Irregular and Painful Menstruation

Unfortunately, many women suffer with monthly symptoms related to menstruation.  It is entirely possible that a woman with severe imbalances might have to live with some form of misery, but we have found the vast majority of the time that consistent treatment over time with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine will help improve that time of the month.

The following attributes illustrate high female reproductive system function:

  • Timing: menstruation should coincide with the new moon and ovulation should occur during the full moon (if the moon phases can affect the oceans’ tides, it can certainly affect body fluids)
  • Duration: typically, flow should last 3-5 days
  • Color: should be a healthy, red without abnormalities such as purple, pink, pale, brown, or black
  • Amount: moderate at onset, a slight increase at midpoint, followed by a slight decrease just before ending (there should not be particularly heavy flow at any point)
  • The rest of the month should pass without symptoms.

It can be very upsetting to some when they find out what a normal menstrual cycle should be.  Do not take offense; the intention is to not upset, rather to simply outline a normal reproductive cycle.  Thankfully, when one’s menstrual cycle normalizes, menopause is a very smooth and effortless process that passes very quickly without significant abnormal symptoms.

 

(source: http://www.amazon.com/Oriental-Medicine-You-500-year-old-Understandable/dp/0615456367)

Chinese Herbs and YOU

picture of Chinese herbs

People in America often times wonder how Chinese herbal formulation is done. What are Chinese herbs? Why take them? How do you take them? Why can’t I just go to the Vitamin or Health Food Store and take a mixture of supplements?

The answer to all of these questions is simple: each person, and their individual life stresses, is unique. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to getting your body healthy. Herbs and supplements are not recommended for everybody. A good practitioner will be able to accurately assess each patient’s state of health and recommend things that will benefit them specifically.

Now, on to answering the questions.

What are Chinese Herbs? How do you take them?

In Oriental Medicine, Chinese herbs have been used for thousands of years to help with many different health concerns. The earliest known literature containing herbal prescriptions, found in a tomb in China, dates back to almost 200 BC.

Modern day herbs are often a mixture of plant and animal parts, prepared in a certain way, and mixed in an exact formula to benefit the patient’s individual health needs. Not all acupuncturists are licensed to  mix herbs; it requires additional education and licensing, depending on which state the acupuncturist is practicing.

patent herbs
Chinese Patent Herbs come pre-made in pill form.

Patent herbs, the type you find most commonly at an acupuncturist’s clinic, come pre-mixed in pellet/pill form. These formulas and generally more standardized and cannot be modified to fit each patient’s individual needs. Many TCM practitioners use this form of herbs because it does not require the rigorous schooling and licensing, but they are able to prescribe them to the patients because they are not physically mixing the herbs themselves, rather ordering the premixed formula from an herb company. (Read more about TCM HERE)

chinese herb granules
Chinese Herbs in granule form- mixed specifically fro each patient.

Chinese herbal extracts, on the other hand, are individual herbs that can be mixed specifically for each unique patient. These extracts are often made into a granular form, which the Chinese herbal practitioner then keeps in their herbal pharmacy to compose formulas specific of the patient. To take these herbs, the patient mixes them with hot water and drinks it like a tea. These formulas are very individualized and highly effective for the patient to whom it was prescribed. (This is the form of herbs we carry in our clinic.)

Why Take Chinese Herbs?

Not all patients take herbs, and on some occasions, herbs are not recommended. If herbs are prescribed, they help reinforce what the acupuncture is doing, and, in the case of patients who cannot do acupuncture, there are many benefits. Herbs can be helpful in the treatment of pain, arthritis, inflammation, digestive trouble (IBS, colitis, diverticulitis, etc.), migraines and headaches, anxiety, depression, weight loss and metabolism deficiency, PMS and menopausal symptoms (cramping, bloating, irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings), and many other health concerns.

Because they can be mixed based on each unique patient, we can address many health problems with a single formula. 

Why can’t I just go to the Vitamin or Health Food Store and take a mixture of supplements? 

Well, technically you can, but you possibly will end up spending more money on supplements that may not be right ones or the correct dosages for your individual needs. Chinese herbs require additional licensing for a reason: a qualified professional must assess each individual and prescribe them, much like a doctor prescribing a medication (although, with herbs, there are rarely any side effects like you may experience with medication).

