Chicago Holistic Medicine
Robert Wallace LAc, LMT 773.248.4489

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Keep Your Skin Healthy with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

 

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms, as well as significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions. 

The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution can contribute to the development of a skin disorder. Environmental influences, such as wind, dryness, dampness and heat can also trigger or exacerbate skin disorders. 

To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color. Promotion of collagen production increases muscle tone and elasticity; this helps to firm the skin. Stimulating the formation of body fluids nourishes the skin, adding moisture and making it softer, smoother and more lustrous. 

General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for skin disorders, such as hives, can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD. Medicinal plants and stone needles were utilized to relieve and cure discomforts of the external areas of the body. 

Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques including acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for eczema, each patient will receive a unique, customized treatment with different lifestyle and dietary recommendations. 

Acupuncture views nutrition in a complex light, through the application of Oriental medicinal wisdom to dietary habits. In short, certain foods are considered too “yang”, or hot, to eat in excess during the warmer months, while others are prized for their “yin” ability to cool the body. Overall, the goal is balance between the internal yin and yang of the body. A healthy, nutritional diet, good sleep and moderate exercise can keep your skin and physical form at its best. 

If you suffer from a skin condition or would like to know how to optimize your skin health, call today to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you

Chronic Dry Skin? Try Acupuncture!

 

When the superficial layer of skin becomes dehydrated due to changes in weather, allergic reaction, certain medications or bathing/showering, it may develop fine flakes and dry patches. The medical term for this condition is called xerodermia or xerosis, and it may be temporary or respond well to moisturizers. Unfortunately for some, this condition becomes chronic and causes uncomfortable symptoms that require professional treatment. If chronic dry skin goes untreated, there is a higher risk of secondary conditions like tears in the skin that lead to infection, rashes, eczema, cellulitis or thickening and darkening patches

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the lung organ has important associations with any condition relating to dryness. One of its primary functions is to lubricate all the other organs, including the skin as this is the largest organ of the body. The skin plays an important role in detoxification. The lung is also known as “the delicate organ” due to its sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

To further demonstrate the relationship between the lung and dryness, the Neijing, a highly regarded acupuncture and Oriental medicine text, states that “the lung has a natural aversion to dryness.” Not only is the lung vulnerable to dry conditions, but when affected, it can cause conditions of dryness in other areas of the body. Therefore, a practitioner may diagnose a patient exhibiting symptoms of chronic dry skin as having a lung imbalance.

If you have concerns regarding your symptoms of chronic dry skin, contact us for a full evaluation to discover what imbalances within your body may be contributing to your symptoms!

Treating Hives with Acupuncture

 

Hives (urticaria) are swollen and red bumps, patches or welts on the skin that appear suddenly. Itching is the most common symptom associated with hives, although some people report that hives cause a stinging or burning sensation. 

Hives can occur anywhere on the body including the hands, face, lips, tongue, throat or ears. A sign that the whole body is experiencing a hypersensitivity reaction, a hives outbreak can occur due to a wide array of stimuli. While intolerance to certain foods, additives, intense emotions, sunlight exposure and medications can all cause hives; in 70-75 percent of outbreaks, the exact cause of hives remains unknown. 

Whether they last for just a few minutes, a few hours or persist for several weeks, hives are rarely a medical emergency. However in some cases, they are the first sign of a strong allergic reaction to something and can be accompanied by shock or difficulty breathing, which can be life threatening. About 20 percent of people will experience hives (urticaria) at some point in their lives. 

While standard treatment for acute cases of hives involves antihistamines or a corticosteroid drug to relieve symptoms, many people are turning to acupuncture and Oriental medicine to address underlying imbalances that cause this condition and help stop recurrent outbreaks.

In Oriental medicine, an outbreak of hives is described as wind invading the skin and the meridians, causing itching and swelling. When the eruptions are red, it is an indication that wind and heat are involved. When the eruptions are a pale pink or white, it is likely that the diagnosis will be wind-cold invading the skin. How the condition is diagnosed will determine what acupuncture points are used, what herbal medicines are prescribed and what lifestyle/dietary recommendations are made.

Treatments are directed at addressing both the cause and the symptoms by providing immediate relief from the itching and swelling and addressing the underlying imbalances and triggers that are causing the condition.

A study published in the Internet Journal of Dermatology examined the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic hives (urticaria). The results showed that acupuncture was able to reduce both episode rate and episode duration of urticaria by as much as 25 percent. After three weeks, the majority of the acupuncture-treated patients experienced partial remission of their symptoms. The researchers also noted that the greatest improvements were seen in the third week of treatments and that the efficacy of acupuncture seemed to increase with each treatment.

Finding Eczema Relief

 

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin disorder resulting in rough, red and itchy patches on the body. In addition, there can be a host of other symptoms and complications that can greatly vary between individuals. For some, small blisters may be present that when scratched, may bleed or ooze fluid and then crust over when dry. For others, a persistent need to scratch itchy skin may cause anxiety and sleep problems. Other symptoms of eczema include nighttime itching, red or brown skin discoloration, bumps that ooze fluid and harden when dry, scaly-looking, thick, cracked or dry skin, skin inflammation or sensitive, uncomfortable skin sensations. Complications that may arise from the symptoms of eczema include asthma, allergies, skin infections, insomnia, emotional problems or eye problems.

Usually, eczema is considered a chronic condition as it can take a long time to resolve. There may be long periods of remission, when the skin shows no symptoms. However in the presence of a trigger, such as pollen or dust, or after a stressful life event, symptoms of atopic dermatitis may come back. Other potential triggers for eczema include dry skin, bacteria and viruses, stress, excess sweat, hot and humid environmental conditions, wool, certain chemical cleansers and soaps, smoke/air pollution and certain foods like eggs, milk, wheat gluten or peanuts.

Due to the red and itchy nature of skin affected by eczema, acupuncture and Oriental medicine largely defines this condition as one related to heat. This manifestation of heat on the skin may stem from an internal imbalance (e.g. a weakened immune system), an allergic reaction (e.g. peanut allergy) or a combination of both these internal and external factors. 

According to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there are many reasons why the body may succumb to a heat condition and lead to the manifestation of eczema symptoms. Strong or prolonged emotions such as anger, rage or jealousy may contribute to a pathological buildup of heat. Overworking may also be a contributing factor, as this may interfere with other activities such as exercise and things that bring joy and pleasure into one’s life. 

Each patient will have a different set of circumstances. At the time of your visit, mention any emotional or behavioral difficulties you feel may be related to your eczema. This way, a treatment plan can be developed that will address all of your symptoms.

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In This Issue

  • Keep Your Skin Healthy with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Chronic Dry Skin? Try Acupuncture!
  • Treating Hives with Acupuncture
  • Finding Eczema Relief
  • Foods to Help You Look Your Best
  • Troubling Acne?

Foods to Help You Look Your Best

Be sure to integrate these items into your diet to help keep your skin look its best:

Vitamin A: Acting as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful elements in our skin, vitamin A helps to prevent wrinkles, resist infection and maintain the skin’s elasticity. One of the best places to get vitamin A is from vegetables that are deep orange in color, such as carrots or sweet potatoes.

Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries and Plums:Antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect cells from damage and disintegration, thus guarding against premature aging. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, these four fruits weighed in with the highest “total antioxidant capacity” of any food. 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs):Responsible for skin repair, moisture content and flexibility, and because the body cannot produce its own, EFAs must be obtained from one’s diet. Fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Selenium: An antioxidant mineral responsible for tissue elasticity and healthy skin, selenium can be found in brown rice, turkey, tuna and Brazil nuts

Green Tea: Green tea’s ability to slow down the development of some signs of aging is attributed to its high levels of polyphenols, which have been well-documented for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Water: Essential to maintaining your skin’s elasticity and suppleness, hydration plays a key role in keeping skin cells healthy. Hydration helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out to keep skin clean and clear.

