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November Client Event: Artisan Baking

As you may know, November 2013 marks the 5th anniversary of the clinic under James’ ownership. As a special thank you, we are holding client appreciation events on various topics, some health-related, some just for fun. These events are FREE to our clients and to your friends and family, as a way for us to say

Acupuncture for Acne

Acne is a disease that affects the skin's oil glands. The small holes in your skin (pores) connect to oil glands under the skin. These glands make an oily substance called sebum. The pores connect to the glands by a canal called a follicle. Inside the follicles, oil carries dead skin cells to the surface

Celebrate 5 years with us!

While Okanagan Acupuncture Centre has been in business for over 25 years, November 2013 marks the 5th anniversary of the clinic under James’ ownership. We can't believe how quickly these years have flown! We are proud of all the work, learning and growing we have done, and grateful to have met and gotten to know so

Acupuncture and Anxiety

Anxiety is defined as a vague, uneasy feeling, with its source unknown or non-specific to an individual. The uneasy feeling is mainly associated with anticipation of danger and dread to a level that the normal body functioning is impaired. The anticipation is normally accompanied by factors such as tension, restlessness, breathing difficulty and tachycardia. Generally,

The Amazing Therapy Acupuncture Treats Pain Effectively

Originating from China, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years and today this therapy is a widely practiced and accepted form of complementary medicine. It was a Dutch doctor who first introduced this kind of treatment in 1683 after he spent a number of years in Nagasaki, Japan, and in fact the first edition

Hormone Imbalance / Estrogen Dominance

A hormonal imbalance occurs when there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone in a woman's body, also referred to as estrogen dominance. In a normal cycle, estrogen and progesterone hormones work together to maintain a woman’s menstrual cycle, each playing an important role. When a hormone balance occurs and estrogen levels are too high, it

How Can Acupuncture Improve Your Health?

Acupuncture is a very old Chinese medical treatment which has been used for more than 2,000 years. Acupuncture therapy today is used by practitioners in mainstream medicine to complement treatment courses for patients who are suffering from over 40 different medical conditions. There are numerous benefits of this type of treatment, enjoyed by many patients

Zu San Li

“Why did you use that point?” 
It’s one of the most common questions acupuncturists are asked during an acupuncture treatment.  The answers give insight into the fascinating theory of Chinese medicine and how acupuncture works. 
Zu San Li: A Key Acupuncture Point
Zu San Li (zoo san lee)  is located about three inches below the knee on the outside of the shin bone. Most people who’ve had acupuncture are familiar with this point because it is used to treat so many different conditions. In fact, it is considered one of the most vital acupuncture points because of its wide range of effects on the body.
Zu San Li can help:
  • strengthen the spleen and stomach to treat a wide range of digestive disorders
  • resolve dampness that can cause both digestive problems and mental disorders
  • support and build qi to encourage health and vitality
  • clear fire and calm the spirit to balance emotions, and treat anxiety and mood disorders
  • activate the channels and alleviate pain by encouraging circulation when there are blockages
  • treat digestive problems, emotional disorders, pain and injuries, as well as dizziness, tinnitus, heart palpitations, headaches, and high blood pressure
Why is Zu San Li considered so important?
One reason is its location on the stomach meridian, the meridian with the most qi and blood. Points on the stomach meridian, particularly Zu San Li, can influence the entire body and bolster the effectiveness of a treatment. 
Our ability to process food plays a foundational role in our health and the strength of our digestive system can determine how quickly we recover from an illness or ailment. Indeed this meridian can sustain life. The stomach meridian travels up the chest and through the center of the breast and is the channel that provides nutrients and sustenance during breastfeeding. 
Zu San Li is among the most important acupuncture points because of its ability to support the body’s qi and maintain our health and vitality as we age.  Many classical textbooks of Chinese medicine recommend stimulating this point regularly for health and vitality, particularly after the age of 30. Its profound strengthening effect can help build the body’s qi energy as it declines naturally with age.
Putting Zu San Li to Work for You
You can tap into the benefits of Zu San Li by stimulating the point using daily acupressure. To find it, measure three inches down from the dimple below your kneecap and one finger’s width away from your shin bone to the outside of the leg. Apply firm pressure for one to two minutes. Stimulating this point daily can help to maintain the body's overall health and balance.
Interested in learning more about Chinese medicine and acupuncture? Visit Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location, or contact us for more info!

  • Urinary-incontinence-300x300

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control, ranging from occasional minor leaking when coughing or sneezing to sudden, strong urges that don’t allow time to get to a toilet.  An embarrassing problem, urinary incontinence is actually very common.
Common causes:
  • Aging 
  • Underlying medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, constipation, or neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, a brain tumor or a spinal injury)
  • In women, urinary incontinence may occur following pregnancy, childbirth, hysterectomy, and menopause
  • In men, urinary incontinence may occur with problems or removal of the prostate gland
There are different types of urinary incontinence:
  • Stress incontinence occurs when pressure or stress is exerted on the bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy and is due to the sphincter muscle of the bladder being weak. 
  • Urge incontinence is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine, often causing frequent urination.  Urge incontinence may be caused by urinary tract infections, bladder irritants, bowel problems, neurological disorders or in some cases, the cause isn’t known. 
  • Overflow incontinence is an inability to empty the bladder causing frequent or constant dribbling. This type of incontinence may occur in people with a damaged bladder, blocked urethra or nerve damage.
With urinary incontinence, there usually is an issue with the pelvic floor muscles being either too weak to stop the flow of urine, or too tense and unable to relax, causing them to give out suddenly. Conventional treatment may involve exercises to strengthen or retrain these muscles in order to improve functioning.
Acupuncture can also help to stimulate the muscles in order to strengthen them and encourage proper functioning, thereby improving urinary incontinence. However, an acupuncturist also takes the treatment one step further, to look at the underlying health factors in the body that may be causing these muscles to function poorly or improperly. This is particularly the case with chronic conditions or internal problems that take time to develop- an internal problem over time will lead to the development of outward symptoms.In Chinese medicine, there are a number of factors that may lead to urinary incontinence.  Urinary incontinence typically involves the body’s energy being weak or deficient in one of the meridian systems that are responsible for the body’s proper functions. 
  • Lung-qi deficiency will involve frequent urge to urinate with inability to contain it, as well as dribbling when coughing or sneezing, and other symptoms of tiredness, shortness of breath, and weak voice. 
  • Spleen-qi deficiency involves incontinence with urgency, frequent urges and inability to contain it, as well as loose stools, tiredness, and poor appetite. 
  • Kidney-yang deficiency involves frequent urination, dribbling, exhaustion, dizziness, tinnitus, weak and sore back and knees, and feeling cold, and is often the case with incontinence in the elderly. 
  • Kidney-yin deficiency involves incontinence with dribbling after urination, dark urine, dry throat, dizziness, tinnitus, night sweats, and insomnia.
Acupuncture encourages healthy functioning of the body’s various systems, to ensure that all aspects of the urinary system are performing properly. Over a series of treatments, this allows us to not only treat the symptoms of urinary incontinence, but also correct the underlying factors that are causing this problem. In addition, other symptoms such as sleep, energy, and digestion may also improve, as these are common outward expressions of internal imbalances that we often don’t realize are related. In this way, acupuncture can have a very positive impact on overall quality of life.
Lifestyle habits that can help with an incontinence problem:
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine or other diuretics, as well as carbonated drinks
  • Avoiding very spicy, sugary, or acidic foods, artificial sweeteners, and corn syrup, all of which can aggravate the bladder
  • Certain medications including those for heart, blood pressure or muscle relaxants can also contribute to bladder problems.
James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

An acupuncturist looks at the health of the body as a whole, diagnosing which areas are not functioning at a normal, healthy state and how this influences the health of the rest of the body. Typically an acupuncturist will talk in terms of imbalances or blockages in the body’s normal flow of energy, and uses acupuncture to influence this flow of energy in order to promote healing and resolve the problem.

There are many modern theories about how acupuncture works on the body, but the truth is that it is still not fully understood. Research shows that acupuncture has various physiological effects on the body, including:

  • stimulating the secretion of neurotransmitters such as endorphins to influence the immune system
  • normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain
  • influencing the electrical system of the body to facilitate healing between normal and injured tissues
  • affecting the blood concentration of blood components such as cholesterol and triglycerides, to promote homeostasis

Okanagan Acupuncture Centre is located downtown Kelowna at 1625 Ellis St.

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Acupuncture usually doesn't hurt much at all. Acupuncture needles are very small and fine- about the thickness of a cat’s whisker and typically you will not notice the needles being inserted. Depending on the area of the body and the person, you may experience minor discomfort when the needle is first inserted, a feeling like a bee sting or a pinch. However, a skilled acupuncturist is very good at gentle insertion and minimizing discomfort. Acupuncture can be a deeply relaxing, pleasant experience and some of us even use the treatment time as an opportunity for napping!

Okanagan Acupuncture Centre is located downtown Kelowna at 1625 Ellis St.

 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, sterile, disposable needles into various points on the body. Acupuncturists do this to influence the flow of energy, stimulate the body’s healing response, and restore normal functions of the body. Acupuncture is based on the premise that our bodies have a self-healing ability- acupuncture reminds the body of what it already knows but has forgotten: how to heal itself. Today, acupuncture is receiving wide acceptance as a respected, valid, and effective form of health care because of one fact- it works!

Okanagan Acupuncture Centre is located downtown Kelowna at 1625 Ellis St.

