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Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis with Acupuncture Chinese Herbal Medicine

 

acupunctureI treat many patients with digestive system issues. In fact, I love to treat digestive system disorders because Chinese Medicine is such an effective treatment for people who suffer from Crohns disease, IBS as well as Ulcerative Colitis. I am currently going to focus this article on the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis and Chinese Medicine.

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disorder of the large intestine (colon). This is a chronic condition that develops over time. Symptoms can include urgency to defecate, diarrhea and bloody stools.  There are times when symptoms are present known as “attacks” and times of remission.

In Chinese Medicine, treatment for Ulcerative Colitis first begins with understanding the pathology of each individual person’s case. Once the pathology is diagnosed, treatment is specific to each individual case. Many people can come to me with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis but they may have different treatment approaches because the root issue of their individual case is different.  Therefore, I give a treatment protocol of Acupuncture and a Chinese herbal formula, which are tailored to each individual case. The aim of treatment is to help restore the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients properly and reduce inflammation. Ultimately, once the digestive system is restored back to help, symptoms are alleviated.

Case Example of the Treatment of Chinese Medicine and Ulcerative Colitis

Steven (name change for patient’s anonymity) was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and had symptoms for six years ago. He would go to the bathroom up to 12 times per day, even getting up in the middle of the night. He experienced loose stools that had blood and mucus.  He also experienced very low energy and anxiety when he was not near a bathroom. Steven had gone to three gastroenterologists in order to help with his symptoms. He was prescribed steroids to help reduce the inflammation in the large intestine. At times this would help, but lately he complained that he had symptoms all the time.

After meeting with Steven, it was clear that his digestive system was extremely deficient. In Chinese Medicine, the spleen, which helps absorb nutrients into the blood stream, was weak. Therefore, he was not absorbing food properly. Fluid accumulated in his gut and would be excreted out in the form of loose stools. The spleen also hold’s blood in the blood vessel, so when the spleen is deficient, blood can show up in the stools. Mucus was a clear indication that he had pathological fluids that were not being properly distributed in his body.  In treating Steven’s ulcerative colitis, he came in for weekly acupuncture treatments and he was prescribed an individualized Chinese herbal formula that he took daily.  After just four treatments, his bowel movements were reduced by more than 50%. He went to the bathroom 3-4 xs per day and the blood in his stools had stopped. After 8 sessions, he had experienced no blood or mucus in his stools and bowel movements were reduced to 1-2 x per day and they were solid as opposed to loose. In three months time, his energy is “amazing”, he now exercises, he can eat almost anything he wants and he does not suffer anxiety. He is truly amazed that he feels normal. He now goes to see friends and has resumed dating. What is the most important thing after treatment is shifting or changing behaviors that led him to his digestive system getting weakened. We spoke about diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. Chinese Medicine offers a holistic approach to treating Ulcerative Colitis and the most important aspect of treatment is treating the root issue and not just covering up symptoms. Once people are better, giving them the knowledge to be aware and understand their own body so that they can make the right decisions in order to be healthier is what I call “a transformation in health”.

If you are suffering from Ulcerative Colitis or other digestive system disorders, please call our office at 917.763.8560 to schedule an appointment.

 

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Treatment by acupuncture. The doctor uses needles for treatment of the patient.

Acupuncture is one of the leading treatments used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese Medicineone of the world’s oldest and most powerful traditional medicines, is used in today’s modern world to combat and treat many health disorders. 

Acupuncture is the insertion of small thin needles into certain points located on the body’s surface. There are hundreds of points throughout the body and each point influences the body’s internal dynamics in a different way.To create homeostasis within the body,  a combination of points is used to release a therapeutic affect on an individual.

When a person has a health issue, understanding the root issue, followed by treating the specific root issue, helps the body heal naturally. Mostly importantly, it is a non-invasive way to help treat health conditions. The reason I love acupuncture and why I practice, is because I believe in healing people by treating the root issue and not just covering up symptoms.

