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Monthly Archives: December 2013

“Everybody Bloats, Sometimes…” Acupuncture Helps Relieve Holiday Overindulgence and Digestive Issues

Relieve Bloat with Acupuncture

Relieve Bloat with Acupuncture

Nobody wants to be bloated! Let’s face it, when you’re bloated, you don’t feel your best. And clothes fasteners are suddenly not your friend.

Your abdominal area houses many organs including the stomach, small and large intestines, uterus, liver and pancreas. Bloating, or a buildup of gas in the stomach and intestines that causes swelling or distension, can be caused by stress, smoking, consuming high-fat foods in excess (Hello, holiday feasting!), or food allergies, such as lactose intolerance. Pregnancy can cause bloating. More serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease or celiac disease can also cause chronic bloating.

Bloating can be caused by swallowing air when eating or drinking, or by the digestive process. Typically this type of bloating is temporary, as it either dissipates or leaves the body through flatulence or belching. Embarrassing sometimes, but necessary! When gas builds up in the stomach and intestines, or when the bloating is associated with a more serious condition, it can cause abdominal pain that can be either mild or serious. Seek medical attention for severe bloating.

Acupuncture can relieve bloating associated with both IBS and other digestive issues, and can help relieve the pain and discomfort of bloating. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, acupuncture helps improve the general well-being of those with IBS, in addition to reducing bloating.

In traditional Chinese medicine, disease is seen as an imbalance of qi, or vital energy, in the body. The placement of needles at different points in the body helps unblock and stimulate this flow of energy. Deficiencies of qi in the spleen and lung meridians, or energy channels in the body, are typically associated with abdominal bloating. Acupuncture can play a major role in healing the organs, such as the small and large intestine, where chronic swelling occurs frequently. I can help you determine the cause of the distension and use acupuncture to help your body heal and resolve the problem. I base treatment on each individual’s needs, which could include either an excess or deficiency of qi. 

Acupuncture is particularly effective in the case of food intolerances, intestinal bacteria overgrowth and partial bowel obstruction. In these instances often the swelling will disappear literally overnight. And that’s news to toot about!

For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com 

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Merry Christmas! Acupuncture Gives the Gift of Acid Reflux Relief!

Happy insides! That's a great gift!

Happy insides! That’s a great gift!

Christmas is here! And Christmas treats and feasting! And with all of that sure can come some digestive troubles.

Acid reflux, or heartburn, is a common digestive complaint affecting approximately 44 percent of the adult U.S. population at least once a month, and 20 percent feel it at least once a week. Holidays, watch out! It occurs when the sphincter of the lower esophagus does not close completely. As a result, stomach contents leak back into the esophagus and even up into the throat, causing a burning sensation. Because the esophagus and throat do not have the same sturdy lining as the stomach, they cannot endure the strong acids of the stomach and become injured.

Acid reflux is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and it can lead to more serious problems. Often pregnant women experience GERD, partly because the stomach has less room and contents are more easily upset. Many people undergo dangerous surgery to heal acid reflux or take drugs that list serious side effects: irregular heartbeats, seizures, trouble breathing and a severe intestinal condition called Clostridium difficile. The great news is that you don’t need to take any of these risks when you heal your heartburn the natural way.

Acupuncture heals the channels of the entire digestive system, curing the underlying causes of acid reflux. Acupuncture helps ease symptoms and discomfort immediately, relieving indigestion, stomach ache and acid reflux. A 2007 study in the journal, “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, as well as a 2006 review in the Journal of Gastroenterology suggest that acupuncture may be a viable treatment option for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a chronic form of the condition.

Acupuncture may also benefit acid reflux patients who find their symptoms are brought on or worsened by stress, anxiety and emotional issues. Acupuncture works to relieve the body of these stressors by helping to calm the nerves thus inducing a state of relaxation. And what a gift that is!

Here are some tips that will make you feel like being thankful, instead of being in pain.

– Enjoy your food! Take your time eating at the table, preferably with loved ones, instead of in front of a screen.

– Avoid caffeine and nicotine.

– Avoid foods heavy in sugar or fat, especially ice cream.

– Avoid fizzy foods.

– Avoid foods that you’ve noticed give you acid reflux, such as spicy foods, acidic foods such as tomatoes or oranges or gassy foods, such as Brussels sprouts.

– Stop eating several hours before bedtime. This can be done!

– Eat highly nutritious foods. These foods will reduce your cravings for “quick-fix” foods.

