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

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!

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

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes in Menopause

Acupuncture for hot flashes? Don’t sweat it! Research shows acupuncture reduces hot flashes. Women in menopause may needlessly suffer through hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms such as vaginal dryness, irritability, and weight gain.  I treat menopausal symptoms regularly at my Downingtown acupuncture office with great success! Read more

Acupuncture for Osteoarthritic Knee Pain

Recently, a very large study of knee pain treatment with acupuncture – involving almost 4000 participants – showed acupuncture was far more effective in relieving knee pain caused by osteoarthritis than alternative methods. This conclusion came as a result of 14 different trials in clinical settings supporting various similar studies conducted in the mid 2000’s.

Read more

Acupuncture Effective for Sinus – Sinusitis

A new clinical study examined acupuncture for treatment of chronic sinusitis. A test group of 85 patients with sinusitis participated. Chronic rhinitis [sinusitis] is due to the Chinese medicine concept of wind-cold or wind-heat obstructing lung qi. Wind is similar to the concept of virus or bacteria in western medical terminology. Lung qi is a concept of lung function. In Chinese medicine, the lung system includes the nose. It is easily blocked by ‘wind’ or viral/bacterial invasion. Acupuncture releases pathogens trapped in the body by stimulating acupuncture points associated with the lung and nose.
Read more

Acupuncture and Foot Pain

Studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving certain types of foot pain. A study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine found acupuncture to be effective in relieving otherwise unresponsive chronic foot pain. Another study found that stimulation of acupuncture points on the feet could increase blood flow to the foot and lower leg. Many anecdotal reports exist of individual acupuncturists using a variety of acupuncture techniques to relieve pain associated with the ankle, heel, and ball of the foot. Read more

The Nine Best Health Steps To Take

Did you know that diet choices can determine how much inflammation and pain you experience from one day to the next?  People are always asking how to make changes in their lifestyle once they learn that lifestyle might be contributing to their pain or illness. Here is an article that describes nine simple steps you can take to ensure optimal health. Read more

Robert Downey Jr. Loves Chinese Medicine!

Turns out Robert Downey Jr. uses Chinese medicine and has been for years. In the most recent edition of Acupuncture Today, Robert Downey jr. is awarded for his support of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Read more