Golfing Again Thanks to Massage

By Dallas Sharples

Bob came in complaining about back pain that started in his lower back and radiated down his legs. At 63 years old, Bob's pain was so acute he was forced to give up golf; a game he loved and had hoped to spend his retirement enjoying. Bob told me he had difficulty sleeping and was taking medication every day to deal with the pain. In the past Bob had had neck surgery and back surgery on two separate occasions in an attempt to resolve his back problems but nothing had helped.

Assessing the Problem

I examined Bob and noticed he had significant scar tissue and calcification in the joints and muscles. I also noticed adhesions that could be an indication of poor blood flow or the presence of scar tissue related to previous back and neck surgeries. He had limited range of motion in his neck, almost no mobility in is hips, and his muscles were so tight they were difficult to massage and manipulate. 

We started with weekly massage treatments focused on promoting circulation, breaking up scar tissue, and bringing the muscles back to a supple, flexible state that would allow them to function properly. 

Bob noticed an immediate improvement. He was sleeping better, walking about 45 minutes a day, and reported significantly less pain. During a follow-up exam I noticed Bob's muscle tone had improved and found he was more flexible and had a greater range of motion. 

Return to Health

 After six weeks, I recommended we continue to address Bob’s chronic back issues but reduce the frequency of massage treatments to every two weeks. Bob’s progress stabilized after four treatments and I recommended he continue with monthly treatments that would ensure he was able to return to the game he loved.

A big part of Bob’s improvement resulted from his willingness to take part in his recovery and make lifestyle changes that would support a healthy back. When massage treatments started, Bob committed to walking every day and progressed from five minutes at a time to the two hours he is able to walk now. He also lost 50 pounds!! 

golfer resolves back pain with massage

Getting Back in the Game

I am happy to report that Bob’s quality of life has improved dramatically. He is virtually pain free and is able to golf regularly and walk the course without difficulty. He continues to exercise daily, is sleeping better, and finds the occasional strain no long aggravates his back. Best of all, Bob is back on the golf course. Bob is doing the things he loves and enjoying a healthy and happy retirement.

Bob is a great example of how massage can benefit old injuries and chronic problems and help us to regain a better quality of life.

If you would like to find out if massage therapy can help you, visit Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location or contact us to find out more!

 

Making Menopause a Smooth Transition

Sharon came in complaining about chronic fatigue and low energy. The 58-year-old had been experiencing menopausal symptoms for the past three years and reported having trouble falling and staying asleep. She was also having night sweats and hot flashes that interfered with her sleep.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

At Sharon’s first appointment, she reported feeling fatigue, weakness in the limbs, and memory loss. She also reported digestive issues that included bloating, belching, gas in the stomach, and heartburn. Her tongue was slightly purple, red in the center, and had no coating. The tongue is an accurate indicator of what is going on internally, which is why acupuncturist's use it as a diagnostic tool

Sharon’s symptoms indicated she was suffering from a kidney yin deficiency. The kidneys play an important role in our vitality and as they decline, signs of aging begin to appear including greying hair, memory loss, poor eyesight, and aging skin. If kidney functioning is particularly low we may also experience lower back pain and weak limbs. Digestive issues are an indication of poor spleen functioning, which can also contribute to weakened kidneys.

a successful transition through menopause with acupuncture

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

I started Sharon at twice weekly acupuncture treatments in order to get her symptoms under control so she could enjoy a better night’s sleep. Sharon experienced improvement after just a few sessions and after five sessions her night sweats and hot flashes decreased by 50%.  

Because of her progress, I reduced her treatments to once a week while we continued to work on her sleep issues and hot flashes. With each treatment, Sharon continued to improve and her symptoms resolved. She was sleeping better, sweating less, and had fewer hot flashes. She reported feeling more energetic and said her digestive issues were improving with each acupuncture treatment. 

After 10 treatments, Sharon was nearly back to normal so we reduced her sessions to twice a month and then to once a month to maintain her progress and prevent her symptoms from returning. Eventually, when the menopausal stage is complete, her symptoms will resolve fully.

Enjoying Life’s New Stages

I see Sharon every two months and she continues to do well. When she does experience sweating and hot flashes now, it is minor and resolves quickly. Best of all, she is sleeping normally and her energy levels are great. 

Sharon is a great example of how acupuncture can reduce menopausal symptoms by helping the body reduce stress and ensure the various organs and systems are functioning optimally so that one can experience a comfortable transition through this natural stage of life.

Wondering if acupuncture can help you achieve better health? Visit Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location or contact us to find out more!

 

Neuropathy

Approximately ten years ago I became a patient of the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre. I have Muscular Dystrophy, and along with that I developed a neuropathy in my lower limbs which causes severe pain. Within a matter of five treatments I was pain free.

Every two to three years I go back when the pain starts again. I highly recommend when anyone is having difficulty with the health to try acupuncture. What have you to lose but the pain!                -Diane, Kelowna BC

Pain Free After 15 Years of Suffering from Chronic Pain

Rob came in to see us as a last resort. For years, he’d been dealing with chronic pain related to hip, back, and leg injuries sustained during a serious accident over 15 years ago and his problem seemed to be getting worse.

At 43 years old, he was unable to work, had trouble standing, and was in constant pain. He also reported having low energy, depression, and sleep and anxiety issues.

Rob was at his wit’s end, tired of dealing with constant pain and taking half a dozen different medications that didn’t seem to help. He had tried and found no relief with various other therapies –  including massage therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic – and was hopeful acupuncture would work. At the same time he was also convinced he would never get better.

Treatment Plan

Rob came in for twice weekly acupuncture treatments but noticed little change until the sixth visit when he was more relaxed and receptive to the acupuncture treatment.

After that visit he reported an overall decrease in his pain level and said he was able to complete and recover from activities more quickly. At this point, Rob was able to decrease his pain medication and reduced his acupuncture treatments to once a week.

Continued Progress

By the 13th treatment, Rob was in considerably less pain and had decided (with his doctor’s help) to discontinue his pain medication and muscle relaxants. After two weeks, he was amazed at how well he was doing! He was feeling great and said he couldn’t believe he was off medication and feeling so good.

Not only that, but the acupuncture treatments were also helping resolve his insomnia and depression. Rob continued with weekly treatments and continued to test his body physically to see how well it recovered. He was amazed at the results!

Healthy & Happy Again

Rob completed 23 treatments over the course of five months and has made a full recovery.

He is back to his old self, in good spirits, sleeping well, and dealing with absolutely no chronic pain. He is also able to take on physically demanding work and participate in activities that were once impossible including hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking.

We didn’t see Rob again until three months later when he stopped in to book an appointment and told us he’d been feeling so good that he’d actually forgotten to come in.

Despite this, he decided to continue with monthly acupuncture designed to ensure he would continue to live pain free.

Man no longer suffering from chronic pain thanks to acupuncture

Acupuncture offers Hope for Patients with Chronic Conditions

Rob is one of our favourite success stories and a great example of the transformative power of acupuncture. 

We see many patients like Rob, discouraged and defeated by chronic pain issues and dealing with depression and sleep issues that are often aggravated by pain medication. Most have tried everything and truly believe they are a hopeless case.

What’s great about these people is that they are the ones who stand to gain the most from acupuncture, which is particularly good at treating chronic conditions like pain, insomnia, migraines, and digestive issues. Feeling better after years of chronic pain is an incredibly empowering experience that can lead to positive changes in other areas of life as well. And for the team here at Okanagan Acupuncture, it is incredibly rewarding to be a part of these positive changes and to see our patients succeed!

Wondering if acupuncture can help you? Contact us to find out more!

 

Garden Rhubarb & Okanagan Cherry Crisp

What to do with early season rhubarb? Make rhubarb crisp of course! Combining rhubarb with local cherries for sweetness allows you to cut back on sugar in this healthy, whole grain dessert. Living in Kelowna where cherries are plentiful and inexpensive, I always like to pit and freeze cherries in small freezer bags for jams, porridges, crisps in the winter months and even smoothies in the spring. An added bonus, cherries are a great source of healthy antioxidants!  This recipe is easy enough even for novice bakers, and always impresses the company! And yes, you can always use strawberries in place of the cherries. Enjoy!  ~Jenn

Filling:

6 cups chopped rhubarb (1" pieces)

3 cups pitted sweet cherries, cut in half (or strawberries!)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp flour (whole wheat is fine)

1/16 tsp or a pinch salt

3/4 cup unrefined sugar

Mix the filling ingredients and pour into an 8x11 pyrex baking dish, or something of similar size.

Notes: Any less cherries (ie. full rhubarb) would probably require a full 1 cup sugar. I tend to bake on the less-sweet side so I wouldn't cut the sugar back any more, unless you increase the ratio of cherries to rhubarb. Those with a sweeter tooth than mine can always drizzle a bit of maple syrup on their crisp before eating!

Topping:

3/4 cups whole wheat flour (you could also use spelt flour or oat flour if you prefer)

3/4 cups old fashioned or quick oats (either is fine!)

1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)

1/2 cup unrefined sugar (if you are using a sugar that is fairly coarse, blend it into a finer powder in a food processor)

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup cold butter

1/4 cup oil (I like grapeseed or canola)

Mix flour, oats, salt, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder in a bowl. Oil makes an easy replacement for half of the butter in this recipe, drizzle it over the mixture and work it into the flour with your hands or a fork until it is crumbly just like cutting in butter. Chop butter into smaller pieces (or even easier, keep your butter in the freezer and grate it in with a coarse grater when needed) and add to mixture, cutting in with knives or a pastry cutter. Mix in nuts. Spread topping over the fruit mixture.

