concordcenter, Author at Concord Center Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Getting the Upper Hand on Colds, Coughs and Flu

Are you tired of getting sick all the time? When you get sick do you end up on antibiotics for a sinus infection or on asthma medications for a nasty cough? Are your kids running around all winter with runny noses or a cough? You might be surprised to learn that there is a lot that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can do AND a lot that YOU can do to reduce the length and severity of colds, coughs and flu and prevent complications.

Your body’s own immune system is ultimately fighting and curing every cold or flu that comes your way. Your body has the cure for common colds, coughs and flu. This is a pretty important point to remember when you are looking to get healthy and stay healthy. Your body has the innate ability to heal itself. However, it’s inevitable that stress, lack of sleep, overwork or poor diet will at one time or another compromise your immune system so that you or your kids end up sick. Also, some bacteria and viruses are so virulent that it’s hard for even the strongest among us to escape them or you may have a constitution which is more susceptible to colds and flus. Similarly, children’s immune systems are still maturing and therefore kids are also more susceptible to colds and infections.

If you are looking to get the upper hand on coughs, colds and flu you’ll need to optimize your body’s own defenses and natural healing potential. You may not be able to avoid every cold or flu that comes your way but you can definitely stack the odds in your favor and avoid complications. Here’s what you can do:

1. Get acupuncture

Acupuncture boosts your immune system and relieves stress. For many, regular acupuncture treatments alone are enough to keep them healthy all year long. When I first started getting weekly acupuncture treatments, over 20 years ago, this was one of the first “side-effects” that I noticed. Without even trying, I was getting sick less often and my allergies disappeared. This is because acupuncture has a modulating effect on the immune system, helping it function at its full potential.

Once you or your child does get sick, all can benefit from treating their colds, coughs and flu symptoms with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. You’ll suffer less and the illness will not last as long if you follow the common sense suggestions below and get regular acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments while you recover. We’ve helped children and adults get off the hamster wheel of antibiotics and steroids by treating their colds, earaches, fevers, sinus congestion, and coughs. If you can come in for treatment at the very early stages of a cold, we may even be able to prevent it altogether. Also, if you find that you are getting sick a lot, then regular acupuncture combined with an appropriate herbal formula can help boost your immune system, in between each cold, so that illnesses become less frequent.

Acupuncture boosts your immune system as well as clears sinuses and ear congestion, relieves body aches, sore throats and headaches and treats coughs and chest congestion. Also many Chinese herbs have antibacterial, antiviral, antihistamine and immune boosting effects, which prevent and treat infection, reduce fever and resolve sinus congestion and coughs. In fact, one area that Chinese herbal medicine really shines is in its treatment of respiratory illnesses such as congestion, coughing and wheezing. We have had many patients that no longer need asthma medications during and after their colds because they are getting acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments.

Getting regular acupuncture or herbal treatments allows for the most tailored and effective approach to preventing and treating your colds, coughs and flu. Regular treatments allow your practitioner to get to know you and the finer points of your constitution so that they can most effectively determine what is needed to get you healthy and keep you healthy.

2. Eat lightly and avoid sugar and dairy

It’s important to remember that 70-80% of your immune system is in your gut. Although modern science has confirmed this relatively recently, Chinese Medicine has viewed the digestive system or gut as the foundation of health for over 3000 years. When you eat sugar, you feed the bad gut bacteria in your body. This doesn’t help you get better. Eliminating sugar, along with a healthy diet, allows beneficial gut bacteria to thrive and work to help get you better more quickly. Probiotics can also be a helpful for this same reason. We carry a great evidence-based probiotic line in our clinic. Ask us which item and dosage is best for you next time you are in. But remember, probiotics are going to work best alongside a healthy, low sugar diet.

If you have nasal or chest congestion, both sugar and dairy are going to make the congestion worse. If you suffer from lots of congestion, do yourself a big favor and eliminate both sugar and dairy, at least until your congestion has cleared up.

Another way to take care of your digestive system, when you are fighting or recovering from an illness, is to not over burden it too much food or rich foods that are hard to digest. You want to keep meals warm, light and easy to digest, so that your body can spend its energy getting you better, rather than digesting a heavy meal. If you are overweight or have a slow metabolism, then you may even want to fast for a day or so. If you have a fast metabolism, weaker constitution or don’t have too much congestion, then simply eating easy to digest foods such as homemade chicken broth with rice porridge would be a light, nourishing and curative meal.

