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How acupuncture and ear seeds can help IBS

What is IBS, and how can acupuncture help?

I often get calls from potential patients asking if acupuncture can help IBS. IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, can significantly impact people’s lives. Many people struggle with IBS for years and find that Western medicine does not help them get the relief that they need. As a result, many manage IBS with diet, stress management, and making sure they are constantly near a bathroom.

 

IBS is a disorder that manifests in the Large Intestine. Generally, there are three main types:

  • IBS-D: IBS with diarrhea, and may include abdominal pain, gas, and frequent urges to have a bowel movement.
  • IBS-C: IBS with constipation, and may include bloating, abdominal pain, gas, fewer bowel movements, and straining with bowel movements.
  • IBS-A: IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea. This is also called IBS-M where the “M” stands for mixed.

 

I have found that acupuncture can help the various types of IBS. For example, In my treatments for IBS, I typically use a combination of acupuncture needles, ear seeds, and a far-infrared TDP lamp. I find that patients love the gentle soothing heat on their abdomen.

 

Research studies on acupuncture and IBS

There have been a number of research studies showing that acupuncture can help IBS. Here are a few examples from the past few years:

 

How ear seeds can support acupuncture to help IBS

Ear seeds are a great addition to an acupuncture treatment. An ear seed is a small sphere. It stimulates an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear. Ear seeds attach to the ear with adhesive tape that looks like a band aid or clear surgical tape. They work by exerting a gentle pressure on the acupuncture point. Patients can wear ear seeds for up to five days. I love to use ear seeds because they are a great way to continue the treatment at home.

Ear seeds have even gotten attention in the Western medical world. An article was published in the Gastroenterology Nursing Journal titled “Effects of Auricular Acupressure on Women With Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. The study found that ear seeds were effective in decreasing loose stools, abdominal pain and discomfort, stress and heart rate variability.

In addition, ear seeds are great as a standalone treatment for people who are afraid of needles or who are not able to see an acupuncturist.  You can read more about ear seeds in the All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy blog.

Want to talk about how acupuncture and ear seeds can help your IBS? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

 

The value of Health and Wellness coaching

health and wellness coaching

What is Health and Wellness Coaching?

Health and wellness coaching is a structured partnership where coaches work closely with clients to enhance health and wellness through lasting behavior changes that are aligned with the client’s values.  A health and wellness coach holds a respectful, positive, and supportive space for their clients. A recent article from Harvard Medical School entitled “Health coaching is effective. Should you try it?” shares how a Harvard Physician, Dr. Grinspoon, found that health and wellness coaching has helped people attain health goals that had previously been out of their reach. Dr. Grinspoon listed Duke Integrative Medicine as one of top four most respected training programs in the country. I received my foundational and certification training from Duke Integrative Medicine, and I agree that is a top-notch program.

 

How does it work?

It all starts with you, the client. You’re probably reading this blog because you are interested in making a change in your life to improve your health and wellness. Has there been a behavior or part of your life that you have wanted to change, but you haven’t had the tools to be successful? Has a health concern has arisen that you need to address? A coach will help you develop and realize your optimal health vision. You are the expert on yourself and your life, and the coaching partnership focuses on making and supporting meaningful changes that will work specifically for you and your unique needs.

 

Why is it effective in helping people realize their optimal health and wellness?

The coaching partnership is based on respect, non-judgement, and accountability. The coaching methodology I learned through the coaching program at Duke Integrative Medicine is based on the neuroscience of behavior change. This is a very motivating and empowering process for creating lasting change.

Specifically:

  • Coaches work with you as a whole person. They listen to your concerns and ask powerful questions to help motivate you to make the changes you desire.
  • Coaches spend time exploring what is most important to you in your overall health and wellness and allow you to choose your course of action.
  • Coaches guide you through a process to maximize your success.
  • You and your coach work in partnership to identify obstacles to change and create strategies for achieving your goals.
  • Coaches support you in tracking your progress and hold you accountable for your commitments.
  • Coaches provide additional resources as needed for making healthy behavior changes.

 

What are appropriate topics for health and wellness coaching?

