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.
It is estimated that COVID-19 could be up to ten times more deadly than the flu. This could be due to the intense inflammatory response it triggers in the body. Covid-19 seems to have an effect on the production of proteins called “cytokines” which are known to be involved in systemic inflammation. These Cytokines are found to be overproduced in those suffering from severe COVID-19.
A Cytokine Storm is "a severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly. A cytokine storm can occur as a result of an infection, autoimmune condition, or other diseases. It may also occur after treatment with some types of immunotherapy." A cytokine storm is the rapid release of pro-inflammatory proteins and is a classic sign to physicians as a symptom of sepsis; an often fatal response to infection. Symptoms of a Cytokine Storm fall in line with what we have been told to look for as common symptoms of covid-19 such as fever, swelling, severe fatigue, and nausea.
A study originally published in early August of 2020 (linked here) demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture. This certainly is not the first study to provide evidence that acupuncture can be incredibly effective in supporting the body’s immune function, however considering the current pandemic, it seemed to catch the eye of many concerned readers.
The study was able to conclude that though anti-inflammatory drugs are also effective, they come with undesirable side effects, including organ damage. Whereas acupuncture offered a safe, natural, and effective way of helping the body navigate the complexity of this disease with no lingering side-effects and many added therapeutic benefits.
Similar findings were reported in a study originally posted in September of 2020 (linked here). While investigating the effects of acupuncture on those suffering from asthma, they were able to conclude that acupuncture does in fact have an effect on the immune response.
Hang on, this gets a little science-heavy here, but this is an important statement from the above study as to why acupuncture is able to act as an anti-inflammatory treatment. “T-helper cell type 1 (Th1) plays an important role in cell-mediated immunity, whereas T-helper cell type 2 (Th2) is responsible for humoral immune responses, such as regulating immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgE secretion. Acupuncture has been shown to restore the equilibrium between Th1 and Th2 activity by reducing the production of Th2-specific cytokines”.
Though Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) have been around for over 3,000 years, the efficacy of TCM has been questioned in Western medicine since its arrival on our shores back in the 1970s. A fundamental difference between the two is that Western medicine often seeks to block neural pathways in order to relieve symptoms (such as pain) as the first course of action. TCM uses a more holistic approach to wellness. An acupuncturist is trained to identify areas of disharmony (such as pain or heat) within the body and with this knowledge treat the diagnosed condition (or conditions), not simply mask the symptoms. A benefit to this type of medicine is that TCM looks much more thoroughly into the health and condition of organs and their contribution, or lack thereof, to the system as a whole. Though much work needs to be done in order to fully understand the relationship between cytokines, Covid-19, and TCM, this continuing research represents an important step. Ongoing efforts will continue in order to understand the neuroanatomy of acupuncture, and how it could, and quite frankly should be used safely and effectively alongside just about any other treatment modality.
What does all this mean?
Because of the disease’s potentially fatal production of these pro-inflammatory proteins, COVID-19 and Cytokine Storms have a lot in common. The good news is that acupuncture may be able to help!
If you are looking to simply boost your immune system, or require some input on what to do next, please reach out. We are here for you. Feel free to call or schedule your appointment today.
Wellness doesn't always mean perfect health. Nor does a diagnosis mean you are doomed to a life of poor health. In fact, there are many things you can do to support wellness, even when facing chronic pain. Take action for your health now with these strategies from Always Well.
Start with a Healthy Environment
While a healthier home environment won't eliminate a diagnosis, it can help alleviate stress and some symptoms. Try these tips for making your home comfortable and less flare-up-inducing.
Change the Habits You Can Control
Chronic pain can make many things difficult, but healthier habits are always beneficial, and some may even help alleviate pain.
Address Pain from Multiple Angles
Living with chronic pain isn't easy, and there's no magic solution. But there are many ways to live with and minimize pain, no matter the cause.
There is no magic solution to eliminating pain due to a chronic condition. But these strategies can help minimize pain and enhance your quality of life while you find ways to live with your diagnosis.
