Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Treatment Epiphany

I did a great job screwing up my back last week. Carrying around my two small children and washing a big dog that didn't want to be washed had me barely able to stand up straight. I couldn't work and shuffled to my clinic to put a sign on the door. While I was there I thought why not put in a few needles and take a nap? I was out for 2 hours! And I woke significantly improved. I don't think I would have gotten relief to the extent that I did if I had stayed for a shorter amount of time. My body decided the length of the treatment, not the clock. I want to extend that opportunity to you! When you come in for a treatment, I'll ask you if you wish to be woken at a certain time, or if you want to stay until you naturally come to, (the last needles will be pulled one hour after closing time). It will be all up to you.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Community Acupuncture is Revolutionary

What makes CA revolutionary?
It’s in the hands of the people who use it. It isn't insurance companies or the government that tells you how often you get to go. You don’t need a doctor referral to prove you need it. You can use it how you want, when you want. No 3rd party involvement.

Anyone can access community acupuncture. Whether or not you get the opportunity to heal has nothing to do with your level of income. People of all backgrounds come together, pooling their resources and making a healing space.  It is done collectively and that is in direct opposition to the isolation so prevalent in our society. In community acupuncture the solidarity of many brings a better life to each individual patient.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Headaches and Acupuncture

Sinus headaches.
Hormonal headaches.
Headaches from stress and tension.
Headaches from too much time on the computer.
What to do? There’s aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen…But what if that doesn’t work? And what if headaches are happening everyday?  

Acupuncture is the solution.  By receiving regular treatments, acupuncture can drastically reduce or even get rid of chronic headaches.  How long would you need to be getting acupuncture? How many treatments and for how long is different for each person. Treatment plans depend on the severity of the headaches, how often they happen, and how long you’ve been getting them.

How effective the treatments are also depends on how much you’re able to avoid what is triggering them. If your headaches are caused by computer work and you need to be on the computer for hours everyday, it will take longer for the acupuncture to help you as we fight an uphill battle. But even with this type of scenario, acupuncture will significantly reduce your headaches, whether it be they are less intense, don’t last as long, or don’t occur as often.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Allergies and Acupuncture

The flowers are blooming early this year!

It’s absolutely gorgeous.

It is downright lovely!

It’s causing itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throat, cough, congestion and a headache.

Many people try to handle this onslaught of pollen with remedies like a nasal spray. Or they might even get a round or two of antibiotics if sinus problems turn into a sinus infection.  There’s an easier way to feel better – acupuncture!

How will acupuncture help? By stimulating your sinuses, enticing them to clear out the offending mucus. Acupuncture will also address the issue by its roots, balancing the workings of your body to reduce the allergic reaction.

How often should you get an acupuncture treatment? It takes more than one session of acupuncture to address allergies. With most patients, the best course of action is to receive a treatment twice a week until the issue(s) are under control. At this point we taper the acupuncture appointments down, making them further and further apart until they are no longer necessary.

To prevent sinus issues in the future, it is a good idea to get a few acupuncture treatments a few weeks before your allergy season begins.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Anxiety, insomnia, depression, and your diet

In Chinese medicine, blood deficiency is a diagnosis that refers to a set of symptoms. These include:
·      Insomnia, poor sleep quality
·      Anxiety
·      Depression
·      Headaches
·      Fatigue
·      Cold hands and feet
·      Constipation
·      Light or irregular menses
·      Weight gain

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs balance and nourish to relieve these symptoms, but it is also important that our bodies are being supported by our diets to have the building blocks we need. In the perspective of Western medicine, the most common vitamin and mineral inadequacies contributing to blood deficiency symptoms are iron, calcium, folic acid, and essential amino acids.

In the body, 60-70% of iron is used in the hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen to the tissues. When the tissues are not receiving sufficient amounts of oxygen, we experience fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and depression. When our iron is low, we have less hemoglobin in our blood. In this circumstance blood isn’t going to be able to do its work as efficiently, including supplying the brain. This leads to insomnia, decreased memory, and difficulty in concentration. Lack of hemoglobin also affects the nourishment of the intestines, which leads to constipation.

Blood Deficiency and Anemia
Anemia is a Western medical term and is defined as a reduction in red blood cells. Many times patients see their MD with the complaint of fatigue. They get a blood test to check their iron and red blood cell count to see if they are anemic. The test comes back negative. So why does their acupuncturist still want to talk to them about blood deficiency? In Chinese Medicine, the term blood deficiency denotes a set of symptoms, as oppose to a number or level that can be tested.

Iron is stored in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, as well as myoglobin and numerous proteins. These stores are drawn on when the amount of iron in the hemoglobin starts to get low. When this happens blood deficiency symptoms occur, but it will take quite a bit more depletion before anemia is measurable.

The body is only able to absorb and utilize an average of 8-10% of the iron we consume.