Troubling Acne?

While acne is a condition that affects nearly 85 percent of all adolescents, the American Dermatologist Association reports that 20 percent of adults have an active acne condition. So, though some are led to believe that acne is a problem that only teenagers experience, the fact is that acne can impact any age group.

Acne often occurs when the hair follicles or pores become clogged from oil, dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria, environmental toxins or physical irritations on the surface of the skin. Hair follicles are connected to sebaceous glands, which secrete an oily substance known as sebum. Ordinarily, the secretion of sebum provides a luscious, healthy sheen to hair and skin. But there are times when the substance builds up, causing the pores to become plugged. 

For some, acne may just simply be a nuisance from time to time, but for others the problem is chronic. Not only do they suffer from frequent acne breakouts, but also acne scarring. What’s more, only as little as 11 percent of the 60 million Americans struggling with acne will seek professional treatment. 

If you are showing symptoms of acne, even if it’s not chronic and severe, you may want to consider an appointment. In addition to directly treating your skin condition through a personalized acupuncture treatment plan, you can also receive treatment if you experience emotional distress from your skin condition. Plus, if you seek treatment earlier rather than later, you may help reduce the incidence of permanent scarring.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Fibromyalgia

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Fibromyalgia

 

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. It is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body. In addition to musculoskeletal pain, patients with fibromyalgia can suffer fatigue, sleep disturbance, memory loss, mood swings and digestive problems.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

From the perspective of western medicine, fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue and depression. 

While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together — chronic pain, debilitating fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, joint stiffness, chronic headaches, dryness, hypersensitivity, inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”), incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, numbness, tingling or poor circulation in the hands and feet, painful menstrual cramps or restless legs syndrome

On its own fibromyalgia does not result in any physical damage to the body or its tissues and there are no laboratory tests that can confirm this diagnosis. Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. Women are more prone to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age. 

Research shows that up to 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary or alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has been shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

An Oriental Medicine Perspective

Oriental medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the symptoms unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, the intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. 

Since symptoms of fibromyalgia vary greatly from one person to another, a wide array of traditional and alternative treatments have been shown to be the most effective way of treating this difficult syndrome. 

Therefore, if 10 people are treated with Oriental medicine for fibromyalgia, each of these 10 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

A treatment program may include a combination of psychological or behavioral therapies, medications, exercise, acupuncture, herbal medicine and bodywork.

Since pain is a hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia, an Oriental medicine approach will incorporate treatment for pain, though this may differ from western “pain management” therapies. The Oriental medicine theory of pain is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”

Pain is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi within the body. The disruption of Qi that results in fibromyalgia is usually associated with disharmonies of the Liver, Spleen, Kidney and Heart systems.

If you have fibromyalgia, acupuncture and Oriental medicine may be what you’ve been looking for to ease your symptoms and reclaim your health and vitality. Please call for a consultation today.

 
 

5 Tools for Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief

Although fibromyalgia is a disorder that can be disabling for many due to chronic widespread pain and fatigue there are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

Learn and Practice Stress Reduction Techniques
Chronic stress can lead to fatigue, depression, a weakened immune system, and a host of serious physical and psychological ailments. When under stress your muscles contract and tense affecting nerves, blood vessels, organs, skin and bones. Chronically tense muscles can result in a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and disorders including muscle spasms and pain. 

While it isn’t always possible to remove the external forces causing stress the ability to effectively deal with stress is a choice. Take time for yourself and cultivate the energy you need to handle your stress more effectively. 

Eat a Well Balanced Diet
Managing your diet may seem time-consuming but the benefits it offers make it worthwhile. Many fibromyalgia sufferers find relief through a properly managed diet. A list of basic nutrients to combat nerve sensitivities, improve cognition, boost the immune system, and reduce swelling is included in this newsletter.

Exercise 
While even basic movements may be painful, exercise helps restore strength and endurance. Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga are great for easy stretches, careful strengthening, deep breathing, along with relaxation techniques. 

Gentle stretching will clear tension that builds when muscles tighten, and will improve overall circulation. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. 

Meditate
The practice of meditation is a proven stress reducer that helps the body create a sense of calm and a continuing sense of well being. While 15 minutes daily is recommended, even 5 or 10 minutes can have a powerful effect on your day.

Restorative Sleep
Get at least eight hours of restorative sleep. Maintain a routine sleep schedule and make your bedroom a sanctuary from every day stress. Practicing good sleep hygiene will give your body an opportunity to get stronger and heal.
 

www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

 
 

In This Issue

  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Fibromyalgia
  • 5 Tools for Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief
  • Fight Fibromyalgia with Nutrient Dense Foods
  • Fibromyalgia Study

Fight Fibromyalgia with Nutrient Dense Foods

The National Fibromyalgia Association recommends a balanced diet containing nutrient dense foods free of artificial additives and sweeteners to help your body fight fibromyalgia syndrome. Some key nutrients to include are:

B-Complex
Found in whole grains, beans, nuts, chicken, fish and eggs; B complex vitamins directly influence the nervous system’s proper functioning and combat nerve problems such as tingling and tenderness.

Magnesium
Found in nuts, grains, beans, fish, meat and dark green vegetables magnesium is needed for muscle flexibility and bone, protein and fatty acid formation. Magnesium is also integral in making new cells, relaxing muscles, clotting blood, aiding in calcium absorption and activating B vitamins.

Omega 3
Directly affecting cellular function, this fatty acid found in fish minimizes nerve sensitivity and improves cognition.

Vitamin C
Helps combat stress, builds the immune system and reduces swelling. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, green vegetables, tomatoes and berries.

Water
Increases circulation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and helps to eliminate waste.

Fibromyalgia Study

A study from the Mayo Clinic found acupuncture helpful in treating the fatigue and anxiety commonly experienced by fibromyalgia patients. 

In the trial, patients who received acupuncture to counter their fibromyalgia symptoms reported improvement in fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms. Acupuncture was well tolerated, with minimal side effects. 

Those who received acupuncture treatments reported less fatigue and anxiety one month following treatment than the group that did not.

According to David Martin, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist, the study “affirms a lot of clinical impressions that this complementary medical technique is helpful for patients.” 

Dr. Martin performed the study with co-authors Ines Berger, M.D.; Christopher Sletten, Ph.D.; and Brent Williams. The study only examined patients who reported more severe symptoms, offering better experimental control.

Alleviate Arthritis Pain with Acupuncture

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

 

Alleviate Arthritis Pain with Acupuncture

 

Arthritis isn’t just one disease, but a complex disorder comprised of more than 100 distinct conditions that can affect people at any stage of life. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While these two types of arthritis have very different causes, risk factors and effects on the body, they often share a common symptom: persistent joint pain. 

For many people, arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis as joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can frequently be managed with acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting an estimated 21 million adults in the United States. Beginning with the breakdown of joint cartilage that results in pain and stiffness, osteoarthritis usually affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips and spine. The wrists, elbows, shoulders and ankles are less frequently affected and when osteoarthritis is found in these joints, there is typically a history of injury or unusual stress to the joints. This may include and be attributed to work-related repetitive injury and physical trauma. For example, if you have a strenuous job that requires repetitive bending, kneeling or squatting, you may be at high risk for osteoarthritis of the knee.

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many different joints and, in some people, other parts of the body as well, including the blood vessels, lungs and heart. With this kind of arthritis, inflammation of the joint lining (called the synovium) can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, warmth and redness. The impacted joint may also lose its shape, resulting in loss of normal movement. Rheumatoid arthritis can last a long time and is a disease characterized by flares (active symptoms) and remissions (few to no symptoms).

Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

According to Oriental medical theory, arthritis arises when the cyclical flow of Qi (energy) in the meridians becomes blocked resulting in pain, soreness, numbness and stiffness. This blockage is called “bi syndrome” and is widely studied and successfully treated using a combination of treatment modalities. The acupuncture points and herbs that are used depend on whether the underlying cause of the blockage of Qi(arthritis) is caused by wind, cold, damp or damp-heat.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine aim to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for joint pain, each of these 10 patients will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs/supplements, and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.

Your acupuncturist will examine you, take a look at the onset of your condition and learn your signs and symptoms to determine your diagnosis and choose the appropriate acupuncture points and treatment plan. 

Call today to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be incorporated into your treatment plan for arthritis!

 
 

Studies of Acupuncture for Arthritis

Several studies have shown that acupuncture can help people with arthritis and related autoimmune diseases.

Scientists found that acupuncture can reduce pain and improve mobility in arthritis patients by 40 percent based on results from a major clinical trial that investigated the ancient Chinese needle treatment. A total of 570 patients aged 50 and older with osteoarthritis of the knee took part in the American study. All had suffered significant pain in their knee the month before joining the trial, but had never experienced acupuncture. By the eighth week, patients receiving acupuncture treatments showed a significant increase in function compared with both the “placebo” treatment and self-help groups. By week 14, they were also experiencing a major decrease in pain.

In a German study, 3,500 people with osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee received 15 sessions of acupuncture combined with their usual medical care. The results showed that the patients that received acupuncture had less pain and stiffness, improved joint function and better quality of life than their counterparts who had routine care alone. The improvements occurred immediately after completing a three-month course of acupuncture and lasted for at least another three months, indicating osteoarthritis is among conditions effectively treated with acupuncture.

Another study, published in the journal Pain, looked at the effects of acupuncture among 40 adults with osteoarthritis of the knee. Among the patients in the study, those who had a daily acupuncture session for 10 consecutive days reported greater relief of pain compared to patients who received a “placebo” version of the therapy.

In one Scandinavian study, 25 percent of arthritis patients who had been scheduled for knee surgery cancelled their operations after acupuncture treatment. In the study, researchers compared acupuncture with advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip. Thirty-two patients awaiting a total hip replacement were separated into two groups. One group received one 10-minute and five 25-minute sessions of acupuncture, and the other group received advice and hip exercises over a 6-week period. Patients were then assessed for pain and functional ability. Patients in the acupuncture group showed vast improvements, while no significant changes were reported in the group that received advice and exercise therapy. The results of this study indicate that acupuncture is more effective than advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip.

A University of Maryland School of Medicine study showed that elderly patients who had knee pain due to arthritis improved considerably when acupuncture was added to their treatment. The randomized clinical trial determined whether acupuncture was a clinically safe and effective adjunctive therapy for older patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The study addressed the addition of acupuncture to conventional therapy to determine if it would provide an added measure of pain relief, if the effects would last beyond treatment and if treatment would have any side effects. Seventy-three patients were randomly divided into two groups. One group received twice-weekly acupuncture treatments and conventional therapy for eight weeks, and the other group received conventional therapy only. Patients who received acupuncture had notable pain relief and showed improvement in function. Those who did not receive acupuncture showed no substantial change. No patients reported negative side effects from any acupuncture therapy session.

Call today to learn more about the benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine for arthritis!
 
 

In This Issue

  • Alleviate Arthritis Pain with Acupuncture
  • Studies of Acupuncture for Arthritis
  • Reduce the Impact
  • Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Reduce the Impact

 

The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following to reduce the impact of arthritis:

Get Active – Regular physical activity helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. Tai Chi is a Chinese exercise that strengthens muscles, improves balance and flexibility, promotes relaxation, and has been shown to relieve chronic joint pain.

Control Weight – Maintaining an appropriate weight or reducing weight to a recommended level reduces the risk of osteoarthritis. Losing just 10 pounds relieves 40 pounds of pressure on knees. For those living with symptoms, losing 15 pounds can cut knee pain in half.

Modify Job Tasks – Try to modify your movements, since repeated use of joints in jobs that require bending and lifting is associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. 

Speak with a health care professional about ways to reduce strain on your joints.

 

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

A balanced, varied diet can help ease the pain of arthritis by providing vitamins and minerals that keep your joints healthy. Avoiding “damp” foods, such as dairy products and greasy or spicy fare, also helps joints.

Here are some healthy and delicious choices to include in your diet:

Ginger – Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory. A fresh ginger tea can be made by combining a half teaspoon of grated ginger with 8 ounces of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain and add honey to taste.

Fresh Pineapple – Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, reduces inflammation. Be sure the pineapple is fresh, not canned or frozen. 

Cherries – Recent research has shown that tart cherries are an excellent source of nutrients that may help to reduce joint pain and inflammation related to arthritis. 

Fish – Cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep joints healthy as well as reduce pain and swelling. 

Turmeric – A natural anti-inflammatory, it can be used in many food preparations including soups, sauces and salad dressings.

Restless Nights? Chronic Fatigue? Acupuncture Can Help!

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

 

Put Insomnia to Rest!

 

Our society puts a premium on our waking hours, and we thus have the tendency to underestimate the importance of a full-night’s sleep. Millions of people who suffer from insomnia look for quick fixes instead of exploring the root causes of the problem. Sleep hygiene is an afterthought for many people. Evening is a time to allow our minds and bodies to turn inward to our subconscious. Sleep deprivation is the root of many health issues like memory impairment, a weakened immune system and stress that can lead to cardiac disease, heart disease and digestive disorders.

Exposure to the diminishing light at dusk helps regulate sleep hormones in the body. Excessive lighting at night, evening shift work, evening computing, video games, television and late-night eating all serve to counteract the body’s natural rhythms. It’s no wonder people have trouble sleeping. Rather than embrace nighttime as rest time, we tend to let our minds wander from one element of stress to another, which can keep us up for hours or perhaps an entire evening. We are then forced to approach the new day without having benefited from the regenerative powers that nighttime brings. 

In Oriental medicine, sleep occurs when the yang energy of the day folds into the yin energy of nighttime. Yin energy of the body is cooling and restorative; it is the time of day when our bodies turn inward and regenerate. This is the time we dream and explore the caverns of our unconscious mind. Conversely, daytime is yang, which is expansive. We expend the energy we have built up from the process of sleeping. Together, this is the cycle of yin and yang.

To apply this yin-yang concept to your everyday life, try eating your last meal at least three hours before going to bed. For example, you can “cool” your yang energy down by avoiding hot and spicy food and drink. Avoid alcohol, coffee, chocolate and any other stimulants, especially late in the day. 

To improve your sleep cycles, help circulate your body’s energy by working out or with gentle exercise. Build your body’s nutritive aspect by eating marrow-based soups and stews, dark pigmented vegetables and fruits. Avoid overworking or over rumination as well.

An invaluable tool to help your brain unwind is meditation. It helps the body create a sense of calm. Meditation can reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being and improve overall health. It can help one increase alertness, relaxation and reflection even in “waking” states. Meditation is best practiced during the day to help improve your sleep patterns at night.

If you or someone you know suffers from insomnia, call today to see what acupuncture and Oriental medicine can do for you!

 
 

Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Find Relief With Oriental Medicine

 

Chronic fatigue syndrome is far more than just being tired, it is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that may worsen with physical or mental activity and does not improve with rest. Those affected with chronic fatigue syndrome can get so run down that it interferes with the ability to function in day-to-day activities, with some becoming severely disabled and even bedridden. In addition to extreme fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome encompasses a wide range of other symptoms including, but not limited to, headaches, flu-like symptoms and chronic pain.

