Integrative Medicine Center, LLC – Acupuncture Blog
We specialize in treating people who are suffering with ailments that are not responding to traditional western medical therapies or people looking for alternative solutions to drugs or surgery. This is Robert L. Bastress II blog who is in 19th year of private practice as an acupuncturist and I specialize in pain management, digestive disorders, and women’s health.
As an acupuncturist, I am constantly assessing. Before my patients answer a single question, I am taking in cues as to what types of imbalances might be going on. In five-element acupuncture, the five major organ systems are the kidney, liver, lung, heart and spleen. When any of these systems are out of balance, certain physical, mental and emotional issues can manifest. Even if you aren’t experiencing a specific health issue, however, you will likely display particular personality traits that fall within these five organ systems. In the five-element world, the lungs are connected to the element of metal.
So what does this mean? Metal is rigid, unbending, set in its structure. Someone who is a lung-type would take comfort in rules, reason and rationality. This person is someone who likes to maintain a sense of control over himself and his environment. To a lung personality, it is important that their world is in order, and that it makes sense. The lung also controls the emotion of grief, and the idea of letting go. Someone with a lung imbalance might have an aura of sadness or loss, or have difficulty letting go of past suffering.
So, as a practitioner, what might I see that would demonstrate a lung personality in a prospective patient? These types of patients might not be overly warm and fuzzy, but they would display good manners and a respectful air. They would likely be right on time for their session, paperwork filled out completely and perhaps have a number of questions regarding exactly what they should expect following their session. In any of the organ systems, an imbalance would cause these personality traits to become more pronounced. In the case of lung energetics, a polite manner might come across as aloof; an orderly nature might transform into the desire to control the people around you; perfectionism can result in frustration with both self and others.
Remember what I said about letting go? From a physical standpoint, the lungs have a connection to constipation. If the body can’t let go, this is the result. If the mind can’t let go, you might feel stuck, and unwilling to change. Or, you may simmer over past grievances, unable to move on. You might also become frozen by your desire for perfection. Since the lung is all about correct, fair behavior, it may be hard for a lung type to think outside the box, or to come up with creative solutions.
If you fall into this category, acupuncture can work wonders on helping you to relax, soften and release old, negative patterns that have become stuck within.
Mental and Emotional Aspects of the Lungs was last modified: September 24th, 2018 by admin
Stress is something that affects everybody. Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional tension or strain resulting from demanding or adverse circumstances. This can result in a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, pain, insomnia, worry, anxiety, depression and even disease. And according to a recent survey, nearly 77 percent of all Americans regularly experience physical or psychological symptoms caused by stress (American Institute of Stress, May 2017).
On a cellular level, chronic stress has actually been shown to shorten the immune cell telomeres. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found in chromosomes that promote genetic stability. When the body is stressed, the immune cells are less likely to duplicate and this puts the body at risk of infection or illness.
So what can be done to reduce stress? The simple answer is a ton. Some examples of ways to deal with stress include exercising, journaling, meditation, coloring, getting a massage, reading, watching a movie, talking with friends, playing games, sitting in nature, eating healthy food and even acupuncture.
This leads us to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a 3,000 year old medical system that can balance the body, relieve stress and decrease/prevent disease. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat people, but according to many scholars, it all began with herbal medicine. Herbs can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to create customized formulas that help heal the body. Here are some examples of herbs and formulas that can combat stress.
1. Eleuthro or Ci Wu Jia: This herb is an adaptogen, meaning it has revitalizing or restorative properties. In particular, Ci Wu Jia works very well for people who work high stress jobs, work long hours or have erratic schedules. It supports quality sleep and also strengthens the immune system.
2. Aswhagandha: While this herb is not regularly used in TCM, it is still a very potent herb for tackling stress. Specifically, ashwagandha helps with anxiety, fatigue and stress-induced insomnia. It is also used to support the immune system and stimulate the thyroid gland for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
3. Xiao Yao San: This herbal formula combines several herbs to become one of the most frequently prescribed formulas in TCM. Xiao Yao San soothes the liver, which according to TCM theory is where stress is controlled.
4. Cordyceps or Dong Chong Xia Cao: Cordyceps is a type of fungus found on caterpillars. It has been used by TCM practitioners for centuries to fight fatigue, support the immune system and protect the liver and kidneys.
