Eczema or flare ups of dry, itchy, flaky skin can be more than an annoyance for people. Chronic flare ups of large areas of the skin can be debilitating. It can be painful to move or use certain body parts as eczema frequently occurs in the creases of fingers, elbows and knees. Bleeding and weeping cracks leave skin vulnerable to infection.
Sometimes people can identify the cause of their flareups and sometimes its a mystery. Common internal causes of eczema can include stress, hormones and food allergies. Its also not uncommon that a person gets a nasty eczema flare up when they quit smoking. Infection by bacteria, fungus or virus can also worsen eczema or cause a flare-up.
Skin can also get irritated by chemicals and fragrances in common household items. Sunscreen, lotions, and soaps are often the culprit in eczema flare-ups. Choose unscented and dye free laundry detergent and soaps when possible. Using a humidifier in the wintertime can help flare ups from hot, dry air. The humidifier can help to maintain skin’s moisture and prevent severe cracking.
Check out our Emily’s cream for eczema and other skin issues! Its soothing beeswax base and Chinese herbs help to speed up the healing process. Acupuncture can also help to calm down your skin and prevent future flareups.
The word arthritis conjures up images of swollen, stiff and painful joints, the inability to do loved activities, and lots of advil and tylenol. Arthritis can be caused by many different issues. For example, it may be the result of long ago sports injuries, infection, general wear and tear on the body or an autoimmune condition. There is currently no cure for arthritis, but the good news is there are a lot of ways to manage the condition.
Acupuncture is a fantastic way to manage the chronic inflammation, pain and stiffness of arthritis and is even endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation.
Besides acupuncture however, there are plenty of things you can do at home to minimize the effects of arthritis on your quality of life. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can make a world of difference. For example, going grain and dairy-free while reducing or even better, eliminating sugar and alcohol will provide a noticeable benefit for arthritis sufferers. Supplements such as fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric, or ginger can be beneficial to reduce inflammation, naturally. Make sure you’re drinking enough water! Dehydration is no good for joint health, you want as much lubrication in those joints as possible. Sufficient rest is crucial, as it is during sleep that the body heals itself. Lack of sleep can make pain worse, as well as increasing sugar cravings which will increase the inflammation in your body. Do you have trouble sleeping? Try a warm epsom salt bath to ease joint pain and help you relax. Although it is hard to exercise while in discomfort, the benefits of regular activity can not be overstated. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a walk around the block or some chair yoga can be a perfect first step. Leave a comment on what works for you when joint pain strikes!
Acupuncture and Depression
Depression can be more complicated than just sadness. It can look like fatigue, lack of energy and motivation or even body aches and pain. Sometimes it can show up as anger and mood swings and trouble sleeping or sleeping too much. Depression is commonly co-occurring with chronic pain, fibromyalgia or other chronic diseases. (P.S. Acupuncture is fantastic at treating chronic pain.) Sometimes people do not realize they’re depressed as sometimes their symptoms are not obvious to them or are not typical feelings of sadness. Sometimes it can be hard to describe what you’re feeling, you just know something is wrong. Stressful life changes can trigger depression, but other times there may not be an obvious reason for it. An official diagnosis from a doctor is not necessary to be treated for depression at the clinic.
What can you do at home?
Maintaining healthy habits such as regular exercise, eating well, getting the right amount of sleep and avoiding caffeine and alcohol are some things that can be done at home. Stimulants and other drugs can make depression worse, so it is best to avoid them. Limit or eliminate social media usage and consider trying meditation.
One common question at the clinic: how does acupuncture work if I’m taking antidepressants or other medication for my mental health? Sometimes medication takes the edge off but doesn’t address all the symptoms you may be having. Medications can also cause unwanted side effects. Acupuncture helps to fill in the medication gaps and can help manage the side effects. A note about weaning off of depression medication: acupuncture can help with discontinuing medication as long as your doctor is also on board. Talk to your acupuncturist about an appropriate treatment plan for you.
