S.A.D. Acupuncture for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Feeling S.A.D.? Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. is a condition that describes feeling depressed in the fall and winter when the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. Acupuncture treatment is very effective for people who get S.A.D. But how does it work? First we must understand how acupuncturists view S.A.D.

Is S.A.D. a Disorder?

Is S.A.D. a disorder? It really depends on the severity of your symptoms. S.A.D. occurs during the change of seasons so it is called ‘seasonal’. Acupuncturists know that moods fluctuate with the seasons. Chinese medicine recognizes that our bodies are a microcosm of the natural world and that our bodies are composed of the same elements that occur in nature. As a smaller version of nature, we are intimately connected to changes that occur during seasonal cycles. Shouldn’t our moods be expected to shift accordingly?

In the fall, acupuncturists know that our energy is beginning to contract and pull inward – similar to what is happening outside our front doors as the leaves fall and trees begin to go dormant.  With the waning of daylight hours and the cessation of plant growth, our ancestors would have gathered inside to hunker down for the season.

There is a natural desire to turn inward as the fall becomes winter. As we enter the dark cold winter months, it is normal to want to conserve energy as we seek to renew ourselves for the next cycle of expansion that begins with the first buds of spring.

Since contraction of energy in the fall and winter feels like the direct opposite of the outward expansive energy of spring and summer, we may mistake our feelings for depression. Our cultural aversion to anything that is not outright happiness doesn’t help us accept the inward, reflective cycle of the approaching winter season.

Acupuncture Treats S.A.D.

Seasonal moods are a natural part of our human design – it is normal for them to change as seasons turn.  Acupuncturists know that the body is thrown off balance by any sort of ‘change’ – including the change of seasons. Adapting to change is a sign of good health and balance. But when you are unable to adapt to the change of season and your mood begins to affect your daily function it could be S.A.D.

The good news is – acupuncture can help with seasonal depression (or any type of depression for that matter). Acupuncture helps your body adapt to the change in season so you can ‘go with the flow’. Regular acupuncture treatments help people who are prone to S.A.D. adapt to the seasons more readily. People who get regular acupuncture report an overall balance in their emotional life with less severe ‘ups and downs’.

For more information on Acupuncture and Depression please visit our We Treat Depression page.

For a more complete look at Acupuncture and Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) see the blog:

4 Alternative Insomnia Treatments

If all goes well, most people should be spending approximately one-third of their lives asleep. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to live your best life, but most of us aren’t sleeping as well as we could be. There are a variety of reasons that you might not be getting the best night’s sleep. Some of these are: not sleeping on the right kind of mattress, improper diet, or bodily pain. If you’re not sleeping well, you might be tempted to try prescription medications. However, there are other options you may want to consider. I’ve successfully treated many people with acupuncture for a wide range of issues, including insomnia. Not getting the proper sleep? Read about these 4 alternatives to treat insomnia.

 

Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture is often used as a treatment for insomnia  and its use for sleep dates back to at least 2500 years

Baby sleeping peacefully

Not sleeping like a baby? Try acupuncture for insomnia!

years in Chinese medicine. A study published in the 2013 Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that four weeks of acupuncture can be an effective treatment to improve sleep quality for people with insomnia. Scientists tested acupuncture with meridian acupoints and three Anmian acupoints. It had the added benefit of bringing down levels of anxiety and stress. Acupuncture treats the root cause of insomnia by re-establishing the body’s equilibrium that disappears when you’re sleep deprived.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you change the behaviors and thoughts that are causing you problems in different areas of life. When it comes to sleep, people reported significant sleep improvements within six to eight weeks of starting therapy. CBT tends to work well in concert with other types of therapy, acupuncture, or medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has a wide body of research that shows its successes over time. If you think this might work for you, talk to your doctor.

Supplements for Insomnia

Many people want to avoid prescription sleep aids. The good news is, there are also some natural supplements that you can try to get similar effects without making you feel groggy the next day. Herbs like valerian root and lavender have been found to have calming effects that can help if you’re having trouble getting your anxiety under control. When it comes to actually falling asleep, you can use a supplement like melatonin in pill form. Melatonin is a chemical that your body produces to tell itself it’s time to go to sleep, so using the pills to bring your sleep cycles back into order could be useful. Consult your doctor before using melatonin if you are on prescription medications.

Yoga

The practice of modern Yoga has been part of a spiritual tradition in India for more than 5,000 years. It migrated West in recent history and is great for your mental and physical health. Adding yoga to your daily routine helps more the longer you practice. Many people report waking up with less aches and pains, and decreased work stress. There are several styles of yoga and even one on one yoga therapy. Try a few different types and see which ones work for you.

