This study took patients who'd come to a dead end in biomedical treatments without getting full relief from their chronic sinus pain and treated them with many components of Chinese medicine (acupuncture, acupressure, diet changes and exercises).
Most of the patients got at least some relief from their symptoms which is great! However, I wonder how much better the patients may have gotten if individualized herbal formulas had been prescribed?
In China, herbal medicine is actually the more popular treatment method and is used right along side biomedicine!
Auricular acupuncture, acupuncture that is done in the ear, is a common system for treating almost any health complaints. It's most known for its use in treating drug addiction, but it can be used for so much more! Even the military is starting to use it to help ease PTSD and pain.
Auricular acupuncture is considered a microsystem. Much like reflexology (which is also a micro-system - of the foot), the entire body is reflected in the ear. Take a look at the picture above. If you use your imagination, you can see the human figure. (The picture I chose even has a skeleton superimposed to help with those of us with a little weaker imagination skills ;) ) The ear lobe represents and treats the head, the middle ridge of the ear treats the spine and the deep part of the ear near the ear canal treats our internal organs.
I've used the ear to treat many conditions, including assisting with weight loss, addiction, quitting smoking, back pain, labor pain reduction, stress reduction, anxiety and depression. I've even used it to help a cat with cancer who had no appetite and hadn't eaten, except when force-fed, for almost 2 weeks. I needled his ears and within 10 minutes he was scarfing down a bowl of canned cat food!
In addition to needles, we have what are called "ear seeds." Ear seeds can be an actual seed (often a mustard seed that has been treated so it won't sprout) or a tiny metallic ball that is placed on the point in the ear and then held in place with a tiny band-aid. The benefit? They're a great way to extend your treatment between appointments! Yep - feeling stressed? Press on your ear seeds to help even your mood. Experiencing back pain? Press those seeds!
For an over all pick-me-up, feel free to massage your ears! It may look a little silly, but you'll be having the last laugh when you're feeling reduced stress and increased energy!
Did you know that in the state of Oregon, you don't need a referral for acupuncture should you be involved in a motor-vehicle accident? It doesn't matter who's at fault, either.
If you've been a follower of this blog, you know how helpful acupuncture can be for managing pain, so if you're ever injured in a car accident, don't hesitate to call your acupuncturist. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you'll be back to your normal activities.
This post comes to you on the suggestion from this post earlier this week.
I don't believe I've talked about Moxibustion in this blog, which is a bit of an oversight. See, I'm allergic to the smoke associated with the burning of moxa (mugwort) and so didn't even think about writing about it!
Thanks, Carolyn, for bringing it up as a topic!
As I mentioned in passing above, Moxibustion is the burning of the herb Moxa. Moxa is the western herb mugwort. The fluffy herb can be burned several different ways:
Loose Moxa can be pressed into a little ball shape and placed on the handle of the needle and burned.
Loose Moxa can be pressed into a little cone shape and placed on a patch of ointment directly on the skin. The cone is then allowed to burn until the patient begins to feel heat and then quickly removed. In China they will allow the moxa cone to burn to the point of blistering, creating a scar. This is called scarring moxa, and for, hopefully, obvious reasons isn't practiced in the US.
Moxa can be purchased in a cigar-shaped stick which is then burned and held over the skin. There are two forms of moxa sticks: green moxa, where the herb is pressed together and rolled into the cigar; and a moxa stick where the moxa has been made into a charcoal cigar.
Loose Moxa can be burned inside a special box (a moxabox) with holes in the sides to allow smoke to exit, which is then held over the skin.
So what is the purpose of burning moxa? Moxa is an extremely warming and moving herb so it can be used for many reasons:
Body Aches - Pain is caused, in Chinese medical theory, by a lack of proper movement of energy. Moxa, when burned over the area will get that energy moving and decrease the pain.
Skin Rashes - Some skin rashes are also caused by Qi not moving properly, so moxibustion may be indicated.
Turning a breech baby - When burned on certain points, moxa can be very successful in turning breech babies. Many nurses and midwives even know of this technique and will recommend that their patients find an acupuncturist to get that baby in the proper position!
Cold conditions - Okay, so this reason for using moxa doesn't have a singular biomedical equivalent, so we'll discuss it a little bit. In Chinese medical theory, the quality of something being cold will cause its energy to move more slowly. If that cold is inside our bodies, it will cause our Qi to move more slowly, often causing pain. Cold can be one of the contributing factors to pain. There are many conditions where cold can be a factor, such as menstrual cramps, digestive troubles, infertility, diarrhea and more. Moxa, because it is both warming and moving, is perfect for counteracting the effects of cold in the body.
