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!
Everybody gets sick at some point in their life. For some, it’s just a quick weekend thing. For others, it can last for several days and even weeks. Why do some people always get sick whenever there is a bug going around and others don’t? It all comes down to immunity.
People who have a stronger immune system, tend to be sick less often. Those with compromised or weak immune systems, seem to get sick at the drop of a hat. There are many things that can be done to strengthen the immune system though. And Traditional Chinese Medicine is probably one of the best and least invasive ways to boost the immune system, not just during the winter months, but all year long.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the immune system is called Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). The Wei Qi is closely associated with the internal organs, specifically the lungs. When the energy of the lungs is well-balanced, Wei Qi is strong and can easily fight off any external attacks. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs dominate the skin and breathing. If lung function is deficient or compromised in any way, then the body is more open to external pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Common symptoms of decreased Wei Qi or immunity include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, headaches, fever and/or chills.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has been around for nearly 4,000 years. There are many tools in the kit of a TCM practitioner. Probably the most commonly used tools for building Wei Qi are acupuncture and herbal formulas. Acupuncture uses hair-thin stainless steel, single-use needles that are placed on specific acupressure points that can boost immunity and balance hormones. When the hormones are stressed and unbalanced, illness can occur.
Acupuncture points associated with Wei Qi can strengthen the circulation of energy and blood, which will then boost the body’s defense mechanisms, thus helping to prevent illness. Regular acupuncture treatments can also cause the brain to increase T-cells in the body. T-cells destroy bacteria and viruses. Acupuncture needles provoke the body’s immune response by sending T-cells and white cells to the needle sites to fight off the invaders. These effects can last for several days, which keeps immunity higher than normal.
Chinese botanicals are another great way to build up Wei Qi. Any herb or herb combination that boosts or enhances the immune system will keep the body functioning at its optimal level. In TCM, there are many individual herbs that boost the Qi and some specifically boost the Wei Qi. Astragalus (huang qi) is one of the more frequently used Chinese herbs. It is used to tonify the Wei Qi, fortify the lungs and protect against pathogens. Studies show huang qi increases white blood cells, which can help fight off infection and pathogenic invasions.
Cordyceps (dong chong xia cao) is another immune-boosting herb. Cordyceps enhances immunity by increasing white blood cells, T-cells and interferon. It also can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. While cordyceps works very well by itself, it works even better when used as part of a formula, as do most Chinese herbs. When looking to use Chinese herbs, be sure to seek out a qualified herbalist and TCM practitioner to insure overall safety of the herb or formula.
TCM and all of its modalities can be very helpful in staying well and healthy. When added to the practices of proper sleep and nutrition, drinking lots of water and mild exercise, TCM will help keep the body’s immune system healthy. And hopefully if illness does occur, it will only be mild. Here’s to your health!
Did you know that eating healthier foods gives you a better chance to reduce your depressive symptoms? Eating a diet of processed food does more harm to your body due to the fact that those foods may be high in sugars and fats.
Additionally, it’s known that there are approximately 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells in the body. These bacteria serve many purposes including the curation of Vitamin K, digesting the food we consume and even regulating our immune system.
This implies that maintaining a healthy gut bacteria and overall diet can improve your mood.
SO WHAT CAN I EAT?
Studies show that dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard decrease inflammation, which has been linked to depression. Nuts are another powerhouse used to fight depression. The omega 3 fatty acids found in most nuts can reduce the symptoms of depression. Decreasing daily sugar intake can also help. Excess sugar in the diet decreases a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which can lead to depression if there is not enough of it being produced.
Though symptoms of anxiety and depression vary wildly among individuals, often these symptoms can follow someone for months if not years, slowly wearing down the body.
Here are a few simple examples of foods that can help lift your mood:
Fatty fish: Fatty fish are high in omega-3. Omega-3 is a fatty acid highly connected to cognitive function. Salmon and sardines are a great choice being among the few foods containing vitamin-D.
Eggs: We probably already know this, but the egg yolk is a great source of vitamin-D as well. They are a complete protein, which simply means they contain all the amino acids the our bodies need to grow and develop properly.
Brazil nuts: Often those suffering from mood disorders have a heightened level of inflammation. Brazil nuts are high in Selenium, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Brazil nuts are also anti-carcinogenic which can help prevent cancers from developing.
Pumpkin seeds: Potassium is needed to regulate the electrolyte balance and manage blood pressure. Pumpkin seeds as well as bananas are a great source of potassium. Some studies indicate that pumpkins seeds can have a positive effect on mood thanks to their high zinc levels as well. Zinc is essential for the brain and nervous system, in fact the highest level of zinc in the body is found in the brain regions involved with emotion.
