Posts Tagged ‘Acupuncture’
Nov 7, 2013
Acupuncture is very effective at treating depression without medications or side effects. Recently, a new study shows that acupuncture treatment for depression not only works quickly but also has long lasting results.
In this study, 755 patients were given acupuncture, psychological counseling, or standard care which is depression medications. After only 3 months with an average of 10 visits, the depression levels in the acupuncture group were significantly less than in the group that took medications. This reduction in depression was not only fast but it remained constant at a 1 year follow up from the acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture for Depression
Acupuncture treatment for depression does not just focus on relieving the symptoms but also improving the health of your body overall. This is because acupuncture does not focus on one single symptom but takes the whole person into consideration, both mentally and physically. Each treatment plan is individualized to your particularly health concerns.
Interestingly, in this study the acupuncture patients also had a reduction in pain. In my acupuncture office many people who come in with physical complaints like back pain find their anxiety and depression are also improved after the treatment.
There are strong neurological and hormonal effects of acupuncture. We know a lot about how acupuncture works to reduce pain. Acupuncture helps to regulate the nervous system, stimulating the release of the body’s natural pain relievers, as well as regulating pain relieving receptors. Acupuncture also has an anti-inflammatory effect reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones. It is probably that these same pathways help to reduce depression. This is particularly important now that we have a much more clear understanding of the connection between inflammation and depression.
Oct 30, 2013
Most people think that Chinese medicine is used only for chronic health problems, but it can be very effective for acute problems, like relieving and preventing colds. In fact, Chinese medicine has been relieving and preventing colds for thousands of years.
Herbs can help relieve your sore throat, coughing, headaches, fatigue, chills and fever. The key is using the right formula at the right stage of your cold. Before taking Chinese herbs, ask your acupuncturist or Chinese medicine doctor which one is right for you.
Gan Mao Ling- Gan Mao Ling translates to the common cold pills. This herbal formula helps to fight minor colds as well as prevent you from getting a cold if something is going around. It is best to take this formula in the very early stages of a cold, as soon as you feel run down or a little tickle in your throat. You can also take it when travelling or if someone in your office is sick. the herbs in this formula are known to have anti-viral capabilities particularly within the respiratory tract.
Yin Qiao San- Yin Qiao San is the main formula for a cold with a sore throat. In Chinese medicine, the common cold often manifests as a condition we call wind heat. The idea is that the virus or bacteria comes in through the wind and attacks the respiratory system. The main herbs in the formula, Honeysuckle and Forsythia fruit, are release the wind heat and have shown to be powerful anti-viral herbs.
Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Tang- This is a primary formula to help with stomach bugs. It can be effective for a strong stomach bug or for minor food poisoning. The aromatic herbs in this formula address the viruses of digestive system. The aromatic herbs also help the digestive system to return to healthy state after you’ve gotten the bug. You can also take this formula when you are travelling if eat something you should not have.
Ling zhi- in English it is known as Hen of the Woods or Rei Shi. Ling zhi has many positive health benefits such as reducing allergies, treating insomnia, and hypertension. In order to prevent colds, it is a great immune booster. While it is good for boosting your energy, it can also be used for insomnia. I recommend to some patients that get frequent colds to take a small dose of ling zhi daily to prevent a cold that is going around.
Oct 23, 2013
Nobody debates that a healthy diet includes a lot of vegetables. But how to eat them is another story.
Chinese medicine has long been an advocate of eating cooked vegetables over raw. This is because cooked vegetables are easier to digest, allowing the body to more easily absorb the nutrients. And cooked vegetables are easier on the digestive system preventing unwanted symptoms like bloating (more on this below).
In this week’s Times, an article examines how cooking vegetables can improve their vitamin absorbability. As one can expect, not all vegetables or vitamins in the vegetables act alike. For example, boiling and steaming vegetables can help with the release of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K as well as the antioxidants. And in tomatoes, cooking helps to release releases lycopene. But boiling does degrade some of the water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C.
This research is difficult to be comprehensive. But it is important to note that many vegetables become more healthy when cooking them.
In the end, it is best to eat vegetables in a way that you enjoy them. Steaming, boiling, in soups can all be delicious. Particularly for fibrous vegetables like broccoli. Of course some of the crunchy vegetables like peppers, lettuce, and arugula taste great in a salad.
Protect the Digestive Qi
Qi, the body’s energy, is actually a very practical concept. We use qi to work, exercise, stay healthy, and digest food. At the same time, digestion is the primary method for creating qi. Simply put, the body uses digestive qi to digest food and make more qi.
