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For more than 30 years, October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This effort to raise awareness and funds for research can be considered a recent endeavor in the history of the disease which has been around for at least 5000 years. Medical texts describe cases dating back to 3,000 BC. Today, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. (A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883). In order to promote early detection, educational campaigns share information about warning signs such as breast swelling or discomfort, nipple pain or pitted skin. Western medicine researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer, but causation is considered extremely complex.
Chinese Medicine organizes causative factors into the following categories which can also interact in complex ways:
*Stagnation (liver qi): The liver is in charge of moving the qi in the body, dispersing stagnation caused by various influences (such as the other causative factors listed below). Emotional stress can cause a weakness in its capacity for qi distribution and regulation. The liver channel also connects directly with the breasts. Unchecked stagnation can cause dense tissue and masses to form.
*Heat: On a very basic level, heat in TCM can be likened to inflammation. This can be caused by internal or external influences. One of the main external influences that can lead to heat (and therefore inflammation) in the body are environmental toxins.
*Deficiencies: Both qi and blood deficiencies can contribute to the development of breast cancer. The immune system needs enough qi to target and remove abnormal (potentially cancerous) cells and regenerate healthy ones. A deficiency of blood can lead to stagnation if there is not enough blood to maintain vigorous circulation (picture a river during a drought). Also, a deficiency of spleen qi (related to digestion) often leads to dampness in Chinese Medicine.
*Dampness: One of the ways dampness expresses itself in the body is by the accumulation of excess fat. Also, dampness and heat combined usually generates ‘phlegm stagnation’ which can take the form of hardness, nodules and tumors.
Luckily, the approach to prevention is not as complex as breaking down the causes.
Enjoy nutritious seasonal food to support the creation of new qi and blood.
Avoiding processed food will help to minimize toxic heat and dampness in the body and cut down on our body’s inflammatory responses.
Regular exercise helps us to maintain circulation and a healthy weight while allowing us to sweat out toxins.
Filtering our air and water can help minimize our exposure to environmental toxins.
Liver detox teas and gentle cleansing protocols, especially during Spring (liver time), can be very beneficial in ridding the body of accumulated toxins and supporting the liver’s role in the free flow of qi.
Managing stress is critical. Target your biggest stressors in life and make changes to either remove them, limit them or create better coping strategies.
Massage and castor oil packs can be used preventatively to help avoid local stagnation, often found in fibrocystic (lumpy) breasts (though these direct approaches are usually avoided in the treatment of actual cancerous tumors).
Acupuncture and Herbs are wonderful tools for prevention and can also help to treat side effects of conventional cancer therapies (nausea, neuropathy, pain etc.).
Simply put, TCM’s approach to Breast cancer prevention is overall health promotion. Call Heidi today at (218) 724-3400 to get in for some health promoting acupuncture sessions, to help prevent cancer and other diseases and feel your best!
A 2018 study published in the World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion looked at the effect of acupuncture treatments on rectal cancer patients who were experiencing hand-foot syndrome caused by their chemotherapy treatments. Hand-foot syndrome is a known side effect of chemotherapy characterized by redness, swelling, tingling, numbness, itching and pain in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The researchers found acupuncture significantly reduced all of the symptoms associated with hand-foot syndrome to the extent they considered 17 percent of patients completely cured and the treatments were significantly effective in 70 percent of patients.
To conduct the study, researchers from Chongqing Cancer Institute recruited 60 patients with rectal cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Half of the patients received acupuncture and half were treated simply by taking B6 vitamins. Their hand-foot syndrome was scored using two internationally recognized scales indicating symptom severity and physical disability.
The patients in the acupuncture group received 30-minute treatments every day for two weeks. The patients in the B6 vitamin group took the supplement daily for two weeks.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, hand-foot syndrome indicates poor qi and blood circulation, a deficiency in qi and blood or dampness leading to a blockage in qi that prohibits nourishment from reaching the skin and muscles, causing numbness and pain. The acupuncture treatments were directed at promoting blood and qi circulation and removing stagnation.
After the treatments, patients in both groups showed improvement, but symptoms and physical disabilities for the patients in the acupuncture group decreased significantly more than for the patients in the B6 vitamin group. Based on the analysis of the scores, In the acupuncture group, there were 5 cured, 16 effective, and 9 ineffective cases, yielding a total effective rate of 70.0%. This means their symptom score was downgraded to the lowest possible number on the scale and their physical ability score increased to between 80 and 89 out of 100 possible points. The treatments were effective for 70 percent of patients compared with 36 percent of patients in the B6 vitamin group.
