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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. 

 

 

How to stay healthy this spring

healthy this spring

Are you looking for ways to stay healthy this spring?

This is the time of year when many people start feeling a little off, whether they are experiencing allergy symptoms, headaches, irritability, or problems with muscles, tendons and ligaments. Women might have menstrual or fertility issues, and people may find it more difficult to make decisions. Are you sighing more than usual? This may be your body’s way of releasing stagnant liver qi. “Qi” is the Chinese word that means life force or energy.

 

My patients are usually amused to hear me say “It’s liver time!”. In Chinese medicine, the organs are associated with phases or elements, and the liver belongs to the wood element which is dominant in the spring. I share that the symptoms they are experiencing align with the energetic shift of the changing seasons.

 

Alignment with the seasons and phases

People are often fascinated to hear about how their organs are associated with the different seasons and how this relates to symptoms they experience in their bodies.

 

In Chinese Medicine, there are five phases of transformation: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. While in Traditional Chinese Medicine these are called elements, Classical Chinese Medicine refers to them as phases because they develop and change into one another. The five phases or elements correspond to the seasons spring, summer, fall, and winter. In Chinese medicine, summer is further divided into summer and late summer. Late summer refers to the transformation between the warmer summer weather and cool fall weather. The seasons and phases (or elements) are associated as follows:

 

  • Spring: Wood. This is when nature starts stirring from winter’s dormancy. Trees and plants blossom. New branches grow out of old wood, and new growth begins.

 

  • Summer: Fire. This is the time of warmth and activity. Nature is moving actively, and as a result is growing and flourishing.

 

  • Late summer: Earth. This is the time of harvest. It is also is the pause between the rising of the warming and active phases of wood and fire and the declining and cooler phases of fall and winter.

 

  • Fall: Metal. This is when nature lets go of what is not needed, as seen in the falling leaves from the trees. The soil is enriched with the compost from the dead leaves so it can prepare for the next cycle of growth in the spring.

 

  • Winter: Water. This is a time of rest. Animals hibernate, the days are shorter, and nature gets still and goes within to build up reserves.

 

How the liver and gallbladder are affected in the spring

As I shared earlier, the liver is the organ that is associated with the wood element and spring. In Chinese medicine, the gallbladder is paired with the liver, and it is also part of the wood phase or element. Like the new shoots of growth in plants, similarly, our energy rises up in the spring. When too much energy rises up too quickly, we can get headaches and feel irritable.

 

When this uprising energy gets stuck or is not balanced, we can experience issues with our muscles, tendons and ligaments. For example, this is often a time of year when people experience knee problems. When the liver energy is not flowing smoothly, it can also result in PMS symptoms or fertility issues.

 

The eyes are the sensory organ associated with the liver. This is a time of year where people frequently experience itchy, red, painful eyes or blurred vision.

 

Sometimes the energy of these organs can be deficient, and people may experience twitching in their muscles, or find that they have trouble making decisions or gathering the energy to move forward in life.

 

 

Supporting your liver and gallbladder so you can stay healthy this spring

Every individual is unique, and no two people will experience the same symptoms for exactly the same reason. When I see a new patient, I make the time to ask a lot of questions and review their health history. This allows me to determine what is going on with their energy. For example, it is important to determine whether their energy is rising up too quickly, getting stuck, or is deficient. I develop a customized treatment to address their specific needs and restore the balance of energy. This might involve acupuncture needles, ear seeds, qigong exercises, and diet and lifestyle advice.

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you stay healthy this spring? 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.

Improve your sleep with acupuncture

acupuncture sleep

Acupuncture research on sleep disturbances

An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine titled Acupuncture for Treatment of Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials discussed the prevalence of sleep issues and insomnia in adults. Estimates show that 40% of adults experience insomnia. Of this total percentage, 10-15% is identified as chronic, and 25 – 35% occurs on an occasional basis. Sleep disturbances generally involve difficulty falling asleep, and / or difficulty staying asleep. In Chinese medicine, we also consider excessive dreaming and the types of dreams that occur. Sleep deprivation can be very detrimental, with consequences ranging from delayed reactions and cognitive responses, distractedness, and headaches, to the development of mental illness.

