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Acupuncture Proves to be Both Cost and Medically Effective

I came across a great article about how acupuncture is medically effective for pains (that’s not new :)) but also cost effective. The research found that it saved patients in the study group $162,000! These patients received acupuncture instead of getting a total knee replacement (which can cost $8100). Of the 90 patients in the study group that received acupuncture, 31 of them had not had knee surgery in the following 2 years since treatment. To read the whole article click here.

The Energy of Fall and Sleep Cycle Problems

The air is getting cooler and the days are starting to get shorter. Fall is making its arrival! As we enter into the season of Autumn, the Metal element is now dominant. The element of Metal governs organization, order, communication, the mind and setting limits. It’s a good time to finish projects that you started and begin to organize your life for the winter season ahead. The Lung and Large Intestine are the internal organs related to Fall and the Metal element. The Lung is considered to be a “tender organ” because it is susceptible to temperature changes, especially wind and cold. The lungs control the circulation of the Wei-Qi, which is the defensive Qi that protects us from invasion of flues and colds (similar to our immune system). If the Wei-Qi is weak, a patient can be susceptible to colds and allergies.

Lately, we have been seeing quite a few patients coming in with a disruptive sleep cycle due to the Lung meridian being weakened.  According to TCM, one type of imbalance in the body involves the time of day. The energy flowing through the acupuncture meridians of the body has a specific time cycle. If this energetic cycle becomes disrupted many things can be affected but commonly patients will observe that they wake up consistently during the night at a specific time.  The Lung meridian dominates between the hours of 3am to 5am. If you find yourself waking consistently between these times it is time to come in for an acupuncture treatment to get you balanced. To correct this imbalance, points on the Lung meridian are stimulated to “tonify” or nurture the lung. In doing so, most patients report that their sleep is returned to normal after just one treatment!

Acupuncture Treats Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common problem that affects many women. Acupuncture is very helpful in treating both the pain and the fertility issues caused by this condition. Endometriosis affects millions of women. Endometrial tissue is located in the uterus but when the presence of this tissue is anywhere outside the uterus it called endometriosis. This condition can cause moderate to severe menstrual pain each month as the tissue outside the uterus becomes “stagnate” and hard to shed. Many women with endometriosis will observe dark/brown blood during her period, heavy bleeding as well as clots. This is because the tissue outside the uterus responds just like the endometrial lining in the uterus but because it is not in the uterus it has a difficult time being expelled from the body. Usually this condition is diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 40, but can begin as young as the teenage years. Although many women have symptoms, 40% of women are symptom-free and don’t even realize they have it. Endometriosis can affect fertility and sometimes this is the only way women come to find out they have the condition.

Western medicine does not have a cure for endometriosis but does offer prescription drugs and laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis and help the pain. The only way to diagnosis the condition is through an exploratory laparoscopy. While the surgery may stop the pain, it doesn’t address the inflammation that occurs throughout the body with each cycle.

Acupuncture points help soothe the pain, reduce inflammation and help reduce the heavy bleeding. The diagnosis of endometriosis in TCM is Blood Stagnation (just how it sounds it means the blood inside the body isn’t free flowing and becomes stagnate). Sometimes there are also heat or cold signs going on in the body. The acupoints selected will treat all of these symptoms as well has help move the blood. In addition, regular acupuncture treatments can restore fertility by helping to create a good environment for conception. Dietary changes can also improve endometriosis- especially by cutting out foods that are known to contribute to inflammation.

Suffer from Sinus Infections?

I have read a number of articles about how fewer patients will be leaving their doctor’s offices with antibotics for sinus infections. Experts are now saying that 98% of sinus infections are caused by viruses not bacteria.

The good news is acupuncture can help! The Archives of Otolaryngology has found “people battling Chronic Sinusitis may benefit from some alternative medicine. Acupuncture, acupressure and dietary changes could spell significant relief for these patients. That’s when used in tandem with standard western treatments.” Click here for the article.

