An Update: Back to Regular Hours

Hello!

We hope you are all doing well, staying safe, and following social distancing and sanitation guidelines. As you are likely aware, Greg Abbott has loosened the restrictions on elective medical, which includes our clinic. With these new guidelines, we are looking forward to getting you back into your care plans, while responsibly maintaining protections.

The office is open for normal hours with appointments on the half hour to limit contact and maintain the cleanliness of the rooms. We will continue wearing masks for the foreseeable future and practicing social distancing as much as possible in the front area. Please help by wearing a mask when coming to see us. The waiting room remains closed to limit the spread, please come and go accordingly. If you have someone driving you, they should wait in the car. We will continue taking everyone’s temperature upon entering the clinic.

If you need to make an appointment and are high risk or living with someone who is high risk, please let us know so we can schedule you accordingly to limit your exposure to other patients.

Sarah is continuing to work from home as much as possible, please keep that in mind when leaving messages. She will get back to you as soon as possible and within 24 hours to answer any questions, fill herb requests, or schedule appointment. As always, you can also schedule appointments online.

We have missed seeing your smiling faces and look forward to cautiously moving ahead while being as safe as possible.  

Be well and we hope to see you soon!

Dr. Stef and Sarah

Electroacupuncture & Pain

A 2017 study from researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine helps to show how electroacupuncture can stimulate tissue repair after an injury and relieve pain through a specific neurological mechanism. Over 40 scientists at research institutions in the United States and South Korea collaborated on the study. Through a series of tests, first on horses and then humans, the final study offers the most comprehensive view yet of how electroacupuncture stimulates the release of stem cells, special cells that develop into a variety of kinds of cells and repair cells.

The first uses of electroacupuncture are attributed to a Chinese doctor, Tang She-cheng, in 1934. In the West, the term is attributed to Dr. Roger la Fuye of France in 1947. Electroacupuncture uses the same principles as acupuncture, which involves inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points on the body. In electroacupuncture, however, practitioners add a small electrical current to the inserted needles, rather than simply stimulating the points by tapping or gently twisting the needles as they’re inserted.

Through brain MRIs, this research showed electroacupuncture activates the hypothalamus – a part of the brain responsible for controlling the nervous system and subconscious functions like the heart rate. Electrical stimuli from the needles reached the brain of the subjects within nine to 22 minutes, depending on the species. From there, reparative stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, were released into the bloodstream within two hours. These cells can differentiate into bone, cartilage and muscle cells, among others, aiding in repairing injured areas of the body. In order to access this response, researchers administered the electroacupuncture at specific acupoints related to the immune system. The study found increases in a type of collagen that promotes tendon repair, which contributes to research looking to better understand stem cells. The collagen also produces anti-inflammatory cells known to be predictors of faster healing time. 

We treat many conditions with electroacupuncture and have great success.

Is Your Gut Bacteria Causing Your Depression?

The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds. Jeroen Raes (VIB-KU Leuven) and his team published these results today in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology.

Studies of the relation between gut bacteria and depression show a clear connection between the two. Researchers have identified specific groups of microorganisms that positively or negatively correlated with mental health. Two of which were consistently depleted in individuals with depression, regardless of antidepressant treatment. 

The link between low microbial count and biodiversity in the gut is being shown in studies as having a link to depression and a reduced quality of life.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM- including Acupuncture) is very effective in treating depression and  righting issues with the gut. TCM diagnoses each patient on an individual basis and treats the specific symptoms, while addressing the root cause of the illness. 
 
To read more about the connection of gut bacteria and depression, here.

Dietary Suggestions to Support Your Gut Carbohydrate-rich foods such as winter squash, carrot, rutabaga, parsnip, turnip, garbanzo beans, black beans, peas, sweet potato, yam, pumpkin (no, a pumpkin-spice latte does not count!), onion, leek, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, and garlic all help support your gut and keep you healthy. Try adding these to your diet and come see us so we can help you get back to a better life. 

Dairy-Free Savory Squash Soup Recipe: (serves 4)
2 1/2 C butternut squash- peeled, seeded, and diced
1 large russet potato diced 
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic- chopped
Pinch each of oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme (are we going to Scarborough Fair?)
1/4 C green peas
1/4 t fresh lime juice
Parsley- finely chopped

1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add squash, potato, onion, garlic, and herbs. Reduce heat to medium and cook covered for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. 
2. Puree the soup, then add green peas and lime juice. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until peas are tender.

Serve hot and garnish with parsley and enjoy!

*source: Forks Over Knives- The Cookbook, by Del Sroufe

Traditional Chinese Medicine in Winter:

Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that humans should live in harmony with the seasons. Following the natural rhythms of each season can help people stay healthy throughout the year and support the immune and organ systems to ward off disease.

