Is Acupuncture the Cure for Holiday Stress?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….or is it? Holidays have become synonymous with the word ‘stress’. The 2020 Holiday Season is much less festive than years past and has brought a huge burden of stress to us all.

Acupuncture is the Cure for Holiday Stress

Modern life is unbalanced in the best of times. We work too hard, play too little, and consequently experience high levels of stress and anxiety. This year has added a whole new layer of stress as many are working from home, maybe homeschooling, or working in an environment that looks very different from our pre-pandemic way of life.

To top it all off, we are adapting as best we can to a very different social reality! Holiday parties are off the list, gathering with distant relatives, travelling, even seeing our friends have all been put on pause. The absence of our daily social interactions with others outside our immediate household has been profoundly isolating for some and just plain stress producing to us all. It’s truly been a year of throwing out your planner and seeing what today brings.

Chronic stress negatively impacts our health and immunity at a time when we need both to be in full force. Acupuncture treats chronic stress by moving stuck energy or stagnant ‘qi’. (Qi is the life force that flows through your body). Qi gets stuck when we are frustrated. Our collective inability to chart a course right now affects the acupuncture meridians and creates a condition acupuncturists call ‘qi stagnation’. People describe qi stagnation as feeling ‘pent up’ or just needing to get out and ‘blow off steam’. Acupuncture gets your qi moving by using hair thin needles placed at key locations 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, 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

Read more about acupuncture and stress.

May you and your family be safe and well this holiday season!

Acupuncture for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Acupuncture can help Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  This is the type of depression that happens at the same time each year, usually in the fall and winter. Doctors attribute seasonal depression to less sunlight. Now that we are turning the clocks back, there will seem like even less daylight as the sun will go down one hour earlier. Even though we gain an hour of daylight in the morning, we lose it at night, leaving us feeling light deprived. Add to all this that we are in the midst of a pandemic and limiting our social interactions, Seasonal Affective Disorder has the potential to be worse for people this year.

hand_holding_a_fall_leaf

Seasonal Affective Disorder is SAD

Fortunately, acupuncture treatment can be effective for people who suffer from symptoms of seasonal depression. But how does it work? First we must understand how acupuncturists view SAD.

Is SAD a Disorder?

Fluctuating moods occur at each change of seasons according to Chinese medicine theory. Composed of the same elements that occur in nature, our bodies are a microcosm of the natural world. Changing conditions in our world create change in our bodies. Shouldn’t our moods be expected to shift accordingly?

Spring and summer mark an expansive time of year both in nature, and for most of us, our mood. On the flip side, the contraction of the fall season sees energy going in the opposite direction. For those who prefer spring and summer’s expansive, outward flow, the inward, reflective cycle of the approaching winter season may have a more severe affect and could become Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Acupuncturists know that our energy is beginning to contract and pull inward come fall; similar to what is happening outside our front doors as the leaves turn colors and trees begin to go dormant. With the waning daylight hours and the cessation of plant growth, there is a natural desire to turn inward as 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.

Grief and the Lungs

Each of the 5 organ systems of the body is assigned a season and an emotion in Chinese Medicine. Fall is associated with the Lung organ system and the emotion of grief. Because of this, it is in the fall that the lungs need more help than at other times of the year. We tend to catch more colds and flus starting in the fall and to feel the emotional effects of the season associated with grief. Acupuncturists know how to regulate the Lung organ system to help achieve strength at a time when it is most vulnerable.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Here is a list of symptoms for seasonal affective disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association.

  • Sadness
  • A Loss of interest in activities that one previously enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Changes in sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • In more severe cases, thoughts of suicide

People with depression experience many of the same symptoms. The difference is that seasonal depression symptoms are shorter in duration, ending with the change of seasons.The National Institute of Health suggests a diagnosis of seasonal depression isn’t necessary unless symptoms occur for two consecutive years. However, if these symptoms are severe, seek help immediately.

The American Psychiatric Association encourages anyone feeling severe symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts to contact a doctor immediately or seek help at the closest emergency room. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255) or via online chat.

If your symptoms are manageable, you may be able to get by with natural solutions. Exercise, getting outside for more daylight, and keeping up with social activities can help.

Acupuncture Treats Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

Seasonal moods are part of our human design. It is normal for them to change as the seasons turn. Adapting to change is a sign of good health and balance. This year is different, however, because there is a collective trauma many are undergoing as our globe is experiencing a pandemic. Even the most resilient of us may be feeling unable to adapt to the change of seasons this year. When you are unable to adapt and your mood begins to affect your daily function, it could be seasonal affective disorder.

The good news? Acupuncture can help with seasonal depression. Acupuncture helps your body move into the changing season so you can ‘go with the flow’. It does this by increasing neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. A series of acupuncture treatments can 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 Treating Depression with Acupuncture page.

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 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

Broth is Beautiful

‘Good broth will resurrect the dead’. Sally Fallon wrote a wonderful article on this old fashioned favorite – bone broth. Read about the miraculous healing effects of this traditional food from curing the common cold to helping with thyroid issues.
Read more

Acupuncture Stops Menstrual Pain

In this study, researchers found that menstrual pain was significantly relieved with acupuncture, most specifically a point on the inside of the lower leg called SP6. In TCM style acupuncture this point is well known for dealing with all issues of menstruation. Dr. Tan style acupuncture recognizes SP6 as an image for the lower abdomen. ‘Imaging’ body parts to acupuncture points is similar to how reflexology points of the foot represent various parts of the body. Using the ‘imaging’ concept to treat pain is unique to Dr. Tan/Master Tung style acupuncture, resulting in quicker, more effective pain relief.

Read more

Everyone Gets Acupuncture and so Should You!

Here is a fun music video to celebrate Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day (AOM Day) on October 24th. You’ll be amazed to hear how many celebrities and well-known people use Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for everything from colds and flus to healthier pregnancies to better athletic performance.

Read more

Acupuncture for Fertility – Watch WebMD Video

This short video at WebMD follows the case of Justine Ickes, a 40 year old woman who is trying to conceive. Justine was told that she had less than a 5% chance of conceiving naturally. Before Justine considered in vitro fertilization or adoption, she tried acupuncture. Acupuncture helped Justine successfully conceive her first child!

A growing collection of evidence – in both client feedback and professional studies – is showing that the ancient practice of acupuncture is an effective therapy to improve fertility, conception, and pregnancy. Recent studies have shown that acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus, normalizes ovulation, and reduces stress hormones – all factors that improve fertility. Read more

Acupuncture for Menopause – Watch WebMD Video

WebMD presents this short video on the effectiveness of acupuncture for menopause. When Mary Alice Stuart began experiencing the hot flashes and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, she looked for an effective alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Mary Alice wanted a natural therapy for the hot flashes and anxiety that accompany menopause stating “Hormone replacement therapy is kinda scary. For me I just don’t think it’s a healthy choice.” So Mary Alice tried acupuncture.

After her acupuncture treatments, Mary Alice noticed better moods, less anxiety, reduced hot flashes. She now receives acupuncture only once a month and takes Chinese herbs to keep her menopause symptoms under control. Mary Alice’s results are common experiences for others using acupuncture and herbs to reduce menopause symptoms.

Read more

Osteoporosis Acupuncture Research

This short article presents a summary of an acupuncture study conducted on bone mineral density in post menopausal women who were diagnosed with osteoporosis. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), bone loss is considered a Kidney energy disturbance. By regulating this energy, it was shown that women gained a statistically significant amount of bone density compared with a control group. Read more