Allergies

A runny nose, sneezing, itchy watery eyes…also known as symptoms of allergies.  Allergies can really be a pain. It is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year, and spend over $18 billion a year on over-the-counter allergy medications. What if there were a way to combat allergies without the harsh side effects of medications and actually get to the root of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms? In fact, there is. The arm of traditional Chinese medicine called acupuncture has proven effectiveness when it comes to allergies.

 

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offer a safe, holistic approach to allergies that can end up saving you money in the long term. Western medicine sees seasonal allergies as a hypersensitive reaction that occurs when antibodies interact with airborne particles such as pollen. Interestingly, the places in the body where these antibodies are produced align with the energy meridians most strongly connected to allergic reactions in TCM. Both Western medicine and TCM map these sensitivity points onto the gastrointestinal tract and the spleen. Both schools of thought also connect inflammatory foods such as sugar with allergy flare-ups. Through TCM, patients can find allergy relief through a holistic wellness plan that doesn’t necessitate a reliance on synthetic medications.

 

Acupuncture for Allergies:  Acupuncture helps build or tonify the energy within the respiratory system and the immune system. This energy is called qi (pronounced “chee”). When lung qi and the Wei qi (aka the immune system) are strong and the body is balanced, then allergies rarely become an issue. Acupuncture stimulates blood flow, which carries oxygen to every cell in the body. The increased blood flow boosts the immune system, dilates the bronchioles and produces anti-inflammatory agents that help improve breathing by relaxing the muscles.

 

Acupuncture Points for Allergies:

  1. Large Intestine 20 – This point is located bilaterally on the face, on either side of the nose, in the middle of the nasolabial groove. Large intestine 20 is used to open nasal passages and clear heat from the sinuses.
  2. Lung 5 – Lung 5 is located at the end of the outer crease of the elbow, just to the outside of the tendon. This point opens up the airways and the throat, while reducing wheezing.
  3. Ren 17 – This point is located in the middle of the chest, midway between both nipples. It is used to open the chest, loosen up congestion, stop coughing and encourage full breathing.

Nutrition for Allergies: For the lungs and respiratory system to be strong, they need proper nourishment, just like the rest of the body. Certain foods are good for increasing immunity, while also opening up the lungs and increasing circulation. Foods like garlic and onions reduce inflammation and fight off infections. Chili peppers open up the nasal passages, stimulating the mucus membranes and fighting off pollen, bacteria and viruses. Peppers, berries and parsley all contain quercetin, which can reduce histamine reactions that occur when allergies flare up.

 

As you can see, TCM is a great way to deal with allergies. Contact me to to see what I can do for you.

 

 

 

 

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Five Reasons Acupuncture Helps Digestive Function

Digestion is a complex task performed by the body. It begins in the mouth and finishes when the ingested food leaves the body through the rectum. For all we have learned over the years regarding digestion, there is still so much more we don’t know or are still learning. For example, it wasn’t until recently, the last 10 years or so, that modern medicine confirmed our gastrointestinal tract is our second brain. This discovery is drastically changing the way the body and its many functions are viewed, because everything we put in our mouths can potentially have life-altering effects on the mind, as well as the body.

 

Digestive disorders are rampant in Ireland, This could be anything from gallstones to acid reflux to pancreatitis. For many, these disorders are extremely debilitating. But for every person dealing with a debilitating digestive disorder, there are thousands more that just assume everything they are experiencing is “normal.”

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is just one of the many ways people can deal with their digestive disorders. TCM is a very old medical system that utilizes many different modalities to treat imbalances in the body. Acupuncture is just one of the modalities that can be used. More and more studies about the effectiveness of acupuncture are being performed every day, many of which hold great promise for those who suffer from digestive issues.

 

Acupuncture helps with digestion because it treats the person holistically, meaning all parts are considered when treatment is rendered. There is no compartmentalizing as in Western medicine. So, a person being treated by a licensed acupuncturist or TCM practitioner will not only notice changes in their digestive issues, but they may also notice changes in their psyche too. And since the mind and body are closely connected, this can be very beneficial for the patient.

 

Studies have shown acupuncture can stimulate peristalsis in the intestinal tract. This is very helpful for people who deal with chronic constipation. In as few as one to two treatments, a person suffering from chronic constipation may find relief.

