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It’s Time for Seasonal Tune Up

imagesAs we transition into late summer/early fall, it is important to recognize the season change within our bodies. The summer season is characterized as “Yang” in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Yang constitutes the white half of the yin/yang symbol. It represents everything yin isn’t: active, creative and extroverted. It holds positive energy bursting from all directions in potential rather than actual manifestation. It is associated with the sun and warmth and is hard and assertive, being associated with male energy. It holds sway over the beginning of the year, as new growth starts in the spring and flourishes during the warm summer months.

Yang begins its transformation into yin during Indian summer. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls it “late summer” and recognizes it as its own season. TCM theory also associates each season with an energy system and organ. In late summer the Spleen/Stomach system is dominant. In the physical body this is our digestive system and imbalances that might be more abundant include: loss of appetite, or increased appetite, poor digestion, and bloating. The spleen also rules thought and influences our capacity for thinking, studying, focusing, concentration and memorization. So we might see a lot of over thinking, over-worry, distraction, dwelling on things, obsession and anxiety etc…

Even if you don’t have a complaint each change in season is a good time to receive acupuncture to help the body’s energy assimilate to the change of the energy in the season. In this season particular it helps the body’s yang transform smoothly into yin. We can experience a calming of physical manic activity of the summer into a nice contemplative focused energy of Fall…. stay tuned for Winter :)

Natural Gas Remedies

gasI blogged about natural remedies for gas and bloating a few years ago and it was a hit. So here are 5 new remedies to try:

1)      Chamomile tea

In my last blog I suggested peppermint tea as a solution…well if you are not a fan then chamomile is a great alternative. Chamomile is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and relaxing! Peppermint tea is better for gas caused solely by indigestion but chamomile can help with gas due to indigestion as well as heartburn.

2)      Eat pumpkin

Gas is usually caused by improper food digestion. When food does not break down in the small intestine, it goes into the large intestine where natural bacteria feasts on it. As a by-product they produce a variety of gasses. Pumpkin is helpful because it can reduce the amount of gas created. Eating about a cup of pumpkin with your meal can help ward off gas. Try making a pumpkin pudding for dessert!

3)    Chew food thoroughly

In most cases, gas is created when we are having a hard time breaking down food. If you chew your food thoroughly you will digest it faster and it will pass through your body smoothly. The more food sits in your intestines the more gas gets built up and needs to be expelled.

4)      Drink warm lemon water

A glass of warm water with lemon every morning not only helps with easing your gas pain but also has a great detoxifying effect on your entire body. Lemon helps the liver enzymes work more efficiently and stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid which is what breaks down our food. More HCL can lead to less gas and bloating.                    

5)      Eat some anise seed

Anise has anti-spasmodic properties and helps to relax your digestive track. The relaxation also helps with cramping. Try adding anise seed to ground beef or turkey or add it to boiling water to make a tea.

                Gas is embarrassing but it is also natural and we all experience it. Hopefully some of these natural remedies can help keep your digestive system in line. Good luck!

Healing Your Digestive System with TCM

A vast array of chronic disease ranging from auto-immune, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and gynecological can be rooted in the dysfunction of the digestive system.  From  a Traditional Chinese Medicine view, the health of the Spleen & Stomach Qi (the Earth meridian) is vital to overall health.  When treating a patient with digestive system issues, the first thing is to identify the pattern of imbalance and then choose points to correct the imbalance. Additionally, basic dietary considerations are important to address as well. A patient must identify food allergies/sensitivities and should avoid skipping meals, eating while upset, eating too quickly or eating while working, watching TV or driving.

