Summer Health Maintenance

Summer Health Maintenance
by Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

Come in for some acupuncture tune-ups and enjoy a more comfortable, active life this summer! If you are limiting the activities you love due to nagging aches and pains and limited range of motion, acupuncture can help alleviate your discomforts and loosen up your muscles and joints so you can be more active. Have travel plans including long car or plane rides? Prevent, reduce and manage low back pain that comes from prolonged sitting. Struggling with jet lag or insomnia? Acupuncture can help get your sleep back in order. Feeling stressed and anxious? Acupuncture is great for calming down the nervous system so you can feel more relaxed and walk through difficult situations more serenely. For chronic digestive disorders that get in the way of daily life and make traveling more difficult, acupuncture can smooth it out. A series of acupuncture treatments can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines so you can enjoy life with less pain and prevent debilitating episodes. There are many more conditions that can be helped by acupuncture. Wondering how much acupuncture would be helpful? Ask your acupuncturist at your next visit. Here’s a chart with some helpful guidelines for various health conditions. Take good care of yourself this summer – your body and mind will thank you and reward you by feeling better!

 

 

Chinese Herbal Medicine Cabinet

Chinese Herbal Medicine Cabinet
by Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

These Chinese herbal remedies are great to have on hand when you’re feeling ill.  Here’s what I always keep at home in my medicine cabinet and take as soon as I need them in order to feel better and recover quickly:

Yin Chiao: this is truly a miracle remedy for a sore throat at the start of a common cold.  With its powerful anti-viral properties it can help fight off a cold within 1-2 days when taken as directed so you don’t go on to suffer for 10+ days with a full-blown cold.
Indications: sore throat at the start of a cold.
Instructions: The key to success is to take 5 pills as soon as possible when your throat starts feeling sore, then repeat doses of 5 pills every 2-4 hours until your throat is no longer sore.  Your sore throat/cold should resolve within 1-2 days if you take it as directed.  (Note: if you don’t take it right away, it’s still worth taking it within 24 hours of the onset of a sore throat – but the likelihood of it preventing a cold progressing altogether is better the sooner you take it.  If your cold doesn’t resolve after 2 days of taking Yin Chiao, discontinue taking it.).
Helpful Tip: I keep a bottle at home and I also keep one in my purse, which I take with me to work, when traveling, etc.  You might want to keep one at home, and an extra bottle in your backpack, car, office or other location where you spend lots of time – so it’s with you when you need it.
Potential Side-effect: loose stools or diarrhea may occur 1-2 days after taking Yin Chiao, especially in people who are easily prone to these conditions.  If you have some Curing Pills on hand, taking 1 dose of 2 Curing Pills 1-2 times a day for 1-2 days can help mitigate the digestive side-effects and keep your digestion running smoothly.

Upper Chamber Pills (Cang Er Zi Wan): for colds and allergies with sinus symptoms and headaches, sinus infections
Indications: sinus congestion with thick nasal discharge, post nasal drip with thick phlegm, frontal/sinus headache and/or sinus pain/pressure associated with common cold, sinusitis or allergic rhinitis.  It can also help dizziness associated with sinus congestion.  Unlike Xin Yi Wan, these don’t help with loss of sense of smell.
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve (may be several days to a week).  Or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).
Helpful tip: When I’m all stuffed up I will take these and use some saline nasal spray and/or neti pot and find it very helpful.  I never take other drugstore over the counter medications as I prefer this treatment much more and there are no side-effects.

Clear Wind-Heat Teapills (Sang Ju Yin Wan): these pills are helpful for an irritated/scratchy throat with a dry cough (different than the sore throat without cough, in which case Yin Chiao is more appropriate).
Indications: a dry cough and irritated throat typically occurring at the onset of a common cold or flu
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve (typically 1-3 days), or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).
Helpful tip: These pills work best when taken as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms, and may help prevent the progression of the illness so you feel healthy again after 1-2 days.

Clean Air Teapills (Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan): these pills for coughing with phlegm/mucous help reduce the severity of coughing and lessen phlegm/mucous production.
Indications: coughing with thick phlegm that typically happens with a chest cold/upper respiratory infection
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve (this could be a few days up to a week), or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).

Curing Pills: a classic Chinese formula for curing a variety of acute digestive conditions.
Indications: stomach virus, food poisoning, upset stomach, nausea, gas, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools.  Also useful as remedy for hangovers and overindulgence of heavy foods.
Instructions: 3 capsules, 1-3 times per day for 1-2 days depending on the severity of your symptoms and how quickly they resolve.
Potential Side-effect: constipation may occur 1-2 days after taking Curing Pills, especially in people who are easily prone to it.

Suan Zao Ren: for insomnia with anxiety
Indications: difficulty falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep with anxiety, also useful for night sweats.
Instructions: follow instructions on the label.  Can be used occasionally for acute bouts of insomnia, or nightly ongoing for chronic insomnia.

