What is Auricular Therapy?

By Dr. Wanda Duong, DTCM, R.Ac., B.Sc.,

Auricular Therapy (AT), also called Auriculotherapy, is both a diagnostic and an integrative treatment procedure whereby the external surface of the ear, or auricle, is stimulated to alleviate conditions in other parts of the body.

The principles of Auricular Therapy (AT) are based upon both Traditional Chinese Medicine and neurological reflex therapies that were discovered in Europe. The essential principle in AT is that there are neurological reflexes and energetic correspondences between specific areas of the external ear, or auricle, and other parts of the body that are arranged in the pattern of an inverted fetus, which is similar to principles of reflexology on the feet.

AT can produce a therapeutic effect for treating various conditions by stimulating the acupoint that corresponds to the targeted part of the body or organ. Treatment of those reactive ear points can be achieved by tactile acupressure (ear seeds and acupressure) or by the insertion of very thin acupuncture needles.

The WHO recognizes AT as a micro-acupuncture system that can produce a positive impact on regulating the whole body, and its therapeutic effect has been investigated in a wide range of health problems in both oriental and western countries. AT can be used to address very similar issues that body acupuncture can address including reducing pain, anxiety, withdrawal and addictions symptoms, migraines, insomnia, digestive issues, and many other conditions. Similar to body acupuncture, thin needles can be used on the ear for a short duration and a strong effect/stimulus. As an alternative, ear seeds can be placed onto acupoints of the ears to provide a much gentler stimulus whereby the patient is sent home with the ear seeds still in place and instructed on how to massage the ear seeds. This allows for a gentle yet longer stimulus of the acupoint on the ear. Traditionally, ear seeds come from the flowering herb Vaccaria, but practitioners can also use metal, silver, or gold-plated seeds today.

An ear seed appointment can be completed quite quickly and is done in a seated position. The procedure will typically look something like the following:

1. Clean and dry the outside of your ear. The ears are disinfected in preparation for the ear seeds that will go on the outside of your ear, not in your ear canal.

2. Identify the correct points. The acupuncturist will locate the best points based on your needs and symptoms.

3. Ear seeds applied. Ear seeds typically come pre-attached to adhesive tape where the The practitioner will press gently on the tape to make sure the ear seeds stick to the ear well.

4. Massage ear seeds gently. The patient is asked to follow simple instructions of massaging the ear seed three to five times each day or when symptoms are present. Apply pressure to massage the ear seeds for 30 seconds to two minutes if comfortable.

5. Change them regularly. As ear seed application does not stimulate an acupoint as strongly as needles, it is recommended to have an ear seed (auricular) appointment every 1-2 weeks when beginning treatment. Additionally, though safe to shower with, ear seeds will naturally fall off on their own from 2 – 7 days. Your practitioner will also recommend you remove any remaining ear seeds after about 5 -7 days regardless, so it’s recommended to get them replaced regularly to continue to benefit from those points.

6. Removal. You can use tweezers or your nails to remove the ear seeds. Simple tilt your head slightly to face the ground and remove the seeds.

Speak to our registered acupuncturist, Dr. Wanda Duong TCM, for more information or book your ear seed appointment today at Active Sports Therapy, Willow Park 403-278-1405

What is Auricular Therapy?

Menopause from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors Prospective.

By Dr. Wanda Duong DTCM, R.Ac., BSc. and Dr. Vikki Maguire DTCM.

The years leading up to menopause can bring tremendous changes to the female body. Although a natural biological process, menopause is not experienced the same by all individuals. Symptoms associated with menopause often create secondary symptoms that affect sleep patterns, energy levels, and overall physical and emotional well-being.

Menopause is the result of a dynamic decline in the function of the ovaries to produce eggs and associated hormones that regulate menstruation. This normal transition in menstruation often occurs between the ages of 45-55 years, though it can begin earlier in some females.  Symptoms associated with menopause are multivariate and can include difficulty concentrating, muscle and joint pain, changes in skin texture and appearance, urinary disruptions, mood changes, decrease libido, fatigue, and hot flashes and night sweating as the most prominent symptoms that most individuals experience.   

Like the western medicine approach to addressing menopause, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also aims to regulate the body’s internal thermostat to control and reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweating, as well as support and stabilize a healthy change in hormone levels. However, TCM takes a more natural and holistic approach, that often has little to no negative side effects, and individuals often see improvements in many secondary areas such as quality of sleep, reduced aches and pains, improved skin and hair health, stabilized mood changes, and an increase in libido and energy.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) uses a combination of modalities to create a personalized treatment plan based on the individual’s needs and underlying issues that are found through TCM diagnosis. A combination of acupuncture, herbal formulas, and dietary/lifestyle recommendations is often utilized.

TCM acupuncture utilizes specific point combinations to encourage the body to trigger the release of specific chemicals and hormones. This is done by stimulating the nervous system to then communicate with the spinal cord and brain. This biochemical change stimulates the body’s natural healing and regulating abilities to correct imbalances in temperature, hormone levels, and physical and emotional well-being. TCM acupuncture is a very safe and non-invasive therapy and research has suggested that of the myriad of symptoms menopause can present with, hot flashes and night sweating appear to respond quite quickly with just acupuncture.

One of the common approaches western medicine takes is hormone therapy, and though effective, hormone therapy may come with negative side effects such as breast and ovarian disorders, or individuals may have contraindications or are unwilling to use hormone therapy. TCM offers a natural and safe alternative often combining acupuncture with TCM herbal formulas as an adjunct to increase the efficacy of an acupuncture treatment. Herbal formulas are comprised of a balancing blend of ingredients found in nature. They often have little to no side effects, aside from allergies to a particular plant or plant part, and like homeopathy, TCM takes advantage of the therapeutic properties these plant materials offer to create formulas that address both symptoms and their underlying root causes. There is no one particular herbal formula to address symptoms of menopause as each herbal formula is unique in its ability to address underlying root causes of symptoms. After a consultation, your TCM practitioner will be able to prescribe an appropriate herbal formula to specifically address your condition.

The combination of TCM acupuncture, herbal formulas, and the addition of TCM dietary suggestions assists the body during this transition into menopause. Rather than the abrupt and drastic decline in hormones that the body is forced into during menopause, TCM takes a natural and whole-body approach to assist the body with a balanced and gradual change in hormone levels. However, regulating the body’s internal thermostat does work exactly like the thermostat on our wall, therefore patience and consistency is necessary to experience change.

TCM therapies can be used in conjunction with other forms of treatments including Western medicine, naturopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, and so forth. When combing TCM acupuncture with other interventions (medication, supplements, herbal formulas, other therapies), studies have concluded that this combination is more effective than those interventions alone.

Sources:

Johnson A., Roberts L., Elkins G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. (2019). doi:10.1177/2515690X19829380

Lund KS., Siersma V., Brodersen J., et al. Efficacy of a standardized acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomized study in primary care (the ACOM study). (2019). 9:e023637. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2018-023637

Lian-Wei X., Man J., Roland S., et al. Hindawi Publishing Corporation Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Review Article Efficacy and Side Effects of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms: A Critical Review. (2012). Article ID 568106, 19 pages doi:10.1155/2012/568106

Kim KH., Kang KW., Kim DI., et al. Effects of acupuncture on hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women-a multicenter randomized clinical trial. Menopause. (2010) Mar;17(2):269-80. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181bfac3b. PMID: 19907348.

*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.

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:

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]

Acupuncture for Insomnia

[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:

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:

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]