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Acupuncture and Gut Health

Acupuncture and Gut Health

In a recent post, Trust Your Gut, we talked about the importance of gut health, and how a healthy gut is important to the immune system and balancing the gut-brain axis and nervous system. We have gotten so used to tummy troubles that a lot of people suffer daily, even without a diagnosed digestive disorder; at times, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of the discomfort. Americans are inundated with articles about food sensitivity, overconsumption, and other factors that lead to gastrointestinal problems. The good news is, acupuncture is a safe, effective approach to improving overall gut health, which has a positive impact throughout the body.

Acupuncture can help improve the performance of the different organs in the abdomen, as well as the nervous system, and balance hormonal imbalances – all of which impact gut health. An overactive nervous system alone decreases digestive function, which has a negative impact on how effectively our bodies absorb nutrients and process waste.

The Major Players

Generally, when we think about gut health, the stomach gets all of the attention. There’s more to how the digestive system works.

OrganFunction
MouthChewing, beginning of food breakdown through saliva
EsophagusPeristalsis – the movement of organ walls, allowing food and liquid to move through the GI tract
StomachWhere food and digestive juices meet
Small intestinePeristalsis
PancreasProduces digestive juices that help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
LiverProcesses nutrients absorbed by the small intestine
Large intestinePeristalsis

Recent studies show that acupuncture can help promote or decrease peristalsis and reduce certain acid outputs.

Some of the areas acupuncture can impact:

Acid Reflux

Colitis

Crohn’s Disease

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Constipation

Weight Fluctuation

Fatigue

Bloating

Diarrhea

Nausea

Sour Stomach

Cramping

Abdominal Pain

Acupuncture has been effective in treating areas of digestive distress for thousands of years. Your acupuncturist will look at the body as a system, rather than a sum of individual parts, in developing a treatment plan specific to you and your needs.

Treating Low T in Men with TCM

“Low T,” one of the hot medical buzz phrases going around, has been detected and treated in Traditional Chinese Medicine as early as the 1st century CE. What is it, what causes it, do you or someone you know have it, and how can you treat it? You may have noticed the title of this post is “Treating Low T in Men with TCM.” Yes, women can have Low T as well. More about that on a future date.

What is Low T (in men)?

The symptoms of Low T tend to appear during or shortly after reaching middle age, and many simply consider them to be a normal part of the aging process. In many cases, this is true. In many cases, it does not have to be a foregone conclusion. Low T can lead to the following:

  • Lower lean muscle to fat ratio

  • Physical decline/frailty

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Loss of muscle mass and function

  • Decreased bone density

  • Low libido

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

What Causes Low T?

There is no one answer to this question, nor is there a one size fits all treatment. At Affinity Acupuncture, we adhere to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, including the premise that each individual is a unique case with their own triggers and specified treatment plan.

Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced in both men and women.  For men, it’s produced primarily in the testes and secondarily in the adrenal glands. Keep your eyes on this blog for future postings on adrenal fatigue.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, testosterone is Yang in nature. If Yin and Yang are off balance, it can lead to a decrease in the production of testosterone.

Some of the causes of Low T include:

  • Certain traumas including injuries and certain cancers

  • Certain high blood pressure medications

  • SSRI medications

  • Obesity

  • Mumps

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Steroid use

Non-biomedical causes include:

  • Excess of physical/emotional work

  • Chronic stress

  • Prolonged alcohol use

  • Age (Testosterone tends to decrease by ~1%/year after the age of 45)

  • Chemical exposure including pesticides, pharmaceuticals BPA (found in many canned foods and plastics), meats, dairy products, petrochemicals, and personal care products

  • Lack of sleep

  • Diabetes

  • Excessive or deficient amounts of exercise

  • Frequency of sexual activity

So, how are you supposed to avoid processed foods, get the perfect amount of exercise, get a full night of restful sleep, maintain a healthy sex life, and avoid all of these chemicals in the world while decreasing stress? For most people, making lifestyle changes is in of itself stressful. The good news is, you’re not on your own in this journey. The good news is, your life and your body are yours. There are certain things you can’t control, but others that you can. We can help.

Do You or Someone You Know Have Low T? 

This content is for informational purposes only. If you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms above, please consult with a professional. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment can lead to dangerous consequences.

Affinity Acupuncture offers free consultations to new clients. If you or someone you know may suffer from Low T, call 615-939-2787 or visit our website to schedule a consult.