If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, Oriental medicine can help relieve many of your symptoms. Exceptional for relieving aches and pains, acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments can help you avoid getting sick as often and assist with a quicker recovery, as well as improve your vitality and stamina.

Research on Chronic Fatigue and Acupuncture

A study in China evaluated cupping as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. All of the study patients complained of fatigue and some had additional problems with headaches, insomnia, muscle-joint pains, backaches and pains, poor memory, gastrointestinal disturbances and bitter taste in their mouth, among other things. Patients ranging in age from 28-54 received sliding cupping treatments twice a week for a total of 12 treatments. The results showed there was vast improvement in fatigue levels, insomnia, poor memory, spontaneous sweating, sore throat, profuse dreams, poor intake, abdominal distention, diarrhea, and alternating constipation and diarrhea. 

In another study conducted at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of TCM in Guangzhou, China, subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome were evenly divided by random selection into an acupuncture group and a control group. The observation group was treated with acupuncture and the control group was treated with an injection. Participants completed a fatigue scale and results showed that people who received acupuncture reported significantly more relief from their symptoms. A similar study conducted in Hong Kong gave half of the group conventional needle acupuncture and half (the control group) sham acupuncture. Again, using a fatigue scale, improvements in physical and mental fatigue were significantly bigger in the acupuncture group and no adverse events occurred. 

Most significantly, 28 papers were statistically reviewed through a meta analysis in order to assess the success of acupuncture as a therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. The results showed that treatment groups receiving acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome had superior results when compared with control groups. Rightly, they concluded that acupuncture therapy is effective for chronic fatigue syndrome and that it does merit additional research.

If you are struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome, call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be incorporated into your treatment plan!

 
 

www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

 

In This Issue

  • Put Insomnia to Rest!
  • Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Find Relief With Oriental Medicine
  • Tips for a Restful Night

Tips for a Restful Night

Sound sleep is the foundation of good health. We need 6-8 hours of sleep every night to recharge our batteries. 

Practicing good sleep hygiene and keeping your body in sync with the rhythm of day and night can help your body cope with sleep deprivation and give it an opportunity to get stronger and heal. 

By implementing just a few of these suggestions, you should notice a great improvement in your sleep and how you function during daylight hours.

Ambiance
Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Keep it dark, cool and quiet. Angle the clock face away from the bed. If you get up to use the bathroom during the night, don’t turn on the light; use a nightlight to safely guide you. The optimal temperature for sleep is 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When Hungry
Avoid heavy meals and sugary or high grain snacks before bed. They will raise your blood sugar and make it difficult to fall asleep. Reduce nicotine, caffeine and alcohol use.

If you are hungry, eat a high protein snack a couple of hours before going to bed. Try yogurt, a banana or half of a turkey sandwich. 

Reduce Late Night Activity
Stop working at least an hour before you plan to go to bed. Let your mind relax. Limit television and computer use in the evening. 

If you want to read in bed, avoid backlit devices as the light stimulates the brain. Read a book or use a device that requires you to use a separate soft light source. 

Bedtime Routine
Establish a relaxing routine as you prepare for bed. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time everyday, even on weekends.

Relax by taking a hot shower, practicing mediation, or try progressive muscle relaxation, starting at your toes and working up to the top of the head. 

It is important to leave the day’s worries behind. Do not overthink your day while you lie in bed. Take a deep breath, clear your mind and drift into a state of restful sleep.
 

 

Nurture Your Cardiovascular Health

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Nurture Your Cardiovascular Health

The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and blood vessels, and is responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and other waste from them. Diseases affecting the cardiovascular system include arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, shock, endocarditis, diseases of the aorta and its branches, disorders of the peripheral vascular system and congenital heart disease. February is the American Heart Association’s Heart Health Awareness Month, emphasizing the importance of cardiovascular health and the dangers of cardiovascular disease. 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading health threat, with heart disease and stroke topping the list of the first and second leading causes of death worldwide. One out of every two men and one out of every three women will develop heart disease sometime in their life. 

Despite dramatic medical advances over the past 50 years, heart disease remains a leading cause of death globally and the number one cause of death in the United States. Cardiovascular disease is not just a man’s disease; in women, the condition is responsible for about 29 percent of deaths, reports the CDC. Although more men die of heart disease than women, females tend to be underdiagnosed, often to the point that it’s too late to help them once the condition is discovered. 

By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart-healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 80 percent. Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, reducing stress, improving sleep quality and smoking cessation–all of which can be helped with acupuncture and Oriental medicine. 

Five Steps to a Healthy Heart with Acupuncture

1. Manage High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure makes the heart work harder, increasing its oxygen demands and contributing to angina. This excessive pressure can lead to an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly), as well as damage to blood vessels in the kidneys and brain. It increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease.

Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, researchers at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, were able to stimulate the release of opioids, which decreases the heart’s activity and thus its need for oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is associated with diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease–all of which increase the risk of developing heart disease–but studies have shown that excess body weight itself (and not just the associated medical conditions) can also lead to heart failure. Even if you are entirely healthy otherwise, being overweight still places you at a greater risk of developing heart failure.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are an excellent adjunctive tool when it comes to losing weight. They can help to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite and reduce anxiety.

3. Reduce Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological and, even, physical problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heartbeats. Medical researchers aren’t exactly sure how stress increases the risk of heart disease. Stress itself might be a risk factor, or it could be that high levels of stress make other risk factors worse. For example, if you are under stress, your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, you may exercise less, and you may be more likely to smoke.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health. In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.

4. Improve Sleep Quality
Poor sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Researchers have shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart-health and getting less than eight hours of sleep can put you at a greater risk for developing heart disease.

Acupuncture has shown great success treating a wide array of sleep problems without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. The acupuncture treatments for problems sleeping focus on the root disharmony within the body that is causing the insomnia. Therefore, those who use acupuncture for insomnia achieve not only better sleep, but also an overall improvement of physical and mental health.

5. If You Smoke, Quit
Most people associate cigarette smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer. But did you know that smoking is also a major cause of coronary artery disease? In fact, about 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease are directly related to cigarette smoking.

Acupuncture has shown to be an effective treatment for smoking. Acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness–symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

Call or email for a consultation to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can assist you with your heart health and help you to live a long, healthy life.

Acupuncture for Cholesterol Management

What is cholesterol and how is it bad? Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can sometimes build up in your arteries. After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Since you can have high cholesterol without realizing it, it’s important to have your blood cholesterol levels checked. Most of the 65 million Americans with high cholesterol have no symptoms. 

High cholesterol can also develop in early childhood and adolescence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the risk spikes as weight increases. In the United States alone, more than 20 percent of youth aged 12-19 years have at least one abnormal lipid level. Children over the age of two should have their cholesterol checked if they are overweight or obese, have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or certain chronic conditions such as kidney disease, inflammatory diseases, congenital heart disease and childhood cancer.

Research has clearly shown that lowering cholesterol can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Whether you have heart disease already or want to prevent it, you can reduce your risk for having a heart attack by lowering your cholesterol level. 

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to treat many of the health conditions known to drastically increase the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol including smoking, high blood pressure, excess weight and diabetes. Speak to your health care providers to make sure your cholesterol is being monitored and find out how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you stay healthy.

www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

In This Issue

  • Nurture Your Cardiovascular Health
  • Acupuncture for Cholesterol Management
  • Eat Heart Healthy Foods

Eat Heart Healthy Foods

Having a healthy diet is one of the best ways to support your cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease. 

