acupuncture for weight loss, acupuncturist in billings montana, acupuncture clinic

Acupuncture & Weight Loss

With the holidays right around the corner, many feel stressed about the extra pounds that come with all those holiday treats. Often, I’m asked if I can do acupuncture for weight loss. Here’s the answer: Acupuncture can help support healthy weight loss, BUT diet modifications and exercise are still the most important tools to get the job done and reach your desired weight.

Acupuncture creates overall balance in the body. By re-establishing balance in the body, it can function optimally, metabolizing what you put in and efficiently getting rid of the waste. Acupuncture helps balance out the emotions too. Reducing stress, depression, and anxiety can put a halt to unhealthy eating habits that we turn to for emotional support. Specific cravings can also be targeted with acupuncture. Got a sweet tooth? Acupuncture can help reduce cravings, making it easier for you to make healthier choices.

Acupuncture treatment for weight loss will usually focus on using points in the ear in combination with body points. In Chinese medicine, the entire body is depicted on the ear, so a huge variety of conditions can be treated by just using ear points. After the treatment, the practitioner may send you home with ear seeds. Ear seeds sit on top of the skin and are attached with a small piece of tape. The small seeds sits on top of the acupuncture point to continue stimulating that area to prolong the effect of the acupuncture treatment. Ear seeds can be left on for 3-5 days and need to be pressed on daily to stimulate the point. Keep in mind, weekly acupuncture visits will be needed initially to encourage and support optimal weight loss.

Acupuncture can be an excellent tool for weight loss when combined with diet modifications and regular exercise. Happy holidays!

sciatica, pain relief, acupuncture in laurel montana


What is sciatica?
Sciatica is pain, numbness, or tingling due to a problem with the sciatic nerve. The pain often starts in the low back and extends down into the glute, thigh, and even all the way into the feet. There are many possible causes of sciatica and often times it may be difficult for your doctor to determine the exact cause. Somewhere along its’ path, the sciatic nerve becomes pinched or irritated and creates pain that radiates down the leg. Usually, symptoms are one sided but can occur on both sides.

How is sciatica treated?
Usually, conservative treatment for sciatica is recommended. This may include heat, ice, pain medication, exercises, massage, or acupuncture. Occasionally, surgery may be needed. Recently, more emphasis has been put on non-drug therapies, such as acupuncture, to address pain due to the growing overuse and abuse of prescription pain killers.

How does acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is really effective at treating pain of any kind; so it’s no surprise that it’s effective for sciatica too! Acupuncture can help relieve sciatica by:

  • encouraging tight muscles to relax that may be contributing to the pain. Often, a muscle called the piriformis in the gluteal area can pinch the sciatic nerve because the nerve runs right under this muscle or sometimes right through the muscle.
  • promoting a reduction in inflammation to decrease irritation around the nerve.
  • initiating a release of endorphins to naturally reduce pain.

Of course, it’s always best to visit with your doctor about your health concerns to rule out any red flags. An acupuncturist cannot diagnose sciatica but may be able to provide pain relief.

For more information on sciatica and acupuncture, check out this information from the British Acupuncture Council:
herbal medicine, natural health, acupuncture in billings montana

Chinese Herbs – Are They For Me?

For thousands of years, people in China relied on acupuncture and herbs as their primary medicine. They created herbal formulas to address all kinds of health concerns because this was their only treatment option. Over thousands of years of trial and error, Chinese herbal medicine produced numerous formulas for countless conditions such as pain, common cold, digestive issues, irregular menstruation, and traumatic injuries.

So, what is Chinese herbal medicine?
Chinese herbal medicine uses plant and animal products for the therapeutic benefits. Different herbs produce various effects in the body. Many modern pharmaceuticals originated from herbal remedies or their constituents. For instance, aspirin evolved from willow bark, which has long been used for its’ pain relieving properties. Willow bark contains salicin that converts to salicylic acid in the body, and modern aspirin uses a derivative of a synthetic salicylic acid.
With Chinese herbal medicine, single herbs are combined into formulas. Formulas produce a more balanced product, reducing the chance of any adverse reactions. Herbal formulas account for any harsh properties of herbs and adjust accordingly, adding in ‘harmonizing’ counterparts.
Most Chinese herbs consist of common plants, roots, fruits, etc. For instance, ginger, licorice, and mint are commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine. However when given a Chinese herbal formula, don’t be surprised if the label contains the pinyin, or Chinese name, for the herb. On the product label you may see sheng jiang (ginger), gan cao (licorice), and bo he (mint).

How does it work?
A trained herbalist prescribes an herbal formula based on your unique presentation. The herbal formula may come as raw herbs, granules (powder), or pills. Depending on the condition, an herbal formula may only be needed for a few weeks or a few months. Herbal medicine is a powerful tool, so changes will likely be noticed quickly. However, treatment aims to not only address the main complaint but also address any underlying imbalances. Your primary concern may resolve quickly but continued herbal treatment may still be beneficial.

Are they safe?
Generally, yes! As with any medication, it’s always best to have any Chinese herbal medicine prescribed specifically for you by a trained herbalist. Many acupuncturists have additional training specifically in Chinese herbal medicine to safely and effectively address a variety of conditions.
In the past, herbal supplements have been known to contain contaminants. Carefully sourcing herbs avoids the risk of any unwanted substances. Nowadays, Chinese herbal companies have increased their standards and testing of herbs to ensure safety. If you have any question about the supplier or quality of herbs prescribed for you, ask your acupuncturist or herbalist.

gua sha for pain relief, common cold, acupuncture in billings montana

Gua Sha: Not As Bad As It Looks!

