Oct 3, 2012
Every year in early October I blog about home remedies for the common cold. That’s because every year my patients come into the office coughing, sneezing, and with sore throats and ask me what to do.
Fortunately I don’t get a cold this time of year because I know a few techniques to prevent it.
Why do people get colds during the change of seasons?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine explain that you are more susceptible to a cold because body’s energy, or qi, is stressed. The qi is responsible for your immune functioning. So when your qi is taxed, your immune system is also slightly run down.
How to boost your qi?
The good news is that there are many techniques to boost your qi.
Acupuncture for the common cold can be effective for boosting your qi to prevent a cold or help you get over it faster when you have a cold.
There are many Chinese herbs that help treat a cold. Ling zhi, a medicinal mushroom, is excellent for boosting your immune system. Gan mao ling, the common cold formula, is effective for treating the first stages of the common cold.
Eating delicious aromatic vegetables can help prevent you from getting a cold. Trying making a vegetable soup for the change of seasons.
Other home remedies, such as gargling with apple cider vinegar or salt are effective for making the environment of your throat and respiratory system inhospitable for viruses.
Oct 2, 2012
Eye twitching is annoying. A fluttering eye will buzz on and off throughout the day causing distraction and frustration. Sometimes, the fluttering can be quite strong leading to total closing of the eye and impairing your vision.
Most often eye twitching is caused by stress, fatigue, use of alcohol, or irritation of the eye. In some, the eye twitch becomes chronic which is called benign essential blepharospasm. Benign essential blepharospasm not only is annoying but can lead to periodic trouble seeing.
In a very small number of individuals, chronic eye twitching is a sign of a neurological condition. If the eye twitching goes on for many weeks, it is best to consult a physician or healthcare professional.
Acupuncture and acupressure are very helpful for reducing eye twitches.
How does acupuncture understand eye twitches?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has beautiful imagery to describe health and illness. Health is a state of balance within the body as well as between the body and the environment. Environmental factors such as cold, heat, and wind can cause illness. These environmental factors also represent certain illness within the body.
Eye twitching is caused by wind. Just as the leaves in the trees are rattled by wind, the rattling in the body is caused by wind as well. We use acupuncture points along the proper channels to remove this wind from the body.
What is the root of the wind? This is from inhibition in the flow of qi.
The body’s qi or energy flows through channel and meridians. Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep disrupts the flow of qi throughout the body leading to what we call stagnation. The stagnation causes pressure to develop and leads to the development of wind. This is why acupuncture treatment also should include points for moving the qi.
Acupressure for Eye Twitching
For many people with periodic eye twitching, acupressure can help stop the annoying twitch.
The acupressure point to start with would be San Jiao 5 (SJ 5). This point is located on the outside of the arm, 2 thumb widths up from the wrist between the radius bone and the the large tendons (extensor digitorum tendons) on the back of the arm.
Start by pressing this point for 30 seconds.
After finishing with SJ 5, GB 34 is the next point to treat. This point is located on the lateral aspect of the leg just below the knee. It is just below and in front of the head of the fibula. Press this point for 30 second on each side.
What’s Acupuncture treatment like for Eye Twitching?
For those with stronger, more persistent eye twitching, acupuncture may be needed. The acupuncture points for eye twitching are on the arms and legs. These points will help to reduce wind, promote the flow of qi, and are on the channels that address eye problems.
The channels of the San Jiao and Gallbladder both go to the eyes. Acupuncture points such as SJ 5 on the arm, GB 34 and GB 39 on the leg can help with the wind. Liver 3 and LI 4 on the hands and feet help to remove the stagnation.
Oct 1, 2012
The introductory class for Acupressure for Self Healing at the New York Open Center is on Monday November 5th 2012 at 6pm.
Interested in learning more about how you can use acupressure to relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, digestive problems, and improve overall health? Then you should come to my class at the New York Open Center in November 2012.
What is acupressure?
- Acupressure is a traditional Chinese healing art in which physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the hand (rather than with needles as in acupuncture), so it can be practiced by everyone.
How does acupressure work?
- Acupressure can helps to circulate and balance our qi (energy) to improve our overall health and wellness or help address specific conditions
What will I learn in the class?
