Acupuncture and Women’s Health

– by Fatima (Shekoufeh) Hozouri DTCM, RAc

acupuncture_womanBenefits of acupuncture for women’s health problems have been recorded in ancient Chinese medicine literature for centuries. Many women have encountered some gynecological issues throughout their life, such as problems with their periods, infertility, menopause, etc.

According to principles of Chinese medicine, a person’s health is mostly determined by the quality of their Qi (life force) and blood circulation. When Qi and blood are circulating smoothly, the body is fully nourished, balanced and strong. As soon as there is an interruption to the flow of Qi and blood, symptoms start to appear and the body gets out of balance. Conditions that can be resolved by acupuncture and that we’ve seen at Qi Integrated Health include the following:

– Regulating the menstrual cycle (PMS symptoms)
– Reducing stress and anxiety associated with infertility
– Normalizing hormone and endocrine systems
– Improving blood flow in the uterus
– Decreasing the chance of miscarriage
– Increasing the chance of pregnancy for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF)
– Helping with symptoms associated with pregnancy (morning sickness, back pain, breech baby, etc.)
– Helping with menopausal symptoms

In addition to acupuncture, your acupuncturist may use other forms of therapy such as ear seed, e-stimulation, cupping and dietary recommendations to help bring your body to its optimum health.

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

What is Qi?

– by Kiem Schutter, R.Ac,
Founder at Qi Integrated Health

Qi (pronounced “chee”) is frequently translated as “natural energy,” “life force,” or “energy flow.” It is the underlying principle of Chinese medicine and martial arts. The literal translation of “qi” is “breath” or “air.”
qi
The original character for Qi (seen on the left) features the steam coming off of rice. It was created as such to describe the transformative element of Qi. Rice cannot be eaten raw so the Qi (heat, air) changes it to something nourishing.

Qi, like wind or heat, is a powerful, invisible force. It must be seen by observing the effects on its surroundings. In the case of wind, one sees the leaves on a tree moving, rather than the wind itself.

Qi animates all living things. It is one of the two main elements that support life, the other being blood.

Concepts similar to qi can be found in many cultures, for example, prana in the Hindu religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, mana in Hawaiian culture, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, and ruah in Hebrew culture. Elements of the Qi concept can also be found in Western popular culture. For examples, scholars have recently drawn comparison between qi and “The Force” in Star Wars.

Qi Integrated Health took its name to emphasize the fact that Qi can be externally influenced by a practitioner, food, situations, and emotions. In our facility we hold a relaxing, calm space as it the best possible way to bring Qi into balance.

Questions about Qi? Contact [email protected]

Naturopathic Smoothies!

Spinach, Pear & Ginger Smoothie

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

This weather definitely signals the start of Spring, which can serve as a good indication to change up our diet a little bit. According to Chinese Medicine, it is important to “eat with the seasons”. Spring represents a transition from winter foods such as stews and soups, to more summer foods such as salads and raw vegetables.

Smoothie
Photo courtesy of Joanna Slodownik

When the weather warms up, I transition from warm breakfasts to smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to increase your intake of fresh produce, but you have to make sure you are still enjoying a balanced meal. Many smoothie recipes are overloaded with fruits, which sets you up for a major sugar rush first thing in the morning. Instead, try this cleansing Spring smoothie, high in nutrients, protein and fiber.

Recipe Courtesy of Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

1-2 stalks of full leaf organic spinach (washed)

Handful of parsley

Juice of ½ lemon

1 organic pear

Thumb sized amount of fresh ginger – add less or more depending on your tastes!

½ tsp of sea vegetable, such as E3live (optional)

1tbsp of ground flaxseed

1 scoop of protein powder (optional)

Filtered water – to your desired consistency

Late Summer – How Our Bodies Respond To New Seasons

Late summer, a time when the breeze changes, yellow and brown begins to appear in the foliage, and we anticipate the fall to come.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this time of year pertains to the element of earth, a time of transition and bounty.  Along with late summer, the earth element is also associated with the transition time between seasons.  

