Posts Tagged ‘balance’
Apr 30, 2013
I started seeing Joe in mid-2012 at the age of 28. I was newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, have battled Interstitial Cystitis for 6 years, have chronic allergies and sinus including headaches, and have chronic constant stress and anxiety since I was a teenager. I was tired of feeling sick, stressed, and being on so many prescription medications. I had heard many great things about acupuncture, but always delayed trying it out, not sure if it would really work for me. I wanted to find someone who could mainly help my IC, and when I googled an acupuncturist in NYC for IC, Joe’s website came up. I am so glad it did, because ever since starting acupuncture with Joe, my health, body, and life has been better in all aspects.
Acupuncture is a natural high for me, and when I leave after my treatment, I feel incredibly relaxed and calm, which helps with my stress and anxiety, not just in that moment, but continuing throughout the week. Acupuncture is also incredibly great for pain and works very fast for all kinds of pain. One time I had a pulled muscle in my lower back, but after one acupuncture treatment, I was running after 2 days. One time I had such a bad headache that I wanted to go to the ER, but I went to Joe instead, and walked out almost headache free. Acupuncture helps a lot with my allergies and sinus problems, especially headaches.
Joe is so patient, answers all of my questions, every single time I see him, which is usually weekly, since that works for me. Since I feel healing through acupuncture, I know that over time, I won’t even need to go as often because acupuncture is more than a medicine that masks your symptoms or covers up ailments. It heals your body, brings it into alignment and balance. That is what it is doing for me. Acupuncture has helped me with stomach and intestinal problems, from acid reflux to Crohn’s to my stomach being upset, whether constipation or diarrhea. It has helped my bladder pain and irritation from IC. It has greatly helped my stress and anxiety.
Joe is so great, not only for being kind and patient and answering all my questions, but he answers emails too, and is very accommodating for patients and their schedules. The evening hours really work well for me and allow me to come each week. Also Joe gave me some herbal options and remedies that I take to help with my bladder symptoms and to help with regular menstruation, which is taking me towards getting off prescriptions, and being completely natural and holistic, which is my goal. I am so thankful to have found Joe and I would recommend Alban acupuncture to everyone (I already do), for no matter what pain, ailment, or health issue that you have. Acupuncture is such a positive addition to my life, and would be to anyone’s. I know it will always be a part of my life. Go natural healing!
Dec 4, 2012
Qi is the body’s energy (Qi is pronounced “chee,” and is sometimes spelled “chi.”)
There is a mystical aspect to qi. In Chinese philosophy, qi is the building blocks of the universe. Energy combines and multiplies. It is the universal energy present in all living things as well as nature.
But there is a practical aspect to qi as well. Qi is the energy we use to keep us healthy. It allows us to work, grow, exercise, and reproduce. Imbalances in the qi can lead to many health issues.
Qi needs to be abundant and circulate through channels in the body or else illness occurs. In Chinese medicine, it is said “When the qi flows there is no pain, when qi stops, there is pain and illness.” Lifestyle habits such as poor diet, overwork, and stress or a person’s constitution can affect the amount and flow of qi. Chinese medicine and acupuncture focus on correcting these imbalances.
Imbalances of Qi
The main imbalances of Qi are Qi vacuity, or too little Qi or the Qi circulation in the channels can be impaired. This is called qi stagnation.
Those with too little qi may experience the symptoms of frequent colds, fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, soft voice, poor digestion, a weak pulse, and pale tongue. This is also true often for people with chronic respiratory infections or autoimmune conditions, such as asthma, eczema, chronic bronchitis, or sinusitis and chronic sinus headaches.
Qi stagnation, when the qi is not circulating well, can also cause frequent colds and makes it difficult to fight them off. Those with qi stagnation will often get a cold after a stressful or emotional situation. They also may be prone to headaches, irregular bowel movements, ribside pain, and painful menstrual cramps.
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.
Apr 16, 2012
This morning on NPR there was a very informative piece about the causes of migraines and why women suffer more from migraines than men.
