4 Common Holiday “Side Effects” and How Chinese Medicine Can Help!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, sometimes. Other times we can feel a little bit run down, stressed out and bloated from all the Christmas cookies.

 

While a huge component of TCM is prevention, but sometimes holiday “side effects” happen!

 

Here’s how to remedy 4 common holiday mishaps, so you can stay happy and healthy going into the New Year!

 

Overeating and Overindulging – *Burp!*

 

We’ve all been there. Grandma offers you that third helping of stuffing, or you keep eyeballing that assorted chocolate tray in the workplace lunchroom. One more couldn’t hurt, right?

 

*gurgle gurgle*

Image result for uh oh face

 

During the holidays, we tend to overindulge on rich foods, sweets and alcohol. Instead of swigging back Peptobismol like it’s going out of style, acupuncture and herbs can help regulate stomach acid secretions, moderate digestive enzymes, and modulate motility in your bowels. In other words: slowing things down for diarrhea, and speeding things up for constipation.

 

Stressing the *Bleep* Out!

 

You’re in a crowded mall. Did she say she wanted a blue or red sweater? What was that game little Timmy wanted? Blue Life Break?

Why is it so crowded in here? IS IT HOT IN HERE OR IS IT JUST ME?

 

 

Headaches, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, high cortisol levels – so much for holiday cheer right? Sometimes stress can get the best of us with all the events, shopping, and planning this time of year.

 

Acupuncture is a great tool for promoting relaxation, both short term and long term. In the short term, acupuncture encourages the body to release “feel good” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin to give that sense of “Ahhhhh” post treatment.

 

Long term, acupuncture and herbs can regulate our body’s ability to handle stress. This is done by improving the function of organs such as our Liver and Kidneys, and moderating our cortisol levels. Lowering cortisol levels also keeps our immune systems working top notch, so we don’t get the post holiday sniffles. 

 

Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – ironic name, right?)

 

It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s winter in Alberta. Not only do we get less sunshine and Vitamin D, but it can sometimes just feel grey and “Bleh” during the winter months. Add stressful family events or a lack of sleep from Christmas parties into the mix, and we can end up feeling quite crummy.

 

While SAD can have different causes for different people, some theorize that it can be caused by an overstimulation of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin. Too much melatonin means too much “sleepy hormone”, which can cause fatigue, lethargy and depression.

 

Not only are herbs and supplements great for moderating the individual root causes of SAD, but acupuncture can have an effect on the pineal gland and moderate melatonin secretions. There’s even a point right over it!

 

Sore, Cranky and Downright Grumpy Muscles

 

Whether it’s from hanging Christmas lights, shovelling the walks in the cold, or doing an incredibly animated impression of Mr. Bean Cooks a Turkey; our necks, backs and hips can take a beating this time of year.

Image result for mr bean turkey gif

 

Acupuncture increases circulation to the muscles and can stimulate the muscle to relax. Moxibustion and electro-acupuncture can also relieve inflammation and decrease the healing time on sprains and strains.

 

Add on some Cupping, time under the TDP lamp and maybe even some Tuina and you’ll be back to your Rowan Atkinson impressions in to time!

 

Prevention is key, but sometimes holiday mishaps happen!

 

Eating slowly, meditating, and stretching can help us avoid these festive side effects. But sometimes we just have to let loose, and enjoy the holiday fun!

 

Just do yourself a favor; get treatment for damage control afterwards so it doesn’t turn into a year round problem. Mr. Bean probably got acupuncture after his Turkey cooking adventure too!

 

Happy holidays! 

 

Have questions about how Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine or Herbs can help you?

 

Contact us!

 

Treatment of PMS with Acupuncture

Irritability, bloating, cramping, fatigue, headaches, sore breasts, cravings, acne. Ringing any bells?

 

Aunt Flo is back… And she’s GRUMPY.

 

 

These are “normal” symptoms that many women experience during their time of the month. While society has made it seem acceptable for these symptoms to appear 12 times per year, these are actually signs of dysfunctional menstrual cycle.

Premenstrual syndrome or PMS (also known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD) are umbrella terms to encompass the many unpleasant symptoms of periods. Believe it or not, periods are not supposed to be painful and awful!

For many women, they can only dream of having a pain free period. Many resort to taking excessive amounts of painkillers, planning their lives around their cycle and even suffering from depression or anxiety from their menstrual issues.

 

Aunt Flo doesn’t have to be the word that rhymes with witch that everyone thinks she is!

 

A normal period should feel slightly heavy in the low abdomen with little to no cramping. The menstrual fluid should be free of clots and bleeding should last 3 to 5 days with about 1 to 2 ounces of blood. This can slightly vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors, including age, lifestyle and bodyweight. (your friendly neighbourhood acupuncturist can give you a more individualized view of your period expectations)

Acupuncture and herbal therapies can soothe painful cramps and ease emotional symptoms in the short term; and with a regular treatment schedule, acupuncture balances hormones, regulates your cycle and works to reduce and eliminate your PMS symptoms.

