Andrea Lamont

Cultivate Optimal Endocrine Health

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Cultivate Optimal Endocrine Health

The endocrine system provides regulation of the body through hormonal secretions. Cultivating your endocrine health combined with proper nutrition and diet can boost energy, improve appetite, reduce insomnia, relieve depression symptoms, improve circulation, relieve muscle aches and assist in recovering from endocrine disorders. One of the easiest ways to look after your endocrine system health is to eat nutritious meals and have a well balanced diet.

5 Endocrine Supporting Nutrients

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are part of any healthy diet. To directly affect your endocrine system, make sure your diet includes these foods.

Fish – Fish provides your body with Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 oils. These oils are fats that directly affect cognitive function, cellular function and kidney function, all the things under the control of the endocrine system. Eating fish twice a week will aid in keeping a balanced endocrine system.

Garlic – Garlic boosts your immunity, increasing your ability to fight off infection. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. One or two cloves of garlic a day is recommended. Include it in your cooking!

Calcium – Calcium keeps nerves healthy and ensures their ability to communicate effectively. Milk, cottage cheese, cheese, leafy greens, dried beans and yogurt are all rich in calcium.

Vitamin B and B Complex – Directly influences the nervous system’s proper functioning and health and one’s physical and mental performance concerning the nervous system. Found in chicken, fish, eggs, whole grains, beans and nuts.

Vitamin C – Adrenal glands have a very high content of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This vitamin helps stimulate adrenal glands into producing more of the disease fighting hormone cortin. A continued stressful environment depletes vitamin C reserves and increases the tendency for infection and disease. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, melons, apricots, strawberries, berries, green vegetables, sweet peppers, and particularly tomatoes.

A few basic steps you can take:

Eat Slowly – Don’t rush through your meals. Allow your body to properly digest food reduces after-meal fatigue, boosts your immune system, and enables your endocrine system to properly process nutritional intake.

Exercise – Regular exercise boosts the immune system, improves cardiovascular health, muscle mass, and prevents bone loss. Stress reducing exercises such as yoga, qigong, or tai chi can also be beneficial.

Manage Your Stress – Another important part of maintaining a healthy endocrine system is stress management. Having a lot of stress in your life can cause the overproduction of hormones that can lead to the failure or malfunction of many endocrine organs. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers many tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check and allow you to enjoy a more peaceful life.

Rest – Take a day out of the week for rest and rejuvenation allowing your mind and body recovery time. You will be more productive the rest of the week.

Sleep – Allow six to eight hours of sleep per night in order to reduce stress and keep hormones balanced. The combination of stress and a lack of sleep may cause some of the glands to malfunction. If you are experiencing difficulties sleeping acupuncture has shown great success treating a wide array of sleep problems without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids.

Massage Taixi When Fatigued

The root of the body’s energy in Oriental medicine is the Kidney meridian. Treatment used to strengthen the Kidney Meridian also restores nourishment to your endocrine glands.  Taixi, or Kidney 3, is the source point of the Kidney meridian and an excellent point to massage yourself whenever feeling fatigued. To locate Taixi first locate the medial malleolus, that bone on the inner ankle. Then, locate the Achilles tendon that runs down the back of the ankle. Directly between them you will find the tender area when you press or Taixi.  Massage the area on your ankle between the bone of inner malleolus and the Achilles tendon.

By: Georjana Shames LAc Dipl.OM CMT

Would you like to learn more about how acupuncture can help you? Call us today at 778-786-2517 A custom-tailored treatment plan will be created to suit your individual needs so that you can feel better quickly and safely!

It’s nearly Spring – Move Your Qi!

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Wood Element:

Emotions: Anger, Stress, Resentment, Pent-up emotions, ability to control all of the emotions
Related organs: Liver (yin)/Gallbladder(yang)
Season: Spring
Taste: Sour
Body tissue: Tendons
Direction: East
Change: Birth
Color: Green
Climatic Qi: Wind
Sound: Shouting
Smell: Rancid
Sense organ: Eyes

Move Your Qi

When our energy does not move, it becomes stagnant. This is true for the body, mind and spirit. Patients always seem surprised when I inform them that the way that we think and feel predetermine the health of our bodies. Somewhere in our lives many of us lost our innocence and forgot how tightly intertwined we are, physically, mentally and spiritually.

When I studied Comparative Medical History, I learned where in history western medicine took on a different path of the world’s other medical practices, including Chinese medicine. The body had become separate from the mind and spirit. This was due primarily to newly instated religious doctrines. The beauty of Chinese medicine is that the body, mind and spirit have always been revered as one entity; never separate entities.

I named my website MOVE YOUR QI because that is what EVERY practitioner of Chinese medicine does. Acupuncture moves qi. Herbs work on qi also, but it also has a more profound effect on the fluids of the body, such as blood and phlegm.

Why is moving qi extremely important? Because qi = energy, which is a very loose translation from Chinese to English. We do not want qi to become stagnant. Stagnant qi is one way for the body’s health to decline very fast.

The standard emotion for the wood element is anger. In my practice, I include the other emotions stated above. It was what my teachers had taught me and what I have observed over the past nine years in practice.

