Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Mayo Clinic describes Raynaud's Disease as being a circulatory disorder that is different from just having cold hands and feet, neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the toes) and frost bite. People suffering from Raynaud's feel extreme coldness in their hands and feet and the skin color can range from white, blue or black depending on severity. When an attack of this cold dissipates feelings of numbness, pricking pain or burning can be felt. For some people this disease can be debilitating. Some doctors encourage patients with Raynaud's to move to warmer areas of the country to stay away from the cold.
Chinese Medical theory looks at external and internal factors that can attack the body when its defenses wei qi or immunity are down. These factors can include wind, cold, heat, dampness, and dryness and can come from the environment: weather outside, or conditions of home or office or diet. For example, raw foods are cold, dairy products produce dampness, and red meat is warming.
When looking at the body from the eastern point of view we are observing the body by looking and feeling. If the hands and feet are white the coldness could be a new imbalance or less severe attack whereas black hands and feet could mean an older problem or more severe attack of cold.
Because the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi and blood throughout the body we might also look for signs of deficient liver blood or stagnation allowing the cold to obstruct the hands and feet.
Liver Blood Deficiency might include pale skin, dizziness, blurring vision, numbness, spasms of the tendons as well as a light period or absent period.
Liver Qi Stagnation might present with irritability and depression, distention or wandering pain along the ribcage, stuffiness in the chest or abdomen, poor appetite, and irregular or painful periods. When liver qi stagnates for a long time is can allow for phlegm to accumulate in the body giving way to another pathogenic attack: damp-phlegm. This could mean that cold and damp weather might cause increases in Raynaud's flare-ups.
Treatment strategy might include dispelling cold and reliving obstruction as well as nourishing the liver blood and free coursing the liver qi.
Acupuncture points will be used to improve circulation of energy and blood while strengthening the body. TDP lamps (infrared lights) as well as moxabustion may be used during acupuncture treatments to warm the body and dispel coldness further.
Sarah Zender LAc LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Eastern and Western approaches to the body and treatment of imbalances occasionally match up and occasionally look very different from each other.
You've probably had a cold before and may have experienced a stuffy nose, sore throat, runny nose, cough, aversion to cold, fever and headache. Perhaps you were sick for a week and then started to feel better again or maybe your cold lingered for a few weeks. The common cold can come on during any of the four seasons. In western medicine your doctor might tell you your immune system is down or you were around other people with a cold and that's how you "caught" it.
In Chinese Medical theory external wind is thought to be the main cause of the common cold often times bringing with it cold, heat, summerheat or dampness. The Chinese believe that your tai yang channel (or in English the back of your neck) was exposed when you were outside or slept with a window open and the wind attacked your body. The neck could have been left open to attack because of improper clothing, lifestyle imbalances, constitutional deficiencies or a combination of all of these. Wind will commonly bring with it cold, heat and dampness.
Have you ever slept with air conditioning on, a fan blowing on your face or a window open when it was windy outside? Do you remember how you felt the next morning? Perhaps you had a scratchy throat, a crick in your neck, or headache. If your body was strong it might have been able to dispel the wind on its own. If there was already an imbalance in the body making it weak that could be all it took for the scratchy throat and stiff neck to turn into a full blown cold.
Your acupuncturist will be looking for specific patterns to correct. Treating wind-cold will be approached differently then wind-heat as will treating a cold when your qi (energy) is depleted. The complexity of the body rarely fits into a textbook outline.
Wind-cold may present with a strong dislike of coldness, a mild fever, no sweating, headache, aching body, stuffy and/or runny nose, scratchy throat, cough with thin white phlegm and not feeling thirsty.
In this case we are using acupuncture points and herbs that will dispel wind, remove the cold and strengthen the exterior (so that no more wind can get in).
Cinnamon twig is a good herb for wind-cold as it has warming properties and is usually found in herbal formulas used to treat wind-cold.
Self Care Tip: wrap yourself up in blankets and sweat out your cold
Wind-heat may present with a slight or no aversion to cold, fever is more prominent with sweating, headache, cough with thick yellow phlegm, dry or sore swollen throat, stuffy nose with yellow mucus and feeling thirsty.
In this case we are using acupuncture points and herbs to dispel wind, clear heat and strengthen the exterior.
Mint is a good herb for wind-heat as it has cooling properties and is usually found in herbal formulas used to treat wind-heat.
Self Care Tip: drink mint tea
Colds with underlying Qi Energy Deficiency may present with strong aversion to cold, fever, headache, nasal congestion, cough with white phlegm, tiredness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
In this case we use acupuncture points and herbs to not only dispel wind, remove cold and strengthen the exterior but also to boost qi energy.
Moxabustion (burning an herb called mugwort) over acupuncture points can help to warm the body as well as cultivate more energy.