– Drink more water. Drink more water. Did we mention drink more water?

– Reduce the stresses in your life. Again, this can be done!

– Increase relaxation with yoga, meditation or Qi Gong.

-See your acupuncturist!

For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

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Sources: “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics”; Clinical trial: acupuncture vs. doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose in refractory heartburn; R. Dickman, et al; September 2007

“Journal of Gastroenterology”; Acupuncture for functional gastrointestinal disorders; T. Takahashi; 2006

Acupuncture Can Help You Keep it Together This Holiday! Relieve Anxiety and Irritability!

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Relieve Anxiety and Irritability with Acupuncture!

The holiday season can bring out all the best and worst in us. We all have bad days; perhaps the hormones are raging, that guy at the store just took the last have-to-have item off of your Santa list. and when we add being overworked, lack of sleep, and feeling as though so much more needs to be accomplished than we have time for, it’s natural to feel a bit snappy or overwhelmed. But when feeling irritated and moody feels more like a permanent state, (and you’re perhaps in danger of being added to the Naughty List) acupuncture can help!

Often irritability and moodiness can be the consequence of built up stress in your life. Those little things can really add up! Over time these emotions can develop into more serious emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as other health concerns such as digestive problems, trouble sleeping and the tendency for a weakened immune system. And that’s a bad recipe that’s just waiting for a packet of illness to be added to the mix.

There can be many different reasons for the disharmony within the body that result in emotional disorders, but anger, irritability, and frustration are all signs that our qi (energy) is not moving smoothly. The liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of qi throughout the body and for calming our emotions. When the liver’s function of moving qi is disrupted, qi can become stuck or stagnant. This is referred to as liver qi stagnation. Liver qi stagnation is one of the most common patterns of disharmony that we see in patients.

In addition to irritability and moodiness, other signs and super fun symptoms of liver qi stagnation may include distending pain in the area below the ribs, stuffiness of the chest, sighing, abdominal distention, nausea, sour regurgitation, belching, diarrhea or constipation, feeling of a lump in the throat, irregular periods, painful periods and distention of the breasts prior to periods. Liver qi stagnation is commonly associated with PMS. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news! Acupuncture is excellent at relieving liver qi stagnation. The treatment for irritability and moodiness associated with the stagnation focuses on moving qi, and supporting the liver and spleen organ systems with acupuncture, lifestyle and dietary recommendations. Acupuncture can help smooth your emotions and bring your hormones into balance. It can also help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration — which will make everyone happier…and you much more healthy!

And you can remain proudly at the top of the Nice List.

For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

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Photo by: Petr Kratochvil

Sore Back from Shoveling or Hurtling Down Icy Sidewalks? Acupuncture Can Help You Want to Play in the Snow!

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Acupuncture Can Make Winter More Fun!

The holiday is fast approaching, and aches and pains are starting to abound like the famous reindeer on the roof! There’s been an awful lot of shoveling and maneuvering of icy sidewalks, and sometimes the back sure does get tweaked.

Back pain is one of the top reasons people seek medical treatment. What causes it? Some of the top causes are sprains (overstretching one or more of the ligaments in the back (why can’t they make shovels like they used to?) and strains (a rip or tear in the muscle caused by sudden force). This can happen from an injury, poor posture, or improper lifting. (“With the knees! Lift with the knees!”)

Another source of back pain comes from a herniated disc — which is a disc that bulges out from its place between two vertebrae. 

Sciatica is also a culprit that causes pain in the back. Sciatica, (also known as sciatic neuritis) is the result of the compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. It produces pain and/or numbness in the lower back, the glutes, and even down the entire length of the leg.

Treatment options vary depending on the specifics of the case. Muscle spasms, tight tendons and connective tissue, bulging or herniated discs, misaligned spine, or spinal degeneration is often the cause for sciatica. In most cases, relieving the pressure on the sciatic nerve can be achieved without undergoing surgery. That means no recovering-from-surgery-time!

Back problems are also, by far, the primary reason for appointments with acupuncturists. Acupuncture is wonderful at releasing the extra tension that causes the tendons, and muscle spasms, to irritate the sciatica nerve bundle. When symptoms are closer to the origin area in the lower back, the outer nerves are irritated in the bundle. As the symptoms reach (radiate) farther down the leg to the foot, and pick up numbness, the deeper nerves in the bundle are also getting irritated. As you might be as well! And Santa’s watching!

