How to Use Holistic Medicine

Professional advice from Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and Registered Dietitian (RD), Donna Sigmond.

Coping with Seasonal Stress

The holiday season can be filled with a dizzying array of demands, visitors, travel and frantic shopping trips. For many people, it is also a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. Compound the usual seasonal pressures with economic strain and you many find this to be one of the most emotionally trying times of the year.

Boost your overall ability to handle seasonal stress by replenishing the nutrients that stress hormones deplete by including the following foods in your meals:

Blackberries – Blackberries are jam packed with vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. Vitamin C has shown to be a powerful stress reducer that can lower blood pressure and return cortisol levels to normal faster when taken during periods of stress.

Cruciferous Vegetables – Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kale are full of stress-relieving B vitamins. Cauliflower is also one of the very best sources of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid helps turn carbohydrates and fats into usable energy and improves your ability to respond to stress by supporting your adrenal glands.

Salmon – Salmon is a healthy and delicious way to get your dose of B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Among the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, a 2003 study published in Diabetes & Metabolism found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced the stress response and kept the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine in check.

 

© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

Acupuncture for Post Operative Pain and Fibromyalgia

Research from Duke University Medical Center has shown that acupuncture can significantly reduce surgical patients’ post-operative pain, and their need for powerful opioids to treat pain.

Duke University anesthesiologists combined data from 15 randomized clinical trials to reach their conclusion. Using acupuncture both before and after surgery produced the best results for patients, who reported lower levels of post-operative pain and a significantly reduced need for painkillers. In addition, acupuncture mitigated the negative side effects of opioids when they were used.

“The most important outcome for the patient is the reduction of the side effects associated with opioids,” said T.J. Gan, M.D., the Duke anesthesiologist who presented the study at the annual scientific conference of the American Society for Anesthesiology in San Francisco in October 2007. Gan pointed out that acupuncture is a relatively inexpensive therapy that has virtually no side effects when practiced by trained professionals.

Many other studies have shown acupuncture effective in reducing post-operative nausea and vomiting compared with other medications.

According to a meta-analysis presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ meeting, acupuncture reduced rates of post-operative nausea by 32 percent, pruritus (itchiness at the surgical site) by 25 percent, dizziness by 38 percent, and urinary retention by 71 percent compared with control groups.

Acupuncture is excellent for managing post-surgical side effects such as surgical pain, loss of appetite, and upset stomach or nausea. In addition to strengthening the immune system and increasing energy, acupuncture is also a great way to reduce swelling, decrease stiffness and pain, reduce scarring and scar tissue and assist with a quick recovery.

If you, or a loved one, will be undergoing surgery, please call us to see if acupuncture can improve your recovery.

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated two percent of the population. It is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months and pain when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body.Research shows that as many as 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complimentary and alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.

Oriental medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, the intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms.

A treatment program may include a combination of psychological or behavioral therapies, medications, exercise, acupuncture, herbal medicine and bodywork.

If you have fibromyalgia call today to see how acupuncture can ease your symptoms!

 

© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

Revitalize Your Digestive Health With Acupuncture

 

More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In fact, more than 35 million physician office visits a year are due to gastrointestinal complaints. Reports are confirming that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

Evidence that Oriental medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain and diarrhea with pain are discussed.

According to Oriental medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and qi (energy). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ; the premise being that the proper functioning of the”‘middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality.

By taking into account a person’s constitution and varied symptoms, a treatment plan is designed specifically for the individual to bring their “middle” back into harmony and optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system. A variety of techniques can be used during treatment including acupuncture, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore digestive health.

Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could? Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are extremely effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders. Please call us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

Acupuncture Treats Food Poisoning and IBS

photo credit: Molly Des Jardin via photopin cc

Food poisoning arises from eating contaminated foods containing a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is also known as food-borne illness, infectious diarrhea, or gastroenteritis. The most common bacteria that causes food poisoning are salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and Shigella. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can relieve symptoms, hasten recovery and strengthen the digestive system to prevent future incidents of food poisoning, avert development of chronic immune deficiencies and increase energy levels.

Food poisoning is marked by severe diarrhea, fever, cramping, abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms, and vomiting. Most cases of food poisoning clear up on their own within a week without any medical assistance; however, it can take several months before bowel habits return to normal. Often, the digestive system is severely weakened after a bout of food poisoning, making the infected person more susceptible to food poisoning in the future. A small number of persons with food poisoning develop an autoimmune disease called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years and may lead to chronic arthritis.

The best treatment for food poisoning is rest and hydration to prevent fluid and electrolyte loss due to vomiting and diarrhea. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to relieve nausea and vomiting, hasten recovery by assisting the body to eliminate the pathogen faster, and strengthen the digestive system to prevent any re-occurrences or development of a chronic immune disorder. After acute symptoms subside, acupuncture treatments focus on strengthening the digestive system and improving energy levels to bring about a full recovery.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Acupuncture

A common disorder affecting 10 to 20 percent of adults at some point in their lives, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was once called “spastic colon” and has a combination of symptoms that may include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, fatigue and headaches that can be worsened by certain foods, stress and other irritants. IBS is the end result of nervous interference with the normal function of the lower digestive tract. The symptoms are variable and change over time.

