Archive for Acupuncture

7 Signs that your Hormones aren’t Balanced

  1. Fatigue
    Constant bouts of being either wired or stressed is related to adrenal fatigue and spiking cortisol levels. I have felt the fatigue from imbalanced hormones and it’s intense–feels illness related, leaving you tired after a great night’s sleep
  2. Mood Swings and Irritability
    Comes from imbalance of estrogen and testosterone. Everyone’s going to be cranky sometimes! But if you rage with consistency, this may be why.
  3. Skin changes
    Especially cystic acne, which happens around the chin and on the forehead. Zits happen, but shouldn’t be happening much past puberty. If you can’t correlate it to a new skincare regime or food in your diet, then it could be hormonal
  4. Hot flashes/night sweats
    This is big time for me. I sleep on top of the covers and our AC bill is through the roof! This is from changing levels of progesterone.
  5. Changes in bowel regularity
    Your liver processes hormones and food toxins, so if it is overloaded or not functioning properly then you will also get bowel effects with hormone imbalance
  6. Low libido
    You can thank estrogen levels for this, (and decreasing testosterone). Some of these symptoms are also those of depression though, so best to get a hormonal blood test first to rule it out.
  7. Inability to lose weight
    The ultimate enemy of hormonal imbalance. Raised levels of estrogen and cortisol make losing weight harder than normal. You can persevere though!

Do any of these 7 signs that your hormones aren’t balanced resonate with you? Last week, I wrote about my Pre-PCOS, and then realized that my tips would not be useful if someone did not know their hormones were out of whack. As a woman in your 20’s or 30’s, especially if you are thinking of conceiving, this is something to have checked via bloodwork. There are so many ways to attack hormone imbalance that I’ve discussed in other posts, including changing diet, increasing exercise, laying off the booze, acupuncture and herbal therapy, and essential oils!

One of the main reasons I diffuse essential oils is to remove the hormone interrupting free-radicals and environmental factors that effect my hormone balance like plastics, household cleaners, and make up products.

7 signs that your hormones aren't balanced

Balancing your Yin and Yang

Prior to my experience with acupuncture, I thought of yin and yang as complimentary opposites; like the white and black puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly to form a whole or the below Moon and Sun imagery, necessary to the others completion. Come to find out, it’s much more complicated than that, but balancing your Yin and Yang is what we’re all striving for in optimum health!Balancing your Yin and Yang

I saw an MD acupuncturist and Eastern Medicine Practitioner from China after my lower back sprain and immediately felt better. When we talked about my other concerns and quirks, she immediately pointed out that I have more yin than yang, and for the past week I’ve been thinking about what exactly that means for me. I’ve always loved the cold, so as soon as I grew up, struck out for cold and lovely rainy destinations: Boston and Dublin. There is something just so poetic and “at home” to me about gray skies and crisp weather. I love sad music too, and one of my favorite activities has always been listening to a bluesy chanteuse on my headphones while dodging rain-puddles after a solo outing to a bookstore, museum, or restaurant. This one was on repeat in 2011.

To become more yang: exercise; play competitive sports; wear bright colors; socialize; eat more cooked foods, root vegetables, grains, and fish; make to-do lists and structure the day.

To become less yin, reduce: consumption of ice cream, cold foods, raw fruit, and salads; regular use of alcohol; spending time sitting around; spending time watching television; spending time alone; exposure to a damp, cold climate; feeling powerless to change circumstances; blaming other people; waiting for someone else sort everything out.

So yes, I have more Yin than Yang, naturally. That’s easy to see. Thank you Chinese Medicine, but duh. So the question is, how to I strike a balance if I don’t want to? How do I add Yang and detract Yin when I hate hot sunny days, I’m exhausted by frequent human interaction, and…well, my alcohol consumption is definitely “regular” by definition? I think the answer is two-fold: 1) in my relationship with Matt, I think I have sought my Yang and been fulfilled. One of these days he is going to drag me to some tropical vacation and not short after, we will probably live out our days in a beach town. He forces me to “Yang” with people and at social outings more than I might otherwise, AND he makes me laugh a lot. 2) I just have to go back to my fierce WILL to get better and be as healthy as possible and that is all within me. I am the one who forces the 6 am workouts (and sometimes go for a 2nd at 6 pm) to build muscle and activate my Yang. I’m also the one making the conscious choice to save alcohol for weekends and celebrations….where it belongs. It’s not my life elixir or the buddy I need to hold my hand through bad weeknight TV choices.

How do you strike a balance between your Yin and Yang? Or if you are out of balance, and feeling the health side-effects like me, which way do you lean?

Combating PCOS Naturally: healthier body, balanced hormones

PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) effects roughly 22% of the population, and is a growing epidemic. Hormone imbalance, processed foods, and stress are products of our modern world that contribute to the increased number of women battling PCOS. Combating PCOS naturally is the safest and most effective path to a healthier body and hormonal balance. I was diagnosed with pre-PCOS this year, at 29. This is after 3 years of eating no gluten, and 2 years of no sugar, wheat, or  lactose with limited processed foods. I absolutely think my lifestyle has kept the intensity of my personal experience with PCOS to a minimum, but there is still an uphill battle to be won and it is about more than just diet!

