Acupuncture treats "pins and needles." Here's how:Read More
If you suffer from heartburn, here are some easy suggestions for effective food therapies. 1. Avoid tomatoes, dark chocolate, raw onions, fried food, mint teas, and red wine.2. Drink demulcent teas such as slippery elm, marshmallow and licorice. Fennel tea is also good. Stay away from peppermint tea, which relaxes the esophagus and can actually contribute to reflux. 3. Drink carrot juice (1-2 cups/day). Carrots are alkaline-forming and anti-inflammatory and help many digestive problems. 4. Eat fresh papaya or take papaya enzymes. 5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.6. Take acidophilus or other probiotics, or drink kefir. 7. Drink other fresh vegetable juices such as cabbage, celery and even raw potato (leave skin on). 8. Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before bedtime.9. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, which can aggravate heartburn. 10. Reduce carbonated beverages and caffeine.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also great for reducing heartburn as they can resolve "Stomach Heat," the most common Chinese diagnosis for heartburn and GERD.
Follow these guidelines for a month and see how much better you feel! You might even be able to eat a bowl of spaghetti bolognese again without worry.
Taking the hormone melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime can help prevent migraines. That’s because headaches may be related to disturbances in our biorhythms, and melatonin can help regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin taken nightly for 1-3 months reduces the frequency, intensity and duration of migraines that may occur, but melatonin cannot treat migraines that have already started. In Chinese medicine a propensity for migraines usually signals a pattern of excess and deficiency where the Qi (“chee”) or energy of the body is hyperactive and shoots upward instead of flowing smoothly. Our treatment focuses on subduing the Qi, and tonifying and regulating the blood in the channels that flow to the head. Acupuncture also relaxes muscle tension in the shoulders and neck and relieves spasms by increasing circulation throughout the body.
According to a Duke University Medical Center review of over 30 research studies comparing acupuncture versus medication for chronic headaches, acupuncture is significantly more effective. The studies included nearly 4,000 patients with migraines, tension headaches and other forms of chronic headaches. A bonus finding: “Acupuncture patients also reported better physical well-being compared to the medication group." See duke.edu for research article.
A study funded by the Army and the National Institutes of Health helps explain how acupuncture eases chronic pain. Using brain imaging, the study showed that acupuncture increases the availability of receptors in the brain that process and weaken pain signals. Moreover, acupuncture treatments – in this case twice a week for four weeks – affect both the brain’s short- and long-term ability to reduce pain sensation. A beneficial implication of this research – published in 2009 by the University of Michigan Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center – is that patients treated with acupuncture might be more responsive to pain medications like codeine and Vicodin.
Other studies have shown that acupuncture triggers a variety of physiological responses, such as:
✔ Stimulating the immune system and increasing white blood cells, which defend the body against infection ✔ Decreasing cholesterol and triglycerides ✔ Regulating blood sugar metabolism, which helps the body use energy more efficiently ✔ Increasing blood circulation and producing beneficial changes in blood pressure ✔ Increasing stomach peristaltic activity and regulating digestive fluids, thereby improving digestion ✔ Regulating and stimulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is directly related to sleep, appetite, and mood
Curious about acupuncture but just can't seem to schedule that first appointment? AcuTake, an online publication created to improve acupuncture education and access, has written an informative article that lists (and debunks) these top five excuses that some newbies to acupuncture give for avoiding treatment.
Afraid of needles? Think the sessions are too expensive? Can't find the time, don't know who to go to, or don't "believe" in it? Read their article to get the full scoop on why these five excuses just aren't good enough anymore!
Acupuncture is great for pain relief, restful sleep, good digestion, better immunity and more. So go ahead and schedule a session — next thing you know you'll be encouraging your co-workers, friends and family members to jump on the acupuncture bandwagon.
One way to measure if acupuncture really helps people reduce or get rid of their pain is by looking at whether they’ve decreased their purchase and use of prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. In 2007, a research team in Spain looked at the cost/benefit of acupuncture compared to standard medical treatment for various types of pain in 5,690 people.The researchers found that after acupuncture treatment, the average patient saved $9.70 per week on analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs. For patients who suffered from headache, the savings soared to $35.70 per week. The money saved on medication can definitely offset the price of monthly or biweekly acupuncture treatments, depending on whom you see. Read Acupuncture Can Reduce Costs for Pain Patients.
