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Acupuncture and Fibroids – Which Fibroids are you?

Uterine fibroids are benign growths on the wall of the uterus. They represent the most common gynecological non-cancerous tumors in reproductive females. It is estimated that 80% of women will have uterine fibroids at some point in their reproductive years. Many are symptom free and unaware, but for some women, fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, irregular periods, abdominal bloating and back pain (even though these symptoms are often wrongfully normalized). Fibroids can even grow large and press on vital organs like the bladder or bowel, eventually leading to digestive or kidney problems. The cause is not well understood, however. The theory is that abnormal muscle cells in the uterus are affected by estrogen and other factors in a way that drives tumor growth.

Western treatment depends on severity. If asymptomatic, treatment is not needed, if the fibroid/s cause pain or other problems, treatment may involve surgery to remove the fibroids but unfortunately they can return. The rate of recurrence is high, at 30%. Estrogen contributes to the growth of fibroids which makes hormone regulation a main focus of fibroid management. Lupron is a type of hormone therapy that acts on the pituitary gland to stop estrogen production and start early menopause. A hysterectomy to remove the uterus, however, is the only known way to guarantee prevention of recurrence and is obviously not a desirable option for women looking to preserve fertility.

So, even with surgery, it is important to deal with underlying causes. Chinese medicine takes a more holistic approach. Fibroids, in Chinese medicine, fall into the larger category of Zheng Jia (masses), as do other growths related to women’s health such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis and reproductive cancers. The causes of these masses are understood to be any of, or any combination of, the following:

Liver Qi stagnation

The liver is the organ that regulates the movement of qi and stagnant liver qi can reveal itself as typical PMS symptoms: irritability, breast tenderness, and cramps. The liver is also the organ that helps to rid the body of excess estrogen, so it is definitely a worthy focus point from both an Eastern and Western perspective.

Blood Stasis

Blood follows qi, so long term qi stagnation can result in blood stasis which is considered when symptoms such as more intense cramping and clots are reported.

Damp-Phlegm

Improper diet and digestion is said to lead to a buildup of damp-phlegm in the body. This accumulation, when condensed by other factors (such as heat, cold or poor blood flow) is thought to set the stage for the growth of various masses in the body. Associated symptoms can include indigestion, bloating, weight gain, and sometimes a watery menstrual flow.

Cold Accumulation

Exposure to the cold, especially cold that affects the uterus can be another cause of blood stasis which can eventually lead to tumors. Menstrual pain relieved by warmth is a sign of cold in the uterus.


Acupuncture and herbs can help eliminate or shrink smaller fibroids, as well as keep them from returning. Acupuncture redirects energy in the body to address patterns like blood stasis, cold, phlegm, and liver qi stagnation to help to restore a yin/yang (and consequently hormone) balance.

Chinese herbs are associated with a 72% reduction in bleeding in a study where over half of the participants experienced a reduction in size or a complete disappearance of their fibroids!

Another study compared treatment with acupuncture and herbs to treatment with a combination of herbs and steroids. All of the women saw some benefits, but the ones who had acupuncture treatment saw an overall greater reduction in the volume of their fibroids.

A 2002 study looked at alternative medical approaches for uterine fibroids. Upon comparing alternative treatments, such as TCM, bodywork and guided imagery against conventional treatment, the researchers found that the patients thrived in the alternative medical group. Fibroids shrank or stopped growing in 59 percent of the alternative treatment group compared to only eight percent of those in the conventional treatment group.

If you have any signs of fibroids, seek out a Western diagnosis, but also schedule some acupuncture with us at (218) 724-3400 to make sure you are addressing root imbalances, and so you can feel better fast!

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5 natural ways to improve women’s health

Egg health

Getting pregnant can be frustrating when it isn’t happening as easily as planned. There are many reasons you could be dealing with a difficult pregnancy including egg health. There are many factors that play into egg health including blood circulation, stress and hormonal balance. For improving blood and oxygen flow, try to get some sort of exercise whether it is yoga, running or simply going on a brisk walk at least three times a week. Ask a massage therapist about abdominal massage, which can increase blood flow to the reproductive system. Stress can also play a very important factor in egg health. Find ways to destress with meditation practices, acupuncture and deep breathing.

Hormonal balance

Hormonal imbalances in women are common and can result in weight gain, fatigue, skin problems, infertility and PMS. Hormones are an important part to our body’s growth and development, mood, reproduction and metabolism. To keep your body in balance, avoid high omega-6 polyunsaturated fats that are found in vegetable oils. Reduce your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can have a negative impact on the endocrine system. Most importantly, make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. When the body does not get enough rest, hormones cannot regulate.

Breast health

There are many reasons that some women have a higher risk of breast cancer including both genetics and environmental impacts. Research has shown that keeping a diet of fresh, unprocessed foods can help the health of breast tissue. Chemical exposure from foods as well as other environmental factors have been shown to be high in women who have breast cancer. Foods to eliminate from your diet include highly processed foods, additives, canned foods and soy. Avoiding foods that are high in hormones and adding foods that are packed with antioxidants such as berries can help lower your risk of breast cancer.

