How to Boost Your Immune System With Acupuncture As Fall Turns Into Winter

Fall has arrived and winter is on it’s way.  In Texas, fall moves into winter with plenty of vacillating weather making it difficult for our bodies to adjust, then bang – cold weather is here!  Our immune and respiratory systems need strong natural support during this time, and regular acupuncture is an excellent way to provide that support.

In Chinese Medicine the immune system is strongly related to internal organ function, mainly the Lungs and Spleen which need extra care during the winter season.  When these organs are well-balanced they support the immune system and strengthen its function, this prevents you from being easily affected by external pathogenic factors such as cold and flu viruses and other infectious diseases.

A  long winters “acu-nap,”  helps  to calm and relax the body, reducing extra stress that can come with the winter and holiday season, and boosting immunity to help you sustain good health.

In addition to Acupuncture, plenty of rest, and daily exercise help keep healthy energies flowing strongly, and remember a diet, full of nutrition is vital to good health.  The abundance of  local fruits, deep rooted vegetables and herbal plants that grow in the winter season right where we live support our bodies as nature intends.  So visit and support your local farmers markets and grocery stores for a fresh colorful winter food supply full of the nutrition your body needs.  Making rich soup broths with plenty of healthy winter veggies, dark leafy greens, and healthy grains; eating good healthy fats, and drinking warm teas are all excellent winter rituals that fuel the body.  Here are a few more winter wellness tips:

  • Avoid eating much frozen or cold foods; instead partake in warming foods which help sustain your body’s energies during the cold season.
  • Be sure to get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid exhausting yourself with overwork, or overjoy!
  • Avoid stress and excess emotion by practicing good self-care and a form of meditation.
  • Keep warm and protect yourself from the wind and cold with proper clothing such as a hat and scarf in addition to your warm jacket.
  • Balance and support your body with natural medicine (such as acupuncture and herbs from seasons Health) before the change of weather so your body has what it needs to do well in the seasonal changes.
  • Dry your hair before going to bed or out in the cold.

Charlotte offers herbal consults over the phone to her patients, assisting further in strengthening the immune system as well as resolving health issues that do arise so you can rest at home while recovering. She will also give you valuable diet, nutrition and lifestyle self care tips specific to your individual needs.  Charlotte will set you up with a treatment plan to keep your body strong throughout the season, so remember Seasons Health can be a part of your  family’s Winter Wellness Resource.

Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s Palsy often sneaks in overnight; and waking with a paralysis of the facial muscles can be quite alarming — often people believe they have suffered a stroke.  The good news is Bell’s Palsy is often a temporary paralysis, and if you get acupuncture treatments several days a week immediately after onset, it will usually heal fully within a few months and often much quicker.

Bell’s causes asymmetry of the facial appearance, usually impacting only one side of the face.  Impaired function from Bell’s Palsy can affect your body’s ability to eat, drink, speak and open and close your eyes.   In addition, facial asymmetry affects an individual’s appearance and so Bell’s can affect psychological and social behaviors effecting the personal quality of a patients life.

Western medicine treats Bell’s Palsy most often with corticosteroid therapy to reduce inflammation.  The use of steroids is controversial as steroids can have serious side effects especially with long term use.   Acupuncture offers a method to support your body through a speedy recovery, there are no side effects, and it is recommended by many doctors and the National Institute of Health as one of the best avenues of treatment for Bell’s Palsy.

In China, acupuncture has been used for centuries to assist in Bell’s Palsy recovery.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, the root cause of Bells Palsy is believed to be two things: “external wind attacking the channels of the face,” and weakness in the underlying qi (a person’s inherent energy).  The treatment goal is to expel wind and resolve damp, while invigorating the qi and blood circulation to the facial tissue with consistent acupuncture treatments.  Unlike western treatment, acupuncture treats the root cause in addition to deeply relaxing a patient, and helping to relieve stress so healing can take place more naturally.  Through this avenue, acupuncture can alleviate symptoms and substantially quicken the recovery process of Bell’s Palsy patients.

