Many research studies are proving acupuncture can help ease symptoms associated with chronic tension headaches. One of these studies published by the Cochrane Library concluded a course of six acupuncture treatments can be a viable option in the treatment of “tension-type headaches”.
According to the study, participants treated with acupuncture and pain-killers reported their headache frequency was less. This study was actually a compilation of several acupuncture trials. A total of 12 trials met the criteria to be included in this conclusive study. Acupuncture was also compared to several other modalities such as massage and physiotherapy, but the findings were inconclusive.
Tension headaches are not as debilitating as migraines but often occur more frequently. Tension headaches are reported to be the most common type of headache experienced. Stress tends to be the biggest factor regarding these types of headaches. Those who suffer from tension headaches frequently report a feeling of their head being squeezed, with pressure around the forehead, temples, and back of the head or neck. Tension headaches can last for as short as 30 minutes or they could linger for days.
While the exact cause of tension headaches is still not clear, they are most commonly attributed to muscle tension or spasms of the head, face, scalp, or jaw. Tension headaches are considered chronic if a person experiences them 15 or more days per month for several months. The most common treatment for tension headaches is over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or aspirin. Severe cases are sometimes treated with prescription drugs, but they tend to fail because they do not address the root cause of the headaches.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is known for locating and treating the root cause of any ailment, including tension headaches. One of the ways TCM treats the root is by identifying personal triggers that create tension-type headaches. The licensed acupuncturist plays the role of a detective when treating patients. Acupuncturists usually ask multiple questions regarding the symptoms of any illness, including tension-type headaches. This allows for proper diagnosis and treatments. This can also give the patient insight into why the headaches keep occurring and how they can eliminate some of the triggers.
TCM includes more than just acupuncture. Herbal formulas, accessory modalities such as cupping or tuina, and even relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or qi gong are a part of TCM. Acupuncture itself provides headache relief with a great deal of success. As few as one or two needles can be sufficient in stopping tension-type headaches. Acupuncture is also very effective at providing relief from stress and anxiety, two of the most common triggers of tension-type headaches. By adding in herbs and accessory modalities, the patient then has the tools needed to counter oncoming headaches on a long-term basis. The acupuncture treatments then become a type of maintenance to keep the headaches at bay.
A person suffering from tension-type headaches could benefit greatly from regular acupuncture treatments. If you are one of the nearly 1.4 billion people that suffer regularly from tension-type headaches, give me a call today, acupuncture and TCM CAN HELP!
Extreme fatigue, depression, severe abdominal cramps, food cravings. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common women’s health conditions that completely lacks any reliable Western medical treatment for its symptoms. Yet it’s part of many people’s regular menstrual pattern.
So many women suffer from severe side effects of PMS—so much so that it affects their daily lives for at least a few days every single month.
While the painful and disruptive PMS are naturally occurring and there’s no way to get rid of them completely (after all, menstrual symptoms are messages from the body asking for rest and care!), Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a natural solution that may be even more effective than medication.
Can Acupuncture & Acupressure Ease PMS?
An analysis of 15 studies with over 1000 subjects found that acupressure can reduce moderate to severe PMS symptoms.
An analysis of 15 studies found that acupuncture treatment was significantly effective in treating PMS, compared with medicine and sham acupuncture. While more, larger studies are needed to fully confirm the scientific evidence of acupuncture to treat Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms, there is a slew of promising research to back it. Since PMS has such varied effects on different women—from moodness to severe abdominal pain—there are also a variety of ways acupuncture and TCM may be used to help. In particular, studies show that acupuncture and acupressure are sure-fire solutions for mood swings, depression, pain, and anxiety—some of the major symptoms of PMS.
The most commonly used acupoints for PMS treatment are SP6, LR3, and RN4.