Eating vegetables that are cooked helps the digestive qi extract the qi of the food. Raw vegetables that are hard to digest can injure the digestive qi functioning. This sometimes happens when you too many raw veggies that are difficult to digest vegetables.
Photo: Enric Archivell
Jun 24, 2013
For many years in my adult life, I have suffered from cystic acne that would flare up during stressful periods in my life as well as during hormonal cycles. After years of unsuccessful and very harsh treatments from various dermatologists, I decided to research the use of acupuncture to treat my acne.
I have been a patient of Dr. Alban for the last six months, and attend acupuncture sessions twice a month in conjunction with the herbal formulas that are prescribed. As a result, my acne has diminished dramatically and I feel an overall sense of health improvement. Dr. Alban is practitioner who understands and treats the underlying causes of a condition and is extremely professional courteous.
Jun 19, 2013
I used to have back pain and back spasms on a regular basis. Thanks to acupuncture and tai ji practice I have not had a back spasm in years.
Until last week.
A lot has been going on recently with me, moving into our new New York acupuncture office, we remodeled our apartment, and we have a little one on the way. I’ve had a lot on my mind. Also the New York weather has been humid which tightens my back muscles.
When my back seized up, the pain was mostly on the right side of my lumbar. My lower back was so tight I could not stand straight and the pain was intense in my lumbar and sacrum. I could barely get up from sitting.
Luckily, I have treated many back spasms with acupuncture, massage, and stretching. I was able to control the back spasm pain within the first day and get over the spasm entirely in 3 days.
The combination I use was effective. Here is how I did it without any pain medications.
1. Acupuncture: As an acupuncturist, I see back pain and back spasms all the time. The acupuncture helps to reduce the pain and relax the muscles. Just as I would with my patients I looked for the ashi acupuncture points (translated as “ouch” acupuncture points). These are areas that the muscle is very tender to touch. By needling them we can relax the muscles. After the first acupuncture treatment, my back started to loosen up and the pain was greatly reduced. I would give myself daily acupuncture for 3 days.
2. Stretching: Back stretches are essential to keeping a healthy back. But as I got busier I neglected my regular stretching routine. Simple stretches are invaluable for back pain. Stretches such as knees to the chest, soft back twists, and hamstring stretches help significantly. It’s also important to pay attention to your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can often lead to back pain.
3. Go for a walk: It is important to keep moving when you have back pain. Many people want to stop exercising when you have a back spasm. Don’t. It is helpful to keep yourself moving and limber. Short walks help to loosen your back and are relaxing. Slowly extend the walk and push yourself a little bit more. As you have less pain and spasm you can return to your normal exercise routine.
4. Sleeping position: The best position to sleep in is either lying on your back with knees elevated or lying on the side with a pillow in between your knees. Both of these positions relieve pressure on the back and allows the muscles to relax and return to normal.
Jun 11, 2013
Kombucha is experiencing a revitalization as a healthy tonic beverage. While only recently gaining the popular spotlight, kombucha is believed to have first developed in China over 2000 years ago. From there it spread throughout Asia, and within the last century, to the West.
Some have said that kombucha can help with many types of illnesses, from insomnia, to poor digestion, and even reduce of gray hairs. So does it do all that? Let’s start with a little background.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a delicious fermented tea beverage. Its taste is both sweet and sour. Known as hóngchájùn (red tea fungus) in Chinese, the English word has been traced to Japanese etymology. The term “red tea fungus” can be misleading, as “red tea” is simply the Chinese equivalent for “black tea.”
In the process of brewing kombucha, tea is fermented with healthy bacteria and yeast. As a fermented food, Kombucha has many of the health benefits of fermented foods containing a plethora of lactic acid bacteria. Bacteria can play a very important role in the healthy functions of the digestive system, immune system, and even reproduction.
The fermentation process also raises the level of some B vitamins. According to Kombucha Kamp, a website with extensive information about kombucha, “Vitamins available in living form from whole foods are the easiest for the body to assimilate. By drinking small doses of Kombucha over a long period of time, you are delivering these water soluble vitamins in a bio-available form such that can be immediately utilized by the body. These microdoses over a long period of time have a far more beneficial effect than any megadose pill or synthetic supplement can provide.”
