Research Update: Acupuncture for Dysmenorrhea

A study published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies looked at the efficacy of acupuncture to control the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea. The study examined 60 women who were split into two different groups: the study group or the control group. The women in the study group received acupuncture for 15 days per month over a 90-day period. The women in the control group did not receive acupuncture. At the end of the study, it was concluded the women receiving acupuncture experienced far fewer symptoms with less severity than those who did not receive acupuncture. Symptoms such as cramps, pain, mood changes, diarrhea and fatigue all were reported less frequently in the study group. This study indicates that acupuncture is a viable tool for treating dysmenorrhea.

Dysmenorrhea, also known as painful menstruation, is the most commonly reported gynecological problem in women who are menstruating. Dysmenorrhea is a subgroup of pelvic pain that can manifest as painful menstrual flow. The cause of dysmenorrhea is not specifically known by conventional medicine, but it has been determined that women suffering from this pain have increased levels of the hormones prostaglandin, oxytocin and vasopressin. These three hormones stimulate pain fibers in the uterus, leading to increased overall pain that can last for several hours or days.

To help determine if a woman is truly suffering from dysmenorrhea, a monthly journal is usually kept to note any similarities from one period to the next. Typically, dysmenorrhea is diagnosed through the use of a pelvic exam, blood and urine tests and possibly a pelvic ultrasound or x-rays. Conventional medicine treats dysmenorrhea with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and hormonal supplements, like oral contraceptives. But these are not without their side effects.

Eastern Medicine, however, considers the whole person when diagnosing and treating. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at the patient holistically, considering all aspects, including the mind, the body and the environment of the person. Diagnosis of a person includes inspection and observance of the expressions, colors, appearance, smells and any idiosyncrasies that may be present.

TCM also looks at the patient’s tongue and pulses on both wrists. These two practices are the primary diagnostic tools used in TCM. The tongue and pulses can reveal quite a bit of information about what is going on internally. Different areas of the tongue correspond to body systems and energetic pathways. For example, the tip of the tongue can show irregularities related to the heart and the mind. The rear of the tongue can show irregularities related to the urinary bladder and kidneys and is associated with the emotion of fear. The pulse is also broken down into six locations, three on each side, all of which correspond to a body system and the related energetic pathway.

With dysmenorrhea, the liver energetic pathway is the most commonly involved. When the liver pathway is involved, it is most commonly due to emotional issues, rather than physical problems. However, over time, emotional issues such as anger, irritability and frustration can lead to physical problems in the body, including breast tenderness, large blood clots during menstruation, headaches and high blood pressure.

Acupuncture is one of the tools used by TCM practitioners to help bring balance back to the body. Studies have shown that women who receive regular acupuncture tend to have fewer symptoms of dysmenorrhea or their symptoms are less severe over time. This is because acupuncture helps decrease pain and inflammation, while also calming the mind and digestive tract. Many women who receive regular acupuncture treatments also take power naps while the needles are in place, which can help with the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.

To treat dysmenorrhea, a licensed acupuncturist may use several tools, including acupuncture, herbs, nutrition and possibly even mind body practices like meditation. It all depends upon the severity of the condition. To find out more, contact a practitioner in your area.

SOURCE:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2005290117302066″
http://bit.ly/research5119

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Extraordinary Vessels – Dai Mai

In addition to the 12 main acupuncture meridians that flow along the surface of the body, there are also deeper channels of energy in the body called the Extraordinary Vessels. You can understand the relationship between the primary acupuncture channels and the Extraordinary Vessels by thinking about what happens when it rains: first, small ditches become full – these are the collateral vessels that break off of the 12 main channels. Next, the reservoirs become full, which are the 12 primary channels. When they are full, they overflow into the Extraordinary Vessels, which are deep and vast lakes of energy within the body.

The Dai Mai, or Girdle Vessel, is one such Extraordinary Vessel. It is unique because it is the only channel – primary or extraordinary – that flows horizontally. The Dai Mai originates at a liver meridian point on the lateral ribs, descends to the waist line and then encircles the waist like a belt. In the back, it connects with a side branch of the kidney meridian.

The Dai Mai divides the body into two halves, and it has the essential function of keeping energy flowing effectively between those two halves. If the Du Mai is too tight, then energy can’t flow properly, causing pain, sluggishness or a feeling of heaviness through the whole body. It can also cut off energy circulation to the legs, causing pain, cold legs and tense outer leg muscles.

