AOMA Blog

Stephanee Owenby

Stephanee is Clinic Business Director at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. She moved to TX from CA in 2008, attended CSU Long Beach with a degree in Comparative World Literature.

Recent Posts

6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Products to Help You Sleep

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Mon, Aug 24, 2020 @ 11:48 AM

6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Products to Help You Sleep

 

  1. Over-the-counter herbal formulas Insomnia herbs_Mar 18 newsletter-1

There are several safe and effective over-the-counter traditional Chinese herbal formulas to help with insomnia, whether you have trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, waking feeling unrested, or all of the above. AOMA clinician Nelson Song Luo mentioned the two formulas below in this great blog post; here's some more information!

Suan Zao Ren Tang

  • Nourishes Heart Shen and Liver Blood
  • Clears deficient heat and calms the Spirit; helps with stress, anxiety, and irritability
  • Can also help with restlessness, inability to or difficulty in falling asleep, palpitations, night sweats, dizziness, vertigo, thirst, and dry mouth and throat
  • Studies have shown its safety and effectiveness at helping patients with menopause-related insomnia

Gui Pi Wan

  • Nourishes Spleen Qi and Heart Blood
  • Tonified Blood and Qi
  • Helps with fatigue, insomnia, and poor sleep or dream disturbed sleep
  • Can also help with poor memory, heart palpitations, anxiety, phobias, low appetite, and night sweats
  1. Salt lamp Salt lamps_stock

Made from pink salt crystals native to the Himalayas, salt lamps are said to release negative ions, helping to cleanse dust particles from the air and boost energy levels. Some salt lamp users have even reported elevated mood, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and reduced allergy and asthma symptoms. While no major studies have supported these claims, the warm pinkish glow of a salt lamp will make a welcoming and beautiful addition to your bedroom. Recent studies have shown that exposure to bright lights suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, so the dim light of a salt lamp might even make you sleepy if used in place of brighter bedroom lights.

  1. Green tea Tea cup

Caffeine is a stimulant, and once consumed, it stays with you for longer than you might expect: it takes about 6 hours for just 1/2 of the caffeine you consumed to be eliminated! So the closer to bedtime you take in caffeine, the more likely you are to experience sleeplessness. Cutting out caffeine at least 6-7 hours before your bedtime would be best but may not always be possible! If you just CAN’T say no to a late-afternoon pick-me-up, try reaching for green tea instead of coffee to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re consuming. On average, one cup of green tea contains 35-70mg of caffeine as opposed to a cup of coffee, which contains 100mg of caffeine. Green tea is also high in antioxidants and polyphenols, and it contains catechin which can enhance immune system function. Green tea, or Lu Cha, is also a traditional Chinese medicine herb! It has cooling properties and works with the Heart, Lung, and Stomach meridians to reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and boost the metabolism. Bonus points if you drink your tea from a beautiful cup that puts a smile on your face!

  1. Meditation candles Candle_chakra

According to a study cited on Harvard Medical School’s blog, 6 weeks of regular meditation scored higher than 6 weeks of sleep education for improving insomnia, fatigue, and depression among adults who reported trouble sleeping. But meditation can often seem too difficult or downright unapproachable, especially for beginners. Concentration meditation can be an easy way to jump into meditation, as it only requires focusing your awareness on one specific thing; for example, a candle flame. Having a point of focus can help you quiet the mind and relax fully; try starting with a few minutes before bed and work your way up to 5, 10, and then 15-20 minutes a day.

  1. Spirit-Quieting massage oil Spirit Quieting massage oil

If your mind won’t stop racing long enough to allow you to sleep, Blue Poppy’s Spirit Quieting massage oil might be just what you need! It incorporates several traditional Chinese herbs formulated together to help to resolve depression and calm stress and anxiety of the mind and the emotions. It can be used as a relaxing massage oil for your whole body or as a pre-bedtime bath oil.

Functions of Specific TCM Herbs Used in Formula:

  • He Huan Hua (Flos Albiziae): courses the Liver, quickens the Blood and quiets the Spirit.
  • Bai He (Bulbus Lilii): nourishes and enriches the Heart, clears heat from the Heart and quiets the Spirit.
  • Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii): opens the orifices, dispels phlegm, and quiets the Spirit.
  • Chen Xiang (Lignum Aquilariae): courses the Liver and moves the qi, reduces counterflow.
  • Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae): quiets the Heart and calms the Spirit, dispels phlegm and opens the orifices.
  • Sweet Orange oil is added as a fragrance, and also moves and harmonizes the qi.

Ingredients/functions source: https://www.lhasaoms.com/blue-poppy-spirit-quieting-massage-oil

  1. Qi gong CD or DVD Qigong dvd

A recent UCLA study showed that a slow-moving meditation practice like tai chi or qi gong works just as well as talk therapy, and better than medication, at helping patients with insomnia. Qi gong is a whole-body exercise that integrates the breath with body movements. It is designed to loosen the joints, promote deep breathing, and relax the body. Body movements in tai chi and qi gong are used to aid the Qi in its journey along the acupuncture meridians, dissolve blockages that can lead to sickness and disease, and increase general energy level.