Winter is a time of repair and rejuvenation and is associated with the kidneys, which hold the body’s fundamental energies. Rest is important for revitalizing the kidneys and this is why some animals hibernate during the winter months. Winter is also a really good time to turn inward and do some reflection. Tai chi, qi gong and yoga can be very beneficial during this season by helping us connect to our inner selves, relax the mind, and calm our emotions while supporting the kidney energy.

There are many foods that are beneficial to eat during the winter season like squash, potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, cabbage, carrots, apples, pears and mushrooms. Warming foods such as soups and bone broth are highly recommended. Some foods that specifically target and nourish the kidneys are black beans, kidney beans, lamb, walnuts, chicken, dark leafy greens and black sesame seeds. It is recommended to cook items for longer periods of time, on lower heat and with less water, as the food should be warming as well as nourishing.

When we align ourselves with the natural processes of life and the seasons, our bodies will adjust and perform optimally. Be the healthiest you possible and take cues from the seasons.

We're Grateful for You!
During this season of gratitude, we at Si Shou Acupuncture would like to thank you for being our client and for referring our practice to your friends, colleagues, and family. Our Holiday Special is running through January 15, 2020: pre-purchase 10 sessions at the discounted rate of $720 and get an extra bonus 11th treatment!

We are so grateful for your support and trust in allowing us to treat your health.
Wishing you a healthy and happy 2020. Cheers!
Dr. Stefanie & Sarah

Acupuncture and Depression

Acupuncture & Depression

 A study published by BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of depression. For the study, rats were exposed to three weeks of chronic unpredictable mild stress, which put them into a state of depression. Once depression had set in, the rats were then treated using two acupuncture points for 10-minute sessions. What was discovered was that depression-like behaviors were decreased using this treatment method. Therefore, it was determined by this particular study, that acupuncture indeed has positive effects on the symptoms of depression and can be used as a means to treat the disease.

Depression is defined as a mental disorder characterized by feelings of dejection and severe despondency.  Worldwide, nearly 350 million people suffer from depression and nearly 16 million of those are in the United States alone. Statistics show women tend to be more likely to experience depression and young adults between the ages of 18 to 22 are also at higher risk. Symptoms of depression include extreme irritability over minor issues, anxiety, restlessness, irrational anger, lack of interest in everyday activities, thoughts of death, insomnia, severe fatigue, weight gain/loss, difficulty concentrating and unexplained aches and pains. When these symptoms occur for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason behind them.

As shown in the aforementioned study, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very effective in treating depression, not only short-term, but also long-term. Modern medicine usually treats depression with antidepressants and psychotherapy regardless of the presenting symptoms. In contrast, TCM diagnoses each patient on an individual basis and treats the specific symptoms, while also addressing the root of the illness.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also attacking the root cause(s), thus bringing the body and mind back into balance. The body and mind are inseparable and should be treated as a whole, which is the approach used by acupuncturists. When we experience emotional challenges and become upset, our physical body may become affected as well. Then a vicious cycle begins because the emotions are greatly impacted by what we can and cannot do physically.

The theory behind treating depression using TCM, all revolves around the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is considered the vital energy that flows through the body and animates everything. When Qi is blocked or stagnant, illness can take root, either physically or mentally. Qi flows throughout the body on energetic pathways or meridians. Each energetic meridian is associated with an organ and each organ has its own emotion. For example, the emotion of the liver meridian is anger. When Qi is blocked and liver Qi stagnation occurs, anger can then manifest. From the same standpoint, if a person is excessively angry, the flow of Qi can be blocked creating stagnation.

Acupuncture releases endorphins and activates natural pain killers. By doing so, it improves the flow of Qi throughout the body while eliminating blockages and bringing balance to the mind and body. Endorphins counter the symptoms of depression and allow the person to resume a normal life.

If you are suffering from depression and are looking for a natural way of dealing with it, please contact us. We can help you navigate the waters of depression without the harmful side-effects of pharmaceuticals, while helping you get back to a happier life.

SOURCE: https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1356-x

More Insight into How Acupuncture Works

New research provides more insight into how acupuncture works.
 
One of the theories scientists have held for many years as to why acupuncture works to alleviate chronic pain and other ailments is called the Vascular-Interstitial Theory. This theory describes the idea that acupuncture works by affecting the electrical system of the body, the network of currents conducted by our cells. Electricity is vital for sending information through the body to the brain and vice versa, as well as in order to conduct currents to the heart, which allows it to pump at the right times.
 
A disruption to any of these electrical currents can cause illness. The Vascular-Interstitial Theory of acupuncture suggests stimulating acupoints affects these electrical currents in our bodies, facilitating healing by allowing the transfer of blood, organic matter and electrical energy between healthy and injured tissues.
 
