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Research Update – Acupuncture and the Liver

A study published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine looked at how acupuncture might be able to inhibit injury to the liver caused by the prescription combination of morphine and acetaminophen. The study was conducted on rats that had been fed morphine and acetaminophen. Then, acupuncture was applied once daily to the rats. The researchers discovered the rats who received acupuncture also had less damage to their livers. This occurs because of the antioxidant-stimulating effects of acupuncture treatments. The researchers concluded acupuncture may provide a safe alternative detox method for people chronically taking morphine or acetaminophen.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, views the human body quite differently from Western medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are energetic pathways are associated with specific organs in the body. When these pathways, or meridians, and the energy flowing through them, are out of balance, then the body may become diseased.

In TCM, the liver and its corresponding pathway are responsible for the smooth flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy, blood and emotions. The liver is easily affected by excess stress and uncontrolled emotions. The liver is paired with the gallbladder and the two work very closely as a unit. When one is imbalanced, the other may display the symptoms. For example, if a person is consistently stressed, this may cause the liver energy to become blocked. When this happens, the gallbladder may become affected.  It is not uncommon for people in high stress jobs to end up with gallstones. The liver becomes blocked and the emotions remain bottled up inside, which then manifests in pain and possibly stones.

Anger is the emotion commonly associated with the liver and gallbladder. If a person gets angered easily, frequently feels frustrated, has difficulty relaxing or letting things go, and is unreasonable, it is safe to guess their liver energy isn’t flowing smoothly. There are many methods of balancing liver energy and returning proper flow throughout the body. Learning to stay calm and channel one’s anger appropriately is a good place to start. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, yoga or even take a walk. All of these things are great for balancing stagnant liver energy.

Another way to smooth liver energy is a technique known as dry brushing. Using a hairbrush with rounded bristles or a soft bristle brush, one can lightly brush down along the liver energetic meridian, which runs along the inner thighs and inner calves, all the way down to the inside corner of the big toe. This can be done for about five minutes per leg. Dry brushing gently stimulates the liver meridian, allowing the blood and energy to flow more freely and relaxing not only the liver, but the whole body.

Acupuncture is another great way to balance the liver energies. Regular acupuncture treatments help balance the body holistically and without any real side effects. Acupuncture can increase the flow of energy throughout the body, remove blockages and stagnation and allow the liver to function properly, which will ultimately allow the body to detox more effectively.

If you deal with anger, stress or have a history of gallstones, it might be a good idea to give acupuncture a try. Be sure to find a fully licensed and properly trained acupuncturist who can help guide you through balancing the energy of the liver meridian. Over time, your body will most likely respond favorably.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S187638201530072X

 

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Potent Organs in Spring Time

Spring is generally regarded as a happy season, especially for those that live in areas where winter is cold and dark. Spring brings with it longer, warmer days, more sunshine, the rebirth of plants and more activity. But for many, the months of spring can also bring irritability, anxiety, sinus issues, allergy flare-ups and colds.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for nearly 3,000 years, which gives the medical system, as a whole, a lot of credibility. TCM classifies things in many different ways. There are five seasonal associations in TCM – winter, spring, summer, late summer and fall. Each season has its own unique set of properties and associations. Spring is associated with the wood element. The wood element governs the liver and the gallbladder and their energetic pathways. The five seasons and their corresponding elements interact with one another daily, creating balance and harmony or complete chaos within the body.

Spring is a time of growth, which is evident by all the plants and flowers coming into bloom, as well as the wildlife awakening from winter slumber. Spring is the time of birth and regeneration. This season tends to be trademarked by optimism and opportunity.

Spring is linked to the wood element in TCM due to the prospects of growth and development. When a tree is nourished properly, it will grow and expand. This is very similar to what happens with the body and spirit within every living being. Just like the wood that makes up the trunk of the tree, we must be able to be flexible and bend, always changing and adapting to whatever comes our way. We need to remain strong and rooted, yet be able to give a little if needed.

