5 Immune Boosting Tips to Stay Healthy

With all the unknowns in the world right now, it is important to focus on things you can control – like self care. It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re taking care of your body, including emotionally and physically.

To stay healthy, focus on boosting and supporting your immune system. Try these immune boosting tips to stay healthy!

  1. Drink lots of water. It is recommended to drink about half of your body weight in water every day. For example, if you weight 120 lbs, you should be drinking 60 oz of water daily. Water is important to support healthy mucous membranes, which are the first line of defense for the body.
  2. Keep stress low. Stress puts added pressure on the immune system. Focus on shifting your perspective and taking the time to enjoy each day. Take a break from news and media. Try taking a walk outside or starting a new project around the house!
  3. Get enough sleep. The body needs rest to recover from the day and prepare for the next day. Turn off the screens and start winding down a little earlier.
  4. Support healthy digestion. Focus on eating a nutrient dense, whole foods diet. Avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Add in foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that plays a vital role in immune function. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables, such as oranges or red peppers. Try adding in a probiotic to support digestion and give the immune system an added boost. My favorite, high quality probiotic is UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics.
  5. Supplement strategically with powerful immune boosters. An important vitamin for immunity is vitamin D which supports the immune system by stimulating the expression of anti-microbial peptides in immune cells and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract. Many herbs also have powerful immune strengthening functions. Ask about a custom herbal recommendation to help support your specific immunity and health concerns.

With these strategies, you are well-equipped to stay healthy during this pandemic and future cold and flu seasons. Stay healthy, my friends!

 

References:

Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
Vitamin D and Immune Health 


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OPEN FOR BUSINESS AGAIN – FINALLY!

After FOUR long weeks of closure due to COVID-19, the office is finally open again!

The past few weeks have been difficult as I have so missed seeing all of my wonderful patients and being able to offer my help. However, I have been using my time wisely and have lots of exciting new updates!

  1. Website updates! Lots of new updates and info, including Services and Products pages. You can now purchase high quality supplements and eGift Cards through affinityacu.com. Check it out here.
  2. New hours! I have taken some time to re-evaluate what works best for me, my clients, and my family in regards to scheduling. I will be adding Mondays to my schedule, which I know will be exciting to many of you! Additionally, I will be discontinuing Saturday appointments. I know this is a major bummer BUT I will continue to offer evening appointments on Mondays and Wednesdays! Also, look for some “bonus” hours in the next few weeks as I try to get everyone rescheduled in a timely and safe manner. Check out the new schedule and set up your next appointment here.
  3. New knowledge! I’ve been spending the past few weeks taking more continuing education and doing lots of research in order to better serve all of you. I just completed training in advanced techniques for more effectively treating and assessing back and hip conditions. I completed this training with Whitfield Reaves, one of the leaders in sports and orthopedic acupuncture.

I’m so excited to be back in the office! I can’t wait to see all of you!

There are a few changes that will be in effect for the next few weeks.

  1. Typically, I will treat those suffering from the common cold or other respiratory issues because acupuncture is great for the immune and respiratory systems. However, I’m asking at this time that you please call and reschedule your appointment if you are sick AT ALL.
  2. Additionally, I am asking that if at all possible, please come to your appointment alone to limit the number of people in the office.
  3. I will be scheduling extra time around appointments to allow more separation between patients, which may make it trickier to find appointment times. If you have difficulty finding a convenient time online, please call or text me at (406) 272-0474 and I’ll do my best to work with you!

Of course, I will be continuing to disinfect treatment rooms and office spaces frequently. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the office for your use.

Thank you so much for your support and patience with all this chaos. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me at (406) 272-0474 or jacy@affinityacu.com.

3 Reasons to Try TCM for Your Digestive Issues

According to the National Institutes of Health, 60-70 million people in the United States are affected by digestive issues including chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBS. It doesn’t help that we all tend to live stressful lives and eat the Standard America Diet (SAD).

