Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cortisone Shots: What You Might Not Know

Many people that come in to Whole Health for acupuncture are here as a last resort. They might have tried everything else or are hoping that acupuncture will be the magic bullet that can prevent surgery or other invasive modalities.

For most of these people acupuncture offers the relief that they are looking for and they are able to prevent surgeries and improve their quality of life. Often times patients are working with both eastern and western medicine. There is value in both practices and many times using acupuncture with conventional medicine is in fact complimentary.

What you might not know, that I recently relearned with a patient, are the potential side effects of cortisone shots.

What I also found interesting in my search for these side effects is that it seems many doctors are not educating their patients of potential risks with procedures.

Cortisone helps to relieve inflammation in the body and it is not a pain killer. Pain can subside with cortisone shots if the pain is being caused by inflammation. Pain is an useful tool. It is a signal that something is not working properly and is alarming you or this imbalance.

Possible side effects of cortisone to be aware of:
(visit here for a more in depth understanding)

>>Cortisone flare ups (where pain will increase in intensity)


>>Facial Flushing

>>Spikes in Blood Pressure

>>Increase in blood sugar with diabetic and pre-diabetic patients

>>Atrophy of the muscle around the shot site

>>Tendon ruptures especially the Achilles tendon

For more information about Cortisone read this very informative article by Dr. Weil here.

What patients are saying about their experience with cortisone shots on the web.

I want to use this as a disclaimer that I am not bashing western medicine. This blog is meant to be informative. Whether you are working with your western doctors or other health care practitioners it is important to make sure you understand the benefits of your treatment as well as possible side effects. Ultimately you are in control of your body and any treatment you wish to receive.

Sarah Zender LAc LMT

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929


Monday, February 15, 2010

Why does my acupuncturist look at my tongue?

Stick out your tongue. This is a common request when working with an acupuncturist.

What are they looking for?

Your tongue is a road map to the rest of your body. The tongue is divided into sections that represent the different organ systems associated with Chinese Medicine.

Tip = Heart/Small Intestine

Just behind the tip = Lungs/Large Instestine

Center = Spleen/Stomach

Sides = Liver/Gall Bladder

Back = Kidney/Urinary Bladder

Your acupuncturist is looking at the size, shape, color and coat of your tongue.

There is no such thing as a good tongue or a bad tongue. The tongue is simply a road map of how the body is functioning so that the best acupuncture points can be used to adjust the body and allow it to function most optimally.

Over time you might notice your tongue changing. The color or coat might change, cracks may lessen in severity etc.

Sarah Zender LAc LMT

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender is a scent that many associate with a calm, soothing environment. Images of bubble baths, candles and massage might also come to mind.

Rene Gattefosse a french scientist working in a cosmetic laboratory was the first to discover the benefits of lavender to promote tissue regeneration and speed wound recovery after he burned his arm in a laboratory accident.

Lavender is a highly versatile essential oil and is considered to be an adaptogen. While lavender is known for its calming properties it also has the ability to boost stamina and energy should that be the body's greater need. Therapeutic-grade lavender can be used for a variety of skin conditions as well, from keeping the skin soft and supple to soothing and cleaning small cuts and bruises. My personal favorite in the summer time is to use lavender for minor sun burns also.

University researchers in Japan found that diffusing lavender in office environments improved mental accuracy and concentration and resulted in 20% fewer errors.

University of Miami researchers found that inhalation of lavender oil increased beta waves in the brain, suggesting heightened relaxation. It also reduced depression and improved cognitive performance.

Be careful: true lavender is often extended with hybrid lavender or synthetic linalol and linalyl acetate which strips the potency and purity of the lavender. If the oil you are using says do not apply directly to skin or take internally it is not a therapeutic grade essential oil.

Young Living Essential Oils is one of the few companies in the US that is a therapeutic grade oil company.

The next time you are in the Whole Health office take a deep breath in the waiting room. Lavender oil is being diffused in the office just about every day.

Sarah Zender LAc LMT

50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929 wholehealthprograms.com

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting the Most Out of Your Acupuncture Session

Getting the Most Out of Your Acupuncture Session

A patient recently asked, what’s the deal with this whole resting thing, can’t I just read a book while I’m getting acupuncture?
We talked briefly about the apprehension to have a few moments of silence. There were many things pressing on this patient’s mind and the silence allowed the mind to move too quickly. Patient comfortability is of our highest goal at Whole Health Acupuncture and I devised a treatment that allowed her to read her book. In the end it was her most relaxing session to date.
So why do you have to rest with those needles in?
First and foremost your body heals itself in a restful state. This is why we must sleep every night, to allow the body to repair itself. Have you ever gone a night with no sleep? How did you feel the next day? Tired, achy, crabby? When we are sick we require more sleep so that the body can fight the illness. I often encourage people to go to their “happy place”, telling especially new patients the best thing they can do is to take a little nap for the very same reasons we rest when we are sick: so the body can take over and repair itself. Acupuncture’s goal is to correct imbalances and improve the overall functioning of the body. It’s a stimulus to the body to remember what it already knows what to do: heal itself.
But what about the patient with too much weighing on the mind that finds it hard to sit still? Sometimes reading a book is most restful, although I don’t necessarily endorse it. There is a practice of sitting still, its called meditation, and it can take a long time to enjoy that stillness. In my opinion, our society doesn’t place enough value on relaxation, stillness, or prevention. I think we are all a little out of practice and could benefit from some regular peace and quiet. It is in this still place that patients at Whole Health have reported sensations of their pain intensifying and then completely dissipating, where anxiety has risen and reduced lessening the severity of anxiety in their daily lives, where inspiration has appeared for all sorts of decisions like writing books, making something work better, or has allowed some feeling stressed with many thoughts weighing on their minds when they arrived to leave feeling light and at peace. I sometimes think of the image of a patient receiving acupuncture like being metaphorically nailed down for a moment (the patient really isn’t) so that they are forced to be in the moment if at no other time but for the moment of their treatment. Why would this be a good thing? For starters, to be an active participant in the healing process and to witness the pain leaving the body, the lessening of anxiety, the inspiration etc. A great teacher once said,” awareness precedes change.” We can’t know what or how to change until we are aware.
What if you’re the one who needs the book during a treatment?
Start with the book! As you are reading be aware of your thoughts and body calming down. When you feel ready spend a minute or two without the book.
Practice some deep breathing. Imagine a big balloon in your belly. Inhale and fill up your balloon (maybe even with those thoughts weighing on your mind). Exhale and deflate your balloon. Make sure your breath is relaxed, not forced and as much as possible keep your focus on a complete exhale.
Take some time to observe (without judgment). I like to start with sounds that feel like distractions and place all of my attention on them. Then I slowly listen for the other softer sounds around me. This usually puts me right to sleep. You might also observe your thoughts (again no judgment) and just notice how those thoughts are affecting you and if they are serving you. Try and replace any negative thoughts especially about yourself into positive thoughts. You can also observe sensations in your body. Often times patients have many sensations during acupuncture: heaviness, lightness, waves and many others.
Use an intention. Why are you here for treatment? If acupuncture is a task to fill in the blank here then use this time for just that. You might say to yourself a few times, “it is my intention to leave here without pain, to feel energized and relaxed.” The ancients argue that saying an intention 3 times lets the universe know you are serious. Give it a try and see.
If you’ve received acupuncture or are currently receiving acupuncture let us know what helps you get the most out of your treatment.

Sarah Zender LAc, LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929