How Acupuncture Works

The art of acupuncture involves the insertion of fine sterile needles into specific locations, to stimulate the body to heal itself. Traditionally, explanations involve its effect on improving the flow of Qi to balance Yin and Yang; a paradigm of health and disease similar to the Western biomedical concept of homeostasis. In recent years, much attention has been focused on elucidating how acupuncture works in terms of Western physiology. We now know that “Qi flow” equates to nerve transmission, extracellular communication, connective tissue planes, metabolic components of blood, and the functional energy of organ systems. Acupuncture, therefore, regulates and improves function. This is achieved, largely, via its effects on the nervous system that stimulate the body to produce chemicals that relieve pain, reduce inflammation, stimulate tissue regeneration, and induce a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.

One of the mechanisms that may describe how acupuncture works is known as Purigenic Signalling. When an acupuncturist inserts needles into the skin, the body begins to self regulate (self-dose) using adenosine and ATP for signalling and regulation in tissues and organ systems. This is important and very significant as the incorrect balance can cause dysfunction.

This isn’t the only suggested mechanism under which acupuncture has an effect, however, I find it the most intriguing.

Acupuncture originated in China and is now practised throughout the world. Although acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years, evidence of its effectiveness is still controversial.

Sadly acupuncture was developed in a pre-scientific culture before anything significant was understood about biology, the normal functioning of the human body or disease pathology. The healing practices of the time were part of what is called philosophy-based medicine, to be distinguished from modern science-based medicine. Philosophy-based systems began with a set of ideas about health and illness and based their treatments on those ideas. The underlying assumptions and the practices derived from them were never subjected to controlled observation or anything that can reasonably be called a scientific process.

In Australia, we are fortunate to have an organisation working towards recognition for acupuncture on the world stage, The Acupuncture Evidence Project. Taken from their published paper in 2017, “Our study found evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for acupuncture effectiveness for some conditions than others. Acupuncture is considered safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner and has been found to be cost effective for some conditions. The quality and quantity of research into acupuncture’s effectiveness are increasing”.

References

McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd; 2017.

AACMA 

ATP Signaling Acupuncture Burnstock

Acupuncture for Emotions and Moods

Emotional strain may hamper your ability to lead a normal and active lifestyle, becoming an inhibiting factor in daily life and further perpetuating the likelihood of associated mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Emotional stress is commonly associated with one or more of a combination of the following factors; poor dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, being an emotional over thinker ( a common stress response), sudden or long-standing emotional trauma, and the link between a deeper and more complex hormonal imbalance.

Pain, stress, anxiety and depression impede, to varying degrees, our ability to connect with ourselves, preventing us from feeling happy.

Chinese Medicine has a number of modalities that fall under the broader scope of the tradition including; Acupuncture, Tui Na (massage), Chinese Herbal Medicine, dietary and lifestyle therapy, and exercise therapies such as Taichi and Qigong. All of these present each individual client with the necessary tools required to help attain a healthier, happier and more gratuitous state of physical and emotional well-being. And it’s the task of the Chinese Medicine Practitioner to effectively diagnose any imbalance within the body and the mind; while planning and delivering an effective treatment protocol, most suited to each individual, on a case-by-case scenario.

Regular acupuncture treatments enhance the body’s ability to better cope with both physical and emotional stress and strain, allowing the body to more readily relax, release, detoxify and unwind. It does this by stimulating and regulating the hormonal distribution within the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis while calming the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response); inhibiting stress-enhancing chemicals within the body, while reducing inflammation and providing pain management in a drug-free environment.

Acupuncture has also been shown to reduce potential stress-related health risks. It does this by protecting the body’s internal organs from over-strain and over-use, preventing a decline in their natural function, and reducing the likelihood of developing associated diseases such as hypertension and heart disease.

Acupuncture aids in the reduction of stress, while placing emphasis on stress management. Each client is expected to be proactive in their personal efforts toward improving their daily lives; addressing their emotional health through the shedding of any accumulated and unwanted stress and strain.

