The gist – how acupuncture and herbal medicine works for you

 

Understanding the Benefits of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine [your practical simple guide]

 

I hear it all the time: What does acupuncture do? How does it work? What are the benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine. Keep reading and I will explain.

 

Really, it’s simple: acupuncture removes energetic blockages that prevent the free flow of our blood and nervous system signals.

When we have energetic blockages, signals can’t get through, oxygen and other nutrients can’t reach every cell, waste products can’t be properly eliminated, complex hormonal messages get bungled, and then eventually we get symptoms of pain, brain fog, fatigue, etc.

 

Acupuncture works to free up the flow of energy in the channels of the body, which are like blood vessels and nerves, a complex system of highways, roads, streams, creeks, rivers, bridges, that connect every part of us with every other part.

 

Herbal medicine works on the deeper organ level.  It corrects the functioning of our liver system, our cardiovascular system, our lymph system, our genitourinary system, our cognition, and emotions, etc.

 

Together, it’s a complete system of healthcare and does not compartmentalize each body part or each organ.  A lot of my patients like this because in conventional medicine there is a different doctor for every body part, but no one is looking at the whole.  Chinese Medicine has principles based on natural law, so the whole is accounted for.

 

Learn more about acupuncture and how it works here. Also, check out my other post about Positive Side Effects of Acupuncture.

 

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to ask me anything you want to know about the benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine! I am happy to help.

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Stressed Out Hormones and Acupuncture

Our world is in a state of heightened fear, anger, hurt, and uncertainty.  Our values are being challenged and brought front and center. Rightfully so.  What the world needs now is leaders, and we all have it in us to lead in our own lives by example for others.

But that’s harder when your body is struggling to maintain proper functioning.  Stress is the looter inside us. Be diligent to counteract it where you can.

Where do we start? We can actually take a look at our stress level – perceived, and also actual demands on you that are “normal”.   Here is more about stress and the way it impacts your hormones and thus your total health and resilience!

 

What are hormones?

 

Hormone functions can be broadly grouped into several categories: reproduction and sexual differentiation; development and growth; maintenance of the internal environment; and regulation of metabolism and nutrient supply. A single hormone may affect more than one of these functions and each function may be controlled by several hormones.

In short, hormones are chemical messengers telling the body how to react to stimuli.

 

Stress 101

 

You may have heard of the adrenal glands and how they produce cortisol which is a “fight or flight” hormone.  The HPA axis – hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis – is the relay system that activates our “fight or flight” response.  This process occurs whether we acknowledge that we’re stressed or not.  Much happens without our cognitive awareness – after all it was designed so that we can react instantly to danger, no thinking needed.  Unfortunately, most of us are in a state of chronic low grade stress.  And this leads to many chronic ailments.  Overproduction of stress hormones creates chaos for blood sugar which contributes to inflammation.  It’s a cascade effect.

Stress–>Fight or Flight Response via the HPA Axis –>Insulin resistance, insomnia, fatigue –>Dysregulation of metabolic hormones and mood neurotransmitters

Stress Adrenal Fatigue HPA Axis

 

Chronic stress means excess stress hormones like cortisol, which works to shut down digestion, increase heart rate, and keep us alert (aka anti-sleep).  Chronic stress also causes or contributes to:

  • hypertension
  • weight gain/obesity
  • anxiety
  • infertility
  • insomnia
  • thyroid dysfunction
  • IBS

And the list goes on.

 

To reduce stress, lifestyle changes are really important. Here’s my blog about how to organize your lifestyle around reducing stress.

But there’s other ways you can really promote wellness, be proactive against the hidden damage caused by stress, and prevent chronic illness.

One of the best ways is regular acupuncture treatments.

 

How Acupuncture Reduces Stress

 

Acupuncture works very similarly to meditation in that it reduces the active beta brain waves, increases the relaxed alpha brain waves, and also produces your happy hormones including endorphins which are natural pain killers, and neurotransmitters seratonin and dopamine known to affect mood.  While stress creates the fight or flight response, acupuncture induces the rest and digest response, which allows the body to heal itself.  In addition, acupuncture can really help you achieve better sleep as well.  Insomnia is a major barrier for hormonal health, and acupuncture through the mechanisms mentioned, helps you restore your natural circadian rhythms.

