Spring Allergies and Chinese Herbs

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Spring is upon us with blooming flowers, green sprouts and the wind. Unfortunately the wind brings seasonal allergies…sneezing, congestion, runny nose, watery eyes and general suffering.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views springtime allergies as related to the element of wind. Allergies are considered a blockage of energy or Qi to the nose and sinuses. TCM calls allergies “bi yuan,” which literally translates to “nose-pool”. Bi yuan is rooted in a deficiency of Wei Qi, the internal force that protects us from wind. In response, herbs, acupuncture and other modalities are used to strengthen the Wei Qi. Chinese herbs have been used for centuries for the treatment of springtime allergies. There are specific herbs that dry phlegm, relieve cough and alleviate red and itchy eyes. TCM practitioners can create a tailored combination of herbs to address your symptoms, as well as the root cause.

The most common Chinese herbs used for treatment of allergies include Jing Jie (Schizonepeta) and Fang Feng (Siler Root) to dispel wind, Bai Zhi (Angelica Dahurica), Xin Yi Hua (Magnolia Flower Buds) and Cang Er Zi (Xanthium Fruit) to dry phlegm and mucus. In addition, herbs such as Chuan Xiong (Cnidium), Gua Lou (Pi, Ren) (Trichosanthes fruit, peel, seed), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), Jie Geng (Platycodon root), and Bo He (Mentha) are often added to Chinese herbal formulations.

If you experience allergies, this is a sign that there is an imbalance in your body. Please consider Chinese herbs to address the root and the many branches of spring allergies.

Wishing you a happy and healthy spring.

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Gut Health: Supporting a Healthy Biome

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A healthy and diverse biome in the gut is the root of a healthy body and a healthy mind. In fact, Dr. Stephen Barrie, an expert in the field of microbiome believes, “it is our individual microbiome that is responsible for ALL disease states today”.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long known the importance of digestion and its profound effect on the human body. In the 12th century, schools of thought were developed centering on the importance of “Preserving Stomach-Qi” as the most important treatment method. Zhang Jie Bin, one of the four great masters from the Ming Dynasty wrote, “The doctor who wants to nourish life has to tonify stomach and spleen”.  According to Li Dong-Yuan, it is most important to protect the spleen and stomach if one wants to stay healthy and to strengthen them once they become diseased no matter what other organs are affected. He believed, “if the root is sound the branch will prosper”.

Recent science has proven that our gut acts as our “second brain”. The bacteria in our gut produce hormones, neurotransmitters, serotonin and other chemicals not yet known. Our microbiome affects our daily thoughts, moods, actions and even dictates food cravingWe can influence the type of bacteria that colonize our gut by controlling what goes in and on our body. Just as our bodies are constantly seeking homeostasis, our microbiome wants that balance too. The primary goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to bring balance to the body to achieve a healthy mental, physical and emotional state. By balancing the body through acupuncture and herbs, we help the bacteria within also achieve balance. Microbiome research has shown that by nourishing our spleen and stomach channels (our biome), we simultaneously nourish both our physical and mental well-being. 

In addition to Chinese Medicine, food therapy is an essential way to support a balanced biome. First, consume a variety of fermented foods- at least one daily. In traditional cultures worldwide, fermented foods have played a part of every culture. Fermented foods feed our microbiome. Kimichi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, miso, kefir and other fermented foods provide a variety of healthy bacteria. A daily ingestion of new live bacteria from fermented foods diversifies our gut bacteria. This diversity has been proven a key factor to a healthy gut ecosystem. Second, eat a diet rich in poly-saccharide foods, high fiber foods (50 -100 grams daily) and seasonally harvested vegetables and fruits. The more diverse, the better. Lastly, sugar should be completely eliminated. Sugar is digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Most of our good gut bacteria live in the lower colon. A diet high in sugar leaves nothing for our gut bacteria to feed on, so they will eventually starve if all we eat is sugary foods. Moreover, when our gut bacteria have nothing to eat they feed on the mucous membrane, which creates inflammation. 

Rebalance your microbiome with acupuncture, herbs, and nourishing food to support the health of your body and mind all year long.

Men’s Health

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The Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic is celebrating Men’s Health this month. Please enjoy the following blog on caring for the prostate with Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The American Cancer Society classifies prostate cancer as the most common form of cancer among U.S. men. For men over the age of 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, it is extremely important to monitor Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. A PSA blood test measures the level of a protein released by prostate cells. If a PSA level is 2.5 or higher, it reveals the possibility of prostate growth (hyperplasia), but it does not always mean that cancer is present. Since PSA levels may fluctuate with infection and lab errors, usually more than one test over a period of time is done to confirm the PSA level. Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and ultrasound are other ways to evaluate the prostate. However, only biopsies can truly determine whether the growth in the prostate is benign or malignant.