Electro-Acupuncture for Depression

Last year I came across a study that found electro-acupuncture as an effective method for treating depression. After reading the study, I blogged about the topic and decided I would try this method out on our patients to see if we had the same results. Since that blog, I have been treating depression patients in our office with electrical stimulation and can confirm the results to be remarkable.

About 1 week after I posted the blog, I got a call from a new patient who wanted to try the electro-acupuncture for her depression. She had been on depression meds for about 10 years and wanted to gradually taper off the drugs (under the care of her physician). I was reluctant to jump right into electrical stimulation (being it was her first acupuncture treatment) and decided we should try 2 treatments without electrical stimulation first. After the first 2 treatments she noticed very little change. So, the third treatment we tried a total of 20 minutes of electrical stimulation and low and behold when she returned the following week she finally noticed a change! Her mood was better, she felt less anxious and more calm. We continued her electrical stimulation treatments weekly for about 5 weeks and then gradually spaced out the treatments. She has now been off all depression medications for over 8  months and feels great. She comes in for monthly tune up treatments only. This is not the only positive success story- we have many others just like this. While some patients were able to get off all medications, others found that acupuncture helped to make the drugs more effective.

If you or someone you know is suffering with depression, you should consider acupuncture as a treatment option.

Acupuncture and Weight Loss

It is that time of the year- the dreaded New Year’s Resolution to lose those extra holiday pounds. Patients are often asking me how acupuncture can assist with weight loss….essentially acupuncture helps by regulating your metabolism, decreasing stress (stress causes an increase in cortisol= belly fat) and it helps curb your appetite and cravings. It can definitely help you with your weight loss goals if you find you are plateauing. However, a healthy diet and exercise always play a key role in weight loss!

Click here to read an article in Shape magazine about how a new mom was able to lose those extra pounds with the help of acupuncture.

Icing your sore muscles? May not be the best choice….

Think ICE is the best for sore or achy muscles…think again!

If you are a patient of mine, you know that I am always encouraging my patients to incorporate heat into their nightly routine for any sort of tight muscle or knot (as long as it is not an acute injury). According to Chinese medicine, everything we need to heal is in the blood and ice/cold restricts blood flow therefore increasing healing time. However, if there is an immediate injury with lots of swelling using the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) can help to bring down acute inflammation. According to a recent study on the effect of ice on muscles, they found no discernible benefits from icing. Although icing was quite effective at numbing soreness, it actually significantly reduced muscle strength and power for up to 15 minutes after the icing had ended! In fact it tended to lessen fine motor coordination.

To read the abstract from the NIH regarding ice and achy muscles click here. If you are suffering from sore achy muscles, try switching to heat and coming in for some acupuncture to speed up healing.

Laughter Improves Fertility!

A recent study led by Shevach Friedler published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility showed that laughter can promote pregnancy:

To test the idea, the research team had a medical clown visit their fertility clinic periodically over one year. Of the 219 women in the study, …half underwent embryo transfer on a day the clown was at the clinic.

During recovery from the procedure, each woman had a 15-minute visit from the clown, who performed a specific routine created by Friedler – who has studied movement and mime – and a colleague.

The researchers found that, compared to women who came to the clinic on a “non-clown” day, those who’d had a laugh were more than twice as likely to become pregnant, when other factors such as age, type of infertility and the number of embryos transferred, were taken into account.

Acupuncture Cold Prevention Tips

The weather is getting colder and the stressful holiday season is upon us- tis the season of colds and flus! It is so important to do everything you can to stay healthy this season. Here are some helpful tips based on Chinese Medicine. Some are common-sense but give them a try and see what works for you!

Cover you neck when outside

According to Chinese Medicine, a common cold is caused by “wind invasion.” “Wind” commonly “invades” the channels/meridians at the back of the neck/upper back. So, rock your most stylish scarf and help ward off colds.

Change out of sweaty clothes

After you work out, don’t hang around in your sweaty clothes. When you sweat you are more “open” to wind invasion. If you aren’t able to change into dry clothes, do your best to try off with a towel until you are able to do so. 

