Even though pain is universal, it is experienced differently by each person. Care often requires an integrated approach that responds to the biological, psychological, and social factors influencing pain.
Recently, The Joint Commission published revised pain assessment and management standards. The updated standards, which go into effect January 2018, will require Joint Commission accredited hospitals to provide non-drug pain management options, such as acupuncture. The Joint Commission is a non-profit, independent organization that accredits nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.
These new standards are a clear recognition not only of the dangers of opioid abuse, but also the value of non-drug approaches to pain management. They will help people dealing with acute and chronic pain reduce their risk of of opioid addiction, emphasize safe opioid and non-opioid prescribing and use, include patient education on pain management care, and potential side effects of treatment.
Non-drug pain management modalities in the revision include: physical therapies (acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, massage, chiropractic, and physical therapy), relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapies
The traditional biomedical approach to pain doesn't always work well for many people with pain. We know that pain is a complex bio-psycho-social phenomenon, and the way to achieve the best possible pain control is to use an integrative approach. Hence, it is important for clinicians to be educated in integrative pain management.
The Joint Commission's timely and crucial pain management revisions will allow greater access to qualified licensed acupuncturists and other integrated health care practitioners to help manage pain. Eventually, acupuncturists and doctors may work together in the hospital to provide the best pain management options for their patients.
Have a question about how acupuncture can help your pain? Let me know!
"Free and Easy Wanderer" alludes to the natural and unrestrained flowing of water. In other words, it's about going with the flow. The function of this formula is to help you overcome an ingrained approach of clashing with, rather than flowing around, a difficulty or worry.
This formula is a calming yet energizing blend of herbs designed to relax, and therefore, enhance thr flow of energy throughout the body. It is a fantastic formula for those who have tension caused by stress and a busy lifestyle. It is also often used as a base formula for many gynecological disorders or chronic liver disorders.
Free and Easy Wanderer's actions are to soothe tension (emotional and physical), strengthen digestion, and nourish the blood. Bupleurum root is the lead herb to smooth and soothe stagnation. However, it is drying, so angelica root and white peony root are added to prevent dryness by nourishing the blood, as well as relieve pain. Atractylodis root and poria strengthen the digestive system and aid the production of blood from food. Honey prepared licorice root boosts energy and helps other herbs with their functions of relieving pain. Ginger root strongly warms and soothes the stomach, and a small amount of mint leaf helps bupleurum smooth stagnation and clear any heat generated by that tension.
Clinically, it is used for headaches, anxiety, stress, depression, psychiatric disorders, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual irregularity, breast distention, infertility, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, poor appetite, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, gallbladder inflammation, high cholesterol, and insomnia. It is a relatively mild formula that can be taken when necessary to help you cope with a stressful life.
Pharmacologically, Free and Easy Wanderer mildly inhibits the central nervous system, protects the liver, enhances the endocrine system, increases gastric acid, and relaxes the smooth muscle of the intestines.
Free and Easy Wanderer is one of the most commonly used formulas today, since stress is a major factor in our daily lives. As issues relating to stress increase, simply treating the symptoms and the physical issues may not be sufficient. This formula addresses the emotional aspects and treats the root of the condition. With specific modifications, this is a formula is wonderful to have on hand, especially when it is impossible to change your lifestyle or reduce your stress.
If you are finding life a little harder to handle, it is essential for good health that you get at the bottom of the issue. Going to a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine for acupuncture or a custom herbal prescription will have you feeling better sooner rather than later.
Emotions. Always an interesting topic as we learn more and more about how they are inseparable from the body. I've noticed many of us have become detached from our feelings, most likely to protect ourselves from feeling things like awkward, sad, embarrassed, or guilty. We seem to be living in a time when feeling uncomfortable is not okay, and it's best to tuck those uncomfortable emotions out of the way. When we do this, we are given feel-good labels like strong, inspiring, brave, or fearless. All amazing qualities. However, denying ourselves time to cry or feel frustrated only exacerbates those feelings. They need to surface at some point. Under normal circumstances, emotions do not cause illness, but when they become prolonged or excessive, emotions can become a problem.
When it comes to skin and the emotions, traditional Chinese medicine has a lot to say. To better understand this, we must first know the basic emotions and what they're associated with. It looks like this:
Fear affects the Kidney energy
Anger/stress affects the Liver energy
Over-excitement/mania affects the Heart energy
Overthinking affects the Spleen energy
Sadness affects the Lung energy
Of course, unresolved or lingering emotions may cause a host of issues not related to the skin. But let's look at how prolonged emotional upset may manifest as strange skin issues.