Digestive issues are bothersome alone. However, a weak digestive system can lead to many other health issues as well such as fatigue, brain fog, skin issues like eczema, inflammation, and headaches.

Here’s 3 reasons why you should try tradition Chinese medicine (TCM) for your digestive issues:

  1. Personalized Approach: TCM includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, and nutritional and lifestyle recommendations, and by combining all of these tools, we can effectively come up with an effective treatment plan for your unique condition.
  2. Regulate Digestive Function: Acupuncture has been shown to regulate gastric acid secretions, decrease inflammation, and regulate gastrointestinal motility.
  3. Lower Stress: Stress is one of the major contributors to many digestive issues, especially IBS. The combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine supports a healthier response to everyday life stressors.

With the support of TCM, you can find relief for your digestive issues. With a whole body approach, your digestive will likely not be the only area that sees improvement.

References:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/digestive-diseases

 


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Research Update: Moxibustion and Dysmenorrhea

A study conducted by Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has determined that the use of moxibustion at specific days during a woman’s menstrual cycle can decrease pain associated with menstruation. Dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation is a big problem for many women. This study used moxibustion, an accessory modality of TCM, to treat the pain associated with menstruation. The study and its systematic review showed moxibustion treatments were more effective at relieving pain only when the moxibustion began prior to the onset of actual menstruation. This is also the theory behind Traditional Chinese Medicine, that it should be used as preventive care. The efficacy of using moxibustion during the premenstrual time period holds great promise for those who are debilitated by dysmenorrhea.

What is dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation, is experienced by more than half the menstruating women in the world. It is one of the most commonly encountered gynecologic disorders and for those suffering from severe dysmenorrhea, it can mean they are incapacitated for up to three days or more every month. The main cause of dysmenorrhea is increased or abnormal uterine prostanoid production and release, which then gives rise to abnormal uterine contractions and pain. The treatment of dysmenorrhea usually involves some sort of pain medication and rest, but there are alternatives.

TCM Treatment

TCM 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 blood throughout the body. Moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deeply into the skin, but does not create any discomfort or pain. To perform 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 warms.

Moxibustion can be used to treat dysmenorrhea because it stimulates the flow and release of the hormones that cause uterine contractions. By stimulating the release of these hormones, the body can then expel them which leads to decreased pain. Moxibustion is also great for women who suffer from fibroids, which is a stagnation and buildup of blood in the uterus. The warmth from the burning mugwort actually increases blood flow and this can help decrease the size of the fibroids over time.

 

As with acupuncture, only a licensed practitioner should be called upon for treatments such as moxibustion. If you believe moxibustion may be helpful with your dysmenorrhea, be sure to discuss it with your acupuncturist.

 

SOURCE: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/6706901/

Treating PMS with TCM

Every woman and her menstrual cycles are different. For some, menstruation is quick and easy, but for many, it can be difficult and painful. Premenstrual syndrome is a common occurrence for many women. The premenstrual phase occurs one to two weeks prior to actual menstruation and it can be quite debilitating. Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome include emotional changes (irritation, anger, depression, etc.), abdominal bloating, breast tenderness and swelling, constipation or diarrhea, headaches, low back pain, and fatigue.

While the exact cause of PMS is not known, it is believed to be due to fluctuating hormone levels that happen prior to menstruation each month. Conventional medicine tends to focus on treating the symptoms of PMS using pharmaceuticals or over-the-counter medications. But for those who are looking for natural alternatives, there is a better choice: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM provides many tools for combating PMS. Here are just a few examples of how this ancient medical system can help.

Acupuncture for PMS

According to TCM theory, PMS occurs when the normal flow of energy and blood are interrupted. The endocrine system, which controls our hormones, is dependent upon the smooth flow of energy and blood. When the blood and energy become blocked because we are not taking care of ourselves as we should, then pain and dysfunction can occur.

Acupuncture has been shown to improve circulation, thus allowing blood and energy to flow more freely. It also balances hormones in the body, while providing relaxation that many women need. When all these components are working in harmony, PMS symptoms are eased.

