How did you find Part 1?
A little tame?
Well fear not, Part 2 is where we hit upon a few more controversial topics. We'll also explore what your Immune System and Donald Trump have in common.
No Really, read on....
6 - Allergies
To Kick off Part 2, a bit of a wide, all encompassing (and VAGUE!!) header no?
Well actually no, and I really do mean all kinds of allergies.
Hayfever? Sure! Allergic to Dogs? No Problem!
I’d may be wary of saying we can get rid of that fatal peanut allergy. But that’s mostly due to the ethics of testing it. (No I’m not gonna open the bag of peanuts and just see what happens.)
The underlying systems we’re (expertly) mucking about with here is the immune response regulation. Basically we’re trying to get the message through that the immune system can just ease ever so slightly off the throttle.
Usually everybody gets the message and nobody needs to call the cops. And the antihistamines languish in the back of the cupboard, but you can’t please everyone.
Personally I control my hay-fever through acupuncture every now and again. (Initial set of treatments, now I top up if the pollen count is high etc.)
Currently I'm also working with an unspecified allergy causing skin rashes. We’re down to 1-2 antihistamines a month. From needing the maximum daily dose. Rummaging back through the client folders shows hay-fever, cat allergies and even some nasty long term side effects of allergy responses have wandered through my clinic doors.
Having been there, I know how liberating it is to not be chained to the Piriton.
7 - Blood Pressure
Note the heading says "Blood Pressure" not "High Blood Pressure". Well it's not (just) due to laziness on your authors part. Acupuncture is fairly well documented in regards to its effects on high blood pressure. (It’s also part of the reason you can feel a touch woozy immediately after a session).
But it’s also pretty effective at "normalising" Low Blood Pressure? Now that’s pretty cool. Especially here in the West.
We’re so overloaded with a focus on High Blood Pressure that those who have an exceptionally low blood pressure don’t really have a lot of options.
Not feeling like a priority can suck, but with a few judicious points you could wave goodbye to that woozy fade-to-black every time you stand up without tensing your legs. (Y’know unless you like that…)
8 - Chemotherapy/Radiotherapy
This one may be a touch controversial. Controversial inasmuch as it's a pretty emotionally charged subject. So, let’s all remember to play nice, deal?
Let’s Just Make Things Clear
There’s a lot of research (pretty much all based out of China) on the benefits and strength of Chinese Medicine treating cancer. There’s also a lot of debate on the validity/bias/methodology of said research. It also generally considers an approach combining Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture and Qigong.
This is not what I'm trying to discuss.
(That's like a whole Blog series all of it's own just to skim the surface)
That said, as a method of mitigating the side effect of cancer treatment, acupuncture has a few advantages.
Massage Therapists/Bodyworkers are (rightly) wary of working with anyone actively being treated for cancer. (Some Practitioners have undertaken further study and specialise in this area, but they're decidedly less common a beast).
Why? Simply because they don’t want to “make things worse”. Best not to get too much movement whilst those pesky cancer cells might be running amok in the body eh? As such the general consensus is in this situation the selection of supportive, complementary therapies (etc.) is pretty slim.
Acupuncture doesn’t have this (physical) issue. It’s also pretty nifty at alleviating nausea. It’s also great for giving the immune system a boost, and mitigating fatigue.
Plus some of the most fulfilling treatments I’ve given have been in this area. ‘Nuff Said.
9 - Bell’s Palsy
Let's step away from the Soap Box now, and roll right along to next in the list. Bell’s Palsy can be split generally into two main areas of concern.
Paralysis and Pain.
Pain - Acupuncture's go to symptom. Pain is our “bread and butter” as an old tutor used to say. Frankly if you’re in pain for anything (and haven’t had anyone tell you yet) come have a chat. We’re generally a nice bunch to talk to.
Paralysis - This is a fun one. It is compounded by the fact that at least 7/10 cases have no known cause. No really, just wake up one day and it’s there. Not that we Traditional Acupuncturists really mind, as we use a different method and theory of diagnosis anyway.
The stimulation of collagen, nerve endings, brain function, hormone release and local healing response are a pretty heady concoction though. Indeed in the more Traditional Shop Fronts (you know the ones!) Palsy is often one of the touted symptoms (alongside hair loss, Infertility, and other ones I’d really rather not go into right now.)
10 - Arthritis
To round off our list I thought I’d give you a two for one deal. This is because there are two main reasons for arthritis.
Osteoarthritis - “Wear and Tear” most people have heard of this type. In fact it’s almost become an accepted part of “getting older”. Joints wear out, padding is padded away, and we get achey and stiff. If it’s really bad then we get an upgrade, a sparkly new knee or hip.
If the idea of surgery doesn’t really give you the warm and fuzzies, the combination of pain control and stimulating tissue growth through the healing response is quite a funky combo. Obviously results will depend on the severity and extent of the degeneration.
Still I’ve several clients who have managed to stay out from under the knife, and they range from first signs to long standing and severe.
