Tag Archive for: immune system

Coughs and Colds

What We Say Versus What We Mean – Part II: Coughs and Colds

Coughs and colds are common illnesses that people tend to brush off as just a nuisance.

However, they can have a significant impact on our daily lives and are often indicators of weakened immune function. Western medicine tends to classify all coughs and colds as the same illness, with similar symptoms and treatments. In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees each cold as a unique combination of symptoms and underlying causes.

In this blog, we will explore the difference between Western terminology and descriptions of coughs and colds versus TCM.

The common cold usually involves symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, and a sore throat. In Western medicine, these symptoms are typically attributed to viral infections. However, in TCM, coughs and colds are seen as a result of imbalances in the body’s organ systems, triggered when pathogenic factors such as wind, heat, and dampness invade the body.

TCM categorizes coughs and colds into three main types: wind-cold, wind-heat, and damp invasion.

Wind-cold symptoms are associated with a runny nose with clear or white phlegm, a mild fever, chills and aversion to cold, achy joints, and headaches. This type of cold is often slow to progress and may last for a few days.

Wind-heat symptoms, on the other hand, are associated with a sore throat, a cough with thick yellow phlegm, a fever, sweating, and thirst. This type of cold is often fast to progress and may last for a few days.

Damp invasion symptoms are associated with fatigue, a sensation of heaviness in the limbs and head, a cough with sticky phlegm, and a lack of appetite. This type of cold may last for several days to a week.

It is important to keep in mind that a cold can also be predominantly one type while also being multiple types at the same time and even move through different stages. This makes TCM treatment effective and personalized to the cold itself. TCM practitioners will take into account the unique combination of symptoms and underlying causes, which in turn, helps to determine the appropriate treatment.

In conclusion, our terminology sounds the same as the Western words.

Still, the meaning can be radically different between Western medicine and TCM. If you are considering seeking TCM treatment for your cough or cold, it is essential to keep this difference in mind.

Understanding these differences can help you better communicate with your TCM practitioner, making it more likely that you will receive the correct treatment for your unique situation. By embracing both Western and TCM approaches to coughs and colds, you can more effectively manage your health and wellbeing.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation or learn more about our services.

Lokahi Acupuncture
408.279.9001
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A Brief Introduction to Moxibustion

A Brief Introduction to Moxibustion

Have you ever heard of moxibustion?

You may have seen it before, or even experienced it during a visit to your acupuncturist. Moxibustion is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy that has been used to treat various health conditions for more than 2500 years. Let’s take a look at what exactly moxibustion is and how it’s used in traditional Chinese medicine.

What Is Moxibustion?

Mugwort, or artemisia, is a flowering species belonging to the daisy family. Moxibustion is an external treatment applied directly onto the surface of an acupoint to warm certain points on the body.

It involves the burning of moxa wool, which is made from dried mugwort plant material, until it produces heat that penetrates into the skin. The heat stimulates the flow of qi (energy) and blood throughout the body, which helps improve circulation and promote healing.

It can also help reduce pain and inflammation.

What Conditions Can Moxibustion Treat?

Moxibustion has the ability to balance and regulate qi, blood and yang energy; expel cold; warm yang energy; and protect against illnesses, helping to ensure overall health and well-being.

The most common usage of a moxa treatment in to turn a breech baby. In this case, indirect moxa is used on a point on the little toe every day for 10 days to turn a baby. It is effective and used by midwives and hospitals in Australia!

Moxibustion can also be used to treat a variety of conditions, including menstrual pain, arthritis in the joints of the fingers, chronic coughs due to cold accumulation in the lungs, digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea, and bleeding that will not stop.

How Is Moxibustion Applied?

Moxibustion is a therapeutic technique that involves the application of heat to specific acupuncture points on the body. It can be applied in various ways, including holding the lit end of a roll of dried mugwort near but not touching the skin, or placing moxa-infused wool on top of an acupuncture needle or close to the skin and letting it smolder for 10-15 minutes before removing it.

The frequency of treatment depends on the condition being treated – for some conditions it may be administered daily or twice weekly over a series of weeks or months.

Who should perform Moxabustion treatment?

It is important to only undergo moxibustion therapy with the assistance of a certified and qualified professional. If you receive acupuncture treatments, you can consult with your acupuncturist on whether they offer moxibustion services or can refer you to another trusted practitioner.