Please consult with a professional before making dramatic changes, altering medications, or selecting your own supplements. Causing too dramatic a shift in Yin and Yang can have significant consequences, including anxiety, constipation, heart palpitations, and acne. It can also cause the body to “crash” and deplete itself further.

How Can You Treat Low T? 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s important to compete an accurate TCM pattern diagnosis. This will allow your practitioner to develop a protocol specific to you and your needs.

It is likely that your practitioner will recommend a specific acupuncture point protocol, supported by herbal formulas. They may also recommend dietary therapy and certain types of physical activity.

For those of us who are lucky, aging is inevitable. It is, however, possible to keep the body in balance as it ages, slowing or even decreasing the signs and symptoms associate with growing older. We get one body. We get one life. We should take care of them.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

The Salad Secret

Love a great salad, but hate the expense and added calories of store-bought dressing?  

It’s a simple formula: 

1 T Oil – Extra Virgin, Walnut, Hazelnut, Avocado
1 t Vinegar – Balsamic, Sherry, Apple Cider, Red Wine, Rice Wine
1 pinch Seasoning – Garlic, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
2 pinches Herbs – Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, Herbs de Provence, etc. 
1/2 t Mustard – Whole grain, spicy, dijon, honey mustard
1/2 t Sweet Stuff – Maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, jam

Combine these items, adjusted to your palate, and blend with your favorite veggies, legumes, and more for easy, tasty salads perfect for your palate. 

8 Teas for Your Medicine Cabinet

Whether you keep these teas in your kitchen cupboard or medicine cabinet, they are valuable assets in your health tool kit. 

  • Stomach Upset/ Poor Digestion – Ginger tea

  • Colds with Clear Mucus – Cinnamon tea

  • Colds with Yellow/Green Mucus – Mint tea

  • Sore Throat – Dandelion tea with honey

  • Poor Sleep – Valerian root

  • Stress – Chamomile

  • High Cholesterol – Hawthorn berry

  • Women’s Health – Pomegranate

It is worth it to invest in quality tea. Loose, organic teas are best for quality.  They might not be as inexpensive or convenient, but your health is worth the investment. To read our post about recent studies showing pesticides in bagged tea, including organic labels, click here.  

Bonus tip: Drinking warm tea after a meal aids in digestion. 

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition affecting an estimated 5.8 million Americans.  Symptoms include but are not limited to chronic, widespread, and severe muscle pain; insomnia; fatigue; headaches; sensitivity to light, noise, and smells; dizziness; heart palpitations; skin rashes; and depression.  It primarily affects women between the ages of 35-50. 

 

There are no lab tests to confirm a fibromyalgia diagnosis, because it does not present evidence of damage to muscle and tissue.  The generalized body pain and stiffness, along with severe fatigue, must last for at least three months for an official western diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Additionally, a test palpating 18 points is often used as a diagnostic tool.  When at least 11 out of 18 points have pain or tenderness, it suggests fibromyalgia. 

Western medicine often treats fibromyalgia with medications for depression and seep, and NSAIDs for pain. 

Unfortunately, these medicines have adverse side effects, which can mimic fibromyalgia symptoms, when used for prolonged periods. These include headaches, nervousness, dizziness, fatigue, and sleeplessness.  Additionally, the medications treat the symptoms as opposed to the underlying causes of fibromyalgia. 

At Affinity Acupuncture, we have had many clients respond well to acupuncture treatments for fibromyalgia. 

The insertion of very fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body promotes the body’s response to heal itself. 

Increased and redirected blood flow loosens tight muscles, relieves pain and tension, and flushes out inflammation.

It also triggers certain hormones which promote sleep and relaxation, calm the mind and relieve stress.

While acupuncture can be effective, it is not an immediate cure.  Most people see improvement after two or three weekly treatments, including increased energy and reduction of pain, insomnia, and depression. 

Because every fibromyalgia sufferer experiences different symptoms, treatments are customized to the individual’s needs.  Typically, three to 10 treatments are required depending on the severity of the condition, and the individual’s personal response to treatment.  Over time, treatments are extended into a maintenance schedule.  Specific diets and herbal formulas may also be recommended. 

If you or someone you love is living with fibromyalgia, acupuncture may be a highly effective treatment.  Call 615-939-2787 to learn more.