Heme and nonheme iron

Iron is found in two forms, heme and non-heme. 

The non-heme form of iron has to be converted into the heme form to be absorbed. The non-heme is the type of iron that is found in vegetable sources. Because of the extra conversion step, it is not absorbed as readily.

Heme iron is found in meat foods. This iron is already bound into muscle and blood tissues, making 10-30% of intake absorbable.

Other factors contribute to iron’s absorbability.

Increased by:
  • Body needs during growth, pregnancy, and lactation
  • Hydrochloric acid (production stimulated by meat protein)
  • Vitamin C
  • Blood loss or iron deficiency
  • Meats
  • Protein foods
  • Citrus fruits and vegetables
  • Iron cookware
  • Copper, cobalt, manganese

Decreased by:
  • Low hydrochloric acid
  • Antacids
  • Low copper
  • Phosphates in meats and soft drinks
  • Calcium
  • Phytates in whole grains
  • Oxylates in leafy green vegetables
  • Soy protein
  • Coffee and black tea
  • Fast gastrointestinal motility

Well known for its responsibility for bones and teeth, calcium is also crucial for muscle contraction, including the functioning of the heart. Calcium is also needed for the nervous system. It has a role in nerve transmission and the releasing of neurotransmitters. Calcium influences serotonin and norepinephrine, whose balance is imperative in warding off depression and irritability. Other symptoms of calcium deficiency include headaches, insomnia, muscle cramps, and fatigue.

Increased by:
  • Body needs – growth, pregnancy, lactation
  • Vitamin D
  • Milk lactose
  • Acid environment – hydrochloric acid, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Protein intake and amino acids such as lysine and glycine
  • Fat intake
  • Exercise
  • Phosphorus balance

Decreased by:
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid)
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • High fat intake
  • High protein intake
  • Oxalic acid foods (beet greens, chard, spinach, rhubarb, cocoa)
  • Phytic acid foods (whole grains)
  • High phosphorus intake

Calcium doesn’t work without his friend magnesium. Magnesium is responsible for the relaxation portion of the heartbeat by dilating the coronary arteries. It also contributes to the production of energy. Low amounts of magnesium can cause increased PMS symptoms.

Factors increasing or decreasing the absorption of magnesium are the same as for calcium.

Folic Acid
Folic acid is an important B vitamin. In its active form, THFA, its job is to help red blood cell production and to aid in the breakdown of protein. It also has a part in many amino acid conversions. Folic acid is instrumental in the growth and reproduction of all cells.
The first sign of deficiency is depression. Folic acid deficiency also shows in the skin, with cracks or scaling of the lips and corners of the mouth. Also associated with low folic acid is fatigue and the rapid graying of the hair. Folic acid deficiency has also been linked with cervical dysplasia and cancer.

Folic acid is absorbed in the intestines. This can be an issue if one is prone to bouts of diarrhea, or is on antibiotics or tetracyclines that deplete colon bacteria.
Folic acid is mostly found in leafy greens (spinach, kale, beet greens) and is easily lost during cooking or after any sort of processing. Lightly sautéed is best.

Common causes of Folic Acid deficiency: 
  • Inadequate nutrition – lack of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Poor absorption – due to intestinal problems,
  • Metabolic problems from alcohol or drug use
  • Excessive demands on tissues, as with stress, illness, or pregnancy.

Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. Proteins have many responsibilities:
  • Growth and maintenance of body structures
  • Enzymes
  • Hormones
  • Immune system
  • Fluid electrolyte balance
  • Energy
  • Blood sugar regulation

There are 21 amino acids the body needs in order to carry out all its functions. There are two categories of amino acids, non-essential and essential.

Non-essential amino acids are supplied by the body.

Essential amino acids need to be supplied by the diet.

Animal proteins provide all essential amino acids. Plant proteins are incomplete and must be combined to achieve all essential amino acids. These are referred to as complementary proteins.

For example:
Grain – HIGH in the amino acid methionine, LOW in lysine
Legumes – LOW in methionine, HIGH in lysine.

Together they make a complete protein, having all amino acids. When all amino acids are present, neurotransmitters are balanced. When neurotransmitters are out of balance, depression, anxiety, and lack of focus are the result.


Elson M. Haas, M.D. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkley CA: Celestial Arts
  Publishing, 1992. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Stress and Weight Gain

You’re constantly going to the gym and you eat a healthy diet. So why doesn’t the weight come off? Why do you keep gaining?  Your level of stress may be contributing. Stress is a nasty beast and it reaches into every aspect of our health, from digestion to the level of hormones coursing through our bodies. These are the variables that dictate whether we hold onto weight or let it burn off. 