Dr. Guo’s 37 Healing Salve: a topical salve for musculoskeletal pain, stiffness and muscle tension.  Contains a blend of Chinese herbs and Western herbs, as well as arnica, camphor, menthol, Vitamin E and essential oils which help reduce inflammation, improve circulation and relieve pain.
Indications: for musculoskeletal pain, stiffness and muscle tension.
Instructions: apply 3-4 times per day to affected area.

 

 

Other remedies you may find helpful to have on hand:

Eight Righteous Teapills (Ba Zheng Wan): treat and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Indications: If you tend toward frequent UTIs, keep them on hand in your medicine cabinet and during travel and take them when you feel like your risk for getting a UTI is high, or when you start to experience symptoms of burning/painful urination.
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve, or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).

 

Bi Yan Wan: for allergies/hayfever with itchy/watery eyes and/or sneezing, and allergic rhinitis and sinusitis with nasal discharge.
Indications: unlike Upper Chamber Pills and Xin Yi Wan, these pills address the itchy/watery eyes and sneezing aspect of allergies, along with runny/stuffy nose.
Instructions: 6 pills, twice a day (that’s a total of 12 per day), or if you prefer you can follow the instructions on the label and take 4 pills, 3 times per day.  Take them as long as you’re experiencing allergies.

Magnolia Flower Pills (Xin Yi Wan): for colds and allergies with sinus symptoms and headaches
Indications: common cold, sinusitis or allergic rhinitis with congestion, runny nose, post nasal drip, frontal/sinus headache and loss of smell.  Does not address thick nasal discharge or dizziness associated with sinus congestion (Upper Chamber Pills are better for those symptoms).
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve (may be several days to a week).  Or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).

Free and Easy Wanderer (Xiao Yao Wan) and Free and Easy Wanderer Plus (Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan): these formulas are helpful for general physical and emotional balance with a variety of symptoms, and is also good for Women’s Health.  The plus type is better for people who tend to feel hot, and for stronger irritability.  Ask us which type is right for you.
Indications: reduces stress and irritability, improves poor appetite, reduces tension headaches, regulates digestion, and is useful for PMS and irregular menstruation.
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve, or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).  This formula can be taken for 1-3 days for acute symptoms, or for chronic conditions it may be taken for several weeks or months.

Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan: helpful for menopausal and perimenopausal hot flashes and night sweats
Indications: perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety and insomnia.
Instructions: 6 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 12 per day).  This formula can be used long-term until symptoms resolve.

 

 

 

Tao Hong Si Wu Wan: for menstrual irregularities and and menstrual cramps.
Indications: irregular periods, late periods, scanty menstrual flow, menstrual cramps.
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day) until symptoms resolve, or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way).  I recommend taking it daily through at least 3 cycles for irregular, late and/or scanty periods.  If cycles are regular with mild to moderate pain, take it 1 week prior to period and first 2 days of period.

Stasis in the Lower Palace (Shao Fu Zhu Yu Wan): for painful periods with PMS and premenstrual depression, endometriosis, fibroids and other menstrual irregularities.
Indications: moderate to severe menstrual pain, heavy periods, irregular periods.  Often helpful for the above manifestations which commonly occur with endometriosis and fibroids.
Instructions: 12 pills, 2x/day (that’s a total of 24 per day), or you can take 8 pills, 3x/day as directed on the label (I prefer twice a day for simplicity – it will work well either way). This formula can be taken long term.  It’s recommended to try it for at least 3 months, and may be continued as long as it’s needed.

Margarite Beauty Pills: for acne
Indications: primarily for acne, but may also be helpful for certain manifestations of eczema, rosacea, skin rash or hives, particularly when there is redness and pimples.
Instructions: 6 pills twice a day (that’s a total of 12 per day) until skin is clearer.  May be used short term for acute bouts of acne/hives/eczema, or longer term for chronic skin conditions, but only if it is tolerated well.  Ask Justine whether this formula is right for you.
Potential side-effect: loose stool or diarrhea.

 

Please ask us for help selecting the best herbs for your particular health conditions.  You’re welcome to come by anytime our office is open to ask for assistance and purchase herbs.
All doses listed above are for adults; please ask Justine for the recommended doses for children.

Acupuncture for Nerve Damage

Acupuncture for Nerve Damage

Written by Christopher Tadeu, Lic. Ac.

Nerve damage can occur from all kinds of injuries: repetitive stress, acute trauma (falls, breaks, etc.), chronic issues leading to decreased circulation, surgery, spinal disc compression, the list goes on.  It can be a frustrating condition to live with, as it often means dealing with uncomfortable sensations like numbness and sciatica, or motor dysfunction such as trouble picking up objects and difficulty walking correctly.

Thankfully, injured nerves have a positive response rate with acupuncture.  Electromyography, recording the electrical activity of muscle tissue, confirms a significant improvement of motor nerve conduction velocity and amplitude (the speed and strength at which impulses travel) as well as promotion of functional nerve repair with acupuncture.  This means a faster recovery time and improved nerve functions, allowing you to feel better and healthier quickly.

