Enhance your Endocrine Health with Acupuncture

The endocrine system is responsible for hormonal functions in the body and produces 30 distinct hormones, each of which has a very specific job to do. This system controls your physical growth, mood, hormone output, reproductive system, mental function and immune system. When it’s not working properly, you become more susceptible to disease and your ability to fight off infection is weakened. Endocrine glands and how they function impact every area of your health.

The keystone of acupuncture and Oriental medicine has always been awakening the body’s natural intelligence to heal itself and restore balance to the system of energy pathways (called “meridians”) in the body. If the meridians within your body have become depleted, you can suffer from fatigue, infertility, weight gain, depression, digestive problems, hair loss, arthritis and feeling chilled no matter the temperature.

What are the endocrine glands and what do they do?

The major endocrine glands include the adrenals, pancreas, pineal, pituitary, reproductive and thyroid glands.

Adrenals – Adrenal glands regulate the body’s response to stress and are made of two parts, each of which secretes a separate set of hormones. The outer part produces corticosteroid hormones that regulate the balance of salt and water, stress response, metabolism, immune function, as well as the development and function of the reproductive system. The inner part secretes adrenaline hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress. Over time, chronic elevated stress levels can lead to weight gain, decreased resistance to infections, fatigue, muscle aches and low blood sugar.

Pancreas – The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, two hormones that work together to provide the body`s cells with a constant supply of energy in the form of glucose.

Pineal – The pineal gland is also known as the epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis, or the “third eye.” It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.

Hypothalamus and Pituitary – These are a collection of specialized cells that provide the primary link between the endocrine and central nervous systems. Nerve cells and hormones signal the pituitary gland to secrete or suppress the release of various hormone messages to the other glands. The pituitary gland is also responsible for secreting growth hormones.

Reproductive – These glands secrete hormones that control the development of male and female characteristics. In males, these glands secrete androgen hormones, most importantly testosterone. In females, they produce estrogen, progesterone, eggs, and are involved in reproductive functions.

Thyroid – Thyroid hormones control the growth, temperature and function of every cell in the body. The gland acts as the metabolic engine of the body — if it secretes too little hormone, the body slows and dies; if it secretes too much, the body burns out and dies.

When treating a suspected endocrine condition with acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the practitioner seeks the root cause of the patient’s imbalance. The endocrine system is closely tied to the internal balance of the Yin energy and the Yang energy. Imagine that the Yang energy is like gasoline that fuels a car, and Yin energy is the engine coolant. Without the coolant, the engine overheats and burns out. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine work to make sure the Yin and Yang are equal within the body to restore balance.

The root of the body’s energy in Oriental medicine is the kidney meridian, so strengthening that meridian also restores nourishment to your endocrine glands. Acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions, and help manage sleep and menstrual problems.

Many patients benefit from an integrated Eastern and Western medical approach to endocrine health. The strong point of Western medicine is intervention in life-threatening illness, whereas the strong point of Eastern medicine is increased quality of life. Therefore, it is optimal to have both Eastern and Western medicine options available for the most comprehensive care.

A healthy endocrine system that continues to secrete adequate amounts of hormones will slow the aging process and keep you vibrant and healthy as you age.

Come in for a consultation to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can assist you with your endocrine health and help you live a long, healthy life!

Allergies or Asthma Slowing You Down? Try Acupuncture!

Allergic Rhinitis? Try Acupuncture for Relief!

For many sufferers of allergic rhinitis, there’s no need to hear a news report detailing the pollen count outside, as their runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes will let them know. Often these symptoms strike in the summer and spring, but some patients also have symptoms due to an allergy to dust, mites or dander, to name a few. This condition is more commonly referred to as hay fever, seasonal allergies, or just plain allergies.