Bake at 350F for one hour with a baking sheet underneath just in case. It's done when it's bubbling merrily and the topping has browned. Leave out to cool for about half an hour and then... dig in! If you find this a bit tart, drizzle with 1 tablespoon or so of maple syrup.

 

Rib Pain / Hypochondrial Pain

The hypochondrial region of the body is the area along the sides of the ribcage. When there is pain in the side area of the ribs, whether on one side or both, it is referred to as hypochondrial pain. In Western medicine, hypochondrial pain can be very puzzling.

In Chinese Medicine, the liver meridian pathway travels bilaterally through the rib cage, and for this reason rib pain on either side of the body is always related to a liver disharmony. The development of hypochondrial pain can arise from a few factors. One of the most common is emotional strain. Anger, frustration, loathing, and resentment can all block the liver’s energy from circulating, especially if these emotions are repressed. Hypochondrial pain related to stagnation of liver energy would have symptoms of pain and distention along the sides of the ribs, often linked to emotional state, oppression in the chest, poor appetite, frequent sighing, and belching.

Hypochondrial rib pain can also develop from dampness and heat invading the liver meridian, however this type is not too common in northern countries but more so in tropical areas. Diet can also play a role in the development of damp heat. Excessive consumption of dairy and/or greasy-fried foods can cause damp heat to accumulate in the body and settle in the liver channel, especially if the irregular eating is associated with emotional strain. Damp-heat in the liver channel will result in symptoms of dull pain along the sides of the ribs, fullness of the chest, a feeling of heaviness, a sticky taste in the mouth, nausea, yellowing eyes, and dark urine.

Overwork and even too much sexual activity can cause a deficiency of the liver yin or blood and also lead to hypochondrial pain. Because energy and qi are what help the liver circulate blood, if there is a deficiency of the blood, the liver’s energy will stagnate, causing stagnation of liver-energy or in severe cases, blood stasis of the liver. Blood stasis of the liver will cause symptoms of intense, stabbing, fixed location rib pain which is worse at night. Sometimes there is a feeling of a mass on palpation of the area.

Liver-blood deficiency has many of the same symptoms as liver-energy stagnation but not as severe. Symptoms are slight rib pain and distention, premenstrual tension, frequent sighing, depression, moodiness, dizziness, insomnia, tingling of limbs, blurred vision, menstrual irregularities, and fatigue.

Acupuncture addresses rib pain by looking at the accompanying symptoms and determining which of these patterns is the cause of the pain. By doing so we get a clear picture of which areas of the body are in a state of irregular functioning, allowing the acupuncturist to focus on the underlying cause of the pain with the goal of improving health. By correcting imbalances, the body is able to return to normal functioning and the liver’s flow of energy can travel smoothly and without disruption. Healthy liver functioning will resolve rib pain and may result in improvements in other areas of health as well such as emotions, sleep, energy, and digestion.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St in Kelowna, BC.

Menorrhagia / Heavy Periods

 

Menorrhagia is the medical term for menstrual periods in which bleeding is abnormally heavy or prolonged. Officially, the flow of more than 80 ml per menstrual period is considered menorrhagia, however a flow of 45-60 ml per period can also be considered menorrhagia as well, based on statistical norms. Menorrhagia can also include a very long period of a week or longer, and passing large blood clots. Anemia is common in women with menorrhagia and there may be symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath.

Causes of Menorrhagia

The cause for menorrhagia is not clear. Most women with menorrhagia report regular periods and have been shown to have normal estrogen and progesterone levels. However, menorrhagia is most common in teens and in perimenopause, times in the lifecycle when estrogen levels tend to be higher and progesterone levels to be lower.

Another possible factor is ovulation. Even with regular periods, it is common for women to have menstrual cycles without ovulation. In a normal cycle, the release of an egg from the ovaries stimulates the body's production of progesterone, the female hormone most responsible for keeping periods regular. When no egg is released, insufficient progesterone can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

This suggests that menorrhagia may be related to increased estrogen action before flow. Very rarely is menorrhagia caused by a primary bleeding disorder. Fibroids are commonly associated with menorrhagia but rarely a reason for it.

Treatment that is effective for very heavy flow includes ibuprofen, drinking extra salty fluids during heavy flow (to treat low blood volume), increasing dietary or supplemental iron and cyclic progesterone therapy. Additional therapies include tranexamic acid (which encourages blood clotting) and the use of a progestin-releasing IUD.

An Alternative Approach to Menstrual Health

In Chinese medicine, any irregularities in a woman’s reproductive cycle whether they be PMS, painful periods, irregular periods, or heavy periods, are a sign of a health imbalance that requires addressing. Menorrhagia is considered a type of abnormal bleeding and may be caused by heat (which interferes with the body’s function of storing blood and controlling blood flow), empty qi-energy (which may be caused by damage to the spleen so that it is unable to perform its function of restraining the blood), or blood stasis.  The most common causes for these imbalances are emotional stress, especially depression and excessive emotions, excessive worry and anxiety, poor diet, particularly too much hot, spicy, or greasing foods or consuming alcohol, or lack of exercise. Imbalances can also arise due to excessive fatigue or due to a deficiency of kidney yin energy.

A Path to Better Health

The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat menorrhagia quite effectively and regardless of the causes, it responds positively to treatment. An acupuncturist will first work on treating the immediate symptoms, we call this treating the branch. Once the heavy bleeding is under control, we focus treatment on the root cause, whether it is heat, empty qi-energy, or blood stasis, and address this imbalance in order to prevent menorrhagia in the future and to break the pattern of a chronic condition. As the body becomes healthier, we can expect other symptoms to lessen or resolve as well, such as problems sleeping, period cramps or lower back pain, fatigue, and physical and emotional symptoms that relate to the cycle. Ideally, in a woman in perfect health, there should be no cycle-related symptoms and the resolution of these symptoms are a sign of improving health.

Healthy Habits for a Healthy Body

Chinese medicine also has valuable lifestyle principles to prevent menstrual disorders. These include eating and drinking a moderate and balanced diet, maintaining a regular sleep-wake routine, managing stress and emotions, and not dwelling on negative thoughts and frustrations. Also, it is wise to overdo it prior and during menstruation, which may mean cutting back on long work hours, avoiding stress, and doing lighter exercise during this time. While these may seem like common sense habits, they can have real and measurable effects on our health and wellbeing. Chinese medicine teaches us that all of these factors play an important role in our overall wellbeing and can have important consequences to our health.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com. 

 

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Perimenopause

Perimenopause, also called the menopausal transition, is the natural shift in a woman’s reproductive cycle toward menopause, or ceasing of the cycle. When a woman has gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, she is considered to have reached menopause, and the perimenopause period is over.

Women start perimenopause at different ages, and may start noticing changes in the 40s or even as early as the 30s. During the menopausal transition, the body's production of estrogen and progesterone fluctuates. These hormonal fluctuations are at the root of the changes experienced during perimenopause. These changes may include menstrual irregularity and menopause-like symptoms.

Perimenopause Symptoms

With perimenopause, a woman’s cycle may become irregular, becoming shorter, longer, heavier or lighter, or more or less than 28 days apart.  About 65-75% of women experience hot flashes. Sleeping problems are also common, often due to hot flashes or night sweats.  Some women experience mood changes such as mood swings, irritability or depression. Fertility decreases, there may be changes in sexual function and desire, and vaginal and bladder problems may also arise such as infections or urinary incontinence. Other health problems that become a concern with declining estrogen levels are loss of bone and higher risk of osteoporosis, and changing cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease.

Treatment for perimenopause symptoms will typically involve hormone therapy, oral contraceptives, or progestin therapy. Hormone therapy is less commonly recommended today because of its associated health risks, and contraceptives or progestin therapy may not effectively resolve symptoms for all women.

Acupuncture: A Safe and Effective Approach

Acupuncture is an excellent option for ensuring a healthy transition through this period of a woman’s life and is of benefit to many of the common symptoms. Menopause is a natural stage in life and the healthier a woman is overall, the healthier and smoother this transition will be. For this reason, acupuncturists don’t look at perimenopause as problematic, but rather view the symptoms and their severity as indicators of a woman’s health and possible internal imbalances that may be at the root of these symptoms. A woman in ideal health would transition through menopause with no discomfort at all (and indeed, many women do). However for many women, factors such as diet, stress, overwork, emotional upset, and exercise habits can all contribute to health, stress levels, and the overall experience during the menopause transition.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

An acupuncturist’s first task then, is to determine which internal imbalances are causing the symptoms that a woman is experiencing. Symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability and depression, nervousness and anxiety, fatigue, heart palpitations, digestive issues, joint pain or stiffness, osteoporosis, loss of sex drive, and vaginal dryness are all signs that the body is not functioning at optimum health and that imbalances need to be corrected.With menopause and aging, the organs most involved are the kidneys and the liver. The kidney functioning naturally begins to decline as we age, and the liver is involved in regulating the menstrual cycle as well as balancing our emotions.

Acupuncture helps to move the body’s energy in its proper directions and amounts and to encourage these organs to function properly again. It has a regulating effect on the body, and promotes normal functioning of the various organs and systems at work in our body. By this principle, it can help to regulate hormone functioning, our sleep cycles, our energy, our digestion, and our moods. It is also a great stress reliever.

