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Taking care of your body during the summer

summer yogaThe summer is a wonderful time to spend with family, take vacations, and enjoy the weather. But, warm weather activities and summertime come with negative effects on the body such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, sun burns, injuries, stressful schedules and so much more. These are just a few of the issues that I see during the summer.

At To The Point Acupuncture, I help my patients have the best summer of their lives and experience new things that were too stressful before. To make sure that this summer is the best one so far, there are a few health tips I recommend to put in place to stay happy, healthy, and protected this summer.

I always suggest scheduling the following tasks to make sure that the summer of 2016 is the best one yet:

  1. Drink a Lot of Water. It sounds simple, but this is one of the biggest things I have to remind my patients about. The majority of the heat based issues listed above can be prevented by drinking water. Wondering how much water is enough? On average, a normal adult should have approximately 64 ounces of water per day.
  2. Take Frequent Breaks. Frequent breaks are a great way to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration, but can also help prevent any outdoor injuries. However, if a sports injury occurs, give me a call so we can help alleviate the pain and resolve any further issues.
  3. Schedule an Acupuncture Appointment. Although everyone is different, one acupuncture treatment per month works very well for most people for maintenance and prevention. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture in particular, is a great way to keep healthy during the summer months. If an injury has already occurred, a weekly appointment with a Raleigh acupuncturist is best.

Balancing kid’s schedules in the summer can be very stressful and lead to anxiety; acupuncture is a great solution for this issue. The summer sun can also cause headaches and migraines which acupuncture has been proven to alleviate.

Never tried acupuncture before? The summer of 2016 is a great time to meet with a Raleigh acupuncturist for the first time. Contact me, Jill Doan, at To The Point Acupuncture with any questions and to schedule your first acupuncture appointment today.

 

6 Illnesses That Can Be Treated with Acupuncture

Woman undergoing acupuncture treatment with a line of fine needles inserted into the skin of her foreheadMany illnesses are so overwhelming that life seems unbearable with them. As the owner of To The Point Acupuncture in Raleigh, NC, I help my patients overcome a variety of illness with acupuncture.  Acupuncture is a great medicinal tool, but many people are too afraid to give it a try or are unaware of how many different medical conditions acupuncture can help. However, these individuals miss out on the positive impact acupuncture has to improve their lifestyle and well-being.

Commonly, people I meet believe that acupuncture can only treat pain related conditions such as arthritis or sciatica. This is a big misconception. Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture, is a complete medical system that can treat a variety of conditions.

A few common illnesses that I have treated with acupuncture include:

  • Sinus issues. A few of the sinus issues that acupuncture is known to improve include: sinusitis, dizziness, earaches, hay fever, allergies and more.

  • Circulatory Disorders. High blood pressure is a very common problem in many of the Raleigh business professionals I see. High blood pressure has been shown to improve with acupuncture.

  • Gastrointestinal Problems. Due to the unknown status of the food we all consume, many individuals suffer with diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and constipation. Some individuals suffer with more regular stomach issues that are treatable with acupuncture, such as: irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, colitis, and food allergies.

  • Gynecological Issues. 10.9% of all women in the United States are infertile. Acupuncture can help improve infertility issues as well as treat endometriosis and the related side effects, fibroids, premenstrual syndrome, and ovarian cysts.

  • Addictions. Regular visits to an acupuncturist can help individuals move past an addiction problem and help ease withdrawl symptoms. I have seen this first hand working in both detox clinics and in my own Raleigh office.

  • Emotional Disorders. Emotional disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression can be debilitating in life, but acupuncture can improve these conditions.

Having been a Triangle acupuncturist for almost 10 years, I have seen how acupuncture can treat so many illnesses as well as improve individuals lives. There is no reason to let common ailments make life difficult or reduce one’s quality of life.

Many people have heard about acupuncture, but still don’t believe it can help them, and sometimes the fear of needles keeps them from giving it a try. If you have any reservations, please call me, Jill Doan, Licensed Acupuncturist, at To The Point Acupuncture to learn more about Chinese medicine and acupuncture and how it may be able to benefit you.

Acupuncture and Breast Cancer: A Clinical Research Overview

shutterstock_154750382You have probably noticed little pink ribbons popping up everywhere and many people dressed in pink clothing. That’s right. It’s October. Breast Cancer Awareness month, and everyone is coming out to show their support. Whether you are a survivor yourself or you know someone who has had breast cancer, it has affected the lives of almost everyone.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and it is the second leading cause of death among women.  One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Research and studies show that acupuncture can help to:

Reduce nausea and vomiting

Decrease fatigue

Control hot flashes

Minimize and lessen pain

I have also found acupuncture to be effective in helping with the healing process and also reducing scar tissue post breast reconstructive surgery.

