3 Ways Acupuncture Supports Fertility

Acupuncture has been used for gynecological issues for thousand of years, including irregular or absent menstrual cycles, painful periods, PMS, fertility issues, and menopausal symptoms. If you and your partner have been struggling to get pregnant, acupuncture is an important and effective option to explore to support your chances of conceiving. Here’s why:

  1. Acupuncture helps to regulate the menstrual cycles. For optimal chances of conceiving, you first have to have a regular cycle each month. Ideally, cycles should be about 28 days in length. However, exact cycle length does vary from person to person. By focusing on the reproductive and endocrine systems, acupuncture helps to support a healthy monthly cycle.
  2. Increased blood flow increases egg quality. One of the ways that acupuncture is helpful for so many conditions is by increasing the blood flow to an area of distress or disease. Increased blood flow to the reproductive organs brings fresh blood, oxygen, and nutrients to developing eggs. Eggs with optimal blood and oxygen supply have been shown to have higher rates of fertilization and developmental potential.
  3. Acupuncture helps to reduce stress levels. Trying to conceive should be an exciting time. However, when things don’t progress as expected, it can be incredibly stressful. Acupuncture helps to reduce stress levels so that your body can focus on fertility rather than coping with stress.

If you’re struggling to get pregnant, consider adding in acupuncture. If you’ve moved into IUI or IVF, acupuncture can still help! Please reach out and let’s talk about how acupuncture can help you.

Natural Treatment of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is extremely common, with 80% of people having at least one episode of low back pain in their lifetime. Most back pain is not a serious medical problem. However, it can majorly impact day to day activities and overall quality of life.

Many treatment options exist for back pain, some more effective than others. Treatment often depends on the cause of the back pain. More than 85% of low back pain patients are classified as having “nonspecific” low back pain, meaning the pain is not coming from any specific cause or serious injury. Clinical guidelines recommend first line treatment using non-pharmacological options including massage, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation.

More and more research demonstrates the effectiveness in acupuncture in all areas of pain relief, especially back pain. There are three main ways that acupuncture effectively treats pain. Acupuncture treats pain by increasing circulation to the area which brings fresh blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the area so it has the resources to heal and function properly. Secondly, it reduces inflammation in the area, and lastly, it encourages tight muscles to relax and release.
Often, acupuncture will be combined with cupping. Cupping also encourages increased circulation to the area as well as helping to relax tight muscles. The combination makes for an awesome treatment for pain, and the cupping feels amazing!

Sources:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28192789/
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/low-back-pain-in-adults-beyond-the-basics?search=low%20back%20pain&topicRef=7782&source=related_link


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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.

5 Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show 8 out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically, back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat, and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50%. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States that people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain, creating added pressure on the body, especially the low back. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. However, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. Thousands of studies have proven acupuncture, just one of the modalities used in TCM, can be very beneficial in the treatment of low back pain. Here are five reasons why someone should consider getting acupuncture to treat low back pain.

  1. Acupuncture has no harmful side effects.  In comparison to most Western medical approaches to treating low back pain, acupuncture is the clear winner. There are no real negative side effects associated with acupuncture treatments. There may be slight bruising or a little tenderness after the treatments, but that pales in comparison to the side effects from most pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Even regular ingestion of ibuprofen can deteriorate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, eventually leading to ulceration.
  2. Acupuncture is personalized healthcare.  One thing truly different about TCM is every patient is treated differently. There could be 10 people with the exact same Western medical diagnosis in an acupuncturist’s’ office, but they may all be treated differently. This is because not everybody’s root cause of the ailment is the same. This makes acupuncture treatments very personalized.
  3. Acupuncture reduces inflammation.  Back pain is frequently accompanied by joint inflammation in the spinal column. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation. Usually when inflammation is decreased, so is pain.
  4. Acupuncture improves sleep.  Low back pain can frequently disrupt sleep. With regular acupuncture treatments, not only is the pain and inflammation of back pain decreased, but so is the sleep interruptions due to the aforementioned pain. This is just one of the positive side effects of acupuncture.
  5. Get your life back.  Regular acupuncture treatments can improve a person’s overall well-being.  And when it comes to low back pain, life can be changed dramatically. People sometimes have to miss work due to the pain and lack of sleep caused by the pain. But acupuncture can change all of that, allowing people to resume regular everyday activities.

For anybody who has ongoing low back pain, the five reasons listed above should give you hope acupuncture can provide relief. Call the office today at (406) 272-0474 to book an appointment for your low back pain! 

Acupuncture for pain relief

Plantar Fasciitis

Welcome to flip flop season! It’s finally summer!

It may feel good to finally slip on those flip flops or sandals, but these types of foot wear can be tough on our feet. Sandals tend to lack the good support and cushion that our feet need, which can result in plantar fasciitis or other aches and pains in our feet.

What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition affecting the feet. Inflammation of the fascia in the bottoms of the feet lead to pain. The pain can been in both feet or in just one. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including overuse, overweight, poor footwear, and tight calf muscles.

How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is great to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase circulation
  • Relax tight fascia or muscles

With less inflammation, increased circulation, and the relaxation of tight muscles, the area has a chance to heal and is given relief from pain.

What else can I do?
In addition to acupuncture, it is important to make some other changes. Some things to try at home include:

  1. Getting new shoes: invest in some new shoes or shoe inserts to provide your feet with good support. Shoes that are worn daily should be replaced about every 6 months.
  2. Stretching: focus on stretching tight calf muscles as well as the bottoms of the feet.
  3. Contrast therapy: alternate heat and ice on the feet. This can be done a number of ways. Try setting up 2 basins of water, one with cooler water and the other with warm water. Place feet in the warmer water for about 3 minutes, then switch to cooler water for about 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle about 3 times. This can be done daily or even multiple times per day.
headaches, migraines, pain relief

Migraine Relief with Acupuncture

Last week, I had the pleasure of being a part of the Advanced Care Hospital health expo and visiting with many of the employees and their families. The most commonly asked about condition was MIGRAINES! And yes, acupuncture can be an excellent treatment option for migraines!

Many struggle with migraines and the symptoms that may accompany them such as nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and others. The intensity of symptoms can significantly impact a person’s day.

Luckily, there are treatment options, most common being medications. For some, these can be an effective option. But for others it may not be enough.

Acupuncture can be an awesome option if you’ve recently started getting migraines or if you’ve been having them for years. Recently, more studies have supported the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating migraines, showing reductions in frequency and intensity of migraines.

Acupuncture can safely be combined with other therapies you may be doing such as medications, Botox injections, massage, lifestyle modifications, and others. Often, combining acupuncture with other therapies can improve the overall effect and outcome.

Interested in trying acupuncture for migraine relief? Give me a call at (406) 272-0474 or book online!

 

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2603492

sciatica, pain relief, acupuncture in laurel montana

Sciatica

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: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/sciatica.html

What Can Acupuncture Treat?

Most people think of acupuncture for pain relief. 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 the office or an acupuncturist near you.

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=29001
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.