Support Your Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Support Your Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

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The Asian medicine view of allergies is related to a syndrome called Wei Qi deficiency. The Wei Qi is seen as the most superficial Qi of the body that acts as a barricade between the individual and their environment. When the Wei qi defenses are sufficient a person will have a resistance to external pathogens, preventing common colds and also assisting with allergies. When these defenses are normal a person will not be affected by irritants in the air, such as pollen, dust mites, cat or dog hair, etc. Therefore, if an individual suffers from allergies, it is of key importance to strengthen their Wei qi. There can be other underlying syndromes and deficiencies that cause a person to be prone to allergies that are more specific to an individual, but in general, the strength of the Wei Qi plays a key role in an allergic presentation.
It is very helpful to begin the treatments with acupuncture and herbal medicine a season ahead of time. These treatments are also helpful during an acute onset and are important for individuals who have allergies all year round, so it is perfectly acceptable to begin treatments during the acute onset. However, if it is the summer and you usually have allergies in the fall or it is the fall and you usually have allergies in the spring, don’t wait until the season that your allergies begin to start treatment. If you treat your allergies the season beforehand, there is the possibility of preventing the occurrence of allergies for that year. This, of course, depends on the severity as well as the length of time that a person has had allergies. It may take longer than 1 cycle of preventative treatments for individuals with severe allergies to obtain the desired results. It is easier to prevent the occurrence of allergies than it is to treat in the acute stage. The unchecked acute onset of allergies can create further weakness in the Wei Qi and cause local tissue damage, creating a vicious cycle that makes a person prone to prolonged and reoccur attacks. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are wonderful and strong preventative treatments.
A Western herbal medicine that is a wonderful ally for seasonal allergies is Nettles in the extract, fluid extract, and freeze-dried forms. This herb can be taken both as a preventative and during the acute phases of allergies. Some individuals have also found benefit from consuming Wild Flower Honey as a seasonal allergy preventative. If you have any adverse reaction to Nettles or Wild Flower Honey, and/or feel worse after taking, then please avoid these substances. Nettles and honey are nourishing, supportive and safe, so adverse reactions are very rare. Also consuming warm cooked foods and avoiding raw/cold/and frozen foods will help to build and support immunity. In addition, doing a neti pot or other nasal rinse can help to minimize and/or prevent allergies. In general, it is best to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (NOT powder) to 1 cup of pre-boiled water. The baking soda is added to protect the tissues from the salt’s abrasive effect on the tissues. If you are sensitive to the salt, you can add additional baking soda (not too much). Do the nasal flush when the water is still warm, but not too hot. If it feels comfortable to keep your finger in the water, then it is probably the right temperature. It is important that the water not be too hot, so as not to damage the tissues. The water should also not be cold or room temperature, because it will not effectively cleanse the nasal passages. The goal, when doing this flush, is for the water to go in one nostril and out the other one. Be sure to change the angle of your head if the water runs down the back of your throat, etc. If your nasal passages are already clogged, do not do a nasal rinse. If doing the nasal flush doesn’t feel good or flows down the back of your throat, it is probably best to ask a health care practitioner for assistance on how to apply correctly. The nasal rinse is a wonderful tool but is not for everyone.
Another key component to minimizing and or preventing the onset of allergies is to identify which allergen aggravates you. Many peoples allergies are aggravated by certain flowers and trees (such as Acacia, as seen in the picture, has yellow flowers that are a common allergen when blooming). If you are aware that there is more pollen in the air on certain days or that a potential allergen is beginning to bloom, it can be essential to take preventative measures by avoiding exposure. It can be very helpful to close bedroom windows, so that the pollen doesn’t blow into your room, onto your bed and pillow. Also, a protective cloth can be placed on the bed or furniture if windows must be left open. On days of exposure, washing your face or taking a shower immediately upon coming inside can help to minimize the allergic response. This is also key for other types of allergies, such as cats or dogs.

 

written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

Bibliography

  • Five Branches University education

Menopausal Support with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Menopausal Support with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Although other traditional Chinese medicine syndromes can be overlapped, in general women during menopause will have a pattern called Yin deficiency.  The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause a group of very uncomfortable symptoms for women, such as hot flashes, night sweats, emotional fluctuations, and more.  These symptoms are caused by the decrease of estrogen and represent a loss of fluids in the body, as called Yin deficiency in Asian medicine. Acupuncture and herbs are great support for the transition into menopause. These interventions can help to support the Yin of the body, aid in balancing the hormones and thus smooth out the intensity of symptoms. It is best to see a trained acupuncturist and herbalist, as each individual’s presentation is different and certain regiments may not be appropriate for everyone.

When working to support the bodies Yin, other key aspects to consider is the diet: avoiding spicy hot foods, alcohol, ginger, chocolate, and coffee are very important dietary regiments. If menopausal symptoms are under control then these foods can be consumed in moderation, as long as it does not exacerbate the symptoms. I suggest being especially careful with spicy foods because it causes sweating and depletes the Yin (fluids) of the body. If the menopausal symptoms are full-blown it is strongly discouraged to consume these foods, because they will aggravate the symptoms. As with any dietary regiment, you can experiment for yourself by avoiding the substance for at least 2 weeks, then try eating or drinking the prohibited food/drink to see if your symptoms are exacerbated.

