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Acupuncture

Reasons Why #4: Balance Them Hormones!

Hormones are a symphony, playing together in harmony.
Hormones are a symphony, playing together in harmony. Photo by Manuel Nageli

 

It’s a bit reductionist to think of life as a bucket of chemicals, and at the same time, the factual complexity also totally blows my mind!! The scientist in me loves to geek out on biochemistry, and the nature lover creative in me loves the beauty of it all too.

Let’s explain that while it’s important and super cool to understand about endocrine glands and the hormones they secrete, that the simplest and one of the most effective ways to treat hormonal imbalances, is through Traditional East Asian Medicine.  Because this is such a HUGE topic, this article focuses mainly on a just a few hormones and a few of their functions.

 

Regulating Hormones

What do we mean by that? Well, hormones are the communication molecules of the body, telling every system how to behave, how to metabolize, sleep, when to menstruate or not, how to regulate body temperature, and on and on. The intercommunication of the 60+ hormones is truly a miraculous marvelous symphony.  It’s so finite and delicate and complex, that sometimes medications work well for imbalances, but sometimes they miss the mark.  Acupuncture to the rescue. Because acupuncture is energetic, it helps the body to regulate and balance itself. By design it allows a return to homeostasis, which is when everything is in balance.

 

Hormone Production & Detoxification

Many hormones, including the sex hormones such as estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone, and stress hormones like cortisol, are synthesized from cholesterol.  Because stress is the response to perceived danger or threat to survival, that response, such as increased cortisol or adrenalin, is prioritized.  When constant perceived stress is present, this means resources can be diverted from the less necessary (sex/reproductive) in order to keep you “alive”.  This is why many people are diagnosed with low estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc. 

On the other hand, hormones also need to be metabolized, broken down, and recycled or excreted.  When this is impaired, too much of a hormone can build up.   What can interfere? Well, it’s the liver’s job to metabolize nearly everything we ingest and every hormone.  And liver toxicity or sluggishness is very commonplace in our hectic modernized society.  With an overwhelmed liver, estrogen and other chemicals can build up, and this too can lead to hormonal imbalance symptoms. Again, a big topic, so can’t get into all of it in this short discussion.  But the solution is supporting the liver’s natural detoxification pathways in order to balance. 

 

Hormones, Fertillity, and a Natural Approach

Our approach to fertility at Energy Flow Health goes beyond analyzing hormone levels. Fertility is a reflection of overall health of mind-body-spirit, and this is why TEAM is such a successful approach for conceiving and maintaining pregnancy.  It’s the synergy of the acupuncture working with the entire hormonal symphony, the natural stress reduction effects, and the balancing and nurturing of the time-tested herbal formulas that account for this.  Our medicine is not reductionist, it’s holistic.  This makes all the difference, and can bring joy back to the baby-making journey.

 

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, along with other natural therapies, reduce stress, promote circulation, and improve natural communication pathways so that hormone balance and production regulates.  We also take into account liver health, to relieve the strain on the liver, improving its ability to naturally detoxify the body and ease metabolism of hormones.

 

A Success Story to illustrate

Melissa was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but didn’t have some of the stand-out symptoms commonly associated with this  metabolic disorder.  her doctor had found that her estrogen and progesterone were low and testosterone high.  She was in her mid twenties, yet had had only a handful of periods in her life due to anovulatory amenorrhea – her body was not releasing an egg every month and thus not menstruating.  She came to me to get help conceiving a second child.  Her first was conceived with assisted reproductive therapy, but she wanted to get to the root cause this time.    

Literally after 2 acupuncture sessions and some herbs, she got a period.  Well that worked quickly! We continued to work on the chronic digestive issues since everything is connected, and continued to support hormonal regulation with acupuncture, herbs, and TBM (Total Body Modification).  The next month, the period didn’t come, and I thought, well of course the cycle won’t be regulated this quickly.  But I was wrong – she was already pregnant naturally!  

 

Trust Your Body to Know

No matter the diagnosis from your conventional doctor, don’t take that as gospel.  Your body’s wisdom runs deep, and with the right nudges it can be set back into rhythm.  The conductor, musicians, and audience just all need to be in harmony!