In case you’re asking yourself, “how the heck do I do qi gong?” AOMA’s amazing alumni Nicole and Jenna host a fantastic educational YouTube channel that will teach you! I highly recommend all of their content, but a good place to start would be the video series entitled… wait for it… “HOW THE HECK do I do Qigong?!” You can find Nicole and Jenna’s YouTube channel here.

AOMA Herbal Medicine also has a few great qi gong resources to support you in your practice. In Master Li’s “A Return to Oneness,” you will practice the qi gong of unconditional love to begin a journey of rediscovery, a journey back to your true home. “Where does one's true home lie? The saying 'home is where the heart is' does not mean only that one's affections lie where one's home is. Its deeper meaning is that the Heart is where the true home is.” (ShengZhen.org).

Sources:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/caffeine-and-sleep

https://www.choiceorganicteas.com/much-caffeine-tea/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726

https://www.nqa.org/index.php?option=com_dailyplanetblog&view=entry&year=2017&month=06&day=25&id=12:tai-chi-and-qigong-for-insomnia

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5034925/

https://shengzhen.org/

https://www.lhasaoms.com/blue-poppy-spirit-quieting-massage-oil

Topics: stress relief, qigong, chinese herbs, insomnia, aoma, tcm

Back to Acupuncture! AOMA's Clinic Reopening and Response to COVID-19

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 @ 05:42 PM

At AOMA, we continue to be committed to the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff during this unprecedented time. We want to thank you for bearing with us during the COVID-19 crisis as we were required to close our clinics to in-person services.

Effective Wednesday July 15, 2020, we will reopen our North professional clinic to in-person appointments. On Monday July 27th, our North and South Student Intern Clinics will reopen to in-person appointments. Telehealth herbal consults are still being offered for patients who do not need or want acupuncture.

AOMA 3-2019We want you to know that we are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, so you can feel safe, secure, and confident receiving acupuncture care in our office.

PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOUR APPOINTMENT REMINDERS FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS!

The AOMA Acupuncture Clinics have established the following processes and protocols in response to COVID-19:

Infection Prevention - We will be sanitizing acupuncture tables, treatment room surfaces, and all equipment after every patient, according to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In-office infection control measures are readily available, such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers, tissues, hand soap, and waste receptacles. We have taken extra steps by removing shared items like magazines, pens, business cards, etc.

Social Distancing - All clinic staff, patients, and visitors will adhere to social distancing guidelines. To limit the overall traffic in the clinic, we are asking patients to not bring any visitors, unless absolutely necessary.

Because of social distancing requirements and the extra time it takes to clean between patients, it is particularly important that you are on time to your appointment. If you are going to be more that 5 minutes late, please call to reschedule.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Our acupuncturists and staff will be wearing masks the entirety of the time that they are in AOMA’s buildings. Acupuncturists may also wear gloves, face shields, goggles, isolation gowns, and/or other PPE items at their discretion.

Masks - If you have a mask, we ask that you please wear it as well, for the entirety of the time that you are in AOMA’s buildings.

Mandatory Screenings - We are screening all patients and visitors for symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, fever, and other symptoms TWICE. You will receive one screening during your reminder call 24 hours before your appointment, and a second, shorter screening before you enter the clinics. Individuals with a fever of 99.5F or higher and/or who do not pass the screening will not be permitted to enter the clinic. You may be asked to reschedule your appointment.

No Waiting Rooms - When you get to the office, we ask that you please wait in your car. Call the clinic to let us know you have arrived and to pay for your appointment. Our water dispenser will not be available, so please bring water with you if you might need it.

Contactless Payment - Payment will be taken over the phone whenever possible to limit face-to-face time and pass-between contact with clinic staff. Please remain in your car until your acupuncturist comes out to check your temperature.

Temperature Check – Please continue to wait in your car until your acupuncturist comes out to take your temperature. If at all possible, please leave your AC running to keep your body temperature regulated. Individuals with a fever of 99.5F or higher and/or who do not pass the screening will not be permitted to enter the clinic. You may be asked to reschedule your appointment.

Restroom – Upon entering the clinic, please do not touch anything and follow your acupuncturist directly to the treatment room. If you need to use the restroom, please let your acupuncturist know and they will escort you. We are asking each patient to please use a sanitizing wipe (provided) to clean restroom surfaces after use.

After your treatment, your acupuncturist will walk you to the door, but if you need to use the restroom just let your acupuncturist know and they will escort you.

Rescheduling - Please call the clinic or email AOMA-ClinicStaff@aoma.edu to reschedule your appointment. We love talking to our patients, but right now this limits face-to face time and allows for ample time to clean between treatments.