Primrose Oil is considered a hormone balancer that many women use as support through menopause. A Western herb that is a great ally to women is Vitex, also called Chaste Berry. Vitex is a wonderful herb for women in all phases of their life, as it supports hormonal balancing. It can also be wonderfully beneficial and nourishing to consume herbs that are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as Nettles and Red Raspberry Leaf (another known ally to women). If consuming Primrose Oil, Vitex, Nettles, or Red Raspberry Leaf causes any adverse reactions, stop taking it immediately. All of these substances are very safe and gentle and rarely have negative side effects.

 

written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

Bibliography

  • Five Branches University education

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interaction, Part 1

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interaction, Part 1

Although St. John’s Wort is not a Chinese herbal medicine, it is an important Western herbal medicine to be educated about.  This herb is of particular importance due to its popularity and because it is easily purchased over the counter in health food and herb stores throughout the US.  St. John’s Wort is used for mild depression.  Since it is effective herbal prescription, it is very popular.  St. John’s Wort is often self-medicated, without first seeking the advice of a health care practitioner.

            St. John’s Wort usually takes about 1 month before it has a therapeutic effect St. John's Wortfor the individual.  Although St. John’s Wort is for mild depression and has slow onset, the power of its biochemical constituents should not be underestimated when used in combination with Western medication!  As written in a journal by the American Academy of Family Physicians in 2008, “St. John’s Wort is the supplement that has the most documented interactions with drugs.” According to an NIH article, from Department of Experimental Pharmacology, in 2009: “Hyperforin, which is believed to contribute to the antidepressant action of St John’s wort, is also strongly suspected to be responsible for most of the described interactions.”

 

…To Be Continued in Part 2

 

Written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

Bibliography

  • Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, Russel Phillips, MD, Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, January 1, 2008. American Academy of Family Physicians.  “Herbal and Dietary Supplement-Drug Interactions in Patients with Chronic Illness.”  Retrieved from:  http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/0101/p73.html
  • Borrelli F, Izzo AA.  December 11, 2009.  National Institute of Health- Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples Federico II.  “Herb-drug interactions with St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): an update on clinical observations.”  Retrieved from:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19859815

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interactions, Part 2

St. John’s Wort- Herb/Drug Interactions, Part 2

 

I highly recommend St. John’s Wort for patients with mild depression who wish to utilize Western herbal medicine alone. However useful this herb is on its own, it is not to be used in combination with Western pharmaceutical medication without first consulting with the individual’s doctor. In addition, if it is approved for use alongside Western medicine, it should still be monitored carefully. St. John’s Wort should never be used at the same time as an SSRI’s, specifically because the combination can potentially cause Seratonin Syndrome. According to the American Family Physicians, in an article written April 1, 2005, “Serotonin syndrome is caused by a systemic excess of serotonin and is defined when at least three of the following signs and symptoms are present: mental status changes, diaphoresis, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, diarrhea, fever, tremor, incoordination, seizures, tachycardia, and QT interval prolongation.”

Due to a large amount of research done about Seratonin Syndrome, this contraindication is well known. However, there has been additional research that indicates that St. John’s Wort also has herb/drug interactions with other medications as well. According to an article published in the University of Maryland, St John’s Wort should not be taken with the following medications, without first discussing it with your doctor, “Antidepressants- tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, and MAOIs, Antihistamines, Dextromethorphan, Digoxin, Drugs that suppress the immune system, Drugs to fight HIV, Birth control pills, Reserpine, Sedatives, Theophylline, Triptans, Warfarin.” In addition, the article goes on to state, “Because St. John’s Wort is broken down by certain liver enzymes, it may interact with other drugs that are broken down by the same enzymes. Those drugs may include Antifungal drugs…, Some calcium channel blockers (taken to lower blood pressure), Statins (drugs are taken to lower cholesterol).”

In conclusion, St. John’s Wort is an important herb to be aware of, so as to guard against potential drug-herb interactions. St. John’s Wort should be used with caution, if used at all, with Western herbal medicines. In addition, it would be best to also use it carefully, if at all, in combination with Chinese herbal medicines. A person should be monitored carefully when taking both St. John’s Wort and Chinese Herbal Medicines simultaneously.

Written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

 

Bibliography

  • Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, Russel Phillips, MD, Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, January 1, 2008. American Academy of Family Physicians.  “Herbal and Dietary Supplement-Drug Interactions in Patients with Chronic Illness.”  Retrieved from:  http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/0101/p73.html
  • Borrelli F, Izzo AA.  December 11, 2009.  National Institute of Health- Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples Federico II.  “Herb-drug interactions with St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): an update on clinical observations.”  Retrieved from:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19859815

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 1

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 1

We have all taken medicine for a headache, insomnia, or a stomachache that only offered temporary relief.  The reason that the relief was temporary is that the root (or underlying cause) of the illness was not treated.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnoses and treats the root of an individual’s ailment through pattern diagnosis.  Today, I will inform you about the methods used by a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the pattern diagnostic utilized, and about how TCM prevents and treats illness.