While other patterns may be present, IBS is typically considered a disharmony between the liver and the spleen in Oriental medicine. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi and blood throughout the body. This flow can be upset by emotions or stress, causing stagnation of qi or blood. Oriental medicine views the spleen as being associated with the function of digestion and transforming food into energy (qi and blood). The spleen can be weakened by a number of factors including overeating unhealthy foods, overwork, stress, fatigue, and lack of exercise. When the spleen is weak and the liver is not moving smoothly, the liver overacts on the spleen and can manifest as symptoms of IBS. Symptoms can be managed by avoiding overeating, exercise, identifying trigger foods and reducing stress.

 

Do you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Consider making an appointment with Donna Sigmond.

Foods to Boost Brain Health

 Boost your brain’s overall heath and enhance its day to day functioning by including these foods in a healthy well-balanced diet.

Blueberries – Well known for their role in improving motor skills and overall learning capacity, blueberries are rich in antioxidants that are great for boosting your brain and helping to reverse the effects of aging on the brain. Most berries contain fisetin and flavenoid, which are great for improving your memory and allowing you to easily recall past events.

Fish – Omega-3 rich wild salmon, tuna, and herring help brain function by providing more oxygen, allowing it to retain new information while remembering old information. It also coats neurons with good fat, allowing them to move easier through the brain. Eating one serving of fish a week can decrease your chances of getting Alzheimer’s.

Leafy Green Vegetables – Vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens and others are rich in vitamins, folate, and iron, all of which are essential for memory recall and increasing cognitive activity.

Nuts/Seeds – Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, folate, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and zinc all of which allow you to think more clearly. Choose seeds and nuts rich in thiamine and magnesium, which are great for memory, cognitive function, and brain nourishment.

Whole Grains – Rich in folate, thiamine, vitamin B6, and zinc, the nutrients found in whole grains increase blood flow to the brain, improving the quality and quantity of brain function and recall.

The Difference: Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivies

What is the difference between food allergy, food sensitivity and food intolerance?

Food allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerance are often used interchangeably and inappropriately. In fact, there is active debate in scientific and medical circles as to how to define and use these three terms. The general consensus is that food allergy can be defined as any adverse reaction to food that involves our immune system. This further breaks down into two kinds of reactions, food allergy and food sensitivity. Food intolerance does not involve the immune system.

Food Allergy

Perhaps the best known example of food allergy is also its least common and most dangerous. Anaphylactic shock is a severe hyper-reaction of the immune system caused by a massive release of histamine and other chemical mediators from certain types of white blood cells called mast cells and basophils. Not everyone with food allergies experiences anaphylaxis though. The immunological triggering mechanism that causes the mast cells (and basophils) to release their chemicals is called IgE and is a very well understood phenomenon. This underlying mechanism is considerably different from the triggering mechanisms found in food sensitivities. The most common foods implicated in food allergy are peanuts, other nuts, shellfish or foods containing sulfites. People with anaphylaxis can die within minutes if they ingest even one molecule of their allergic food.

Food allergy affects about 1-2% of the population and accounts for only a small percentage of all adverse food reactions.  Most immediate reactions are not life threatening but do produce uncomfortable symptoms.  People suffering from food allergy can  usually identify what foods they are allergic to without the help of a doctor or testing.  This is because the reaction occurs everytime and shortly after they eat their allergic food.

Food Sensitivity

Food sensitivity (also known as delayed food allergy) is quite another story. Delayed reactions manifest in many different ways as they can affect any organ system in the body and can take from 45 minutes to several days for symptoms to become apparent. The delayed onset of symptoms and complex physiological mechanisms involved in food sensitivities make them an especially difficult puzzle to try to solve either on your own or with most laboratory serum tests. In fact, food sensitivities often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The treatments prescribed usually provide only temporary relief that mask the symptoms instead of addressing the root cause of the problems.

The differences between the two kinds of immune-mediated adverse food reactions are summarized in the table below.

Item
Compared
Food
Sensitivities
Food
Allergies
Body Organs Involved Any organ system in the body can be affected Usually limited to airways, skin, gastrointestinal tract
Symptom Onset Occurs From 45 minutes up to 3 days after ingestion From seconds to 1 hour after ingestion
Are symptoms acute or chronic? Usually chronic, sometimes acute Usually acute, rarely chronic
Percentage of Population Affected Est 20-30% 1-2%
Immunologic Mechanisms White blood cells
Antibodies:
IgG (and subclasses)
IgM
C3, C4
IgE
Non-Immunologic Mechanisms Toxic , pharmacologic None
How much food is needed to trigger the allergy? From small amount to large amount; often dosage dependent 1 molecule of allergic food needed to trigger reaction

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance can produce some digestive symptoms that are similar to food sensitivity but it doesn’t involve the immune system. Instead, when the food in question is consumed, it is not properly digested and begins to ferment inside the gut. The best example of food intolerance is lactose intolerance. This condition is characterized by bloating, loose stools or diarrhea and gas. Lactose intolerance is caused by an inability of the body to produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, the primary sugar found in milk. Avoiding milk products or supplementing the diet with lactase enzyme is the best way for a person with lactose intolerance to overcome the problem.