3. Drink homemade chicken broth

Chicken broth isn’t just good for you when you get sick. You can make and drink homemade chicken broth throughout the entire cold and flu season in order to help boost your immune system.Homemade broth is one of the most nourishing foods that you can eat—it heals your gut and boosts your immune system. Due to our hectic and busy lifestyles, not many people take the time to make their own soup broths anymore. However, bouillon and prepackaged broths are lacking in both flavor and nutrition.

Our Immune Boosting Chicken Broth recipe is a lovely primary broth that is rich and flavorful enough to be served to guests. It’s immune boosting effects are enhanced by the addition of the herb huang qi (astralagus root), which is great at strengthening your immune system in between colds. Our slow cooker friendly Chicken Bone Broth is high in minerals, collagen and amino acids. It’s an easy and frugal way to add the curative power of homemade broth to your busy week. Those struggling with frequent colds and flus will notice a significant improvement when they drink a cup of homemade broth every day.

4. Rest and de-stress

There is absolutely no substitute for rest when it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, coughs and flu. You can take all the herbs and supplements in the world but if you don’t take time out to rest, you are going to compromise your immune system. Your body is not getting sufficient rest when you are under slept or on constant overdrive due to chronic stress.

One of the main ways that stress and lack of sleep affects our immune system is by stimulating the increased production of cortisol. Cortisol acts as an immunosuppressant by reducing the number of white blood cells in your body, (specifically T cells and macrophages). White bloods cells are the foundation of your immune system and are the cells responsible for producing antibodies and destroying viruses and bacteria. So if you are looking to prevent colds and flu, you need to work on getting sufficient sleep and reducing stress.

How much sleep is right for you will vary from person to person. On average we say 8 hours per night is enough, but you could need as much as 9-10 hours per night depending on your constitution and depending on the season. Children often need anywhere from 9-12 hours per night depending on their age and constitution.

Although there is no way to totally eliminate stress from our lives, there is a lot we can do reduce and manage it. Regular acupuncture treatments can be an invaluable tool in helping you manage stress and reverse its negative health effects on your body. Acupuncture takes you out of “fight or flight” mode and puts you back into “rest and digest” mode. It’s like a downshift or reset for your body. Also practicing mindfulness meditation, exercising regularly and gentle stretching and yoga are a must if you want to reduce and better manage stress.

If you do succumb to a cold or flu, stay home from work or school, get off the computer and smart phone and take some extra time to rest and de-stress. When you rest and de-stress, your body does its best healing. For busy parents or those traveling for work, getting enough rest can be really difficult. Just do your best. Don’t make your stress worse by beating yourself up over not being able to rest enough. Ask for help and do your best. Prioritize your rest whenever you can. The messy home or sink full a dishes can wait until tomorrow (they unfortunately aren’t going anywhere, I promise).

5. Drink ginger and scallion tea

Ginger and scallion tea can help knock out a cold in the very early stages. If you’re feeling chilled and sneezing a lot, make yourself a cup of this simple elixir and bundle up in lots of warm clothing until you break a sweat. For those that run cold and suffer from frequent colds in the winter, you can enjoy a cup of fresh ginger tea every morning instead of coffee. Just add 3 slices of fresh ginger to a cup of water and gently simmer for a few minutes. Pour the tea into a mug and enjoy!

6. Clear your sinuses with a neti pot & gargle

If you tend toward sinus infections or just have a lot of nasal and sinus congestion you could benefit from using a neti pot to help rinse the congestion away. You can buy a neti pot at your local pharmacy or online. Be sure to follow all cleaning and sanitary instructions that come with your neti pot. Alternatively, if you have a sore throat, gargle regularly with salt water.

7. Supplement with vitamins D, vitamin C and zinc

In addition to rest, proper diet, acupuncture and Chinese herbs, other supplements that can be helpful in boosting your immune system and fighting off colds include zinc, vitamin D and vitamin C. We carry a great liquid zinc that actually tastes great and several different forms of vitamin D, including cod liver oil which is a natural source of vitamin D. As always, a lot of research goes into the herbs and supplements that we carry so that you can be confident that you are getting only the highest quality products.