I understand anger, pent-up emotions, stress, resentment, which end up causing me to be unable to control all of my other emotions. I was raised in a home of domestic violence. I read a bumper sticker the other day that stated, “THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.” The statement, driven by a man in charge of his large street-cleaning machine, brought me to grateful tears. I survived my horrid past. My life is pure alchemy. Like a lotus, I have grown and blossomed from the mud that life had dealt me from birth. I trudged in that mud well into my 20s. For those who can relate, we all must know that the only way we can live without stagnant qi is by forgiving the past, EVEN when the person(s) who abused us does not feel that they need or want forgiveness. The only person one requires to accept completely in order to live in good health is one’s self.

One of my first classes in college was a class on building self-esteem. It was a mandatory class required by my university. My homework every day was to look at myself in the mirror and state:

“I LOVE MYSELF FOR WHO I AM. I AM GREAT.”

Because I usually was a very good student, I did my homework. This one, I did not like. I lied to myself every day. I felt angry and ashamed of my past because of too many memories that should never be spoken out loud. My broken heart felt empty. The ruins of my past haunted me every moment and though it looked on the outside like I kept everything together, I did not even know myself well enough to realize how much I allowed my childhood to depress me more and more every day. This simple homework activity was my first exposure in moving my qi. I said that statement every day, initially lying to myself, until I finally believed how much I must love myself if what I really want to do in life is to thrive. My anger and depression began to lift, though at age 18, there were many more years of work to do in order to become completely healthy.

Being a devout child to religion helped me to survive, but it did not cure my hidden insanity. My religion and my faithful practices did not bring me into conscious awareness. God taught me outside His house and worldly doctrines how I would grow into the individual that He had meant for me to become. The people that I had begun to attract into my life moved my qi. Their inspirations showed me the beauty of God’s creation. The moment I decided to let go of all stagnation in my life, the right people at the right time in the right places came to me. Chinese medicine came to me. There was something in Chinese medicine that made me whole. There was nothing wrong in my personal religion and there was nothing missing in my worship. What was missing was a complete understanding of how only I can allow my qi to move. God can only give a person the tools to heal. It is up to the individual to use her freedom of will to allow herself to heal.

I mention religion because people come to me for help with their health issues and I ask them, “What do you think is the lesson to learn from this issue? Why do you think life is teaching you this lesson?” The natural response for most devout religious worshipers is, “I don’t know. I have no clue why God is doing this to me. This must be what He wants me to go through.” It is as if many of us succumb to the idea that God wants us to suffer without trying to think outside of the box to help heal ourselves. I believe that God gave us many languages to make us a more colorful world. I believe that God gave us many types of healing therapies as a way to help us work together in order to find the different keys that open up the pathways to authentic healing. I do not believe that when we are afflicted with a disease, no matter how slight or severe, that we are meant to surrender to our bodies’ afflictions. I believe that when disharmony happens in our bodies, it is God saying to us, “Listen to what I am telling you. There is a lesson to learn from this. I am giving you an opportunity to learn, grow and transform.” So many of us push ourselves emotionally and physically to the point that we are helplessly exhausted. The law of detachment does not resonate with some of us. When someone offends us, we take it so personally that the initial offense causes us to create unnecessary resentment. Unchecked resentment easily leads way to anger. Anger, like fire, can move so fast and affect every aspect of our lives. Fire diminishes water. Yang consumes yin. There is no more balance in a person’s body. The origin of the disharmony began with the emotions being unchecked. It would be ideal if before our health declines, we ask ourselves if being angry is worth the suffering that we may eventually experience. Why do so many of us behave self-destructively? We see this on an individual level and as a behavior of empires. In the midst of chaos, we rarely see clearly that self-righteousness is the nemesis to humility. Which is more important to you? Is it more important to be justified, while holding on to anger, resentment and an air of self-righteousness or to develop healthy and happy relationships with those you care about most and possibly with people who may end up becoming good friends?

We can fight for a cause without letting anger consume us. Diplomacy is the key. We can practice this in our daily lives, make our point and live more healthily than if we argue to a point where it causes headaches, migraines, indigestion, menstrual issues, miscarriages, fertility issues, hypertension, congenital heart disease and a myriad of other serious health issues. We do not always have to be right. This is not an ideal world, though hopeful people like me believe that trying is better than full-speed destruction. There are people like me, even if few, who believe that letting go of anger and resentment brings a dichotomy of ideas together and can eventually lead to peace of mind, freedom of the individual and ultimate healing of the spirit. The spirit leads the mind and the mind leads the body. The body shows manifestations of disharmonies in the spirit and mind.

Imagine a world where our spirits are detached from anger, resentment, depression and the inability to control our emotions. It is a healthier world. A happier world. A world where qi moves freely and nothing is stagnant. And it could only happen with one person at a time.

Move your qi. It is the healthy way to live.

~By Anna at Elements In Harmony

5 Ways Acupuncture Creates Lasting New Year’s Resolutions

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5 Ways Acupuncture Creates Lasting New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Rejuvenation

It is the beginning of a new year and, once again, a time to reflect on what changes we can make to improve our lives. If you are intent on improving your health this year, acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be the very thing you need to “stick” to those resolutions.

Here’s how acupuncture can help you achieve your goals:

Resolution 1: Reach Target Weight and Stay There

Losing weight is the #1 most common New Year’s Resolution. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can help you reach your goal weight and maintain it by promoting better digestion, smoothing emotions, reducing appetite, improving metabolism, and eliminating food cravings.

