Harmonize with Winter using Chinese Medicine

January 14, 2010

Happy New Year!

Although the passing of Solstice signals that we are beginning to move out of the dark days of Winter, we still have a few months of cold before us. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Winter is the most yin of the seasons. A time when life has returned to its deepest inner aspects. Now, many animals are hibernating or have moved to warmer climates, plant life has returned to its roots, and people are staying indoors to escape the cold.

According to TCM, the Kidneys are the organs associated with Winter. In Chinese medical theory, the “Kidneys” would include not only their function of blood filtration, but also the adrenal glands that sit atop them. At this time of the year, the Kidneys are more active and potentially more vulnerable to depletion than at other times.

In TCM it is believed that by harmonizing oneself with the seasons, you can avoid illness and promote great health. Therefore, during the Winter it is a good time to focus on strengthening the Kidneys.

In the cold months, Man’s energy moves inward, our subconscious mind following old, instinctual patterns as we tend to focus on thoughts of survival. On one hand, this can lead to a rise in levels of fear based emotions such as generalized anxiety. This is very natural considering that for all of our history, Winter has traditionally been a pretty tough time for humans with regard to survival. But as a result of this stress, the Kidneys can be overly taxed – unless one does something to mitigate the effects.

On the other hand, the positive side is that it is the perfect opportunity to look deeply into our selves to reflect on the past year, understand our present, and prepare for the coming year. Meditation, prayer, journaling, goal creating exercises, counseling, coaching and other techniques that reveal our deeper desires to our conscious mind can be very helpful. These tools support Kidney energy and have the ability to calm our emotions, relax the mind and raise our spirit.

Other ways to tonify the kidneys would include Qigong, Tai Chi or Yoga exercises, balancing foods, herbs, and acupuncture. These methods can help keep the Qi flowing smoothly and support the body’s physical health. They also can be tailored to the season to specifically support the Kidneys. Consult your local acupuncturist, Tai Chi or Yoga instructor for an approach that works for you.

This year consider making a New Year’s resolution to harmonize with the seasons. By doing so, you will have a better chance of greater health and success throughout the year!

For more info on Traditional Chinese Medicine check out : http://www.hughsacupuncture.com

Avoid the flu with Traditional Chinese Medicine

December 10, 2009

With the influenza season in full swing, it is a good idea to take preventive measures to decrease your chances of getting sick. There are a number of natural, safe, and simple measures from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Naturopathy that one can use to minimize exposure and to increase resistance to the flu. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure!

One of the best ways to not get the flu is to avoid it all together. The flu is thought to be spread mainly through contact with an infected person. So if possible, avoid direct contact with people who exhibit obvious symptoms of an active infection (chills, fever, malaise, body aches, coughing, etc) for up to 48 hours after their fever or main symptoms have passed.

Another route of infection is to pick up the virus on a dirty surface and then infect oneself by touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. This is less likely, but still possible. The following, somewhat obvious recommendations, are taken from the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to help minimize the chance of infection:

• Wash hands frequently or after touching a suspect surface (door knob, faucet, etc).
• Avoid touching the eyes, mouth, or nose
• Avoid crowds and definitely avoid contact with infected people.
• Wear a facemask when in contact with sick persons.

The next step in avoiding getting sick is to keep oneself in optimum health in order to have a strong and vigilant immune system. By following basic health maintenance one can lay a positive foundation for great health and avoiding illness. This basically involves these steps:

• Get a proper night’s sleep – 8-10 hrs. should suffice.
• Exercise regularly – cardio 3-5 times a week, strength training 2-3, yoga or tai chi daily.
• Eat a balanced, organic diet – lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, high quality meats and dairy, drink plenty of clean, filtered water. Minimize alcohol, sugar, white flour, saturated, hydrogenated, and trans fats, excessive coffee, and artificial dyes and flavors.
• Develop healthy stress coping techniques – meditation, prayer, journaling, art, quiet walks, hot baths, vigorous exercise, dancing, loving community and family interactions, playing with the kids, etc.
• Proper supplementation – A high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, essential fatty acids, probiotics, herbs (i.e. Siberian ginseng, ashwaganda, holy basil, astragalus, licorice, cordyceps, etc.) and superfoods (i.e. goji berries, spirulina, bee pollen, royal jelly, etc.) can play an important role in supporting high paced, modern lifestyles. Supplementation should be based on individual need –consult your healthcare provider for a specific program.