 

Nausea and vomiting are another frequent problem associated with digestion. Acupuncture and even acupressure are wonderful tools for calming the upset stomach. One acupressure point on the underside of the forearm has been studied extensively just for this function. In most cases, the nausea and vomiting are greatly decreased or stopped altogether.

 

Bloating is another common problem associated with the digestive tract. This can be caused by eating too much food or improper digestion. Acupuncture treatments help the digestive process of breaking down foods without the excess gas that frequently causes bloating.

 

Diarrhea isn’t just a problem that occurs when somebody is suffering from the stomach flu. In fact, it is much more common than many people think. Acupuncture treatments can help resolve diarrhea by clearing either excess heat or excess dampness from the digestive tract, while also strengthening it.

 

If you are curious about how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you with your digestive issues, ask me! I am  happy to guide you along your healing journey.

 

 

 

 

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Herbal Tonics for Digestion

Digestive disorders can be simple like flatulence or gas, or they can be much more serious, such as Crohn’s disease. But regardless of the severity of the disease, there is no doubt digestive disorders affect far more people than they should. Most people don’t report it to their doctors either, because they assume it is normal to have gas, bloating or abdominal pain. But these symptoms can be indicators of much more serious underlying problems.

 

The gut is also the “second brain” of the body. When there are problems in the gastrointestinal tract, it can manifest mentally as well as physically. The enteric nervous system, our gut/second brain, is composed of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. The ENS can trigger emotional shifts experienced by those suffering from gastrointestinal issues. But what science is also discovering is that emotional problems can also trigger issues in the ENS. It’s a two-way street and if one is out of whack, then the other may be also.

 

There are ways we can help our gastrointestinal tract and digestion, though. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, and it focuses on treating the person holistically, meaning every part is addressed at once instead of individually. TCM uses modalities like acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, formulas and nutrition to treat each patient. Here are some herbs used frequently in TCM to help with digestion and gastrointestinal issues.

 

  1. Dandelion or Pu Gong Ying: This herb has been used for millennia for liver and digestive problems. It is used specifically for its diuretic properties. Pu Gong Ying promotes healthy digestive functioning and unlike pharmaceuticals used as diuretics, this herb actually restores potassium rather than depleting it.

 

  1. Hawthorn Berry or Shan Zha: Shan Zha is a great herb to have on hand after those big family dinners. This herb works to remove food stagnation in the digestive tract, and it works especially well on meats and fats that are harder to digest.

 

  1. Orange Peel or Chen Pi: One of the best herbs around for regulating the whole digestive system. It is used for spleen and stomach issues in TCM, including nausea, belching, vomiting, abdominal distention and pain. Due to its bitter flavour, it can also drain dampness that may cause loose stools.

 

  1. Ginger or Sheng Jiang: Ginger is a great digestive herb, as well as a warming spice that helps the circulatory system. It is a natural remedy for heartburn and nausea. It also helps expel gasses from the gastrointestinal tract.

 

  1. Peppermint: While not formerly used in TCM, it is still one of the best digestive herbs available. Peppermint can be used to relieve indigestion, soothe stomach aches and relieve diarrhea caused by colic. It is also a good addition to help treat irritable bowel syndrome.

 

Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from digestive issues.

 

 

 

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Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Migraines

 

 

 

Migraine headaches are a bit of mystery to the medical world. This ailment tends to be poorly understood and frequently undiagnosed and under-treated. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, this neurological disease affects nearly 39 million Americans. Migraines are characterized by severe, throbbing pain usually found on only one side of the head. Migraine headaches can also be accompanied by visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. These types of headaches can last from four hours to several days. Because modern medicine doesn’t completely understand this neurological phenomenon, the typical treatment is somewhat hit or miss.

 

There is an alternative though and this alternative is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which may include acupuncture, herbal formulas, tuina massage and cupping. Because TCM is customizable to the individual, it can do much more than just relieve pain. Here are five reasons why migraine sufferers should consider getting acupuncture:

 

  1. Acupuncture has been proven to relieve migraine pain. This is the number one reason TCM practitioners have people walk through their office doors. Pain, whether associated with migraines or not, is epidemic in the United States. Literally thousands of studies have shown acupuncture treatments can effectively relieve and reduce pain. This can be done both for acute and chronic pain. When acupuncture is coupled with tuina massage or cupping, the results can be even longer lasting.

