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What We Treat

Thyroid Health – Signs and Symptoms of Lowered Functioning

It’s a good thing that the thyroid has been getting more attention in general lately.  For too long it has been overlooked and misdiagnosed.  While medication is sometimes needed to manage a poorly functioning thyroid, and is used to replace a missing thyroid, Chinese Medicine also treats the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and can help boost functioning naturally.

 

When Your Thyroid Function is Low

I want to share with you a list of symptoms that may indicate a problem with your thyroid.  While there are two main problems that can occur with the thyroid – hypo-functioning aka Hypothyroidism, and hyper-functioning aka Hyperthyroidism, in this article we will focus on hypothyroidism and it’s most common form which is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Untreated Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism can cause:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Weight gain, and with it increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease
  • High cholesterol due to the role of the thyroid in fat metabolism
  • Depression – as many as 15% of women on antidepressants have an undetected thyroid problem as the cause of their depression – but their thyroid problem hasn’t been diagnosed so they are being misdiagnosed and mistreated. That’s one reason that antidepressants don’t help a subset of women.
  • Anxiety also often accompanies thyroid problems.
  • Decreased cognitive function – aka brain fog – the thyroid is responsible for helping us maintain brain health, and even slight thyroid dysfunction can impair memory and concentration. Studies of women in their 60s have shown that even marginally slow thyroid function can cause dementia-like symptoms, and that treatment can dramatically improve cognitive function and have a brain-protective effect.
  • Increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure due to the regulatory control of the thyroid on heart rate and rhythm.
  • Difficulty adapting body temperature – feel cold all the time? Could be a sign that the thyroid is not working optimally since one of its jobs is to regulate body temperature.

the thyroid is often called the butterfly gland
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the throat.

 

What Should You Do if You Suspect a Thyroid Problem?

 

  1. I recommend ordering a complete Thyroid Blood Panel that includes:

TSH

Free T4

Free T3

Reverse T3

TPO Antibodies

TG Antibodies

 

This gives a broader picture of thyroid and pituitary function and if there’s an autoimmune aspect. A knowledgeable functional medicine doctor or holistic endocrinologist can interpret the lab test results.

2.  Try a gluten free, soy free, dairy free diet for at least 1 month.  Studies have found that these three proteins cross-react with thyroid tissue, which means your immune system gets activated when you eat those proteins and also attacks the thyroid tissue.

3.  Get out of sleep deficit!  Your body needs to rest deeply in order to repair and restore.  If you are not getting quality sleep or enough for your personal needs, you are constantly digging yourself deeper.  Make sleep a priority.

4 . Cut back on caffeine – too much caffeine can increase cortisol and upset your hormonal balance even more than without it, and this in turn affects the thyroid.

5.  Add holistic healthcare to your health maintenance plan! Acupuncture is very valuable in helping your body get out of stress overload and into healing mode.

 

Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine for Thyroid Health and Healing

 

In my practice, I’m often helping women on thyroid medication or those who haven’t yet started medication with many of the symptoms listed above. When we’re talking about hormones, including those made by the thyroid and pituitary, which is the gland that stimulates and regulates the thyroid, we’re talking about subtle energies that control metabolism and many major functions including our mental health.  Sometimes we need to address that subtle energetic layer, in addition to the chemical layer that the replacement hormones address.

Herbal therapy and acupuncture help hypothyroid by:

  • Reducing Inflammation
  • Promoting natural healing hormone release
  • Allowing the body to heal itself by releasing blocked energy
  • Boosting your body’s own natural energy production
  • Calming the entire nervous system
  • Balancing your body’s hormonal chemistry
  • Regulate body temperature

 

Call us today to start healing your thyroid, balancing your endocrine system, and feel more like yourself! 630-335-1069

Response to the Pandemic – Now Offering Telemedicine

My Dear Community, these times are trying, and I want you to know I’m here to support you!

 

Remaining Open for In-Person Visits

After much study, meditation, and thinking, I have decided to remain open to serve the community’s ongoing health needs, both mental and physical – as I consider myself first and foremost a Mind-Body Healthcare Provider.  I have the tools needed to reduce the effects of this respiratory illness and for the stress that it is heightened.

 

Repeating CDC Guidelines for your safety and community safety

Anyone with a fever above 99.0, a cough, shortness of breath, and/or intense body pains, please STAY HOME IN BED or ON THE COUCH and call or text me 630-335-1069.  I am trained in herbal medicine to treat these symptoms, and I can do so via video conferencing.

I also am NOT open for those who may have been exposed to the virus, and please follow CDC guidelines if you are immune compromised or over age 65.