Foods, Vitamins, and Minerals to Support Your Endocrine System

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are part of any healthy diet. To directly affect your endocrine system, make sure your diet includes these foods.

Fish – Fish provides your body with Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 oils. These oils are fats that directly affect cognitive function, cellular function and kidney function, all the things under the control of the endocrine system. Eating fish twice a week will aid in keeping a balanced endocrine system.

Garlic – Garlic boosts your immunity, increasing your ability to fight off infection. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. One or two cloves of garlic a day is recommended. Include it in your cooking!

Calcium – Calcium keeps nerves healthy and ensures their ability to communicate effectively. Milk, cottage cheese, cheese, leafy greens, dried beans and yogurt are all rich in calcium.

Vitamin B Complex – Directly influences the nervous system’s proper functioning and health and one’s physical and mental performance concerning the nervous system. Found in chicken, fish, eggs, whole grains, beans and nuts.

Vitamin C – Adrenal glands have a very high content of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This vitamin helps stimulate adrenal glands into producing more of the disease fighting hormone cortin. A continued stressful environment depletes vitamin C reserves and increases the tendency for infection and disease. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, melons, apricots, strawberries, berries, green vegetables, sweet peppers, and particularly tomatoes

Oriental Medicine for Weight Management

In Oriental medicine, the root of excess weight is an imbalance within the body caused by malfunctioning of the spleen and liver organ systems. Acupuncture points and foods and herbs selected to assist with weight loss can directly influence the Qi of the spleen and liver systems and treat the imbalances that have caused weight gain.

The spleen is responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system, ensuring that the food we eat is transformed into Qi, the vital substance of life. Disharmony of the spleen will result in symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stool and a feeling of heaviness.

The liver’s job is to keep the flow of your body’s Qi, blood and emotions running smoothly. Our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which, in turn, can cause the spleen and the entire digestive system to function poorly. One result can be a decrease in your metabolism. Liver disharmony can also cause some of the “triggers” that lead to cravings and compulsive eating.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been shown to have positive effects on the functioning of the nervous, endocrine and digestive systems. Treatment can help with food cravings and metabolism. These functions all help energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite and reduce anxiety.

Nutrition and Oriental Medicine: A Total Health Program

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine address the issues of over-eating and low metabolism with effective tools to control appetite and increase energy. Energy imbalances are corrected and the digestive and elimination processes are improved so that there is a physical shift in the body to naturally have more energy and desire less food.

By addressing both the physiological and psychological aspects of weight management concerns, acupuncture and Oriental medicine provide a comprehensive therapy for weight issues that promote better digestion, balance emotions, reduce appetite, improve metabolism and eliminate food cravings.

Each treatment is customized to the needs of the individual patient. Acupuncture points on the body are chosen for overall well being with the objective of increasing circulation of the blood and Qi (to stimulate the metabolism) and calming the nervous system. Treatments can include a combination of auricular (ear) and body acupuncture, ear tacks or pellets to leave on between treatments, herbs and supplements, abdominal massage, breathing exercises, and food and lifestyle recommendations.

In addition to treating the root of the imbalance within the body, different acupuncture points may be used for each treatment as different symptoms arise. For instance, if you are experiencing a desire to overeat related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) one week, then that can be addressed at that week’s appointment.

The herbs and foods that are chosen during a weight management treatment are for promoting healthy digestion, energizing the body, augmenting Qi, and improving elimination of water, toxins and waste products. Acupuncture points on the abdomen can help improve digestion. They can also help with food absorption and the movement of food through the intestines.

Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen will power and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings. Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture treatment alone, but special herbs, healing foods and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are powerful tools for achieving a healthy weight, by itself or as a supportive treatment in conjunction with other weight management programs.

Fight Fibromyalgia with Nutrient Dense Foods

The National Fibromyalgia Association recommends a balanced diet containing nutrient dense foods free of artificial additives and sweeteners to help your body fight fibromyalgia syndrome. Some key nutrients to include are:

B-Complex
Found in whole grains, beans, nuts, chicken, fish and eggs; B complex vitamins directly influence the nervous system’s proper functioning and combat nerve problems such as tingling and tenderness.

Magnesium
Found in nuts, grains, beans, fish, meat and dark green vegetables magnesium is needed for muscle flexibility and bone, protein and fatty acid formation. Magnesium is also integral in making new cells, relaxing muscles, clotting blood, aiding in calcium absorption and activating B vitamins.

Omega 3
Directly affecting cellular function, this fatty acid found in fish minimizes nerve sensitivity and improves cognition.

Vitamin C
Helps combat stress, builds the immune system, and reduces swelling. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, green vegetables, tomatoes and berries.

Water
Increases circulation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and helps to eliminate waste.