Headaches are nasty, annoying, and way too common. That's why I want to help you beat them!
First, we need to talk about the different kinds of headaches in Chinese medicine. Not every headache is created equal and it's important to know what you're dealing with. When you have a headache, make sure you pay attention to onset, time of day, pain location, pain quality, and what makes it better or worse. This record will help your Chinese medicine practitioner make an accurate diagnosis and come up with an effective treatment plan.
Onset: If the headache comes on suddenly with a short duration means its coming from an external invasion, such as a cold or flu. A gradual onset with a long duration means there is an internal imbalance to address. Also, a headache that occurs around menstruation has an underlying hormonal imbalance.
Time of day: Headaches that begin during the day indicate a deficiency of Qi or Yang, whereas headaches that begin in the evening are typically due to a deficiency of Blood or Yin. Headaches that start at night during sleep or before menstruation indicate blood stasis.
Location: Back of the head (Bladder, Small Intestine, or Kidney channel imbalance), top of the head (Liver or Pericardium channel imbalance), forehead (Stomach or Large Intestine channel imbalance), temples and side of the head (Gallbladder channel imbalance), behind the eyes (Liver channel imbalance), or whole head (Kidney channel deficiency or external invasion).
Quality: A dull ache usually indicates deficiency whereas a sharp or throbbing pain indicates excess. A dull ache with the head feeling like it was wrapped in a band and/or a feeling of heaviness indicates Dampness or Phlegm. Headaches that are felt "inside" the head are usually due to a Kidney deficiency.
Ameliorating or aggravating factors: A chronic headache that is improves with rest, lying down, or eating are due to deficiency. Headaches that are improved by exercise are due to excess. Headaches that are aggravated by lying down or eating are also from excess.
Triggers: stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, certain foods (look for dairy, chocolate, soy, citrus), hormones, low blood sugar, sex, weather and lighting changes, rebound from painkillers.
Basically, there are lots and lots of different patterns that can cause headaches. Luckily, Chinese medicine is wonderful at balancing out the body and helping you with the frequency and intensity of your headaches! Once a diagnosis has been reached, the treatment method will focus on bringing all parts back into balance.
At Herbs & Acupuncture Clinic, I will do a combination of things for a headache. Typically, I find a custom herbal prescription, bloodletting (not as scary as it sounds, promise), acupuncture, and ear seeds will have an immediate effect on headaches. Continued treatments lengthen the period of relief, as well as decrease headache intensity. For headaches that have lasted longer than three months, I usually recommend a series of 10-15 treatments, and 6-8 treatments for headaches that have lasted less three months or less.
There's no foolproof way to stop a headache, but there are definitely some things you can do outside of a Chinese medicine treatment to lessen its impact. These are some things I talk about in clinic:
-essential oils- peppermint and lavender are great, and eucalyptus will help a sinus headache
-protect your neck with a scarf, esp in windy weather
-use heat or ice, or alternate 5-10 min heat, 5-10 min ice, and always end with heat
-head, face, and neck massage on tender points
I've helped lots of people manage their headaches or migraines, or get rid of them completely! I offer a free in-office or phone consultation, so please get in touch if you want to look and feel your best. I'd love to help you!
According to a new review of existing research, complimentary and alternative medicine may help men manage premature ejaculation. For the full review, click here.
The authors reviewed research on the effectiveness, safety, and evidence for acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic herbal medicine, and a Korean topical cream on premature ejaculation.
Results showed that acupuncture delayed ejaculation by 30 seconds compared to a placebo, Chinese herbal medicine delayed ejaculation by about two minutes, Ayurvedic herbal medicine by nearly a minute, and the topical cream by more than eight minutes.
In one instance, the combination of Chinese herbal medicine and SSRIs (a common drug intervention) delayed ejaculation by two minutes longer than SSRIs alone and nearly three minutes longer than Chinese herbal medicine alone.
There are no approved treatments for premature ejaculation. While there were limitations due to the weakness of the studies being evaluated, this review shows complimentary and alternative medicine is an option for men who do not want to visit the doctor, take drugs long-term, or be on a waiting list for counseling.
If you want to try something different, call up your acupuncturist. They will be happy to answer any questions you have and find an herbal formula to help!
The following are some tips and tricks for the neurotic insomniac (like me). After lots of trial and error, I finally feel like I have an ideal routine for relaxation and sleep. Enjoy!
Start this one hour before bedtime:
A few more tips not related to the evening:
*NOTE: I am sure my fellow acupuncturists are cringing at the thought of recommending exposing the upper neck to freezing cold water. The premise is that briefly and regularly exposing the body to natural stressors (such as cold water) enhances health. It's the same concept behind acupuncture and intermittent fasting. To read more, click here, here, and here.
How did this work for you? Any other tips to try? Let me know in the comments.
May you sleep in heavenly peace.
