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859-913-5638

The acupuncture office of Deborah Hutchinson, PhD, LAc, DiplAc (NCCAOM)®. Located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, offering acupuncture and moxibustion according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles

Health

Diabetes: Can Acupuncture Help?

picture of woman removing cup with text that reads Can acupuncture help with diabetes?Did you know that acupuncture can be a powerful ally for people who have various types of Diabetes?

It’s true…let me explain how an acupuncturist views the common condition.

Although Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine use different methods to treat common diseases, both approaches also agree on many things. So what are the similarities? Both Western and Eastern focus on diet, weight loss, and exercise to treat diabetes.  Both use medications, nutritional supplements or herbs to reduce blood sugar and improve cellular respiration. However, the each medical system has different theories, diagnostic patterns, and treatment methods.

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Nourishing Transition: Eating Right for Late Summer & the Spleen

image of food with text that reads "eat for late summer"

Late Summer is a time of transition, when we move from the most Yang time of the year to the beginning of Yin time. The earth is preparing for its next season. In Chinese Medicine, the Earth element correlates with the Spleen and Stomach, which are considered primarily digestive organs. Digestion, as a functional concept, represents the central axis around which everything else revolves. We should strive for optimal digestion all year round, but these transitional times between seasons are fantastic opportunities to strengthen this ‘central axis’ by slowing down and  simplifying our diet while making sure it’s as nutritious as possible. The Spleen has some requests regarding what we eat. First, keep things simple. It is important to shed complexity and avoid extremes. Find your goldilox zone when it comes to taste and temperature and quantity of food. Not too hot, not too cold, not too sweet, not too spicy etc. and not too much food at once. Stop eating before you’re full.

 

In that goldilox zone we find that warm foods are preferable. This helps to maintain that simple balance of temperature but also assists the spleen qi in maintaining the digestive fire. Excessively cold food (like ice cold drinks or ice cream) can extinguish that essential fire and must be avoided especially during the season change. Start to transition to cooked foods if you’ve been doing more raw fruits and veggies in the summer. Warm ginger tea, bone broth and mild spices like cinnamon and nutmeg can help gently fan the flames of dying embers.

 

The other threat to our digestive fire are foods that are considered ‘damp’ in nature. Greasy/fried foods, refined sugars, and excess dairy and gluten can slow down metabolism, weigh down the body energetically and eventually physically. We can see the down-river result of too much damp foods manifest in the body as weight gain, sore joints, a foggy-head, loose stools, and issues like candida and edema. Keep the spleen happy and the digestive fire burning with warm, ‘dry’ foods.

 

The spleen also likes sweet flavors, but again, we keep balance in mind. Think slightly sweet and naturally sweet. Foods that fit the bill are fruits like figs, plums, and apples, vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips and squash. Rice, potatoes and mushrooms are considered slightly sweet as well (along with whole grains which are okay for those without gluten sensitivities). Lentils and legumes can be added in for their protein and fiber which help to regulate the blood sugar. Avoid fruit juices, as they lack the fiber to balance the sugar.

 

To round out your meals, feel free to add some (free-range organic when possible) meat, nuts and seeds and leafy greens for balance. Soups and stews are a great way to bring together a few simple ingredients in a spleen-friendly way. Just don’t forget: slow, simple, balanced, warm, dry, and slightly sweet.

 

How we eat is often just as important as what we eat. In our fast-paced society, everything feels rushed. Yet it is so important to take the time to generate better awareness around mealtime. In simple terms: CHEW your food. Take a moment before eating to look at your food, appreciate it, and then ..enjoy the taste…slowly. Ask your body to receive it with love, while minimizing potentially stressful distractions. Make it a meditation. Or at least a moment of gratitude.

 

Follow these basic principles of nourishment during times of seasonal change and you’ll find yourself transitioning with ease.

 

Come in for a late summer tune-up with acupuncture to better harmonize with the transitional season, strengthen digestion and support your body through seasonal changes. We’re here for you!

Let’s End Mental Health Stigma!

Let’s normalize mental health!

Using numbers compiled by the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), let’s borrow the idea of a village of 100 people, because it’s a lot easier to imagine 100 people than millions, in order to see just how we fit in the picture. So imagine, out the next 100 adults you encounter…

  • 20 are currently diagnosed with a mental illness
  • 31 have had some type of anxiety disorder in their lifetime
  • 9 will have an eating disorder in their lifetime
  • 8 have experienced at least 1 major depressive episode in the past year
  • 4 have been diagnosed with PTSD
  • 5 have ADHD
  • 3 have bipolar disorder disorder
  • 1 has schizophrenia
  • 3 will have experienced an episode of psychosis in their lifetime
  • 75 (yes, 3/4 of people) will experience an episode of depersonalization/ derealization in their lifetime

These are just the numbers for adults and actual numbers are likely higher since so many people do not seek help. That’s a lot of people who have personal experience with a mental health problem. Now think of the ripple effect of mental illness — how it impacts the lives of those with mental and emotional disorders, their family and friends, the community, everybody.

You are not alone!

Arthritis & Acupuncture

Over 54 million adults in the United States are affected by arthritis — that’s one in four adults! Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States.