 

References

Effects of acupuncture with meridian acupoints and three Anmian acupoints on insomnia and related depression and anxiety state. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11655-012-1240-6

Comparative effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: a systematic review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3481424/

Yoga Can Help with Insomnia https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201210/yoga-can-help-insomnia

Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies in Chester County PA

Ahhh..spring has arrived – and so have seasonal allergies. Pollen allergy affectsnatural sinus relief with acupuncture an estimated 35 million Americans each year, according to Web MD. Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sinus congestion are just a few of the allergy symptoms people face each year as the pollen count rises.

While over the counter remedies such as antihistamines can help in the short term, many people find that these medications lose their effectiveness over time. Fortunately, natural treatment alternatives exist. Acupuncture has been proven to effectively reduce and even eliminate allergy symptoms. CNN reported research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in March 2013 on the positive benefits of acupuncture treatment for seasonal allergies.

How does acupuncture work? By placing tiny, sterilized needles into just a few specific acupuncture points, acupuncture has been shown to boost your immune system so you can combat common allergens such as pollen, dust, and animal dander. In Chinese medical terminology, acupuncture boosts the ‘Wei Qi’ or protective qi that circulates just beneath the skin. Wei qi becomes weak due to common dietary factors such as excess sugar and not enough quality nutrition like fresh vegetables. Additional factors include stress and lack of sleep. Acupuncture combined with good nutrition is a winning combination for seasonal allergies.

To read more, please see my Allergies & Asthma page  complete with patient testimonials and research articles to see how acupuncture can help YOU with your allergies this season.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/relieve-allergies-natural-way?page=2

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/19/health/acpuncture-allergies/

Acupuncture for Colds and Flu

Cold and flu season is upon us. Are you ready? Although flu is only sporadic in Chester County PA right now, it will become widespread as the weather turns colder.  This year it is predicted that there will be 1 billion colds and 95 million cases of the flu in U.S. Besides the obvious measures to prevent colds and flu – things like washing your hands, getting enough sleep and avoiding people who are sick, what else can you do?

For starters, keep your immune system strong all year long – a healthy immune system is key to prevention. Acupuncture is a tool you can use to keep yourself healthy and prevent all types of disease, not just colds and flu.

Acupuncture Boosts Immunity

Acupuncture helps boost immunity by stimulating the production of natural killer cells – your first line of defense against viruses such as colds. In addition it acts on a complex immune building system that regulates white blood cells directly linked to fighting infections, allergic reactions, and even autoimmune disorders.

Acupuncture boosts the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. Disease prevention begins by focusing on the protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi or defensive energy. This protective barrier acts like a shield to keep out unwanted pathogens responsible for colds and flu.

Faster Healing Time

Receiving acupuncture at the first sign of a cold can also provide symptom relief and faster healing if you do catch a cold or the flu. Acupuncture helps with common symptoms such as chills, fever, body aches, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough. Not only can acupuncture provide immediate symptom relief – a course of just a few treatments can also reduce the risk of a cold progressing to bronchitis as well as shorten the duration of the illness.

Are you Qi Deficient?

If you catch colds easily, have low energy, and require a long time recuperating from an illness – your Wei Qi may be deficient. In Chinese medicine, Wei Qi is known as the defensive energy that surrounds your body to provide a protective barrier between you and the environment. Regular acupuncture keeps the defensive qi strong to more easily resist colds and flu.

Foods to Eat – Foods to Avoid

Acupuncture works best when combined with a proper diet. Diet is important for strong Wei Qi. Acupuncturists are trained to provide dietary recommendations that help keep your defenses strong. Foods to avoid would include dairy products such as milk and cheese, as well as wheat. These are cold and cool natured foods in Chinese medicine. Sugar is another major no-no when it comes to immunity. Did you know that your immune system is depressed for several hours after consuming sugar?

Eat With the Seasons

Balance is key to keeping healthy and this goes for diet as well as lifestyle. Try practicing eating with the seasons by eating more root vegetables such as baked yams or steamed carrots. Avoid out of season foods like salads, fruits, and cold drinks in the winter. A nourishing diet of steamed vegetables, rice, and small amounts of animal protein such as chicken or beef are recommended in winter time. Fish is a cold food so is better in summertime when the weather is hot.

Soup is a wonderful immune boosting food and can act as a remedy for colds. Be sure the broth is clear and does not contain wheat noodles. Chicken soup has long been heralded as a good cold remedy. Chinese medicine recognizes chicken as a warm natured food that combats internal coldness which can lead to weakening of the defensive energy.