So, while I don't use Moxibustion in my practice because I'm allergic to the smoke, I have sent moxa sticks home with patients who could really use a little warming over their abdomens. Sometimes there's nothing better than a hot stick of moxa in the morning!
This week is National Headache Awareness Week. Acupuncture can be used to both ease the pain of a current headache as well as prevent future headaches.
It doesn't matter what type of headache you experience, either. Be it your run of the mill headache, tension headaches, migraines or cluster headaches. They can be related to stress or hormones. No matter the cause or type of headache, Chinese medicine has a way of getting them out of your life!
Below are some acupressure points that you can massage in order to ease your headache. For best results, find a licensed acupuncturist who you can work with to determine your Chinese medical diagnosis and get to the bottom of your pain.
Large Intestine 4 (LI4) is a point that strongly moves Qi in the body. This point can also be used to specifically treat disorders of the head - perfect for headaches! Do not massage this point if you are pregnant.
Du 20 is a great point for treating many disorders of the head, based on its location. This point will be especially effective if your headache is near the acupuncture point!
Heart 7 (Ht7), as well as all of the rest of the points along the crease-lines of your wrist, are great for treating headaches that are located in the base of your neck. There are several acupuncture micro-systems that portray the hand as your head, with the wrist crease representing the back of the neck where it meets your head.
If your headaches are located at your temples, massage them! Tai Yang is an acupuncture point located in your temples!
And, like massaging your temples, feel free to massage the areas where you experience pain. We have many many acupuncture points on our heads, (which would make for a very long blog post!) so chances are you'll be massaging one or more!
Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of foot pain. It is inflammation due to micro tears of the fibrous band that connects our heel to the ball of our foot, as pictured to the left. Many people will experience this as pain upon standing first thing in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time. For some, the Plantar Fasciitis may become extreme and be painful at all times of the day. In the long term, Plantar Fasciitis may lead to bone spurs where the fascia meets the heal which can also be extremely painful.
Common treatments for Plantar Fasciitis include:
splinting the foot at night
anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or bromelain
stretching the calf muscles
icing the arches
wearing proper arch supports
I have found acupuncture and reflexology to be especially helpful, in addition to the above treatments, to speed the healing of this painful condition.
Acupuncture is very effective at reducing swelling, inflammation and the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis.
Reflexology is great for addressing any underlying causes of unhealth, but on a more physical level, reflexology helps to stretch and realign the foot, preventing any further damage, and allowing the foot to heal.
If you're suffering from this common form of foot pain, consider seeing an acupuncturist. It'll feel good to get back on your feet!
As an acupuncturist, I hear this all the time : "My arthritis really acts up in the winter" or "My fibromyalgia always seems so much worse during the winter." I even hear from dog owners that their furry friends seem stiffer during the colder months!
So why is it that body pains tend to be worsened by the cold, blustery winter months?
In Chinese medicine, many cases of body pain are due to what we call "Cold Bi Syndrome," which loosely translates to "body pain that is aggravated by the cold."
Here's how I like to think about it: We all know that as things get colder, the molecules which make up said items slow down. So imagine that the molecules in your body slow down a bit in the winter months. In Chinese medicine, pain is caused by energy not moving properly through the body, and cold can be the cause of this improper flow.
So how does one keep the cold from affecting them?
Acupuncture can help keep your Qi flowing properly.
Chinese herbs can be prescribed to help warm your Qi to counteract the cold and to keep it moving at a proper pace.
Take warm baths to ease aching joints and bring heat deep into your core.
Dress warmer! Don't let yourself get cold!
Avoid cold drinks as they will cool your Qi too much. Drink warm drinks such as tea throughout the day to bring heat into your core.
Chinese medicine is really effective at keeping the cold at bay, and teaching our bodies how to keep themselves warm! Isn't that what we would all like most - to be pain-free not because we took a medication, but because our bodies have relearned how to be pain-free?
One of the most common complaints that I see in my practice is that of pain. It could be acute pain (I fell off my bike last week and sprained my shoulder), or chronic pain (I've had arthritis in my hands for years now and I'm fed up). There have been lots and LOTS of studies (do a search for "acupuncture" and "pain" on Medline and see what I mean! ) showing the efficacy of acupuncture in treating pain, so it's very common for people to think of acupuncture when they think of managing their pain.