In our practice, we have found many patients have a gluten sensitivity and when gluten is eliminated from their diet they have more energy and less bloating/gas. If you are unaware of any food sensitivities start by eliminating the most common for at least 2 weeks- diary, caffeine, gluten, and soy. After 2-3 weeks of elimination of these foods, start slowly adding one of the items back into your diet.  Only add back one new item each week so you can thoroughly evaluate how you feel. If you notice any new symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, change in stools or abdominal discomfort after adding back in a food item, it is likely you have food sensitivity. Also, it is important to focus on eating at regular times and avoid excessive dairy, raw/cold foods, processed sugars and alcohol. These items create “dampness” in the body which manifest as body heaviness, sluggishness, bloating and gas, unclear thinking, excess weight and chronic sinus infections.

If your digestive systems seems to be off track and you haven’t been able to figure out the cause, TCM can help you heal your body naturally and effectively.

Acupuncture Stops Indigestion, Bloating, Nausea…

I just came across another article about new research which concludes that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of dyspepsia.  I figured this was the perfect topic to blog about considering we have been treating quite a few patients (with success!!) for bloating, gurgling, acid reflux and fullness after eating.

Dyspepsia is indigestion also known as an upset stomach. It involves symptoms including pain, bloating, full or heavy sensation after eating, nausea, belching and heartburn. Indigestion is often linked to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gastritis and gastrointestinal ulcers. In Western medicine, dyspepsia is often treated with PPIs (proton pump inhibitors which essentially cut down on the amount of acid in the stomach). However, long term use of PPIs is linked to gastric cell atrophy, which may lead to cancer!

In my experience, once the right acupuncture treatment plan is created for the patient, their symptoms of bloating, gas and discomfort go away. In addition to regular acupuncture treatments, most of my patients have found that adding fennel tea to their diet helps ease their upset stomach as well. On average, it takes about 4 weekly treatments to see symptoms disappear. Most patients are able to discontinue use of PPIs or at least cut back on the dosage and frequency. After 4 treatments, treatments are spaced out considerably so that patients are on either a monthly or quarterly maintenance plan.

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

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!

Natural Ways to Reduce Gas and Bloating

Alright this isn’t the most comfortable topic to discuss but let’s face it, we have all experienced gas and bloating sometime in our life. It is an annoying and sometimes embarrassing condition that can result from poor dietary habits or improper digestion. Some of us may seem more prone to gas and bloating than others but the good news is with some simple dietary changes and natural remedies we can prevent future bouts of gas and relieve current episodes. If you are one who suffers on a regular basis, be sure to check with your health care provider to rule out other causes (Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease etc) before trying any natural remedy.

One of the easiest solutions is to eliminate foods that are known to cause gas and indigestion such as fried foods, spicy foods, processed foods, fructose and refined sugar. Other common foods that lead to gas and bloating include beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, apples and dairy products.

Here are 6 other remedies for gas and bloating:

  1. Fennel. This delightful vegetable has a mild licorice flavor and can be eaten raw or sauteed. The actual fennel seeds can be crushed and made into a tea by adding boiling water. The fennel seeds can relax the muscles in your digestive track and allow trapped air to pass. Caraway seeds have similar properties and can be added to your meals to help ease gas and indigestion.
  2. Organic Ginger. Drinking ginger tea or adding fresh grated ginger root to your foods is one of the best remedies for gas. Try adding some fresh ginger to your next stir fry or smoothie.
  3. Take a Probiotic Supplement. Taking a probiotic supplement or eating foods with probiotics (like yogurt) is a great way to get rid of gas. Probiotics have many health benefits and can help keep your colon in optimal working order.
  4. Acupuncture. Acupuncture has an effect on every system of our body especially our metabolism. Regular acupuncture treatments can help to regulate your bowels and digestive system to keep everything balanced and running smoothly.
  5. Peppermint tea. Peppermint helps to relax digestive muscles. If you are not a particular fan of peppermint tea, peppermint capsules work great as well.
  6. Hot Water. Easy enough and it works. About a half a cup of hot water should do the trick.

 Hopefully some of these tips will help keep you gas and bloat-free. If you are faced with a bad episode of gas pains, lying on your back and doing the bicycle motion with your legs can help bring instant relief.