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Depression

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Acupuncture

Words Post Traumatic Stress disorder

PTSD and Acupuncture

Those who have experienced trauma including, physical, emotional and sexual trauma can experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for months to years after the initial event.  Traumatic events can include physical events such as experiencing or witnessing a car accident or near-death experience, physical combat such as faced by veterans in war, and sexual trauma in the form of incest, rape or unwanted sexual encounters.  Individuals can carry the remnants of those events with them for a long time.  These remnants often continue to affect them in profound ways, disrupting their relationships, their overall mental health, and their daily lives.  Acupuncture is one of the modalities which can address the physical and emotional aftermath of traumatic events and assist on the path of healing.

 

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a physiological disorder that can result from being exposed to any traumatic event.  The disorder results in symptoms that can be different for each individual.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Some PTSD sufferers relive the traumatic event over and over. Flashbacks, memories, and nightmares are common.  Often, sounds, smells, and sights can trigger a flashback.
  • Avoidance is also common. Individuals with PTSD avoid people, places and events that remind them of the event.
  • Numbing is another self-preservation mechanism. Numbing can include difficulty expressing emotions, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, and the loss of memory of parts of the traumatic event.  Certain memories may resurface yeas after the event took place.  This is a common occurrence.
  • Arousal can be exhibited by anger, irritability, trouble concentrating or sleeping, feeling on guard and being easily startled or surprised.

The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in someone’s life can be wide ranging.  An individual with PTSD may have feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair.  There may be problems at work.  Relationships may be strained.  Serious health conditions such as depression, anxiety and drug or alcohol abuse are not uncommon.  Other health issues include insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, anorexia, bulimia, difficulty with concentration and focus, and  headaches.

 

How Can I Help my Friend or Relative with PTSD?

There are many ways you can help your friend or relative with PTSD.

  • Learn everything you can about PTSD. Knowledge is power. The more you know about the disorder, the better you can understand what your friend is going through and why they are responding the way they are to specific triggers.
  • Offer your assistance. This may be going to physician visits with them, keeping track of medications, or going with them to therapy.  If your friend is learning new techniques to cope with stress try learn the new techniques with them.  Be supportive as possible.
  • Be available and fully present to listen. Listen with a compassionate open heart.  Don’t judge, argue, or problem-solve.  Your friend my not be willing or able to talk.  That is ok, just sitting with someone in silence may be what they need.
  • Plan fun activities to get them out and about. Be aware of events or environments that are difficult and plan events to be as stress-free as possible.
  • Pay attention to any comments about hurting themselves and report them to the therapist or doctor. If necessary, call 911.
  • Sometimes supporting someone with PTSD is challenging. Get support for yourself so you are able to help your friend or loved one.  Seek safety and help immediately if your friend or relative becomes violent or threatening.

PTSD Crisis Resources

If you or your loved one is in crisis:

  • Call 911.
  • Go to your nearest Emergency Room.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in Spanish/Español 1-888-628-9454.
  • Go to the veterans crisis website at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ to chat live with a crisis counselor at any time of day or night.
  • Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat online 24/7 at https://www.rainn.org/resources

There are many new treatments available for people who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, assault, and trauma.  Acupuncture can foster a safe environment for healing and growth.  Jean Donati Acupuncture has experience in treating patients with PTSD.  For more information, please call 410-984-3700 for a confidential discussion.

Acupuncture Treatment of Pain

When Are you going to treat my pain???

Over the past few days, I have had several patients ask me …”I am coming in for neck pain or back pain or shoulder pain…where are you going to put the needles”?  Or if I have been seeing the patient I am asked “when are you going to treat my pain… why don’t you just put the needles where my pain is?”

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the flow of energy or Qi, moves in specific pathways called meridians.  There are 14 major pathways, and these pathways interact with each other.  Initially, when I first see a patient, I like to make sure that the overall energy is clear, so I do a few “clearing treatments” before I focus on shifting any energy in a specific pathway.

Your energy is like a garden.   I want flowers or crops to grow, so I need to make sure the ground is ready for planting.  This means removing any unnecessary weeds, or rocks or debris.  This is what the clearing treatments do.  They make the energy channels clear and ready for shifts in energy.  The clearing treatments are generally on the front, or back of the body and can consist of 2-4 treatments if necessary.  This is to ensure that the energy is moving in the proper direction, not being contaminated.  It is like removing a kink form a hose so you can let the water flow.

There is another important thing to note.  Say you come in for wrist pain, there are 6 pathways that encompass the wrist area.  These include the heart, small intestine, triple heater, pericardium, lung and large intestine pathways of energy.  They all start at the fingertips and go up the wrist, to the forearm.  Some of these pathways diverge to the chest, face and back.  So, needles may not be placed in the wrist for wrist pain if there is a blockage of energy along a pathway is say the small intestine at the level of the scapula or shoulder blade.