Promoting A Healthy Transition

With regular treatments we can begin to see a reduction in the severity of perimenopause symptoms and in the frequency that they are experienced, a sign that a healthy balance is being regained. Acupuncture can help with many of the symptoms of perimenopause, from hot flashes and night sweats to moods, energy, and stress, to digestive issues and joint pain. It is an excellent therapy for helping to ensure a healthy transition into menopause, embracing the changes that this new stage of life brings.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com. 

Athlete No Longer Sidelined Thanks to Massage

Pam is a fit woman who came to our clinic complaining of severe hip pain that traveled through her left buttock, into her hip, and down the back of her leg (often termed "sciatica"). The pain began after a skiing accident in the fall and although she’d tried physiotherapy and chiropractic for three months, she experienced little to no relief. She also reported trouble sitting, sleeping and enjoying activities she once loved, including running.

During Pam’s first massage treatment, our massage practitioner Dallas noticed that Pam’s hips were out of alignment and her left IT band was so tight that it was pulling her left kneecap outwards. Pam's right QL muscle was also inflamed, the result of it compensating for the hip muscles on the left side.

Our bodies like to be in alignment and will adjustment automatically to balance out something that is injured or not working properly. With a hip problem, the muscles on the opposite side have to work harder to compensate for the injured hip, often leading to problems in both hips. The spine muscles all the way up the back are also affected by the injury and in time, a hip injury will lead to shoulder problems on the side opposite the injured hip.

Treatment plan

We initially saw Pam weekly for four weeks for what Dallas calls “trunk work” – focusing massage treatment on the body from the neck to the knees. Doing this allowed Dallas to address all of the issues that resulted from the body compensating for the injury. It also prevented new problems from developing during the recovery period.  

We also worked a lot on the psoas; a muscle in the front hip area that is often overlooked by massage practitioners and other physical therapists. The psoas muscle is a big player in hip and lower back problems and it is important to address this muscle in order to resolve these problems. 

After the first treatment, Pam experienced significant relief and after four treatments she was able to return to her workouts. Pam found the pain would return after intense workouts, but her body would bounce back more quickly and the problem didn’t linger like it once did. 

Dallas also sent Pam home with “homework” that included a series of regular stretches and a recommendation that she take up yoga; something that reduces stress, teaches people how to stretch properly, and helps ensure work we’ve done on the treatment table is not undone.

After six massage treatments, Pam was doing well and Dallas recommended she scale back to monthly massage treatments that would help increase circulation to scar tissue that can remain after an injury.

Today Pam is doing great! She no longer experiences flare ups, is virtually pain free, and is able to maintain a healthy body and an active lifestyle.

runner no longer sidelined by hip injury

Massage is a great options for so many ailments! Let our massage practitioner Dallas Sharples do wonders for your body and health. Contact Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location for more information.

Getting Help for Allergies with Acupuncture

Rick is an active 42-year-old-man who came to us a few years ago complaining of allergy symptoms that kept him from enjoying the outdoor activities he loved. Rick was using over-the-counter medication to treat his symptoms, but found they were ineffective or produced side effects that were nearly as bad as the allergy symptoms themselves.

Digging Deeper

When we first saw Rick, we noticed his energy was low. Digging deeper, we discovered he often woke up tired and had trouble falling and staying asleep at night. He also complained of lower back pain in spite of being in great shape.

Rick’s symptoms indicated he had a lung and kidney qi-energy deficiency. We knew Rick’s kidneys were deficient because of his lower back pain and because his pulse was weak in the kidney position. The kidneys help keep the lungs strong and healthy so weak lung qi-energy can also be a sign of weak kidney qi-energy.

man enjoying outdoors allergy free

A Plan for Treatment

Allergies often develop in the sinuses after repeated colds and flu that can weaken the sinuses to the point where they may never fully recover.

To remedy this, we focused Rick’s acupuncture treatment on the sinus points as well as the lung and kidney points. This opened, cleared, and stimulated the sinuses so they would function properly and be strong enough to withstand environmental aggravators such as allergens, wind, colds and flus, and cold weather.  

Because the lungs are associated with sinus health and the kidneys support the lungs, we targeted both organs in acupuncture treatment to help promote sinus and respiratory health. By doing this, we were able to treat Rick’s allergy symptoms and address the underlying internal conditions that were contributing to his allergies.

Rick’s allergies improved immediately and became less severe over the course of treatments. After 10 treatments, his symptoms resolved and we recommended he return for treatment before the start of the next allergy season.

Today, Rick’s symptoms are mild and infrequent and we are able to focus on other ailments and to strengthen his overall health and body balance. He continues to come in regularly before allergy season, but needs only a few treatments to keep his symptoms in check.  Rick is doing great and is able to enjoy his time in the outdoors year round, thanks to the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine (TCM) for seasonal allergies.

Wondering if acupuncture can help with your condition? Contact Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location.

Ti Guan Yin: A Green Tea Super Power

Green tea is becoming increasingly popular not only as an alternative to coffee but also as a healthy addition to our daily diet. Green tea has an incredible list of health benefits, confirmed by thousands of research studies and it is a great source of antioxidants.

A particular favourite of ours here at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre is a type of oolong tea called Ti Guan Yin. Oolong teas are green teas that are specially processed to bring out unique flavours and properties. This process involves withering the green tea leaves under the strong sun and then tossing and drying the leaves to promote partial fermentation and oxidation. Finally, the leaves are hand-rolled and twisted into long, curly leaves or small beads.  Ti Guan Yin is a premium oolong tea and one of the most prized varieties in China, fetching some of the top prices. It has a bright green color, a strong natural aroma, and an unforgettable sweetness that is appealing even to those who do not normally prefer green tea.

This combination of delicate flavour and incredible health benefits makes Ti Guan Yin an excellent choice of green tea. As a premium tea, its high quality ensures that you are getting the best health benefits that oolong tea has to offer.  And those health benefits are numerous:

Cardiovascular health: Studies have shown that green tea may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowers blood pressure, and reduces cholesterol. Pretty amazing!

Fat burner: Green tea boosts our bodies’ fat oxidation ability. One study showed a 17% increase in fat oxidation! Green tea may also improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, making it useful for people dealing with diabetes or prediabetes.

Immune booster: Studies indicate that green tea can boost the immune system and suppress autoimmune disorders. Green tea also has an anti-bacterial effect that promotes fresh breath, healthy teeth, and prevents cavities. Furthermore, green tea's immune boosting abilities may have a wide range of benefit for everything from parasites to HIV.

Cancer Prevention: Various studies suggest that green tea may reduce the risk of certain cancers and block tumour growth. Green tea is also a powerful antioxidant, important in cancer and disease prevention and anti-aging.

Mental booster: Consuming green tea can help improve cognitive function and may help repair damaged neurons and prevent neurons from dying. Studies are exploring how these benefits may help those suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

The list of health benefits is being added to all the time as research continues to validate green tea’s abilities to improve health and wellbeing. From glaucoma, allergies, and arthritis to stress, depression, skin conditions and radiation recovery, green tea’s benefits have far-reaching implications for our health!

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He may be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Back Pain Successfully Resolved

Read how one of our patients successfully resolved back pain with acupuncture!

Back pain and sciatica are painful conditions we see often at the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre and thankfully have remarkable success treating. In some cases, pain results from sitting at a desk for extended periods or from physically demanding work. In others, it may be caused by an old injury or a degenerative condition like arthritis.

Frank is a 45-year-old patient of ours who recently came in for sciatica problems so severe he was bedridden, barely able to walk, and taking Tylenol 3s for the pain. No specific injury had occurred to trigger the condition, however Frank said he’d experienced back pain on and off for nine years. This recent flare up had gone on for two weeks and showed no signs of improving.

man enjoying skiing

Patient History

Frank is physically fit, however he has a tendency to burn the candle at both ends and has recently noticed a decline in his energy level. He works hard during the week and spends much of his time on his feet completing repetitive tasks. On the weekends, he enjoys skiing, hiking, and climbing.

An examination found Frank’s tongue looked normal. His pulse also seemed fine, although a little weak in the kidney and spleen position – likely the result of the natural aging process and his overactive lifestyle.

Because of his low energy, his qi energy (chi) was unable to flow properly through his meridians, resulting in pain. If his kidneys were stronger and his energy levels higher, then it is likely his back would not have been so affected by the demands placed on it.

Our Plan of Action

Our acupuncture treatment plan for Frank consisted of two phases: resolving the acute pain and strengthening the body to prevent future occurrences. During the first treatment, Frank received acupuncture at the point of pain and in other areas that would help strengthen the lower back and address the underlying causes of pain.

Frank experienced mild relief after his first treatment and improved 80 per cent after this third treatment. Regular treatments focused on strengthening the lower back and addressing the underlying cause of pain continued, and by the end of the eighth treatment Frank had recovered fully.

The Future Looks Promising

During treatment, we discussed additional ways Frank could improve his health including making diet changes, resting regularly, and not ‘overdoing’ it. We also discussed the importance of regular monthly acupuncture to maintain optimum health.

After combining acupuncture with lifestyle changes, Frank’s prognosis looks good and today he is happily back skiing and has learned to balance his fast-paced lifestyle in a healthy way so that he can remain pain-free.

Frank is just one example of the many people that have benefited from acupuncture! Wondering if acupuncture can help with your condition? Contact us at our downtown Kelowna location to find out more!

Spring TCM Recommendations

Spring is the time of birth, when the earth’s energies begin to awaken and we see the signs of new growth around us. Yang influences are being reborn in nature and in the body and as a result our energy becomes more active and begins to ascend.