5. Suan Zao Ren Tang: This herbal formula is very effective for treating agitation, insomnia, irritability and scattered thoughts. These symptoms are very common in people who are overworked and emotionally stressed out.
Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from stress and anxiety. To find out more about these herbs, reach out to us!
Herbal Tonics to Reduce Stress was last modified: August 27th, 2018 by admin
Stress is a word many people are familiar with. The dictionary defines stress in multiple ways, but there is only one that matters when we discuss how stress affects our physical bodies. The definition is this, “stress is a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” And while most people think of stress as being detrimental, it truly does have a function in our bodies. Stress is the body’s way of signaling for help or a break in the routine. If we don’t listen to these signals, we can develop imbalances in our bodies, which can then lead to illnesses.
Cortisol is the hormone most closely related to stress. Cortisol is a big component of the “fight or flight” response we feel when we are scared or threatened. And in small bursts, cortisol is helpful. However, when stress becomes chronic, cortisol levels become elevated and never return to normal. This puts the body in a constant state of being on edge, eventually causing insomnia, depression, anxiety, digestive issues and even mental illness.
There are ways to fight and reduce stress though. Simple things like exercise, meditation, coloring, talking with friends and even acupuncture. Admittedly, most people don’t think of being stuck with tiny needles as “relaxing,” but it really is. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and it is becoming more mainstream every single day. It is even being used in some hospital emergency rooms for those who are in pain and anxious.
Acupuncture acts like physical therapy for the nervous system. The tiny needles retrain the nervous system and the brain to behave as it should normally. For the nervous system to act and respond accordingly, cortisol has to be at normal levels and only used when a true “fight or flight” situation occurs. Studies show acupuncture does this.
Another way acupuncture helps reduce stress is by keeping the heart rate normal. When the body is stressed, the heart tends to pump faster and in some cases, a person may even develop palpitations or atrial fibrillation. The heart rate is closely connected to the vagus nerve. If the vagus nerve is stimulated, so too will the heart rate. There are specific acupressure points on the arms and hands that can calm the vagus nerve and the heart.
Stress is frequently related to specific emotions. Acupuncture controls anxiety and stress by affecting the part of the brain that regulates emotions and then reduces anxiety naturally. This allows the body to calm down and the mind to relax.
Chronic stress frequently leads to depression. Again, acupuncture can help with this. As the stress is relieved through regular acupuncture treatments and other mind/body techniques, then depression will start to clear up as well. Many people are even able to get off their depression medications following a regimented treatment plan that utilizes acupuncture and herbs.
Lastly, digestive disorders can be caused or exacerbated by chronic stress. Digestion occurs while the body is in the “rest and digest” phase. When stress is added into the mix, digestion may become disrupted and things like diarrhea can occur. Studies have shown acupuncture is extremely effective at decreasing or eliminating bouts of diarrhea.
Acupuncture is a wonderful tool for fighting stress. As few as two needles can reset your body and decrease your daily stress level. Talk with an acupuncturist to find out how to resolve your stress the natural way.
Five Reasons Acupuncture Helps Reduce Stress was last modified: August 27th, 2018 by admin
Do you consider yourself a healthy eater? Do you follow the guidelines set forth by the government for healthy eating? Or have you gone rogue? There are as many different definitions of healthy as there are colors in the rainbow. But according to traditional Chinese medicine, there are certain guidelines that will keep the body happy and healthy throughout life. Let’s explore this a little deeper.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine diet is based on energetic principles that encourage balance, clean burning digestion and a well-functioning body that remains free of disease and full of energy. Eating for balance is a way of life in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory. There are certain foods that help the digestive system function properly and allow the body to utilize the nutrients it needs to perform. When food enters the mouth, it travels through the stomach and intestines. This is where the energy is extracted from the food and the waste products are excreted. The energy that was extracted become your life force or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Digestion, in TCM theory, should be an unnoticeable event. The digestive system should be clean and quiet, allowing the body to extract the most nutrition and energy from the food that is ingested. If the digestive system becomes clogged, the energy does not get adequately absorbed and there is leftover residue that sticks to places within the body thus causing blockages and affecting the body’s daily functions.