Can Acupuncture Help With Diabetes?
Did you know that acupuncture can be a powerful ally for people who have various types of Diabetes?
It’s true...let me explain how an acupuncturist views the common condition.
Although Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine use different methods to treat common diseases, both approaches also agree on many things. Western medicine considers diabetes melletis as a disease of blood sugar metabolism.
Diabetes is caused by either or a failure of the cell’s ability to accept insulin and dump toxins into the blood or the pancreas is not able to produce adequate insulin to lower blood glucose.
According to TCM, Xiao Ke or “wasting and thirsting disease” is divided by the patient’s symptoms into upper jiao, middle jiao and lower jiao. We’ll discuss more about this further in the article.
Diabetes, according to Western Medicine is divided into three general categories (ADA, 2018):
1) Type 1—pancreatic beta cell autoimmune destruction is usually diagnosed in children.
2) Type 2, adult onset functioning, yet progressive beta cell destruction autoimmune markers along with insulin resistance.
3) Gestational diabetes is hyperglycemia during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually resolves itself following delivery of the baby.
According to TCM, Xiao Ke or “wasting and thirsting disease” is divided by the patient’s symptoms and also divided into 3 general categories:
1) Upper Jiao - The upper jiao is when the lung isn’t able to descend moisture to the rest of the body.
2) Middle Jiao - The middle jiao is “spleen not able to transform and transport” to the rest of the body.
3) Lower Jiao - Stomach may also have excess fire or deficiency thus unable to digest food. Liver yin deficiency, creating fire may also be a culprit. Lower jiao involves kidney yin. Yin is the body’s ability to cool, ground, it’s substance and associated with water. When yin is deficient, it creates heat in the body, and consumes the body’s fluids. Diabetes Meletus is excessive glucose, heat, inability to ground in TCM.
TCM physicians use the patient’s case history, looking at the patient’s tongue and feeling the patient’s “pulses”. “Reading” the pulse, isn’t counting beats. The pulse shows nine organ and channel conditions-- the “climate” of the body. The practitioner can feel such as heat, cold, damp, excess, deficiency and phlegm which indicate how to best treat the patient. TCM therapy has seven aspects. Treatment is specifically individualized to harmonize climate and imbalance.”
Similarities: Both Western and Eastern focus on diet, weight loss, and exercise to treat diabetes. Both use medications, nutritional supplements or herbs to reduce blood sugar and improve cellular respiration.
Western medicine uses a “one size fits all” approach. Everyone with a diagnosis of adult onset diabetes type 2 starts off with metformin. The A1C is measured after three months, then the medication is adjusted, or other medications are added. If the A1C isn’t within normal limits, insulin may be added. According to Western medicine, the pancreas is diseased.
TCM uses differential diagnosis developed over 3,000 years. Urinating sugar illness is called Tang Niao Bin. Diabetes is also called “Wasting and Thirsting” disease, “Xiao Ke”. Diabetes Mellitus is caused by heat, dampness and phlegm. An acupuncturist will ask to see your tongue, feel the pulses in three positions and three levels. The TCM physician considers a detailed patient history, including past illness, emotional trauma and injuries important to determine the best treatment. Treatment is specific to each person. Diabetes Mellitus can be caused by disharmony in the upper body, middle or lower body. Diabetes isn’t a “one size fits all”, but a symptom of a deeper problem (Guo, 2014).
Though there are many TCM patterns for this condition , which pattern below best describes your symptoms?
1. Lung Heat Injuring Fluids. This can be caused by childhood exposure to secondhand smoke, recurrent lung infections caused by viral or bacterial pathogens, often the pathogen has not been completely eliminated. Cigarette smoking dries the lung mucosa, destroying delicate cilia, depositing carbon into lung tissue.