Here are just a few of the suggested foods that support a heart-healthy lifestyle:

Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, radish, turnips and cabbages are a gold mine of antioxidants and other heart-saving phytochemicals. Make sure that cruciferous vegetables are part of your heart-health diet every day.

Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon and anchovies are loaded with the omega-3 fatty acids that will help your heart maintain a steady rhythm. Having a serving of fish a week could reduce your risk of death from a heart attack by 52 percent.

Flaxseed
Flaxseed is one of the most potent sources of omega-3 fats. Studies indicate that adding flaxseed to your diet can reduce the development of heart disease by 46 percent and help keep red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of flax-seed a day on your cereal or salad.

Fruit
Oranges contain folic acid that helps lower levels of homocysteine, a heart attack risk factor. 

Grapes are loaded with flavonoids and resveratrol, both potent antioxidants that may discourage red blood cells from clumping together and forming an artery-blocking clot. 

Pomegranates are chock-full of potassium and polyphenols, which promote heart-health and have been shown to help lower cholesterol. The latest studies are showing that the juice limits the genetic tendency toward hardening of the arteries.

Garlic
Just one clove a day, or 300 mg three times daily, reduces the risk of heart attack in at least three ways:

– It discourages red blood cells from sticking together and blocking your arteries

– It reduces arterial damage

– It discourages cholesterol from lining the arteries and making them so narrow that blockages are likely.

Green Tea
Green tea contains several powerful antioxidants that reduce bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol, improving an individuals overall cholesterol profile. 

Drinking green tea also seems to enhance cardiovascular health by improving the consistency of platelets in the blood, and may even lower blood pressure.

Nuts
Studies have found that those who eat more than 5 oz of nuts a week are one-third less likely to have either heart disease or a heart attack. Just don’t overdo it as nuts can pile on the pounds.

 

The Addiction-Willpower Connection

Monday, December 8th, 2014

 

The Addiction-Willpower Connection

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, emotions originate internally from different organs inside the body. Conditions and events in the external world may provoke specific reactions but, ultimately, each person is responsible for the emotion generated. Any addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, food, work, or other activity or substance, effectively blocks intelligence and suppresses healing abilities. Through these behaviors we choose to rely on the demands of addiction to dictate our lives, rather than taking responsibility to conduct ourselves in a healthy, life-affirming way.

Is there a body/mind connection to willpower? According to the principles of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there is. Willpower, or “zhi,” is said to reside in the kidneys, and the state of the kidney qi directly correlates to the fortitude of our willpower. 

The zhi represents willpower, drive and determination. It manifests as the urge to persist in one’s efforts and, when in deficiency, feelings of defeat, pessimism and depression may occur. Without strong willpower or zhi, one may easily succumb to the temptations of addiction. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help cleanse and re-balance your body and mind to overcome a variety of addictions, and can help manage cravings. The safe space provided during treatment is both literal and metaphorical. 

In Oriental medicine, there is a protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi, or defensive energy. Nourishing Qi can greatly enhance the body’s ability to thrive in times of stress and can aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality. Recharging your battery and regeneration of vital energy, Qi, will help you live, look and feel your best!

Several approaches may be used when treating addictions, generally starting with therapies that help cleanse and balance. Sometimes a vague, uneasy sensation takes over after or during the process of releasing an addiction. Perhaps for the workaholic patient, it is strange and alarming to experience leisure time. Addicts require fortitude to find replacements for the dependence on substances or addictive behaviors. This is why willpower, or zhi, needs treatment, to provide support and determination to discover the power within oneself–a universal necessity for overcoming any addiction.

To aid your transformation from addiction and addictive behaviors to healthier practices, try focusing on routine. Routine provides stability, and a new routine is necessary to break old habits. If your first thought in the morning is to reach for a cigarette, replace that action with another, healthier ritual. 

The replacement ritual could be anything from reaching for warm water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne to refresh your system, or singing your favorite song or stating out loud your plans for the day. As long as the action is positive and consistent, it will serve your new routine and changing thought processes.

Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen willpower and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings. Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture treatment alone, but special herbs, healing foods and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.

Everyone experiences addiction in different ways, with varying symptoms, and treatment is adjusted to the individual needs of the person seeking treatment. Some respond better to a sudden, jarring change in habits, whereas others may require a slower process to adjust to the changes that must be made. At some point during the detoxification process, the next step necessary to your healing will be addressed, helping to ensure that your strengthened willpower and emotional balance lasts a lifetime.

Are there cravings or an addiction you are working to overcome? Call today to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you reach optimum health!

Overcome Substance Addiction

Researchers say that acupuncture is a promising treatment for all types of addiction, from cigarettes to heroin.

In one study, a team from Yale University successfully used auricular (ear) acupuncture to treat cocaine addiction. Results showed that 54.8 percent of participants tested cocaine-free during the final week of treatment, compared to 23.5 percent and 9.1 percent in the two control groups. Those who completed acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence compared to participants in the control groups.

Acupuncture treatments for addiction recovery focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness–symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

Fight Food Addiction With a Total Health Program

What does it mean to listen to your body, as the expression goes? What if your body is telling you to eat chocolate bars for breakfast, or that fast food makes for an acceptable and tasty dinner? When your mind and body enjoy relative good health, the body’s cravings should prove more reliable in discerning which foods to take in for maximum nutrition. 

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine not only offers therapies to reduce cravings, such as acupuncture and dietary counseling, but it also explains the nature of these cravings in a simple, eloquent way. Whether you describe your cravings as a longing, hankering, or an urge, it all signifies a possible internal organ imbalance resulting in an addictive, compulsive behavior.

The issues of overeating and low metabolism are addressed with effective tools to control cravings, appetite and increase energy. Energy imbalances are corrected, and the digestive and elimination processes are improved so that there is a physical shift in the body to naturally have more energy and desire less food. 

By addressing both the physiological and psychological aspects of weight management concerns, acupuncture and Oriental medicine provide a comprehensive therapy for weight issues that promote better digestion, balance emotions, reduce appetite, improve metabolism and eliminate food cravings. 

Each treatment is customized to the needs of the individual patient. Acupuncture points on the body are chosen for overall well-being with the objective of increasing circulation of the blood and Qi to stimulate the metabolism and calm the nervous system. Treatments can include a combination of auricular (ear) and body acupuncture, ear tacks or pellets to leave on between treatments, herbs and supplements, abdominal massage, breathing exercises, and food and lifestyle recommendations.

The treatments chosen for weight management are for promoting healthy digestion, energizing the body, augmenting Qi, and improving elimination of water, toxins and waste products. Acupuncture can help improve digestion, assist with food absorption, and the movement of food through the intestines.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are powerful tools for achieving a healthy weight, by itself or as a supportive treatment in conjunction with other weight management programs.
Call or email now to schedule your next appointment. Yours in Health, Robert

 www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

In This Issue

  • The Addiction-Willpower Connection
  • Overcome Substance Addiction
  • Fight Food Addiction With a Total Health Program
  • Seven Addiction Recovery Tips
  • Combat Cravings with Ear Massage

Seven Addiction Recovery Tips

In addition to getting treatment, here are seven lifestyle changes you can make to help curb cravings, improve your overall well-being and assist in your recovery.

1. Exercise more. Exercise can reduce your stress and help you relax. 

2. Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices to neutralize and clear the blood and to fortify blood sugar.

3. Carrots, celery, leafy green salads and citrus fruits promote body alkalinity and decrease cravings.

4. Avoid junk food, sugar and coffee. They can upset blood sugar levels and increase blood acidity, which can aggravate withdrawal symptoms.

5. Lobelia tea or green tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage cravings. Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.

