Thereâs a lot of confusing information out there when it comes to weight loss.
My goal for with this article is to simplify dieting, whether you are motivated by aesthetic or health reasons.
This is of course not a medical advice - just sharing what has worked for me. Before you start any new exercise or diet program, I recommend that you seek medical advice from your personal physician.
First lets go over how all diets work: whether you swear by intermittent fasting, weight watchers, Keto, low carb, the whole 30 or whatever new diet is trending right now, know, that every diet works the same way. They put you in a caloric deficit by either limiting the your window available to eat, this is how intermittent fasting works, or restricting your food choices, this is how Atkins, Keto, Paleo works, or restricting the amount you can eat through the day, this is how meal plans and Weight Watchers work.
There are no âmagicâ diets. They all âworkâ if you eat less than what you burn.
A lot of people have this problem when theyâre starting out - they start eating healthy, eating clean, however they never lose any weight.
Nutrient content matters, and there are studies out there that show people who eat highly processed foods eat more in general than people eating unprocessed foods, but if you are still overeating you will not lose weight.
You still must be aware of energy values as some foods can be calorie dense.
For example a banana is quite high in carbs, and nuts are super high in fat. They're both clean, healthy and unprocessed, however if you tend to overeat them you will not lose weight.
In my opinion food shouldnât be categorized as good or bad. Every food is good and you should eat everything, except of course if
you have an allergy or an intolerance.
Your calorie intake will determine whether youâre gaining, maintaining, or losing weight. Macros determine your body composition and they need to be adjusted according to your lifestyle and sports you are playing.
What are macronutrients? Theyâre the three categories of nutrients: proteins, carbs or fat that youâre consuming. Every food we eat is made up of some ratio of protein, carbs and fats.
1 gr protein is 4 kcal
1 gr fat is 9 kcal
1gr carbs is 4 kcal
1gr alcohol is 7 kcal
So what is the simplest way to lose weight?
The least restrictive and most accurate way to lose weight in my opinion and keep the weight off is to actually track how much you are eating, how many calories you are taking in in a day.
Counting your macros or calories will:
#1 within reason allow you to eat whatever and whenever
you want thought the day, because remember, the timing and the frequency of your meals doesnât matter as long as you are not overeating for the day.
#2 you can eat ur favorite foods, you don't need to limit yourself to the traditional diet stuff if you don't want to.
#3 it helps to improve your understanding of nutrition, identify places you could optimize your diet.
#4 brings awareness to portion sizes and teaches you to eat for your goals, especially if you are an athlete.
This is a large topic on its own, but just in general for losing weight or if you are someone suffering from binging / overeating or if you go to the gym and lift weights I recommend consuming a diet higher in protein and if you
are someone that enjoys cardio you will benefit from eating more carbs.
This is the most important part: when you first start out I suggest eating solid meals around your maintenance calories for 2-3 weeks. This will help you normalize your eating, help you learn portion control and your body will also get used to eating less.
And actually a lot of people will lose weight just eating their maintenance, because theyâve been eating a lot more before. Then starting week 3 - 4, i suggest taking off 50-100-150 calories max from your maintenance calories.
I think the biggest mistake people make is that they start out with a large deficit that they are not able to maintain. It happens very frequently that we calculate someoneâs maintenance calories and letâs say it is 2200. And they come back a week later saying proudly "oh Iâm only eating 1200 a day", then week 3 they give up because its too hard.
Itâs actually not hard, but you have to think conservatively, in terms of months or even a year, not days and weeks. Crash diets don't work.
Think this is a marathon, or ironman, not a casual 5K in the neighborhood.
How to tackle binge eating? Binging almost always comes from some sort of restriction. Its either that you are not eating enough or you follow a diet thatâs too restrictive (FE you stopped eating your favorite foods, and switched to diet stuff that you actually don't like. Or you go too long btw meals, or you are not eating after 6pm but go sleep super late etc.)
As for triggers, it can be your mentality, emotions, stress, anxiety, or a lot of people eat mindlessly bc theyâre bored.
In order to overcome binging and overeating I suggest that, first try to track your diet for a couple weeks and see if you can recognize a pattern. Also try to find the cause and find your triggers, and see what you can improve.
However, if your triggers are mood swings, anxiety, depression I suggest seeking professional help either from a Chinese Medicine practitioner that can help balance your body and emotions, or you can also take the conventional route and seek help from a registered dietitian or mental health professional specializing in binging / eating disorders. Just know that help is available and don't be afraid to reach out.
Cheat days? Same goes with âcheat days / cheat mealsâ instead of having a full cheat day, and then feel guilty about it, I suggest that you include whatever you crave within your daily calories and move some macros around to make it fit. For example you crave a bag of Skittles, have your Skittles and trade carbs for carbs, protein for protein, fat for fat. So eat less bread or potatoes or whatever your carb sources are.
How important is exercise for weight loss? I had this conversation with a patient, he recently increased his cardio in order to get in shape. If you enjoy cardio - by all means go for it - but don't think itâs necessary.
You must understand that if you want to lose weight or lose fat then diet is how you primarily do it.
You can run a marathon every day, but if you are eating more than that you are not going to lose weight, you will just be exhausted.
Also - Cardio is great for heart health and itâs so relaxing to spend time outside, however cardio actually doesnât build, shape or tone the body.
caloric deficit + weights = lean, toned, shapely body
caloric deficit + cardio = skinny body
caloric deficit + weights + cardio = shredded body
I don't have time for this...
I get this a lot too. No real advice just tough love here: but we all have time - If you canât find time, then thatâs a failure in your time management skills, and you need to reconsider your priorities.
And of course your health should always be a top priory.
Just to put things into perspective, this whole tracking thing doesnât take more than 15min a day. And keep in mind, you do not necessarily need to get too crazy with tracking your diet. The most important is that you normalize your eating, stop obsessing around food, have a general awareness of your food intake and learn proper portion sizes and you can take a break. If things get out of control, when you notice that your belly rolls are filling back in, you simply return to it and start tracking again.
Remember: discipline, not deprivation is the secret to keeping the weight off.
âSo get your nutrition down, create your deficit, be consistent and in time you will get your result.
There are plenty of resources out there that talk about what fibroids are in detail, how they are detected and various methods of treating and removing them. It is important to become familiar with your condition so you can be properly advised. Understand the basics of your condition. Know your body. Take responsibility for your health. Research your options before deciding on any treatment.
This post provides information on acupuncture, dietary remedies & exercise therapy in treatments of fibroids and pre- and post- surgery procedures of fibroid removal.
WHAT ARE FIBROIDS???
Uterine fibroids (leiomyoma, myoma) are non-cancerous (benign) growths of the muscle wall of the uterus.
All fibroids begin as a growth somewhere within the uterine muscular wall. The symptoms (heavy bleeding, pressure, pelvic pain, abdominal swelling, infertility, increased urinary frequency, you name it) caused by fibroids depend on where they grow in the uterine wall (outside or inside the uterus), how big they are (the size can range from a peanut to that of a basketball) and how many you have (some women only have one, while others have 28 or even more).
