A female patient in her late 20s came in with heavy periods. She'd had heavy periods for as long as she could remember, but they'd gotten worse after having her 2 children. She bled approximately 300 mL/month (with normal being 10-80mL) since having her last child.
She'd been to her biomedical doctor and it was found that she wasn't anemic (which surprised the doctor) and that her thyroid function was normal. Her doctor could find no other causes for the abnormal bleeding.
We used acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas to stem the flow, and treat her underlying Qi deficiency. Her energy levels had risen some (she'd been experiencing extreme fatigue), but found no changes after 9 months of treatment, trying many different formulas and acupuncture treatments.
What I have found when patients don't seem to respond to Chinese medicine is that there is often some sort of underlying nutritional deficiency occurring. So we started looking into what sorts of nutritional deficiencies may be present.
This patient also has a gluten intolerance and has been gluten-free for 7 years. Upon doing some research into Celiac disease, I found that many nutritional deficiencies are common because of the changes that occur in the bowels in Celiac Disease. Most common are the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and K.
We started by supplementing with vitamin K because of it's role in clotting, but after 2 months found only minimal changes in her flow amounts.
Next we tried supplementing with vitamin A. After only one month, her flow has decreased by approximately half. We looked into the other symptoms of vitamin A deficiency and found that she has experienced many of those as well!
Food IS medicine. Unfortunately for this patient, because of an absorptive issue, even eating a healthy diet wasn't helping to rectify her health complaint.
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!
Before I start talking about how birth control affects women from a Chinese medical perspective, I want to say this:
I'm not anti-birth control for those who need it to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. It is FAR more detrimental to EVERYONE involved to carry, birth and care for through the age of 18, a child who isn't planned or wanted. What a horrible existence, knowing that you weren't wanted (and yes, children can sense this, whether you say it out loud or not, there's no fooling them).
The birth control use that I'm going to be talking about is for those women who are prescribed birth control for non-birth control reasons. There are probably millions of you out there. Some common reasons are : acne, irregular periods, PMS, mood stabilization, severe cramping or heavy bleeding during your menstrual cycle and many more.
So, let's start.
Throughout a woman's month, the Spleen, Kidney and Liver each play their own part in controlling her menstrual cycle. The Liver plays it's biggest role between ovulation and menstruation. During this time, the Liver's energy will start to surge in preparation for helping the woman's body to release the uterine lining, if she has not become pregnant.
This is often why women will experience Premenstrual Symptoms. The Liver, when it is not functioning properly, can create symptoms such as breast tenderness, cravings, bloating, and the dreaded mood changes.
So let's take a moment now to look at hormonal birth control from a Chinese Medical perspective. In my clinical experience, hormonal birth control is like adding a boost of Liver energy to a woman's system. In a woman who is already struggling with a Liver that isn't moving her energy properly, this will only aggravate her health problems. It's no wonder side effects associated with hormonal birth control consist of weight gain, mood changes, headaches, digestive complaints, etc. All of these complaints relate to an improperly functioning Liver!
Now what about those few women out there who are actually helped by hormonal birth control, you may ask? I've treated some of these women as well, and what I have found is that these women, at the point they start taking hormonal birth control, are deficient in Liver energy (this is SUPER uncommon, as the Liver almost always exists in excess, but there are those out there who don't have enough!). So their symptoms get better for a while. However, what I've seen, is that this symptom relief is temporary, or they develop new symptoms. Yep, they've been supplementing with Liver energy, and all of a sudden they have too much, and like many other women, start suffering from the standard PMS symptoms, as well as a host of other health complaints.
So, if you're a woman who suffers from PMS, headaches, migraines, digestive complaints, insomnia, etc. - Think back to when you started taking birth control. Did these symptoms exist prior to taking birth control? Did they start after starting birth control?
Everyone has to make the right decision for themselves regarding birth control, their health and the necessity to not have children. But we also all need to be aware of the side effects of hormonal birth control that biomedicine usually dismisses as "normal." These symptoms are not normal, they are a sign of imbalance, and can be alleviated by acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Go Ahead and Swear! A study published in NeuroReport shows that uttering your favorite curse word helps ease pain. In this study, the participants held their hand in an ice water bath while repeating a curse word. They then held their hand in the water a second time while repeating an everyday neutral word. They reported their pain levels for each "bathing," and it was found that the participants reported a lesser pain experience while being allowed to repeat a curse word.
In Chinese medical theory this makes a certain amount of sense. Pain is caused by our Qi not flowing smoothly. Stress is caused by our Liver Qi not moving properly (Liver being related to the emotion of anger or frustration). Swearing can help release our Liver Qi, freeing it. Perhaps swearing also has an effect on not just our Liver Qi, but all of the Qi in our body. Free Qi movement equals reduced pain!
So, if you bang your thumb with a hammer, or are a pregnant woman going through labor, feel free to mutter (or scream!) that favorite curse word. You'll feel better for it!
*I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts lately, the kiddo has ceased taking naps recently, making me reconfigure our schedule and trying to figure out when to get some writing done. I hope to get back on the writing wagon now that things have settled down a bit! Thanks for being patient with us!
Alright, if you're a little queasy, you may not want to read much further. There is no picture included today, because I couldn't find anything appropriate that would be safe for all stomachs.