Stress stimulates the body to release hormones. Particularly helpful in an emergency situation, these hormones are what kept humans alive in the days of the caveman. It is our response to a “fight or flight” situation and intended for only a short term occurance. What happens when the stress isn’t a tiger chasing us anymore, but is instead years in a high stress job or four years of graduate school? 
After our bodies  experiences elevated stress levels for over 24 hours, they go into a different mode. Anxiety sets in and the body's coping mechanisms are triggered. Our central nervous systems release more stress hormones, which over time have negative effects.

Cortisol is the big gun of stress hormones. It is directly responsible for weight gain, especially around the abdomen. A lot of cortisol coursing through your system will keep you from building muscle. 

Growth hormone is responsible for rebuilding tissues (including muscle) and for burning fat. Stress hormones cause a decrease in the amount of growth hormone being released.

Effects on Digestion:
  • There is a decrease in the flora that lives in our gut. This flora is needed to absorb nutrients we need. A decrease in gut flora can also lead to increased or decreased motility (diarrhea or constipation), as well as gas and bloating. Healthy gut flora is important in avoiding digestive distress, which is crucial when talking about the regulation of food in our bodies.
  • Stress hormones also decrease stomach acid, which is needed to absorb protein, calcium and iron.
  • Salivary gland secretions also decrease with stress hormones. Carbohydrates are first broken down with saliva and then finished in the small intestine. If the salivary glands aren’t able to do their job farther up the line, the intestines are burdened, and we’re back to unbalanced motility, gas and bloating.
  • Stress hormones cause an increase in insulin resistance. This causes havoc with blood sugar levels, which leads to moodiness, headaches, dizziness and sugar cravings. With all this fluctuating, the body will hold onto weight.
  • Stress hormones also lead to cravings. Sugar is quick energy and that’s what our bodies want in an emergency.

The oxygen moving in and out of our body influences metabolism and calorie burn. With increased stress, there is decreased oxygen.

Another important factor in exercising is having the energy and motivation to do so. Have you ever planned on going to the gym after work, but are too tired by the end of a long day? In our body, energy is made in our cells, in little units called mitochondria. When stress hormones are elevated, fewer mitochondria are produced. Fatigue and sluggishness will set in.

Stress hormones also play havoc with the hormones that influence our mood. Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are neurotransmitters that affect our sleep, well-being and happiness. Chronic stress disrupts the regulation of when these are released into our system. 

Make it a goal to keep stress lower. Take a few 15 minute breaks a day. Be sure you’re breathing fully and deeply. Maybe even go to a quieting yoga class. Whether or not we lose or gain weight isn’t just about which foods we choose and what exercise regimen we’re practicing. It’s also about our well-being as individuals. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Runner's Advantage with Acupuncture

There are 3 main things acupuncture will do for a runner.

1. Enhance your performance
2. Help your injuries heal more quickly, or prevent them from happening at all
3. Increase the longevity of your running career

How does acupuncture do this?

Acupuncture increases the circulation of blood and body fluids throughout your muscles and organs.  This brings nourishment to your body, while also clearing out the metabolic waste.

Acupuncture also strengthens the health and integrity of the collagen in your body. Collagen is the protein that surrounds your muscles and organs. It is the glue that holds your body together. In Chinese medicine collagen has even more significance. Instead of being perceived as randomly occurring throughout the body, it has a matrix formed by channels called "meridians". These meridians are able to access every area of the body, from the more external muscles to your organs.
An easy way to visualize meridians and how they work is to compare to a highway or an electrical system. On a highway, everything moves along nicely until one lane is blocked, then everything slows. In an electrical system, if there's a break in the line, nothing after that break works. In your body, you want your "qi" (roughly translated as your life force), and body fluids to flow smoothly. By stimulating the collagen, acupuncture makes sure it is clear for this to happen. With your qi and body fluids flowing smoothly, your body is able to function healthily. You absorb and utilize nutrients more efficiently. So when you run, your body has everything it needs to perform at its highest potential.

No matter what you are specifically getting treated for, acupuncture has a few positive side effects that will enhance your overall health.

-Acupuncture reduces stress. When you are stressed, there is a lot of cortisol coursing through your body. This cortisol suppresses growth hormone, which is needed for healing.

-Acupuncture improves your sleep quality. It is during your sleeping hours that your body does a lot of maintenance and healing, from muscle repair to organ cleansing.

-Acupuncture boosts the immune system. This helps to reduce fatigue and will keep you from missing a run due to a cold or flu virus.

How many acupuncture treatments will you need?

Treatment protocols for acupuncture vary. It depends on if you are coming in for prevention and maintenance, or if you are treating an injury. An acute injury may only take a few treatments to get you back out on the road. Something that has been a problem for awhile, (knee pain that started 5 years ago, for instance),  will need a longer term of acupuncture. If you receive acupuncture treatments consistently for 6 weeks, you will know by the end of that time if acupuncture is going to work for you. The problem may not be completely resolved at that point, but there will definitely be encouraging signs of improvement by then.