This is how we keep ourselves and our family healthy. These simple and commonsense suggestions are time-tested and effective. How long it takes you to get over a cold, cough or flu will depend upon the strength of the virus or bacteria that you caught, your constitution and how well you are able to follow the above suggestions. You don’t facilitate the healing process when you put time limits on how quickly our body heals. The time it takes for you to heal is not something you can fully control. Your best prevention and recovery will occur when you listen to your body, follow the above suggestions and be kind and patient with yourself.

 

Cultivating Gratitude

You are wired to focus on the negative aspects of your life because anticipating danger helps you survive. From the perspective of life preservation, this negative lens makes a lot of sense and keeps you and your family safe. However, when this focus on the problematic areas of your life becomes your only way of thinking, it may start to do you more harm than good and lead to stress, depression, anxiety, poor sleep and a host of other stress-based illnesses. Likely, there is a lot that is good in your life that you take for granted and when you focus only on your fears and worries, you miss out on letting joy, contentment and gratitude enter your life. You are just surviving, rather than thriving.

But you can change this! You don’t have to become trapped by your negative thought patterns and habits to the point where they do you more harm than good. Just like going to the gym to keep your body in good health, you can exercise and train your mind to experience greater gratitude and health.

Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve your physical health, mental health, sleep, resiliency and relationships. It makes you a kinder, healthier and happier person. Who doesn’t want that? So here are three ways you can flex your gratitude muscles and cultivate a healthier and more positive outlook on life:

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Get a notebook and write down 3 things that you are grateful for every day. Write in detail about what these things are, how they make you feel and even what your life would be like without them. The more detail and feeling words you use, the more effective this will be! Even if this exercise seems forced or difficult, keep at it. Studies have shown that just the act of keeping a gratitude journal can create big changes in your health.

2. Practice mindfulness meditation

Meditation allows the stress and chaos to settle out of your body and your mind. It allows you to be present, focused and aware of what is going on both inside you and outside of you at any given moment. It gives you the opportunity to notice the thoughts that are going through your head every minute of the day and train your mind to be aware of the present moment. To practice just sit comfortably in a chair or cross-leg on a cushion on the floor. Sit up straight in a relaxed and dignified manner. Notice what it feels like in your body as you breathe. Feel the air moving into and out of your body, wherever it is most noticeable. When you notice yourself thinking, just begin again and come back to noticing your breath. Do this for about 5-10 minutes. After you have practiced meditation for 5-10 minutes, spend another 5 minutes and bring to mind something for which you are grateful. Try to really see this clearly in your mind’s eye and notice how it makes your body feel. Rest a few minutes with the feeling this contemplation creates in your body.

3. Make gratitude part of your daily routine

Thinking and experiencing gratitude doesn’t have to be so formal. You can spend a few minutes thinking about what you are grateful for when you wake up in the morning, before you go to sleep at night or even on your daily walk or while sipping a cup tea. The more you can make it a part of your every day life, the more benefit you will feel.

Like any thing else it life, gratitude takes practice. Even if the practice feels forced in the beginning, keep with it and know that it will have a positive effect just by the very act of trying. There is a lot that we can be grateful for, but it doesn’t have to be the big stuff. No matter how difficult life is right now, you have the power to find at least one small aspect of life for which you are grateful—music, water, the sun, your child, your family, a warm home, a good book, a cup of coffee, the release of a tear, the moment just before you drift off to sleep or a piece of delicious pie. Take a bite of your life—chew slowly—savor it and be grateful.

Acupuncture Reduces Stress & Strengthens the Immune System

Most of us know that stress is not good for us. One of the many negative effects that stress has on our body is that it weakens our immune system and makes our bodies more susceptible to a whole host of illnesses and diseases, including allergies, colds and flu. But few really understand the extent to which this is true unless they have suffered the effects of a serious illness due to stress, such as an autoimmune disease, cancer or recurrent infections. It is estimated that 80% of all illnesses are stress induced (1). Because of its negative effect on our immune system, 100% of all illnesses are worsened by stress. The good news is that acupuncture has been shown to reduce the effects of stress on our bodies and strengthen our immune system.

Anyone who has had acupuncture can tell you that it helps them feel very relaxed. Acupuncture has been shown to induce a “relaxation response” and strengthen our immune system by reducing the negative effects of stress on our bodies. Over the past 25 years, an ever growing body of research has been exploring the detailed biological mechanisms by which acupuncture reduces stress and strengthens our immune system. The question now is not “does it work?” but rather “how does acupuncture work to reduce stress and improve our immune system?” To understand this we must first understand how stress negatively impacts our immune system.

