Oriental Medicine

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!

 

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.

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!

 

6 Proven Tips for Harnessing the Power of Change

6 Unbelievable Tips for Harnessing the Power of Change

Autumn – a time to turn inward and accept the Power of Change

 

Perhaps your inbox is bombarded with tips for the season – pumpkin-themed recipes, back to school tips, Halloween happenings.  I know many of us love this time of year.  Yet for some it forbodes an impending doom – summer is gone and winter will be upon us with all its frigid cold and dangerous icy patches!

 

Finding Meaning in the Season

Let’s take a breath and consider what this time of year has meant over the millennia for many cultures that experience the four seasons and confer its symbology into their philosophies.  Fall is a time when the energy we spent outwardly growing and producing fruits all summer is mostly spent and then that energy converges inward to prepare for winter’s hibernation and storage of energy until life’s rebirth in spring.

In health terms, if we choose to live in tune with the seasons, our physical and mental energies turn inward also.  It’s the perfect time for reflection, and warming our hearts and spirits with gentle activity and meditation.  I like to take this time of year to revisit my purpose and values.

Over the summer, I was busy enjoying outdoor activity, engaging with friends, and allowing a bit more freedom into my schedule.  Now, I want to hunker down and get back to the core of why I’m on this planet.  Here are some suggestions to help you take advantage of the inward turning of life’s energy so that your roots may be well mulched to endure the long and cold winter months.

 

 6 Unbelievable Tips for Harnessing the Power of Change

 

My Tips for Harnessing the Power of Change

  1. Journaling – not your thing? Never done it before? Need enticing? Start with a beautiful book in which to write your deepest thoughts and dreams! I love Paperblanks.  I’ve gone through many of these over the years and delight in getting a unique new design each time.
  2. Mindfulness for the Beginner – ok, I’m no one to talk about having a devoted meditation practice, but over the years I’ve learned there are so many ways to incorporate mindfulness without sitting on a cushion or chair 30 minutes twice a day as experts such as Deepak Chopra recommend (although I do believe this is an admirable and worthy practice).  The important point of meditation is to give that monkey mind we all have a break and focus on being in the present moment, so try one of these methods that fit into your life if sitting still is not appealing.
  3. Take in Nature – this can be as simple as walking around the block and collecting fallen leaves, or visiting a nearby stream and listening to it gurgle, or laying outside and looking up at the infinite sky for a few minutes.  Again, this is all the same as #2, which we really all need as much of as we can get.
  4.  Weightless floating – a friend recently visited the local Float Club and commented on how she was able to release control and tension more and more and more during her hour session.  This can be useful for the very type A person who is constantly in action and has trouble turning off. Here’s a link to a local place to try.
  5. Let go of that which no longer serves you.  This takes courage and willingness to look at yourself from the inside, and identify what you have accumulated so far this year that is not for your highest good.  You can consider consulting a therapist or a good friend to help you identify old patterns that you are ready or in need of releasing. Some people like to write these things down on paper and burn them in a fire.
  6. Acupuncture – many of my patients say that acupuncture helps them shift energetically so that the previous 5 tips are accessible and useful.  Acupuncture works by releasing energetic blockages within our bodies thus restoring homeostasis when the natural flow of energy is reestablished. Breath comes easier, patience is more attainable, and stress is more manageable. Here is more information about Acupuncture on my site and in Wikipedia.

 

What do you usually do and think whenenergy shifts and we are facing the the power of change? Please, share in the social media with me or contact me personally!

 

I hope this article has been helpful for anyone who could use a shift or who was just curious about how to best utilize the change of season!

Acupuncture for Anxiety

acupuncture for anxiety

Acupuncture for Anxiety. Explore your treatment options.

 

What is the most common mental illness in the US? If you answered anxiety, you got it.  18% of the country’s adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder.

 

Conventional Anxiety Treatment

The major treatment for anxiety and depression in the US today is SSRIs or SNRIs, which are two classes of drugs that affect how much of two neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, are absorbed vs available. These neurotransmitters affect mood. So the theory is to block how much of them get absorbed so more is available and more mood regulation will result

What’s the catch to using these drugs? Well, these drugs can have side effects. And they are often prescribed long-term to indefinitely.

 

How Is anxiety viewed in Chinese Medicine?

 

We classify anxiety in terms of Chinese Medicine as a type of hyperactivity affecting the Heart.  I capitalize this word to indicate that it is a representation of functions in the Chinese Medical theory that is different from the actual organ in your chest.  The Heart in CM overlaps much with our idea of the mind.  It governs sleep and mood and our outlook.  Anxiety therefore is an imbalance that affects the Heart, yet we seek to find the underlying cause for why this imbalance exists by taking into account your tongue analysis, pulse analysis, abdominal palpatory analysis, and other signs and symptoms.

 

Natural Drug-Free Treatment

What if you could reduce or end your anxiety without drugs? Did you know that Chinese Medicine heals the body and the mind? To an acupuncturist, the two are not separate but just like you are one whole person, our system of medicine takes all symptoms and signs into account in order to arrive at an effective treatment plan.

Anxiety is actually a sign of imbalance in the body, so when seeking natural treatment an acupuncturist applies holistic techniques to ease your mind and body out of disorder.

In addition to addressing your unique imbalances with acupuncture, we also sometimes incorporate natural herbal and nutritional remedies to support the body’s own ability to heal.  Herbal remedies include things like roots, leaves, seeds that are cooked or processed to make their essences available to the body for absorption, and nutritional supplements include things like vitamins or minerals or amino acids that we may be deficient in or that in certain doses exert a therapeutic effect.

 

If you are interested in reading more about accupuncture here my two favorite resources: Medical News Today and Acupuncture Today.

I’ve personally had great success in treating anxiety in my clinic, and I enjoy seeing people get back to how they felt before anxiety took over. Here are my Services I provide in my clinic. Contact me today to schedule your visit.