Metabolism

Many women feel their metabolism has slowed over the years, making it harder to break down and burn calories and fat. Try adding more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet such as salmon and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help regulate blood sugar and lower inflammation, which can then improve metabolic function. Increasing strength training can also help give the metabolism a boost. The more muscle you have, the more your resting metabolism will increase to burn fat. Lastly, eating breakfast has been shown to give your metabolism a jump start for the day compared to eating your first meal later in the day.

Immune health

Don’t let the cold and flu season get you down this year. There are many natural ways to boost your immune system to prevent illness and to improve energy levels. Assess your stress levels and take action if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Spend some time practicing deep breathing or finding an activity that you find relaxing. Try adding in more garlic and ginger to your diet. These natural ingredients contain properties that help boost the immune system and lower cold and flu symptoms.

Sources

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TCM Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an attack on the liver brought on by a virus. It results in liver inflammation and various symptoms. Prognosis is broadly dependent on the type of infection, as there are different variants of the virus. Types A and E are acute, while B and C are often chronic infections. Hepatitis type B or C can go away on its own, and may or may not show symptoms. 3 out of 4 people with Hepatitis type C dont even know they have it. Sometimes, however, these infections, symptomatic or not, can lead to serious liver damage, scarring (cirrhosis or fibrosis), chronic liver disease and death. In fact, 1.5 million people die each year as a result of hepatitis, giving it rank as the 8th largest killer in the world, with hep type C killing more Americans than HIV .

There is a vaccine available for types A and B but none for C or E. (D is a co-infection of B). All variants affect the liver, causing inflammation and possibly scarring. B and C are transmitted through body fluids like blood or semen. An infection with type B or c can lead to cancer or liver failure. Symptoms of these chronic infections include abdominal pain, a swollen liver area or belly, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, light colored stools, fatigue, nausea, fever, loss of appetite, and joint pain. Type C can also present with bleeding, bruises, blisters, and itchy skin. Over 300 million people worldwide are living with Hepatitis type B or C.
Biomedical treatment generally relies on antivirals for at least 6 months to help slow the viral spread. Side effects of these meds include headaches, dizziness, fever and depression. In the case of liver failure, an organ transplant is often needed.

The liver, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is referred to as the army general of the body because it governs the movement of qi (energy) and directs with strong authority. This role of energy leader is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. In Chinese Medicine, much of the disharmony that can occur in the body is thought to be a result of stagnation, when the smooth flow of energy is disrupted. Good liver health can be a key to the prevention of many diseases. Protecting the liver from viral damage is one main concern in preserving liver health.

Chinese medicine looks at this infection as an invasion of pathogenic forces of toxic heat and dampness. But there is always a relationship between the pathogen and our body’s internal environment. So in TCM, treatment will not only expel the toxic damp-heat (the viral energies), but help to harmonize internal imbalances that determine how the pathogen takes hold in the body.

TCM uses acupuncture and herbs to improve liver function and tonify related organs when needed. Treatment is aimed at expelling the pathogenic forces, while internal patterns such as: Liver Qi Stagnation, Spleen and Kidney yang Xu (deficiency), Liver/Gallbladder Damp Heat, Liver and Kidney Yin Xu, and Blood Stasis are addressed. Through this more holistic approach, the body’s natural immunity is fortified to prevent future pathogenic invasion.

Chinese herbal medicines have displayed strong antiviral activity in patients with chronic Hepatitis B, along with the ability to significantly improve liver function. Chinese Herbal protocols have even proved to work better than modern medical treatment (in terms of lower mortality) in a 8 week study of patients suffering from Hepatitis B related liver failure, as well as providing better symptom relief.

Acupuncture has also shown to be an effective treatment option for patients with liver damage as a complementary therapy with little to no adverse reactions. In multiple studies looking at acupuncture’s effect on cirrhosis (often caused by Hepatitis), patients experienced symptom relief and improvement in liver function.

Acupuncture is one of the best ways to support liver function because it assists the liver in its primary job of stimulating the flow of energy in the body. Call us today at (218) 724-3400 to set up a liver-fortifying, energy balancing and immune boosting treatment!

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Why You Should Get Regular Acupuncture Treatments

Everybody knows you should see your family physician at least once a year and your dentist at least twice a year. But not everybody knows about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and the many benefits it can provide for you. If you start incorporating acupuncture into your health and wellness regime, you may not have to rely on the family physician so much for those minor little issues. Let’s look at how getting regular acupuncture treatments can help you stay happy and healthy.

There are many ways acupuncture treatments can change a person’s life. One of the most noticeable is acupuncture can get you to look at your health from a completely different perspective. This could mean you might start taking a more in depth look at your health, which may allow you to veer away from some of the mainstream medical practices such as multiple pharmaceuticals. Many long-term acupuncture patients find they no longer need all the medications prescribed by their family physician, because the symptoms have been controlled using acupuncture.