Stress can worsen Bell’s Palsy, and is often thought to be a factor in bringing on an episode.  Taking vitamins B12, B6, as well as zinc can promote nerve growth and help speed recovery of damaged facial nerves.  Supplements like St. John’s Wort, Valerian, and Ashwaganda can also be used to relieve stress that can contribute to and possibly be a factor in Bell’s Palsy incidents.

Along with Acupuncture, massage can also help ease the symptoms of Bell’s Palsy.  Gently massaging the afflicted areas of the face, and practicing daily facial exercises can speed recovery.   A full body massage on areas that are unaffected by the condition can also help keep the blood and energy flowing freely to the tissues that do need healing.

Patients with Bell’s Palsy can have several weeks of recovery time in which they may choose to take some time off from any rigorous daily routines to reduce stress, get plenty of rest and get acupuncture!  Charlotte recommends starting acupuncture as soon as possible after onset, and getting treatments 3-5 times a week for the first few weeks.

Teens Love Acupuncture!

It’s true — teenagers love and benefit from acupuncture in so many ways.  Acupuncture helps balance male and female hormone cycles, and when teens are first navigating new hormone fluctuations it can feel intense for both teens and their parents!  Acupuncture helps teens unwind and relax, supporting them in the intense demands of the middle and high school years.

As us parents of teenagers know, it’s hard to slow them down – yet acupuncture actually does “pin them down!” . . . for awhile anyway.  Over and over in our clinic I witness teens easily go into a deep state of relaxation with acupuncture.  Yes, they sleep, unwind, and wake up refreshed and ready to conquer their multi-faceted day!

Acupuncture helps unplug, reset and unwind that overtaxed teenage brain!  There is so much growing and transition from the teen adolescent years well into their 20’s — big hormonal changes, demands at school and in sports, and just learning to navigate the everyday stressors of life.   The transformation from adolescence to young adult is hard work.  My son is very active in sports and says acupuncture helps his tired muscles let go, relax and stay strong.   It helps him quickly overcome the bumps and bruises that come with the active teen boy lifestyle, and it helps him focus and study for big tests at school.  He often says hey mom “how ’bout some acupuncture!”

Here’s a personal acupuncture account from Isabel Luecke, a lovely accomplished teen writer who frequently visits our clinic and would like to share her experience with our peeps:

“It was just the other day that, suffering from both writer’s block and the carpal tunnel that was the symptom of not having writers block, that I went to get acupuncture. This had not been my first visit and, unless I suddenly end up living solely in a survivalist bunker, it will not be my last. I use acupuncture to treat everything from colds to skin blemishes, to re-inspire and relax. It is truly something that I whole-heartedly recommend for people of all ages.”

And here’s a personal quote from sweet Gracie, age 13 who also comes regularly for acupuncture:

“I have been going to Charlotte for acupuncture for a few months to work on relaxation for anxiety. I like it because it is relaxing and helps me get a grip on life.  It doesn’t hurt at all.  I love it!

Acupuncture helps teens learn a strong and steady pattern of  slowing their bodies down, letting go to rest, and to breathe and unwind when it’s needed.  Self-care is a nice thing to teach our teenagers, and a skill that gets refined over time and serves them well.   Believe me your teen will thank you for introducing them early in life to this ancient medicine for our sometimes overstimulating busy modern world.  Even if at first teens are skeptical or a little bit nervous – they quickly become believers once they experience the deep relaxation and healing power of Acupuncture.

I’ve also noticed some of our teens are having allergies.   Here in Austin along with all the lovely bloomin’ green, and the beautiful lakes and rivers that support the nature that abounds — come the high mold spores, grass and tree pollen.  Sometimes we get an over-zealous immune response to this abundance of pollen inundating our body, causing things like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and swollen lymph glands — this is an overactive inflammatory response.  Acupuncture helps to balance, soothe and support the immune system so it does not consider the pollen and molds threatening invaders requiring such arduous response.  A little proactive care at home helps too, nasal rinses – I recommend NeilMed, showers to rinse off the excess pollen from the day, a healthy diet free of inflammatory foods, and the right herbal remedies and supplements to help support the immune system through the more challenging seasons here in Austin.

