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]

Help Your Winter Skin...Naturally

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By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

With the cold weather a known trigger for dry skin, many people are looking for natural ways to support healthy skin.  From a naturopathic perspective, there are several common factors that should evaluated, and often dietary supports to aid.

Evaluating Dry Skin

Is dry skin simply just a way of life for Canadians?  Why do some seem to suffer more than others?  For some, assessing their thyroid function is critical.  Hypothyroidism, or a low functioning thyroid gland, is a common condition associated with a change to very dry skin, poor nail & hair quality, sometimes loss of lateral eyebrows, low mood, weight gain, depressed mood, and cold intolerance.  The condition is more common in females and easily assessed by bloodwork performed by your medical or naturopathic doctor.

As a naturopathic doctor, I also tend to look into a patient's diet for deficiencies in nutrients relating to dry skin.  Most commonly seen is a low intake of essential fats, or difficulty in absorbing them which may require support to their digestive organs.  The area of where the dryness is occurring can be a helpful tool too.  Very dry and cracked heels can signify a different deficiency than dry, bumpy upper arms.

When skin is very dry and itchy, or is confirmed to be a case of eczema, dietary analysis of food sensitivities tends to be very helpful in alleviating symptoms.  Eczema must be distinguished from psoriasis, which is often triggered by foods, but both require individual assessments in regards to immune regulation, detoxification pathways, and hormones.

Analyzing a patient's personal hygiene products can be helpful, as many contain ingredients that are very drying.  It may be necessary to use great moisturizers (you can check the product on Environmental Working Group's database for its green rating!) to get through winter.  Many patients will find the cleanest moisturizers are simply vegetable oils, such as sweet almond oil.  Coconut oil as a moisturizer can be helpful for some, aggravating for others.

Dietary Supports for Skin

Often I find myself educating patients on the importance of lubricating the body from the inside, as well as externally.  Look at increasing healthy fats like fish oil, or plant-based oils.  Supplementing may be necessary to get results, or finding creative ways to add olive oil to cooked foods, lemon-flavoured oils to smoothies, or fat-bomb recipes for snacks.

Vitamin D can be a helpful support for regulating a skin condition with an immune element to it, like eczema.  Zinc can be helpful for improving healing, especially when prone to cracked skin, though it can only be used short-term.   Vitamin E may be beneficial for some, with added benefit potentially for eye and cardiovascular health.  Oils and fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin E & D, are best absorbed when taken with a meal containing a little fat.  Watch the caffeine and alcohol intake for their abilities to dehydrate, and ensure adequate water intake.

For those that have tried everything, having your thyroid and diet analyzed may be a valuable next step.  Here's to a comfortable winter!

*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.  

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Important Natural Remedies to Help with Colds and Flus

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

It’s that time of year again and you might have already faced your first bout of the sniffles or a cough. Here are some great recommendations to try and keep colds and flus at bay or to reduce the severity of symptoms when you do catch a virus.

Dietary Recommendations

Ensuring adequate daily protein intake is critical to boosting your immunity, as your immune cells are built from protein. Dairy, while a good protein source, often contributes to phlegm, so it should be minimized during cold & flu season. Citrus and bananas can be surprising other triggers for phlegm, so a trial reduction at the onset of a cold could be beneficial. Be sure to reduce caffeine and sugar, both heavily suppressing to the immune system.

Vitamin C and Zinc

While many people have learned the value of Vitamin C, it's lesser known how helpful zinc can be for your immune system too. The only caveat is that Zinc should not be taken long term, as it can cause copper deficiency.

Echinacea Root & Astragalus

Echinacea has been well-studied for its ability to boost immune cells, but it is paramount to ensure that your supplement is using the correct, medicinal part of the Echinacea plant: the root! Echinacea is best for reducing the severity and duration of colds, while another plant, Astragalus membranaceus, is better suited between colds to strengthen immunity.

Vitamin D

One of the most exciting vitamin developments in the last 10 years is Vitamin D in its ability to regulate the immune system - boosting those who ne it, or calming an over-active response. This vitamin is best absorbed when taken with food.

Probiotics

The bacteria in our intestines are estimated to account for over half of our immune system, so adding more through probiotic-rich foods or supplementation can reduce the frequency of colds.

Research these options or talk to your healthcare provider about these possibilities and we wish you a healthy winter!

*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]

Treating Insomnia Naturopathically

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

For chronic insomniacs, gentle herbal remedies like Chamomile, or targeted therapeutics such as melatonin, may not be the right approach. Here are some other common areas to investigate with your medical or naturopathic doctor:

Stress

Our stress hormone interferes with our production of melatonin. Many stressed patients will report feeling "tired but wired" - they put themselves to bed out of exhaustion but get a second wind as soon as they hit the pillow. Others will complain of restless sleep. Anxiety and caffeine can all appear as stress inside the body, so these areas should be addressed and stress management techniques be a focus.

Diet

We see many patients that fight with food sensitivities that disrupts the quality of their sleep, or with nutritional deficiencies, such as magnesium, healthy fats, adequate protein, or B vitamins. Often simple changes in the diet can create great improvements in sleep after a few weeks.

Hormones

Low progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone can all play a part in poor sleep. Thyroid disease can also create too little or too much sleep. Simple bloodwork can be an excellent starting point.

Blood sugar

For those with sleep-maintenance insomnia, or trouble staying asleep, blood sugar levels dropping a little too low in the night can be a cause. If you know you cannot miss a meal without getting light-headed, shaky or irritable, having a protein and healthy fat-rich snack before bed can improve sleep quality.

Caffeine & Alcohol

Both caffeine & alcohol are known to disrupt sleep and should be avoided by anyone with sleep issues. Between them, they have a wide range of negative effects on sleep hormone production, blood sugar control, hormone balance, and digestive health. Many patients feel a need to use them as the result of their poor sleep, but over time, these compound the issue. I often ask my coffee or wine lovers if the coffee or wine loves you, as much as you may love it!

There are many areas to investigate with sleep, but be prepared to experiment and devote some time & patience to the process.

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice.  Please consult your medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, or pharmacist for advice that is right for you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]