Fasting for Rejuvenation

Here at Nature Cures Clinic, the office decided to partake in a cleanse. Upon researching what would be both the best for us as a group and the most doable, we decided upon the ProLon Diet.

ProLon is a fasting-mimicking diet which focuses on 5 days of limited caloric intake, and greater nutrient uptake to help the body heal itself. The diet was created by Dr. Valter Longo and a reasonably sizable research staff. The benefits of this diet are numerous. The most notable benefits from the research are the following:

  • Decreases body fat
  • Decreases body weight
  • Preserves lean body mass
  • 60% weight loss maintained for up to 3 months after resuming a normal diet
  • Maintains health levels of fasting blood glucose, c-reactive proteins, stem cells, and more
  • Improvement in energy levels
  • Healthier looking skin
  • Improved immune function

Most all of us were excited to participate, with minor trepidation as we were restricting calories significantly during a normal work week. Below are the experiences I had when following the diet.

Day 1. This felt like a fairly normal day as I was eating 3 meals plus two snacks and teas! At 1150 calories, it wasn’t depriving at all. I was most impressed at the taste and quality of the ingredients. No hidden ingredients, and each meal, whether it was the tomato soup or quinoa bowl or kale crackers, was pretty tasty.

Day 2. This was my toughest day. Going from 1150 to 800 calories on a normal workday was difficult for me, but I heard that days 2 or 3 could be the toughest depending on how many calories you usually consume, so I went into the day with this mentality and pushed through. A few times stomach grumbles almost got the best of me, but I just drank more water and herbal tea (they give you a BUNCH of teas which I loved!) and that seemed to do the trick. I took it easy on this day and went to bed early to make it more tolerable and that helped a lot.

Day 3. I was over the hump and was feeling amazing on day 3! I hardly felt hungry for breakfast that morning, so I chose to slowly munch on my breakfast bar (which, by the way, I was obsessed with and can’t wait to make a version of at home soon!). I wasn’t hungry for lunch until about 2:30pm and had dinner around 8pm. Oh, and my energy was higher than it usually was on a normal day, and this was all without caffeine (you can have up to 1 cup of black coffee or black tea if needed, but I chose most days not to do this).

Day 4. Dare I say I felt even better on day 4! My hunger was even more subsided, so I chose to delay some of my meals until later than usual and chewed/sipped on them slowly.

Day 5. I was honestly sad to know this was the last full day of the fast. Energy was still up, sleep was great, stomach was feeling wonderful, and I almost forgot what cravings were like!

Day 6. This was a transition day. Although this day was not a part of the ProLon program itself, they recommend not going back to your normal eating right away but to take a day to ease into “real” food by drinking juices and smoothies and later transitioning to soft foods like gluten-free pasta or rice. I did just that and it helped a lot.

Day 7. This is the first real day back on “normal” food. I was a little apprehensive to eat as I wasn’t sure how I’d feel as I was feeling so great on the program. So I stuck to smaller portion sizes and ate slower, which helped. I will say the first truly solid food I had, I could actually feel it traveling down my digestive tract which was a strange feeling.

Since completing the fast, I’ve noticed far less hunger cravings, have been eating much smaller portion sizes, eat a lot slower, and am better able to appreciate the taste of my food. These were just a few of the many things I learned during the fast and am excited to incorporate those learnings into my daily life.

One of the reasons I like to try new health advances like this are so I can talk from first-hand experience about them to my clients. Having gone through the ups and downs of the program, there were a few tips I learned along the way that, if you plan to do this fast, you should be mindful of as well:

    1. Eat slow. You are eating reduced calories, so rather than speed through meals only to feel hungry quicker, I recommend each time you take a bite, you put down the soup spoon or the bar or cracker to enjoy the taste and chew fully. This can extend the meal time by quite a lot, leaving you less hungry in between meals.
    2. Add more water to the soups. Each day you’ll have 1-2 soups as your meals: Tomato soup, minestrone soup, or vegetable soup. There is also a quinoa blend for a few of the meals. For each of these, you can add another cup or so of water to make the meal size larger and help to extend the amount you consume to keep you feeling fuller longer. ProLon is a step above a water fast, so the more water you have, the better!
    3. Drink lots of water and tea during the day. You’d be surprised how often our body mistakes hunger for dehydration. This program teaches you that water is your friend and can help sustain you in between meals. And I mentioned earlier, they provide you with many herbal teas: spearmint, spearmint and lemon, and hibiscus.
    4. Follow the program exactly. ProLon makes it easy to follow exactly what to do each day, so do just that. You should not eat any food outside of what’s in each box as it may take you out of fasting mode. Remember that researchers took two decades to discover the exact nutrients and quantities of food to have to sustain the body for these 5 days, so don’t mess with science!
    5. Do NOT exercise or over-exert yourself. Extreme calorie restriction means you need to reserve your energy for just the basics of your day. Don’t plan to go to your normal spin class or 5-mile run during these 5 days. You’ll likely lose some weight during the program as it is, while still maintaining lean muscle mass, so put exercise on hold and focus on self care this week by doing things like taking epsom salt baths, meditation, light yoga, reading a good book, or sleeping more.

https://prolonfmd.com/

 

Survive the Holidays!