 

Nausea/Vomiting:

The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article in 2000 on the effectiveness of acupuncture, specifically electro-acupuncture, on managing emesis (vomiting). In the study, 104 women receiving high doses of chemotherapy for breast cancer were chosen. All subjects were given anti-nausea medication. There were 3 groups. Those that received acupuncture with electrical stimulation, acupuncture without electrical stimulation, and no acupuncture. Those that had acupuncture experienced significantly less episodes of nausea/vomiting than those who didn’t receive any acupuncture at all.

Researchers at Duke University published an article in Sept. 2002 in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia. The study showed that acupuncture worked better than the anti-nausea medication ondansetron, more commonly known as Zofran, in alleviating postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) after major breast surgery, such as a mastectomy.  Duke anesthesiologist Tong Joo (T.J.) Gan, M.D., who led the trial said, “In the areas of PONV control, pain relief, and general overall satisfaction, acupuncture appears to be more effective than the most commonly used medication (Zofran), with few to no side effects.”

 

Fatigue:

In 2012, the American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted a study of 302 participants with breast cancer. The study was to determine if acupuncture was effective in treating cancer related fatigue (CRF) in patients with breast cancer. Those participants that received the acupuncture for 6 weeks reported improvements in physical, mental, and overall fatigue. They had more motivation and felt less psychological distress. 

 

Hot Flashes:

Presented in part at the American Society for therapeutic radiation oncology conference in Boston in Sept 2008, Dr. Eleanor M. Walker presented her findings of acupuncture in the treatment in vasomotor symptoms in patients with breast cancer. The findings showed that acupuncture worked just as well as Venlafaxine (Effexor), a drug commonly used to treat night sweats and hot flashes in menopausal woman with breast cancer. The only difference is Effexor has numerous side effects and acupuncture does not. It also showed that 2 weeks post treatment,  the Effexor group had an increase in hot flashes, while the acupuncture groups hot flashes remained at low levels.

 

Pain:

Part of treatment for breast cancer is taking aromatase inhibitors. About 50 percent of people that take them develop arthralgia or joint pain, and so many people stop taking them because of this even though it is a vital part of treatment. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman school of Medicine found that acupuncture decreases this joint pain that is caused from taking aromatase inhibitors.

If you or someone you know has breast cancer consider acupuncture.  There are no side-effects and it can improve your overall well-being and quality of life.

 

References:

  1. http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts
  2. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=193319
  3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922070424.htm
  4. http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/30/36/4470.long
  5. http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/28/4/634.short

Acupuncture- Is it working for me? 

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I was talking to a patient the other day (she is being treated with acupuncture for fertility issues) and she said to me, “I know I am not pregnant yet, but I can tell the acupuncture is working.” She mentioned to me that she is sleeping better, her energy is up and she is more focused at work. I was so pleased to hear this. I thought to myself, “Yes! She gets it. She understands!”

Acupuncture works to guide the body back to its natural state of balance so it can heal itself. It is a process. Depending on the severity, nature and duration of time that the patient has had the condition it can take a while to become fully balanced.

I have had patients come in and tell me that they’ve had acupuncture before and it didn’t work. “I’ve had back pain for 30 years. I went to see an acupuncturist for one treatment and my back pain didn’t improve.”

We live in a fast paced society. We desire immediate results and want instant gratification. Unfortunately, most things don’t work that way and acupuncture is one of them. That is not to say that after one treatment someone won’t feel better, but especially if it is a chronic long standing issue it may take much longer.

Below is an article that talks about 6 signs that acupuncture is working for you. Be patient with the process. Your body has taken a while to become unbalanced it needs time to be able to reestablish that balance.

http://acutakehealth.com/how-to-know-when-acupuncture-is-working

 

Acupuncture for Depression

shutterstock_130152032We have all felt sad or depressed at one time or another in our lives, but it tends to quickly pass. For those who are clinically depressed, this feeling tends to last for a much longer period of time and not only does it affect their lives, but the lives of those around them as well. Depression is a mental illness that if left untreated can lead to more emotional problems and also manifest into physical problems. It is characterized by prolonged feelings of hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness and thoughts of death/suicide. Depression affects physical health as well in that a person who suffers from depression may have trouble sleeping, eating, and working. It is estimated that there are 20 million Americans who are affected by depression and it is on the rise. The World Health Organization believes that depression will be the second highest medical cause of disability by the year 2030, second only to HIV/AIDS.

