Not Sleeping Enough Can Affect You Overall Health, But There Is A Solution

Natural Remedies For Sleep - Insomnia Treatment Overland Park KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

The vast number of people who suffer from insomnia is on the rise. An estimated 60 million Americans have some kind of sleep disorder, and roughly half of all adults report having sleep problems at one time or another.

The impact from insomnia is global and far-reaching. People who have sleep problems have difficulties functioning during the day, are more likely to miss work, and are at risk for safety issues and accidents. Lack of good sleep also takes a personal toll. It can leave you feeling irritable and tired. If you struggle with sleep disorders, you are also at a higher risk for several health conditions, such as heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes. In addition, insomnia also increases your risk for mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and lack of concentration.

Types of Insomnia

You may experience insomnia in a number of different ways, and those variations give your health provider clues as to what’s going on and how to treat it. Your insomnia may be chronic, occurring over weeks, months, or years; or it can happen in clusters of several nights at a time. How your insomnia occurs over the course of a night can also vary widely. You may have difficulty falling asleep, wake several times during the night, wake early and not be able to get back to sleep, or not sleep at all over the entire course of a night. Your sleep problems are considered primary if they’re not caused by a health issue. However, neighborhood noise, light, or even jet lag can also be a source of primary insomnia. When a health issue is contributing to your insomnia, it’s considered to be secondary. Some common causes of secondary insomnia are:

  • Pain conditions
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Hormonal imbalances, including menopause, PMS, and thyroid issues
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Pauses in your breathing, called sleep apnea
  • The side effects of certain medications
  • Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol use

Treating Insomnia

Traditional Western treatments for insomnia often involve prescription medications. However, these medications can alter the quality of your sleep, and many people prefer not to take them. As a result, many have turned to acupuncture and Chinese medicine for help. Their decision is supported by research, as scientists have found in several studies that patients who have been treated with acupuncture report improved quality sleep duration of sleep.

Acupuncture helps sleep problems in a number of ways. It works to reduce stress, helps balance your hormones, relieves pain, decreases inflammation, and alleviates digestive problems; all of which may contribute to your sleeplessness. In Chinese medicine, insomnia may be caused by one or more diagnostic patterns of imbalance, and your practitioner will work with you to uncover the source of your sleep problems. They will often combine acupuncture with other treatments, including:

  • Auricular (ear) acupuncture, which is helpful in relieving stress and reducing pain that may interrupt your sleep.
  • Heat therapy to help relax sore or tense muscles, relieve pain, and address other health conditions.
  • Chinese herbs, which are a way to treat the underlying cause of insomnia, as well as to support your acupuncture treatments. There are a number of herbs that help address sleep issues, and they are combined into a formula specific to your diagnosis.
  • Dietary therapy may be used to reverse nutritional deficiencies, identify and eliminate stimulating foods, decrease inflammation, and treat digestive problems that may be interrupting your sleep. Chinese dietary therapy is individualized and involves recommendations on food selection and preparation that are best-suited to your individual needs.
  • Lifestyle counseling, which involves strategies and changes for getting better sleep.

While lifestyle changes may seem like an unlikely fix, there are a few common changes that can help you sleep better. They include sleeping in a cool and dark room and turning off your computer, TV, and any other screens at least an hour before going to bed. Because your body works hard to digest your food, it’s also recommended that you’re done eating at least two hours before bedtime. In addition, keeping a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up in the morning at roughly the same time may also help, because your body will adjust to becoming tired and waking at your chosen times. It’s also suggested that you wind down before bed; to slow down, relax, and prepare your body for sleep. Many people try to go from daytime activity levels straight to bed, expecting to be able to fall asleep. However, your body needs time to slow down and move into the quiet mode that will allow you to sleep.

The bottom line is that insomnia affects millions of people, and the impact of not sleeping can be overwhelming. It can leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, unable to concentrate, and it may affect your overall health. The good news is that there are a number of treatments for insomnia including acupuncture and Chinese medicine, which offer effective and personalized strategies to help you sleep better.