Research published in March 2018 in Scientific Reports offered a significant contribution to our understanding of the interstitium, and therefore sheds new light on the Vascular-Interstitial Theory.
 
Previous research on the interstitium suggested it was a layer of densely packed connective tissue lining the digestive tract, lungs, urinary systems and surrounding veins and fascia between the muscles. New and increasingly powerful microscopes now allow scientists to look inside living tissues. In this case, the authors of the research were able to look inside the interstitium for the first time, and rather than a web of densely packed connective tissue, they found the space is a network of interconnected, fluid-filled compartments. This finding may help to explain why placing acupuncture needles at specific points on the body creates healing elsewhere in the body.
 
In an article for The Cut, reporter Katie Heaney interviewed one of the authors of this new research, Neil Theise, a clinician and professor of pathology at NYU Langone Health and a proponent of alternative medicine. While the research paper itself did not discuss acupuncture, Heaney asked Theise to weigh in on the possible connections. Theise posited it was possible the research had implications for understanding acupuncture. The layer of skin into which acupuncture needles are inserted is the interstitium, Theise explained.
 
“There’s fluid in there,” he told Heaney. “When you put the needle [into an accu-point], maybe the collagen bundles are arranged into a channel through which fluid can flow.”
 
The research shows the interstitium is a structured and organized system in the body. It may be that stimulating true acupoints allows interstitial fluid to travel throughout the body, explaining why acupuncture has far-reaching effects, not just offering pain relief at the site where the needles are inserted. Channels of interstitial fluid may be responsible for facilitating the transfer of blood, organic matter and electricity between healthy and injured parts of the body. These findings also offer a possible explanation as to why other research has shown sham acupuncture points have some pain-relieving effects where the needles are inserted, but true acupoints go a lot further in offering system-wide relief.
 
As always, this research is inconclusive on its own. It will require more research to further explore the connection between the interstitium and acupuncture, but it is undoubtedly an interesting idea.
 
Learn More! 
https://www.thecut.com/2018/03/do-we-finally-understand-how-acupuncture-works.html
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23062-6
https://www.graduate.umaryland.edu/gsa/gazette/February-2016/How-the-human-body-uses-electricity/

TCM & Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders cover a wide swath of health issues. Everything from headaches to seizures, strokes to Alzheimer’s disease, and a whole lot of stuff in between fall under the category of neurological disorders. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1 billion people suffer worldwide from some sort of neurological disease or disorder. Depending upon the disorder, there is usually not a lot of hope for those suffering that they will ever recover. This leads to a lot of depression, anxiety, insomnia and other afflictions that can develop from being diagnosed with a neurological disorder.
          
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at this and most other problems, from a much different angle. At the very base of our being is the cell. When the cell is broken down even further, it literally can be translated into energy. Energy in TCM is sometimes called Qi (pronounced “chee”). While neurological diseases manifest frequently in the brain, the chances are high that they may actually begin somewhere else in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the patient holistically instead of compartmentalizing the issues. This leads to a greater overall and fully customized treatment plan for each patient.  
          
TCM utilizes many different treatment modalities to help the patient get better, including acupuncture, herbs and herbal formulas and even nutrition. Here are some ways that TCM can help those suffering with neurological disorders.
 
Acupuncture for Neurological Disorders:  Acupuncture is just one of the tools in the TCM toolbox. Specifically, acupuncture works with the nervous system in the body to regenerate cells and promote healing. The use of specific acupuncture points can create a closed circuit between the point and the neurologic control center in the brain. By giving the body and brain the necessary tools, the two can work in conjunction to heal the body. From a scientific perspective, acupuncture shifts and moves energy, while stimulating blood flow and increasing cellular level oxygen.
 
Acupuncture Points for Neurological Disorders:
·         Du 20 - Located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of both ears. Du 20 has been noted to improve mental clarity and awareness, while also enhancing memory. Du 20 is used frequently to treat stroke, epilepsy and dementia.
·         Kidney 1 - Located on the bottom of the foot, at the junction of the anterior one third and posterior two thirds of the line connecting the base of the second and third toes and the heel. Kidney 1 can sedate and calm the mind, while also regulating blood flow to the upper part of the body, aka the brain.
·         Heart 7 – This point is located on the under and outer side of the arm, at the wrist crease. Heart 7 is used to treat mania, epilepsy and dementia.
 
Chinese Herbal Formulas for Neurological Disorders: Combinations of herbs, known as formulas are used frequently in TCM. One such formula used to treat neurological disorders is Tian Wan Bu Xin Dan. This formula treats long term brain disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The herbs in this formula stimulate the production of blood flow to the brain.
 
