Category Archives: acupuncture

Three Acupuncture Points to Reduce Stress

Listen to Your Body’s Stress & How Acupuncture Can Help

3 acupuncture points to help stress in BeavertonThe dictionary defines stress in multiple ways, but there is only one that matters when we discuss how stress affects our physical bodies. The definition is this, “stress is a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” And while most people think of stress as being detrimental, it truly does have a function in our bodies. Stress is the body’s way of signaling for help or a break in the routine. If we don’t listen to these signals, we can develop imbalances in our bodies, which can then lead to illnesses.

Cortisol is the hormone most closely related to stress. Cortisol is a big component of the “fight or flight” response we feel when we are scared or threatened. And in small bursts, cortisol is helpful. However, when stress becomes chronic, the cortisol levels become elevated and never return to normal. This puts the body in a constant state of being on edge, eventually causing insomnia, depression, anxiety, digestive issues and even mental illness.

There are ways to fight and reduce stress though. Simple things like exercise, meditation, coloring, talking with friends and even acupuncture. Admittedly, most people don’t think of being stuck with tiny needles as “relaxing”, but it really is. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and it is becoming more mainstream every single day. It is even being used in some hospital emergency rooms for those who are in pain and anxious.

Acupuncture acts like physical therapy for the nervous system. The tiny needles re-train the nervous system and the brain to behave as it should normally. For the nervous system to act and respond accordingly, cortisol has to be at normal levels and only used when a true “fight or flight” situation occurs. Studies show acupuncture does this.

There are over 400 acupressure points on the body and another 100 or more in the ears. But within all these choices, there are certain points that are much better for treating stress. Here are three great choices for dealing with your stress levels.

Yin Tang – This point is located midway between the inner ends of the eyebrows. Yin Tang is used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. It is also a great point to use for eye issues, nasal problems and headaches.

Ren 17 – Located in the center of the chest, midway between the nipples on the breastbone or sternum, this point is great for opening the chest. Many people feel chest tightness and constriction when they become stressed. This point will definitely help. It is frequently used to treat anxiety, depression and nervousness, as well as asthma or other lung issues. It can also be added to treatments to help with digestive issues or heart problems like palpitations.

Heart 7 – This point is located on the underside of the wrist crease on the outer edge. It is found in the depression on the outer side of the tendon. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this point is used to calm the mind and heart. It works well for anxiety, stress and anger too.

If stress is something you experience frequently, seeking out a licensed acupuncturist might just be the remedy you need to get it under control. And don’t forget that long-term mental stress can turn into physical stress that leads to disease.

For more information on acupuncture contact our Beaverton area office to make an appointment and see how we can help with your stress.

Acupuncture for Rehabilitation from Sports Injury

Acupuncture & Holistic Health Practices for Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are an incredibly common reason patients first seek out treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine. From a holistic health perspective, there are numerous energetic imbalances that may have predisposed someone to a particular injury, or may now be affected by the injury. A trained practitioner will look at the location of the injury, the depth of the injury, and the pathology of the injury.

A sports injury anywhere on the body may have the following components:

acupuncture & wellness treatments for sports injuries.Blood Stasis: Blood stasis is often caused by trauma to the local area, such as falling on the soccer field or getting hit with a hockey stick. Symptoms of blood stasis include sharp and stabbing pain that is worse with pressure, bruising and skin discoloration. When the stasis is severe it may affect sleep. Sports injuries such as bone breaks, contusions, fractures, tendon and ligament tears frequently have a blood stasis component.

Qi Stagnation: Qi stagnation can be caused by trauma but more frequently is caused by overuse, repetitive motion, poor posture or form while doing an exercise. Pain from a Qi stagnation injury tends to be dull, achy, throbbing and diffuse. Normally it is worse with pressure, but may be better with gentle movement. Common injuries that often involve Qi stagnation are tendonitis, muscle strains, chronically tight muscles and shin splints.

Heat: Both Qi stagnation and blood stagnation can generate heat, which is a holistic health explanation for lots of kinds of inflammation. Any sports injury that presents as red, hot and swollen has a heat component to it.

Cold: Just as pathogenic heat can be a factor in sports injuries, so too can pathogenic cold. There is an idea in holistic health that cold can “direct strike” an organ or energy system, leading to severe, acute, cramping pain. This often occurs after exposure to cold, such as running a race on a cold day, swimming in cold water or sitting in an ice bath after a workout. Cold can also be a factor in certain chronic areas of pain, particularly when bone is involved or when the injury is in a location that doesn’t get a lot of blood flow.