Pain, in Chinese medicine, is due to a blockage to the regular flow of Qi. Imagine your body as a series of freeways with the cars travelling along these freeways smoothly. The freeways are the pathways through which Qi flows, called meridians. The cars are the Qi itself. Now, imagine that there is an accident on the freeway and traffic is getting backed up and it's not moving how it's supposed to. The site of the accident is like the site of pain. A bottleneck is created and the cars (or the Qi) can't move through the area correctly, wreaking havoc on traffic, or your body.
In Chinese medicine we use acupuncture and herbs to clear that traffic jam out of the way so that proper flow can be restored to the area. In the case of acute pain, it may only take a few treatments for the proper flow of Qi to continue. In the case of chronic pain it may take longer. Why is this? Well, chronic pain is quite a bit more complex. This type of pain often has one or more underlying issues that need to be addressed in order for the body to be able to keep proper Qi and blood flow to the area. For example, arthritis may have developed from an old injury, or it may be genetic, or it could be that the person has spent their life not eating properly, staying stress-free and exercising. If these issues aren't addressed, then proper flow may be restored temporarily, but will often reduce again because of the health issues that allowed improper flow in the first place.
Needles used in pain management may be placed at the site of pain, but they may also be placed far away from the site, depending on the style of acupuncture that your practitioner uses.
Chinese herbs are often VERY useful in helping speed the process of healing. Depending on the nature of your pain, you may be prescribed herbs to take orally short term to speed the healing of an acute injury, you may be given herbs to place on the painful area, or you may be given an herbal formula to take orally to treat issues underlying your pain symptoms (or some combination of the above!).
The most important thing to know is that the quicker you get treatment for pain, the quicker you'll be relieved of that pain. Pain symptoms that have gone on for years tend to get a larger traffic build-up that just takes longer to clear.
Arthritis in dogs is one of the main health concerns that I see.As pet owners, we’ve all been there.We’ve had a long, lovely life with our dog, and they’re getting a bit older.They’re starting to have difficulties getting up from lying down, especially in the morning after lying there for a while.They have trouble getting in the car to go to the park.They don’t run like they used to at the park, and then that evening they’re super stiff.
I see this scene play out on a regular basis, and very often, the owner/friend/treat-hander-outer has brought them to me as a last resort.Is there anything that can be done to keep our beloved dog comfortable just a bit longer?I always get excited at this point, because yes!Almost without fail (there have been a few cases where we just couldn’t make enough of a difference in the pup’s pain levels) we can get that old dog moving more smoothly again.
In Chinese medicine, our Kidneys play a huge role in the aging process.I’m not talking about the biomedical kidneys here, so if I say your dog has weak kidneys, there’s no need to panic.I’m talking about the Chinese medical Kidneys.These are the jobs that are attributed to the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine:bone health, aging, some aspects of the urinary tract, menstruation in women – just to name a few.
When our dogs (and us, for that matter!) get older, their Kidney’s ability to manage all of the jobs mentioned above starts to decline.This is when we start seeing arthritis, graying of hair, and incontinence (and in human women – menopause).The process for treating arthritis in dogs involves strengthening the Kidneys, and making sure that their Qi flows smoothly throughout their bodies.
It’s always exciting to see that dog who previously hobbled into my office come bounding up the stairs to give me a kiss hello before their next treatment.Yep, there’s no better reward than that!
My dog suffers from hip dysplasia -- will acupuncture help her?
In acupuncture, the body is like a freeway system, with Qi flowing through energy pathways called Meridians.In this analogy, the cars are the Qi and the freeways themselves are the Meridians.Pain is kind of like a car accident on the freeway.When there is an accident on the freeway, the rest of the cars trying to travel through aren’t able to, which makes drivers cranky.In your body, when there is a blockage to the natural flow of Qi, energy can’t travel through the Meridians properly, and the result is a cranky body - pain.
While acupuncture can’t fix the fact that a dog with hip dysplasia has a malformed hip socket, it can reduce the amount of pain associated with this disorder by removing the blockages to the flow of Qi.Acupuncture relaxes muscle tension that has accumulated through chronic compensation for this loose joint, easing a lot of the aches and pains that a dog will experience.
I often find that after seeing a dog for 3-10 visits (depending on the severity of their condition and how their bodies respond to acupuncture) that they are pain-free and only require “tune-ups” every couple of months to maintain their pain-free status!