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Oriental Medicine

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).

Treating the Whole Person, a Basic Concept in Chinese Medicine

Because Chinese Medicine developed approximately 2,000 or so years ago, it is a completely different yet complete system of medicine.  Imagine what life was like then.  People were completely dependent on the land around them, and very in touch with the stars, the sun, the moon, and the Earth.  Everything was studied and principles of nature were deduced, and then applied to their lives for their benefit.  When to plant what crop where, where to build a house, when to harvest which crop, and what plants can heal what malady.

To understand Chinese Medicine, one should consider the concept of the human as a microcosm of the macrocosm.  All the laws that govern the natural world apply to us too. 

I won’t go into detail because it takes a full course of study to grasp – I could refer you to some books if you want to learn more about chinese medical theories.  But I do want you to understand that by approaching the human organism in this way, you are viewed as a Whole person.  No part is separate, and everything is interconnected.  What happens to your left foot can affect your right hand, what you think can affect your digestion.  Your experiences are stored as memories in your subconscious which can interact with and disrupt or enhance your physiology.

In other words, mind-body-spirit are one.  This is sometimes called Wholism.  It is not woo woo or foo foo.  This is the original medicine. 

Earth Sun Moon as macrocosm

You’ve experienced the failures of conventional medicine or you wouldn’t be reading this. You’ve been frustrated by the one size fits all approaches, and the negative side effects overshadowing the thing you took the pill for in the first place.  Or you know there’s got to be a different way.

Luckily for us Americans, a bunch of brilliant scholars and physicians of this medicine translated the important teachings passed down through the centuries and learned this medicine the traditional way – from teacher to student, master to future master. 

In this way, there’s a bridge from the old knowledge of how everything in nature (which includes us!) works and how to use our natural resources and our innate healing abilities to live more purposeful, fruitful, abundant lives. 

Tap in to this wisdom – learn about and trust your own power. You are whole and complete.    

Why Get Cupped?

I love turning nouns into verbs!  So ya, in my world, I cup people. It’s fun for me and my patients love it too!!

 

What is cupping?

 

Cupping is the application of suction cups to any area of the body on the skin.  The cups may be glass with suction created by fire inserted into cup then quickly placed on the body.  I use plastic cups and use a handheld device to remove air from inside the cups.  Oil is mostly used on the skin and the oil may contain herbs or camphor.

There’s two ways to cup – leave them in one place or slide them around,  pulling  up the tissue with the suction like an inverse massage.  Instead of pressing into muscles, the muscles are gently pulled up, and the amount of suction can be adjusted to comfort.

What does Cupping Do?

Cupping is a deep tissue therapy that breaks up adhesions,  promotes blood and lymph circulation,  and releases tension in the local tissues.  Often joints, muscles, and various connective tissues can accumulate toxins due to tension and lack of circulation.  These toxins contribute to pain and discomfort.  Because cupping releases blockages, this in turn means it promotes qi circulation.   The result is looser tissues allowing waste products to be flushed out and blood and lymph and qi to circulate more freely.

 

Why Get Cupped?

 

I will cup patients typically for the following reasons:

  • relieving pain or tension in the muscles
  • relieving pain or tension in joints
  • relieving symptoms of colds
  • coughs
  • digestive and metabolic support
  • general detoxification support
  • as a diagnostic tool

What Are Side Effects and Contraindications?

 

I don’t cup pregnant women, and I don’t cup those who have bleeding or clotting disorders or who are on anticoagulant medications.

Most patients will have marks in the shapes of the circular cups for a few days after the cupping session.   This is normal and discoloration varies from hardly anything to very dark purplish or red marks.

To determine if or when cupping is right for each patient, I create individualized treatment plans.  I can do a quick short amount of cupping with acupuncture after, or we can do a whole cupping session to cover more areas and spend more time with it.

 

Questions? I would love to hear from you.  Drop me a line.

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.

 

 

 

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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