Helping your teen set up a support network outside the vital support they get at home is nice because it expands their self-care knowledge and supports you in your job as parents — it takes a village!

So instead of here take this pill to fix what ails you (but beware it may cause other issues) — acupuncture says . . .  here try this needle it will remind your body of what it innately knows how to do . . . balance, relax,  heal and transform!  To add to your teens good qi flowing contact Charlotte.

 

Summer Vacation and Travel Acupuncture!

A lot of our peeps are traveling this summer, both here in the states and abroad.  We want to remind you that building immunity to prepare for a healthy summer vacation is important — this helps your trip remain stress free so you can return feeling rejuvenated and recharged from your vacation rather than depleted and fatigued.

Acupuncture not only helps strengthen the immune system, but helps prevent and relieve jet lag, motion sickness, flight anxiety, and balance your body’s rhythms.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle.  The term circadian comes from Latin words that literally mean “around the day.”  When traveling, especially to different time zones, we get around our day outside of our normal flow and rhythm.   When we give our body the right support to stay in balance throughout changes in our usual rhythm and environment, it can do so without skipping a beat, which is such a nice feeling!  After traveling, come reset your circadian rhythms — your body’s internal clock at Acupuncture Together.

Does flying, or driving long distances make you nervous, stiff, tired, give you headaches or nausea?  Acupuncture soothes the nerves and takes your body into a state of relaxation you can carry with you on your summer journeys.  Acupuncture can relieve tension and help keep your nervous system balanced and strong, by supporting the qi (energy) to flow freely, this also helps prevent headaches and nausea.  We can show you a few good acupressure points for your travels, as well as prescribe you an herbal remedy that helps with any travel challenges you tend to have.

When traveling it’s sometimes more challenging to eat as healthy as we do at home — so our digestive systems can take a hit.   Acupuncture is good for regulating digestion and if you come before and after your trip, acupuncture can assist in keeping the digestive juices flowing freely and your intestinal tract running smoothly!

Too much drinking and partying on your trip — get acupuncture to unwind, detox and reset.  Get one or two treatments before you embark on your travels.  You can also get a treatment the day of travel if you leave in the afternoon, or get a treatment the evening prior to leaving early the next morning.   We wish you happy healthy travels . . . see you around the clinic this summer!

 

 

 

 

Insurance Sucks . . . Acupuncture Rocks!

Are you concerned about healthcare in America, and where it’s headed?  Well I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately!  Let me introduce you to a great healthcare option — Acupuncture, and better yet – Affordable Acupuncture!

Health Insurance Sucks, the premiums are getting higher and higher and coverage less and less.  The good news is in many cases, you can rely less on insurance and prescription medications, and more on holistic healthcare like Acupuncture, and diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes to help you feel better.

I am one of the fortunate that Obama Care helped – and for now I have a decent policy.   I’ve used that policy for getting diagnostics this year, as I see the benefit of western medicine diagnostics especially when they are not particularly invasive.  However, after getting the diagnostics I feel I need, most often I then turn to the holistic healthcare model of care for gently and naturally guiding my body back into balance when needed and helping me stay healthy and strong.  We are lucky here in Austin as it is a city rich in holistic healthcare resources, and  Acupuncture is one of them!

Charlotte can help you resolve your health issues and feel better, see some of the many ways Acupuncture can help below:

CHART What Can Acupuncture Treat jpg

In many cases digestive symptoms, headaches, and even pain are due to stress, anxiety, overwork or depression.  Acupuncture helps bring your body back to a state of relaxation, so instead of the usual “here take this pill it will fix things — but be notified it could cause several other problems,” we say Try Acupuncture!  Acupuncture reminds your body what it is innately able to do – Heal, and it supports your body to do just that and stay in balance!

So remember, Acupuncture is a great option for many common healthcare issues.  We also help guide our patients when they are interested towards healthier diet, nutrition and lifestyle through Charlotte’s Herbal and Holistic Healthcare Consults!   When you feel the need for an MD by all means it’s important to go . . . however, when you feel your body needs more natural healing support which gets to the root of the issue and re-balances your body systems  Acupuncture is the way to go!   Our bodies are so smart and able to reprogram, adjust, and compensate as necessary when supported through a healing process holistically.  Healing works best when we tend to our diet, and nutrition, get plenty of rest, exercise and give our body gentle and loving support to guide it on its way.