Health and wellness are affected by multiple interconnected dimensions. These dimensions include physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, as well as support from healthcare providers. Any concern that gets in the way of taking care of your optimal health and wellness is the perfect place to start. Therefore, any topic you want to bring up that you think will contribute to your optimal health and wellness is an appropriate topic for health and wellness Coaching.

 

Here are some examples of potential topics:

  • Managing stress and anxiety
  • Building healthy sleep habits
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Improving nutrition
  • Starting or adapting an exercise program
  • Making a career change
  • Pursuing an unachieved life goal or hobby
  • Creating a healthy and safe home or work environment
  • Navigating difficult relationships
  • Planning preventative and routine medical care
  • Quitting smoking
  • Working through a health concern like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol

 

This is just a taste of some of the things that can be covered in health and wellness coaching. Whatever matters most to you is the best place to start.

 

Want to learn more about how Health and Wellness coaching can help you? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is a Health and Wellness Coach trained by Duke Integrative Medicine. She is based in Wilmington, NC, and she is available to coach clients around the world virtually. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

 

Acupuncture for low back pain

acupuncture for low back pain

Background on acupuncture for low back pain

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek out acupuncture.  It is one of the most common complaints heard by healthcare practitioners overall. It can be debilitating and scary. A new study from the from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that acute low back pain can become chronic if not treated properly.  Thankfully, acupuncture is one of the primary treatments recommended by doctors for low back pain. In 2017, the American College of Physicians issued guidelines advocating that patients choose natural therapies like acupuncture over pain medications.

 

What causes low back pain

The source of low back pain can be difficult to pinpoint. Sometimes, the cause is obvious after an injury. It can also be due to lifestyle habits like sitting or sleeping position or repetitive movements. In addition, structural issues often play a role, though they may not correlate to the level of pain someone experiences. Structural conditions include degenerated or herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and arthritis. Muscle strains and spasms can cause low back pain along with pinched nerves. Kidney stones, gallstones, and constipation can also cause low back pain. Many people are surprised to learn that low back pain can even arise from emotional challenges.

 

Types of low back pain

Some people experience low back pain in a very specific location. Often, the pain may start in one area and radiate to another area. This is common with sciatica, where the pain can radiate down the hip and leg. Other people experience a general nonspecific kind of pain. The feeling can be a dull ache, or even a numbness, tingling, stabbing, or burning sensation. This information helps an acupuncturist know how to treat the pain and get to the source of the pain.

 

 

How acupuncture can help low back pain

Just as every person is unique, there is no one size fits all treatment for low back pain. The acupuncturist will work with a patient to understand the details about their back pain, including when it started, how it started, what it feels like, and what makes it feel better or worse. The acupuncturist will also review the patient’s overall health history and listen to any additional concerns. This, along with diagnostic information from listening to the patient’s pulses and looking at the patient’s tongue, will give the acupuncturist a good idea of what is going on from an energetic perspective. The acupuncturist will then create a customized treatment to address the energetic imbalances.

 

An acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment for low back pain will most often involve needles. Depending on the nature of the pain, a far-infrared TDP lamp may also be used on the back. There are a variety of liniments made from Chinese herbs that may be applied to the back to help with pain, and these can be taken home for continued application. Gentle movement, like easy walking, is often recommended to continue to encourage blood and energy flow through the lower back.

 

Ear seeds for low back pain

Ear seeds can also be very helpful for lower back pain. An ear seed is a small sphere placed on an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear that is held in place with adhesive tape. It works by exerting a gentle pressure on the acupuncture point. There are specific points on the ear that correspond to the lower back. A patient can wear ear seeds for up to five days. They are a great way to continue treatment at home. Ear seed kits are also available for people who are afraid of needles. You can learn more about ear seeds in my blog about ear seeds.

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help your low back pain? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

 

 

Start the new year with some Acupressure!

acupressure

Set the tone for a healthy new year with Acupressure

Acupressure is the application of gentle pressure to acupuncture points. It is a great way to give yourself an at home treatment that can be done simply and easily using just your fingers. In this blog, I’ll provide instructions for how to perform acupressure and share information on some points you can try at home. I’m including a variety of points that can help with issues like anxiety, congestion, constipation, cough, depression, grief, headaches, inflammation, insomnia, irritability, menopausal symptoms, menstrual pain, nausea, PMS, stress, and tension.