 

Precautions

I am following all CDC recommendations for making my clinic safe – sanitizing all touch surfaces including my phone and laptop before and after each patient visit, and changing all bedding each patient visit and copious hand washing.  I am also limiting all contact outside of clinic, staying home and limiting visits to stores.  *Taking Social Distancing Seriously*

 

The Future is Here – Now Offering Telemedicine

I am offering consultations via a secure video conferencing platform that is easy to use and will allow us to talk to each other without meeting in person! This is available to anyone and I especially encourage you to schedule an online consultation with me to address high anxiety, panic, respiratory issues, or to address immunity boosting.  Herbal prescriptions and supplements can be mailed to you or arranged for pickup from Estuary Center.

Here is a link to schedule a virtual consultation at the introductory fee of $75 for 30 minutes for existing patients, and here’s the link for a new patient consultation for 60 minutes.

 

How to approach and navigate Menopause naturally

Menopause.

 

What comes to mind when you see this word? It has a lot of connotation doesn’t it?  I think for many women, it conjures up horror stories from their moms and aunts about hot flashes and insomnia.  But I want to turn the tables and make this time of life less dreadful and more embraceable!

 

What really is menopause? What does it mean biologically?

 

According to Chinese Medicine, changes occur every seven years, with menstruation beginning at an average of 2×7 years, and at 7×7 years is the average time when the menstrual cycle ceases and our fertility ends.  In medical terms, menopause is the result of a natural decline of our two main sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen.

Of course this is general, and we now know that changes to our hormones can begin years before we’re officially in menopause, which is counted from 1 year after the last period.  This leading up time is called perimenopause.  Usually in our mid to late forties, the menstrual cycle can change.  For many women, this time is not smooth sailing.

 

What are symptoms of Perimenopause?

During this time in the few years leading up to menopause, women may experience any of the following:

  • The menstrual cycle gets shorter, longer, lighter, or heavier, and you can no longer set your clock by them if you could before.
  • Sleep patterns are disrupted, sometimes characterized by waking up too early in the morning with difficulty falling back to sleep.
  • Decreased libido
  • Unexplained weight gain especially around your middle.
  • Overall feeling warmer, often with flushes of heat, which are random and intense
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes such as increased anxiousness or irritability

 

These symptoms can arise because our reproductive hormones progesterone and estrogen impact so many functions.  Especially estrogen, as it is a major hormone in the body.

 

“What can I do about it? I don’t want all that awful stuff to happen to me!”

Yes, do something about it, exactly! You can do many things on your own to improve the transition into the wisdom years as I like to think of it.

This is when lifestyle, dietary, and therapeutic interventions or changes can really make a difference.  And starting years before menopause is your best bet.  If you are already experiencing symptoms or cycle changes, don’t worry because acupuncture and herbal medicine work great for most of these issues.

 

Positive Results I’ve seen with acupuncture and or herbal therapy for my patients includes:

Better energy

Better sleep

Better vaginal lubrication

Better mood

Reduction and elimination of hot flashes and night sweats

Improved libido

More comfortable menstrual cycles – less heavy bleeding and less pain.

 

How do acupuncture and herbs help menopausal symptoms?

 

Chinese Medicine works by balancing the hormones, which it does by helping regulate the flow of blood and nerve conduction throughout the body.  Chinese Medicine is based on the principle of Qi, which is energy that flows in invisible channels throughout the body.  Hormonal imbalances occur when there are blockages in these pathways, which disrupts our bodies’ normal processes.

What Else can I do to help balance my hormones?

  1.  Reduce Toxic Burden   — All the toxins in our homes, food, the air around us most definitely messes with our hormonal balance.  There is plenty of research.  What can you do? Reducing your contact with plastics is a biggie.  Stop buying disposable water bottles if you can help it.  Even the plastic lids on disposable coffee cups can leach chemicals.  Switching to non-toxic containers such as glass or silicone is worth it.  What are you putting on your skin?  Lotions, sunblocks and makeup seep into our blood stream, so know what is in your products.  This article gives the top ten to avoid.
  2. Reduce Alcohol Intake — the number one substance people ingest that will have a negative impact on their hormones is alcohol.  Of course a small amount is ok for most women, but some people are more sensitive.  It is a good idea to pay attention to how you feel after consuming alcohol.
  3. Stress Reduction!! — By all means available to you! Stress taxes the adrenal glands, and the adrenal glands are key for producing post-menopausal estrogen.  There are several ways to check your stress response.  Of course #1 is getting enough sleep.  If you already are experiencing sleep issues then it definitely needs to be addressed.  This can include no screens at least 1 hour before bed, and I really like this product for deepening sleep.  It is natural and gentle, and does not require a prescription.   Acupuncture is one of the most effective and deepest working ways we can improve our sleep.  It works at an energetic and holistic level to restore our body’s natural cortisol levels.
  4.  Just Eat Real Food (JERF)  — This means don’t eat packaged foods with ingredients you can’t buy in a grocery store.  It also means focusing on whole foods – fruits, vegetables, some whole grains if tolerated, organic grass-fed meats and dairy if tolerated.  The quality of the life of the animals and animal products you consume directly impacts your own health.  If an animal was confined, fed GMO corn and soy and fillers, and was over-treated with antibiotics, then this is what you are putting into your body.  We should be conscious of the source of our food.
  5. Protect your Sleep – Our hormones get even more out of whack if we are sleep deprived, because the adrenals have to produce more cortisol the more we’re awake and the circadian rhythm is disturbed.  This means less sex hormones can be produced, thus worsening symptoms.

