New Year’s Resolutions

Here we are again at the start of a brand new year, balancing the side effects of too much holiday food along with the hope and anticipation of New Year’s resolutions.  The holidays are often quite stressful for many, and heading out of that scenario and moving directly into a rigid “resolution” pattern can be very difficult.  It’s during this first Acupuncture Winter Scenemonth that we feel most hopeful and excited about our potential to turn over that new leaf of exercise and proper diet and/or weight loss.

The gym is an incredibly busy place to be during this month, and the buzz and excitement of potential positive shifts and changes in one’s lifestyle feel well within reach.  The most common flaw in this plan for most people is that they try to change too much too soon, and end up feeling even worse about themselves and their potential.  Have you already started losing momentum towards your newly set goals?  What if, instead, you were gentle and loving towards yourself and created smaller, more obtainable goals for the first months after the holiday season?  What if you nourished yourself with love and self-care and tolerance rather than with rigid structure and a strict diet?

Consider focusing on just one realistic, attainable goal for the new year.  Work on pushing through your fear and self-limiting obstacles by practicing self- love and self- acceptance.  Finding a balance between taking care of the body and mind, especially after the stressful holiday season, could be the nourishment that you need as we move into the dark, damp and cold of January.

Holistic therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, are really important this time of year to help increase immunity against colds, sore throats and flu viruses. Regular “tune-up” sessions acquired once every 4-5 weeks, can help to reset the nervous system and balance out the organs and energy meridians that flow throughout the body.  Regular acupuncture sessions can keep you healthy and improve physiological, emotional and mental function.  A tune-up session also releases endorphin which feels relaxing and nourishing for your body.  

Cupping – What Are All Those Red Marks on Michael Phelps?

Michael_Phelps

 

Cupping – History and Techniques

Cupping has been front and center lately with several Olympic athletes showing off their cupping marks and excitedly chatting about the benefits.  Cupping is an ancient modality (over 2500 years old) that fits under the umbrella of Chinese Medicine.

Cupping has several applications and multiple benefits for the recipient.  It is usually done with glass or plastic cups, or sometimes rubber or other pliable material.  The practitioner will use multiple sizes depending on where on the body, they are being used.   There are many different techniques to using cups, but the desired effect is the same for each technique: to move the energy (Qi) and blood on a deep level, to pull lactic acid build-up out of the muscles, and to remove toxins from the tissue layers of the skin.

Benefits of Cupping

Cupping is a wonderful modality to use on sore, overworked muscles; or tight muscles associated with long work outs or sitting at a desk for hours or in a car for long periods of time.  One can be cupped nearly everywhere, but the main locations involve the back, shoulders, hips, neck and legs.  Cupping brings fresh blood to the surface so that healing can take place more quickly in superficial and muscle layers.  Patients, including professional athletes, benefit tremendously by increasing blood flow to the muscles and areas that have been cupped, therefore creating more movement (energetically) in those areas and facilitating healing and renewal of the tissues.

cupping

Cupping can leave dark circles or rings on the body that look like bruises, but they don’t hurt like bruises.  They usually lasts 1-5 days and seem to fade quicker with adequate hydration.  I find that most patients enjoy cupping but some prefer the glass cups over the plastic cups, or vice versa.  All patients seem to enjoy the results, feeling a release in muscle tension, and increased range of motion and an increased ease in the body.

Cupping is one of my favorite modalities to utilize in the clinic room!  Come in today for a free consult or make an appointment (828)707-2590 to see how cupping can help improve your quality of life!

 

 

Gua sha: A Useful Chinese Medicine Modality During the Winter Months

Gua Sha, combined with acupuncture, can be used to treat as well as prevent the common gua shacold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, and pain (both acute and chronic). To administer Gua Sha, a light oil is applied to lubricate the skin, then a smooth edged instrument is used to “scrape” the targeted areas. Doing this releases toxins that are stored in the body, bringing them up through the surface of your skin. This can result in the appearance of bruising that goes away within a few days. The severity of the bruising is indicative of the amount of toxins that were released, and the stagnation or “stuck energy” in the muscles and meridians or channels.

Gua Sha stimulates the immune system, detoxifies the body, increases circulation, regulates organ function, normalizes metabolism, relieves stress, removes stagnation and eases pain. I highly recommend receiving a Gua Sha treatment at the first sign of cold symptoms or a sore throat. Early treatment can stop a cold or flu in its tracks, and can also fortify your immune system to help prevent illness in advance of the cold season and year-round.

3 Tips for a Healthy Winter

1. Cover the wind gate

According to TCM, external pathogens enter the body through the wind gate, which is the back of the neck and upper back. Keeping this area covered with a scarf or hood during the colder months can help keep you protected and healthy!

2. Drink hot water with lemon

Drinking hot water with lemon each morning helps detoxify your body every day, which will help keep you healthy. Other benefits include improved digestion and aid in weight loss.

3. Chinese Herbs

Chinese Herbs can help strengthen your immune system. The right blend of Chinese herbs can alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold.

Acupuncture and Stress Reduction

Acupuncture and Stress Reduction

Our modern society has become a stressful environment different in many from our ancestors. Today we are bombarded with the technological world. Instant everything at our fingertips, times of silence and contemplation are scarce. If you don’t answer you phone right away, people wonder where you are. Gone is the time to go for a walk without your phone in your hand at the ready. This is one of many things that cause stress in our lives.

What has all this done to us as human beings? I believe without a doubt it has affected our nervous systems. More and more people are relying on Western pharmacological drugs to help them cope with this modern environment.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center implemented a study on rats and found that acupuncture has a similar mode of action to psychiatric drugs. This research study along with several other studies demonstrates how acupuncture works in the body to reduce stress , pain and potentially alleviate depression.

Reducing Stress with Acupuncture

The research team applied electro-acupuncture to a famous acupuncture point St36. They found it directly affect hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis (HPA). This is the chronic stress pathway associated with chronic pain, immunity, mood and emotions.

What is exciting about this research is that now what the Chinese developed thousands of years ago can be measured and qualified, therefore becoming more accepted in mainstream medical practices. My favorite Acupuncture Reference book, A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman devotes 4 pages to this one important acupuncture point! He points out that it was included by Ma Dan-Yang, a master physician in the Jin dynasty (1115-1234), as among the ‘eleven heavenly star points’ and another master Qin Cheng-zu of the Song dynasty made a heroic remark that, ‘ all diseases can be treated’ by this one acupuncture point

This controlled study had four arms:

  1. A group of rats getting acupuncture- via electro-acupuncture.
  2. A group receiving sham acupuncture
  3. A group with no acupuncture
  4. And a control group getting neither the stress or acupuncture.

The rats were exposed to chronic painful cold. Minutes after the exposure they were given acupuncture at St36 and it proven to be effective in preventing the elevation of stress hormones.
The main researcher of this study quotes, “This is the first report linking the effects of electro-acupuncture at ST36 to chronic stress-induced depressive and anxious behavior in animals.”