How Many Acupuncture Treatments Will You Need?

Let’s dive right in to what it takes to get results from acupuncture.  How many treatments, how frequently, and why.

 

Acupuncture Therapy

Acupuncture is a therapy.  This means that each treatment builds on the next.  We can compare this to taking a medication.  Lots of people are familiar with how that works.  You get diagnosed, and then you get prescribe a dose based on your condition.  How long have you had it, how severe, how many complications are there, etc.

Like taking a medication, acupuncture does require consistency.  Your job is showing up for your appointments, and relaxing during treatment.   

Because acupuncture is based on Wholism, the whole person and the whole person’s life and habits are taken into account.  Your practitioner may assign homework for between visits or suggest lifestyle tweaks.

So besides keeping your appointments, another part of your job may be making small manageable changes at your own pace to help align your daily life toward your health goals.

Now back to the original question.  How many treatments will you need? This will vary based on the same factors for determining a medication dose.  Each acupuncture treatment is “1 dose”.  Based on the practitioner’s assessment of the severity and chronicity of your problem, and your goals, she will determine how often to come in and for how long.

 

Acute Problems

Acute problems are those that have been lingering for less than 3 months, in general.  So if your back pain just started last week, get in and get it treated right away, and you may be fixed in one treatment.  However, if the reason for this back pain is for example uterine fibroids, or a prolapse, or diabetes, or other chronic and complicated issue, then the back pain may not be totally fixed quickly.  We will likely want to address the underlying issue.  

 

Chronic Problems

More often, I see a lot of chronic complaints.  Chronic means it’s been going on for more than 3 months.  For example, you’ve had sinus congestion or painful periods or no periods for 5 years.  Or 10 years.  Or…. well you get it.  People often don’t seek treatment but instead just “deal with it”.  The longer the body-mind is “talking” to you with symptoms, and the longer the communication goes ignored, the more problems can compound and wear on your energy reserves.  Symptoms need attention to prevent worsening over time. 

 

The Treatment Plan

Most acute problems we estimate will take around 6 acupuncture treatments.  Because chronic problems vary so much, and are often so complex and intertwined, we estimate about 10-12 treatments, in general, for some significant results, meaning some things are staying improved between treatments.   The nice thing is there will be gradual improvements along the way as the treatment plan progresses.   I am perpetually amazed at what this medicine can do. 

Once improvements are sustaining longer periods between treatments, and you are feeling pretty good, then we begin a maintenance program, where you come in for “meridian tune-ups” once every 4-8 weeks.  This keeps the engine humming along and prevents relapse.  

 

The Whole Model – The Foundation

Acupuncture is part of the system of medicine called Chinese Medicine (CM) or Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM).  This is a TOTALLY different approach than Conventional AKA Western AKA Allopathic Medicine.  It’s hard to look at acupuncture through the lens of modern medicine and totally understand it.  The basic principles are very different.

TEAM practitioners are interested in treating the whole person.  What is her spirit like? What is her sleep like? Does she have normal elimination and excretion? How can we facilitate her natural healing abilities in order to improve her quality of life ?

a vibrant you through acupuncture

Quality of Life

Bottom line, what do we all want when we make the call or search on Google to find a practitioner of some sort? We want to improve our quality of life.  If you can get pregnant, if you can not miss school or work every month, if you can sleep through the night, if you can go for long walks, whatever your goal, what are you willing to pay? Where in your priorities does it fall? Can you visualize what future you want, and start actualizing it now because the future begins in this very moment?  This is called a personal investment.  And it’s up to you to decide what you want, and how you want to get it.

 

Investment

When someone asks what acupuncture costs, or says they can’t afford to keep coming, I totally understand.  I grew up very modestly, and my family never seemed to have enough funds.  But like education, health is an investment in the future You.  Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a way to improve your quality of life on every level.  By addressing root imbalances, your branches will grow stronger and those branches will bear more fruit – aka servicing others, creativity, or whatever else you are here to do.