6. Drink water. Research shows that dryness causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day. 

7. Practice deep breathing exercises to increase body oxygen and keep calm.

Combat Cravings with Ear Massage

Ear Massage is an extremely relaxing and effective therapy aimed at decreasing cravings, reducing stress, promoting well being and addressing various health issues. 

Ear acupuncture is used throughout the world to reduce food cravings, assist in the detoxification of addictive substances, manage pain and calm anxiety.

Ear massage triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Studies have demonstrated that ear stimulation increases levels of endorphins in both the blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Here is a great ear massage that you can do for yourself or your loved ones:

1. Rub in small circular motions with your thumbs inside the widest upper part inside the ears, holding them from outside with the index and middle fingers.

2. Use your index finger to massage inside the smaller crevices if your thumbs don’t fit and along the front of your ear where it attaches to the head.

3. Massage the earlobes by gently pulling them down and making circles with your thumb and index finger.

 

Easing Your Transition through Menopause

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
 

Easing Your Transition through Menopause

 

As women enter the autumn of their reproductive years, major physiological changes occur that may give rise to symptoms of menopause. Like a plant going through many changes with the cycle of the seasons, it is natural for a woman in her middle years to cease menstruating on a regular cycle and to experience mild to extremely uncomfortable symptoms as a result. 

The winter season of life, or menopause, is a time to take shelter and preserve energy. This is a quieter, calmer phase of life in which a healthy woman may need extra support to feel comfortable in her body as it changes. Age should bring wisdom, not excess heat and dryness that cause unnecessary discomfort. As women move from autumn to the winter phase of their natural feminine cycle, it is reassuring to know that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your health plan to support this transition. 

Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, osteoporosis, and dryness. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine provide treatments and lifestyle suggestions which may reduce the severity of these symptoms. The organ system most involved in producing these symptoms of menopause is the kidney, specifically the decline of kidney yin. Kidney yin is like a cool, refreshing reservoir of water and when it dries up, heat and dryness more readily ensue. 

In general, yin represents the nourishing, cooling energies. When it reduces, metaphorically speaking, there exists in the body less water to put out the fire. Yang energy represents the moving, active principle which is like the rays of sunshine providing the sustenance needed for plants to thrive. However, when in excess, heat destroys plants and leaves them brown, dried and withered. Based on this premise, it makes sense that menopausal women can present with excess heat signs such as hot flashes and irritability. 

According to the Huang di Nei Jing, the body dynamics of women significantly change every seven years. At 35 years of age, the blood and energy (Qi) of the Large Intestine and Stomach Channels start their decline. Here we see fine lines on the face and neck, thinning hair and a drier quality to the skin. For a woman of 42, these same channels weaken further as evidenced by deepening wrinkles, hair color changing to gray or white, and the continual loss of skin moisture and elasticity. At 49, a woman’s Conception Vessel and the related meridians exhaust themselves, giving rise to symptoms of menopause. 

The changes in these meridians lead to the cessation of menstruation and loss of fertility. The Conception Vessel or Ren Channel is called the “sea of yin” and is closely associated with pregnancy, fetal development and reproductive health in general. The Chong Mai or Chong Meridian is known as the “sea of blood” and heavily influences blood flow in the uterus and the menstrual cycle.

In July of 2014, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) conducted a large-scale analysis of previous scientific studies examining the role of acupuncture in reducing various symptoms of menopause. Out of the 12 studies analyzed, researchers concluded that acupuncture positively impacted both the frequency and severity of hot flashes. NAMS executive director Margery Gass, M.D. stated, “The review suggested acupuncture may be an alternative therapy for reducing hot flashes, particularly for those women seeking non-pharmacologic therapies.” While hot flashes may not pose a health risk in and of themselves, the severity of them may affect quality of life and cause great physical and emotional stress.

While AOM and Western Medicine offer different treatments for menopause, both traditions agree on certain suggestions for lifestyle choices and diet. Avoiding spicy foods, hot beverages, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes may help prevent the onset of hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms. All of these foods and substances irritate the body. Additionally, AOM considers cigarettes to be particularly detrimental for menopausal women because when smoke enters the body it dries up the yin and the fluids, which need to be preserved during menopause.

Call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can ease your transition through changes in your life!

 
 

Male Menopause? Alleviating the Symptoms of Andropause

 

In an effort to better describe the diagnosis and treatment of male-specific health issues that arise during mid-life, a new term has been coined in the medical community–andropause. Though it is often referred to as “male menopause,” andropause is more than the male equivalent of menopause, as it presents its own unique set of symptoms, causes and patterns of onset.

Andropause refers to the process a man undergoes when the body produces fewer androgens (male hormones). The hormone most strongly affected is testosterone, as it is the most dominant of all the male hormones we know of. Testosterone not only plays a vital role in male development, it greatly affects the overall health of a man’s body and mind.

Testosterone directly influences many bodily functions and organs, including the heart, prostate, muscles, blood sugar, fat metabolism, bone density, libido, and mental cognition. Sudden mood changes, depression and anger also may result from andropause. The decline of testosterone production gradually starts in the early thirties and continues through the mid-fifties. 

In contrast to menopause, which happens over a much shorter period of time, the signs of andropause creep up gradually, making an accurate diagnosis tricky. Signs and symptoms of andropause can include loss of libido, enlarged prostate, weight gain, osteoporosis, sterility, urinary problems and infections, and digestive problems. 

According to Culley C. Carson, M.D., Boston University, School of Medicine, it is estimated that more than 60 percent of men over age 65 have free testosterone levels below the normal values of men in the 30 to 35 age range. While the incremental loss of testosterone represents the natural life cycle in an aging, healthy male, more severe levels of decrease can prove detrimental.

According to classical texts, the physical and emotional effects of aging in general occur largely due to, but not limited to, the decline of the Mingmen Fire. Also known as the Ministerial Fire, it resides near the spine, between the two kidneys and at the level of the umbilicus. This life-giving force is the fuel from which all the organs of the body draw from. For instance, the Mingmen Fire provides the warmth and energy needed to stimulate the large intestine. Once in motion, it can perform its job of excreting waste from the body.

One reason why a man may experience the loss of libido or infertility in his middle or later years is due to the waning of the Mingmen Fire. If this is the case and the fire is out, other signs such as frequent urination, sore lower back or knees and/or lethargy may also be present. 

For men, the onset of andropause may be gradual and, as such, the symptoms hard to diagnose. The natural decline of the Mingmen Fire or Ministerial Fire may also compound or worsen symptoms of andropause. When the Ministerial Fire is out, the body becomes cold and old age sets in. However, long before that, many of the mild to more severe conditions may respond very well to different acupuncture and Oriental medicine therapies. 

Call today to learn more about andropause and learn what acupuncture and Oriental medicine can do for you!

 
 

 www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

 
 

In This Issue

  • Easing Your Transition through Menopause
  • Male Menopause? Alleviating the Symptoms of Andropause
  • Ease Your Mid-Life Transition

Ease Your Mid-Life Transition

 

Good nutrition remains a cornerstone of good health, no matter what stage of life we are in. During major life transitions such as menopause and andropause, your dietary needs tend to change. 

Eating well is an art that should bring you as much pleasure as nourishment. Yet somehow this art can become complicated rather quickly. You can integrate nutritional recommendations from acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your diet to ease you through the changes your body goes through during mid-life.

One of the first things to consider is the time of your meal. According to the acupuncture and Oriental medicine circadian clock theory, the most appropriate time to eat breakfast is between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. This is the time of the Stomach, when the energy in this organ is at its fullest, making it ready to receive food. Consider breakfast as the nutritional foundation for your day.