Herbal Prescriptions – Both AOMA Herbal Medicine (AHM) locations are open for purchases and to fill and refill herbal prescriptions; however, the stores are closed to in-person customers. Payments can be made over the phone and purchases can be delivered via contactless curbside delivery or USPS shipping. Call 512-323-6720 for the AHM-North and 512-693-4372 for AHM-South.

 

AOMA continues to closely follow the recommendations of the CDC, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and the World Health Organization with regard to COVID-19.

Your health and safety are of the utmost importance and we are glad to be able to care for you during this trying time. We have missed all of our patients and look forward to seeing you soon!

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, AOMA clinic, clinics, licensed acupuncture, aoma

AOMA’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Fri, Dec 21, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Are you stressing about what gifts to get for the acupuncture-lover in your life this holiday? AOMA’s staff & students are here to help! Below you’ll find our top 10 picks for acu-friendly holiday gifts, whether you’re shopping for your TCM practitioner, recent AOMA-grad, or just someone who could use the gift of acupuncture this season.

  1. Salt lamp

Made from pink salt crystals native to the Himalayas, salt lamps are said to release negative ions, helping to cleanse dust particles from the air and boost energy levels. Some salt lamp users have even reported elevated mood, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and reduced allergy and asthma symptoms. While no major studies have supported these claims, the warm pinkish glow of a salt lamp makes a welcoming and beautiful addition to any home or clinic space.

  1. Pain-relieving TCM Topicals Zheng gu shui

Any or all of these pain-relieving traditional Chinese medicine topical oils or liniments would make amazing gifts, whether for the gym-goer or athlete in your life or someone who needs some relief from minor aches and pains. They make excellent stocking stuffers or “white elephant” gifts too!

White Flower oil is used for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints due to simple backache, arthritis, strains bruises and sprains.

Zheng Gu Shui is great for external cooling pain relief and may be used for the temporary relief of aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with backache, lumbago, strains, bruises, sprains, and arthritic or rheumatic pain, pain of tendons and ligaments.

Wood Lock (Wong To Yick) oil is used for the temporary relief of pain, to soothe muscles and joints, and to relieve tightness in muscles.

Die Da Wan Hua oil is used for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with simple backache, arthritis, and strain.

Po Sum On oil is an all-purpose peppermint oil and balm primarily used to warm up muscles, improve circulation, and relieve pain. It can also be used to treat muscle aches, symptoms from the common cold, bites, scratches, burns, or to warm up the body prior to exercising.

  1. Jade roller & Pearl powder Jade roller_Pearl powder

Jade rollers have been used in China for thousands of years and have recently been spotlighted by the YouTube beauty community! Jade is itself a cooling and rejuvenating stone, called the “stone of heaven” in traditional Chinese medicine, and a jade roller treatment can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, reduce redness and puffiness, and tone and brighten the facial skin.

Pearl powder is widely believed to improve the appearance of the skin, stimulate new skin growth, regenerate collagen, accelerate the healing of acne, release toxins, and eliminate sun damage and age spots. These two items would make a perfect combo gift for the beauty guru on your shopping list!

  1. Cupping set – glass, plastic, silicone Glass cups

Cupping is another traditional Chinese medical technique that has had the spotlight in popular culture lately! Glass, plastic, or silicone cups are used as suction devices and placed on the skin to loosen tight muscles and encourage blood flow. Plastic and silicone cups are cheaper and easier to use and so are typically more popular with acupuncture students and patients who want to cup themselves at home. But there are many advantages to glass cupping! Glass cups can be easily moved around the skin surface to treat larger areas, they can be used with heat for “fire cupping,” and some practitioners argue that glass cups have better suction. And best of all? When not in-use they can be beautifully and decoratively displayed in a clinician’s treatment room!

  1. Décor

Whether you’re decorating a new space or freshening up a room for the new year, it’s always fun to receive décor for the holidays! Welcome chimes, wall hangings, statues, and candles can each completely transform an existing space into something brand new. A didactic “Acu-Model” statue might be the perfect gift for an acupuncture student --  we even have Acu-Cat and Acu-Horse models! And try hanging a chime on your door this new year – it’s good feng shui, as bells are the harbingers of prosperity and good luck.

  1. Essential oils, Incense, & Burners EO burner_holiday

Incense and essential oils have been used for thousands of years to create pleasant smells, promote spiritual practice, and to help with healing. (AOMA Herbal Medicine sells all-natural incense which can be burned more safely than those containing harsh chemicals!) Scent can be a powerful influencer to mood, and incense or oil burners themselves are lovely decorative additions to a clinic or living space.

  1. E-stim machine

This would be a GREAT gift for a new AOMA student or a recent graduate starting their practice! An e-stim machine is required to perform electroacupuncture and thus is an essential piece of clinical equipment, but it can be a big investment – especially on a student budget. Electroacupuncture can help a clinician address pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and many more symptoms. It’s also required for an AOMA student’s clinic kit!