From an Oriental medicine perspective, the acupuncture points, foods and herbs that are chosen to assist with weight loss directly influence the Qi of the Spleen and Liver systems to treat the root imbalances that are causing the weight gain.

From a Western perspective, acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been shown to have an effect on the function of the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, food cravings, and metabolism. All of which can help to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety.

The beauty of acupuncture is that each treatment is catered to the needs of the individual patient. Acupuncture points on the body will be chosen for overall well being with the objective of increasing circulation of the blood and Qi (stimulating the metabolism) and calming the nervous system.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are powerful tools for healthy weight loss, by themselves or as a supportive treatment in conjunction with other weight management programs.

Resolution 2: Stay Sharp

Your New Year’s resolution may be to learn a new language or take a class at your local college. However you choose to exercise your brain, acupuncture can help. Numerous studies suggest that acupuncture can help improve memory, mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function.

One recently published study (see below) shows how acupuncture can be used to treat memory impairment induced by diabetes and cerebral ischemia. Other studies have looked at how acupuncture affects the performance of students during an exam, post-menopausal “brain fog”, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. All results, thus far, have been positive.

Resolution 3: Relieve Pain Naturally

If pain is keeping you from living your life to the fullest, acupuncture can help.  Increasingly, people are looking for more natural approaches to help relieve painful conditions instead of relying on medications. Acupuncture has no side effects and can be helpful for all types of pain, regardless of what is causing the pain or where the pain is located. Some studies have shown the pain relief it provides can last for months.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain before and after acupuncture treatment for pain shows dramatic decreases in activity in the pain centers of the brain – up to 70%.

In addition to reducing pain, acupuncture also hastens the healing process by increasing circulation and attracting white blood cells to an injured area.

Resolution 4: Quit Smoking

Acupuncture has turned a growing number of cigarette cravers into permanent ex-smokers. In fact, researchers say that acupuncture is a promising treatment for all types of addiction from cigarettes to heroin.

In one study, a team from Yale University successfully used auricular (ear) acupuncture to treat cocaine addiction. Results showed that 54.8% of participants tested free of cocaine during the last week of treatment, compared to 23.5% and 9.1% in the two control groups. Those who completed acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence compared to participants in the control groups.

The acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation focus on jitters, cravings, irritability, and restlessness; symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

Resolution 5: Eliminate Stress

Stress reduction is always on the top ten list for New Year’s resolutions and for a good reason. Stress is often the cause of illness and the deterioration of health. Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and lowering blood pressure

In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.

Needless to say, if the stress in your life is throwing you off balance, consider coming in for a treatment to regain peace of mind and stay healthy.

Contact Sabeeha Kurji and Andrea Lamont to see how Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you with your New Year’s Resolutions!

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Treatment of Neurological Disorders with Acupuncture

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Treatment of Neurological Disorders with Acupuncture
By: Acufinder Staff Writer

A neurological disorder refers to a problem with the nervous system, which is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates the body’s activities. Nerve pain can arise from trauma, inflammation, stroke, disease, infection, nerve degeneration, exposure to toxic chemicals, and nutrient deficiencies.

Nerve pain is usually a sharp shooting pain or a constant burning sensation. Typically occurring in the same location with each episode, it can often be traced along the nerve pathway. Sometimes weakness or impaired function in the affected area occurs and the skin may be either overly sensitive or numb.

Some common neurological disorders acupuncture treats include:

Peripheral Neuropathy – damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. Neuropathy caused by diabetes often affects the feet.

Trigeminal Neuralgia – facial pain, sometimes called Tic Douloureux, affects the trigeminal nerve which is responsible for impulses of touch, pain, pressure and temperature sent to the brain from the face, jaw, and gums.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – also known as median nerve entrapment, it occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.

Headaches – Headaches that can be treated with acupuncture include migraines, tension headaches, headaches occurring around the menstrual cycle, sinus headaches and stress-related headaches.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been found effective as a conjunctive therapy for neurological disorders and in treating pain and inflammation.  Visit Glow Acupuncture & Wellness Center today to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your neurological health plan!

Read more about acupuncture and Oriental medicine for neurological disorders:

Acupuncture for Neurological Pain

Treating Peripheral Neuropathy with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Headaches

Use your hands to relieve tension headaches naturally

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(NaturalNews) Sooner or later, we all get headaches. Usually, we tend to shut down the pain by taking an over-the-counter drug. Drugs are usually pretty good at removing pain, but they do not address the root cause of the problem and often cause unwanted side effects. Pain is actually very important because it is one way our body communicates a problem with us. By taking a drug to remove the pain, we only dull our senses. However, if we take the time to learn the language of our bodies, we can understand what the causes of our headaches are and address them directly. This is by far the healthiest course of action.

In the case of tension headaches, the culprit is usually tension in the upper back, shoulder and neck muscles. Here are six simple steps that will reduce or remove the pain associated with tension headaches:

1) To start, take yourself away from the computer screen, get comfortable and close your eyes gently. Take a deep breath and let out a long and relaxing sigh as you drop and relax your shoulders. Repeat this 3-4 times or as many times as you like.