Overwhelmed with the holidays approaching? Fear not! Here are some tips that you can use to destress, unwind and more greatly enjoy the holiday season!

Many people use acupuncture for stress reduction—and even those who don’t admit to or notice stress in their lives report a greater sense of lightness and evenness to their moods after having acupuncture.

During the holiday season, many of us can benefit from the stress-reduction benefits of acupuncture. Regular acupuncture treatments are a fantastic way to stay healthy and emotionally balanced during high-stress times.

Including acupuncture, there are many ways to maintain a sense of wellbeing during this time of year. Here are some tips you can incorporate into your life to survive the fun (and at times, maddening) celebrations.

Increase your water intake

Increased water intake not only helps balance out the body’s fluids, it also helps with the following:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet and controlling cravings
  • Makes your muscles work more efficiently
  • Keeps skin looking good
  • Helps your kidneys in the natural removal of toxins

I recommend starting every day with a large glass of lukewarm water. Fill your favorite glass with water and drink it slowly, followed by taking some deep breaths into your abdomen. This morning ritual helps keep your body hydrated and relaxed, especially at a time when elevated amounts of alcohol and caffeine intake (both dehydrate the body) join with the high stress season.

There is a famous Chinese medical saying translated as, “If there is not free flow, there is pain. If there is free flow, there is no pain.” In other words, physical and emotional health are achieved when there is free flow throughout the channels of the body. Disease arises when the flow stops.

I encourage you to look at the patterns of your stress. Things rarely go according to plan. Whether it’s to do with travel, food or gift-giving, try to focus more on the big picture, and let go of the small stuff.

Get out in nature

Chinese medicine and naturopathy both have their basis in understanding our interactions with nature. Many of us spend too much time in artificial environments, glued to our screens.

Strive for balance

Acupuncture is all about balance. The goal of treatment is to tonify (give to) areas of deficiency and reduce (take from) areas of excess.  This principle also applies to holiday gift giving and time management.

Think about time and money in terms of balance. If you find yourself with extra time in the coming weeks, offer help to those who don’t. If you’re really strapped for time, ask for help. With gifts, ask yourself what you can offer that will help others without hurting you. Gifts come in all forms and should feel good on the receiving and giving end.

Find middle ground

By encouraging balance—of Yin and Yang, and excess and deficiency—acupuncture teaches us to find middle ground and appreciate moderation. It becomes a metaphor for not over- or underdoing it in life.

Holidays generally involve a lot of overdoing it—too much food, too many drinks, too much spending, too many late nights, too much stress. It happens, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for going to extremes in the other direction.

Develop mindfulness around daily tasks

Tune into the ordinary and drop your awareness into your body. Becoming aware of how we feel while we are engaging in daily tasks heightens our awareness. This is because it requires us to pay attention to subtle shifts in our being. When we are more present in each moment, we aren’t bogged down by the various holiday stressors that surround us.

To do this, pick a fairly mundane task—brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, taking out the garbage. Do this task with utmost presence. If it’s brushing your teeth, notice the way the brush feels in your hand, how the toothpaste lathers inside your mouth, the sounds of the brush against your teeth.

Remember, you have agency

During the holiday season, it can be so easy to forget that we can make choices. We get to choose what we do and don’t do. We ultimately decide for ourselves how we respond to our experiences. As the saying goes, “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

Interested in a natural approach to your health needs? Give us a call at 503-287-4970, and Schedule an appointment today!

Prevent and Treat your Cold and Flu!

Cold and flu season is already here, with winter right around the corner, we often get asked about what Chinese and natural medicine can do for these issues.

Colds and Flus from a Chinese medicine perspective

In some respects, Chinese medicine’s fundamental understanding is no different than Western medicine. For example, both systems agree that colds and flus occur from an external pathogen entering the body. Within a Chinese medicine paradigm, however, this etiology must be understood within the context of the individual’s constitution. Fundamentally, there must be some weakness (e.g. immune deficiency) for a pathogen to invade. Anything that weakens one’s resistance (overwork, not sleeping, eating poorly, etc.) can weaken one’s immune system and allow a pathogen to attack and enter, causing disease.

 We all have seen two people get the “same cold” and have completely different symptoms. This occurs precisely because of this interaction. This is fundamental to Chinese medicine’s viewpoint and plays a crucial role not only in treatment but also in prevention of colds and flus.