Other Natural Treatments
There are a variety of natural, personalized solutions for the debilitating aggravation of PMS. If you’re a person who experiences PMS symptoms, you know it can be quite the journey with advice, experimentation, and routine to discover what works best for you. Here are some tips that experts agree help reduce the pain and discomfort of PMS:
Getting outside does the body good. There are scores of scientific studies that confirm just how good! But “earthing” takes a walk outside to another, deeper, more healing level.
What Is Earthing?
Also called “grounding,” earthing simply means walking barefoot on a natural surface like grass, soil, or sand. It’s important to remember that it is different than just walking outside, although that, too, is beneficial in so many ways. Making direct physical contact with the ground—and that doesn’t mean concrete or other man-made surfaces—is what it’s all about.
The prominence of the element carbon is what designates something as organic matter—and I don’t mean “organic” like your groceries! All living things are carbon-based. If you do any gardening or backyard composting, you’ll probably recognize that term, “carbon-based,” as the “green” stuff you put in your compost: leaves, grass trimmings, veggie cast-offs.
Earthing is also different from forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, which is the Japanese practice of fully immersing oneself in nature.
How Earthing Works in Your Body
There are so many studies that confirm how beneficial earthing is for our bodies and minds. A research review led by Gaétan Chevalier of multiple studies published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health illustrates how earthing has been shown to reduce stress, support immunity, help moderate heart rate and glucose levels, and even help wounds heal faster.
While there is still a lot to learn about how connecting physically with Earth affects our bodies, research shows that it has a lot to do with electrons and electromagnetic charge. Walking barefoot on organic surfaces actually changes the electrical activity of our brain.
It can even produce “measurable differences in the concentrations of white blood cells, cytokines, and other molecules involved in the inflammatory response,” according to the review by Chevalier.
Amazingly, this presence of carbon seems to be what makes carbon-fiber mattresses so helpful for better sleep and pain relief!
According to a study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, earthing may even help improve the function of red blood cells, a major factor in heart disease. Another study shows that earthing may help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems.
Earthing is an amazing addition to your wellness care routine, just like regular acupuncture visits. Let’s schedule you for a spring tune-up to make sure you’re as healthy as you can be!
Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons, Gaétan Chevalier, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, Pawel Sokal: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/
The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, James L Oschman, Gaétan Chevalier, and Richard Brown: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/
Earthing the Human Body Influences Physiologic Processes, Karol Sokal, MD, PhD, and Pawel Sokal, MD, PhD: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154031
Migraine triggers don’t necessarily cause a migraine; they are simply factors that increase the likelihood of getting a migraine. Triggers play a role in activating the process that leads to a migraine. Not every trigger causes a migraine for every person, even if a person is sensitive to a particular trigger.
But how much do you really know about controlling your migraines? New research suggests you not know as much as you think.
According to Timothy T. Houle, Ph.D. and co-author Dana P. Turner, M.S.P.H., both of the Wake Forest Baptist anesthesiology department, migraine sufferers make inaccurate conclusions about what triggers their migraines. Houle and Turner conducted a 3-month study of 9 women who suffered from migraines. They tracked the women’s hormone levels, stress levels, and the weather. The women kept daily diaries. At the end of the study, the scientists could not accurately predict which triggers would cause a migraine.
Their conclusion—most people can’t isolate the many complex variables in everyday life to accurately determine their migraine triggers. That means triggers are complex and situational. So what can you do?
Pay attention to your own habits and migraines.
While researchers may disagree about the accuracy of pinpointing migraine triggers, it’s important to remember that you know your body better than anyone. Living with migraines for years gives you deeper insight to what brings on migraines for you—if you observe them. If you find a correlation between a trigger and your migraines, trust it!
Part of the difficulty of identifying triggers is that some triggers may be active only under certain circumstances and involve layers of complexity. For example, you may be able to eat cheese or drink wine sometimes with no negative consequences, but consuming these things late at night or during a stressful time might contribute to a migraine. Many people are more susceptible to migraine when multiple triggers are present at once.