Handy Home Tip: There’s an entire materia medica of liniments, balms, ointments etc. in Chinese Herbal Medicine. But they’re mostly difficult and expensive to get hold of (read - Make Yourself). Whereas Tiger Balm is sold in Boots.
(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated nor do I have shares in Tiger Balm. Clarification: Pretty Sure that info is only useful in the UK).
With warming and stimulating properties, it’s a pretty handy and surprisingly effective alternative to pain gels. (If the joint is hot and red/swollen then do not try tiger balm, you will not have a fun time.)
Rheumatoid Arthritis - This is the arthritis that causes the well known joint changes that we associate with the disorder. It’s actually nothing to do with use of the joint. Instead it’s (yet again) a slightly borked immune response.
Basically the immune system decides to declare war on the joints. Queue inflammation, swelling, pain and general discomfort in the affected area. It’s as if you were fighting off an infection. But there’s no infection.
Often this tricks the rest of the body into thinking the joint has been damaged. This triggers the body to send nutrients to repair. Since there is no damage, the materials just sort of pile up, and it’s this which leads to the joint abnormalities.
And how could Acupuncture help? Immune Regulation you say? By (once again) convincing the immune system to pull itself together and stop attacking random parts of the body, a large section of symptoms can be effectively wiped off the table.
This section highlights one of the greatest strengths of Acupuncture.
It is able to regulate.
Immune system too low? Give it a boost.
Too high, and threatening to launch nuclear strikes against various unsuspecting parts of the body (who does that sound like?) Just tone it down a smidge. Or a lot.
The adaptability that a trained acupuncturist can bring to the table is really not to be sniffed at.
If any of these have tickled your interest, post a comment, or ping over an email. I'd love to hear from you!
Acupuncture as a method of pain management is kinda something we're becoming familiar with. That said, have you ever wondered "What is it actually, like, for?"
The point came up again at a talk to an Endometriosis support group a few months ago. About half way through, (by which point I was merrily pontificating at full pelt) one brave soul decided to wonder no longer. The question? "So.... would Acupuncture help with my periods?" ..... Um... Yes!!!!
Obviously this was in terms unrelated to endometriosis, and was asked with genuine curiosity. And I was reacquainted with the knowledge that not everyone has the slightest idea what an Acupuncturist can work with you on. (ASA regulations make it illegal to say treat. So. No saying treat deal?)
In an effort to answer just that question of what Acupuncture can do for You, May I present the first 5 of 10 conditions you may not have known Acupuncturists can help with.
1 - Nausea (Including Morning Sickness)
We’ll start off with one that you may already actually know. Or at least have used! Ever tried one of those anti nausea magnet bands? They’re pretty popular, and even work some of the time!
If they did nothing for you it may have been because they weren’t actually on the right point. The point for nausea on the wrists is called Neiguan, and is about 3 fingers up from the wrist crease. So if the band was worn as the wrist it wasn’t able to work!
It works by affecting the connective tissue. In a very helpful fashion, one of the main connections to the abdomen, starts at the middle finger.
By applying needles, magnets or even just the right pressure at Neiguan, the entire line of tissue is encouraged to relax. Now unless you've just eaten something that REALLY doesn't like you, a good chunk of nausea is due to unnecessary tension in the abdomen.
Bottom line, relaxed connective tissue doesn’t make you feel sick anymore. (Hint: Magnets and Needles have a stronger effect. But you can get a certain amount just by using pressure!) Pretty cool huh?
2 - Headaches
If you’re an Acupuncture groupie, you may have been aware of the small hoohah surrounding current Migraine guidelines in the UK.
If not, the long and short of it is that there’s a fair chunk of evidence that shows Acupuncture working better as a migraine prophylaxis, than the current medications. (Plus there’s none of that side effect business). Yet it isn't mentioned in one of the most recent guideline publications. Even though it really is a great option for headache and migraine management!
(Personally I've always had amazing results with Migraine clients. It's one of my go to treatments, with clients seeing benefits almost immediately.) Although far beyond the scope of our top ten to explore why the omission, who doesn't love a bit of drama with their Health Tips?
If you’re interested in the full scoop, then I’d suggest a bimble over to this Blog by Mel Koppelman. It’s a favourite blog of mine, and her research skills are really top notch, if you'd like a bit more science.
3 - P.M.S
So technically the WHO states the research shows definitive benefit for Dysmenorrhea. Whereas it is positive, but requires further testing, for PMS. (Basically there haven't been as many studies, or the studies were smaller.) Now I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that's kinda bordering on semantics.
Dysmenorrhea is classified as painful or dysfunctional menstruation. When there isn’t an underlying cause, the general consensus is it’s most likely due to excess prostaglandins and an overactive inflammatory response. Acupuncture is pretty good at regulating both inflammatory and hormone responses in the body, hence its success.
