We all know the symptoms: stuffy nose, pressure and pain in the sinuses, post-nasal drip, irritated throat and coughing, clogged ears, and that foggy, heavy, can’t-taste-or-smell feeling in the head. Sinus infections can start with a stubborn cold or allergies, and in bad cases can go on for months. Sinusitis occurs when one or more of the sinus cavities become inflamed due to several causes such as bacteria, fungi and allergies to pollen causing pain in the nasal area. The main symptoms are pain, congestion, and a frontal headache. Most sinus symptoms are triggered when the mucous membrane of the sinus cavities in your face get inflamed. It may even trigger headaches. The location of the pain depends on which sinus or sinuses are affected. Antibiotics often don’t help. Acupuncture can help drain the sinuses by loosening mucus and stimulating movement in the head. More importantly, it can strengthen the body’s ability to dissolve phlegm, fight infection, and rebuild strength. Points are chosen to relieve sinus pressure, strengthen the spleen to reduce phlegm, and boost the immune system. As needed, treatment can also be geared toward symptoms such as sore throat, headache, cough, or chest congestion. Taking herbs alongside acupuncture treatment can speed the process considerably. Modern science believes that acupuncture brings about biochemical changes in the blood serum to stabilize serotonin – a vital chemical that acts as a messenger between the spinal cord and brain – and stimulates the release of the human body’s natural painkiller (endorphins) to alleviate the pain. Further, it promotes cerebral circulation so that the affected region gets more oxygenated blood supply and nutrients. Acupuncture for sinusitis is usually prescribed based on a detailed diagnosis of your medical condition. Firstly I investigate your symptoms to determine what the imbalances in your body are before a beginning a course of treatments. Depending on the severity of your sinus problems, you may need only a couple of treatments before experiencing relief or you may need to get acupuncture weekly for several months to finally be free of your chronic sinusitis. Chinese herbal formulas are often added to the treatment plan. In my experience, acupuncture and herbal therapy are very effective methods for treating this common problem. If you find yourself wanting to find out more about sinusitis and its treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sarah Jenkins can be reached at Okanagan Health & Performance at 250-860-6295
Many people think that acupuncture is merely based on superstition, mystical and non-scientific concepts. The truth is, acupuncture is very simple, inexpensive - and an effective and fast treatment to eliminate pain.
According to western science, pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. It may be sharp or dull, off-and-on or steady, localized (such as back pain) or all over (such as muscle aches from the flu). Sometimes, pain alerts us to injuries and illnesses that need attention. Although pain usually goes away once the underlying problem is addressed, it can last for weeks, months, or even years. Chronic pain may be due to an ongoing condition (such as arthritis) or to abnormal activity in pain-sensing regions of the brain, or the cause may not be known.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, pain is caused by lack of proper circulation of the energy (Qi). Acupuncture stimulates this circulation and once proper circulation of energy and blood is restored the pain will recede. For straightforward cases involving pain, the practitioner will select points to disperse ‘stuck qi’ and stimulate correct circulation in the effected area. Very thin needles are inserted into the appropriate points to stimulate energy flow of effected area. Once proper circulation of energy and blood is restored the pain will recede.
The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is the world's penultimate pain management organization. They published a statement in 1996 which had this to say about acupuncture:
"Peripheral sensory stimulation techniques are recognized as useful for the treatment of pain. Acupuncture has a traditional basis but also is a technique of peripheral sensory stimulation because it targets the neural network for endogenous pain modulation.”
Some people say they are “afraid of needles”, and they don't realize an acupuncture needle is usually a very small hair-thin needle, not at all like the large needles used to give vaccinations or take blood at their doctor's office.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective approach to resolve pain and many patients report that in the hands of a competently trained practitioner is not painful at all.