Acupuncture has been shown to induce a “relaxation response” and strengthen our immune system, by reducing the negative effects of stress on our bodies.

Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system. This is our survival system that creates those flight-or-fight reactions that are necessary for escaping danger, such as increased heart rate, improved lung function, reduced movement of our large intestine and increased blood pressure. This flight-or-fight response allows us to maximize the functions of our body that will help us escape danger while minimizing the functions of relaxation. This is all beautifully orchestrated by our central nervous system (CNS) via a chain reaction of energy and chemicals that send messages from our nervous system to our endocrine (hormonal) system. This is called our neuroendocrine system. This neuroendocrine system is interconnected so that the system can send and receive messages in all directions in order to keep itself in balance or homeostasis.

However, when stress persists over an extended period of time, our sympathetic nervous system remains constantly stimulated. As a result, the system becomes depleted. When this happens the ability of our nervous system to remain in balance is compromised and the potential arises for all sorts of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and increased risk of infections, cancer, colds and flu.

When stress persists over an extended period of time, the ability of our nervous system to remain in balance is compromised and the potential arises for all sorts of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and increased risk of infections, cancer, colds and flu.

One of the main ways that stress affects our immune system is by stimulating the increased production of cortisol which suppresses our immune system. Most people by now have heard of cortisol (that nasty little stress hormone that creates the dreaded belly fat). However few really understand that cortisol weakens our immune system. Cortisol acts as an immunosuppressant by reducing the number of white blood cells in our body, (specifically T cells and macrophages). White bloods cells are the foundation of our immune system and are the cells responsible for producing antibodies and destroying viruses, bacteria and tumor cells.

Acupuncture works to reverse the effects of stress by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system (remember this is the system that controls our body when it is under stress) and activating our parasympathetic nervous system (which controls our body when we are calm and relaxed.) Acupuncture is able to change the messages that are being sent from our nervous system to our endocrine system and finally to our immune system. Exactly how this works is under continued investigation. One theory is that acupuncture corrects the “firing” of energy messages sent by our nervous system (2). This in turn leads to improved immune response by:

  • increasing serotonin and endogenous opioid peptide levels in the blood stream (3)
  • decreasing cortisol levels in the blood stream (4, 5)
Acupuncture corrects the “firing” of energy messages sent by our nervous system (2). This in turn leads to improved immune response by increasing serotonin and endogenous opioid peptide levels and decreasing cortisol levels in the blood stream (3, 4, 5).

How can this be possible? Acupuncture needles are metal and we already know that metal is an excellent conductor of energy. Acupuncture points are surrounded by a greater concentration of nerve endings than in other nearby areas of the body. Because the nervous system uses energy to send its messages and acupuncture allows us to conduct and adjust the flow of energy, you can begin to see how acupuncture works to reduce stress and improve our immune system!

We cannot always reduce the stressors in our lives but we can change how our body reacts to them. Acupuncture is a tool that helps our bodies reverse and cope with the negative effects of stress. It naturally regulates our nervous system which leads to a better functioning immune system. By creating a sense of profound relaxation, acupuncture also improves our overall state of mind. When we feel better, both physically and mentally, we are healthier and may even be able to make the healthy changes in our lives that we have been wanting to make. As you begin this new year why not add regular acupuncture treatments to your routine in order to give yourself the best advantage for having both a happy and healthy new year! Don’t wait until stress has caused a major health problem for you. Make your health a priority this year by reducing stress. Remember that a major focus of acupuncture is on preventing illness… not just treating it. Acupuncture can be an invaluable tool for helping us cope with stress and prevent allergies, colds, flu and other illnesses.

  1. Friedman MM, et al. Family nursing: Research, theory, and practice (5th ed.). 2003. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  2. Walling A. Therapeutic modulation of the psychoneuroimmune system by medical acupuncture creates enhanced feelings of well-being. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2006 Apr;18(4):135-43.
  3. Cabioglu MT, Cetin BE. Acupuncture and immunomodulation. Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(1):25-36.
  4. Imai K, et al. Electroacupuncture improves imbalance of autonomic function under restraint stress in conscious rats. Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(1):45-55.
  5. Ahsin S, et al. Clinical and endocrinological changes after electro-acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Pain. 2009 Dec 15;147(1-3):60-6.