Did you know that the most common symptom of stress is insomnia? Did you also know that people who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are three times more likely to get a cold? By sleeping longer and more deeply we can protect our health. But how do you do this if you suffer from insomnia? Sleep therapists long ago developed “sleep hygiene," also known as good sleep habits. I've adapted the rules of sleep hygiene into the following eight simple steps to help you get better ZZZZ’s:
(1) Sleep in a cooler room. As night falls and body temperature drops, the brain slows down and drowsiness sets in. Turning down the thermostat can facilitate that.
(2) Make your room completely dark. Cover up all LED lights (even tiny ones) on alarm clocks and any other electronic equipment. If it’s still not dark enough, buy some classic eyeshades available at most drugstores. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, the hormone that signals the body to sleep. Even small amounts of light decrease melatonin production and signal the body to awaken. And don’t fall asleep to the TV or iPad screen (too stimulating); even better, move all gadgets out of the bedroom.
(3) Get a saliva test to check cortisol levels. Even a little bit of lost sleep can cause your stress hormone levels to rise the next night, increasing the likelihood of chronic insomnia. (If you'd like a cortisol test, I can order one for you — please contact me).
(4) Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends.
(5) Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at least 3 hours before bedtime.
(6) Exercise regularly but not within 2 hours of retiring. It may take 2-4 months of regular exercise for you to start sleeping longer and more deeply, and better sleep will then help your exercise routines. (See "How Exercise Can Help Us Sleep Better", NYTimes, 8/21/13.)
(7) Establish a pre-sleep ritual such as a bath, meditation or reading.
(8) Avoid sleeping pills. The so-called Z drugs (Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta) only increase total sleep time by 28 minutes compared to a placebo, according to a 2005 NIH study. They may be habit-forming, cause next-day drowsiness and memory loss, and mask the fact that your underlying cause of sleeplessness could be depression, anxiey or simply poor sleep hygiene.
Of course, acupuncture is well-known as a beneficial treatment for short- and long-term insomnia, and Chinese herbs such as suan zao ren (Zizyphus) are natural and safe alternatives to prescription sleeping pills.
Does your child get sick a lot or complain of stomachaches? Perhaps an older child has migraines or trouble sleeping? If so they may benefit from acupuncture. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds acupuncture safe for children. Already in the U.S. about 150,000 kids are receiving acupuncture for chronic pain and other issues. Acupuncture for children differs from that for adults in that the needles are left in for shorter periods — if at all. In babies and toddlers, the acupuncturist may insert and withdraw the needle in one move. The study reports that side effects are nearly non-existent in the hands of a trained and licensed acupuncturist. Read more about it at The New York Times.
Chinese herbal medicine formulated especially for children may be combined with acupuncture for a stronger effect. At my office on Larchmont in Los Angeles, our pharmacy stocks many excellent pediatric formulas called Gentle Warriors, from Kan Herb Company.
Are you a Nervous Nelly/Ned when seeing the dentist? One study shows that acupuncture helps calm anxiety while you're getting dental work and is a common dual procedure in Britain. Here in the US, just schedule some acupuncture before heading to the dentist and ask for "ear seeds" to keep the calmness going. Stop avoiding your dentist and get back your clean, beautiful smile!
So, how do you catch a cold virus anyway? No surprise here, the leading theory shows the hands touching the nose to be the culprit. Not even sneezing or kissing spread a cold to the extent that contaminated hands do, with active rhinovirus being found on skin and household surfaces even three hours later. When you then touch contaminated surfaces, you pick up the virus at least 60% of the time and it enters the body through your eyes, nose or mouth. This explains how you can catch a cold without even having contact with someone who has one. (Even weirder, scientists are surprised at how difficult it is to catch a cold from a kiss.)
The best way to get rid of germs is to wash your hands by rubbing them together for 10-20 seconds under running water, using regular soap. Soap doesn't kill germs, it just loosens them so they’re rinsed off (and antibacterial hand wash doesn't work on viruses).
But the frustrating fact remains that medical researchers are still confounded by the common cold, and the basics still hold true: no cure yet, wash your hands, chicken soup really does work, and wait for "exciting cure found!" Meantime, an acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine to boost your immune system will help reduce the length and strength of a cold. Try to get treated at the first sign of symptoms for best results.