In TCM, the individual is treated, not the disease. An underlying principle of Chinese medicine is that the body knows how to heal itself. The practitioner works to remove obstructions to health, support deficiencies, clear/drain excesses, etc. A person’s body will resolve the ailment once the practitioner is able to balance the pattern they demonstrate.

The methods used in TCM are Acupuncture, Herbal remedies, Tui-na (an invigorating Chinese style of bodywork, also used as a treatment modality for young children), cupping, Gwa Sha (which is a scraping technique used on the skin to pulls out toxins from the body- the marking that is made on the skin is called the “sha”), and Moxibustion (which is a compressed plant that is burned close to the skin and has a deeply warming effect on the body). All of these approaches utilize pattern diagnosis to treat the meridians (or energy pathways) and the organ systems of the body. Treatments are very safe and effective. A Chinese Medicine Classic, the Spiritual Pivot, states in chapter 17, “It is by virtue of the twelve channels that human life exists, that disease arises, that human beings can be treated and illness is cured.”

…To be continued in Part 2:

 

Written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

Bibliography

 

  • “Acupuncture, a Comprehensive Text,”  The Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine, translated and editied by John O’Connor and Dan Bensky.
  • Giovanni Maciocia, “The Foundations of Chinese Medicine” pg. 127
  • Spiritual Pivot, Chapter 17, by Wu Nian Jian
  • Five Branches University education  (MTCM)

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Part 2

Traditional Chinese Medicine is able to treat the root (or source) of an illness because it utilizes pattern diagnosis. Pattern Diagnosis consists of tongue and pulse diagnosis, listening to the patient’s symptoms, and looking at the patient’s color and movement. According to Giovanni Maciocia in The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, pg. 127 “…the nature of the pattern is often related to its specific cause of disease.” The pattern that is looked for involves a combination of signs and symptoms that have a foundation in yin and yang theory. These patterns indicate that the body is hot or cold, deficient or excess, whether the illness is internal or external, etc. The pulse indicates the state of the organ systems, meridians, blood, qi (energy), yin (fluids of the body), and yang (body circulation and warmth). Looking at the patient’s tongue is like looking at a mirror of the patient’s body system and can indicate to the practitioner if certain channels and/or organ systems are hot or cold, deficient or excess, and more.

Chinese medicine is able to prevent illness before it occurs and to effectively treat an already existing illness. These treatments harmonize all parts of the person. The diagnostic methods utilized allow a practitioner to recognize a pattern of illness before it manifests symptoms for the patient. Because each person’s body is unique, a single western medicine diagnosis can have several different TCM diagnoses.

Yin and Yang are emblems of the fundamental duality in the universe, a duality which is ultimately unified,” as stated in Acupuncture, a Comprehensive Text from the Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine.

Written by,

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

Bibliography

 

  • “Acupuncture, a Comprehensive Text,”  The Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine, translated and editied by John O’Connor and Dan Bensky.
  • Giovanni Maciocia, “The Foundations of Chinese Medicine” pg. 127
  • Spiritual Pivot, Chapter 17, by Wu Nian Jian
  • Five Branches University education  (MTCM)

Support for Living a Healthy and Fulfilled Life with Asian Medicine, Part 1

Support for Living a Healthy and Fulfilled Life with

Asian Medicine, Part 1

“The oneness of all life is a truth that can be fully realized only when false notions of a separate self, whose destiny can be considered apart from the whole, are forever annihilated,” are the words of LiJunfeng, Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong in “A Return to Oneness.” Please support your family and friends by informing them about the benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine. We are all connected with people who have ongoing health issues that inhibit them from living a full life. Today I will offer a perspective as to why the health of our body, mind, heart, and emotions is a key aspect of living a whole and fulfilled life. I will then talk about why Asian medicine is an alternative and support to Western medicine.

The health of an individual’s body, mind, heart, and emotions is an essential aspect of living a whole and fulfilled life.  Anyone who has ever experienced a chronic illness (physical, mental or emotional), or been in chronic pain can tell you how difficult it can be to enjoy their life, their relationships, and their family.

An individual is unable to fulfill their aspirations in life if they are decapitated by illness. This can intensify the ailment for the individual, because as said by Hicks, Hicks, and Mole in the text “Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture” in 2004, “…the Chinese consider it detrimental to people’s health not to achieve their potential as human beings.” The happiness of the individual is an aspect of the peace and unification of our families and communities.

…To be continued in Part 2.

Written by:

Yasmin Spencer LAc, DAOM, Dipl. OM
427 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
(707)616-6880

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

  • NIH: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9809733, 1998
  • LiJunfeng, Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong, “A Return to Oneness.” Manila, Philipinese: International Sheng Zhen Society, 1996
  • Chen EM, “Tao te Ching”. New York: Paragon House. 1989
  • Hicks, Hicks, and Mole, “Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture,” Churchill Livingston, 2004
  • Lu, H, “A complete tranlation of the Yellow Emperor’s classic of internal medicine (Su Wen)”. Vancouver: Academy of Oriental Heritage. 1972