Monday, May 6, 2019

Research Update: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain




Research Update: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain


A study published in the British Medical Journal examined how acupuncture can be beneficial for low back pain. The researchers split 241 people into two groups. One group received acupuncture treatments and the other group only received conventional treatments for pain. Over the course of the two-year study, researchers found that those participants receiving acupuncture reported their pain levels were less and that they needed less medication. While the differences in pain scores were not astronomical, this study does demonstrate that the addition of acupuncture to conventional treatments for low back pain can be helpful.


Statistics show that almost eight out of ten people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known that in the United States people are too sedentary, and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. Despite its age, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. Thousands of studies have proven that acupuncture, just one of the modalities used in TCM, can be very beneficial in the treatment of low back pain.


Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate specific pressure points on the body. By invigorating these points, the brain is triggered to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. The energy within the body is also moved and adjusted. According to TCM medical theory, when the energy is blocked or weak, pain and illness can attack the body.


One of the advantages of utilizing acupuncture to treat low back pain is that the acupuncturist doesn’t need to diagnose the cause of the pain before treating it. Since acupuncture has no real adverse side effects when performed by a qualified and professionally licensed practitioner, pain relief can begin the very first time a patient is treated.


The treatments are very customizable because this medicine is not a “one size fits all” type of solution. This means that as the pain shifts and changes, the patient will receive customized treatments that not only address the pain and inflammation, but they also work on resolving the root of the problem. Most patients who are dealing with pain also have added stress, insomnia and depression or anxiety. Acupuncture is great at treating all of these conditions. So the patient gets more than just pain relief.


Acupuncture is so effective at treating and relieving pain that it is now showing up in hospitals and emergency rooms. In fact, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota is now successfully using acupuncture in its emergency room to treat conditions ranging from low back pain to car accident injuries to kidney stones. Their initial results show that pain scores are just as low with acupuncture as they are with analgesic painkillers. Another positive action regarding the utilization of acupuncture came just recently. The Food and Drug Administration released proposed changes that plan to educate health care providers about treating pain. The new guidelines recommend that doctors get information about acupuncture and suggest it to their patients before prescribing opioids.


With these kinds of recommendations and testimonials, it is hard to believe that only about ten percent of Americans have ever tried acupuncture. But that statistic is slowly changing as more and more people are seeking natural and alternative methods of dealing with low back pain. Why not check it out for yourself? Contact us and see how we can help you.


New York Sports Acupuncture
Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Patient Help Sheet – Low Back Pain




Patient Help Sheet – Low Back Pain



Statistics show that almost eight out of ten people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known that in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. But despite its age, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. TCM provides many ways of combating low back pain. Here are just a few examples of how this ancient medical system can help.
Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce natural steroids that reduce inflammation. Acupuncture also increases the production of endorphins, which are helpful in reducing pain. In this way, acupuncture can be very helpful in preventing costly surgeries or prescription pain medication addiction. If a person seeks out acupuncture treatments when the low back pain is acute, it can potentially help them avoid chronic pain, thus decreasing the need for pain medications or surgery.


Acupuncture Points for Low Back Pain:

  • Large Intestine 4 – This point is located bilaterally on the back side of the hand, in the webbing between the pointer finger and the thumb. When the hand is made into a fist, the point can be located in the center of the mound of flesh that is created. This point is used for relieving pain anywhere in the body. Press until it feels numb.

  • Gallbladder 34 – This point is found on both legs on the outer side of the lower leg. It can found in the depression that is below the bump of the bone below the outside of the knee. This point is known as the influential point of the tendons.

  • Urinary Bladder 40 – This point is located on both legs on the crease behind the knee, right in the center, directly behind the knee cap. This point helps relieve pain along the spine. It is helpful for relieving muscle spasms and reducing pain associated with sciatic nerve involvement, which stems from the low back.

Chinese Herbs for Low Back Pain: Herbs and combinations of herbs, known as formulas are used frequently in TCM. They can be used topically in the form of balms or salves and they can also be taken internally. One specific herb that is found frequently in low back pain formulas is Xu Duan. This herb is used because it strengthens the sinews, promoted blood circulation and alleviates pain.
Most herbal formulas have specific herbs in them that help target the areas that are affected. For instance, Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang contains herbs that target the muscles and sinews of the low back area to alleviate pain and inflammation.


