Monday, November 26, 2007

What Is Acupuncture And How It Works

Hi all,
Acupuncture has been a saving grace for my chronic pain. I wanted to share with you some general information about what Acupuncture is.

Acupuncture is believed to be developed by Chinese over 2000 years ago, or may even date back as long as 5000 years. It is an important part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is about placing fine, slender needles into the skin at certain pressure points in the body, known as acupuncture points, to help alleviate pain, relieve spasms, stimulate the immune function to promote healing, and generally improve the quality of physical, mental, and spiritual health in various ways.

The principle of acupuncture treatment is to encourage the "qi", or the vital energy of the body, to flow smoothly in the channels, known as meridians. The Chinese believe that qi is flowing through every living thing in the universe and it has many different forms and functions. Within a person, qi has five major functions--warming, movement, protection, transportation and transformation, and supporting. Through these functions, the human body is able to maintain its stabilization and integrity. The qi primarily comes from three sources. Original qi is transmitted from parents to their children. This qi is mainly responsible for the inherited constitution of a person. Grain qi is nutritive qi that is generated from diet and digestion. Natural qi is the qi we acquire through breathing. Grain qi and natural qi are mainly responsible for the body constitution after birth.

In the medical sense, when qi is out of balance, blocked, or stagnated, illness and pain result. There are fourteen major meridians throughout the human body, including twelve primary meridians which are associated with the twelve major organ systems of the body and two extra meridians arising from genital area to the head at the center of the trunk, front and back. There are points more than 360 acupuncture points, most fall along the fourteen meridians. Those points that do not belong to the meridians are called extra points. Extra points usually have unique and specific healing functions.

To treat illness or pain, needles are placed into these acupuncture points which correspond with the location of the disharmony of the qi. The stimulation from needling can restore the flow of the qi and return the balance of the body system, thereby alleviate the pain and improve the symptomatic problems. For acute cases, such as ankle sprain, a small amount of electrical current attached to the end of the acupuncture needles at certain frequency can be used to provide the points with added stimulus.

In addition to needling, the acupuncturist applies heated herbal cones or sticks above the appropriate acupuncture points , known as moxibustion, to send warmth down into the points for cold diseases. They also use small glass or plastic cups sucked on the skin of the back, known as cupping, to draw out the toxins, resolve the stagnation, and improve the circulation at the local area. If somebody suffers a heat stroke due to the summer heat, scraping will be used at the upper back and neck area to release the heat. Acupuncture massage, known as tui-na, is a form of massage that focuses power on acupuncture points to relieve muscle tension and pain. Some times the acupuncturist will use a combination of acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and massage as treatment protocol for individual needs.

When a patient seeks acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist will examine him or her using four basic TCM diagnostic methods--observation, hearing, questioning, and palpation. The acupuncturist will perform pulse and tongue diagnoses to see how well the patient is at the time of visit. The pulse and tongue diagnoses are unique to TCM. The pulse diagnosis reflects the energetics of the five vital organs, including heart, liver, lung, spleen, and kidney. The shape, texture, and color of the tongue are indications for the dysfunctions of the vital organs and the depletion of the qi in the body. Based on the information collected from the patient, the acupuncturist is then able to choose the best treatment methods and select points for acupuncture treatment.

General speaking, acupuncture treatment is either painless or of trivial discomfort since the needles are very fine and solid. The patient may experience a small twinge of pain at certain acupuncture points where the skin is more sensitive to needling or the qi is more abundant, but the feeling should subside shortly after the puncture and as the treatment continues.

Acupuncture is relatively safe. There are few side effects to the use of acupuncture reported each year. The most common side effect is bruise or soreness around the needled area. To minimize the side effect, a trained acupuncturist will apply pressure on the needled area for 1 minute once the needle is withdrawn. Occasionally, the patient may experience a slightly sedated feeling. This situation can be caused by an empty stomach; therefore, you need to eat at least one hour before the treatment. Another side effect is infection. To avoid infection, you can ask the acupuncturist to use disposable needles for every treatment. If the acupuncturist does not use disposable needles, make sure the sterilization procedures are appropriate.

Acupuncture can be used to treat many illness, ranging from slight local pain to ascites (fluid retention in the peritoneal cavity). Although its effectiveness is still under evaluation, acupuncture has been used in the medical field in many countries of the world.

Until Next time!

Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind: toxicity, stress, and obesity Click here now

Friday, November 23, 2007

Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)? Have You Tried Alternative Medicine?

Hi All,
I was inspired by an online friend of mine to enter this article I put together about those who live with Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain syndrome with two forms. CRPS 1 or what used to be called "reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome". It is a chronic nerve disorder which occurs most often in the arms or legs after a minor or major injury. CRPS 1 is associated with severe pain; changes in the nails, bone, and skin; and an increased sensitivity to touch in the affected limb. CRPS 2 replaces the term causalgia, and results from an identified injury to the nerve.

CRPS often develops after an injury or infection that has occurred in an arm or leg. It can also occur after heart attacks and strokes. However, the condition can sometimes appear without obvious injury to the affected limb. The cause of CRPS is thought to result from damage to the nervous system which includes the nerves that control the blood vessels and sweat glands.

The Nerves that are damaged affect the body in that they can no longer properly control blood flow, sensation, and temperature to the affected area. This leads to medical problems in the nerves, blood vessels, skin, bones, and muscles. Those aged 40-60 have been seen to be affected the most by this condition.

There are 3 stages of symptoms involved with CRPS, however, often CRPS does not follow this progression. Some people go into the later stages almost immediately. Others remain in Stage 1 indefinitely.

Stage 1 which lasts 1-3 months, has the following symptoms:

Severe burning, aching pain increasing with the slightest touch or breeze Swelling with warmth or coolness Skin becomes dry and thin, changes color Increased nail and hair growth Pain may move further up or down the affected limb.

Stage 2 which lasts 3-6 months, has the following symptoms:

Swelling spreads Noticeable changes in skin texture and color Decreased hair growth Changes in bone seen in x-rays Stiff muscles and joints.

In Stage 3 irreversible changes become evident.

Pain may exist in the entire limb Permanent tissue changes Muscle wasting Limited mobility in limb Contractions involving muscles and tendons Depression or changes in mood may accompany these symptoms, especially in stage 3.
Diagnosing CRPS can be difficult, but early diagnosis is very important. Often, the symptoms are severe compared to the original trauma or injury.

The key complaint is the severe, burning pain.

Treatment should be started as early as possible. This may prevent the disease from progressing. Treatment usually includes a combination of therapies but there is no single treatment, such as a pill or nerve block, that can cure CRPS, but many CRPS patients do find that their pain and other symptoms get much better with the right therapies.
CRPS can improve when patients get treatments that lessen the pain (such as nerve blocks, medicines, and other treatments)

Every patient with CRPS responds differently to each therapy -- what works well for one patient may not work at all for another. Because of this, doctors may need to try many different medical therapies in different combinations. It is often best for patients with CRPS to see pain specialists, who are experienced in taking care of patients with difficult pain problems. Alternative treatments can play a definite part in the overall relief of the Pain caused by CRPS.

Some patients get pain relief from acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With acupuncture, needles are placed in specific areas on the skin to help relieve pain. With TENS, patients carry a small, box-shaped device that sends electrical impulses into the body through electrodes. These electrical impulses interfere with pain signals.

Foods may help as well specifically capsicum, the pungent component of hot peppers which reduces pain and inflammation. There are Herbs that reduce inflammation as well that can help including: Saw Palmetto, Rosemary, Bromelain, Cat�s Claw, Licorice, and Valaria

The following herbs are considered anti-spasmodics:
Angelica, Cramp Bark, and Black Haw

The following are Natural Pain Relievers:
Feverfew and Burdock.

Biofeedback has also been known to help.

Hypnosis performed by a professional or self hypnosis taught to you by professional may help as well.

Physical and occupational therapists can help patients with CRPS by teaching programs of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning. The overall goal is to help the patient get back range of motion, strength and motor control. Physical and occupational therapists might also try treatments including the following:

* Gentle massage

* Alternating hot and cold application

* Cryotherapy

* Active and passive range of motion

* Whirlpool therapy

* Moist heat

* Elevation of the region

* Compressive garments (ie, ischemic compression)

* Paraffin baths

* Diathermy

* Biofeedback

* Desensitization (performed sequentially to decrease hypersensitivity)

Acupuncture can also help with the pain. Acupuncture is a therapy developed more than 2,000 years ago in Asia that consists of stimulating designated points by the insertion of needles to restore and balance the body's energy. Acupuncture can produce regional anesthesia by conducting a weak electric current through the inserted needles. Explanation of how it produces anesthesia currently is being investigated.