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The Symptoms Of Depression And How To Deal With Them

Natural Treatment For Depression - Eastern Healing Solutions - Overland Park KS

The Covid 19 pandemic is having a global impact, not only in terms of physical health and economic hardship. Equally as devastating is the emotional consequences that come from the loss, isolation, and profound changes that are currently rocking our world.

It’s completely normal to feel fear, sadness, or grief during a time like this. However, many people are also suffering from major depression during this pandemic, which is something more. Depression is classified as a mood disorder, and it can significantly affect your life, as well as the life of the people around you. If you suffer from depression, you have company. According to World Health Organization estimates, approximately 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide, and is a leading cause of disability.

Most people think that depression is about chronic sadness, but many people suffer from depression without actually feeling sad. There are a number of symptoms associated with depression, both emotional and physical. They include:

  • Sad, flat, or empty feelings
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling hopeless or overly pessimistic
  • A sense of worthlessness, low self-esteem, guilt, and hopelessness
  • A loss of interest in everyday activities or events you once enjoyed
  • Fatigue or loss of motivation
  • Memory problems or lack of concentration
  • Changes in your sleep patterns, such as insomnia, early waking, or oversleeping
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • A loss of appetite, weight gain or loss, or food cravings
  • Thoughts of or attempts at suicide, or thinking about dying

There are a number of different kinds of depression, even though it’s often referred to as a single condition. Having symptoms that are serious enough to limit your ability to function is considered to be major depression. If you experience less severe symptoms over a long period of time, it may be diagnosed as persistent depressive disorder. Seasonal affective disorder is a kind of depression that occurs during the winter and is associated with being exposed to fewer hours of natural sunlight. Additionally, some women experience postpartum depression after labor and delivery, caused by hormonal fluctuations, fatigue, and stress. And depression may appear as a part of bipolar disorder, which is associated with wide swings between episodes of mania and depression.   

Scientists are unable to pinpoint an exact cause of depression, but they have uncovered a number of factors that contribute to its development. Childhood abuse, grief, loss, trauma, difficult relationships, genetics, and brain chemistry all may play a role. In addition, health conditions, such as a recent surgery, a cancer diagnosis, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and diabetes all may contribute to developing depression.

While anyone can develop depression, it’s more common in women than in men. In addition, women tend to experience different depressive symptoms than men do. Women tend to experience feelings of worthlessness and overall sadness, while men often experience depression as a loss in interest or motivation for enjoyable activities. Men may also become irritable, develop insomnia or other sleep issues, and use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.

Treating Depression

Medications and talk therapy are typical standard treatments for depression. However, practitioners of Chinese medicine view depression as more than a mental health problem, as they believe that depression affects your entire body and all facets of your life. As a result, treating depression involves addressing a variety of treatment strategies.

Acupuncture can be a first line natural treatment for depression, because it works to heal in a number of ways. It increases the circulation of endorphins in your brain, which are a kind of neurotransmitter that help to regulate your mood, reduce stress, and promote feelings of calm. In addition, your practitioner may add electro-acupuncture to enhance your treatment, which entails stimulating the needles with a painless electrical current. Researchers have found that electro-acupuncture can be as effective as some medications in treating depression.

Herbal medicine may also be a part of treating depression with Chinese medicine. Your practitioner is able to prescribe an herbal formula to extend and support the effects of an acupuncture treatment. There are a number of herbs and herbal formulas that may be effectively used for mental health conditions. Your specific prescription will depend on your unique health history and presenting symptoms.

In addition, a foundation of Chinese medicine is the idea that what you eat and how you live can impact both your physical and emotional health. Your acupuncturist may use food therapy and lifestyle modifications to help support your health and reduce your symptoms of depression. They can help you choose the right foods for your specific needs to address food cravings, enhance your energy, decrease inflammation, and boost your body’s production of serotonin, which is another neurotransmitter that helps to regulate your mood. They may also suggest lifestyle strategies to support your treatments and help reduce your depressive symptoms.