Develop Balance and Express Emotions

Spring is the best time of year to develop balance. Emotionally, spring awakens desire, which should be open and unsuppressed. Because the yang qi of the liver is pushing upward and outward, it is common to feel and express anger in spring.  

Increase Exercise and Time Outdoors

In exercise and activity, it is a good idea to take brisk walks and hikes to loosen the tendons and use the yang energy that is rising. We should begin to increase our exercise, with more stretching.  Begin to rise earlier and retire early, and spend time outside to get fresh air. Wear loose clothing.

Springtime Diet

Food in spring should emphasize the sweet and pungent flavours, for their rising and expansive qualities. Avoid excess salt, ts strong descending nature is opposite to the energies of spring. The diet should be light in amount and concentration, emphasizing young plants like greens and sprouts, as these foods cleanse the body of the effects of the heavier foods of winter.  Springtime diet should be the lightest of the year.

Stay in Tune with the Seasons

By eating fresh, light foods and emphasizing vegetables in our spring diet (vegetables are natural detoxifiers) and by getting brisk exercise and fresh air, we can ensure our habits are in harmony with the seasons. Chinese medicine emphasizes harmony with the seasons as a way to promote health and longevity, boost the immune system, and to prevent or minimize seasonal ailments.

Okanagan Acupuncture Centre specializes in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Contact us at our downtown Kelowna location to find out more.

 

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm up and stretching. Many sports injuries can be due to overuse of a part of the body when participating in an activity. Other types of injuries can be caused by hard contact with something. Sports injuries typically involve the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, and associated tissues like cartilage.

Common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains are a stretch or tear of a ligament, causing tenderness, pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation.
  • Strains are a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, causing pain, muscle spasms, and weakness. 
  • Knee injuries are very common and can range from mild to severe, from pain or tenderness at the front or side of the knee close to the knee cap, tendinitis, and pain in the iliotibial band (the outer side of the knee), to bone bruises or damage to the knee cartilage or ligaments. 
  • Shin splints are another common sports injury involving pain along the tibia or shin bone, typically seen in runners. 
  • Achilles tendon injuries can occur when there is tendinitis already present in the tendon or when a stretch, tear or irritation happens to the tendon. 
  • More severe can be stress fractures, which occur from repeated stress to a bone over time, most often occurring in the legs or feet, and acute fractures, that can occur from a quick, one-time injury to the bone. 
  • Dislocations occur when the two bones that come together to form a joint become separated. Dislocations a usually caused by contact sports or high-impact sports.

The great news is that acupuncture can be of benefit to all types of sports injuries. It is of course always best to treat an injury in the acute stage or as soon after an injury occurs as possible, in order to assist the body in healing quickly and fully. Early treatment also helps to prevent the possibility of long-term or chronic problems with the injury down the road due to improper healing. However, acupuncture is also very beneficial in any stage of healing and can also be of great help to old, lingering injuries or injuries that did not properly heal. Acupuncture taps into the body’s own resources to encourage the healing process and the body’s optimal functioning. With sports injuries this can mean reduced inflammation, increased circulation, reduced muscle tension, and of course, pain relief. Treating sports injuries, whether old or new, can help the body to regain former functioning and health levels and prevent more long-term consequences such as reduced mobility, stiffness, weakness, or arthritis.

Our bodies have amazing abilities to self-regulate and repair themselves. In any injury the body attempts to minimize, repair and overcome the damage to its normal functions and in many cases, given adequate rest and support, our bodies are able to recover successfully. However, in cases where the body isn’t able to correct a problem on its own, or in cases where long-term damage can occur if left untreated, acupuncture is a promising treatment that helps bolster the body’s healing abilities so that we can return to our normal, healthy selves.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com. 

 

Student Heads Back to Class Pain Free

Anyone who suffers from headaches or migraines knows how debilitating they can be. Take Amy, a 22-year-old student whose headaches were so severe she could no longer attend classes.

When Amy came into our office her energy was low and she was clearly defeated by her headaches, which came as a sharp, stabbing pain in her temples accompanied by a severe sensitivity to light.

During the consultation, Amy told us she had severe PMS and mentioned that she’d hit her head years ago, but wasn’t sure if that was when the headaches started. She said her headaches tended to start in September every year when school began.

Amy no longer suffers from headaches

Our Search for the Solution Begins

According to Chinese medicine there are many types of headaches and we can determine which kind based on a person’s history, the nature of the pain, an examination of the tongue and pulse, and other accompanying symptoms.

In Amy’s case, her symptoms pointed towards a problem with blood stasis aggravated by qi-energy stagnation due to her stress from college. This diagnosis was based on the nature of her headache pain (stabbing), her history of head trauma, her PMS symptoms, and the purple aspect of her tongue – all of which pointed toward blood stasis.

The fact that her pulse was wiry and the headaches came in the fall when her stress level increased indicated liver qi-energy stagnation. Because the cause of Amy’s headaches was clear, the treatment was straightforward and the headaches were relatively easy to resolve.

Amy’s Treatment Plan

Treatment for Amy’s headaches involved acupuncture as often as three times a week combined with a herbal formula taken on a daily basis to help resolve her symptoms.

After the first acupuncture treatment, Amy’s headaches were still present but she was experiencing significantly less pain. After just two more treatments, her headaches were milder and less frequent and she was able to return to classes without aggravating her symptoms.

We recommended Amy continue weekly acupuncture for another month and after 10 treatments her headaches resolved completely.

At this point, we deemed Amy “graduated” from acupuncture and her treatment was complete. Amy was doing well and was not experiencing headaches even when faced with the stress of school. We recommended she monitor her symptoms and return immediately for treatment if she noticed them returning.

We also recommended she return for a series of preventative acupuncture treatments in late August or early September, around the time she would be returning to school.

Prognosis Looks Good

Just recently, Amy stopped in to say hello and to let us know that she is doing great and her headaches have not returned, even with the extra pressure final exams. Congratulations Amy! It’s stories like yours that make our day.

Wondering if acupuncture can help your condition? Chances are, it can! Contact us or visit Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location.

Bed-Wetting

Bed-wetting, or involuntary nighttime urination, is a common occurrence for many children. It’s often simply a developmental stage, though an embarrassing one. It is most common for children under the age of 6 or 7, and most will outgrow it beyond this age. Between ages 8 and 11, fewer than 5% of children continue to have a problem with bed-wetting. It’s generally not a cause for concern because nighttime bladder control may not yet be established.

It’s not clear what causes bed-wetting, but there may be various factors, including a small bladder, inability to recognize a full bladder, hormonal imbalance, stress, sleep apnea,  chronic constipation, urinary tract infection, diabetes, or in rare cases an anatomical defect in the neurological or urinary system. Most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own. However, for more difficult cases, treatment may include using moisture alarms, bladder training, or if all else fails, medications.

Of course, many parents are not comfortable with the use of medications for their children. This is where Chinese medicine (TCM) can help. Children are not miniature adults, but have their own special health considerations. Their anatomy and physiology are immature, so treatments used for adults may not be appropriate for a child’s delicate system. Also, because children are generally quite healthy and quick to heal, they respond very quickly to treatment and require lighter treatment than adults. When using acupuncture, this means fewer points, gentler treatment, and fewer sessions to resolve the problem. Also, simple home remedies such as acupressure and diet or lifestyle changes may be enough to resolve the issue.

In Chinese medicine, bed-wetting is mainly due to the immaturity of the kidneys. Because the kidneys are responsible for urination and the bladder’s retention, it follows that a child’s not yet fully developed kidneys may lead to urinary problems. If bed-wetting is due to weak kidneys, it will involve nighttime enuresis of 1, 2 or more times per night, clear urination, pale complexion, lower back or knee soreness or weakness, and possibly cold limbs and an aversion to cold. Bed-wetting may also be due to a weakness in the spleen and lung organ-meridians, in which case the symptoms will involve nighttime enuresis, shortness of breath, white face, weak appetite, loose stools, spontaneous perspiration, lack of strength, and a dispirited nature.

Treatment for bed-wetting is straightforward once the correct cause is determined. Acupuncture can help to strengthen the organs and correct imbalances. But how do you know if acupuncture is appropriate for your child? I always ask parents to discuss acupuncture with their child beforehand, to find out if the child is open to trying it. With their naturally curious nature, most children find the experience to be very positive and do very well in treatment. However, if there is any fear or apprehension, it’s best to leave the idea of acupuncture alone, at least for the time being. With children or with adults, it’s no fun for either patient or practitioner if the person does not want to be there in the first place!

There are simple habits that can be performed at home to help resolve bed-wetting. Patience and understanding are essential, as fear or stress will only further damage the kidneys and aggravate the problem. Avoiding drinking too much in the evening and emptying the bladder before bed is good prevention. Also, the child should not be allowed to become too fatigued before going to bed, as overfatigue can further weaken the kidneys, spleen and lungs. Lastly, a healthy diet without too many rich, greasy, spicy or strong flavours and avoiding chilled or cold food and too much sugar and sweets can also help to strengthen these organs.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

Jaw Pain / TMJ Syndrome

Of all the joints in the body the jaw joints or TMJ’s ( temporo-mandibular joints) are the only ones that move simultaneously. This creates problems that are unique to the jaw area. TMJ disorders can occur when the joint’s disc erodes or moves out of its proper alignment, the joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis, the joint is damaged by a blow, or the joint muscles become fatigued from overwork. The muscles that move these joints are small and have to work hard- they are involved in speaking, eating, laughing, yawning and singing- and it is relatively easy to overwork them.