 

How to perform acupressure

  • Use your index and / or middle fingers to apply a downward pressure with small circular motions (about a quarter of an inch) to the acupuncture point.
  • Feel for painful areas or areas of tightness or emptiness.
  • Massage for at least ten seconds, and up to a few minutes.
  • Stimulate points at least two times per day, for example, once in the morning and once at night.

 

Try acupressure with these acupuncture points

 

Yintang

Yintang means “Hall of Impression”. It is located between the eyebrows and is in the area referred to as the “third eye” in many cultures. This is a wonderfully calming point.

  • Location: Place a finger at the glabella, which is the skin above the nose between the eyebrows.
  • Uses: nasal congestion, runny nose, headaches in the forehead region, anxiety, insomnia.

 

Lung 1

The Chinese name of this point is Zhongfu. It means “Middle Palace”. It is the first point on the Lung channel. People often find this point to be tender when they have grief that has not been released.

  • Location: Slide the finger below the clavicle from the sternum towards the shoulder, stopping at the shoulder .  Then move your finger down and slightly out about a finger width to find Lung 1.
  • Uses: cough, wheezing, asthma, shoulder/chest tension, grief.

 

Ren Mai 17

The Chinese name of his point is Shanzhong. It means “Chest Center”. This point is the 17th point on the Ren Mai channel. This channel runs up the front of the body and is also known as the Conception Vessel channel.

  • Location: Place the finger(s) on the center of the chest at the level of the fourth intercostal space which is located at the natural line of the nipples.
  • Uses: stress and anxiety in the chest region, relaxes the chest and releases the diaphragm.

 

Pericardium 6

The Chinese name of this point is Neiguan. It means “Inner Pass”. It is the 6th point on the Pericardium channel. Motion sickness bands target this point, and it can be great for relieving nausea. It is also a primary point for anxiety.

  • Location: On the inside of the wrist, place the finger two finger-breadths away from the wrist crease in between the two tendons (palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis).
  • Uses: anxiety, motion sickness, nausea, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

Large Intestine 4

The Chinese name of this point is Hegu. It means “Joining Valley”. Hegu is the fourth point on the Large Intestine channel. It is a principle point used with any issues of the head and face, including headaches.

DO NOT USE THIS POINT IF YOU ARE PREGNANT. This point has a strong downward action and is contra-indicated in pregnancy.

  • Location: Slide the finger from the joint of the index finger towards the wrist stopping in the depression where the thumb and index finger bones meet.
  • Uses: headaches in the front of the head, toothaches, pain, cold symptoms, constipation.

 

Liver 3

The Chinese name of this point is Taichong. It means “Great Rushing”. It is the third point on the Liver channel. This point, combined with Large Intestine 4, is referred to as part of the “four gates” which help circulate energy through the body.

  • Location: Place the finger on top the of the foot in the depression between the big toe and second toe and slide the finger toward the ankle into the most tender part of the depression between the two bones.
  • Uses: PMS, menstrual pain, anger, irritability, stress, headaches, anxiety.

 

Kidney 1

The Chinese name of this point is Yongquan. It is the first point on the Kidney channel. It means “Gushing Spring”. This is an excellent point for grounding energy.

  • Location: Place the finger on the bottom of the foot in the depression near the upper middle portion of the foot.
  • Uses: insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, anger, poor memory, hot flashes, night sweats.

 

Ear Shen Men

Ear Shen Men means Ear “Spirit Gate”. It is the most widely used point on the ear.

  • Location: At the apex of the triangular fossa in the upper third of the external ear. This is the triangular shaped depression at the top of the inside of the ear.
  • Uses:  Pain, stress, anxiety, depression, inflammation, addiction.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions or trouble locating any of the points, please reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960. I’d love to hear from you!

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy

ear seeds

What are ear seeds?