Although most women will have fibroids during their lifetime, only a small number of them will ever need treatment. The vast majority are unaware of them until their doctor feels them at the time of a routine pelvic exam.
Your doctor may perform tests such as trans-vaginal ultrasound and magnetic resolution imaging (MRI) to determine the size and location of your fibroids. These tests do not hurt.
For more information read:
CONVENTIONAL WESTERN TREATMENTS:
Fibroids often do not require treatment, but when they are problematic they are treated surgically or with medication. At present, watchful waiting, medications, a progesterone-releasing IUD, endometrial ablation, hysteroscopic myomectomy, laparoscopic myomectomy, abdominal myomectomy, uterine artery embolization and focused ultrasound are all available in addition to hysterectomy for treatment.
In New York City I know of three fibroid centers:
CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP WITH FIBROIDS?
In Eastern Medicine fibroids are related to stagnation. The menstrual cycle is disrupted and with it the normal reproductive cycle is negatively affected as well. Promoting the circulation of blood in the pelvic area is essential. There is often an emotional element to fibroids which are explored and addressed during the treatments.
It can take a minimum of three menstrual cycles to regulate a woman's period. When uterine fibroids are the main issue, the treatment may take considerably longer. Each patient is differentiated and treated in terms of specific qualities of the menstrual period and their symptoms.
Acupuncture influences the hormonal pathways to regulate hormonal imbalances, increase blood flow to the uterus. Acupuncture may help reduce the size of fibroids, prevent it from growing larger or provide symptom relief.
It is more effective when combined with dietary & exercise therapy and other important lifestyle changes.
If you have minor symptoms, which are not bothersome, then no medical intervention may be necessary and “watchful waiting” may be your best option. The strategy for non-surgical treatment is to regulate your cycle, eliminate all symptoms you may have and possibly reduce the size of the fibroid with the help of acupuncture, exercise and dietary therapy.
WHAT IF YOU NEED SURGERY:
I believe that uterine myomas up to the size of an egg may be treated successfully with acupuncture and dietary therapy to reduce the size to a comfortable level, alleviate common symptoms and in some cases to eliminate them.
Larger ones, or the ones that don't respond to alternative therapy are better treated with surgery though pre and post treatments with acupuncture and dietary changes may reduce the complications of surgery.
For more information on how acupuncture may help pre- and post-op read:
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU DO:
THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR SURGERY:
Usually you are told to stop eating and drinking 8 hours before your scheduled time / stop foods and drinks at midnight. This means no morning coffee, chewing gum, candy. Have a "last meal" and live it up, but eat nothing after midnight. This is essential for your safety. General anesthesia relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract and airways. With an empty stomach the risk of inhaling stomach contents into the lungs is reduced. Your surgery may be cancelled if the fasting instructions are not followed so take this seriously!
THE DAY OF YOUR SURGERY:
Now you are on the other side! Things will only get better from here :-)
THE FIRST FEW DAYS:
THE FIRST FEW WEEKS:
WILL YOUR FIBROID GROW BACK?
Once fibroids are removed they do not grow back, however new ones may form. As it was said before there is no scientific explanation why we develop them, so unfortunately there are no guidelines for prevention. This does not mean that diet and lifestyle modifications are a waste. Most of the time these recommendations will improve your health overall, with the side benefit of possibly helping you preventing the recurrence of these monsters.
In Eastern Medicine the uterus is the energy center for relationships, emotions and creative ideas. Fibroids energetically represent our creativity that was never birthed. Focus on YOURSELF and have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.
Needling motor points of your core will help you activating your muscles and reconnect them with the brain and nervous system post surgery.
Exercises are the key to successful rehabilitation. Gradually increase your exercise time and intensity. Schedule physical therapy appointments to ensure you are on the right track, that you effectively engage your core, maintain spinal stability and have better body alignment. Read the importance of proper recovery http://www.annahajosi.com/weak-core-acupuncture.html
Here is my opinion on what a healthy diet is:
We know more about foods then we have ever known before, yet we are more confused than ever about what to eat. Our tendency to moralize and divide foods into good and bad categories also adds to our confusion and leads us into unhealthy eating habits. Nothing is a either good or bad & no particular diet is correct for everyone. It is always a question of how much is eaten and who is eating it in addition to how it is balanced against other foods that are being consumed.
1. Be wary of restrictive diets that eliminate entire food categories, such as starches and carbs or fats or proteins. Often all you accomplish is the creation of a nutritional imbalance and cravings, cravings, cravings.
2. The basis of proper nutrition is whole, natural foods that are as fresh as possible. Whether or not you eat any animal products, it’s a good idea to try to add some new species, and not just new foods, to your diet - that is, new kinds of plants, animals, and fungi. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases.
3. Eat a diverse and balanced diet such as soups, meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts. Coke, hamburger and fries are not a meal.
They contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted. "Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food"
4. Do not over snack. Have half a sandwich or two eggs over a sugar loaded "health" bar.
5. Avoid products with word endings “lite”, “low-fat”, or ‘nonfat” in their names: removing the fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbs can also increase unwanted weight gain, specifically with many low and nonfat foods manufacturers add extra sugars to make up for the loss of flavor. You are better off eating the real thing in moderation than bingeing on “lite” food products packed with sugars and salt.
6. Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not: Imitation butter or nonfat cream cheese that contains neither cream nor cheese requires an extreme degree of processing, such products should be avoided. The same goes to soy-based mock meats & artificial sweeteners.
7. Balance hot and cold foods. Hot and cold refer not only to the temperature of a food, but to an intrinsic energy that the food itself contains. Hot natured foods like lamb, ginger, cinnamon are warming and stimulating (how do you feel after a very spicy meal?). Cold foods like raw vegetables, salads, iced drinks act to cool, calm, sedate and relax but in excess they will slow down your digestion (think of a frozen river in winter) and are harder to digest. They are high in nutrients, however if you are experiencing digestive issues you may want to consider how much you are consuming (i.e. salads or iced coffee).
8. Nutritional supplements: We know that people who take supplements are generally healthier than the rest of us, and we also know that in controlled studies most of the supplements they take don’t appear to be effective. How can this be? Supplement takers are healthy for reasons that have nothing to do with the pills. They’re typically more health conscious, better educated, and more affluent. They are also more likely to exercise and eat whole grains. So to the extent you can, be the kind of person who would take supplements, and then save your money.
The best way to get enough vitamins and minerals is through eating a wide variety of whole foods. However, extra nutrition can be particularly important for individuals taking certain medications, are injured or engaged in activities or are older than fifty.