This is probably the most common question I get asked at work, so I thought I should use this blog post to address this frequently asked question. There are endless approaches to treatment and many, many different styles of acupuncture. What I see a lot of in the clinic is muscular pain and tension. People want to know, "how does acupuncture fix my shoulder pain?" Here's how:
Traditional theory vs. modern theories
Traditionally, acupuncture meridians are believed to be specific energetic pathways (aka-meridians) which connect the surface of the body to internal organs.
One very interesting theory emerging is that the acupuncture meridians and acupuncture points correspond to spaces formed by connective tissues. Ultrasound images show that approximately 80% of acupuncture points correspond with intramuscular (inside the muscles) inter-muscular (between the muscles) connective tissue planes.
The concept of 'qi' is Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is often defined as 'the life force', or 'vitality'. The idea is that this qi naturally and continuously flows through this web of meridians, sustaining all movement and function in the body. When qi flow is impaired or blocked, pain and dysfunction result. Acupuncture can restore the normal flow of qi and as a result - restore normal function and eliminate pain.
Using this modern paradigm, we can also understand Qi as the sum of all energetic phenomena in the body; that would include:
It is the biochemical and bioelectrical signaling within and between all connective tissues in the body - which would encompass nearly every structure and every tissue - including muscles, bones and fluids.
when acupuncture points are stimulated, it creates a wave of connective tissue contraction and stimulates sensory receptors along connective tissue planes. This results in cellular activation and restores the composition of connective tissue, restoring proper signal transduction throughout the tissues.
In plain terms, acupuncture improves function at a cellular level and reestablishes communication between cells and tissues, making you stronger and helping you feel better. Pretty neat eh?
Reference: Anat Rec (New Anat) 269:257–265, 2002. ©2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
First off - I have abandoned my blog for the past few months and I am renewing my commitment to update it regularly. So expect more posts on everything you want to know about the many aspects of acupuncture!
Also, a happy belated Chinese new year to all. It's the year of the water dragon. The energy of the water dragon brings 'unexpected changes' into our lives. This definitely applies to my life so far in this fine year!
Making a gradual return back into practice after having a baby (little Declan James!) over the past year has given me the chance to ease back into work a bit at a time, giving me the chance to figure out how to balance work and family life.
I have enjoyed my time working with the lovely folks at Sun city Physiotherapy and just recently I have been given the opportunity to practice full-time at a really great multi-disciplinary clinic with some
fantastic practitioners. I am so excited, and I hope to see you there!
check it out here:
Okanagan Health and Performance
104-1100 Lawrence Avenue
Kelowna, British Columbia
Autumn & Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Beginning a Transformation into Yin
Fall is a time of harvest; a time of gathering up in preparation for winter. It is the beginning of a turning inward for reflection; nature's transition from the warm, restless and exciting Yang energy of summer to the cold, quiet stillness of winter's yin energy. Autumn is associated with the Metal Element, in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is characterized by expansion, contraction, and transformation on the physical, emotional, and mental levels.
In the physical body the metal element is associated with the lungs and the large intestine, (as well as the pertaining sense organs of the nose, throat, and skin). The expansion and contraction energy of these two organs is what joins them as a pair; both expanding and contracting; but one in a receiving manner and the other in a releasing capacity. The two united symbolize the action, function, and ability of “receiving, allowing, and letting go” physically and emotionally.
Through its releasing nature the large Intestine allows us let go of what is un-needed physically, allowing us to rid our bodies of unwanted waste materials and toxins. Yet, this organ is also connected to what we are able to let go of emotionally. One of the positive emotions associated with the Large intestine is forgiveness. Through it’s action of physically releasing wastes and toxins, it represents our capacity to let go, release, forgive, and ‘move on’ to what is physically and emotionally more pure.
As the leaves turn dry and fall silently to the ground to await the depths of winter, it is a time of turning inward; a time to gather what is good, healthy, abundant and pure to our centers; a time to let go of what no longer serves us well and release what holds us back. It is a great time of year to check in with ourselves regarding forgiveness, boundaries, non-attachment, our purpose, letting go, and transformation.