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Monthly Archives: November 2016

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Acupuncture for Athletes

Category : Blog

bluemoon-for-webAcupuncture for Athletes

Acupuncture is used in the treatment of injuries and musculoskeletal and constitutional imbalances, and is often effective for relieving muscle pain and spasm and improving circulation to tense or injured tissues. In my clinic I commonly find acupuncture especially effective for tendon and ligament sprain/strains and chronic injuries which have been poorly responsive to other types of treatment.

According to basic Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) theory, health is viewed as a balance between opposing forces (e.g. yin and yang) in the body. Forces that disrupt this balance are seen to move the body away from health and toward disease and poor function. Herbal medicines, diet, acupuncture, and exercise are all seen as ways to balance these forces to promote health and in the case of athletes, to improve performance.

As a member of the National Sports Acupuncture Association, I’ve studied a number of methods to help both weekend warriors and more competitive athletes improve their performance and prevent injuries. When I work with people to improve their sports performance, I typically use a three-pronged approach. The most important is what I think of as the Yin aspect, which uses TCM methods to support the body during training to build muscles, promote liver glycogen storage, and prepare the body for bursts of energy needed during performance. The Yang aspect is to stimulate output at the time of the performance. Finally, the third prong of the approach is individualizing the treatment, taking into account relatively strong versus weaker systems, past history of injuries or recurrent injuries, and other important health issues, which could impact training and performance. With this approach, I am able to provide customized herbal formulas and acupuncture to assist in both training and competitive activities.

Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Support

Herbal medicine and nutritional support provide important aspects in the TCM approach to performance enhancement. By way of example, here are three of my favorite herb choices for improving sports performance:

The first is easily Siberian Ginseng (Eleutheroccocus senticosus), one of my favorite herbal medicines. It is a gentle herb appropriate for long-term use without side effects. Herbalists consider Siberian Ginseng to be adaptogenic, that is, it helps the body find balance and adapt to stresses. It does this primarily by nourishing the adrenal glands. Effects of Siberian Ginseng include immune support, blood sugar regulation, and improvement in energy levels. It has been shown in studies to enhance athletic performance in all but the most elite athletes (probably because they are so well trained, a gentle herb like Siberian Ginseng is not enough to produce significant further improvements). I prefer a standardized extract in doses of 250-500 mg per day for one to two months followed by a break from use.

Cordyceps (C. sinensis) is also a very safe and gentle tonic. It is a very unusual herb, as it’s a moth larva which has been infected with a fungus and then dried. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is considered to be a lung tonic and has a long history of use in asthma treatment due to its effects of improving “the breath” and decreasing inflammation. Cordyceps has been shown to enhance the immune system, relax spasms of the heart, bronchi and intestines, improve sexual function, and invigorate energy levels while keeping one relaxed. I use cordyceps most often for people with exercise-induced asthma and those with weakness of lung function.

Finally, Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) is a fundamental herb for improving energy levels in general and for sports performance in particular; it is one of the best known herbs in TCM. It has been shown to have many positive effects for the athlete, including: shortens the latency period of and strengthens conditioned reflexes, speeds transmission of nerve impulses, promotes relaxation while restoring alertness, dilates coronary arteries and sustains proper cardiac rhythm, increases synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids, helps maintain adequate blood sugar levels, and supports adrenal, spleen, thyroid and thymus function. I could go on as this herb has been extensively studied. In my practice, I prefer to use high quality preparations of panax ginseng for relatively short periods of time to avoid overuse of this powerful and important herb.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is an art and a science that takes years to master. Call Bluemoon Acupuncture and Wellness Center (520-505-1442) acupuncturist with experience in the treatment of Sports Medicine and Performance Enhancement

 


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Health Challenges of Aging and How Acupuncture Can Help

Category : Blog

Health Challenges of Aging and How Acupuncture Can Help

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“Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator.” — Confucius, ancient Chinese teacher and philosopher.” 

Could this be the fate of the aging as Confucius decreed? To be able to enjoy the golden years of life implies a life well lived, and that a good, if not excellent, standard of health was maintained.  How to live a life with vitality and exuberance, one that can last until the time of death is not a foolish quest, but one that is recognized by practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine as realistic and completely within reach. 

For those of us who have grown up in the west, our attitudes towards the elderly and aging, in general, are not always so encouraging. As the American actress/comedian Lucille Ball humorously put it: “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” 

One of the basic tenets of the theory of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is the belief that all disease results from the imbalance of yin and yang forces. Yin qualities include darkness, quiet, moisture, and formlessness. Yang qualities are represented by light, noise, dryness, and form. Running is a yang activity, whereas the rest that comes afterwards is a function of yin. Resting allows for the renewal of depleted energy reserves, which, in turn, makes activity possible. This is one way to describe how the dynamic relationship between yin and yang powers our life force. 

The challenges of aging also result from this lack of balance between yin and yang energies. This means that some conditions and symptoms of disease associated with advanced aging may be mitigated by bringing these two energies into harmony again. For example, dry eyes and poor vision can be addressed by acupuncture treatments that focus on nurturing yin and increasing yang. Yin fluids will provide lubrication to the eyes, while an increase in yang helps ensure more energy can reach the top of the head to help improve vision. 

The earlier an individual can start using a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the better. This is because there is a huge emphasis on disease prevention. Historically speaking, practitioners of ancient China did not profit from their patient’s sickness, but from their wellness. Payment was rendered only when the patient exhibited good health. Of course, not even the great physicians of ancient China were able to find the proverbial Fountain of Youth. Growing old gracefully requires wisdom in order to properly manage expectations. 

There is an adage describing the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine: “The superior doctor prevents sickness, the mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness, and the inferior doctor treats actual sickness.” A superior practitioner can catch the subtleties within the body that, if left untreated, can manifest as illness. These warning signs can be detected in several ways, such as pulse diagnosis. 

Pulse diagnosis allows a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to ‘listen’ or ‘feel’ the state of a patient’s internal organs. This is done by asking the patient to relax and rest their arms comfortably with the palm-side up. The practitioner generally uses three fingers to press on the delicate area of the radial artery pulse. Each finger lies over an area representing different internal organs. 

Each time the heart beats, blood is pushed out through the arteries. The resulting pressure from the surge of blood flowing can be easily palpated at the radial artery. A practitioner feels for more than just the heart rate, or what is termed beats per minute (bpm). Qualities such as the strength, width, rhythm, and depth of the pulse provide valuable information. In addition to being able to assess individual organs, a patient’s blood quality and state of Qi may be ascertained. Qi is the most fundamental energy necessary for all life to exist. 

If you experience a waning in your Qi as you approach your golden years, or have concerns about conditions associated with aging, consider an appointment with a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. As long as someone has a pulse to be palpated, it is never too late to start treatment! 

Call Bluemoon Acupuncture and Wellness Center (520-5051442) and learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you! 

 

 

 

 


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