This years flu season has been one of the most widespread, and according to the CDC during the third week of January, more people sought care for the flu and flulike illnesses than any other period compared for nearly a decade. Since the start of the season on October 1st nearly 12,000 people have been hospitalized with confirmed influenza. The strain this year according to the CDC is on of the nastiest strains, H3N2, which causes four types of the flu, two influenza A and two influenza B viruses. This particular strain has been around for about 50 years, and is able to change rapidly.
Symptoms of the flu include: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. Each person will experience a different range of these symptoms and does not usually include all symptoms.
The flu is very unpredictable in how long it will last, but it is know that the flu activity peeks from December to February, so we are right in the heart of the worst of it! If all this information scares you, remember there is something you can do, so even if you get the flu, you will recover quicker and have less sever symptoms!
So how do you avoid the flu?
The Flu and TCM
From a Chinese Medical perspective the flu is caused by external pathogens similar to Western Medicine) but the difference is the flu is looked at in combination with the individuals constitution. In order for someone to get the flu or be penetrated by an external pathogen there must be a deficiency or weakness to let it in. Overwork, not sleeping, or eating poorly can all lead to weaknesses allowing the pathogen to enter.
A persons constitution paired with the strength or nature of the pathogen also will determine how severe, what symptoms, and how the flu will present in each person. This helps to explain why two people in the same household can be sick with the exact same flu, but the symptoms and severity will differ.
All of this leads to explain why acupuncture is so important not just for the treatment of the flu, but also for the prevention!
As you can see above peoples constitutions vary and so their treatments for prevention and treatment of the flu varies as well. There is not one single herb or point prescription that can be used to treat the flu and boost someones immune system. First we have to look at you and your constitution to find where there are weaknesses and imbalances, and then focus on those to strengthen your immune system and get it to work optimally.
1. Prevent cold and flus
2. Treat early stages of cold or flus and shorten the severity and recovery time
3. Eliminate the need for more serious interventions such as hospitalization
4. Strengthen the body after a cold or flu to prevent roccurence
One of my favorite things when treating colds and flus is when people come in and tell me “I am getting sick, and I can already tell it’s going to be bad,” and instead of it taking them a week or two to get over it, they are well in a day or two! Acupuncture is incredible that way! But, the best time to treat the flu is before you get it!
That is why I am making February, FIGHT THE FLU FEBRUARY: and I am offering four treatments paid up front and booked for the month of February for $200, that is an $80 savings! You get one whole treatment completely free plus and extra $10 off just for good measure! Acupuncture works better in conjunction with itself, meaning the effects get stronger when it is used back to back. You can schedule your appointments in a variety of ways which we will decide together based on your needs. For example if you are currently sick I may schedule two in a week so we can really fight it off, or if we are working on immune boost and prevention we may just do one a week for the full month.
Your health is important to me and you deserve to have a Flu Free February! Schedule your first appointment and then we will book the next three of the package at the end of that session when I have evaluated the best treatment plan for you!
Also, just as a side note, we can work on other things besides immunity and flu relief during these treatments, but that will be one of the main things we focus on during each treatment!
If you have any questions about the flu of Fight the Flu February Package please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was first taught about electro-acupuncture other wise know as E-Stim, I have to admit I was nervous. I was afraid it would hurt. And in acupuncture school before we do anything on anyone else we do it on ourselves first! So the time came when I had to face my fears and hook it up. The way E-Stim works is by hooking up what looks like mini jumper cables to acupuncture needles on the body, so in my mind I thought I would receive a shock when the electrical current was passed through, but to my surprise it was NOTHING like that!
The current used in E-Stim ranges from about 40-80 volts, but there is NO current that is actually transmitted through the body like I had imagined. There is actually only enough stimulation for a slight pulsating, thumping or tapping sensation to be felt. There is NO pain! Typically in a session I leave the E-Stim on for 10-20 minutes gradually turning the machine up if the pulsating sensation is lost.
So what is this crazy machine used for? Mainly pain relief, which is the reason it was more formally developed in 1958. The way it works is by using the stimulation from the electrical current to activate the needle and thus the area even more than traditional needling does. It is effective in cases of neurological disorders, spasms, paralysis and chronic pain. It is commonly used in sports medicine for injuries. It promotes the movement of qi and blood in the body to relieve pain, warm the muscles, and remove blood stasis which can cause poor circulation.