2) Use your focus to release the tension in your upper body. Start with your face – take a few seconds to release all muscular tension and completely relax. Then move in a general backwards direction, continuing at the top of your head and then moving to the back of your head. Follow with your neck and finally your shoulders and upper back. Allow a few moments to completely relax each area.

3) Locate acupuncture point GB-20 on either side of the spine on the back of your neck just under the edge of your skull. Press firmly and deeply with your thumbs for about 1 or 2 minutes while keeping your breath gentle, deep and relaxed.

4) Put your hand on the back of your neck. Use four fingers on one side and the heel of your palm on the other side to grasp your neck. Start at the top of your neck and work your way down. Use firm pressure to grasp and then release the muscles a few times before moving down about a finger width and repeating. Massage all the way to the base of your neck about 5-10 times or until your hand gets tired, then switch hands and repeat.

5) Locate Acupuncture point GB-21 on the top of your shoulders half way from your spine to the outer edge of your shoulder. With the same “grasping” technique as #2, massage the muscle at GB-21 with the opposite hand for about 30 seconds to one minute. It will feel quite tender and sore since the muscles may be very tense. During the massage stay relaxed with soft and deep breathing. Switch sides and repeat.

6) Roll your shoulders in large slow circles to stretch and relax any tension that may be left in your shoulders and upper back. Roll them 5 -10 times in each direction while you keep your breathing even and relaxed. To finish, roll your head very gently around in a circle 5-10 times and then switch directions.

At this point, your tension headache should be either reduced or gone. If it is not, wait a few minutes and try again. However, this time do each step for twice as long and make sure to breathe in a deep but relaxed manner. Put an effort into becoming aware of any tension that you may be unknowingly holding in your body and let it go.

GB-20 and GB-21

Deadman, Peter (1998) A Manual of Acupuncture. England, Journal of Chinese Medicine.
Xiangcai, Xu (2002) Chinese Tui Na Massage. Boston, YMAA Publication.
Yang, Jwing-Ming (1989) The Root of Chinese Qigong. Boston, YMAA Publication.

About the author

Dave Gabriele, D.Ac, BA, is a registered acupuncturist, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and a health researcher helping people in and around the Greater Toronto Area. He is the founder of Life Balance Family Health Care (www.balanceyourlife.ca), an organization committed to providing people with the information and guidance they need to make positive lifestyle changes. Dave has been a teacher of Chinese martial arts since 1997, including the arts of Taiji and Qigong.

Auricular Acupuncture

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Ear_Acupuncture.237142511_std

In 1990, the Director General of the World Health
Organisation proclaimed to an international gathering
that – “Auricular acupuncture is probably the most
developed and best documented, scientifically, of all
the microsystems of acupuncture and is the most
practical and widely used.”

]

Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture as it is more commonly known, is similar to body acupuncture but with ear acupuncture stimulation is only to the external ear. It is a method of treating a variety of physiological and psychological health problems by the stimulation of certain acupuncture points on the external ear.

Classical body acupuncture is thought to have been originally discovered in China over 5000 years ago; ear acupuncture was also thought to have been discovered in China around the same time, however it has been, until fairly recently, a poor relation of classical body acupuncture. It was the French Physician from Lyon in France, the late Dr Paul Nogier, in the 1950’s after seeing one of his patients cured of sciatic back pain with the use of ear acupuncture, who then began to research and develop modern ear acupuncture, and carried on researching and refining the therapy for over 40 years until his recent death in the late 1990’s. In fact his work is so well regarded that the Chinese refer to him as the Father of modern Ear Acupuncture.

Dr Nogier’s research indicated that there are over 100 or so separate acupuncture points on the external ear and that when these points are stimulated they are believed to influence the various organs and systems in the body. Nogier discovered that the position of the ear points and zones were approximately in the position of an upside down foetus, super-imposed on the external ear, with the head located around the lobe of the ear. His research also indicated that every part of the body has its own representative acupuncture point on the external ear, and that stimulation one of these points can influence the corresponding organ linked to that particular ear point.

The Chinese version of ear acupuncture is still based on the traditional Chinese medicine model, whereas the western Nogier version is based more on a western scientific format.

HOW ACUPUNCTURE WORKS

There is still a great deal to learn about how acupuncture achieves its therapeutic effect. Some people dismiss acupuncture’s therapeutic action as being due to a placebo effect – the client believes it will work and so it works. This is too simplistic because acupuncture has been successfully used to treat animals who are not affected by the placebo response. Even the USA’s conservative National Institutes of Health has reviewed existing acupuncture studies and concluded that people who receive acupuncture actually undergo physiological and biochemical changes that are not just produced by a placebo response. The effects of acupuncture have been shown to be brought about through the nervous system. The external ear itself is richly supplied by nerve endings which are linked to the brain and other organs via the central nervous system and so stimulation of these nerve endings is thought to influence the relevant organ being stimulated. Every organ has a nerve supply which can either speed up or slow down the functions of that particular organ, and due to a variety of factors like chronic stress, these organs can become over stimulated or understimulated. It is known that acupuncture causes the release of many potent, morphine like, pain relieving chemicals called endorphins, which are drop for drop more powerful than morphine, and the neurotransmitter serotonin which affects mood.