Blood deficiency: Any acute sports injury has a component of stagnation or stasis. However, there may be an underlying blood deficiency that allowed the tissues to be more susceptible to injury. The blood is said to nourish the tendons, so this is particularly true in tendon injuries such as tennis elbow or achilles tendonitis. Blood deficiency may also be a result of a sports injury, such as a concussion, which means the body needs more resources to rebuild itself after the injury.

Luckily, holistic health has numerous ways of treating sports injuries and helping in the rehabilitation process:

Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help to increase blood flow to an area, reduce pain, inflammation and help tissues heal.

Chinese Herbal Medicine: Herbal formulas can be applied topically in the form of liniments, plasters, poultices, creams and ointments. Certain herbal formulas are also appropriate to be taken internally to help with pain or associated symptoms during the recovery phase. Depending on the herbal formula, it may target pain, tension, inflammation, swelling, or circulation. Herbal formulas can be tailored to fit any of the diagnoses mentioned above. Clinically, we often use topical applications of herbs for soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis, muscle strains and sprains. Certain formulas are also appropriate for bone injuries such as fractures, breaks, and spurs.

Moxa: Burning moxa, or moxibustion, can be a very effective therapy for many sports injuries. Moxa is burned over certain points or locations to reduce pain, increase range of motion, eliminate cold from the channels and reduce inflammation. Moxa is frequently used for injuries to the bone, injuries involving cold or any injury that heat seems to make feel better.

Gua Sha: Gua sha refers to a holistic health technique of scraping along a channel or particular muscle fibers with a hard curved tool. Gua sha breaks up adhesions that have formed in the muscle tissue, increases blood flow to the area and helps eliminate toxins stuck in a particular location. Gua sha is excellent for treating Qi and blood stagnation injuries.

Cupping: Cupping is another technique from holistic health that uses special sterilized cups to create suction over large muscle areas. This helps muscles to relax, pulls toxins out of the channels and helps to physically pull apart layers of fascia that get stuck together with injury.

If you are interested in acupuncture or other wellness treatments for sports injuries, make an appointment at our Portland area office.

Stagnation Pain Treatment For Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries

Acute Injuries Can Have Stagnation Pain

Most of the stagnation-types of pain involve traumatic injury or a palpable-pathogenic process. This is an area where acupuncture and its associated modalities truly shine, treating traumatic injury such as fractures, sprains, infection of tissue and acute pain efficiently and gently. After an acute injury has been assessed by urgent or primary care, go to your acupuncturist for a complete plan of care for immediate physical recovery when other modalities such as physical therapy are not yet indicated.

Treatment for stagnation pain from motor vehicle accident injuries.1) Starting from the most superficial type of stagnation, Qi stagnation involves a type of movement that becomes stuck. Most often it manifests as a tendency to have shoulder and neck pain due to stress which goes away with conscious relaxation and mild exercise. In this case, the muscle tissue itself has not yet been affected. The most common treatments for Qi stagnation involve stress-relieving acupuncture, trigger-point and motor point acupuncture, massage and exercises. Qi stagnation is a component of all the other types of stagnation as well.

2) The next level of stagnation involves the blood. A common example of blood stagnation is a muscle that has been tense and has formed a series of knots in the tissue, disallowing the full relaxation of the muscle, often present in low back and shoulder muscles. Blood stagnation is treated with strong local acupuncture, cupping and gua sha to physically move the blood. It often presents in combination with heat, cold, damp and phlegm stagnation.

3) Heat is part of the inflammatory process, along with redness, swelling and pain. Heat stagnation can be a secondary effect of lingering blood stagnation that starts to become inflamed, or it can be a rapid onset inflammation or infection. Heat stagnation is treated with cooling techniques, using acupuncture distally to relieve heat and inflammation while applying cooling herbal poultices and/or liniments topically. Internal herbs can be used to treat infection and inflammation concurrently. Heat is often combined with damp and blood stagnation.

