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.
There's never been a time where health and wellness has been such an integral part of global conversations. People are now more interested in what they're eating and putting into their bodies. Food isn't just about eating, it's about creating a healthier, better life for yourself and your families.
We've previously written about '5 Immunity Boosting Recipes' that can help keep you and your loved ones safe during flu season and beyond. Today, we're going to be talking about an easy, accessible supplement that can give you the important nutrients and vitamins that you need to make your life better and brighter.
What is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass is one of the many superfoods that have taken the world by storm over the past few years. It's the young grass of the common wheat plant Triticum aestivum, and unlike other superfoods that are grown in tropical climates can be grown in nearly every climate. Wheatgrass is typically harvested at 5 to 8 inches tall. Cut too early and it's too sweet and lacks the essential nutrients, too late and it's too bitter.
Like many superfoods, wheatgrass is filled to the brim with a host of different vitamins and nutrients. Wheatgrass contains several amino acids, which SF Gate reports are able to perform several functions in the body. These functions include protein synthesis, enzyme synthesis, and the growth and maintenance of cells. Out of 3,500 milligrams of wheatgrass, there are a whopping 700 milligrams of amino acids.
Healthline has put together an exhaustive list of research on wheatgrass's many benefits. According to researchers, wheatgrass may reduce cholesterol, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease. It can also aid in regulating blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great supplement for protecting the body against infections and injuries. Some also posit that wheatgrass can even help kill cancer cells in test tube studies, although further research is needed on anti-cancer effects in humans.
How to Get Wheatgrass
Because wheatgrass is so easy to grow, it's easy to set up your own crop at home. Once it's grown to the appropriate height, you can cut it a few inches above the root, wash, and then dry them. You can then air dry or oven-dry it and then process it into powder, which can then be added to supplement your food or mix into drinks.
For convenience, you can also purchase wheatgrass capsules or powder. Both options are easy, convenient, and use a cold-drying process that Brightcore states preserves the healthy enzymes and vitamins found in the plant. They're also fairly safer — wheatgrass is typically consumed raw in order to make the most of the health benefits, but in some cases might contain harmful mold or bacteria.
Because wheatgrass is consumed raw, it's always best to check in with your doctor or nutritionist before taking it as a supplement. It's not always recommended for pregnant women or people with immune deficiencies, and people with gluten sensitivities should also be cautious. On the whole, however, it's an easy, convenient, and all around great choice for boosting your health.
If you feel like you experience seasons where you just can’t catch a break and continuously fall ill, there’s likely a few areas you may be shortcutting yourself and your immune system and a worse-than-usual flu season may not be, solely,where the blame should lie.
Below are 4 ways you could be weakening your immune system and how to combat that.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Not only is Vitamin D helpful in staving off or reducing your chances of getting cancer, it also guards against colds and flu as well as helping to combat risk of infection.
So how do you get more Vitamin D if you feel like you’re not getting enough? From the sun! Not only does it provide our bodies with an adequate amount, but it also helps to balance Qi which helps nourish our Kidney Yang. This helps to give our body warmth, thus keeping our tissues and organs functioning properly.
Not enough sun? Not to worry! There is a large variety of Vitamin D supplements that can be taken, but be sure to consult with us and your doctor before use.
Lacking In Sleep
The National Heart Blood and Lung Institute states that "during sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems, including an improper balance of Cytokines. Cytokines are inflammation and infection targeting proteins both produced and released during sleep. In short, skipping the shut eye can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and even get along with others.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following sleep range based on your age:
Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
Adults (18-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
Washing Your Hands
Washing your hands is key in preventing illness or infection. Not only does the act of washing your hands matter, but the duration of how long you’re washing them for is important too!
We have some disturbing statistics for you that will hopefully encourage you to take more time in the realm of hygiene. A few studies from the American Society of Microbiology and Michigan State University found the following:
One of the ways that your body heals itself is by producing T cells (a substance in your blood that fights infection). There’s a lot that’s impacted within your body when you become stressed. At a basic level, your body will release cortisol, which impairs T cell production and the ability to fight infection from foreign invaders. Being stressed directly impacts your immune system, so it’s important to find ways to relax!
Another way to combat stress is by using Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupressure points! Yes! Acupuncture can absolutely alleviate stress and anxiety!
By activating specific points known to address these problems, we can actively affect positive change in ones emotional and mental wellbeing! Here are a couple points that can be used:
Ear Shen Men -
This point, Heart 7, is also called Shen Men meaning Spirit Gate. This point reduces excesses that disturb the spirit and the balance of yin/yang. This point is so powerful that TCM practitioners often praise Shen Men as being the most calming and relaxing point in the body, while also being highly accessible.
Union Valley (LI 4)-
The point is known reduce stress, headaches, and neck pain. It’s also used to treat swelling and pain of the eye, nasal obstruction, sore throat and much more. This point is located on the back of the hand at the apex of the webbed triangle between the thumb and the index finger.