The patient experiences asthma, excessive thirst, dry mouth and tongue, hacking dry cough, sometimes producing a sticky phlegm. Treatment: cool lung, descend lung qi. One formula is Bai Hu Ren Shen Tang (White tiger decoction). Diet would include pears, rice, mei men dong, sha shen tea, asparagus, mulberry leaf, marshmallow root tea. Formulas may include Mai Wei Di Huang Wan and Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang.
2. Excess Stomach Heat. Changes in diet and lifestyle usually clear this up. Excessive consumption of alcohol, too much hot and spicy food, over-eating, too much red meat, too much highly processed food, dairy, and food allergens. The person feels famished, heartburn after eating or at night, experiences constipation and dry stools, and elevated blood sugar. Pumpkin has been shown to lower blood glucose, avocados, one half gallon of water per day, sha shen tea, and lots of green vegetables. Beef is neutral in temperature and consumed in moderation, thus reducing heat and nourishes yin. Formulas prescribed may include Bai Hu Jia Ren Shen Tang, Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, Zeng Ye Tang.
3. Liver qi deficiency (Hazlehurst, 2016) : Blood sugar usually is higher with stress. Some of the other symptoms include flank and chest discomfort, hypertension, red eyes, visual disturbances, short temper, irritability, depression, migraines, heartburn. When liver qi is not flowing, the liver qi energy tends to rise. Exclude fried, dairy, alcohol, sodas. Diet includes green leafy vegetables, olive oil and lemon juice, lemon water, dandelion, chlorella, and beets. Formulas used to treat this pattern include Xiao Yao San, Yi Guan Jian and Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang (Guo, 2014).
4. Kidney Yin Deficiency (Zheng, 2011): Yin is the body’s ability to “cool” itself, it is substance, anchoring and grounding. Kidney energy is called Dan Tian “life force energy”. If the “Dan Tian fire” is too high, fluids are evaporated, blood thickens, and energy raises. The patient experienced low back achy pain, knee pain, unmeasurable low grade feverish feeling in the afternoon. Often patients complain of night time urinary frequency, elevated blood pressure, hearing difficulty, and elevated glucose.
Treatment: Diet with fish, sea vegetables, dark green vegetables, pork, dark beans, bone broth, miso soup, vitamins and minerals, and one half gallon of water per day is commonly prescribed. Herbal treatment includes Liu Di Huang Wan, Da Bu Yin Wan, and Zuo Gui Wan.
TCM offers many treatment options to control diabetes. This article details a few suggestions. Please contact your primary care physician and your acupuncturist to find what is best for you.
1. American Diabetes Association. (2018). Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2018. Diabetes care, 41(Suppl 1), S13–S27. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc18-S002
2. Gökhan, S. Hotamışlıgil et al. (April 24, 2019). “The short-chain fatty acid propionate increases glucagon and FABP4 production, impairing insulin action in mice and humans,” Science Translational Medicine, April 24, 2019, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aav012
3. Hazlehurst, J. M., Woods, C., Marjot, T., Cobbold, J. F., & Tomlinson, J. W. (2016). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes. Metabolism: clinical and experimental, 65(8), 1096–1108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2016.01.001
4. Guo, J., Chen, H., Song, J., Wang, J., Zhao, L., and Tong X. (July 14, 2014). Syndrome Differentiation of Diabetes by the Traditional Chinese Medicine according to Evidence-Based Medicine and Expert Consensus Opinion. Article ID 492193. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/492193
5. Zheng, A.S.D. (2011). Essentials of Chinese Medicine. Internal Medicine 2nd Edition. Pgs 281-289. Bridge Publishing Group. ISBN: 978-0-9728439-8-0.
Back pain is one of the most expensive and exhausting ailments of our time. It’s the 6th most costly condition in the United States, costing Americans at least 50 billion in health care costs each year (let alone the cost of missed work due to disability). It is the third most common reason for a visit to the doctors office (behind skin disorders and osteo-arthritis joint issues). For Acupuncturists, it is the #1 reason people show up at their door.
