Category Archives: Pregnancy, Acupuncture and TCM

Solving the Mystery of Your Health Concerns with Chinese Medicine


 

Are you sick, yet don't know why? Find out how Chinese medicine can help

Solving the Mystery of Your Health Concerns with Chinese Medicine

Are you SICK, yet don’t know WHY? Are you currently suffering from a physical or mental ailment that you are having difficulty resolving? Is the cause unexplainable according to western medicine? Are you interested in understanding how Chinese medicine can help you?

As a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) and acupuncturist (R.Ac), my goal is to address people’s health concerns, source the root cause of ‘dis-ease’, and help you discover your own healing potential. Common ailments that respond well to acupuncture and Chinese medicine include physical pain and acute injury, mental and emotional stress, repetitive strain injuries, digestive/bowel upset, common cold, seasonal allergies, mild to moderate nausea, migraines, neck tension/pain, backaches, and joint pain. Sometimes, a condition that is acute (less than 3 months), can usually be resolved quite quickly (within 1-3 treatments) with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. If related to physical pain, certain acupuncture points that help to relax tight, sore muscles and reduce inflammation in the local and adjacent areas are primarily used.

Some people present with more chronic conditions that may include multiple symptoms. In these cases, it is important to address each of your health concerns but to start with the most acute concerns first – one must address the flames before rebuilding and renewal can begin. Conditions such as irregular menstruation, hormonal imbalance, acne, infertility, pregnancy and postpartum complications, chronic pain, anemia, fatigue, depression, diabetes, weight management, digestive concerns, heart and lung diseases, neurological and movement disorders, as well as many types of cancer may fall into this category.

For these more chronic health concerns, treatment strategy can require a more complex analysis to truly understand the nature of the ailment. Here is where Chinese medicine and its elaborate system of physical pattern identification truly excels in discovering the root of the matter. While Traditional Chinese Medicine does not depend on western medical diagnoses, it can be used to provide further information to the practitioner to understand how a particular condition is manifesting within the body.  After a detailed analysis of the presenting symptoms, a Chinese medical practitioner looks for and analyses the current status of the body structures and systems. This is done through a detailed health intake that the TCM practitioner uses to analyse many factors including energy level, digestion, urination, bowel movement, skin and hair changes, sleep patterns, food intake, female and male hormonal cycles, respiratory, circulatory, immunological function as well as emotional and and neurological factors, lifestyle factors, and any other significant life events.

Finally the rate and quality of the wrist pulses on both sides are taken to confirm the pattern identification and see how deep the condition has manifested (e.g. skin level, muscular level, bone and/or blood level).  Patterns that are closer to the exterior are generally faster to resolve, while patterns manifesting at a deeper level will require more effort from both patient and practitioner to successfully resolve.

A tongue picture is also taken via photo and/ or visual observation to better understand the current and changing nature the disease. Looking at the quality, shape, colour of the tongue root and tongue coating can provide a better understanding of how the inner organs also present. The tongue is an outer organ that can reflect what the inner organs are also dealing with.

While this system of pattern identification is very detailed and elaborate, it provides an amazingly common-sense analysis of the body and how it is currently functioning.  With proper diagnosis according to Chinese medicine, you are offered the opportunity to really understand the nature of your ailment and learn how to effectively address your health concerns. A combination of acupuncture, moxabustion and heat therapy, Chinese medicinal herbs, diet, and lifestyle modification as well as an introduction to practises such as Qigong may well set you on your path to healing.

So how do you get started on this incredible healing process with Chinese medicine?

A seasoned practitioner can help you identify the WHY or the cause of your main health concern from the vantage of what is going on in your body and how it has responded to your surroundings and life events. It is not uncommon for physical concerns to be rooted in a physical or emotional event that was traumatic and internalized in some way. Some concerns can be explained by genetics. Even gestation and birth can have an influence on an individual’s current health, as the lifestyle and environmental factors of our parents directly impact us during this period of physical connection from within the mother’s womb. Other conditions may be directly impacted by constant stress in the home or at work, as well as environmental and dietary exposure. In these cases lifestyle modification may need to be carefully considered and addressed.