The bottom line is that mental health issues, including depression, are an outgrowth of the Covid 19 pandemic. Fortunately, your acupuncture practitioner can provide a number of therapeutic options to help alleviate your depression. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, stress relief, lifestyle modifications, and food therapy offer effective healing strategies to treat your depression in a gentle, safe, and natural way.

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10 Things You Should Know To Keep Your Lungs Healthy

Breathing Help To Strengthen Your Lungs For Easier Breathing Overland Park KS

Most of us rarely pay much attention to our internal organs until somethings goes wrong, and your lungs are no exception. However, during this time of the Covid 19 pandemic, peoples’ lungs are getting a lot of attention, and for a good reason. Doctors are finding that patients with the Covid 19 virus who have existing health conditions, especially lung issues, tend to be at a higher risk for having life-threatening symptoms or dying from this virus. And those severe symptoms are lung-related, including shortness of breath and a kind of pneumonia that can progress to sepsis and organ failure.

Like all of your internal organs, your lungs affect everything in your body and have a significant impact on your overall health.

Here are some things to know about your lungs:

  1. In Chinese medicine, your lung system encompasses the path of your breath, from your nose and sinuses to your airways and into your lungs and diaphragm. Your lung system is also responsible for oxygenating your blood, the health of your skin, the opening and closing of your pores, and the strength of your immune system.
  2. Your lungs are considered to be the most exterior of your internal organs because it takes in the outside world with every breath you take. As a result, your lungs are the organs that tend to be the first and most frequently affected by outside pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, and pollen.
  3. In Chinese medicine, your lung system is responsible for the health of your immune system. Immunity is seen as something like a protective shield, which safeguards you from exterior pathogens. The strength of your protective shield is related to the strength of your overall energy and health. Therefore, good health and abundant energy, or Qi, translate into strong immunity.
  4. Your lungs also work with other organs to help regulate moisture in your body. You can see your lung’s moisture when you breathe onto a mirror and it fogs up. While your lungs can become dry, especially in the fall, they are also prone to too much moisture in the form of phlegm. It’s that excess of moisture and debris in the lungs has been a hallmark symptom of the Covid 19 virus that has created the need for critical care in some patients.
  5. Some signs of lung issues or a lung weakness are obvious; coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. However, other symptoms of lung problems are less obvious. In Chinese medicine, a weak voice, getting frequent colds and flu, sinus infections, asthma, and chronic rhinitis may also be considered signs of a weak lung system.
  6. There are a number of ways to strengthen your lung system, and doing so not only improves lung function, but helps to enhance your immunity. One of the best ways to strengthen your lungs is by using them. Take three or four relaxing deep breaths, sing loudly, exercise at a pace that makes you breathe heavily, take a yoga class, or do some meditative breath work—all can help improve your lung function.
  7. Good posture is also key to lung health. When you’re hunched over your computer or phone, your lungs become compressed and less efficient. If you sit or stand up straight, it allows your lungs to fill completely with each breath, and it stretches your diaphragm and the muscles that are used when you breathe.
  8. Chinese food therapy can be used to strengthen your energy and organ systems, including your lungs. Light proteins, lots of colorful fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats help to build your overall energy and protective Qi. White foods, such as mushrooms and root vegetables are also helpful. If you’re prone to lung dryness, apples and pears are a good choice. Slightly spicy foods can benefit your lungs, especially if you’re in the early stages of a cold or flu. Scallions, ginger, and mildly spicy peppers can make your nose run and help bring on a sweat to release a mild fever.
  9. If you’re prone to phlegm conditions, such as asthma, sinus problems, and post-nasal drainage, dietary modifications may also help. Avoid foods that promote phlegm including dairy products, rich or greasy foods, and those that have been overly processed.
  10. If you’re struggling with lung conditions, Chinese medicine has a lot to offer in the form of acupuncture and herbal formulas. Whether you’re dealing with poor immune function, asthma, chronic sinus problems, or phlegm in your lungs, there are herbal combinations that are formulated specifically for your needs.

Your lungs are important to optimal health, and during this time of the Covid 19 virus, lung health is more important than ever. While you may be feeling helpless in the wake of this virus, it’s helpful to know that there are a number of steps you can take with Chinese medicine to safeguard your lungs and strengthen your immunity.