That said, what will you do to care for yourself after your doctor checkup, and diagnostics?  Charlotte is here to help and would love to introduce you to the ancient medicine healing modality of Acupuncture, it’s still around because it works!

Affordable Fertility Acupuncture in Austin

Have you ever felt the high prices of modern fertility treatments in both western assisted reproductive technology and eastern acupuncture are limiting your visits even though you feel it is working . . . let’s face it, modern fertility treatments can be hard on the pocketbook.

Western fertility intervention can also take its toll on your overall body balance.  For couples wading through the waters of fertility, affordable holistic support can be the perfect fit — it’s better for your health and your pocketbook, making it work on your family budget.

I’ve helped countless couples and single parents by choice realize their dream of a baby through acupuncture, herbal medicine and holistic health care coaching over the last 15 years in my own practice, two eastern medicine fertility clinics, and a community acupuncture clinic.  Now I am full circle back to my own practice.  Acupuncture can greatly enhance the success rates of both couples trying to conceive naturally and couples using assisted reproductive technology such as IVF and IUI treatments.

Acupuncture treatments are affordable,  so couples can partake often enough to actually make a positive difference in their health and fertility without going into debt to do so!  Treating male fertility it is just as important as female fertility and often goes unattended to.  Fact is over half of couples that have fertility issues have an unidentified contributing issue found in the male partner, like low sperm count, poor morphology, or varicocele, all of which acupuncture helps to correct.

Acupuncture partnered with good diet, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help you conceive and carry a healthy baby to term.  Advanced maternal age is one factor to consider as couples are waiting longer to start families.  However, as I know from my own personal experience, even at an advanced maternal age, (43 for me!) women can conceive when they tend mindfully to their overall body health and balance – reducing chronic stress, examining the quality of their diet, considering factors in the environment and elsewhere that disrupt the hormonal balance, incorporating good self care rituals and getting acupuncture!

In fact, it has been estimated in studies that acupuncture alone, or while undergoing assisted reproductive technology, can increase your likelihood of pregnancy by 40-60%.  Studies show acupuncture alone can help to correct some infertility issues . . .

  • Acupuncture improves blood flow to the uterus, ovaries and male reproductive organs —strengthening the male and female reproductive organ systems making conceiving and carrying a baby more possible.
  • Balances male and female hormones and hormone cycles
  • Regulates digestion and other organ functions, which are vital to fertility.  
  • Reduces body tension, stress and anxiety – helping your body breathe, let go and relax so it can do what it’s innately able to do — conceive and carry a healthy baby to term.

Consider having Charlotte be a part of Your Fertility Care Team.  She will take excellent care of you!

Happy Baby Making!!!

Pregnancy and Postpartum Care Acupuncture Treatments

Excellent self care during pregnancy and afterwards in the postpartum year sets the stage for well-being throughout motherhood and the nourishment extends to your child, family and beyond.  Taking care of yourself first really matters!

Many things contribute to well-being during pregnancy and postpartum, including plenty of rest, eating a well rounded nutritious diet, gentle exercise, stress management and nurturing your passions to mention a few.

Acupuncture treatments are excellent self care to help keep your body’s energies flowing freely, balancing and relaxing so your body can focus on what it is innately able to do — grow and give birth to a strong healthy baby and stay healthy afterwards!

In addition to relaxing your body and helping to manage general aches, pains, stressors and fatigue, regular acupuncture relieves the following common ailments experienced during the pregnancy and postpartum years:

  • Back and hip pain
  • Fatigue
  • Neck and shoulder tension
  • Achy hip and other joints
  • Carpal tunnel, De Quervain syndrome
  • Numbness and tingling in fingers
  • Sciatica
  • Pregnancy rhinitis
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Milk production issues
  • Postpartum depression
  • and more

Taking care of yourself teaches your children the importance of self care in their own lives. My heartfelt advice is to become solidly settled into rituals of self care during your pregnancy which will enable you to care for others from a full cup and avoid going into motherhood depleted.  A solid self care practice during pregnancy will keep your reserves flowing for when they are needed even more — in motherhood!

