Lower Your Stress with Acupuncture and Improved Sleep Habits

IMG_8118.JPG

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…

 
Hand-Points-for-Headache-and-Migraine.jpg
 

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

china-massage-therapy-3112422_1920.jpg

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!

poppy-3137588_1280.jpg

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

 
 
pregnancy.jpg
 
 

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

 
astragalus.jpg
 

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!

 
GlacierAspen-11.jpg

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

 
IMG_20170416_150241_1-EFFECTS.jpg
 

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!

TCM Clinic Health Tips for the Fall Season

 
 

According to the Chinese calendar, fall begins at the beginning of August (around the 7th). At first glance, that may seem a bit early. If you pay close attention though, you will see slight changes beginning at that time…the nights begin to cool off, trees start to change and the days become noticeably shorter.

In Chinese Medicine, fall corresponds to the metal element which represents order and organization. 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, it is important to “let go” of any negative emotions and clear your mind for the peacefulness and quietude of winter. Fall also corresponds to the Lungs (and skin) and Large Intestine. These organs are responsible for respiration, digestion and elimination. During this time, one is more susceptible to respiratory problems such as asthma, colds and sinus infections, as well as constipation and skin problems. It is therefore essential to take very good care of yourself...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.

Here are some nourishing foods to incorporate 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.

Enjoy the beauty of the fall and the abundant harvest it offers. 

Promoting Fertility by Improving Reproductive Health

images.jpg

Today, many couples are waiting until later in life to have children. Women and men over thirty may be working against years of poor diet, stressful work or living conditions, and other health- altering conditions that can adversely affect the reproductive cycle.

Fortunately, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and lifestyle changes can rejuvenate your cycle. Most often, it takes at least three cycles of treatment to regulate a woman’s cycle; longer if there is a history of gynecological issues such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.  It takes men up to 72 days to generate new sperm. If there is a history of urological complications, it may take longer to regenerate the reproductive capacity.

Acupuncture corrects hormonal imbalances and assists internal energies to restore the endocrine system. It also influences the reproductive organs and affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis which is responsible for ovulation and sperm production.

Moreover, if you are working with a Fertility Clinic and choose to use fertility drugs and/or medically assisted fertilization techniques, acupuncture can increase the chances of conception. Recent medical research has proven that acupuncture can improve the outcome of Assisted Reproductive Techniques by improving both ovarian response and uterine receptivity.

Chinese herbs contain natural energetic substances which correct underlying deficiencies or remove obstructions. Practitioners determine your individual imbalances and create herbal formulas to correct these imbalances. Each formula contains different herbs for various segments of the cycle. Some women may need to switch herbal preparations 2-4 times throughout the month to correct specific imbalances in her cycle. The herbs act to strengthen the reproductive system and improve reproductive function.

Lifestyle changes are essential in supporting your reproductive cycle. Such changes include: eliminating caffeine, drugs and alcohol; eating nourishing and organic foods; taking a natural, high potency multivitamin that contains a mineral complex with iron, folic acid and B vitamins; exercising moderately; and becoming more aware of your fertility by understanding your cycle and specific signs that arise throughout your cycle.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and lifestyle changes work together to rejuvenate the reproductive cycle and subsequently create a healthier environment for a harmonious pregnancy. Our practitioners look forward to working with you and supporting you on your journey to achieve your goal of parenthood.

By Korin Owens