In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is achieved by living in balance with nature and the seasons. Winter, the season of the Water Element, is the season for slowing down, reflecting, and conserving our resources. We all feel this tendency, but we don’t always listen to our bodies. In Western culture, being active is rewarded and expected. We feel compelled to keep up the hectic pace that is typical in our daily lives.
This season is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands and the time of year when these organs are most active, accessible, and even vulnerable. They are more receptive to being restored, nurtured, and energized. At the same time, it is also when they can become easily depleted.
According to Chinese medicine, our kidneys receive a specific amount of energy at the time of our conception that will carry each of us through our lives, called Jing Qi. Imagine for a minute that our kidneys are like batteries. Batteries that have come from the shop with a limited amount of charge. These unfortunately are not the rechargeable types of batteries. Jing Qi is the energy stored in our kidney batteries. Our body and mind pull from this reserve in times of change, healing, and stress. Every action we take draws on this power supply.
Some people can easily deplete their Jing Qi due to poor lifestyle choices and extreme stress. Others preserve it by nurturing it with the right foods and behaviors. Jing Qi is finite. The more we use it, the less we will have for necessary body functioning. Every day our kidneys filter blood and other body fluids, remove toxins from the liver, and our bladder collects, processes and excretes these liquids through the urine.
There are ways we can preserve our Jing Qi. In addition to Jing Qi, we operate on renewable sources of energy. The spleen makes Qi (vital life force) for us out of the food we eat, and the lungs bring us Qi from the air. We will have less need to draw on our Jing Qi and be healthier and more energetic as we eat, rest and breathe better and do Qi Gong to replenish our renewable sources of energy.
Keep in mind, stimulants such as caffeine deplete the kidneys, and rob us of our ability to know how we really feel. If our body is in need of rest and sleep, caffeine consumption will make us unaware of this fact, thus causing us to ignore our body’s needs. This can then contribute to the unnecessary depletion of our Jing Qi.
In order to maintain and cultivate health, it is important to nurture and nourish our kidney energy. Now is the perfect time to recharge your internal kidney batteries. Acupuncture, yoga, Tai Chi, quiet reflection, meditation, simple walks, and herbs are wonderful ways to recharge and energize!
Remember the days of rabbit ear antennas on your television sets? If you were lucky enough to find the exact seating position in your living room to optimize your body’s own magnetic field and the tilt of the earth’s axis, these beauties could tune in your favorite show with the crystal clarity of a thick San Francisco fog. If - heaven forbid - you wanted to tune to another channel, this required a coordinated, two-handed effort of spinning and rotating the antennas, the likes of which would rival even the most skilled of Olympic fencers.
The point here is that no matter what show you wanted to watch, you could pick it up on your set, but only if the antenna was functioning properly and only if it was aligned in the right position. The signal was always in the air, but whether or not your show came in clearly depended upon the antenna’s ability to transfer the signal to your TV set.
For those of you struggling with your health, keep in mind that you always have the potential for improvement. Your body was created by an intelligence that is unerring, infallible, and always on the job, and this intelligence is expressed through the body’s energetic meridian system.
Research shows that acupuncture can help with many more health problems other than just for pain and aches. The problem is usually not with the meridian system itself, but rather with the transmission of energy through the body. Just like the old VHF signals being broadcast over the air, the energy is always present; the signal is always there. Remaining healthy is a matter of transferring that signal as efficiently as possible to all parts of your body, and in this case your meridian system functions as the antenna. The farther out of balance your system becomes, the weaker the signal gets. Bringing the meridians back into its proper balance allows for the signal to broadcast at full strength.
Imbalances choke off vital energy traveling throughout the body, but instead of a fuzzy picture, you get sciatic pain, headaches, asthma, fatigue, numbness, digestive disorders, allergies, chronic sickness, etc.
Acupuncture works by supporting and balancing the “signals” being broadcast by your body and laying the ground for optimum expression of health. Clearing the meridian system of imbalances allows the free flow of energy to every cell, organ, nerve, and tissue, resulting in crystal clear, HD reception and picture-perfect health. If you have been feeling under the weather, exhausted, tired or just plain worn down, it may be time for you to come in for a tune-up.
3 Indicators You Need a Tune-Up
Here is a list of three signs indicating that you should immediately come in for an acupuncture tune-up. Both your body and mind will thank you for getting tuned up as soon as possible.
Yes, its true! Medicare parts B and C now include Acupuncture coverage. Hooray!
Unfortunately, the benefit is a wee bit complicated. I wanted to write a little post about the basics today because I've had several patients whom I've had to turn away because they've been referred incorrectly. Since this is a new benefit we're all learning - LAc's and doctors alike - and hopefully this small missive will help avoid some confusion for all!
