Posts

Dampness Bogging You Down?

Figure Bogged Down by DampnessIn Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain diseases or adverse health conditions can result from an excess of dampness in the body. The buildup of dampness is generally influenced by three things: an individual’s constitution (hereditary factors), an individual’s lifestyle (activity level and exposure to actual dampness in the external environment), and an individual’s diet (consumption of foods which either fortify or weaken the digestive system). The presence of dampness indicates an imbalance of Yin and Yang and a weakness of the spleen; dampness may also indicate weakness in the kidneys or lungs. If dampness continues to accumulate, this imbalance will bog you down, blocking the flow of life force energy (your qi) and ultimately leading to stagnation within the body.

How Dampness Feels

When the humidity outside goes up in the summer months, most of us really feel it. Our physical surroundings—and even the air we breathe—can seem wet, heavy, and waterlogged. Dampness is essentially the equivalent of high humidity inside the body (a physical condition), and it can be experienced in a similar way. Your limbs may feel heavy and you might be slow to get moving. You may feel bloated, swollen, sluggish, and unmotivated. You may notice an increased level of mucus and fluid in the body, loose stools, and a tendency to gain weight. The effects of external dampness (if present in your immediate physical environment) may also cause joint pain, dizziness, and a heavy sensation within the chest. Dampness can occur as both damp-heat and damp-cold.

How Dampness Affects Your Health

In addition to the high-humidity effects felt above, the accumulation of dampness within the body can manifest in a number of other ways. Some of the most common signs of excess dampness include: allergies and sinus congestion, inflammation (arthritis), respiratory problems (asthma), skin conditions (cystic acne and eczema), urinary tract infections, yeast infections, digestive issues, headaches, and edema.

Treating and Preventing Internal Dampness

There is probably not much you can do about your inherited constitution and you may be limited in regard to changing your physical environment. You can, however, make significant changes to your diet with the aim of resolving (and preventing) the accumulation of dampness in the body. It’s imperative that you keep your digestive system running smoothly so that it can process nutrients, remove toxins, and help support the spleen and other organs. Be aware of what you eat and how it affects you (you might even want to keep a food journal). Avoid overeating, as well as excess coffee and alcohol. Limit processed foods, raw fruits and vegetables, refined starch, dairy products, sugar, and anything deep-fried.  Consume foods and beverages at room-temperature. Bump up your intake of lean proteins, broths and soups, bitter spices, whole grains, and legumes. Exercise and adequate rest will also keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.

If you find the concept of dampness inside the body somewhat confusing, consider making an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist. They can help shed light on how this imbalance may be affecting you and suggest both treatment options and dietary/lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.

Resources:

Learn More About TCM Dampness and Food Therapy

Musculoskeletal Pain Acupuncture Model

Poor Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal Pain Acupuncture ModelDealing with poor ergonomics (and prolonged sitting) is a challenge in many work environments and office spaces. A less-than-ideal workstation can compromise your posture and result in stressful repetitive movement and overuse of key muscle groups. If you develop musculoskeletal pain, the effects can carry over into the rest of your life and affect your ability to enjoy other physical or social activities. Many people seek relief through nerve block injections, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medications. Traditional Chinese Medicine can also help you manage musculoskeletal pain, especially if you want to avoid taking medication or if you have tried other treatment modalities without success.

Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain refers to discomfort in the bones, muscles, tendons, joints or ligaments. In addition to specific areas of discomfort, it can manifest in any number of ways, including fatigue, stiffness, general aches, muscle spasms, and difficulty sleeping. If poor ergonomics are a factor, you might be experiencing low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or muscle strain in the neck or shoulders. Eye strain and headaches are likely to be issues as well.

Treating Musculoskeletal Pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

One of the side benefits of utilizing TCM for treating musculoskeletal pain is that it not only relieves discomfort—it can also lower stress and help you to sleep better. Three options you may want to consider: Acupuncture, Tuina, or Qigong.