Acupuncture Reduces the Frequency & Severity of Migraine & Tension-Type Headaches

There is now sufficient quantity and quality of evidence to show that acupuncture performs as well as, if not better than, the traditional pharmaceutical treatment of migraine and tension type headaches (1, 2). According to the Cochrane Collaborative, a well respected group which reviews medical research, acupuncture was shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of both migraine headaches and tension type headaches.  The effects of acupuncture not only out performed pharmaceuticals but did so with much fewer side effects.  One of the migraine headache studies even measured the long term benefits and found that significant improvements were still apparent nine months after the course of acupuncture treatment had finished!

Acupuncture performs as well as, if not better than, the traditional pharmaceutical treatment of migraine and tension type headaches.  The effects of acupuncture not only out performed pharmaceuticals but did so with much fewer side effects.

This is great news for migraine and headache sufferers, but the results are no surprise to us.  We treat migraines and tension headaches on a daily basis in our clinic and most patients that come in with a migraine or headache feel significant relief by the end of their first treatment.  During a course of treatment we may combine acupuncture with herbal medicine, nutritional suggestions and stress reduction techniques.  This more holistic and comprehensive approach enhances relief and works towards further reducing migraines and tension headache by treating the root of the problem. The number of treatments you will need greatly depends upon how severe your headaches are and how long they have been occurring.  We have some patients that we treat just once or twice a year when a migraine occurs and they need no other treatment other than that.   Others with more severe or chronic migraines are on a more regular course of treatment in order to keep headaches at bay.

If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, it is imperative that, in addition to getting regular acupuncture treatments, you get plenty of sleep, reduce stress, stay hydrated and avoid triggers such as alcohol, sugar and skipping meals. These lifestyle changes that you can make on your own are both free and important in the long-term treatment of headaches and migraines. Your acupuncturist will tailor these suggestions to reflect your unique presentation. Remember that acupuncture not only reduces the frequency and intensity of migraines and headaches but it also induces a “relaxation response” and reverses the effects of stress on your body. Acupuncture helps you feel better faster and when you feel better you are able to make healthier lifestyle choices. Why suffer with headaches, migraines or side effects from medications that are not that effective? Click here to learn more about treating your migraines and tension headaches with acupuncture.

  1. Linde K, et.al. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [serial online]. August 9, 2009;(4) Available from: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 29, 2010.
  2. Linde K, et al. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [serial online]. August 9, 2009;(4) Available from: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Ipswich, MA. Accessed January 29, 2010.

Acupuncture Reduces Depression During Pregnancy

Women suffering from depression, that are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant, may not know where to turn for help. Treatment with pharmaceutical antidepressants presents potential risks to an unborn child so many women are looking for alternatives. A recent study, out of Stanford University, offers excellent news. This new research suggests that acupuncture is an effective way to safely treat depression during pregnancy (1).

In this study, published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, 150 women diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder were randomly divided into 3 groups. One group received acupuncture that was specific for depression. The second group received acupuncture that was not specific for their condition and the third group received massage. All participants received a total of 12 treatments within 8 weeks. Participants were evaluated using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Women that received acupuncture treatments specific for their depression experienced a significantly greater reduction in symptoms as well as a higher response rate as compared to women in the other control groups. Sixty-three percent of the women, that were treated with acupuncture specific for their depression, experienced a 53% reduction in symptoms (a change from “severe” to “mild” on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression). Eight weeks after the women stopped receiving treatment 35% still experienced this improvement in their depression. Additionally, the women in the study did not experience any major side effects to treatment.

The authors conclude, by comparing the results of this study, with the results of other depression studies, that acupuncture is as effective at treating depression as psychotherapy and pharmaceutical antidepressants.

This is an excellent study for several reasons; foremost being that the treatments were tailored to treat the Chinese Medical diagnosis of each woman, just as they would be in a true clinical setting outside of a research study. One of the strengths of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is that the practitioner does a holistic health evaluation and then determines the root cause of depression, which varies from one person to the next. The point prescription or acupuncture points chosen address this root cause. The imbalance or cause for depression in one woman may not be the same as the cause in another woman. Therefore not all cases of depression are treated with the same acupuncture points. In this study, the researchers were able to treat the unique presentation of each woman and therefore study acupuncture as it is applied in a real clinical setting. Additionally, great efforts were made on the part of the researchers to create two control groups and to maintain the blinding of both patients and practitioners as much as possible. Having an adequate control group and maintaining patient and practitioner blinding are some of the major challenges to conducting good scientific research on acupuncture in a clinical setting.