Hopefully, the above suggestions will keep you from getting sick. But if by some chance you should you feel that you have contracted the flu, acting quickly can limit the duration and severity of its symptoms. By stimulating the immune system and using antiviral substances, one can help the body overcome the virus. The sooner one acts the better the results, so don’t hesitate!

• Proper rest, light and healthy foods, plenty of fluids, and hot baths provide the body with nourishment and support without overburdening it.
• Western supplements – High doses of Vitamin C with bioflavinoids, Zinc, and Vitamin D can possibly help bolster a stronger immune response.
• Western herbal immune stimulants – Olive leaf extract, Echinacea, Elderberry extract, and Osha are well known immune stimulants that work best to increase immune response when taken soon after contracting a virus.
• Eastern herbs – Commonly available Chinese patent herbal formulas such as Gan Mao Ling, Chuan Xin Lian, Zhong Gan Ling conveniently combine strong multiple antiviral herbs to fight influenza. They can greatly diminish the severity and length of the illness if taken soon after contracting the flu. For more specific and individual remedies contact your local Chinese Herbalist.

One important note is that the above suggestions are for general avoidance and early treatment of influenza for a person without other health complications. If you do have other health complications or become sick and exhibit any severe signs such as respiratory distress, a prolonged or very high fever, continuous vomiting, etc. contact your physician immediately. Influenza – especially when complicated by other infections or health conditions such as asthma, emphysema, heart disease, immune deficiencies, etc – is a severe illness that at times may require medical treatment.

With that in mind, remember that during this flu season the vast majority of people can use safe, natural methods to keep them healthy and illness free. So I invite you to try the above methods and have a healthy, flu-less winter ! Also, remember that your local acupuncturist and naturopath can more specifically help address and individual’s health needs. Don’t hesitate to contact them to create a plan for optimum health. If you are interested in more information on Traditional Chinese Medicine check out my website at http://www.hughsacupuncture.com

Is it Wise to Get Vaccinated Against Swine Flu?

November 2, 2009

As flu season gets under way we are faced with a more potent strain of flu bug this year known as “swine flu” or the H1N1 virus. A lot of people are naturally concerned and are asking their healthcare providers if they should get vaccinated against the virus. What makes this virus more worrisome than past bugs is that due to its novel assortment of avian and swine genes, most people don’t have natural immunity against it. According to the Center for Disease Control(CDC), “laboratory studies have shown that no children and very few adults younger than 60 years old have existing antibody to 2009 H1N1 flu virus”. The one exception to this is people over 60. With this group, the CDC says, “about one-third of adults older than 60 may have antibodies against this virus. It is unknown how much, if any, protection may be afforded against 2009 H1N1 flu by any existing antibody”.

To keep swine flu in perspective it must be remembered that, “Each year, in the United States, on average 36,000 people die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related causes. Of those hospitalized, 20,000 are children younger than 5 years old. Over 90% of deaths and about 60 percent of hospitalizations occur in people older than 65”. In contrast to the usual seasonal flu, “The information analyzed by CDC supports the conclusion that 2009 H1N1 flu has caused greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age than older people. At this time, there are few cases and few deaths reported in people older than 64 years old, which is unusual when compared with seasonal flu.” It appears that while the very young can be susceptible, many of those over 60 years old have acquired immunity to swine flu from past exposure to older flu viruses.

This information is important to remember when consider whether or not to get vaccinated against the virus. Myself, I avoid flu vaccinations as it is my personal belief that the best approach for developing a healthy and responsive immune system is to let nature take its course – essentially, herd immunity. With swine flu, looking at people over 60 years old seems to support this belief. However, if I were in one of the susceptible groups listed below or a healthcare worker who came in regular contact with those at higher risks, I would get vaccinated. Mainly, because “pregnancy and other previously recognized high risk medical conditions from seasonal influenza appear to be associated with increased risk of complications from this 2009 H1N1. These underlying conditions include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders and pregnancy”. In other words, if you are in a high risk group and you contract swine flu, you have a much greater chance of developing life threatening complications.