First, let’s go over how many trips to the bathroom are within a normal range. Six to eight trips in 24 hours are considered “normal”. Frequent urination is annoying and is disruptive, especially at night. A lot of times after getting up and using the bathroom, it can be hard to go back to sleep. There are a lot of reasons for frequent urination and you’re not alone. Whether it is due to aging, nerve damage, hormones, prostate issues, cancer treatment, weak bladder or pelvic muscles, or just plain stress there are ways to find relief from frequent urination!
Firstly, monitor your fluid intake. Drinking coffee, tea (herbal tea is ok) or alcohol before bed can make the problem worse. These drinks are diuretics which make you have to pee. Secondly, be mindful of the amount of sodium consumed daily. Salty foods and hidden salt in your diet (processed foods are a huge culprit) can increase the feeling of thirst, leading to more fluid intake. Third, do an inventory of medication with your doctor as some medications can increase the frequency of urination. A note about nerve damage: if nerve damage is present, you may not be able to feel that your bladder is full. In which case, going to the bathroom at set intervals will prevent an overfull bladder or leakage. Lastly, support the muscles in the pelvic floor. Consulting a physical therapist on what exercises to perform to strengthen the pelvic floor will support a healthy bladder. Whatever the root cause, acupuncture can help!
Lowering Blood Pressure
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is crucial for cardiovascular and heart health. With heart disease and stroke being two of the leading causes of death in the United States, its no wonder that maintaining a healthy blood pressure is top of mind for many people.
While salt intake is crucial to reducing high blood pressure, there is another often forgotten factor: stress. Reducing stress is very, very important. Stress triggers the body's fight or flight response: one of the features of which (besides increased heart rate and blood flow to muscles) is elevated blood pressure. If the fight-or-flight response is repeatedly triggered or even stuck on, then the blood pressure in the body can be higher than it otherwise would be.
How do we reduce stress on our bodies? The main ways are through relaxation techniques (including acupuncture and meditation), a low-sodium diet, and exercise. While you may not add salt to your foods, there are many foods that contain high levels of sodium that you may not be aware of. Think of deli meats, pre-packaged foods with a long shelf life, and common condiments such as hot sauce, ketchup and soy sauce. If you consume a little less salt daily, your taste buds will adjust to the lower salt levels. This in turn will help your body reduce blood pressure. In general, the less processed the food is, the better it is for you. The perimeter of the grocery store is a good place to start looking for lower sodium foods as well. Hydration is also important to regulate blood pressure so make sure you're consuming enough water. Including regular exercise in a daily routine can also help regulate blood pressure. Exercise doesn't have to be complicated, walking counts! Acupuncture helps reduce blood pressure as well. In addition to your acupuncture treatment, add in lifestyle modifications like a low-sodium diet, regular water intake, and exercise for maximum results.
Let's Talk About Sleep
What's An Evening Routine?
What is routine? It is following the same steps or actions in the same order. An evening routine signals to the body that it is time to prepare for sleep. This gives the mind time to decompress and ease the body into sleep mode. Routines are not just for kids! Kids can not jump into bed and instantly fall asleep and neither can adults. Resting and decompressing before sleep is an important step to getting good, consistent sleep. Some ideas to consider for a routine are reading a fun book, taking a bath, meditation or journaling, drinking a non-caffeinated herbal tea like chamomile or mint, or playing a board game with family before laying down to sleep. Going for a walk or a stroll with a companion is also a good activity to wind down before bedtime. Some activities that are regularly enjoyed are counterproductive during the evening. Such activities include folding laundry, watching the news, cleaning your kitchen, screens of any kind, or anything that causes stress or anxiety. Aim to put your screens away at least an hour before bedtime to take your mind away from work and playtime to prepare for bed. Even better, keep your phones and other devices on do not disturb and out of your bedroom.