Preventing Colds and Flus

Because of the complexity of each individual, there is no one supplement that can be recommended for the prevention of colds and flus. There are many single herbs, e.g. such as Astragalus (huang qi), that are touted to have this effect, and to be “immune boosting.” This is not necessarily incorrect; however there are a few problems with this type of thinking that must be understood in the context of Chinese medicine theory.

The ability to diagnose the individual and come up with a treatment strategy that fits that person’s underlying imbalance is paramount to boosting one’s immune system, rather than simply picking a medicinal that has a Western function of “boosting the immune system.”

In our clinic, we see quite a few patients with compromised immune systems (e.g. frequently getting sick, and lingering colds and flus) and we find that addressing the whole person’s constitution is essential in unraveling why these people frequently get sick. Consequently, such patients routinely report that they get sick less often and when they get sick it occurs for a shorter period of time.

Treatment of Colds and Flus

Firstly, Chinese medicine treats every cold and flu case differently.  In general, Western medicine offers little for colds and flues except from symptomatic treatment such as decongestants etc (unless things get severe). In contrast, Chinese medicine takes a very proactive role in eliminating the pathogen and resolving the disease process, drastically shortening the time one is sick. This is important because Chinese medicine believes that many chronic diseases (for example asthma) come from repeated colds or flus that are not resolve properly.

Chinese medicine, even when there is a bacterial infection, always employs strategies to push out the pathogen and not just “kill it.”  This is accomplished through an individualized blend of medicinals that fit the exact symptoms that the patient is presenting with, which pushes the pathogen out through the surface, while at the same time paying attention to the patient’s underlying constitutional pattern.

Even if one has a cold and flu that has been going on for some time (e.g. a week or two) and has gotten very severe, Chinese medicine can many times successfully reverse the situation, avoiding antibiotics. However, when necessary, Chinese medicine works very well to complement a Western medical approach of antibiotics.

On Antibiotics

Sometimes patients do need to take antibiotics during the course of a cold/flu. This may be especially true when one obtains a serious upper respiratory tract infection. Chinese medicine views this treatment approach as “killing the pathogen” and consequently if the pathogen is not fully eliminated, it can be pushed deeper into the body. We often see recurrent episodes (e.g. another upper respiratory tract infection or even a urinary tract infection) with this approach. However, if one combines this with Chinese medicine and uses a strategy that evicts the pathogen one can cut down on such instances.

Interested in a natural approach to staving off illness and boosting immunity this cold and flu season? Give us a call at (503)-287-4970 and let us see what we can do for you.

Natural Knee Pain Solutions

 

Resolve Knee Pain at Nature Cures Clinic

Knee pain, a common ailment affecting both adults and children. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 11 million visits are made to physicians’ offices each year because of a knee or knee-related problem. It is the most often treated anatomical site by orthopedists, and one of the most oft-examined sites among general practitioners.

The knee is the largest joint in the body. Because of its size, and because it is such a complex structure, it is also one of the most frequently injured joints. Knee injuries can be caused by several factors. Most complaints of knee pain result from some form of trauma, such as a torn or ruptured ligament; a broken or fractured kneecap; torn cartilage; or an accident that causes damage to the area or strains the knee beyond its normal range of motion. Other conditions that can lead to knee pain are infections; arthritis; hemarthrosis (blood in the knee joint); cysts; and bone tumors. Being overweight can also contribute to knee problems by causing excess strain on ligaments and cartilage.

Nearly everyone has become familiar with the acronym ACL, which stands for anterior cruciate ligament. ACL tears can be caused by rapidly twisting or changing directions; slowing down when running; or landing from a jump. Injuries to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are usually caused by contact on the outside of the knee. As people get older, the amount of cartilage in the knee decreases, and many ligaments begin to lose some of their elasticity, making them more susceptible to pain and/or injury.

What Can Nature Cures Clinic do for knee pain?

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving certain types of knee pain, especially arthritic conditions of the knee and knee joint. A 1999 study found that acupuncture decreased pain and stiffness levels and increased muscle strength and flexion in the knee. Another study published that same year suggested that patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome might benefit from weekly acupuncture treatments. Smaller studies have confirmed that acupuncture is beneficial in reducing knee pain, stiffness and physical disability in patients with knee and knee-related problems. It can ease the discomfort some subjects feel while waiting for knee surgery, and in some cases, it may even be considered an alternative to surgery.

In addition to acupuncture, a variety of herbal formulas are available via consultation with Nature Cures Clinic, that decrease and even eliminate muscle, bone, and joint pain, as well as aid in the repair process of those body tissues. Herbal formulas, like acupuncture treatments, are custom made to your specific needs, helping you to get out of pain, have increased range of motion, and strengthen surrounding structures.

