Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disease suffered by an estimated 25-45 million people in the United States. Symptoms include chronic abdominal pain, bloating, excess gas and irregular bowel movements. Symptoms can be brought on by a number of triggers including anxiety, insomnia and stress. Although there is no known cure to IBS, there are numerous alternative treatments to prescription medication that can help relieve symptoms.
Chinese Medicine uses herbal remedies to treat a number of ailments and diseases including IBS.
Peppermint has been studied and used to help treat IBS discomfort. Because it is a natural antispasmodic, peppermint can help decrease muscle spasms in the gastrointestinal tract. Common ways to use peppermint include peppermint tea or peppermint oil, both can be found at your local health store and most grocery stores.
Ginger can also be used to help IBS symptoms. Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory and is thought to strengthen the gastric lining and decrease nausea. You can buy ginger tea as well as make your own by boiling water with ginger root.
Fennel can immensely help bloating and gas due to IBS. Fennel is considered a carminative, meaning it has properties that prevent the formation of excess gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Fennel can also help heartburn, indigestion and common stomach pain. You can find fennel seeds in your local health food store and can be used to make tea.
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat chronic abdominal pain, bloating and other IBS symptoms. There has been at least one study done that specifically looked at acupuncture as a treatment for IBS. Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain and stress, which are common triggers for IBS. This is done by regulating blood flow and Qi (pronounced “chee”) through acupuncture points.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that normally live in your gut. It has been thought that those with IBS do not have enough probiotics in their intestinal tract. If you are a healthy person, you can add probiotics to your diet by eating foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and sourdough bread. Kombucha and kefir are drinks that also include probiotics. However, when the body is faced with health challenges, a good probiotic supplements may be very helpful.
Meditation and Exercise
Meditation and exercise are excellent stress relievers and in turn can relieve IBS symptoms that are commonly caused by stress and anxiety.
Not only does exercise release endorphins that help fight stress, but regular physical activity can help regulate your gastrointestinal system.
Research done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on meditation and IBS found that women who practiced mediation had around a 38 percent reduction in symptoms, according to U.S. News.
Meditation focuses on deep breathing and staying in the moment to relax the mind and body.
Alternative medicine including Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can largely decrease your IBS symptoms and help you live a more pain-free life!
Transitioning to Autumn
With autumn approaching and the beginning of the yin cycle, the energy of plants is moving down into their roots, helping the body become aware of the energy of the season. This season is a time for the body to begin gathering energy for the colder months to come.
The lungs and large intestine are the organs associated with fall. The lungs are responsible for the circulation of Qi (the body’s natural flow and circulation), and are also very susceptible to cold and illness. For this reason, it is important to stay healthy and warm during the season. If the Qi circulation is weakened, muscles will not be able to warm the body properly.
Vegetables of autumn like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can help purify and protect your body against free radicals. These color-rich vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune system, especially as the cold and flu season rolls in. These vegetables can also strengthen your lungs and large intestine to fight illness.
Vegetables to cook with:
Autumn weather becomes more yin, calling for warming dishes. Foods to cook that are in harmony with the season include more sour foods, as well as foods rich in protein and fats.
Sour/pungent foods to cook with:
Some find it hard to let go of summer, with the longer days and warm air transitioning into the crisp and shorter days of fall. Acupuncture not only helps the body physically, but mentally as well. Fall is a great time to see an acupuncturist as your body and mind adapt to the changing of the season.
Give your acupuncturist a visit to prepare for the new season ahead and to stay in good health!
“Practical Chinese Medicine” Penelope Ody
Suffering from depression can make you feel hopeless, frustrated and like your quality of life will never get better. Many feel that prescription medications don’t help, and simply mask the problem instead of helping solve it. If you are dealing with depression, it is easy to get discouraged about your treatment options. Below are ways that you can naturally reduce your depression and get you back on a road to a healthier mind and body.
Acupuncture has been proven to be extremely beneficial for those dealing with depression. It releases any blockages in the flow of blood and energy and brings the body back to its natural state of balance. When the body is in balance we tend to feel physically, as well as mentally, healthy.
It is believed that acupuncture can be just as effective as antidepressants in helping depression. Acupuncture points can help stimulate the body’s production of endorphins and aid the release of serotonin and dopamine, which can increase one’s mood.