Avoid cold and rich foods

If you can, go lightly on the cold, rich, dense foods (ice cream!!) and eat more soups and steamed veggies. Let your body save its energy for fighting that virus, instead of digesting heavy foods.

Try to avoid getting run down

Most people tend to get sick after a particularly stressful time or when they haven’t been sleeping well. Try to pay attention to when your immune system tends to be most vulnerable so you can take preventative measures.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can help keep your immune system functioning well and give it that extra boost it needs. It helps give your body “rest” and a break from the stresses that make you more vulnerable.

Acupuncture and IBS

There are an estimated 20 million Americans who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), a condition also known as spastic colon, nervous stomach and functional bowel disease. If you have ever experienced diarrhea before a major exam or presentation or had loose stools during times of stress, then you have experienced what it is like to have IBS.

Digestive issues are a common reason people seek acupuncture in my office. Acupuncture helps with many uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation and nausea to name a few. All of these symptoms can occur if you suffer from IBS. Acupuncture happened to be the only thing that actually relieved my IBS symptoms.

With regular acupuncture treatments and dietary changes, my patients are able to keep IBS a thing of the past. Patients experience immense relief from treatments and also benefit from acupuncture’s ability to reduce stress- a major trigger for IBS!

Here are some dietary tips that can help you get started if you are a sufferer of IBS:

  • Be careful with food sensitivities and/or allergies. Gluten and dairy can cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • Avoid fried foods
  • Cook vegetables rather than eating them raw
  • Focus on eating a high fiber diet and incorporate whole grains
  • Eat in a calm manner- shoveling down food will leave you feeling bloated and in pain

Acupuncture Explained Scientifically!?

 I am asked on a regular basis (as are most acupuncturists) the same question, “Can you explain acupuncture through science?” It is a completely valid question and I try my best to explain how acupuncture works from a western perspective. However, sometimes we have to let go of old ways of thinking or perceiving in order to be receptive to new ways. The author of this commentary (which I LOVE ) has this to say about that very question,

The answer is yes—but not yet. Remember that science is not a system of set beliefs. Rather, it is an ever-expanding process of understanding the world around us through testing hypotheses. Science eventually will be able to explain acupuncture if we continue to study it.

Click here to read the entire commentary…it is very interesting.

 

 

 

 

Plantar Fasciitis- Ouch!

Being that it is marathon season I thought it would be appropriate to blog about running. I love to run outside especially when there is beautiful weather. While running is such wonderful exercise and a great way to clear your head, it is important to gradually increase your distance runs to prevent injury. I learned this the hard way and ended up with pain in my knees. Many times people will pick up running and set their sights on completing 5Ks and marathon runs which are great, but only if you train properly. If you start to feel an achy knee or painful feet, listen to your body and take a break to heal or decrease the intensity. Our body is giving us signals that we are overdoing it and if we ignore those signs we may be in for a lot more pain in the long run.

Plantar fasciitis, a common occurrence in runners, is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue on the sole of the foot. It causes pain which can be quite severe in the heel and arch. The good news is acupuncture is wonderful at significantly reducing the pain and providing much needed relief. A columnist in Florida recently wrote about how acupuncture helped her with plantar fasciitis. She writes, “The stretching, ice packs and yoga helped me, but my best relief might surprise you. It was acupuncture.” To read more about her experience with acupuncture click here.

Improving your Digestive Health With Acupuncture

More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. While that may be the bad news, the good news is more and more reports are confirming that acupuncture can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.

According to Oriental Medicine theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony between the spleen and stomach (Earth meridians). Proper functioning of the “middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality. When coming up with a treatment plan, a person’s constitution and symptoms are taken into account. The treatment is aimed at bringing the “middle” back into harmony to optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system. As with any treatment, it may take a few treatments before you begin to feel the full effect.