As your care providers, it’s important to always support your own knowledge of your body and your migraines. You know your triggers and I respect your intuition.
Common Migraine Triggers
Hormone changes can trigger migraines. Sometimes birth control pills increase migraines (while sometimes pregnancy prevents them). Monthly hormonal cycles can contribute in big ways to triggering migraines.
Food and Nutrition
What you eat and drink contributes a lot to your sensitivity to developing migraines. Typical food triggers include aged cheeses, processed meats, yeast breads, peanuts, legumes, caffeine, alcohol (especially red wine), chocolate, vinegar, fermented foods, tannin-heavy fruits (like citrus, raisins, red plums, etc.), and many more. In addition, some people are sensitive to sulfates, nitrates, nitrites, food coloring, and other food additives.
Lifestyle and Habits
Many triggers have to do with your daily habits, lifestyle, and environment. Stress can be a major factor that contributes to migraine development. No surprise there!
Other triggers can be fatigue, lack of sleep, over-sleeping too much, missing meals, changes in barometric pressure, or certain light hues or brightness. Strong smells such as paint, gasoline, or heavy perfumes can also be triggers. Buying an air filter for your home can be a game-changer for your migraine management.
While genetics don’t “trigger” a migraine, they play a role in how likely you are to suffer from migraines in general.
Quick tips for migraine management:
Acupuncture has proven to be a very effective treatment for balancing the constitution thereby reducing sensitivity to triggers. Acupuncture is a safe, natural, and minimally invasive way to take control of your health. Don’t wait, let’s schedule your appointment today!
Arthritis is one of the most common joint ailments, affecting over 54 million adults in the United States. Caused by a swelling of the joints, it can range from bothersome to extremely painful and can be a hindrance to everyday activities. Arthritis, along with other types of joint health issues, can be one of the most life-altering conditions to live with—because it can hinder everything from one’s ability to get regular exercise to how much someone can go to work.
Thankfully, applications of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can be amazingly helpful as arthritis treatments and general joint health maintenance protocol.
Within the theory of TCM and acupuncture, our essential life energy or qi (pronounced “chee”) flows along the meridians of the body. When the flow is constricted or imbalanced, we may experience illness or pain. The needles used in acupuncture are carefully placed along points connected to the meridians, stimulating those places to correct and encourage the flow of energy.
In TCM, the entire body is understood as a multifaceted mechanism whose parts function in concert—not silo-ed sections to be treated in isolation.
Various studies, including one by the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that patients felt significantly less pain and had an easier time walking after receiving legitimate acupuncture treatments.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are many different types of arthritis, some with very few treatment options as dictated by Western Medicine.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one variety that can be hugely disruptive to sufferers’ lives. RA is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that’s linked with progressive joint damage, resulting in severe chronic pain and long-term mobility issues.
Western medicine comes up short when trying to treat RA. Yet many clinical trials have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has advantages in the treatment of RA.
Osteoarthritis & Preventing Knee Replacement
Another common and very detrimental type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, particular in the knee joints, and especially affecting older adults. When knee osteoarthritis gets severe enough, total knee replacement is the final treatment option.
A wide-ranging study of over 34,000 patients in Taiwan showed that TCM treatments reduced risk of total knee replacement in patients with knee osteoarthritis, and that enhanced benefits results from long-term treatment. The longer a patient used TCM, the less likely they were to need a knee replacement.
We are all getting older day by day, and with it brings changes to our bodies and overall appearance. From fine lines and wrinkles to saggy skin, no one can escape from the natural aging process. Still, there are some methods that can help you slow down this inevitable process and maintain your youthful look.
Try them for yourself! Follow these three beauty tips to aging gracefully:
1. Reduce Wrinkles with Retinoids
If and when you start to notice the development of wrinkles, you should invest in an anti-aging skin care product that contains retinoids. Retinoids—the overarching term for the active ingredient retinol—are an effective way to combat signs of aging. Derived from vitamin A, this ingredient works to increase the collagen production in your body, which helps to plump the skin.