Today, the most common form of treatment for depression is medication. However, more than 60% of patients on anti-depressants are responding with below satisfactory results. They are receiving partial temporary benefit or no benefit at all. Those who do respond to medication only receive temporary benefit/relief from the symptoms. Anti-depressants don’t treat the cause, they only mask the symptoms, and the side effects of depression medication have been reported to sometimes be worse than the depression itself.  Even knowing all of this, 11.3 billion dollars a year is spent on anti-depressant medications in the United States.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) does not see depression as a specific illness for everyone who experiences it.  Chinese Medicine focuses on each individual and customizes the treatments specific to that particular person. Acupuncture is seen as an alternative treatment to reduce the severity of depression. Acupuncture can alleviate the signs and symptoms the person is experiencing as well as address the root cause and underlying imbalances.

Many studies have been done to support acupuncture as a treatment to alleviate depression.  Recently, a randomized controlled study was done. The results showed that the brain chemistry that is changed due to depression can be altered with acupuncture. Electro-acupuncture was performed on points Baihui and Yintang. At the end of the trial, the genes that were imbalanced from depression had become normalized. Acupuncture provides a safe, natural, drug-free way to treat depression.

You can read more about the study here: http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1363-acupuncture-relieves-depression-regulates-gene-expression

“The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” -Plato

Acupressure Points

What Are The 4 Gates?

Through my time as an acupuncturist I have had many people ask me, “Why are you doing that point? What is that point for?” I do not always use specific points for specific ailments, but rather a combination of points tailored to treat the individual.

The 4 gates is an acupuncture point combination consisting of 2 different points needled bilaterally. One point, Large Intestine 4 (Hegu), is on the dorsum of the hand. The other point, Liver 3 (Taichong), is on the dorsum of the foot.

 

Large Intestine (LI4) –Immune Booster/Pain Reliever

Deadman_LI4-271x300

This point is great to use for many different conditions. It is used to strengthen one’s immune system or decrease the duration of colds and/or the flu. It can also be used for any type of problemwith the face which includes jaw pain, toothache, allergies, acne. It is also a great point to relieve a headache or to clear heat and inflammation anywhere in the body.

 

 

Liver 3 (LV3) –Keeping Things Moving

In my opinion, this is one of the most commonly needled points on the body. Deadman_LV3-242x300It can balance, tonify, or disperse stagnant liver energy.  It can be used for any liver energy disharmony. Just a few examples of this include: menstrual disorders/irregularities, headaches, dizziness, and detoxification. It can also be used to create a calming effect on the nervous system to alleviate insomnia, irritability, stress, and anxiety.

 

Together, these points work to circulate the qi and blood through the body. They help to open all the meridians, increase circulation, and decrease pain anywhere in the body. The 4 Gates can also be used for emotional issues as well such as feelings of being trapped or stuck in a situation. This is a great point combination to help maintain the free flow of qi and blood through our bodies.

Autumn Leaves

The Key to your Wei-Qi

The change of seasons, especially late summer into fall, can also mean the start of cold season. In Chinese medicine, there are 5 Elements. Each are related to a particular season: winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. The element associated with the fall is Metal. The two organs associated with this element are the large intestine and the lungs. The lungs help circulate the wei-qi, or defensive qi in our bodies. If the wei-qi is weak, the body’s defense system is down and you are more susceptible to colds and flu. Although we can control much of our everyday life, one thing we cannot control is the constant exposure to germs, bacteria and viruses. Our best defense is to keep our immune system strong enough so that when we encounter these germs we don’t get sick. Acupuncture is very effective at strengthening the body’s immune system. If our lung qi is weak, then our wei-qi is also weak and it can’t circulate properly. By strengthening our lung qi and keeping our energy balanced, we can strengthen our body’s natural resistance to disease.

Herbs can also be very effective in prevention or decreasing the duration of an illness. A common Chinese formula used to build up the body’s natural defenses is called Jade Windscreen, or Yu Ping Feng San. It is a classic formula that dates back over 800 years and it most widely known to treat for the prevention of colds and allergies. It is safe for both adults and children. If a cold or flu is already present in the body, other herbal formulas would be prescribed.

 

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Get an adequate amount of sleep (7-8 hours a night is sufficient)
  3. Exercise regularly (aerobic activity a few times a week and muscle strengthening at least twice a week is recommended)
  4. Avoid refined sugars (it taxes and weakens the body’s immune system)
  5. Foods: sweet potatoes, pears, and nuts are foods that strengthen and tonify lung energy. The flavor associated with the fall is pungent. Examples of some pungent foods are: peppers, chilies, onions, mustard, ginger, and garlic.