Moxibustion is a safe and effective form of traditional Chinese medicine therapy that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments ranging from menstrual pain to digestive issues. It works by stimulating qi flow throughout the body and promoting better circulation and improved overall health.

It remains one of our very favorite modalities due to its calming and warming properties, and is a fabulous way to level-up an acupuncture treatment!

Schedule a 15 minute video consultation to learn more about how our team of acupuncturists can support you!

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Spring Into Acupuncture - Acupuncture & Allergies

Spring into Acupuncture!

With the arrival of spring, we are reminded of the beauty and renewal that comes with the season.

This year, in particular, we have experienced a true, wet winter here in San Jose which is making for a more vibrant and green spring. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is associated with the element ‘Wood’, whose symptoms indicate an imbalance from its natural flow. Read on to find out how TCM can help those suffering from seasonal allergies this year.

The Five Elements Theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine sees five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—which correspond to different organs.

According to this theory, during springtime (or “wood” season) the Liver organ system is most active and therefore needs proper balance to remain healthy. Symptoms of an unbalanced wood element include headaches and irritability/anger due to stress accumulation during winter. If left unchecked these symptoms can worsen over time leading to more serious illnesses such as depression or chronic fatigue syndrome.

As we move into this spring there is a heightened risk for allergies due to our wet winter.

Allergies are caused by an overly stimulated immune system response to environmental factors such as pollen or dust mites; in turn resulting in inflammation which leads to sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes among other things. To prevent allergies from becoming unmanageable it is best to start treatment sooner rather than later so as not suppress the body’s natural response before it gets worse.

At Lokahi Acupuncture we use both acupuncture and herbal supplements to treat seasonal allergies and restore balance for our patients.

Acupuncture works by stimulating your body’s internal energy systems which helps reduce inflammation while also strengthening your immune system so that it doesn’t overreact when exposed to allergens like pollen or dust mites. We also provide herbal supplements tailored specifically for each patient which target their individual allergy symptoms while restoring balance internally so they can better cope with environmental triggers without having an exaggerated reaction in the future.

Springtime brings growth and renewal but it can also bring out certain imbalances in our bodies if not managed properly or kept in check before they become too severe.

At Lokahi Acupuncture we offer treatments for both acute allergic reactions as well as preventive care through acupuncture and herbal medicine that can help keep you balanced during this season of growth and renewal!

Schedule a 15 minute video consultation to learn more about how our team of acupuncturists can support you this spring!

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Medicated Chicken Soup for Winter

Medicated Chicken Soup for Winter

This winter, why not branch out from a traditional recipe and try this amazing Medicated Chicken Soup?

Chinese Medicine believes that by harmonizing oneself with the seasons you can stay healthier and prevent disease.

Winter is ruled by the water element, the most nourishing and essential substance of life. This season it becomes important we turn our focus on conserving and nourishing our internal strength.

Why medicated chicken soup?

A bowl of warm and nutritious chicken soup is perfect for this cold winter season.

Some of the benefits of drinking the soup include:

  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Improving gut health and digestion
  • Lowering the stressors in the body in order to help speed up recovery from illness
  • Replenishes daily vitamins and minerals

Medicated Chicken Soup Ingredients:

Stock
A whole chicken (raw or roasted), the bony cuts give the soup more flavor

Herbs:

  • Ginger: Sliced ginger root is good for settling your stomach and strengthening your immune system. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, which can help you fight diseases and viruses.
  • Turmeric: This traditional Indian spice is not only good for warming up your stomach, it also increases the antioxidant capacity of your body and helps fight with inflammation.
  • Cinnamon: In recent years, modern science has started to confirm many of the potential health benefits associated with cinnamon. It is rich in antioxidants, supports blood sugar control, prevents bacteria and fungus infection.
  • Astragalus root or Ginseng root: These are optional but highly recommended for their healing properties. Both Astragalus and Ginseng roots are beneficial for your immune system, protect against infection, and improve your energy.
  • Mushrooms: Any type or a combination of mushrooms. Such as Shiitake, Reishi, Chaga, cordyceps, Lion’s mane and Turkey tails. They are well liked for their great taste and amazing health benefits. They are a rich source of fiber, protein and antioxidants which helps support gut and heart health, as well as boosts our immune system.
  • Dry red Dates: Dry dates add a natural sweet flavor to the soup. It is highly nutritious, research shows consuming five to seven pieces of dates for 16 weeks helps increase hemoglobin levels in people suffering from anemia.