For more information on diet and Chinese medicine, read my nutritional counseling page and find out how YOU can stay healthy to prevent colds and flu this winter.

Acupuncture for Stress Relief

Got stress? Maybe you’ve got ‘Spring Fever’. Acupuncture is the best kept secret for stress relief! Many of my acupuncture patients are reporting increased irritability, anxiety, and PMS with the onset of spring. Some are feeling unusually tired. People with allergies, TMJ, tension headaches, migraines, and vertigo also tend to notice a flare-up this time of year. Acupuncturists call this ‘Liver Qi Stagnation’ which gets worse in the spring.

What’s Liver Qi?
Spring is the time of year that the organ system called Liver gets unbalanced. No, not your actual liver – the Chinese ‘Liver’ system. Acupuncturists know that the Liver regulates energy flow throughout your body. A busy, stressed out life causes the Liver to clamp down on your energy system – a condition called ‘Liver Qi Stagnation’. Most Americans experience some form of Liver Qi Stagnation throughout the year. Symptoms may include frustration, teeth grinding, ear ringing, allergies, and PMS.

Why is it worse in Spring?
Spring is a ‘strong’ season with an outward push of energy and wild weather swings. Our bodies are made from the materials found in nature so it makes sense that we would notice amplified stress or mood swings when spring arrives. Spring starts in February according to the Chinese calendar. So our 1st day of spring coincides with the middle of spring – a time when the Liver Qi is at its peak. Here in the west, we have the term ’Spring Fever’ which is described as a feeling of restlessness or laziness. If you’ve got pre-existing Liver Qi Stagnation, you’re likely noticing increased stress or fatigue. Perhaps your Liver Qi needs some attention.

4 Ways Move Your Liver Qi

Exercise
Loosen up your Liver Qi with some exercise. Walking, running, or weightlifting are great ways to blow off steam. Yoga and Tai Qi are good additions for smoothing the body’s Qi and helping you relax.

Turn Off Your Cellphone
….and your computer for that matter. With increased connectivity we’ve become more stressed.Your Liver Qi gets tighter with every email, beep, notification, and text that comes in. Unplug and go for a walk – outside in nature if you can. Your Liver Qi will thank you!

Hang Out
Schedule time with people who boost your mood. Nurture friendships and family ties. Go have some fun, or just chill out, preferably with people. Positive relationships create flow – in both your life and your qi.

Visit your Acupuncturist
If you’re feeling stress, PMS, fatigue, or allergy symptoms, your Liver Qi might be stuck. Acupuncture regulates the meridians and the Liver – creating balance and flow. The result? You feel better! So get your qi moving and flow into summer.

Read more about acupuncture for stress and anxiety or acupuncture and menstrual issues including PMS!

Carpal Tunnel Relief with Acupuncture

In a 2009 study  acupuncture was shown to be “as effective as short-term low-dose prednisolone [prednisone] for mild-to-moderate CTS. [Carpal Tunnel Syndrome] For those who do have an intolerance or contraindication for oral steroid or for those who do not opt for early surgery, acupuncture treatment provides an alternative choice.”

Read more

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Many people ask if acupuncture is good for weight loss and obesity. Weight loss with acupuncture is such a hot topic that Dr. Oz reviewed it on his blog. Acupuncture is not a quick fix for such a complex problem as controlling your weight. But research shows that  adding acupuncture treatment to your weight loss regimen can help. Losing weight involves multiple factors. Dr Oz says it requires a ‘multi pronged approach’.  Read more

Weight Loss With Acupuncture

Weight loss is more successful with acupuncture. Obesity is rampant in our country and seems to be on the rise. Acupuncture for weight loss is proven successful in research studies.

Acupuncture Weight Loss Research

Research on acupuncture and weight loss show positive benefits for people with obesity. Most studies focus on auricular acupuncture tiny needles or magnets placed at key spots on the ear. Why would an acupuncturist treat the ear? The ear represents a small version of the human body – a microcosm of the larger macrocosm of the body. Many acupuncturists do not perform acupuncture weight loss treatment on the ear, however, so don’t be confused if your acupuncturist chooses body points exclusively.

Acupuncture Points for Successful Weight Loss

Acupuncture points on the body are known to affect brain chemistry and regulate hunger signals. Some of the major points for treating weight gain are located on the arms and legs near your knees and elbows, as well as near your ankles and wrists. One of the main points for weight loss is called “Stomach 36” or Leg Three Miles (Zusanli in Chinese). Stomach 36 is located on the muscle near your shin just below the knee about one hand’s width below the kneecap.