So you see, the question of whether to vaccinate against swine flu is not ideologically black and white. One has to weigh all the information in order to determine if vaccination is right for them or their loved ones. The important thing is to arrive at your own conclusion rationally and not be swayed by all the hype and fear that the national media has stirred up or by one’s own ideology. Basically, it comes down to these ideas. If you are in one of the high risk groups it might be prudent to consider vaccination. In otherwise healthy individuals who are not in the high risk categories and depending upon personal philosophy, it would be rational to consider other options such as boosting immunity with herbs, supplements, exercise, diet, and good stress management. This might create a more effective and resilient immune system. This will be the subject of my next article, so look for an upcoming blog post on how to Fight the Flu with Traditional Chinese Medicine!

* All quoted information is taken from the Center for Disease Control’s website

For more information, on Traditional Chinese Medicine please visit my website at http://www.hughsacupuncture.com !

Harmonize with Fall Using Traditional Chinese Medicine

September 15, 2009

Fall Greetings from Hugh’s Acupuncture Clinic!

Despite the warm weather recently, earlier sunsets and cooler mornings signal that Autumn is around the corner. At this time in nature, animals start to prepare for hibernation and plant life begins to decompose as leaves, flowers and fruit return their nutrients to the soil. The trees prepare for the upcoming cold by drawing their sap inwards towards their roots and humans are busy bringing in the Fall harvest.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the lungs are associated with Autumn. In TCM theory, one of the functions of the lungs is to extract Qi from air, using it to nourish the tissues and internal processes. Part of this Qi, along with the Qi from food, goes to build Defensive Qi. This Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system. Indeed, because the lungs interact directly with the outside environment, they play a very important role in fighting off external pathogens.

Due to our dry climate as well as Autumn being the prime time for flu and cold season, the lungs are especially challenged now. In order to have strong immunity and to remain healthy, it is a good idea to protect the lungs by taking a few preventive measures.

According to TCM, the lungs detest dryness, a issue that is made worse by our semi-arid region. So it is a good idea to remain well hydrated with water and herbal teas. Licorice, slippery elm, ginger, mints, and lemon balm are tasty herbs that have medicinal properties which are perfect for problems (sore throats and coughs) that arise in the Autumn.

It is wise to focus on energy rich, seasonal vegetables, grains, and fruits, such as: greens, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, squash, apples, pears, berries, rye, oat, quinoa, rice, etc.. TCM recommends moving away from colder foods and preparation styles such as raw veggies, juices, and fruits. Instead, baking, stir-frying, and other warming cooking techniques are utilized. Soups and stews are a great way to get essential nutrients from a wide variety of vegetables. One of my favorite fall recipes is butternutsquash soup – easy, tasty, and healthy! (see recipe at bottom)

In addition to diet, exercise is another way to strengthen the
lungs and to build the Defensive Qi. Yoga, Tai Chi, and mild cardio-vascular exercise are the perfect tools. They all gently encourage the full use of the lungs, helping to maximize gas exchange. This allows the lungs to extract as much Qi from the air as possible, which strengthens the Defensive Qi.

It’s important to not overdo cardio-vascular exercise here in our semi-arid region. As the lungs humidify our air, too much breathing of dry air can exhaust the moisture or yin of the lungs. This can lead to irritated throats and dry, chronic coughs.

One of the easiest ways of weakening our immunity in our modern world is stress. Here, both East and West agree that stress saps the body of the energy necessary for strong Defensive Qi and a vigilant immune system. Stress comes in many forms – physical, mental, emotional – but all have in common the tendency to drain our Qi. Practicing stress reduction techniques such as meditation, jounaling, acupuncture, massage, art, prayer, and counseling on a regular basis are very effective ways of mitigating stress.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to have a healthy Autumn. If I can be of any assistance with that goal, please email me at hughcastor@hotmail.com.