Stem Cell Therapy

Mesenchymal Stem Cells, or MSCs are what we like to call miraculous healing units. Stem cells (introduced into the body by our qualified medical professionals) can actually repair and rebuild the cartilage and bone. Stem Cell therapies show promising evidence of helping even those experiencing stage IV osteoarthritis of the knee and other ailments reverse their condition. The result of such a treatment can actually permanently prevent one from needing knee surgery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from knee pain and are looking for alternative options, give us a call at (503)-287-4970 and schedule an appointment with us today.

 

Healthy Aging at Nature Cures Clinic

Getting older is inevitable, though feeling older is not. Many of the conditions we experience as we age are treatable, if not preventable, through both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Naturopathic Medicine.  At Nature Cures Clinic, we offer a wide variety of approaches to slow and even reverse the aging process. Our aim is to help get people out of pain and to support healthy aging. Some of the ways we accomplish this daily at Nature Cures Clinic are by utilizing such diverse approaches as:

Naturopathic Medicine
Acupuncture
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

We at Nature Cures Clinic also help with many conditions related to aging, including:

High Cholesterol & Hypertension
Mental Acuity
Stroke Paralysis
Arthritis
Osteoporosis
Menopause
Urinary Frequency
Musculoskeletal Pain
Sleep Issues
Boosting Immunity
Digestive Issues
Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Health
Fatigue

As we age, the body tends to slowly become impaired in its ability to both circulate blood and nutrients. Hormone production and regulation decline as well, lending to malfunction and dis-ease in the body. With the approaches we take at Nature Cures Clinic, we can help halt and even reverse the toll that aging takes, setting you on a pain-free path and give you a new lease on life.

Interested in living with a greater quality of life?
Call Nature Cures Clinic at 503-287-4970 to see what we can do for you.

Parkinson’s and Chinese Medicine

Parkinson’s Disease is the second most prevalent neuro-degenerative disease that affects about 1 million people in the U.S., and 5 million worldwide has researchers constantly on the hunt for not only a cure, but also a way to improve the quality of life for patients.

By the year 2013, a current research study involving acupuncture is hoping to find answers for Parkinson’s disease patients living with one of the most debilitating side effects – fatigue. In most cases, the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease is tremor (trembling or shaking) of a limb, especially when the body is at rest. The tremor often begins on one side of the body, frequently in one hand. As the disease progresses, both sides of the body may be involved and shaking of the head may also occur. Other common symptoms include slow movement, difficulty in initiating movement, rigid limbs, a shuffling gait, a stooped posture, and reduced facial expressions. In about a third of the cases, the disease also causes or is associated with depression, personality changes, dementia, sleep disturbances, speech impairments, and/or sexual difficulties.

Causes of Parkinson’s disease are not fully known, and there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. Many patients are only mildly affected and need no treatment for several years after the initial diagnosis. When symptoms grow severe, doctors usually prescribe levodopa (l-dopa), which helps replenish the brain’s dopamine. Sometimes doctors prescribe other drugs that affect dopamine levels in the brain (e.g., drugs that inhibit the breakdown of dopamine). In patients who are very severely affected, a kind of brain surgery known as pallidotomy has reportedly been effective in reducing symptoms. Another kind of brain surgery, in which healthy dopamine-producing tissue is transplanted into the brain, is also being tested.

What is well-established, is that the symptoms of Parkinson’s have been well documented in treatment from the classical Chinese medical texts. As a non-invasive intervention, Chinese medicine has been effectively treating the symptoms ascribed to Parkinson’s, such as tremor, depression, sleep disturbances, speech impairments, etc. for centuries. By utilizing acupuncture and herbal medicine, the potential to greatly improve quality of life is greatly increased. The benefit here is also that Chinese medicine never treats symptoms alone, rather it addresses the underlying causes of why the symptoms are arising.

If you feel like you or someone you know of who has Parkinson’s and is interested in improving their quality of life, give us a call at (503) 287-4970.

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety, Stress and Acupuncture

Ian Delaney, LAc MAOM

Stress and anxiety are common responses to events in our lives that we feel might be beyond our control.  When we are at optimal health and the stress is short-lived, we are usually able to recover without too much wear and tear to our overall health.  However, when the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our emotional health and ultimately, our physical health begins to suffer.

Our bodies are hardwired to help us react to stressful events.  At the first sign of a threat, whether real or perceived, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and facilitates what is called the “fight or flight” response.  Our heart rate increases, our pupils dilate, and our digestion temporarily shuts down, shunting blood to our extremities, so that if need be, we can either fight what is threatening us or turn and run if the threat is too formidable.

Unfortunately, the “fight or flight” response, which worked well in caveman days, does not serve us as well if the “threat” is long term, such as demanding bosses, a nasty co-worker or even a worrisome unresolved situation.  More often than not, the stress in our lives is long-term, and as a result, we find ourselves in a constant state of “fight or flight“, or stress.  Over time, the constant state of stress takes its toll.  Cortisol­–the body’s stress hormone­– elevates, blood pressure increases, and our immune function is suppressed.  Over time, these symptoms become worse and can develop into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive problems, and tension headaches.