According to a study done in 2014 (Jang et.al, 2014), PMS symptoms were reduced by an average of 78% with acupuncture and herbal therapy, lasting for several months. This is why we do tune up treatments!

 

But happy periods require a bit of homework as well!

 

Since acupuncture addresses the body as a whole, you practitioner will also recommend diet and lifestyle advice to help extend your treatments. While the homework is pattern dependant and individualized just like the acupuncture and herbal remedies, here are some basic tips for PMS free periods!

  • Stay warm during and slightly before your period. This means dressing appropriately for the weather (no skirts in the middle of an Alberta winter!)

 

  • Manage your stress (Self care alert!). Yes, easier said than done, but stress can have a huge impact on periods and hormone health. This comes can come in many forms whether it be meditation, journaling, taking walks or exercising.

  • Incorporate for period friendly foods into your diet. These include chickpeas, eggplants, bone broths, nuts such as almonds, fish, and leafy greens.

  • Try using a menstrual cup instead of tampons. This will not only allow you to assess how much you are bleeding, clots and consistency, but it allows the menstrual fluid to flow freely and reduce cramping by limiting stagnation. It’s also hormone disruptor free and eco friendly! Bonus!

 

 

Hooray! With acupuncture and lifestyle advice now at your disposal, you can now be on better terms with Aunt Flo! She can actually be a very nice lady!

 

Do you have more questions about how acupuncture can help you with your periods? Contact us

 

Another great women’s health resource is Optimal Fertility! Check our their site for articles, supplement options and awesome women’s health care info!

 

References

Jang, S. H., Kim, D. I., & Choi, M. (2014). Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-11

 

Treating Anxiety and Depression with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Whether you have been formally diagnosed, or you are experiencing a stressful time in your life, anxiety and depression can affect us all at some point, and on a varying spectrum.

While some people have awesome success with managing their depression or anxiety with medication, many still suffer from mental illness symptoms; even while taking prescriptions and seeking help from psychologists and psychiatrists. This is where alternative treatments such as acupuncture and herbal therapy shine!

 

So how does acupuncture help anxiety and depression?

Acupuncture can help out those suffering with anxiety and depression in many ways. First and foremost, it has a direct effect on your nervous system.

Our nervous system is super handy at sensing if our bodies are being threatened, and has a “Fight or Flight” mode. This is great for when you’re being chased by an angry goose (Hey, we’re in Canada, it could happen!) and you need that adrenaline spike to either fight it with your bare hands, or run away as fast as you can.

Image result for canada goose run for your life

However, when our nervous system is constantly in “Fight or Flight” mode, we can end up feeling either too stimulated (more anxious), under stimulated from “burn out” (more depressed), or both. With treatment, our nervous system becomes more malleable and able to handle daily stressors more appropriately, and our bodies don’t send us into “run away from an angry goose mode” when we’re just stuck in traffic.

Another factor with anxiety and depression is our hormone secretion and regulation. If our cortisol levels (stress hormone) are always ramped up, we can get burnt out. Our adrenals then suffer, leaving us with no gas in the tank, leading to mood disorders and extreme fatigue (cortisol is what gets us up in the morning!). This can also affect the proper secretion and regulation of oxytocin and serotonin (feel good hormones), which are vital for keeping our moods level and even.

Acupuncture, herbs and lifestyle changes can all have a positive effect on regulating these systems. When these systems are balanced, our tolerance to physical and mental stressors becomes much more manageable, and we don’t wear ourselves out over minor stressors accumulating.

 

That seems WAY too simple…

 

While this is a very brief overview of the mechanisms of anxiety and depression, there are many different and complicated circumstances for different individuals, including trauma, genetics and lifestyle.

Chinese Medicine and acupuncture address the underlying root to the issue, according to the individual as a whole and their own personal pattern. This allows treatment plans to flex with your mental state and where you fit on the spectrum of anxiety and depression.

 

So let’s get out of “run from the goose” mode, and start feeling better!

 

Have more questions about what how acupuncture can help with your mental health?

 

Contact me! I love answering questions!

 

It Boils Down to Your Noodle (Disclaimer: Not Pasta Noodles) – Acupuncture and Concussions

As the weather begins to warm up, more people are heading outside. Whether it be for walks, bike rides, backyard shenanigans, and sporting events, everyone is starting to move. This also includes everything speeding up, no need to worry about slipping and sliding on ice, so why not pick up the pace and put the pedal to the metal?

This is where our brain comes in. It loves excitement, it likes going fast in vehicles with the windows down, it likes the rush of adrenaline your body receives when you go in for a tackle, but you know what it doesn’t like? Concussions.

 

Concussion? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

 

Concussions are a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) which can occur from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and falls. Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • feeling out of it
  • feeling nausea
  • poor memory
  • irritability
  • being more emotional than usual
  • hypersensitivity to light and noise
  • poor concentration
  • troubles sleeping and balance issues (to name a “few”).