Check out my website www.hughsacupuncture.com for more info on acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine!

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
– 1 large butternut squash
– 1 medium onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 medium celery stock and large carrot
– 2 TBS of butter
– 32 oz. chicken stock
– Salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

Bake the butternut squash at 350 degrees in a ½ inch of water baking pan for 45 min.

Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, celery, carrot 8 min., or until lightly browned. Add cubed squash. Pour in enough of the stock to cover veggies. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover pot, and cook 10 min, or until veggies are tender.

Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return the pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Add seasonings and enjoy!

Traditional Chinese Herbs – A patient’s Guide

July 7, 2009

Chinese Herbs are one of the five treatment modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In a TCM clinic, Chinese herbs are often employed alongside acupuncture, massage, therapeutic movement, and nutritional therapy to treat a wide range of health complaints. Clinical efficacy is well documented with more than 350 herbs that are commonly used today that have a history of use that goes back at least 2,000 years. Over that time, a vast amount of experience has been gained that has gone towards perfecting the clinical applications of herbs. According to Chinese and Japanese clinical studies, these herbs, and others that have been added over the centuries, can greatly increase the effectiveness of modern drug treatments, reduce their side-effects, and sometimes replace pharmaceuticals all together.

One of the reasons that Chinese herbs are gaining in popularity today over Western herbs is because of the vast scope of clinical experience in safely using Chinese medicinals. In every province of China, there are large schools of traditional Chinese medicine, research institutes, and teaching hospitals, where thousands of practitioners each year are given herbal training. The written heritage of Chinese medicine is quite rich. Ancient literature is retained, with increasing numbers of recent commentaries. New books are written by practitioners who have had several decades of personal experience or by compilers who search the vast amounts of diverse modern literature and arrange the results of clinical trials into categories. For this reason, Chinese herbology remains a living, growing system of medicine that continues to daily add to its body of knowledge.

Tastes, Temperatures & Channels Entered

Chinese herbs come in many shapes and sizes. Most Chinese herbs are truly herbs botanically speaking, and utilize the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or rhizomes from a vast array of plants from all over China and Asia. Other “herbs” which are sometimes used are animal substances such as bone, shells, insects, and minerals

The classic view is that the therapeutic effects of an herb are determined by its temperature, taste and the acupuncture meridians that it enters. An herb’s temperature is classified as hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. Cool and cold herbs are used to treat hot conditions, while warm and hot herbs are used to treat cold conditions. The tastes ascribed to herbs include sweet, sour, bitter, acrid and salty. Sweet herbs are used to tonify qi. Sour herbs have an astringent effect in the body. Bitter herbs are used to dry damp and clear heat. Acrid herbs have the power to disperse cold and move stagnation. Salty herbs are used to soften growths and for purgation. The herbs actions are said to target specific organs and acupuncture meridians.

Today, herbalists recognize the pharmaceutical aspects of herbs and incorporate that knowledge into the practice of modern herbalism. Herbs are often chosen for their effect on symptoms and well as their ability to positively impact disease and metabolic processes.

Herbal Formulations

Rarely, a single herb is prescribed for a patient’s condition. Far more common, however, is that several herbs (6-12) are combined into an herbal formula. In the context of an herbal formula, a single herb acts not only according to its own taste and temperature and channels entered, but also in concert with the other herbs in the formula. The overall effect of a formula is the result of the synergy or alchemy created by the combination of the single herbs.

Formulas come in the form of decoctions (teas), pills, granules, powders, alcohol or oil based infusions, liniments, lotions, salves, and poultices. The type of formula you are prescribed is dependent upon the most effective form and what will best address the health issue. For instance, acute issues involving the internal organs will most likely be prescribed an internal remedy in the form of a tea as they are usually the most potent. A chronic issue might be treated with a pill or granule as they are easier and less time consuming to prepare, and might be a better treatment choice as they keep a consistent amount of active ingredients from the herbs in the body.