4) Cold stagnation can either have a fast or a slow origin of onset, with the fast type of onset a physical exposure to cold causing the tissues to tense and the local cellular metabolism to slow down. This causes sharp stabbing pains similar to muscle cramps, accompanied by a deep ache. This can be seen with low back pain after a long bike ride with the low back improperly covered, riding through a cold and rainy environment. Cold stagnation is treated with warming topical liniments and poultices as well as heat packs and moxibustion combined with acupuncture to relax and warm the area. Cold stagnation is often combined with blood or phlegm stagnation.

5) Damp stagnation involves swelling that is still soft, as in the puffiness after a sprain or around a repetitive-motion injury. This can be found around the shoulder blades from overuse of the arms or across the whole low back after intense physical labor. Dampness is treated with cupping, heat poultices, local acupuncture and constitutional body points for eliminating dampness.

6) The most bizarre and deep-seated type is phlegm stagnation: a type of hard nodule or mass the center of a deep bruise, a fatty lipoma, or the swelling of vertebrae involved in arthritis. Blood and Qi stagnation must both exist prior to the formation of phlegm stagnation. This potentially takes the longest to resolve due to the need to diminish the tissue accumulation. Strong local acupuncture, plum-blossom acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion and topical plasters and soaks are all used to treat this more difficult type of stagnation.

These six types of stagnation interact with each other and change over the course of an injury or illness. If you have had a trauma or been involved in a motor vehicle accident, make an appointment to learn more about treatment for stagnation pain at our Portland, Oregon area office.

Acupuncture Effective at Relieving Sciatica Pain

Acupuncture Treatments Help Muscles Stay Relaxed

Sciatica pain helped by acupuncture.Sciatica is the pain caused by pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the sole of the foot. The irritation can lead to pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve, and it can also create a lack of muscle power to the legs and cause sensations in the legs, buttocks and low back to change. Current statistics show that up to 10 percent of the population between the ages of 25 to 45 are dealing with or have experienced sciatic pain.

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It consists of a large bundle of smaller nerves that begin in the low back region of the spine, travel down the buttocks and move through the leg. Symptoms of sciatica include radiating pain, numbness and tingling. Irritation of the sciatic nerve can be caused by muscle spasms, spinal disc compression or slipped spinal discs.

In traditional Chinese medical theory, blood stagnation is the most common cause of sciatica. Blood stagnation can affect the soft tissue of the lumbar spine, hips and pelvis. This is what causes the muscles to spasm, then creating extra tension that triggers the shooting pain associated with sciatica.

Traditional Chinese medicine suggests several treatment modalities for managing sciatica.

Acupuncture for sciatica: Many studies have shown acupuncture is more effective at relieving the pain, numbness and tingling associated with sciatica than modern medicinal treatments. Acupuncture treatments can help to reprogram the muscles to stay in a relaxed position. Acupuncture treatments can also help treat sciatica by releasing natural painkillers like endorphins and enkephalins from the brain and neurologic system.

Acupuncture points for sciatica:

Urinary bladder 23: This point is located on the lower back, halfway between the lowest ribs and the hip bone and on either side of the muscle group that runs right up the spine. This point reduces muscle tension and provides relief from low-back pain.

Urinary bladder 40: Ths point is located directly in the middle of the crease at the back of each knee. This point treats all the major pain sensations felt along the spine. It also helps to control muscle spasms, knee stiffness, arthritis, leg pain and it helps to dissipate excess heat trapped in the body.

Urinary bladder 62: This point is located just below the ankle bone on the outer side of each ankle. This point is great for relieving lumbar spine tension as well as anxiety.

Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations for Sciatica: Adding potassium to your diet can help you heal from sciatica. Bananas, oranges, potatoes and spirulina are all good sources of potassium. Dark, leafy vegetables and legumes, such as black beans, kidney beans and soybeans are also beneficial when dealing with sciatica. Avoid foods that create dampness in the body, such as spicy, greasy or fried foods and dairy.

Incorporating daily exercise and stretching into your life can also help. The low back and lumbar spine may become weak if they are neglected, so sitting for long periods of time without getting up can be very detrimental. This also has a way of weakening the muscles of the lumbar area, which then can lead to slipped discs. Stretching and moving throughout the day, even after the pain has subsided, is vital to a healthy back.

If you are interested in ways to treat your sciatica pain, make a Portland area acupuncture appointment with us to find out more.