Perhaps the best explanation to date for how acupuncture works is by Fara Begum-Beig, formerly a biochemist who worked at the Medical Research Council’s Neuroendocrinology Unit at Newcastle-upon Tyne, who suggested the following explaination for the effects of reflexology but which is equally applicable to acupuncture:-

“From the work I did in the field of neuroactive chemicals and their effects on the brain, I feel it is also possible that pressing reflex points stimulates the subcutaneous nerve endings which then cause the brain to release certain pain and mood mediating chemicals. These chemicals include endorphins, enkephalins, and neuroactive amino acids such as glycine, glutamine, and GABA, all of which act upon different tissues and parts of the body and affect its response to stress and discomfort.”

It may seem strange that stimulating certain areas on the body or ear with acupuncture can help to restore health, however if it were not successful at restoring health it would not have survived the 5000 years that it has. Perhaps the final word should be left to the people who use acupuncture. According to a survey of 20,000 people by the consumer association WHICH magazine, acupuncture is the fourth most popular treatment among the different complementary therapies. Over 80% of those who received acupuncture reported that they had benefitted from the treatment.

METHODS OF ACUPUNCTURE STIMULATION

Many people think that acupuncture needles are the only method of giving acupuncture treatment and for many the thought of having needles stuck in to them can put them off having treatment. However needles do not have to be used, there are other non-needle methods available for stimulating ear acupuncture points – such as:-

1. Pressure
2. Low powered lasers
3. Ultrasound
4. Electronic stimulation

So if you do have a fear of needles it need not preclude you from having acupuncture therapy.

CONDITIONS HELPED BY ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture is thought of by many people as being a treatment for pain and addictions, which it is, but pain is not the only condition that ear acupuncture can help. It can be of help in a wide range of psychological and physiological health problems. Like any other therapy acupuncture is not a panacea for all ills but it is worth trying a course of ear acupuncture treatment for any health problem that you have, providing you have been to your doctor and have received a diagnosis for your problem. Ear acupuncture certainly cannot cure all diseases, for example Multiple Sclerosis, but that doesn’t mean it is not of therapeutic value in treating such problems; it can help to manage the disease symptoms and the anxiety and depression that can so often accompany many chronic illnesses, as well as improving the person’s quality of life. It is important to realise that ear acupuncture is an aid and should not be used in isolation, it is vital to also consume a healthy diet, take regular, gentle exercise, use talking therapies and deal with any chronic stress or psychological problems.

It has been said that every disease which is physiologically reversible can be treated by acupuncture.

ANXIETY AND ACUPUNCTURE

Research has indicated that acupuncture can be of therapeutic value in the management of stress, anxiety, depression and associated health problems. It is far from being a panacea for all ills and should not be used as an alternative to orthodox, psychological treatment techniques like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and lifestyle changes where indicated. Psycholoical health problems like anxiety and depression are thought to be due among other factors, to low levels of mood enhancing brain chemicals called dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and GABA. Research has indicated that acupuncture can help to boost these mood lifting chemicals. Research has also indicatated that acupuncture can influence the sympathetic nerve activity and so lower stress. Excess stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system by chronic stress is known to cause the chronic excess release of stress hormones like cortisol which can interfere with brain chemicals like serotonin and other mood enhancing chemicals and leave us more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other related problems. Further research has indicated that when our levels of serotonin fall, this makes our sympathetic nervous system more sensitive and more easily triggerd by stress.

Acupuncture also induces relaxation. Professor Pierre Huard, of the Medical Faculty in Paris, says that acupuncture also has the same effect as tranquilizer medication in treating anxiety, insomnia and nervous disorders.

Finally, research published in the Traditional Chinese Medical Journal has indicated that acupuncture can cause a decrease in delta brain waves and increases in fast alpha brain waves that are associated with relaxation.

DEPRESSION AND ACUPUNCTURE

Clinical depression is thought to be caused by (among other factors) low levels of certain brain chemicals like noradrenaline and serotonin. Serotonin and noradrenaline are mood enhancers. Acupuncture has been shown to boost serotonin levels. Clinical depression can be due to chronic excess stress, and acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress and induce relaxation. Acupuncture should not be seen as an alternative treatment to the talking therapies, but used as complemntary to it.

There have been numerous studies published which indicate that acupuncture can be of help in the management of clinical depression. For example one group of researchers at the University of Arizona in the USA found that acupuncture seemed to be as effective as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. In yet a further study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, a group of women suffering clinical depression were treated with either acupuncture or no treatment, for 8 weeks. Not only did 64% of those receiving acupuncture say their symptoms had disappeared, but also the remission rate of those receiving the acupuncture was nearly double that of those receiving no specific treatment.

CAUTIONS

Chronic anxiety and depression are potentially serious psychological illnesses and must under no circumstances be treated lightly. It is vital that you get professional help from you GP and not delay seeing him by having complementary therapy first. As well as the conventional treatment that he can offer, he can also rule out physical causes such as thyroid dysfunction.

Inform your Ear Acupuncturist if you:-

1. Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
2. Have a cardiac pacemaker
3. Have a cochlea ear implant
4. Have epilepsy.
5. Have had rheumatic heart disease.
6. Are immune suppressed
7. Have a blood clotting problem
8. Have hepatitis or HIV
9. Have a heart rhythm problem.

