check out the five essential oils you should ask for at your next session.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most widely utilized essential oils you can find. Lavender oil promotes good sleep, relaxation and an increase in healthy energy levels. These properties are what make it such a good essential oil for many things. Lavender oil is also great for reducing stress, ask your therapist if they carry lavender essential oil and increase the benefits of your session.
2. Mandarin Essential Oil
A perfect essential oil for curing insomnia and anxiety, mandarin essential oil is a go-to because of its calming and therapeutic properties. It gives off a light citrus aroma which proves very pleasing to the all of the senses.
3. Bergamot Essential Oil
This essential oil is every bit as spicy as it is citrusy. Bergamot oil combines spicy and citrusy aromas in order to create versatile effects on the body. This essential oil is great for fighting addictive behaviors, mood disorders and depression.
4. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
This essential oil is cleansing in every sense of the word. Eucalyptus oil can help keep germs away and cure problems you may be experiencing due to sinus infections and allergies. Overall the calming smells eucalyptus oil emits can be very beneficial for your therapy session.
5. Angelica Essential Oil
Various therapy sessions directly target both your muscles and nerves. Angelica essential oil is a great way to ensure your muscles are soothed and relaxed during your treatment. If you want to increase the relaxing and soothing effects, make sure to ask for angelica essential oil at your next therapy session.
Getting pregnant can be frustrating when it isn’t happening as easily as planned. There are many reasons you could be dealing with a difficult pregnancy including egg health. There are many factors that play into egg health including blood circulation, stress and hormonal balance.
For improving blood and oxygen flow, try to get some sort of exercise whether it is yoga, running or simply going on a brisk walk at least three times a week. Ask a massage therapist about abdominal massage, which can increase blood flow to the reproductive system. Stress can also play a very important factor in egg health. Find ways to destress with meditation practices, acupuncture and deep breathing.
Hormonal imbalances in women are common and can result in weight gain, fatigue, skin problems, infertility and PMS. Hormones are an important part to our body’s growth and development, mood, reproduction and metabolism.
To keep your body in balance, avoid high omega-6 polyunsaturated fats that are found in vegetable oils. Reduce your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can have a negative impact on the endocrine system. Most importantly, make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. When the body does not get enough rest, hormones cannot regulate.
There are many reasons that some women have a higher risk of breast cancer including both genetics and environmental impacts. Research has shown that keeping a diet of fresh, unprocessed foods can help the health of breast tissue. Chemical exposure from foods as well as other environmental factors have been shown to be high in women who have breast cancer.
Foods to eliminate from your diet include highly processed foods, additives, canned foods and soy. Avoiding foods that are high in hormones and adding foods that are packed with antioxidants such as berries can help lower your risk of breast cancer.
Many women feel their metabolism has slowed over the years, making it harder to break down and burn calories and fat. Try adding more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet such as salmon and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help regulate blood sugar and lower inflammation, which can then improve metabolic function.
Increasing strength training can also help give the metabolism a boost. The more muscle you have, the more your resting metabolism will increase to burn fat. Lastly, eating breakfast has been shown to give your metabolism a jump start for the day compared to eating your first meal later in the day.
Don’t let the cold and flu season get you down this year. There are many natural ways to boost your immune system to prevent illness and to improve energy levels. Assess your stress levels and take action if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Spend some time practicing deep breathing or finding an activity that you find relaxing. Try adding in more garlic and ginger to your diet. These natural ingredients contain properties that help boost the immune system and lower cold and flu symptoms.
It is generally accepted that you should see your family physician at least once a year and your dentist at least twice a year. But not everybody knows about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and the many benefits it can provide for you. If you start incorporating acupuncture into your health and wellness regime, you may not have to rely on the family physician so much for those minor little issues. Let’s look at how getting regular acupuncture treatments can help you stay happy and healthy.
There are many ways acupuncture treatments can change a person’s life. One of the most noticeable is acupuncture can get you to look at your health from a completely different perspective. This could mean you might start taking a more in depth look at your health, which may allow you to veer away from some of the mainstream medical practices such as multiple pharmaceuticals. Many long-term acupuncture patients find they no longer need all the medications prescribed by their family physician, because the symptoms have been controlled using acupuncture.
Acupuncture is great for prevention. Because regular acupuncture treatments can balance hormones and boost immunity, there is a good chance you won’t need that annual flu shot or all those over-the-counter cold medications. A trained acupuncturist can spot a problem like decreased immunity from a mile away. It can appear as symptoms such as chronic fatigue, insomnia and even body temperature fluctuations. A couple of treatments can make a big difference.
What about relieving some of that extra stress we all deal with? Yes, regular acupuncture treatments can keep that at bay too. Many people don’t equate being poked with tiny needles as a relaxation technique, but it truly is relaxing. Many patients actually fall asleep after or while the needles are being placed. And the effects can last for days or even weeks. So the next time you feel irritable and overwhelmed, check out your local licensed acupuncturist.
Regular acupuncture treatments can help you save money. What? It’s true. This goes back to the previous benefits. If you don’t need as many pharmaceuticals, you will ultimately save money. Also, conditions like stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression can keep you from going to work, possibly costing you several days of pay. But with regular acupuncture treatments, your moods can be more effectively managed and you won’t need to miss work as frequently.
And the most popular reason to get regular acupuncture treatments is that it will help you remain pain free. We all have aches and pains. But research has shown acupuncture is more effective than opioids for controlling things like arthritic pain in the joints. It is also be incorporated into hospital emergency rooms throughout the United States, so people don’t need as many pain medications. As a matter of fact, in Asia, acupuncture is sometimes used by itself during and after surgical procedures to treat pain.
While many of you may have a needle phobia, don’t let that deter you. Acupuncture is part of an amazing medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. In comparison, Western medicine has only been around for about 200 to 250 years. That puts things in perspective a little, especially when you consider most people in Asian countries live longer, happier, healthier lives than almost everybody in the United States. There’s no better time than the present to start a good habit, and it's as easy as booking online at All Ways Well today! Your whole life just might change for the better.
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.