Acupuncture Help for Sports Injuries

Help for Portland Sports Patients with Acupuncture & Nutrition

Almost everybody has injured themselves participating in sports. It’s definitely not uncommon and because sports injuries are so common, most professional athletic teams have trainers, physical therapists and doctors on their payroll. The newest member of the healthcare team for most athletes is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which incorporates everything from acupuncture to nutritional counseling to help injured athletes heal.

Sports injuries treated by Portland acupuncture.Acupuncture for Sports Injuries: Acupuncture is an extremely effective method of dealing with sports injuries because it stimulates the central nervous system. This triggers the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins that act as natural painkillers to alleviate pain. Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow to injured areas, while decreasing inflammation. All of these actions help speed up the recovery time of the athlete or the weekend warrior.

There are several stages of injury. The first stage is the beginning stage where there is inflammation. The second stage is the sub-acute phase that begins after the first week following the injury. This stage is where damaged tissues are healing. If the injury is not completely healed during this time, then it becomes chronic and goes into the last stage of progression.  During the chronic stage, swelling and inflammation are usually gone, but pain and stiffness take their places. Regardless of the stage in the injury/healing process, acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture Points for Sports Injuries:

  • Large Intestine 4 – This point is located bilaterally on the back side of the hand, in the webbing between the forefinger and the thumb. When the hand is made into a fist, the point can be located in the center of the mound of flesh created. This point is used for relieving pain anywhere in the body.
  • Large Intestine 11 – This point can be found bilaterally at the outer end of the elbow crease created when the arm is flexed. Large intestine 11 is used to decrease inflammation throughout the body.
  • Gallbladder 34 – This point is found bilaterally on the outer side of the lower leg. It can be found in the depression in front of and below the head of the fibula. This point is known as the influential point of the tendons and it particularly helps with pain and swelling around the knee.

Chinese Herbal Formulas for Sports Injuries:  Herbs and combinations of herbs, known as formulas are used frequently in TCM. They can be used topically in the form of balms or salves and they can also be taken internally. Most herbal formulas have specific herbs in them that help target the injured areas. For instance, Ge Gen Tang is an herbal formula that contains herbs that are aromatic and therefore they rise. This is why Ge Gen Tang is a good choice for neck injuries. Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is another herbal formula frequently used to treat knee injuries. Juan Bi Tang is a popular herbal formula used to treat general musculoskeletal and joint pain. And Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan is used to treat internal bleeding caused by traumatic sports injuries.

Nutrition for Sports Injuries:   Proper nutrition is vital for everyone, not just athletes. But for those who push themselves physically, it can be even more important. The number one nutrient needed and should be used by all athletes is water. A dehydrated joint or tendon is more likely to tear. Collagen is another component of the joints that needs to be nourished and this can be done by ingesting vitamin C, which can be found in citrus fruits and dark leafy greens. For those that work out aggressively, omega 3 fatty acids are a great way to keep inflammation at bay. Omega 3’s can be found in oily fish, seeds and walnuts.

As you can see, acupuncture is a great way to deal with sports injuries. If you are experiencing any stage of an injury, contact our Portland area office for more information on how we can help.

Acupuncture Equals Disease Prevention Say New Studies

Multiple Studies Find Acupuncture Treatment & Prevention Uses

Studies find acupuncture treatment and prevention uses.

Well-recognized for its therapeutic effects, acupuncture is increasingly being appreciated for its ability to promote wellness and contribute to the prevention of a broad range of conditions. A new study, which demonstrates the promise of acupuncture as a complementary approach in improving psychological and pain symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a natural disaster, is published as part of a Special Issue on Acupuncture to Foster Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Medical Acupuncture, a peer-reviewed journal from by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

The article entitled “An Observational Study on Acupuncture for Earthquake-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Experience of the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World, in Amatrice, Central Italy” was coauthored by Carlo Moiraghi, MD and Paola Poli, MD, Medical Association of Lombard Acupuncture (Milan, Italy), and Antonio Piscitelli, MD, School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Milan, Italy).

The researchers studied the effects of acupuncture on the victims of a 6.0 earthquake that caused nearly 300 deaths and left 30,000 people homeless in Amatrice, Central Italy. The acupuncture effort was led by two medical associations: Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists (ALMA) and Acupuncture in the World (AGOM).