Nutrition for Low Back Pain: Proper nutrition is vital for everyone, but for those suffering from low back pain, it can be extra important to provide the body with the right nutrients. Fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, provide omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation. Grapes and berries contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that inhibit enzymes responsible for pain. Hemp seeds are another great food to consume if you are suffering from low back pain. Full of anti-inflammatory properties and healthy fats, hemp seeds can decrease pain and inflammation.


As you can see, Traditional Chineses Medicine is a great way to deal with low back pain. If you are experiencing this problem, give us a call to see what we can do for you.



New York Sports Acupuncture
Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Research Update: Chronic Pain



Research Update: Chronic Pain 



In May 2018, a team of researchers from the Acupuncture Trialists Collaboration published an update to previous chronic pain research in the Journal of Pain, the journal associated with the American Pain Society. The new article updates a study first released in 2008 that looked at acupuncture as a treatment for four chronic pain conditions. The updated study now includes data from nearly 21,000 patients.



The new study confirms what was shown in the researchers’ previous work: acupuncture relieved pain and improved function when compared with sham acupuncture and not receiving any acupuncture. The researchers also showed that the effects persisted over at least a 12-month period. This study adds to the body of literature that suggests acupuncture can be a viable treatment for chronic pain, and the findings cannot be explained solely by placebo effects since they did not observe significant changes in the group that received sham acupuncture.



Chronic pain affects approximately 50 million Americans or just over 20 percent of the adult population, according to a study from the Center for Disease Control released in September 2018. That statistic, when combined with the growing opioid epidemic in the United States led one of the country’s largest health-insurance providers, Blue Cross Blue Shield, to start covering acupuncture as an alternative to opioids. The change went into effect January 1, 2019.



Acupuncture relieves pain by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, at the acupoints in which the needles are inserted. Licensed acupuncturists can access the specific areas of their patients’ bodies that are causing them pain by inserting needles at acupoints connected to those painful areas. Acupuncture may also help relieve pain by affecting the area of the brain that governs serotonin, a chemical in the brain involved in regulating our moods.



According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture meridian points activate the body’s innate healing abilities acupuncturists call Qi (chee). According to TCM, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. Qi flows through pathways called meridians and provides nourishment to the body’s cells, tissues, muscles, organs, and glands. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, symptoms such as chronic pain may appear.



If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, suffer no more! Contact a licensed acupuncturist in your area to learn how they may be able to help you find relief in an all-natural way with no risk of harmful side effects. 



Friday, April 26, 2019

Research Update – Acupuncture and the Liver



Research Update – Acupuncture and the Liver


A study published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine looked at how acupuncture might be able to inhibit injury to the liver caused by the prescription combination of morphine and acetaminophen. The study was conducted on rats that had been fed morphine and acetaminophen. Then, acupuncture was applied once daily to the rats. The researchers discovered the rats who received acupuncture also had less damage to their livers. This occurs because of the antioxidant-stimulating effects of acupuncture treatments. The researchers concluded acupuncture may provide a safe alternative detox method for people chronically taking morphine or acetaminophen.


Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, views the human body quite differently from Western medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are energetic pathways are associated with specific organs in the body. When these pathways, or meridians, and the energy flowing through them, are out of balance, then the body may become diseased.


In TCM, the liver and its corresponding pathway are responsible for the smooth flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy, blood and emotions. The liver is easily affected by excess stress and uncontrolled emotions. The liver is paired with the gallbladder and the two work very closely as a unit. When one is imbalanced, the other may display the symptoms. For example, if a person is consistently stressed, this may cause the liver energy to become blocked. When this happens, the gallbladder may become affected. It is not uncommon for people in high stress jobs to end up with gallstones. The liver becomes blocked and the emotions remain bottled up inside, which then manifests in pain and possibly stones.


Anger is the emotion commonly associated with the liver and gallbladder. If a person gets angered easily, frequently feels frustrated, has difficulty relaxing or letting things go, and is unreasonable, it is safe to guess their liver energy isn’t flowing smoothly. There are many methods of balancing liver energy and returning proper flow throughout the body. Learning to stay calm and channel one’s anger appropriately is a good place to start. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, yoga or even take a walk. All of these things are great for balancing stagnant liver energy.