Acupuncture Points for PMS

  • Spleen 6: This point is located on the inside of the lower leg. It is found 3 thumb-breadths above the medial ankle bone and just behind the tibia. Spleen 6 is frequently used by acupuncturists. It helps with abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, menstrual problems, edema, dizziness and insomnia.
  • Ren 6: This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about 1 ½ thumb-breadths directly below the belly button. Ren 6 can be used to help with abdominal pain, edema, diarrhea, constipation and menstrual problems.
  • Large Intestine 4: Located on the back of the hand. When the thumb and forefinger are brought together, this point can be found directly in the middle of the fleshy mound that is created. It is helpful with lower abdominal pain and constipation. LI 4 also helps to calm the uterine muscles and lessen headaches sometimes associated with PMS.

Chinese Herbs and Herbal Formulas for PMS

Individual herbs and combinations of herbs, known as formulas, are used frequently in TCM. Dang Gui is an herb that is commonly used to help treat PMS. Dang Gui is especially good at promoting the healthy flow of blood throughout the body. It also helps improve the secretion of hormones allowing for proper balancing during the monthly cycle.

There is a particular herbal formula that is used frequently in TCM to help with PMS. This formula is known as Xiao Yao San, or Free and Easy Wanderer. This formula focuses on creating harmonious flow of blood and energy throughout the body, which is particularly helpful for headaches, cramping, and mood changes.

Nutrition for PMS

Proper nutrition is vital for everyone, but when the hormones are imbalanced and working overtime, it is even more important. When we experience pain, we tend to reach for comfort foods that are rich and full of sugar or starch. But for PMS, these can actually be more aggravating of symptoms. More whole foods are recommended during the cycle. High fiber foods like beans, pears, and avocados help combat digestive issues that are common with PMS. Foods high in calcium, like kale and broccoli, are also a good choice for reducing cramps.

As you can see, TCM is a great way to deal with PMS. If you are having difficulties dealing with your menstrual cycle, contact your local acupuncturist to see what they can do for you.

 

Boosting Your Circulation With Acupuncture

Healthy blood circulation is a vital component of life for human beings. Without proper blood flow, life would cease to exist. Blood isn’t the only thing that’s important, it’s what the blood is carrying that makes circulation so important. Blood carries fresh oxygen, hormones, and nutrients that we absorb from our food. Without these components, the organs and tissues of the body become depleted, weakened, and eventually stop functioning. Any blockages in the veins and arteries can deprive the brain and the rest of the body from the needed oxygen, which can then lead to a plethora of other medical issues.

A Bloodflow Overview
Poor circulation is a problem that affects thousands of people around the world, and  decreased circulation is frequently referred to as a silent killer. Many people assume that blood circulation issues aren’t a worry that needs to be prioritized until it’s too late and gets overlooked for years. Poor blood flow can cause pain, numbness, tingling, cold hands/feet, and even heart rhythm irregularities.

Another complication of poor circulation is the possibility of blood clots. Blood clots can be very dangerous. They can dislodge and travel to the heart, lungs or brain and block major blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

There are many causes of poor circulation including excessive cholesterol buildup in the arteries, obesity, diabetes, poor lifestyle choices, improper diet, smoking, alcoholism, pinched nerves, bacterial and viral infections and even excessive stress. The symptoms of poor circulation include weakness of the limbs, loss of sensation, extreme sensitivity, tingling, numbness, burning sensation and pain. If circulation issues are left untreated, it can eventually lead to the tissues turning black and dying, which is then a case for amputation.

Modern medicine treats poor circulation issues using prescription medications, angioplasty, surgical placement of stents, and even amputation. All of these treatments can have serious side effects and any time surgery is done, there will be down time for recovery that may be extensive. But there are alternatives too.

TCM and Circulation
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years. TCM uses modalities like acupuncture, acupressure, and herbs to treat the effects of poor circulation, while actually addressing the root cause too.