This is obviously something for everyone suffering from Sciatica — you want to be trying acupuncture pronto to stave off surgery. Many patients feel immediate improvements which is very encouraging. Caught early, the tension clears faster. Point sites will be local to the lower back, but also up to the upper back and neck area (where some great exit points live).

With acupuncture, we look at your whole health history, sports traumas, falls, bumps and bruises, as well as all other stories. The body likes to remember its history to help protect you. Acupuncture helps to reduce the residual effects that linger, sometimes for years. There is more information on the tongue and the pulse, in addition to your history. Also, when there is flinching during touch or treatment, we know there has been trauma.

Back pain is one of the most frequently treated symptoms, and most people experience great results. Now get back out there and finish that shoveling! 

For more information about back pain and how acupuncture can help, visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

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Feeling More Ho Hum Than Ho Ho Ho? Beat Holiday Stress with Acupuncture!

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Don’t Be Blue – Get Acupuncture!

The In-Laws are arriving when?! They’re out of what at the store? I already hate the snow!!

Some stress is unavoidable. While it’s good to sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of the season, sometimes it’s simply too difficult — work stress, family stress, stress of any kind can build up, and often physical manifestations can take place.

Stress can manifest itself in a virtually unlimited number of ways, including headaches, muscle spasms, depression, insomnia, hypertension, and inappropriate social behavior, among many others. Increased heart rate, changes in breathing patterns, muscle tension and high blood pressure are common reactions from a change in brain chemistry that occurs with stress. The human body reacts to stress appropriately when faced with a “fight or flight” situation and adrenaline is released inside the body. This is the reaction that helps us cope in a disaster or stressful situation, but not so great for your health if you linger in that state. Imbalance occurs when this reaction is frequent and is not due to outside factors. (The In-Laws decide to stay for another week. And another.) The body can become used to the adrenaline and corticosteroid release and become dependent on this state.

From what we can tell so far the emotional brain or limbic system is affected the most. With so many stimuli to process, when we have a problem in part of our bodies that can be ignored for the short term, our brain is likely to selectively throw a circuit breaker so that we are not even aware of the issue. We no longer notice the pain, inflammation, lack of range of motion, etc.. A not so great start to the holiday season. But here’s reason to celebrate! Acupuncture!

When acupuncture is used for human beings, it has the added benefit of re-uniting the body with the mind so that the flow of electricity, blood, lymph, and qi (life force) is harmonious in the body. The end result is a place of peace; a solid foundation for managing  stress. The positive changes that occur as a result of an acupuncture session can last a long time, and are cumulative in effect.

There are many relevant point sites, and the choice depends on each person’s complete story of signs and symptoms. The treatment is gentle, painless, and relaxing. Lots of relief from even the first treatment! Happy Holidays indeed!

Turn your Bah Humbug into some Tra la la’s!

For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

Acupuncture makes a great gift!

Here’s some more helpful hints on beating holiday stress!

  • Get out and talk a walk in nature — take the family dog with you, they’re your alibi. If you just bundle up when it’s cold out, you can often see beauty where others aren’t brave enough to go! And you also get to take a breather from Uncle Bob’s stories about how he rebuilt his engine.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine  — why get your heart rate elevated and feel even more stressed? Up your water intake instead!
  • Limit or avoid alcohol — if you know you’re going to be dealing with tricky social situations, give yourself an edge, eat before going to a party so you aren’t operating on an empty stomach and can keep your balance!
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Get Yourself Healthy for the Holidays! Acupuncture Helps Clear Up Colds

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Acupuncture Boosts the Immune System and Helps Kick Colds!

Don’t let a cold ruin your holiday plans! When you feel that scratchy feeling in the throat, the sudden sneezes, the drippy nose, followed by being ruled by your mucus, and a sudden need for super soft tissue, you have an ally — acupuncture!

Millions have suffered from the common cold, and chances are good that you’ll catch at least one this year. The cold is the most common infectious disease in the human race. It is a disease of the upper respiratory system, caused by a viral infection. Symptoms include coughing, sore throat and increased mucus production (either a runny or stuffed nose). The average person suffers from 3-4 colds per year.

Although it has become a cliché, there is no cure for the common cold, but most symptoms are gone within 7-10 days, though some colds can last for weeks. People suffering from colds are extremely contagious — a regular routine of hand washing and avoiding situations where infected people are likely to spread germs are two important ways to prevent catching a cold.

