Monthly Archives: August 2015

Natural Relief for Sore Throat

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Sore throats, otherwise known as pharyngitis, are caused by inflammation and swelling at the back of the throat (pharynx). Depending on the cause or severity of the sore throat, the tonsils and larynx may become painful and irritated as well. Other localized symptoms may include:

▪ dryness, scratchiness, itchiness in throat

▪ hoarse voice

▪ increased pain when swallowing

▪ swollen lymph nodes in neck

▪ white spots or patches on tonsils

Sore throats can be caused by a variety of reasons, though viral infections are by far the most common cause of acute cases. These types of infections are typically caused by adenovirus, some types of influenza, common colds, or Epstein-Barr virus (presenting as mononucleosis). Less common causes of viral sore throats include beginning stages of measles or herpes simplex virus.

Of all viral infections, adenovirus is the most likely to be responsible. The throat can become very painful with many swollen lymph nodes, and pronounced tonsillitis. This type of infection is often mistaken for or assumed to be strep throat, and can be impossible to diagnose without a throat culture. Many people tell of how they can call their MD and get a prescription for antibiotics over the phone for strep when they call in with the listed symptoms. I strongly discourage you from doing this without a confirmed diagnosis for strep. It is futile to take antibiotics for any viral infection, and frankly it’s unethical to be prescribed them without merit, as rampant overuse has and continues to give rise to dangerous strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. There are minimal western antivirals at this time to help with sore throats due to viral infections.

Bacterial infections are caused by group A streptococcus (strep throat), pertussis (whooping [...]

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Acupuncture

by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
At Beach Community Acupuncture, we frequently treat Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) with good results. Acupuncture stimulates release of endorphins, the body’s own natural painkillers. Aside from blocking pain signals, acupuncture is proven to lowers proteins associated with inflammation.
We encourage people to start treatment when signs first appear, for better results. A typical treatment plan is 2-3 times a week for a month to improve pain and inflammation, then weekly for several months for maintenance. At that point, people come when pain and swelling need to be addressed.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.
RA affects the joints. It causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body. This disease often occurs in more than one joint and can affect any joint in the body. People with this disease may feel sick and tired, and they sometimes get fevers.

Signs and symptoms include:
* Fatigue
* Joint pain
* Joint tenderness
* Joint swelling
* Joint redness
* Joint warmth
* Joint stiffness
* Loss of joint range of motion
* Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
* Limping
* Joint deformity
* Both sides of the body affected (symmetric)
* Morning stiffness that may last for hours
* Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on your arms (rheumatoid nodules)
Some people have mild or moderate forms of the disease with times when the symptoms get worse and times when they get better. Others have a severe form of the disease that can last for many years or a lifetime. This [...]

Peripheral Neuropathy and Acupuncture


by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
Acupuncture can help decrease the severity and frequency of symptoms related to peripheral neuropathy, a common condition we treat often at Beach Community Acupuncture. Most people with peripheral neuropathy experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, often in the hands and feet. These include:
* numbness
* weakness
* tingling
* stinging
* burning, and
* pain that can range from chronically annoying to almost unbearable.
Here at BCA we typically suggest 10 treatments daily to start for severe or recent onset of neuropathy. For less severe or chronic, long term neuropathy we may recommend 2-3 times a week for the first month to start.
Studies show that acupuncture can not only significantly reduce symptoms and may also improve nerve conduction-keep readying to learn more.

The National Institute of Health estimates that various forms of peripheral neuropathy affect up to 20 million people in the United States. It is caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, or PNS, which refers to all parts of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord. The PNS sends messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. When damage occurs to these nerves, the messages become disrupted or improperly relayed.
Peripheral neuropathy can be an effect of a wide variety of underlying diseases, physical traumas, or exposure to certain toxins (medications or poisons). The most common causes of neuropathy include:
▪ Diabetes-the #1 cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United State. At least 60% of the people diagnosed with diabetes will develop neuropathy.
▪ Accidents, sports injuries, and surgeries
▪ Repetitive motions (work or sports related)
▪ Medications—particularly common with chemotherapy
▪ Autoimmune disorders—particularly rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjogren’s [...]