 

Stress creates inflammation, and acupuncture reduces the inflammatory response and promotes circulation of blood, lymph, and nerve signals.

 

When working on resolving a health issue, acupuncture is prescribed in a series of treatments, at first close together, then spreading further apart, until you are feeling good, the problem is resolved, and then you continue with a maintenance plan to keep the body functioning properly.

 

 

 

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An Open Letter – Harness the Times

Dear Friends,

 

Now is the time.  It’s always now, but now is a time of power and movement more than ever. 


In mind-body medicine, particularly the East Asian traditional variety, we are often very concerned with detecting stagnation and blockage.  Like a dam in a river – it will create build up on one side, and lack on the other.

This is what our society reflects, and no wonder we see it in our health.

The body keeps the score.

All the pain and trauma of the past, it can be released, but we have to identify the dams, and we have to find another way to allow flow and therefore healing after we move and remove the dams that are obstructing our health, our society.

That is a broad metaphor that does not show the absolute atrocities that continually repeat,  but what we’re seeing now with national dialogues is that the silenced voices are finally being listened to.  Solutions and ideas for healing the wrongs that have been said for so long are finally being allowed to broadcast.  I can see the old “Berlin walls” being hacked away. 

This is what our country needs.  Breaking down of old ways, hurtful and wrong ways.

The stress of all these wrongs explain so much of the dis-ease we experience. Much being subconscious, even the imprints of these past centuries and past decades of brutality and pain are carried by many of us through our connection to the collective unconscious.  And now the pain felt daily by black, indigenous, and brown people is being acknowledged globally.  

Just think of all the healing that can come from this moment we’re in – if we can all keep moving with it, and arrange our inner selves, our minds and hearts, to open to change and embrace it.  To see the beautiful possibilities of what a healed world, and what we ourselves as healed bodies, will be like.  What would it feel like to not be controlled by the stress, anger, worry, fear, that these dams inside us create?

If you are in a place of wanting to heal, wanting to move forward, wanting to be of service to this movement of change, I say thank you.  Thank you for choosing love and vulnerability. 

You don’t have to know all the hows right now.  Just be open, be open.

Know that I am here to facilitate your growth and healing.  I’m there with you.  I am learning, listening, changing, desiring good for our community. 

The important thing is to not give up, not get exhausted and burned out, but to balance the pushing forward with the breaks to rest, heal, and replenish.  If you need help with working on your inner health so that you can bring yourself out there to help others, I get it and that’s what I do.   

What a time to be alive.  It’s not easy what’s been set before us, but it’s absolutely what we’re here for, and what we’re here to learn.  It’s taken so many lifetimes of suffering, but let’s turn up the light brighter than ever to amplify and speed the healing. 

With so much love and gratitude,

Amy

 

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Keys to Wellness- Why Choose Fresh, Local and Natural Foods

Have you ever imagined what the grocery store would look like if only foods grown within a 500 mile radius, made with normal kitchen equipment, were sold there?  What if refined sugar, artificial flavors, and refined vegetable oils were illegal?

As a health care provider for over 15 years, when I shop for food I’m always conscious of two main perameters:  1. is it natural or processed, or in other words, could this item be made in a kitchen or grown in the ground without a ton of technology, and 2. is it in season now in my region?  Of course, exceptions are going to happen, but when I keep these criteria in mind, I am already bound to make healthier choices.

 

Why does eating low-tech and in season mean healthy? Let’s take a look!!

 

 

Eating with the Seasons, and with your internal environment

In Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), people are always considered to be a part of nature, not separate from it.  This includes diet and nutrition.  Food is considered the first medicine, and only after diet has been corrected should other medicines be considered.  Choosing foods based on their special qualities and properties, the TEAM practitioner can prescribe certain foods to complement the patient, while advising against foods that are contraindicated for their condition.

In cold weather, foods should be warming, like soup and stews, and salads and fruit should be infrequent.   In summer, eating light, fresh and seasonal produce will encourage a deeper connection with food, and greater nutrition.