  • Acupuncture. Treatment of pain is one of its primary uses. Acupuncture stimulates the energy points of the body to encourage blood flow and healing of inflammation. It also encourages the production of cortisol (a natural steroid in the body) and the release of endorphins (the natural “pain killers” generated by the body). Because Acupuncture can quickly reduce pain and swelling, the time required for injured tissue to heal is also reduced. Acupuncture can be used to treat painful areas throughout the body; needles may be placed locally or involve a combination of acupuncture points.
  • Tuina. Like acupuncture, Tuina (pronounced twee-nah) also helps with energy and blood flow in the body. It is a form of body work/massage that is characterized by a variety of rolling hand movements (pushing, pressing, kneading, grasping, and stretching). It is similar to acupuncture in that it is used to stimulate different points on the body to encourage healing, but Tuina involves the fingers and acupressure rather than the use of needles. It can also be used in conjunction with acupuncture as a pain treatment for specific joints, tendons, and muscles in the body. It is especially helpful for treating carpel tunnel syndrome, neck pain, and lower back pain. NOTE: Because Tuina targets specific areas of pain and can include deep-tissue massage, initial treatment of those areas may be uncomfortable or cause minor bruising.
  • Qigong. Qigong (pronounced chee-GONG) is another component of Traditional Chinese Medicine that helps with the flow of energy (qi) in the body, as well as the flow of oxygen. It involves the practice of slow and repetitive movement, meditation, and breathing (the exercises are based on a mind-body connection; you move with your breath.) These body movements are both simple and low-impact, allowing you to gently stretch your muscles and gradually increase mobility in areas affected by pain and tension. Gentle stretching can resolve pain in the hips, thighs, low back, elbows, and knees. Developing a dedicated Qigong practice is beneficial on several levels—it can help ease the depression and anxiety that often accompanies long bouts of pain, while at the same time conditioning your muscles and preventing new aches and pains from occurring.

TCM Has Your Back

Don’t let poor ergonomics get you down—or keep you down. There are a variety of ways to treat musculoskeletal pain beyond the general recommendations associated with Western medicine. Acupuncture, Tuina, and Qigong are highly effective methods for addressing pain complaints. If these treatments are completely new to you, give them a go—you’ll probably wish you’d tried them sooner!

Resources:

Tips For Setting Up an Ergonomic Workspace

Learn More About Tuina

Learn More About Qigong

 

Chinese New Year 2020 Rat

Chinese New Year 2020: Year of The Rat

If you follow the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Animal Zodiac (Sheng Xiao), then you probably know that Saturday, January 25th, is a special day. It marks the first day of the Lunar New Year and 2020 will be celebrated as the Year of the Rat. The Rat represents “the beginning of a new day” and is symbolic of wisdom and prosperity. Although 2020 is slated to be a fairly good year for those who were born under this sign, Rats should also be prepared to face some challenges.

Personality and Character Traits of The Rat

Most Rats enjoy a quiet lifestyle and prefer to keep drama to a minimum. They are well-liked by others due to their quick wit, kind nature, and ability to sense the emotions of those around them.

Rats are extremely creative and often pursue careers as writers and artists. Their resourcefulness, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail might also lead them into other fields of study, such as engineering and architecture.

Positive attributes aside, Rats tend be rather stubborn and could be better at expressing themselves (their choice of words might even cause offense). Rats often struggle to find the courage to go after what they want, causing them to miss out on amazing opportunities.

While Rats are great at building nest eggs, they aren’t so great at sharing their wealth with others. They would rather splurge on things they don’t need than make risky personal loans to friends or loved ones.

Rats and Vitality

Although Rats tire easily and are susceptible to the common cold and changes in temperature, they usually live long lives. They are also known for their impressive reproductive capabilities! (Many couples gladly offer prayers to the Rat when trying to conceive.)

Unlike other zodiac animals, such as the Pig, Rats have a tendency to eat too little. They can get distracted and actually forget to eat. They need to make regular meals a priority. Rats should also clear room in their schedule for exercise and avoid both alcohol and cigarettes if they want to keep their health goals on track.

Outlook for The Rat in 2020

  • Expect to do well, career-wise. You will be acknowledged and rewarded for your efforts in the workplace.
  • Your finances will be in great shape for most of the year, but you should be careful about over-spending!
  • Keep tabs on your well-being to avoid illness. (Prescription: Eat right, eat often, and get plenty of sleep!)
  • The reproductive prowess of the Rat makes 2020 an especially good year to procreate (and keep in mind that acupuncture can help with fertility issues). Unfortunately, however, you won’t see much activity in the romance department. If you are single and looking for a new relationship, you might want to put that particular quest on the back burner until 2021. If you are already married or in a committed relationship, be vigilant about nurturing the bond you share with your partner and keep the lines of communication open!