And it doesn’t stop there! Retinoids are also responsible for developing new blood vessels, allowing you to achieve a healthy, rosy complexion overtime. So, by incorporating a retinoid skin care product into your regime—whether it be a prescription anti-aging cream with tretinoin (retin-A) or another over-the-counter retinol treatment—it’ll be easier for you to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other tell-tale signs of aging.
2. Get Enough Sleep at Nighttime
By now, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘beauty sleep,’ but do you know why that is? Because the hours you spend snoozing is the time your body spends rebuilding and bettering itself for the following days to come. Specifically, as you rest, your body releases a hormone that serves to restore the elastin and collagen in your body—both of which are two essential building blocks to preserving your youthful-looking complexion. This explains why when you don’t get enough sleep, it shows.
Aside from just that, getting the right amount of hours of sleep at night can also speed up skin cell turnover. As explained by Jeanine Downie, MD, director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, “If you don’t get enough sleep, your skin won’t renew itself and will start looking dull—especially as you age, when cell turnover is slowing down.” For this reason, no matter how chaotic your schedule gets, try and aim to get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night as this will keep you feeling good, and looking good in the long run.
3. Shield Your Skin from the Sun
Don’t be mistaken, there is nothing wrong with soaking up the vitamin D that comes from the sun, especially during the warmer months. However, it’s important that regardless of how much time you spend outdoors—or even indoors for that matter—you’re still taking the proper precautions by shielding your skin from the dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Both UVA and UVB rays are extremely powerful at penetrating and damaging your skin. Too much exposure to either type of radiation can lead to negative short-term and long-term effects including: sunburn, sunspots, hyperpigmentation, melasma, sagging and other signs of premature aging, and in some cases, skin cancer.
That said, remember to always apply sunscreen or SPF as the last step of your skin care routine in the morning. Even if you do not plan on soaking up the sun outside, UV radiation can still find a way to get to you from the inside of your house and cause the same harmful effects. To ensure you’re fully shielded from the sun, stick to a sunscreen or other product with an SPF of at least 30 on a daily basis, and an SPF 60 or greater on the days in which you plan to spend outside, as this will further ensure your complexion is fully protected.
Aging is something that, like it or not, we all have to endure overtime. But luckily, with these three tips, you can gracefully delay this process. As you continue throughout the years, don’t forget to remind yourself about the tips listed above and take full advantage of the benefits that come with them. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s, there is no better time than now to incorporate these practices into your everyday routine. So get started today!
In TCM theory, weakening of key female reproductive health aspects might be linked with genetic defects, overwork, too little rest, injury from too much menstrual bleeding, emotional distress, improper diet, too much alcohol, or too much chilled food. Contemporary TCM practitioners believe that some medicines and medical interventions, like long-term use of hormonal birth control methods, can also have a detrimental effect on the female system.
Is there a natural, non-invasive way to help ease symptoms of women’s health issues? Yes!
A multitude of scientific studies have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an effective way to treat many gynecological health conditions, and to maintain general good health for women. That includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, which are finally gaining more and more scientific validity in the Western Medicine arena—thought they have been used successfully for centuries!
Women’s health issues that can be supported by TCM include reproductive health (fertility and pre-natal care), menstrual wellness, menopause and perimenopause symptoms, and so much more. Because so many gynecological issues involve painful symptoms, and acupuncture is proven to provide pain relief, it’s natural that acupuncture is so helpful when it comes to women’s health.
So much of our health depends on the flow of blood throughout our body and to our organs—this is even more important for women. Scientific studies show that acupuncture is effective for improving blood flow to vital organs as it relaxes blood vessels, and reduces high blood pressure.
5 million people in the United State suffer from fibromyalgia, and most of those are women. Fibromyalgia is complicated and can be difficult to treat, because of its many linked causes and symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, acupuncture can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Recent studies have found that acupuncture may improve menstrual health and help women conceive. Because these studies are so new (since TCM has been rejected in the Western world for so long, and is only beginning to become a part of scientific medical research and practice), more research is needed.