Dark circles under your eyes aren't always from sleep deprivation or not drinking enough water. It may be associated with long-term fear affecting the Kidneys. When fear is felt over a long period of time (think years and years), it really weakens the Kidney's energy. Our Kidney energy naturally decreases as we age, but this is certainly not something we want to see in our early 20s.
Lingering and unexpressed anger is common in today's society. This causes our energy to ball up and stagnate, aka, stress knots in neck and shoulders. It also may be the reason behind your pesky skin issues like heat rashes, hives, or red/purple acne, especially if they show up around the ribcage or between your eyebrows.
The Heart energy is reflected in the face. Excessive excitement or mania affecting the Heart manifests as a dull complexion, pale complexion, broken blood capillaries, and dry skin and hair.
Overthinking and worry weaken the energy of the Spleen, a major part of the digestive system. A person who tends to worry excessively tends to also have a weak digestive system. On the skin, this may show up as very pale or bright red lips, stubborn whiteheads all over the face, oily skin, or bruise easily.
The lungs are said to govern skin and therefore a host of issues can also be attributed to lung health. Sadness lasting a long time or difficulty moving through grief may present as eczema, psoriasis, and acne (especially on forehead and near the nose) to name a few skin conditions.
There's always a solution for every issue. And when conventional methods don't seem to be working, drawing on the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine may provide you with the answers and solutions you're looking for.
Have a question about your pesky skin issue? Call me for a free 20 minute consultation and we'll see what acupuncture and Chinese herbs can do for you!
"Acupuncture for Our Heroes Act" was introduced in the House of Representatives last week. This bill would require acupuncture to be available at veterans' health facilities. It's about time! Acupuncture has been increasingly used in active duty military situations, so why shouldn't is also benefit our veterans?
Acupuncture offers a non-addictive and effective alternative to opiates for pain management. Nearly 82% of veterans seeking medical treatment reported having some level of chronic pain. According to a 2014 guide from the Department of Veterans Affairs, people in the Veterans Affairs health system are nearly twice as likely to die from an overdose as compared to the non-veteran population. Providing acupuncture for veterans and their families can help to reduce the dependence on opioids for pain management, thereby reducing the possibility of abuse or overdose.
Unfortunately, a lack of understanding about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine makes it difficult for many to experience its benefits since few insurance companies cover treatments. This means fewer options for pain and stress management at a time when we need more options.
Acupuncture is part of the traditional Chinese medicine healthcare system. It involves inserting tiny needles at specific points on the body to elicit a therapeutic effect. While you may feel the initial insertion, the sensation should be brief and mild. The World Health Organization has an extensive list of conditions that acupuncture has proven to help.
Acupuncture is another method of helping people manage their physical and emotional pain. After consistent acupuncture treatments, most people notice increased mental clarity and focus, deeper sleep, more energy, lower stress, less anxiety and irritability, less hyper-vigilance, fewer flashbacks and nightmares, and improved outlook on life.
I love seeing the benefits of acupuncture are becoming more and more accepted! Hopefully this legislation will mean more available healthcare for our vets and also help improve the image and understanding of acupuncture.
Have a specific question? Let me know. I'm happy to answer them!
Can you believe summer is almost here?! Perhaps you've already noticed feeling more social, having more energy, and just being in a better mood all-around. From a traditional Chinese perspective, that's totally expected. Summertime is when Yang energy is at its peak. Yang is characterized as active, bright, enthusiastic, and extroverted.
In traditional Chinese medicine, you cannot separate a person from their environment. Summer is related to the element of Fire, the Heart, and over-excitement. These factor significantly into a diagnosis and treatment plan. So, how does this change how you feel in the summer? And what can you do about it?
We all know people who thrive in the heat. They run around in 90 degree weather with energy to spare. Usually, these people also tend to be playful, charismatic, are quick to connect with others, and enjoy intimacy. This is someone who has a strong and balanced Fire element.
Then, there are others who constantly complain about the heat and feel drained in the summer. Sometimes, these people can be perceived as distant, easily overwhelmed, introverted, and self-centered. This is someone who has a weak and under-expressed Fire element.
On the flip side, someone with an over-abundance of Fire will express symptoms similar to mania, like racing thoughts, difficulty paying attention, decreased need for sleep, inappropriate elation, or markedly increased energy.
If you're someone who tends to have an under-expression of Fire, it is important to focus on encouraging the following qualities in yourself throughout the summer. If you think you have an over-abundance of Fire, your focus should be on appreciating these things, but remembering to keep them in check.
5 Tips To Maximize Your Summer:
Exercise will be easier in the summer, thanks to that Yang energy. Take advantage of this boost and move everyday! You'll improve your metabolism, protect your health, and better your mood. If you tend to have a strong or high level of Fire, be cautious about overdoing the exercise.
