Acupuncture for Hot Flushes

Hot flushes are a common peri-menopausal and menopausal symptom in women. However other causes of hot flushes include side effects of chemotherapy and medication used to treat certain cancers (breast and prostate), andropause or “male menopause” and anxiety or panic disorders.

Hot flushes are classified as a vasomotor symptom and are typically experienced as an uncomfortable feeling of intense heat accompanied by reddening of the face, sweating and rapid heartbeat.  The exact causes and vasomotor mechanisms of hot flushes are poorly understood. In menopausal women hot flushes are triggered by a reduction of oestrogen, a normal natural hormonal change, and in around 10% of women they last longer than 12years (A). In western medicine menopausal hot flushes are commonly treated with oestrogen or progesterone in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), however the use of which may be associated with potential health risks (B).

Regardless of the origins of hot flushes the experience can vary from mild sensations to a physically draining and debilitating experience for some with a negative impact on quality of life (C).  Acupuncture and TCM have long been used to treat hot flushes and research indicates an improvement in frequency and severity of vasomotor hot flashes with Acupuncture treatment among women in natural menopause (D).  Because traditional Chinese medicine treats the root of the imbalance beneath the symptoms, its approach provides a safe and effective treatment for hot flushes.

(A) Politi MC et al. Revisiting the duration of vasomotor symptoms of menopause: a meta-analysis. J Gen Intern Med 2008; 23: 1507-13

(B) http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hormone-replacement-therapy

(C) Stein KD et al. Impact of hot flashes on quality of life among postmenopausal women being treated for breast cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage 2000;Jun19(6):436-45

(D) Hsiao-Yean Chiu et al. Effects of Acupuncture on menopause-related symptoms and quality of life in women on natural menopause: a meta analysis of randomised controlled trials. Menopause 2014.

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Acupuncture for Menopause

Common signs and symptoms: hot flushes, night sweats, reduced libido, mood swings, depression, painful intercourse due to vaginal atrophy, fibrocystic lumps, osteoporosis, muscle spasm, forgetfulness, heart palpitations, loss of bladder control, frequent urination, joint pains, allergies, high cholesterol, dizziness.

How Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs) can help

Chinese Medicine is a gentle and yet a very effective and safe method of treating menopausal symptoms. The emphasis of the treatment is not to increase the level of a certain hormone, but rather to restore balance whilst the body is going through these natural changes, to help smooth the way in times of adjustment. Whether it is during your menstrual cycle, conception, pregnancy or menopause, Chinese medicine helps optimise a woman’s endocrine system, regulates the nervous system and stimulates the release of endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones, and calming the mind.

We are each born with a certain level of estrogen inherited from our parents genes, nevertheless a woman’s lifestyle and dietary habits from childhood to the cessation of menses can play an important foundation for how she goes through menopause. The sooner we look to balance the body and the mind, the easier or free of symptoms your journey during menopause will be.

Things to Avoid

  1. Caffeine: If you are suffering from night sweats, then avoiding caffeine can help alleviate the night sweats. Caffeine disrupts hormonal balance.  Caffeine can also exacerbate insomnia and keep you awake at night. If you really love and enjoy your coffee, then only have it in the morning and make a ceremony out of it, get the best coffee you can afford and relish that cup! If you only have it in the morning, then it is out of your system by the time you go to sleep. However, it may still have an impact on your system.  Tea also has caffeine, so you may want to switch to herbal teas.
  2. Excessive Exercise: Exercise should be rejuvenating not depleting. Exercise to the point of exhaustion or overheating may exacerbate your symptoms of menopause such as night sweats or hot flushes, hot flashes.  Try to do low impact exercise and give your joints a break.
  3.  Alcohol: Alcohol may exacerbate your symptoms of menopause such as night sweats or hot flushes, hot flashes.
  4. Smoking: Smoking increases the number of free radicals in the body, which are known to damage many cells.  Smoking is just bad for you all around.
  5. Toxins and Pollutants

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How does Acupuncture treat infertility

The benefits of acupuncture and TCM for conception problems can be found in early Chinese medicine literature dating back to 11 AD. Not only does TCM improve the probability of becoming pregnant and having a healthier baby, it also serves to enhance the function of the whole body. This holistic approach provides the key to unlocking unlimited potential in healing. This is especially important for people who are over age 40, as it stimulates overall health, which in turn, affects their reproductive system.