Trigger points can be a real problem.
Not only are they painful, but trigger points also decrease range of motion, weaken the muscles, and produce excessive muscle contraction. They are formed when the process of muscle contraction and release is disrupted. Persistent muscle contraction, strain, or overuse causes the muscle band to contract too tightly, increasing metabolic demand and squeezing off the supply of blood and oxygen to the area. This consequently prevents the muscle from releasing.
This the the bad news: trigger points can severely impact athletic performance and quality of life. The good news? Acupuncture can help!
Think of a trigger point like a knot in a rubber band. The rubber band is your muscle and the knot is the trigger point. Stretching the rubber band will increase movement, but it will not release the knot. To restore full range of motion, you must first unwind the knot.
A muscle with a trigger point is too painful to stretch fully, and forcing a stretch will most likely result in muscle strain.
Acupuncture is an effective way to release a trigger point.
The acupuncture needle provides a disruption to the trigger point, stopping the cycle of contraction causing a lack of circulation, and therefore, preventing release. It can reach the depth of a trigger point without irritating the hyper sensitive tissue around it. Restored to its full length after being released with acupuncture, the muscle recovers its normal blood supply and metabolism and function.
And its usually immediate. A needle inserted into a trigger point will elicit a twitch followed by reduced muscular tension and increased range of motion.
Tips to prevent trigger points from forming:
Did you know that your brain has 100 billion nerve cells and 1000 trillion synapse? Every synapse is used to pass information around your brain and body.
Your brain changes constantly, instantly, and efficiently in response to messages from your body. The messengers are our senses, thoughts, beliefs, memories, emotions, and movement. Diseases, traumatic events, and stress also influence the brain. The process by which these changes take place is called neuroplasticity.
Every time we learn a new skill, visualize, or recall a stressful or traumatic event, we are literally changing our brains based on the new pathways that are created via the electrical and chemical signals in our cells. Repetition reinforces the strength of the pathways, causing a genuine anatomical change.
With chronic pain, our brains change due to the constant pain signaling loop between the brain and the body. We may suffer significant losses: loss of function, loss of quality of life, loss of purpose, and loss of any sense of control over our bodies and lives. This may leave us feeling isolated, worries, helpless, and out of touch.
The challenge is to reverse the brain in pain. To accomplish this, we can use thoughts, images, sensations, memories, soothing emotions, movement, and beliefs to harness the power of our brains to modify the pain.
Some tips to slow down the runaway brain in pain:
If you're not getting the results you want to manage your pain, please consider traditional Chinese medicine as an alternative to hopelessness.
An excellent resource on neuroplasticity is neuroplastix.com
I have been seeing more infertility in clinic recently. Most everyone questions, "What causes infertility?" and "What can I do to help myself?" Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are excellent as a stand alone therapy, or as a complement to modern fertility treatments. Acupuncture can help by regulating your body's systems, which aides in blood flow to the reproductive organs and stabilizes hormone levels. This will increase ovarian function in women as well as sperm production in men.
The origins of infertility or difficulty conceiving, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are related to upbringing and lifestyle. These origins are:
In traditional Chinese medicine, infertility occurs when the body cannot produce an egg, the egg cannot be fertilized, or the fertilized egg cannot be nourished. When diagnosing infertility, your acupuncturist is differentiating between deficiency or excess. For example, we are trying to determine whether a woman cannot conceive because her body is failing to nourish the uterus since there is a lack of energy or because there is a pathogenic factor blocking the uterus and preventing fertilization.
Luckily, once an appropriate diagnosis and differentiation is reached, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent resources to balance out the body so an egg can be produced, fertilized, and nourished into a healthy baby!
If you have been diagnosed with infertility, here are some tips to help take care of yourself:
If you have more specific questions or would like to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how traditional Chinese medicine can help your specific condition, please reach out to me! I would love to chat with you! (303) 349-4575, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, 2nd ed.; G. Maciocia
Cosmetic acupuncture, also known as facial rejuvenation, is being hailed as a natural facelift. Younger looking skin, no more crows feet, and no Botox required! This all sounds great, but does it really work? Of course! It works by making you stronger on the inside, which eventually changes how you look on the outside.
Looking young isn't very fun if you feel old. And no one wants to look older than they feel. Cosmetic acupuncture is effective because it resolves the underlying imbalances preventing you from feeling youthful and vibrant.
As a licensed acupuncturist who practices cosmetic acupuncture, these are some of the most common questions I receive. If you would like to learn more, please call me to set up a free consultation to see how cosmetic acupuncture can benefit you!
Please note, those who are in poor health may require acupuncture and herbal treatments before starting a cosmetic acupuncture series. There needs to be a baseline of health to build on in order to yield cosmetic improvements.
Also, those with sun damage may have unpredictable results. Some people have excellent results while others take longer.