So does it really work? For those that turn to acupuncture, they can rest assured they are increasing their odds of finding relief. Acupuncture has been found to be effective for chronic pain, including low back pain. Not only is acupuncture more clinically effective than no treatment at short-term follow-ups that looked at measures of pain relief and functional improvement acupuncture was actually found to be substantially better than standard care in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that included around 20,000 patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
Acupuncture is also safe. In a cumulative review of more than 1 million acupuncture treatments, the risk of a serious adverse event with acupuncture was estimated to be 0.05 per 10,000 treatments and 0.55 per 10,000 individual patients. Most common side effects were minor, and included bleeding at the needle site and localized needling pain.
So how does sticking needles in the various points in the body actually help to alleviate back pain? The explanation according to Acupuncture theory involves the movement of stuck energy (qi) and blood in the body. Points along various energy channels are used to open pathways and redirect ‘traffic’ to promote a healthy flow of qi and blood. Western biomedical research looks at acupuncture effects on the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. It has been shown that the stimulation with acupuncture needles produces an analgesic effect through the release of endorphins , dopamine, endogenous cannabinoids (some of the body’s natural pain-killers) and anti-inflammatory substances as well as the inhibition of pro-inflammatory factors.
And does it last? The beneficial effects of acupuncture do, in fact. persist beyond the course of treatment. In a meta-analysis of around 18,000 patients with chronic pain, 90% of the pain-relieving effects were maintained at 1 year out.
As far as cost-effectiveness, acupuncture scores again. In one study in Canada, low back pain patients divided into 2 groups (201 patients receiving acupuncture and 804 patients not receiving acupuncture) were evaluated for the number of medical doctor visits required for treatment of their low back pain. The acupuncture patients saw their doctors 49% less after having acupuncture compared with the year prior to having acupuncture. Non-acupuncture patients had a decrease of only 2%.
The WHO officially classifies acupuncture as a cost-effective treatment strategy in patients with chronic low back pain, according to their cost-effectiveness threshold values.
Back pain, as many of us have experienced, can be an expensive threat to our quality of life. Depending on the cause and severity of the back pain, acupuncture can be a safe and cost-effective alternative or complementary approach to treatment, providing much needed relief!
If you are one of the many people suffering with back pain, don’t hesitate to get in for some pain-relieving acupuncture sessions. The sooner you get in, the sooner you’ll experience the benefits!
TCM MENOPAUSE: The Second Spring
In horticulture, “second spring” is a term used for that time in early autumn, after the hot and dry end of summer, when a little moisture returns, temps cool and there is a second blooming. Autumn is harvest time, but it’s also a time to rework the garden beds for some fall crops, a second helping at nature’s table.
In a woman’s life, if spring represents our birth and early years, summer our fertile years, then autumn is a transitional time of pre-menopause/menopause, while winter is the winding down years and death. Menopause as the autumn, and therefore ‘second spring’ of our lives comes in our developmental life cycles around the ages of 49-55. This is based on the Chinese medical understanding of women’s development unfolding in 7 year cycles (vs. men’s 8 year cycles). This transitional time leading to menopause ususally begins around the 7th of these 7-yr cycles, but can come earlier or later.
In TCM, Autumn is a time of letting go, the leaves fall and nature reorganizes it’s energetic investments. In a woman’s body during this autumnal life change, there are energy shifts from the reproductive organs, where the body had for many years focused on fertility functions, to the heart where the ‘shen’ or conscious spirit resides.
“Women’s heavenly dew wanes, qi that dwelt in the baby’s palace, moves up to the heart, and her wisdom is deepened.”- Nei Jing (2600 BC)
It is thought that your emotional center (the heart) gets its qi back and a woman’s personal and spiritual life can take center stage. This creates fertile ground for the ‘second spring’ of personal insights and new ideas. The fruit of life’s experience is ripe enough to enjoy as the earned wisdom and understanding that comes with age.