Chamomile- For thousands of years people all over the world have used Chamomile to find relaxation thanks to it’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Some people believe that the relaxing properties of this herb come from the flavonoids present, this is why a warm aromatic chamomile tea is a very popular remedy for managing anxiety.
Yogurt- Praised for it’s helpful bacteria, yogurt can be incredibly beneficial for many reasons. Gut health and brain health go hand in hand. Yogurt and other fermented foods can benefit the gut naturally all the while reducing anxiety and promoting happiness.
Green tea: Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has recently received popular praise due to its potential effect on mood disorders, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Theanine has anti-anxiety and calming effects which can increase the production of serotonin and dopamine. Green tea is easy to add to any diet, and is a great substitute for soft drinks or coffee as green tea also contains caffeine.
WHICH FOODS SHOULD I AVOID?
Avoid foods made with added sugars or flours such as baked goods (donuts and pastries), breads, pastas and cereals. One should also minimize the consumption of animal fats, processed meats such as bacon, and even butter.
It’s important to remember that health starts from within. Maintaining a healthy balance of self-care, such as providing yourself with adequate sleep, hydration and physical activity is just as important as eating well. The road to wellness isn’t always paved, but the good news is that I am here to help guide you though this transformation.
If you are somebody who suffers from depression and you are looking for natural, holistic solutions, maybe give these suggestions a try. If nothing else, it is worth looking into. But most importantly, once you find the right path to correcting depression, follow it. Everybody is different and there is no one right answer.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition believed to be linked to a lack of sunlight where the individual experiences mood changes and emotions similar to depression. SAD occurs mostly in the Fall and Winter months when there is less sunlight exposure.
It’s found that around 5 percent of people may experience SAD lasting 40% of the year (especially in areas with less sunlight such as the Pacific Northwest and other Northern regions), and it is more common in women than in men.
SYMPTOMS OF SAD
The most common symptom of SAD is a feeling of sadness or a depressed mood. Other symptoms may include any of the following:
• changes in appetite
• cravings for sweet & starchy foods
• fatigue and low energy
• depression/low mood
• social withdrawal
• decreased libido
• aches and pains
• Increased restlessness (such as pacing)
• difficulty focusing
Symptoms vary from person to person, but they can be severe enough to disrupt daily life. While SAD can be a frustrating condition, there are treatments and coping techniques available.
Here are some general guidelines that we use in TCM which can help structure the treatments:
GENERAL METHODS TO REDUCE SAD
Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine can be beneficial.
Acupuncture treatments are completely customizable. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners don’t treat based on the Western medical diagnosis. They attack the disease based on its diagnosis in Chinese medicine. This means that they not only want to treat the symptoms, but also get to the root of the problem. This is much different from Western medicine with its one-size-fits-all type of treatments. The ability to treat each person as an individual with their own unique diagnosis is why traditional Chinese medicine is so successful.
Many factors play into an autoimmune disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment, usually with better results. Since autoimmune diseases are thought to be a deficiency in people’s immune-system responses, TCM practitioners will work to restore and rejuvenate the factors that are vital for good immunity. These things include blood and the energetic life force known as qi (pronounced “chee”). There can also be underlying genetic factors involved in autoimmune diseases, so acupuncturists may also work on building up a patients essence or jing. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.
The use of electroacupuncture may prove useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases too. Electroacupuncture emits mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles. These light shocks trigger the body to produce hormones that suppress pain and inflammation. This helps raise endorphins circulating in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.
Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Chinese herbs have specific qualities that can help boost blood, qi and jing. When acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined, the effects can be quite favorable. The herbs will actually compliment the acupuncture treatments by extending the effects of the needles. Many times this will shorten the number of treatments required, as the patient will start to see results sooner.
Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases also experience high levels of stress because of their disorder. It can be very stressful trying to lead a “normal” life with severe pain and other symptoms. Studies show acupuncture is very relaxing, and it helps reduce excess cortisol levels in the brain that contribute to chronic stress.
As autoimmune sufferers start to see improvements with acupuncture treatments and herbs, they may also be able to do things they couldn’t before, like exercise. Exercising not only improves blood flow, but it also increases immunity. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in the body. So just by receiving regular acupuncture treatments and herbal supplements, those suffering from autoimmune diseases may be able to lead a much more normal life with a lot less pain and suffering.
If you are dealing with some type of autoimmune disease, consider giving Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance. The outcomes may be life changing.
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.