What you can’t see can affect your health

Many people go throughout their entire lives not understanding or realizing how big of a deal their organs are. The first medical-acupuncture textbook, written 4,600 years ago, details how the organs control different parts of the body. If your organs are strong, your body will be strong. If your organs are weak, your body will be weak and susceptible to disease and illness.
The intent of my monthly blog is to highlight a different organ and educate you on the function of each. After reading the articles, you will have a better understanding in determining if your organs are strong or weak and learn ways to make changes for the better. This month, let’s begin with the spleen and pancreas.
The spleen and pancreas are two separate organs but were considered the same organ by ancient Chinese doctors and are simply referred to as the Spleen.
Western medicine classifies the spleen as an immune organ that stores white blood cells and platelets (clots blood), kills bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis and filters blood before sending it to the liver to be filtered again. The pancreas releases ‘juices’ into the stomach to help break down food and to turn it into energy and releases hormones to keep your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar is too high, tissues, nerves and organs are damaged. When blood sugar is too low it can cause dementia, comas or death.
Chinese medicine classifies the Spleen as being in charge of movement and transformation of grain and water and because of this, the Spleen is the source of blood creation. Really what this means is that the Spleen is in charge of breaking food down into nutrients that our cells, tissues and organs need to be strong. These nutrients find their way to your cells, tissues and organs via the blood. If you are eating proper foods and your spleen is able to break down your foods properly, you will create nutrient dense blood and strong cells, tissues and organs.
A weak spleen will lead to little or no appetite with a bland, sweet or slimy taste in the mouth. Bleeding can occur in the form of petechiae (small dots of bleeding under the skin), purpura (big flat patches of bleeding under the skin), inability to clot and flooding or spotting of menses. Accumulation of fluids can occur that creates impaired movement of limbs, edema and phlegm.
One of the easiest ways to tell if the Spleen is healthy or sick is to look at your tongue. If you have a swollen tongue, your Spleen is weak. If your tongue is swollen AND pale, you are deficient in nutrients.
If your Spleen function is weak, you can eat all of the health food you want and exercise your booty off but it won’t re-boot your Spleen’s function. The best way to re-boot your Spleen or any organ is to have Acupuncture by a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac). Acupuncture is the use of tiny little ‘needles’ that are placed into a specific location on your body. Once the needle is inserted into the skin, it wakes up the nerve which sends a message to your brain to heal a specific part of your body. It is a simple, non-invasive form of healing that actually fixes your body.
The number of acupuncture treatments needed to reverse the organ damage depends on how long it was left untreated. The longer the damage or pain was allowed to go on, the more treatments required. Similar to car repair – if the ‘check engine’ light has been on for months, the damage may have continued to the point where the repair will cost you much more than if you had it checked out immediately when the light first appeared.
Paying attention to pain and seeking immediate intervention/consultation is a better option than waiting it out to see if it gets better. In the long run, your body will thank you be being a “finely tuned engine”. It’s all about your health!

Please share this article with family or friends who would benefit from this information.

Until next month!

Shana Grams L.Ac

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Acupuncture to Stop Smoking

5 Facts to know when using Acupuncture to quit smoking:

Smoking is a strong, complicated addiction. Quitting smoking is no small task and you will need lots of support to be successful. You need the best tools to help with the physical and emotional symptoms, and acupuncture is a great resource to help you succeed.
Here are the 5 things you should know about using acupuncture to quit smoking.

1. Acupuncture is very effective to help stop smoking.
Acupuncture has been used to help combat addiction and curb cigarette cravings for a long time. Many people have had success and now research is supporting these claims.
In a recent study, “Alternative Smoking Cessation Aids: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” researchers gathered data from 14 different studies to see which alternative techniques helped patients stop smoking. The acupuncture studies examined 823 different patients. The researchers concluded that both acupuncture and hypnotherapy may help patients quit smoking. The scientific world is far from definitively recommending acupuncture for smoking cessation, but more and more research shows that it does help many people.
Acupuncture helps with smoking addiction in many ways. It stops jitters, curbs cravings, lessens irritability and restlessness, increases relaxation and helps detoxify the body. It can also restore balance in your constitution and jumpstart the healing process.

