Preparing for Flu Season

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Flu season is just around the corner. In general, most flu activity in the US occurs between November and March. The flu, as known as “influenza” is a highly contagious respiratory infection. The flu as compared to the common cold causes more severe illness. It may cause a high fever (100 to 103 in adults and often higher in children), cough, sore throat, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, runny nose, watery eyes and even vomiting and diarrhea.

“Dig the well before you are thirsty.”

- Chinese Proverb

The most effective way to treat the flu is to prevent it. Chinese herbs, acupuncture, exercise, a healthy diet, adequate hydration and rest can all help strengthen your body’s resilience to the flu. 

Chinese herbs such as Huang Qi (Astralagus), Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra) and Reishi Mushroom are used to strengthen the body and boost the immune system. While herbs such as Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle flower) Lian Qiao (Forsythiae fruit), Ban Lan Gen (Isatis) and Da Qing Ye (Indigo) actively fight the virus.

Acupuncture regulates energy to balance and strengthen your body and stimulates the immune system. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that acupuncture and herbal medicine together, reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of illness.

Regular exercise that is vigorous enough to warm you up, but not make you sweat has been shown to reduce the incidence of the flu. Exercise such as Qi-gong, Tai-Chi and Yoga can help reduce emotional and physical stress. It also strengthens the immune system and prevents illness.

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals will strengthen your immune system as well. Foods containing beta-carotene (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, etc.) help boost your immune system and keep your mucous membranes and upper respiratory system healthy and resilient.

Drinking water helps your body flush out the virus and the debris from the battle with your immune system. Moreover, increased water intake will help your body recover more quickly.

Finally, be mindful about getting a good night’s sleep and resting when you need to. If you do get sick, allow yourself extra rest to help you save energy for battling the illness and to help you recover faster.

The Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic wishes you a healthy and happy winter!

Happy Fall!

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Even in the midst of our warm summer, the days are becoming noticeably shorter, the nights are cooling off and some trees are even starting to change…fall is almost here. According to the Chinese calendar, fall officially begins on August 7th. 

In Chinese Medicine, fall corresponds to the metal element which represents organization and order. This is the perfect time to finish summer projects and to organize and prepare for the coming winter.

The emotions associated with metal are grief and sadness. Thus, fall is the time to “let go” of any negative emotions and clear your mind and heart to make way for a peaceful winter.

The metal element corresponds to the Lungs and Large Intestine. These organs are responsible for respiration, digestion and elimination. During this time, one may be more susceptible to respiratory challenges such as colds and sinus infections, as well as skin problems and constipation. It is therefore essential to avoid getting chilled even when it “seems” warm outside, stay hydrated and get sufficient rest. It is also when we move away from cold, uncooked foods such as salads and prepare warm, cooked foods such as steamed vegetables and soups.

Try incorporating the following nourishing foods into your fall cooking: apples, beets, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cinnamon, figs, garlic, ginger, leeks, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, rosemary, sage, thyme, whole grains, wild rice, winter squash and yams.

Wishing you a happy and healthy fall,

Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic

Lower Your Stress with Acupuncture and Improved Sleep Habits

 
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Doctors estimate that 80 to 90 percent of their visits have stress as the root cause. When you’re sleep deprived, you have a stronger negative response to even the smallest of stressors, making it easier for stress to build up. One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling stressed is to get a good night’s sleep - something that 35 percent of Americans say that they do not get. We could all use a little less stress, and a lot fewer doctor’s appointments.

What can you do to get better sleep regularly? Change some small things about your sleep habits, and give acupuncture a try, through a licensed acupuncturist with good reviews.

Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years. Recently, it’s been found to decrease stress in rats in a 2015 study in Endocrinology Journal. It’s also been found to be an effective treatment for insomnia in dozens of studies over the years. Acupuncture has also been found to cause melatonin to be released in anxious patients, which can help you get to sleep. While each study focuses on different pressure points, they’ve all found that acupuncture may be immensely helpful in addressing sleep issues and stress.

When it comes to your sleep habits, there are a lot of options out there, including changing the way you sleep, setting a bedtime, and buying a new mattress. One of the best things you can do for yourself is set aside some time before bed that is electronics-free, and keep your electronics out of the bedroom.

The reason your electronics should stay out of your bedroom is because screens on electronics emit mostly blue spectrum light, which draws your attention and tells your brain that it should be awake. They also tend to be a source of stress and anxiety in a world where many of you are expected to be available to your job at all times. Grab yourself an old-fashioned alarm clock that doesn’t do anything but tell the time, and put your phone somewhere out of reach.