Undertaking regular weekly Acupuncture treatments, attending regular massage to reduce stress, along with the addition of concurrently taking supplements; aims at addressing the underlying cause of the illness, seeking to positively affect the outcome, being the mood disorder itself. Dietary and lifestyle changes may also be addressed and a nutrition plan was undertaken to complement the individual’s unique constitutional makeup.


To make an appointment with an acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3186 5676. 

10 Essentails to Falling Pregnant

If you and your partner have been ‘kind of trying’ for the last couple of months or even years with little luck but have now decided that this is your year to fall pregnant, listen up…

  1. No more doctor google. Stop comparing yourself to strangers on the internet- forget forums and get in to see a real live person who can give you individual advice and treatment.

  2. Two words- clean eating. Stop making excuses about your diet. No matter what anyone tells you, your diet and the nutrients that both you and your partner absorb are incredibly important for your fertility.

  3. Visit your GP. Get some basic blood tests done, request sperm testing (semen analysis) and a pelvic ultrasound to eliminate serious causes to your infertility so you can either seek natural treatment or chat to a specialist about your next move.

  4. BBT (basal body temperature) charting. Start charting your basal body temperature and show it to the real live person you are seeking treatment from in step 1. Learn how to tell when you are fertile and when you are not, learn about your body and start building a better relationship with it.

  5. EXERCISE – get your body moving !!! Walking or yoga are two great options that everybody can do. Moving blood around your body helps deliver nutrient to your growing eggs or developing sperm for the males.

  6. Review your health. Sort out your ‘minor’ health complaints – if you suffer from bloating, poor digestion, frequent headaches, tiredness, skin complaints, low libido, insomnia, painful periods, short or long menstrual cycles get these treated. They may be related to your difficulty in falling pregnant.

  7. Look at your ‘stuff’. Seek emotional support. See that hypnotherapist, psychologist or counsellor and surround yourself with people who love and support you.

  8. Water, water and more water. Drink water – the simplest tip BUT for some reason, the most difficult. Keep hydrated. You want full, luscious reservoirs of eggs for ovaries, not prunes.

  9. RELAX. Falling pregnant can take time. Stress can negatively impact on ovulation and your ability to conceive so do the things that bring you joy.

  10. Have loads of sex. One of the biggest cause of infertility is timing and how much sex you are having. Knowing and understanding our cycle (step 4) can help target the best ‘window of opportunity’ but regular sex (every couple of days) is our best chance of conceiving. Try to make the increase in sex about your relationship and intimacy and NOT about conceiving. Have fun with it and try something new to spice up your sex life.

…And finally, regular acupuncture.

Why? You may ask…..well, clearly I am a fan but acupuncture can help affect your stress levels by calming the mind. It increases the blood flow to your uterus which in turn helps our lining and then the chances of implanting an embryo. Acupuncture won’t stop there, once pregnant will help with morning sickness, aches and pain and the anxiety of becoming pregnant and the hormonal changes (your partner will thank me).

 

To make an appointment with a Brisbane Natural Health acupuncturist or naturopath call us on 07 3367 0337.

Dry Needling

Dry Needling specifically treats musculoskeletal pain. A fine, single-use needle is inserted into a dysfunctional muscle with the aim of returning it to its optimal state. Studies have shown there to be a localised increase in blood flow and a release of endorphins as soon as a needle is inserted; both positive reactions to reduce pain and dysfunction.

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point is a contraction in a tight band of muscle which causes pain when palpated or squeezed, in a specific site and/or referring to other areas of the body. Trigger points can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or lack of normal range of movement.

Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture?

It is important to know that Acupuncture and Dry Needling are two very distinct modalities. Dry needling is based upon the western medicine paradigm.

It is used for soft tissue correction, which involves inserting extremely fine and painless needles into muscle fibres, causing a local twitch response. This, in turn, helps to deactivate and resolve trigger points in the muscle and release constriction. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and the stimulation of Qi (pronounce Chi).