 

The five elements of TCM each have a sound, smell, color, taste, emotion, organ systems, season, even food types are involved. The five elements of TCM are actually the result of acute observation of the world around us.  Seasons are perhaps an easier aspect for us to observe.  Do you feel a particular way when a cold breeze ruffles the leaves, and carries with it a fragrant aroma letting you know that fall is approaching? Perhaps the arrival of fall brings a certain taste in your mouth, or a craving for a particular food.

 

We often overlook these subtleties in the environment around us, as we try to accomplish the many tasks that fill our busy days.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our environment is continuing to change, following its yearly cycles, and with that our days are impacted as well.
  
So what is late summer? What other aspects are involved with the earth element? Not surprisingly given the bounty provided to us by the earth, this element is involved with the digestive system, particularly with the transformation of food into nutrition for our cells and our entire being.  With this comes the emotional space of feeling nourished, cared for, and reciprocating this to others.

 

Nourishment and care is a pivotal part of our well being, however in our achievement driven society, it is easy to forget the most important aspect of the earth element; to care for and nourish ourselves.  What I have seen most often in the clinic and in myself, is the tendency to push ourselves towards goals in the hopes that accomplishing these tasks will provide us with the reward of recognition (a form of emotional nourishment) from the exterior, be it our boss, our peers, our family etc.  It’s an unconscious cultural perception that we are more valuable the harder we work, and essentially the more we sacrifice self-care.
  
Late summer is a perfect time to check in with yourself, what is driving you? What are your motives? Is there room for giving yourself nourishment, care and recognition for just being who you are?  For those of you that prefer a more practical approach, it’s a great time to prepare yourself a healthy home cooked meal using local, seasonal produce.  If digestion is an area of concern for you, this is a great time of year to give that aspect of yourself extra care, and support your system in the important task transforming food into absorb-able nutrients and transporting those nutrients all over your body.

 

Other common symptoms that occur when the earth element is out of balance with the other four elements: fatigue, diarrhea, gas and bloating, muscle cramps/twitching, muscle waisting, food allergies, eating disorders, heart burn, acid reflux, acne, canker sores, excessive mucus in the lungs, excessive worrying or over thinking, etc.

 

Book an appointment in with any of our practitioners to give yourself some much deserved TLC. Remember to take care of yourself and the body that serves you, during this time of seasonal change.

 

Utilization Of Cupping In The Treatment of Pain

Vancouver Cupping Treatments: It’s so Simple, Why is it so Effective at Relieving Pain?

In my practice at Qi Integrated Health, I use cupping primarily in the treatment of pain and muscle tightness. This modality of treatment has many other uses, including clearing phlegm from the lungs and scar reduction. Today, we will look at the utilization of cupping in the treatment of pain.

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, pain is seen as a stasis of blood. There are many reasons blood can stop flowing properly. For example, have you ever been out in the cold for a period of time with your neck exposed, only to wake up with a stiff neck the next day? In TCM we call this an “attack by wind cold”, and the physiologic understanding is that blood is shunted away from cold areas. Both have the same end result: blood is not moving and therefore causes pain and stiffness in the affected area. So, how does cupping help in the treatment of a stiff neck? I would like to help you understand how cupping works for pain and tightness and when to use it.

How cupping works: Using either a flame (how I do it) or a pump to draw oxygen out and create suction, a glass cup is placed on a specific area and the skin and tissue below are pulled up into the cup. You will feel a pressure that I liken to the feeling when your massage therapist applies pressure to an affected area and holds that pressure to allow the body to relax and the muscle to release. The difference is that the pressure created by the cup is caused by a pulling away of the tissue rather than a pushing in. This action brakes up adhesions between skin/muscle and muscle/muscle and frees entrapped vessels and nerves, effectively stopping pain.

Cupping will often leave a perfectly round, raised bruise. Interestingly, the shade of the bruise is an indication of the health of the tissues below it. I often see darker bruising in spots where the pain was the worst. This is because that where there is most pain and static blood, the cups will pull that oxygen-depleted blood to the surface. The advantage to this is that it allows for new blood to flow into the deeper tissues as the superficial circulation moves the “bad” blood away (I often aid this process by applying a topical liniment or plaster).