  1. Moxa box Moxa box

Moxibustion, the therapeutic burning of the herb mugwort to promote healing, is an important and frequently-performed traditional Chinese medical technique. In a moxa box, the loose moxa fiber is rolled into a ball and burned, held above the patient’s skin by a screen, with the smoke directed downward. While it is certainly not necessary, a moxa box can make moxibustion safer for the patient as well as easier for the practitioner to both perform and clean up after.

  1. Massage oils & lotions

Self-care is often at the back of our minds when it should be at the forefront, and massage oils or lotions can be an excellent aromatic and therapeutic addition to everyone’s relaxation or stress management routine. And a sampling of new oils and lotions might be just what the massage therapist or acupuncturist on your holiday shopping list needs to start the new year feeling fresh and prosperous!

  1. AOMA gift certificate AOMA_Logo_St_E_RGB-1
From acupuncture treatments to acupuncture books, there’s an AOMA gift certificate to suit all your shopping needs! Professional Clinic acupuncture gift certificates are $100, Student Clinic  gift certificates are $30, and AOMA Herbal Medicine gift certificates are available in amounts from $5-$500. You can even buy online and we’ll mail them directly to the recipient!

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, self-care, AOMA Herbal Medicine, AOMA clinic, lifestyle, aoma, tcm, acupunture

8 Ways Acupuncture Can Improve Wellness in the Workplace

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 @ 01:52 PM

stressworkplaceacupuncture

Workplaces can be hazardous to your health! Some job-related health concerns like back pain, stress, and colds and flus are quite well-known and get lots of media attention – probably because they’re so widespread. Many employees also suffer from less-obvious job-related health concerns like tobacco addiction, repetitive strain injuries, digital eye strain, and reduced mental acuity. The ultimate result of these workplace conditions is unhealthy, unhappy workers missing work and missing paychecks, which contributes to an overall decline in company productivity. And many employees don’t realize that their job is hurting them until they’re already suffering!

While they might be ancient forms of medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs are still highly relevant in today’s workplace and can be effective methods for treating many common and not-so-common job-related health concerns. Read on to discover 8 ways that acupuncture can improve you -- and your employees’ -- health, happiness, and overall wellness in the workplace.

1. Relieve Pain

Acupuncture is most commonly associated with pain relief – at least in the United States. Medical professionals, insurance companies, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have extensively researched and proven the efficacy of acupuncture for pain relief, and are utilizing acupuncture for pain relief, particularly back pain. A recent study using fMRI imaging has shown that acupuncture changes the way the human brain perceives pain, reducing or modulating activity in the parts of the brain that are responsible for pain perception (Theysohn). The same study also showed that acupuncture reduces or modulates activity in the parts of the brain that are responsible for translating pain sensations into cognitive awareness, meaning a patient’s expectation of pain can be lowered by acupuncture as well.

Low back pain (LBP) is the second most common cause of disability in adults in the United States, and an estimated 149 million days of work per year are lost due to LBP (Freburger). An employee in pain is not a productive one, and neither long-term disability nor opioid addiction will make them more productive! While not as commonly-prescribed by physicians as painkillers, acupuncture is a safe and all-natural treatment for back pain that has proven to be more effective than no treatment (Brinkhaus). In addition to affecting brain activity and chemistry through the release of endorphins and serotonin, acupuncture relaxes muscles to increase blood flow and bring relief to tight or stressed tissues.

2. Reduce Stress

Our bodies are naturally hardwired to handle stress, but over time too much stress takes its toll! When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing the heart rate to increase, the pupils to dilate, and blood to be directed towards the extremities, which in turn causes digestion to temporarily shut down. Cortisol is also released, causing increases in blood pressure and inflammation while suppressing the immune system. If our bodies continue to release high amounts of cortisol, chronic symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive issues, and tension headaches can develop.

In Chinese medical theory, strong emotions like stress interrupt the body’s energy from flowing smoothly. When these strong emotions are present for long periods of time they create a blockage in the body’s “road system” creating an energetic “traffic jam.”  Acupuncture increases the circulation of blood and oxygenates the tissues throughout the body while cycling out cortisol and releasing natural pain-killers called endorphins. Other benefits of acupuncture include decreasing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing the muscles to help the person feel less stressed.

3. Prevent Injuries & Promote Injury Recovery

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are extremely common workplace injuries. As the name suggests they are injuries of overuse, resulting from repeating the same movements again and again, over prolonged periods of time. Many of us have jobs that require us to perform activities that put us at risk for an RSI every single day, including but not limited to heavy lifting, driving, exposure to loud noises, constant use of a computer mouse, and vibration of the whole body. To help prevent workplace injuries, “not only muscle weakness, but chronic muscle contracture, calcification, and inflammation must be addressed” (Reller). Acupuncture works to restore function to deep stabilizing and impinging muscles, so that chronic stress is decreased on joint tissues. The healthier joint and muscle tissue are, the more resilient and resistant to injury they become.