Vegetables:
Adding some vegetables gives the soup extra vitamins and minerals. Such as onions, garlic, celery, carrots, white radish and Chinese Yam.

Seasonings:
Finish the soup with a combination of bay leaves, peppercorns, Himalayan salt, rosemary (or thyme), parsley.

How to make Medicated Chicken Soup:

Step 1: Boil the chicken. Place the whole chicken in a large pot and fill it ¾ of the way with water. Bring it up to a boil. If you use raw chicken, pour the water away and replace with clean boiling water. If you start with roast chicken just move on to the next step.

Step 2: Add flavor to the stock. Choose a few or all the herbs recommended above and add them to the pot. Let the stock simmer for about 2 or 3 hours to bring out the herbaceous, healing, and flavorful properties of the homemade chicken stock.

Step 3: De-bone the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the bones, skin, and any other unwanted parts. Just keep the meat separately.

Step 4: Strain the stock. Pass the stock through a sieve to collect all remaining solids.

Step 5: Finish the chicken soup. Transfer the clean broth back to the pot and add in the clean chicken meat and vegetables. Bring it up to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 6: Flavor the soup with seasonings then enjoy!

We hope you give this Medicated Chicken Soup recipe a try, and let us know what you think!

Qin Zhu, L.Ac. worked as an occupational therapist for 17 years before deciding to change her career path. She joined Lokahi in November, 2021 as an acupuncturist. Qin specializes in both fertility and pain management.

Qin Zhu, L.Ac.
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Can Acupuncture Help My Immune System?

Can Acupuncture / TCM Help My Immune System

Immune system issues vary widely. 

They range from an underactive immune system (as in recurring colds and heightened susceptibility to infections) to an overactive one (as in allergies or autoimmune disorders, where the body attacks its own tissues).  

What is the immune system anyway? 

Our immune system is our first line of defense, designed to eliminate intruders (pathogens) at the initial stage of invasion before they enter deeper into the body. In Western medicine, you’ll hear about white blood cells that engulf and destroy viruses and bacteria or create antibodies.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we talk about the Wei Qi—the protective energy that wards off External Evils.

The 6 Evils include: 

  • Wind
  • Cold
  • Damp
  • Heat
  • Summer Heat
  • Dryness

The common cold from a TCM perspective: 

Wind-Heat and Wind-Cold 

In Chinese Medicine, we differentiate between two main types of the common cold: a Wind-Heat invasion and a Wind-Cold invasion. There are other variations, including Dampness, but the above-two are the most commonly seen types. 

Depending on whether your body exhibits more signs of Heat (i.e. fever, headache, thirst, sore throat, sharp pain, thick, yellow mucus, redness of the tongue with a yellow coating and a rapid pulse) or Cold (i.e. chills, lack of thirst, scratchy throat, dull pain, thin, clear or white mucus, paleness of the tongue with a white coating and a slow or moderate pulse), we will choose a different treatment strategy.

Either way, our goal is to support your body in releasing the external Evil (pathogen).

Deficiency 

If the body is deficient, we may need to strengthen your system, so it can effectively kick out the invader. Ideally, this strengthening takes place when you are healthy to prevent future illness by tonifying the Wei Qi. It’s akin to reinforcing the outer walls of a fortress to ensure enemies can’t enter. Once inside, more effort is required to kick them back out, and more havoc may be wreaked in the process.

Prevention is always the best medicine!

That said, if an invader does get in, we summon the troops to help win the battle. 

Excess 

An excess pattern is the presence of an external pathogen that has become too much for the body to cope with easily (i.e. excess heat would present with heat symptoms; excess cold would present with all the cold symptoms, and excess damp may present with lots of mucus or chest congestion).

With an excess pattern, we focus on strategies to release and drain, which could include modalities like cupping, scraping, and bleeding (releasing a few drops of blood by pricking the skin with a small, sterile lancet) in addition to acupuncture and herbs 

When to come in for treatment? 

We can help you feel better faster during the acute stages of a common cold, but the best time to come in is before you get sick! When your stress levels are high, the last thing you may think to do is carve out time for self-care, but that’s exactly when you need it the most—before your body reaches its breaking point! 

If you’re generally quite healthy, monthly maintenance care may help you remain strong.

If, however, you’re the first to catch any cold that goes around, you may want to come in twice a month or weekly for prevention.  