Symptoms typically include sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip, and irritated eyes, ears, nose and throat. Normally, when a healthy body comes into contact with foreign particles in the air (allergens), the immune system initiates a response to neatly and harmlessly dispose of the allergens—not so for sufferers of hay fever. In their case, the immune system becomes hyperactive and destructive to the body, causing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine recognizes allergic rhinitis as a condition that is provoked by external factors, although it generally occurs because the body already has a pre-existing deficiency. For example, some patients with a long-standing lung Qi deficiency are more susceptible to dust, dander, pollen, etc. in the air.

The Qi circulating in the lungs and its corresponding meridians is called lung Qi. When lung Qi is not strong, problems with breathing, coughing and general immunity may arise because the lungs are related to defensive Qi. As the name implies, this Qi functions in the same capacity as the immune system.

The nose is the sense organ corresponding to the lungs, so when there are blockages in the lung meridian, the nose also may be obstructed. Emotions associated with the lungs are grief and sadness. Sometimes after crying or an attack of allergic rhinitis, one may experience a stuffy nose, red eyes and irregular breathing, which reflects the strain on the lungs. A good way to counter these symptoms is to concentrate on deep, regular breaths which can help stabilize the emotions as well. In general, aerobic exercise is an excellent way to strengthen lung Qi, which in turn helps strengthen general immunity.

Acupuncture treatments may be used year-round, even if your allergies only occur in certain seasons or in the presence of certain allergens. When your allergy symptoms are not active any underlying deficiency you may have can be addressed.

If you have allergies, call today to see what acupuncture and Oriental
medicine can do for you!

Oriental Medicine for Asthma Relief

Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the lungs and, consequently, a narrowing of the bronchial tubes–also known as the air passages. This makes breathing difficult as airflow is restricted. Tell-tale signs of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. Some substances and conditions may cause or worsen the symptoms of asthma including physical activity, cold air, smoke, emotional distress or airborne allergens.

Conventional medical treatment offers a variety of pharmaceutical drugs, which are specific to the patient’s triggers and symptoms of asthma. If you suffer from asthma, additional treatment from your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner in addition to conventional medical treatment may prove to be a winning combination.

A study called “Immunomodulatory Effects of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Controlled Study”, published in 2007 in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, demonstrates the role acupuncture and Oriental medicine can have in the treatment of asthma symptoms. At the end of the study, it was shown that 79 percent of the study group felt an improvement in their general well-being. Significant improvements in the immune system were detected from the blood samples collected by the study group as well. The authors of the study were able to conclude that acupuncture, in conjunction with standard treatment, provides outstanding improvements to the immune system.

There are a few things one can do at home to help lessen the severity of asthma symptoms. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the environment plays an important role in the health of an individual. For example, if one lives in a cold, damp environment, it may prove to be problematic. Not only may the cold contribute to constriction of the bronchial tubes, but the damp air may foster mold or other airborne pollutants that can irritate the air passages as well.

While it may not be possible to move to another climate, it is possible to focus on removing dust, animal dander, and other pollutants from your home. If your home is damp, consider using a dehumidifier, as this will help in eliminating mold. Sometimes breathing in cold air can cause wheezing and trouble breathing, so covering your mouth and nose in an effort to warm your breath may be helpful.

For soothing relief on a cold day, try a nourishing, warm soup. Keep the ingredients simple, the less processed and refined your food is, the easier it is on your digestive system. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, phlegm is produced in the stomach, but stored in the lungs. This is a direct reference to the importance of eating well and avoiding phlegm-producing foods.

Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising every day will help strengthen your immune system as well. If you are finding it difficult to lose weight and lack motivation to exercise, this is something your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine can assist you with. If an addiction to smoking is contributing to your symptoms of asthma, there are treatment protocols to help reduce cravings for nicotine and other substances.

Call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!

Acupuncture Provides Allergic Rhinitis Relief

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that showed that acupuncture can significantly relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms.

In this German study, 5,237 men and women were analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in addition to routine care in patients with allergic rhinitis, compared to treatment with routine care alone.

In this trial, patients with allergic rhinitis were randomly allocated to receive acupuncture for a three month period or to a control group that received no acupuncture. All patients were allowed to receive routine medical care. The Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) and general health-related quality of life (36-Item Short-Form Health Survey) were evaluated at baseline and after three and six months.