If you do take vitamins, make sure you take them in reasonable dosages and don't take excessive amounts. Some vitamins and minerals cannot be excreted easily. There is evidence that excess intake of calcium can lead to hypertension, kidney stones and calcifications throughout the body and that too much zinc can contribute to high levels of cholesterol, while excessive amounts of iron in adults may contribute to heart disease. Since even the experts cannot agree on dosage levels beyond the minimum daily requirements, it is safer to take lower dosages of vitamins and minerals. Remember, they are supplements, not replacements for proper nutrition. Also, make sure your vitamins and minerals are derived from natural rather than synthetic sources.
9. Do not overfast: In general, Chinese Medicine does not advocate fasting or frequent detoxification regimes because these practices tend to deplete the body’s vital energy. Fasting stresses the body, forcing it to operate on stored nutrients. Just eat healthy and exercise and you won't ever have to detox.
10. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored. Don’t eat out of boredom, for entertainment, to comfort or reward yourself. Try to be aware of why you are eating, and ask yourself if you are really hungry. “If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are not hungry”. Food is a costly antidepressant.
11. Eat slowly: not just so you’ll be more likely to know when to stop. Eat slowly enough to savor your food, you’ll need less of it to feel satisfied. And remember, it can take twenty minutes before your brain gets the word that your belly is full.
12. Buy smaller portions, plates and glasses: the bigger the portion, the more you will eat.
What is a proper portion? One adage says you should never eat a portion of animal protein bigger than your fist. Another says that you should eat no more food at a meal than would fit into the bowl formed by your hands when cupped together.
13. Do all your eating at a table. No, a desk is not a table. If you eat while you are working or while watching TV or driving you will eat mindlessly - and as a result eat a lot more than you would if you were eating at a table, paying attention to what you are doing.
14. Don't obsess about what you eat. Eat a variety of foods and enjoy them as much as possible. It is not always possible to eat perfectly all the time, but try whenever you can.
Whether you are monitoring your condition, you are on your journey of fibroid removal, needing help with your diet, or simply seeking pain and stress relief, please feel free to visit my office and see for yourself: how acupuncture can greatly improve your life.
In the following few paragraphs I’ll explain two traditional herbal formulas that can significantly help your recovery process after an injury or surgery. Please read on carefully and take notes :-)
Yunnan Baiyao or “White Powder” translated to English, is a very well known formula in the Chinese Medicine community to help stopping external and internal bleeding, or even to save your life.
I used this formula for my surgery because I wanted to have a fast, uncomplicated recovery.
My doctors were both concerned and surprised how little bleeding I had. I remember my surgeon mentioning, she had "never seen anyone bleed that little during surgery". I smiled and didn’t reveal my secret, as she clearly wasn’t open to Chinese Medicine. The reasons I did not tell her prior surgery that I’ll be taking this formula, were:
- because as I said she had no interest in Chinese Medicine,
- because she wouldn’t of taken the time to read upon it and most likely she would of just advised against it,
- because doctors like the blood to be thin, to prevent forming of blood clots. Yunnan Baiyao in clinical studies show to speed up clotting of the blood and reduce inflammatory response.
- I had been recommending this formula for years to my patients, so I kind of felt obligated to finally first hand experience whether it really works.
Please keep in mind that this formula is for short term use only, mostly for emergencies. Because, taken internally it clots and thickens the blood, people with heart problems, history of stroke, heart attack or diabetes can’t take them internally. Also not suitable for pregnant women either.
It can be used externally for cuts & open wounds. For example when you cut yourself chopping vegetables while making dinner, or when you fall off your bike and scrape your skin off, or when you mistakenly cut your fingers off (ouch) while chopping wood. You got the idea. Sprinkle the powder on the injury (it’ll help scabbing faster), and follow the standard First Aid procedures, cover your wound with a bandaid or gauze.
Internally it was actually used during the Vietnam War to save the lives of wounded soldiers. You can also use for surgeries, like I did, to reduce the amount of blood loss and prevent infection, or for gunshot injuries, or (getting graphic again) someone stabs you, so anywhere, where you want to limit the amount of blood you lose.
Of course if you were shot or stabbed you still must go to the hospital immediately after taking Yunnan Baiyao!!
Every bottle of Yunnan Baiyao comes with a little red pill. This red pill is used for serious internal bleeding only, for example on the day of your surgery, or when that aforementioned gunshot or stabbing happens.
Yunnan Baiyao was invented in China in the early 1900’s by a family of doctors. It’s ingredients originally were a secret, however the communist government forced the family to give up the recipe and they made it cheap and widely accessible to the general public. The exact ingredients and production process for making Yunnan Baiyao are still a state secret.
One of the primary herbs in the powder is San Qi, or in English, Pseudoginseng which is a known herb to stop bleeding.
DIE DA WAN / TRAUMA PILL
Die Da Wan or Trauma Pill, translated to English is a great formula for sports and orthopedic injuries & surgeries, for example, skiing injuries, ankle sprains, closed fractures, or when you tear your ligaments in your knee. Basically any sports and orthopedic injury, where there is a lot of pain, swelling & bruising present and the body was in shock.
When traumatic injury occurs, blood has a tendency to stagnate, which delays healing. Several of the herbs in this formula break up blood stasis, which is essentially blood trapped in the vessels. Other herbs move and strengthen the blood. And some of the herbs are mild Yang tonics. Yang is warming energy, which is necessary for speeding up healing time.
Die Da Wan has its roots in martial arts. The discipline of treating fractures, sprains, and mending the bones and tendons evolved in Chinese Medicine from injuries sustained both in martial arts training and from those on the battlefield.
This formula too, is for short term use only, taken immediately following a traumatic injury.
6 pills come in the box, and the course of treatment is 2 pills a day for 3 days.
I repeat again, both these formulas are for short term use only, they support your healing process, but can’t replace proper medical care. For best results, combine use of these products with professional care from a skilled Sports Medicine Acupuncturist. They can be found here. In case of serious injury, seek appropriate medical care immediately. Always consult with your physician before undertaking any course of treatment.
Ice is often used as short-term treatment to help injured athletes get back into a game. The cooling may help to decrease pain, but research show that icing actually have a negative effect on the athletic performance: ice interferes with the athlete's strength, speed, endurance and coordination, so ice actually delays healing.
In 1978 Dr Gabe Mirkin a sports medicine doctor coined the acronym RICE which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation for the treatment of athletic injuries. Thanks to him ice and the acronym RICE became the standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles.
But based on the past 40 years, researchers realized that out of this acronym RICE, rest and ice does not work. "Use it or you lose it" meaning, if you don't move, you lose flexibility and your strength. Rest causes muscle atrophy, competitive athletes could experience setbacks and muscle atrophy after as little as two weeks of inactivity.
With ice they realized that healing requires inflammation. When you damage tissue through trauma or develop muscle soreness by exercising you heal by using your immunity, the same biological mechanisms that your body uses to kill germs. Your body needs this inflammation in order to properly heal. When you apply ice the blood vessels near the injury constrict and this shuts off the blood flow that otherwise would bring in the healing cells of inflammation, oxygen and nutrients.