- This course will introduce you to the basic concepts and practices of acupressure, including how to
locate points, how to diagnose imbalances in energy flow through the meridians, and how to apply pressure correctly. You’ll also learn some qigong breathing exercises and tui na massage techniques.
- By the end of the course, you’ll be able to use acupressure on ourselves and others to alleviate a range of ailments, including indigestion, PMS and menstrual cramps, headaches and migraines, back and neck pain, as well as to boost overall wellness and energy.
Sep 21, 2012
Many people with chronic headaches take pain killers almost daily. But a report from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom asserts that taking too many pain killers is actually making your headaches worse. The guidelines define overuse of pain medication for more than 15 days out of the month.
Types of chronic headaches include migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches among others. What happens is the brain becomes accustom to the medication, which makes it require more and more medication for relief. But taking more of the medication may actually lead to another more intense headache. This can lead to a cycle of headaches and pain relievers causing more headaches.
The guidelines suggest that the best thing to do is stop taking the medications and work to prevent the headaches with treatments such as acupuncture.
Acupuncture and Headaches
Acupuncture is unlike taking a pill. Rather than simply stopping pain, acupuncture is also a tool to prevent headaches. As an acupuncturist, we say that acupuncture works by correcting imbalances in the body that are causing the headache. Once the imbalance is corrected you can experience long lasting pain relief.
Also, there are physiological reasons that acupuncture has a long term reduction on pain. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain by regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of the body’s natural pain relievers, as well as regulating pain relieving receptors. This regulation of the brain and the central nervous system is an important factor in the long lasting impact of acupuncture.
Sep 12, 2012
Acupuncture is famous for the treatment of chronic pain. Chronic pain is one of the most common health concerns I see in my NYC acupuncture clinic. Back pain, headaches, migraines, shoulder pain, knee pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and other chronic pain conditions. Patients can have profound results.
In the clinic we know acupuncture is effective for pain, but often skeptics are vocal opponents because they believe that there is not enough research.
Recently, a very large analysis of research trials, called a meta-analysis, was published focusing on acupuncture for pain. The meta-analysis shows that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of pain. This was across many pain conditions including back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headaches, and shoulder pain.
Andrew Vickers PhD, the head author, and his team painstakingly reviewed virtually all of the acupuncture research trials which have focused on pain. They had strict criteria for the quality of the studies to be included in their analysis. In the end, the group used 29 acupuncture studies which included 17922 total patients.
The results of the study showed that acupuncture was much better than no-acupuncture control groups across the studies. The acupuncture was also better than placebo acupuncture across the groups. The difference between real and placebo acupuncture was not as large as the difference between acupuncture and no acupuncture. However, the numbers are large enough to show a real difference between placebo and real acupuncture for pain reduction.
Aug 29, 2012
This morning NPR ran an interesting story discussing weight loss and food choices for women of the Baby Boomer generation.
The take home message is simple, focus on what you can eat. Rather than bemoaning all the desserts and rich foods you cannot indulge in, think about increasing the fruits and vegetables. This will help you to be satisfied so it is easier to cut down on dessert. Not that you can’t have dessert, but a smaller portion and less often is better.
Simple choices and voila, you have yourself a healthy diet. These healthy habits will follow you around, even when going out to eat at a restaurant.
Jul 27, 2012
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used to treat skin conditions for thousands of years. While Perioral Dermatitis is a newly recognized disease, only about 35 years old, the Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments for similar skin conditions remain helpful in addressing the condition.
Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis
Perioral Dermatitis is a skin disorder which causes an erythema (redness of the skin), red bumps (called papules and pustules), and scaling. Perioral Dermatitis can look like acne, although it is not the same condition.
As the name infers, the most common locations of Perioral Dermatitis include around the mouth, on the chin, cheeks, and next to the nose. It can also occur around the eyes or on the eyelids, which is referred to as Periocular Dermatitis. Characteristic of Perioral Dermatitis is the sparing of the vermillion border around the mouth. The condition is generally not itchy.
Perioral Dermatitis most often affects young women, but the condition can occur in children and men. The cause is unknown. It was thought to be triggered by topical steroid creams. However, there are many people who contract the condition without having used topical steroids. Stress can be a significant factor at the onset of the condition. In children, the dermatitis may be associated with foods or other substances irritating the face.