Another way to smooth liver energy is a technique known as dry brushing. Using a hairbrush with rounded bristles or a soft bristle brush, one can lightly brush down along the liver energetic meridian, which runs along the inner thighs and inner calves, all the way down to the inside corner of the big toe. This can be done for about five minutes per leg. Dry brushing gently stimulates the liver meridian, allowing the blood and energy to flow more freely and relaxing not only the liver, but the whole body.


Acupuncture is another great way to balance the liver energies. Regular acupuncture treatments help balance the body holistically and without any real side effects. Acupuncture can increase the flow of energy throughout the body, remove blockages and stagnation and allow the liver to function properly, which will ultimately allow the body to detox more effectively.


If you deal with anger, stress or have a history of gallstones, it might be a good idea to give acupuncture a try. Be sure to give us a call to help guide you through balancing the energy of the liver meridian. Over time, your body will most likely respond favorably.



New York Sports Acupuncture, P.C.

Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Eating Well for Springtime



Eating Well for Springtime


Traditional Chinese medicine says aligning your diet with the seasons is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Mother Nature provides exactly what we need to be healthy. Paying attention to the fruits, vegetables and herbs that grow during different seasons in the region where you live is a great way to incorporate the philosophies of traditional Chinese medicine into your own life and access greater healing.


In the spring, TCM suggests eating cooling foods to balance out the effect of warmer temperatures outside.


TCM also suggests taking the time to be mindful about the environment and energy around you when you eat. If you are stressed out or rushing when you eat, that will affect how your body is able to process the nutrients you’re consuming. Breathe deeply, chew well and take the time to digest your food.


For more spring in your step, here are four specific foods that can support your health and wellbeing this spring.


Lemon: In traditional Chinese medicine, the organ associated with spring is the liver and the flavor associated with the liver is sour. Sour foods, like lemons, help flush toxins from the liver. Adding fresh lemon to a cup of warm water each morning is a great, simple, practice that will do wonders for your liver.


Greens: Fresh leafy greens are most plentiful during the spring, and eating them is associated with cleansing and building. The bright green color of leaves comes from chlorophyll, which is a wonderful healing agent. Any greens, but especially those darker in color, like spinach or wild greens such as dandelion greens, are very beneficial.


Asparagus: Asparagus is a finicky plant with a short growing season: spring. Make a point to catch this plant powerhouse. Asparagus is full of vitamins A, C and K as well as folate and fiber. According to TCM, asparagus builds the nourishing fluids in the body, meaning it soothes irritation and helps fertility. It also promotes healthy lungs, clearing congestion and conditions like bronchitis.


Fruits and vegetables: In general, spring is the time of year when more fruits and vegetables become available locally. Peruse your local farmer’s market or take note of any produce in the grocery store that’s labeled “local.” Incorporate these items into your diet in abundance!


Try incorporating these foods and cleansing principles with this delicious spring salad!



Asparagus, snap pea and quinoa salad

Feeds 4-6


Ingredients:

● 1 cup quinoa

● 1 cup fresh snap peas, strings removed and cut into small diagonals

● 1 bunch asparagus, cut into small diagonals

● 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

● Fresh mixed greens

● Sliced avocado


Dressing:

● Juice of 1 lemon

● ⅓ cup olive oil

● 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

● ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped

● Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:


Boil two cups of water in a small pan. Add the quinoa and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.


Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook the asparagus in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes until just tender. Quickly drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.


In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cilantro. Then, mix in the snap peas, asparagus and chickpeas. Serve over the mixed greens and top with sliced avocado. 



New York Sports Acupuncture
Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
888.375.5444

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

4 Lifestyle Tweaks to Thrive this Spring



4 Lifestyle Tweaks to Thrive this Spring


In traditional Chinese medical theory, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to live in balance with the seasons. Balance, in this context, means mindfully crafting your diet and certain aspects of your lifestyle based on what season it is.