Nutrition for Neurological Disorders:  A healthy diet will keep the brain and the body functioning properly, while reducing the risk of developing a serious neurological disorder. Even things like chronic headaches can sometimes be cured just by supplementing magnesium into the diet. Nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, amino acids and folate are all crucial when it comes to brain health. Being deficient in even just one of these can lead to memory loss, tremors or other debilitating symptoms. Foods like avocados, hemp seed, flax seed, whole grain breads, potatoes and a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables will provide the nutritional components listed above. See below for a delicious recipe utilizing many of these foods!
 
As you can see, TCM is a great way to deal with neurological disorders. If you or a loved one are having difficulties dealing with these types of issues, contact us and we will figure out what we can do for you!

Acupuncture vs Morphine for Pain Relief

In 2016, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine published a study that looked at the efficacy of acupuncture in managing acute pain for patients in the emergency room when compared to intravenous morphine. The researchers studied 300 patients who presented to the emergency room with acute onset moderate to severe pain. Half of them were treated with acupuncture and half were given intravenous morphine. To measure their pain reduction, they asked patients to report their pain score before and after the treatments, and considered a reduction of 50 percent or greater to be a significant reduction.
 
The study showed the patients who received acupuncture treatments for their pain saw pain reductions of 92 percent compared to 78 percent in the morphine group. The acupuncture also seemed to work more quickly than the morphine, lowering patients’ pain scores in an average of 16 minutes compared to 28 minutes for the morphine group. Additionally, 89 patients who received morphine experienced minor adverse side effects while only four of the patients who received acupuncture did. Overall, this study showed acupuncture worked better and more quickly than intravenous morphine for reducing pain in a medical setting.
 
This study joins a growing body of literature suggesting acupuncture is highly effective at reducing pain and/or changing how our bodies experience pain. The lack of adverse side effects associated with acupuncture treatments presents a strong argument for its use, especially as synthetic medications are associated with many negative side effects and people are often allergic to the medications.
 
Because acupuncture affects our brains, stimulating the release of natural pain-reducing hormones, it can be used for any number of afflictions that cause pain. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins- neurotransmitters responsible for blocking the sensation of pain. The stimulation also releases other chemicals that either change how the body experiences pain or triggers the release of other chemicals that activate the body’s internal regulating system. It is thought that acupoints are more densely packed with nerves than other points on the body, so stimulating these points sends more signals along the nerve networks in our body to cause this release of chemicals.
 
This process has a normalizing effect on nerves and hormones. By bringing the body into better biochemical balance, acupuncture promotes physical and emotional well-being and supports the body’s natural healing abilities.
 
Acupuncture and TCM also address the root causes of pain rather than just masking the symptoms. We develop treatment plans that are unique to each patient because each patient comes in with a unique body, health history and root cause behind their pain. By addressing the root causes, we create more lasting healing and bring your body back to a place where it can function optimally, using its natural healing processes to help you stay well.
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Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. But despite its age, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. Thousands of studies have proven acupuncture, just one of the modalities used in TCM, can be very beneficial in the treatment of low back pain. Here are five reasons why someone should consider getting acupuncture to treat low back pain.

  1. Acupuncture has no harmful side effects. In comparison to most Western medical approaches to treating low back pain, acupuncture is the clear winner. There are no real negative side effects associated with acupuncture treatments. There can be a bruise or a little tenderness after the treatments, but that pales in comparison to the side effects from most pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Even regular ingestion of ibuprofen can deteriorate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, eventually leading to ulceration.
  2. Acupuncture is personalized healthcare. One thing truly different about TCM is every patient is treated differently. There could be 10 people with the exact same Western medical diagnosis in an acupuncturist's’office, but they may all be treated differently. This is because not everybody’s root cause of the ailment is the same. This makes acupuncture treatments very personalized.
  3. Acupuncture reduces inflammation. Back pain is frequently accompanied by joint inflammation in the spinal column. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation. Usually when inflammation is decreased, so is pain.
  4. Acupuncture improves sleep. Low back pain can frequently disrupt sleep. With regular acupuncture treatments, not only is the pain and inflammation of back pain decreased, but so is the sleep interruptions due to the aforementioned pain. This is just one of the positive side effects of acupuncture.
  5. Get your life back. Regular acupuncture treatments can improve a person’s overall well-being. And when it comes to low back pain, life can be changed dramatically. People sometimes have to miss work due to the pain and lack of sleep caused by the pain. But acupuncture can change all of that, allowing people to resume regular everyday activities.

For anybody who has ongoing low back pain, the five reasons listed above should give you hope acupuncture can provide relief. We at Si Shou Acupuncture & Wellness would love help you along your path to wellness!