Another simple change you can make is turning on the fan in your room, and setting the temperature lower. The best temperature to sleep in is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, with good airflow. If you can, you might want to crack the window, so you have some clean air coming into your home from outside.

You should also avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine within 6 hours before bed because it stays in your system for longer than you’d expect. You should also avoid working from bed, so that you can train your body to only be in bed for sleep or sex, which is what it’s intended for.

You may be an adult, but you should still adhere to a regular bedtime. Work with the natural light and your circadian rhythm to find the best time for you to sleep. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is one of the best ways to get your body into a routine.

Acupressure: Did you know you can do your own? This is how…

 
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Acupressure is an effective form of stimulation to treat pain and illness. Qi (vital energy) circulates through pathways in the body called meridians. Blockage of this flow can cause illness and pain. Acupressure helps correct these imbalances and restore the flow, allowing the body to return to a state of well-being.

To administer acupressure, apply deep, firm pressure with a finger using a rotary or up-and-down movement. Stimulate each point for several minutes at a time and repeat as necessary. When massaging points, find a comfortable position and breathe deeply.

Here are eight commonly used acupressure points:

Stomach 36 (ST 36)

Location: four finger widths below the bottom of the knee cap, along the outer border of the shin bone

Indications: fatigue, depression, knee pain and gastrointestinal discomfort. This point is known for its ability to promote health and longevity.

Spleen 6 (SP 6)

Location: four finger widths above the ankle on the medical side of the leg

Indications: urological and pelvic disorders as well as fatigue and insomnia

*Avoid during pregnancy*

Large Intestine 4 (LI 4)

Location: at the highest spot that is formed when the thumb and index fingers are brought together

Indications: stress, headaches, toothaches, facial pain and neck pain

*Must never be used during pregnancy, can induce labor*

Liver 3 (LV 3)

Location: on top of the foot about two finger widths above the place where the skin of the big toe and the next toe join

Indications: stress, low back pain, high blood pressure, limb pain, insomnia and emotional upset

Pericardium 6 (PC 6)

Location: three finger breadths below the wrist on the inner forearm in between the two tendons

Indication: nausea, anxiety, carpal tunnel syndrome, upset stomach, motion sickness, headache and heart palpitations

San Jiao 3 (SJ 3)

Location: in the groove formed by the tendons of the 4th and 5th fingers, behind the knuckle Indications: temporal headaches, shoulder and neck tension, and upper back pain

Gallbladder 20 (GB 20)

Location: at the top of the sternocleidomastoid muscle which runs from the back of the head down to the shoulders (feel for the mastoid (ear) bone and follow the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull)

Indications: headache, migraine, eye blurriness or fatigue, low energy, cold/flu symptoms

 

Common Fears and Misconceptions about Acupuncture

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Common Fears and Misconceptions about Acupuncture

1. “I don’t like needles.”

Fear of needles is fairly common. Many people experience stress and anxiety at the thought of a medical professional sticking them with a needle. From blood draws to stitches and vaccinations, needle experiences can be uncomfortable and/or unpleasant, therefore needle apprehension is very common and natural. We have been conditioned to associate needles with pain. But acupuncture needles are hair-thin and nothing like the needles we are accustomed to in a medical setting. Acupuncture is the most gentle form of needling possible. Most people who have never had acupuncture do not realize how thin acupuncture needles are, they actually bend when you touch them. If you are not open to needles, there are other modalities that acupuncturists can use. There’s acupressure, Tui Na (Chinese massage), cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, ear seeds, herbs, Shonishin (pediatric form of non-inserted treatment technique), among others. None of these involve needles.

2.“It hurts.”

The quick answer is no, it doesn’t. To the naked eye, acupuncture needles are thinner than a human hair. Hypodermic needles are hollow to allow for fluid transfer, whereas acupuncture needles are sold making them less invasive and as a result you feel them significantly less. Upon insertion you might feel a tingle, or a warm sensation, which is completely normal and usually fades within seconds. You may also feel very relaxed or drowsy during your treatment and nap. After your treatment, you will likely leave with an increased sense of well-being.

3. “It isn’t safe.”

At the TCM Clinic, we take great care to make sure that our policies and practices follow the strictest guidelines of cleanliness and patient safety is our highest priority. All of our acupuncturists are required to take and pass a Clean Needle Technique (CNT) course prior to treating patients. Acupuncture needles are factory-sealed to ensure sterility. Acupuncture needles are used once, they are never re-used. Following CNT guidelines, the necessary acupuncture points will be cleaned with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. A clean cotton ball will be used to close the points as each acupuncture needle is removed.  

Spring is here!

