Acupuncture for Stress Relief
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Vikki McGuire, DTCM and Dr. Wanda Duong DTCM
Stress is a natural reaction to the world and experiences that we are a part of and every single person will feel stress occasionally be it from work, finances, relationships or anything else, the body’s response will be the same; elevated stress levels sending the body into fight-or-flight mode. The difficulty arises when a person has elevated stress levels that are persistent to the point where it begins to take a toll on the body and starts to show up in different people in different ways.
Stress when ignored can manifest into both physical and/or emotional symptoms. It is usually only then that we start to question why we feel a certain way. Stress is a silent burden that affects us all differently, and if stress is an issue for you, just know that you’re not alone. The ‘fight or flight’ response that we experience during a stressful situation was meant to solve short-term problems, but if we are left in this ‘fight or flight’ state of being (sympathetic nervous system dominance) numerous health concerns can begin to arise. Some people may struggle with sleep issues and others might find that anxiety and depression are interrupting their life and draining their energy. Another person might notice that they’re catching colds during more stressful times throughout the year.
If this is the case for you, it might be a great opportunity to discover the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to help rebalance your body and mind and to get you back to a happy and healthy life!
Symptoms commonly associated with stress can include:
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Generalized muscle stiffness or tension
- Headaches & migraines
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression
- Heart palpitations
- Physical or mental fatigue
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Weakened immune function (e.g. frequent colds, coughs or inflammation)
- Digestive or reproductive system complaints
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty losing or gaining weight
- Type 2 diabetes
In more severe or long-term cases, stress may increase your breathing rate, increase your heart rate or your blood pressure, and consequently put your cardiovascular system at risk of a severe illness (e.g. heart-attack or heart disease), so it’s important to do whatever you can to help manage your stress.
How acupuncture can help with stress levels:
Acupuncture is a treatment where fine needles are placed into certain points in the body that will help to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. With regards to stress directly, there is evidence that shows that acupuncture therapy can decrease the body’s overall stress response and in some cases, help reverse the effects of it. Each of us has something called the parasympathetic nervous system which is basically the good state your body is in when you are in a relaxed state. This is a great state of being, and it is where we want to live, unless of course, you are actually in danger! Working with the flow of energy in the body, acupuncture can help bring back flow to areas of the body that may be obstructed or are experiencing an imbalance. Many people experience a very peaceful feeling immediately after an acupuncture session. Acupuncture works in both curative and preventative ways when it comes to your stress and is just one way Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors can help with this issue.
There are many conditions addressed in Traditional Chinese Medicine are actually the result of stress manifesting in other areas of the body, so even if you don’t think your condition is related to stress, it might be worth taking a closer look with a full assessment from a DTCM.
Book in with one of our Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors to go over all your health concerns and to find out if acupuncture could be right for you.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, Dr TCM, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Vikki Mcguire TCM
What is considered insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder where an individual has difficulty falling asleep and/or remaining asleep through the night. Upon waking in the night, the person might then have a tough time falling back to sleep. Insomnia can be either acute, which means it’s short-lived and goes away. Acute insomnia might be due to a stressful life event, for example, a student may not be able to sleep the night before an important exam. Chronic insomnia is when a person experiences it a minimum of three nights per week lasting at least three months. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it could also include sleep that is disrupted by nightmares and dreams.
Most adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night and without that people can experience both a physical and mental toll, especially if the insomnia is chronic.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, insomnia can be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Some causes of sleep disorders include:
- Hormonal Imbalances (peri-menopause or menopause)
- Digestive Problems
- Stress or Anxiety
- Sleep Apnea
After a full assessment, a TCM doctor will design a treatment plan to help address your sleep issue. It may include a self-care lifestyle plan, herbal recommendations, nutrition options, acupuncture and cupping treatments.
How can Acupuncture Help with Sleep?
Acupuncture is a treatment where fine needles are placed into certain points in the body that will help to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. With regards to sleep directly, acupuncture therapy can help to activate your body's generation of the sleep hormone melatonin and works to lower overall stress and anxiety by relaxing the body, in turn sending you to sleep easier. Working with the flow of energy in the body, acupuncture can help bring back flow to areas of the body that may be obstructed or are experiencing an imbalance. Many people experience an extremely peaceful sleep immediately after an acupuncture session.
If you're having trouble falling asleep, here are a few pieces of low-hanging fruit that you can reach for to see if they make a difference:
- Get yourself on a schedule – Going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday can help your body to establish its' circadian rhythm. This is basically an internal clock that helps tell your body when it’s sleep time, and when it’s wake time.
- Meditation – Meditation and mindfulness is a great way to help calm and relax the body to prepare it for rest and rejuvenation. If your worries tend to keep you awake, this can be especially important to help you stay present in the moment. One meditation app that gets rave reviews is The Daily Calm.