When you are unclear of what is going on, there is often much insight to be gained by spending even just a few minutes to reflect on your past and current situation and or habits, and to ask yourself the following questions:

1. What bothers me physically, mentally, emotionally? What triggers have led me to this state? What other factors have contributed to my current ability to cope with this condition? What can I do now/future to feel better/improve my chances of recovery?

2. Where do I hold normally hold my stress/ feel the most discomfort?

3. How do I think this condition arose? How does it affect my daily life and future goals? How can I make positive changes to improve my health/situation?

4. When did I first experience these symptoms? When (e.g. time of day/month/season, before or after sleep/an activity) are the symptoms most aggravated? Alleviated?

5. Who is contributing positively/negatively to my current state of health? Who do I think would be best suited to help me in the healing process? Who can I go to ask for more help?

6. Why – this is what we hope to help you discover with time and the right information!

7. Other contributing factors? Investigate any previous health history and other medical conditions (e.g. previous head concussions, muscle/ligament injuries, bone fractures, nerve entrapment, viruses, STDs, fungi/parasites, chronic physical or physiological ailments, irregular production of hormone and/or irregular hormonal cycles, digestive concerns, insomnia/depression/anxiety, general mood/state, low/high blood pressure, circulatory and/or breathing issues, anemia, drug dependencies, food and drink sensitivities, weight management, poor posture, hereditary factors, diet, exercise, exposure to environmental toxins, amount of daily outdoor activity and exposure to clean air, amount of quality sleep, proper breathing technique, any temperature intolerances or exposure to extreme temperatures including those arising from A/C units and fans, work schedule and potential occupational dangers/ daily stress factors at work or at home).

A great article which also touches on some common conditions that are typical to North Americans (and why) can be found here:

http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_jun12/americansyndrome.htm

[Note: For more information on TCM pattern identification for sourcing the cause of a health concern please visit these sites:

http://www.acupao.com/about-1/philosophy-of-chinese-medicine/,

http://www.acupuncture.com/education/tcmbasics/whatisacu.htm,

http://www.yinyanghouse.com/practitioner_members/theory-chinese/what-does-acupuncture-treat-or-treating-cause-and-not-symptoms. ]

Here’s to your health!

Warmly,

Fay Meling

Natural PMS Cures: Part II


In my last post, I addressed the Top Ten Ways To Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally

Dr. Mark Hyman, also addresses some of the points I listed and why they affect our monthly cycles in his article in the Huffington Post titled, Eliminate Suffering From PMS in Five Simple Steps

Dr. Christiane Northrup also has some excellent tips accompanied by footnoted research articles to back up her claims on natural relief strategies for Premenstrual Syndrome

She also is a proponent of acupuncture for PMS relief and offers dietary recommendations for PMS which also relate to menstrual cramps and pelvic pain here

-m.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally


Many women are confronted with several days leading up to the start of menses when they experience symptoms often grouped under the term: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Common experiences include: lower abdominal bloating and cramping, low back pain, anxiety, irritability, depression, poor memory, mental fog, joint and/or muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, sweet or salty cravings, fatigue, and acne.

While these experiences often subside at the onset of menses, or another physiological change in a woman’s body, such as pregnancy or menopause, its monthly recurring nature can create much havoc if left unchecked long-term. A more serious form of PMS is known as PMDD (Premsenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is a mood disorder that typically occurs in women 20-40 years old, who have at least one child, a history of post-partum depression or other mood disorder, and/or a family history of depression. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm

So what can you do to kick this PMS monster out of your life for good? Adopting a lifestyle that gives you the optimal chance for overall health will reap rewards on your menstrual cycle and reproductive health as well.