Arthritis can be one of the most life-altering and unpleasant pain conditions. There are many types of arthritis (osteo-, rheumatoid, childhood, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia) , but symptoms typically include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty moving joint(s)

Arthritis can range from bothersome to extremely painful, hindering everyday activities for many who have it. It is also associated with other chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. That means millions of people aren’t able to work or are limited in their ability to work, are missing out on life-enhancing activities and travel, and may be in near-constant pain due to arthritis. Thankfully there are a multitude of ways to manage arthritis and the pain that so inhibits sufferers’ lives.

Image of person holding another persons hand with text that reads “Managing Arthritis Naturally”

Acupuncture for Arthritis

When you consider that Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) dates back over 2,000 years, it is easy to see the vastness of theory and history involved. TCM practitioners have unique diagnostic methods to define the underlying problems and help the body correct them. Many clinical studies support acupuncture’s ability to be an effective treatment for arthritis. In addition to the increased production of endogenous opioid endorphins (the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals), acupuncture is a great option to keep in mind to reduce swelling and increase range of motion safely, naturally, and without harmful side effects.

Move!

“Motion is lotion,” you may have heard a physical therapist, chiropractor, or acupuncturist say. Movement can help reduce arthritic swelling and pain, and is a sure-fire mood-booster that can also help manage those conditions that are common in conjunction with arthritis. A lot of people are reluctant to move because of pain, but in the long run pain lessens if they stay active. It’s important that people suffering from arthritis choose low-impact exercise and only engage in physical activity that feels safe.

Reduce Stress

Easier said than done, I know, but stress has a big impact on the body’s ability to heal itself, especially when it comes to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The pain of arthritis can also contribute to stress, creating a vicious cycle. Make sure you are taking care of your mental and emotional health by making self-care time, getting exercise and outdoor time, engaging in positive and healthful hobbies and recreation, and having a mindfulness routine can all help manage daily stress. Acupuncture can really help in this department too! Most people who get acupuncture treatments report that it is very relaxing and helps relieve stress.

The Mediterranean Diet

No diet can cure arthritis outright, but you have a full table of options when it comes to foods that can help fight inflammation and pain. Often called the The Mediterranean Diet (because, well, it’s common in the Mediterranean regions!), it is a diet low in processed food and full of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans, and healthy oil (Olive Oil) that can greatly reduce the symptoms of arthritis. You can read more about it at the Arthritis Foundation website by clicking here.

 

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Acupuncture for Tension Headaches

Do you get tension headaches?

Tension headaches may not as debilitating as migraines, but they often occur more frequently. Tension headaches are reported to be the most common type of headache experienced. Stress tends to be the biggest factor regarding these types of headaches. Those who suffer from tension headaches frequently report a feeling of their head being squeezed, with pressure around the forehead, temples, and back of the head or neck. Tension headaches can last for as short as 30 minutes or they could linger for days.

While the exact cause of tension headaches is still not clear, they are most commonly attributed to muscle tension or spasms of the head, face, scalp, or jaw. Tension headaches are considered chronic if a person experiences them 15 or more days per month for several months. The most common treatment for tension headaches is over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or aspirin.  Severe cases are sometimes treated with prescription drugs, but they tend to fail because they do not address the root cause of the headaches.

 

Getting to the Root

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is known for locating and treating the root cause of any ailment, including tension headaches. One of the ways TCM treats the root is by identifying personal triggers that create tension-type headaches. The licensed acupuncturist plays the role of a detective when treating patients. Acupuncturists usually ask multiple questions regarding the symptoms of any illness, as well as other seemingly “unrelated” symptoms and body functions to get a holistic view of the patient’s health and underlying patterns of disharmony. This allows for proper diagnosis and treatment of the patient. This can also give the patient insight into why the headaches keep occurring and how they can eliminate some of the triggers.

 

How Acupuncture Can Help

Acupuncture provides headache relief with a great deal of success. Just a few needles can be sufficient in stopping tension-type headaches and regular treatments can reduce the frequency. Acupuncture is also very effective at providing relief from stress and anxiety, two of the most common triggers of tension-type headaches.

Many research studies are proving acupuncture can help ease symptoms associated with chronic tension headaches. One of these studies published by the Cochrane Library (here’s a link to the study) concluded a course of six acupuncture treatments can be a viable option in the treatment of “tension-type headaches”. According to the study, participants treated with acupuncture and pain-killers reported their headache frequency was less. This study was actually a compilation of several acupuncture trials. A total of 12 trials met the criteria to be included in this conclusive study. Acupuncture was also compared to several other modalities such as massage and physiotherapy, but the findings were inconclusive.

TCM includes more than just acupuncture. Herbal formulas and other modalities such as cupping, tuina, tai chi, and qi gong are a part of TCM.  By adding in herbs and these accessory modalities, the patient then has the tools needed to counter oncoming headaches on a long-term basis. The acupuncture treatments then become a type of maintenance to keep the headaches at bay.

A person suffering from tension-type headaches could benefit greatly from regular acupuncture treatments.  If you are one of the nearly 1.4 billion people that suffer regularly from tension-type headaches, give me a call today. Acupuncture and TCM CAN HELP!

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