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.
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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Why use a derma roller?
Derma rollers stimulate collage and elastin production. We lose 1% of our collagen yearly beginning at age 25.
Derma rollers boost effectiveness of topically applied products, it increases their absorption.
Derma rollers are great to combat wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, loose skin, acne scars, hair loss. Additionally they make your skin appear more vibrant and youthful.
Derma rollers cause micro trauma to the skin which stimulates new skin to grow. It also thickens skin and fills in wrinkles. (Lasers by contrast actually destroy your first layer of skin. Derma rolling preserves the epidermis.)
For hair loss, derma rollers dissipate extra testosterone, exfoliates and increases effectiveness of hair loss products.
Why choose our derma roller?
more needles Our face derma roller has 540 needles, the body roller 1080 needles. Cheaper rollers may only have 100-200 needles!! More needles closer together means less pain and more results.
high quality The needles are part of the roller itself, not simply stuck into the end. Our derma roller is rust proof, lightweight and made of durable titanium, not steel. It is certified sterile.
every edge of the needle is sharp Our needles are diamond shaped, not wire edge that pokes the skin like cheaper products.
How to use a derma roller
Wash your face. Use the derma roller 4x in each direction (up/down, left/right, diagonal) . For hair loss only use one direction.
Use 1x every 3 days to start, work up to 1x per day. Use gentle pressure (be very gentle if using on your neck). Can cause redness, itching, tingling initially or dryness/peeling to start with. This is normal and should go away in time. Use less frequently if necessary for your skin to get used to it.
After you’re done, wash your derma roller and apply serum, eye cream and reversal cream.
When to not use a derma roller
If you have any of the following conditions: poor wound healing, collagen diseases, bleeding or blood disorders, pregnancy or lactating, diabetes or a history of keloid scarring.
If you are taking any of the following medications: blood thinners, aspirin, vitamin e
Do not use a derma roller on: sunburn, raised scars, open cuts, herpes, pustule acne, irritated or inflamed skin
Do not use on any of the following areas: inside orbital rim, on the lips, on genitals, on eyelids, mucous membranes or breast tissue
How to care for your derma roller
Do not share your derma roller with others. Its like a razor or toothbrush, for one person use only.
Wash with soap and water after use or spray with alcohol and allow to air dry.
Replace every 6 months or sooner if it becomes damaged.
Other tips for healthy skin
Nutrition is important. Sugar is terrible for our skin. To make collagen our bodies need vitamin C and protein. Make sure your intake of both is adequate. Limit or avoid alcohol.
Stay hydrated! Drinking sufficient water helps your skin be more clear and hydrated.
Get enough sleep. You won’t feel or look tired when you’re sufficiently rested.
Click here to purchase one of our derma rollers!
What Can Acupuncture Help With?
Acupuncture is probably best known to help with pain relief. But what else can it help with? What brought you to the clinic? Chances are we can help you. But are you getting the most out of your treatment? This is why we discuss your health history to make sure we are getting the big picture of what’s going on and what your personal goals are. Sometimes people come in wanting to address one big thing and then realize acupuncture can help them with another big thing that they are so used to living with they forgot about it. Sometimes they learn it can help with a bunch of annoying little things! I’m here to give you an overview of conditions acupuncture can help with that you might not be aware of.
We’ll start with pain. Acupuncture can help both chronic, ongoing pain and acute pain that is relatively new, for example a sprained ankle or throwing out your back. Acupuncture can help with chronic pain of any origin, for example fibromyalgia pain all over your body or an aching knee from arthritis or a long ago injury. Nerve pain from nerve damage or diabetes, joint pain, muscle pain. Acupuncture helps with all kinds of headaches: migraines, sinus headaches, hormonal headaches or tension headaches.
Acupuncture helps with emotional pain: grief from losing a loved one, depression, anxiety. It helps with just not feeling like yourself, feeling unmotivated or fatigued. It even helps with a broken heart! Acupuncture is great for people going through a breakup or a divorce. It helps with job loss, problems with family, dealing with stress or trauma. Alot of people find it helps them deal with life in general, giving them a bit of peace and the strength to keep going. It helps to calm down the nervous system which helps other mental health conditions like PTSD but also the inability to relax, trouble sleeping and an overactive mind.
