I often treat patients for specific injuries or conditions (such as tinnitus or TMJ to name just two), but at times acupuncture treatments can also help to relieve other ailments such as anxiety along the way. Anxiety, whether short term or chronic in form, is a widespread mental health concern affecting many people in this country—40 million American adults, or 18% of the population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Although acupuncture is not a replacement for anxiety therapy, it can be a helpful adjunct to primary therapy. It can at times also offer a drug-free way for anxiety sufferers to improve their well being, which can be beneficial due to the side effects that anxiety medications sometimes cause.
Acupuncture and Migraine Relief
Migraine headaches are one of the most painful conditions people can suffer, even disabling people for days at a time. Unfortunately they’re not uncommon, affecting 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men in the United States. A migraine can involve a throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head or in a certain location on the head. Sometimes migraine sufferers also experience nausea, vomiting, and severe sensitivity to light. Finding an effective solution can be challenging, but new research indicates that acupuncture may reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraines.
According to findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a team of Chinese scientists determined that acupuncture reduces the frequency of migraines for those who suffer from migraines without auras (there are different types of migraines, one of which features auras or visual sensations) after twenty weeks of treatment at the rate of five times a week. Patients receiving acupuncture also experienced fewer days total suffering from migraines with less severe symptoms overall. These are potentially positive indications that acupuncture could help to mitigate migraine pain for those who find it so debilitating.
When Patients Turn to Alternative Therapies
Living in our technologically advanced society, it’s easy to think that the solution to a problem is just a screen tap away. However, when it comes to our health, finding the answer can sometimes be challenging. And when a health condition begins to limit the capacity to live a full life, it’s not hard to understand why some of us may try anything to regain our well-being.
As the New York Times reports in its review of Susannah Meadows’ new book The Other Side of Impossible, some people facing seemingly insoluble health burdens such as rheumatoid arthritis, severe food allergies, or even ADHD, seek out alternatives to traditional Western medicine so that they can find a remedy for the ailment that is causing so them so much pain and distress.
The Benefits of Regular Acupuncture Treatment
Spring is finally here, and doesn’t it feel good after a long winter spent hibernating? It’s an ideal occasion for paying greater attention to self-care and balanced well being in all its forms. We recently explored this topic on the blog, explaining how acupuncture is especially helpful during the changing seasons since we’re more prone to suffer from colds or allergies at those moments of transition. Acupuncture can help fortify our immune systems at those intervals, to be sure, but it can also be valuable as a regular wellness treatment.
People who’ve never experienced acupuncture treatment may not be familiar with how it works and when it is most effective. I certainly can and do treat people who come to me with specific health concerns after they have arisen (including injuries such as back pain). Some people also try acupuncture after failing to get a clear diagnosis from their doctor. However, acupuncture works best as a preventative form of treatment and is intended to keep the body from falling out of balance or becoming vulnerable to an illness. For that reason, it can be worthwhile to consider regular treatment so that you can get the greatest benefits that acupuncture has to offer.
Acupuncture and the Changing Seasons
Here in New York, we are excited to welcome spring in all its glory. As temperatures climb and the sunny days lengthen, it’s a breath of fresh air to see green leaves and flowers returning. It’s a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty of the natural world, to be sure, but it can also be a time when our bodies are more vulnerable than usual to seasonal colds and illnesses. Our immune systems can find it difficult to keep up with the changing environment, and it’s at this time of the year that we are more likely to become sick or fall out of balance.
For this reason, acupuncture can be especially beneficial at points of seasonal change—particularly in the spring and fall, when our bodies have to work harder to adapt to rapidly shifting temperatures and external conditions. Some practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believe that the body’s Qi, or life force, frequency can fall out of harmony with the season’s frequency at this time, which may lead to such health difficulties. Acupuncture therapy unblocks the Qi energy that is trapped along the body’s energy pathways or meridians. When this happens, the body can begin its natural process of self-healing and the immune system in particular begins to strengthen as well.