Improvements were noted at the three- and six-month evaluations for the patients receiving acupuncture. The authors of this trial concluded that treating patients with allergic rhinitis in routine care with additional acupuncture leads to clinically relevant and persistent benefits.

Source: European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2008 Nov;101(5):535-43.

Headache? Find Relief with Acupuncture

Reduce Migraine and Headache Pain with Acupuncture

More than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. A widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend a number of questions:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
  • When do your headaches occur? (i.e. night, morning, after eating)
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
  •  Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi. This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.

According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

Do you or someone you know suffer from headaches or migraines?

Call today to find out how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!

Self Care for Headache Relief

The next time you find yourself with a headache, or feel the tell-tale throbs of one about to come on, try a little self care. By utilizing the heat and energy from your fingertips, combined with the guidance from acupuncture and Oriental medicine, you may be able to ease the pain and suffering from your headache. This is because specific points exist on the body that provide pain relief when activated by simple massaging techniques. When pressed with a moderate amount of pressure, these points can provide relief without any harmful side effects. This technique is known as acupressure.

Headaches present differently for each person, with varying degrees of pain, tension, and/or tenderness. So, a lot will depend on the location of the pain, as far as which points will require massage. However, locating the spots for massage is quite easy, as are the acupressure techniques themselves.

To begin, the first step is to sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, and loosen any tension or tight muscles in the body. Performing acupressure while relaxed ensures optimal results.

Alleviate Forehead Headaches

One of the most important points for any kind of headache, but especially in the area of the forehead, is called Large Intestine 4, LI4. To locate it, start by putting your hand palm-side down.

Notice the line between your thumb and first finger. Follow this line to the bottom, by the base of the thumb. You should be able to see, and feel, a ‘mound’ of soft flesh on the side of the first finger. In the center of this mound is LI4, which comprises an area about the size of a nickel. There are different types of acupressure that may be used at this site. It is important to note that this point is to be avoided by pregnant women.

One technique is to squeeze LI4 between your thumb and your middle finger, applying deep pressure for 5 to 10 seconds, then releasing the pressure for 3 to 5 seconds. This can be done for 2 to 3 minutes. In severe cases, this point may stay pressed with heavy pressure until the pain reduces.

A different approach to stimulating LI4 involves vigorously tapping the right and left side LI4 points together. To do this, place your hands palms-down with your thumbs tucked underneath and out of view. Next, hit your hands together at LI4, up to nine times, and then end by gently shaking your hands.

A variation on this technique involves rubbing the same area together for a few seconds, then stopping. This also can be done up to nine times. In addition to addressing the pain from a headache, performing these exercises at LI4 will also energize your hands and arms.

Relief for Headaches on the Side of Your Head

If your headache is on one or both sides of your head, which can include the temples, then applying pressure at a point called Stomach 8, ST8, may be the best selection. The English name of this point, *Head Corner*, gives us a clue as to where it is located. It is found about a centimeter into the hairline, above the outer corner of the eyebrow.

Using a firm touch from your middle finger, press and hold for 10 seconds. Next, without lifting your fingers, make little clockwise circular motions for 10 seconds. Repeat this procedure in a counter-clockwise motion. This may be repeated for up to 3 minutes.

Relieve Pain and Tension in the Back of Your Head

For relieving pain and tension in the back of the head and neck, the area including and surrounding Gall Bladder 20, GB20, is an excellent choice. To find your right and left GB20, trace your finger up your spine to the base of your skull. You will find your left and right GB20 point about 2 inches outward from your spine, directly below your skull. The medical term for this part of the cranium is the occipital bone.

Cradle the back of your head in both hands and use your thumbs to firmly rub back and forth right below your occipital bones. Create some heat with a vigorous rub, then use your thumb pads to press into the area. This can be done for 2 or 3 minutes.

There’s no reason to wait until you actually have a headache to give yourself a healthy dose of self-care though. Practicing these exercises on a daily basis may help prevent headaches, or may lessen the severity of
pain if one does occur.