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Don’t Let Chronic Fatigue Slow You Down – Boost Your Energy And Get Your Life Back On Track

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Natural Treatment In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition that affects up to 2.5 million Americans. It’s also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis. It can affect people of all ages, but it’s most commonly diagnosed in people who are between the ages of 40 and 60. In addition, women are more frequently affected with CFS than men.

Unfortunately, because the symptoms vary widely and because some health care providers don’t always take the symptoms of CFS seriously, about 90% of people with this condition have never been diagnosed. To further confuse diagnosis, CFS is a syndrome, which means that people who have it may experience a wide variety of symptoms, and typically no two people will experience it in exactly the same way.

The symptoms of CFS include:

  • Extreme fatigue that does not get better no matter how much rest or sleep you get
  • Fatigue that becomes worse or debilitating after any kind of activity, either physical or mental
  • Problems with sleep, and feeling tired even after having slept all night
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or symptoms that are aggravated on sitting upright or standing up
  • Temperature issues, such as chills or night sweats
  • Hypersensitivity to certain foods, smells, lights, or loud noise
  • A chronic sore throat or tender lymph nodes

Scientists are unclear as to what exactly causes CFS, but they have a number of theories and clues. Many people with this condition say that the onset felt like they had the flu, leading scientists to suspect some kind of viral or bacterial infection. One pathogen that has long been associated with CFS is the Epstein-Barr virus, however not everyone with CFS has the virus, and other infections are also associated with this condition. Researchers also think that the immune system in people with CFS has been damaged somehow by an illness or infection.

In addition, chronic stress or an emotional upset may also be a trigger for CFS, as many people who have this condition say they were under great amounts of stress prior to their diagnosis. Stress affects the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) in your brain. This is the system that controls your body’s hormones, including those related to the stress response. Under high levels of chronic stress, your body ramps up some systems that are needed to deal with the stress of the moment and slows down others that aren’t currently needed, most notably immunity, digestion, and your ability to fight inflammation.

The Role of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Treating CFS

While the symptoms of CFS may slowly abate in some patients, it can take years, and the majority of people with this condition may never recover completely. There’s no cure for CFS, so treatment strategies are geared toward managing symptoms and restoring functionality. This is where acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be of value.

The foundation of good health in Chinese medicine is having abundant energy stores, and many treatments are geared toward building up and protecting your energy. Research has found that acupuncture can be effective in reducing fatigue in patients with CFS. Acupuncture is also effective in managing other symptoms associated with this condition such as, pain reduction, decreased inflammation, enhanced immune function, and better sleep. Researchers have also documented that acupuncture is effective for stress relief and mental health symptoms, as it increases the circulation of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters in your brain responsible for feelings of well-being and calm.

Good nutrition supports your energy stores, both in Eastern and Western medicine. However, in Chinese medicine, what foods you need are highly individual. Chinese food therapy is a method of healing, and is based on your unique needs and the specific properties of each food that you eat. Different foods have different effects on your body. For example, scallions are a warm food that are used during the early stages of a cold, and eggs are considered to be especially nourishing to your blood. The goal of Chinese food therapy for patients with CFS is to prescribe easily digestible foods that work to rebuild energy stores.

Chinese herbal medicine may also be a good option for people struggling with CFS. Herbs also have specific properties and effects on your body, but they’re considered to be stronger than foods. There are a number of herbs that may be combined into a formula designed for your specific needs, to help increase your energy, enhance immunity, support sleep, and reduce stress—all of which are goals to help manage the symptoms of CFS.

Chronic fatigue syndrome may feel like a life-changing diagnosis, for a good reason. However, Chinese medicine may be a good choice to help you manage your symptoms, boost your energy, increase your level of functioning, and get your life back on track.

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Do Your Feet Always Hurt? Here’s Why

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

Your feet work really hard every day. They support you with every step you take; when you run, dance, or stand for any amount of time. Even though you don’t think much about it, you count on your feet all the time. Ironically, when your feet are hurting, you’re likely to think about the pain with every step you take. This is the nature of something called plantar fasciitis, where everything is fine until it’s not.