The story explains the that one reason migraines occur is because of bursts of electrical activity in specific areas of the brain. Often they begin in the visual center, which is why people will get auras from migraines. Then it will travel through different regions explaining why there can be so many different symptoms related to the migraine headache.
Originally women were thought to get more migraine was because women cannot handle stress. However, now researchers are seeing links between hormone imbalances and migraines.
Acupuncture for Migraine headaches
Migraine headaches are very commonly treated with acupuncture. In our clinic, we use acupuncture and acupressure as an effective remedy to reduce the symptoms and frequency of migraines. Here are some testimonials from our patients who have found relief from migraine headaches with acupuncture.
Read more on acupuncture for migraine headaches:
Mar 19, 2012
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to reduce joint pain, swelling, and stiffness which comes from arthritis.
Acupuncture and Arthritis Symptoms
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms from arthritis. Arthritis can effect both small joints, such as the hands and feet, as well as larger joints, such as the hips, back, knees, and shoulder. Arthritis may cause your joints to crack, swell, and have limited movement.
Acupuncture works to relieve pain and stiffness of arthritis by stimulating the release of natural pain relievers, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Acupuncture also changes the way the nervous system feels pain, helping to relieve pain for long periods of time. In addition, acupuncture has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (1). Many clinical trials of acupuncture have shown acupuncture to be effective for reducing pain in patients with arthritis (2).
Acupuncture view of Arthritis
Most people with arthritis experience greater pain in the cold and damp weather. In acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the reason this occurs is because the cold and damp impede circulation in the joints. The lack of circulation leads pain, stiffness, and swelling. The goal of the acupuncture is to increase circulation and warm the joints to relieve pain.
What is the Acupuncture treatment for arthritis like?
During the first visit, we will complete a medical history and physical examination, which focuses on an examination of effected and painful joints. Acupuncture diagnosis and treatment focuses on identifying the specific root imbalance causing the condition and tailoring the treatment for you.
In addition to the acupuncture, treatment often includes manual therapies such as tui na (acupressure), cupping, and heat. Electroacupuncture is particularly effective for pain relief in arthritis.
Acupuncture is most effective through a treatment course. The treatment should decrease pain and inflammation and improve mobility in the joints. Many people find rapid relief, within a few weeks of beginning the treatment. For others, it may take longer to have an effect. Generally, patients come in for acupuncture once to twice a week depending on the severity, and gradually get acupuncture less frequently. The treatment course generally last 2-4 months. Often, patients will experience be long lasting pain relief.
1. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
2. Berman BM, Lao L, Langenberg P, Lee WL, Gilpin AMK, Hochberg MC. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004; 141(12):901910.
Feb 21, 2012
This is one of the most common questions I get in my NYC acupuncture clinic. The acupuncture point prescriptions will differ between patients, but also will change over time within one treatment plan.
Acupuncture is highly focused on treating the correct imbalance at the correct time. As the acupuncture treatment progresses, the imbalances will change and the acupuncture point prescription will change.
For example, in acupuncture for overactive bladder the initial acupuncture treatment will focus on relaxing the bladder and calming the mind. After the intense discomfort and symptoms are corrected, the acupuncture will focus on boosting the energy, or qi, in the body to prevent the symptoms from returning.
The first part of the acupuncture treatment calms the bladder by getting heat out of the body. This may use acupuncture points such as KD2 and KD 3, Ren 2, GB 34, and ST 40. The will help the bladder and calm the feeling of urgent and frequent urination. The second part of the acupuncture treatment will be focused on boosting up the qi which will relieve the residual symptoms and provide longer term relief. Acupuncture points such as KD 3, SP 9, Ren 4 and 6 are very helpful.
Feb 13, 2012
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a term that refers to medicine practices developed in China and other parts of Asia. Traditional Chinese Medicine generally covers many types of modalities including acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese Herbal remedies, Tui Na or Chinese Medical Massage, as well as other manual therapies including gua sha (spoon massage or coining) and cupping.
In China, the term Chinese medicine (in Chinese it is called Zhong Yi 中医) often refers to the practice of Chinese herbal medicine. Although it can also refer to the entire practice of Chinese medicine. While acupuncture refers to acupuncture and moxibustion.