Stress and Anxiety from a Chinese Medical Perspective

In Chinese medicine, stress, anxiety, depression or any strong emotion interrupts the smooth flow of energy throughout the body.  According to Chinese medical theory, energy flows through our body through a network of “roads”, almost like a highway system.  Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body.  For example, many people who are very stressed out complain of upper back, shoulder and neck pain.  This is because stress is causing tension in those areas, blocking the free flow of energy, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches. Stress may affect many other parts of the body too, most notably digestion, the ability to sleep, affect pain conditions, and raise our blood pressure. Stress can also aggravate an already troublesome health condition.

Through acupuncture, this stress (dis)function can be addressed. Acupuncture points serve as the on and off ramps to the energy highway, and can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but stress and anxiety itself.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment (503)-287-4970

 

 

Stem Cell Therapy and Acupuncture

Stem Cell Therapy and Acupuncture: The Cutting Edge of Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative Medicine- Acupuncture and Stem Cells

Ian Delaney LAc MAOM

As an acupuncturist, I constantly marvel at how simply a few well-placed needles can have such transformative results in my patients. Over the past several years I have read explanations that vary from the idea that needles move qi in the meridians to scientific explanations where the effects of acupuncture stimulus are explained entirely by its influence on the nervous system. Interesting information to be sure, but what of the deeper impact that acupuncture has on the body? How does acupuncture stimulate deep healing processes of the body beyond pain relief?

As many of you know, acupuncture greatly increases blood flow, encourages pain relief by releasing endogenous opioids into the blood stream, and increases our ability to utilize those internal opioids which are released via acupuncture. What is cutting edge– and what you might not yet know– is that acupuncture also stimulates stem cell productivity and mobilizes stem cells to repair damaged tissues.

A recent study from the University of Indiana on the use of acupuncture and tissue repair showed the following:

“The researchers performed a series of lab tests involving humans, horses and rodents that follow the effects of electroacupuncture from the stimulus of the needle all the way to the brain, resulting in the release of reparative mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into the bloodstream.”

“Depending on the species, electroacupuncture led to activation of the hypothalamus — a part of the brain that controls the nervous system and involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion — within nine to 22 minutes. The stem cells were mobilized within two hours”1

The increase of mobilized stem cells (native to the person) when treated with acupuncture is strongly correlated to an increase in healing/recovery time. As we get older, our ability to produce stem cells decreases significantly. This decrease is seen as a likely key in our body’s aging process.2

Stem Cell Therapy, a regenerative therapy offered at Nature Cures Clinic, is a possible answer to the cause of aging, pain and disease. Using ethically (and viably) harvested stem cells from consenting donors, doctors administer MSCs to the body in various means determined via consultation with a doctor. As these MSCs are harvested from donated umbilical cords, the stem cells replicate at a significantly faster rate than those native to the person. Combined with acupuncture and other therapies offered here in Portland, OR, one’s healing potential can increase drastically.

Interested in Regenerative therapies, such as Stem Cell Therapy, or Acupuncture?  Give us a call at 503-287-4950 to book your appointment

  1. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3727/096368914X678463
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170316174225.htm

 

Acupuncture- The Great Pain Reliever

 

Acupuncture-The Great Pain Reliever

Chronic pain in the muscles and joints can make life miserable. Standard treatments like ice and heat, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and appropriate exercises can often ease the pain. But when they don’t, acupuncture is an excellent option for treating pain with a great track record that is worth considering.

Over the years there has been substantial debate about whether acupuncture really works for pain. Research from an international team of experts adds to the evidence that it does provide real relief from common forms of pain. The team pooled the results of 29 studies involving nearly 18,000 participants. Some had acupuncture, some had “sham” acupuncture, and some didn’t have acupuncture at all. Overall, acupuncture relieved pain by about 50%. The results were published in Archives of Internal Medicine.1 The study isn’t the last word on the issue, but it is one of the best quality studies to date and has made an impression on the medical community.

Acupuncture has been a go-to treatment for pain relief around the world for centuries. But how does it work from a western medical perspective? Multiple studies on acupuncture and pain clearly indicate the following physiologic responses:

Release of opioid peptides.Opioids are naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that have an analgesic effect. The release of these opioids plays a significant role in the reduction of pain. There has been considerable evidence to support that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system, releasing these chemicals.

Alteration in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones.
Acupuncture is said to activate the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and thereby alter secretion of these chemicals. These particular chemicals play a direct role in the sensation of pain as well as the activity of an organ or organs. Evidence has shown that acupuncture alters this secretion in a manner that reduces pain. Documentation has also shown that acupuncture positively affects immune functions in the body.

Stimulation of points on the body.
The 2,000+ points of the body that acupuncture focuses on are theorized to be strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulation of these areas releases endorphins—the body’s natural painkillers.

