No Smoothies? What can I eat for breakfast instead?

The Breakfast Dilemma

Many of my patients have this exact concern after they start working with me and we focus on repairing the digestive system.  Digestion takes place at body temperature, yet Americans love to slurp and sip cold drinks and liquidy foods.  Why is too much liquid a concern? One reason is because many of us have inadequate stomach acid.  Consuming too much fluid dilutes the acid and encumbers digestion.

 

My goal is to make sure that my patients’ bodies don’t have to use up extra energy (Qi) just to get their foods warmed up to body temperature – we are all already Qi deficient!  Warm foods are easier to digest.  So then –

 

What Can I Eat?

For this we can turn to the nutrition branch of Chinese Medicine, and the traditional breakfast of China and other Asian cultures – Congee! “What is THAT?” I hear you say…  Congee is basically rice porridge.  It’s a small amount of rice cooked in water in a 1:6 or 1:8 ratio.  Anything can be added to it, making it very versatile and adaptable to anyone’s tastes.  It is made with white rice, which is a nourishing easily digested “herb” in Chinese Medicine.

Warm Food for a Warm Belly

I want to leave you with a patient story – I had a patient recently who reported having a protein shake every morning for breakfast – when I listened to her abdomen upon percussing I could hear that smoothie sloshing in her stomach more than an hour after eating it.  The patient had some other signs of digestive weaknesses, so I suggested steering away from cold liquid meals.  In subsequent visit, I listened and heard no splash sound in her stomach – turns out she’d heeded my warning and started making her shake with warm-hot water.  Just that change allowed her body to assimilate it better.

Send me an email and I’ll send you a handout about making congee at home.

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Menstrual Cramps – live with it or find relief?

This one is for the ladies! Actually, if you’re not a lady, you probably have one or two in your life so you can listen in on this one too.

 

Defining Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea means painful periods.  This pain is commonly due to cramping of the uterus causing lower abdominal pain but can also refer to back pain, leg pain, or headaches that come before or during the menstrual period.

 

Who is Affected and How Common Is it?

Girls normally begin menstruating anywhere from age 9-18 with an average around 12-14.  Some girls have no issues – it comes every month, no pain, no symptoms – but for many it is not so smooth or seemless.  In fact, it can be downright dreadful! I know, I was one of those teens who experienced pain every month for years.  Research statistics are not concrete, but looking at the reviews of all the literature show that at least half of all menstruating females experience dysmenorrhea (painful periods).  It varies in severity but can be debilitating for some.

 

Alternatives to NSAIDS and other analgesics

Many women rely on pain relieving over the counter or prescription medications to cope with the monthly pain.  There are issues with this as there is of course side effects with these pills.  Luckily, Chinese Medicine is an effective way to heal the root cause of the pain and improve girls’ and women’s cycles overall.

 

What causes menstrual cramps

In Chinese Medicine, pain associated with menstruation is due to stagnating blood in the uterus/lower abdomen.  In our system pain = blockage.  Something is preventing the free flow and circulation of Qi and Blood.  But why? Well, everyone is different but the most common causes I see are Liver Dysregulation causing Qi to not be flowing smoothly and freely, which then in turn means that blood can’t flow either.

The other is Cold.  If there is a lack of warmth, from our internal Yang Energy or internal Fire, then cold causes blood vessels to contract, causing pain.  Cold blood is like an icy river – it needs a certain amount of heat in order to flow (remember we’re about 98.6F inside – that’s pretty warm!).

 

Treatment

Here at Energy Flow Health, I assess a person to see if they have 1. adequate blood flow, 2. adequate Yang/Fire in the right place, and 3. blockages in their energy meridians causing Qi Stagnation.  From there we come up with acupuncture points and often times a customized herbal formula to remove blockages and repair internal deficiencies or excesses, respectively.

This condition is a passion of mine, and I want you to know that there are solutions.  I am eager to help women find relief and get that week of their life back!  If you are ready to receive treatment you can schedule here or shoot me an email if you have any questions!