PMS is also considered to be caused by hormone imbalances. (Though the exact mechanism is unknown). So whilst not a scientific certainty, a treatment that regulates hormone fluctuations and inflammation response directly relating to menstruation may just be worth trying.
In clinic, most ladies who come in, even for unrelated treatments find they benefit in this area. My advice is if you're ever curious but/or unsure, just get in touch! Most of us Acupuncture types are pretty happy to talk shop, even if just in terms of answering a few questions. You needn't fear being press ganged into treatments or a time share in Bude.
4 - Postoperative Recovery
OK so we all know Acupuncture is the Bees Knees when it comes to pain management. But often this is presented purely in regards to long standing conditions (Lower Back Pain anyone? It had to have a mentions somewhere!)
The fact is that Acupuncture is ideal for pretty much any kind of pain, including postoperative. As it also stimulates a healing response within the body, it can help decrease recovery time. Who doesn’t want to get out of those crutches quicker?
Self help to boost recovery is not quite as straightforward sans needles. Top advice is going to be keep blood and nutrient flow to the area at maximum. Gentle mobilisation techniques or gentle massage around (Let’s be absolutely clear to not massage either over surgery sites, broken bones, etc!) the area in question are going to be most beneficial.
5 - Skin (Eczema/Psoriasis)
Ok, so confession time, this isn’t actually part of the WHO List. That said, it is something I’m pretty darn enthusiastic about. It’s an area I’ve had great results not just with clients but with my own skin also!
In terms of why it’s such a good method of managing these types of conditions I’m gonna trot out those old favourites of inflammatory response and immune system modulation.
Plus when I can get my skin from this:
To This: (In the Interest of transparency, the contrast has been upped by 30% to make things clearer. I did this to all the pictures. Merely allowing for naff camera skills!)
In 3 days, through Acupuncture, that’s the kind of thing you’d probably want to hear about no?
Considering the, really quite aggressive, side effects when you look at skin medications, would you think it worth a try at least?
I'd also recommend Epsom/Himalayan/Dead Sea Salt (or all 3 like I did!) Baths, especially during a flare up. I find they work wonders for me, but let me know your own tips in the comments!
There We Go
Five down, five more to go! Were any a surprise? Let me know in the comments or over on The Witchdoctors Facebook Page.
If you're wanting to know a little more about one of the conditions covered, then ping over an email I'm always happy to chat Acupuncture!
This week was very exciting, the new oil order arrived!
As a bodyworker trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine, my main massage technique (Tui Na - Grasp and Pull) is actually traditionally performed clothed, and through a towel. This prevents visual ques distracting from the hand sensitivity, arguably the far more important sense of the two when work with structures under the skin. However many clients, especially those coming for relaxation to stress relief, prefer a treatment with oil. With the demand for this growing since relocation, and not wanting to disappoint the fans, I decided a bulk order was needed.
After an amount of time (more than I will admit, I may be an oil geek) spent browsing through the oils, of which there are a staggering number, I settled on four main types. Sweet Almond, Coconut, Castor and Lemon Seed. Why not stick to just Sweet Almond? Let's break down the oils and why:
Sweet Almond - The mainstay of any massage therapist. Most people who have been to a massage will have had sweet almond oil used, either alone or as a base for essential oils. With little to no scent, and a nice balance between retention on the skin and absorption, it's ideal for massage.
Coconut Oil - The current super star in the health world, coconut oil is being used for everything from cleaning teeth to strengthening hair, through cooking with and of course, as a massage oil. Mildly antibacterial (the more you know!) and with a subtle coconut smell, which is great for those who aren't trained in essential oil use. Coconut has great dispersal properties and is a light, fairly easily absorbed oil, nourishing skin whilst providing the right balance of movement and grip for most massage techniques. It's also been recommended for adhesion and scar breakdown, and is brilliant for soothing blemishes or scars on the surface. The only drawback is if you hate coconut.
Castor Oil - A much heavier oil, true to the adage quality over quantity. Castor was mostly on my radar for skin cleansing (how to is a whole other blog post if interested!). However it's a highly nourishing oil and ideal for those with dry skin, or conditions such as psoriasis (no there's no reason that should stop you getting a massage).
Lemon Seed - An oil many may not have heard of, at least as a base oil. Lemon seed has all the qualities of sweet almond, with a slight lemon scent. Not stopping there, lemon seed is highly hydrating and moisturising for the skin, a rich oil that adds a touch of indulgence to a treatment. The high omega oil and mineral content also add to its list of benefits. Perfect for sensitive, irritated or perfectly healthy skin, it may yet become the new poster child for massage oils.
With oils arrived, I began to offer the choice to clients, and funnily, bar a few coconut fans, everyone stuck with Sweet Almond. Maybe I'm not selling them well, but no one seems interested in trying out some (in my opinion) pretty awesome alternatives. Are we just programmed to favour what we know? In the meantime I'll be working on the oil pitch. Maybe next week Lemon Seed will get its time to shine.
So. Who wants a Massage?