If the Dai Mai is slack or weak, then energy can’t rise properly, which can cause many different health problems. When the Dai Mai is too weak or loose, fluids and dampness can pool in the Lower Burner, causing symptoms such as difficult urination, cloudy urine and excessive vaginal discharge. A weak Dai Mai also means energy can’t flow properly into the channels of the legs, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy. When the Dai Mai is weak, it can’t adequately hold the kidney’s essence, which depletes many other Extraordinary Vessels. When the Dai Mai is slack, energy cannot rise through the body, leading to such problems as hernias, organ prolapse and recurrent miscarriages.

The Dai Mai is closely related to the liver and gallbladder energy systems, based on its trajectory and what points it overlaps with. It helps to regulate excessive energy in those systems. This makes it useful for treating symptoms such as temporal headaches, migraines, anger, gallbladder pain and chronic neck and shoulder tension.

Based on its pathway, the Dai Mai can also be used to effectively treat abdominal pain, low back pain and hip pain. It can be treated with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tai chi, qi gong and many other forms of exercise.

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Potent Organs in Spring Time

Spring is generally regarded as a happy season, especially for those that live in areas where winter is cold and dark. Spring brings with it longer, warmer days, more sunshine, the rebirth of plants and more activity. But for many, the months of spring can also bring irritability, anxiety, sinus issues, allergy flare-ups and colds.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for nearly 3,000 years, which gives the medical system, as a whole, a lot of credibility. TCM classifies things in many different ways. There are five seasonal associations in TCM – winter, spring, summer, late summer and fall. Each season has its own unique set of properties and associations. Spring is associated with the wood element. The wood element governs the liver and the gallbladder and their energetic pathways. The five seasons and their corresponding elements interact with one another daily, creating balance and harmony or complete chaos within the body.

Spring is a time of growth, which is evident by all the plants and flowers coming into bloom, as well as the wildlife awakening from winter slumber. Spring is the time of birth and regeneration. This season tends to be trademarked by optimism and opportunity.

Spring is linked to the wood element in TCM due to the prospects of growth and development. When a tree is nourished properly, it will grow and expand. This is very similar to what happens with the body and spirit within every living being. Just like the wood that makes up the trunk of the tree, we must be able to be flexible and bend, always changing and adapting to whatever comes our way. We need to remain strong and rooted, yet be able to give a little if needed.

According to TCM theory, the liver and gallbladder are associated with the tendons and are responsible for the smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body. Our daily activities should reflect this. Being more active and spending more time outside can be great ways to strengthen the liver and gallbladder energies during the months of spring. Fresh air helps the liver and gallbladder function properly and decreases any stagnation being experienced in the body. We should imitate the budding trees and flowers and allow ourselves to grow and reach for bigger and better goals during the spring.

Green is the color of spring in TCM. During these months, fresh greens are abundant. It is highly recommended that we incorporate more fresh greens into our daily diets. Greens have been shown to be very beneficial for helping the liver detoxify the blood. Dandelion greens, in particular, are a good source for detoxification, which ultimately strengthens the liver and gallbladder meridians.

Sour drinks and foods are believed to stimulate the liver’s healing abilities. Adding lemon slices in your drinking water or using vinegar and oil as a salad dressing are some good examples. However, if you are a person that has anger issues, sour tastes should be avoided, as this can send the liver into overdrive.

It is also recommended to avoid excessive stimulants during the spring months. Things like coffee are considered expansive and energizing, which can be somewhat helpful during the cold winter months. But during the spring, when life is abounding, excess energy can actually be harmful to the body. It can create headaches, insomnia, anger and more.

As with any seasonal change, adding acupuncture treatments can be a huge asset, but especially in the transition from winter to spring. Due to the winds picking up and the weather becoming warmer, things like bell’s palsy, allergies or sinus infections can become more prevalent. Using acupuncture as preventive medicine can vastly improve your chances of remaining healthy throughout the transition.

So for the sake of your liver and your overall health, be sure to connect with us today. You won’t regret it.

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4 Lifestyle Tweaks to Thrive this Spring

In traditional Chinese medical theory, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to live in balance with the seasons. Balance, in this context, means mindfully crafting your diet and certain aspects of your lifestyle based on what season it is.