First off - Medicare Acupuncture benefit only covers Chronic Low Back Pain as defined by Medicare. Basically, this is low back pain that:
Second - Medicare Part B ONLY covers Acupuncture when performed by an MD or other western medical provider in said MD or medical providers office. This means the doctor can perform the Acupuncture or an LAc in the doctor's office can perform the Acupuncture while being supervised by the doctor.
Now, if you have a Medicare Part C plan, commonly called Medicare Advantage or Medicare Complete, you CAN see a Licensed Acupuncturist (like me!) independently. Said Acupuncturist has to be contracted with the insurer who administers your Medicare Part C benefits, however, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser, Health Net etc.
Third - the benefit covers 12 visits in 90 days. You cannot get more time or any kind of extension on those initial 12 visits. After that, if you want more, the provider can request additional visits - usually 8-12 - by engaging in an irritating bureaucratic paperwork process that takes an indeterminate period of time.
So, like I said, Medicare covers Acupuncture, yay!!! But... its a little confusing. If you keep this post handy, however, you shouldn't be led astray. If you have questions please don't hesitate to reach out anytime, I'd love to be of service!
Yours in health and gratitude,
It's finally 2021 and Covid-19 is still here, but we've actually made it to the crossroads where vaccines are rolling out! Perhaps somewhat slowly and inefficiently, but rolling out none the less. I feel very fortunate for my profession to be part of the 1a group in Washington and to have been able to get my first dose of the vaccine.
I know not everyone is comfortable with getting a new vaccination and I completely understand - while I believe in public health and vaccination (no smallpox or polio? Thanks public health!), I do personally feel that the vaccination schedule for children is too aggressive, so I opted for a very delayed vaccination schedule for my children which worked well for us. The Covid-19 vaccine and the situation surrounding it is very different from childhood immunizations, however, and I would encourage you not to lump it in with preconceived notions about the past.
While masking and social distancing are still the most important tools we have to bring to bear right now, vaccination is key to protecting the population and saving lives long term. The technology for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is different from your "typical" live or dead virus cocktail, but mRNA vaccines aren't something new. In fact, the research that led to this vaccine started with work to stabilize the Coronavirus spike protein 12 years ago, which is part of how the first Covid-19 mRNA vaccinations were developed so quickly. While no mRNA vaccine has been brought to commercial market before - mostly due to issues with logistics and distribution related to the cold temperatures they require - we DO have other mRNA vaccines that have been tested in humans and approved.
I also feel like it is important to note that it is not possible to get Covid-19 from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines which is the most common question that I get from patients at this time. It is common for people to feel ill for a day after getting the 2nd shot, but this is a normal activation of the immune system - mRNA vaccines contain no actual virus particles, only the blueprints to teach your body how to fight the virus efficiently (as a gross oversimplification, but you get the idea...) and it is not possible to get Covid-19 from this type of vaccine technology.
There are quite a number of myths about the vaccine that are worth debunking, and a good list of them can be found here in this article from UC Davis. No microchips or conspiracies in the vials, no changes to your DNA for sure!
It is a solid vaccine with good research behind it, and the more people we can vaccinate the more likely we are to be able to see our loved ones again, send the kids back to school, and go out to eat. Man, remember when dinner and a movie was a normal date night? Yeah, me too, vaguely, but there are some fun lists of what "date night" can look like now during pandemic times.
But I digress - vaccination, its recommended if you feel comfortable with it, but where do you get the dang thing once your phase comes up and how do you know when its your turn?
Let me help you with that.
For the most part, these efforts are being organized at the county level, so checking your county Covid-19 webpage is the best place to start. You can find some of those for our area here:
You can also register online at Kaiser Permanente, where they are vaccinating all members of the community in the proper phase with registration. Kaiser members can simply log in to their kp.org account and book a vaccine appointment if they are in the current phase, while community members can go online and complete the registration process to get an appointment here:
Kaiser Permanente Covid-19 Page
Yes, its clunky and the wait times might be long, but the more we can work with public health officials to keep this effort moving the better off we will be. Consider it an exercise in patience and perseverance perhaps, which are two traits all of us have probably been practicing more than we expected to in recent months.
Also, remember that Acupuncture is a great tool to help boost your immune system while you wait, and support your body through the vaccination process! If you haven't been in for a while think about booking in to boost your immune system, or to help with stress during these still challenging times.
Until then be well, take care, and ask questions anytime!