Acupuncture in particular is great for increasing blood circulation because the use of acupuncture needles stimulate nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a key regulator of localized circulation. Therefore, the more nitric oxide, the greater the blood flow and circulation to the tissues.

Acupuncture treatments have also been shown to stimulate the release of compounds like leukotrienes and antihistamines that both dilate the blood vessels, while also reducing swelling of tissues. This leads to increases in blood flow to the areas of the body deprived of oxygenated blood.

Another element of TCM is the use of herbs and herbal formulations. Foods, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper can be very beneficial for those suffering from poor circulation. However, we advise that adding these herbs needs to be discussed with a physician if you are already taking blood thinners for a circulatory problem.

Poor circulation can be painful and can even be deadly in some cases, but it doesn’t have to be. Ask me to find out how TCM and acupuncture can help you with your circulation problems.

Acupuncture for Tension Headaches

What Are Tension Headaches?
Tension headaches are the most common types of reported headaches that usually consist of a dull ache in the head coupled with tenderness in ones scalp, neck and shoulder muscles. It’s often also described as having a sensation of pressure or tightness reaching the sides and the back of the head as well as the forehead. 

Types of Tension Headaches
Although the root cause isn’t yet fully understood, doctors have placed tension headaches into two separate categories. The first being Episodic Tension Headache which can last between 30 minutes and one week. This type of tension headache often occurs less than 15 days in a given month during a 3-month span but these types of headaches can become chronic. The second categorized headache is a Chronic Tension Headache; this type lasts hours and may continue into several days. Victims of chronic tension headaches occur for more than 15 days in a given month and may last up to 3 months at any given time. 

It’s important to note that Tension headaches differ from migraines but can often be difficult to differentiate between the two. Migraines are known to disturb vision, can include nausea and vomiting and are usually made worse with physical activity. 

These headaches can be caused by a number of items including stress, food, head injuries and so on. 

Acupoints for Headaches
LI 4: Known as “Union Valley” or “He Gu,” the acupuncture point in the “fleshy” area between your index finger and thumb. It can be used to address many conditions, including stress, neck pain, headaches, allergies, stuffy nose, eye problems, toothaches and it can even improve your immunity. This point is also used to promote labor, so it should not be used when pregnant. 

UB 2: Located in the indentations on either side of the spot near the bridge of the nose where it meets the eye brows. Apply pressure to both points in this area with your index fingers for 10 seconds at a time. 

GB 20: Place your index fingers at the base of the skull in the parallel hollow areas between the neck muscles that run vertically. Press firmly upwards on both sides of the neck for 10 seconds at a time to relieve headache pain. 

acupuncture, self care

5 Self Care Tips for Winter

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that humans should live in harmony with the seasons. According to TCM, there are five seasons: winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season has many associations that help us change our habits, allowing for a more balanced mind and body. When these systems were being developed, people were living in harmony with nature. People rose with the sun, ate what was available during the different seasons, and were much more aware of their natural environment. What to wear, when to wake up, when to go to sleep, and what activities to engage in were all dependent on the weather and the environment. Because of this, people were capable of staying healthy throughout the year and their immune and organ systems were strong enough to ward off disease. Here are 5 tips to help you live in harmony with the season!

1. Get some rest

In TCM, the season of winter is a time of repair and rejuvenation. Rest is important for revitalizing the body’s fundamental energies. This is why some animals hibernate during the winter months. We should also spend more time resting during the winter months to help prepare our bodies for the months ahead when most people expend more energy.

2. Incorporate self reflection

Winter is a really good time to turn inward and do some reflection. Practices like tai chi, qi gong, and yoga can be very beneficial during the winter season. These practices help us connect to our inner selves. They also help relax the mind and calm our emotions. Things like journaling and meditation are other ways of reflecting during the winter months. Long term, these practices can be very helpful at extending a person’s life.

3. Drink water, lots of water

Water is a fundamental necessity for our bodies. In the winter time, water is especially important to support our immune systems and help the body flush out toxins. It is important to remember to drink lots of water during wintertime, even in the colder months. Drinking warm water or herbal teas can be a great way to incorporate in more fluids. However, caffeinated or sugary beverages should not be substituted for water.    

