Uncategorized

Happy First Day of Spring! A Time to Plant the Seeds of Your Intentions!

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It’s that time of year, even in Maine it is warming up. Earlier than usual, but here it is, the first day of Spring. The earth is soft and muddy, birds are singing their joyful spring songs, and I am looking at seed catalogs. It’s time to start planting the tiny seeds that will miraculously grow into a lush, abundant garden in a few months. And so it is with our intentions, plans and dreams. All winter, the most Yin or cold, quiet, restful time of year in Chinese medicine, we gather resources, we rest, we plan. And now that Yin time of year is turning to Yang – the more active, warm, productive time of year. The ideas and intentions we created and meditated on during the winter have, by now, formed into actual ideas, plans. These plans are the seeds of what we will create this year. A seed is really just a concentrated piece of energy, information, intention. And now is the time to start planting so those seeds can slowly grow and bear fruit!

As it is with actual seeds, we need our intentions to be specific. If your intention is “I want to be happy,” that’s great. But it’s more likely you will reach your goal if your seed is more specific like, “I want to spend more time relaxing/swimming/learning to fly a plane” whatever it is that will make you happy…You need to know what you want. And you need to be specific. The universe will mirror  your intentions, will bring to you whatever energy you are putting out. So if you can specifically envision what you want, you are more likely to have it grow successfully. Seeds are very specific. You don’t plant a seed and maybe it’ll be a sunflower, maybe it’ll be an eggplant. You plant a specific seed and that specific plant will grow. So know what you want, concentrate your energy on specific intentions, then plant them. But that’s not the end, once planted you must tend them carefully.

As we plant our seeds we need to be sure to nurture them, new plans or ideas are fragile at the beginning, we can’t plant the seed and just walk away, then months later be upset the we don’t have a lush garden. Seeds need to be protected, watered, given sun and warmth and protection from wind or snow. And when they first emerge from the ground, don’t be upset if they don’t look exactly like what you wanted. Keep nurturing, keep your intention focused. I read once that if you pulled up every tomato plant as it emerged because it didn’t look like a tomato, you’d never get a tomato. At first a tomato plant is a tiny green shoot that doesn’t look like it could ever produce a big red vegetable. But nurture the plant and it will eventually give you exactly what you wanted.

So go outside, soak up some equinox sun and birdsong, focus your intentions and plant them as seeds in your mind, in your life. Now is the time for those ideas that have been quietly forming all winter to start to move into the realm of action, where you make your first moves to make the dream into a reality. And all the while don’t forget to stop and Spring garden!

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Cancer Care

Acupuncture Helpful for Many Cancer and Cancer Treatment Symptoms

Learning & Resource Center Articles

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Acupuncture Shows Promise in Cancer Treatment
By: Acufinder Staff Writer

There have been many advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer. While the standard medical care for cancer is effective, the treatments are aggressive and cause numerous unwanted side effects as well as a lowered immune system. Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving quality of life.

What Acupuncture is used for during Cancer Treatment

Acupuncture provides a total approach to health care for people with cancer. It can be used to address many of the concerns that come up during and after chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy and surgery.

According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may cause physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity, and causes the body’s natural painkillers, such as endorphins, to be released.

Areas that acupuncture has shown the most promise include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth, Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
  • Stress, Anxiety and Fatigue
  • Pain Management
  • Increasing White Blood Cell Count

Nausea and Vomiting

The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and morning sickness. It appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.

Other symptoms caused by cancer treatment

Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, cough, chest pain, fever, anxiety, depression, night sweats, hot flashes, dry mouth, speech problems, and fluid in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.

Boosting the Immune System

Human studies on the effect of acupuncture on the immune system of cancer patients showed that it improved immune system response, including increasing the number of white blood cells.

Pain Management

In clinical studies, acupuncture reduced the amount of pain in some cancer patients. In one study, most of the patients treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking drugs for pain relief or to take smaller doses.