Treatments were performed by medical doctors who had at least 3 years of clinical experience with acupuncture. Each subject received four 20-minute acupuncture treatments over consecutive days. Before the acupuncture treatment, more than 68% of the study participants reported having both pain and psychological symptoms that could be associated with PTSD. After the third treatment, both the pain and psychological symptom scores had significantly improved, with no serious adverse effects attributed to the treatment.

Co-Guest Editor Songxuan Zhou Niemtzow, MD (China), a Traditional Chinese Medicine physician in Alexandria, VA, states, “If acupuncture had an alternative name, it could be called ‘prevention,’” in her editorial entitled “Acupuncture: Prevention Workarounds.”

In the editorial “Prevention at the Core of Acupuncture,” Co-Guest Editor Nadia Volf, MD, PhD, Paris XI University (Paris, France) writes “although acupuncture can be a wonderful tool for treating a number of diseases, this therapy can be an even more wonderful tool for preventing them.”

For more information on how acupuncture can help you, contact our Portland area office to make an appointment.

Could this Body Part Explain How Acupuncture Works?

New Research Explains How Fascia Uses Qi Energy in Acupuncture

How does energy move through the body? Can it be scientifically measured? And how might energy healing be the future of medicine? These questions and more are at the heart of Energy Medicine, the new book by acupuncturist Well+Good Council member Jill Blakeway, DACM, LAc. Here, in an exclusive excerpt, she explores why fascia—the connective tissue underneath the skin—are so fascinating.

Research shows fascia may use qi energy in acupuncture.Thousands of years ago, the Chinese identified energy channels (sometimes referred to as meridians), a kind of highway that can be mapped within the body along which the acupuncture points exist. The concept of energy channels and the points that access them sounds esoteric and has often been dismissed as myth or metaphor. But recent research suggests that not only do they exist, but they’ve been right in front of our eyes all along.

Helene M. Langevin, a clinical endocrinologist who was curious enough about her patients’ interest in acupuncture that she took a course in Chinese medicine and then carried her newfound skills into the lab with her at the department of neurology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, led a study that found a measurable “pull out force” after every needle grab. And the strength of this grab was, on average, 18 percent higher when measured at acupuncture points as opposed to non-acupuncture points. The needle grab is more vigorous at these points because they are more conductive of electrical energy.

Perhaps more crucially, however, Langevin and her colleagues found, experimenting with acupuncture on a piece of rat abdominal wall, that when they rotated the needles the connective tissue underneath the skin became “mechanically attached.” Writes Langevin: “Even a small amount of rotation caused the connective tissue to wrap around the needle, like spaghetti winding around a fork.” Langevin also found that the tissue remains stretched in this way for the duration of the acupuncture treatment, causing chemical changes at a cellular level that increase electrical conductivity.

Connective tissue, long underplayed by western medicine and science, has recently become of interest, particularly among molecular and physiological researchers, as new evidence has demonstrated that such stimulation to the connective tissue can be sensed at a cellular level, decreasing chronic inflammation, reducing pain and even potentially inhibiting the growth of cancer cells or fibrotic tissue.

Connective tissue is everywhere inside of us—“one could draw a line between any two points of the body via a path of connective tissue,” Langevin points out. And it has many functions: it holds organs in place, offers a path for nerves and blood vessels, stores energy and attaches muscle to bone, and, yes, conducts electricity. The latter ability is thanks to a critical component of connective tissue: collagen. There are layers of water bound to collagen fibers that form a uniquely conductive pathway, allowing an electrical charge to travel rapidly throughout the body.

In his book The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine, British surgeon and emergency medical specialist Dan Keown explains that a specific form of connective tissue, known as the fascia, may well explain the way in which the electrical charge generated at the acupuncture points travels deep into the body.

Fascia underpins our skin; it also attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. It is also extremely strong, “so strong,” as Keown points out, “that in the days of Björn Borg and John McEnroe, professional players’ tennis strings were made from the fascia from the gut of a cow.” Fascia is impenetrable to almost all biological substances; it is so impassable that it becomes a kind of slide, or slippery pathway, for a number of things in our bodies: water, air, blood, and even electricity. In fact, not only is fascia an electrical conductor and resistor, capable of transmitting electrical signals throughout the body, but it can also, amazingly, generate its own electricity.