The authors conclude, by comparing the results of this study, with the results of other depression studies, that acupuncture is as effective at treating depression as psychotherapy and pharmaceutical antidepressants. This is the first time that we see acupuncture research on depression in pregnant women, verifying both the effectiveness and safety of prenatal acupuncture.

Everyday in our clinic, we see how acupuncture relieves depression in our patients. For a comprehensive and holistic approach that offers life-changing results, we often recommend combining acupuncture with psychotherapy, herbal medicine, proper nutrition or exercise. Acupuncture helps you start feeling better, quickly, so that you can make the changes in your life that you have been wanting to make. Acupuncture works naturally to help you feel more positive, energetic, grounded and focused.

  1. Manber R, et al. Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar;115(3):511-20.

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes & Menopausal Symptoms

Many women suffering from hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause are searching for alternative ways of finding relief. A new study in theBritish Medical Journal–Acupuncture in Medicine, is helping spread the word that acupuncture treats many symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia and urogenital issues.

In this study, 53 Turkish women were divided into 2 groups. The first group received acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks. The second group received fake or “sham” acupuncture, also twice a week for 5 weeks, using needles inserted through small rubber stoppers affixed to the skin so that the needles did not actually penetrate the skin. By the end of 5 weeks, women that received the sham treatments had no change in their symptoms, whereas women that received real acupuncture treatments experienced significant improvement in all symptoms, especially with their hot flashes.

The study also looked at changes in hormone levels, theorizing that acupuncture improves menopausal symptoms by affecting our endocrine system. Women receiving real acupuncture treatments showed decreased levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) and increased levels of oestradiol, whereas women that received the sham treatments showed no significant changes in hormone levels. Even though hormone levels were clearly affected by acupuncture, the researchers felt that the relatively small changes in hormone levels did not fully account for the more profound improvements in symptoms, indicating that when treating menopause, acupuncture balances not just our hormones but other controlling systems of our body as well. This is especially great news for women that have had a personal or family history of cancer and are looking to treat their menopausal symptoms without greatly increasing the level of estrogen in their bodies.

For thousands of years, acupuncture has been helping women gracefully transition into menopause. By restoring balance in our bodies we can feel well once again and be open to enjoy each phase of our life. Experiencing menopausal symptoms is frustrating, uncomfortable and a sign that your body is not in the best health that it could be. Taking care of your health now and bringing your body back into balance with acupuncture will help reduce your need for hormone replacement therapy and insure many healthy and active years to come.

  1. Sunay, D; et al. “The effect of acupuncture on postmenopausal symptoms and reproductive hormones: a sham controlled clinical trial.”Acupunct Med. 2011 29:27-31

Herbal Cranberry Sauce

This delicious and therapeutic cranberry sauce is a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner each year. The negative effects of overeating can be greatly reduced by adding the herbs hawthorne berry (shan zha), dried tangerine peel (chen pi), cinnamon (rou gui) and fresh ginger (sheng jiang) to this traditional cranberry sauce recipe. These herbs are used for a condition that Chinese Medicine calls food stagnation. Food stagnation occurs when you have overeaten, leaving you with bloating, fatigue, heart burn, constipation or diarrhea and even insomnia. So enjoy your feast and add this herbal version of the traditional cranberry sauce to your Thanksgiving table this year!

Ingredients

3 cups (1 lb.) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup shan zha (hawthorne berries)*
1 whole chen pi (dried tangerine peel)*
3″ stick rou gui (cinnamon)
1 slice sheng jiang (fresh ginger)
3/4 cup sugar or honey
juice from one orange
1/3 cup water

Instructions

  1. Soak hawthorne berries in water until soft.
  2. Remove all seeds! (Be certain that you have removed all the seeds or you will have some very unhappy guests later on, as these seeds are as hard as a stone).
  3. If the tangerine peel is in small pieces, place the peel in a tea bag or cheese cloth and close with cooking twine. You will need to remove the peel from the the cranberry sauce before serving.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until cranberries just pop open.
  5. Let cool. Remove the tangerine peel, cinnamon stick and fresh ginger before serving.