Acupuncture is great for prevention. Because regular acupuncture treatments can balance hormones and boost immunity, there is a good chance you won’t need that annual flu shot or all those over-the-counter cold medications. A trained acupuncturist can spot a problem like decreased immunity from a mile away. It can appear as symptoms such as chronic fatigue, insomnia and even body temperature fluctuations. A couple of treatments can make a big difference.

What about relieving some of that extra stress we all deal with? Yes, regular acupuncture treatments can keep that at bay too. Many people don’t equate being poked with tiny needles as a relaxation technique, but it truly is relaxing. Many patients actually fall asleep after or while the needles are being placed. And the effects can last for days or even weeks. So the next time you feel irritable and overwhelmed, check out your local licensed acupuncturist.

Regular acupuncture treatments can help you save money. What? It’s true. This goes back to the previous benefits. If you don’t need as many pharmaceuticals, you will ultimately save money. Also, conditions like stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression can keep you from going to work, possibly costing you several days of pay. But with regular acupuncture treatments, your moods can be more effectively managed and you won’t need to miss work as frequently.

And the most popular reason to get regular acupuncture treatments is that it will help you remain pain free. We all have aches and pains. But research has shown acupuncture is more effective than opioids for controlling things like arthritic pain in the joints. It is also be incorporated into hospital emergency rooms throughout the United States, so people don’t need as many pain medications. As a matter of fact, in Asia, acupuncture is sometimes used by itself during and after surgical procedures to treat pain.

While many of you may have a needle phobia, don’t let that deter you. Acupuncture is part of an amazing medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. In comparison, Western medicine has only been around for about 200 to 250 years. That puts things in perspective a little, especially when you consider most people in Asian countries live longer, happier, healthier lives than almost everybody in the United States. There’s no better time than the present to start a good habit. Call Heidi at (218) 724-3400. Your whole life just might change for the better.

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Healthy Aging for Men: A Chinese Medicine Approach

June is Men’s Health month, a time to highlight the need for more awareness of men’s health issues. Given that men have shorter life expectancies and poorer overall health when compared to women, it is not just a courtesy hat tip. The reasons for these poorer health outcomes may be a combination of genetic and social influences. Genetically, men are more prone to heart disease than women. In addition, social constructs around masculinity may contribute to the fact that men are much less likely than women to look after their health and see physicians.

According to the CDC the two most common causes of death for men are heart disease and cancer. June is a time to talk about these looming killers and encourage health screenings that can help promote longer lives for men, but it is also a time to consider quality of life.

‘Healthy aging’ is a buzz phrase often focused on women, but men also want to retain the energy and strength (and good looks!) of their youth once they’ve got the wisdom to go with it. One of the main threats to quality of life for aging men is testosterone decline. Testosterone is a hormone that maintains sex drive, sperm production, body hair, muscle and bone. While not as dramatic as women’s plunging hormones in menopause, all men go through a period of many years known as andropause, marked by a gradual decline in testosterone. Generally this plays out as about a 1% decrease a year after the age of 40. For many men, this is a normal transition that comes without noticeable symptoms. And many continue to have testosterone levels within normal ranges. But for some men, there are accompanying symptoms or further decline in levels that drop them below normal range. About 10-25% of men experience what has been called: “Aging Male Syndrome” and this can be a serious threat to their quality of life. The struggle can include weight gain, insomnia, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, sweats and hot flashes, trouble concentrating, irritability, depression, increased urination, and bone, hair and muscle loss.

The western approach to this problem, in addition to encouraging a healthy lifestyle and regular health screenings, offers drug therapy in the form of hormone replacement for men with severe symptoms. Testosterone therapy has shown some benefits for some, but for others, these benefits are not always clear. And the risks are concerning, as hormone therapy can stimulate the growth of metastatic prostate or breast cancer. It may also increase formation of clots and risk of heart attack or stroke.

When Chinese Medicine talks about aging, the focus is on the kidneys. Kidney energy (qi) and essence governs the life cycles of human development. Testosterone, in general, is thought of as a manifestation of Kidney Yang (the hot, active aspect of kidney qi) As this declines, it is associated with low back pain, cold limbs, lower libido, paling complexion and weakness.

The TCM approach is therefore to boost kidney yang. This is mainly done through acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs. One herb used to boost the kidney yang is called: yin yang huo, commonly known as horny goat weed. This and other individual herbs are known for strengthening kidney yang, but it is more likely that your practitioner will prescribe a multi-herb formula to address the issue from a few angles. Depending on the individual pattern, Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan is a formula that may be prescribed to supplement yang and warm the kidneys, while restoring balance in the system.

Even without herbs, getting in for regular treatment proves very beneficial for men looking to maintain healthy testosterone levels. An eight week protocol of electro-acupuncture and moxibustion given to aging men at acupuncture points UB23 and DU 4 (known for tonifying the kidney yang energy), significantly increased total and free testosterone. The best part? This acupuncture-induced hormone boost comes without the unwanted side effects.

Acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs are some of the best ‘healthy aging’ tools available for both men and women! Improve your quantity and quality of life by calling (218) 724-3400 to schedule your next appointment!

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