 

As usual, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

How Acupuncture Helps Treat Allergies

There are many reasons one could experience allergies with variations from person to person, however what follows are the basic mechanics. The spleen and the lungs govern the immune system, and although other systems in the body can be involved, these are most significantly involved with allergies.

The spleen, which is understood in Western Medicine as connected to the lymphatic system, governs internal immune function. The lymph is in charge of eliminating material from the body that is unneeded or unhealthy, such as toxins or pathogens. The following is a useful analogy: the lymphatic system is like the alley behind a city home where the trash is removed, whereas the blood vessels are like the street in front of the house which brings in groceries and other needed items.

Spleen function generates internal immune system activity, fighting pathogens that penetrate deeper into the body and destroys pathogens in the blood stream so that they don’t cause internal allergies. If one were to eat or inhale a potential allergen, the spleen is in charge of destroying this material.

The lungs govern your external immune function and open to the nose, throat, and sinuses. If the sinuses and the lungs are functioning well, the mucosal membranes of the sinuses have immune system factors that destroy any incoming pathogenic material, such as pollen.

Another thing to mention about allergies is the following 2,000-year-old quote: when the spleen malfunctions, it will cause fluids to build up in the body. When the lungs malfunction, they will take on fluids. An example of this would be one consuming food and fluids that aren’t fully metabolized by the spleen and stomach. Those fluids could then “travel” upwards into the lungs. The lungs, to protect themselves, would activate the cilia (small hairs that are designed to move substances up and out of the lungs), which would push those fluids out of the lungs and into the sinuses, causing sinus problems.

Acupuncture can help boost organ function and, in turn, help your body deal with any airborne particles that may cause allergic reactions.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

 

Stevia FAQ: Questions and Answers About Stevia Sweeteners.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

What is stevia?
Stevia rebaudiana is a shrub native to South America. Its leaves have been used there for centuries to sweeten beverages. It is also an approved food additive in other countries, including Japan, Brazil, and China.

In the U.S., stevia products were long sold as dietary supplements — but not as a food additives or ingredients — because of safety concerns. In 2008, the FDA stated that the use of a refined stevia preparation called Rebiana is “generally recognized as safe,” and can be used as a food ingredient. Products include, Good & Sweet, PureVia, Reb A, SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener, Sun Crystals (which combines stevia and sugar), and Truvia.

Fresh stevia leaves can be found at many farmers markets. The FDA now also allows certain refined stevia preparations to be used in food and drinks.

What does it taste like?
Stevia-based sweeteners have zero calories, yet are as much as 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). Some products may have a bitter taste.

Are stevia sweeteners artificial?
“I think that the FDA didn’t require good-enough testing,” Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), says in an email to WebMD. “That said, [Rebiana] is probably safe.”

In April 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that studies showed no risk of toxicity from highly purified stevia sweeteners. The CSPI still argues that more testing of these products is warranted.

Can stevia sweeteners be used in baking?
Yes, they can. Many product web sites have conversion charts to help.

How does stevia compare with other sugar substitutes?
Here is an overview of various sugar substitutes, including stevia.

Aspartame
What is it: Two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine; and methanol. Brand names are Equal and NutraSweet.
How it’s used: Equal tabletop sweetener, diet soft drinks such as Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, some sugar-free desserts, including gelatin desserts, yogurt, and puddings.
Advantages: Tastes similar to sugar. Enhances sweet flavors, especially fruit flavors.
Drawbacks: Should not be consumed by people with phenylketonuria (PKU). Controversy continues about whether aspartame is linked to increased cancer rates. Government agencies say it is safe. A recent study from an Italian cancer institute found more lymphomas and leukemia in rats fed very large amounts of aspartame. The CSPI recommends avoiding it.

Saccharin
What is it: Benzoic sulfinide.
How it’s used: Sweet’N Low tabletop sweetener, Tab diet cola, salad dressings, baked goods, canned fruit.
Advantages: Less expensive than other artificial sweeteners. Stable at high temperatures, so can be used for baking. Passes through the body unaltered.
Drawbacks: After studies in the early 1970s linked saccharin consumption to bladder cancer in rats, all food containing saccharin was required to carry a warning label. But studies in humans showed no consistent evidence that saccharin causes bladder cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. The warning label is no longer required. The CSPI advises avoiding saccharin because of studies that link it to cancer in rodents.