The needling style is also different from acupuncture. In cosmetic acupuncture, needling is shallow and just barely goes into the skin. Also, the needles are much shorter than acupuncture needles. The cosmetic acupuncture needles are similar to those used for auricular or hand acupuncture.
I have a different perspective about wrinkles. I like them. I think lines can be attractive and show that you've lived life. Getting them is inevitable, but you do have control over how many you have and where they are.
Wrinkles are caused by many different things, from the amount of oil in the skin, the climate, or sun damage to repeated facial expressions. So what makes some people get so many wrinkles and others so few?
The first type is the person who doesn't feel very much and therefore doesn't express much. These people are not emotionally present. They may stay unwrinkled longer, but the drawback to living this way is that they are usually unprepared for emotional traumas and have trouble coping. When these people do suffer a trauma, they seem to age overnight. This is an advantage to suffering while you are young. It may cause early lines, but it will keep you from getting lines later because you learn how to deal with life while you are still resilient.
The second type of person who doesn't wrinkle much is the one who is reclusive and lives away from the stresses of the world. Monks and nuns are a good example. Because their biological needs are taken care of, their lives are sheltered. Stress definitely accelerates the aging process, and it is almost impossible to live in the modern world without stress. A balanced life might include frequent retreats to destress and dewrinkle.
The third type of person is one who does not hold onto past trauma. Many people cling to the wounds of the past and torment themselves daily. It doesn't really matter what happens to you in life, what matters is how you feel about it and how you deal with it. There is no such thing as a bad emotion. The only bad emotions are stuck emotions. This inability to release emotion can cause many health problems and lines on the face.
If you can, learn to love the features you have. All features have special meaning and, when looked at as a whole, have a beauty and symmetry that needs to be honored and understood.
And if past trauma is marking your face, consider cosmetic acupuncture to soften those lines and heal from the inside out.
For more thoughts: Face Reading in Chinese Medicine, Lillian Bridges
Acupuncture is a go-to therapy for many elite athletes, but you don't have to be going to the Olympics this summer in order to experience its benefits in your athletic adventures. Whether you're a crossfitter, yogi, weekend warrior, or young athlete, acupuncture can help you feel stronger, healthier, and more aware.
We all know that acupuncture works great for sports injuries by decreasing inflammation (swelling, bruising, redness), relaxing muscles and tendons, calming spasms, improving circulation, and lowering the body's pain response. And this is wonderful for athletes who go through a lot of wear and tear on their bodies.
But you may be surprised to learn that acupuncture is actually most beneficial when incorporated into training and recovery regimes, before an injury surfaces. Those who do notice better performance, fewer injuries, and more enjoyment!
5 Reasons to Start Using Acupuncture for Athletics
There's no denying it. Acupuncture is an excellent modality for all aspects of any athletes' health and well-being. Find an acupuncturist you vibe with and give it a try!
The ability to adapt to the stresses of life is fundamental to life itself. Adaptability is the root of evolution and the rate limiting factor to biological success. Fortunately, human beings are one of the most adaptable creatures on earth. We have adapted to almost every climate. People live in some of the hottest, driest, dampest, coldest, and most barren parts of the earth.
In this age, a healthy person easily adapts to a wide range of normal stressors, such as changes in weather, nutrition, emotions, or physical activity. Success could be measured by how well we handle stress. Those who manage stress well generally take on greater challenges, overcome more obstacles, and get more accomplished.
Successfully adapting to change is the truest way to grow in experience, knowledge, and wisdom. The more adaptive an individual, the more vigor with which one can meet the challenges of life, and the greater that person's heath.
But if we lose this fundamental ability, we stiffen and lose our ability to change. Therefore, we easily become imbalanced and stagnant, and dangerously susceptible to disease.
Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of flowing with nature's changes; constantly harmonizing, always maintaining balance to avoid the extremes. By knowing when you have gone far enough, you will lead a less stressed, less draining life. Additionally, by living close to nature and changing gracefully with your environment, you can avoid disaster and slow down aging.
One of the greatest secrets of a satisfying and happy life, according to traditional Chinese medicine wisdom, is to focus on promoting health instead of managing disease. Physical health is irrelevant if it is accompanied by unhappiness, trouble, or failure. It is necessary and possible to cultivate an attitude of holistic health so the body, mind, and spirit can flourish. Total success takes determination, knowledge, and discipline.
But we don't have to do it alone. While we already have excellent adaptive systems in place, such as the work done by our liver, kidneys, and digestive tract, sometimes we can use a tune up to function optimally. Regular acupuncture and tonic Chinese herbs are wonderful resources to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Traditional Chinese medicine can help you look and feel your best. Try out a system of healing that's full of wisdom and perfect for the modern age.
Inspiration: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, Ron Teeguarden
Thoughts and practical tips to help you look and feel your best based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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