Stem cell signaling.
Acupuncture stimulates a release of stem cells to the parts of the body crying out for help. In the case of back pain, acupuncture helps release stem cells to attend to areas of pain and atrophy to stimulate regeneration at the damaged site.

As you can see, acupuncture stimulates a complex network of healing responses. Whether for back pain, ankle sprain or migraines , acupuncture treats not only the pain component, it also signals to the body’s reserves to initiate the regenerative healing process. As compared to medications which mask the pain, acupuncture outperforms pharmaceuticals by treating the underlying cause of discomfort in addition to the symptomatic pain.

Pain in all its forms can impact sleep, energy levels, mental health and the ability to recover from illness. By alleviating pain and stimulating the body to heal itself, the rest of your being benefits by having better sleep, more energy and greater mobility. So, come in and see for yourself how we can help you resolve your pain and improve your quality of life!

Call us at 503-287-4970 to make an appointment.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1357513

Acupuncture and Insomnia: An Effective Solution

Acupuncture and Insomnia:
An Effective Solution

Ian Delaney, LAc MAOM

                                           

Lying awake at night with racing thoughts? Tossing and turning with that all-too-familiar restlessness?  Waking at an awful hour and wishing you could just go back to sleep for a few more Z’s?

Meet insomnia, a common companion for many in the modern world.

Affecting 1 out of 3 people, you are not alone if you are impacted by sleep difficulties. This leaves us with the desire to rest more than what is currently possible in our packed and often hectic lives. Some try the route of prescription sleep meds, which can help in short-term and acute situations. However, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, and the incorporation of lifestyle changes are a far better approach as they address the underlying causes of illness.1

Multiple studies have confirmed the efficacy of acupuncture and the treatment of insomnia. According to Shawn Stevenson, author of Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success, a comprehensive study by the Department of Radiology at San Gerardo Hospital in  Monza, Italy, determined that 60% of patients with sleep disorders had improvement after only two weeks of acupuncture:

“They determined that the acupuncture point for treating insomnia was the HT 7 point—the point at the intersection of the hand and wrist closest to the body,” says Stevenson. “In a double-blind study, manipulation at this point resulted in increased urinary melatonin metabolites.”2

Not only can acupuncture improve the number of hours one sleeps, but it is also able to improve the quality of one’s sleep. Another study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), indicates that acupuncture can increase the content of γ-amino butyric acid, which enhances sleep quality.3

Unlike the current western medical perspective which views insomnia as a disease, Chinese Medicine views insomnia as a symptom which constellates to a number of precise diagnostic patterns and corresponding forms of treatment. Knowing that someone has difficulty sleeping is just the tip of the iceberg for an acupuncturist. Acupuncturists require a series of questions around one’s current lifestyle, the nature of their sleep issues (i.e. difficulty falling vs. staying asleep, nightmares, vivid dreams, waking unrested, etc.). We also inspect the patient’s pulse and tongue that are to accurately diagnose the pattern of illness that the patient is presenting with.  When treating a patient with the understanding of the underlying pattern, not only is the insomnia addressed, but other symptoms also tend to fall away. This occurs due to treatment of the patterns of disharmony, which the symptoms are only a part.

Examples of some of the patterns and presentations of insomnia from a Chinese perspective include:

  • Kidney yin deficiency– difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep or be awake off and on all night accompanied by night sweats.
  • Liver qi stagnation- wake pretty regularly between two and 4 a.m. or have difficulty falling asleep.
  • Heart and Gallbladder qi deficiency frequent waking, often “waking with a start”, usually caused by recurrent bad dreams. These individuals startle more easily.
  • Stomach heatinsomnia with bloating, epigastric distension and fullness and possibly acid reflux, fitful sleep and profuse dreaming or waking in the early hours with difficulty falling back to sleep. Individuals with this particular pattern may also experience dizziness, heaviness of the head, fullness/discomfort of the chest and stomach, belching and copious phlegm.

There are many more patterns that include insomnia; these are just a few of them in order to give you an idea as to how we categorize insomnia from an eastern perspective.

Just as the diagnoses for insomnia are specific to the individual, so too are the acupuncture treatments and herbal formulas that your acupuncturist would perform and prescribe to address the specific concerns that you have.

The effects of acupuncture are cumulative. Meaning, each treatment builds on the previous one and has a longer-lasting and stronger impact than sporadic treatment or a one-time implementation of acupuncture.

If you’re struggling with sleep disorders and are looking for an evidence-based method of treatment, acupuncture and herbal medicine might be just the ticket to a longer and more satisfying night of sleep.

Give us a call today at 503-287-4970 and schedule your acupuncture appointment.

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Smarter-Proven-Better-Success/dp/0984574522
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204291/

 

Women’s Health Questions- Are You Doing Kegels Properly?