Dampness is the most common byproduct of eating foods that create blockages in the digestive system. Foods that create dampness include cheese, yogurt, white flour and sugar. Dampness causes blockages or stagnations that can then lead to pain and disease. Symptoms of accumulated dampness include mucus, loose stools or constipation, excess weight gain and swollen joints. Chronic allergies and arthritis are two Western medicine diseases that are very closely linked to dampness.
To avoid disease, the TCM diet recommends things like steamed rice, cooked vegetables and small quantities of animal protein. Vegetables play a major role in draining dampness and are packed with nutrition. The more colorful the vegetables, the healthier they are for the body, as they contain lots of antioxidants that promote health and longevity. Your plate should begin with large quantities of brightly colored and lightly cooked vegetables. Leafy greens are very important also as they are some of the most balancing and nutrient dense foods available.
Rice is a balanced food that is easily digested. Rice is also hypo-allergenic and this is advantageous to those who are dealing with allergies as it is very gentle on the digestive system. White rice tends to be more cleansing, while brown rice is considered more nourishing. Rice is a clean burning food that gently drains dampness from the body.
Protein is the final component of a healthy TCM diet. Animal proteins and beans are difficult to digest and therefore are only suggested in small quantities. Beans are better overall than animal proteins as they do help absorb dampness and they provide fiber.
There are several things that should be avoided in the TCM diet. Dairy is one of the biggest culprits of creating dampness. It is also cold in nature and this is a hindrance to the digestion. Cold, raw foods are culprits in the formation of dampness, as it is difficult for the body to process them. This is why foods ingested should be at least at body temperature. When the body has to heat the food, it drains the energetic resources of the body, which weakens the body over time. So things like salads, chilled food, iced drinks and frozen foods should not be included in the daily diet.
When it comes to healthy eating, it is obvious that most of the United States doesn’t adhere to the aforementioned guidelines. If you are truly trying to eat healthy and you are dealing with illness, why not consider trying the TCM way of eating? You might be surprised at how your body changes.
Healthy Eating According to Traditional Chinese Medicine was last modified: July 30th, 2018 by admin
Summer is a season of abundant energy and light, long days, pool parties, ice cream and lemonade. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes summer as the time of year that has the utmost yang and therefore the element associated with summer is fire. In TCM, there are specific energetic pathways related to each season and element. For the season of summer, the heart and small intestine are the connected pathways.
The heart is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. And in TCM, mental activity also falls under the jurisdiction of the heart. This includes our thought processes, memories and emotional state of mind.
The small intestine is responsible for receiving partially digested food from the stomach and refining it further. The small intestine separates the pure from the impure and pushes the impure elements into the large intestine for elimination, while the purified nutrients are utilized by the body. In TCM, the small intestine also influences a person’s judgement and mental clarity.
When the heart and small intestine channels are not functioning properly, a person may experience symptoms such as insomnia, depression, indigestion, heartburn, irritability, agitation and even palpitations.
To keep the heart and small intestine functioning properly within the TCM system, things like acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional counseling and practices like qi gong or tai chi may need to be incorporated. There are over 350 acupuncture points on the body, but there are a few that work exceptionally well during the summer season to help with mental clarity and digestion.
1. Heart 8
This point is located bilaterally on the palm of the hand. When a fist is made, the point is where the tip of the little finger lands. Heart 8 can be used to decrease palpitations, calm the mind and bring down a fever.
2. Large Intestine 11
This point is located bilaterally in the depression on the outside edge of the crease created when the elbow is flexed. This point is a great to use when a person is overheating. It can lower blood pressure, decrease a fever and help with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Small Intestine 3
This point is located bilaterally on the outside edge of the fist, just behind the largest knuckle of the hand, where the red and white skin meet. Small intestine 3 can help decrease a fever and calm the mind.
4. Heart 7
This point is located bilaterally at the outside end of the wrist crease, in the depression between the two tendons. This point is great for calming palpitations, decreasing a fever and settling the mind.
5. Ren 4
This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about three thumb-breadths below the belly button. Ren 4 helps with indigestion and diarrhea. It also specifically helps separate the pure from the impure.
Any of these points can be used alone or in conjunction with others. They can be manually stimulated using pressure from a finger or dull, rounded tool. But for best effects, it is recommended acupuncture be applied.
Five Acupuncture Points for Summer was last modified: June 25th, 2018 by admin