stress relief

Acupuncture and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

by Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Many people have been turning to acupuncture for chronic digestive issues, with especially good outcomes for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common, chronic condition that affects the large intestine, causing uncomfortable symptoms which include:

Constipation and/or diarrhea (can alternate between both)
Bloating and gas
Abdominal pain and cramping

 

A diagnosis of IBS is given based on the presence of the above symptoms, but without bloody stools, weight loss, or inflammation so severe that it causes discernible changes in the tissue of the large intestine. If you present with the above symptoms, your doctor may run tests to rule out other diseases (e.g., stool sampling tests, blood tests, and x-rays). If something more serious is suspected, you may also undergo a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Contrary to more serious gastrointestinal disorders, there is no increased risk of colon cancer with IBS. While the symptoms that do exist can be ongoing, they are rarely severe, though they can cause enough physical discomfort or embarrassment to interrupt one’s regular daily activities. Currently, there is no known cause of IBS, though there has been some speculation that it may be caused by incorrect signals to the bowel from the brain. It is recognized that it is common to have an IBS flare up after stressful life events or a gastrointestinal illness, and it is more common among those who suffer from anxiety or depression.

IBS typically affects people younger than 45, and is about twice as common in women as in men.

How does acupuncture help?

A great number of acupuncture points exist on areas of the body that correspond with many large nerve branches of the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system that [...]

Infertility and Acupuncture

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.
    Infertility is the inability to conceive a child or to carry a pregnancy to full term. The time frame when a couple is considered infertile varies based on where you live in the world. In general, and according to the World Health Organization, a couple is assumed to be infertile if, after two years of regular, contraceptive-free intercourse, the woman has not become pregnant. Primary infertility refers to a couple who has never been able to have a child, while secondary infertility refers to a couple who has not been able to conceive following a prior pregnancy. Subfertility is a term that often overlaps with secondary infertility, meaning the couple does have a chance at conceiving, but the odds are much lower than average (often due to things such as low sperm count, ovarian or uterine issues, hormonal imbalances, etc.).
    Here in the US, the guidelines in defining when a couple is considered infertile takes into account the option for specialized fertility treatments that may increase their odds at conceiving. In the US a couple is considered infertile if:

The woman is under 35 and the couple has not conceived after 12 months of regular intercourse without contraceptives

The woman is over 35 and the couple has not conceived after 6 months of regular intercourse without contraceptives

    We see many people at BCA for infertility. A great number of these people come on the referral of their OB/GYN or fertility specialist. Some are using acupuncture as their only source of treatment, and some are combining with western fertility treatments. We are happy to support you in whatever methods you are choosing. Acupuncture has been shown to be successful at complementing [...]

Acupuncture for Anxiety

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

We treat anxiety every day at BCA.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as:  “An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
People with anxiety disorders usually have “recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” (APA) They may avoid certain situations due to worry (e.g., someone who won’t get on a plane because they worry about plane crashes).
Physical symptoms may include insomnia, sweating, trembling, dizziness, excessive muscle tension, or a rapid heartbeat.
Risk factors for this cluster of disorders include:
* genetics,
* brain chemistry,
* personality, and
* life events.
The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) recognizes the following as anxiety disorders:
* panic disorder;
* obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD);
* post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
* social phobia (or social anxiety disorder);
* specific phobias; and
* generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

In the US, anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses, affecting an estimated 40 million American adults. These disorders are highly treatable, but only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
People with an anxiety disorder are often diagnosed with at least one other disorder or disease. These include:
* Depression (50% of people with a depressive disorder also have an anxiety disorder);
* Longstanding chronic diseases, such as IBS, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, etc; and
* Other psychiatric illnesses.
Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental [...]

Acupuncture for Depression

by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
All of us experience sadness sometimes, as part of the range of human emotions. We experience ‘the blues’, grief, heartache, and irritability. Depression, however, is a serious medical illness of the brain. This mood disorder “causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” (Mayo Clinic). The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that, as of 2005, “about 20.9 million American adults, or 9.5 percent of the population ages 18 and older, have mood disorders,” including depression. Major depressive disorder is “the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 – 44,” according to the World Health Organization.
The disease is still not fully understood, but experts widely agree that there are multiple factors that may be involved, including: biological (MRIs have shown differences in the brains of people with depression); brain chemistry (malfunctions in neurotransmitter system); family history; and/or a history of trauma.
Symptoms of the disease are both emotional and physical, and significantly affect day-to-day life.
The National Institute of Mental Health lists the following signs and symptoms of the disease:
* Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings;
* Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism;
* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness;
* Irritability, restlessness;
* Loss of interest in activities once pleasurable, including sex;
* Fatigue and decreased energy;
* Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions;
* Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping;
* Overeating, or appetite loss;
* Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts;
* Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Courtesy of National Institute of Mental Health

Treatment
Conventional treatment involves both antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. These therapies are most effective when the patient uses them together. Interestingly, [...]

Acupuncture for Boosting the Immune System

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

September has arrived, and for educators and parents alike this means one obvious thing in particular—back to school time is here! And while there are plenty of viruses and bacteria to go around all year long, many people (especially parents and teachers of younger children) also view back to school time as the inevitable kickoff to cold and flu season (because, let’s face it, kids aren’t exactly known for their stellar hand washing). For this reason in particular we get lots of questions this time of year as to whether or not acupuncture can help boost and support the immune system.

Whether you have young kids, work in an office where everyone around you is sick, are undergoing chemotherapy, or simply have been feeling “run-down”, we believe that acupuncture (in addition to a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate sleep) can help strengthen the immune system and possibly stave off some of those looming fall and winter illnesses!

There have been many small scale randomized, controlled studies regarding acupuncture and the immune system. These studies typically look at cancer patients due to the fact that individuals undergoing chemotherapy often have drastic lowering of white blood cells and are highly susceptible to infectious diseases. One study of interest followed 40 postoperative cancer patients for 3 days (20 patients received daily acupuncture and 20 serves as the control group).

At the end of the 3 days, when compared to the control group, those patients who had received acupuncture had a higher instance of leukocyte phagocytosis than those who did not receive treatments. [1] Another study looked at interleukin-2 and natural killer cell activity in a group of patients with malignant tumors. Of this group, 25 patients received [...]