- Turn off your electronics – A combination of the light emitted from devices and the distractions that come with them can cause people to have a hard time falling asleep. Try to avoid these devices when bedtime is near.
- Aromatherapy – Lavender is probably the most popular scent of aromatherapy when it comes to helping the body relax at bedtime, but there are many others that can help too.
If you’re interested in learning more to find out whether acupuncture could be right for you, please book in with Dr. Vikki Mcguire TCM at Active Sports Therapy.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
IMS and Acupuncture - What's the Difference?
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]If you’ve heard of IMS and acupuncture, you may find yourself wondering what the difference is. After all, they both involve needles! Although the two have the ‘needle’ in common, the techniques and aims of the treatments are quite different.
Let’s take a look at both of these treatments. IMS or Intramuscular Stimulation is a technique that uses needles to find and diagnose muscle shortening and tightening in deep muscles. The goal of the IMS needling technique is to release this deep muscle tension. It works by putting a thin needle into a muscle that is tight. The muscle will then twitch, or cramp, and then it go into a state of relaxation which can help the patient have improved mobility, relaxation of the muscle, and a reduction in pain.
As an example, if you have muscle pain that always seems to be there and if it’s the type of pain that feels better for a short time, let’s say, after a massage, but then tenses back up again then you could be a good candidate for IMS. IMS will use only one needle at a time which will be inserted and removed after a few quick seconds.
Traditional acupuncture on the other hand has been practiced for centuries and can help with everything from pain relief, to sleep, digestion, and more. It works on the philosophy that a person is healthiest when they have enough of, and well circulating vital energy. The aim is to help improve your body’s function and healing processes by stimulating specific points on the body.
An acupuncturist will use several very thin needles at the same time, which will remain on the chosen acupoints for several minutes (often 15-20 minutes). Most people report feeling mild or even no discomfort with the needles. The purpose of leaving the needles in for this length of time is to help stimulate the body’s release of endorphins and anti-inflammatories. This can help alleviate pain, bring balance to the body, and treat various health conditions. An acupuncture point, may not be near the site of complaint as opposed to IMS which goes directly to the point of pain.
You can receive both of the treatments here at Active Sports Therapy. Call or email to learn more![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Chinese Acupuncture for Injuries, Sleep, Digestion and More!
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By Dr. Gayle Maguire, BSc, ND
Who is acupuncture for?
Whether you are a weekend warrior or professional athlete or performing a repetitive motion at home or work, your body may be pushed to the extreme. Working with chiropractors and massage therapists, I see many joint and soft tissue injuries, especially in the fall after a sport-filled summer. Often these injuries require a team approach, using massage and chiropractic to achieve some goals. Patients end up in my office when these treatments need extra support from acupuncture or nutritional advice.
Acupuncture is one of my favourite treatments for musculoskeletal issues. Studies have shown and have been verified by the World Health Organization, that acupuncture is effective for many conditions, including knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, arthritis, sciatica, sprains and tennis elbow, just to name a few. It appears to increase circulation and healing in injured areas, and reduce the sensation of pain.
What is the Philosophy?
Traditional Chinese medicine works on the philosophy that a person is healthiest when they have enough and well-circulating vital energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”). When qi is stuck in an area, the patient feels pain and needles are used, like taps, to open up the flow. Needling seems to improve range of motion and recovery time. These are valuable gifts when full rest and recuperation is unattainable. Again, summer is finally here, who wants to rest!
The full Chinese medical approach also strengthens the patient’s constitution, allowing for better sleep (whether poor sleep is the obstacle to recovery, or worsened by the pain), and improvements in other elements of the patient case, like digestion or headaches.
What can I expect?
If you are considering acupuncture to address your health concerns, make sure to look for a registered acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor. The practitioner should be using sterile, single-use needles. Most of my patients who admit they were nervous about needling are relieved to feel no major discomfort with the Chinese style, many needles are not felt at all. Some needles feel like a tiny mosquito bite. Once needles are in, the surrounding area often feels warm or tickles as the energy begins to move. Needles are generally left in one location for 15 – 20 minutes and may be magnified by the use of moxa or electric stimulation. Moxa is a herb that is burned over a point, while electric stimulation adds an electric current to needles. These do intensify the sensation of the needles and may help speed results, but can be avoided if the patient does not like the feeling.
Otherwise, make sure you eat prior and take it easy the day of treatment. Some conditions/patients are a brand-new person after one treatment, others need a few to feel improvements. There are different styles of acupuncture (Chinese, Korean, IMS, etc), so if you have tried one and were not sure of results, try another to give this type before deciding completely.
Results can vary from different practitioners of the same style too. For more information, book a complimentary meet-and-greet by calling the clinic at (403) 278-1405.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]