I can go on and on about the uses and benefits of cupping treatments for pain and/or tightness, so please feel free to contact me anytime with any of your questions. Or visit us at Qi Integrated Health Clinic in Vancouver for Cupping Treatments.

Kiem Schutter
Clinical Director and Vancouver Registered Acupuncturist at Qi Integrated Health Clinic

 

 

 

Dodging Grass Pollen Allergies

Vancouver Acupuncture Treatment For Allergies

The arrival of July brings with it a host of new summer allergens, the most common of which are grass pollens.  The smell of freshly cut grass has me chomping at the bit to get outside and exercise.  For some, this same fresh smell heralds the beginning of yet another month of sniffles and dry eyes.

 

To make matters worse, those whose allergies are triggered by grass pollens also find it hard to get a good night’s sleep.  Dust mite excretions are the same size and configuration as grass pollens, triggering the same allergic reaction in those affected.  Commonly the day begins with a tough night’s sleep as the airways and sinuses are impeded.  To boot, the neighbor’s lawn mower is the alarm clock, heralding a day of outdoor allergies.
An early morning tee-time requires a good dose of anti-histamines and possibly even an asthma inhaler or two.
I had a patient who loved to play soccer, but became allergic to grass pollens.  Asthma triggered by a combination of exercise (EIA) and grass pollen eventually took her from the game she loved.  With treatment, she has now returned to her favorite sport, symptom and pharmaceutical free! Read her story here.


How?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, allergies are a function of an underlying weakness in the Lung energy system.  Typically, this deficiency results from a pre-existing weakness of the Spleen energy system, the digestion.

Treatment includes a combination of clearing the Phlegm (and often Heat) that has been stored in the Lung, while strengthening the Spleen and Lung energy systems.  This is what is known as supporting the Root (cause) while treating the Branch (symptoms).
The result of this treatment simply occurs as a regulation of the immune system so that it stops over-reacting to otherwise innocuous allergy triggers.  A recent scientific trial out of New York shows how the T-cells of the immune system are returned to a balanced state with Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.

Antihistamines are nothing but a band-aid, and steroids simply shut down the immune system. Chinese medicine works by regulating a confused immune system so that it no longer is over or under responsive to substances in the environment.


Do you suffer from allergies in the summer?

Come in for treatment and I’ll have you back enjoying your favorite outdoor activities, allergy-free!

– Article Prepared By Dr. Peter Wood Dr.TCM, R.Ac, BPE

Spring – the Rise of Yang Qi

We can feel the difference.  There is no need for internal self-motivation to get out for a run on a nice, sunny, warming Monday morning!  Active energy, Yang Qi, is stirring.

Like the dawn of a new day, winter equinox is “Yin within Yin” or “ultimate Yin” heralding in itself the beginning of Yin’s transformation into Yang.  Spring equinox (Yang within Yin) is the time where Yang becomes equal to Yin as it continues to grow relatively to Yin to its peak at the summer equinox duly dubbed “Yang within Yang”.

According to the Five Elements Theory of Traditional Chinese medicine, the season of Spring is dominated by the climate of Wind, the culprit responsible for the contraction of various viruses, bacteria, colds and flues.  In the springtime, we also see an increase of other conditions triggered by Wind invasion such as hay fever and asthma.

Nowadays we are able to understand more precisely what exactly these ‘Wind pathogens’ look like.  We can test for allergies to specific substances to find out if we are allergic to grass pollens, cherry blossoms, cat dander, red alder or any host of others.

External pathogenic Wind is said to invade the body through the pores and specifically through the area of the nape of the neck.  When our Wei Qi (Defensive Energy – aka. Immune system) is robust, the pores close in a brisk wind, disallowing the passage of harmful Wind.  When it becomes weakened, or if it is a particularly strong Wind pathogen, the pores are left open and susceptible to the invasion of Wind.  This is why we contract a cold, begin to wheeze, or get sinus congestion.