Here is a list of top ten things you can do for yourself now to experience more healthy menstrual cycles. Please note that for the most noticeable effect, changes should be adopted at least a full 1-3 months ahead of your expected period. *As always, the recommendations given here is given as a general guideline only and not meant to replace the advice of your primary attending health care provider or physician.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally:

1. Exercise those muscles! Strength train, cross-train and just stay active! Join a sports team or gym, run, stroller jog, swim, bike, rock climb, walk, surf, paddle, dance, or jump. Do yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Aim to get at least 30 minutes in a day. Ready, set, go!!

2. Eliminate the bad foods: got grease, salt, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine? An overconsumption of food in general and especially meats and dairy may contribute to poor health overall and disturb natural hormone function. In Chinese medicine we refer to these foods as ones which are heavy and damp in nature and therefore contribute to accumulation of ‘damp and phlegm’ in the body. This accumulation can lead to a whole range of problems such as PMS, poor reproductive health, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint pain and more. These are therefore foods that are not wanted on the voyage!

3. Stick to the good foods: a more vegetable-rich diet with fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses provides you with the necessary fuel you need to get through your day. Healthy fats such as organic avocadoes and fish oils are also good to incorporate into your diet. When choosing your food sources, make sure to select those from local, organic, wild sources and free of GMOs, pesticides, and additives when possible.

4. Drink more water: 6-8 glasses of water a day is essential for proper hydration. The next time you feel like reaching for a snack, consider drinking a glass of water first. Make sure to wait at least 15 minutes before consuming food so that your liquids and solids get digested more readily. Consider the type of water you drink on a regular basis as well. Is it filtered, fresh, and at room temperature?

5. Reduce Stress: regular physical activity, massage, acupuncture, a work load that is contained (doesn’t creep into what should be your off work hours) and manageable are key to reducing your stress levels. Try to get out for at least one night of fun. Do something that makes you happy everyday. If there are additional burdens placed on you through family and friends, consider delegating tasks and just saying “no” to things that are not high priority. Consider counselling or other professional medical and social support if necessary.

6. Get better quality sleep: 6-8 hours of sleep that is uninterrupted and makes you feel refreshed upon waking is best. For those whose sleep is compromised because of work or family, try to get in a power nap of 20-30 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon. Avoid exposure to overactivity or overstimulation before bed to help promote better quality sleep.

7. Socialize with your close friends and family members: those that know you best can also help you through the more trying periods. As well, surrounding yourself with those you love makes you feel supported and happy.

8. Avoid activities that elevate your anxiety or stress levels: is there someone or something that you’d rather not associate with on a regular basis? Cut them out!

9. Meditate: whether through long walks in nature, connecting to your spiritual side, doing regular yoga or qigong exercises, or focusing on your abdominal breathing, meditation can provide you with the necessary tools to see your surroundings from a fresh new perspective and ultimately one that attracts the type of life you want.

10. Live in the moment: each day presents its own unique set of experiences. Try to engage your mind only in what comes most naturally to you at each moment. You can remind your self to do this by focusing on your breath using abdominal breathing (the way you we are meant to breathe!) Breathe in through your abdomen (when lying down you will notice this by pushing your abdomen up towards the sky), open your nostrils and allow your chest walls to expand more fully when taking in the air you breathe. Then slowly release this breath out though your mouth while your abdomen retracts and sinks towards the ground. Focusing on past or future circumstances is nonproductive, creates unnecessary stress and anxiety and can block your natural reasoning abilities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, all dis-ease can be attributed to the blockage of qi in the body. To return the body to its natural state requires that we support and nourish the body where necessary, but also unblock areas to provide for the free flow of qi. In general terms, this means that your body has the ability to function well if all physiological processes (passages of qi”) are not blocked. Proper diet, exercise and mental activity play a huge role in regulating these processes.

-m.

Acupuncture for Pregnancy & Labour | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living


Here is a great article by Chris Di Tecco, D.Ac, D.TCM,  on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you during the different stages of pregnancy and labour:

Acupuncture for Pregnancy & Labour | Vitality Magazine | Toronto Canada alternative health, natural medicine and green living.