According to TCM theory, the liver and gallbladder are associated with the tendons and are responsible for the smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body. Our daily activities should reflect this. Being more active and spending more time outside can be great ways to strengthen the liver and gallbladder energies during the months of spring. Fresh air helps the liver and gallbladder function properly and decreases any stagnation being experienced in the body. We should imitate the budding trees and flowers and allow ourselves to grow and reach for bigger and better goals during the spring.

Green is the color of spring in TCM. During these months, fresh greens are abundant. It is highly recommended that we incorporate more fresh greens into our daily diets. Greens have been shown to be very beneficial for helping the liver detoxify the blood. Dandelion greens, in particular, are a good source for detoxification, which ultimately strengthens the liver and gallbladder meridians.

Sour drinks and foods are believed to stimulate the liver’s healing abilities. Adding lemon slices in your drinking water or using vinegar and oil as a salad dressing are some good examples. However, if you are a person that has anger issues, sour tastes should be avoided, as this can send the liver into overdrive.

It is also recommended to avoid excessive stimulants during the spring months. Things like coffee are considered expansive and energizing, which can be somewhat helpful during the cold winter months. But during the spring, when life is abounding, excess energy can actually be harmful to the body. It can create headaches, insomnia, anger and more.

As with any seasonal change, adding acupuncture treatments can be a huge asset, but especially in the transition from winter to spring. Due to the winds picking up and the weather becoming warmer, things like bell’s palsy, allergies or sinus infections can become more prevalent. Using acupuncture as preventive medicine can vastly improve your chances of remaining healthy throughout the transition. So for the sake of your liver and your overall health, be sure to connect with a locally licensed acupuncturist today. You won’t regret it.

 

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Spring Cleansing & Clearing

Springtime has a natural feeling of rejuvenation and rebirth. The days get visibly longer, little green buds start to appear on the trees and hibernating animals come out of their winter slumber. For us, as humans, the lengthening days bring with them a natural urge to shed winter layers and move into new beginnings. Cleansing, either by eliminating things from your diet, introducing new things or clearing our spaces of unnecessary clutter, can be a supportive way to move into spring.

Cleansing by eliminating certain parts of your diet can be a great way to rid the body of any toxins that may have built up over the winter months, healing and resetting our bodies for the new season. Cleansing can look very differently depending on what your goals are, but the idea is to spend a chunk of time consuming a “cleaner” diet, meaning more whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.

The natural availability of more fruits and vegetables during the spring presents the perfect opportunity to cleanse by only consuming raw fruits and vegetables or fruit and vegetable juices. This might feel dramatic. Cleansing can also mean eliminating just one part of your diet for a week or 10 days, which could be sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, etc. There is a spectrum of cleansing, but based on what your needs are this spring, practicing some sort of elimination diet can be incredibly rejuvenating and healing.

Incorporating a cleanse into your spring could also be introducing certain elements into your diet to support healthy digestive and immune system function. As mentioned before, consuming a diet based around only whole foods is very healing for the body, and spring is a great time to add more of those elements into your diet simply because more fruits and vegetables are in season once the weather improves. Incorporating vitamins or supplements into your diet can also support your overall health and have a rejuvenating effect. Adding local honey into your diet can also be a great way to boost your immune system and fight allergic reactions, because it is made from local flower pollens.

Dandelions, which pop up in huge numbers during spring, can also be incorporated into a springtime cleanse. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is the time of year to attend to the liver and gallbladder, and dandelion is very cleansing and strengthening for both organs. The dandelion greens can be used in a salad or tea and are very nourishing.