To add a little zing to your massage, charge up your hands by rubbing them together quickly until you generate extra heat and energy to work with.

Acupuncture for Opioid and Substance Addiction Recovery

Overcoming Addiction with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, emotions originate internally from different organs inside the body. Conditions and events in the external world may provoke specific reactions but, ultimately, each person is responsible for the emotion generated.

Any addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, food, work, or other activity or substance, effectively blocks intelligence and suppresses healing abilities. Through these behaviors we choose to rely on the demands of
addiction to dictate our lives, rather than taking responsibility to conduct ourselves in a healthy, life-affirming way.

Is there a body/mind connection to willpower? According to the principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there is. The zhi represents willpower, drive, and determination. It manifests as the urge to persist in one’s efforts and, when in deficiency, feelings of defeat, pessimism, and depression may occur. Without strong willpower, or zhi, one may easily succumb to the temptations of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help cleanse and re-balance your body and mind to manage cravings and overcome a variety of addictions, and can help manage cravings. The safe space provided during treatment is both literal and metaphorical.

Several approaches may be used when treating addictions, generally starting with therapies that help cleanse and balance. Sometimes a vague, uneasy sensation takes over after or during the process of releasing an addiction. Perhaps for the workaholic patient, it is strange and alarming to experience leisure time. Addicts require fortitude to find replacements for the dependence on substances or addictive behaviors. This is why willpower, or zhi, needs treatment to provide support and determination to discover the power within oneself–a universal necessity for overcoming any addiction.

To aid your transformation from addiction and addictive behaviors to healthier practices, try focusing on routine. Routine provides stability, and a new routine is necessary to break old habits. If your first thought
in the morning is to reach for a cigarette, replace that action with another, healthier ritual.

The replacement ritual could be anything from reaching for warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne to refresh your system, or singing your favorite song or stating out loud your plans for the day. As long as the action is positive and consistent, it will serve your new routine and changing thought processes.

Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen willpower and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings. Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture treatment alone, but special herbs, healing foods, and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.

Everyone experiences addiction in different ways with varying symptoms, and treatment is adjusted to the individual needs of the person seeking treatment. Some respond better to a sudden, jarring change in habits, whereas others may require a slower process to adjust to the changes that must be made. At some point during the detoxification process, the next step necessary to your healing will be addressed, helping to ensure that your strengthened willpower and emotional balance lasts a lifetime.

Are there cravings or an addiction you are working to overcome?

Call today to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you reach optimum health!

The Opioid Addiction Epidemic and How Acupuncture Can Help

The United States loses approximately one hundred lives a day as a consequence of the current opioid epidemic–addiction and abuse of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. If projections prove
correct, another half a million more casualties may be on the way over the next ten years. Opioid overdose now ranks as the number one killer for Americans younger than 50 years old.

Opioids are a class of powerful drugs used primarily as a treatment for pain and provide relief in the most excruciating of cases. Morphine, codeine, heroine, fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) are all classified as opioids.

The High Risk of Addiction to Opioids

Unfortunately, the risk of addiction with these drugs is high because opioids are so effective and can give users a feeling of euphoria. Short term use of these drugs is the safest option as it lowers the chances of developing a drug tolerance.

Developing a tolerance means a patient must take higher and higher doses of the drug to experience the same euphoric effects. This deadly cycle of increasing drug amounts can destroy lives and lead to a potentially deadly overdose.

Treatment and Recovery from Opioid Addition

In cases where an opioid addict undergoes detoxification, withdrawal symptoms often make the process a terribly difficult experience. Signs and symptoms associated with withdrawal from opioids include: pain, intense emotional anguish, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hypertension, tachycardia and seizures.

Treatment options for rehabilitation generally include a gradual reduction from the drug. Special drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine can help assuage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. These drugs do not produce euphoric effects and have a lower risk of addiction.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Opioid Dependence

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine treats opioid addiction in a holistic fashion. Not only is the physical body addressed, but the heart and mind as well. The heart represents the emotions, and the mind refers to the logical, cognitive functions.