2. There is a “stop smoking” acupuncture point.
There is a point is called “Tim Mee,” which is used specifically to stop smoking. It’s located one finger’s width above your wrist crease, on the inside of your arm. It is used solely to help people stop smoking and it does this by altering the way cigarettes taste.
Will this point be enough? Of course not. Smoking is a complicated addiction. Tim Mee is a powerful acupuncture point, but it must be used in conjunction with other points to combat cravings, rebalance your body and heal.

3. Acupuncture can reduce cravings, but it can’t change habits.
Physical cravings are only one aspect of cigarette addiction. Many times, the habit of smoking is harder to stop than the physical addiction.
If smoking helps you cope during difficult emotional situations, not smoking can make you feel naked and vulnerable. If smoking is part of a daily ritual, not smoking can make your day feel “off.” All of this is normal and challenging.
I recommend that people use all the support systems they have available. Get help from family and friends. Join a support group. Exercise. Find new smoke-free activities.
Stopping a smoking addiction requires support—physically, emotionally and socially.

4. There are simple acupressure techniques to cope with cravings.
Ear massage is one way you can cope with cravings at home. It releases endorphins and these chemicals are natural painkillers. It also stimulates acupuncture points which help balance Qi.
There are many ear massage techniques. You can place your thumbs in the widest upper part of your ears and massage in circular motions. You can massage the small inner crevices and the front of your ear where it attaches to your head. And you can massage your earlobes, with gentle pulls and circular motions.
To be even more effective, I recommend that you call me to learn the specific points that are best for you and your body. In some cases, I can place a small bead on the point and hold it in place with tape. When you feel a craving, you just press on the bead for relief.

5. The Third Thursday in November is the Great American Smokeout.
The American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday of November (November 21, 2013) as the Great American Smokeout. This is a day to quit smoking—for good. If you have “thought” about quitting, the Great American Smokeout is a great day to actually do it.
I am available to help you quit. Call me before the Smokeout and we’ll make a “Quit Smoking” treatment plan so you can quit with as little discomfort as possible.

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Fitness on a Budget

Don’t you love how great you feel when you work out regularly?

You’re alert, you sleep better, and it’s easier to stay calm and optimistic. Once you get in the routine of working out and keeping a healthy routine, it’s fun.

But there’s always something that stops you. For most of us, it’s either time or money. We don’t have time, and gym memberships are too expensive.

Let’s imagine a dream solution. You want the fitness tools you find in a gym but you want to do it at home so it’s convenient. You want aerobics, strength and stretching so you have a good holistic workout.

And most importantly, you don’t want to spend more than $50 on any piece of equipment.

Can you build a home gym with that budget?

The Best Home Gym Equipment for Less than $50

Suspension Trainer ($30 – $165)

The core of an affordable home gym is a good suspension trainer. A suspension trainer has 2 straps with handles and foot cradles, usually fixed to a single point. Many come with a door attachment so you don’t need to put a hook in your wall.

When you use a suspension trainer, you use your body weight for resistance. You lean in or out on the straps, increasing or decreasing the difficulty depending on the angle of your body.

For a single piece of equipment, it’s hard to beat a suspension trainer. They have a wide range of exercises that work your upper body, lower body and core. Everyone can use them, from beginner to professional athlete. You can isolate individual muscle groups or do complex exercises that use your whole body. There are even exercises that have twists and stretches.

Some suspension trainers are expensive, but if you do your research there are many affordable brands for less than $50. Make sure you buy a brand with strong, reliable clasps so when you hang your weight on the straps they don’t slip.

Resistance Tubes ($10 – $40)

Resistance tubes are another great strength building piece of equipment. These elastic tubes can be used for a variety of exercises for both your upper and lower body.

Have you noticed that the elastic of resistance tubes functions similarly to the springs in Pilates equipment? With a little ingenuity, you can use your tubes for many Pilates exercises.

Balance Board/Stability Trainer ($17 – $45)

Balance is an important part of physical strength and becomes even more important as you age. Luckily your balance will increase the more you practice.

A stability trainer is another piece of equipment that you can use at any fitness level. In the beginning it may be enough just to stand on the trainer without wobbling. Once you have that mastered, try closing your eyes or standing on one foot. Eventually experiment with doing your entire workout routine on the stability trainer. Even the simplest exercise becomes difficult when you have to maintain your balance.

Jump Rope ($3 – $30)

Every gym needs aerobics equipment and a jump rope can’t be beat when it comes to getting your heart pumping. If you haven’t jumped rope since you were a kid, you’ll be surprised about how challenging it can be.