In 2014: Dr. Gabe Mirkin, updated the blog on his website entitled Why Ice Delays Recovery where he explains that actually anything that reduces inflammation also delays healing. So ice, anti-inflammatory pain medicines such as Advil and Tylenol, cortisone shots and immune suppressants that are used to treat arthritis and cancer not only delay recovery and healing but also weaken your tissues. (Do cortisone shots actually make things worse?)
So what should you use instead?
Chinese Medicine’s approach to examining and treating sports and orthopedic injuries is not all that different from Western Medicine. The major difference is: Chinese Medicine doesn't recommend immobilization for injuries - it recommends working through them - and ice is never used.
Not only it wasn’t available thousands of years ago, but in fact, there's a saying --“Ice is for dead people”-- meaning, ice is great for preserving things in a static state. Ice keeps your ice cream frozen in the freezer and it keeps dead bodies from decomposing, but it does not help the damaged tissue repair itself. Ice does reduce the initial swelling, inflammation and pain, but at a cost.
You need three things for an injury to properly heal: movement, blood flow & inflammation.
After you are cleared for not needing emergency medical attention / determined that no bones are broken / the injury is not open and bleeding and that movement will not increase further damage you can start massaging the affected area of pain.
Just rub the tissue around the injured body part. Initially use gentle pressure, but as swelling and pain decreases increase your pressure and go deeper. Massage breaks up accumulations, loosens the tissue and improves blood flow while reduces swelling and pain.
You also want to start to move around as soon as possible. Start with simple range of motion exercises and stretches that do not aggravate the injury. Let pain be your guide. Don’t run the marathon the day after you sprained your ankle, but also don’t be afraid of moving it. See your physical therapist for appropriate exercises.
Stretches and exercises prevent muscle atrophy, restore normal function and help you return to your desired activities quicker.
How does acupuncture help?
Muscles need two things in order to properly work: activation and strength.
Needling motor points of injured muscles will help activating the muscle and through the muscle's motor neuron it help reconnecting it with your brain. Needling around the injury site the needle breaks up accumulations and cause micro trauma. Blood then brings the healing cells of inflammation, nutrients and oxygen and carries away waste products. Other acupoints stimulate circulation, reduce swelling and move energy.
Cupping is a technique that involves placing jars on the skin, suctioning out the air and creating a vacuum. Cupping greatly increases blood circulation, therefore speeds healing. Read more on cupping here
The following herbal poultices, plasters, soaks are cooling (just like ice) but they also help torn muscles and tendons to heal (unlike ice):
- Herbal Ice: use just after the injury when you would normally use ice. When the tissue is swollen, bruised and inflamed. Composed of cooling herbs that reduce inflammation and kill pain while increase local blood flow. It helps circulation and healing. Applying San Huang San will make your recovery much smoother and faster.
- Cooling Reapair: a time proven, fast acting formula for moderate to severe injuries. This liniment contains herbs that provide safe and rapid relief from acute and chronic pain, reduce swelling & inflammation and increase local blood flow, therefore quicken your healing. Used by martial artist all over the world for bruises, contusions, sprains and closed fractures.
- Warming Repair: A powerful, effective, herbal liniment that contains warming herbs to stimulate local circulation and facilitate the healing process quickly & naturally. This formula is best for older (chronic) injuries to bones, muscles and joints that are slow to heal, arthritic conditions and other cases of degeneration, and old injuries that are still sore and painful when the weather is cold.
- Warming Repair Soak: an herbal soak that relaxes the muscles & tendons, increases circulation and reduces pain. Used for chronic (old) injuries such as wrist pain or the ankle sprain that never completely healed.
When it comes to injuries, skip the ice, anti inflammatories and cortisone shots because they do more harm than good. Turn to massage, acupuncture and physical therapy instead. The herbs and balms/plasters can be applied quickly and easily, and be carried around in any first aid kit.
Come in for a treatment to see which product would benefit you the most!
For best results, combine use of these products with professional care from a skilled Sports Medicine Acupuncturist. In case of serious injury, seek appropriate medical care immediately. Always consult with your physician before undertaking any course of treatment.
Happy training :-)
BY ANNA HAJOSI, L.AC AND SARAH WALKER, PT, DPT
We think it is worthwhile to raise awareness on how abdominal procedures, pregnancies, tummy tucks, hernia repairs, and Cesarean sections affect your core, posture, and health. The anecdote below illustrates the impact of core weakness and how to improve it.
Two years after undergoing an abdominal surgery, a long-term patient and friend who has completed 80 Marathons and 20 Ironman triathlons over the course of 15 years challenged me to complete an Ironman triathlon within a year. “How can you treat triathletes if you yourself haven’t raced yet?” he asked jokingly. (A full Ironman triathlon is a tough race. The course consist of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run).
I have always been very active, but training for a race like this is incredibly challenging. “Let me start with a half one first!” (A half Ironman is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run). I looked up the pool closest to me, got a swim coach and with his guidance, I was able to build up to the required 1.2 miles within a couple months. However, I noticed two things: one, that I finished my long swim sessions with a dull, nagging, aching pain in my lower back, that just wouldn’t go away. This worried me. How will I continue with a 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run following the swim? Two, that my swim was rather slow, and I had a difficult time improving my speed.
I decided to revisit physical therapy - luckily I did not have to go far to find a great PT :-)
Following a thorough evaluation complete with scans and special tests, Sarah informed me that I was walking around with an arched lumbar spine (lower back) and an inhibited core. She explained that, despite my strenuous workouts, my deeper core muscles were weak and did not fire properly. I compensated for the weakness by using the wrong muscles, which compressed my spine. Sarah further said that while training had strengthened my arms and legs, I had failed to adequately connect the two. This loss of stability and proper transfer of load from lower body to upper body and vice versa created an increased amount of stress throughout my spine. This is why I was suffering from low back pain.
After surgery and other abdominal procedures, it is hard for the brain to find and activate key muscles to maintain a neutral alignment due to trauma to the abdominal muscles and fascia. Surgery can also involve a loss of sensation at or around the scar, inflammation in the abdomen, and pain in the lower back. When the low back experiences pain, research has found that there is an inhibition to the the deep core muscles & lumbar spine stabilizers that support a neutral lumbar alignment. Since this inner cylinder of lumbar stabilizers are turned off, compensation patterns develop. In my case, my posture change resulted in shortened back muscles and hip flexors with an extended abdomen. This posture compressed my lumbar spine and created a sacroiliac dysfunction. Sarah initially worked to undo some of my compensations by improving my sacroiliac movement, decreasing some of the muscle tension, and improving the fascial mobility by using manual techniques to include joint mobilizations, muscle energy, and myofascial release. She then helped me to locate those “lost” muscles from my procedure. After I found those muscles, I was on to establish a neutral spinal alignment. Sarah reported that finding these local stabilizers and neutral alignment were the crucial foundation I needed to successfully progress for my triathlon.
In addition to the exercises, I performed acupuncture on my core muscles’ motor points to assist my stability. A motor point is the entrance site of the motor nerve into the muscle. This is the exact point that connects the brain, the nervous system and muscles together. The brain signals the muscle to turn on through this system. By needling my own motor points, I was able to re-establish this connection that had been lost which allowed me to help find the muscles Sarah was asking me to retrain.