Do you have sugar cravings? Acupuncture can help!
Acupuncture also helps with all manner of female hormonal concerns: whether this is PMS, heavy, painful or irregular periods. It can help a woman with infertility get pregnant and if applicable we will frequently see her male partner too. It helps to safely relieve uncomfortable symptoms during pregnancy like nausea and vomiting, headaches, back pain, sciatica or pelvic pain or heartburn for example. After a woman gives birth it helps to heal her body as well as address post partum depression or anxiety. Acupuncture is great for menopausal symptoms like irritability, hot flashes, trouble sleeping and bloating.
Do digestive problems ail you? Whether its heart burn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel, we can help. This has been alot of information and its just a small sliver of the conditions we help people with at the clinic. If you have a condition you’re not sure acupuncture can help- please ask us! We would love to hear about it.
Most of the time people feel very relaxed while getting acupuncture and even fall asleep. Sometimes though, people have trouble relaxing during the treatment and even have trouble sitting still. Why is this? Am I broken? I have a secret for you: you are not broken.
Sometimes people have a hard time relaxing while they get acupuncture treatment. First of all, it's OK. I promise. The acupuncture is still working. Whether you fall asleep or not is zero indication as to efficacy of the treatment. Your body is just stuck in a habit of either go-go-go or chronic stress and its going to take a minute for your body to do something different. And that is OK.
Sometimes sitting still is scary. That's OK too. You are not alone. You are safe here.
Here is my advice. Put your phone away. Put the book or magazine away. These things just re-stimulate your brain and our goal is to shut your brain off. Don't keep turning it back on. Let your mind wander. Some people find it helpful to focus on their breathing. You can do that but you don't have to. You can't fail at this. The success is in taking the time for yourself to coax your bodymindspirit to do something its not used to. Taking time to practice self care can be really really hard- you’re doing a great job just by being here so give yourself a break. Changing a habit is hard. It takes many intentional acts before momentum kicks in and the cycle starts to build on itself and take over and become a routine to maintain. This is why it takes about 30 days to form a habit. Human beings are highly adaptable but it takes a little time for change to happen and stick: this is a good thing because if it didn't we would be all over the place.
Give it time. Have patience with yourself. When my kids were smaller, I talked to them all the time about working their "patience muscle" when they want me to do the thing RIGHT NOW, usually when I'm driving or pouring a pot full of boiling pasta into the strainer. I get you though, you don’t want to wait. Be easy with yourself and your body. It’s ok, you're a work in progress. What counts is regular practice, regular treatment, being pointed in the general direction of where you want to go and making tiny steps to get there or at least closer. You might even have some fun and a few surprises along the way.
Progress might be small, regular and incremental or there might be nothing for a while and then suddenly everything at once. Everyone is different. Context is important too. If you are going through major life stuff it might be unrealistic to expect to be completely zen right in the middle of it all- especially in the beginning. But being able to take a couple of deep breaths, peace out in a chair for 30 minutes with needles twice a week and finding the time to take a quick walk can make all the difference. This is the balm to keep you going, to get you through with as few scrapes as possible. You can do it, I have faith in you. Just keep at it. You got this. I love answering your questions!
You’re not alone if you’re wondering- is there something in the needles? The short answer to your question is no, there isn’t anything in the needles. Our needles are solid which means they do not contain any medication or chemicals. That’s really cool because acupuncture works with your body instead of doing something to your body. Acupuncture is a gentle and natural process and optimal results occur over time. There are little to no side effects and its affordable! When you see a doctor, they give you medication or perform surgery which is using something from the outside to help you get better. With acupuncture, we are helping your body to heal itself and utilize that natural healing power in a more efficient and effective way. For example, this is why many times people are able to cut back on their medications because their body will need less to achieve the same result. You would of course do this under the guidance of your doctor.
So how exactly does acupuncture work? Acupuncture works in 3 primary ways.