Legend has it that the “Leg Three Miles” point helped soldiers walk ‘three more miles’ when they would become fatigued on long marches. Stomach 36 known to increase energy production because it boosts metabolism by regulating stomach function. Chinese medicine recognizes that weight gain is caused by blockage in the acupuncture meridians, or channels that course through your abdomen and body. Certain foods block the acupuncture meridians because they affect the underlying organ system that regulates the meridian. Foods such as dairy, wheat, and sugar affect an organ system responsible for extracting energy from food. When the extraction process is disrupted, metabolism slows resulting in unwanted weight gain.

Chinese Medicine & Nutrition

Acupuncture doesn’t work alone – diet is important. Choosing lighter foods such as an abundance of cooked vegetables (not raw), rice, and small quantities or animal or vegetable protein helps keep the meridians flowing because these foods nourish the underlying organ system responsible for regulating the Stomach meridian. Bottom line? Acupuncture combined with proper food choices is a winning combination for weight loss.

Nutritional Counseling & Digestion Treatment

For more information on acupuncture for weight loss, digestive problems, and success stories, read our Acupuncture for Digestion page

For more information on Chinese medicine diet recommendations check out our Nutritional Counseling page for printable articles on how to make the Asian medicine diet a part of your healthy lifestyle for 2014!

Is Acupuncture the Cure for Holiday Stress?

Ahh…Thanksgiving. A time to relax with family, enjoy a delicious meal, snuggle by the fire……really? When was the last time you felt relaxed around the holidays? Holidays have become synonymous with the word ‘stress’. Why is this?

If you think about it, modern life is unbalanced. We work too hard, play too little, and consequently experience high levels of stress and anxiety. Add a few more tasks to the ‘to do’ list like preparing a huge family meal and doing some Black Friday shopping and you’ve got the perfect recipe for stress hormones which flood the brain leading to ‘fight or flight’ response.

Acupuncture treats chronic stress by moving stuck energy or stagnant ‘qi’. (Qi is the life force that flows through your body – it literally is the force that keeps you alive!). Qi gets stuck when we are frustrated.Too much ‘to do list’ and not enough time creates a condition acupuncturists call ‘qi stagnation’. Most people describe qi stagnation as feeling ‘pent up’ or frustrated. Acupuncturists use hair thin acupuncture needles to move your body’s qi which helps you relax. But how does it work?

Acupuncture Blocks Stress Hormones

Scientists have discovered that acupuncture actually affects the brain chemistry by blocking stress hormones. In fact, acupuncture research published in the Journal of Endocrinology in 2013 demonstrated a reduction in ‘fight or flight’ hormones involved in stress response.

To read more on the acupuncture and stress reduction study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314085528.htm

To read more about acupuncture, stress, and anxiety relief:

https://innerlight-wellness.net/we-treat/anxiety-stress

May your holidays be happy and stress free. Well, at least less stress-full!

Acupuncture and Restless Leg Syndrome

In 2002 Bob Flaws reported the results of a study treating restless leg syndrome with acupuncture. “Twelve of the 18 cases in this study were judged cured. This meant that bilateral pain and strange, uncomfortable sensations disappeared. Another six cases were judged to have gotten a marked effect, meaning that their lower limb pain or uncomfortable sensations, were decreased. Therefore, the total amelioration rate was 100% using this protocol.”

In 2001 Wang Jian-bo published an article titled, “The Treatment of 18 Cases of Restless Leg Syndrome with Acupuncture,” in the Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Chinese Medicine), #10, 2001, p. 457.

An abstract of that article appears below.

Cohort description:
Among the 18 patients in this study, there were six males and 12 females aged 54-72 years, with an average age of 63 years. All suffered from RLS. The disease course had lasted from as short as three days to as long as 16 months. In 10 cases, this was the initial diagnosis. The other eight cases had been previously diagnosed and treated with Western medicine but without effect.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) & Acupuncture Vol II

All these needles were retained for 20 minutes and one treatment was given per day, with 14 days equaling one course of treatment. Patients were reassessed after 1-3 such courses of treatment and, during the time of this treatment, Western medications for this disorder were suspended.

Treatment outcomes:
Twelve of the 18 cases in this study were judged cured. This meant that bilateral pain and strange, uncomfortable sensations disappeared. Another six cases were judged to have gotten a marked effect, meaning that their lower limb pain or uncomfortable sensations, were decreased. Therefore, the total amelioration rate was 100% using this protocol.

http://bluepoppy.com/cfwebstore/index.cfm/feature/526/research-report-294-restless-leg-syndrome–acupuncture-vol-ii.cfm