Schedule your appointment to discuss your specific acupuncture and self-care needs and get started in your self-care ritual for the pregnancy and postpartum years.  Charlotte will help you come up with a mama self-care plan tailor-made for you.

Austin Cedar Fever

Cedar Fever Meet Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine!

The wind-pollinated cedar (mountain juniper) trees are about to be in full bloom compromising many of our respiratory systems this time of year.   The amount of cedar pollen in the air is a factor in whether cedar fever symptoms such as  sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, and difficulty breathing develop and how intense they can become.   Dry, windy days are more likely to have increased amounts of cedar pollen in the air than cold, damp and rainy days when cedar pollen is washed to the ground.  The alternating warm then cold days without long periods of freezing temperatures we often experience in Austin promote cedar pollen to grow and thrive in abundance – then the windy days carry it to our noses.

In Acupuncture and Herbal medicine we view cedar fever as an overactive immune response due to an unbalanced immune system.  This can happen for several reasons, including poor sleep, stress, poor diet and nutrition, and other unhealthy lifestyle habits which can energetically weaken organ systems.

Cedar tree pollen count is generally highest from December through February and often continues into March when other pollen arrives.  Don’t wait until the cedar winds blow, come for weekly preventative treatments beginning the week of Halloween and boost your immune system to help avoid symptoms that can compromise your health when cedar pollen is in the air.   If symptoms do arise, bi-weekly treatments are helpful to assist your immune system in re-balancing, then maintenance treatments throughout the season are ideal.

Is Getting a Flu Shot Your Only Option?

This post is a collaborative effort of homemademommy.net and seasonshealth.com. 

I just received the latest monthly email newsletter from my daughter’s (former) pediatrician’s office with a ‘flu season update’. The whole newsletter urges parents to get the flu vaccine in their office. They go on to say that they are almost out of ‘preservative free’ vaccines but that the risks of getting the flu this season were high enough that they recommend parents get their children vaccinated with the vaccine containing preservatives.

I do not think there is any real risk-benefit analysis going on in this pediatrician’s office. Especially when a recent New York Times article states:

Last month, in a step tantamount to heresy in the public health world, scientists at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota released a report saying that influenza vaccinations provide only modest protection for healthy young and middle-age adults, and little if any protection for those 65 and older, who are most likely to succumb to the illness or its complications. Moreover, the report’s authors concluded, federal vaccination recommendations, which have expanded in recent years, are based on inadequate evidence and poorly executed studies.

“We have over-promoted and overhyped this vaccine,” said Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, as well as its Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance. “It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”

Conventional Options

The newsletter proceeds to give tips for avoiding colds and flu this season including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people
  • Staying home
  • Hand washing
  • Getting sleep

As I have said before, all these kinds of newsletters do is breed fear and loss of control. If the only ways to prevent the flu are to get a shot full of preservatives and to live in a proverbial bubble, then we are in a sorry state of affairs.

This is what I was told year after year due to my asthma. My doctor always recommended (well more like strongly insisted) that I get a flu shot and always made me feel as if I was going to die if I got the flu because I had asthma. Most years, I was told there was not enough vaccine for everyone but that I would receive one as top priority because I had asthma. And I did end up in the hospital for four days once with pneumonia so I took these recommendations very seriously.

But a year and a half ago, I started eating real food and building my immune system from the inside out. I have since reversed my asthma and have not had symptoms or had to take any western medicine in over a year. I now believe we can be more empowered to not dread these winter cold and flu seasons. We can help ourselves with proper diet and supplements to ensure our bodies are not breeding grounds for viruses. This helps to avoid getting sick in the first place or to diminish the length and severity of illness we do end up getting. This year I have finally been able to come in contact with someone who was sick and not actually get sick myself. This is a gigantic feat in my book as I used to get sick at the drop of a hat.