The first way is that it switches your body from the fight or flight mode into rest and digest mode. When our bodies are under stress, there is a reaction inside our bodies which prepares us for immediate survival. Our muscles tense up, our heart beat quickens and we go on high alert. This is useful when we have to get out of a scary situation- we are ready to fight or run away. However when we have chronic, ongoing stress our bodies can get stuck in this fight or flight mode which makes it difficult for us to relax, sleep or heal ourselves. We become irritable and our muscles become tight and tense. Acupuncture shuts off this stress response and switches us into rest and digest mode which means that we can sleep, relax, digest our food normally and focus on healing.
The second way that acupuncture works is that specific acupuncture locations, or acupuncture points, have specific functions. For example we have points that focus on particular body parts. There is a point on the ankle which addresses the lower back and there is a point on the knee that treats tendons. There are points for pain, to reduce inflammation, promote sleep, even boost the immune system. Your acupuncturist will choose the best combination of points to suit your treatment plan and health goals.
The third way that acupuncture works is that it increases neuroplasticity- or the ability of our brains to change. Our understanding of how the human brain works has increased dramatically - we now understand the human brain has the ability to change, much like a muscle. The more we engage in certain behaviors, for example exercise, the more connections are made around this behavior, creating a habit or a routine. This can also work in negative ways for example when people have chronic pain it creates a feedback loop in the brain to wire the brain to experience more pain. Acupuncture helps to break these negative loops in the brain that chronic pain or trauma can create.
Thank you so much for reading! We love answering your questions.
Acupuncture and Parenting
Parenting is hard. And stressful. But also wonderful and amazing. My patience is tested on a daily basis. And what I have noticed for myself is that when my stress is managed I have way more patience. When I haven't slept well, haven't eaten, am feeling anxious or overwhelmed parenting becomes unbearable. I don't like myself during those times that I am short with the kids or raise my voice at them. It might sound like common sense: eat, sleep, manage your stress and parenting your kids (and the rest of life) will be a whole lot easier to deal with. This is hard to actually pull off for a variety of reasons, you already know this! Acupuncture is one of the best stress relievers out there: with no side effects it shuts off the physiological stress response of the body, kicking it out of fight or flight mode, allowing the body to discharge stress. It is my secret sauce to parenting. Honestly I don't know how people parent (or live!) without acupuncture!
But aside from the logistical rushing around and day to day work of parenting is something else that is a lot harder. It's letting go of our kids. Usually around the teenage years (plus or minus) is when they start to individuate, beginning the process of figuring out who they are outside of us- their parents. It becomes obvious that we have no control over them, their choices and actions or the random events of their lives. And sometimes we desperately wish they made different choices and that we had total control over their life events. My kids are still little but they already have parts of their lives that I know nothing about and I've already had to let them go a bit. There is grief in that letting go and the process of accepting what is and that we have zero control over the actions and choices of other humans. Even our kids that are pieces of us! This can be a difficult process that even continues when kids aren't kids and are adults themselves. Acupuncture helps with the acceptance process. I can't explain how exactly, but I know this is true because acupuncture works for all kinds of grief. I have had many patients dealing with difficulties around their children and they report that "acupuncture helps". It just does. It helps people deal with life which is sometimes very very hard and painful. It helps people keep going, to keep the faith, to pause for a minute and maybe make room for a change in perspective. And that can make all the difference.
Prescription pain medication “numbs” you out. Acupuncture works differently. Acupuncture is more like a crockpot than a microwave - it works slowly through and through rather than heating you up quick and leaving hot spots in the middle. Sometimes people are unsure if acupuncture is working or not. Frequently when a person has a chronic pain condition they shut off the connection to their body as a survival mechanism so it can be hard to know! Here’s how to tell the acupuncture is working.
Are you taking less pain medication?
This is a big one. If you are able to drop a dose, wait longer between doses or forget to take it those are all good signs! You may still be feeling pain however needing less or a less strong medication is a sign your body is healing.
Do you notice a change in the location, frequency and/or intensity of the pain?
Did the area of the pain get smaller? If your whole back hurt and now its just your upper back that is a sign you are getting better. Do you get headaches twice a week instead of daily? That is a very good sign. Has the overall pain level decreased? Again, good news!
Do you feel relief right after the treatment but then it “wears off”?