Talk With Strangers
Noticing you want to strike up a conversation with a stranger or spend a few extra minutes chatting with the grocery bagger? That's your natural Fire coming out to play! Connection is important this time of year, so don't overthink the urge to talk with someone you don't know.
See Your Friends More
What better way to engage in the Fire characteristics of connection, communication, and intimacy than hanging out with your pals? So have a bonfire, hike in the mountains, or just stay up late into the night chatting. Nurturing relationships not only makes summer more fun, but it will also smooth the transition into fall.
The sound of the Fire element, and therefore the sound of summer, is laughter. So when you're hanging out with people, crack inside jokes, tell embarrassing stories, appreciate others' jokes, and tell the embarrassing stories again. Keep laughing and your fire burning bright!
Hang Out At A Lake
Or any body of water, really. All the elements are inter-connected, and no relationship is more easily understood than Fire and Water. Since summer is all about the Fire element, being physically near water can help balance out Fire's heat and rising energy.
Have a specific question about yourself? Let me know! I'm happy to answer your questions.
What is cupping?
Cupping is a suction technique designed to pull toxin build-up and muscle-spasm from the body's deep tissue to the surface of the skin. It can shorten the healing process by weeks, even months, in a way that acupuncture, massage, and other forms of treatment cannot.
Physical pain implies poor circulation through a particular area. When toxins and metabolic waste stagnate in the muscles or joints, it can be very difficult for the body to get rid of the waste, causing further stagnation and discomfort.
By using cupping, we are able to pull the toxins and waste out of the deeper tissues and move it to the skin's surface. This is what causes the circular marks on the skin. Once at the surface, it is much easier for the body to eliminate the toxins and waste via the capillary system.
In only ten minutes of cupping, not only can we pull toxin build up out of specific areas, but we can also pull the fresh, new blood into those areas. This will promote healing and restore proper blood flow.
Why choose cupping?
Cupping is therapeutic and diagnostic. It tells us three basic things:
First, cupping tells us the kind of problem we are dealing with. If the cup colors, that means we are dealing with toxin/waste buildup or muscle spasms. If there is no color, this indicates nerve or bone issues.
Second, cupping tells us exactly where the problem is. The area where the skin colors indicates a painful area from muscle spasm or metabolic waste build-up. Practitioners will usually cup an area slightly larger than the painful area to ensure that it is completely covered.
Third, cupping will tell us the severity of the problem. Light or moderate stagnation in the deep tissues will cause the skin to color pink or red and may take a day or two for the color to go away. Severe stagnation causes the skin to color a deep scarlet, purple, or even black. It may take seven to ten days for the dark color to disperse.
All of this information is helpful in making an accurate diagnosis and providing an effective treatment.
Is cupping painful?
The cupping sensation can be a bit strong for the first 60 seconds, the time which most of the toxins are removed. It is helpful to try and relax into the process of being cupped and to acknowledge and tolerate the sensation.
It is important not to get cupped on an empty stomach. Inhale and exhale only through the nose. This will slow the breathing and help to prevent you from getting lightheaded or dizzy.
Patients typically experience immediate relief upon removal of the cups, making the initial discomfort well worth it. Rarely, when skin turns deep purple, there may be more intense discomfort which goes away in 24-48 hours.
Keep the cupped area covered, warm, and out of the wind and drafts for the following three days to make sure the muscles do not tighten and spasm.
If there is lasting discomfort, over-the-counter pain relief medication may be used.
Drink plenty of water to help clear the toxins and waste through the body's normal excretory system.
Take it easy after the cupping treatment and for the day after. Avoid hot tubs and cold plunges to prevent getting chilled. Avoid any strenuous activity, especially if there is residual soreness.
Remember, your skin has not been bruised or traumatized. The coloration shows toxin release.
If you still have concerns, call your practitioner.
There are many different factors that contribute to difficulty losing weight, such as lifestyle, nutrition, hormones, sleep patterns, and possibly genetics. For many, maintaining a healthy weight is a daily task. It is important to note that a person's healthy weight and "ideal" weight may be worlds apart. Traditional Chinese medicine can help steer you towards your healthy weight, and I'm here to talk with you a little bit about what might be standing between you and your healthy weight.
Introducing the traditional Chinese medicine term Phlegm.
Traditional Chinese medicine views weight gain and weight loss resistance differently than how biomedicine looks at it. At the root level, weight gain is excess Phlegm which comes from the Spleen, aka the gut. Quite simply, if you can't assimilate your food and drink properly, this can cause many issues such as weak digestion, nutrient deficiencies, and stagnation in the body.