I also needled my scar. Scar formation is a normal response following any injury or surgery; it is the way the body heals injured structures. Scar tissue may involve only the superficial skin, or it may involve the deeper tissues beneath it, including nerves and tendons. Scars can become overly sensitive and can limit motion and function. Needling my scar helped reduce sensitivity and loosen adhesions to deeper structures and allowed me to produce a scar that is smooth and moveable.
Eventually, my therapy progressed from isolated core work. We worked to connect my core to my arms and legs via dynamic upper and lower extremity movements that replicate swimming.
With the help of the combination of therapies my lower back pain resolved within six weeks. I am now able to effectively engage my core and maintain spinal stability. I have better alignment, and as an added bonus, I’ve noticed positive improvements in my swim.
Following an abdominal procedure, pregnancy, tummy tuck, hernia repair or cesarean section your core muscles become weak and dormant. To combat this, we recommend a combination of physical therapy and acupuncture. Together we can help to reactivate, strengthen, and coordinate your core muscles. This will benefit your training, reduce future complications, and thus improve your everyday life. Listen to your body and take care of it so you can live to your utmost potential always. Take responsibility for your health.
Chinese and Western Medicine agree that on the long run (pun intended) extreme endurance training depletes the body. The purpose of this article is to give you a few dietary suggestions on how to minimize the negative effects of your training and help enhance your performance.
Western Medicine is concerned about excess inflammation, overwhelmed immune system, heart enlargement, etc. while Chinese Medicine worries about that the long training sessions, irregular work schedules, competition anxiety, stress, overindulgent lifestyle deplete first our Qi, the yin and/or yang, body fluids and last our Jing. Jing is our life essence, we must not waste it. If we run out of it we have nothing left and we die…
Chinese Medicine believes we are born with a certain amount of Jing. We can’t increase the amount we have, it is allotted to us when we are born and is based on our parent’s health at the time of our conception. Therefore some have very strong Jing, some very weak, but it’s what we do with what we have matters most.
Having a balanced mindset, getting quality rest & sleep, following a moderate lifestyle, exercise routine (yoga, tai chi) and proper diet allow our body to transform food into vital essences that we use as energy throughout the day. When done well, our bodies work off of what we are making each day and we leave our resources (Jing) alone for times of emergency (work deadlines, the last 5miles of the marathon). Jing is like a savings account that you use only when necessary.
SO WHAT IS THE PROPER DIET?
✅ EAT FOR YOUR CONSTITUTION
Chinese Medicine believes that everyone is unique and has a constitution (something you born with), therefore you should eat according to your unique constitution. We are all a mixture of Yin and Yang, although we may be predominantly one or the other.
How do you know which one are you?
If you like to sleep on a warming blanket with layers of clothes on, tend toward feeling cold and prefer warm liquids, if you crave the sunlight & warmth, if you fatigue easily and like to sleep a lot, have an introverted personality, tend to be quiet and have a weak voice, a slower running pace, and you need longer recovery time for rest and rejuvenation you are more of a Yin person.
Because your own fire is low you should avoid iced and cold beverages, ice cream, raw fruits, vegetables and salads, raw energy bars. Most of your foods should be coming from warming soups, stews, dishes with rice, quinoa, lentils, black beans, lamb, beef and chicken, garlic and onions and drinks made with warming spices: ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves and black tea. Basically choose cooked foods over cold smoothies, health bars, sandwiches and salads.
If you tend towards feeling hot, sleep with a window open even during the winter, if you are easily angered, irritable, very emotional, have an outgoing personality, loud voice, suffer from insomnia, if you like cold liquids and you are very active, have a faster running pace you are likely to be more a Yang type of person.
You will benefit from a plant-based diet (wheat, mung beans, watermelon, fresh fruit juices, green tea, peppermint tea, lemon and many of the green leafy vegetables such as celery and cucumber, and colorful fruits) because they have a cooling effect on the body. You should avoid eating hot and spicy foods and limit your intake of meats and alcohol.
✅ EAT RED MEAT, AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK
The size of your fist is sufficient. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, eating meat, especially red meat, helps to build blood. Blood is required for healthy growth, reproduction, emotional well-being, and pain free muscles and joints. When there is blood deficiency, you experience anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, thinning of your hair, and problems with your fertility, your period, your tendons and muscles. From a Western Medicine perspective red meat is used to treat general weakness, increase energy, overcome deficiencies post training, during illness, tiredness, pre and post surgery. Meat contains plenty of good quality protein, iron, and zinc (helps wound healing) - and strengthens the bones & tendons.
Wild animals and wild fish are also worth adding to your diet when you have the opportunity. They usually have less saturated and more healthy fats, because most of these wild animals themselves eat a diverse diet of plants.
If you do not eat meat increase your intake of mushrooms (shitake, black ear and white ear mushrooms), baked or fried tofu (prepared with warming spices such as ginger and onions), darker beans (adzuki, lotus seed and mung bean), black sesame seeds, dark leafy green vegetables (water chestnut, celery, spinach, broccoli, green beans, snow peas, sugar peas, bitter greens) wolfberries and cherries to prevent blood deficiency, fatigue and injuries.
✅ EAT ROOT VEGETABLES
Beets, carrots, yam, yucca, parnships, potatoes grow in the dark, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil and therefore are very nourishing. From Western Medicine perspective [root vegetables] help endurance athletes build stamina (glycogen stores) and keep them fuller longer.
✅ EAT LOCALLY AND EAT FOR SEASON
Nature has the perfect plan for providing the appropriate foods in each given season. The fruits and vegetables that ripen in the summertime (broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, cucumber) tend to be on the cooling side and not recommended for use when the weather is cold. In wintertime choose a more warming diet (yam, potatoes, carrots, beets) because it’s cold outside and we need warming foods to keep us warm and nourished.
❌ DO NOT COUNT CALORIES
Food is a tool in endurance sports. It is also to be enjoyed.
The best part of endurance training is that you can eat anything you want [well mostly anything], because you are going to burn it off. If you are hungry eat, do not starve yourself.
What more important is: most of your calories (65-75% of your daily intake) should be coming from carbs. Mostly from complex carbs (oatmeal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, pumpkin, squash, beets, whole grain bread, lentils, beans and peas) to help restore your glycogen stores and help keep you going. Simple carbs (sugar, sports drinks, gels etc.) have a place in your diet during a race or long training days.
❌ NOTHING COLD
Chinese Medicine believes that anything cold, (ice cream & iced drinks) slow down organ functions and cause stagnation. The body likes to keep its core temperature steady at about 100° F. and the stomach requires a warm environment to properly function. Cold slows your digestion, causing bloating, fatigue, pain and in women painful periods, cramps and may prevent you from getting pregnant (you need to provide a warm home for your growing baby). The person already always feeling hot (Yang), will be even hotter because the body needs to generate heat to warm up the cold fluids.