Seasonal Allergies 

Allergies are a sign of the immune system being overactive, tagging benign particles (pollen, dander, dust, etc.) as enemies.  

While we do not suppress the immune system in TCM as some Western therapies do, we aim to modulate it. Some of the acupuncture points we choose can help the body to self-regulate—much like when we treat blood pressure or thyroid issues. We do not suppress or amp up—rather, we support the body in finding its own balance point. 

With allergies, just like the common cold, prevention is key! If you know your allergies kick up every year in the spring, then start coming in for treatment two months prior. 

Autoimmune Disorders 

Autoimmune (AI) disorders are complex, and there’s no one quick fix for them. However, acupuncture can be a very helpful tool in your kit to manage symptoms and improve the quality of your life.  

Much like with seasonal allergies, the goal in treating AI issues is to help an overactive immune system to calm down.

We select points and herbs to reduce inflammation in the body and treat, as always, according to pattern differentiation, based on what we deduce from your tongue, pulse, and unique symptoms. 

If you would like to know more about how acupuncture can help with your specific issue, give us a call for a free 15-minute consultation!

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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Castor Oil Packs for Fertility & Painful Periods

Castor Oil Packs for Painful Periods and Fertility Support

Castor oil therapy is used frequently in acupuncture for fertility, and it’s a versatile tool in your acupuncturist’s healing toolkit. We use a warm castor oil wrap over the abdomen in order to stimulate blood flow to the uterus and ovaries.

Castor oil is absorbed easily into the tissues below, delivering healing directly into the abdomen. This natural method is often used to treat gynecological disorders related to blockage in the body such as endometriosis, adhesions or scar tissue, painful menstrual cramps, fallopian tube blockage and cysts. 

Castor oil packs for fertility 

Fertility is predicated on a healthy uterus. When our uterus is provided with a healthy, rich supply of oxygenated blood, it helps create an optimal environment for an embryo to implant. 

Castor oil packs for menstrual cramps

A healthy uterine lining sheds more easily, and likely with less menstrual cramping. Castor oil packs bring the nutrient rich blood to the uterus, which supports a healthy lining that will shed at the end of a cycle. A good lining makes for a smoother menstrual cycle.

In addition to bringing blood to the uterus, if a blockage is causing the cramps, regular application of castor oil packs can encourage blood flow to move micro-adhesions and clots out of the body during menstrual flow.

Castor oil packs for the immune system

A congested lymphatic system can cause swelling. It also means that toxins are not being efficiently removed from our cells and tissues. We clearly see this when we fly – our legs swell from lack of movement, and our tongues become swollen and slightly purple.

This congestion is not optimal for health and can compromise our immune system. Scientific studies have shown that Castor oil treatments can boost the immune system by increasing the total lymphocyte count, which is an indication the immune system is upregulating.

Considerations:

Castor oil is a generally safe and effective therapy; however, please do not use it on broken skin or if your are pregnant. At Lokahi Acupuncture, we individualize each recommendation, but as a general rule of thumb, please avoid castor oil packs during your menstrual period, or uterine bleeding for any other reason, and stop therapy after ovulation if you are trying to conceive. Additionally, Castor oil should not be taken internally. It causes abdominal spasms and can stimulate uterine contractions causing miscarriage.

To Make a castor oil pack you will need the following items:

How to apply castor oil packs

  1. Soak one of the flannel pieces in 1 cup of castor oil. Place the soaked flannel over your whole abdomen (make sure to include the liver and the uterus). You can re-use these afterwards by storing in a plastic zip-lock bag. 
  2. Place one piece of plastic on top and then place the towel.
  3. On top of the towel, place the warm water bottle, a heating pad, or the buckwheat pack. The pack should remain in place for at least one hour.
  4. When removing the pack, the remaining oil can be massaged into the skin or cleaned off using the other clean flannel cloth.

Tip –  Plan this for a time when you can sit down and relax, like in the evening watching TV.

Pro Tip – To make a quick and easy castor oil pack:

  • Rub a tablespoon of castor oil on abdomen
  • Place an old towel on top of the oil
  • Place a hot water bottle on top of the towel and rest for 45 minutes

If you would like to schedule a free 15 min consultation with one of our fertility specialists, you can book here.  You can place an order on our online dispensary for your castor oil essentials.

Anna Rudel
San Jose Acupuncturist
408.279.9001
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