Placenta was first mentioned as a Chinese herb in a Materia Medica in 741 AD. So, why would anyone want to consume their placenta? In Chinese medical theory, the process of bearing and birthing a child is very exhausting on the mother's Qi and Blood supplies. She literally gives of herself to form this new life. After birth, a mother is very deficient and will often experience symptoms such as extreme fatigue, insufficient milk-production, depression, insomnia, anemia, headaches and many more. It has been found that if a mother consumes the placenta following birth, her Qi and Blood levels will be greatly improved, improving any post-partum symptoms she may be experiencing. How many cases of post-partum depression could be avoided? How many babies could more easily be successfully breast-fed?
Some people are willing to eat their placenta raw (which is optimal). Some people are willing to eat it cooked as the meat in a recipe (do a Google search and you'll find TONS of recipes!). Now, I know what you may be thinking, "I'm not a cat/dog/cow/animal, there's no WAY you're going to get me to eat that!" For those of us who aren't likely contestants for Fear Factor, there are other options for ingesting placenta and boosting our Qi and Blood following the birth of our child that may be a little easier to stomach.
There are companies who will send you the materials to dry, grind and encapsulate your placenta so it's no different than taking your daily prenatal vitamin! One such company is PlacentaBenefits.info. They will also complete the encapsulization process for you if you're not interested in the laborious process after you've already labored enough, thank you very much!
For those of you who still can't stomach the thought of eating your own placenta, speak with your Chinese herbalist. The placentae used in herbal formulas today come from pigs and cows, which may be a bit more do-able for you!
Alright, all you mommas-to-be out there, I'm going to give you some ideas for things to try at home to help with the dreaded Morning Sickness (or as I like to call it "celebrating your new pregnancy in the bathroom!").
Acupressure: You may have seen motion sickness bands advertised. They're often a wrist sweat band with a little button on it to stimulate the acupuncture point Pericardium 6. This point is extremely good for easing nausea due to any cause! You don't need to find and buy these bands, though, you can simply massage the point! Pericardium 6 is located on the inside of your forearm 3 finger widths down from your wrist crease. Massage the area and you'll soon be feeling as good as new! If you need longer lasting relief, you can tape a bean to the point, and it will work just like the motion sickness bands!
Herbs: Ginger is quite the all-purpose herb to ease nausea. It's extremely useful for calming the stomach! You can include it in your favorite recipes. It can be consumed in the form of ginger ale (my particular favorite!). The Chinese medicine way to do it is to take slices of the fresh raw ginger root and steep them in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes and drink this "tea." Please be careful with consuming too much ginger, as it can cause insomnia.
Chinese Medicine: There is a lot more that can be done for nausea, but requires an acupuncturist or herbalist in order to diagnose you and then treat you accordingly.
Nausea can be one of the more uncomfortable aspects of your pregnancy, but with a little help can be greatly reduced! Do you have any other favorite ideas for easing morning sickness? Comment and share your tips!
When you're pregnant there are so many things in your life that change. You're going to have a kid soon! Your waistline is growing. You can't have that loved glass of wine. You also can't take everyday medications for everyday aches and pains. It may seem like a real test of your strength, but you don't have to suffer through! Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help ease so many symptoms associated with pregnancy.
Back and hip pain
And what if you catch a cold? No more Nyquil for you! But you don't have to suffer through that nasty virus. Herbal formulas can help get rid of that sore throat, your stuffy sinuses and the body aches.
Acupuncture is also useful for turning a fetus who isn't in the correct position for birth, stimulating labor and easing labor pains.
So many of the tough aspects of pregnancy can be eased by acupuncture and Chinese herbs, so if you're expecting a new little one, make it a more joyful time in your life by making it more comfortable for yourself!
Feeling hot? Considering making your freezer your home? Hot flashes can be one of the most annoying, and most noticeable, symptoms of peri-menopause. Common symptoms of peri-menopause include: forgetfulness, dryness (including not only skin and hair, but the vaginal wall), irregular periods, and of course, hot flashes. 34 Menopausal Symptoms has a great list and description of these and less-common symptoms (or ones that may be more common, but aren't always thought of as being associated with menopause).
Most women in this transitional time in their lives seek some form of relief for their symptoms. And who can blame them? They're losing out on sleep, they're uncomfortable from the symptoms much of the time, and NO ONE is being understanding of this time in their lives! One of the most common, and most controversial treatments has been hormone replacement (HR or HRT). Sure, it's helped a lot of women through the symptoms, but it isn't without risks, and isn't it just slowing the transition?
According to Chinese Medicine, this is a natural, normal and healthy time of change, just like becoming an adult - remember how crazy that change was? The secret to staying symptom-free (or at least symptom-not-so-noticeable) is keeping yourself balanced energetically during this time. Remember, when our energy becomes unbalanced, this is when we start experiencing unhealth and boy do our bodies start complaining!
Using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, it's very possible to ease the symptoms of peri-menopause. This isn't done by adjusting the hormone levels (as is the case with HRT), but by adjusting how your body responds to your changing levels of hormones. By reminding your body that this is normal, and that it's okay to go with the flow, it doesn't panic and create all of the miserable symptoms in an effort to get back to what it once considered "normal."
Because your body is being reminded how to be healthy, not covering up unhealth, there are no side effects and you'll be much more comfortable through this incredible change in your life!