Chinese Medicine is advocating for drinking room temperature or even warm liquids. Warm improves circulation & blood flow and reduces painful contractions.
❌ DO NOT FAST
Especially as an endurance athlete. Neither Western nor Chinese Medicine advocate fasting or frequent detoxification regimes because [in Chinese Medicine] these practices tend to deplete the body’s energy. The human body is well designed to eliminate wastes and toxins, and a number of organs play a role: the kidneys and the liver draw substances out of the bloodstream and process them for the body to excrete as waste. Fasting stresses the body, forcing it to operate on stored nutrients. Just eat healthy, train & sweat and you won't ever have to detox or do cleanses.
❌ LIMIT YOUR INTAKE OF ALCHOL
1g of alcohol = 7kcal so it's pretty high in calories. (Protein & carb 1g = 4.2kcal, fat 1g = 9.3kcal)
Alcohol is an anti nutrient: it inhibits the normal metabolism of vitamins; it increases the urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium; it interferes with the normal metabolism and storage of nutrients; it inhibits optimal glycogen restoration. It’ll take up to twice as long to replace glycogen stores in athletes who have consumed alcohol compared with athletes who have not. Alcohol also affects the central nervous system, resulting in reduced motor skill function, lower cognitive function and behavioral changes, all of which impede the athletic endeavor. These effects may be long lasting, having a measurable effect for hours or days after alcohol consumption.
You train hard to be the best version of yourself. Adding supplements that claim to boost your performance and give you a mental or physical edge can be very tempting. But be careful, there is so much misinformation out there:
1. Dietary supplements are regulated differently than conventional foods and drugs. Manufacturers are not required to prove that a supplement is safe before it is sold, or even that it works. The FDA can take action to remove or restrict the sale of a supplement only after it has been on the market and been shown to be unsafe.
2. Most products advertised as having ergogenic properties do not, and those that do work would lose their ergogenic properties if you followed a diet plan that satisfied your energy and fluid need. Most supplements are taken to counter ongoing dietary shortcomings. Think about it, it is cheaper, safer and more effective if you correct your diet. (For example: the amino acid delivery from protein and amino acid supplements is more than 10 times more expensive than the consumption of a small piece of chicken or meat and the chicken is known to be safe. Also: a single ounce of meat provides about 7000mg of high quality amino acids vs a typical amino acid supplement provides only between 500-1000mg.)
3. Long term safety studies have rarely if ever been performed.
4. Many herbs sold as ergogenic aids have no known chemical content or known active ingredients.
5. The legality of some of these products is also in doubt. Studies have shown that many of the supplements are laced with banned substances not listed on the label. Regardless of whether this contamination is purposeful or a result of poor quality control, this could place you at a risk of failing a banned substance blood or urine test!
So instead of focusing on a magic bullet - take a safer, cheaper and more realistic approach: have a balanced diet that satisfies your energy and fluid needs. Always support growth and improve your performance naturally. Use supplementation only when real foods are not practical or not available.
Make these changes in your diet and notice how you feel. I guarantee that you will feel superb and will be able to perform better.
Happy training :-)
Chinese Medicine is thousands years of observation and careful record keeping.
The origin of Chinese Medicine is fascinating and as you can see on this diagram below, acupuncture represents only one facet of their medical system alongside herbs, massage, cupping, diet and moxibustion (heat) to treat diseases and relieve pain.
The knowledge of health and disease in China developed purely from observation of the natural world and man's place in that world because dissection was forbidden and the subject of anatomy did not exist yet. Sharpened stones and bones that date from about 6000 BCE have been interpreted as instruments for the early acupuncture treatments, then later needles from bronze, gold and silver were used. Today in the USA only single use disposable needles are permitted.
Types: The foundation of the medicine is based on the ancient Taoist principles of Yin (passive, slow, cold) and Yang (active, hot, excited), the transformation of energies within the body as well as external environment to achieve balance. According to tradition, the practice of acupuncture is based on a philosophy of balance and unity between the Universe, living beings, and energy flow that penetrates everywhere and everything. Unlike Western biomedical science, Traditional Chinese Medicine does not make a distinction between physical, mental and emotional components of life. Disease arises from imbalances in the body due to unhealthy factors in the natural environment and one’s lifestyle.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also teaches that some people have hot (yang) constitutions, making them prone to fever and inflammation in parts of the body, while others tend to have cold (yin) body parts and get chills. A person’s constitution is taken into account when treating them. The main concept and philosophy of acupuncture is to return the body to a harmonized, balanced state. Health is achieved by correcting and maintaining the balance of Yin and Yang. To read more about Yin and Yang click here
Though acupuncture originated in China, it has spread to other countries at various times and by different routes. Hence Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, the U.K., France, and the United States have adapted acupuncture to their cultural influences. This has resulted in different type of diagnostic methods, philosophy of treatment and applications of practice.
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture: used mostly for internal disorders. If you suffer from headaches, anxiety, depression, want to lose weight or would like to get pregnant your best bet is to seek someone specializing in Traditional Chinese Acupuncture. Much as in Western Medicine, a diagnosis is made based on an examination of a patient’s signs and symptoms. The acupuncturists will take a look at your tongue and pulse for determining which acupuncture points to use and similar to Western Medicine some acupuncturist may prescribe herbs. The tongue? Thousands of years ago MRI and X-rays did not exists so the chinese used the tongue to determine the state of your health. We analyze the shape, size, color and coating of the tongue and select points according to what is seen. You may read more about tongue diagnosis here.
Japanese Acupuncture takes a more subtle route. Fewer and thinner needles are used with less stimulation. Acupuncturist trained releasing Trigger Points focus on the posture of the individual and feel along the muscles, looking for taut bands of fibers that contain tender spots. This style is especially effective with musculo-skeletal problems and chronic or acute injuries. If you are suffering from any kind of pain or sports / orthopedic injuries seek the help of someone trained in Sports Medicine Acupuncture. Acupuncturist trained in Sports Medicine Acupuncture focus on proper biomechanics, perform orthopedic tests for diagnosing, needle motor points to activate dormant muscles, release overworking muscles. Our goal is correcting your alignment and taking you out of pain. Practitioners incorporate principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Sports Medicine to view and successfully manage the patient’s injury from the initial assessment, through treatment and rehabilitation and onto injury prevention with a truly integrated perspective. Other acupuncturist use the ear to treat the entire body. While most acute and chronic complaints can be treated effectively and simply with Auricular (ear) Therapy it is widely used for smoking cessation, substance abuse, weight loss therapy and by the military to treat pain and post traumatic stress in soldiers. Scalp acupuncture, a technique invented in the last decade, is a direct development from the neuro-anatomy of the central nervous system. When the brain is damaged, in diseases such as a stroke, the scalp is stimulated superficially over the area of damaged brain. Although there is no clear connection between the nerves in the skin of the scalp, and the brain, this method does seem to produce an effect on the brain and the Chinese claim that they are able to alleviate some of the symptoms of a stroke with this procedure. In Electro Acupuncture an electrical device is used to provide a continuous, gentle stimulation to specific acupuncture needles. The mild current flowing through promotes healing of injured or inflamed joints or muscles and increase the release of pain reducing chemicals within the body. Korean Hand Acupuncture focuses on points located on the hands. It includes reflexology level of treatment, similar in concept to the reflexology of the foot. The reflex map of the hand was discovered in 1971 in Korea and has been clinically and experimentally tested for accuracy. There is also the European Five Element Theory and several other styles..