An analysis of 15 studies found that acupuncture treatment was significantly effective in treating PMS, compared with medicine and sham acupuncture. While more, larger studies are needed to fully confirm the scientific evidence of acupuncture to treat Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms, there is a slew of promising research to back it. Since PMS has such varied effects on different women—from moodness to severe abdominal pain—there are also a variety of ways acupuncture and TCM may be used to help. In particular, sstudies show that acupuncture and acupressure are sure-fire solutions for mood swings, depression, pain, and anxiety—some of the major symptoms of PMS.
Ancient ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, utilized chromotherapy or color therapy to heal and stimulate the body and mind.
Modern science confirms that different colors do indeed have an impact on our attention, energy, focus, mood, and even memory and wellbeing. Colors are associated with different emotions and energy states. For example, a 2014 study of college student’s interior spaces suggested that vivid colors may enhance short-term memory and improve cognitive function.
It’s easy to understand that different colors affect our brains and bodies differently when we consider that color is “simply” different wavelengths falling upon our eyes and stimulating our brains. In fact, Isaac Newton discovered this while in quarantine during The Great Plague of London in 1666! How relevant.
When light reflects into the human eye, it stimulates the hypothalamus—the part of our brain that governs hormone and endocrine systems, our body temperature, appetite, sexual functions, sleeping, and behavioral patterns, and so much more.
Color psychology (how colors affect our mood and bodies) and color symbolism (cultural ideas associated with colors) are distinct but connected. They both come from traditional ideas and human observation and relate to how we interact with and are affected by the world around us.
Feng shui, a practice connected to Traditional Chinese Medicine and its healing modalities, is the art of creating harmony in our interior spaces. Feng shui is informed by how our personal energy relates to the natural world and our environment. While the complex system of feng shui governs spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”), we can see how color therapy is related to the principles of feng shui.
How do the primary colors of red, blue, yellow, and green and their combinations and variations affect us psychologically?
Red: Associated with power, danger, heat and aggression. Red is stimulating and attention-grabbing.
Yellow: Joy, humor, and playfulness. Also associated with hope, creativity, self-esteem and purification.
Green: Green is a calming color, perhaps because it reminds us of nature. It can help people feel comfortable in new environments and is associated with universal love, environmental awareness, and peace. Studies have shown that being in a green environment can reduce heart rate (as compared to a red or white environment).
Blue: Blue encourages intellectual activity, can lower blood pressure, and is soothing. Depending on the intensity, blue can either stimulate intellectual activity (bright blue) or calm the mind and aid concentration (softer blue).
Next time you’re redecorating, getting dressed, or visiting your acupcuntursist’s office, consider how your mindset and energy change as you engage with different colors. You might be surprised!
1: The Effects of Color on the Moods of College Students: Sevinc Kurt, Kelechi Kingsley Osueke (2014)
2: Color and psychological functioning: The effect of red on performance attainment: Elliot, A. J., Maier, M. A., Moller, A. C., Friedman, R., & Meinhardt, J. (2007)
3. Adaptive Effects of Seeing Green Environment on Psychophysiological Parameters When Walking or Running: Walid Briki, Lina Majed (2019)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by a particular organ system and spring is connected to the liver. What does this mean? You probably notice changes in the way you feel, both physically and mentally, as the seasons change. Many of us feel more contemplative and introspective during the winter months. Once spring hits, we may feel ready to recharge and get things done. ]
Liver energy is strong and assertive, the type of energy you need to create plans and propel them into motion. However, if your liver is out of balance, you might notice that you’re more irritable or on edge than usual.
Here are a few signs that your liver is in need of an acupuncture tune-up:
1. You've noticed an increase in headaches, and these headaches seem to feel worse when you aren't active. Generally, headaches tend to manifest at the vertex of your head.