In conjunction with dietary cleansing, spring is a time to incorporate more regular exercise and movement into your life. As the weather improves and it’s easier to get outside, our bodies come out of a type of hibernation themselves and crave more movement each day. Consider taking your bike to work instead of driving your car if that’s possible in your city, or incorporate movement into your day in other ways. Take walks after dinner or during your lunch break, up the intensity of your workouts or stretch in the mornings or evenings to facilitate more movement throughout your day. Body work, such as acupuncture or massage, can also be very beneficial and cleansing practices this time of year. Both acupuncture and massage will support your other cleansing efforts as well as your muscles and tendons for healthier exercise and physical activity.

Lastly, spring cleansing can extend beyond your physical body and into the spaces you inhabit. Taking some time this spring to clear out clutter from your home can be a great way to enter the new season feeling lighter and refreshed. Creating a clean, tidy space in your bedroom can be especially helpful, because it creates a restful atmosphere that invites relaxation and sleep. One simple way to incorporate more tidiness is to clear off any clutter from your bedside table. It is also a good time of year to go through your wardrobe and get rid of or donate anything you no longer wear. Creating a peaceful bedroom will support the rest you need to tackle any changes or opportunities that may present themselves this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

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Allergies

A runny nose, sneezing, itchy watery eyes…also known as symptoms of allergies.  Allergies can really be a pain. It is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year, and spend over $18 billion a year on over-the-counter allergy medications. What if there were a way to combat allergies without the harsh side effects of medications and actually get to the root of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms? In fact, there is. The arm of traditional Chinese medicine called acupuncture has proven effectiveness when it comes to allergies.

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offer a safe, holistic approach to allergies that can end up saving you money in the long term. Western medicine sees seasonal allergies as a hypersensitive reaction that occurs when antibodies interact with airborne particles such as pollen. Interestingly, the places in the body where these antibodies are produced align with the energy meridians most strongly connected to allergic reactions in TCM. Both Western medicine and TCM map these sensitivity points onto the gastrointestinal tract and the spleen. Both schools of thought also connect inflammatory foods such as sugar with allergy flare-ups. Through TCM, patients can find allergy relief through a holistic wellness plan that doesn’t necessitate a reliance on synthetic medications.

Acupuncture for Allergies:  Acupuncture helps build or tonify the energy within the respiratory system and the immune system. This energy is called qi (pronounced “chee”). When lung qi and the Wei qi (aka the immune system) are strong and the body is balanced, then allergies rarely become an issue. Acupuncture stimulates blood flow, which carries oxygen to every cell in the body. The increased blood flow boosts the immune system, dilates the bronchioles and produces anti-inflammatory agents that help improve breathing by relaxing the muscles.

Acupuncture Points for Allergies:

  1. Large Intestine 20 – This point is located bilaterally on the face, on either side of the nose, in the middle of the nasolabial groove. Large intestine 20 is used to open nasal passages and clear heat from the sinuses.
  2. Lung 5 – Lung 5 is located at the end of the outer crease of the elbow, just to the outside of the tendon. This point opens up the airways and the throat, while reducing wheezing.
  3. Ren 17 – This point is located in the middle of the chest, midway between both nipples. It is used to open the chest, loosen up congestion, stop coughing and encourage full breathing.

Chinese Herbals Formulas for Allergies: Combinations of herbs, known as formulas, are used frequently in TCM. One of the most commonly used formulas is Yu Ping Feng San or Jade Wind Screen. This formula builds up the Wei qi, while decreasing allergy symptoms like sneezing and rhinitis.

Another popular formula choice of TCM practitioners is Bi Yan Pian. This formula works to clear the nasal passages, and it usually works within five days to a week. Compare that with the weeks of symptoms many people spend trying to mask with Western medicine. The herbs in Bi Yan Pian work to disperse wind, expel toxins, relieve inflammation and dissolve phlegm.

Nutrition for Allergies: For the lungs and respiratory system to be strong, they need proper nourishment, just like the rest of the body. Certain foods are good for increasing immunity, while also opening up the lungs and increasing circulation. Foods like garlic and onions reduce inflammation and fight off infections. Chili peppers open up the nasal passages, stimulating the mucus membranes and fighting off pollen, bacteria and viruses. Peppers, berries and parsley all contain quercetin, which can reduce histamine reactions that occur when allergies flare up.