Taking a daily fish oil supplement can do more good than you think. It is believed that being deficient in omega-3s can cause mood swings and depression. Omega-3s are found in fish like salmon, tuna and herring and are not only good for your overall physical health but your mental health as well.
However, it is imperative you ascertain the quality and safety of the fish oil supplement you select for purchase. Make sure it is of the highest quality and that it was rigorously tested to satisfy standards for contaminates and toxins.
Meditation has been proven to have many benefits. Not only does it bring the heart rate down, calm the mind and reduce stress, but it can also bring the mind to a healthier place. Two studies have found that those who practice meditation have a lower rate of relapsing than those who take medication alone.
Spending time outdoors and in the sun can have great effects on your mood. When one doesn’t get enough sunlight, it can strongly affect how you feel and is one of the main causes of seasonal affective disorder. Try spending even just 15 to 30 minutes outside every day whether it is walking, gardening or just simply sitting outside.
There is nothing better than the natural high you get after a good workout. Exercise, whether it is running, swimming or yoga, releases endorphins that can give you a mood boost. Try spending 30 minutes a day doing some sort of exercise. One study found that patients who worked out regularly saw a decrease in their symptoms of depression by half in 12 weeks. Not only does exercise improve your body physically, but mentally as well.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
People suffering with depression often consume damaging substances like alcohol and drugs to help mask their symptoms. It is recommended that those with depression should not have more than a drink on occasion. Alcohol and drugs affect brain chemistry and can later intensify your mood for the worse.
Take a break
Depression can often worsen when you are feeling stressed and overworked. Try to take some time off to relax. If it isn’t possible to take vacation time, try to fit in at least an hour a day of relaxation time. Whether it’s meditating, reading or closing your eyes for a bit, take some time for deep breaths and a way to shut off from the rest of the world.
Do you suffer from allergies or asthma? If so, you aren't alone. It's estimated that more than 26 million Americans have the chronic inflammatory disease asthma, and more than 50 million Americans have nasal allergies. While most people resort to harsh prescription drugs to treat these conditions, a safer and more effective solution may lie in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture.
Some people might turn your head at the thought of treating asthma by placing small needles under your skin. However, this ancient practice is believed to be effective in the treatment of numerous respiratory disorders, including asthma. The World Health Organization (WHO) even listed asthma as being “a condition for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed.” This doesn't necessarily mean that acupuncture will cure your asthma, but it can help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
Acupuncture involves the placement of fine needles in specific points of the body, known as acupuncture points. The idea behind this practice is that placing the needles in these areas will restore the body's flow of energy (Qi). When Qi becomes stagnant, it leaves the individual susceptible to disease and illness, which is why it's important to keep it moving throughout the body. Professional acupuncturists often treat asthma by using acupuncture points found in the Lung, Stomach and Kidney meridians.
Of course, acupuncture may also help those who suffer from allergies. Allergies are the result of the immune system's wrongful identification of what it believes to be a foreign invader. When you are exposed to an allergen, for instance, your immune system may view the substance or pathogen as being a foreign invader, at which point it responds by manifesting symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, etc.
By restoring the body's Qi, the immune system is given a helpful boost of energy that allows it to properly identify what's a foreign invader and what's not. Whether your allergies are minor or severe, you should consider seeking the services of an acupuncturist. It's a safe and painless process that can reinvigorate your body and mind, alleviating the symptoms of both allergies and asthma. A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found acupuncture to offer greater relief of allergies when compared to both antihistamines and sham acupuncture.
Give me a call today to learn how you can get back on track to better health!
If you suffer from headaches, you are not alone. Over 50 million of us experience some form of a severe headache at some point in our lives. Whether you experience minor head pain or severe migraines, headaches can take valuable time out of your day and your life, and leave you searching for relief.
Many seek relief by reaching for drugs and other medications. This may work temporarily and can help you get out of pain fast. Unfortunately, common headache medications do not address the root cause(s), and when used over long periods of time can cause unwanted side effects.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine offer a safe and effective approach to relieving headache pain without causing harmful side effects. These healing modalities provide a comprehensive diagnostic protocol that can help your acupuncturist understand and address the root cause(s) of your headaches.
Causes of Headaches: There are many factors in Chinese Medicine theory that may play a key role in the root cause(s) of a headache. These include body constitution, emotional health, excessive work, social activities and exercise, improper diet, physical trauma and hormones. Headaches can also be diagnosed according to specific symptoms, times of occurrence, location, type of pain, and triggers.
