Herbal Tonics for Digestion
Digestive disorders can be simple like flatulence or gas, or they can be much more serious, such as Crohn’s disease. But regardless of the severity of the disease, there is no doubt digestive disorders affect far more people than they should, especially in the United States. A recent survey reports nearly 74 percent of all Americans are living with digestive issues. Most people don’t report it to their doctors either, because they assume it is normal to have gas, bloating or abdominal pain. But these symptoms can be indicators of much more serious underlying problems. The gut is also the “second brain” of the body. When there are problems in the gastrointestinal tract, it can manifest mentally as well as physically. The enteric nervous system, our gut/second brain, is composed of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. The ENS can trigger emotional shifts experienced by those suffering from gastrointestinal issues. But what science is also discovering is that emotional problems can also trigger issues in the ENS. It’s a two-way street and if one is out of whack, then the other may be also.
There are ways we can help our gastrointestinal tract and digestion, though. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, and it focuses on treating the person holistically, meaning every part is addressed at once instead of individually. TCM uses modalities like acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, formulas, and nutrition to treat each patient.
Here are some herbs used frequently in TCM to help with digestion and gastrointestinal issues:1. Dandelion (Pu Gong Ying): This herb has been used for millennia for liver and digestive problems. It is used specifically for its diuretic properties. Pu Gong Ying promotes healthy digestive functioning and unlike pharmaceuticals used as diuretics, this herb actually restores potassium rather than depleting it.2. Hawthorn Berry (Shan Zha): Shan Zha is a great herb to have on hand after those big family dinners, like Thanksgiving. This herb works to remove food stagnation in the digestive tract, and it works especially well on meats and fats that are harder to digest.3. Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi): One of the best herbs around for regulating the whole digestive system. It is used for spleen and stomach issues in TCM, including nausea, belching, vomiting, abdominal distention and pain. Due to its bitter flavor, it can also drain dampness that may cause loose stools.4. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang): Ginger is a great digestive herb, as well as a warming spice that helps the circulatory system. It is a natural remedy for heartburn and nausea. It also helps expel gasses from the gastrointestinal tract.5. Peppermint: While not formerly used in TCM, it is still one of the best digestive herbs available. Peppermint can be used to relieve indigestion, soothe stomach aches and relieve diarrhea caused by colic. It is also a good addition to help treat irritable bowel syndrome. Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from digestive issues.
Ask us to find out more about these herbs. We can help you navigate the world of medicinal herbs and find the exact combination right for you.
New York Sports Acupuncture
Research Update: Acupuncture and Migraines
In a 2017 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers tested the efficacy of regular acupuncture treatments as a preventative measure to reduce the number of migraine headaches their subjects experienced. From a group of 249 participants, ages 18 - 65 years old, the researchers split up the participants into three groups. One group received verified acupuncture once a day for four weeks, one group received so-called “sham acupuncture” during that time and one group was told they had been placed on a waiting list and would receive free acupuncture eventually.
The group that received regular true acupuncture treatments experienced a significant reduction in the number of migraines they experienced compared with members of the other two groups. Researchers also conducted follow-up interviews with all participants for 24 weeks after the treatment ended and found the frequency of migraines, the number of days people had a migraine and the intensity of the pain of those migraines were significantly lower for the group that had true acupuncture treatments than for those in each of the other groups. This study suggests acupuncture can be a powerful preventative measure for migraine headaches as well as a method of reducing the intensity of migraine pain.
In Western medical circles, the jury is still out on the cause of migraines, but doctors largely agree on a few of the factors that can contribute. Many researchers and doctors believe migraines involve some kind of inflammatory response by the body. Acupuncture is often used to manage inflammation in the body. Some researchers have suggested a connection between serotonin production and migraines. Acupuncture can be used to balance serotonin production in the body, thus helping to prevent a migraine from developing. Pain, including migraines, is often connected to reduced blood circulation in the body, which can also be restored through acupuncture.
To be most effective, acupuncture is often combined with herbal medicine and prescribed exercises, such as Tai Chi. Some common herbs, easily found in Western grocery stores, have also historically been used to address headaches. Ginger, peppermint, coriander seed, caffeine and rosemary all have headache-mediating properties. None of these herbs or roots are proven to prevent headaches on their own, however. If you’re curious, contact a licensed acupuncturist for a personalized prescription based on your symptoms.
Overall, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine seek to address the causes of pain and migraines rather than medicating their symptoms. By reducing inflammation, balancing serotonin production and increasing blood flow, regular acupuncture can help prevent migraines and mitigate their intensity. If you or someone you know suffers from regular migraine headaches, maybe acupuncture can help them! Contact a licensed acupuncturist in your area for more information.
New York Sports Acupuncture
Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
Five Natural Ways to Cure Migraines
Many people get a migraine now and then, approximately 37 million Americans suffer with migraines. And usually they can be cleared up quickly with over-the-counter medication or other treatment method. Symptoms of a migraine can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and even difficulty speaking. For some, migraines become so intense they actually have to miss work and put their lives on hold. Migraines tend to be more debilitating than regular headaches and can literally ruin someone’s life. Unfortunately, science still can’t explain what causes migraines, it makes it virtually impossible to find a cure. But this is where natural medicine and nutrition excel in the treatment of migraines. There are many natural approaches to treating migraines. We’ll examine five ways to naturally approach and treat migraines.
1. AcupunctureAcupuncture is a part of the Traditional Chinese Medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. Acupuncture uses pressure points on the body to help decrease pain and inflammation, while balancing the energy within the body. When somebody is suffering from a migraine, all the energy is rushes to their head. By stimulating or poking pressure points on the feet, this energy can then be drawn down and reduced, thus decreasing the intensity of the migraine. Acupuncture can also help with the treatment of the other symptoms frequently associated with migraines. 2. DietYour diet plays such an important role in your life. For many migraine sufferers, gluten sensitivities can be the main cause of pain. Gluten is a component found in wheat and it is known to increase inflammation in the body. Magnesium and B vitamins are also very important for migraine sufferers. Studies show many migraine sufferers actually have low levels of both magnesium and B vitamins. Magnesium blocks pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, while B vitamins help decrease oxidative stress in the body that may lead to chronic pain and inflammation. 3. Biofeedback Another suggested natural cure for migraines, biofeedback provides information about muscle tension, skin temperature, brain waves and other body signals that helps reduce stress levels. Small sensors are placed on the skin to measure the aforementioned items. Using that information allows the migraine sufferer to change the blood flow to the brain, which helps manage the pain. 4. Exercise Everybody knows exercise is good for the body. But for people with chronic pain, it is even more important. Just by sitting at a desk, working on a computer all day, we are adding an additional 20-30 pounds of pressure to our necks! This can create stress and tension on the muscles and tendons in the neck and shoulder area, which can contribute to migraine pain and frequency. Studies show by merely adding in 20 minutes of stretching daily, migraines and other chronic pain levels can be significantly reduced. Plus exercise gets the blood pumping and increases oxygenation to the tissues. Both are important for relieving pain and inflammation. 5. Chiropractic Care Chiropractic care is another area proven beneficial for migraine sufferers. Chiropractic manipulation helps reduce oxidative stress at the cellular level. Oxidative stress damages tissues and can ultimately lead to disease. Studies show chiropractic adjustments can help decrease tension and relieve pain almost instantaneously.If you are one of the 37 million Americans who suffers from migraines, you are not alone. But the silver lining is that there are natural cures out there that can help you get your life back. Hopefully one or more of these remedies will help you too.
New York Sports Acupuncture
Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.