Simple Health Acupuncture's Blog

In our blog we will discuss many wellness topics such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, herbal medicine, natural cosmetic treatments, pain management, mental health, lifestyle and healthy living. We hope you enjoy reading. 

Chinese medicine is fantastic at helping prevent and treat common colds and flus that many of us succumb to during the Fall’s “flu season.” Chinese herbs can be used in classic or modified formulas, depending on symptoms and constitution, to best treat the whole person, and help resolve the illness quickly without the progression into a deeper disease, such as sinus infections, bronchitis or pneumonia. Chinese herbs are a wonderful alternative to flu and cold drugs, as they do not contain ingredients such as PPA (phenylpropanolamine), which may cause hemorrhagic strokes, and are found in over-the-counter cold remedies. Chinese herbs also do not have side effects such as drowsiness, elevated blood pressure and pulse rate, anxiety or nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and others that are associated with over-the-counter medications. 

Properties and Characteristics of Herbs

Many Chinese herbs have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Some of the more commonly used herbs to prevent and treat colds and flus include: astragalus (huang qi), ginger (gan jiang), baphicacanthus root (ban lan gen), licorice (gan cao), coptis rhizome (huang lian), scutellaria (huang qin), pinellia (ban xia), mint (bo he), honeysuckle (jin yin hua), forsythia (lian qiao), magnolia flower (xin yin hua), xanthium fruit (cang er zi), schizonepeta (jing jie), angelica root (bai zhi), balloon flower root (jie geng), ledebouriella root (fang feng), cinnamon twig (gui zhi), apricot seeds (xing ren) and many, many more. 

People often ask, “should I use ice therapy or heat therapy to treat my injury?” This seemingly simple question is actually not so easy to answer. Through experience, I learned that always paying attention to the client's body is the key to determining the right form of therapy. Something else that I think everyone should ask themselves is, which one feels better to you? Because you can often tell what your body needs by its response. 

Both ice therapy or heat therapy can have great results, but the one that works best depends on the person’s injury and current condition. If the injury is recent and acute, for example, if you sprained your ankle and had immediate pain, swelling, redness, and sensation of heat emanating from the source of injury, that is true inflammation, and ice therapy should be applied. In a case of true inflammation, if heat is used, it will often aggravate the condition. A good analogy for that would be putting fire on top of fire. 

The vagus nerve plays a huge roll in each of our lives every moment of every day. The vagus nerve, the tenth and the longest of the cranial nerves, is responsible for many crucial functions in the body, as it conducts nerve impulses to every major organ, and regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system (along with the sympathetic nervous system) and regulates the body’s unconscious actions when the body is at rest, such as digestion, urination, salivation, sexual arousal, and defecation. When our sympathetic nervous system engages, often due to stress, and we have a “fight or flight” response, the vagus nerve helps the body relax again. The vagus nerve helps us breathe, as it elicits acetylcholine, which tells our lungs to breathe. Our heart rate is controlled by the vagus nerve as well, and it helps to slow our pulse. The vagus nerve, when functioning well, allows us to create memories. The gut uses the vagus nerve to communicate with the brain and tell it how you are feeling. When the vagus nerve learns there is inflammation in the body, it notifies the brain and anti-inflammatory neurotransmitters are sent to the rescue. 

I have been in my field for about 5 years now and I can honestly say I did not know what I was getting myself into. In school you never really know all the careers that are out there and maybe now you still might not know. I fell into massage therapy by accident, I was living with a friend and needed to go to school for something. One day during her orientation they were giving free massages to my surprise. So I agreed to getting a massage while I waited for my friend, I mean after all, I didn’t have anything better to do. I never got a real massage before and never knew that people get massages on a regular basis. That’s when I received my first real therapeutic massage. After I enjoyed a nice stress relief massage I had to know more. My low back pain wasn’t as intense and I simple just felt lighter on my feet.

During my younger adolescent years, I was always into sports. Consequently, during a co-ed basketball game, a much larger boy than I, landed on my low back and causing low back pains for what I thought would be the rest of my life. I was always in pain with my low back and it would radiate throughout my body. I was in such agony at such a young age. I went to many doctors and physical therapist, but no one seemed like they were able to fix the problem, which caused me to believe the worst. That is until I got to massage school. When I was in massage school I would always volunteer to be “the body” during my teachers teachings. I really fell in love with massage when I started to notice the positive changes throughout my body.

Ever since the Rio Olympics began, many athletes have been spotted (pun intended) with large, perfectly round, purple colored marks on their bodies. Especially Michael Phelps, one of the most decorated Olympians, whose purple spotted body created quite a curious stir. Soon, all these articles started popping up exposing this ancient method of treatment--cupping!

Naturally, I was very excited to see this. Because cupping is a Chinese Medicine technique that I use every day in practice, and it is about time it was shed some well-deserved lime-light. But when I started to read some of the articles explaining what cupping is, how it works, and whether or not it is just the next fad in athletics that will turn out to be hocus-pocus, I found a ton of misinformation out there that I simply needed to help clear up. 

So what exactly is cupping and what does it treat?

You will never find better tomatoes than this time of year. I don't care what agricultural advances, genetic engineering, or selective breeding claim they can do. The best time of year for the perfectly ripe, succulent, sweet, deliciously juicy tomato is summer. I think we've broached the subject of seasonal eating before, and I think there's no better way to eat. Because in the end, nature always knows best. And what's more is that food in season generally tends to be better for your body, better for the environment, and better for your wallet as well. 

Staying healthy in the summer actually is something people worry about. Many of us take all year just to get ready for our “Summer Body”. When summer comes and our bodies are not looking just quite how we want them to, we tend to lose the motivation of keeping up with our healthy habits such as eating healthy, exercising, and staying hydrated. With the loss of motivation and the heat starting to set in, some of us find our lazy bad habits surfacing. I have some tips I would love to share with you guys to help stay healthy this summer. 

Drinking water is essential to our health. We must replenish the fluids that we lose through sweat, urination, tears, etcetera, or we become dehydrated. Extreme dehydration leads to death. As I am sure everyone has heard before, our bodies are about 60-70% water. To maintain the proper balance of body fluids, which are responsible for absorption, digestion, metabolism, circulation, transporting nutrients and waste products, and maintaining body temperature, we must stay hydrated. You already probably know that when your urine is light and free of odor, you are staying properly hydrated, but when your urine is dark and there is odor, you are dehydrated and need to drink more water. 

Years ago when I began my journey as an Acupuncturist, it was my dream to someday open up an integrative, holistic wellness center. Integrative care has always been my goal, because when it comes to medicine I believe there is nothing better than preventative care. If we can show patients how to maintain healthy habits, if we can use modalities like Acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine, and chiropractic to prevent pain, and nip diseases in the bud, we are not just helping our patients, we are allowing patients to achieve health, happiness, and quality of life. And that is what integrative medicine is all about. 

In a recent blog post I wrote about Mind Body Medicine, and meditation as a practice of Mind Body Medicine. Meditation is a powerful way to reduce stress and heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Meditation is free and can be practiced anywhere and at almost any time. 

My journey with meditation began as a runner in my childhood. I did not realize until I was in my twenties that one of the greatest loves of my runs was a clearer mind, the patter of my feet hitting the ground lulled me into a space of quiet. I next began practicing yoga, and although I had learned that yoga helped to prepare the body for meditation, focus was always on the asana practice. So while I left class feeling like my mind was clearer, I didn’t put emphasis of my yoga practice on meditation. 

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