Once an employee suffers an occupational injury, acupuncture can reduce inflammation and swelling; stimulating tissue repair and decreasing recovery time. It can also increase strength and improve range of motion to aid the body’s natural healing, as well as increase flexibility to prevent future re-injury. Both insurers and employers are beginning to explore the potential favorable impact of acupuncture on workplace injury recovery. In fact, the Washington East Asian Medicine Association(WEAMA) is currently piloting a multi-year project to research and review acupuncture’s effectiveness at treating workers’ compensation injuries, with the end goal of allowing acupuncturists in Washington to be reimbursed for treating workers’ comp claims.

4. Eliminate Tobacco Use 

Despite the abundance of evidence regarding the negative effects of tobacco, people continue to use tobacco products because of the addictive nature and stress-reducing “comfort” of nicotine. But the health risks aren’t the only reason to quit - since 2014 the Affordable Care Act has permitted employers and insurance companies to charge tobacco users up to 50% more in health insurance premiums!

Acupuncture has been shown to have great success with treating a full range of addictions and addictive behaviors, and has been proven to be especially useful and successful in helping people quit using tobacco. Acupuncture works to adjust cravings by balancing brain chemistry and helping to heal the physical damage the body undergoes from using tobacco products.

Herbal medicine is frequently combined with acupuncture to control cravings and withdrawal symptoms; taking Chinese herbs throughout the day can help support the detoxification process and reduce relapses. In addition to curbing cravings and eliminating jitters, acupuncture can treat stress, irritability and restlessness, anxiety, headaches, and dry mouth. It also helps to promote relaxation, detoxification, and tissue repair.

5. Boost Immune System

According to the CDC, the flu causes workers in the United States to lose up to 111 million workdays, at an estimated cost of $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to help enhance the immune system and ward off illness. Its immune-stimulating functions treat all types of cold and flu effectively, achieving a quick recovery without side effects. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that Chinese medicine reduces the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in addition to shortening the course of illness. 

Chinese medicine views colds and flus as pathogenic invasions that can easily be expelled using specific acupuncture points and herbs. If caught in the early stages, especially within the first few hours of the onset of symptoms, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qigongcan be very effective at eliminating pathogens before they have a chance to fully manifest. Once a cold or flu has progressed beyond the early stages, Chinese medicine can be used as symptomatic relief and adjunct therapy.

Particularly here in Austin during the fall and winter seasons, allergens like cedar pollen can cause intense and debilitating cold and flu-like symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine views cedar fever as an overactive immune response, and acupuncture is an extremely effective method for calming down the immune system. This helps to reduce symptoms, and the overall balancing of the immune system helps to reduce the frequency and severity of future allergy reactions. A recent study by Dr. Benno Brinkhaus concluded that, in addition to being safe, acupuncture led to statistically significant improvements in the quality of life of allergy patients after just 8 weeks of treatment (Sifferlin).

6. Improve Sleep Quality

Insomnia is a serious disorder that is more than just tossing and turning to fall asleep or stay asleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders, believed to impact almost 50% of all adults. Physical symptoms of fatigue are experienced along with feeling irritable, tense, lethargic, or even depressed. Insomniacs may also experience delayed reaction times, poor memory, focus, and concentration, increased distractions, and headaches.

Recent studies report that patients experienced a significant improvement in sleep quality, and a reduction in insomnia, fatigue and depression after receiving acupuncture (Spence). The nervous system is calmed by acupuncture, which clears obstructions in the muscle and nerve channels, creating a flow of oxygen-enriched blood to relax the nervous system and prepare for sleep. A preliminary report in 2004 found that even in patients with anxiety, acupuncture increased nighttime melatonin production and total sleep time (Spence). Using acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also help treat disturbances in the whole body that prevent restful sleep, such as chronic pain, breathing issues, and digestive distress.

7. Improve Memory, Focus, & Concentration

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the spirit or Shen of the Heart plays a prominent role in memory, focus, and concentration. “Shen influences long-term memory and the ability to think clearly, contributes to wisdom and presides over activities that involve mental and creative functions” (acufinder.com). Traditional Chinese herbal medicine formulas can help calm Shenand resolve any disharmony between brain and spirit, as well as increase blood flow to the brain and/or reduce foggy headedness. Traditional Chinese nutritional recommendations can also help to boost memory and focus, particularly foods that are high in essential nutrients such as flavonoids, Omega 3 fatty acids, folate, and iron (acufinder.com).

In addition to herbal treatment for brain function, studies have shown that acupuncture has a measurable “activating” effect on the brain. Areas of the brain known to respond to painkillers were activated, but so too was the insula, which is part of the cerebral cortex (von Bubnoff). While it is not entirely clear yet what this activation of the insula fully means, the cerebral cortex is a very large area of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, and cognition.