Wishing everyone health, wealth and stability as we move toward embracing the Year of the Rat!

Jill Doan, L.Ac.

Resources:

https://chinesenewyear.net/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/chinese-new-year-2020-when-date-what-meaning-rats-zodiac/

Electroacupuncture Explained

 

Electroacupuncture is the specialized version of traditional acupuncture that involves running a small electrical current through the pre-placed needles. This is done in hopes of stimulating blood flow and achieving balance throughout the body. Today, we’ll explore the many benefits and uses to this newer form of TCM.

 

Invented by Chinese doctor Tang She-Cheng in 1937, it has a much shorter history in relation to the nearly 2,500 years of manual acupuncture. As a result, the practice is less widely in utilization, but does have proven benefits.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

 

So, how does it work? While it can seem scary initially, the principles are actually quite simple, and in essence, similar to manual acupuncture. Traditionally, an acupuncturist would place one needle per meridian point, and then manually stimulate the body using that needle and their hands. However, in electroacupuncture, two needles are placed per meridian point and an electrical machine is connected to these needles which sends a current back and forth, and stimulates the meridian point between. 

In electroacupuncture, two needles are inserted per meridian point, unlike traditional Chinese acupuncture.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Some people may be understandably wary about hooking their body up to an electrical current, so what is the point? According to multiple scientific studies, electroacupuncture has some pretty significant benefits, even when compared to the time-tested standard. Some specific benefits of this variation include increased efficacy in patients with arthritis and osteoarthritis. Likewise, chemo-therapy related nausea and other chronic stress issues have been found to be reduced by this method. Specifically nerve-related issues that benefit from electrical stimulation. 

 

For example, study done by researchers at Georgetown University found that the applied use of electroacupuncture can reduce physical symptoms of chronic stress quite dramatically. Furthermore, this method can lower production stress hormones, and can be an effective addition to treatments for various conditions.

In conclusion, there are many benefits to this variation of practice, certain groups are at a higher risk for complications. If you are elderly, pregnant, have a pacemaker, other heart-related issues, or experience seizures you should not attempt electroacupuncture.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

WOULD YOU TRY ELECTROACUPUNCTURE THERAPY?

Unfamiliar with traditional acupuncture benefits? Check some out here!

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3947586/

https://www.healthline.com/health/electroacupuncture#how-it-works

 

Acupuncture for Allergies

Spring means warm weather, blooming flowers, and outdoor activities for most people. For those suffering from allergies, it means the return of familiar but unwelcome symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, sinus congestion and coughing.

Acupuncture is very effective in treating allergy symptoms and will also help boost your immune system. Chinese herbs can be taken in parallel to keep symptoms from re-occurring. Unlike antihistamines and other OTC medications for allergies-there are no side effects to Chinese herbs and your Acupuncturist will select an herb for your particular symptoms/constitution.

 

Here are a few home remedies to help you get through the season:

  1. Acupressure-the image below details where you should apply pressure along your sinuses. In most cases-stimulating the points yourself isn’t a direct substitute for receiving acupuncture treatment however applying pressure on the points below can delay the onset of your symptoms and minimize the severity of them as well.

 

  1. Use a Saline rinse/Neti-pot to irrigate your nasal cavity and clean out any mucus/debris
  2. Eliminate mucus producing foods from your diet such as dairy and sugar
  3. Take a daily tablespoon of locally produced honey
  4. Stay hydrated-drink plenty of water throughout the day

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 919 621-3363 or at To The Point Acupuncture

Acupuncture for heart health

 

February is American heart health month. Traditionally, the month for lovers and all things heart related. We are reminded to take care of our heart. Heart Disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide. There are many areas of concern for heart health. For example, high blood pressure, stress, healthy diet/weight, and insomnia. Combining acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help combat all of these!

 

High blood pressure:

Acupuncture has proven to be highly beneficial in helping to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. High Blood Pressure forces our heart to work harder and demand more oxygen. Acupuncture is able to counter act the heart working so hard by placing needles on specific points. For example, on the wrist, inside the forearm, or leg. This will reduce the demand for oxygen.