An easy way to think about this is with fruits and vegetables: we are lucky these days to have grocery stores stocked year round with fruits and vegetables from every corner of the globe at all times of year. That makes it possible to enjoy asparagus into the winter months in northern climates where asparagus would never naturally grow at that time of year if at all. Chinese medical thought prescribes realigning our diets with what would be available to us in the region where we live and at each time of year. In this way, we’re aligning ourselves with the rhythms of the earth. Not only that, but eating fresh, local fruits and vegetables probably means they’re going to be better tasting fruits and vegetables in the first place, because they’re fresh off the vine and ripened close by. Living in balance with the seasons helps to keep us healthy and free of disease, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).


Each season is also connected to one of the main organ networks and a related element, both based on associations with what is happening in our bodies and in the natural world. In spring, Chinese medicine says we should be attentive to our livers. Springtime is all about new life and life-giving processes. The liver provides essential support to our lungs, heart and circulation system – in other words, all the life-giving systems in our bodies. The liver also stores and distributes nourishment to the whole body. It also filters toxins from the blood and breaks them down for elimination.


When the liver is functioning properly, there is functionality throughout the whole body, and we feel a physical and emotional freedom and expansiveness that allow us to take on the essence of springtime.


Here are four ways to tweak your lifestyle this spring in order to support balance in your liver.


1. Rise and shine. Make it a habit to wake up earlier in the spring than you were during winter. Notice if getting up earlier allows you to have more energy during the day.

2. Exercise more. Try to incorporate more movement into your daily life during the spring. Especially during spring, exercise is a great way to battle depression and anxiety that can creep in due to a liver imbalance.

3. Add sour foods to your diet. The flavor connected to the liver is sour. Adding lemon to your water is a simple way to do this that will help your digestive and emotional health.

4. Keep breathing. Be intentional about developing or maintaining habits that help you to de-stress during spring. Springtime can feel like a burst of energy compared to winter, but it is important to make space each for downtime and not get too busy too fast. 



New York Sports Acupuncture
Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
888.375.5444




Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Patient Helpsheet: Cleansing


Patient Helpsheet: Cleansing


Spring has a natural feeling of change and rebirth about it. In traditional Chinese medicine, one of the organs connected with springtime is the liver. Both of these reasons make spring a great time to try cleansing. Cleansing can be thought of as taking a rest from certain foods in order to rid any excess waste or toxins from the body. In many ancient philosophies and religions, including traditional Chinese medicine, cleansing is thought to be a vital part of achieving optimum health.


Cleansing can take many forms. These days, people often approach cleansing by committing to drink only fruit and vegetable juices for a period of five or 10 days. But that’s just one facet of cleansing and one way to look at it.


This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help. TCM treats every individual holistically, taking into account their well-being, both physically and psychologically. TCM incorporates many different modalities to treat a patient, but the most common are acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutrition.


Acupuncture for cleansing:
One of the major components of cleansing is making sure the body’s detoxifying and elimination processes are working right, meaning both nutrients are able to be absorbed and toxins are able to be processed and removed. Cleansing your diet simply helps to facilitate this process by not adding any more toxins into the mix, giving your liver and kidneys time to catch up. Acupuncture is all about facilitating the movement of nutrients and toxins in the body. Acupuncture can improve liver and kidney Qi quality and flow, meaning more detoxifying can happen. It can also improve the quality of sleep, which is where our bodies do most of our natural healing.


Acupuncture points for cleansing:

Liver 3: This point is located on the top of each foot, in the webbing between the big and second toes, where the tendons meet. Alternately pressing this point on each foot helps to regulate and refresh the liver, which is the most important organ involved in detoxification.

● 
Kidney 27: This point is located in the depression just below the tip of each collarbone. Alternately pressing this point on each side flushes toxins from the kidney, another important organ involved in detoxification.

Large Intestine 4: This point is located on each hand in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Stimulating this point helps to flush toxins through the digestive tract and bowels.


Dietary recommendations for cleansing:

In the spring, traditional Chinese medicine suggests eating cooling foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables. Foods packed with chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, are also strongly connected with supporting liver health, according to TCM. These foods are especially good to eat to cleanse the liver:

● Parsley

● Kale

● Chard

● Bean sprouts

● Seaweed

● Mung bean sprouts 



New York Sports Acupuncture
Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
888.375.5444