Although Perioral Dermatitis does not pose a serious risk to your health, it can be very stressful and upsetting to an otherwise healthy person.
Perioral Dermatitis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a state of health is reached when the body is in balance. In order to address Perioral Dermatitis, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine bring the body back to balance.
During the examination, the acupuncturist will consider physical, emotional, and environmental factors, as well as the appearance of the skin. For example, the degree of redness, presence of papules and pustules, or scales will factor into the determinations of the imbalance. This is combined with information from taking the pulse, observing the tongue and the skin, and asking in-depth questions.
The predominant imbalances causing Perioral Dermatitis are stagnation and heat. If caused by stagnation or lack of circulation, symptoms most often include redness, thin scaling, and only a few pustules. The more redness and pustules, the more heat is present. If the erythema is persistent or becomes worse when you are hot or in the sun, the heat is more intense and deeper in the body. Digestive health can also be a factor.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy for Perioral Dermatitis
The goal of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is to correct the imbalance underlying your condition. Once the imbalance is removed, the body is able to heal itself.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbal therapy are tailored to your specific symptoms and imbalance. Both the herbal ingredients and the acupuncture points will vary, depending on the condition. Chinese herbs are generally given in combinations of 8-12 herbs. The herbs are thought to work by synergistically regulating the inflammatory process underlying the condition.
It is important to consult an acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner before taking herbs. When treating Perioral Dermatitis from stagnation, the herbs may include those which help circulate the qi such as chai hu. If there is more erythema, herbs such as sheng di huang will help remove the heat. If there are many pustules, herbs that reduce inflammation, such as ye ju hua, are used.
Jul 24, 2012
The process of treating back pain with acupuncture, or any pain for that matter, is complex. As an acupuncturist, we have many factors to consider in the treatment.
Important factors for the acupuncturist to decide are what acupuncture points to use, how long the needles stay in, what position the patient should lie, the use of electro-acupuncture, additional use of cups, and other factors.
Acupuncture points can be chosen based on location of the pain, type of the pain, and the underlying imbalances causes the pain. Some pain, such as pain from sciatica, is best relieved by acupuncture locally in the lower back, around the sacrum, and throughout the course of the sciatic nerve.
2. Use of electroacupuncture is very helpful for many types of back pain. This technique enhances the relaxation of muscles as well as helps to reducing inflammation and pain. In addition, electroacupuncture may be helpful in stimulating the growth of muscle tissue and therefore can be helpful for balancing the muscle weakness.
3. The length of the acupuncture treatment can also vary. If there is an acute back spasm, it is better to have a shorter acupuncture treatment. For muscle weakness, the needles will be left in for a slightly longer period of time.
4. The patient needs to be comfortable during the acupuncture session. Some positions, such as lying face down, will put stress on the back. These patients will often benefit from treatment lying on their side or back and use distal acupuncture points on the most powerful acupuncture channels.
5. Cupping is an effective additional technique to acupuncture for back pain. It helps to relax the muscles and bring circulation to the area.
Jul 13, 2012
The heat and humidity this year is strong. Not only is it uncomfortable, many find that their headaches are increased during the hot and humid summer.
I previously wrote a post explaining how acupuncture understands the connection between hot weather and headaches.
Read more about acupuncture treatment of headaches:
Jul 11, 2012
Acupressure is the massage of acupressure points and channels. I often use acupressure and tui na (Chinese medical massage) combined with with acupuncture in my NYC acupuncture clinic.
Acupressure in context
To really understand how acupressure works, we have to see it as part of the whole of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Chinese medicine dates back thousands of years. The first book of Chinese medicine is called the Huang di nei jing, or the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon.
The book is a conversation between the Yellow Emperor and his doctor, named Qi Bo. Qi bo explains that health comes from a state of balance within the body, and between the body and the environment. To prevent illness, people should live a balanced life. It is a very simple idea.
Chinese medicine uses many therapies, including acupuncture, acupressure, and Chinese herbs to bring balance to the body by regulating the nervous system, decreasing inflammation, and improving circulation. Once the body is in balance, it can work to heal itself.
Acupuncture channels, called the jing lou in Chinese, connect the body. These channels provide a pathway for the circulation. Qi flows through the channels, warming the body and protecting it from disease.
Acupressure and acupuncture manipulates these channels to bring you back to a healthy state.