 

  1. Acupuncture reduces inflammation. While migraines are not completely understood, it is agreed upon by most professionals any headache involves some sort of inflammatory response by the body. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation.

 

  1. Acupuncture can reduce serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone the body creates and many researchers, scientists and neurologists believe serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines. Since acupuncture can be used as preventive medicine, it can also help to balance serotonin levels on a long term basis, thus making migraines less likely to develop.

 

  1.       Acupuncture can help with the symptoms of migraines. Acupuncture and herbal formulas can treat much more than just pain, including the symptoms of migraines. Studies have shown things like nausea, dizziness and vomiting can all be reduced through the use of regular treatments. Herbal formulas can be used in between acupuncture treatments to keep the symptoms under control.

 

  1. Acupuncture improves blood circulation. Many times, when a person experiences pain, it is because of a lack of proper blood flow and decreased oxygen. This is as true for migraines as any other type of pain. Acupuncture can improve blood circulation, which also increases the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues. Cupping on the muscles surrounding the head, neck and shoulders is another modality that can assist with this as well.

 

 

 

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IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD: HEADACHES AND TCM

 

 

 

There are four main types of headache: tension, cluster, sinus and migraine. And, there are varying triggers for these headaches, such as food, stress, hormones, dehydration and weather. Fortunately, eliminating the triggers and finding natural ways to prevent and help an ongoing headache are possible.

 

Tension: Tension headaches are the most common and are the result of impinged blood flow due to muscle tightness and contraction. Tension headaches are mild to moderate and are most commonly found behind the neck, on the forehead, behind the eyes and the top of the shoulders. Causes of tension headaches are stress, fatigue, cold, poor posture, skipping meals, and dehydration.

 

Cluster: Cluster headaches are the most severe and commonly affect men under the age of 30. Cluster headaches are usually one-sided and are accompanied by watery eyes, a red face and affect the face where the trigeminal nerve travels. Cluster headaches last days, weeks, even months and happen the same time every day, multiple times a day. Research shows the hypothalamus is involved in these types of piercing headaches. Causes include alcohol and smoking.

 

Sinus: Sinus headaches are from a sinus infection and feel like painful pressure around the eyes, cheeks, forehead, teeth and may have other symptoms such as post-nasal drip, congestion with green mucus or fever. The mucus is trapped in the sinuses causing inflammation, which creates the painful pressure.

 

Migraine: Migraines are another severe type of headache. What differentiates a migraine from a tension headache is the accompanying symptoms such as visual disturbances and auras prior to onset, increased sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting and one-sided throbbing pain. Triggers may include hormonal changes, food sensitivity, weather, iron deficiency or thyroid issues.

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the goal is to get to the root of the headache, not just treat the symptoms. There is a diagnosis and treatment plan based on a history, as well as a pulse and tongue diagnosis. Typical triggers for all types of headaches are wind, cold, heat and damp conditions either internally or externally. A wind type headache would be moving, a damp type would feel heavy, and a cold type would feel piercing and worse with cold conditions. Blood deficiency, which is a type of anemia, might also cause headaches, as the blood is not nourishing the head. Blood stagnation, which would be a severe headache, can also be a factor. After diagnosing the correct cause of the headache, a Chinese medical practitioner would apply acupuncture and offer herbs or other type of treatment to facilitate blood flow and alleviate pain. There would also be dietary advice and maybe some acupressure self-care.

 

Some foods have been shown to help headaches. This includes coffee, B3 (niacin, found in liver), magnesium, potassium, calcium, spicy foods, ginger and watery foods. A common herb for migraines is the magnolia flower. Others include lavender, peppermint, feverfew and basil.

 

Acupressure around the eyes, temples and in the web between the thumb and forefinger are helpful. Pressing the hollows of the neck with the thumbs can relieve the pressure, as well as visualizing hot energy flowing downward from the head and out the feet while making a “whooooooo” sound (breathlessly, as if blowing on a candle).

 

Reducing stress is a key factor; do deep breathing exercises and take a walk where there is greenery. It is best to see a health care practitioner and not to self-diagnose or take herbs without consultation. A headache could indicate something serious

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