 

if you made it this far…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you got some insight from it.  At the very least maybe you know if this is a route you want to go down.  And please call me for a no obligations chat if you have any questions at 630-335-1069 (textable).

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?  Great questions that deserve answers. Read on!

 

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.” – Amy Cohn Rieselman

 

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.

Endometriosis Signs and Symptoms and Treatment Options

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month!

Endometriosis is a disease that affects around 11% of women worldwide.  But the kicker is it can often take years for women to receive the diagnosis.

 

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is when the cells that normally line the uterus are found outside the uterus.  When during a woman’s menstrual cycle those cells are shed from the uterus and menstruation begins, these other misplanted cells are also signaled to bleed, and that causes inflammation wherever they are.  These cells can be anywhere in the pelvic cavity and can also adhere to the intestines and even travel up to the chest cavity in more severe cases.  So endometriosis can cause all kinds of pain.

 

How Do You Know if you have endometriosis or just bad periods?

Here are the main signs of endometriosis:

  • Pelvic Pain
  • Severe stabbing pain especially before or during menstruation.
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Post-coital nausea
  • Getting very sick with the menstrual cycle such as fever and chills, vomiting, etc.
  • Pain with urination or bowel movements
  • Pain in legs and buttocks

Getting Diagnosed

The only way to definitively diagnose the disease is via laproscopy, which is sneaking a camera in the abdominal and pelvic cavities to look for the implanted endometrial cells. Many women find out they have endometriosis when they have difficulty conceiving.  This is because the continued bleeding of the misplanted cells can cause scar tissue and adhesions to build up, and often on the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes. This blocks the pathway for both egg and sperm.

Conventional treatment Options

There are two main ways medical doctors will treat endometriosis.  One is with surgery to either cut out the adhesions or to remove tissues or organs affected. The other is the use of hormonal birth control containing synthetic progesterone called progestin.  This counters the effect of estrogen which is the hormone that causes the endometrium to grow.

There are some negative possible outcomes with either drugs or surgery.   Hormonal birth control often creates side effects and risks such as blood clots, weight gain, or mood changes.  Likewise, serious problems with surgery include the adhesions growing back or scar tissue building up.  Often doctors recommend a hysterectomy, and understandably a woman may oppose this level of invasiveness.  Even with removal of the uterus and other tissues, endometriosis can still grow back in other tissues and areas.

Chinese Medicine Therapy for Endometriosis

Some women prefer to seek other options to hormonal drugs and surgery.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for many centuries to relieve menstrual pain, abdominal pain, and to improve hormonal imbalances.

What to Expect if going the natural route

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine work to uncover the root causes of why a woman is having pain, heavy bleeding, etc, all the symptoms she experiences as part of her endometriosis diagnosis.  We as practitioners will examine the pulses, abdomen, and tongue, as well as ask many questions about the quality of the pain, blood, bowel movements, etc, to get a whole picture of what is not working right.

The Diagnosis and Treatment in Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese Medicine, most women with endometriosis have a form of what is called Blood Stasis, or Blood Stagnation.  In our medicine, refers to a poor quality of blood that is too thick or not fluid enough, and blood that is not free flowing througout the body and especially that gets obstructed in the uterus.  While these terms do not mean that there is something wrong with your blood according to conventional medicine, it refers to the way Chinese Medicine views the Blood as a grouping of functions in the body.  Once the Chinese Medical Diagnosis is determined, we can then ascertain which treatment approach to take.  For instance, if we determine the blood is stagnant, we may use herbs that invigorate the blood and points that promote circulation.

A treatment plan can be anywhere from 3 months to 9 months depending on the severity of the case.  Many women experience significant reduction of pain and bleeding and improved cycles with acupuncture and herbs, and often have noticeable improvements within the first few treatments.

finding hope for endometriosis

Here at Energy Flow Health, we support a woman’s decision, as we honor that a woman knows her body best.  It is helpful to explore the options, and if something isn’t feeling right then you always have the right to try something else.  There is hope, and if you would like to discuss working with Amy, please call 630-335-1069 for a complimentary consultation.

 

 

 

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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