If you have read any of my past blogs you may know this saying, “where there is stagnation there is pain” and that is what makes this extra tool so incredible in the treatment of pain and injuries. It is a stronger stimulus to move stagnation quicker. But pain isn't the only thing E-Stim can be used for, I also use it when working with patients for menstural and fertility issues, as well as for help with weight loss!
Electro-Acupuncture is not for everyone, because of its stronger stimulus it should not be used when pregnant, or if you have a history of seizures, heart disease, strokes, or epilepsy. People with pacemakers should also not receive this type of treatment.
Find out if E-Stim is right for you! Book a free consultation or ask about it at your next appointment!
Stress is brought up in conversations everyday, I hear it talked about on the radio and on TV, we talk about it with our friends and families, and I would venture to say that nearly 80% of my patients bring it up every treatment. Stress is often to blame when you just aren’t feeling quiet right. You may be exhausted, yet unable to sleep or jittery.
It has become such a large part of our society it has almost become normal to be stressed. And a little stress is ok, it gets us up and moving and it gets us motivated. But stress becomes harmful to the mind and body when it is constant and relentless. You could exercise every day and eat a healthy diet, but stress can still make you at risk for degenerative conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and hypothyroidism.
Yet, with how prevalent stress is in our everyday lives, most are doing nothing to reduce it or the harmful effects that comes with it! Why? Because it is HARD! I get it! This is something I struggle with myself. I would rather walk more or change my diet then really get to the root of stress and what it has done to my mind and body. But, since starting Denver Mind Body Essence I have learned I can’t do that anymore, for me to be the best practitioner, I have to be the best me. And that means a less stressed me!
STRESS BY DEFINITION:
So what exactly is stress? To look at it simplistically it is when your body is out of balance or homeostasis. When this happens your body gets stuck in its sympathetic state. This is the fight and flight state, opposite of the parasympathetic state of rest and digest. The sympathetic state can be thought of as the state your body goes in when you are endanger, such as when a tiger is chasing you. Things you don’t need to use when a tiger is casing you such as your digestion stops working and everything you need to run faster and escape goes into hyperactive mode.
The opposite state, parasympathetic state is when we are able to rest and take in all the nutrients from our food. Our digestion functions smoothly and or immunity is strong. During the sympathetic state the body isn’t focused on protecting itself from diseases which is why you are more at risk.
Have you heard of adrenal fatigue? Unfortunately it has become more and more common. The adrenals secrete our hormones that regulate ore stress response: cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. There are specific things that start to affect the adrenals, such as too full schedules, finance problems, arguments with friends or family, losing a job, getting stuck in traffic and many other modern day challenges.
Symptoms of adrenal stress include:
-fatigue, headaches, decreased immunity, difficulty with sleep, mood changes, sugar/caffeine cravings, eating to relieve fatigue, dizziness, and digestive issues are just to name a few.
SO WHAT NOW? HOW TO WE MANAGE OUR STRESS?
Ok, now to the good stuff! How do we reduce the impact of stress on our bodies and mind! The first step is to reduce or avoid the unnecessary stress of life. This seems like one of the DUH! steps but most of us need help on how to achieve this.
1. Avoid people or situations that stress you out: it is not always possible to avoid them entirely but limit the time you spend with them
2. Prioritize your to do list: I know you may say but everything on there is important, ok but does everything NEED to get done today? Take some time and prioritize what is important to you for today, and let the others move to tomorrow, and don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t get completed, just move it to tomorrow.
3. Don’t waste your time or energy on pointless arguments: you know the ones I am talking about. There are times when it is easier to let it go then argue with someone who will never try to understand your point of view, don’t work yourself up over these people
4. Ant this brings me to Set Boundaries: when asked to do something before saying yes ask yourself will this recharge me or drain me. It’s ok to say NO to the drain me opportunityes. Listen to your body and know your limits to avoid that burn out feeling
The second step is to have strategies in place for the unavoidable type of stress:
1. Lower your standards: this goes back to the to do list, it is ok if you don’t get everything done! Many of us strive for perfection, but sometimes good has to be good enough. Focus on all of the progress you have made instead!