CV 17 -
Conception Vessel 17 (CV 17) is a great self-help point for many reasons. Conception Vessel 17 is easy to find, and matches the location for the heart chakra, at the center of the sternum. With this point you will find potent stress and anxiety relief, as well as an opening of the chest and relief of acid indigestion.
For more educational content, follow us on social media or favorite our blog in your browser to stay up-to-date on the latest Traditional Chinese Medicine news and education.
If you’re ready to start living a healthier lifestyle with Acupuncture and TCM, don’t wait, reach out and schedule an appointment today!
We’re getting closer to the cold and flu season, and this year it’s a HOT topic for many of us with COVID-19 lurking. But fear not, there are things that you can do, right now, from the comfort of your home.
The following are different at-home Immune Optimizing recipes that you can make to help your body navigate this season of cold, flu and virus.
SINUS & NASAL IRRIGATION
Ingredients: 8 oz squeeze bottle, 1 tsp sea salt, water
Preparation: Warm the water and salt (ensure it’s not too warm or this may cause nasal irritation) Setting: Bend over your sink and look straight down at the sink basin while turning your head to a 45 degree angle. Tip the squeeze bottle into your nostril until the liquid runs through your sinuses and leaves the other nostril. (Search Neti Pot Instructions online for clearer instructions).
CAYENNE, HONEY & LEMON TEA
Ingredients: 1 whole lemon, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp honey, 3 ½ cups water
Preparation: Boil the above ingredients together for upwards of 10 minutes and strain when finished
Setting/Frequency: Drink this tea three times per day.
Ingredients: 1 head of cabbage, 2 cucumbers, 2 oranges and 1 cup of dandelion greens.
Preparation: Juice the above ingredients and pour into a glass
Setting/Frequency: Drink 3 glasses daily
ANTIOXIDANT-RICH NUT MIX
Ingredients: Pine nuts, goji Berries, blueberries (dried) and Brazil nuts
Preparation: Mix together each ingredient to taste preference
Setting/Frequency: Eat once daily as a snack, keep recommended calorie count in mind with consumption of this mixture.
Keep in mind that there are various ways you can take care of your body in order to bolster your immune health the best chance at fighting illnesses and functioning properly. These include avoiding smoking and taking drugs (that aren’t prescribed by a doctor), which are known for depleting the body's qi and weakens it. Additionally, keep your emotions in check, negative emotions, stress and anxiety can suppress immune function. Do your best to remain optimistic and keep a positive attitude with everything going on in the world around us. Start with the basics - exercise, eat right, sleep and stay hydrated to maintain your body’s balance.
2020 has proven to be a year of trials and growth for all of us. With a new school year in full swing (as full as it can be at this time...), it’s important to have an open dialogue with our children about what to expect, how to stay safe and how they can express themselves even with certain restrictions.
GET THEM A MASK THEY CAN BE EXCITED ABOUT
Children don’t have the full scope-of-understanding about this virus like us adults do. They may be confused, find it frustrating that they have to cover half of their face (which is a means of self-expression) and not be able to function in a way that they’re used to.
Getting your child a mask that they enjoy may encourage their desire to wear it, thus keeping them and others around them more safe. Affordable and unique masks can be found on sites such as Etsy and can range anywhere from $5-15. I have masks in my office and can make them to order as well, just ask!
Private sellers make masks with anything from floral print, to superheroes and video game characters such as Spider Man or Fortnite. I favor Marvel, Star Wars and Harry Potter for the kids myself.
RECESS GAMES AT A DISTANCE
Depending on your governing state and the rules that they apply when it comes to COVID-19, you may find your child becoming antsy not being able to play with their friends at recess like they used to. Here are some fun socially-distanced activities that you can incorporate so that kids can still enjoy their play time.
Fitness Relay: Set up into teams of 3 (ensuring everyone is at least 6 feet from one another). Set up cones in front of each team in a straight line to distinguish the start and finish areas. The leader will call out an exercise (jumping jacks, pushups, toe-touches, etc.) and when the leader yells “go!” The first players of each team will run to the cone and perform that exercise. Then, they run back to the starting cone and the next person goes. The first team to have all players finished, wins!
Mirror, Mirror: Players pick a partner and face each other keeping at least 6 feet of distance. One child is deemed the leader, and the others must mirror their movements. Talking and/or giving hints isn’t allowed! So pay close attention. The leader tries to come up with as many movements as possible while the others follow along. Switch leaders after 2 minutes.
MOBILE APPS AND GAMES
There are some mobile apps that can be downloaded on cell phones to help kids stay connected while social distancing. Of course, we encourage family discussions before a game is downloaded to ensure that it lines up with online safety as well as family values.
That being said, a few apps that we have found to be fun include Online Uno (a classic card game), Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and even Pokemon Go!
With the Covid19 pandemic still among us, we all walk a little weary into the back-to-school season. The good news is, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help. Consider a TCM perspective for not only those anxious feelings, but also as a modality to keep the immune system functioning optimally. Here are 4 ways to optimize your immune system this season to reduce your family’s chances of catching the Coronavirus, and other unwanted illnesses.