Acupuncture diagnoses using complex theories, meaning only a qualified and registered Acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner can treat with Acupuncture. Many health professionals utilise Dry Needling as a method for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, including Myotherapists, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists and even some GP’s.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture began in China more than 2000 years ago and has been a major part of their health care system ever since. It involves fine, single-use needles being inserted into very specific points along the body’s meridians which are found on every corner of the body including the hands, feet, and head. The individual points have a specific function and are chosen depending on the condition being treated.

Acupuncture helps conditions based on symptoms using ancient Chinese theories. These theories aim to achieve wellness and to restore balance throughout the body.
The techniques are gentle and the practitioner spends quality time with the client to ensure a positive experience occurs.

Natural Cures for Cold Sores

Cold sores are annoying and painful lesions that occur due to an outbreak of the herpes virus – usually HSV – 1. Over 30% of people have experienced cold sores and there are even more people that carry the virus. Once the herpes virus is contracted it remains in the body for life. It resides in the facial nerve branches and can be opportunistically reactivated by stress or damage.

Cold sore breakouts commonly occur when the body is run down, the immune system is under strain or you are nutritionally depleted. They can also be triggered by physical damage to the lips from sun exposure, very cold weather, kissing, microdermabrasion or dental surgery.

 

How do you treat cold sores naturally?

The natural treatment of cold sores is focused around removing the risk factors. Our naturopaths and acupuncturists work to help cold sore patients deal with stress more effectively, most their immune systems and support their health using herbs and nutritional supplements. In particular, immune boosting and antiviral herbs can be helpful to prevent outbreaks or to clear up lesion faster.

Topically, lemon balm essential oil is very useful. Applying a 20/80 lemon balm essential oil and coconut oil blend to your lips and surrounding areas at the first onset of the cold sore (when you get burning or tingling in the prodromal phase) and throughout the day to assist with healing can help to shorten the duration of the outbreak.

 

Lysine and Arginine role in cold sores

The herpes virus requires the amino acid arginine in order to replicate. Lysine on the other hand, has an inhibitory action on arginine, starving the cold sore virus of arginine which inhibits replication.

Using the amino acid L-Lysine can help to suppress the herpes virus, due to this inhibiting relationship with Arginine. Taking 1000mg of L-Lysine daily for prevention can help, and up to 1000 mg four times a day for an active treatment. Pairing this with some zinc and vitamin C can help with the tissue healing process.

 

What foods can prevent cold sores?

Foods that support your immune system can help to prevent outbreaks. In particular, berries, lemons, pineapple, onions and garlic may be useful. Read more about boosting your immunity here.

Foods higher in L-Lysine such as mung beans, fish, eggs and red meat can also help.

 

What foods can cause cold sores?

As mentioned above, the herpes virus requires the amino acid arginine to replicate. When you eat foods that are high in arginine, and in particular, those that have high arginine to lysine ratio, you can feed the virus and cause or exacerbate an outbreak..

These foods can trigger the herpes virus to activate:

  • Chocolate
  • Nuts (especially almonds, peanuts and cashews)
  • Coffee
  • Rice (can be high in a gluten free diet)

If you need help with cold sores call Brisbane Natural Health on 07 3367 0337 and make an appointment with one of our Naturopaths now.

5 Home remedies to beat the cold weather and change of season blues

1 – Essential Oil antiseptic blend – for cold, flu, sinus congestion, stuffy nose and headache.

Add to water :

Eucalyptus oil 5 drops

Lavender oil 5 drops

Peppermint oil 3 drops

Tea Tree Oil 3 drops

*Use to inhale over a bowl of steaming hot water: Place oils into a litre of boiling hot water. Being careful not to tip it on yourself, place a towel over your head and the bowl to create a steam chamber for you to inhale the essential oil vapours and clear a stuffy head.  

*In a diffuser or oil burner to imbue the home or office with cleansing, refreshing, smells. Place the oils into the water chamber as directed by your choice of diffuser.

2 – Chesty night – time cough relief – suitable for infants through to adults.