 

Going Local – The biggest bang for your buck

Thanks to world wide distribution channels and global food companies, we can have almost any fruit or vegetable, from all over the world,  year round.  This is a wonderful asset, yet, if we compare the nutritional content of what we can grow here to foods that were harvested months ago and trucked or shipped thousands of miles?  The quality of the food, and it’s vitamin and mineral content, are greatly diminished. Pesticides and other chemicals may need to be used in larger quantities to yield the types of harvests to feed the huge demands.  Strawberries are a great example – I recently read an article about all the special conditions that year round red berries in every store across the nation require.  It’s quite eye opening and provides incentive to change buying habits.

 

Big Food vs You

People are busy.  We work too much,  our activities take up the rest of our time.  So where’s the time to cook from scratch?   And why should we? Especially where I live in the suburbs, and in many communities, grocery stores and restaurants abound  to satisy any craving, meet any budget, and to fit into any busy lifestyle.  But when you step back and take a look from afar,   we see how health benefits are sacrificed for profits.  Insidious practices, like increasing fat, salt, sugar, and flavorings to make foods “hyperpalatable” and arguably addictive, are commonplace.  About 10 companies control the world’s food supply.  They dictate what is available and thus our choices.

When we can see the marketing and corporate decisions aimed at profits behind the products, it can open our eyes.  We don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience.  Read labels to make informed choices.  Keep it simple.  Protein, veggies, and a carbohydrate are the main components to a nourishing meal.

 

Avoid these three things for better health

The name of the health game is anti-inflammatory, since all chronic disease is a form of inflammation.  Keep these off your plate to make the biggest impact.

 

Bad Oils – certain oils produce free radicals that damage our tissues.  This article has a good summary of oils that are safe to cook with and oils that are damaging.

 

Processed Meats – I’m talking about deli meats and “meat products” like boloney, and sliced meats full of preservatives. See the link below for information about how it’s linked to cancer and heart disease.

 

SUGAR! – of course, the most fun thing, but also the most inflammatory.  This should really be limited in its refined forms.  Go for unrefined alternatives like evaporated cane juice (also called sucanat), raw local honey, and natural maple syrup. Or skip the sweeteners and retrain your tastebuds to enjoy whole fruits! Stevia and Monfruit extract are natural sweeteners only required by the drop!  The internet abounds with naturally sweetened treats recipes, and if you are savvy you can make better choices at the store for that occasional treat!

 

So next time you are tempted to buy tomatoes in winter, or donuts in the drive thru, think about your body and ask if it’s worth it.  And as a gardener, think – can I grow that? If not, maybe put it back on the shelf!

 

Sources:

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5296687/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/08/16/companies-that-control-the-worlds-food/14056133/

https://www.consumerreports.org/deli-meats/danger-at-the-deli-cold-cuts-increased-risk-cancer-heart-disease/

 

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Birthing Black in the US – Shining a Light on Inequity in Maternal Care

Improving Birth Outcomes for Women of Color in Illinois

 

Because my passion is supporting teens and women throughout their life cycles, including through pregnancy, I want to bring attention to the startling facts that African American and Indigenous women face when they become  pregnant:  

They are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, and that  goes up to 4-5 times for women over 30, according to the CDC in a press release last September.  

And guess where the US ranked in 2015 for maternal mortality in the world?  Not in the top 20 or even the top 30 of  best outcomes.  We ranked 45th meaning 44 countries have better birth outcomes per 100,000 births than the USA.  

It is a risk for a black woman to be pregnant and give birth in the US, just as it’s a risk for a black man to be out after dark in the south, or out in public anywhere for that matter.   Recent events are rightly bringing back our national attention to the racial disparities that persist into 2020.  But we can affect change! 

There are local grassroots organizations dedicated to supporting black women during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, but it’s a big undertaking. They need our support. 

For the month of June, I will donate a portion of every new patient appointment to Chicago Birth Workers of Color and Chicago Birthworkers Collective Care Package campaign as well as to Black Mamas Matter.  Click on the links for info on donating if you feel compelled.   

The more we focus on this issue, the more light will shine on it, and the faster we can change maternal outcomes for the better! 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2223rank.html

https://www.reproductiverights.org/document/black-mamas-matter-toolkit-for-advancing-human-right-to-safe-respectful-maternal-health-care?utm_content=buffer2efd5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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