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All About Menopause & Acupuncture
Do you feel as if your concerns are being dismissed by your doctor? Are you frustrated by only hormonal choices of birth control or expensive creams/patches that may or may not work? Acupuncture can help by smoothing the transition from regular periods to perimenopause to menopause in several ways. Acupuncture helps the common symptoms that many people going through menopause struggle with: temperature shifts (hot or cold), insomnia, weight gain, sugar cravings, brain fog (or forgetfulness), mood swings, anxiety/depression, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, cramps, hair loss, and vaginal dryness or general dry skin.
Perimenopause is the transition between regular periods (fertility) and menopause. This transition period can last for several years. Menopause itself is defined as going one full year without a period. If you begin acupuncture treatment after your period has been absent for a few months, then your period may return regularly. Being without a period and having it suddenly return may not be the best news, but the upside of having your period return is your body does not age as quickly- and that is good news.
Many clients going through menopause find that acupuncture, unlike Western medicine, can help with a wider variety of symptoms, naturally. Acupuncture not only helps the body heal itself, it also shuts off the stress response which can get stuck on when people are going through menopause. Traditional remedies, such as hormone treatment, can sometimes help, although they may not be able to address all the symptoms you’re experiencing. In addition to menopause, acupuncture can help with symptoms of other hormone-related issues such as PCOS and PMS.
We hope this helps you understand how acupuncture can help during menopause. Please like this post if you found it helpful for you.
People are used to how medication works. You take a pill and get an instant result. Pain killers may dull or mask the pain, but they don’t address the underlying cause of the pain. Acupuncture works differently and while commonly people will notice an immediate improvement in pain sometimes it takes a few treatments to kick in. Look for reduction of intensity and frequency of each pain episode. During the course of treatment, the frequency, intensity and duration of pain decreases. It's also not uncommon that the size of the area that hurts starts to shrink.
People also notice that they are able to accomplish more throughout their day. Sometimes those closest to you may notice a difference before you do! This leads to increased feelings of happiness and reduced feelings of depression. In addition to pain relief you will see an improvement in the following areas: the quality of sleep, a feeling of well being, and an increase in the range of movement. Our bodies heal while we are asleep and improved sleep and energy are good signs you are starting to heal.
Acupuncture treatments build on one another. Depending on the reason for your visit, you may not necessarily notice a difference in your condition after each individual treatment. The main reason a treatment plan is created is to achieve that cumulative effect! Think about going to the gym. Each time you go is important, but where you see the most difference is after all those visits. The results are very visible!! Everyone is different, however, and one person may feel relief after one visit, and others may not notice until a few hours later or the next day. All bodies are different and will respond to treatment differently. If you ever have questions please ask your acupuncturist!
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Seasonal allergies don’t have to be the norm this spring or fall. In addition to your acupuncture treatments use these 3 tips to beat seasonal allergies at home.
-Rinse Your Sinuses Twice per Day
Use a neti pot or saline sinus rinse twice per day. If you are using a neti pot use the right amount of salt and distilled water. Wash your neti pot in the dishwasher. If you have trouble using a neti pot, be sure to tuck your chin, tilt your head sideways, breathe through your mouth and lean over the sink at the waist (not bending forward from your neck). Be sure to blow your nose after rinsing.
-Change Your Pillowcase Daily
Allergens, dust and pollen are airborne and attach to your hair and skin. You spend 8 hours with your face on a pillow at night. That pillow is covered with days and days worth of allergens and irritants from the environment. Gross! Change your pillowcase daily so you aren't breathing in yesterday's (or last week's!) environmental yuckiness. Consider an allergen blocking pillow and mattress cover.
-Check Your Furnace Filter
Change your air filter according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Get an air filter rated MERV-13 or higher to filter out the most pollutants out of your home's air as possible. Additionally, consider an air purifier for your work environment or bedroom. Be sure to clean and replace the filter according to the manufacturer's recommendation to keep it working optimally.
Are seasonal allergies ruining your life? Are you just over symptoms such as sinus pressure, sinus drainage, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, scratchy throat? We can help! Book a visit today!
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Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.