Traditional Chinese medicine treatment of a cold includes acupuncture and herbal remedies said to activate the Yang Qi to open the pores, pushing out this Wind pathogen.  For this reason, it is always recommended that one consume these particular herbal formulae at as hot a temperature as possible, careful of course not to scald the mouth!  The goal is to create a slight sweat, indicating that the pores have opened and the pathogen has been released.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with the following concept.  All of the ideas fostered over the winter are beginning to germinate.  Spring is the time to turn inspiration into action, a time to harness the expanding, active Yang energy and, with it, nourish the soil of your goals and dreams.

-Authored by Dr. Peter Wood

Acid Reflux: Adding Fire to Stop the Burn

GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) or acid reflux disease is not a function of too much stomach acid, but, to the contrary, is a function of too LITTLE stomach acid!

Pardon?

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it’s true.  Here’s the explanation.

When there is sufficient stomach acid, which contains the healthy flora (bacteria) necessary in the digestive process, the esophageal sphincter knows to close tightly so that none of the acid escapes the ‘safe-zone’ where the lining of the stomach is protected by a mucous membrane.  When the acid becomes low or neutralized, the sphincter relaxes, allowing some of the noxious liquid to escape.  When the acid comes into contact with unprotected tissues, it causes damage and the familiar pain associated with acid reflux disease.

Here’s the really backward part:  we treat it conventionally by further neutralizing the stomach acid with antacids (Tums, Pepto Bismal, etc.). This effectively takes away the symptoms by putting out the fire where the acid has escaped the ‘safe-zone’, but creates a dependence on the antacid to continue to neutralize that acid that keeps escaping through the flaccid sphincter.  As soon as we stop taking those Tums, the pain comes back!  Why?   The problem isn’t due to the acidity of the stomach fluid, the problem is that this fluid is allowed to escape the ‘safe-zone’.

Albeit a good business model, this treatment does nothing to help the patient over time, and does everything to create the dependency necessary to sell more Tums!  (Typical, right?)

And when this fails, we’re instructed to take antibiotics!!  This kills off all of the bacteria, including all the good ones we need for digestion!

What really needs to happen is that we must ACIDIFY the fluids of the stomach.  In doing so, the sphincter is instructed by the body to protect the zone outside the ‘safe-zone’ by squeezing tight, preventing the fluid from leaking out.

Here’s how we should be treating acid-reflux.

When experiencing acute symptoms acid reflux (burning pain in the area of the solar-plexus) consume one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a glass of water.  Once the acute symptoms have subsided, continue to acidify the stomach fluids by supplementing with hydrochloric acid pills.  This will cause the sphincter to tighten down, preventing the acid from leaking out of the ‘safe-zone’.

Now that the Fire is under control, here are some easy dietary recommendations to maintain this state of balance.  Eat warm meals.  The Western diet of cold meals (breads, pastries, salads, greasy foods, refined foods) contributes to neutralizing the healthy flora in the gut.  Try replacing the ‘sandwich’ lunch with a hot soup containing Gai Lan.  Avoid eating too many raw veggies, opt instead to eat them slightly steamed.  On top of this, it is best to address the underlying imbalance in the system by treatment with Traditional Chinese medicine herbs and Acupuncture.  This will ensure that the symptoms stay away for good!

It is not recommended to attempt this treatment unless under the guidance of a trained health-care practitioner.

Naturopathic Medical Solutions: Nothing to Sneeze At

One of the more common ailments this time of year is allergies. Just as people are adjusting to the plants of early summer, April brings changes in vegetation that cause a new wave of itchy, watery eyes, runny noses and head-rattling sneezes.

Many patients – and many medical professionals – focus their treatments on relieving the symptoms without tackling their underlying causes. Naturopathic therapies however address both and can help reduce the suffering of allergy sufferers in any season.