Some people suffer from severe cold hands or feet caused by blood vessel spasms, termed Raynaud's syndrome. In this painful but common condition affecting mostly women during episodes of stress and cold weather, the hands turn white at first. As they become deprived of oxygen, they turn blue and numb, then flush red when the vessels again relax. Acupuncture helps people with Raynaud's: In one study, acupuncture reduced attacks by 63% (Journal of Internal Medicine, 1997). Certain Chinese herbal formulas containing cinnamon are also beneficial for circulation, and the following home remedies will help you during an attack:
✔ Swing your arms in circles to force blood vessels to relax and open.
✔ Soak hands and feet in warm (not hot) water while massaging them.
✔ Use microwave hand warmers to get blood flowing. You can easily make your own by filling a sock or cloth bag with dried beans or rice and microwaving it for 30 seconds or until toasty.
[Note: Raynaud's disease is a common and mild disorder, while Raynaud's phenomenon is more rare and indicates a serious underlying problem. Read more about the differences at MayoClinic.com.]
Acupuncture therapy is growing rapidly here in the U.S. as a preferred and natural family medicine, but many people may be unaware what exactly an acupuncture treatment looks like. In my new, two-minute video, I try to put into context Chinese medicine's approach, the single-use needles, how herbal formulas are prescribed, and what a relaxing therapy acupuncture can be. Please share this video with anyone who might be curious about acupuncture or is looking for a qualified practitioner in L.A.! Thank you.
Mice getting acupuncture... you heard it here first! Actually, a study published in Nature Neuroscience in May 2010 shows how acupuncture increases the concentration of the body's natural painkiller, called adenosine. Neuroscientists tested acupuncture on the knees of mice then measured the positive effects. Read more about the study at ars technica.
Corydalis, or yan hu suo, is to the Chinese what aspirin is to Westerners. This potent painkiller is widely used for all types of pain, especially headaches and menstrual cramps. It is particularly beneficial for people who cannot take aspirin or other pain medications due to ulcers or stomach upset. Studies show that it works especially well when combined with acupuncture. Powdered corydalis is one of the strongest analgesic herbs out there and its effectiveness has been compared with morphine and codeine (it is approximately 1% the strength of opium). Because of this it also can be used to reduce anxiety and stress and promote sound sleep. Unlike morphine, yan hu suo has no side effects, a slower development of tolerance, and is non-addictive. Still, pregnant and nursing women should avoid it.
Excellent corydalis formulas are available by prescription from a licensed acupuncturist.
There was very positive news on the medical benefits of acupuncture in a 2010 article by the Wall Street Journal. MRI scans of the brain show the "calming effects" acupuncture has on patients with chronic pain. Interestingly enough, the article explains that, "U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army doctors are using acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal problems, pain and stress in stateside hospitals and combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan." It also explains that acupuncture "cause[s] the release of endorphins," brain chemicals that naturally relieve pain and promote a feeling of well-being, and is "generally safe."
In mid-November I traveled to Cuba to attend a natural medicine conference in the small city of Santa Clara, about three hours southeast of Havana. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to travel in a country I love (I had been there once before in 2000), and to meet doctors and health care specialists who have integrated a wide range of so-called medicina bioenergética into their Western medical system, including acupuncture, homeopathy, flower remedies, osteopathy, iridology, hypnosis, heat therapy, bee venom, and magnets. (The U.S. Department of the Treasury grants a small number of licenses to full-time professionals traveling to Cuba for meetings and conferences.)
"NATUROSALUD 2008: The 7th International Congress of Bioenergetic, Traditional & Natural Medicine" was held at a small convention center in the countryside. There were a hundred participants from Latin America, South America and Spain, and no running water! (We managed somehow.) I was the only person from the U.S.
I had been particularly interested in traveling to Cuba because it is the only Western country that mandates that complementary therapies be a part of every medical school curriculum. Unfortunately, Cuba's "green medicine" was born more from the economic collapse of the early 1990s, when Cuba lost the support of the Soviet Union and access to imported medicine almost overnight, than from any holistic trend. Acupuncture training was first established in military hospitals and the use of herbal medicine increased in rural areas.
Now, all Cubans now have access to acupuncture, homeopathy, physical therapy, and herbal medicine when they need it, and there's a strong chance that these therapies will survive even as Cuba's economy and access to pharmaceuticals hopefully improve in the coming years. All of us in the health professions should learn from this system so that we provide our citizens with a more affordable, preventative and natural approach to quality healthcare, especially in hard times. Ojalá!
Posted by Kristin Ebbert, M.S., L.Ac.