Rice Congee for Healthy Labour And Delivery


Here is a common recipe used to prepare rice congee with other healthy ingredients to promote a normal and efficient delivery. It can also help to encourage labor that is prolonged or delayed.

Sweet Potato Congee (Yu Tou Zhou)

Ingredients:
Sweet Potato (You Tou) – 250g
Polished Rice* (Da Mi) – 50g (Please note: polished rice is gluten-free!)
Salt (Yan) – small amount, according to preference

Directions:
Remove skin of sweet potato, wash rice, and combine these two ingredients using a ratio of 6 parts of water with 1 part rice (e.g. 600g water: 100g rice, change amounts but keep ratio if you desire more or less). Once rice has been cooked into porridge, add a touch of salt or tamari/soy sauce for flavor.

Note: Congee can also be prepared in a crock pot or slow cooker. Simply add all prepared ingredients into the pot, put on low setting, and allow it to simmer overnight for approximately 6-8 hours. In the morning, presto! Your breakfast is ready and waiting to be served with any additional seasoning (e.g. a pinch of soy sauce/salt).

(Flaws, Bob. The Book of Jook. Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO, 1995)

For more information on acupuncture for delivery and postpartum please visit my practice site at: http://www.acupao.com

Acupuncture for Delayed and Slow Labour: A Conversation Between a Midwife and an Acupuncturist


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One of my close friends, who happens to be a midwife was commenting the other day whether all the techniques women try to bring on labour truly make a difference, or whether their labour would normally happen without all the ‘extras’ (e.g. acupuncture, massage, eating certain types of foods, doing specific types of exercises, having a cervical sweep done, etc.). She was also concerned that some women try to do too much before their body is truly ready to deliver. I agreed with her on this point.

In Chinese medicine, we do not give treatments for labour until the woman is due or past her due date as promoting an earlier birth does not necessarily provide any real benefit to mother and child and can in some cases cause more problems. We can however, prepare the body several weeks before a woman’s due date to encourage cervical ripening and ensure a smoother delivery. I mentioned that while it is true that a woman will in most cases go into labour without any intervention or additional procedures, the actual experience of labour can be quite different depending on what you do to prepare your body for it. The analogy I used was that of a person who has slow moving bowels. While it is true that someone who is constipated will eventually pass their stools (due to the nature of gravity!), it will most likely be quite painful and uncomfortable if no remedy is taken to soften the stool and help it move through the intestines more efficiently. Similarly, for some women, labour can sometimes be frought with stops and starts, slow movement and (dare I say it…pain!).

Treatments such as acupuncture are ideal for delayed and slow labours since it can help relax the mother, and initiate a proper physiological response in the body for labour to begin and continue towards a safe, natural and healthy birth. And while very few women can honestly say their labours are pain-free, acupuncture might just be the needed treatment ‘extra’ that sets the ball rolling and helps take the edge off of labour!

For more information on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be used to treat pregnancy, labour and beyond, please visit my practice site at: http://www.acupao.com

 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Postpartum Recovery


The following are just some of the many conditions that acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese Medicine can be used for treating women postpartum:

Immediately following natural labour or Caesarean section:
-Pain due to episiotomy and/or tearing of perineum, surgical scarring after C-section, spinal headache, coccyx pain due to injured/broken tailbone (Note: acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be safely used with pain medication in many cases and also to help reduce dependency on pain meds. Please consult a qualified health professional with experience in this)
-Hemorrhoids
-Blocked ducts in breast, breast engorgement, mastitis
-Insufficient lactation
-Incontinence of urine or feces
-Constipation
-Postpartum cramping (after pains)
-Prolapse of uterus
-Postpartum anxiety, depression
-Carpal tunnel syndrome

The sooner the conditions are addressed, the better. However, good results can still be achieved when treated for the first time several weeks postpartum and well into the first year post partum.