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot problem that involves pain and inflammation of the thick web-like band of tissue called the plantar fascia. Running from your heel bone to the just behind the base of your toes, the plantar fascia ligament is what supports the arch of your foot. It flexes with each step you take, acts as a shock absorber, and maintains the integrity of your arch. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament is strained, becomes inflamed, or is injured.

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain, most frequently in front of your heel on the bottom of your foot, but it can occur anywhere along the ligament or at the base of your arch. Some people with plantar fasciitis describe the pain as stabbing, and others say that it feels like a deep ache. The pain is frequently at its worst with your first few steps in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for a while. It’s also aggravated by being on your feet for a long period of time. Unless you’ve had a direct injury, the symptoms of plantar fasciitis tend to develop slowly over time, and it can occur in one or both feet.

There are a number of factors that can make you prone to developing plantar fasciitis, including:

  • A tight Achilles tendon. Your Achilles tendon is the thick band of tissue at the back of your ankle just above your heel. It attaches to the plantar fascia, and when your Achilles becomes tight, it also makes the plantar fascia tight, too.
  • Tight calf muscles. The calf muscles at the back of your lower leg attach to your Achilles tendon, which attaches to the plantar fascia. Inflexible calf muscles are a common problem in people who develop plantar fasciitis.
  • Standing, walking, or running on concrete and other hard surfaces for extended periods of time.
  • High impact sports activities, such as running, basketball, soccer, or tennis.
  • Working in an occupation in which you’re on your feet for long hours.
  • Being overweight, which stresses the plantar fascia’s ability to support your arches.
  • Shoes that don’t properly support your arches.
  • Footwear that is worn out, especially athletic shoes.
  • Your age; as you get older your ligaments and tendons become less flexible.
  • If you pronate, which means that your feet tend to roll inward when you walk or run.

Your plantar fascia is a kind of connective tissue, and like all ligaments and tendons, it can take a long time to heal. The good news is that despite taking a frustratingly long time, plantar fasciitis will ultimately heal in most cases. It’s also good to know that there are some things that you can do to help the healing process.

Many people with plantar fasciitis have turned to acupuncture to relieve their symptoms and promote healing, and the research shows that this is a good idea. Scientists have found that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis because it releases chemicals that reduce pain and inflammation in the area. In addition, acupuncture increases blood flow, and promotes the circulation of fibroblasts, which are connective tissue cells important to the healing process. If you choose to have acupuncture to treat your plantar fasciitis, your practitioner may also incorporate electric stimulation, heat therapy, an herbal formula, or bodywork into their treatments for the best results.

There are some steps you can take on your own to help your plantar fasciitis heal. This includes resting your foot as much as possible. By doing so, you’re limiting the stretching and contracting of the plantar fascia that occurs with every step. Your choice of footwear also plays an important role. Replace worn out footwear, make sure your shoes have a good arch support, and don’t even think about flip flops or high heels. Flip flops offer no arch support, and high heels shorten your calf muscles, which can aggravate your plantar fasciitis. Instead, try to lengthen and loosen your calf muscles by stretching them daily.

Plantar fasciitis can be a frustrating condition, and it can feel like it will never heal. In addition, you’re reminded of how much your foot hurts with every step. However, in spite of how long the healing process takes, there are a number of things you can do to speed things along. My prescription for plantar fasciitis includes acupuncture, rest, really good shoes, and a little stretching.

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6 Natural Remedies To Get Your High Blood Pressure Under Control

Natural Remedies For High Blood Pressure In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

Your body gives you all kinds of messages when it becomes out of balance. You get a headache when you become dehydrated, sore muscles when you’ve worked out too hard, and an upset stomach when you’re stressed out. This is true with high blood pressure, too; it’s your body’s way of telling you that something in your lifestyle needs your attention.