 

Stress and anxiety:

Acupuncture has proven to help with heart health by reducing stress and anxiety. We all encounter stress in our daily lives.  For instance, we might start to eat unhealthy, experience heart palpitations, exercise less, and tend not to sleep as well. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used to help keep that stress at bay.

 

Insomnia:

Acupuncture can be used to treat insomnia, without the side effects of prescription medicines. There is evidence linking insomnia to hypertension and other cardiovascular events. Almost 75% of people who have heart failure report frequent insomnia. This one of the most common symptoms of heart failure. Acupuncture treats the entire body/mind and not just the symptoms. Your overall health will improve. In addiction to enjoying a restful nights sleep.

 

Above all, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical to a healthy heart. Eating healthy and regular exercise are often difficult to maintain with the busy lives we lead. Incorporating regular acupuncture sessions can build on the heart healthy actions you are already taking. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help keep you and your heart healthy and strong, please don’t hesitate to call To The Point Acupuncture, LLC.

 

 

2019: Year of the Pig. A year of fortune and good luck.

Gong Xi Fa Cái! Happy New Year!


According to Chinese astrology, this is a good year to make money. It is also a great year to build or strengthen friendships and bonds with loved ones. The Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is the longest and most celebrated holiday in Chinese culture. Different traditions include the cleaning of the house to sweep away the past year, the hanging of red lanterns for good luck, and eating foods which are considered “lucky” with friends and family. There are 12 animals that make up the Chinese zodiac. Each animal represents a different year. Those born in the year of that animal are said to inherit some of that animal’s qualities. 2019 marks the year of the Pig, the 12th in the 12 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac signs.

 

The Year of the Pig.
As the Year of the Dog comes to an end, the Year of the Pig emerges. This year, February 5th  2019 marks
the first day of the Year of the Pig. Those born in the Year of the Pig are said to be gentle, generous,
hard-working, and trustworthy. Pigs are always thought to be well fed and so represent abundance in
both wealth and good fortune. They love life and are optimistic by nature. Be careful though, those born
under the year of the pig can be a bit naive and tend to be a little too trustworthy, which can make them
an easy target.
The year of the Pig brings with it a more relaxed and joyous atmosphere. While feelings of wealth and
abundance reign through 2019, it is important to still maintain a close eye on expenses and your budget.
Well considered actions will be rewarded more than risk taking ones.

 

Take care of yourself.
Because the pig is social and generous by nature, he does tend to over extend himself. Some of the 12
signs under the Chinese zodiac may feel this more than others. Pigs are known to have a large appetite
and will eat almost anything. Be aware of gluttony this year. Portion control and staying active will help
keep this under control. Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting an adequate amount of sleep are
all important in maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle, and you can also add acupuncture to that list
as well. Acupuncture helps to curb cravings, boost metabolism, and maintain focus. The Year of the Pig
is predicted to be a better year for most than previous years. By keeping your body balanced and
healthy and your mind at ease you will be more suited to face any obstacles that may come your way.

Wishing you peace, health, and happiness this year and always.

Jill Doan- To The Point Acupuncture

Nourishing your body in the winter-A Chinese element perspective

According to Chinese medicine, the organ system associated with the winter is [highlight] [/highlight] the kidneys. Winter represents the most Yin aspect-it is dark, cold and slow in energy (as opposed to Yang-which is represented by summer whose energy is light, warm and quick.) In the winter time-the days are shorter, it is colder outside and we aren’t as active. The kidney is the source of our most basic and fundamental energy (or Qi) in the body so it is essential to nourish it. Ever wonder why you might feel more tired or get sick more often in the winter? Your kidney Qi is depleted. Acupuncture is a great way to support your Qi.

Food as Medicine. In the wintertime-try and focus on warming and nourishing foods such as soups and stews.  Your kidneys are reliant on quality animal protein like unprocessed meats or eggs to build blood and circulate that blood throughout all your extremities which will in turn keep your entire body warmer. Your kidneys will also appreciate lightly incorporating minerals like sea salt (non-iodized) into your diet this time of year. Foods that are specifically nourishing to the kidneys are: black beans, bone broths, lamb, chicken, walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens.

Sip some tea. If you’ve been outdoors for a period of time to build a snowman, wait for the bus, or shovel the driveway, drinking a mug of warming herbal tea once you’re back indoors is a great way to warm the kidneys. Cinnamon, ginger, and citrus are nice teas your kidneys will appreciate. Offering your kidneys, the little extra love and support they need this time of year isn’t too tricky. After all, ‘tis the season.

