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- Acupuncture and the Small Intestine
- TCM for Summer Heat
- In Summer, Nourish Your Heart
Acupuncture for Treating Depression
Depression has a tendency to rear its head when we feel overwhelmed or out of balance. Hopefully, we can pull ourselves out of the depressed state and continue on with everyday life. But, that is not always the case. Clinical depression affects upwards of 16 million adults in the United States. Typically, doctors prescribe antidepressants, but alternative methods, like acupuncture, work just as effectively as antidepressants without any negative side effects.
Whereas antidepressants address the symptoms of depression and ignore the root causes, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also attacking the root cause(s). In this way, TCM brings the body and mind back into balance. Rather than ignoring the connection between the body and mind, acupuncturists approach treatment from a holistic standpoint. When we experience emotional challenges and 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.
Long term imbalances in both our physical bodies and our minds can lead to a state of depression. This depression affects our qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. Qi animates the body while guarding it from pain and illness. When Qi is blocked and unable to flow properly throughout the body and mind, stagnation is created which can lead to depression. Acupuncture helps to unblock these areas of stagnation, allowing qi to flow freely again. When the qi flows freely, physical pain and mental anguish will dissipate over time and the depression will lift.
For those who suffer with severe depression, acupuncture may not be enough. This is where other elements of TCM come into play. Things such as herbal formulas can be excellent additives for helping people cope with depression. There are several Chinese herbal formulas that work very well. One of the most commonly used formulas is Chai Hu Shu Gan San. This formula contains things like white peony root, tangerine peels and bitter orange that help boost or tonify the qi. Many times, natural remedies are a better choice for those suffering from depression, as there are far fewer side effects than found in prescription pharmaceuticals.
Techniques like tai chi or qi gong are other ways to help battle depression naturally. Tai chi and qi gong bring the body and mind back into balance by decreasing stress and allowing the person performing it to focus all of their intentions on the movements. This allows the mind to relax, which in turn relaxes the body. Tai chi and qi gong also increase oxygen flow into the muscles, allowing for increased mobility.
If you are somebody who suffers from depression and you are looking for natural, holistic solutions, TCM may be the right choice for you.
The Benefits of Moxibustion
Traditional Chinese medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner is known as moxibustion.
Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa that is shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed upon the acupuncture point, lit and extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. Non-scarring moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deeply into the skin, but does not create a scar or any pain. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Indirect moxibustion is the more popular of the forms. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a stick of moxa and holds it close to the acupuncture point for several minutes until the area turns red.
Moxibustion can be used for many reasons because it provides many benefits. The first benefit of moxibustion is it is warming to the body. Many people who have autoimmune diseases, low immunity and blood conditions are frequently cold. The warming properties of moxa make it a great choice for these types of conditions.
Moxa is also a good choice for those suffering from aches and pains. The warming properties of moxa allow it to increase blood flow by warming the blood. Increased blood flow means increased oxygenation to the tissues, muscles and tendons that are sore.
Another benefit of utilizing moxibustion is increased immunity. Studies have shown moxibustion significantly increases the white blood cell count in the body, which is the major component of the immune system. Moxa strengthens the immune system and helps re-balance autoimmune diseases.
Despite the fact moxibustion involves the burning of mugwort, it has been shown to be very beneficial for cooling areas of inflammation. This again goes back to blood flow. Moxa improves blood flow to areas of inflammation, while promoting the natural radiation function of the skin. This also works on chronic inflammation diseases like arthritis.
As moxibustion has many benefits and can be used to treat multiple diseases and ailments, it might be a good addition to a person’s health regimen. It is recommended that only properly trained and fully licensed practitioners be used and a quick internet search can easily provide the names of those located nearby. There’s never a better time than now to start incorporating healthy living habits.
Secrets Acupuncturists Use to Stay Healthy
Staying healthy means something different for everybody. For most, it means getting proper rest, eating a balanced healthy diet and exercising regularly. Here are some secrets many acupuncturists incorporate into their regimen.
Most people wear scarves during the fall and winter months, but acupuncturists will wear scarves almost year round to protect their necks from drafts. In traditional Chinese medicine, the back of the neck is where cold pathogens are thought to enter the body. Even sitting in an air-conditioned building all day during warm months of the year can cause people to get sick.
Green tea is known to be very healthy in comparison to its other tea cousins. Acupuncturists have known this for quite some time, and most drink it to boost immunity as well as increase the amount of antioxidants in their bodies. Antioxidants fight off free radicals, which age the body and can lead to disease.
Ingesting herbs for their numerous health benefits has been a practice for thousands of years. Some of the favorites for acupuncturists include licorice root (gan cao), Chinese wolfberry (gou qi zi), cinnamon twigs (gui zhi), ginseng root (ren shen) and mugwort leaves (ai ye).
Licorice root (gan cao) boosts the spleen-meridian energy, which helps with digestion and muscle tissue condition.
Chinese wolfberry (gou qi zi) increases liver, lung and kidney meridian energies. This herb can help with sore back and leg muscles, as well as eye-muscle strain.
Cinnamon twigs (gui zhi) are a warming herb that boost heart-meridian energy. It is used frequently to help fight off colds.
Ginseng root (ren shen) also increases spleen-meridian energy, which helps with digestion and improves immune responses.
Mugwort leaves (ai ye) are another warming herb that targets the spleen, liver and kidney energetic meridians. Acupuncturists use ai ye to stop pain and disperse cold that is attacking the body. This herb, however, is usually ground up and burned over certain acupuncture points instead of taken internally.
When our body core becomes cold, it can wreak havoc on all of our internal organs and this can then drain our energy and cause illness. One secret weapon used to keep the body core heated is something called a harimake. Harimakes are Japanese in origin, very simple and very effective. Harimakes are usually made from flannel or soft wool. They are wide bands of cloth that cover the abdomen from just above the waist to about six inches below the waist and they are worn under your clothes. Harimakes are used to conserve body warmth and energy, thus protecting your body from stress, exhaustion and illness.
These are just a few of the health secrets acupuncturists use. Even more important than these, though, is getting proper sleep, eating well, avoiding excess stress and getting regular acupuncture treatments. Even acupuncturists get regular treatments, because we know we can’t help you if we don’t take care of ourselves first.