This is a good sign. Keep coming back! As you get more acupuncture your body will become more stable and the relief will last longer and longer. This is why we recommend coming more often in the beginning of treatment - an ideal minimum is twice a week for moderate to severe conditions. Your body is in a habit right now and it’s going to take some time for it to learn how to do something new. Stick with it, it’s working!
Are you able to do more?
Maybe you’re able to forget about your pain sometimes. Maybe simple things like grocery shopping or going down the stairs is easier. Can you walk a little farther before having to sit down? Is getting dressed easier? Can you get down on the floor and play with your grandkids and be able to get back up again? Is your pain not interfering with your life as much? Acupuncture is working. Keep going!
Do you feel better overall?
Are you smiling a little bit more? Feel a little more hopeful? Is your anxiety or brain fog better? Living with chronic pain can be exhausting and depressing - sometimes an improved mood is the first sign acupuncture is working. So if you’re feeling a little less grumpy - keep coming back!
Acupuncture is a great tool to manage chronic pain because it not only helps to reduce pain, it also helps with energy level, mood, sleep and stress which can worsen chronic pain conditions. It also has no side effects and feels pretty amazing! A person’s tolerance to pain decreases when they aren’t getting enough sleep and are stressed out for example. Life seems more overwhelming and we have less ability to manage it when we aren’t feeling well. Our bodymindspirit is interconnected, what affects one area of us, affects all.
You walk into the treatment room and see everyone else either asleep with their mouths open or peaceful and still with their eyes closed, maybe listening to their own music on their headphones. They look so relaxed! You can barely sit still in the chair for 30 minutes and definitely DO NOT feel like sleeping. Hell, you can barely sleep at night or sit still to watch tv. There is laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed, homework to be done, emails to be answered, groceries to be shopped for, etc etc etc etc. It doesn't end. Who has time to relax? That's for lazy people anyway. Hey you, I totally get it because this is kind of me.
Sometimes people have a hard time relaxing while they get acupuncture treatment. First of all, it's OK. I promise. The acupuncture is still working. Whether you fall asleep or not is zero indication as to efficacy of the treatment. You are not failing at acupuncture. You do not suck at acupuncture. You are not the 1 special person it's not working for while it works for everyone else. Your body is just stuck in a habit of go-go-go and its going to take a minute for your body to do something different. And that is OK.
Sometimes sitting still is scary. That's OK too. You are not alone. You are safe here. And we have tissues if you need them.
Here is my advice. Put your phone away. Put the book or magazine away. These things just re-stimulate your brain and our goal is to shut your brain off. Don't keep turning it back on. Let your mind wander. Some people find it helpful to focus on their breathing. You can do that but you don't have to. You can't fail at this. The success is in taking the time for yourself to coax your bodymindspirit to do something its not used to. Changing a habit is hard. It takes many intentional acts before momentum kicks in and the cycle starts to build on itself and take over and become a routine to maintain. This is why it takes "30 days to form a habit". Us human beings are highly adaptable but it takes a little time for the adaptation to happen and this is a good thing because if it didn't we would be all over the place.
Give it time. Have patience with yourself. I talk to my kids all the time about working their "patience muscle" when they want me to do the thing RIGHT NOW, usually when I'm driving, wiping the other child's butt or I'm in the shower. Are we wired this way or is it a result of our society of instant gratification? I don't know but the point is that no one wants to wait. Our bodies and our lives don't have any light switches though. You can't turn on the switch to lose 50lbs, get pregnant, go to sleep, meet your soulmate, do 25 pull ups or memorize a piano concerto. Be easy with yourself and your body. You are not a failure, you're a work in progress. What counts is regular practice, regular treatment, being pointed in the general direction of where you want to go and making tiny steps to get there or at least closer. You might even have some fun and a few surprises along the way.
Progress might be small, regular and incremental or there might be nothing for a while and then suddenly everything at once. Everyone is different. Context is important too. If you are going through major life stuff it might be unrealistic to expect to be completely zen right in the middle of it all- especially in the beginning. But being able to take a couple of deep breaths, peace out in a chair for 30 minutes with needles once or twice a week and finding the time to take a quick walk can make all the difference. This is the balm to keep you going, to get you through with as few scrapes as possible. You can do it, I have faith in you. Just keep at it. It works if you work it, so work it, you're worth it. <3
Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.