Efficacy and Safety

Chinese herbs are very effective and extremely safe when used correctly under the supervision of a trained herbalist. Herbal formulas can be very potent and should be treated with care, especially when used alongside other herbs or medications. That being said, the vast majority of Chinese herbs have no toxicity associated with them even if taken in absurdly large dosages. Mild side effects such as digestive complaints or skin reactions have been associated with some Chinese herbs. Allergic reactions are occasionally noted, a problem that often cannot be predicted in advance since these are idiosyncratic responses. Additionally, there are few possible interactions with Western medications such as blood pressure or anti-clotting medicines that need to be considered. For this reason, I would highly recommend working with a trained herbalist if a person is concurrently using pharmaceutical medicines to treat a serious illness.

Another potential concern with any herbal substance is its source. A qualified herbalist will make sure that all herbal substances, their cultivation, preparation, formulation, and packaging is safe by their conforming to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards. Also, reputable herbal companies will make sure that all herbs are free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, heavy metals, bacterial or pathogen contamination, and preservatives.

Chinese herbalists have extensive training in their fields. All complete a 4 year course in the theory, philosophy, and practical application of herbs. They are knowledgeable of possible side effects, contraindications, and interactions with other medicines or foods. Many now have additional certification in herbal medicine by national accreditation boards that qualify and quantify a practitioner’s experience and knowledge. These measures ensure that standards remain high for herbalists.

Why Use Chinese Herbs?

Now that you know some of the history, theory, training, and knowledge of Chinese herbs and those you use them, are they the right choice for you? My professional opinion is that if one can safely and effectively substitute herbs for pharmaceuticals or surgery, than that is a superior choice for treatment. The reasons being that herbs have: far fewer side effects, and are safer, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. Using herbs develops awareness, connection, and understanding of one’s personal journey through an illness. As a result, people are often inspired to make positive life changes that support their new found health. This is truly a holistic approach to illness and for that matter, health as well.

If you have questions regarding Chinese herbs and if they might be right for you contact your local Chinese herbalist. If you are in the Greater Fort Collins, CO area you can contact me at Hugh’s Acupuncture Clinic (970) 215-7419 or at hughcastor@hotmail.com .

For more info check out my website at http://www.hughsacupuncture.com!

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi Chuan

June 2, 2009

What is Tai Chi Chuan anyway?

Tai Chi Chuan is a Chinese form of martial art that marries fighting techniques with energy cultivation methods. So, why are all those Chinese people practicing this martial art?  It just so happens that besides being an effective form of self-defense, it also has tremendous health benefits. 

A brief history of Tai Chi Chuan

Like many of the Chinese arts, the origins of Tai Chi are obscured by myth. One particular colorful version is that a Wu Tang monk named Chang Sang-Feng witnessed a magpie attacking a snake. The snake deftly avoided the magpies’ direct, aggressive strikes with soft, fluid movements inspiring Chang Sang – Feng to create the basic postures of Tai Chi Chuan.

Chang Sang- Feng’s student was said to teach a family of Chen villagers the form. They kept it in the family for centuries and are largely credited with cultivating and developing the art. Their subsequent students developed the many branches of Tai Chi Chuan that we see practiced today. Of the many, amazing types of Tai Chi the most widely practiced is the Yang Style created by Yang Lu-Chan. This is partly due to politics and partly due to the opinion that Yang Style is relatively easy to practice and is accessible in terms of principles.

In general, Tai Chi is practiced very slowly in order to fine tune the postures and most importantly, promote the flow and concentration of energy what is known as Chi, Qi, or Ki in the meridians. (For a discussion of Chi refer to my second article under How Acupuncture Works) Yang Style is characterized as a medium frame form of Tai Chi. This means that the postures are larger and the stances wider than say Wu Style, but smaller and less wide than Chen Style. The movements are easy to grasp with some time and effort, although it might take a life time to master the underlying principles. Therein lies the opportunity for self-discovery and to learn some fascinating and profound concepts about bio-mechanics, philosophy, internal and external energy, the mind-body-spirit connection, self-cultivation, meditation, health and wellness, and to have a fun while you do it!