An easy way to think about this is with fruits and vegetables: we are lucky these days to have grocery stores stocked year round with fruits and vegetables from every corner of the globe at all times of year. That makes it possible to enjoy asparagus into the winter months in northern climates where asparagus would never naturally grow at that time of year if at all. Chinese medical thought prescribes realigning our diets with what would be available to us in the region where we live and at each time of year. In this way, we’re aligning ourselves with the rhythms of the earth. Not only that, but eating fresh, local fruits and vegetables probably means they’re going to be better tasting fruits and vegetables in the first place, because they’re fresh off the vine and ripened close by. Living in balance with the seasons helps to keep us healthy and free of disease, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Each season is also connected to one of the main organ networks and a related element, both based on associations with what is happening in our bodies and in the natural world. In spring, Chinese medicine says we should be attentive to our livers. Springtime is all about new life and life-giving processes. The liver provides essential support to our lungs, heart and circulation system – in other words, all the life-giving systems in our bodies. The liver also stores and distributes nourishment to the whole body. It also filters toxins from the blood and breaks them down for elimination.

When the liver is functioning properly, there is functionality throughout the whole body, and we feel a physical and emotional freedom and expansiveness that allow us to take on the essence of springtime.

Here are four ways to tweak your lifestyle this spring in order to support balance in your liver.

  1. Rise and shine. Make it a habit to wake up earlier in the spring than you were during winter. Notice if getting up earlier allows you to have more energy during the day.
  2. Exercise more. Try to incorporate more movement into your daily life during the spring. Especially during spring, exercise is a great way to battle depression and anxiety that can creep in due to a liver imbalance.
  3. Add sour foods to your diet. The flavor connected to the liver is sour. Adding lemon to your water is a simple way to do this that will help you digestive and emotional health.
  4. Keep breathing. Be intentional about developing or maintaining habits that help you to de-stress during spring. Springtime can feel like a burst of energy compared to winter, but it is important to make space each for downtime and not get too busy too fast.
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Research Update – Acupuncture and the Liver

A study published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine looked at how acupuncture might be able to inhibit injury to the liver caused by the prescription combination of morphine and acetaminophen. The study was conducted on rats that had been fed morphine and acetaminophen. Then, acupuncture was applied once daily to the rats. The researchers discovered the rats who received acupuncture also had less damage to their livers. This occurs because of the antioxidant-stimulating effects of acupuncture treatments. The researchers concluded acupuncture may provide a safe alternative detox method for people chronically taking morphine or acetaminophen.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, views the human body quite differently from Western medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are energetic pathways are associated with specific organs in the body. When these pathways, or meridians, and the energy flowing through them, are out of balance, then the body may become diseased.

In TCM, the liver and its corresponding pathway are responsible for the smooth flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy, blood and emotions. The liver is easily affected by excess stress and uncontrolled emotions. The liver is paired with the gallbladder and the two work very closely as a unit. When one is imbalanced, the other may display the symptoms. For example, if a person is consistently stressed, this may cause the liver energy to become blocked. When this happens, the gallbladder may become affected. It is not uncommon for people in high stress jobs to end up with gallstones. The liver becomes blocked and the emotions remain bottled up inside, which then manifests in pain and possibly stones.

Anger is the emotion commonly associated with the liver and gallbladder. If a person gets angered easily, frequently feels frustrated, has difficulty relaxing or letting things go, and is unreasonable, it is safe to guess their liver energy isn’t flowing smoothly. There are many methods of balancing liver energy and returning proper flow throughout the body. Learning to stay calm and channel one’s anger appropriately is a good place to start. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, yoga or even take a walk. All of these things are great for balancing stagnant liver energy.

Another way to smooth liver energy is a technique known as dry brushing. Using a hairbrush with rounded bristles or a soft bristle brush, one can lightly brush down along the liver energetic meridian, which runs along the inner thighs and inner calves, all the way down to the inside corner of the big toe. This can be done for about five minutes per leg. Dry brushing gently stimulates the liver meridian, allowing the blood and energy to flow more freely and relaxing not only the liver, but the whole body.

Acupuncture is another great way to balance the liver energies. Regular acupuncture treatments help balance the body holistically and without any real side effects. Acupuncture can increase the flow of energy throughout the body, remove blockages and stagnation and allow the liver to function properly, which will ultimately allow the body to detox more effectively.

If you deal with anger, stress or have a history of gallstones, it might be a good idea to give acupuncture a try. Be sure to find a fully licensed and properly trained acupuncturist who can help guide you through balancing the energy of the liver meridian. Over time, your body will most likely respond favorably.

SOURCE: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S187638201530072X

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