And while aging is feared, even at times demonized, in modern western cultures, it is understood as a natural life process and an accomplishment worthy of respect in most asian cultures. The elderly are revered for their knowledge and maturity. This difference in perception deeply affects the experience of menopausal women. The negative stigma placed on aging in the U.S., especially for women, creates an extra mental and emotional burden.
Many women, especially in Asian cultures, do not experience the symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings and fatigue. Some women even experience more energy at menopause. This is because menopause is actually a homeostatic mechanism that slows down the aging process in women. It is designed to conserve energy and blood, as the body can stop expending it on the menstrual cycle and reproduction. It is in this sense that we can think of it as a healthy transition, one just in time to slow down, then stop our reproductive function to conserve our essence and energy to allow us to get the most out of the final season of our lives.
So, why do some women suffer through while others welcome this transition? It’s a matter of balance, as always, in Chinese Medicine. There needs to be an adjustment period where the body can re-stabilize while certain energetic (and hormonal) changes occur. Some people are more flexible and better equipped to handle the fluctuations. They can therefore easily re-center their own yin-yang balance in the body. Many factors affect this ability such as constitution (genetics), lifestyle, diet, environmental exposures, and even cultural influences. Acupuncture and herbs can greatly assist this process too, as they can help to guide the body’s energy back into a state of balance.
It is time to reframe our understanding of menopause as a time to celebrate the gifts that come with the closure of women’s reproductive years. Women can honor this time with rest, reflection, and a re-assessment of direction, relationships, career etc. and be rewarded with a second spring, a time of renewed energy and purpose.
Regular acupuncture can help with all kinds of life transitions, including menopause, and help you cash in on the benefits of those important shifts! Get in ASAP to set up an appropriate treatment plan!
We’ve probably all heard motherly advice at some point reminding us to bundle up in cold weather so we don’t “catch a cold”, or hear grandpa accurately predict a storm when his hip starts aching. Or how about getting a case of the winter weather blues? Even in the western world we recognize a relationship with nature in terms of environmental conditions. Changes in temperature, sunlight, barometric pressure, and humidity all play a role in this relationship.
When it comes to the weather and our health, many in the west automatically think of how season changes and extreme weather can aggravate symptoms of asthma and allergies, but weather-related health concerns go far beyond seasonal allergies and asthma. Changes in barometric pressure can affect joints (like Grandpa’s hip), and cause headaches.
Headaches can also be caused by heat and dehydration, so summer adventurers beware (bring lots of water!). High humidity can intensify heat too as it limits our ability to cool down through sweating, potentially leading to hyperthermia and heat stroke.
Cold weather can tighten muscles causing body pain. It also constricts blood vessels leading to an increase in blood pressure and increased risks of heart attack and stroke. While blood pressure tends to be higher in the winter, any temperature extreme, hot or cold, can affect heart function.
Sunlight is another aspect of weather that has a lot of influence over our health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often associated with the colder, darker fall and winter months. The reduced sunlight alters our melatonin and serotonin levels, potentially leaving us with disruptions in sleep and mood.
Ancient Chinese Medical texts describe a similar relationship between humans and their environment, though the wording and understanding of the nature of the environmental conditions differs slightly.
In TCM there are 5 main “climates” or environmental influences related to our health.
These are: COLD, HEAT, WIND, DAMP, DRYNESS
(summerheat, associated with late summer, is actually considered a 6th climate)
These potential causes of illness described in Chinese Medicine sound like weather patterns themselves and are considered external influences in origin but can penetrate to have effects on the body and create what we can think of as internal weather. We can also be more prone to their influence based on our constitution and lifestyle, (and can even manifest these ‘climates’ internally without external exposure).
Any extremes with these various conditions can allow pathogens to enter, if our self-protective energy and efforts are weak, and leave us vulnerable to infections, such as with colds/flus.
They can also go deeper in the body to directly affect the organs, with symptoms presenting throughout the body in the respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive, nervous, musculo-skeletal systems and skin.