Cupping or guasha may also be used to dispel wind in any of these cases with special care taken if there is qi deficiency. For more info on cupping read the What is Cupping? blog.
Preventing Colds and Flus
Massage acu points yin tang (space between the eye brows) and LI 4 (highest point in the space between thumb and index finger) with your middle or index finger. Do this 2-3 times a day for 3-5 minutes until skin is slightly red and an aching or distended sensation is felt.
Ask your acupuncturist about herbal formulas that can prevent colds and flus before they start.
Sarah, I have to thank you (fairly late, i know) for helping me a few weeks ago with my sinus infection. I was amazed at how wonderful I felt during your acupuncture session. I was back to normal and feeling great within a week, so thank you SO much for your skills and compassion!!
And a personal testimony to boot. I started to feel a scratchy throat coming on and was losing my voice with just the very beginnings of achiness in my body and heaviness in my chest on Saturday evening. It probably didn't help that I went out into the Chicago wind tunnel that night either. Sunday I did what I could at home: garggled with salt water, spoonfuls of honey, thieves mouthwash and rest. Monday I still wasn't feeling so hot. Kara bled my lu11 on both thumbs and within an hour the heat in the back of my throat dissipated. I rested the remainder of the day and went to bed at 8:00p. This morning my voice is not 100% yet but there is no pain in my throat and the rest of my body feels just fine.
Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine by Yan Wu was referenced for this blog.
Sarah Zender LAc LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 874.357.3929
Monday, January 11, 2010
*** I consulted with Tyanna at the end of the apple test. She normally leaves the containers open and lets the apples oxidate. The vitamins dissolve and the apples change in 6-12 hours. I kept my containers sealed so I don't know if that would have changed the results at all perhaps the apple in water would have been more brownish like it normally turns after sitting out for awhile.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
The first is simply an apple and water. This is meant to represent the normal dealth and decay of the aging process of our cells.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Sarah Zender LAc LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929
Saturday, January 2, 2010
The function of the spleen and stomach system in Chinese Medical theory is to transform and transport the food that we eat. The spleen specifically can become imbalanced from dampness either from the environment (rain, snow) or the foods that we eat (dairy products, greasy foods etc). Dampness is a pathogen that weighs the body down literally through extra weight and energetically through fatigue. Chinese Medicine sees excess weight as an imbalance in the body. Think about it, if your body is overweight you have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and so on. From this point of view the goal of acupuncture is not necessarily weight loss, it is harmony. When the body is in balance it knows how to process the foods that are consumed properly so that instead of storing food that is not needed it is eliminated. According to research from the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine acupuncture is particularly useful for weight loss especially when the weight is carried around the abdomen and organs in middle aged people. Commonly people who are overweight have other imbalances such as hypertension, fatty liver, high cholesterol, menstrual or menopausal problems, stomach inflammation, constipation, or depression. Often times these other issues that may or may not seem related are actually the root cause of the weight gain. As we look at the body as a complete system the goal is to harmonize all organ systems so that the body can function most optimally. In this way the body naturally lets go of the excess weight it does not need and the effects of treatment positively impact the entire body. It is important to remember that balance is a process and being committed and consistent are key to lasting success. Weight gain does not happen over night and it is not reasonable to expect it to be lost over night either.
What you can do:
Eat breakfast and make it your largest meal of the day. The energy of the large intestine, spleen and stomach are most active in the morning. When you eat breakfast you stoke the fire of your metabolism so that your body has energy to get through the day.
Limit your intake of dairy and sweets. Dairy and empty sweet foods contribute to dampness and phlegm in the body. When the spleen is out of balance it will crave empty sweets like candy and ice cream (sweet and damp and just about the worst thing for your spleen). Yellow foods like grains and squash as well as full sweet foods such as sweet potatoes nourish the spleen.
Don’t eat after 8:00pm. Your stomach should be finished with digestion when you go to sleep at night. In this way your body can use this time of rest to repair and rejuvenate instead of multitasking. Also, your stomach will be empty in the morning and ready for breakfast, making it easier to wake up.
Move your body everyday. For many people exercise is a dirty word, so change your language! Move your body a little bit every day in whatever way gives you joy. Talk a walk or a yoga class, dance while you’re cooking dinner, skip from your parking spot to the entrance of the grocery store, hula hoop. The more you move your body the more your body will want to move.
"Just to let you know, I had acupuncture for six weeks for knee pain and low thyroid and noticed when I stepped on the scale I had lost 5 pounds without even trying or realizing it! That was an awesome benefit especially since I watch what I eat and workout 3 times a week and go to yoga 2 times a week and can never seem to tip the scale in my favor. I see acupuncture helping so many people. Thank you for the work you are doing to help people live a healthier life."