Fascia, then, it is theorized, is the conduit for electrical energy, or qi, as it travels throughout our bodies. “These pathways of fascia have been detailed beautifully by anatomists,” Keown points out, “only they were not describing the fascia but the tissues that they enclosed.”It is even a principle of surgery to cut along the fascial planes—conscious always not to cut into the fascia unless absolutely necessary as it leads to an increased risk of adhesions, essentially cutting across the body’s system of organization— without realizing that these pathways are not simply there to make their incisions easier. “When the West talks of fascial planes, the East talks of acupuncture channels,” Keown writes. “There is no contraindication in these two views; it is just a question of interpretation. The West may still have no comparable force to [qi], but that is only because it has not attempted to explain the holistic power behind embryological self-organization.”

Incidentally, fascia also plays a key role in demystifying an anomaly that sometimes occurs in acupuncture research. In some studies, researchers use “sham acupuncture”—which can mean administering needles at non–acupuncture points or using retractable needles that do not penetrate the skin—to measure its effects against “real” acupuncture. In some of these studies, legitimate acupuncture only works slightly better than its sham counterpart, leading some researchers to conclude that acupuncture, in general, is nothing more than a placebo. However, given the conductive nature of fascia, needling anywhere along a fascial plane should have some conductive effect, if not as strong as when treating at the accurate points. As for the needles that don’t penetrate the skin, acupressure or shallow needling can create a small oscillation that stimulates the electrical activity enough to mildly activate the acupuncture points.

For more information on acupuncture to make your appointment, contact us at our Portland area office.

Article courtesy of WellAndGood.com.

How to Manage Stress at Work with Natural Health Tips

Destress at Work with Natural Health Techniques

Tea is a natural health tip to destress.Today the average worker experiences stress levels higher than in previous decades. There are many causes to the increase in stress but there are also many ways to effectively combat these stressors and experience a life with less stress and more happiness. One of the main reasons people feel so stressed out is that with the invention of the Internet, email and, most notably, the smartphone, it often feels like you are attached to work, you can never fully disconnect and be released from your work duties. The pressure to always be connected is hard to let go of, especially when your smartphone is in your hand. One way to combat this is to set guidelines for yourself on when you will and will not answer an email or message. Turn the phone off when you are home and off of work, if that is not possible, schedule when you will check your messages so it can be planned and contained instead of all consuming. When you are not at work, make sure you can keep those boundaries firm and not be drawn to work 24/7.

While in the office there are many ways you can destress yourself. The easiest one is to take deep breaths. If you are in a tense moment, stop what you are doing, close your eyes and take a deep breath and then another and another until you feel your body calm down. Take a minute to center yourself. Once you are more grounded, you can act instead of react and handle the situation more calmly. Breathing is so important and it is free, easy and you can do it anywhere you are.

When on lunch or a break try to get outside and take a walk. The fresh air and nature are beneficial in many ways. The sun will help your body produce vitamin D which is essential for good moods and emotional wellbeing. Being outside in nature has a calming effects, as well as just the physical exertion of taking a walk.

If you like tea, drinking a warm cup of tea can be relaxing, especially an herbal tea with chamomile or mint. Eating well can also be key in having a life with less stress. Nourish your body inside and out. If you are feeding it well, it will treat you well. Sugar and highly-processed foods can cause spikes and big drops in blood sugar which can acutely affect your mood and exacerbate any stress you may be feeling. Eating foods whole and lower on the glycemic index can help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent the shifts that can cause mood swings.

Lastly, find a support system, whether it is inside or outside of the company you are in, to help you when you need it. People who you can use as a sounding board with your concerns and can help you strategically work to find solutions in the workplace to have a happier and more productive office environment. Having people around you who help build you up and help you achieve your goals are the people you want around you. Distance from those who will try to bring you down or cause unnecessary stress. Make an appointment at our Portland area office for more natural health treatments.

How Stress Physically Affects Your Body & Acupuncture Can Help

Acupuncture & Other Options to Create Balance in Our Bodies

Acupuncture Helping Balance Your Body from Stress.Stress. It’s not a word that makes most of us feel elated or excited. However, stress, by design, is the body’s way of signaling for help or a break in the routine. If we don’t listen to these signals, we can develop imbalances in our bodies, which can then lead to illnesses.

The dictionary defines stress in multiple ways, but there is only one that matters when we discuss how stress affects our physical bodies. The definition is this, “stress is a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension”. The definition itself indicates stress can affect our bodies.