Stress can also take a toll on the TMJ joint- a lot of people grind their teeth when they are stressed, nervous, or angry, or during their sleep, which puts enormous strain on the small joints and muscles. We can also cause strain to the area through our eating habits, like biting off hard food like chocolate or carrots. TMJ disorders can cause pain or tenderness in the jaw, aching pain in and around the ear or in the facial muscles, difficulty chewing, headaches, and difficulty opening the jaw.

In Western medicine,TMJ disorder can be treated with physiotherapy and massage and with exercises, which teach us proper jaw alignment. Usually the results of this treatment are positive. Medications such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and cortisone may be prescribed.

Acupuncture can help with TMJ disorder in a number of ways. When it comes to pain, acupuncture can give fast and positive results. Acupuncture can also help reduce inflammation to the area, as well as bring blood and energy circulation to the area, all of which help to promote healing. The muscles will begin to relax and automatically correct the opening movement.

The meridians that have connections to the jaw belong to the Gallbladder, Triple Burner, Small Intestine, Stomach and Large Intestine (partly). A deficiency of Blood and Energy (Qi) in these meridians is usually the cause of the pain. Blood and Qi will stagnate and can cause severe pain and stiffness.

The combination of acupuncture with other therapies and removing stress to the area can help to resolve this disorder. Things that can be done to reduce stress on the TMJ joints include maintaining a relaxed jaw posture, avoiding clenching or grinding teeth, avoiding overusing the jaw muscles such as avoiding sticky or chewy foods and cutting food into small pieces, and working to reduce stress and anxiety.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when the blood vessels or nerves in the thoracic outlet (the space just under the collarbone) become compressed. This can cause pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness in the fingers. The symptoms vary depending on whether it is the nerves or the blood vessels that are affected. When the nerves are compressed, symptoms usually include numbness or tingling in the fingers, pain in the shoulder and neck, ache in the arm or hand, and weakened grip. When a vein or artery is compressed, symptoms can include bluish discoloration or lack of colour in the hand, a blood clot under the collarbone, arm pain and swelling (possibly due to blood clots), a throbbing lump near the collarbone, weak or no pulse in the affected arm, and tiny, black spots (infarcts) on the fingers.

Thoracic outlet syndrome may develop from a variety of causes. Physical trauma from a motor vehicle accident, repetitive stress injury from work or sports, anatomical defects such as having an extra rib, poor posture, and pressure on the joints due to body weight or because of carrying an oversized backpack or purse can all lead to thoracic outlet syndrome. Even a long-ago injury can lead to thoracic outlet syndrome in the present, as can pregnancy, because of the joints loosening. In some cases, the cause of thoracic outlet syndrome cannot be determined.

Treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome usually involves a combination of exercises, relaxation, and medications. Physiotherapy is used to open the thoracic outlet, improve range of motion and posture, and strengthen the shoulder muscles. Relaxation techniques may help to reduce tension in the shoulders and maintain posture. Medications such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and pain medications may be prescribed for pain relief. In severe cases where the syndrome does not improve, surgery may be recommended.

Acupuncture is also an option worth considering for thoracic outlet syndrome. Acupuncture is a well-known therapy for pain relief and for musculo-skeletal conditions. Chinese medicine (TCM) does not use the term “thoracic outlet syndrome”, diagnosis instead depends on the specific symptoms that an individual is presenting. Typically thoracic outlet syndrome will be categorised as an injury to the tendon, a bi-syndrome (pain caused by a blockage in one of the body’s meridians and a lack of circulation of qi-energy and blood to the area), or a wei-syndrome (weakening and evening atrophying of a muscle due to a lack of proper nutrients or blood and qi-energy circulation). Depending on the type, the specific symptoms will vary but may include pain, numbness and heaviness of the muscles, tendons or joints, tendon or joint swelling, limitation of movement, and weakness in the limbs.

Acupuncture can help with thoracic outlet syndrome in a number of ways. Acupuncture of course offers very effective pain relief, and it can also reduce inflammation and relax tight muscles or tendons to relieve pressure to the nerve or tendon. Treatment also helps to remove blockages and increase blood circulation and energy, so that the area can receive adequate nourishment to function properly and to heal. Acupuncture can also resolve any imbalances in the meridians that may be causing a weakness in the body, leaving an area prone to injury or strain, as is often the case when a condition develops.

In my practice, I have seen thoracic outlet syndrome respond very positively to acupuncture. A series of treatments can offer relief of symptoms and can help to resolve the condition, depending on the cause. Stretching and postural exercises are also important and can help support recovery from this syndrome.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at  www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Soleus and Achilles Tendon

I would like to thank you for the relief you have given me. I suffered a calf, Soleus and Achilles tendon injury as a result of my training for the Half Iron. One of my training partners said that he had experienced the same injury and it took him a year to recover.

When I came to see you I expected that I would have a long and arduous road back to training. Truthfully, I thought that I could scrap my aspirations of a June Half Iron.

Well, with two treatments and a few for good measure I can tell you I am back in the race and feeling confident that I will compete (might be participate). It is a tremendous relief from a pain and emotional point of view.

I can’t thank you enough for your support.

-Desmond Regier

Trade Exchange Canada

Kelowna, BC

www.tectrade.ca

TCM Dietary Recommendations

Chinese medicine (TCM) involves many aspects, not only acupuncture and herbal medicine. In fact, TCM considers diet the first line of defense and treatment in health matters, and acupuncture and herbal medicine are only considered if diet alone cannot resolve a condition.

A proper diet can improve the results of acupuncture treatment and medicinal herbs.  Here are some basic guidelines for a health-promoting diet from a TCM perspective.

Foods to Avoid:

Dairy products: (milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt) Dairy products are considered very damp, heavy, cold foods that slow and weaken digestion when eaten excessively. Dairy products have very concentrated properties, so a little bit goes a long way in their effect on the body. This is why Chinese medicine recommends they be eaten in small quantities. For people with damp or phlegm conditions such as allergies, asthma, and sinusitis, dairy foods are usually best avoided entirely.

Cold foods and liquids:  Cold foods are very hard on the stomach and they weaken the stomach’s ability to warm and cook the food to begin the process of digestion. Foods should be eaten warm or at room temperature, never cold straight out of the fridge.  Water, juices, and teas should be consumed warm or at room temperature, never cold. Think of the stomach as a hot pot cooking on the stove- dousing it with cold foods or liquids can put out the flame.

Greasy, oily, fatty, or deep-fried foods:  Excessively oily foods are very heavy and slow to digest, which can weaken digestion. Again, these are heavy foods that are very concentrated in their properties and effects on the body and a little bit can have a big effect on our health and digestion. Not only that, but a large quantity is just too difficult to digest at once.

Overly rich foods:  These foods tend to be too heavy and slow to digest properly.  Examples are creamy cheese pastas or butter sauces. Like fatty foods, large quantities are just too difficult for our digestive system to process.

Coffee:  Coffee can be very hard on the stomach as well as the liver.  It is also a stimulant and can throw off the body’s natural ability to regulate energy and metabolism.  Black or green tea is an appropriate substitute.

Dietary Guidelines:

A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of wholesome foods.  Variety is very important, as eating too much of one flavour or one food can lead to imbalances in the body.  Try to incorporate as much variety as possible in your choice of flavours, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.

Incorporating a balance of all flavours into the diet is also important.  Food should be mainly quite neutral or bland in flavour with some spices and flavourings to add interest.  Avoid overly flavouring foods with condiments, salt, and spices.  Moderation is key! Anything in excess can be unhealthy.

Be sure to include plenty of fruits vegetables in your daily diet.  Fruits and vegetables have their own healing abilities, are rich in antioxidants, and help the body to detoxify.  Some amount of raw vegetables should be eaten daily, except when recovering from illness (including colds and flu) or if you have a weak or frail constitution.  In these cases, cooked foods and vegetables (soups, stews) help nourish the body back to health.

The body handles meat protein best in small quantities.  Begin to think of meat as an accent, not the centerpiece in any meal.

Eat seasonal.  Our bodies are attuned to seasonal changes and eating the foods that are naturally in season help us to transition with the changing seasons.  Salads and raw foods can be increased in the summer; in the winter, cooked foods and heartier stews and soups are appropriate.

Drink water! Water helps our body to function properly and to flush out toxins when healing. Our body can't perform or heal properly if we aren't properly hydrated.

Make Okanagan Acupuncture Centre a part of your health team! Call or visit our downtown Kelowna location for more information. Contact us.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern, starting in the fall and continuing through the winter, sapping energy and making a person feel moody. Symptoms can include depression, changes in appetite (in particular a craving for sweet or starchy foods), weight gain, decreased energy, fatigue, a tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, irritability, avoidance of social situations, feelings of anxiety and despair, loss of interest in activities, and a heavy or leaden feeling in the arms and legs. These symptoms generally disappear when spring arrives. SAD may be caused by changes to the body’s circadian rhythms, a change in serotonin levels (which affect mood), and a change in melatonin levels (which affect our sleep patterns and moods).

Severe SAD can be very debilitating, and even in its milder form, SAD can affect our ability to cope with daily life. Research suggests that between 2% and 3% of the general population may have SAD while another 15% of us experience a less severe type described as the “winter blues." Indeed, these winter blues are common for many Canadians, because of our much shorter days in the winter months, and particularly in BC where winters also bring overcast, gloomy weather. SAD may also be of concern for shift workers and for urban dwellers that may experience reduced levels of exposure to daylight in their work environments.