Yours in health
your friendly neighborhood acupuncturist
Our lungs are incredibly important. Without properly functioning lungs, we cease to exist. In the United States alone, nearly 200,000 people die every year from forms of respiratory disease. Respiratory diseases include both acute and chronic conditions and consist of everything from the flu to emphysema. While many of these ailments can be prevented, there are others not avoidable due to unchangeable circumstances such as genetics.
What’s nice about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it approaches the treatment of each individual person and their various symptoms. With TCM, every person receives a different treatment protocol based around their specific symptoms and signs. Once this is done, a diagnosis is made that is tailored to you, and specific acupressure points, herbal remedies and accessory modalities are chosen.Here are some ways that TCM can help those suffering with respiratory issues.
Acupuncture for Respiratory Issues: Acupuncture helps build (or tonify) the energy within the respiratory system. This energy is called Qi (pronounced “chee”). When lung Qi is strong and the body is balanced, respiratory issues rarely become an issue. Acupuncture treatment stimulates blood flow which carries oxygen to every cell in the body. The increased blood flow supports a healthy immune system, dilates the bronchioles and produces anti-inflammatory agents that help improve breathing by relaxing the muscles.
Acupuncture Points for Respiratory Issues:
·Kidney 27 – This point is located bilaterally on the chest, just below the collarbone. Kidney 27 is used to open the lungs, reduce coughing and encourage full breathing.
·Lung 5 – Lung 5 is located at the end of the outer crease of the elbow, just to the outside of the tendon. This point opens up the airways and the throat, while reducing coughing and wheezing.
·Ren 17 – This point is located in the middle of the chest, midway between both nipples. It is used to open the chest, loosen up congestion, stop coughing and encourage full breathing.
Chinese Herbals Formulas for Respiratory Issues: Combinations of herbs, known as formulas are used frequently in TCM. One of the most commonly used individual herbs is Wu Wei Zi, also known as Schisandra. This herb is used to treat asthma, wheezing, and boost immune function.
A popular formula choice of TCM practitioners is Bi Yan Pian. This formula works to clear the nasal passages and it usually accomplishes this within five days to a week. The herbs in Bi Yan Pian work to disperse wind, expel toxins, relieve inflammation and dissolve phlegm.
Nutrition for Respiratory Issues: For the lungs and respiratory system to be strong, they need proper nourishment, just like the rest of the body. Certain foods are good for increasing immunity, while also opening up the lungs and increasing circulation. Foods like garlic and onions reduce inflammation and fight off infections. Chili peppers open up the nasal passages, stimulating the mucus membranes and fighting invasion of nasty bacteria and viruses. Carrots and pumpkin are rich in vitamins A, C and lycopene. All of these vitamins affect lung health by lowering the chances of developing lung disease.
As you can see, TCM is a great way to deal with respiratory issues. If you are having difficulties dealing with these types of conditions, contact me and we will see what we can do to get you back on track.
Acupuncture has been used to treat addiction for many years. Curbing addiction, specifically when it comes to smoking, is not something that can be done overnight (often referred to as “quitting cold turkey”).
During the journey of quitting, there will be times when you think you won’t be able to stay smoke-free and want to give up. Considering acupuncture treatment when you are trying to quit can have great effects on helping you back on the road to better health.
Contact an acupuncturist and learn how acupuncture can help you stay smoke-free for a healthier body, mind, and spirit.
Alternative treatments to Quit Smoking
Cayenne pepper can lower cravings for cigarettes by lowering the respiratory response to tobacco and other chemicals found in cigarettes. Adding the pepper to a glass of water every day can help decrease your desire for a smoke.
Lime has been known to be a natural alternative to nicotine gum for quitting smoking. Squeeze lime into water throughout the day to help lower cravings. Lime also has an anti-infective agent to help the body’s immune defense.
Because fava beans contain L-dopa, which your body converts dopamine, these beans have been known to reduce nicotine cravings. Nicotine has addictive properties because it also releases dopamine in the brain, by finding alternatives that have the same effects, your nicotine cravings will be reduced. There are many recipes that can be made with fava beans and are easily available at the grocery store.
Many people who are trying to quit smoking experience anxiety. For smokers who have smoked regularly for years, massage may be an effective option in reducing anxiety associating with quitting.
Research has shown that acupuncture not only reduces cravings but can also reduce symptoms of withdrawal such as irritability and jitters. Acupuncture works by targeting specific acupuncture points on the body that help return the body back to its natural energy flow, resulting in better overall health.
An acupuncture point specifically used to help the incessant urge to smoke is called “Tim Mee” and is located on the inside of the arm. This point helps change thev body’s perception of nicotine. This point combined with others can help reduce cravings.