The Importance of Gut Health

Nine times out of 10, allergies have their genesis in the intestinal tract. Together, the gut and our airways comprise between 60 and 80 percent of our body’s immune system. That’s why Naturopathic Therapies for allergies – and immune irregularities – begin by bolstering the health of the intestinal tract.

We know that when there is inflammatory or allergic-type reactivity in the intestinal tract most often there also is an immune reaction that can sensitize other mucous membranes and trigger allergic reactions elsewhere in the body. Accordingly, one of the naturopathic therapies for people with allergies is to reduce the consumption of foods that might be triggering allergic reactions.

Identifying Food Sensitivities

Allergy sufferers can obtain food allergy testing and use a food diary combined with an elimination diet to determine which foods are causing their symptoms. In addition to determining which foods you might be sensitive to, other helpful measures include: washing sheets frequently in hot water, replacing air filters, vacuuming carpets often or removing them entirely and investing in a good air cleaner.

Supportive Therapies: Nutrition, Herbs & Homeopathics

Between eight and nine out of 10 of my patients have seen a 90% reduction in allergic reactions – and some have entirely eliminated the risk of anaphylactic reactions – by making changes to their diets, repairing the mucous membranes in their bowels and by using an allergic desensitizing therapy.

Homeopathics and herbs can help reduce the inflammation in mucous membranes and rebuild them. There are literally thousands of such substances that have been shown to help.

A number of controlled studies have proven that homeopathic medicines containing a combination of remedies are at least as effective as commercial antihistamines at reducing allergy symptoms, especially seasonal allergies, but without the side effects associated with commercial drugs. For best results using these types of remedies it is always advisable to seek the advice of a naturopathic doctor.

Attending to Stress:

As with many other ailments, reducing stress levels can help to reduce allergic symptoms. The study of how one’s mental state interacts with the nervous and immune systems is known as psychoneuroimmunology. Researchers have observed that as people become more stressed and the nervous system becomes more irritated, histamines are released.

There are any number of homeopathic, nutritional and botanical remedies that can help reduce stress and, as a consequence, reduce the severity and period of allergic symptoms.

– Article prepared by Dr. Tasnim Adatya

*The information contained is intended for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent illness or disease.

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Clinic Notice:

Dr. Adatya will be hosting a Naturopathic Allergy Clinic from April – August 2012

Diagnostic testing for allergy sufferers. Skin prick test suitable for Adults and Children for trees, grass, weeds, dust, dander. High degree of sensitivity and specificity.

Talk to Dr. Adatya if this test is right for you. www.dradatya.com

Dry Skin? Skip the Spa and Try Chinese Medicine for longer lasting results!

As we approach Spring, many of us are experiencing skin woes after a long, cold Canadian winter. Dry, chapped, tight skin is common at this time of year and all the worse for those suffering from eczema and other dermatological conditions.

Signs your skin can benefit from treatment:

  • Watering Eyes
  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Flaking
  • Dehydration lines (fine lines and wrinkles)
  • Cracking and Bleeding in more severe cases
  • Conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne

Symptoms can be eased with:

  • Facial and Body Acupuncture Treatments
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Supplements
  • Dietary Therapy
  • Natural Topical Products

How to resolve these symptoms at home:

  • Drink plenty of fresh, filtered, water, at least 8 glasses per day.
  • Eat, whole organic food wherever possible
  • Limit sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol
  • Use an all natural emollient, Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is a great option
  • Take a quality Multi Vitamin
  • Eat good fats in the form of walnuts, avocados, and fish oils
  • Get a good night’s sleep

Steroids and other prescription topical creams do little to address the underlying cause of dehydration, allergies, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, inflammation and malnutrition that lie at the root of many skin conditions. A multi-pronged approach that addresses the whole body is your best bet to restore balance.

Resolving these symptoms with a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Whether you wish to treat a dermatological condition, slow the aging process or work on a preventive level, the principles of Chinese Medicine can help you bring a glow back to your skin from within. Always consult a registered healthcare practitioner before beginning any supplementation regime.

– Advice offered by Dr. Kelly Cmolik

*The information contained is intended for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent illness or disease.