You must also ensure that you are eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, practising stress management techniques and if needed, receiving one of the talking therapies, plus any medication that may be necessary. If you do not alter your diet etc, this will reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

REFERENCES

1. Alternatives in Health Vol 3, issue 3.

2. Bensoussan A (1991) The Vital Meridian: A Modern Exploration of Acupuncture, Churchill Livingstone.

3. Bradford N (1995) Pain Relief in Childbirth.

4. Chaitow L (1990) The Acupuncture Treatment of Pain, Healing Arts Press.

5. Health and Fitness, February 1999.

6. Kenyon J.N. (1983), Modern Techniques of Acupuncture: A Practical Guide to Electroacupuncture, Vol 2, Thorsons.

7. Kropjei H (1991) The Fundementals of Ear Acupuncture, Karl F Haug.

8. Needham J (1980) Celestial Lancets. Cambridge University Press.

9. Nogier P (1998) Handbook to Auriculotherapy, Maisonneuve.

10. Oftedal Wensel L (1994) Acupuncture in Medical Practice. The East Asia Company.

11. Oleson T (1998) Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture, Health Care Alternatives.

12. Stux G and Pomeranz B (1987) Acupuncturist Textbook, An Atlas, Springer Verlag.

13. Stux G and Pomeranz B (1997) Basics of Acupuncture, Springer Verlag.

14. Traditional Chinese Medicine (1994) 14: 14-18, quoted in Proof, Autumn 1997.

15. Wexu M (1975) The Ear: Gateway to Balancing the Body, a Modern Guide to Ear Acupuncture.

16. Xinghua B (1996) Acupuncture in Midwifery: Books for Midwives Press.

17. Yelland S (1996) Acupuncture in Clinical Practice, Churchill Livingstone.

Classical Five Element Acupuncture

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Glow’s own Sabeeha T. Kurji, R. TCM.P practices a rare form of Acupuncture called Classical Five Element Acupunture. Below is an article written by her teach Professor Neil R. Gumenick where he offers suggestions on tending our own inner fires, and living in harmony.

CYCLES: SUMMER
TENDING OUR FIREWe experience Fire, one of the elemental powers, most fully in the season of summer, the time when young energy that arose in the spring expands to its maximum potential. We, who are part of Nature just as surely as all that surrounds us, can enhance our own health by understanding the special functions of the hottest of all the seasons. Through this awareness we can help balance our own Fire energy.

When Nature’s energy flourishes and blossoms in the summer, it is time to enjoy the fruit from the seeds we have planted and the visions and plans we have made. If a tree doesn’t flower and bear fruit, there can be no harvest; for us, similarly, if we do not allow ourselves to flower during this season, we will deprive ourselves of a late summer harvest to carry us through the year. Autumn, the season of letting go, will be all the more difficult for us if we haven’t experienced the fruition of our hopes and plans.

CYCLES: LATE SUMMER
THE SEASON OF EARTHOnce summer has reached its height, the year’s cycle begins its inevitable decline into the season of late summer – the season of Earth.

To us, late summer seems a welcome relief from the intense heat and brightness of summer. From the Chinese perspective, it is a season unto itself with a unique energy and function in the cycle of the year. The Chinese associated the power of “decrease” with late summer and, at the same time, referred to it as the period of abundance. With the coming of late summer, nature returns the fruits it has made, which are ripe and ready to be picked. A good harvest fills the larder. It means autumn and winter can be survived without scarcity, and that energy can be conserved during the cold period when outer growth ceases.

As it is for the seasons of the year, so it is for life’s seasons. The work done on ourselves during the earlier part of our lives – the growth and strengthening of the body, cultivating meaningful relationships, challenging and developing the intellect, spiritual practice – all determine the quality of the harvest we reap – and what we have to share with others. Whether at the breast of the physical mother or the breast of Mother Nature, the earth and the archetype of Mother have always been connected – survival would be impossible without the nourishment both freely give. Though most of us today may not grow our own food, we ought to keep sight of the fact that prior to being put in packets and stacked in supermarkets, the food we consume is nonetheless a gift from the earth. Despite the abuse it has to endure, the earth is forgiving and continues to feed and provide for us.

The Chinese associated the power of “decrease” with late summer and, at the same time, referred to it as the period of abundance. Physically and spiritually, this period of late summer is a time for slowing down and gathering in. It is a time when we recognize and hold the fruits of our labor.

In our spiritual lives, the Earth element grants us the ability to internalize the mother by learning to nourish and care for ourselves. Imagine a child who hasn’t experienced the security derived from being properly loved and cared for; an imbalance in the Earth element may well be a result of this lack of mothering. The infant nursing at the breast, receiving the milk and (as importantly) the love of its mother, is the very perfection of Earth.

But mothering does not stop in infancy. The patience and compassion that come from the mother are needed for years, as we grow and learn how to care for ourselves. What if this essential teaching and nourishment are missing? A preoccupation and search develops for the mother that we lacked. If we have had no nurturing, there is a feeling of being deprived and misunderstood. We are in continual need, seeking from the external that which is lacked internally. Unless the imbalance caused by this trauma to the Earth element is resolved, a search for mothering may continue right through life.