Acupuncture for Back Pain

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

About Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical treatment. Eight out of 10 people have experienced some form of back pain in their lives according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. In a given three month period, 25% of adults in the US will experience back pain. We definitely see this here at Beach Community Acupuncture, where we treat back pain in some form at least 5-10 times every day.

Symptoms vary, depending upon the underlying cause. Pain may be dull or achy, sharp, burning or stabbing. There may be associated pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in the hips, legs or feet. Likewise, the pain may be mild- more an annoying sensation than anything- or it may be so severe that the person is unable to stand up, sit down, or make any movement without excruciating pain.

Back pain may be acute or chronic, and is treated differently depending upon the cause.

Acute back pain comes on suddenly, and is more quick to respond to treatment. On its own, acute back pain usually resolves in several days to a few weeks. This pain may be the result of trauma (e.g., a car accident, or a fall during sports). We commonly see sprains (overstretched ligaments in the back) and strains (torn muscles caused by a sudden force).

Chronic back pain persists longer than 3 months and may be due to arthritis or long-term wear and tear on the spine. Other possible causes include:

A herniated disc, which can push against the spinal nerves, often causing radiating pain (aka radiculopathy-sciatica is a good example of this);
Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space between the spinal cord and [...]

Can acupuncture help the common cold and flu viruses?

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
There are several weeks to months from fall to spring when we have a large number of people calling in to report the onset of various cold and influenza strains, asking if we might be able to provide some relief from the uncomfortable symptoms and to shorten the duration of the illness. While western medicine has some measures to help protect and ward off flu viruses, it has no means at this time to assist in fighting off cold viruses. Since Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating cold and flu symptoms for thousands of years, treatments for colds and flu viruses include acupuncture points and herbal formulas that not only help lessen the specific symptomology of the presenting illness, but additionally improve one’s own immune system and lend a hand with certain antiviral properties (many antiviral herbs are commonly used in China, not only by the general population, but by medical doctors and in regularly in their hospitals). It is the acupuncture treatment itself that boosts the body’s own immune system functions, making it more effective in targeting and destroying viruses, while many of the herbs in the formulas used for the common cold and flu viruses have specific antiviral properties to aid and speed up the healing process. Both acupuncture and herbs are also effective in targeting specific symptoms, to help provide quicker relief from common cold and flu symptoms.

What exactly is the difference between a common cold and flu virus?
Common colds are mild, viral upper respiratory infections that are associated with rhinitis(inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nasal cavity), laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx, or voice box), pharyngitis (inflammation at back of throat) and sometimes tonsillitis [...]

Chronic Pain-the Paradox and the Approach

by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
Every day at Beach Community Acupuncture, we treat many patients for chronic pain, a phenomenon that is widely misunderstood. Pain specialist Elliot Crane explains in this TED talk that most of us think of pain as a symptom of an injury or disease, which is correct-for some people. He goes on to tell us that in about 10 percent of cases, the pain persists after the patient has recovered from the injury or event. In this case, pain becomes a distinct disease with measurable changes to nerves that get worse over time.
With acute pain, chemical and electrical signals relay information from nerve endings to the brain. This helps to ensure that we are aware of injury and the need to take care of ourselves, as well as to avoid harm (if you get burned once, you probably won’t intentionally put your hand in the fire again). With chronic pain, these “pain signals go on for weeks, months, or even years.” (NIH). The signals continue to go off after the injury is resolved-it’s like malfunctioning circuitry. This is different from cases in which there is a direct cause of the pain, such as arthritis, or overuse- where a job demands too much of the body (for example, hairdressers with wrist pain).
The National Institutes of Health provides some facts about chronic pain:
▪ Due to its persistence, chronic pain can cause major problems in every aspect of a person’s life, and is frequently resistant to many medical treatments. A person may even have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions. Among the most common pain challenges for Americans are headaches, low back pain, arthritis pain, cancer pain, and nerve and [...]