Let’s look at how a treatment works. When patients first come into my office for an initial consultation, I go through their health history, and ask many questions in order to understand what types of imbalances are present.Since the body works as a whole, if someone came to me for digestive system issues, factors such as sleep, anxiety, stress, as well as their energy level, gives me input to the root of their digestive system issues. Once I understand the underlying issues of their digestive system issues, I form an acupuncture treatment protocol. I then use a combination of acupuncture points, which may be on the stomach, hands, legs, feet and/or head. Each acupuncture point affects the body’s internal organs, energy flow, and circulation, and in combination, these points aid in strengthening the digestive system as well as unblocking any stuck energy. Of course, a certain amount of treatments are needed in order to alleviate
the symptoms. The most important thing I tell patients is that treatments work on a root level so as they feel better, the main goal is to change any lifestyle habits in order to truly transform their health and prevent their health issues from coming back.


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Hot flashes occur when estrogen is lowered. It is a sign of peri-menopause. Many people do not realize that hot flashes can occur even when perimenopause is not taking place. I recently had a patient who was suffering from hot flashes at 35 years old. She also was having delayed menstruation. Her hormone panel showed the she had high FSH and told her she was going through early stages of peri-menopause. He prescribed her Hormone Replacement Therapy in order for her to menstruate and reduce the hot flashes she was experiencing. He wanted to keep up her estrogen levels so that she would not suffer from bone loss which can lower when estrogen lowers.  She reluctantly went on HRT therapy but was concerned about her overall health. When Louisa (name changed due to patient anonymity) came to see me, she was on HRT therapy for two years. She expressed her concerns of being on it for the rest of her life and wanted a more natural way to deal with her hot flashes.

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hot flashes normally occur because of an insufficiency of fluids called “yin”. Yin fluids cool our body. When our body is balanced and homeostasis is at an equilibrium, we should not feel hot nor cold. When yin fluids are insufficient or depleted, the cooling unit is lowered; therefore, heat rises and hot flashes can occur. This can be very extreme and cause a lot of discomfort in women. Hormone replacement therapy is the main way to reduce hot flashes. Louisa and I discussed going off HRT and beginning Chinese herbal medicine. I explained to her that it would take some time to restore her hormones in order for menstruation to take place. Louisa went off HRT and began a blend of Chinese herbal medicine that was tailored specifically to her body. As she went off HRT and began herbs, she only experience slight heat but no hot flashes. Her menstruation came back in three months and she no longer experienced being warm nor had any signs of hot flashes. I gave her a list of dietary recommendations as well as recommended a reduction of stress and increased sleep which are critical to restoring fluids. She now menstruates on her own and does not experience hot flashes. I felt this was an important step in her overall health and reproductive health in a natural way.

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When my twins turned one years’ old, I was wondering whether to transition them to goat’s milk or cow’s milk.  When my daughter was an infant, she had a pretty bad case of eczema and as an acupuncturist, I knew that cow’s milk was harder to digest, so when it was time for both my daughter and son to transition to whole milk, I was hesitant on starting them off with cow’s milk. In Chinese Medicine, cow’s milk is heavy on the digestive system,that is why many people get stomach pain while consuming milk. TCM also identifies milk as a”damp” food meaning that it can cause mucous productionwhich can lead to eczema, allergies, hives as well as other health disorders.

I decided to have both my son and daughter try cow’s milk. The odd thing is my daughter had no reaction but son had  flare-ups of eczema.  I decided to switch my son from cow’s milk to goat’s milk, which to my surprise, is now sold in certain grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Goat’s milk has many benefits. In fact, goat’s milk is consumed in many parts of the world. Goat’s milk is given to many infants because it is most similar to breast milk. It is also easy to digest which is good for a baby’s immature stomach. Goats milk also contain many nutrients and is soothing to the stomach, which is why it is a great alternative to those who cannot consume cow’s milk. It contains less vitamin b 6 and b12 so it is important to fortify one’s diet in those nutrients if goat’s milk is consumed. The great news is that since my son has switched over to goat’s milk his eczema immediately went away. Goat’s milk is a great alternative for babies are individuals who are lactose intolerant or have food allergies due to milk.

 

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The Importance of Getting Educated On the Birth Control Pill

I treat many women who are trying to get pregnant after being on the birth control pill for many years. It always amazes me that there is not enough information that is given to women in regards to the pill. Many females are prescribed the birth control pill for a variety of reasons-birth control, PMS, reduction of painful menstruation, hormonal acne, as well as to help regulate their cycle. In many cases, women start the pill at an early age and continue it throughout their 20’s.  While many women may experience the return of the menstrual cycle without any issues after stopping the pill, others have issues with irregular menstruation as well as amenorrhea (absence of their menstrual cycle). I often see these types of cases in my office, my patients who are trying to get pregnant after being on the pill for some time. In certain cases, there are underlying issues such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that can cause irregular menstruation.  In other cases, there was no cause to amenorrhea or the absence of their period. Let’s take a look first in how the pill works.