Once you have your rhythm mastered, there are many ways to make jumping rope interesting. Try jumping double time, backward, high stepping or back kicking. Put “jump rope tricks” into YouTube to get more ideas.

Chin-up Bar ($14 – $65)

Of course a chin-up bar is great for chin-ups.  It’s a great tool for building upper body and core strength.

But chin-up bars are good for your home gym for another reason–they are a great anchor for other equipment.  You can attach suspension trainers, resistance tubing and yoga belts to the bar to get even more exercise options.

There are two basic styles of chin-up bars.  One style hangs from the upper door molding and the other type has fittings that you screw into the door jamb.  When you choose a style, be sure to check the weight restrictions.

Foam Roller ($12 – $35)

Foam rollers are a great addition to your home gym for two reasons.

First of all, the roller can be used to massage sore muscles and release tension. They stretch and release tightness and are very beneficial for preventing injury. With some creativity, you can roll and massage most muscle groups.

Foam rollers can also be used to build core strength and increase the difficulty of many Pilates mat exercises. If you place the roller vertically under your spine, even warm-up exercises become challenging.

You don’t need a special room with expensive equipment to have a robust workout in your home. For less than $50, you can get exercise equipment that gives you a good workout, that grows with you as your strength and skill increases and that provides a wide range of activities so you never get bored. And most of these items store easily in a small closet.

Don’t let your misconceptions about gyms stop you from working out. It’s easy to get started. The biggest step is to decide to do it.

I’ll be happy to give you more tips and tricks on working out at home. Contact me today for ideas.

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Acupuncture Helps Repair Brain Damage from Drug Use

There have been several reports before of research and theories about the usefulness of acupuncture in treating addiction but few have yielded concrete proof, that is until now. A recent study found that acupuncture at the Zusanli point significantly decreased the activation of heroin cues in the brain. Heroin cues are responsible for inducing sensations linked to reward and craving in the mind and the acupuncture used in this study quickly suppressed these sensations.

Drug addiction and abuse is a serious problem for a lot of people and overcoming that addiction sometimes seems insurmountable but this research proves that acupuncture can be an essential part of rehabilitation.
Links to the Articles:
– www.nrronline.org/article.asp?issn=1673-5374;year=2012;volume=7;issue=33;spage=2607;epage=2616;aulast=Cai;type=0

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What the Heck is ‘Cupping’??

“Cupping” may sound strange, but practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have healed people with this method since 300AD (4). According to Dr. Kaleem Ullah, secretary of the British Cupping Society, “Cupping Therapy is an ancient medical treatment that relies upon creating a local suction to mobilize blood flow in order to promote healing” (3).Cupping can provide relief for migraines, muscular tension, respiratory diseases, digestive diseases, and chronic pain, among other conditions.

In Ge Hong’s A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, the earliest recorded mention of cupping from the early fourth century, a hollowed-out horn was the recommended tool of choice. A lot has changed since this technique’s inception; modern practitioners use glass, bamboo, and pottery cups to create the healing suction. During a typical session, a cotton ball soaked in alcohol is burned inside the cup, removing all oxygen and creating a vacuum that anchors the cup to the skin. Other methods are also used to create suction, such as holding the cup over a small flame and using a hand pump instead of fire. Flame is never used near the skin, only to create suction.

Once the cups are placed on the proper areas of the body, the cups are slid across oiled skin. The effect is much like a “reverse massage”; skin and superficial muscle are gently pulled into the cup, which loosens muscles and encourages better blood flow, among other positive effects. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, “Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected material” (4). The cups are placed along the meridians of the body to target specific maladies, like in acupuncture, which is often administered alongside the cupping procedure. If you experience chronic conditions that keep you from living your best, there’s only health to gain by trying this non-invasive, low-risk treatment.

Sources: 1. Dharmananda, Subhuti, Ph.D. Institute for Traditional Medicine, “Cupping.” Last modified March 1999. Accessed February 3, 2014. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cupping.htm.

2. Ullah, Kaleem, Ph.D. British Cupping Society, “A Brief Overview of Cupping Therapy.” Last modified May 15, 2011. Accessed February 3, 2014. http://www.britishcuppingsociety.org/http:/www.britishcuppingsociety.org/a-brief-overview-of-cupping-therapy.

4. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, “The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping.” Last modified June 17, 2009. Accessed February 3, 2014. http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/677-the-many-benefits-of-chinese-cupping.html.

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