2. Be grateful: focus on what you do have and it can totally change your perspective
3. Protect your energy: this is related to setting boundaries and avoiding stressful people and situations. Instead seek out people and experiences that boost your energy instead of draw from it
4. Reframe situations: sometimes just looking at a situation different is all we need to reduce or stress about it. Being stuck in traffic can be infuriating, I know I have been there when a 20 minute drive takes an hour. But, instead of getting angry, use this time to blast and sing to your favorite song, reflect and contemplate, or call your friends and family. It can force you to make time for things you enjoy!
5. And last, ADD in more things that make you happy! If you have to schedule it in! Have Even if it just taking a few minutes to dance to a song, watch the sunset or cook your favorite meal. Doing what you love is the best defense against stress and can immediately move your body into the parasympathetic mode!
JUST A LITTLE EXTRA STRESS MANAGEMENT:
1. BREATHING PRACTICE:
The number one thing that I have added into my day to help destress myself is treating exercises! The one that calls to me the most is circular breathing, and is a technique I often teach to my patients. To start you inhale through your nose to the count of 4, then you cod your breath for a count of 4, next you breathe out all the air through your mouth to the count of four, and last you hold your breath for a count of four. That was one set, typically I do between 10-20 sets when I need to manage my stress. Relaxation will happen quickly usually by the third set and after each set will become easier to do, and will flow in a circular pattern.
If you have read any of my other blogs you know acupuncture is great for treating stress and anxiety, it can not only reduce stress, but it can actually reverse the effects of stress! It also is able to put the body into the parasympathetic state by releasing oxytocin. Acupuncture can also treat the symptoms that are cause by stress such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and digestive issues!
Meditation helps make us present in our lives, and face issues that we may have pushed down. It puts us into a relaxed state in which we can witness our own thoughts and feeling. I often will use guided meditations and there are many apps to help, such as Headspace and Relax&SleepWell
Moxa other wise known as moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medical technique that I ofter combine with my acupuncture treatments, especially during winter and in-between seasons when its easy to get sick. Moxa is formed from a dried herb called mugwort. The smell is generally a distinct one especially in Colorado, because it often resembles marijuana. In my practice because of poor ventilation I use a smokeless stick that smells more like incense!
TYPES OF MOXIBUSTION
Typically in my office I use a moxa stick (that generally I describe as a cigar due to how it looks) after needles are inserted, the stick is lit with a flame and then I move the stick around the skin and needles about an inch off. This type of mona is called indirect moxa because the heat never touches the skin. Even though the stick never touches the skin the heat that is produced is very unique and deeply penetrating.
There are many other types of moxibustion, such as stick on moxa, needle moxa, and direct moxa (which is not typically done in the United States). No matter the form they are all still mugwort they may just be different qualities of it. For example the needle top moxa generally requires a higher grade of mugwort because it is loose and not tightly packed like sticks on and stick moxa.
WHAT IS IT USED FOR?
Some common acupuncture points I use moxa on are St36: to boost immunity and I often combine St36 with Sp6 to boost energy as well. KD1 is at the bottom of the foot and I generally use moxa in this location instead of needles because it can be sensitive, it is a deeply grounding and rejuvenating point!
Moxa can also be really effective for:
-Cold pain: this is pain that feels better with the application of heat: examples of this are arthritis or an injury
-Digestive Issues: especially diarrhea, and cramps
-Gynecological issues: cramps, painful, late, or irregular menses
-Obstetrical conditions such as late or breech baby in last term pregnancy
-Immunity boost: protections against cold and flus
WHAT WILL I FEEL?
When using moxa we are looking for the patient to feel warmth, not so hot it feels like a burn, but defiantly a noticeable warmth. Redness around the site is also very common and expected. Moxa, specially stick moxa should be a very pleasant sensation of warmth as it penetrates deep into the body!
IS MOXA RIGHT FOR ME?
Although moxa is very non invasive there are people and conditions it is not right for. If people or conditions are presenting with excess heat, moxa should be avoided as to not aggravate the condition!
What I love about moxibustion is that it can easily be done at home to help continue our treatments! All you need is a lighter and a window, and of course the moxa! I am able to train my patients the correct way to use the stick and the areas to focus on which make the results they see from acupuncture even stronger!