Some of these therapies are performed only by experienced physicians, such as prescribing complex herbal formulas or doing acupuncture. But others are considered more home remedies. This may include folk herbal remedies for common colds or manual therapies such as gua sha which can be used for nausea, car sickness, the common cold, and other common illnesses.
Common ideas in Chinese Medicine
While the therapies are diverse, done both by physician and family members, they all rest on the holistic view of the body and health that developed over 2000 years ago. A primary idea is that health is a state of balance in the body and between the body and the environment. The body has qi, energy, which flows through channel and meridians. Also, that environmental factors such as cold, heat, and dampness can cause illness. And these environmental factors represent certain illness within the body.
For example, if you have a cold, a physician may write an herbal prescription to release the heat to help you get rid of the cold. But the home remedy of gua sha spoon massage on the neck and upper back can also release the heat.
Chinese Medicine: An Evolution of Ideas
Many of the dominant concepts in Chinese medicine were discussed in the early books of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classics as well as the Treatise on Cold Diseases. Although they referenced older works, they are no longer in existence. Over the years, physicians and scholars have debated these ideas evolving into the contemporary tradition of modern Chinese Medicine.
Yet, it is important to understand that Chinese medicine is an evolving tradition. These are not static concepts, but ideas that scholars, physicians and even individual family lineages have expanded on and explored. Chinese medicine has a strong tradition of writing, discussion, and debate. There is a great diversity of ideas. Through experience and training a Chinese Medicine practitioner will develop their own style.
For example, certain physicians believed that the best way to use Chinese medicine for psoriasis was to clear heat and toxins from the body. However, other physicians believed that psoriasis developed from internal cold and the body must be warmed. These debates continue today.
In fact, some of the significant therapeutic strategies of modern Chinese medicine physicians were not developed until recently. As I mentioned in my last post, the development of electro-acupuncture for pain was only developed within the last century, a relatively short time for the history of Chinese medicine.
Jan 23, 2012
Chronic neck and shoulder pain is a very common problem which can occur from overuse, injury, stress, or poor posture. Neck and shoulder pain is often treated with acupuncture (1, 2). Acupuncture treatment often leads to long term pain relief.
For most people, neck and shoulder pain develops over time. At one point, your body was healthy and pain free. However, an injury or chronic stress leads to the development of chronic pain. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by bringing the body back to balance. By correcting the imbalance, acupuncture helps the body to heal.
Acupuncture Imbalances Causing Neck and Shoulder Pain
Acupuncture is based on a theory that the pain is caused by an imbalance. When it comes to muscle pain, the acupuncturist must determine if it is a condition of stagnation or deficiency. The treatment will be tailored to that diagnosis.
Stagnation occurs when there is a lack of circulation in the muscles. This impedes the circulation in the acupuncture channels and muscles, which leads to pain. A deficient condition is when there is not enough energy. Then the muscles do not have enough substance to support them, as a result they tense up.
There is an old acupuncture saying which states, “When there is movement, there is no pain. When there is no movement, there is pain.” When there is no circulation and the muscles are tight, pain occurs. This is often caused by stagnation.
Stagnation may develop from an injury, wear and tear, or chronic stress. Chronic stress is one of the most common causes of stagnation, which is why it is easy to develop pain and injuries during periods of high stress.
The other common issue with neck and shoulder pain is qi weakness, or too little energy. In this case, the acupuncture must focus on building up the energy to promote healing.
For an excess condition, your acupuncturist may use a stronger technique, and for a deficient condition, your acupuncturist may use a more gentle technique. If the deficiency is very extreme, then the treatment may be take a longer time.
Acupuncture Treatment for Neck and Shoulder Pain
A successful acupuncture treatment must match the correct identification of an imbalance. Often, the acupuncture treatment will involve acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and tui na.
For the imbalance of stagnation acupuncture points on the neck and shoulders such as Gallbladder 20, Gallbladder 21, Small Intestine 11, and Du 14 may be selected. When the root cause of the shoulder pain is an underlying weakness, then acupuncture points to boost up the qi should be used. These point could be Spleen 6, Kidney 3, and Liver 3. Patients often feel some relief after a few visits. A full treatment course may range from 4-10 visits depending on the severity and complexity of the pain.