1. Focus on Your Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm (CR) govern’s the body’s natural cycles and helps to regulate appetite, sleep and mood - this cycle is influenced and controlled by light from the sun. There is an entire field of study called Chronomedicine that focuses on illnesses and disorders that occur when the body’s biological clock is disturbed, such as Jetlag, which you’ve likely experienced.
Biochemical changes are known to occur when behavioral patterns are altered due to the division of night and day. We bring this topic to light (pun intended) because of the current Pandemic at hand. Many work, school and daily schedules are altered due to the fact that the majority of the population is unemployed and don’t have to abide by a schedule.
We encourage you to try and maintain at least a bedtime/wake-up time so that your body can function the way it’s meant to. The more inconsistent a sleep schedule, the more your life can be affected.
2. Optimize Your Immune System
Cold and flu season is just around the corner, which means our chances of catching the CoronaVirus and/or another illness increases drastically as we head into the Fall months. These types of illnesses have a higher incidence rate in school kids, the immunocompromised and in the elderly September onward, so it’s best to keep our bodies healthy and in the best condition possible heading into the new seasons. This can be done by consuming food and drink that help to optimize your body’s immune system functions such as the home remedy below.
A healthy tea that you can drink to help stave away colds is as follows:
Boil the above for up to 5 minutes, strain and then consume it just before bed. This recipe suggests that you will sweat quite a bit as it’s intended to open the pores in order to release trapped pathogens.
3. Keep a Balanced Lifestyle
Eating properly isn’t enough to stave off the CoronaVirus, but having a balanced lifestyle increases your chances of fighting off COVID-19.
The following are several important items that can help keep your body healthy and balanced when fighting off any illness.
4. Exercise and Water Consumption
If you’re following the above steps, eating healthy foods and taking your vitamins, none of it will matter if you’re not properly hydrated, especially if we’re exercising.
Did you know that your body loses water through simple actions such as digestion, breathing and sweating? Water also helps your body dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from the food you consume. It then delivers these vitamin components to the rest of your body for use.
If you maintain a balanced amount of exercise and water consumption, you’re helping to give your body the tools it needs to fight off illnesses. Remember the importance of rehydrating by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
I understand that these are challenging times, and, the best chance we have to get through this is, by taking care of our bodies, minds, and supporting our overall well-being, with a variety of tools and techniques - reach out if you have questions, I can help.
The United States is in the middle of an epidemic like no other. We are currently losing almost 100 people per day as a consequence of the current opioid crisis. The opioid crisis is due to the addiction and abuse of both prescription and illegal opioid substances like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and the illicitly manufactured Fentanyl.
The opioid crisis started in the 1990s and has escalated every year since. A large part of this increase is due to pharmaceutical companies and conventional medical doctors.
During this period of time, medical doctors were being pressured to treat chronic pain more aggressively. In response to this pressure, doctors began prescribing long-term use of opioids for the pain. At the same time, the pharmaceutical companies were touting opioids as non-addictive and not harmful. The end result is that doctors were prescribing drugs at higher rates and more people were finding themselves addicted.
Despite what the pharmaceutical companies said, opioids are highly addictive substances and alter the way the body responds to pain.
The standard method of treating opioid addiction is to send the person to rehab or to have them quit cold turkey. In a rehab facility, the addict is taught how to address their addiction and use other methods in place of taking the drugs. Success rates at rehab facilities vary, and ultimately, if the addict is not surrounded by supportive people and activities, the chances they will return to using opioids after leaving the rehabilitation facility are much higher. But this is not the only option for those suffering from opiate addiction.
Acupuncture is an alternative treatment method that can be very beneficial in treating not only addiction to opioids but also the underlying reasons why a person may begin taking pain medications in the first place.
Acupuncture is part of an ancient medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine and it can be used to treat a host of issues.
Specifically, there is a technique known as the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol that has shown to decrease cravings during opiate withdrawals. This protocol uses five acupuncture points in the ear to modulate the neurotransmitters in the body, stimulating the endocrine system, which allows for relaxation and a “resetting” of the body overall.
These five points address different symptoms that can be associated with addiction and withdrawals. The lung point helps maintain a steady breathing pattern, which also helps address grief and sadness that can sometimes be associated with withdrawals. The Shen Men point addresses anxiety, stress, and depression. The autonomic point works on balancing the nervous system. The liver and kidney points help with detoxification, while also addressing anger and fear.
This addresses the opioid addiction itself, while other acupuncture points on the body can treat the underlying pain that may have led to the opioid addiction in the beginning. Acupuncture has a great track record for treating pain and decreasing inflammation. There are also points on the body that can help with all the emotional stuff that often accompanies addiction. Studies show acupuncture can also improve mood and sleep while decreasing the need for pharmaceuticals.
Opioid addiction is a serious matter and not something to be ignored. Be sure to discuss any alternative treatment methods with your physician or counselor, in order to get the best treatment tailored to meet your specific needs. Adding acupuncture to any conventional treatments can increase the odds of a successful release from opioid addiction.
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.