 

Importance of sleep

An article from Harvard Medical School called In Search of Sleep shares that high-quality sleep is vital to good health. A lack of sufficient sleep has been linked to weight gain, cognitive decline, and an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

 

We do some of our best healing while we sleep. In fact, the Harvard Medical School article shared a scientific discovery of an important brain cleaning function that occurs during sleep. Scientists discovered a waste clearance system called the glymphatic system. The cerebrospinal fluid in the glymphatic system washes away harmful proteins that can build up without proper rest.

 

In Chinese medicine, the optimal time to sleep is from 10pm to 6am. This allows enough time for a person to enter a deep sleep by 11pm when the Gall Bladder is at its peak functioning time from 11pm to 1am collecting and processing bile which helps with digestion and breaks down fats. Then, the Liver reaches its peak between 1am and 3am. This is when the Liver processes and detoxifies the blood. The other two organs that reach their peak on the Chinese organ clock during optimal sleep hours are the Lungs and Large Intestine.

 

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a term used to refer to sleep habits. “Good sleep hygiene” means that there are good habits around sleep. “Poor sleep hygiene” means that the habits are not conducive to sleep. Developing a set of good habits is key to promoting healthful sleep. Here is a list of positive habits to consider:

 

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake times.

    Go to bed at the same time every night. Wake up at the same time every morning. Try to stick with this schedule even on the weekends. The body craves consistency and a predictable sleep schedule. Most people need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

 

  • Create a quiet and dark environment.

    Close the shades and turn off all lights. This includes any blue light from electronics, including the TV, tablets, and smart phones. The bedroom should be as dark as possible. From an acupuncture perspective, the first point on the Bladder acupuncture channel is called “Bright eyes”, and it is located in the inner corner of the eyes. When the “Bright eyes” point and the eyes experience light, they send a signal to the body to wake up. This is why a dark room is so important to achieve restful sleep. The room should also be quiet, unless soft music or a sleep guided visualization is being played. The temperature should be comfortable and cool.

 

  • Do not eat before bed.

    Large meals should be avoided before bed. The stomach needs time to digest food after a meal. Ideally, food should not be consumed after 7pm. In Chinese medicine, the peak time of the stomach’s ability to function is between 7am – 9am. Conversely, the low point of the stomach’s energy occurs between 7pm – 9pm. This is the time that the stomach is slowing down and is least able to digest food effectively.

 

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.

    Most people would agree that caffeine should be discontinued several hours before bed. While it may seem like alcohol can help people fall asleep more quickly, it actually results in poorer sleep. When alcohol is consumed before bed, the liver has to deal with processing the alcohol instead of restoring and regenerating itself. This derails the healing that would normally occur during sleep.

 

  • Exercise, though not right before bed. 

    Exercise has many benefits, including improving sleep. An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine called Exercising for Better Sleep details why it may be better to complete exercise several hours before bed. Essentially, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that can increase brain activity and make it hard to fall asleep. Exercise also increases core body temperature which gives the body the message that it is time to be awake.

 

Acupuncture for healthful sleep

There is no one-size fits all acupuncture treatment for sleep.  This is because there are many potential reasons why a person may have trouble sleeping.  Some of these possibilities include excessive thinking or worry, poor digestion, hormone imbalance, hot flashes, and pain. A Chinese medicine diagnosis and treatment is tailored to the individual, and a variety of questions are covered to identify what is going on from a Chinese medicine perspective. For example, if a person wakes up frequently during the night, knowing what time this occurs is extremely helpful to correlate this to the time on the Chinese organ clock.   The Chinese medicine diagnosis and acupuncture treatment focus on the energetic imbalance that the practitioner identifies in the patient. The overall goal is to balance the patient’s energy, which allows the body to heal itself.

 

Ear seeds

Ear seeds are a great option to include with an acupuncture treatment. They can also be used as a standalone treatment for people who are afraid of needles or are not able to see an acupuncturist. The points chosen on the ear depend on the Chinese medicine diagnosis. The practitioner selects the points that most effectively promote healthful sleep for the patient and their specific needs. Read more about ear seeds in the blog entitled All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy.

 

When to see a doctor

It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are regularly tired upon waking and have trouble staying awake during the day. Additionally, if you have been told that you snore loudly or it sounds like your breathing stops at times, it is recommended to seek medical attention to rule out conditions like sleep apnea.

 

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.