Usually when I mention ear seeds to my patients for the first time, I get a surprised, “What did you say?” type of response. They’re not sure if they heard me correctly. Did I really just suggest putting a seed in their ear? I explain that what I am referring to is a small sphere placed on an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear that is held in place with adhesive tape. It works by exerting a gentle pressure on an acupuncture point. Ear seeds come in a variety of styles that I’ll cover a bit later in this blog.

 

Auriculotherapy and the anatomy of the human ear

Auriculotherapy is the process of stimulating acupuncture points on the ear. This involves acupuncture needles, electrical stimulation, or acupressure from the fingers or ear seeds.

 

A French Doctor named Paul Nogier popularized auriculotherapy in the 1950’s. Dr. Nogier was able to show how the external ear contains a microsystem of the human body by mapping the anatomy of an inverted fetus to the ear. Acupuncture points on the ear can actually treat different parts of the body. For example, the baby’s head corresponds to the ear lobe, the baby’s back goes up the outside of the ear, and the baby’s feet are mapped to the top of the ear. There are hundreds of points on the ear that correspond to different points on the body. These points connect to nerve endings in the ear that send a signal to the brain. The brain sends a message to the area of the body in need of  treatment.

 

What do ear seeds treat?

Because the ear contains a microcosm of the body, virtually any issue someone is facing can be supported with ear seeds. This includes conditions like pain, stress, trauma, addiction, and emotional issues. They are safe for anyone over the age of three. I frequently use ear seeds to support acupuncture treatments in my office. For example, if a patient is experiencing back pain or sciatica, I will apply ear seeds that correspond to the lower back and the sciatic nerve. If the patient has a headache, I will apply them to the part of the ear that corresponds to the location of their headache.

 

Kits and styles

Most ear seeds use a vaccaria seed as the “seed”. This is how ear seeds got their name – an actual seed is applied to the ear.  The vaccaria seed is a small black seed from the vaccaria plant. According to Chinese medicine, this plant has healing properties. The vaccaria seed is the perfect size, shape, and texture to stimulate an acupuncture point on the ear. Adhesive tape holds the seed to an acupuncture point on the ear. The adhesive tape that looks like a small square band-aid. This type of ear seed is shown in the picture at the top of this blog.

 

If people are allergic to latex or prefer a different look, stainless steel balls on clear adhesive tape can be used as well as gold-plated balls on clear adhesive tape. The gold-plated balls are also available with different embellishments on the adhesive, like Swarovski crystals. They are a fun option for someone who likes some sparkle in their ear.

 

Ear seeds also come in condition-specific kits. Often, I have patients who want to continue treatment while traveling and they love having everything they need in a simple kit. The kit contains the ear seeds, pictures that show exactly where to place the seeds, instructions, and tweezers for precise placement.

 

The kits that are the most popular with my patients include: Acne, Back Pain / Sciatica, Depression, Focus and Memory, Headaches and Migraines, Insomnia, Menopause, Post-Trauma (PTSD), Stop Smoking, Stress and Anxiety, and Weight Loss.

 

Why I love auriculotherapy and ear seeds

I love ear seeds so much that I decided to become a certified ear seeds practitioner. What’s fascinating to me is that I can often tell what is going on with a person just by looking at their ears. Red marks or veins signify acute conditions or inflammation, and white bumps typically reveal more chronic conditions. Recently during a treatment, I noticed that a patient’s ear was quite red near the insomnia point. When I asked about sleep, the patient was very surprised and shared they had forgotten to mention that they were experiencing insomnia. The ear can even show what stage of the menstrual cycle a woman is experiencing.

 

Ear seeds can really enhance an in-office acupuncture treatment. The patient leaves the office with ear seeds in their ears, and this supplements the therapy in between office treatments. Patients can choose to leave the ear seeds alone or give them a gentle squeeze whenever needed to further activate the point. Ear seeds give patients something to do, especially when they are applied to help with stress and anxiety. Patients wear them for up to 5 days to continue the benefits of the treatment.

 

Ear seeds can also be applied by patients at home, and they are perfect for Telemedicine patients. Entire treatments can be accomplished through ear seeds alone. They are a great option for people who are afraid of needles. They are affordable, very easy to use, and extremely effective.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.