Acesulfame-K, or Ace-K
What is it: Acetoacetic acid and the mineral potassium.
How it’s used: Usually in gums, confections, cough drops, and carbonated and alcoholic beverages, often in combination with another sweetener. Also sold as Sunett or Sweet One.
Advantages: Extends shelf life of diet drinks. Can be used for cooking and baking. Not metabolized or absorbed by the body.
Drawbacks: Government health agencies say it is safe. The CSPI advises avoiding it and has asked the FDA to require more tests. Can taste bitter on its own; better tasting when blended with other sweeteners.

Sucralose
What is it: A sugar molecule chemically altered by replacing three hydroxyl groups with three atoms of chlorine.
How it’s used: Splenda tabletop sweetener and baking products. Also in yogurt, fruit juices, ice cream, dairy products, some diet beverages, and flavored waters, sometimes combined with Ace-K.
Advantages: Consumer groups have not raised the safety concerns with sucralose that they have with other sweeteners. Can be used in baked goods more readily than other artificial sweeteners. No effect on blood sugar levels.
Drawbacks: Although better suited for baking than other artificial sweeteners, it’s still not a perfect substitute for sugar.

Neotame
What is it: A derivative of a combination of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
How it’s used: Sweetener and flavor enhancer for other ingredients, such as mint. In some store-brand juices and gums.
Advantages: More stable than aspartame, meaning a better fit for baked goods. Although it shares some ingredients with aspartame, neotame has not prompted the same safety concerns with consumer groups. It does not carry a warning label for people with PKU.
Drawbacks: Rarely used.

Stevia
What is it: Extract from the stevia plant.
How it’s used: Dietary supplement and tabletop sweetener.
Advantages: Less is more. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, so less is needed. It is an option for people with diabetes as it does not affect blood sugar levels.
Drawbacks: Some extracts have a bitter taste. It is billed as “natural,” but technically is processed.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Suggestions: High Cholesterol

To assist us in getting the best results with your acupuncture and Chinese herbs, follow these simple instructions:

Nutrition

  • Increase the daily intake of cholesterol-lowering foods such as apples, bananas, carrots, cold water, fish, dried beans, garlic, grapefruit, olive oil, and fibers such as bran and oat.
  • Consume large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Decrease foods that will raise cholesterol levels, such as beer, wine, cheese, aged and cured meats, sugar, and greasy or fried foods.  Avoid eating red meat, processed foods fatty foods soda, pastries, pies, doughnuts, candy, etc.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
  • Eat small frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Drink tea on a daily basis, especially after meals, to decrease the assumption of fatty foods from the diet.
  • Increase the intake if niacin, which can lower cholesterol levels by up to 18%,

Lifestyle

  • Avoid the consumption of alcohol and exposure to tobacco. They increase cholesterol buildup and hardening of arteries.
  • Exercise regularly, it will improve energy levels, normalize metabolic functions, reduce fat, and burn calories.
  • Change dietary and exercise habits, to avoid rebound weight gain.
  • Do not lose weight drastically.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

Caution: contents hot. Our view on coffee

At the risk of infuriating millions of Americans (likely because of the fear of the headaches they will experience from withdrawal if they discontinue use), I am writing this to offer one perspective. Then, you should make the decision that is best for you.

The downsides to coffee: it is highly acidic, leading to inflammation which can cause many health problems. Also, it is a plant that is apparently very difficult grow, therefore massive quantities of herbicides and pesticides are used in its cultivation. Additionally, the “buzz” you get from coffee is not the caffeine, rather it is the caffeine stimulating the release of adrenaline, which, over time, leads to depleted kidney/adrenal function.

The solution (should you decide to kick the habit): start gently on the following steps. Watch out…at some point it may get bumpy, as withdrawal isn’t very pleasant!

Note: To minimize any withdrawal symptoms, it is important to make the following transitions:

  • Drink only organic regular coffee for a few days.
  • Drink half organic, half organic steam-distilled decaf for a few days.
  • Drink organic steam-distilled decaf only for a few days. (FYI: there is still caffeine in decaf coffee. The decaffeination process never removes all of the caffeine.)
  • Drink green tea for a few days.
  • Drink Chai tea (Indian Spice tea with little or, better yet, no black tea). We have a fantastic recipe on our website’s blog, as well as in our clinic.

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.