Acupuncture is also very useful for support if you are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or hormonal therapy. Because chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s immune system, a strict clean needle method must be used when acupuncture treatment is given to cancer patients.

To learn more about how acupuncture can safely and effectively be incorporated into care for people with cancer, please call anacupuncture practitioner in your area for a consultation today.

Source: National Cancer Institute. www.cancer.org

Natural Health, Uncategorized

Chinese Year of the Snake is Ending. Time to Shed Your Skin…

snake skinThe Year of the Snake is ending. Soon we will enter the exciting year of the Yang/Wood Horse which I will write about at Chinese New Year at the end of the month. Was your year of the snake a complicated one? Snake years are an interesting combination of things. Snakes are seen as symbols of wealth in China as snakes seem always able to find a meal. Images of snakes wrapped around a rabbit are often hung on doors and windows during spring festival to indicate prosperity. But the snake is also considered jealous and suspicious, even malevolent. So if you have had a year that was confusing or particularly full of ups and downs, you may be glad to see the snake slither away at the end of the month.

But as with all years, we have gathered information and experiences, good and bad, that help us grow. And as we grow it’s important to shed our old skins. Let go of things that held you back, inhibited your growth or got in your way. The things you no longer need will only weigh you down as we gallop into the year of the horse so take a moment to let those things fall off you like the snake does and be ready to begin a new year newly emerged, fresh and just a little bit older and wiser.

More on the year of the horse coming soon…!

Cancer Care, Natural Health, Uncategorized

Cancer Care and Acupuncture

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Getting a diagnosis of cancer can be a very scary time. I have had people tell me they feel powerless and out of control as masses of tests are performed and then treatments undergone. While it’s wonderful to have so many advances in medicine that make more and more cancer survivors able to beat the disease and lead full healthy lives, it can be an overwhelming and painful time. Because of this, it is a wonderful time to introduce acupuncture and herbal medicine into one’s life. Acupuncture has been proven to help alleviate many symptoms of chemotherapy and radiation, including nausea and pain. The National Institute of  Health has officially endorsed it for treatment of symptoms relating to cancer and cancer treatment and many insurance companies now cover acupuncture for treatment of those problems. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase white blood cell production in a healthy way so that while a person is undergoing treatments that often devastate the immune system, acupuncture can be helping to support that system, to keep the body in balance and to offer much needed deep relaxation. For thousands of years acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used to help keep people’s bodies in balance and working at their best – from digestion to immunity, sleep to pain relief.

In addition to my 4 years formal training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the internship I completed at at a top hospital in Beijing, China in 2000, I have been in practice for 13 years and have completed many courses specifically on cancer care and Chinese medicine. I also worked extensively with cancer survivors at York Hospital in Maine where I started the acupuncture program in 2001. I worked with clients from those just diagnosed, to survivors healthy and many years post treatment, and also to those having palliative care in the final stages of life. I have continued to work with those dealing with cancer throughout my years in practice and now, in addition to work in fertility, am focusing specifically on this offering – acupuncture and diet and lifestyle for cancer patients and survivors.  I offer professional, deeply relaxing and rejuvenating treatments offered gently and with compassion. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer, or is a survivor looking to stay strong, please feel free to email or call me with any questions or to make an appointment.

Natural Health

For The Cold Ones Among Us – Food Therapy TCM Style

Short post as my 2 toddlers are finally asleep and I am soon to follow. But I had a client yesterday who has a common issue – cold all the time, even in mid summer, likes the heat up to 85 in winter. Cold hands and feet. Just an all around icicle. So there are some foods that can help with this. Some you’ve heard of, others are general diet ideas. Here they are:

Ginger – a great Chinese ingredient that warms the digestion and is proven to aid digestion. You can use it as a tea (buy fresh ginger root, cut a few thin slices and steep it in boiling water for a few minutes. Add honey if you need to), or grate some over whatever you’re cooking. Great for warming the Yang, your internal fire.