It can be hard to tell… One study shows about 25% of us perform pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) improperly following purely verbal cues (Bump et al, 1991). A good pelvic floor muscle contraction should feel like you are bringing together the ischial tuberosities (sitz bones) while also drawing together the pubic bone and tailbone. It should not feel you are bearing done or pushing out in any way. And muscles need oxygen! Calm, steady, abdominal breathing should be maintained throughout the contraction.

Linda Anzalone, WHNP
Are you doing your Pelvic Floor Exercise (Kegels) properly?

Another important consideration is that the muscles of the pelvic floor consist of both slow and fast switch muscle fibers. Slow twitch fibers maintain the structure and stability whereas fast twitch take care of the sphincters and orgasms. All pretty important stuff! Slow twitch muscles benefit from endurance training while fast twitch muscle fibers are strengthened by quick repetitions.

 

There are several products on the market for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, with a whole range of prices. Prior to purchase, it can be very helpful to have your own personal trainer (Pelvic Rehabilitation Specialist) to learn how to access and strengthen your pelvic floor, as well as to assign appropriate exercises with an eye toward progression of intensity.

Linda Anzalone, WHNP
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Exercises

Sometimes, Kegels aren’t really what is needed for improved function. Like every other muscle in our bodies, the muscles of the pelvic floor can be strengthened or lengthened, can become weak or spasm, can get too tight and cause pain or be too lax to do the job properly. Pelvic floor dysfunction manifests in a multitude of different ways: urinary or fecal incontinence, dyspareunia (painful sex), other pelvic pain, anterior or posterior vaginal wall prolapse, low back or hip pain….

 

To find out if we can help you, we invite you for a free consultation. Call us at 503-287-4970.

Dyspareunia, aka Painful Sex

Many women experience some physical discomfort with sex at some point in their lives. There are multiple causes, some with relatively simple solutions and others with more complexity. Most women who have pain with intercourse find it quite distressing and many find it difficult to discuss with their partners, friends or medical providers. Often fear of the unknown or the advice from “Dr. Google” create barriers to accessing appropriate care.

Linda Anzalone, WHNP
Young woman sad

The pain of dyspareunia may be felt at entry, or more deeply in the vagina. Causes of pain with entry may be due to lack of lubrication, a vaginal infection, puedendal nerve inflammation or a muscular contraction of the vaginal introitus. Deeper pain may be from pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, prolapse or other disorders.

Linda Anzalone, WHNP
Pain free sex is possible

Knowledge is power, ladies. After a clear diagnosis, most of us feel better equipped to face our challenges. Left untreated, dyspareunia can lead to lack of sexual interest, relationship issues, mental health issues… often feeding a downward spiral which is not helpful. If you are experiencing pain with sex, I urge to seek professional help. Personally, I would be honored to walk that path with you.  Please call us at 503-287-4970 for a free consultation.

An Integrative Perspective on Bio-Identical Hormones

The following questions are common:

  1. Are bio-identical hormones “natural”?

Bio-identical hormones are defined as having the exact chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the body. These are often synthesized from “natural” ingredients such as soy or yam. Yet it should be mentioned that the products prescribed for hormone therapy are synthesized in a lab and would not be found in nature as such. On the other hand, natural supplements such as soy products, black cohosh, dong quai, red clover, Mexican yam cream, etc., are used by women for hormonal influence and are not considered bio-identical.

Women's Primary Care, OBGYN, Gynecology

  1. Are compounding pharmacies the only place to get bio-identical hormones?

No, many FDA approved formulas are available in commercial pharmacies. See the following list for examples.

 

FDA-approved hormones for menopausal symptoms
Type/source Brand name(s) Preparations Bioidentical?
Estrogens
17 beta-estradiol/plants
(micronized)*
Estrace, others Pill Yes**
Alora, Climara, Esclim, Estraderm, Vivelle, others Patch Yes
Estrogel Transdermal gel Yes
Estrasorb Topical cream Yes
Estrace Vaginal cream+ Yes
Estring Vaginal ring+ Yes
Estradiol acetate Femring Vaginal ring Yes
Estradiol hemihydrate Vagifem Vaginal tablet+ Yes
Progestins, micronized progesterone
Micronized* progesterone USP Prometrium Pill Yes
Prochieve 4% Vaginal gel Yes
*Particles are made smaller for better absorption.
**Bioidentical estradiol until ingested and converted in the liver to estrone.
+For vaginal symptoms only.
++The estradiol is bioidentical but not the progestin.

Harvard Health Publishing, 2006

 

  1. What’s the deal with compounding pharmacies? The benefit of using the a compounding pharmacy is that your health care provider can tailor a prescription specifically to the individual patient based on lab testing as opposed to solely on the symptom picture. The allopathic community tends to be unsupportive of the compounding pharmacies because inconsistencies have been found with some pharmacies. At Nature Cures Clinic, we utilize a local pharmacy with incredibly high standards. In fact, their potency variation is only up to 2%; the FDA allows up to 10% in commercial pharmacies.