If you are in a state of balance both within yourself and in relationship to the world that you live in, your resistance to illness will most likely be sufficient to keep you from contracting a cold or flu in the first place. We are exposed to viruses all the time, and often the people most likely to get sick have been under a lot of stress, are over-fatigued, have allergies, or are generally out of balance.

Acupuncture is a wonderful way to rebalance the body energies to optimize the immune system’s ability to keep you healthy and clear up a cold quickly. If you are susceptible to catching colds easily, know that studies have shown how acupuncture helps increase white blood cell count resulting in a boost to your immune system. With acupuncture, you will feel your sinuses clearing a lot even during the first treatment! Point sites will address the other causative tensions that got you susceptible in the first place. Few treatments – great results!

If you have come down with a cold, it is also important to get adequate rest, a vacation from sources of stress, and good nutrition in the form of soups and fresh juices. People that receive regular acupuncture treatments get sick less often. If you have a cold or flu, acupuncture can help you recover more quickly. But prevention beats suffering it to begin with!

For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

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Acupuncture for Dysmenorrhea – Help for Painful Cramps!

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Help for Painful Cramps with Acupuncture!

Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation that arises before, during and/or after menstruation. The pain is mainly in the lower abdomen, however, it can occur in the lower back a/or running down the legs. Many women experience this pain each month with their periods. Acupuncture can help!

A study in the journal Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine demonstrated a significant beneficial effect when acupuncture treatments were administered to patients who were suffering from dysmenorrhea resistant to conventional medical treatment.

Patients included in this study were suffering from dysmenorrhea of a moderate to severe nature for 1 year or longer and had not responded well to NSAID use. They had also refused oral contraceptive therapy, which is currently administered as a first course of treatment in dysmenorrhea cases. The participants were given 8 weekly acupuncture treatments over a period of 2 months, with needles inserted in applicable point locations for 30 minutes.

13 of the 15 participants in the study experienced substantial reduction of pain and of NSAID consumption following the acupuncture treatments. Greater pain reduction was observed in patients experiencing primary, rather than secondary dysmenorrhea, and 7 of the 15 participants ceased NSAID use completely and remained asymptomatic when questioned 6 months after treatments ended.

Acupuncture is appropriate prior as well as during the symptom time. It is best to work preventatively, to clear up the causes before the symptoms begin. It is certainly good to avoid medications when possible. Acupuncture is also extremely effective at treating other menstrual disorders, including irregular periods, amenorrhea and PMS.

The point sites chosen will vary a little based on the individual, as we assess the history and the whole health picture. We will also look at the tongue and pulse diagnosis, and consider your diet as well. Point sites chosen will include lower back as well as lower abdomen. There will be others as well, perhaps on the top of the foot and maybe inside of ankles… The point sites are painless, and gently treated.

Your very next month will be so much better!

Other Helpful Tips To Lessen Menstrual Cramps

Many women find that changing their diets can make their cramps less severe.       Eat foods that are rich in calcium. They include beans, almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.

Eat foods that are high in antioxidants, including fruits such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes, and vegetables such as squash and bell pepper.

Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.

Eat more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy), or beans for protein.

Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil.

Some women find that adding soy milk to their diet helps relieve menstrual pain.

Eliminate trans-fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Drink 6 – 8 glasses of filtered water daily.

Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.

Mind-body techniques such as meditation and exercises such as yoga and tai chi can also help relieve pain.

For more information about how acupuncture can help you, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

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Winter’s Coming and You’re Feeling the Blues? Acupuncture Helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Enjoy the season!

Enjoy the season!

The days are shorter, the nights are longer, it’s already dark when you’re driving home from work — it’s no wonder that our bodies start reacting to the lack of light! For some, change of seasons can trigger depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects over ten million of us in the United States each year, two-thirds of which are female, but males may have symptoms that are more severe. For many, the symptoms start in the fall and carry on through the winter, although some people do suffer seasonal depression in the spring or early summer. While the true cause of SAD is not known, it is commonly thought that decreased melatonin levels caused from the limited exposure to sunlight in the winter are involved, as well as decreased serotonin levels which may trigger depression. Our biological clock (circadian rhythm) which lets our body know when to sleep and to be awake is also disrupted when the seasons change and may cause feelings of depression. 

Other factors that may contribute to SAD include genetics, hormones, and stress. Whatever the cause, SAD causes people to suffer irritability, headaches, extreme fatigue and lethargy, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, an inability to concentrate, and decreased libido. Yay, change of season!!