The aftermath of gua sha may look a little intimidating at first, but the benefits of this dermal friction technique make the discolorations more than worth it. Gua sha is often used to relieve both chronic and acute pain. A layer of oil is applied before a smooth edged instrument is used across the area. The skin color revealed after applying gua sha can tell more about the nature of the disease. The purple color showing up on my neck here is not ideal. Can you tell I have some neck tension?

Gua sha in an area of tension helps reduce pain by promoting circulation and breaking up adhesions in the tissues. In severely tight or painful areas, gua sha will often bring up dark red or purple markings. In less severe areas, there may be only a slight pinking of the skin. Gua sha has been practiced for generations in China but recently has been gaining popularity under other names, such as instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization and Graston technique. Many times gua sha almost immediately dissipates the pain… don’t worry, any markings will quickly dissipate too!


What is moxa?
Moxibustion, or moxa, uses the heat from burning mugwort on the body to create warmth and promote healing. Moxa may be burned directly on the skin and removed before actually burning the skin. Or, it can be burned indirectly so there’s no chance of a burn just the nice warmth from the herb. Moxa comes in loose/wool, roll, stick-on, and stick forms. The variety of forms allows moxa to be used for multiple conditions on various parts of the body.

Why is moxa used?
Burning moxa creates warmth, which alone encourages muscles to relax. Burning an herb on the skin also takes advantage of the herb’s medicinal properties. Moxa tonifies Qi (the energy of the body) and blood (the nourishment of the body). The warming and nourishing effects of mugwort encourage the smooth flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. The stagnation, or poor circulation, of Qi and blood creates pain. Moxa warms and encourages movement of Qi and blood to reduce pain.

Is moxa for me?
Talk to your acupuncturist about using moxa for your aches and pains. Licensed acupuncturists receive training in the use of moxa and can discuss the benefits of moxa for your condition.

cupping for tight muscles, acupuncture for pain relief, acupuncture clinic in billings montana


What’s all this buzz about cupping?
Cupping is all the buzz right now, but why are so many athletes using it? Because it works, and not just for athletes! Cupping works by:

  • Stretching tight muscles and fascia
  • Promoting detoxification
  • Stimulating the immune system

What is cupping used for?
By stretching the tissues, promoting the movement of blood and lymph through the tissues, and activating the immune system cupping can relieve pain of all sorts.

  • Shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Tight glutes and hamstrings
  • Adhered IT bands
  • Stiff calf muscles

But what are those marks?
Cupping marks result from blood and cell debris moving towards the skin’s surface. The discoloration usually dissipates within a few days depending on the person. Gnarly cupping marks aren’t the only result of a cupping session – other benefits include increased circulation, reduced pain, increased range of motion, and relaxed muscles.

What Can Acupuncture Treat?

Most people think of acupuncture for pain relief, often as a last resort treatment. Acupuncture proves effective at treating all kinds of pain, but it can treat so much more!

The World Health Organization, or WHO, recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for 28 conditions including adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy, allergic rhinitis, depression, dysmenorrhea, epigastric pain, facial pain, headache, hypertension, hypotension, knee pain, leukopenia, low back pain, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting, neck pain, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, and stroke. WHO acknowledges the effectiveness of acupuncture in these conditions after thorough evaluation of numerous controlled trials. WHO recognized the benefit of acupuncture in over 63 other conditions but requires additional clinical trials to be conducted to prove the effectiveness of treatment.

Remember acupuncture for your aches and pains, but keep in mind the wide variety of ways acupuncture can help you with your overall health! If you have questions about the use of acupuncture for your health concerns, please contact us or an acupuncturist near you.
acupuncture, billings montana, natural healing

What Can I Expect At My First Acupuncture Appointment?

For some, acupuncture can seem scary or intimidating, especially the needles part. However, most leave their first acupuncture treatment feeling relaxed and excited to come back. Here’s what to expect.

The Paperwork
At your first visit, the acupuncturist will have you fill out some paper work, just like at a doctor’s appointment. But there may be some questions you’re not so used to being asked. Chinese medicine uses clues from the whole body to make a diagnosis. So don’t be surprised when they ask about bowel movements, eye floaters, or sleep even if you’re just coming in for back pain.

The Intake
After filling out paperwork, the acupuncturist will take you back to a treatment room. The acupuncturist will likely ask you more questions about your main complaint and overall wellbeing. Then, they will look at your tongue and take your pulse to gain information about what’s going on inside of your body. Acupuncturists get a lot of information from feeling your pulse and looking at the tongue. The overall pulse quality, strength, and rhythm is felt to get a better understanding of what’s going on inside the body. The tongue shape, color, and ‘coat’ also provide information about the current state of your body.

The Treatment
After the intake, the acupuncturist will have you get comfortable on the table. Many times the clothes you’re wearing will be rolled up to provide access to acupuncture points, but sometimes the practitioner may have you change into a gown.
Next comes the actual acupuncture. The most important thing to realize is we use really, really, really small needles! Many have needle phobias thanks to traumatizing experiences at doctors’ offices. However, acupuncture needles are very different from those used at doctors’ offices. The width of an acupuncture needle is comparable to the width of a single strand of hair. Many sensitive patients don’t even feel them going in!
The acupuncturist will choose various points all over the body. Even if back pain is the primary concern, point on the hands and feet may be used. The number of points used varies by practitioner but will usually be around 10-15. Once all the needles are in, you’re usually left to relax and let the needles do their work for approximately 30 minutes. Then, the practitioner will return, remove the needles, and send you on your way.

The Results
Most feel the difference from acupuncture right away, most noticeably with increased relaxation. For pain conditions, a difference may be felt right away or it may take a few treatments to notice a change. Your acupuncturist will recommended a course of treatment to best target your needs. Expect to be pleasantly surprised with the results of acupuncture on not just your aches and pains but also your overall wellbeing.