A group of acupoints can directly regulate the Hypothalamic--Pituitary--Ovarian hormonal axis, adjusting any imbalances. Acupucture can also promote blood circulation to pelvic region, refeshing the ovaries, uterus and testicles which is intrinsically improtant for cenception.

The condition of poor blood flow and energetic congestion manifests as amenorrhea, painful menstrual cycle, pain during intercourse, premenstrual symptoms, mid-cycle bleeding and pain, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, tuble blockage, uterine fibroids, menstrual clotting, migraine headaches coinciding with the menstrual cycle, elevated follicle stimulating hormone and poor quality of sperm analysis.

While the above signs and symptoms in and of themselves may or may not be the primary cause of infertility, they do reveal internal blockage of energy and blood which may be contributing factors.

How long will it take to get pregnant with acupuncture infertility treatments

In most cases, men and women need a minimum of 3 months of consistent regular treatment. Most couples conceive anywhere between 3 to 12 months. The consistency of receiving acupuncture treatments and taking herbal formulas is crucial because specific hormonal adjustments are made during each week of the cycle. Missing a week of treatment may be detrimental, in that an important opportunity to balance a particular segment of the four-phase menstrual cycle (follicular phase, ovulation, luteal phase, and menstruation) is lost. 

A minimum of 3 menstrual cycles (12 consecutive treatments) usually begins to regulate a woman’s hormonal system regardless of biological age. However, if you use acupuncture with assisted reproductive technology (ART), the treatment period varies, depending on the success of the procedure. Because of the cumulative healing affect of acupuncture and herbal formulas, and their ability to increase one’s fertility quotient, most patients continue receiving acupuncture for the duration of conception. Acupuncture treatments can also detoxify the body from chemical medications or other toxic substances, hence enhancing the body’s likelihood of conception. 

Trying to get pregnant is a numbers game. The longer you try, naturally or with ART, the better your chances are. This applies to acupuncture and herbs as well. The longer you allow your body to reach homeostasis through the use of Chinese medicine, the better your chances are. If you have gone through multiple ART procedures without success, receiving long-term regular acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments will significantly improve your chances of conception. Therefore, the couple must expect to devote 6 to 9 months of consistent treatment before evaluating results. There is no quick-fix-path when it comes to conception, full-term pregnancy, and the health of a baby, but it’s well worth the long wait!

What else can help to improve acupuncture treatment results

Besides regular acupuncture treatments and herbal medicine, eating healthily (a variety of food that includes more fresh green vegetables, high quality lean protein, whole grains, plenty of water and fruits, limited consumption of coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, juice, and greasy food, eating in smaller portions, and thoroughly chewing your food), daily exercise, good sleep, and less stress can help improve treatment results.

 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING

How We Breathe 

The nature of our breathing is dependant on a number of factors including our stress levels, emotional state, posture, degree of muscular tension and diet. The diaphragm is the core breathing muscle and is strongly affected by all of these conditions.
Observing a baby or animal we notice that their whole abdomen inflates like a balloon as they breathe. This is because they naturally engage their diaphragm to draw air into their lungs.
As we grow older, our breathing tends to become shallower and more constricted as our diaphragm tightens and our breathing moves into our chest. We begin to use our intercostal muscles and other accessory muscles to help us breathe, rather than our diaphragm.
The diaphragm has strong connections with many of the internal organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, spleen and kidneys. When it moves during diaphragmatic breathing, the internal organs are exercised and more blood and oxygen is circulated within them.

Diaphragmatic breathing habits can have a wide range of beneficial effects such as:

Learning to Breathe Diaphragmatically

During qigong we’ll be exploring different techniques to help us return to natural diaphragmatic breathing.
We will begin with exercises to become more aware of the breath:

Quote from College of Integrated Chinese Medicine