The pill is a blend of estrogen and progestin and in some pills only progestin. The combination of hormones work to inhibit ovulation, as well as increase cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to pass through.  That is how it works to inhibit pregnancy. A period takes place after stopping progestin. It signals to the body to shed the uterine lining.  Therefore, although you are getting a period, it is not your natural period taking place.  There are many benefits to taking the pill because of that–the natural hormonal activity is not taking place and many symptoms related to menstruation can cease. However, the issue lies in just that–exogenous hormones are being put in one’s system–the natural hormonal activity of the menstrual cycle is not taking place. Therefore, it does not really act to regulate menstruation. Furthermore, if there are issues that occur, it can go undetected for years until a woman finally goes off the pill.  That is normally the time when I see these cases.  It is important to be educated on the birth control pill particularly if you would like to get pregnant.

On The BCP and Thinking of Getting Pregnant

If you are trying to get pregnant or have been on the birth control pill for many years, going off the pill for a year before wanting to actually try to get pregnant will allow one to address any issues that may be present.   It also allows one cycle to return. It can take time for a female’s period to resume after being on the pill for many years so it is important to have time on one’s side and seek treatment if there are issues after stopping the pill.

Timing

I often recommend to my patients who have been on the birth control pill for many years to stop it and let their period resume.  They can go on the pill at a later point but it is good to let the body’s natural hormones and cycle take place.  It also can give one indication if there are underlying reproductive issues going on. Of course, if you decide to stop the pill, you must have other types of contraception.

Resolution of Symptoms

If you are on the pill for painful menstruation, acne, irregular menstruation as well as other types of health issues, there are other options that you can seek out.  Many of my patients have told me that they wish they knew of other options to treat their health issues. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are successful natural treatments for many women’s menstrual disorders such as hormonal acne, PCOS, painful menstruation, irregular menstruation and PMS.

I hope you enjoyed this article; if you have any questions, please feel free to contact deb@sage-wellness.com.

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SPRING ALLERGIES AND CHINESE MEDICINE  

    With nature and trees in bloom, allergies are predominant this time of year.  I believe the best treatment for allergies is to get to the root of the issue.  Decongestants provide relief moment, but unfortunately allergy symptoms come back full force. Try acupuncture to help relieve your allergy symptoms.  The theory behind treatment for allergies is to build the body’s immune function in order to resist the allergy response.  Acupuncture also helps to reduce inflammation in the nasal passageways and boost the immune system to ward off pathogens such as pollen, trees and other pathogens that are predominant this time of year. I normally treat with a two-pronged approach. Initially I treat the acute symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion and sinus headaches. After the symptoms go away, I treat the root condition of what is causing the allergies to manifest. That way you’re not only alleviating symptoms, but preventing them from coming back.

An easy tip at-home treatment that you can do to reduce nasal congestion from allergies is a mint vapor steam. Boil water and throw some mint leaves in.  Then put a towel over your head and breathe in the steam. Make sure that the steam is not too hot so you don’t burn yourself. Sinus washes are good too, but be careful because water can get stuck in the nasal passageways and exacerbate your symptoms.

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Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life but it does not go easy for everyone, many women experience nausea in their first trimester of pregnancy. Most medications cannot be taken during pregnancy, which leaves women with little to ease their nausea symptoms.  I treat many women who experience nausea during their first trimester.

During the first trimester, the increase in hormones causes havoc on the digestive system, although it is not quite known what causes first trimester nausea, it is theorized that the rise in estrogen is the main factor.  Pregnant women can experience nausea as early as 5 weeks and it normally abates by week 12 but in certain extreme cases can last the whole pregnancy. In severe cases, vomiting can ensue so it is important to hydrate.

Acupuncture To Treat Pregnancy-Related Nausea

In Chinese Medicine, during the first trimester, nausea can be due to different factors.  The spleen which is the one of the main organs in the digestive system according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be deficient due to the pregnancy or it can also be deficient preceding pregnancy. Therefore, I always ask if my patient had any digestive system complaints before pregnancy.  Other factors that can cause nausea are too much heat in the stomach or if there is stuck energy.