2. You feel constipated or bloated. Your bowel movements have become irregular, alternating between constipation and loose stools. Hard, difficult stools that appear pebbly are also a sign of liver imbalance.
Is it Time for a Liver Tune-Up?When liver energy is out of balance, you can feel agitated, irritated, and generally out of sorts. Sometimes irritation flares into outright anger more easily than it would if this energy was flowing smoothly.
4. (ladies...) You may notice PMS symptoms have been worsening. Bloating, breast tenderness, sensitivity can all be exacerbated by liver imbalance. If your periods are more painful or clotted, this can also be due to a stagnation of liver energy.
5. Your eyes are red, itchy, or irritated.
6. Shoulders, neck, or jaw are uncomfortably tight. If the liver energy is out of balance, it can flow upward. This causes inflexibility, and everything in your body to “rise up”: you might grind or clench your teeth, hold your shoulders up, experience symptoms of TMJ, or have headaches at the top of your head.
7. Maybe you’ve noticed that your allergies are in full force, complete with itchy, red, watery eyes.
If you are suffering from any of these issues, your body is crying out for a visit. Please, come and talk to me! Let's get you a Spring tune-up with tried and trued TCM solutions that can help right away.
You might have heard of Feng Shui referred to in the Western world as a tradition that’s similar to interior design. However, in Chinese culture, Feng shui is understood as a far more complex and rich system. It is a practice intended to create harmony in our interior space, and relates to our personal energy, the natural world, and our environment.
The ultimate goal of feng shui is to create energized and balanced spaces by drawing in positive energy. It draws on a system of interactions and laws about how humans perceive our physical environment. The art of feng shui governs spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”).
The terms Feng (meaning wind) and Shui (meaning water) in Chinese tradition are the two natural elements free to move and circulate everywhere on earth. They are also considered to be the two most basic elements required for human life: water and air. The combination of wind and water determines our climate, and therefore food supply. These two free-flowing elemental qualities have profound effects on individuals and society as they affect our mood, lifestyle, energy, and health.
Derived from the Taoist philosophy and seen throughout Traditional Chinese Medicine, feng shui also believes in the use of the “5 Element System.” These elements interact with one another constantly, creating balance and harmony or inciting chaos. Each element is associated with specific qualities, colors, and shapes that can then be used to influence qualities in your life and home.
Color: Red / Orange - Shape: Triangle - Season: Summer - Focus: Passion / High Energy
Color: Yellow- Shape: Square - Season: Transitional Periods - Focus: Stability / Nourishment
Color: White / Metalics - Shape: Circular - Season: Autumn - Focus: Clarity / Precision
Color: Black / Blue - Shape: Curvy / Wavy - Season: Winter - Focus: Career / Movement
Color: Green - Shape: Rectangular - Season: Spring - Focus: Growth / Vitality
Where you spend most of your time during the day has a massive impact on your emotional and physical health. If you are someone who sits at a desk each day, or maybe you are still working from home, consider these 5 simple tips to bring more life and energy back into your personal and professional spaces.
1) Stay away from poison arrows. Angled furniture creates what is called poison arrows, the attacking energy in feng shui that can deplete and weaken your energy. Reposition your furniture so there are no sharp angles pointing at you while you work. You can also place a plant or another item in front of the sharp corners to neutralize this bad energy.
2) Pay attention to what is called feng shui backing. If your back is to the door or a window, your energy will get weakened. You can create strong feng shui backing by placing a row of plants behind you or repositioning your office chair so you have a wall at your back.
3) Create nourishing energy in your working space with high-energy images. Hang art or photos that bring you happy, uplifting memories to nourish your energy at work.
4) Organize and de-clutter. Only leave the items you really need out on your desk to give your desk and yourself some room to breathe.
5) Energize your space with plants. Plants bring energy from nature into your space and can also purify the air, depending on the species. We suggest spider plants to help purify the air.
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.