So instead of thinking that there is nothing that can be done for your nerve issues, tell one of your acupuncturists at Acupuncture Together and let us help you bring those nerves back into prime shape.

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25788933, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12924841

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

We treat people with acupuncture for chronic pain every day at Acupuncture Together, usually with successful outcomes.  Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting 3-6 or more months.  There are various types of chronic pain, such as pain from past injuries or surgeries, arthritis, nerve damage, headaches/migraines and fibromyalgia.  According to WebMD, “the feeling of pain comes from a series of messages that zip through your nervous system.  When you hurt yourself, the injury turns on pain sensors in that area.  They send a message in the form of an electrical signal, which travels from nerve to nerve until it reaches your brain.  Your brain processes the signal and sends out the message that you hurt.  Usually the signal stops when the cause of the pain is resolved — your body repairs the wound on your finger or your torn muscle.  But with chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after you’ve healed.”

A meta-analysis of nearly 18,000 randomized patients in high quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provides solid evidence that acupuncture is a useful treatment for chronic pain.  Acupuncture was shown to be more effective than both sham acupuncture and no acupuncture, with patients experiencing less back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches.

Acupuncture helps alleviate pain by activating the nervous system and stimulating the immune response.  This article explains these processes nicely.    Research has shown that acupuncture increases the response of opioid receptors, helping the body process its own endogenous opioids, thereby relieving pain.    Studies have also been done on the use of acupuncture for autoimmune related pain.  This study on arthritic mice showed acupuncture being effective for anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory affects of acupuncture with the stimulation of just one acupuncture point.   More research is being done on the mechanisms of acupuncture, but we hope that this information is a good start in educating you about the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic pain.

If you’re struggling with chronic pain it is certainly worth trying acupuncture, and we at Acupuncture Together will do our best to help.  With regular acupuncture treatments you may be able to reduce or possibly even eliminate your pain, or use acupuncture for pain management.  With the reduction of pain you can live a fuller and more active life.

New Blood Pressure Guidelines: How Acupuncture Can Help

New blood pressure guidelines have recently been published.  The new standard is 130/80, a significant decrease from the old standard of 140/90.  The good news is that medical professionals are recommending lifestyle modifications in an effort to reduce and control blood pressure before trying medications.  Healthy lifestyle habits include stress reduction, a healthy diet with less sodium and increased potassium (essentially more fruits/vegetables and less salt/processed foods), exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.

Where does acupuncture fit in?  Acupuncture is great for stress reduction and for improving sleep quality (reducing frequency/severity of insomnia and restless sleep).  There are also certain acupuncture points which can help directly with reducing blood pressure.  A weekly acupuncture treatment is a great way to reduce and maintain healthier blood pressure levels.

Here are several articles about the new blood pressure guidelines:
ABC
CNN
MASS LIVE
NPR

Acupuncture for Stress and Stress-Related Health Conditions

Many health conditions can crop up as a result of chronic stress and/or worsen due to stress.  Some examples are indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); weakened immune function (i.e. frequent colds); hypertension (high blood pressure); headaches and migraines; menstrual irregularities, menstrual cramps, PMS and PMDD; anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression; insomnia; fatigue; low libido; and muscle tension and pain.  Stress is often a factor in these conditions and others because it affects the nervous system and various hormones that are released in times of stress, affecting various systems of the body.

Acupuncture is helpful for stress and stress-related ailments because it helps to regulate the nervous system and hormones.  There are also acupuncture points used for particular health conditions and symptoms, whether those symptoms are related to stress or not.  The holistic approach of acupuncture takes into account both the “root,” meaning issues underlying one’s health condition(s), and the “branch,” or symptoms one experiences stemming from the root.  With each treatment points are selected to treat both the roots and branches.

What can you do about ongoing stress, particularly when it’s situational (work-related, family-related, caretaking, etc.)?  Take care of yourself as best as possible and find outlets for stress relief when you can.  Exercise, deep breathing, time outside and talking with loved ones are all healthy ways to manage stress on a day to day basis.   Acupuncture once every week or two is a great way to de-stress and stay healthy.  If you have a health condition that is linked to stress, it’s helpful to obtain acupuncture regularly depending on the severity: once a week when mild, twice a week when moderate, and 3 or more times if severe.  You can always ask an acupuncturist for a recommended course of treatment, and feel free to experiment with frequency for yourself to obtain an outcome that feels helpful for you.

Acupuncture, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the Brain

A study on acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome focusing on how acupuncture works via its effects on the brain was recently completed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Acupuncture was found to be effective for carpal tunnel, and the acupuncture treatments induced changes in the somatosensory cortex of the brain.  Results were published in the neurology journal Brain.  Various articles about the study followed: Boston Magazine discussed the study in Acupuncture Actually Works, According to MGH Research; The New York Times elaborated on the study in the article Acupuncture Can Ease Wrist Pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; and Time Magazine explained the study The Weird Way Acupuncture Helps Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.