8. Relieve Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

The American Optometric Association defines Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)/Digital Eye Strain as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye pain and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods, and the level of discomfort seems to increase with the amount of digital screen use (Thorud). Viewing a computer or digital screen makes the eyes work harder; as a result, many individuals experience eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and/or neck and shoulder pain after prolonged computer use (Thorud). As more occupations require daily extended digital screen use, not to mention increased screen use during recreational hours, occurrences of eye strain, pain, and fatigue will rise. Studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective means of treating eye pain as well as ophthalmic migraine and dry eyes (Nepp).

In addition to eye pain, strain, and fatigue caused by too much screen time, acupuncture can boost overall visual acuity, reduce sensitivity to light, and reduce or eliminate eye floaters and blurred vision. 

Would you like more information? Are you interested in bringing acupuncture into your workplace? Contact the AOMA Clinics today!

Interested in scheduling an appointment with us? Request an Appointment online today!

Request an Appointment

 

References:

  1. Janet K. Freburger, PT, PhDGeorge M. Holmes, PhDRobert P. Agans, PhDAnne M. Jackman, MSWJane D. Darter, BAAndrea S. Wallace, RN, PhDLiana D. Castel, PhDWilliam D. Kalsbeek, PhDTimothy S. Carey, MD, MPH

“The Rising Prevalence of Low Back Pain”

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(3):251-258. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.543

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414769

  1. D. Warren Spence, M.A., Leonid Kayumov, Ph.D., DABSM, Adam Chen, Ph.D., Alan Lowe, M.D., Umesh Jain, M.D., Martin A. Katzman, M.D., Jianhua Shen, M.D., Boris Perelman, Ph.D., and Colin M. Shapiro, MBBCh, Ph.D., FRCP(C)

 “Acupuncture Increases Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion and Reduces Insomnia and Anxiety: A Preliminary Report”

The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Volume 16, Issue 1, February 2004, pp. 19-28

http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/jnp.16.1.19

  1. Sifferlin, Alexandra. “Is Acupuncture an Antidote for Allergies?”

Article published on Time.com on Feb. 19, 2013

http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/19/is-acupuncture-the-antidote-for-allergies/

  1. Benno Brinkhaus, MD; Claudia M. Witt, MD; Susanne Jena, MSc; et al

 “Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial”

Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(4):450-457. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.4.450

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/409858

  1. Nina Theysohn, M.D., Kyung-Eun Choi, M.Sc., Elke Gizewski, M.D., Ph.D., Thomas Rampp, M.D., Gustav Dobos, M.D., Ph.D., Michael Forsting, M.D., Ph.D., and Frauke Musial, Ph.D

“Acupuncture Changes Brain's Perception and Processing of Pain:

Radiological Society of North America press release on November 30, 2010

https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/pr_target.cfm?ID=515

  1. Von Bubnoff, Andreas. “Acupuncture Activates the Brain”

Article published on BioEd Online on May 1, 2005

http://www.bioedonline.org/news/nature-news/acupuncture-activates-brain/

  1. Nepp, Johannes; Jandrasits, Kerstin; Schauersberger, Joerg; Schild, Gebtraud; Wedrich, Andreas; Sabine, Gräser Lang; Spacek, Anna

“IS ACUPUNCTURE AN USEFUL TOOL FOR PAIN-TREATMENT IN OPHTHALMOLOGY?”

Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research, Volume 27, Numbers 3-4, 2002, pp. 171-182(12)

https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/aetr/2002/00000027/F0020003/art00002

  1. Thorud, Hanne-Mari Schiøtz*; Helland, Magne†; Aarås, Arne‡; Kvikstad, Tor Martin†; Lindberg, Lars Göran; Horgen, Gunnar

“Eye-Related Pain Induced by Visually Demanding Computer Work”

Optometry and Vision Science: April 2012 - Volume 89 - Issue 4 - p E452–E464

https://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Fulltext/2012/04000/Eye_Related_Pain_Induced_by_Visually_Demanding.13.aspx

  1. Acufinder.com Editorial Staff. “Boost Your Brain Power with Acupuncture”

https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Boost+Your+Brain+Power+with+Acupuncture+

5 Tips for Self-care: TCM and Beyond

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 02:59 PM

self-care.jpeg

Self-care is a buzzword that’s mentioned a lot these days, but I feel like the meaning can get lost when tossed around so frequently. What does self-care really mean? Care of oneself, sure, that’s easy. We eat, we drink, we sleep – our needs are met, we are cared for. Right?

“Self-care” can be defined as intentional actions that you take in order to care for your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While eating, drinking, and sleeping would all technically be considered self-care, I’d like to explore the idea a bit further than the basics to stay alive. Our bodies are generally pretty good at making sure our physical needs are met, so what often falls by the wayside is our mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are some approachable and affordable suggestions for incorporating more self-care activities into your daily routine:

1. Get Acupuncture

Being poked by needles may not be the first item on your “self-care and relaxation” to-do list, but it should be. Hear me out! Symptoms of stress can manifest physically (fatigue, muscle tightness, insomnia, illness, etc.) or emotionally (depression, anxiety, mood swings, poor concentration, etc.) and vary greatly from person to person.