So the kombucha delivers both pro-biotic lactic acid bacteria and vitamins that can help with overall health and well being. I don’t think it is a panacea for all conditions (unfortunately not a cure for gray hair or baldness). But in my personal experience, kombucha helps with digestion and immune functioning in general. And best of all it tastes good.
How to Make Kombucha
While many opt to purchase already-made kombucha in stores, brewing at home can be delicious and much more cost effective. It’s very easy to do; all you need to do is make a batch of strong black tea with sugar, and then add your SCOBY (symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast). With proper storage in a dark, dry place, you will have your own batch of kombucha ready in 7-10 days.
Here’s a great step by step recipe on how to get started brewing kombucha at home.
Amanda Mester significantly contributed to this article.
May 29, 2013
Bacteria are everywhere. In the soil, on our skin, in our guts, in our eyes, and reproductive organs. Everywhere. In fact, our bodies have more than 10 times the amount of microbial life in us than our own cells.
In the last century, bacteria have gotten a bad wrap. Many bacteria are needed for healthy digestion, immune system function, and healthy reproduction among others.
So rather than having a war on bacteria, cohabitation with bacteria is gaining ground in the scientific world. Recently in the New York Times, the author Michael Pollan wrote a piece about our the latest information regarding the microbiome, the life of the microbes that live with us and believed help us stay healthy.
The war on bacteria
Since we’ve known about germs, they have become a target to eradicate. And of course this has been very successful and saved many lives. But it is possible we’ve gotten rid of too many microbes, the ones that helps us as well as the ones that hurt us.
Bacteria are helpful in digestion, our immune system, reproduction, and other bodily functions. People in cultures that do not use or have access to industrialized food production and industrialized chemical cleaners, and therfore a higher exposure to the plethora of bacteria, have a much lower rate of atopic eczema, asthma, allergies, IBS, and other chronic diseases (of course lack of access to modern medicine produces other medical dangers like severe infections).
So how do we live together in harmony?
A symbiotic relationship
In acupuncture and Chinese medicine we understand the need to live in harmony with the environment. Bacteria are part of this environment inside and outside our bodies. Now it is looking like we need to life in harmony with our microbes.
What can we do to cultivate a healthy relationship with our bacteria? The research is still being done, so there is no strict prescription. But using common sense, we can gain a few simple recommendations.
1. Eat whole foods. Plant based whole foods that have a lot of fiber and nutrients are not only good for you but also for your gut bacteria. These are called prebiotic foods because they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. In the long run, they are much better than taking probiotics. Different forms of fiber (soluble and insoluble) may help encourage healthy bacteria in different parts of your digestive system. You can’t go wrong with eating whole foods, its healthy in many other ways such as providing vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
2. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are foods which bacteria, yeast, and fungi have processed. Fermented foods have been a part of human culture probably as long as we have had culture. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and sour pickles contain naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria, which is what probiotics are. These foods will provide a large variety of lactic acid bacteria increasing your microbiome diversity,
They are delicious and you can make them at home!
May 16, 2013
The itch in atopic dermatitis can take over your life. It is so intense, those with atopic eczema of wake up scratching. And after your scratch, the skin becomes more inflamed, itchy, dry, and lichenified.
Most people with atopic eczema have a family history eczema, hay fever, and asthma. Allergies to foods, mold, or irritant substances may cause a flare in the condition (1). Atopic eczema is increasing rapidly in industrialized countries. Atopic eczema is treated most often with topical steroids that suppress the inflammatory response. Unfortunately, steroids also have many side effects.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help reduce eczema naturally.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine approach to Atopic Eczema
Traditionally, Chinese medicine called eczema the “wind of four crooks” referring to the eczema rashes on the inside of the elbows and knees which are the common locations of the condition (2).
Chinese medicine treats eczema not by suppressing the immune response, but rather correcting the imbalances that are causing the eczema. By correcting or removing these imbalances your body is able to heal on its own.
In eczema, the most common underlying imbalances are dry heat or dampness. To determine the imbalance, I will observe how the skin looks. If the skin is dry, cracked, and irritated, then too much dry heat may be the most significant factor in the eczema. If there is more swelling, crusting, and vesicles, then dampness may be the most significant factor.
Because Chinese medicine is holistic, we also consider how digestion, allergies, sleep, and emotional health play a role. Acupuncture points and herbs are selected specifically for their ability to correct that specific imbalance.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema
The therapy may combine acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and topical herbal creams.