You will need:

4 slices of fresh onion

A couple of drops of olive oil

Cling film/plastic wrap

Thick socks

A willingness for your bedroom to smell like soup in the morning. (A small price to pay for cough relief during the night)

Before bed, rub a small amount of oil on the soles of the feet. Careful place the sliced onion rings on the soles of the feet and hold in place with the cling film.  Pull your socks over the top and hop into bed. The sulfur compounds in the onions will infuse through the blood-stream into the lungs and help relieve mucous congestion and cough. Works great on kids. A jump-suit or one-piece outfit is recommended to prevent babies and toddlers distributing the onions all through the room/house.

3 – Home – made cough syrup

You will need:

1 large red onion

1 small chilli (optional)

Approximately ½-1 cup raw honey

Slice the onion into rings and dice the chilli. Place into a wide mouthed glass jar.  Cover with honey and allow to steep in a cool place for 1-3 days. To relieve a dry or raspy incessant cough or scratchy throat, take a teaspoon full of the mixture as required.

4 – Sniffle Tea – A brew for your stuffy nose…

You will need:

1 lemon, washed well.

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8th teaspoon cayenne

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons raw honey

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

600ml boiling filtered water.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a tea pot or coffee plunger. Drop the skins in there as well.  Add the remaining ingredients and allow to brew for 10 minutes before drinking. Great for hayfever, sinus and sore throat. If you’re super keen you can also add a clove of fresh raw garlic crushed for extra antibacterial punch!

5 – Circulation Boosters – help keep your hands and feet warm in the cold weather.

As you know exercise, and a hot bath do wonders for improving circulation, but you can also include certain foods in your diet to keep your blood circulating happily:

Try:

Cayenne Pepper – Take a pinch of cayenne pepper in a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of black strap molasses. Drink 1-2 cups daily.

Turmeric & Ginger – Replace your morning coffee with a hot turmeric latte. Spice it up with some ground ginger, cardammon, cinnamon and raw honey.

Make soups, curries and casseroles with extra chilli, garlic, rosemary and turmeric to help keep your blood thin and metabolism on the go.

Snack on some almonds, walnuts, macadamias and your favourite nuts and seeds as a good source of the circulation boosting vitamin E.

5 ways to combat cold & flu season

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we believe our bodies have a type of Qi, or energy called “Wei Qi”. Wei Qi is our protective Qi and is located on the surface of the body. You can think of Wei Qi as the immune system – its job is to keep out invaders such as harmful viruses and bacteria.

As an acupuncturist, I’m always being asked by patients how they can increase their immunity at this time of the year. While most people know the importance of washing their hands there are a number of other ways you can help keep those bugs away. In addition to Acupuncture here are a few simple things you can do to help improve your immune system.

Exercise

The New York Times recently ran an article about a study which examined the relationship between regular exercise and healthy immune response.  Although mice, not humans were used in the study, it showed that mice who exercised regularly were better able to fight off infections. While exercise is important, there have been studies showing that over-exercising can actually harm your immunity, so remember that moderation is key.

 

Wear A Scarf

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the nape of the neck is believed to be particularly susceptible to invasion by the wind element, which means colds and flu. Therefore, covering your neck is important, especially on cold, windy days or when you are sitting close to an air conditioning vent or fan.

 

Try A Saline Nasal Spray and/or a humidifier

When the heat is on inside your home or office, your nasal passages can become very dry. This is a problem because your natural nasal secretions are one of the body’s primary defences against viruses and bacteria. By using a basic, inexpensive saline nasal spray several times daily and a humidifier at your home and office, you can decrease the likelihood of viruses entering your sinuses and leading to a cold or flu. Using a saline nasal spray also helps flush out viruses that are already within your nasal passages.

 

Sleep

Your body produces substances called Cytokines during sleep. Certain types of cytokines play a role in immune functions, so it makes sense that the less sleep you get, the fewer cytokines are produced. Studies show that people who don’t get 7-8 hours of sleep per night are more likely to catch a cold and take longer to recover from colds.

 

Take a Chinese Herbal Formula

There are Chinese Herbal combinations which are very helpful for people who experience recurrent colds and respiratory infections. You must always see a trained herbalist, since there is no one herb which is good for everyone’s situation. It must be individually tailored to your health history and constitution. Herbs can also be helpful if you do come down with a cold or the flu.

Written by Angela Marshall – Acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health