There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but since they are quite different, you should know what you are getting into!
Safety: Acupuncture is considered safe when performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. Actually, there are fewer adverse effects associated with acupuncture than with many standard drug treatments (such as anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections) used to manage painful musculoskeletal conditions like fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, and tennis elbow.
Benefits: People seek acupuncture for the prevention of illness, relief from pain, internal disorders, and relaxation. Possible outcomes of acupuncture treatments may include:
Patient came to seek treatment for complaints with hiatal hernia and heartburn.
Patient is an avid athlete, involved with surfing, kite surfing and paddle boarding all year long. His symptoms started 3 years ago and patient was told to follow a low acid diet and was given medications to control his heartburn symptoms. However he did not want to rely on medications and was wondering whether acupuncture could help his symptoms.
Upon questioning he revealed that he had a kite surfing injury 3.5 years ago where he got slammed against his board and broke his ribs in the front. He never got proper treatments for it and decided to let the ribs heal on their own, because “it wasn’t that bad and I didn’t want to stop surfing in mid July”
Upon checking his posture, he displayed a forward tilt of his pelvis and a noticeable bump on the fractured site. After all his ribs never really healed properly (ouch).
For treatment I picked Motor Points of the low back, the core and the pelvis to help correct his postural alignment, I used Trigger Points to release the diaphragm (it twitched a lot!) and I also used Traditional Acupuncture Points to calm his nervous system and to support his overall digestion.
We sealed the treatment with this exercise:
After a few treatments patient reported lessening of his original heartburn symptoms.
related post: Broken rib treatment with acupuncture and herbs
Here is a quick break down on what and how much fluids should you be consuming before - during and after your exercise:
The Chinese Medicine’s view on drinking:
You probably have heard that in Chinese Medicine drinking cold beverages - in fact anything cold is generally not recommended because cold fluids and foods are believed to slow down organ functions, contracting, slowing, shrinking and causing stagnation. Picture a frozen river! Nothing is moving.
Chinese Medicine is advocating for drinking room temperature or even warm liquids. Hot water and warm water improves circulation and blood flow and reduce painful contractions of the muscles.
Do you have painful periods and cramps? Drink warm water. Having hard time getting pregnant? Give up your iced coffee - you want to provide a warm home (uterus) for your growing baby. Do you feel sluggish or bloated or have abdominal pain? Guess what! Give up iced drinks and cold foods.
Chinese Medicine also believes that drinking cold water after exercise shocks the organs and does not aid in helping the body to properly and naturally cool down. During exercise, internal body heat moves to the body’s surface causing sweating and hot exterior sensations, while in fact the interior has become cooler (that is why you feel cool after a long exercise session). Drinking cold water aggravates this already-cold interior. Switch to warm water and have your body cool down naturally.
You train hard to be the best version of yourself. Adding supplements that claim to boost your performance and give you a mental or physical edge can be very tempting. An almost never-ending array of products advertise their performance-enchancing (ergogenic) properties. But be careful, there is so much misinformation out there:
- Dietary supplements are regulated differently than conventional foods and drugs. Manufacturers are not required to prove that a supplement is safe before it is sold, or even that it works. The FDA can take action to remove or restrict the sale of a supplement only after it has been on the market and been shown to be unsafe.
- Most products advertised as having ergogenic properties do not, and those that do work would lose their ergogenic properties if you followed a diet plan that satisfied your energy and fluid need. Most supplements are taken to counter ongoing dietary shortcomings. Think about it, it is cheaper, safer and more effective if you correct your diet. (For example: the amino acid delivery from protein and amino acid supplements is more than 10 times more expensive than the consumption of a small piece of chicken or meat and the chicken is known to be safe. Also: a single ounce of meat provides about 7000mg of high quality amino acids vs a typical amino acid supplement provides only between 500-1000mg.)
- Long term safety studies have rarely if ever been performed.
- Many herbs sold as ergogenic aids have no known chemical content or known active ingredients.
- The legality of some of these products is also in doubt. Studies have shown that many of the supplements are laced with banned substances not listed on the label. Regardless of whether this contamination is purposeful or a result of poor quality control, this could place you at a risk of failing a banned substance blood or urine test!
Instead of focusing on a magic bullet - take a safer, cheaper and more realistic approach:
Always support growth and improve your performance naturally. Use supplementation only when real foods are not practical or not available.
Acupuncture is a key components of your injury prevention toolbox. An excellent way to maintain optimum health & performance, especially as you approach your peak race of the season. Regular acupuncture treatments will help you maximize the results of your training, keep you in balance and to top it off you will notice having a greater sense of calm. Win win win
A doctor on board an Air China flight managed to save the life of a passenger suffering a seizure mid-flight using a few toothpicks and a spoon last week.
Thirty-eight-year-old Dr Tian Yu, a medic from the rheumatology department of Shanghai’s Longhua Hospital, was travelling on a domestic flight from Kashgar to Urumqi in the Xinjiang province of western China when a fellow male passenger in his thirties was found to be unconscious and foaming at the mouth, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported.
Dr Yu appeared on the scene when he heard an in-flight announcement calling for a doctor on board. After deducing the flier was suffering from epilepsy, the doctor asked cabin crew for a spoon and a towel.
He reportedly used his fingers to remove the vomit from the patient’s mouth to prevent the passenger from choking. He then wrapped the towel around the spoon before placing it inside the man’s mouth to keep him from biting his own tongue, the Daily Mail reported.
Dr Yu, who is reported to have a background in Chinese medicine and previously worked as an emergency ward doctor for seven years, used the toothpicks to apply pressure to key acupuncture points, including the baihui aperture and sishencong aperture, around the patient’s head in an attempt to “activate the brain”, according to the Asia Wire Report (AWR).
Due to plane restrictions, “There was no needle available on the plane, and toothpicks were the best replacement I could find,” the doctor told the Shanghai Daily.
The patient was reported to have regained consciousness after five minutes of being stimulated with toothpicks, and was then able to sit up and ask for water. About 20 minutes later, the patient was collected by paramedics for further treatment after the plane landed at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport.
The sick passenger was said to have suffered epileptic seizures in the past but had not been taking medication, according to the patient’s friends.
Dr Yu was reported to have advised the patient to travel with epilepsy medication on future flights to avoid similar incidents, warning that the “changes in air pressure and lack of oxygen on board are conditions that can easily induce seizures,” he told AWR.