Every two hours, a different organ is poised for peak performance. Eating at the hour of the Stomach provides your body with the optimal energy needed to start the digestive process. The next 2-hour block of time, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., is the hour of the Spleen. The Spleen initiates the next phase of digestion, which further reinforces eating breakfast earlier.

Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. During menopause and andropause, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases. The best way to ensure your body has enough calcium is through foods rich in this nutrient. Vitamin D also aids in calcium absorption. One of the best ways to support the production of vitamin D is through adequate sunlight exposure. Try to get at least 15 minutes of sun each day. Foods high in calcium include fish with bones (such as sardines), broccoli, beans, lentils, almonds, milk, yogurt, and walnuts. Both men and women should feature foods in their diets to support the skeletal system, kidney health, and brain function during the middle years.

Regardless of your gender, or how old you are, make an effort to seek out new foods and styles of cooking. Eating a varied diet is the best way to ensure you receive all of the many nutrients your body needs. The next time you make a salad, for instance, pick one vegetable for each color of the rainbow. You can apply this concept to your meals by enjoying dishes with different colored vegetables or by using new spices. Eating is an everyday activity and one way to keep your life exciting through all phases of life is through eating interesting food.

 
 

Improving Women’s Health and Wellness

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Women’s Health Issues

Everyone wants to be healthy in order to enjoy a sense of well-being and have the best quality of life possible. Oriental medicine has always addressed the special needs of women throughout their lives. Women are more susceptible than men to certain health conditions, which can make it more challenging to achieve optimal health. Fortunately, many health issues women face respond extremely well to acupuncture treatments.

Several conditions that impact women more frequently than men include:

Depression: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that women are twice as likely to experience depression as men and one in eight will contend with major depression during their lifetime. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the most commonly reported mental health problem among women.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Four times as many women as men develop chronic fatigue syndrome.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Women are 2-6 times more likely to develop IBS. Acupuncture points can help relieve IBS symptoms, according to researchers from the University of York in the U.K., who found that integrating acupuncture into a treatment plan led to less severe symptoms.

Autoimmune Diseases: According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), about 75 percent of autoimmune diseases occur in women. As a group, these diseases make up the fourth-largest cause of health related disability among American women.

Some specific autoimmune diseases that affect women disproportionately more than men include:

From an acupuncture and Oriental medicine perspective, a health problem is never just in the body or in the mind. Whether an imbalance or disharmony began as a physiological or spiritual issue, ultimately, all aspects of the body are affected.

If you or someone you know are struggling with any of the issues discussed in this newsletter, or you would like to improve your quality of life, contact us today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help!

Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

When we are unable to do our basic daily activities, we may need more rest. For those with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rest doesn’t help. Sufferers may feel tired for more than six months, experience reduced memory, insomnia or a wide range of other symptoms, including but not limited to, headaches, flu-like symptoms and chronic pain. Contributing factors can include severe stress or trauma, a history of infection and exposure to toxins.From an acupuncture and Oriental medicine perspective, CFS reflects a disharmony. When we are out of balance, we may experience digestive upset, unclear thinking, habitual fatigue, muscle weakness or discomfort, and insufficient elimination. At the University of Hong Kong, researchers included acupuncture points in a protocol for patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients who received acupuncture experienced less physical and mental fatigue.

Oriental medicine can help relieve many of your symptoms because it is exceptional for relieving aches and pains, helping to avoid getting sick as often, recovering more quickly, and improving vitality and stamina.

Autoimmune Disease Support

 

Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 80 serious chronic illnesses in this category, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes.Due to the complexity of treating autoimmune disorders, integrative medicine solutions have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are specifically noted for use in pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

Multiple Sclerosis: This is a progressive disease wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective wrapper on nerve cells, known as myelin. As the damage accumulates, the brain and body communicate less well. Individuals may experience symptoms that include a loss of coordination, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, dizziness, blurred vision, and paralysis.

Because multiple sclerosis can involve an array of symptoms, it is possible that no two patients will share the same underlying pattern. In Oriental medicine, as a whole, patients with MS present either wind or dampness based symptoms. Symptoms with an underlying wind factor arise and abate suddenly, can be quite intense, and jump between different areas of the body. Symptoms with an underlying dampness factor cause swelling and bloating, lead to muscle weakness or a sense of heaviness, and can cause unclear thinking. Oriental medicine may help restore balance, and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Electro-acupuncture may help MS patients, according to researchers from University of Campinas, Brazil. Researchers stimulated acupuncture points, noting that patients in the study experienced less pain and depression and greater overall quality of life.

Lupus: Lupus involves an overactive immune system that fights unnecessarily and can injure the skin, joints, organs (heart, kidneys, and lungs), and the brain. Symptoms may include red facial rashes, sore joints, upper abdominal pain when breathing deeply, severe chronic fatigue, memory problems, and scalp hair loss.

Though every Lupus patient may present differently, Oriental medicine views lupus as a reflection of toxic heat. Good health requires balanced yin and yang, which reflect cold and heat, respectively. While yin and yang both nourish and restrain each other, yang tends to multiply (or worsen) more quickly, whereas yin is slower to change. Having more estrogen than testosterone, women are more yin and vulnerable to yang conditions.

In a small study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that by stimulating acupuncture points along the spine and on the four limbs, patients with lupus experienced less pain. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help clear heat and nourish yin. Combined with exercise and reducing stress, these modalities can work double-duty towards improving your overall health and reducing the likelihood of a lupus outbreak.

Celiac Disease: In patients with celiac disease, the small intestine becomes damaged and cannot absorb nutrients efficiently. Celiac disease may also cause fatigue, bone disorders, fertility problems and skin rashes.

Treatment of celiac disease typically revolves around symptom management and dietary changes. Any products known to contain gluten (bread, pasta, processed foods, vitamins, and even cosmetics) may trigger symptoms and should be avoided.

Call today to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your wellness plan!

www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

 

In This Issue

  • Women’s Health Issues
  • Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Autoimmune Disease Support
  • Depression Sufferers Can Find Balance
  • Relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Depression Sufferers Can Find Balance

 

Depression refers to severe and long-lasting ‘down’ times that impair regular activities. Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, but a family history of depression and severe stress can increase the likelihood of the disease.

According to Harvard University, changing estrogen levels during menstruation, after giving birth, and throughout menopause can provoke mood changes.

Dorree Lynn, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Getting Sane Without Going Crazy, says women “need a connection with others in their lives and without that sustenance, they tend to get depressed.”

Qi (energy) enables the body to function in harmony. Because women lose Qi during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and childbirth, it is more common for women to be Qi deficient than men. Acupuncture treatments can correct these imbalances, support the immune system, and directly affect the way your body manages stress and your mental health.

Words can also move Qi, which explains why talk therapy can give patients a sense of physical relief from symptoms. A combination of acupuncture and Oriental medicine may be even more helpful.

According to Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers have noted greater therapeutic benefits from the use of combined therapies than from the use of independent therapies.

Call today to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your emotional wellness plan!

Relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) involves alternating constipation and diarrhea. Individuals with IBS have a noticeable and sustained increase or decrease in frequency of elimination. Patients may experience pain during stool elimination, cramping, nausea, bloating, gas, headaches and backaches.Irritable Bowel Syndrome is usually worsened by stress and is considered to be caused by a disharmony between the liver and the spleen meridians. Tension can result in Qi stagnation, irregular Qi flow, uneven physical processes (including bowel movements), unpredictable flare ups, and uncomfortable or irregular bowel movements.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine support Qi flow throughout the body, ensuring that all physiological and emotional processes run smoothly. For a healthy Qi, women should focus more on caring for themselves and asking for help when they need it.

Treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms and correcting any underlying imbalances through a variety of Oriental medicine techniques that may include acupuncture, stress management, dietary changes and exercise.