Traditional Chinese medicine takes all of this into account.  So, when I am asked “When are you going to treat my pain?”  My answer is… I already am…I started with the first session.   Sometimes clearing the general energy blocks (which can include internal and external factors such as emotions, heat, cold, wind, damp, excess or deficiency, side to side energy pathway balance) can make a profound change in the symptoms you came in with and others you were not aware of such as sleep, mood, digestion and concentration.

 

My treatment protocol consists of the following…

Clear general energy blocks -Internal Dragons, External Dragons, Aggressive Energy, Alkabane (side to side balance).  1-4 treatments if needed.

Clear local pathway energy blocks form one pathway to another (Entry/exit blocks) if needed

Treat meridian root cause with local and distal points at each treatment after the clearing treatments

Ashi points or painful points not specifically on an energy pathway.

Treat Constitutionally.

As a team, we are teaching your energy how to stay open and clear, but sometimes life gets in the way, and blockages can reoccur.  Each part of this protocol may need to be done, or just one part, or perhaps several at the same time to shift the energy when it needs to shift.  Each treatment builds on the one before, so it is important to have regular and frequent treatments early in your treatment course.  As your symptom resolves, the length of time between treatments can be increased as long as you remain symptom free.  Once we get to this point, I generally like to have my patients come back monthly for a tune up so that we can continue to keep their energy clear and keep them symptom free.

 

What do the Cupping Marks and Colors Mean?

Acupuncture cupping color mark meaningsCupping is a form of Traditional Chinese medicine where inverted cups made of bamboo, glass, silicone or plastic are placed and inverted over acupuncture points, then placed under suction.  Health benefits include improved circulation, increase in lymphatic drainage, release of toxins, and decrease in pain form conditions such as arthritis, muscle pain, low back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia.

There are two types of dry cupping.  Dry cupping is where cups are placed over acupuncture points and suction is created which lifts the skin and soft tissues creating a stretch within the muscle and fascia.  In stationary cupping, these cups are left in place.  Generally, a tight sensation is felt around the cupped area.  The cups are left in place for 10-15 minutes.  In gliding cupping, lotion is applied to the area to be cupped and the cups are placed under suction and then glided along the meridians or pathways of energy.  This type of cupping can cover a larger area such as the thighs and back.

Although there are vast benefits of cupping with acupuncture treatments, not everyone is a candidate for cupping.  Those who are physically weak, have sensitive skin, inflamed skin, fever, or who are on blood thinners should not undergo cupping.  Cupping can be used with pregnant women however, the stomach, lower back and specific forbidden points should be avoided.

It is common for cupping to leave small circular marks on the areas where the cups were placed.  These areas are usually painless.  The discolorations are a result of broken blood vessels below the skin surface.  The color indicates the level of blood and Qi stagnation, toxin and dampness in the body.  The pattern and color of the marks reflect the level of stagnation in the area.  For example, the darker the color, the more stagnation present.

Cupping marks are not bruising.  Bruises are made by injury or blunt trauma to the skin surface.  Bruises are painful. The marks made by cupping are caused by suction and works to bring toxins to the surface of the skin. Cupping marks do not cause pain.

People often ask how long the cupping marks will last and if they have any specific meaning.  The coloring of the cupping marks ranges from bright red to a dark purple.  These can last 3 days to a week.  A darker color means that there is more toxins and stagnation in the section of the body that has been treated.  The darker cupping marks can last up to 3 weeks.  Lighter marks that are pink can last for a few hours.  Usually, subsequent cupping treatments will yield lighter marks as the toxins are dissipating from the body.  In the case of an injury, multiple cupping treatments may be needed to rid the body of toxins and pathogens and induce healing of the deeper tissues.

Cupping marks type and color explained

  • Pale cupping marks and cold skin after cupping indicates deficiency, cold or dampness
  • Dark purple cupping marks indicate stagnation and cold
  • Light or bright red spots in the cupping marks indicate Qi and blood deficiency, or Yin deficiency
  • Little dark spots scattered in the cupping mark indicates deep Qi and blood stagnation
  • Skin lines in the cupping marks or itching after cupping indicates wind or dampness
  • Cold or dampness is indicated by water drops in the cup
  • Blisters/bubbles after cupping normally means dampness, accumulated fluids in the tissues, and cold

 

https://longhealthcare.com.au/health-topics/2018/12/12/do-you-know-the-meaning-of-the-different-cupping-marks#:~:text=Pale%20skin%20marks%20after%20cupping,and%20blood%20deficiency%2C%20Yin%20deficiency

Image from https://foundationphysio.com/physiotherapy-treatments/cupping/

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What is Cupping and How Is It Related to Acupuncture? 