A natural path to relief: Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine take a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. Your practitioner will take a detailed health history, and perform a physical exam to determine how and why your body’s vital energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), is out of balance and identify what type of headache you are experiencing. To determine the most effective care, he/she will focus on illuminating the root cause(s) of the problem.
It is important to remember that acupuncture is not a quick fix. Changes may occur quickly or over a longer period of time, depending upon your overall constitution and health. Whether it is one visit to address an acute problem, or several visits to address a chronic problem, it is suggested to closely follow care recommendations of your acupuncturist to maximize your healing potential.
Below are a few ways that you can make simple lifestyle changes that may help alleviate or even prevent headaches:
Track your triggers - Try to keep track of when your headaches start. Migraine sufferers may find it especially helpful to keep a diary of symptoms. Certain types of foods and hormonal changes can be possible causes.
Stress relief - Stress can contribute to many types of health concerns, including headaches. Talk to your practitioner about healthy ways to handle stress.
Exercise - Physical activity is an important part of any healthy lifestyle and is a great antidote for stress.
Healthy habits - Do your best to eat healthy, organic foods, stay hydrated and get enough sleep every night.
Acupuncture care - is extremely effective in reducing the frequency and severity of many types of painful conditions, including headaches and migraines, naturally. By working with your acupuncturist and adopting some simple lifestyle changes, you will be on your way toward a healthier, happier, pain-free life.
What do you think would happen if you kept your car in park and the engine revving at 65 miles per hour? You guessed it—after a short time your car would break down. If you were lucky, a simple tune-up would fix the problem. If not, the engine might need to be replaced entirely.
Stress is a revving engine that, if left unchecked, can wear out the body and mind. Stress in our professional, personal, financial and social lives can lead to a variety of symptoms and signs of ill health. Stress increases our body’s production of cortisol and adrenaline. These body chemicals help activate the “fight or flight” response, a normal reaction that is designed to prepare the body to flee danger or fight an attacker.
Unfortunately, many modern stressors are chronic and end up activating the “fight or flight” response for weeks, months, or years at a time. This long-term activation of the body’s stress-response system can wear down the body and mind, setting the stage for illness and disease. The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be extremely helpful in reducing symptoms and signs associated with stress in a number of ways:
One of the unique attributes of Chinese medicine is its holistic approach to health and well-being. Instead of masking, or only addressing a few symptoms and signs related to stress, an acupuncturist cares for the whole person, body and mind.
Stop revving your engine! If you or someone you know is experiencing stress, feel free to give me a call. For thousands of years acupuncture has helped millions of people cool their engines before they burned out!
Now is the time of year when the sun becomes irresistible. As tempting as it is to spend as much time as possible in the warmth of the sun, there are a few precautions to take to protect your skin from harmful rays.
Our skin is the largest organ in the body. It reflects our health and age. Today, there’s much concern about sunbathing leading to an increase in skin damage and skin cancer. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the production of free radicals that can adversely affect the integrity of collagen in the skin. Over time, our skin becomes wrinkled, cracked, aged, and brittle. For smokers, the effects are multiplied.
Research suggests that skin cancer is cumulative over a lifetime. It begins with overexposure and serious sunburns during childhood.
We can’t live without the sun. Our bodies require sunlight in order to manufacture Vitamin D needed for calcium absorption, among other things. So, we shouldn’t hide from our shining star. Here are a few helpful tips and precautions to take when you’re soaking in the sun this summer.
Time is key - Avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, typically from about 11:00 am - 4:00 pm.
Gear up - Wear a hat with a wide brim, t-shirt, and sunglasses that filter ultraviolet rays.
Drink up - By keeping your body hydrated you can avoid dehydration and provide moisture for the skin to prevent dryness, cracking, and aging.
Pop a pill - Vitamins such as A, E, and some antioxidants help prevent skin damage from the inside. Cod Liver oil and Flax Seed oil have also been used to support skin health.
Brush it off - Before you take a shower, use a dry skin brush. This can open pores and slough off dead skin, allowing your skin to breathe easily and work more efficiently.
Keep healthy - Some medications we take may have reactions and side effects when we’re exposed to sunlight. Acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to these medications, keeping you healthy, safely and naturally.