Physiological, acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relieves in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Many studies have also shown acupuncture to have a anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (3).
Tui Na for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Tui Na, or Chinese medical massage, is also very helpful for treatment of shoulder pain. One of the most powerful and unique techniques in Tui Na is called the rolling technique, called gun fa in Chinese. This technique uses the back of the hand to roll over the muscles. Rolling technique is both soft and strong, allowing it to get deep into the muscle and help with relaxation.
If you push too hard on a muscle, the muscle will rebel. Instead of relaxing, it can become tighter. The rolling technique, because it is smooth, allows the use of strength while avoiding resistance within the muscle.
Treating the Whole Person
Acupuncture will address the whole person, not just the neck and shoulders.
The body is interconnected, tension from one area can create problems in other muscles. Often, trying to target and treat only the location of the pain does not relieve the tension in the surrounding muscle groups. This is particularly true when treating pain in the neck and shoulders. All of the muscles in the region need to be addressed.
Acupuncture helps to relax the body and the mind. Stress and pressure have a profound effect on neck pain development. The stress causes the muscles to become tense. The muscle tension then causes stress, creating a cycle. The acupuncture can help to break this cycle.
1. Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Eisenberg DM, et.al. The Practice of Acupuncture: Who Are the Providers and What Do They Do? Ann Fam Med 2005;3:151-158.
2.National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Acupuncture for Pain. Accessed on 1/23/2012.
3. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
written by: Joseph Alban
Last Edited: 1/23/2012
Jan 23, 2012
Acupuncture has a powerful ability to address pain all over the body. Often, the acupuncture treatment will focus on areas that are far away from the pain. For example, in Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, the treatment will use many acupuncture points on the arms and legs. This is because the acupuncture channels can be used to reduce pain all along that particular channel.
I like to think of the acupuncture channels as an map of the body to address pain in specific areas. The acupuncturist will try to locate the area of the pain and determine which acupuncture channel is effected. The most powerful acupuncture treatment will address the acupuncture points for that specific channel.
It is particularly important to focus on the proper acupuncture channel when treating complex chronic pain conditions, such as chronic pelvic pain syndrome. In chronic pelvic pain syndrome, the pain can be located throughout the pelvis, pelvic floor, genitals, hips, lower back, or buttock. Careful examination and precise location of the acupuncture points helps to create a more accurate and effective treatment.
The acupuncture points I select focus on the most effected acupuncture channels. For example, if there is pain and sensitivity on the lower abdomen or near the lower ribs, the GB channel may most effected. In this case, I would uses the acupuncture point GB 34 near the knee. If there is pain in the pelvic floor, the LIV channel is often imbalanced. I may choose points such as LIV 3 or LIV 5 on the lower leg or foot.
Acupuncture points close to the pain
In addition to acupuncture points far from the pain, some powerful acupuncture points will be located close to the pain. For chronic pelvic pain syndrome, many sensitive points are located on the lower abdomen, hips, and pelvis. These acupuncture points may also be used if they are tender or sensitive.
Jan 9, 2012
The Meaning of Zhen Jiu ( 针灸)
Acupuncture is not just acupuncture. In fact, the word for acupuncture in Chinese, Zhen Jiu, actually translates to “acupuncture and moxibustion” which shows how central moxibustion is within acupuncture.
Moxibustion is the warming of acupuncture points or needles. Most often, this is done through burning an herb called mugwort. It can also be done with heat lamps as well as herbal lotions.
In my office, we use smokeless moxibustion because it is treated and does not create much smoke.
How does Moxibustion work?
Just like with acupuncture, moxibustion focuses on correcting the underlying imbalance in the body.
Because it is warming, generally moxibustion is used when there is cold in the body. Moxibustion can help to warm the body and add qi as well. The warmth also helps to increase circulation.
Boosting the Qi
There is a tradition that one can use moxibustion on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 for 100 consecutive days in order to boost the body’s qi. I think this therapy is particularly effective for those with poor digestion or asthma due to low energy.