The report concludes, “The results demonstrate that an integrative model of patient care utilizing acupuncture as a treatment modality produces significantly less adverse effects associated with chemotherapy.”
Research consistently shows acupuncture is effective at increasing circulation throughout the body, improving the flow of blood and therefore nutrients to injured cells, muscles or tissues.
With September being Self-Care Month, it’s the perfect time to reset, refresh, and reassess your health and wellness practices. Acupuncture, a well-established healing practice in traditional Chinese medicine, is an excellent method to promote overall health and wellbeing. In addition to that, here are some self-care tips to help you cultivate a healthier life.
1. Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is as important to our health as eating, drinking, and breathing. It allows our bodies to repair and our brains to consolidate memories and process information. Good sleep is critical to ensure optimal health and quality of life. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and create a calming pre-sleep routine.
2. Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of several health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes. It can also help maintain healthy body weight and promote a positive mental state. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
Pay attention to what you eat and why. Are you genuinely hungry, or are you stressed, bored, or tired? Mindful eating can help you maintain a healthy relationship with food and promote better digestion.
4. Stay Hydrated
Keeping your body hydrated is essential to support all its vital functions. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Infuse your water with fruits for added nutrients and flavor.
5. Prioritize Mental Health
Keep stress in check through practices like meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Consider setting aside a few minutes each day for mindfulness or relaxation exercises. Regular acupuncture sessions can also contribute to better mental health by reducing stress and anxiety levels.
6. Regular Health Check-ups
Regular health check-ups can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Include acupuncture as part of your routine check-ups to keep your health at its peak.
7. Connect with Others
Building strong, healthy relationships can enrich your life. Take time each day to connect with those who enrich your life. Spend quality time with your family, meet up with a friend for coffee, or join a local club or organization.
This Self-Care September, remember to incorporate these self-care habits into your routine. Above all, listen to your body and give it what it needs, whether it’s a hearty meal, a good night’s sleep, or an acupuncture session. Here’s to a healthier, happier you!
September is here, and with it comes Pain Awareness Month. This month gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about pain syndromes and the available treatment options.
One such option that we’d like to shed light on is acupuncture—a centuries-old practice that can potentially offer relief to those suffering from chronic or acute pain.
Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points to promote healing and wellness. The practice has gained traction in the West due to its potential benefits in pain management and overall wellness.
Acupuncture for Pain Relief
Scientific evidence supports that acupuncture can help manage various pain conditions including migraines, lower back pain, and osteoarthritis pain. Acupuncture is thought to work by stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanisms, releasing endorphins, and improving blood circulation.
Why Consider Acupuncture for Pain Management?
While there are several reasons to consider acupuncture, the primary ones include:
- Natural Treatment: Acupuncture is a non-invasive, drug-free method to manage pain. This means it can be a suitable option if you’re looking for natural methods to deal with your pain or if you’re unable to take conventional pain relief medication.
- Few Side Effects: When carried out by certified professionals, acupuncture is generally safe with very few side effects.
- Complementary Treatment: Acupuncture can be used alongside other treatments without any negative interactions.
This Pain Awareness Month, we invite you to explore acupuncture as a potential solution to your pain problems. To get you started on your journey towards natural pain relief, we’re offering free initial consultations for the month of September.
If you’ve been dealing with chronic pain or know someone who is, we encourage you to share this information and take a step towards a healthier, pain-free life. Contact Heidi today at (218) 724-3400 to schedule your consultation.
Did you know that acupuncture can help you gear up for school?
Acupuncture is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years, and it’s all about finding balance and harmony within our bodies.
Imagine tiny, virtually painless needles being gently placed on specific points of your body, helping to stimulate energy flow and promote overall well-being. Sounds pretty amazing, right?
Not only does acupuncture help with physical ailments like headaches, back pain, and digestive issues, but it also works wonders for reducing stress and anxiety. It’s like a mini-vacation for your mind and body!
The best part? Acupuncture is a holistic approach that focuses on treating the root cause of our health concerns, rather than just masking the symptoms. It’s all about restoring balance and allowing our bodies to heal naturally.
So, if you’re looking for a natural and uplifting way to enhance your well-being to gear up for school, why not give acupuncture a try? It’s a fantastic way to tap into your body’s incredible healing abilities and embrace a more vibrant and balanced life.
If you’re looking for a good acupuncturist in Duluth, check out Heidi LaBore Smith.
Have any of you tried acupuncture before? Share your experiences and let’s spread the positive vibes!