Acupuncture acts on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, also promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which handles anxiety and worry (www.acupuncture.org). Research done on a specific acupuncture point (yintang) has shown that, when used during acupuncture or acupressure, this particular point lowered the reported stress levels of volunteers (Fassoulaki). Other research done on the success rates of In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, found that women undergoing acupuncture combined with IVF had higher successful implantation rates compared with those who did not receive acupuncture (Balk). The World Health Organization lists physical stress symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and pain among the problems that acupuncture has proven effective in treating. You can receive acupuncture when these symptoms arise or go in for regular "preventative" visits to stay ahead of any imbalances. 

2. Meditate

For many people, meditation might be the most intimidating item on this list. I used to think of meditation as something completely unapproachable, something that only tai chi masters and yoga gurus have the discipline to do. I thought meditation wasn't for me. Not true! I’ve since found that simple, approachable meditation practices such as “Alternate Nostril Breathing” (below) can be effective at reducing stress and bringing my awareness back to the present. Also, apps like Buddhify and Headspace offer a variety of guided meditations for all moods and situations, and you can always check out a class at AOMA! Every Sunday evening from 5-6pm there is a free meditation class at the AOMA South campus - no registration or materials are required.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: 
•    In this exercise, the breath should be relaxed, deep and full. 
•    Use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril, and the index finger or ring        finger of the right hand to close the left nostril. 
•    Close the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. 
•    Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. 
•    Then inhale through the right nostril. 
•    Close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. 
•    Continue repeating, alternating nostrils after each inhalation. 
•    Inhale left, exhale right: helps to make you calm and integrates unwanted negative          emotions and stress, excellent by itself before bed. 
•    Inhale right, exhale left: Gives clarity and positive mood, helps us to focus on what is        important. (www.3ho.org)

3. Exercise

Aerobic exercise causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and "feel-good" neurotransmitters. Exercise also maintains both physical and mental fitness, reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances cognitive function. It doesn't have to be high-intensity or long-duration; even just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-stress effects (www.adaa.org). My personal recommendations include yoga, qigong, tai chi, walking, running, or swimming, but any activity that inspires you to get up and get moving is perfect! Studies have shown that both brisk walking and tai chi can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve mood (Putai). 

4. Hydrate

This is the easiest item on the whole list yet the one that I struggle with the most! All our organs need water to function, and studies have shown that being just a half-liter dehydrated can increase your body's cortisol levels (Shireffs). Stress also causes your body to release more water by elevating your heart rate and increasing both ventilation and perspiration (Maresh). Drinking a glass of water won'tmake your problems disappear, but dehydration will make you feel worse! Keeping your body fully hydrated will enable you to perform better under pressure and may help you feel less stressed. I use an app called Plant Nanny that reminds me to hydrate throughout the day and helps me track my daily water intake in a cute, fun way.

5. Think Happy Thoughts

An important aspect of self-care is thinking about and focusing on things that inspire you to feel more positive and hopeful. Research has shown that negative thinking can both produce and sustain depression, which can then affect memory and cognitive brain function (Teasdale). There’s a quick and easy “positive words” exercise that I like to do in the mornings, sometimes while the coffee is brewing or even before I even get out of bed. I stand or lay quietly for a minute or two and brainstorm a list of random positive words – no order, no logic, no pressure – just a free-flow of any positive words that come to mind. It can be challenging some days but it’s always fun, and most of the time I’m smiling before I even realize it. Typically I don’t write anything down, but this morning I did so that I could share my list with you:

Laugh

    Smile

Abundance

Love

Share

Joy

Mercy

Compassion

Inspired

Blessing

Happy

Fulfilled

Embrace

Brave

Enjoy

Thankful

Goal

Accomplish

Success

Friend

Brilliant

Positive

Giving

Awesome

Connected

Sunshine

Ready

Cherish

Healthy

Fun

Making this list took me just 3 minutes; I smiled while I was writing it and I’m smiling again as I re-type it now. Try it for yourself! It’s amazing how powerful a few words of affirmation can be when they brighten your day and remind you of the positivity that already exists inside your own head.

6. Bonus Tip: Ask for Help

If you try all the items on this list and don't feel any positive improvements in your sense of wellbeing, it may be time to look outside yourself for help. Reaching out to a trusted friend or another member of your support system might help, or you may need to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional like a therapist or counselor. Your body might also be trying to tell you something, and a visit to your primary care physician could reveal an underlying medical cause for your symptoms. Please feel free to contact the AOMA Clinics for recommendations on local acupuncture-friendly physicians and specialists.