After the age of 40, the prostate naturally enlarges due to changes in hormones. The swelling of the prostate puts pressure against the bladder and urethra, thereby affecting the smooth flow of urine. Abnormal patterns of urination such as increased frequency at night, burning sensation, difficulty, blockage and dribbling are common signs and symptoms of prostate enlargement.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Prostate Care

TCM associates hyperplasia of the prostate with damp heat and kidney deficiency. As the vital energy in the kidney system decreases, the sex hormones change and sexual energy declines. This greatly affects the function of the prostate and circulation in this region. 

Regular acupuncture treatments help to improve the circulation in the prostate. Chinese herbs are frequently used to enhance the effect of acupuncture. Herbs such as He Shou Wu, replenish the kidney essence. Together, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can lower elevated PSA levels in patients with prostate enlargement.

To further support the prostate, it is important for men to eat nuts, seeds, pumpkin, mushroom and berries. Regular consumption of foods that contain lycopene, a prostate protective antioxidant is also highly recommended: watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya, apricot and cooked tomatoes (tomato paste, tomato soup, tomato juice and marinara sauce). In addition, stress management, regular exercise and prostate massaging are beneficial practices to help maintain prostate health.

 
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Celebrating Women’s Health

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Greetings! We at the Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic are celebrating Women’s Health this month. Please enjoy the following blog on treating menopause with Chinese Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Menopause

Menopause signals the end of a woman’s reproductive lifespan. It usually occurs between the ages of 35 and 55. As it approaches, hormones begin to change and eventually ovulation and menstruation end. Imbalances in the hormonal interplay between the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the ovaries cause various symptoms such as irregular cycles, missed periods, hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations, emotional fragility and depression, headaches, memory loss, insomnia, loss of libido, vaginal dryness and dry skin. These symptoms affect quality of life and overall physical health. Furthermore, these symptoms should not be ignored or dismissed as being “normal” because they are signals of deeper imbalances in the body.

During this transition, the ovaries lose their ability to produce estrogen and progesterone. The hypothalamus tries to adjust for this loss by temporarily increasing levels of follicle stimulating hormone [FSH] and luteinizing hormone [LH], hormones that stimulate estrogen production. Also, the adrenal glands and fat cells take over some level of estrogen production. Some women pass through this period of with few symptoms, while others suffer greatly. Menopausal syndrome has become an epidemic among American women due to a number of contributing factors that reinforce the imbalance in hormones such as stress from overwork, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, excessive intake of synthetic hormones from animal foods, excessive exposure to chemical pollutants, eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia and surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine is very effective for treating menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture, along with Chinese herbs offer a safe, gentle and effective solution.

Acupuncture for Menopause

Traditional Chinese Medicine views menopause as a natural occurrence. It is said to be caused by a deficiency of yin. Throughout our life we deplete our yin by work, stress, grief, giving birth, taking care of others, illness and just general day to day living. This means that our body is not as efficient at balancing our natural rhythms of cooling, calming and moistening, leaving us with hot, irritated and dry symptoms. Acupuncture nourishes the yin, balances hormones and any other imbalances in the body, to alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Chinese Herbal Support for Menopause

Chinese herbal formulas help alleviate many of the symptoms women experience when passing through menopause. 

A number of studies have shown that Chinese herbal formulas can aid in improving the function of the glands and organs that control ovulation and menstruation, and enhance blood circulation.

In one study carried out at the Shanghai Center for Modern Traditional Chinese Medicine Technology, 50 women with menopausal syndrome were treated with an advanced herbal formula. Their ages ranged from: 44 – 60 years. Their symptoms included various levels of anxiety, emotional instability, headache and dizziness, tinnitus and blockage of hearing, oppressive sensations of the chest, palpitations, restlessness, anger, hot flashes, spontaneous sweating, aching of the legs and low back, uncontrollable crying, and depression.

After taking the formula (shortest administration period, 1 month; longest, 3 months), 30 patients experienced complete relief of symptoms, 13 experienced marked improvement, and three some improvement. Of the patients with complete relief of symptoms, none of the symptoms had returned six months after discontinuation of treatment.

In Closing

Both acupuncture and Chinese herbs offer a gentle and effective way to make menopause a smooth and calm transition.

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives.”

- Lao Tzu

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Happy Spring!

Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner. According to the Chinese calendar, spring officially begins this year on February 5th. 

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 very important to move your body during this season.  

Below are ways to support your Liver and Gallbladder during this season:

Spend time 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.

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.

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. Food 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 help to improve the health of your Liver and treat symptoms such as stress, frustration and anger that are associated with Liver Qi stagnation.

Wishing you a healthy and happy spring!


Happy New Year!!!

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We have a new tool called the Acugraph! AcuGraph is a software that reads the electric conductivity from measuring the skin resistance at each specific point. The exam takes about two minutes and is very comfortable. The goal is to give more effective acupuncture treatments from the real time information we receive from the AcuGraph. This tool gives objective measurements and historical data to show you the results.
Here is some information for you to watch regarding the AcuGraph and how this tool is helpful in your journey towards healing.

We are hoping that this new tool is a great addition on the pathway to Health in the New Year!!

Wishing everyone a very Healthy and Peaceful New Year in 2019!

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