With this in mind, you could have the cleanest diet on the planet but your body isn't getting what it needs because you are not able to digest well. This can cause issues like weight gain because we need to overeat in order supply our body with adequate nutrients to survive. This begins a vicious cycle: If we don't eat to nourish ourselves, our systems become imbalanced because our bodies don't have the building blocks to help us thrive. As the digestive system (Spleen) continues to weaken, the body begins to produce and accumulate "phlegm," making it feel sluggish and heavy.
From a biomedical point of view, our metabolism slows down.
Your body likes a state of constant flow. The accumulation of Phlegm doesn't stop with symptoms of weight gain or weight loss resistance. It also shows up as feeling tired, sluggish, heavy, unhappy bowels, or emotional upset. There's nothing to lose by addressing Phlegm.
The idea of weight loss can seem overwhelming. Mindset is oh so important for this. Rather than focusing on "weight loss" and driving yourself crazy, try focusing on "health gain." This means focusing on lowering insulin, lowering inflammation, healing your gut, and getting proper fuel so your body will have the ability to heal itself. Weight loss will be a byproduct of protecting your health.
Nevertheless, traditional Chinese medicine has a few tips to address Phlegm that will have a big impact on your health:
These simple additions to your day can have a profound impact on your body and help you move towards a healthier you!
Common acupuncture needle
For many people, there's one thing that holds them back from enjoying the benefits of acupuncture: fear of needles.
There's a spectrum of fears, ranging from moderate concern about being voluntarily being stuck with needles to downright needle phobia. Fear of needles is the number one reason I hear for people not considering acupuncture to help their symptoms.
Five things to remember if you're scared of getting acupuncture:
Acupuncture is the gentlest form of needling possible. If it felt anything like a shot, acupuncturists wouldn't be in business!
If you want to take out a needle that's bothering you, tell your acupuncturist. If you only want a few needles or don't want them in very long, let your acupuncturist know. If you don't want that point by your wrist needled, tell your acupuncturist. A good acupuncturist will go at whatever pace your comfortable with.
So, what do you say? Maybe this is the year you'll overcome your fears and give acupuncture a shot!
Say "Hi" to Taichong, or Liver 3. This is the acupuncture point that gets things moving! Known as "Great Pouring," this point circulates blood which bathes and calms all organ systems.
It's found on the top of the foot in a tender depression between the first and second toes. Press on the point, or rub the line between the point and the web between the toes until it's not tender. Repeat on the other foot.
What does this have to do with spring? In traditional Chinese medicine, humans are viewed as microcosms of the environment that surrounds them. Seasons, especially transitional times when we move from one season to the next, factor significantly how we feel physically and emotionally.
Each season is linked to an organ system, and springtime energy matches the Liver's energy. It's outward moving. It's expansive. It's regenerating. But as the Liver adjusts to the transition from winter to spring, the functions that the Liver is responsible for can become out of whack.
Certain symptoms commonly show up as the Liver is finding its strength in the spring. Some symptoms:
In traditional Chinese medicine, the Liver system is in charge of keeping everything flowing smoothly in the body. If the Liver is not functioning well, you will notice emotional stress, rigid posture, shallow breathing, or jaw clenching. Your pain might feel like a tightness, pressure, or restriction. You can also feel emotionally stuck by being more easily annoyed, extra irritable, or quicker to anger. Applying pressure to Liver 3 will get things moving like no other acupressure point. If you're still feeling out of balance, see your acupuncturist!
If you only remember one acupuncture point this spring, make it Liver 3!
Do you like to do a liver cleanse every year? If you want the most bang for your buck, the best time to do it is the spring! Bringing our body in balance with the season is the best way to protect health.
Spring is characterized by expansive energy that promotes growth and change. Emotionally, the spring energy helps us become more vibrant and focused and light. Physically, It is important to exercise, be in nature, and practice deep breathing exercises to align with this energy and gain its benefits.
As the days become longer and warmer and we prepare for the activity of spring and summer, our bodies are also working to eliminate the accumulation of winter. While the colon, kidneys, lungs, and skin all play a role in the cleansing process, it is the liver that we need to focus on in the spring.
Your liver performs about 200 vital functions, most of which are essential for good health. Some of the important functions are detoxification of blood, protein synthesis, maintaining healthy fat and sugar levels, bile production, and filtering hormones.
Although the liver is wonderful as self-recovery, it can take a lot of abuse in our Western lifestyles. A gentle and thorough spring liver cleanse is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. While our body is designed to excrete and eliminate waste, the more we are able to lighten the load, the better able our liver will be able to function, and the more vibrant our health.
Tips to help your liver out
Thoughts and practical tips to help you look and feel your best based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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