 

The mid-forties to early fifties is a time of change and transition for women.  But it does not have to be dreaded.  Let’s celebrate all we’ve accomplished in the first half of our lives, and give ourselves the best beginning of the latter half.  Please call/text me at 630-335-1069 to learn more, or to schedule an appointment to get your balance back!

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.

 

 

 

Acupuncture During Pregnancy for Advanced Prenatal Care

While this topic seems to be geared toward those expecting or planning to get pregnant, many of us have friends or family who plan to have a child, so the more ears and eyes aware of the tools out there that can help, the better.

It’s apparent that we’ve created a culture here in the US of fear around pregnancy – and I and other acupuncturists and herbalists are here to say that pregnancy can be a really wonderful experience and that it’s truly the beginning of someone’s life. The time in utero is a critical time and should be protected.

 

Acupuncture and herbs are safe throughout the entire pregnancy!

Of course choose someone who has experience and training in working with pregnant women.  I can prepare someone for a healthy pregnancy and I can help ensure each stage of the pregnancy is supported.

 

As you may know, the United States is behind most developed countries in maternal care and prenatal and postnatal health.  Acupuncturists who specialize in women’s health and pregancy, like me, are here to change that.  I for one a dedicated to changing outcomes for the better.  Here’s more about some of the issues that can arise during and after pregnancy and how acupuncture and herbs can help.

 

 

Conditions treated during pregnancy:

  1. Acupuncture works very well for pain in pregnancy.

    Pain is blockage.  Acupuncture is specifically designed to release blockages in the energy meridians of the body thus removing the block to flow that results in pain.  Trust me, you don’t want drains on your energy during pregnancy – you need all the energy you can get to grow the baby and prepare for caring for the baby.  Not to mention all your other responsibilities.

  2. Nausea and Vomiting

    While some queasiness or nausea is normal and even can be a good sign in the first trimester, feeling really sick beyond the first trimester, or continual vomiting in the first trimester, should be treated.  Hyperemesis gravidarum patients respond well to acupuncture and herbs.

  3. Keep the Bowels Moving!

    This is especially important during pregnancy and postpartum.  If you are not eliminating every day, this is a sign that your system needs rebalancing to adjust for baby’s presence.

  4. Indigestion, AKA acid reflux or heartburn

    When I was pregnant the first time, I thought it was normal to have heartburn and didn’t think of it as something that needed correcting other than to take baking soda water all the time! Again, this is not par for the course!  It can and should be eased.

  5. Urinary urgency, frequency, or stress incontinence

    Yes, there is a baby sitting on top of your bladder, however, the body is designed to compensate for this normally.  This can improve with treatment, making your life in those last months, especially, much more comfortable!

  6. Swelling and Fluid Imbalances

Acupuncture and herbs help tremendously with balancing fluids so that swelling is greatly reduced and amniotic fluid levels can be regulated in cases of polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios.   Fluids metabolism and balance is a major focus of East Asian Medicine, as it is a major aspect of our physiology.

7. Improve Outcomes for High Risk Pregnancies

The known benefits of acupuncture including reducing stress, which helps to regulate metabolic functions like blood pressure, relieving pain, and improving circulation are all going to be beneficial especially when treatments occur throughout the pregnancy regularly.  This is an excellent addition to prenatal care for high risk pregnancies.

8. Breech Presentation

 

Homework Assignments for Expectant Parents

In addition to using acupuncture and herbs when a pregnant woman sees me in my clinic, I also send her home with acupressure instructions including points for the partner to press or rub during labor.

Pregnancy and childbirth are very special times in a woman’s life, and I’m grateful I can help make it more comfortable!

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