Recently, one of my patients complained of bloating after eating. She felt bloated from the moment she ate breakfast and especially after eating dinner. She had tried different medications and even changed to a bland diet but found no relief. When we started treatment, she was a bit hesitant to continue as the first 3 sessions didn’t bring about much change. But then it happened…she came in excitedly on the day of her 4th treatment and said “IT’S WORKING!” She observed that she only bloated in the evening that week and was bloat-free during the day. After 2 more treatments, I am happy to report she has no more bloating and her bowels have become more regular as well. She even feels better overall in terms of energy.

If you are suffering from digestive issues and haven’t found much relief with conventional treatments, acupuncture might be just the thing that helps regulate your system and puts your “middle” back in balance. Not sure if acupuncture is right for your condition….schedule a free consult!

Acupuncture reduces stress and helps couples conveive!

The Baltimore Sun ran an article a few years back reminding all of us that stress can interfere with couples getting pregnant. 1 in 8 couples experience fertility issues, according to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.

Research has shown a link between stress and fertility. Stress can prevent pregnancy by increasing too many of the fight-or-flight hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can reduce sperm count and prevent ovulation. Many times when a woman has a longer than normal cycle it is likely due to stress. When your body is overly stressed, it can delay ovulation. It is almost as if your body is saying, “I’ll just delay ovulation until your stress comes down and you are ready.” Stress hormones can also prevent the action of a key reproductive hormone known as gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and cause the increase of another reproductive hormone called Gonadotropin-Inhibitory Hormone (GnIH) which impedes procreation by preventing the GnRH hormone from being released.
Couples who are looking for ways to reduce stress and improve their chances at conception should consider acupuncture. In my patients, I have seen acupuncture counter the physiological effects of stress, help women reestablish balance in their bodies and become pregnant. If you are trying to conceive without success, acupuncture is a wonderful therapy that can be used alone or in conjuction with other western methods to maximize your chances of getting pregant.

Turning Skeptics into Believers….

Often when I tell people I am an acupuncturist, the next questions that follow are- “Does it work? Is acupuncture a placebo? Don’t you have to believe it will work for it to help?” The answer is No. One of the greatest challenge of my job is convincing new patients that acupuncture does indeed work. Although acupuncture has its limitations and may not help every condition, you really won’t know how effective it can be until you give it try. The wonderful thing about acupuncture is it is natural and with virtually no negative side effects, so there really is no harm in giving it a try. I have been a believer in the power of acupuncture since the age of 15, when I decided to be the family guinea pig and gave it a try. Not only did it help my eating disorder but also eliminated my menstrual cramps and stress. Soon after I began to see results, the rest of my family (excluding my dad) visited my acupuncturist and became full blown acupuncture devotees.

My father is a perfect example of an acupuncture skeptic. He is a scientist thru and thru  and if he can’t understand how something works scientifically or mathematically- forget it. It took quite a few months of me coaxing and begging him before he let me stick one needle into him. My father complained often of low back pain and shoulder pain. After the first treatment, I asked my father the next day how his back felt and he causally told me it felt slightly better but “sometimes it just feels better on its own.” Clearly, the first treatment didn’t make a huge impact on his opinion of acupuncture so I gave him a few more treatments, confident he would feel a difference. Sure enough, after 3 treatments he couldn’t ignore the fact that his back no longer felt stiff in the morning and he had more range of motion with his shoulder. Reluctant to admit to me that he was a believer in acupuncture, he would tell my mom in private that he did feel relief from his pain after my treatments. It is okay that my dad still won’t rave about acupuncture to my face but the fact that he now requests treatments often and tells his friends about how it helps him, is proof enough for me that he is a believer.

Ted Lilly, who plays baseball for the Dodgers, is no longer doubtful of the powerful effects of acupuncture. He found that acupuncture increased his range of motion almost as soon as he got off the table. To read more about Ted’s experience with acupuncture click here.

If you are on the fence about whether acupuncture can help you, my best suggestion would be to schedule a consult to find out whether acupuncture is right for you. And if you do decide to give it a try- it can’t hurt so you have nothing to lose!