Blood pressure is a term to describe the strength of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as it’s pumped by your heart. If that pressure is high, over time it can damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. It can also significantly increase your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control report that about a third of Americans have high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is measured by how hard your heart is working to pump blood. It’s recorded as two numbers; the first is the pressure when your heart is beating (systolic), and the second is the pressure when your heart relaxes in between beats (diastolic). High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 or higher. A blood pressure measurement in the neighborhood of 120/80 is considered to be healthy.

There are a number of classes of medications that work to lower your blood pressure. However, many patients with hypertension struggle with the idea of taking them long term or want to avoid side effects associated with these drugs. This is where acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be able to help.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure with Chinese Medicine

When it comes to lowering your blood pressure, Chinese medicine has a lot to offer. Acupuncture can be a first line of treatment for hypertension. It affects every system in your body to help bring it back into balance. Researchers have documented that acupuncture increases the circulation of endorphins in your brain, which is a neurotransmitter that suppresses pain and produces a feeling of calm and relaxation. In addition, scientists are learning that acupuncture can reduce ischemia (blockage) around the heart that occurs when the blood vessels become blocked. It also decreases adrenaline, a stress hormones that raises your blood pressure and heart rate when you become stressed.

Chinese herbal medicine may also be used in effectively treating high blood pressure. These herbs are not one size fits all. Rather, they are prescribed in combinations that are best suited to your specific needs. That’s because each patient is unique and comes with their own set of circumstances and health history. Furthermore, in Chinese medicine, there is more than one pattern of imbalance that may the underlying cause of your high blood pressure. Fortunately, there are a number of herbs in the Chinese formulary that may be used to treat high blood pressure, and they can be prescribed to suit your needs.

Most practitioners of Chinese medicine are also trained in dietary therapy, and nowhere is diet more important than in treating hypertension. Your practitioner will likely counsel you on what foods are best suited to your particular situation. However, you may also be directed to avoid fatty, greasy, very spicy foods, and foods that are energetically warm that may contribute to your high blood pressure.

What You Can Do

There are a number of causes of high blood pressure, and one of the most common is stress. However, your genes, diet, age, levels of exercise, and lifestyle choices such as smoking also play a role. The good news when it comes to high blood pressure is that lowering it may be within your control. 

The following are some steps that you can take to help lower your blood pressure:

  1. A good place to begin is to take a good look at the stress in your life. Take some time for yourself, step away from stressful situations, and spend some time doing the things you like to do. Sadly, when you’re feeling the most stressed is the time when it’s hardest to step away. Make your health a priority by getting your stress under control.
  2. Eating healthfully is also an important step in lowering your blood pressure. Make it a goal to eat more plant-based foods and less red meat, fatty foods, and unrefined carbohydrates.
  3. Decreasing your salt intake may also help. While cutting salt doesn’t help everyone, about a half of patients with hypertension are salt sensitive and would benefit from decreasing the amount of salt in their diet.
  4. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, so limit your intake to one drink per day or less.
  5. If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds can have a positive impact on your health. Research has shown that as little as a 5% loss in your body weight can significantly lower your blood pressure.
  6. If you’re a smoker, now is the time to quit smoking. Doing so can significantly lower your blood pressure.

If you have hypertension, your body is sending you a signal that something in your life is out of balance and needs to change. High blood pressure can be life-threatening if it’s not managed. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take to get your blood pressure under control, and Chinese medicine can be an important part of that process.

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Simple And Easy Changes That Can Really Improve Your Health

Simple Changes to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

Spring is in the air and summer will be soon to follow. Many people take stock of their health at this time of year and vow to eat better, exercise more, or lose weight. Sadly, most of those good intentions fall by the wayside after only one or two weeks. This happens for a couple of reasons. First, change is hard. When you’re trying to do something new or break an old habit, it can take months before that change is set in stone. The second reason that our healthy life-style plans tend to fail is that many people set unrealistic goals that are unsustainable in the long run.

There’s good news, however, for those who want to improve their health for many years to come. It’s in knowing that small changes that are easy to sustain can actually make a big difference in your health. Researchers have found that seemingly inconsequential adjustments in your diet can produce large health benefits. Furthermore, by changing it up in a small way and staying with it, you’ll have a success under your belt and with it the knowledge that you can do it again.

