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By Vince Ganoe, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when everybody makes promises to themselves known as New Year’s resolutions. But how many actually keep and achieve those resolutions after January? The statistics aren’t very promising. According to Forbes.com, only about eight percent of the people who actually make New Year’s resolutions, carry them to fruition. Not too good. But there is a way to help stay on track with the resolutions. Yes, acupuncture can help with achieving the new goals we set for ourselves.
For many people, losing weight is the top New Year’s resolution. So, we join a gym, start dieting, exercising and by the end of January, most have given up. Why? It’s too hard. Or is it? Acupuncture has been shown to help in many areas when it comes to losing weight. First off, it helps curb cravings. For many, this is huge. Acupuncture can also help balance hormones, which can lead people to eating more than they should and a lot of the things they shouldn’t, like sugary treats. Adding regular acupuncture treatments to proper diet and exercise can greatly increase the likelihood the weight will slowly come off, which is exactly how it should be approached.
Something else that occurs at the beginning of every year, after people join the gym, is they overdo it and then their muscles become overworked and sore. This is another area where acupuncture can help. Relieving pain and muscle spasms is the most common reason people go to see an acupuncturist. Unfortunately, it is usually after they have tried everything else without success. Why not avoid the middleman and just go straight to the source? Acupuncture is great for helping relieve pain and spasms, which will allow you to return to the gym more often, thus helping with resolution number one…losing weight.
Finally, regular acupuncture treatments can help relieve stress. After all the holiday get-togethers, the family outings, shopping, decorating and cleaning up all the mess, who isn’t stressed out? Acupuncture is a wonderful way to relax and unwind. And stress reduction is in the top five for those who actually do make resolutions. Stress is the cause of so many illnesses. And numerous studies have shown acupuncture can not only decrease stress and anxiety, but it can also lower blood pressure. For those who are on blood pressure regulating medications, this can be a great adjunctive therapy that can ultimately lead to taking less medications or even being able to stop them altogether. There are also other facets of Traditional Chinese Medicine that can help with stress relief, like tai chi or qi gong. These are both in the martial arts family, but they are much more fluid and create less impact on the joints. So not only will you be able to decrease stress, but you may also notice you’re losing weight and gaining health and stamina. It’s a win-win!
So, if you start giving up on those resolutions, don’t forget that acupuncture treatments can help. You might just be surprised how much easier it is to actually keep your resolutions and achieve your goals.
A study published in Anesthesiology: The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc., tested electroacupuncture for its effectiveness in treating persistent pain. The studies showed that electroacupuncture can greatly decrease several types of pain, including neuropathic, inflammatory, cancer-related and visceral pain. The studies showed solid evidence that electroacupuncture can indeed be used to help patients that are suffering from chronic pain, regardless of the type of pain.
Acupuncture is a modality used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which a practitioner inserts hair-thin, solid, stainless steel needles into the body, under the skin along energetic pathways. These energetic pathways, or meridians, are invisible lines that run throughout the body. These meridians allow energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) to flow throughout the body, keeping the body in balance and alignment. For optimal health to be achieved, this energy must flow freely without any blockages. Blocked or stagnant energy can result in disease or decreased vitality.
Electroacupuncture is a variation on acupuncture. Electroacupuncture works the same way as regular acupuncture, but it uses the needles as conduits that administer small amounts of electricity that invigorate the skin and muscles of the body. Electricity increases the effects of acupuncture. This can lead to increased energy, pain relief, and much, much more. Acupuncture coupled with electricity, encourages the body to release neurotransmitters that can act as natural painkillers. Because of this, electroacupuncture is becoming more common in the treatment of pain.
Electroacupuncture produces a rhythmic, non-painful muscle twitch just below the needle using a very small microamp or milliamp current. This stimulation triggers perfusion of blood flow locally. This blood flow carries essential nutrients that promote muscle regeneration. The use of electroacupuncture can break pain cycles, while smoothing the way for a person’s own pain-relieving mechanisms. Electroacupuncture also relaxes muscles.
Electroacupuncture does come with risks and it is not appropriate for everybody. Anybody who has a history of seizures, epilepsy or stroke, would not be an ideal candidate for the use of electroacupuncture. Also, it is not recommended for people who have pacemakers, as it can interfere with the electrical current of the devices. Before trying electroacupuncture, the practitioner should verify that you are not at risk. If they do not, it is vital for the patient to bring this up to avoid any complications.
Fibromyalgia affects approximately two percent of the U.S. population or around five million people. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome with many different symptoms that can vary from patient to patient: the primary symptom all fibromyalgia patients share is widespread, diffuse pain that persists as well as sleep disturbances. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown although many people with the condition have a history of either physical or emotional trauma.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can offer relief from fibromyalgia. A recent study done in Spain demonstrated a course of nine weekly treatments individualized acupuncture treatments gave patients a 41 percent decrease in pain, while also decreasing other fibromyalgia symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and depression. And significantly, the results were maintained at the one-year follow up. This is one of the most promising and significant studies done to date: previous studies have not been as conclusive, possibly because treatment protocols were generic (not individualized as is standard practice in TCM). Currently only one in five fibromyalgia patients try acupuncture within two years of their diagnosis.
Stay away from sugar and all things that turn into sugar in the body such a diary, simple carbohydrates and wheat. You can still enjoy these foods but in a much more limited quantity (after a 21 day total elimination diet add one in a time, spacing the reintroduction in every three days to determine their effect on you). These are foods that in TCM nutrition create dampness in the body. Dampness can cause pain, especially pain that gets worse with changes in weather, swollen joints, inflammation, bloating and edema.