 

CINNAMON WALNUT FLAX MUFFINS:
Prep Time: 10 minutes                                                        Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes                                                        Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground flax meal
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil or any oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sweetener (maple sugar erythritol, coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix ingredients together in a mixing bowl in the order they are listed. You can use an electric mixer if you’d like, but be sure to add in walnuts last, after using a mixer.
  3. Bake at 325°F for 18 to 22 minutes.

 

HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH:

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds beef bones with marrow
  • 4 unpeeled carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peel on, slices in half lengthwise and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 18-20 cups cold water

Instructions   

  1. Place all ingredients in a 10 quart capacity crock-pot or large pan on the stove.
  2. Add in water.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce and simmer gently, skimming the fat that rises to the surface occasionally.
  4. Simmer for 24-48 hours.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
  7. Use within a week or freeze up to 3 months.

Bone broth has many health benefits. It is highly nutritious, protects the joints, help fight osteoarthritis, helps reduce inflammation and heal the gut, aid in sleep, and may support weight loss.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Jill Doan, Licensed Acupuncturist at To The Point Acupuncture, LLC. http://www.ttpacupuncture.com

Moving Away from Pain Management Drugs to Pain Management with Acupuncture

acupuncture therapy on auricle, horizontal very close up photoIn America today, opioid pain medications are prescribed at alarmingly high rates for pain management. Opioids include pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and others, as well as the Schedule I street drug heroin. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. with 47,055 overdoses in 2014. 18,893 of those overdoses were related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 were attributed to heroin.

Let that sink in for a moment and you’ll understand why this disturbs me. There were more deaths related to prescription pain medications than to heroin. This is why I am an advocate for alternative pain management treatments, such as acupuncture and/or cupping therapy, to eliminate the dangers associated with drug dependence and substance abuse.

Here are a few reasons why I believe in acupuncture as a reliable and safe alternative to traditional pain reliever prescription treatments.

  • Self-Healing is the Goal. There is evidence showing that it is medically effective. Acupuncture stimulates the body to provoke innate self-healing mechanisms. For centuries our bodies did not rely on prescription drugs for healing purposes, so we are equipped with the ability to heal naturally. Acupuncture is a great tool used to help the body tap into those resources.
  • Evidence for Effectiveness. Chronic pain can make life unbearable. People will visit doctors that are willing to simply write prescriptions for pain relievers that may pose a threat to someone’s well-being. However, the Archives of Internal Medicine has documented research compiled by international experts spanning 29 studies and 18,000 participants. The results of these controlled studies concluded that acupuncture relieved common forms of pain up to 50%. In addition, there is less risk associated with acupuncture treatments compared to prescription medications.
  • Beneficial for Multiple Conditions. From cancer to severe menstrual cramps to anxiety, acupuncture can make a noticeable difference in well-being and overall health. I’m a firm believer that no matter what the condition is, everyone can benefit from receiving acupuncture treatments.
  • Opioids Exacerbate Pain. In the long run opioids, morphine specifically, have been shown to have detrimental effects. A study published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provided evidence to suggest that even a mere five days of morphine treatments caused chronic pain lasting for months.
  • Morphine vs Acupuncture. In addition, a study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine sought to prove the effectiveness of acupuncture compared to morphine. The study of 300 participants showed that the acupuncture group had 92% success rate compared to the 78% rate in the morphine group. Those who were receiving morphine treatments also reported 85 counts of side effects including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting. In conclusion, it can be said that acupuncture is safer than morphine treatments, and is at least as effective at pain relief as morphine.
  • Acupuncture for Opioid Addiction.For those who are currently struggling with opioid dependence, acupuncture can provide relief during the withdrawal process, both physically and mentally. Given the evidence that opioids pose a threat to physical health and well-being, those seeking pain management therapies owe it to themselves to try an alternative that poses no risks.

I’ve been practicing acupuncture and alternative therapies in the Raleigh, NC area for nearly 10 years, and I’ve seen my patients benefit from these practices. Even if you have inhibitions about these options for any reason, whether you’re skeptical or afraid of needles, please consider talking with me further. Contact me, Jill Doan, at To The Point Acupuncture in Raleigh today to learn more.