Cupping is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapy that dates back to ancient Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Chinese cultures as far back as 300A.D.  TCM philosophy believes that pain results from the blockage of Qi, blood, or energy. You have all heard me say in relationship to acupuncture: “Where there’s stagnation, there is pain.  Where there is free flow there is no pain.”  

Cupping, like acupuncture is a method of clearing this blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.  This is beneficial for health promotion, prophylaxis, and treatment of disorders such as back pain, knee pain, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, as well as high blood pressure.   

Recent researches show that cupping therapy helps to: 

  • Reduce muscle pain  
  • Improve blood circulation, promote cell repair and increase muscle relaxation 
  • Assist the lymphatic system to drain excess fluids and toxins 

Cupping has many musculoskeletal benefits.  It is helpful for chronic lower back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia.  In addition, digestive symptoms such as bloating, gastric reflux and constipation conditions can be eased with cupping. Overall recovery from cough, asthma and the common cold can be improved with cupping as well as acupuncture. 

In a cupping session, inverted cups made of bamboo, glass, silicone or plastic are applied to the acupuncture points on the body to create suction. The suction of the cups pulls the skin upward as the suction increases. The suction opens up energy pathways in a similar way to acupuncture and is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to clear the energy channels and remove toxins from the body that are responsible for pain and disease. It has been used effectively for pain relief, increasing blood flow, chronic inflammation, enhanced relaxation, and improved quality of life. 

Cupping draws fluid into the area being worked on by the suction it creates.  This causes improved circulation and release of toxins. The discoloration that occurs after cupping is due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise.  These marks and their color, are diagnostic of toxins being released to the upper skin layer for the body to disperse. The marks tend to fade within days to a week.   

In the next article I will discuss the different types of cupping, coloration of cupping marks and their meanings.  Stay Tuned! 

 

Sources 

Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping 

Harvard Health Letter https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-exactly-is-cupping-2016093010402) 

WebMD “Cupping” https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/cupping-therapy 

https://www.thomsontcm.sg/articles/what-do-your-cupping-colours-tell-you/#:~:text=These%20cupping%20marks%20are%20discoloration,of%20stagnation%20in%20that%20area. 

Gratitude’s Link with Love & Happiness

Morning sunriseA glass half full – grateful people have a particular view of the world and themselves. They choose to notice the positive things in the world and their own lives and have an appreciation for things that other people may take for granted. In a growing body of research, the importance of gratitude suggests that it is a cornerstone of positive psychology.

Love:  Research from Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons from UC Davis and Dr. Michael McCullough from the University of Miami go so far as to say that not only does gratitude promote feelings of happiness and love but that it is also a form of love itself. Open communication is necessary for healthy relationships. People who focus on the positive qualities of their partners experience more feelings of closeness and are often more aware of their partner’s needs and wishes, resulting in healthier, happier, more intimate relationships.

In 2010, Dr. Sara Algoe of UC Berkley sampled 67 heterosexual couples who had been together for at least 3 months. The partners wrote in a diary every night for 2 weeks and recorded both their own and their partner’s thoughtful actions, their feelings toward the actions and how they felt about the relationship that day. This research found that gratitude reminds romantic partners of the quality of the relationship, the quality of the individual’s partner and enhanced feelings of closeness.

Other studies, like one by Kubacka, Finkenauer, Rusbult and Keijsers in 2011 showed that gratitude begets gratitude. Kind gestures toward a spouse led to feelings of gratitude (of course!) and that gratitude motivated the other spouse to reciprocate with kind gestures. None of that should be too surprising but the ultimate result was a positive cycle of gratitude and caring behavior that continued to increase.

5 Proven Health Benefits of Gratitude:

  • Improved sleep
  • Can strengthen your physiological well-being
  • Longevity
  • Increased Energy Levels
  • Increased likelihood of physical activity

Life Satisfaction:

Ever wonder how some people continue to stay genuinely happy, even though they get hit with hardship after hardship and other people seem miserable even though they have everything anyone could ever want. Studies show it may come down to gratitude. “A key determining factor of well-being is the ability to notice, appreciate and savor the elements of one’s life”, say Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough. Three studies conducted by the pair looked into whether focusing on negative or neutral life events versus focusing on positive ones can lead to improved psychological and physical function. All three studies concluded that “an effective way to produce reliably higher

Is practicing gratitude a cure-all? Of course not! But research demonstrates its many benefits with no drawbacks. It is a powerful tool that can be utilized to live a good, meaningful life.
One thing to consider is being gracious with yourself. Show some gratitude to YOU, and treat yourself to an acupuncture treatment. Give us a call today!

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