The emotion associated with the Earth element is sympathy, an important emotion when expressed in appropriate circumstances. Compassion and empathy arise spontaneously when the moment is right. I marvel at how my six-year-old knows in an instant just how to comfort a friend who is hurt or crying.

As well as the ability to express sympathy toward others, however, we must be able to receive it, too. It is necessary that others understand how and when we hurt, that others know what we are going through. When a child is in pain, it calls immediately for its mother, the source for sympathy and understanding. But with an Earth imbalance, the need for sympathy can become excessive and insatiable; or, in its opposite manifestation, sympathy may be completely absent. We all know people from whom we can expect no compassion, regardless of circumstance. And there are also those who cannot receive sympathy or help at all – the sort who say, “No, I can do it myself.”

An identical imbalance can be created by over-mothering, which can stunt a child’s capacity to care for itself and to learn from its own experience. In either extreme, rather than expressing real needs, a person develops manipulative ways of relating to others – exaggerating, over-complaining, whining to attract sympathy, or keeping silent and denying real needs, distrusting other people’s motives, and feeling that no one understands.

In our bodies, the earth is represented by the stomach and spleen, the organs that receive food and enable us to be nourished by its essence. As the process of digestion begins in the mouth, food should be chewed thoroughly and mixed with saliva, the bodily secretion of the Earth element. Icy cold foods and drink should generally be avoided, as extreme cold strains our Fire element (whose job it is to maintain a normal body temperature). The period between 7 and 9 a.m. is the time in which nature gives the stomach a measure of extra energy, so that this is the optimum time to take in nourishment. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – we should instinctively begin the day as we did when we were infants, with fuel in the tank.

The Chinese did not view the vital organs as physical entities only, but also as officials, with functions that manifest on a non-physical level. Parallel to body functions, how information and feelings are taken in and “digested” is largely a function of the Stomach official, seen as the agent who receives and processes emotional and mental “food.” A failure of this function means that thoughts and feelings churn endlessly, ultimately developing into obsessions that can’t be processed and rendered useful.

There are forty-five acupuncture points on the stomach meridian (energy pathway). Each point has a unique and specific purpose in restoring balance and harmony to the stomach function as Nature ordained it, healing in ways that are often suggested by the name of a point. The following is an example:

Stomach 20: “Receiving Fullness”
The experience of an inner harvest may be unknown and unavailable to someone whose Earth element has been traumatized. Feeling barren, such a person seems to bring nothing to fruition. Even in the presence of caring friends with helpful ideas, or in any other nourishing environment, nothing can be received or made one’s own. For a person in such a state of depletion, Stomach 20 can open the empty storehouse so the person can begin to receive the abundance that Nature offers to us all.

The other Earth official, the Spleen, according to Chinese medicine is the official of transport. As such, it takes what the stomach has prepared and moves it on to nourish the cells in the body. A healthy Spleen not only nourishes us at the physical level, but also makes sure the nourishment reaches our minds and spirits. In the following example, we see how an acupuncturist may use one of the twenty-one points on the Spleen meridian to assist in restoring health to body, mind, and spirit.

Spleen 8: “Earth Motivator”
This point gets the official of transport moving. Even if the granaries and storehouses are full, we will starve if the means of transportation fail. “Earth Motivator” invigorates and prepares the earth within us for planting. Imagine scattering seeds on hard, unyielding soil – few, if any, will take root. Like a bulldozer, this point breaks up, moves and turns the soil within us. Then new growth can occur, promising a richer harvest. A new vitality begins to be felt. Hardness and stubbornness, which manifest as selfishness and lack of sympathy, are transformed into greater thoughtfulness and care in relations with others.

We can see that if the Earth element is out of balance, we may be prone to digestive disorders – as well as illness in any other organ or function of the body, for all are dependent on the stomach and spleen for nourishment.

Consider these everyday expressions, heard but often unnoticed, from someone whose Earth element could be in distress: “I just can’t stomach it… I can’t digest it… Let’s get down to earth… The ground was pulled out from under me… Stand on your own two feet… I have to care for everyone else but nobody takes care of me… I’m always hungry… Nothing fills me up.”

In summary, every process must invariably pass through its period of harvest, grand or small as it may be. Physically and spiritually, the period of late summer is a time for slowing down and gathering in. It is a time when we recognize and hold the fruits of labor. Imagine the farmer filling the silo after the harvest: Now that the heavy work is over, he can reflect contentedly on all that has brought him to this moment and this season.

It is appropriate for us, too, to acknowledge this stage of our own life cycle. From the harvest of our experience, we develop a natural inclination to share and serve others. Well nourished ourselves, we can recognize where needs exist and how best to fill them. Exercising our compassion, we can become caretakers of the earth.

Suggestions for living in harmony with the late summer season

  • Enjoy the abundance of fruits and fresh vegetables
    Be aware of their special qualities, each succulence different from the next. Carrots are crisp, cucumbers cool, tomatoes luscious, peaches sweet. Look at the seeds, and reflect on the fact that within each harvest lie the seeds of the next.
  • Be thoughtful of how you can nourish others.
    In this season when nature gives her bounty, we also rejoice in giving, with attention to the special needs of others. You need not wait until you can give a “great gift.” A word, a courtesy, a thoughtfulness – given today – is a great gift.
  • Be conscious of the harvest of your life.
    Think about yourself, your relationships, and your work. What parts of your life are bearing fruit? Where is the harvest rich? Where do you find it stunted?
  • Consider what you need to do to make ready for the letting go of autumn.
    Holding your harvest in mind, ask what is overgrown or unneeded. What distracts you from your dearest concerns? What might you wish to simplify in yourself or in your life?