It is important to be aware of our sensitivities to the seasons and to adjust our habits and lifestyle accordingly in order to be able to live an enjoyable and productive life year-round. There are many things that we can do to relieve SAD or winter blues, and the best approach seems to be combining the things that work for you. People with severe symptoms of SAD may be recommended antidepressant medications combined with these lifestyle habits, as well as counseling and therapy.

People with SAD can benefit from spending some time outdoors every day, even for just a short duration and even in cloudy weather. Arranging the home or office for maximum sunlight such as keeping the curtains open, pruning back trees in the fall, and sitting near a window can help.  Exercise is also very effective for relieving SAD, and daily exercise has been shown to relieve the symptoms of mild depression. Exercising in the morning may also help to regulate our bodies’ melatonin levels. Light therapy is also a common treatment for SAD, and involves daily exposure to a special type of bright, artificial light.

Acupuncture is a very effective option for treating SAD. Depression, anxiety, SAD, and other mood disorders respond very well to acupuncture, as do symptoms such as insomnia, low energy, irritability, and concentration. Because of acupuncture’s stress-relieving and relaxing effects, people suffering from SAD will often feel immediate relief following treatment. With regular, continued treatments, acupuncture can help to minimize and prevent SAD symptoms and help the body adapt to seasonal changes.  Acupuncture works by helping our bodies to regain their healthy balance, influencing and correcting our various systems that are responsible for our sleep, our energy, our moods, our digestive system, and our immune system, among others. It is a gentle and health-promoting strategy that works not only to relieve symptoms but also as a preventative to improve health and prevent problems from arising.

SAD is an important reminder to us all to tune in to our body’s cues and to incorporate changes that reflect the changing of the seasons. Winter is a natural time for reflection and inactivity and we need take extra care to nurture ourselves at this time in order to maintain our health. Avoiding over-working and too much stress, increasing our exposure to light, monitoring our diet, sleep patterns and exercise levels are important for all of us. It is also worthwhile to find the strategies that work for each of us personally, whether that is light therapy, meditation, counseling, acupuncture, massage, or any other therapies that enable us to maintain both physical and mental well-being. For warding off the winter blues, acupuncture is well worth-adding to your winter regimen.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Post Operative Recovery

Surgery is a powerful tool in the modern medical tool kit and is used today in a wide range of applications. Surgery for musculoskeletal conditions is called orthopedic surgery, and is used to treat musculoskeletal trauma, degenerative diseases, sports injuries, infections, tumours, and congenital disorders (disorders we are born with). This includes surgeries such as hip or knee replacement, spinal surgery or fusion, carpal tunnel release, or repair of tendons, ligaments, or cartilage. However, there are many, many other surgeries that are performed for a variety of reasons, such as to help relieve or prevent pain, to reduce a symptom, to improve some body function, or to diagnose conditions.

With surgery comes certain post-operative side effects and risks. Some of the major concerns with surgery is dealing with post-surgery pain and the side effects of pain medications, as well as making a complete recovery from surgery and regaining our former mobility and functions.

Doctors rely on powerful medications to relieve pain during and immediately after surgery, including opioids and anesthesia. Opioid pain medications are known to cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, pruritis (itch or a sensation that makes a person want to scratch), constipation, and sleepiness, symptoms which can cause difficulty in the recovery and interfere with our day-to-day life. Use of opioids and their side effects may also delay post-operative recovery.

Acupuncture is an excellent option for post-operative recovery and has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of both post-operative pain and the side effects of opioid medications. Acupuncture is probably best known for the treatment of pain and it is indeed very effective for relieving pain and reducing the need for pain medications. Pain limits your ability to breathe deeply, cough, walk and perform the activities necessary for a speedy recovery, and acupuncture can help to manage the pain so that recovery can happen more quickly.

Acupuncture can also treat the side effects of pain medications including dizziness, upset stomach or nausea, loss of appetite, pruritis (itching sensation), urinary incontinence, and digestive problems, making it an effective option for post-operative recovery.

Acupuncture can also help with the body’s recovery following surgery. While surgical techniques have come a long way, surgery still remains a type of trauma that the body must recover and heal from afterwards. Acupuncture helps to boost the immune system and to restore proper functioning to the body, and in post-operative care can help the body to recover and regain health more quickly.  Acupuncture can also help with inflammation, decrease swelling and improve mobility and range of motion after surgery. This is important to recovery in order for a person to regain their full abilities and have full use of the body in the months down the road from surgery. Acupuncture may also help reduce adhesion formation and reduce scarring and scar tissue as the body heals from surgery.

Research shows that acupuncture can indeed be very effective for post-operative recovery when surgery is followed by a series of acupuncture treatments, and it can also be beneficial to perform acupuncture a day or two before surgery. This ensures that the body is in a healthy state going into surgery in order to ensure a complete and healthy recovery!

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes spontaneous episodes of vertigo along with fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear. In most cases, Meniere's disease will affect only one ear.

The main symptoms of Meniere's disease are recurring episodes of vertigo that last anywhere from 20 minutes up to 24 hours, tinnitus (typically low-pitched with Meniere’s disease), a feeling of pressure of fullness in the ear, and hearing loss. Hearing loss may come and go in early stages of the disease but as the disease progresses there typically will be some permanent hearing loss. Symptoms will usually come on in bouts, lasting for two to three hours, and then subside, and often a series of episodes will occur followed by periods of remission.

The cause of Meniere's disease isn't well understood but is believed to be closely tied to the fluid in the inner ear. Our inner ear contains a fluid that helps us to maintain our balance and equilibrium. With Meniere’s disease there are changes to the volume and the composition of this inner ear fluid, causing problems with the healthy functioning of our ear and affecting our hearing and our balance. These changes to the ear fluid may be caused by improper fluid drainage (either because of a blockage or because of an anatomic abnormality), abnormal immune response, allergies, viral infection, genetic predisposition, or head trauma.

Meniere's disease is considered a chronic condition, and conventional treatment focuses on management: relieving symptoms and minimizing the long term impacts of the disease. Treatment includes motion sickness or anti-nausea medications for the vertigo, diuretic medications to reduce the amount of fluid in the inner ear, medication injections to the inner ear to relieve vertigo, hearing aids, and rehabilitative exercises to help improve balance and coordination. Surgery may be considered in severe cases.

In Chinese medicine, Meniere’s disease is classified as a type of dizziness. There are important lifestyle factors that contribute to its development. Emotional strain, which can be caused by too much stress or by anger, frustration, or resentment, can lead to health imbalances that over time can lead to chronic conditions such as Meniere’s disease. Overwork or pushing ourselves too hard without adequate rest over years can also deplete the body and lead to health issues. Diet is another important factor, as unhealthy eating particularly the excessive consumption of greasy foods or dairy products or poor or irregular eating habits can lead to problems down the road. All of these factors over time contribute to the development of health problems, which is why Meniere’s disease typically develops in middle age.

Acupuncture is a worthwhile option to consider for those suffering from Meniere’s disease. Because Western medicine has difficulty treating this condition, often people are looking for effective options to help manage the disease. The good news is that acupuncture can help to relieve the symptoms of Meniere’s disease and may also help to improve or resolve the condition. Treatment can help to relieve the dizziness and vertigo, tinnitus, feeling of fullness or pressure in the head, and to reduce the frequency of bouts of symptoms.

Over time and with continued treatments, acupuncture may also help to resolve the condition. The combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be of particular benefit to the condition as herbal formulas can help to augment the results of acupuncture. Due to the chronic nature of this condition, Meniere’s may be slow to treat and may take time to achieve lasting results. Acupuncture demonstrates that there is hope for difficult, chronic conditions such as Meniere’s disease.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St,  downtown Kelowna, BC. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Depression

Depression, also called major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression, is a medical illness that involves the mind and body, affecting how a person feels, thinks and behaves. It is characterized by low moods and a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Other symptoms may include preoccupation or over-thinking, irritability or frustration, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, poor concentration and memory, withdrawal from social situations, reduced sex drive, and insomnia, as well as fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, reduced appetite (or in some cases increased appetite), and an agitated or lethargic behaviour.

About 16% of adults in Canada will experience depression at some point in their lives, with women being twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. The risk of depression is increased with certain conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, cardiovascular illnesses, and the first year after childbirth. Depressed individuals have shorter life expectancies than those without depression, in part because of greater susceptibility to medical illnesses and suicide.

The understanding of depression has evolved over the centuries. Although the causes are still not yet fully understood, a variety of factors are believed to be involved. These include biological differences (people with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains), the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, the body’s balance of hormones, genetics, early childhood trauma, and major life events such as the loss of a loved one or high stress. The most common treatments for depression are psychotherapy, anti-depressant medication, and electroconvulsive therapy, used only as a last resort.

Acupuncture is an excellent option for the treatment of depression, as it is very effective in both relieving the symptoms and in resolving the condition with continued treatments, and without negative side effects. Chinese medicine (TCM) takes a much different approach to depression and focuses much more on the overall functioning of the body and how the various organs and systems are working in relation to each other. According to TCM, there are different causes and mechanisms for depression in different people. For some people it has to do with mental-emotional causes such as continued stress, frustration or worry. Other factors can be either too much or too little exercise and activity. Or it may be due to other diseases in the body, or age or body type. In others it may be faulty diet or lifestyle factors.

