The new year is well underway, so it’s time to get serious about any commitments you have made to improve yourself this year. How are you going to be healthier? In what ways will you be different this year?
Here are 15 specific ways acupuncture can help change your life in 2015:
1. Less stress. Acupuncture helps shift your brain from “fight-or-flight” to “rest-and-digest.” By mellowing the nervous system, acupuncture helps you feel better equipped to manage stressful times.
2. Less pain. Acupuncture’s ability to reduce pain goes far beyond the physical benefits, such as increased circulation and reducing inflammation. There is a strong emotional component to pain, especially chronic pain. Acupuncture effectively ameliorates pain by addressing both its root and the effects.
3. Stronger immune system. The acupuncture needles’ insertion builds up white blood cells to better prepare your body to fight off pathogens. Acupuncture strengthens the immune system to help you avoid illness, rather than dealing with it after it happens.
4. A more youthful appearance. Acupuncture strengthens five of your essential organ systems: kidneys, liver, heart, stomach and intestines, and lungs. When these systems are nourished and in balance, your body will look and feel younger.
5. Radiant skin. If your battle mainly has to do with dull, sagging, or acne prone skin, you might consider cosmetic acupuncture. Cosmetic acupuncture is a safe and effective way to reduce the signs of aging, improve skin tone and texture, and reduce the appearance of acne or scarring.
6. Better digestion. Acupuncture is excellent to help you digest foods and thoughts. Signs you are not digesting well include: bloating, constipation, heartburn, cravings, overeating, or overthinking.
7. Quality sleep. Insomnia is a common complaint seen by acupuncturists, and acupuncture is highly effective at resolving it. But even those who do not suffer with sleep problems report having more restful nights since beginning acupuncture.
8. Sustained energy. Though it’s common to feel blissfully relaxed during and after an acupuncture treatment, the after effect is usually increased energy. Many patients report having more energy for hours, or days, after a treatment.
9. Improved mental clarity. In addition to an increase in energy after a treatment, many people notice they are able to make decisions faster and with greater confidence. They feel more motivated to cross off lingering items on a to-do list.
10. Open mindedness. Acupuncture requires us to think about health in new ways because it challenges the traditional method of treating disease. It reminds us that there are multiple ways of seeing the world.
11. Increased self-awareness. Acupuncturists looks for patterns of disease, rather than a single cause and effect. This means that when one part is out of balance, it can affect your health in multiple ways. Acupuncture broadens your awareness of things that are potentially damaging to your physical or emotional health.
12. Remember the seasons. In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of their environment. In this fast paced society, it is easy to transition from season to season without much thought. Seasons factor significantly into our physical health, energy levels, sleep, and moods. Acupuncture can help you live harmoniously within the seasons.
13. More patience. Our on-the-go society and the technology we rely on perpetuates our need for instant gratification. This creates impatience. Since acupuncture rarely works overnight, it requires an investment of time and willingness to let go of an “I-want-it-now” mentality.
14. Embracing change. Conventional medicine thinks in absolutes and labels, i.e., sick or healthy, numbers too high or too low, happy or depressed. Acupuncture works in the gray area between these extremes and teaches us to reflect on the subtle changes happening within us.
15. Believe in yourself. An interesting concept to acupuncture is that your body already has what it needs to heal itself. Acupuncture neither subtracts nor adds but rearranges. It prompts the body to do what it knows, and it reminds us that we can be well.
I recently attended the American Academy of Pain Management's Integrative Medicine Conference where I learned about many causes, and many ways to manage pain. Here are the basics of pain, and a simple way to manage it.
It may be interesting to know that pain and pleasure share many of the same pathways in the brain. They originate in the same area (nucleus accumbens) and they both stimulate areas involved in reward. These areas are responding to sensory input from the body (pain, etc), as well as the emotional reactions and thoughts generated by the experience. These responses are sent back to the nucleus accumbens, and a person either feels pleasure and happiness or pain and misery. The responses are communicated via chemicals that transmit signals from one neuron to the next, called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters that are released during a pleasurable activity directly counteract pain neurotransmitters, and vice versa. Whichever neurotransmitter dominates determines the experience.
Therefore, pain and pleasure are not truly feelings, but rather values placed on sensations mingled with emotions and thoughts. They are variable states. At times, pain can obliterate pleasure. Still, we are capable of creating pleasure, and it is worthwhile to do so.
The simplest way to pursue pleasure is to change the stimulus from the body to the brain by finding experiences that are both soothing and stimulating. Listening to music, tasting something flavorful, feeling a pleasing texture, smelling your favorite scent, laughing or making someone else laugh, practicing gratitude, or trying something new are all excellent ways to rewire your brain to pursue pleasure.
Acupuncture and herbs can also shift your body into a less painful and stressed state to a more relaxed and pleasant one. It accomplishes this by releasing the pleasure neurotransmitters as well as natural pain killers. This promotes muscle relaxation, soothes the emotions, and quiets internal chatter.
(Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net)
Acupuncture points have distinct tissue and anatomical properties, especially related to defense mechanisms. When stimulated with a needle, the skin and tissue effectively treat pain with immune and repairing processes.
After needling, the body reacts strongly to destroy the foreign pathogen (needle) by creating an immune response, increasing blood flow and defensive substances to the area. The increase in blood flow reduces muscular tension, improves circulation, and raises the brain’s awareness of that area.
When the body realizes the acupuncture needle is harmless, it shuts off the defensive mode with natural pain killers and endocrine substances. They work to eliminate any inflammation in the area; whether caused by the needle or inflammation already present.
Acupuncture helps the body heal itself by increasing blood flow to eliminate metabolic buildup and provide oxygen and nutrients to nourish cells, immune substances to protect the cells, and endocrine substances to reduce stress.
It's Parkinson's Awareness Month!
Nearly one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease. Up to 85% of people with Parkinson’s report pain as a major complaint. In Parkinson’s, most pain is a result of injured tissue from persistent tremor, muscle rigidity, dystonia, or musculoskeletal injury.
Untreated pain can interfere with daily activities and quality of life. The level of pain a person feels is influenced by emotional factors, how he or she views the pain, and how he or she pays attention to it. Feeling helpless, or reacting to pain with a high level of stress, can worsen pain.
The best pain management choice includes both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches. Traditional Chinese medicine treatments are one of many options to choose from. Not only can acupuncture and herbal medicine decrease muscle tension, but it also helps with factors that compound pain, such as poor sleep, depression, or anxiety.
Source: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
Thoughts and practical tips to protect your health based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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