Until Next time!

Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind: toxicity, stress, and obesity Click here now

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Relieve Back Pain Naturally!

Hi everyone,
This post is dedicated to all of you who are living with Back Pain!

Back pain is one of humanity's most repeated complaints.

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems today, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. The pain can range from a dull constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. This conditions may be the result of an infection in the bone(osteomelitis) or in the spinal cord. Pain in the lower back or low back pain is by far the most common concern, affecting up to 90% of Americans at some point in their lifetime. Back pain is a common problem most frequently caused by overusing or misusing the muscles of the back. The pain may not be prevented completely, but there are things you can do to reduce the severity or frequency.

Treatment :

Treatment of back problems should be directed at the cause. Treatments will range from doing nothing to spinal surgery. Many find relief from back pain through stretching exercises or alternative therapies like yoga, but chronic back pain may require medication and treatment that is more intensive. There are trouble-free home treatment along with proper body mechanics, which will often heal your back within a few weeks and keep it functional for the long haul.

One of the simplest ways to relieve back pain is to use hot and cold compressed. You must be sure alternate the compresses. First do five minutes as hot as you can stand it. Then one minute of an ice cold compress. Repeat this five to seven times. You will be amazed at how well this works. This brings great temporary relief.

Here are some examples of common herbs used to treat back pain:

Some natural pain reliever:



Stringing Nettle

Willow Bark


Here are some natural anti-inflammatory:

Saw Palmetto



Cat's Claw



And here are some antispasmodics:


Cramp Bark

Black Haw


Exercises are important to prevent, reduce, and ultimately get rid of the pain. They must consist of stretching exercises. These include exercised for the back and leg muscles. Any exercise program must have strength, stamina, and stabilizing exercises also. These include exercises for the back, stomach and leg muscles. There are particular exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the abdomen, buttocks, and back can help stabilize the spine and decrease strain on he disk that cushion the spine and the ligaments that hold it in place.
In conclusion, we must realize that back pain is not a diagnosis, it is a symptom of an underlying condition. Back pain is a symptom that can arise from many causes. Being one of humanity's most frequent complaints, you can be sure though back pain may not be prevented completely, but there are natural things that you can do to reduce the severity or frequency.

Until Next time!

Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind: toxicity, stress, and obesity Click here now

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Foods to Help Arthritic and other Joint Pain.

Hi all,
This Post is for those of you who are living with Arthritic or any joint pain.
It is amazing just how much the very foods you eat can help your pain!

Does eating certain foods help to cure arthritis? Conversely, is the elimination of certain foods any help in controlling this debilitating and painful disease? With over 100 different forms of arthritis and not a lot of research into its causes and cures, the debate rages on.

Because the symptoms of arthritis often seem to come and go without warning it’s hard to tell whether any sudden relief was due to a new diet or not. It is important for the sufferer to be able to choose a new treatment because it makes him feel to some degree in control of his life and also gives hope, an important consideration.

Researchers have discovered that a diet including too many calories can actually aggravate RA, while 5% of sufferers in another study showed a flare-up of symptoms after drinking milk. A reduction of fat, dairy and red meat was shown to relieve pain. In 1998, Finnish researchers found that the addition of lactobacillus improved symptoms of RA. This was supported by animal experiments, where mice given lactobacillus were found to be less likely to develop the disease and their immune systems were more able to cope with it if they did.

One thing to remember when following any diet is that the nutrients lost through the elimination of any foods must be replaced by other means. Certain foods or food groups often seem to cause a worsening of arthritis symptoms. In this case, an elimination diet could be helpful. All suspected foods must be completely eliminated from the diet for several weeks, then reinstated one at a time over a period of several days. If the symptoms of pain and inflammation re-occur after each food is eaten again, then it could be a culprit. This should be done at least three times to determine that there were no other factors involved. If an elimination diet is followed, it is wise to keep two diaries. One of the food eaten and at what times and dates, the other of the dates and times of pain flare-ups. When the two are compared, it will be plain to see what was eaten that could have caused pain.

Some of the food groups that are suspected of causing pain are the nightshade group ie, white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers. Others are red meat, lemons, grapefruit, corn, wheat, rye and milk, eggs coffee, sugar and cheese.