 

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The Acupuncture Evidence Project – My Review

Over the past several decades, Chinese Medicine has been steadily growing in the US as a much sought after system of health care.  It’s been met with much resistence by conventional medicine, I believe mostly because it is a very different approach when Western methods of measuring efficacy don’t yield clear results.  The reason is that Chinese Medicine is truly based on a very different set of principles, but that does not make it ineffective.  The proof is in all the patients who’ve been helped over the past many centuries through today.

So you want evidence That it works?

Professionals in the field of Chinese Medicine and other professionals that champion this medicine are working to gather scientific research, as well as empirical evidence of it’s efficacy.  One such document came out last year in 2017 summarizing a review of scientific literature on acupuncture from 2010-2016.  Some of what was reviewed was gathered by both the Australian and the US Departments of Veterans Affairs.  Here is the link so you can read it yourself.  Below I will list some of the highlights and take aways.

"It is no longer possible to say that the effectiveness of acupuncture can be attributed to the placebo effect or that it is useful only for musculoskeletal pain."       -Stephen Janz MPH, Project Director, The AACMA Acupuncture Evidence Project

 

Good News – Acupuncture Works!

Ok, we already knew that, but plenty of scientific research supports it too. The literature review revealed 8 conditions for which acupuncture is definitely beneficial. The evidence is clear that acupuncture has a positive effect for:

Here’s an example of a small study.

Low Back Pain

Migraine Prophylaxis

Allergic Rhinitis

Knee Osteoarthritis

Chronic and Tension Headaches

Chemotherapy Induced nausea and vomiting

Post-Operative Pain

Post-Operative nausea and vomiting

My Take:

Take a close look at the first 5 conditions listed above.  These are HUGE.  DId you know low back pain is the #1 cause of disability? Do you know people with migraines, allergies, knee pain, or headaches? Is that not almost everyone?! But where are these sufferers going for relief? What are they doing? Well I know that many of them are just living with their pain and discomfort.  Some get some relief temporarily from NSAIDs or other drugs.  But almost none are successfully managed by conventional medicine.  And here is clear support that acupuncture is the best solution out there. Period.  My goal is to get this therapy to more people who need it.

 

Another small example of positive results.

More Good News! Acupuncture helps even More Conditions than that!

 

I won’t list them all here, but for another 38 conditions there was found evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating.  You can read all 38 in Table 2 on page 2 of the report, but here’s a few that caught my attention since I often treat them successfully:

Anxiety

Constipation

Depression

Insomnia

IBS

Menopausal hot flashes (aka hot flushes)

 

My Take:

The short list I extracted from Table 2 showing conditions for which there’s “moderate evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture” is also so inclusionary that I’m confident in saying that our country’s health care situation would be REVOLUTIONIZED by covering acupuncture with insurance benefits.  It really gets the scientist in me excited to see the scientific evience mounting, even though the Chinese Medicine practitioner in me doesn’t care about scientific research because of the overwhelming clinical evidence.  But nevertheless, it’s nice to get the validation from the other side of the aisle so to speak.

 

Conclusion: Acupuncture is a viable alternative to drugs and surgery

If you or someone you know is ready to get drug-free and surgery-free relief, please give me a call or click here to schedule an appointment.  I can answer any other questions and get you on your way to feeling healthier!

 

 

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How does Chinese Medicine treat Hormonal Imbalances?

As you can tell from my tagline I specialize in digestive and hormonal imbalances.

So one may wonder, how does acupuncture affect hormones?

The Chinese Medicine view of hormones

Since Chinese Medicine originated thousands of years ago, the perspective of human physiology was conceived and understood under different terms and points of reference. Then, there was no traffic, no TV, no internet, no central air or furnaces, no high-tech medical equipment. But imagine. People were really close to nature. Really in tune with the forces of nature surrounding them. So every nuance of biology was more heightened. Everything was interpreted through nature. Not separate. As a result, they discovered the spaces between the muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels contained a special intangible force, and that by inserting thin objects into these spaces at specific points, the “energy” or “qi” in these spaces or “channels/meridians” could be affected, and illnesses could be resolved, and immunity could be strengthened.

Part of the mystery of our health is in our chemistry, dominated by chemicals called hormones. Hormones are the bosses of our physiology and metabolism. Scientists today are still trying to grasp the far reaching influences and delicate balances of these chemicals.

