Category Archives: General Health

Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies by Stacey Hughes, L.Ac.

It’s that time of year when the sun is shining and nature begins to awaken, bringing the promise of beautiful days outdoors.  Coloradans love being outside, but for some the pollen of springtime also brings the miserable symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Often, people feel like they have tried everything or that they are managing just enough and they just have to suffer through the sneezing, itchy red eyes and runny nose.  Acupuncture can relieve the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies and calm the accompanying inflammation.

Allergies are caused when the body produces antibodies to a substance that is typically seen as benign.  The immune system treats the allergen as a harmful substance and releases histamine, which causes inflammation and swelling in the mucus membranes of the nose and eyes.  The good news is acupuncture can be beneficial in calming that inflammation.  Researchers have found that acupuncture down regulates a proinflammatory biochemical called tumor necros factor alpha (TNF-a).  What this means in terms of relief is that acupuncture is going to calm the inflammation in the body.  In addition to reducing overall inflammation, the holistic nature of the treatment is going to assess the specific needs and constitution of the individual patient.  If someone tends more towards a runny nose than itchy eyes, that can be addressed by using specific points to reduce the symptoms locally.

Often people suffering from seasonal allergies resort to more conventional methods to alleviate symptoms, but find the side effects to be uncomfortable as well.  Antihistamines can be drying in the already semi-arid climate of Colorado, decongestants cause drowsiness and corticosteroids suppress the body’s immune system and cause insomnia.  Traditional Chinese medicine can reduce the need and frequency to seek these types of therapies by creating a physical foundation that calms the allergic reaction.  Below are some other steps that can support you through the season.

Irrigation of the nasal passages-Using a neti pot or a saline nasal spray can clear the nasal passages of mucus and pollen.  The body is going to continue to try and expel the pollen, which means more sneezing and mucus and this is an easy way to help the process along.  This is especially helpful if you are using antihistamines as the drying nature of the medication can make it difficult for your body to eliminate it naturally.

Avoid foods that cause inflammation-Inflammatory foods in your diet can exacerbate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Food that you are sensitive to or have an allergy to should be avoided.  Some known inflammatory substances are; sugar, wheat, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, citrus, peanuts, alcohol and eggs.  If you want to delve deeper into the specific foods that affect you an elimination diet can determine sensitivities.

Stress reduction techniques-Higher stress levels can affect your immune system causing more allergy flare ups.  Soothing music, reading, aromatherapy and meditation are all great ways to enhance relaxation.  Whatever you do relax and stay calm consider increasing that.

Call us today or go to our website to schedule an appointment at Meeting Point Acupuncture to start getting some relief from your seasonal allergies!




Staying healthy during Cold and Flu season with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

As we settle into this winter season, it’s important that we take time to take care of ourselves. This flu season has been substantially worse than previous seasons both nationally and locally. From October 1st 2017 to January 11th 2018, nearly 1,600 people in Colorado have been hospitalized due to flu, which is about three times as many hospitalizations as is normal for Colorado up to this point in the season.

According to the Center for Disease Control, flu vaccines can reduce risk of flu illness by 40-60% when the virus is similar to the vaccine strain. However, last year it was determined that the vaccines given were only 32% effective against H3N2 viruses, which is one of the main problematic strains being seen this year. Epidemiologists are expecting similar rates of effectiveness this year due to the ineffectiveness of current vaccines against newly mutated viruses.

When managed properly, most people can recover from the flu without too much distress, but if not taken seriously and not addressed in the appropriate manner, the flu can become very serious, very quickly, and sometimes leads to death.

The best way to avoid becoming another flu statistic, is to be proactive. Studies show that acupuncture can help to enhance the immune system by elevating hormone and blood count levels. Not only can it help to prevent you from getting ill in the first place, but if you do end up catching a cold or getting the flu, acupuncture can reduce the severity of symptoms, while facilitating the body’s ability to expel pathogens more quickly.

Chinese herbs can also be extremely effective when combating common colds and flu. Many herbs have naturally occurring antiviral and antibacterial properties that fight the pathogen without killing off all of your good bacteria. One thing that we strongly advise against is taking certain herbs at an inappropriate time. A lot of immune system enhancing herbs (ginseng, astragalus, ashwagandha) are not supposed to be taken while someone is in the middle of fighting a cold or the flu. In fact, taking these types of herbs at that time will strengthen the pathogen, not your defenses. These types of herbs are meant to be taken before you get sick, that’s just how they work. Once you have already contracted a pathogen, you want to use herbs that will either expel the pathogen, drain it, or somehow resolve it, but you generally want to avoid the more nourishing herbs.

So please, be proactive! Come in and see us and let us help you navigate a healthy passage through the rest of this intense cold and flu season! Hope to see you soon!

Ask me about your Wei Qi

springWith Spring comes renewed excitement and energy. The cold temperatures give way to warmth, chirping birds, green grass, wind, and … allergies. Coming out of the cold and flu season of the winter months, we enter another assault on our sinuses. But you are lucky, for you have discovered acupuncture! For those of us who practice Chinese medicine, treating allergies is a walk in the park, so to speak. It’s something we treat regularly, and treat very well. Let me explain.

In Chinese medicine, we understand the body a little differently. Everything breaks down to Qi, and Qi breaks down into different types. There are different types of Qi in the body, and there are different types of Qi in the environment. One of the most important in the body is Wei Qi, or Defensive Qi. This is the Qi that protects us from the environment, and is the defense our bodies put up to help prevent disease.

With Spring comes wind, and wind is considered one of the primarily causative factors of disease. Wind is the predominant Qi of Spring, and thus Wei Qi strength is of utmost importance this time of year. So much in our daily lives can wreak havoc on our bodies, from stress and overworking, to poor sleep and unhealthy diet. Even a sedentary lifestyle can weaken our defenses.

Through the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we can strengthen that Wei Qi to help prevent wind from invading our bodies and causing sneezing, itchy watery eyes, dry scratchy throat, runny nose, congestion, and more. However, it isn’t just strengthening the Wei Qi that is important, but tuning our bodies into the season and bringing us in harmony with the environment. If you’re still stuck in winter mode and the weather outside is a lovely 64 degrees and breezy, you aren’t going to be prepared for what the environment has in store for you.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are the most effective way to strengthen your Wei Qi, but there a few simple things you can do to maintain those health benefits. Here are some things you can do at home to strengthen your Wei Qi:

  1. Eat a healthy diet. This is so vitally important for every aspect of health. From a Chinese medical standpoint, you should focus on warm, cooked foods. If you need a more in depth help with diet and nutrition, consider scheduling an appointment for a nutritional consult.
  2. Get enough sleep. Start a bedtime ritual of something you find relaxing. By doing this before bed every night, you not only decrease your stress and make falling asleep easier, you also train your mind and body that it’s time to wind down. Try to get to bed by 11pm, and make sure there are no breezes or drafts in the room where you sleep (remember, wind invades!)

  3. Drink plenty of water – just hold the ice. Consuming cold beverages depletes Qi because it takes a lot of energy for your body to warm it up. It’s best to stick with room temperature water, and enough of it to make your urine a pale yellow.

  4. Exercise. Moving your body moves qi, and helps keep it circulating properly. If your qi stays in top form, it can mount a proper defense for you.

So there you have it – get regular acupuncture, take your herbs, treat yourself well, and get ready to welcome spring with open arms and clear sinuses.