As with other types of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder can get worse and lead to serious problems if it isn’t treated. These can include suicidal thoughts or behavior, social withdrawal, school or work problems and substance abuse. In certain conditions, medication and psychotherapy may be necessary, and the advice of a physician should be heeded.

The traditional methods of treating Seasonal Affective Disorder usually involves light therapy. Light therapy is based on the theory that increasing exposure to bright lights will increase the levels of melatonin in the body. For some cases, antidepressants are also prescribed. Most of these drugs work by increasing the actions and effects of the chemical stimulants noradrenaline and serotonin in the body.

While all these treatments can control depression, they do not address the underlying causes associated with it. Furthermore, antidepressants can produce side effects such as anxiety, palpitations, insomnia, high blood pressure, reduced libido, excessive sweating and rash. When these side effects are added to the original symptoms that weren’t pleasant to begin with, it’s understandable that people would be looking for an alternative therapy for this disorder.

Acupuncture!

Treating depression with acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed patients, and avoids the potential side effects of traditional medication. Besides the reaction to the lack of light, depression may also be the result of a “dysregulation” of the seven emotions — joy, anger, worry, contemplation, grief, fear and shock. If acupuncture is able to reestablish a balance among these emotions, the symptoms of depression are relieved.

Acupuncture can be very helpful for those who suffer from seasonal depression as they can bring the body to a more balanced state, and even prevent complications.

Besides acupuncture, it is also helpful for people to stay active — without overdoing it, and ensure that they have proper nourishment, rest, and time for introspection. It’s important to reach out and stay connected to those close to us, but it is also important to take the time to reflect inwards — as the seasons change, so do we, and there is opportunity for growth!

For more information on how acupuncture can help you attune to the seasons, check us out at www.ctacupuncture.com

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What Happened to the Pumpkin Pie!? Acupuncture Balances the Appetite (and Eases Stress Eating)

A Healthy Appetite with Acupuncture!

When Snacking, Snack Healthy!

It’s one thing to moderately celebrate a holiday, to feast and enjoy the leftover bounty. However, as work hours increase, overlapping get-togethers with friends family (including the in-laws), there’s ever so much more going on, emotionally and otherwise. Sometimes all at once!

When stress becomes overwhelming, the urge to snack and continue to eat when not specifically hungry or even beyond feelings of fullness can become a problem. When stress eating is becoming a bad habit, acupuncture can help!

Appetite is your body’s urge to eat, namely to satiate hunger, and is a trait shared by most species of higher life forms. We humans do have a certain gift for going to the extreme when under stress, however. There are many disorders that are directly linked to appetite, including anorexia, bulimia, overeating and binge eating.

Your appetite is regulated by a number of physical and mental factors including the digestive tract and the central nervous system. When these items aren’t functioning correctly, a dysfunction of appetite occurs, either under eating (anorexia nervosa) or overeating (polyphaglia). The dangers presented by these conditions include ingesting either too much or too little nutrition, both of which can pose life-threatening health dangers.

Acupuncture can power up any other weight control strategy by curbing appetite, quelling cravings, boosting metabolism, improving digestion, regulating obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. Acupuncture is effective, when in combination with diet and exercise, in improving digestive health, and relieving stress and anxiety, which often lead to emotional eating. It also strengthens the function of the liver, the organ that produces many chemicals critical for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down of fats. Acupuncture may also increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach to help people know that they are full. Acupuncture works to release endorphins, letting you feel less anxious and experience less frustration. With this improvement in mental health, many people will find acupuncture decreases the tendency to overeat and participate in binge eating so often associated with the daily stresses of life.

Point sites for appetite control are found on the external ear, as well as odd places like the feet, or hands, or even the abdomen. Upper back point sites may be chosen. Treatments often include other considerations such as metabolism improvements, elimination of fats and fluids, as well as improved diet and exercise advice.

Acupuncture is a powerful tool to help repair physical and emotional damage, as well as help relieve the distress of fighting an eating disorder. The body has a history that it subconsciously remembers and that can affect its ability to be optimally functioning and healthy. Acupuncture theory can recognize some signs to that history, and how the body is currently affected, and then chose appropriate point sites to give improvement. It supports recovery with minimal side effects and offer a holistic dimension that treats body, mind, and emotions simultaneously. Balance is everything!

For more information, please visit us at www.ctacupuncture.com

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