Another Acupressure point is Conception Vessel 17 (CV 17). This point can be found in the center of the sternum and is used to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as strengthen the lungs.
There are also simple acupressure techniques to cope with cravings such as ear massages which is one way you can cope with cravings at home. Doing this releases endorphins (which are natural painkillers).
If you have tried many of the above methods to try and quit smoking, reach out to us and schedule an appointment! We can create an individualized treatment plan to get you on the right track to being smoke-free.
There are a number of complications that can happen to a woman’s ovaries over her lifetime such as Ovarian Cysts which commonly occur and even go away without treatment. There are more serious problems that can occur in relation to ovaries, such as ovarian cancer, which require extensive treatment. The best way to treat these conditions is with preventative care and frequent check-ups with your Primary Care Physician. Below are tips that you can fit into your daily routine for better ovarian health.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition involving the imbalance of sex hormones, have a higher risk of ovarian cancer and obesity. Because of this, it is even more important that those with PCOS maintain a healthy diet. Below are foods to consider in your diet.
Lean Proteins are important to consume! Limiting your saturated fat intake can help decrease the body’s inflammation and lower the chance of ovarian cancer. Good sources of lean proteins include fish, chicken, lentils, beans, and eggs.
Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are never a bad choice to include more of into your diet. They are packed with vitamins and antioxidants to help strengthen your body’s immune system and fight disease. Tomatoes and onions can especially help prevent ovarian cancer.
Nuts and Seeds: Healthy fats are important for ovary health. The unsaturated fats in nuts and seeds can provide omega-3 fats that can reduce inflammation and help decrease your cancer risk.
Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Along with a healthy diet, it is important to have regular exercise to maintain health. Exercise is thought to help the body’s immune system, which in turn can help prevent obesity and ovarian cancer. Starting off with just moderate exercise that includes taking a walk most days or light jogging can be impactful on lowering your risk.
Chinese Herbs: Cinnamon and Rehmannia is a common combination of herbs that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat ovarian cysts. These herbs can be found out at health stores as well as be ordered online.
Brassica vegetable extract: This is a natural antioxidant that can help prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Brassica vegetables include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables contain glucosinolates, which work as an anti-carcinogen, helping to decrease the risk of cancer. You can find brassica vegetable extract in your local health food store.
Spleen 6: This point is where the three yin channels of the leg (spleen, liver and kidney) intersect. It is located above the tip of the medial malleolus on the posterior border of the medial aspect of the tibia. To put it simply, it can be found three inches above the tip of the inner ankle bone in a depression.
In Chinese medicine, the spleen meridian has a big influence on digestion and reproduction. It is vital for the production of blood and the control of the blood.
As one of the main points for reproductive health, Spleen 6 can be used for infertility, uterine bleeding, prolapse, pain in the genitals, menstrual cramps, difficult labor, irregular periods, painful periods, low milk supply, ovarian cysts, fibroids as well as to expel the placenta post-childbirth. For men, Spleen 6 can be helpful in treating impotence, pain in the genitals, hernia, and premature ejaculation.
Ren 12 – This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about four thumb-breadths directly above the belly button. This is the final point that completes the four doors grouping. Just like its counterparts, Ren 12 can help with bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It is also used to treat stomach aches, acid reflux, vomiting, and diarrhea. This point also benefits the uterus and ovaries and helps to regulate qi.
Along with these lifestyle guidelines, consider the mentioned acupuncture points (along with many others) for preventative treatment as well as managing an existing problem. These can help get you back on the road to better health! What are you waiting for? Contact us to schedule your acupuncture appointment today!
Acupuncture is known to be one of the cures to combat symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. SAD affects millions of Americans a year and can turn a once productive person to a tired and depressed individual. Although, SAD has various symptoms, probably the most common is depression. And, acupuncture has been shown to work great when treating symptoms of depression.
WHAT IS SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is related to the change in seasons and tends to begin and end around the same time each year for those affected by it. SAD is a type of depression and should be taken seriously.
Here are some of the symptoms of SAD to look out for:
•Having low energy
•Feeling sluggish or agitated
•Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
•Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
•Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
•Having problems sleeping
•Having difficulty concentrating
•Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
•Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
WHAT THE STUDIES HAVE TO SAY
A study published by the National Institute of Health looked at the management options for treating depression. Depression is one of the most prevalent symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. This study was conducted by the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments.
They looked at multiple complementary and alternative methods for treating depression, including light therapy, acupuncture, exercise, yoga and natural health supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids and St. John’s Wort. The study concluded acupuncture is most commonly used as a third line of treatment for those seeking alternative methods to deal with depression, despite the fact it tends to be very effective.