Check for Vitamin deficiencies
If your skin is very tender to the touch you may have a Vitamin D deficiency. To increase your Vitamin D levels eat more deep-sea fish or take a high quality fish oil and get some sun every day! Sun yourself two to three times per week for about five to ten minutes per day with as much skin exposed as possible. Other vitamins that play a role in pain include: calcium, potassium as well as proteins and healthy fats. Analyze your diet to figure out what’s missing. Then focus on food-based sources to use food as medicine to heal your body back to health.
Breathing Yoga Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Developing a breathing yoga practice with intentional relaxation can become an internal part of nurturing your well-being. Here’s one to try – Lie on your back with your knees bent feet up on chair or couch. Support your body if necessary, something under the legs and/or neck can help relieve pressure and make the position more comfortable. Plus, it helps if you turn your palms up to open the shoulders and relax the chest. Focus on deep breathing and unwinding your body. With each inhale your breath will guide your mind to a different part of your body, follow the sensations in your body. With each exhale, practice letting go of that part of your body. Imagine it melting, softening, unwinding, relaxing, surrendering, turning a color you associate with relaxing… find the right word or imagery that helps your body relax. The ‘right’ word or image may change from breath to breath, day to day.
There are more than 80 chronic illnesses that are immune related including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and celiac disease.
Autoimmune diseases result when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body’s tissues. Immune deficiency is more common than most people think; around 20 percent of the population suffers from some form of an autoimmune disorder, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.
Although symptoms vary greatly depending on the specific disease, common symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint pain, muscle weakness, weight loss, dry eyes and abdominal pain.
Autoimmune diseases are not always easily treated, as they are a chronic illness with no known cure. However, there are natural ways to ease and reduce symptoms such as through acupuncture treatment.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that immune deficiencies come from an imbalance in the body. When there is a stagnation in the body’s natural energy flow, called Qi (pronounced “chee”), the body becomes out of balance.
Acupuncture works by addressing the body as a whole. By using specific acupuncture points on the body, the treatment is able to release any blockages and return the body back to its natural balance.
Research has shown that acupuncture can affect the release of hormones, proteins and chemicals in the body, which can affect blood pressure and the immune system.
Although there is no cure, immune deficiencies can be managed properly to have the best quality of life possible. Acupuncture has also been shown to help boost mood and lower stress and anxiety, which can be triggers for increased symptoms.
If you think you may have an autoimmune disease and are not getting a diagnosis, don’t give up. Immune deficiencies are hard to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms. It may take multiple doctors to get a correct diagnosis.
Acupuncture is a safe, non-invasive treatment option that can decrease symptoms and improve overall well being.
Allergies, seasonal or otherwise, is one of the biggest health issues people deal with in the United States. And the numbers are rising every year. Part of this is because our agricultural practices have changed drastically in the past 40 years and our bodies are not accustomed to dealing with genetically modified foods or the excessive amounts of pesticides now being put in and on our food. We are also being over-medicated with antibiotics used in livestock we eat and that we are prescribed by our own doctors. This has created superbugs like MRSA that no longer responding to antibiotics. Our immune systems just can’t keep up. So every year, the number of people experiencing allergies is increasing.
But what if there were a way to combat seasonal allergies without the harsh side effects of medications and to actually get to the root of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms? Acupuncture works in this manner.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a permanent solution to seasonal allergies and relief from everyday allergies with an all-natural approach that will ultimately save you money. Since TCM attacks allergies in a much different method than Western medicine, there is a good chance your allergies will cease to be a problem. Western medicine knows how allergies work and what happens to the body, but there is still no explanation as to why. But, TCM doesn’t need to know why because it looks at the body as a whole and uses an elemental system to determine where there are excesses and deficiencies in each person. So the TCM treatments are completely customized to each patient, thus making them much more effective than one-size-fits-all over-the-counter medications.
When using TCM to treat allergies, practitioners focus heavily on something called Wei Qi (pronounced “weigh chee”). Wei Qi is similar to the immune system in Western medicine. Wei Qi protects the body against foreign materials that can lead to inflammation and eventually allergies. People with lower immunity/Wei Qi are more susceptible to allergies and frequent colds. Acupuncture helps to boost the Wei Qi making it more difficult for allergens to attack the body. This is one of the best reasons to get regular acupuncture treatments if you suffer from allergies of any kind.
When energy becomes blocked due to inflammation caused by allergies, symptoms will flare back up. Acupuncture helps re-establish the flow of energy throughout the body. This will help to alleviate allergy symptoms. Many people who receive acupuncture treatments report they notice changes immediately. And over time, this will help to bring the body back into balance permanently.
Acupuncture has been shown to decrease heat associated with allergies. This can manifest as a sore throat, swollen sinuses and red eyes. There are specific acupressure points on the body that can almost instantaneously relieve these symptoms.
Many allergy sufferers also report pain in various areas of the body, especially the eyes and head. Relieving pain is what acupuncture is most frequently used for and it is also what most scientific studies focus on. The pain associated with allergies can prevent people from enjoying life. But regular acupuncture treatments can help resolve that and allow people to be more active and happy.
Probably the biggest reason to seek out acupuncture for the treatment of allergies is the amount of money a person will save. People spend over $18 billion per year on over-the-counter allergy medications, most of which only give minimal relief and have side effects like drowsiness and immune system suppression. TCM can provide relief without adverse side effects and for a lot less money overall.