Chinese herbal medicine focuses on correcting the imbalance. If heat is the cause of the eczema, we will use herbs that traditionally are used to “clear heat” from the body, such as sheng di huang (rehmannia) and jin yin hua (honey suckle). Many of the heat reducing herbs are also potent anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties.
If dampness is causing the eczema, herbs that drain dampness such as ku shen (sophroa) can be used. There are also herbs specifically for the symptoms. For example, di fu zi (broom cypress) is very effective in reducing itch.
External herbal creams are very effective at decreasing inflammation and stopping itching. For some people, reduction in inflammation and itching happens after the first visit.
Acupuncture is very effective to control the itching in eczema. I find that auricular and body acupuncture combination to be the most effective. After the acupuncture, I often will use magnet stickers in ear acupuncture points that correspond to the specific area of the body the itch is found. It is possible that the same physiological mechanisms which acupuncture uses to reduce pain are effective for stopping itch in eczema (3).
For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms. This is because Chinese medicine focuses on correcting the root imbalance causing the condition, not just masking the symptoms. The long term benefit of the herbs may be due to immunoregulatory mechanisms of Chinese medicine.
1. PubMed Health. Atoptic Eczema. Accessed 5/14/2013.
2. Mazin Al-Khafaji. Atopic Eczema “Wind of the four crooks.” Journal of Chinese Medicine. Number 77: p5-8. February 2005.
3. Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A., et al. Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. Epub 2009 Dec 11.
May 13, 2013
I came to Alban Acupuncture a year ago. My major concern was chronic pain in my neck, back and shoulder. I tried physical therapy, chiropractor, massage and acupuncture without lasting results. After a few months of being treated by Joseph, my condition significantly improved. Presently I’m coming once a month to maintain a good shape. I think Joseph’s method is unique because he combines acupuncture with Chinese massage.
Joseph is also helping me with many other problems like palpitations, low energy, stress, seasonal allergies, old knee injury, ankle sprain…
Joseph gives a lot of attention to his patients. His approach is holistic. In the beginning of my visit I tell Joe my current complains and he is addressing them in the same session with my chronic neck/back problems. Overall experience from my visits ( I commute from Staten Island to get there!) is so positive that I’d definitely recommend Alban Acupuncture to my friends.
May 10, 2013
Acupuncture is mysterious, acupuncture is unique, but above all acupuncture is practical.
Often patients come in my New York acupuncture clinic and they are surprised how practical it is. And the main reason that acupuncture is practical is that it works. It’s not about the body’s energy or imbalances that are the root of your problem. It’s about feeling better and staying healthy.
Feel Better, Get Acupuncture
Acupuncture is about staying healthy, but the way it works is by correcting imbalances in the body. When the imbalance is removed you feel better. The acupuncture is just reminding the body how to be healthy.
When a patient comes into the our acupuncture office, we assess what the problems is, where and what imbalance is impending your health. The acupuncture treatment works to correct the imbalance. There are many imbalances that cause diseases. The key is to address the correct one with the correct approach. For example, if there is not enough Qi, the body’s energy, the acupuncture helps to boost the body’s qi.
Acupuncture is a simple idea but complicated in practice
Creating an effective therapy is where it gets more complicated, because addressing the underlying imbalance effectively depends upon the acupuncturist’s technique. This includes choosing the right acupuncture points, the most powerful combination of acupuncture points, and also how your acupuncturist stimulates the acupuncture points.
The correct acupuncture points must be chosen. Take the example I already used, if there is not enough Qi in the body, then we should use acupuncture points that stimulate production of Qi like St 36 or Kid 3.
Location of the acupuncture point is important as well. For example, when treating migraine headaches, I prefer to use acupuncture points that are not on the head, but rather on the shoulders, arms, and legs. This helps to reduce the imbalanced energy in the head causing the migraine. But for a back spasm in the lower back, I would use more acupuncture points close to the issue.
Acupuncture Technique is in the Hands
Another aspect is how acupuncture points are combined together. Sometimes it is important to put a few points close together to stimulate healing in a specific area. For example, with a muscles spasm in the lower back I may use a technique called surround the dragon. The surround the dragon technique uses four or five needles in the circle around the muscle in spasm. This communicates with the muscles to relax and return to a healthy states.
Part of the acupuncture technique is manual. How do we use the needles to stimulate the acupuncture points, nervous system, muscles, and fascia.
One technique to get a trigger point to release is twirling. The needles are twirled slightly to create a twitch in the muscle. The twitch is a signal that the body is acupuncture point is activated and it is initialing the healing process.