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This is the season where the weather is often unpredictable in the early stages and wind is prevalent.  It is the time of germination and planting, when the sap stirs and begins to rise and nature comes back to life from its winter sleep.  Efforts spent in spring to prepare the soil and plant with care and awareness will insure reaping a bountiful crop in the late summer as well as avoiding undue work in the summer.  This is true both literally and as a metaphor for all aspects of our lives.  In Chinese medicine, spring and the wood element relate to the Liver and Gall Bladder and are largely responsible for the regulation of the body.  Anger and strong emotions are associated with the wood element, thus it is especially important to remain calm and relaxed.  Liver and Gall Bladder problems commonly flair up during this time of year.  Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are very effective in promoting good health and treating these issues when they arise.

Fertility

 
 
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Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very beneficial for couples that are thinking about having a baby or are already trying and having difficulty conceiving.  Acupuncture helps correct hormonal imbalances, supports the endocrine system, influences the reproductive organs and affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis- which is responsible for ovulation and sperm production. Chinese herbs strengthen the reproductive system and improve reproductive function. The preparation to get pregnant is extremely important. Being in the best possible state of health before conception occurs, will lead to a harmonious pregnancy and ultimately, a healthy baby.

Top 3 Reasons to take Huáng Qí

 
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Huáng Qí is the Chinese name for astragalus root. It translates as “Yellow Superior” which reveals its ability to tonify the Earth element- the Spleen and Stomach.

 

1. Huáng Qí is best known for its immune boosting properties. Huáng Qí augments the protective qi and stabilizes the exterior by strengthening the Lungs. When the Lungs are deficient, there may be spontaneous or excessive sweating, shortness of breath or frequent colds. For this reason, Huáng Qí may be taken preventatively throughout the flu season.

 

2. Huáng Qí tonifies the qi and blood which can become depleted for many reasons including poor digestion and blood loss.

 

3. Huáng Qí tonifies the Spleen and raises the yang. Spleen deficiency may present with a lack of appetite, fatigue or diarrhea. Yang sinking can manifest as prolapse or excessive uterine bleeding.

 

There are many additional reasons to take Huáng Qí.  This beneficial herb can be found in many forms. Our favorite ways to take it are as a medicinal tea and in our bone broth.

Fall is Upon Us!

 
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The days are becoming noticeably shorter, the nights are cooling off and some trees are starting to change…fall is here. According to the Chinese calendar, fall officially began on August 7th.

In Chinese Medicine, fall corresponds to the metal element which represents organization and order. It is therefore the perfect time to finish summer projects and to organize and prepare for the winter.

The emotions associated with metal are grief and sadness. Thus, fall is the time to “let go” of any negative emotions and clear your mind to make way for a peaceful and quiet winter.

The metal element corresponds to the Lungs and Large Intestine. These organs are responsible for respiration, digestion and elimination. During this time, one may be more susceptible to respiratory problems such as asthma, colds and sinus infections, as well as skin problems and constipation. It is therefore essential to avoid getting chilled even when it “seems” warm outside, stay hydrated, get sufficient rest and choose warm, cooked foods such as soups and steamed vegetables over cold, uncooked foods such as salads.

Try incorporating the following nourishing foods into your fall cooking: apples, beets, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cinnamon, figs, garlic, ginger, leeks, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, rosemary, sage, thyme, whole grains, wild rice, winter squash and yams.

Wishing you a happy and healthy fall,

Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic

 

Spring has Sprung

 
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Spring has sprung. According to the Chinese calendar, spring officially began this year on January 28th. As the sun warms the earth, the flowers bloom and the seeds sprout, we are reinvigorated with a sense of renewal.

Spring is represented by the wood element which is related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, energy- both physical and emotional also flows smoothly. This is why it is so important to move your body during this time.

Stretching is an excellent form of movement because the liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons during activity. This maintains tendon heath and flexibility. Try incorporating a morning stretch into your routine or practicing yoga or Tai Chi.

Go outside and move your body. The simple act of being outside helps liver Qi flow. If you find yourself irritable, simply go outside for fresh air and a walk. This will move and smooth out your stagnant liver Qi.

Eat your greens. Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Include fresh, leafy greens and sprouts in your meals to support your liver.

Enjoy sour foods. Add lemon slices to your drinking water or vinegar to your salad dressing. Foods with sour tastes stimulate the flow of liver Qi.

Drink milk thistle tea. Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from toxins and promotes the cleansing of substances such as alcohol, medications, heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins from the liver.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help improve the health of your liver and treat symptoms such as stress, frustration and anger that are associated with liver Qi stagnation.

We at the Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic wish you a healthy and happy spring!