One of the main studies done way back in the 1950’s has shown that fish oil has a very beneficial affect on arthritis pain. Fish oil supplements are widely taken, but in some cases cause unwelcome side effects like a fishy after-taste, gas and an upset stomach. Some researchers recommend simply adding omega 3’s to the diet by eating cold-water fish like mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, anchovies, bluefish and mullet.

Another study, researched and supported by the University of Manchester, discovered that people with high levels of beta-cryptoxanthin were 40% less likely to develop arthritis. This is classed as a pro-vitamin A carotenoid which can be found in all yellow or orange- fleshed fruits and vegetables. It enhances bone, skin and immune health. Pumpkin, winter squash and peppers are the vegetables with the highest levels of beta-cryptoxanthin, while tangerines, persimmons and papayas are the fruits with the highest levels.

Until Next time!
Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body
AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind:
toxicity, stress, and obesity
Click here now

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hands-On Health: The Healing Benefits of Massage .


Today's article discusses the power of hands on therapy to relieve not only pain but many other ailments like the dreaded stress!

The healing power of human touch is a positive experience that many people enjoy through therapeutic massage or bodywork. The effects of a good massage go much deeper than the skin's surface. Massage can:

1) Help improve circulation of the blood and lower blood pressure.
2) Act as a detoxification system by propelling toxic waste products through the lymphatic system.
3) Help to improve muscle tone and prevent muscular atrophy resulting from inactivity or illness.
4) Reduce emotional stress and promote a sense of well-being.

How can something as simple as this hands-on therapy have so many positive benefits? A tense or painful muscle is one which is often chronically contracted. In an acute situation such as recent injury, the muscle can be in actual spasm. This contraction or spasm decreases the flow of blood to the muscle, which leads to a decrease in the nutrient and oxygen supply to the cells of the muscle and related nerves. A chronically contracted muscle will build up lactic acid, a sign of fatigue. This oxygen shortage and lactic acid buildup irritates the nerve cells, which perpetuates the contracted muscles. Massage can help remove the lactic acid and other metabolic waste products from the cells and reverse this process, interrupting the vicious cycle of pain-spasm-pain.

There are a multitude of massage styles which are beneficial, depending upon the individual's needs and preferences. They include:

Swedish Massage: this is the basic "relaxation" style of bodywork, which uses long strokes, squeezing and kneading. The Swedish practitioner helps to improve circulation by working to loosen or relax the superficial layers of muscle. This type of massage is particularly useful for muscles which are already sore from stress or a tough workout, as it is often more gentle than other styles.

Sports Massage: this form of massage works on a deeper level of musculature or connective tissue. This style fits more with the "no pain, no gain" philosophy. The therapist uses slow, hard strokes and deep, sustained finger pressure to work deeply into the contracted muscles, fascia and tendons. This technique increases flexibility, encourages muscles to work at their fullest capacity, and speeds up the healing process by reducing swelling following an injury. It is especially indicated for athletes and "week-end warriors" who suffer from tight or sore muscles.

Shiatsu and Acupressure: rather than being simply relaxing, this form of bodywork tends to be invigorating. Fingers, thumbs, fists and elbows are used to apply pressure to points along acupuncture meridians, which are believed to be the energy pathways of the body. The focus of this type of therapy is on relieving blocks in the pathways and rebalancing the flow of energy.

Reflexology and Zone Therapy: reflexology works on the assumption that parts of the feet (as well as parts of the ears and hands) correspond to other parts of the body's anatomy. In other words, stress or illness in a certain part of the body may show up as a painful or sensitive area on a specific area of the foot. Reflexologists apply pressure to the side, top or bottom of the feet to help reduce dysfunction in other parts of the body.

Not all techniques work for everyone, so make sure to inquire about the philosophy and style of the massage therapist you call. If your massage isn't as satisfying as you had hoped, don't give up. Try another therapist! Massage therapy schools are a cost-effective way to test out different styles of massage; senior students generally work for lower fees while they complete their internship.

There are a few conditions in which massage would not be a good option, such as marked inflammation, fever, significant swelling or very severe pain. But for the garden variety aches and pains that most of us experience, as well as for the general stresses of life, massage is an outstanding way to treat ourselves to a positive, revitalizing experience.

Wishing you all Health and Happiness always!

Michele Brooks, RN, Editor