By identifying the particular pattern of depression, an acupuncturist can effectively diagnose and treat the depression based on each person’s unique causes and symptoms. This allows for a very effective treatment that is catered to the individual’s needs, from using the appropriate acupuncture points to diet and lifestyle recommendations that can support healing. Acupuncture, particularly when combined with Chinese herbal formulas, is a very effective treatment option for depression and can help a person to regain their lost health and recover from the debilitating symptoms of depression. It can be used as a complement to conventional depression treatments, or as an effective alternative.

Like other chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression is a complex condition that takes time to develop in the body and is caused by many factors. For this reason, there really is no “quick fix”, whether tackling it with acupuncture and Chinese medicine, medications, counseling, or some combination of these. Acupuncture takes time to have an effect on chronic conditions, and the body takes time to heal.

For this reason, it is important to be committed to the healing process, to be patient with our body as it takes time to heal, and to expect some bumps along the way as we are faced with life’s stresses. Typically with acupuncture a series of treatments is needed, on a regular schedule over the course of a few months to achieve lasting results. While depression can be a disabling condition which adversely affects a person's family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health, there is hope that we can regain both our health and our happiness.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Muscle Cramps

A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary spasm or contraction of one or more of the muscles in the body, causing a sudden, sharp muscle pain. You may be able to feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath the skin. Muscle cramps often occur in the legs. Nocturnal cramps that occur in the calf muscles or toes during sleep are also common. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps can make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle.

Muscle cramps can be caused by overuse of a muscle, such as long periods of exercise or physical labor, particularly in hot weather. They may also be caused by dehydration, muscle strain, or holding a position for a prolonged period of time. In many cases the cause of a muscle cramp isn’t known. In other cases, they may be caused by certain medications or related to an underlying medical condition such as arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) in the arteries that deliver blood to the legs, causing leg or foot cramps while exercising; compression of the nerves in the spine (lumbar stenosis); or mineral depletion such as a shortage of potassium, calcium, or magnesium due to diet or medications. Muscle cramps can also be due to certain conditions such as kidney, thyroid, nerve, or hormone disorders, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and anemia.

Muscle cramps usually disappear on their own and can be treated with self-care measures such as stretching and massaging the muscle and applying warmth to it. However, for some people, muscle cramps can be an ongoing problem, and can be very difficult to live with, interfering with sleep or daily routines.

Acupuncture is an effective option for relieving and resolving muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are typically a sign that there is a blockage of blood and energy flowing to an area of the body. When this happens, it causes that area to become weak and less able to perform properly, making the area more vulnerable to injury, over-fatigue, and pain. In addition, in Chinese medicine (TCM), the liver and gallbladder meridians are responsible for nourishing the tendons and ligaments of the body. If there is an imbalance in these organs or if they are not functioning properly, muscle cramps can be one of the resulting symptoms. Acupuncture treatment for muscle cramps will typically involve restoring the liver energy flow and treating any problems with the way that it is functioning. By addressing the underlying health conditions or imbalances that may be contributing to the occurrence of muscle cramps, we can help to restore health with the goal of preventing muscle cramps from occurring again in the future.

Acupuncture can help to increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and relax the body, and the results are usually quite immediate. This makes it a very effective option for treating muscle cramps. With continued treatments, acupuncture can help to improve the body’s health and functioning, so that it is better able to perform and less prone to muscle cramps. In this way it offers not only relief but also resolution of the problem. Whether you are an athlete looking to achieve top performance, or whether you are dealing with a chronic condition and living with muscle cramps as a result, acupuncture can offer relief and help you get back to your daily routine.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

Cancer Treatment

It is estimated that 40% of Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that survival rates are improving thanks to improvements in cancer screening and cancer treatment. Cancer is not a death sentence, but it is a life-changing experience.

There are 3 main types of cancer treatment: primary treatment, adjuvant therapy, and palliative care. The goal of primary treatment is to remove the cancer from the body or kill the cancer cells, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. The goal of adjuvant therapy is to kill any cancer cells that may remain after primary treatment, common therapies include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. The goal of palliative care is to decrease pain and help maintain quality of life during and after cancer treatment, by relieving the side effects of both the cancer and its treatment. Acupuncture in the treatment of cancer falls into the category of palliative care.

Acupuncture can be an effective complementary therapy when used with conventional cancer treatments. The purpose of acupuncture treatments is not to treat the cancer itself but rather to help a person cope with cancer, its treatment or side effects, and to feel better. There are many general symptoms associated cancer, including fatigue, digestive problems, and pain. Cancer treatments also create symptoms- chemotherapy and radiation are very powerful treatments that target cancer cells but can also damage healthy cells in the body and weaken the immune system, and can leave a person with symptoms of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal disturbances, and skin irritation. For many people dealing with cancer treatment, there is a need to manage these symptoms, keep the body and the spirits strong, and maintain quality of life. 

Acupuncture can be a very useful tool in this regard. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of many cancer symptoms including generalized pain, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and can help to boost the immune system. Because chemotherapy and radiation can be very hard on the immune system and because the body may already be weakened from the cancer, strengthening the immune system and the body with acupuncture can help a person undergoing cancer treatments to experience fewer negative symptoms and to bounce back more quickly from a course of treatments, something that is very important in the recovery process.

In addition, the pain associated with cancer can be an extremely difficult part of a patient’s experience, and acupuncture thankfully can effectively help to relieve this pain and relieve a great deal of the day-to-day discomfort. Fatigue and depression are also common symptoms that respond positively to acupuncture, allowing a person to function better, have a better quality of life, and better maintain a healthy routine while undergoing cancer treatments. By relieving nausea and digestive upset, acupuncture can also help to restore appetite and prevent weight loss that often occurs during cancer treatments.

To benefit from acupuncture during cancer treatment, it is recommended to schedule regular appointments during the course of cancer treatments while symptoms are being experienced. Typically treatments will be scheduled on a weekly basis in order to keep symptoms in check and strengthen the body. Acupuncture can also be used between courses of chemotherapy or radiation treatment to build the immune system, aid the body in recovery and strengthen it in preparation for the next course of treatment. All in all, acupuncture is a very powerful tool in the treatment of cancer and can dramatically improve quality of life.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

 

Seasonal Allergies

I've suffered from allergies for a long time, after becoming frustrated with the 'off-the-shelf type products' I thought I'd try a natural alternative. From the initial contact with Okanagan Acupuncture I was impressed with their thoroughness in answering my questions and alleviating any concerns.

After 2 treatments my symptoms have decreased significantly and I'm optimistic that the results will continue. I'm confident in recommending OAC to anyone suffering from seasonal allergies, especially to anyone who has tried every available drugstore type anti allergy product and become frustrated with diminishing results.    -David, Peachland, BC

Indigestion

Indigestion, also called dyspepsia or upset stomach, is not a disease but rather a collection of symptoms that cause discomfort in the upper abdomen. Most people suffering from indigestion have one or more of the common symptoms: nausea, bloating, belching, a sensation of pain, heat, or burning in the upper abdomen, or feeling full early on in a meal or an uncomfortable fullness after a meal that lasts longer than it should. People with indigestion may also experience heartburn, although heartburn and indigestion are two separate conditions. Symptoms of indigestion might be felt occasionally or as often as daily.

There are many possible causes of indigestion. Some are related to how we eat, such as overeating or eating too quickly. Other causes relate to what we eat, such as eating greasy or spicy foods, or too much caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages or chocolate. Lifestyle causes can include smoking, nervousness, or stress. Indigestion can also be caused by other digestive conditions like peptic ulcers, pancreatitis, gallstones, or stomach cancer, or by medications, including antibiotics and some pain relievers. In some cases, a cause for indigestion can’t be found and it is labeled ‘functional dyspepsia’- a type of indigestion caused by the stomach's inability to accept and digest food and then pass that food to the small intestine.

Treatment for indigestion includes lifestyle changes, including avoiding offending foods, eating smaller and more frequent meals, managing stress, and getting regular exercise. Your doctor may change medications you are taking if they are causing indigestion, or other medications may be recommended to reduce stomach acid, reduce pain, or aid digestion.

In Chinese medicine, indigestion usually falls into the category of epigastric pain, because the symptoms are typically experienced in the epigastric region of the body, the area of the abdomen from the sternum to the navel. There are different patterns of disharmony that cause indigestion, which account for the very different ways in which people will experience the symptoms of indigestion. Indigestion can be caused by a number of factors, including our external environment such as being exposed to cold or damp conditions; our diet, including how much we eat, what type of food we eat, and when or how we eat; emotional upset such as frustration or worry; overwork; and a constitutional or genetic weakness that can make a person prone to digestive disorders. These factors can over time weaken the stomach and disrupt the digestive system’s normal functions.

When pinpointing the cause of indigestion and epigastric pain, we look at various symptoms. What is the nature of the pain- is it dull or severe, stabbing, burning, is it accompanied by a feeling of fullness? When does the pain occur: in the morning, afternoon, or at night? What relieves or aggravates the pain- is it better or worse after eating, with pressure, with heat or cold, with rest or exercise? Is there belching, nausea, vomiting, or regurgitation? Is there a feeling of bloating and if so, how does it feel? These questions help an acupuncturist to determine what aspect of digestion is not functioning properly and what imbalances need to be corrected.

Acupuncture can be very effective in helping to resolve the symptoms of indigestion. Treatment can help the stomach to better digest food and move it through the digestive tract, so that the stomach and other digestive processes are functioning properly again. It can also help to relieve pain, nausea, and bloating that often accompany this type of digestive condition. Indeed, like many digestive disorders, acupuncture is an excellent option for resolving indigestion and getting you back to your regular self.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. For more information visit www.okanaganacupuncture.com.