* Herbal packets of shan zha (hawthrone berry) and chen pi (dried tangerine peel) can be purchased at our clinic. You can call us at (978) 369-9400 to set up a time to stop by or place your order over the phone and we will ship to you.

Immune Boosting Chicken or Turkey Broth

This broth is quite flavorful and can be eaten alone or it can used for any recipe that calls for chicken or turkey broth. Homemade broth is one of the most nourishing foods that you can eat. Due to our hectic and busy lifestyles, not many people take the time to make their own soup broths anymore. However bouillon and prepackaged broths are lacking in both nutrition and flavor. We hope this recipe will inspire both the novice and expert broth makers to take the time to make this nourishing recipe. Not only is it delicious but it will help keep you and your family healthy throughout the winter months. We always keep several quarts of this broth on hand in our freezer for cooking or making a quick soup, so be sure to make extra!

Ingredients:

8 quarts cold water
3 pounds chicken or turkey (whole, legs or wings)
2 ounces (60 grams) huang qi (astragalus root)* (you may substitute 2 large carrots if you don’t have huang qi)
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 celery stalks
2 large onions
2 garlic cloves
2 fresh tomatoes
1 handful of parsley
3 slices of ginger (optional, for a more Asian style both)
2 ounces of parmesan cheese rind (optional, for a more Italian style broth)

Instructions:

Combine chicken or turkey with water in a 12 quart pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes while skimming the impurities from the surface.

Once there are no more impurities, add the huang qi, whole peppercorns and sea salt. Loosely cover the pot, leaving the lid propped open just a bit to allow for some evaporation, and continue to gently simmer for 1 hour.

Chop the rest of the vegetables into 1 inch pieces and add them to the simmering broth. Continue to gently simmer with the vegetables for 1 more hour.

Then turn off the heat and strain the hot broth immediately. This is done most easily by removing the large pieces of meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon, then ladling or pouring the broth through a mesh strainer into another pot. Discard or compost the herbs and vegetables. Set the meat aside and allow to cool. Once cool, separate the meat from the skin and bones. Discard the skin and bones and reserve the meat. You can add the meat back into a finished soup or use it to make chicken or turkey salad. Once the broth is cool it can be poured into containers for refrigeration or freezing.

Herbal packets of huang qi (astragalus root) are available for purchase at our clinic.

Acupuncture Reduces Fatigue, Depression and Anxiety for Women with Breast Cancer

Fatigue is a common and debilitating problem for many cancer survivors and for those undergoing cancer treatment. Conventional treatments are often insufficient in treating cancer related fatigue. A recent study published in 2012 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology compared the effectiveness of acupuncture to standard care for over 300 women who had been treated for stage I through IIIA breast cancer within the past 5 years and who were still experiencing moderate to severe fatigue1. The acupuncture group received a very short course of treatment (20 minute treatments once per week for 6 weeks) using only 3 acupuncture points. The standard care group received a self-help booklet on fatigue.

Acupuncture was found to significantly improve fatigue for the women in the study compared to those that did not receive acupuncture. Acupuncture was also found to significantly reduce anxiety and depression, as well as improve quality of life. Although the patient’s energy levels did not fully return to their pre-cancer treatment levels, in just a short time of 6 weeks acupuncture was able to make significant improvements. Six treatments are typically recommended for acute problems, but with chronic health complaints a longer course of treatment is typically required. With continued treatment, it is likely that even greater improvements could have been achieved.

This is the first large scale study which looks at the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat fatigue. It would have been better if the researchers added a placebo or non-treatment group for statistical comparison, but together with earlier studies 2, 3 there is still strong evidence that acupuncture is successful in treating cancer related fatigue.

You can learn more about cancer and acupuncture by visiting Cancer Support Using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Be sure to also check out our Miso Soup with Shiitake recipe which is particularly nourishing and good for those undergoing cancer treatment.

  1. Molassiotis A, Bardy J, Finnegan-John J, Mackereth P, et al. Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2012 Oct 29.
  2. Vickers AJ, Straus DJ, Fearon B, et al. Acupuncture for postchemotherapy fatigue: a phase II study. J Clin Oncol. May 1 2004;22(9):1731-1735.
  3. Molassiotis A, Sylt P, Diggins H. The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: A randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2007;15:228–237.