Making the Most of Your Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture can be a powerful treatment for a wide range of health concerns. Some patients come to me for help with everyday ailments brought on by our stressful modern lifestyle such as fatigue, headaches, and insomnia. Others consult me for expert care with serious issues like gastrointestinal disorders, back pain, and side effects of cancer and its treatment. Often, people turn to acupuncture after countless visits to other doctors and practitioners. Whatever the reason behind their decision to seek acupuncture treatment, however, patients should understand beforehand how they can get the most out of it.
If you come to acupuncture after trying to address your ailment with medicine and other forms of treatment, it will be unrealistic to expect acupuncture to fix your problem in one visit. Acupuncture, an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), takes a holistic approach to resolving illnesses in the body. As such, depending on the situation, it may require time in order to fully address the underlying issues that are impacting a patient’s health. Only in that way can acupuncture treatments be optimally effective and restore the patient to a state of balanced wellness.
Castor Oil: An Ancient and Versatile Wellness Treatment
Castor oil is known as an effective hair and skin treatment, but it can also be used for a wide range of medicinal purposes. I first incorporated castor oil into my acupuncture practice when I was confronted with a young adult patient who was writhing in pain from kidney stones. I took a piece of flannel and folded it over several times, and then I saturated its center with enough oil to cover her belly from the diaphragm down to the top of her thighs. Directing the beam of the infrared lamp to her abdomen, I then proceeded with the acupuncture, choosing points to help her with pain while moving Qi and blood.
Determining that the castor oil pack treatment would be most effective in softening the kidney stone if allowed to sit in place for at least an hour, I left my patient to rest and lie there with the heat on her belly. It worked amazingly well. Her doctor surmised that the stone might have moved back up into her kidney, but an ultrasound later revealed that the stone was no longer there. I’ve since used this treatment several times for kidney stone pain, with the same results.
I will sometimes incorporate castor oil packs into treatment if the immune or lymphatic systems are compromised, or if the liver and gallbladder are deficient or distressed. Castor oil was known throughout much of the ancient world, including India, China, Egypt, and Greece, as a therapeutic poultice. Edgar Cayce, who recommended the packs for a number of ailments, popularized the treatment once again in the 20th century.
Giving Love Through Acupuncture
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it’s a perfect occasion to celebrate love in all its forms. If you’re half of a couple, you might decide to give each other flowers and chocolates on this day. You might also join in the time-honored tradition of writing a love letter to your beloved, expressing your deepest passion and admiration for them.
But there are many other ways to honor that special someone in your life—or to show yourself some love!
If you’re looking for a Valentine gift, acupuncture is a perfect choice. A lot of us are battling the February blues, waking up to what seems like endless blustery and dreary days. Some of us might even be struggling with winter colds that make us feel lethargic and unwell. As our immune systems are compromised and we feel under the weather, it may be harder to find the magic or the romance in the season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can reverse these winter doldrums by applying thoughtful and restorative care to the body and mind.
Acupuncture provides a wonderful immune boost, which is much needed this time of year. Such protection can help remedy ailments from which you or your loved one may be suffering. It also engenders a sense of calm and tranquility that allows people to better notice and appreciate the positive, joyful things in their lives. Acupuncture treatment also creates a deep rest state, promotes circulation, stimulates connective tissue, and is very restorative overall.
Treating yourself (or your loved one) in this way heals both body and spirit, resetting the body’s energy and one’s state of mind. This ancient form of care makes it easier for patients to let go of unnecessary stress and feel contented, opening the door to feelings of happiness and desire. It also loosens muscles, releases endorphins, and places the body in a state of relaxed bliss.
Valentine’s Day is a great reminder that we need to pause the stress of our busy lives to intentionally show our sweethearts and ourselves some love and devotion. It’s even more essential to do so when we are feeling stressed or anxious, which is more likely to happen when the days are short and the weather feels unfriendly. With thoughtful attention to our well being, we can open the door to experience love in all of its beauty and grace.