Alleviate Your Migraine and Headache Pain

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

 

Are you plagued by chronic headaches? More than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, and 20 million of them are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. Acupuncture is a widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, and can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes, have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years. They can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine do not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, these approaches aim to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques including acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore balance in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables. In diagnosing your individual issues, you may be asked a series of questions, including:

    • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
    • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
    • Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation of Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced.

Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness. The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Some headaches, migraines and related symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Do you or someone you know suffer from headaches or migraines? Call today to find out how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!

 

Relief, Naturally!

Here are some natural alternatives to ease your aching head:The Headache Point – Large Intestine 4 is such a powerful acupuncture point for headaches that it is often referred to as “the headache point.” It is located on the padded area of your hand between the thumb and index finger, between the first and second metacarpal bones. Massage this point with your thumb on both hands for approximately 30 seconds.

Peppermint Oil – It has a calming and soothing effect on the body, and is often used to treat headaches. Rub peppermint essential oil across your forehead and temples to relieve a tension headache or inhale a peppermint steam treatment to treat a sinus headache. Adding 10-15 drops of peppermint oil to a warm bath is another great way to relax, reduce muscle tension and relieve a headache.

Ginger – Numerous clinical studies have shown that ginger can be used to relieve headaches. Researchers believe it does so by relaxing the blood vessels in the head and diminishing swelling in the brain. Ginger also activates natural opiates in the brain that relieve pain, and reduce prostaglandins, which are responsible for causing inflammation.

 

 www.chicagoholisticmedicine.com

  In This Issue

  • Alleviate Your Migraine and Headache Pain
  • Relief, Naturally!
  • Healthy Habits

Healthy Habits

Headache sufferers can reduce the intensity and frequency of their headaches or migraine episodes by following these healthy habits:

Nutrition
Eat regular meals, and avoid foods and drinks that are known to trigger your headache attacks.

Sleep
Practice good sleep habits. Maintain a regular sleeping schedule, including weekends and vacations. If you have insomnia or have difficulties getting a restful sleep ask how acupuncture can help.

Stress
Implement stress reduction techniques into your daily life. If you are having difficulties managing your stress, acupuncture provides a number of tools to help keep it in check.

Be a Partner in Your Care
Stay informed, so you can be a participant in your treatment and an advocate for improving your own headache treatment.

Headache Journal
Keep a journal of when your headaches occur, along with any triggers, and share the information with your healthcare provider.

Education
Stay apprised of the latest treatment options and headache relief news.

See Your Healthcare Provider
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to specifically discuss your headaches.

 

Mental Clarity for Resolutions

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Strengthen Resolve with a Calm and Clear Mind

 

The start of the new year is a time of looking back at what we have achieved in the past year and looking forward to the future. This period of reflection and renewed resolve may be challenging but it can also be productive and rewarding. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help achieve the changes you seek as it assists in preventing illness, relieving stress, minimizing aches and pains, improving energy and nurturing balance. Maintaining a calm and clear mind helps to strengthen your resolve as you take the next step in achieving your goals.

Here are a few ways that Acupuncture can help you achieve your goals:

Eliminate Stress
Stress reduction is always on the top ten list for New Year’s resolutions and for a good reason; it is often the cause of illness and deterioration of health. Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and lowering blood pressure. In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole range of tools that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check.

Improved Quality of Life
If pain is keeping you from living life to the fullest, acupuncture can help as it has no side effects and can be helpful for all types of pain, regardless of the cause or where it is located. Increasingly, people are looking for more natural approaches to help relieve painful conditions instead of relying on medication. In addition to reducing pain, acupuncture also hastens the healing process by increasing circulation and attracting white blood cells to an injured area.

Get in Shape
Renewed enthusiasm to exercise in order to enhance fitness levels, train for a competition, or lose weight can come at a painful price for those who try to do too much too quickly. Recent studies show that acupuncture effectively treats sports injuries such as strains, sprains, musculoskeletal pain, swollen muscles and shin splints.

Lose Weight
Losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you reach your goal weight and maintain it by promoting better digestion, smoothing emotions, reducing appetite, improving metabolism, and eliminating food cravings–all of which can help energize the body, maximize absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, and reduce anxiety.

Call today to see how Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can enhance your mental clarity and assist you in achieving your resolutions!

Healthy Brain Habits

 

Here are some steps you can take to help optimize brain health and sharpen your memory:Eat More Produce
Studies that focus on food and memory show that the more produce you eat, the better. One 25-year Harvard Medical School study of more than 13,000 women showed that the participants who ate relatively high amounts of vegetables over the years had less age-related decline in memory. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) and leafy green vegetables had the biggest effect on helping women retain their memory during the course of the study. In another study, the phytochemicals, anthocyanin (found in berries of all colors and cherries) and quercetin (found in onions, kale and apples), actually reversed some of the age-related memory deficits in laboratory animals.Heart Health
A healthy heart makes for a healthy brain. Because oxygen and nutrients are carried in the blood stream, anything that impedes blood flow will starve those all-important brain cells. Review your blood pressure and cholesterol level. Know your numbers and if they are elevated, take immediate measures to bring them down.

Sleep
When we sleep, the brain has time to recharge. Studies show that 7-8 hours of sleep a night helps to strengthen memory. Acupuncture is effective at treating sleep problems, so please let us know if you are having trouble sleeping.

Exercise
Regular physical activity has been shown to decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by about half. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps regulate blood sugar levels; both of which improve brain function and memory. Aim for 30 minutes a day.

Challenge Your Brain
Keep your mind active and challenged. Brain function decreases with age. Studies show that cognitive exercise can improve blood flow to the brain. Spend at least 15 minutes each day on a mental exercise such as a crossword puzzle, journaling or learning a new language to slow memory loss.

Stress and your Immune System

Long term stress directly affects the function of the immune system. When you are under stress, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol which depresses the function of the immune system. Over time the immune system becomes unbalanced and confused. It may start attacking healthy body tissues which can create an autoimmune disorder. Acupuncture addresses these issues on a number of levels. All acupuncture treatments help to reduce the effects of stress on the body. This reduces inflammation and allows the adrenal glands to more effectively regulate the production of cortisol which rebalances the function of the immune system. Acupuncture also helps reduce the symptoms you are experiencing. Treatments also improve your quality of sleep which is when you body heals and regenerates itself. Call or email today to schedule your next appointment or for a no charge phone consultation to find out how acupuncture can help you reclaim you health.
 

In This Issue

  • Strengthen Resolve with a Calm and Clear Mind
  • Healthy Brain Habits
  • Clear Your Mind by Walking
  • A Mental Clarity Point

Clear Your Mind by Walking

 

One of the many ways that walking can promote health and wellness is by putting gentle pressure on Yongquan (Bubbling Spring).

An acupuncture point on the sole of the foot, this is the starting point of the Kidney meridian. Stimulation of this energizing point can promote clarity of the mind and stabilize emotions, helping you to focus on your goals.

How To Stimulate Yongquan

While Walking:
Let your heel tap the ground gently and feel your weight transfer fully to the ball and toes of your foot. Focus on breathing into your lower abdomen. Keep your shoulders relaxed and allow your arms to swing freely.

By Tapping:
Use your fists to strike your Yongquan about 100 times on each foot.

By Rolling:
Gently roll a tennis ball under your foot while relaxing on the couch.

A Mental Clarity Point

 

Feeling a little foggy? Having trouble concentrating?

Massage the acupuncture point, Du 20 for some mental clarity.

Du 20 is located on the top of the head, midway between the ears. It is used to clear the mind and improve focus.

Stimulate the point with your index finger for 30-45 seconds for a quick “brain boost”.