As you can see, TCM is a great way to deal with allergies. Contact your local acupuncturist to see what they can do for you.

 

https://sunwarrior.com/healthhub/foodsforlunghealth

https://www.modernacupuncture.com/news/2017-07-05-breathedeeplyacupunctureforrespiratoryissuesallergies-45

https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Energetics+of+Foods+for+Health+and+Healing+-+Part+II

https://www.livestrong.com/article/69650-chineseherbsstrengthinglungs/

http://www.modernreflexology.com/acupressurepointstotreatlungdiseases/

http://acupuncturewellness.net/respiratorydiseasesandchinesemedicine/

http://www.touch2cure.com/acupressurepointsforasthma/

http://acupuncture.com/education/points/largeintestine/li20.htm

https://picturehealer.com/blog/4-chineseherbalformulastotreatseasonalallergy

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/foodsfightallergies

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Seasonal Allergies

In 2013, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study looking at 422 seasonal allergy sufferers who presented with rhinitis, or hay fever, and who had tested positive for pollen allergies. The volunteer patients were split into three groups. The first group received acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines as needed. The second group was given fake acupuncture (acupuncture needles inserted in random places unrelated to treating allergies) and also took antihistamines as needed. The third group only took antihistamines and did not receive any acupuncture. After the treatment, all the participants completed a questionnaire to assess any changes in their perceived quality of life as well as their need to use antihistamines.

From the initial analysis published in 2013, the results were inconclusive. Initially, acupuncture had a significant, positive effect on the group that received true acupuncture treatments. Patients reported their rhinitis improved and they needed less medications. However, so too did the group that received fake acupuncture, suggesting there was a significant placebo effect and that people went into the treatment believing acupuncture would help their symptoms. The third group reported no improvement in their symptoms or medication use. After eight weeks, the patients filled out a follow-up questionnaire. Both patients in the true and fake acupuncture groups reported their symptoms had returned two months post-treatment.

In June, 2018 a group of researchers published a second analysis of the results of this previous 2013 study, focusing on the patients’ use of antihistamines 8 weeks after the treatment. This time, they analyzed the results of 414 of the original 422 patients, presumably because some of the questionnaires were incomplete or another factor surfaced that made the data from eight of the patients unusable. The researchers found that eight weeks after their acupuncture treatments, the group that received true acupuncture used antihistamines to mitigate their symptoms significantly less than those in the group that received fake acupuncture – a difference of about five days. Additionally, 38 percent of the group that received true acupuncture weren’t using any antihistamines at all. Comparing the pre-treatment antihistamine-use of the patients with the post-treatment antihistamine use showed the group that received true acupuncture did not need to increase the number of days they used antihistamines, unlike the other groups.

It is hard to definitively say that acupuncture will cure seasonal allergies for every patient with hay fever symptoms. However, this research shows it can decrease the need to mitigate symptoms with antihistamines. More and more people are turning to acupuncture as a safe alternative to frequent use of chemical medications. Unlike habitual use of medications, there are no dangerous side effects associated with acupuncture. Today, about 18 percent of Americans use acupuncture to treat allergy symptoms.

As opposed to the patients in the clinical study discussed above, people who seek acupuncture treatments from a licensed practitioner in their area can expect a holistic treatment plan tailor made for them. Acupuncturists will offer dietary suggestions as well as Chinese herbal medicine options to accompany the work they do with acupuncture needles. By looking at your specific sensitivities and lifestyle, traditional Chinese medicine has the chance to alleviate seasonal allergies as well as support you in finding a healthier life overall.

http://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1583575/effectsacupunctureseasonalallergicrhinitis#

http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/19/isacupuncturetheantidoteforallergies/

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