Researchers recognize acupuncture does provide benefits to treating depression, but more work must be done to truly realize the full capacity of those benefits.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR SAD
There is a point located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of your ears. This point is known as governing vessel 20 (GV 20). GV 20 is one of the most powerful points in the acupuncturists’ arsenal. It raises emotional energy, which in turn can help alleviate depression. Applying pressure or lightly tapping this point is a great way to counter depression on your own and it can be done pretty much anywhere.
Liver 3 (LV 3) is located on the top of the foot between the big toe and the second toe, where the metatarsal bones meet. Stimulating this point helps stagnant blood to move freely again. Imagine a beaver dam on a river. If there is a lot of debris built up against the beaver dam, then the river can’t flow freely. This same analogy can be used when describing what happens to blood flow in the body. When the blood flow becomes stagnant and minute, then depression can set in because the body isn’t getting the proper nutrients it needs to function. In Chinese medicine theory, stagnant blood flow can lead to depression. Liver 3 is used frequently in traditional Chinese medicine treatments to re-establish the flow of blood throughout the body.
Heart 3 (HT 3) is located on the inside of the elbow. When the elbow is flexed, the point is midway between the inner end of the elbow crease and the tip of the elbow bone itself. In traditional Chinese medicine, the heart meridian is often treated when depression is a presenting complaint. Depression causes the heart meridian to become deficient in energy. HT 3 stimulates the energy needed to combat depression symptoms.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus or the SARS-Cov-2) in December 2019, the world has been working together to not only find a cure for this wretched disease, but to also find ways to best combat it or even prevent one from being a recipient of it.
We have been reading through published research papers related to the treatment of COVID-19 using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and have come across some helpful information you can use to try and combat COVID-19 should you catch it.
Physical exercise as therapy to fight against the mental and physical consequences of COVID-19 quarantine:
In the above mentioned paper, the importance of maintaining physical activity (PA) in your daily routine despite being in quarantine throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic is discussed.
A quarantine was obviously the best choice in order to stop the rapid spread of infection and become more prepared for how to handle this unexpected Pandemic, however, finding ways to adapt and overcome the change in routine in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle is still important.
The paper states that “initiating a sudden quarantine state implies a radical change in the lifestyle of the population.” It also states that in order to “...counteract the negative consequences of certain diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, CVD, respiratory diseases, or even simply to guarantee an active aging by reducing the risk of frailty, sarcopenia and dementia, as associated diseases in older people, [physical activity must stay consistent].”
Exercise is important for all, but this paper focuses heavily on those who are at higher risk by being immunocompromised and even of the elderly generation as exercise in older people prevents faulty and positively impacts them.
This paper suggests that for those who are still stuck as home and/or have had to extend their quarantine, to find a well-regimented exercise regime that can help the individual maintain an active lifestyle in order to stay healthy and best combat this virus.
Recommended Movement Guidelines
As stated in the study, the following is recommended if the individual is under quarantine:
Weekly exercise: 200-400 minutes of exercise per week (being spread out over the course of 5-7 days to “compensate for the decrease in normal daily PA levels).”
Of those required days, 2 days of resistance training is combined with 3+ days of aerobic training.
There are many reasons that exercise is recommended when it comes to nurturing a healthy immune system. The most important reason involves your body temperature. As you workout, your body temperature rises during and after exercise which helps to prevent bacteria from growing, thus helping to fight infection. Physical activity also helps flush out bacteria from your lungs and even slows the release of stress hormones.
Acupressure for Better Movement
Chingling, Weiling: Pressing on these points release tension from the legs which makes it easier to stretch them out. To effectively use this acupressure point, slide the middle and index fingers down the back of the other hand (towards your wrist) and move along the spaces to the outside of the middle two fingers. These points help to release tension out of the legs making it easier to stretch the legs out.
Gallbladder 34 (yang ling quan): This point is specifically used to relax the tendons and ligaments within your body. It is located on the outer aspect of the lower leg, in the depression in front of and below the head of the fibula. Gallbladder 34 is the command point of the joints and sinews, which makes it a great choice for relieving pain, especially in the lower extremities. It is also used to address hemiplegia, lateral costal pain, bitter taste in the mouth, vomiting and jaundice. This point relieves hip and ankle pain, thus allowing you to move more freely.
Bladder 57 (cheng shan): This point relaxes and strengthens the lower back, Relaxes the sinews, invigorates blood, clears heat and even removes obstructions from the channel. This point responds well to strong deep pressing movement when applying pressure.
Overall, movement is medicine! It helps keep us healthy and moving throughout our day-to-day life. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment regarding acupuncture for mobility, reach out!
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.