Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Raynaud's Disease and Acupuncture

Raynaud's Disease sounds almost like a Chinese Medical explanation of imbalance in the body.

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

How Can Acupuncture Help My Cold?

Can acupuncture help with _______? We get these questions all the time at Whole Health Acupuncture. The easy answer is yes, acupuncture can help with that. I understand that most people need more of an explanation than this. With this in mind the next few blogs will highlight how acupuncture can help with specific ailments.

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!!

-Nicole M.

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

Apple Test Results

The results of the apple test are in. If a picture is worth a thousand words I wonder what the smell of an apple is worth? The pictures do the apples justice but the smells of each apple were most striking to me.

Apple Before and Afters:

Apple and Water before and after:

Apple and Trader Joe's Vitamin before and after:

***This one didn't turn black which I found interesting according to Tyanna our vitamin rep she has never not seen the other apples go black(GNC, Walgreen generic, centrum). What was striking about this apple is that it smelled the worst, rancid.

Apple and Shaklee Vitamin before and after:

Pretty shocking eh? I didn't even want to touch this one to throw it in the garbage. yuck.

Apple and Usana Vitamin before and after:

You can see from the picture that the apple still looks pretty good. Again the most striking thing about this apple to me was the smell. It smelled like it has just been sliced crisp and refreshing and the feel of the apple was still firm when I threw it away.

*** 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.
Let me know what you think. If anyone does an apple test with their own vitamins please let me know how it goes.
Sarah Zender LAc LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 60007

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Apple Test I

One 1/7/2010 I started my own apple test expirement to share as a follow up to the blog Do You Know What Is In Your Vitamins? For those of you curious as to what the apple test would look like but too lazy to do it yourself. Check in over the next couple of weeks to see the results.

I've seen the apple test presentation before but wanted to see if for myself. (I always did love science expirements.)

I started with 2 apples and 4 tuperware containers. An apple half is floating in regular tap water in each of the containers.

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.

The second is apple, water, and trader joe's men multi vitamin formula. (it was laying around) This is probably just slightly better then pharmacy and generic brand vitamins. You know the cheap ones that you're probably buying because a vitamin is just a vitamin right?

The third is apple, water, and Shaklee multi vitamin + iron (again it was laying around) Shaklee is known for having an above average quality.

The fourth is apple, water and Usana Mega Antioxidant. This is half of Usana Essentials that I take every morning. Usana uses a binding agent to keep their vitamins together made of olive oil called Olivol.

Supposedly Usana will help keep the apple from turning brown for longer then any of the others. We'll see what happens next.
Sarah Zender LA.c LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Years Resolutions II

In light of being held accountable I'd like to follow up with a previous blog New Years Resolutions. My kick off to the New Year was 7 yoga classes in 7 days. I was a little nervous about completeing it as it was going through New Years Eve week and I had family coming into town. I'm happy to report that I did indeed complete 7 yoga classes in 7 days as well as teaching my regular Monday yoga class. I'm even happier to report that I am feeling really great. :)

The second part of my New Year's Resolution was to make it to the gym 2 times a week and a yoga class in addition to the yoga classes I teach and my hectic work schedule. I've made it to the gym once so far this week.

I'm always amazed at how packed the gym is in the first month following the New Year's. What happens to that "resolution" as the year unfolds? As most people's New Year's resolutions involve physical goals I like to share a stat from Dr. Oz I recently caught on his show.

"Your endurance level at 67 years old is the same at 17." Dr. Oz.

What's more is I found this stat in Essential Lifestyle "According to Dr. Moira Fordyce, a geriatrician at Stanford University School of Medicine, longevity is based 30% upon our genetics and 70% on lifestyle choices." Let me rephrase so this can settle in How well you take care of yourself is more important than your genetic make up. You are in control of the grace with which you age.

So what can you do that is realistic to the life you manage?

Moderation is key.

As much as you can prepare your own meals. In the long run this is easier on your budget, tastes better and is better for you. Stay away from boxed meals, eat foods that are alive! At the end of a long day it might seem like take out is quicker and easier however cooking a healthy meal at home might even be quicker then waiting in a drive through line or the delivery man. The biggest key here is planning. Crock pots are a great tool in the winter months to have dinner waiting for you. Spending one day to prep your meals for the week is also helpful. Find what works for you. Let eating out become your exception rather than the rule.

Take a vitamin and mineral supplement. See Do You Know What Are In Your Vitamins blog to find the best brand. Usana Essentials is the best supplement I've ever taken. Think of this as investing in your health and what you will save in perscription co payments later.

Stay active. This doesn't mean you have to spend hours and hours at the gym everyday. Participating in a moderate exercise program can lower your risk for many common diseases and help you recover faster when you do get sick. Individuals who maintain an active lifestyle can also benefit from stronger bones, reduced joint and muscle pain, improved mobility and balance, lower risk of falls and serious injuries and slower loss of muscle mass. Instead of thinking of exercise as something you have to do get involved in an activity you enjoy. If you are a gym junkie take up a group program. Your community will keep you motivated as the new years resolution begins to wan.

Here's to our healthiest year yet!

Sarah Zender LAc LMT

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Acupuncture for Weight Loss:

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."

Joyce Hodnett