Copyright 1997 by Neil Gumenick


What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of healing known to mankind. It originated in China nearly five thousand years ago. The fact that it is still being practiced today speaks much for the efficacy of this treatment and for the laws and principles on which it is based. These are nature’s laws and principles that underlie all of creation and apply to every human being.

How does it work?
Chinese medicine recognizes that there is a vital force (called Chi energy) in the body which controls the working of every organ and system. This energy must flow freely and in the correct strength and quality if the body is to function correctly. In all illness, the flow of vital energy is impaired. Acupuncture directly affects this energy at special points located on the energy pathways (meridians). When gently inserted into these acupuncture points, the needles produce various effects. According to the manipulation of the needles, energy can be drawn to a deficient organ, an excess dispersed, blockages removed, and so on, according to the individual need of the patient. As the balance and harmony of the vital energy is restored, symptoms of illness disappear. If all of the functions and organs of the body are working properly and harmoniously, there can not be sickness within the body or mind.

Sometimes, points are heated with a special herb, Artemesia Vulgaris Latiflora (called moxa), which resembles a brown colored wool. Usually, a tiny cone of moxa is placed on the skin over an acupuncture point, ignited, and removed when the heat is felt. Like needles, moxa revitalizes, reinforces, invigorates, and restores balance and harmony to the vital energy.

Are the needles sterile?
Yes. Only the highest quality stainless steel disposable needles are used. These come in pre-sterilized sealed packets and are discarded after use.

Does it hurt?
Because the needles are about the thinness of a hair, insertion is often hardly felt at all. There may be an occasional sharpness or a dull ache, but these sensations are only momentary and far less unpleasant than a western injection.

What happens during the initial examination?
The initial examination takes up to two hours and includes a thorough medical and personal history, description of complaints, a review of the functioning of the systems of the body, and a physical examination. This includes the taking of the Chinese pulses [usually felt at the wrist] from which your acupuncturist can determine the state of the energy in each of the major organs and functions. Using the diagnostic tools of classical Chinese medicine, which include analyzing a patients predominant facial color, vocal sound, emotion, and odor, your acupuncturist can assess the condition of the Chi energy and determine the underlying cause of the condition. From all of this information, a treatment plan is developed, unique to the individual patient.

How many treatments are necessary and how often?
This varies from person to person and one cannot be guided by the experience of other patients. Much depends on the severity of the disease, how long the patient has suffered from it, as well as the lifestyle and other factors contributing to it. Typically, treatments are given once per week for the first six to eight weeks. As the patient improves, visits are reduced to once every ten days, two weeks, once a month, and so on. As classical acupuncture is a preventative system of medicine, as well as curative, it is advisable for healthy patients to come in periodically for checkups and maintenance, as the pulses can reveal if anything is going wrong in the body long before it manifests itself as a visible symptom. Most of us don’t wait for our cars to break down before taking them in to be checked. We should not pay less attention to our bodies!

How long does a treatment take and what actually happens?
Appointments are generally scheduled for one hour. Prior to each treatment, patients have ample time to talk about how they’ve been, how they feel, and what’s happening in their lives, which is essential information for me to determine exactly the treatment that is called for at that time. The pulses are read and moxa and/or needles are applied. The response to the treatment will be assessed by reading the pulses. Often, after treatment, the patient will spend a few minutes simply relaxing, lying on the treatment table, to allow the energetic changes to settle in. Dietary and other lifestyle recommendations will be discussed at appropriate times throughout treatment.

Can acupuncture treatment help with non-physical problems?
Yes, indeed. It must be emphasized that classical acupuncture views the body, mind, and spirit as a whole. All physical disorders will cause an imbalance in the mental outlook and spirit of a person. This may manifest as depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, and the like. Mental disturbances, stress, and emotional conflict will cause effect in the physical body such as insomnia, lack of appetite, fatigue, menstrual disorders, migraines, susceptibility to disease, aches, pains, and any labeled disease one can imagine. Any imbalance must manifest on all levels, all part of the whole. All classical acupuncture treatments aim to restore the harmony of body, mind, and spirit. Thus, the physical and non-physical sides of a patient are treated together.

What about medication and other medical care?
Classical acupuncture may certainly be used in cooperation with other medical care. It is important to your practitioner to know what medication a patient is taking as this is taken into account in the planning and assessing of treatment. As acupuncture treatment progresses, the need for certain drugs may well decrease and it may be appropriate to reduce or discontinue medication, but this should be done with the cooperation and approval of the prescribing doctor. For medical emergencies, ones personal physician or an emergency service facility should be contacted.

Will acupuncture benefit someone who is very skeptical?
Yes. The healing process will not be affected in any way by the patient’s skeptical attitude.

Is acupuncture effective on children?
There is no age limit. Often, young children respond quite well to moxa alone or with a very minimal use of needles. There are also special pediatric acupuncture devices which merely tap the skin surface and are quite painless.

To find out more about Professor Neil   R. Gumenick please visit 5elements.com

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