Any hot spice – red or black pepper, cayenne, chili, curry, cinnamon, nutmeg. Any warming spice or herb will actually warm your digestion and help to warm the body.

Avoid salads – Yes folks the Chinese have a different take on salads. Raw food is very hard on digestion and raw salads are very “cold”, especially with things like tofu, raw broccoli, etc. Poor digestion! At least steam all your food for a few minutes before eating. It breaks down the food to aid digestion, and will help to warm your yang.

Avoid icy drinks, especially in winter. Ice in a soda in January. That’s just asking for trouble. Room temperature is best, or warm tea.

Red meat is warming, very yang. In moderation of course. Lamb is considered the warmest meat. Good for building your blood too. Lamb curry – double the heat!

There it is. A few quick tips for warming those of you who remain cold on these gorgeous hot June days. My sister is one of them, layered up year round! Hopefully you’ll find some helpful tips to melt the chill and feel your inner fire rekindled. Good night!

Enhancing Fertility

Infertility and Acupuncture: Ancient Medicine Aids Modern Science

Being told you are infertile is one of the most devastating things a couple can hear. As an acupuncturist in practice for over 10 years, I have sat with many women as they recount their letters and numbers: FSH, LH, number of follicles, estrogen levels, etc. Western medicine offers miraculous opportunities to couples dealing with fertility struggles, but it is a stressful, difficult process, hard physically and emotionally. Acupuncture offers something unique: a different perspective.

First of all, I never use the word infertile. So few people are truly infertile, meaning incapable of ever having a baby. Most people face fertility challenges. May sound like I’m just trying to be PC but I’m not. Words are powerful, and our beliefs about ourselves are powerful and telling a woman she is infertile is a horrible label that can send a woman into depression or high stress which alone can hamper her chances of getting pregnant. Chinese medicine looks at a body’s physical age, not primarily the chronological age. That means a heavy smoker with a bad diet and history of drinking might be “old” at 29 whereas many women today who eat well, exercise and manage their stress are “young” at 40. The perspective in Chinese medicine is holistic – the body works as a whole, the hormones, fallopian tubes, uterus, they are effected by all the other systems and cells in the body, and vice versa. When the ovaries of older mice who had stopped ovulating were placed in a young mouse, they started to produce eggs again. It is not just that we need to fire chemicals at the ovaries, we need to nourish and strengthen the whole woman, or man, to encourage fertility.

Western medicine and Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART) have so much to offer and they help thousands of families every year to start families that were once not possible. I have a lot of respect for Western medicine. But I do deeply believe that the mind, body and spirit must all be treated in order to have a healthy happy fertile body, and that is where acupuncture is invaluable. Acupuncture has been shown to improve the success rate of in vitro fertilization by up to 40%, a staggering number. It is also the only therapy that has been shown to increase the thickness of the uterine lining, also extremely important for pregnancy. It can regulate the hormones and hence help regulate the menstrual cycle, also key in getting pregnant. But it works on another level too. Acupuncture helps the patient relax, it helps the body release hormones associated with deep relaxation. And this allows the body to function so much better all on it’s own. Stress is a fertility crusher. Allowing the body to relax is so important as it allows the body to do what it is designed to do, be healthy, be in balance and function.

There are other important contributions that Chinese medicine makes to fertility treatments including guidelines on diet therapy, food that are thought to enhance fertility, herbs that can regulate hormones and stress levels. And even Qi Gong and meditation exercises that can have a real impact on how a person feels, and how well their body functions. But perhaps most of all, I love that Chinese medicine is positive, it is hopeful, it is empowering to the woman, to the couple. It says, ok you’re 40, so what? Let’s get you to the healthiest most rich and fertile place possible for your body. You may be doing ART while getting acupuncture and that’s wonderful, the two work so well together, but here is what you can do to really boost your chances of success and it doesn’t involve needles or drugs or charts. It involves holistic healing, herbs, whole food, and mindfulness. And that is a gift. An ancient gift that can help support our modern ways of helping mother nature to create a miracle, the miracle of life.