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. 

'Tis the season! Even in our normally temperate So-Cal environment, Fall is in the air. And right around this time, grocery stores are piling up the pumpkins for our holiday needs. Somehow over the years, it seems that the wonderful pumpkin has become rather more of a decorative item than food. Even pumpkin pie is mostly made with seasoned and pureed pumpkin from a can. Which is why I thought this is the perfect time of year to extol some praises for our forgotten friend. You may be surprised to find the wonders that the good old pumpkin has in store. 

1) Weight Loss!

Pumpkin is filled with vitamins and nutrients. But best of all, in each cup of cooked pumpkin, there are seven grams of Fiber!  That's almost a third of your daily Fiber requirements! Eating foods that are high in fiber not only helps you with digestive regularity, it gives you the sensation of being fuller for longer. Furthermore, each cup of cooked pumpkin has only 30 calories! This makes the pumpkin an excellent addition to your diet. 

If you are a Senior, and you are having problems with balance, stability when standing, or the tendency to trip and fall, you are not alone! Personally, I can say that I am the biggest clutz. I am the person who’s constantly banging into walls, who trips over my own two feet. I’ll certainly be the one you see walking on a perfectly flat sidewalk in comfortably flat shoes and then suddenly trip over...nothing! For people like myself, falling might be common, but luckily I am still in my 20s, and a fall may just mean a big bruise or some soreness for a couple of days. But for Seniors, even a simple fall or bump can have serious repercussions. Luckily, I have a few tips that may help you prevent falls and injuries. But first, here are some hard facts: 

Did you know? 

  • One out of five falls causes an injury, such as broken bones or even head injuries.
  • Each year about 2.8 million older people are treated in the E.R. for fall injuries. 
  • Each year 300,000 older people are hospitalized due to falling. 
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. 
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
  • Falls involving a hip fracture lead to 10-15% reduction in life expectancy. 
  • Falls often result in long term pain.

The end of summer in Southern California almost always means a heat wave. For my patients who suffer from the symptoms of menopause, this is often the most uncomfortable time of year. Menopause is probably one of the most over-looked syndromes in modern medicine. If you've ever been to a doctor for menopausal complaints, likely you would be offered one of two things: 1: Artificial Hormones, or 2: Just deal with it! 

I think neither one of those options are acceptable. And they don't have to be! Hormone replacement therapy comes with a whole host of health risks. And simply suffering through the symptoms of menopause, likely for many years, is just not a great option. There is a solution for menopause, and it can mean having a graceful, natural transition into the next stage of a woman's life. The solution is Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. 

Symptoms of Menopause

We've all seen the ladies with the fans, red-faced, sweat pouring down their head and chest, even in what seems to be a perfectly temperate environment. That's menopause--all the hot flashes, day sweating, night sweating (overall sweating really), irritability, and weight gain--that's just the most commonly talked about symptoms. Other common symptoms of menopause include insomnia, thirst, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, dry skin and eyes, dry/brittle/thinning hair, loss of memory and concentration. People are often not even aware that these other symptoms are related to menopause. While not everyone experiences all of the symptoms, many women at some point or another have experienced all of them, which does not make for a great quality of life. I often have patients who tell me they are so embarrassed by the constant sweating and sensation of heat, that it prevents them from doing social activities. 

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. 

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