4. Eat warm, seasonal foods

Choose foods that grow naturally during the winter. Items such as squash, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, root vegetables like beets, greens, carrots, mushrooms, apples, pears, and cabbage are great. During the winter months, cold foods like salads and raw foods should be avoided as they can be harsh on digestion and the immune system. Focus on eating warmer, easy to digest foods to support a healthy system such as soups, stews, congees, and cooked vegetables.

5. Treat yourself to some TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizes numerous modalities and tools to help keep the body balanced and prepped for the seasonal changes. Acupuncture and moxibustion are two of the tools that are regularly used in the winter months to support a healthy system. Moxibustion is a practice where dried mugwort is burned near the skin to warm the body. There are certain acupuncture points that applying moxibustion to can boost immunity and digestion as well as help with different aches and pains that may worsen with the colder weather.

When we align ourselves with the natural processes of life and the seasons, our bodies will adjust and perform optimally, just as they are intended to.

acupuncture for fertility

Acupuncture and IVF

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1.6 percent of all infants born annually in the United States are conceived using assisted reproductive technology or in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization or IVF is big business. The average cost of an IVF cycle costs $12,000, and that doesn’t even include the medications that can run between $3,000 and $5,000. 

This is where acupuncture may be able to assist. Many fertility doctors are now recommending acupuncture, as it can improve a woman’s chances of conceiving by up to 60 percent. There have been multiple studies conducted that show the rates of live births nearly double in cases where acupuncture was used. 

Acupuncture treatments can improve blood flow to the uterus. This has been verified through the use of ultrasound. Increased blood flow to the uterus can create a more hospitable environment for implantation of an embryo. 

Another factor that plays heavily in the world of conception is a woman’s stress levels. When a woman is undergoing in vitro fertilization, she is under a lot of stress, both physically and mentally. This can lead to increased amounts of stress hormones that are actually detrimental to the body and may inhibit fertility.  Again, this is where acupuncture treatments can help. Regular acupuncture treatments have been shown to decrease overall stress levels, making the fertilization procedure a little easier for the body. 

Lastly, acupuncture has been shown to improve the response of the body to in vitro fertilization medications. IVF medications cause multiple follicles to grow, and the higher the number of mature eggs retrieved, the greater the likelihood that one of those eggs will get fertilized, resulting in an embryo for implantation into the uterus.

It is usually recommended a woman begin acupuncture a couple of months prior to the IVF procedure. This will increase the chances of conception. Here, Eastern and Western medicine work very well together. If you’re considering in vitro fertilization, acupuncture might be a welcomed addition to the mix.

acupuncture, autoimmune, RA, pain, Billings acupuncture

Acupuncture for Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine can be beneficial.

Many factors play into an autoimmune disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.

The use of electroacupuncture may prove useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases too. Electroacupuncture emits mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles. This gentle stimulation triggers the body to produce hormones that suppress pain and inflammation. This helps raise endorphins circulating in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.

Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. When acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined, the effects can be quite favorable. The herbs will actually compliment the acupuncture treatments by extending the effects of the needles. Many times this will shorten the number of treatments required, as the patient will start to see results sooner.

Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases also experience high levels of stress because of their disorder. It can be very stressful trying to lead a “normal” life with severe pain and other symptoms. Studies show acupuncture is very relaxing, and it helps reduce excess cortisol levels in the brain that contribute to chronic stress.

As autoimmune sufferers start to see improvements with acupuncture treatments and herbs, they may also be able to do things they couldn’t before, like exercise. Exercising not only improves blood flow, but it also increases immunity. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in the body. So just by receiving regular acupuncture treatments and herbal supplements, those suffering from autoimmune diseases may be able to lead a much more normal life with a lot less pain and suffering.

If you are dealing with some type of autoimmune disease, consider giving Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance. The outcomes may be life changing.