Request an Appointment

Resources:
Balk, Judith, et al. “The relationship between stress, acupuncture, and IVF patients: a pilot study.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Volume 16, Issue 3, August 2010, Pages 154–157

Fassoulaki, Argyro, et al. “Pressure Applied on the Extra 1 Acupuncture Point Reduces Bispectral Index Values and Stress in Volunteers.” Anesthesia & Analgesia: March 2003 - Volume 96 - Issue 3 - pp 885-890

Maresh, C.M. et al. "Effect of Hydration State on Testosterone and Cortisol Responses to Training-Intensity Exercise in Collegiate Runners." Int J Sports Med 2006; 27(10): 765-770

Pomeranz, Bruce. “Scientific Research into Acupuncture for the Relief of Pain.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2007, 2(1): 53-60.

Putai, Jin. "Efficacy of Tai Chi, brisk walking, meditation, and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress." Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 36, Issue 4, May 1992, Pages 361–370

Shirreffs, S M. "Markers of Hydration Status" Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 40.1  (Mar 2000): 80-4.

Teasdale, John D. “Negative Thinking in Depression: Cause, effect, or reciprocal relationship?” Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy. Volume 5, Issue 1, 1983, Pages 3–25

www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

https://www.3ho.org/files/pdfs/alternate-nostril-breathing.pdf

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/stress.html

http://johnsoncook.com/positive-words-exercise-nobody-is-watching/#.V30_SfkrKUk

 

 

 

 

        

        

Topics: acupuncture

Can you Love Acupuncture and still Fear Needles?

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 03:13 PM

FearofNeedles

Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles, is fairly common, affecting an estimated 10% of Americans. Chances are that either you or someone you know experiences stress and anxiety at the thought of a medical professional sticking them with a needle. And it’s no wonder! I’m sure that very few of us can say that we have ever had a positive interaction with a needle. From a very young age we’re taken to the doctor for injections, accompanied by promises that “it won’t hurt a bit!” This is of course a lie, which then associates needles with both deceit and pain. From tattoos to stitches to blood draws and vaccinations, all of our needle experiences are uncomfortable and/or unpleasant, which eventually takes its toll. In extreme cases the fear of needles can lead to people avoiding doctors and medical care altogether, which can definitely make acupuncture a tough sell. But hear me out.

shotneedles-951901-edited

Most people that I talk to about acupuncture have one major question: does it hurt? The quick answer: no it doesn’t. But we’re going to explore that question a bit more. Let’s talk numbers. Needle widths are measured in a term called gauge, with the gauge of commonly-used hypodermic needles (the kind used for injections) being anywhere from 7 (largest) to 33 (smallest). To compare, the largest commonly-used acupuncture needle is 28 gauge, and the smallest is 42. That’s anywhere from .35-.14 millimeters in width! To the naked eye, acupuncture needles are thinner than a human hair. Additionally, hypodermic needles are hollow to allow for fluid transfer, whereas acupuncture needles are solid. This combined with their thinness allows for a lot of flexibility in acupuncture needles. They are less invasive than hypodermic needles, and as a result you feel them significantly less. Upon insertion you might feel a tiny tingle, or a warm sensation, which is completely normal and usually fades within seconds. You may also feel very relaxed or drowsy during your treatment; I generally nap through my acupuncture sessions. After your treatment you will probably leave the clinic with an increased sense of well-being or even mild euphoria. This is also completely normal, and is one of the best side effects of acupuncture.

The other main question I often get asked about acupuncture is if it’s safe. At the AOMA clinics we take great care to make sure that our policies and practices follow the strictest guidelines of cleanliness, and patient safety is our highest priority. All of our clinicians, including student interns, are required to take and pass the CCAOM’s Clean Needle Technique (CNT) course prior to treating patients in our clinics. Acupuncture needles are factory-sealed to ensure sterility, and open packs of needles are properly disposed of if not used. Acupuncture needles are used once and only once; we never re-use them. Following CNT guidelines, once they are selected by your practitioner the necessary acupuncture points will be cleaned with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. A clean cotton ball will be used to close the points once each acupuncture needle is removed.      

needlesize-909772-edited

Now that we’ve talked about needle size and clean needle techniques, let’s talk about the overall experience. An acupuncture session will be the most positive needle experience you will ever have in your life. The acupuncture experience is highly focused on relaxation, as relaxed bodies heal more quickly than tense ones. You will rest on a massage table in a dimmed room with soft music playing, and your practitioner will do their best to make sure you are comfortable and relaxed. The temperature of each room can be adjusted with fans or heaters, and we have blankets, pillows, and bolsters available for your comfort. Your acupuncturist will spend time with you before your treatment discussing the points they’d like to needle and why; please feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like! We love for our patients to be actively involved in the care they receive at our clinics.

I am a huge fan of acupuncture, and not only because I work at an acupuncture clinic! I myself have experienced the amazing transformative power of this medicine; I have witnessed its healing potential on numerous friends and family members, and I am privileged every day to see the positive changes it brings into our patients’ lives. Give acupuncture a try, even if you’re nervous or afraid. It’s definitely possible to hate needles but still love acupuncture!

Request an appointment at our Austin acupuncture clinics below:

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Topics: efficacy of acupuncture, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, acupuncture needles

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