Concussions can take a long time to heal from, depending on how well you are able to look after your noodle. Sleep is important, staying away from physical activity is crucial, and limiting screen time and “heavy “thinking is a must. Any of these can cause your symptoms to worsen and set you back to square one and symptoms may last for months if not taken care of properly. Then we start to get into the post-concussion syndrome issues and that’s a whole other ball game that no one wants to play in (debilitating pain, tremors, insomnia, memory loss).

 

So how can Acupuncture help?

We already know (hopefully) that acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of nausea, dizziness, headaches, poor memory, changing emotions, sleep difficulties and balance issues, so why would we view the potential helpfulness in the treatment of these similar concussion symptoms any differently?

A usual treatment geared toward concussions may include some scalp acupuncture points along the cranial sutures and scars with electrical stimulation and works wonders to reduce physical stress and increase blood flow.

 

How can I help myself?

  • REST
    • We need to sleep at night for a reason, sleep is the brain healing and recharging
  • AVOID STRENUOUS PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EXERTIONS
    • Would you run a marathon on a broken ankle? See my point?
  • STAY AWAY FROM CONTACT SPORTS/ACTIVITIES
    • Your brain is already hurting, don’t risk more harm to it. You only have one.
  • SLOWLY RE-INTRODUCE YOUR ACTIVITIES
    • Same principle as “I used to be able to eat a full pizza, now I can only eat two slices”. Slowly add slices.
  • WATCH WHAT YOU PUT IN YOU BODY
    • Alcohol, drugs and caffeine may elongate your healing time.
  • DO ONE THING AT A TIME
    • Your poor brain is barely handling that.
  • GO GET SOME ACUPUNCTURE
    • I’m not too sure, but I think this post was about how acupuncture can help with this kind of stuff?

Extra Self-Help Goodies

Facts about Concussion and Brain Injury

https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/providers/facts_about_concussion_tbi-a.pdf

Acupressure Self Care

http://www.neurokinetics.com/conc-acupressure/

 

Want to learn more about acupuncture and it’s use in concussions?

Feel free to Contact Us

 

References

5 Ways to Stay Healthy during Spring

Spring is here! – 5 Ways to Stay Healthy For Spring

This week, it’s starting to feel like SPRING! Birds are chirping, the snow is melting, flowers are blooming… the noses start running, headaches are starting… Wait a minute…

With a big shift in weather and temperature (or multiple shifts, in Alberta’s case), spring is a time of transition for our bodies. We tend to fall victim to colds, flus and general irritability and grumpiness. From a Chinese Medicine stance, spring is when Yang energy comes back to the surface and flourishes after a dormant winter season. It is also the season of the wood element, which pertains to our Liver and Gallbladder (more on that later!).

Here are a few tips on how to keep healthy during this season of flux!

Wear a scarf and keep your pants on!

The napes of our necks are vulnerable to pathogenic factors. Leaving our necks open to spring winds can lead to headaches, achy muscles, colds and flus. Wearing a scarf helps protect your neck from the cold and wind.

It’s also tempting to bust out the shorts and sandals as soon as you see a hint of grass on the edge of the lawn. Stay bundled up! This doesn’t mean keep the parka until June, but be mindful of the weather, and keep the long pants and shoes for now; especially in the evening when the temperature still drops below zero. This prevents sore muscles, cramping and colds.

Make sure you get your z’s!

Make sure you’re getting your shut eye! As the days get longer, it’s tempting to stay up later (Netflix, anyone?). 11pm-3am is the time associated with your spring organs, Gallbladder and Liver. It’s important to get restful sleep during these hours to ensure proper recovery for these already overworked systems. Not getting enough sleep during these hours (especially during the spring) can lead to irritability and lowered immune response.

Get up and move!

A great way to keep our immune systems boosted and our hearts pumping is getting up and moving around. As the weather starts to behave, walking or jogging outside is a great option for boosting your immune system. Being outside in nature has also been shown to improve your mood and sense of wellbeing (Miyasaki, 2011).

Eat Immune System boosting foods!

Eat for the season! Our immune systems or Wei Qi is working overtime, so be sure to help it out by eating lots of steamed or baked dishes.

Some great spring foods to add in are:

  • Yams, carrots, rice
  • Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, or sprouts
  • Spirulina
  • Some sour foods such as vinegar, green apples
  • Garlic, onions and mint
  • Lots of water, green tea and herbal teas

Try to limit or decrease:

  • High fatty, fried and rich foods
  • Limit dairy, cheese and milk
  • Avoid overly spicy foods

And of course, Acupuncture!

Of course! Acupuncture, Moxabustion, Guasha are all excellent tools for increasing your immune system, and also helping to treat headaches, colds and body aches. A specific acupuncture treatment plan tailored to your body’s needs is a great preventative way to keep healthy, but also ward off those nasty colds we tend to get in springtime.

 

There you have it! Now you’re well rested, well fed, bundled up and strolling to your acupuncture appointment, you’re well equipped to stay healthy during the spring!

 

Want to learn more about acupuncture and staying healthy?

 

Feel free to Contact Us!

References
Miyazaki, Y., Lee, J., Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., & Matsunaga, K. (2011, September). [Preventive medical effects of nature therapy]. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21996763