Why practice Tai Chi Chuan?

As a Tai Chi instructor and an acupuncturist at Hugh’s Acupuncture Clinic, I have seen Tai Chi Chuan benefit many people. Tai Chi can be used to both rehabilitate the body after illness as well as to promote health and wellness. Tai Chi and Yoga greatly compliment cardio and strength training; providing a much needed way to cultivate and nourish the body. More and more studies are being done to substantiate claims, but in general the following benefits are reputed to be derived from the regular practice of  Tai Chi Chuan:

• Develops balance and coordination
• Improves bio mechanics by utilizing core muscles
• Lowers blood pressure
• Increases flexibility
• Strengthens the ankles, knees, hips, and low back
• Improves waste removal by promoting the flow of lymph and blood
• Balances sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
• Strengthens the immune system
• Regulates digestion
• Increases lung volume and efficiency
• Treats stress by calming the mind and releasing the emotions

How do you find a teacher?

So if you would like to see the health benefits of Tai Chi Chuan how do you find a teacher? The great news is that there are teachers all over the USA who are qualified instructors. I would notrecommend trying to learn from video as that can lead to errors that are hard to fix later on. I would recommend calling around town or looking on the internet to find classes to attend.  Ask your teacher-to-be if they have plenty of experience working on the health aspects, as well as the martial side of Tai Chi. This ensures that the class focus is on cultivating health rather than fighting. If you are an older student make sure you discuss how vigorous the class might be or any special health concerns you might have with the teachers. Of course, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor before undertaking any exercise regimen.

If you are in the Fort Collins, CO area, come and check out my classes on Thursdays, from 6-7 PM at the Empire Grange on 2306 W. Mulberry. You can also call (970) 215-7419 for more info.

For more info check out my website at www.hughsacupuncture.com

Thanks for reading!  Check back soon for another article on wellness and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Just How Does Acupuncuncture Work Anyway?

May 25, 2009

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture has been used as a powerful health modality for over 3,000 years.  During this period, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine have experienced a wide variety of clinical successes while employing acupuncture as their main tool.  Today, acupuncture is receiving wide support from various healthcare authorities as more and more research validates its effectiveness.  With all this attention, many people have become curious as to how acupuncture works.

There are many explanations as to how acupuncture affects the body.  The most popular Eastern belief is that acupuncture works by way of manipulating energy within the body known as Qi.  This Qi fills the meridians and is said to animate the tissues, organs, and glands; sustaining and coordinating their activities.  Illness is said to arise when Qi becomes blocked or deficient which results in an energy imbalance.  Therefore, by stimulating acupoints known to unblock or increase Qi flow, internal energy is balanced and health is restored. 

            Modern theories focus on Western physiological mechanisms to explain acupuncture’s effect on the body.  Over the last decades much research has been conducted seeking to explain just how acupuncture works and what it can and cannot treat.  One of the most respected and widely published reports was that of the National Institute of Health’s Consensus Statement on Acupuncture.  It stated that “studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses, mediated mainly by sensory neurons, to many structures within the central nervous system.  This can lead to activation of pathways, affecting various physiological systems in the brain, as well as the periphery.”  It went on to suggest that acupuncture “may activate the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects.  Alteration in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, changes in the regulation of blood flow both centrally and peripherally, and alterations in immune functions have been documented.” Stated more simply, the NIH’s Consensus Statement essentially says that acupuncture’s effects are mediated by the nervous system, neurotransmitters, and hormones.  These in turn impact the immune system, circulatory system, endocrine glands, and areas of the brain thereby producing positive health benefits.   

            Both theories are applied depending on the training and philosophies of practitioners and are generally employed clinically with great effectiveness.  Studies have shown acupuncture to treat a wide variety of issues in the respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, gastro-intestinal, gynecological, metabolic, neurological, musculo-skeletal, and immune systems.  As technologies are developed that have a much greater degree of sensitivity, we are learning more about how acupuncture works.  The most recent example used active MRI to study the effects of acupuncture on the brain.  This work has provided the research community with some very interesting discoveries that challenge conventional theories on how acupuncture achieves its effects. Work such as this will advance our understanding not only acupuncture, but the body itself.