We’ve doubled up on naturally probiotic fruits, cut out our favorite salad add-in veggies, and even sprayed bacteria in our homes—all in the hopes of finally achieving a healthy gut.
But, what if a wellness practice—instead of a menu item—was the answer to all of your digestive issues, from serious constipation to garden-variety (but oh so annoying) bloating? Great news—a healthy gut may be as easy as booking an acupuncture appointment.
A new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people with severe chronic constipation may get relief from electroacupuncture, a technique that uses acupuncture needles connected to a device that sends electric pulses into the body.
The study took 1,075 people who suffer from chronic, severe “functional” constipation—meaning they goless than twice a week—and split them into two groups. Half received electroacupuncture administered to the muscle layer of their abdominal wall, while the other half received “sham” treatments, where the needles were applied at points not considered therapeutic in acupuncture.
Over the eight-week treatment period, 31 percent of patients in the electroacupuncture group had successfully overturned their bathroom troubles, while only 12 percent of the “sham” patients achieved the same success. While this was great news for those who got relief from their gut problems during the study, it didn’t end there: For 38 percent of them, the relief continued after the treatments stopped.
If electroacupuncture seems like a hard-to-find solution, New York City-based acupuncturist Daniel Hsu says traditional needling can be effective as well. Whether it’s electrically enhanced or not, acupuncture heals in two ways: “It makes the body release its own naturally occurring painkillers” and “it helps the body calm the nervous system,” he tells HealthDay.
Since stress is often the root cause of irritable bowel syndrome and other GI issues, acupuncture can help to even out the body’s response to stress. Add that to our list of efforts on the way to the healthiest gut possible.
I am a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist who takes care of women with high-risk pregnancies with roles and a clinician, educator, and researcher. My practice is academic and evidence-based, which means I practice according to the most recent proven research/data, and I am also a researcher myself. My career and training have been spent reading the latest articles and contributing with my own research to improvements in maternal care. For the most part, my professional life has been greatly influenced by what can be proven and supported with science.
As one can imagine, when an unexpected journey infertility became my reality, my professional AND personal worlds were turned upside down. After two failed embryo transfers with five cycles of IVF and one egg donor cycle, I began to question everything I thought I knew. Although I was 39 when my journey began, I truly believed I would only need one or two cycles of IVF and be pregnant in no time. After two years of infertility treatments, it was clearly evident that ovarian aging was my problem. Not only that, but my uterine lining was never ideal for an embryo transfer. My ovaries and uterine lining were manifesting the effects of my age.
Before my experience with infertility, I was never one to entertain the idea of alternative medicine. I knew that many women going through infertility utilized various forms of alternative therapies, but it was never something I considered. I simply stuck to what I was taught as an OB/GYN and relied on the guidance of my doctors. I do remember, however, going to my infertility appointments and seeing fliers for a local practice for acupuncture and wellness medicine. I admit, I rolled my eyes a few times thinking to myself, “Whatever…this stuff doesn’t work.” For nearly a year and a half of infertility treatments, I simply took what was prescribed for each IVF cycle and trusted in the process.
In October of last year, I had a failed embryo transfer of two donor egg embryos. With this failure, I was broken. I was completely devastated. After multiple heartbreaks and many rides on the emotional roller coaster, I was desperate and confused. I second-guessed every decision I had made up to that point and wondered if I could have done anything differently to change my outcome. After many months of robotically proceeding though infertility treatments, I finally acknowledged that maybe part of the problem was me and how I handled the stress and emotional toll of my infertility journey.
I thought about those acupuncture fliers and decided to see what it was all about. A month later, I had my first visit that ended with my committing to a treatment plan for infertility.
The scientist was trying alternative medicine…
I started acupuncture treatments for stress relief, and I even agreed to taking Chinese herbs for stress relief and improving my uterine lining. I have to admit, I still wasn’t convinced that it would help, but at that point I was willing to try anything. I kept telling myself, “It’s not going to hurt. I have nothing to lose.” I only told a few people that I was doing this therapy; not because I was embarrassed. I just didn’t want to see the eye rolls or have to answer questions about my choice to pursue this option. Especially since my friends and my colleagues knew that I was not one to support such methods of treatment.
I did acupuncture and Chinese herbs from November until March, when my husband and I decided to transfer two more donor egg embryos. During these months of treatment, I can honestly say that my stress level was significantly reduced. Where I really noticed a difference was at work. My job is very fast-paced and high-stress on most days, and I seemed to come home less anxious and mentally drained. My husband noticed a difference as well.
I can’t say I went through treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs expecting a miracle, but I did let go and was committed to the process. I really did my part as a patient to make the most of my therapy. I can honestly say I tried.
My embryo transfer was March 11, 2016. Looking back, I was less anxious and stressed about this transfer compared to the two times before. I actually felt more at peace–at peace with whatever outcome was to come my way, good or bad. Although my uterine lining still wasn’t stellar, we proceeded anyway. It was the best it was going to get. This time I felt I was mentally and physically ready.
…and just like that, I was pregnant…with twins.
Do I credit therapy with acupuncture and Chinese herbs for my pregnancy?…I don’t know.
What I do know is that I truly believe it played a significant role in my successful embryo transfer. Looking back, I know my stress level was affecting my lack of success with infertility treatments, my overall mental well-being and my ability to handle the stress of disappointment. My choice to let go and put my scientist brain in time-out proved to be a good choice and a positive experience for me. I admit I was stubborn and close-minded about the potential benefits of alternative medicine.
When asked about acupuncture or herbal therapy, I no longer say, “It’s not going to hurt. You have nothing to lose.” I now recommend without hesitation that anyone going through infertility treatments consider using acupuncture and/or herbal therapy during their journey.
The scientist was wrong, and I have two babies on the way to prove it
by Shannon M. Clark, MD, founder of Babies After 35 and Due At 42
Have you ever noticed problems with your energy levels, or experience more fatigue during your monthly cycle?
Research has shown that female athletes are at higher risk of injury during menstruation and have different levels of knee joint position sense across their menstrual cycle. Knee joint position sense accuracy decreases when hormones are low (during menstruation).
Midway through the cycle, the level of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which gives strength to muscles and ligaments, drops dramatically, resulting in sudden weakness.
At the end of the cycle levels of another hormone, relaxin, rise. This is to allow the cervix to open so that menstruation can occur, but it also means the ligaments in general are softened. Researchers found that strains and other injuries were more likely at both these stages.
(Research also showed that women on the combined pill, who do not experience sudden drops in their oestrogen levels, are less likely to experience injury as the result of loosened joints.)
The GB34 acupuncture point is used to strengthen your ligaments and tendons. Motor points connect the brain, the nervous system and the muscles together so they function properly. Acupuncture can also regulate your hormones and help you recover more quickly if you are injured. Acupuncture reduces swelling, pain and encourages more blood to flow toward and nourish the injured area.
So rest, do not plan peak workouts and races during your period! And of course get acupuncture :-)