A great start to assisting patients during the rehabilitation process is the utilization of a simple and effective ear acupuncture protocol. The treatment consists of ten acupuncture needles applied to five points on each ear. After needle insertion, all a patient needs to do is sit quietly in a cozy chair for at least 20 minutes, up to one hour.

The selection of ear points includes lung, shen men, autonomic point, liver and kidney. The lung point helps maintain an even, steady breathing pattern. This helps keep emotions such as grief and sadness from becoming an overwhelming burden. Additionally, it supports the respiratory and cardiovascular system. It is particularly useful for addictions related to smoking.

Shen men addresses the stress, anxiety, anguish and depression associated with opioid withdrawal. It also reduces the physical pain which may occur during the process. The autonomic point works on the nervous system by balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic system. The former calms bodily functions, while the latter speeds things up.

The liver point aids the liver organ in cleansing the blood and removing toxic material. The kidney point is similar in function, as the kidney also plays a major role in ridding the body of harmful substances. A key
difference between the points is the emotions they treat. The liver point works to reduce anger and frustration, while the kidney point helps to alleviate fear.

Some patients may require additional acupuncture points. For example, a person manifesting signs and feelings of rage could benefit with the addition of an ear point called limbic system. It reduces aggressive, compulsive behavior which may lead to violence.

The NADA Protocol and Addiction

This particular auricular therapy is known as the NADA protocol. Developed in the 1970s due to the efforts of Dr. Michael Smith at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York, NADA stands for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. Dr. Smith created the NADA protocol as a treatment to help many suffering with heroin addiction in the local community.

The success of the NADA program helped recovering addicts lower their chances of recidivism and increase their chances of entering society as healthy, drug-free individuals. In 1996, the World Health Organization
declared acupuncture as a viable method to assist patients in withdrawing from chemical dependencies.

Three reasons why acupuncture receives such high accolades for its success in treating opioid addictions, and other substances as well, is due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness and absence of negative side effects. It is also safe for patients of virtually any age group, and in most cases, for pregnant women.

Sometimes it is not only the patients who need treatment, but family members and loved ones who also suffer as their loved ones go through the withdrawal process. Application of the NADA protocol is safe for them and may help in dealing with their heavy emotions. It is support for the support team, so to speak.

With an estimated 2.5 million people dealing with opioid addiction, safe and effective methods are needed more than ever to curb this national public health crisis. Whether the addiction is from doctor prescribed
opiates, or illegal street drugs like heroine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine provides treatment.

Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic

A recent 2017 White Paper “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management” investigated acupuncture as part of a solution to the current opioid epidemic in the US.

The paper provides evidence that acupuncture is effective for managing pain. This applies to pain from numerous medical conditions including migraine headache, low back pain, neck pain, nausea resulting from
chemotherapy and others. The author referenced several scientific studies in order to reach this conclusion.

There are two other important reasons to utilize acupuncture. One is the relatively low cost of the treatment, which can save money for patients and insurers. The other reason is the risk of negative side effects occurring is minimal, especially when compared with the adverse events associated with some medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs. Acupuncture is a safe procedure when performed by a qualified practitioner.

The paper reaches the conclusion that acupuncture is appropriate and useful as an adjunct therapy to treat and rehabilitate those contending with an opioid addiction. The FDA recently recommended in May of 2017 that non-pharmacologic options be explored before doctors prescribe extended-release and long-acting opioids, in an effort to reduce the problems associated with opioid dependence.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, hospitals will also provide non-pharmacologic options to help patients manage their pain. This mandate was set by the Joint Commission, a prominent, non-profit organization which certifies health care organizations in the United States. Acupuncture meets the requirements necessary to satisfy this mandate.

Source: Abel Bolash, Bonnie M., et. al., “Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management .” The Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, 2017, http://www.asacu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Acupunctures-Role-in-Solving-the-Opioid-Epidemic_Final_September_20_2017.pdf.