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. 

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I found out that one of our oldest family friends developed cancer. It's never something you expect to hear, especially around the holidays. Our family friend is also an acupuncturist, a great one. In fact, she supported me as a role model in my personal journey to become a Chinese Medicine practitioner. She's also always been one of the most health-conscious people I knew. So to hear that she's developed cancer--something that even the magic of Chinese Medicine and a lifetime of healthy habits could not prevent, was shocking to me. This just goes to show that anything can happen in life. And now more than ever, I feel so grateful that she is able to access the life-saving treatments that she needs. 

As an acupuncturist and herbalist, with a sister who is a naturopathic doctor, I tend to take a holistic approach to life, and that includes mothering. While I am still quite a new mother, and will have many more experiences to learn from, some natural approaches to mothering that I use include herbs, homeopathy, essential oils, supplements, acupuncture/acupressure, chiropractic, nutrition, and nature. 

Holidays can be a tough time for many, with past memories of our lost loved ones and happy times that we all share. This Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to go visit some of my family in Texas. While I was there, I reflected on this past year, and I want to say that even through the challenges of trying to balance work with family life, I feel happy and thankful. I’m thankful for my health, my life, I’m thankful for the time that was given to me by Simple Health because I haven’t had the luxury of down time in a long while. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving, and spent their time with the ones we love and care about most. 

It is Fall and the holiday season is here; Halloween just passed, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and soon the Winter holidays will be here. As the new year nears, so does New Year’s Day, and with it the resolutions that many make to ring in a healthier year. Often, dramatic changes that one resolves to make end up being a little too difficult to adhere to. 

Some easy and permanent healthy changes that you can make to meet the New Year: 

  • Cut out all high-fructose corn syrup from your diet
  • Read ingredients
  • Add veggies!
  • Incorporate more movement into your life

'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.