PCOS causes hormonal imbalances that can lead to acne, weight gain & trouble losing weight, hair loss,  fertility problems, insulin resistance, and depression. So Yeah, all that SUCKS! However, MANY studies have been published showing the effectiveness of exercise in combating PCOS. In fact,  this study shows that it is EVEN more important than diet. Further, lifting weights specifically helps women with PCOS because insulin resistance is addressed through BODY COMPOSITION (think more muscle than fat) and not by mere weight loss (whoops to the previous 28 years of my life). If you have PCOS or suspect you might, start by exercising 30-60 minutes every day. According to latest studies, if you have PCOS and as a result of years of insulin resistance, need to lose weight in order to feel healthy, then you should exercise 90 minutes a day. Go on a 40 minute walk with your dog or your best friend! Do a 25 minute yoga stretch on You Tube, lift light weights and stretch in front of your favorite nightly TV programs, or go to a local swim or aerobics class. The bottom line is that you MUST prioritize physical activity when it comes to PCOS. Lift! Lift! LIFT! But before you do, Stretch, Stretch, Stretch! Haha. You will not get bulky if you lift 3 days a week, I promise.

Now let me tell you a fun story! I started going to acupuncture after a bout with Vertigo last year. It was my first experience in which modern medicine was baffled by my symptoms, and I turned to some great resources provided by my Internal Care doctors at UNC. In Acupuncture and Yoga, and many other Eastern doctrines, we learn about our Qi (chee), the life-force that flows through our bodies. My Acupuncturist, Andrew, told me that my Qi was in stasis, thus my lymph was in stasis (dizzy vertigo) and  my blood was also in stasis (irregular periods). So it’s the dead of winter, and Andrew tells me to exercise as much as possible, lifting weights daily in order to feel better and combat stasis. Oh and he says to never EVER touch wheat again (Ok, I get it!). 2 months later, I was diagnosed with pre-PCOS via blood work for my thyroid by my beloved Western Doctor, Louise, and told me to be conscious of this developing and the possibility of developing symptoms. BUT Andrew already knew that was coming, you see? Through my energy and Qi, he knew my blood was in stasis, and he knew my body wanted to be stronger, not just leaner, in order to function properly. Eastern and Western Medicine are such beautiful compliments to each other in this way. I also REALLY recommend acupuncture for everyone out there trying to get a handle on their health. I have some great resources for anyone in the triangle area. Today,  I’m actually going to a “real” doctor at UNC Healthcare who practices acupuncture as a supplement to her primary care services 🙂

As you guys know, I’m still on that journey and some days it is really tough. I pulled my lower back working out with weights last week and now I’ve been set back for my strength and flexibility yoga goals for this month. And then there’s the body stuff. I don’t get to eat the things other people get to eat. I don’t get to indulge or skip daily workouts…and all that hard work may never really show to other people because I’m fighting against insulin resistance and abdominal bloat. I will probably never be a size 2, but there is a a greater reward at the end of the road! And trust me, the feeling of improving your health through natural means and using drugs only when necessary is an empowering feeling. I can’t wait for my next 21st day blood tests this fall! My cycle is back in sync with the new/full moons, which is a sign of fertility and I’m increasing my muscle to fat body composition ration every day. Little by little. Step by step.

Also read this great PCOS resource at my favorite blog, MIND BODY GREEN

Combating PCOS Naturally

 

getting started with acupuncture

I have found acupuncture to be extremely effective in combating my IBD symptoms lately. While my diet focuses on my gut health, I sought acupuncture as a holistic supplement to diet & exercise this fall after a 3 week battle with vertigo. I cannot praise the practice and specifically Chapel Hill’s acupuncture healing center enough. After 3 visits and 6 weeks, I am feeling more energetic, hopeful, healthful, and focused than I have in a long time.

Acupuncture approaches IBD and autoimmune diseases from a perspective we often forget, reminding us that our organs and organ systems are totally intertwined in symbiosis. Those of us who struggle with gut and digestive health see dramatic ramifications in thyroid and liver function, especially. I know what you’re thinking–Seriously? SO unfair that because you suffer with one ailment you are more prone to others? It’s sadly true though. There’ an equilibrium we have to keep up and when one organ system MAJORLY fails, then the others are put upon. Because of my GI disease, I need liver balance and thyroid balance and because those are out of whack, so are my adrenals. It can get overwhelming!

Enter, Chinese Medicine. acupuncture is a key tenant of traditional Chinese medicine. It is used for balancing the key life imagesforce known as qi (or chi) that is believed to flow through Meridians or pathways in the body. The small needles are inserted along these pathways, stimulating movement or “life force.” It’s beautiful in its simplicity. When you suffer from issues affecting your thyroid, digestion, gut, and immune system you can get so bogged down in the fatigue and lethargy of it all. Acupuncture leaves me feeling lighter and more energetic.

Needlephobic? The needles rarely hurt. The exception for me are times like this morning when my qi grabbed at the needle in my throat as it gained energy and movement through my body. I just look at it as proof that it’s working!

joyful.

 

moon

I’m so happy to be writing my first post on the Full Moon in Taurus. “A full moon in Taurus also coaxes us to shed the layers of our old selves, allowing the illumined authentic self to finally, truly emerge. Many of us have experienced the intensity of recent cosmic shifts, so it’s time to release the perpetual grip we still have on what no longer serves us, for good.”

Now that’s a sentiment that I can surely get behind. RELEASE the perpetual grip YOU STILL HAVE on what NO LONGER SERVES YOU. After this full moon begins to wane,the tight grip that I’ve had on all the things that do not serve the person I am becoming will loosen. I will let go. Why wait until New Year’s! I’m making a list of all the things that no longer serve me:

1.) Past hurts
2.) Unreasonable Grief
3.) Complacency in my job
4.) Processed food and harmful  “cheats” I haven’t fully let go of
5.) Excess alcohol
6.) Ever believing that I don’t deserve to be totally. joyful.
7.) Waiting until tomorrow….