‘Not So New’ Tools to Prevent Illness and Shorten Duration and Severity

We employ a whole foods based supplement approach as well as incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine for its anti-viral support and also management of symptoms. Below is a list of herbs and supplements I use to help myself and my family to stay well and to get well quickly when we do get sick. It is important to remember that having a skilled and qualified practitioner prescribe and guide you through use of these herbs is required.

My excellent acupuncturist and diet and nutrition expert, Charlotte Sobeck, collaborated with me on this post and she notes that the TCM herbs below are powerful medicine.

Some of these herbs are ‘dispersing’, meaning they release the heat, toxin, and viral pathogens out of your body, often thru promoting sweating — you must keep warm, bundled and protect your pores when they are in this process or you can make the pathogen worse. Also any of these remedies taken for long periods of time without guidance could clear too much and leave someone feeling depleted. They are medicine.

I know just how powerful they are in that they have helped me to get over my seasonal allergies including cedar fever and they have enabled my husband and I to finally avoid our seasonal sinus infection treatments with antibiotics – in fact, we never get sinus infections at all anymore.

So, with that disclaimer, on to the supplements and herbs:

Herb CollageCod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil (where to buy cod liver oil) is liquid gold and has so many benefitsincluding being rich in vitamins A and D which have been proven time and again to support a healthy immune system. Fish oil may be high in omega-3s but for A and D, generic fish oil can’t hold a candle to cod liver oil. How many of your parents or grandparents took this as a child? Their generation and all the generations before them were on to something. I take the capsules and give my daughter the liquid variety every day.

Ban Lan Gen

Ba Lan Gen is a heat clearing detoxifying herb, it can be mixed with other herbs to make a formula to treat viruses with fever, sore throat, swollen glands etc. It has anti-viral properties and can be used to prevent virus on occasion. One must be careful not to overuse.

Gan Mao Ling — (Ban Lan Gen is in this formula)

Gan Mao Ling is for viruses with sore throat, swollen glands, fever and chills, sinuses, or swollen lymph. This formula is often used to prevent colds and influenzas when an exposure has taken place. It can be useful also when Yin Qiao (below) doesn’t work. Also useful as a preventative when traveling on airlines or other places where there may be shared air supplies.

Yin Qiao

Yin Qiao is a milder formula with herbs that clear heat for the beginning stages of common cold and flu with sore throat, fever, slight or no chills, HA, cough.

Evergreen’s Herbal ENT

This formula is for infection and inflammation in the upper parts of the body including the ears, nose and throat (ENT). It has an antibiotic effect to treat infection, anti-inflammatory effect to reduce swelling and relieve pain and an antipyretic effect to reduce fever. Great for any ear, nose or throat infections. This formula also includes Ban Lan Gen, along with other herbs that clear heat toxin like Huang Lian, Huang Qin and Lian Qiao.

For Seasonal Allergies like Cedar Fever, Pollen, etc.:

Evergreen’s Magnolia Clear Sinus or Pe Min Kan Wan

Magnolia Clear Sinus contains the herb Xin Yi Hua (magnolia) which unblocks nasal congestion and relieves allergy symptoms of sneezing, nasal discharge, sinus pain and headaches. This herb is great for winter and spring seasonal allergies. This herb truly amazes me, I can be fully congested and I take this and voila – no more congestion in my sinuses. I have no idea how it works but it works!

Evergreen’s Pueraria Clear Sinus or Bi Yan Pian

A more potent sinus clearing formula for impacted sinuses with purulent yellow mucous, pain and sinus infections. This formula includes the sinus clearing magnolia herb as well, but adds other herbs like Bai Zhi, Cang Er Zi, etc. which make it stronger along with herbs that will clear the toxic heat of an infection like Shi Gao and Huang Qin.

Strengthening your Immune System

The most important aspect to all of this is building up a strong immune system by eating immune boosting real food (probiotic fermented foods are a must!) and doing some gut healing. From A TCM standpoint, the Jade Screen formula is also a popular immune booster in the winter months. For a daily preventative, of course try this No Flu Tea recipe as well. I hope all of you stay well this winter!