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.

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!

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.
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.