I recently wrote an article on treating your dog for arthritis using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I included 4 Dos and 4 Don'ts when considering acupuncture for your pet, there are even some things you can do at home to help your furry friend feel younger again! Check it out!
I get asked all the time, how it is that acupuncture reduces pain, so I figured I'd answer it here as well, since many of you are probably wondering the same thing!
Let's start with what we know biomedically about how acupuncture relieves pain:
And here's how Chinese medical theory looks at it (and remember, acupuncture was invented long before we had biomedical testing and imaging - the ancient Chinese used metaphors seen in nature to describe the workings of the human body):
Think of the body as a river system, with rivers and streams flowing all throughout your body. When healthy, our rivers should be unblocked and smooth-flowing. When we get injured (as in the picture above - ouch!), a dam is placed across the rivers, and they can no longer flow smoothly, or even in the same directions that they previously had. When the rivers aren't reaching the same areas they used to, the symptom that we experience is pain. So what acupuncture does is remove the dam so that the rivers can flow smoothly once again.
Now, let's compare the two ways of looking at acupuncture (biomedical and Chinese medical theories): Couldn't inflammation and decreased blood flow be analagous to a dam across a river? And by removing that dam, wouldn't we be restoring (blood) flow to the area?
I know that oftentimes acupuncture seems mysterious and almost magical in its theories, but if you can see through the metaphors, you'll find that the ancient Chinese were on to something. They had the story right, it's just that some of the details had different names!
A new study shows that the herb Corydalis (known as Yan Hu Suo in Chinese medicine) is effective at decreasing pain. Especially long-term, low level chronic pain.
There's a reason my teachers called this herb the Tylenol of Chinese medicine! Now, just imagine how effective it is when it's used in a pain-relieving Chinese herbal formula that's been formulated just for you and the specifics of your pain!
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:
So what is the purpose of burning moxa? Moxa is an extremely warming and moving herb so it can be used for many reasons:
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:
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?