Acupuncture is extremely beneficial in treating pregnancy-related nausea. This is because, depending on what is imbalanced in the digestive system, and acupuncture helps to restore balance and homeostasis where symptoms go away.  What I often see in many cases is a deficient digestive system where “dampness” accumulates causing nausea during pregnancy.  The spleen in Chinese Medicine is responsible for the transformation and transportation of fluids, when it is deficient in pregnancy fluids accumulate called “dampness”. Dampness can be a factor in nausea. There are other types of factors to why nausea can develop and each case may be different. Therefore, after assessing a patient, different acupuncture points are used to stabilize the digestive system and reduce nausea symptoms. Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy and I normally give two sessions per week for 2 weeks and then assess how my patient is doing.

There are good points for acupressure that I teach my patients. One point is Pericardium 6, located about two inches above the inner wrist. This point is often where sea bands wrap around. This point I also include in pregnancy-related nausea because of its ability to ease nausea symptoms.  If you are experiencing nausea of any kind, this point is excellent. Simply put three finger (index, middle and ring finger) on the inner wrist.  Pericardium 6 is located three finger widths from the inner wrist between the two tendons.

Tips For Nausea During Pregnancy

1). It is important to keep hydrated during pregnancy, since most women do not like to drink water when they are nauseous. Other good beverages are coconut water and vitamin water.

2). Keep crackers by your bedside and have them before you go to bed and first thing in the morning. Nausea can occur on an empty stomach.

3). Avoid cold or raw foods first thing in the morning.

 

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How Acupuncture Can Be Effective In Reducing Stress

Let’s face it, most everyone has a good amount of stress in their life, some more than others but the demands life, family and work can be overwhelming.  Most of my patients come in with some degree of stress that can be one of the factors to why they are dealing with health issues.  Often times I hear,”I feel stuck”, “I hate my job but I can’t quit”, I am overwhelmed with the unending projects and tasks”.  So what does stress do to the body?

Stress causes the sympathetic nervous system or our “flight or fight” response to be activated.  This biological response is needed for a quick response in order to get out of danger but our danger is no longer being chased by a tiger-it is the daily grind.  As the sympathetic nervous system activates, adrenaline and cortisol levels are released and as a result, your heart rate can increase, your muscles tense up, you may feel the surge of energy to get things done and as soon as you get home, you crash. Your body can not sustain this activity you are outputting and over time your natural energy reserves are being tapped and then you become truly exhausted or you begin to suffer from headaches, stomach issues, body aches and tension, menstrual cramps, or other types of disorders.

In Chinese Medicine, stress causes havoc in the body and can tax many organ systems. One of the main organs that is effected by stress is the liver. The liver energy helps to move blood flow throughout the body. It helps to create a harmonious environment in the body. When the liver energy stagnates you can experience tension headaches, digestive system issues, PMS, menstrual cramps, tight shoulders and a variety of other health ailments. Stress can also have an effect on the digestive system where gas, bloating, indigestion and IBS symptoms arise. PMS is often due to underlying frustration or stress. Most of my patients that come in for treatment have underlying stress that can be a contributing factor to their health ailments. Therefore, I normally address these symptoms in treatment.

Acupuncture has become a mainstream treatment for stress management because it is safe and effective.  Depending on the symptoms and what the patient is manifesting, acupuncture helps to reduce sympathetic nervous system activity as well as reduces cortisol levels.  Acupuncture treatments also address the health issues that stress is causing including headaches, PMS, digestive systems issues and anxiety.  Patients normally feel much more relaxed after treatment and as I say the stress is always there but you are not interacting with it.

Other important factors that I emphasize with my patients who experience stress are:

1). Setting Boundaries-One of the most important things is to set boundaries with work and home. Leave work by a certain hour and realize, the work will still be there when you get back in the morning so atleast live your life a bit.

2). Eat regularly-This is important to balance your sympathetic nervous system, allowing your parasympathetic (rest and digestion) to take place. Make sure to take time off when eating and allow your body to just focus on eating instead of doing other things.

3). Avoid multi-tasking– Multi-tasking actually decreases focus and concentration and ultimately is not “more productive” in the long run. Make sure to block times to get things done and avoid checking email throughout that time.

4). Avoid the blackberry and computer afterwork hours: Alot of people try to get things done when they get home.  When your body is constantly engaged in activity it never fully relaxes.