References

Harvard Health Publishing, What are Bioidentical hormones? Retrieved on 4-30-18 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/what-are-bioidentical-hormones

 

 

Chronic Pelvic Pain

Studies show up to 25% of women experience some variation of chronic pelvic pain (CPP) at some point in their lives. That sure is a lot of ladies. The etiology can be gynecological in origin (endometrial adhesions, fibroids, adenomyosis), gastrological (irritable bowel syndrome, colitis), urological (cystitis, painful bladder syndrome) or musculoskeletal (pelvic floor hypertonicity, myofascial pelvic pain syndrome).  A thorough history and physical can point the patient/provider team in the right direction to discover and treat the underlying cause or causes. Treatment is based on the source of pain with a goal of restoring function. Treatment may include medication, pelvic floor physical therapy, behavior modification and very rarely a referral for surgery. Unfortunately, many women are misdiagnosed and misunderstood for many years before appropriate care is found.

Types of pain include nociceptive, neuropathic and central pain. Nociceptive pain is often sharp and localized and is a result of injury or inflammation. Neuropathic pain results from specific nerve damage and is described as burning, numbness or tingling. Pelvic floor physical therapy can be life changing in these circumstances.

One of the trickiest situations is when, regardless of the initial reason for pain, the central nervous system becomes sensitized to pain signals and essentially “turns up the volume” without an actual increase in the source of pain. This phenomenon is considered “central pain” and the mechanism is thought to be similar to fibromyalgia. In these cases, one must consider the current level of pain in addition to the etiology. The chronic nature of central pain can be particularly challenging for patients and may present with comorbidities of depression, anxiety and addiction. Cognitive behavior therapy, medication and a home program of pelvic floor physical therapy exercises may all benefit the patient in this situation. Longer term situations require a longer healing period.

For some excellent resources on the topic of Pelvic Pain, check out the International Pelvic Pain Society website: https://pelvicpain.org/patients/patient-education-booklet.aspx

 

IBS, weight loss, stomach pain

If you are someone you love suffers with pelvic pain, help is available! Please call us to set up an appointment today 503-287-4970

 

Linda Anzalone, WHNP at Nature Cures Clinic

Linda Anzalone WHNP
Linda Anzalone, WHNP-BC, in Nature Cures Clinic Downtown Portland, OR

Urinary Incontinence

incontinence, pelvic floor rehab, pelvic floor physical therapy, Women's health Portland Oregon
Diagnosis: urinary incontinence

Perhaps it’s a little leak when you sneeze, or you need to change your outfit after the “key in the door” urgency has overtaken you. You might think it’s a normal part of growing older, or the price to pay for those adorable children, or something to quietly ignore and hope it goes away. Current research indicates 1 in 4 women over 18 experiences some leakage. Please know that help is available, and you don’t need to suffer quietly!

The Almighty Pelvic Floor is responsible for the structural support of the bladder in addition to the other pelvic organs. Typically, these muscles contract with storage and relax with emptying.  The muscles and fascia of the pelvic floor can be too tight, too loose or be contracting in a discordant fashion. Reestablishing appropriate support of this little “hammock” can result in great improvements with both urinary and fecal continence.

Another consideration is the network of neural pathways involved in urination. Our sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight or freeze) impulses “stop and store” while the parasympathetic (rest and digest) impulses are necessary for emptying the bladder. Neurological control of urination falls under the heading of Bradley’s Loops- 1, 2, 3 and 4. Disruption of these loops by certain neurological conditions or local trauma can influence our ability to hold urine.  Unopposed parasympathetic impulses of the pelvic nerve in Loop 3 results in the symptoms of urge incontinence (key in the door leakage). Check out this link for answers to some frequently asked questions: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-incontinence

Bladder retraining, pelvic floor physical therapy and behavioral modification are first line treatments for urinary incontinence. Urge incontinence may also be treated with medication or electrical stimulation of the bladder nerves. Further on down the line, there are other more aggressive treatments such as surgery, pessaries or indwelling catheters but I’d say pretty much everyone prefer the more conservative treatments!

As a Holistic Women’s Healthcare Provider, I always consider the whole person when assessing my patient’s concerns. Incontinence is typically multifactorial and there are many angles to address it. We consider the history of symptoms, any known triggers, anything that seems to make it better or worse, and a physical exam to consider any physical causes. Together we will set goals and work our way towards them, celebrating your successes along the way and changing up anything that does not seem to be helping. And there will be homework! Yes, homework…. but I promise to work as hard as you do!

If incontinence is impacting your quality of life, I invite you to schedule an office visit today.

 

Linda Anzalone, WHNP

Linda Anzalone WHNP
Linda Anzalone, WHNP-BC, in Nature Cures Clinic Downtown Portland, OR