One of the most visible way stress affects our bodies is our appearance. People who are under chronic pressure and stress tend to look older and fatigued. This happens because cortisol, the stress hormone in our bodies, builds up, which then increases the amount of free radicals in skin cells. Free radicals damage the skin cells causing them to become dull and dehydrated. Women typically show this more than men.

Another big player in the stress game is digestion. Many people today suffer from heartburn and upset stomach on a regular basis. These symptoms can be caused by excess stress. Stress causes the body to alter gastrointestinal motility by moving blood normally used in the digestive process, away from your belly and midsection, as part of the “fight or flight” response that usually occurs when you are stressed. Thus, the lack of blood and fluids in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to increases in stomach acid, causing stomach upset and heartburn.

Minor stress will stimulate the immune system which helps us heal from illness and disease.  However, chronic stress can actually compromise the immune system, once again due to the cortisol hormone. Chronic stress sufferers tend to get sick more often and the illnesses may last longer. This is also a factor in people who develop terminal illnesses like cancer.

Excess stress can cause your heart to work too hard and usually for too long a period. These factors can then lead to sustained increased blood pressures or hypertension. Hypertension puts more stress on your blood vessels, which can increase your possibility of a stroke or heart attack.

Chronic stress can also be detrimental to your muscles and can then lead to chronic aches and pains. Muscles are supposed to tense up when under stress. But when you are constantly stressed, the muscles never get the chance to completely relax. Tight muscles result in headaches, back, neck and shoulder pain. Over time, those tight muscles and chronic pain can cause many to seek pain relief through prescription pain medications.

That’s the bad news. The good news is you can address and treat stress naturally. Getting proper nutrition and removing stressors will help greatly.  Acupuncture is also a wonderful tool for fighting stress. As few as two needles can reset your body and decrease your daily stress levels. Another method is to couple acupuncture with practices like qigong, tai chi, and/or meditation. Talk with our Portland area acupuncturist to find out how to resolve your stress the natural way.

Natural Medicine to Reduce Stress with Herbs

Oregon Natural Medicine Can Help Treat Stress

Stress is something that affects everybody. Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional tension or strain resulting from demanding or adverse circumstances. This can result in a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, pain, insomnia, worry, anxiety, depression and even disease. And according to a recent survey, nearly 77 percent of all Americans regularly experience physical or psychological symptoms caused by stress (American Institute of Stress, May 2017).

Oregon natural tonic medicine to reduce stress.On a cellular level, chronic stress has actually been shown to shorten the immune cell telomeres. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found in chromosomes that promote genetic stability. When the body is stressed, the immune cells are less likely to duplicate and this puts the body at risk of infection or illness.

So what can be done to reduce stress? The simple answer is a ton. Some examples of ways to deal with stress include exercising, journaling, meditation, coloring, getting a massage, reading, watching a movie, talking with friends, playing games, sitting in nature, eating healthy food and even acupuncture.

This leads us to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a 3,000 year old medical system that can balance the body, relieve stress and decrease/prevent disease. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat people, but according to many scholars, it all began with herbal medicine. Herbs can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to create customized formulas that help heal the body. Here are some examples of herbs and formulas that can combat stress.

  1. Eleuthro or Ci Wu Jia: This herb is an adaptogen, meaning it has revitalizing or restorative properties. In particular, Ci Wu Jia works very well for people who work high stress jobs, work long hours or have erratic schedules. It supports quality sleep and also strengthens the immune system.
  2. Aswhagandha: While this herb is not regularly used in TCM, it is still a very potent herb for tackling stress. Specifically, ashwagandha helps with anxiety, fatigue and stress-induced insomnia. It is also used to support the immune system and stimulate the thyroid gland for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
  3. Xiao Yao San: This herbal formula combines several herbs to become one of the most frequently prescribed formulas in TCM. Xiao Yao San soothes the liver, which according to TCM theory is where stress is controlled.
  4. Cordyceps or Dong Chong Xia Cao: Cordyceps is a type of fungus found on caterpillars. It has been used by TCM practitioners for centuries to fight fatigue, support the immune system and protect the liver and kidneys.
  5. Suan Zao Ren Tang: This herbal formula is very effective for treating agitation, insomnia, irritability and scattered thoughts. These symptoms are very common in people who are overworked and emotionally stressed out.

Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from stress and anxiety. To find out more about these herbs and other natural Oregon medicines, make an appointment!