Wind is understood as the biggest trouble-maker as it often combines with other influences to wreak havoc in the body. It can affect the joints, bring on skin rashes, or cause a spell of dizziness, among other issues. Cold can kill the digestive fire; combine that with a damp invasion and you can experience bloating and/or nausea. Heat and dryness, on the other hand, can injure the blood and yin fluids of the body causing symptoms such as fever, restlessness, scanty painful urination, brittle hair and excessive thirst.
Chinese medicine takes a more preventative approach to these issues by addressing imbalances before they express as more severe symptoms. There is also a focus on the integrity of the defensive energy of the body as well as the body's ability to handle transitions with stability. Knowing our bodies will be continuously exposed to the challenge of seasonal weather changes and potential extremes of climate conditions, we can prepare accordingly.
Don’t wait for an internal weather emergency to call for an appointment, get in asap to strengthen your resilience to external weather conditions, balance out your internal climates and assist you in transitioning season to season with ease and well-being!
Resource to expand on climates: https://tcmwiki.com/wiki/six-climatic-factors
Back pain is often what leads people to their first Acupuncture experience. It’s one of the most frequent complaints heard by medical professionals in general. 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point during their lives, and worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability.
Standard modern day approaches to back pain include physical therapy, pain medication and even surgery when severe, depending on the diagnosis. Acupuncture (just one of the many tools of Chinese Medicine) is a very cost-effective pain-relief option with a low risk of negative side effects. For mild cases, Chinese Medicine offers some self-care tips to try at home.
Rest & Exercise
The proper balance of yin and yang is the central tenet of Chinese Medicine, and when it comes to back pain, either extreme can be a cause. We can develop painful stagnant energy in our bodies from a sedentary lifestyle (extreme yin). On the flip side, we can deplete our yin with too much activity (extreme yang) leaving us susceptible to injury, withered muscles, and brittle bones. Ask yourself where the balance is needed. Sometimes for mild back pain, all that’s needed is a nap or a walk.
Hot & cold
Another way to address the yin/yang balance needed for a strong, pain-free back is with applications of hot and cold. First we need to figure out if the problem is too yang (hot) or too yin (cold). Usually acute issues involve more hot inflammation (yang), in which case a cold pack (frozen peas, anyone?) can be soothing. Whereas with chronic conditions, heat is often more appropriate to open stagnant channels and encourage qi and blood flow for healing.
Certain points on the body help to open the channels of the low back to relieve pain and stagnation. LI 4 (Joining Valley) is located in the fleshy depression just beyond the meeting point of the thumb and first finger bones and strongly stimulates qi and blood flow throughout the body. UB40 (Supporting Middle) is at the midpoint of the crease behind the knee and opens up the main channel that runs along the back. These are great points to massage gently for both chronic and acute back pain.
Tiger balm is a popular chinese salve for topical pain relief, but another bathroom cabinet essential is Zheng Gu Shui (Evil Bone Water), an herbal liniment that can be applied directly to the skin of the low back to penetrate with blood moving, pain relieving qualities.
There are great (free!) instructional videos available online that demonstrate specific qi gong exercises that support the low back, such as ‘Knocking on the Door of Life’ and ‘Spinal Chord Breathing’. For beginners, just a basic qi gong stance with some breathing can start to move the stuck qi. Wu Ji posture is thought to help bring the body into proper alignment. With feet shoulder-width apart and relaxed knees, roll your pelvis in, drop the shoulders but spread them open, tuck the chin and imagine the top of the head being pulled upward. Breathe slow, smooth and deep, and empty your mind. Feel your connection to the earth through the soles of your feet where your kidney channel begins at the indent just under the balls of the feet. It can also help to get barefoot in the grass on a sunny day!. Just this practice alone (if done regularly) can also completely change your response to stress, a major factor in pain perception.
These tips can go a long way in alleviating mild back pain, but be sure to book some acupuncture sessions to address root causes and give your body even stronger tools for rebalancing and pain relief.
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.