Hormones are the bosses of our physiology and metabolism

Back to Chinese Medicine – of course people still had these chemicals back then, but they were seen more holistically, and incorporated into the explanations of the functions of structures that could be seen (unfortunately mostly due to war when people’s guts literally were spilled out). So to summarize, in Chinese Medicine we explain most of our physiology in terms of functions of a number of systems. Each system has associated organs, senses, meridians, colors, emotions, flavors, directions, seasons, etc. And more importantly, herbs and acupuncture points that influence these systems.

 

Ok, now back to the original question –

how does acupuncture, and for that matter, herbs, affect our hormones?

Hormones, being very minute microscopic, can be considered to be a part of the channel system in the body, and therefore part of our life energy aka Qi. This means by manipulating the channels and organs in the body with energetic means, we can affect how the hormones work.

Health is perfect balance right? Blood and other fluids flowing unimpeded through the body, carrying nutrients to and waste products away from every cell, regeneration of cells, and lack of blockages. This is what acupuncture and herbs do. They work to dissolve blockages, encourage appropriate regeneration, and good metabolism of the food we eat so it provides energy to every cell.

I know this was a long read, so thanks for slugging through it! I hope it explains the mystery of this ancient yet extremely useful medicine, in a way that makes sense. If not, I’d love to hear your questions – send me a text or call me at 630-335-1069, or email amy@energyflowhealth.com.

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What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

I feel the need to inform people about the herbal aspect of Chinese Medicine.  Many people don’t know much about it and therefore are wary about trying it.  I don’t blame them, what we don’t know we don’t trust.

So let’s get straight about Chinese Herbal Medicine.  What is it, how does it work, what is it used for, what to expect when  you receive a prescription.

 

What are Chinese Herbs?

Chinese herbs are substances found in nature that are mostly plant, some mineral, and some animal.  We use a lot of roots, twigs, seeds, leaves, fruits, and bark from various plants.  Where they’re grown and how and when they are harvested are part of their identity and use in the medicine.  Some familiar and commonly used herbs include ginger root, cinnamon, apricot kernels, and peach kernels.  If you are vegetarian, or have allergies, please tell your herbalist so they can be sure your prescription is aligned.

How is it different from other herbs like the ones I see at the health food store?

Here in the US, people tend to be more familiar with Western herbs, in single form.  For example, saw palmetto, or milk thistle.  While most herbs in the capsules and tinctures on store shelves have their own uses and validity, they derive from a different system of medicine altogether.  Chinese herbs are prescribed in formulas, meaning in combinations of 2 or more herbs.  The formulas come from texts dating back as far as 200 BCE, and some even as recent as the 18th century.  I mainly use formulas from the Han Dynasty China which was about 1800 years ago.

Are they safe?

Chinese herbs are medicine.  This means they affect the body chemically.  So it’s not something you can just buy off Amazon because your friend recommends it.

They have also been in use for literally thousands of years, and when prescribed by a professional that has undergone specific training including a nationally recognized board certification, and taken as prescribed, are very safe.  But they are taken to effect change in the body and should be regarded as medicine.

How are they taken?

Herbal prescriptions can come in several forms.  Some practitioners will send the patient home with, or have mailed, bags of the actual herbs to be cooked in water on the stove and then drunk as a tea.

Some herbs do come in tablet or capsule form, and yet another form is as granules that are stirred into hot water and drunk as a tea.

Do I need a prescription?

Yes, because there are som many formulas for so many different conditions and symptoms and individuals, they’re not just one or five sizes fits all.  They are prescribed specifically for one person at one time.

How long do I need to take them?

Course of treatment with Chinese Herbs varies from 1 dose to several months to even years.  It really depends on the patient’s needs at the time.

What are the benefits?

I tend to get patients who’ve either had bad experiences with conventional drugs or who want to avoid the side effects of drugs.  So one benefit is the zero to minimal side effects, as well as the synergy the natural herbs have with our also very natural bodies. They tend to work with the body more than against it.  The benefits depend on the reason they’re prescribed – so we use herbs to improve sleep, fertility, mood, digestion, elimination, urination, pain, etc.  The benefits are countless!

 

Interested in an herbal consulation? You don’t have to have acupuncture although most people do.  Please call me at 630-335-1069 to set up an appointment!

 

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