Thanks for reading!  Check back soon for another informative article

Harmonize with Springtime by using Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

May 9, 2009

  Happy Springtime!!

We are beginning to see nature’s signs that Spring is right around the corner.  Trees are beginning to bud, tulips and crocuses are pushing there way up and out of the ground, the sun is setting a little later, and the wind is really picking up around the Front Range in sunny Colorado. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one way to support health is to harmonize ones’ life with the energy of the seasons.  Just as nature suddenly awakens and life vigorously flourishes in the Springtime, it does so in us as well.  Therefore, since Spring is a time of birth and renewal, it is a good opportunity to put in action the plans laid in the Winter. A time to start new projects as well as  renew our efforts in existing ones.  

During Spring our internal energy (Qi) flows more strongly.  In balance, we feel a quickening within us and are inspired in our  lives.   If we aren’t entirely living a balanced life than certain conditions can arise that obstruct or misdirect our energy.  For instance, as our Qi begins to circulate more strongly it might encounter a little resistance in the form of stagnation due to excesses from the Winter.  This leads to issues such as muscle or joint pain, PMS, fatigue, lack of motivation.  Or if there are deficiencies in the body caused by working too much, we might experience stress as the Qi becomes a little too frenetic.  This might cause insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, or  irritability. These symptoms are often made worse by life’s challenges such as economic worries,  job issues, or relationship problems.

So how exactly maintain balance by harmonizing with the Seasons?  A good place to start would be to focus on the basics – diet, exercise, and good lifestyle habits.

Diet – Eat a organic, wholesome diet  emphasizing fresh and raw produce – bitter greens, sprouts, daikon radishes,  & winter pears are especially cleansing.  Include more vegetable juices such as carrot and wheat grass.  Drink plenty of filtered water.  Avoid heavy, rich foods that have saturated fats, highly processed flours and sugars, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, and food dyes. Sharply limit alcohol, red meat, or dairy.

Exercise –  The correct balance of therapuetic movements is key to helping the Qi flow smoothly in the meridians.  Vigorous cardio based exercise 3-5 times a week combined with daily Yoga, Qigong, or Tai Chi Chuan would be ideal.  The idea is to move regularly, but not to overdue it.  If just starting a new exercise regimen,  go slowly in order to avoid injuries.

Lifestyle –  Stress coping techniques, meditation,  avoidance of bad habits (i.e. smoking and drinking), strong community ties, giving and receiving love, satisfying work, and good family relationships all contribute to smooth Qi flow.  Although all are important, each person has to determine the correct combination that best works for them.

Lastly, schedule and appointment with your local acupuncturist for a health assessment and seasonal tune-up.   Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, massage therapy, and Qigong/Tai Chi Chuan are fantastic tools to help our bodies prepare for the seasonal shift.   They gently help us harmonize with the dramatic changes of the Spring.  Feel free to check out my website at www.hughsacupuncture.com for more info on acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Have a harmonious and healthy Spring!!

Welcome to the Blog for Hugh’s Acupuncture Clinic

May 3, 2009

Welcome to the blog for Hugh’s Acupuncture Clinic.  I’m a practitioner of  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  TCM employs acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage therapy, nutritional therapy, and Qigong as its main modalities.   This highly effective system of healthcare is used all over the world to treat a large number of health complaints.  You can find out more about my practice and Traditional Chinese Medicine at my website:  www.hughsacupuncture.com .

This blog won’t be about me however, but rather it will focus on information that can help you.  The articles on the site will address not only Traditional Chinese Medicine, but also:  diet, exercise (esp. Tai Chi Chuan, Qigong, and Yoga), non-herbal medicinal supplements, approaches to wellness, new research in complimentary healthcare, stress reduction techniques, purposeful living, mind-body-spirit connection, and much more!  I invite you to check back regularly as I plan to frequently update my articles. 

Thanks for reading!  Check back soon for another informative article.