5). Avoid caffeine or sugar which are stimulates and tend to cause more anxiety when you are stressed.

Incorporate:

  1. One daily activity that allows you to relax.  This may be exercising, taking a bath or reading a book.
  2. A mindset that is more flexible instead of trying to “control” everything.
  3. A healthy diet that enables you to have more sustained energy instead of reaching for candy bars and carbs when you are feeling low energy.
  4. Mind-body therapies such as acupuncture, reiki or other types of therapies that are aimed to reduce stress and balance your body

For more information about Sage Wellness, or if you would like to book an appointment please visit our website at www.sage-wellness.com or call 917.763.8560.

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When you are going through IVF it is not only an emotional roller coaster ride but also can be financially draining.  You are looking for everything to help boost your chances of getting pregnant. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat infertility and now it used as an integrative approach for women undergoing assisted fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF.

One study done showed 42.5% of women who were undergoing acupuncture and IVF get pregnant compared to the control group of 21.3% pregnancy rate who did not receive acupuncture pre and post transfer.1

How Does Acupuncture Work With IVF?

Acupuncture helps to correct imbalances in the reproductive system that may be impeding a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  Therefore, the most optimal time to start acupuncture is 2-3 months before undergoing IVF to help correct those imbalances and support the reproductive system thus enabling a healthier uterine environment for IVF. Once a woman is undergoing IVF, acupuncture helps to:

  • Increase blood flow to the uterus which is important for implantation
  • Stimulate follicle growth
  • Reduce Stress
  • Build A Healthy Uterine Lining

Acupuncture During Follicular-Stimulating Stage

Ideally, I see patients twice during their stimulation phase.  This is when follicle stimulating drugs are administered to enhance follicle growth.  The main goal is to produce a good amount of eggs and good quality eggs.  Acupuncture during this time helps to support the reproductive system and stimulates follicular growth.

Acupuncture During Retrieval Stage

During the retrieval, when the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries to be fertilized, I like to see patients before their retrieval for acupuncture. This helps to bring blood flow to the ovaries and remove any obstructions such as dampness or blood stasis to help fertilization take place.

Acupuncture During Transfer Stage

This is normally the time of anxiety.  It is finally here to transfer the fertilized eggs.  I see patients before their transfer and then 24 to 48 hours after their transfer.  Acupuncture given before transfer enables blood flow to the uterus, helps to relax the patient thus relaxing muscles and priming the uterine environment for implantation.

A post transfer treatment helps to reduce uterine spasms, thus supporting implantation.

If you want more information or have specific questions, please call our office at 917.763.8560 to schedule a complimentary 20 minute phone consultation.

References:

Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril 2002; 77: 721-4.

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Moxibustion is a “warming”technique using the herb mugwort or ai ya in Chinese Medicine.  Mugwort has been used in many different cultures for its medicinal properties. Moxibustion helps to increase blood circulation, tonify energy and stimulate digestive system function as well as boost the immune system. Moxibustion comes in different forms including direct and indirect moxibustion.

Indirect moxa can be either pole moxa, like in the picture to the right, or when moxa is placed at the end of an acupuncture needle and lit. Direct moxibustion is when a cone shaped moxa is placed directly on the skin or is placed on a barrier such as ginger and then placed on the skin.  This form of moxibustion is not as commonly used since it can burn the skin.

Moxibustion is used for a variety of health conditions. Since moxibustion is warm and dry it is used in certain health issues where there are deficiencies of energy such as chronic fatigue syndrome as well as certain types of IBS disorders and diarrhea.  Moxibustion is very beneficial in treating arthritic conditions as well as joint pain when the pain is predominantly worse in cold or damp weather.  Moxibustion is also used in woman’s health disorders such as infertility, ovarian cysts and menstrual cramps.  It is also beneficial in improving poor sperm motility and impotence.

Moxibustion is also a popular technique used for breech presentations.  A moxa stick is normally used and placed about an inch away from a point on the little toe.

Moxibustion is safe to use but it is warm and drying so people that tend to be warm or experience night sweats should avoid using moxibustion.

References:

Dharmananda, Subhuti Moxibustion, Practical Considerations for Modern Use of An Ancient Technique, retrieved March 9, 2011 http://www.itmonline.org/arts/moxibustion.htm.

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