The following are some simple and easy changes that you can implement to really improve your health:

  • Get more sleep. Easy, right? The reality is that many people don’t get the hours of sleep that they need for good health. Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, decreased immunity, and it leaves you tired during the day. That’s because your body repairs and resets itself while you’re asleep. If you’re not getting about seven or eight hours each night, chances are that you’re running on a sleep deficit. The answer: go to bed just a little earlier, slow down and turn off all your screens a good hour before bed, and keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • If you want to improve your diet, think about plants first when making your grocery list. That’s it. If you’re buying what’s on your list, and the list is plant forward, chances are that you’ll end up eating a little healthier. In Chinese medicine, a healthy diet is mostly plant-based with small amounts of protein, and whole grains. Furthermore, in Chinese cuisine, the produce is almost always cooked to make it more easily digested. That means that stir fried dishes, soups, and casseroles are going to be better digested, and ultimately give you more energy.
  • Make it a plan to check your posture every couple of hours. Just pretend that the top of your head is being pulled upward by a string. This not only straightens your spine, but it also opens up your lungs. In Chinese medicine, the air that you breathe, combined with what you eat are the sources of your body’s energy. Sitting hunched over limits the amount of air that you can bring into your lungs. Furthermore, there’s been a lot more hunching going on in the past several decades, with people plugged into computer screens or hunched over their phones for hours at a time. This increases your chances of shoulder and rotator cuff injuries.
  • Make a commitment to reduce your stress in small ways. Chronic stress has a negative impact on every system in your body. It interferes with your sleep, hampers your immune system, and disturbs your digestion. Learning to say no to another commitment, listening to a meditation recording, or walking away from your desk at lunchtime—whatever it takes—are all small steps in reducing your stress, with large payoffs.
  • Spend some time outdoors. There is an incredible amount of research on the health benefits of spending time in a park or a wooded setting. It can lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress, and actually help improve your immune system. Scientists believe that some of the health benefits of being in the woods come from chemicals that are released by nearby trees.
  • Go take a walk. Repeat daily. It doesn’t have to be far, but if there were such a thing as a magic bullet for good health, it would be physical activity. In Chinese medicine, moving your body moves your energy, which is a good thing. It also boosts cardiovascular health, helps to clear your head, loosens your joints, improves your immunity, and can help your memory.
  • Spend more time playing and doing things that you enjoy. There’s actually a term in Chinese medicine for spending too many hours working, studying, or caregiving. It’s called overwork, and is considered to be a common cause of illness. The bottom line is that too many hours with your nose to the grindstone isn’t improving your health—just the opposite. So give it a break and do something fun.

Making plans for healthier lifestyle habits doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility.  Broad goals like eating better and exercising more are not specific enough.  We can easily lose our focus and give up.  Small steps over a period of time brings progress. Any time of year is a good time to make adjustments in our lifestyle. You can make healthy changes in baby steps that are doable, sustainable, give you a sense of accomplishment, and actually have a big impact on your health!

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The Symptoms Of Chronic Stress And How To Manage Them

Natural Stress Relief Treatment In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

Your boss is pressuring you with a tight deadline, you’re caring for a sick kid or parent, your car just broke down, or your bank account is running on empty and you have an unexpected expense. There’s no doubt about it; these things are stressful. However, did you know that how you deal with that stress can have a huge impact on your health?

Stress is a natural reaction that helps you cope with serious life events or emergencies. In the moment, your body’s reaction to stress is helpful. Something called the Fight or Flight response kicks in and releases hormones that increase your heart rate and respiration, tenses your muscles for action, and helps your mind focus on the crisis at hand. At the same time, your Fight or Flight reaction also shuts down some of your body’s systems that you don’t need in dealing with the imminent danger. For example, your digestion, immunity, reproductive function, and even some functions of your brain are put on the back burner until the crises has settled down.

The reason why stress has such an impact on your body is that the nature of our modern life is that stress is ongoing and it often never settles down. Chronic stress keeps your body in a low level of Fight or Flight. This means that many people are living their lives in a heightened state of alert and the physiological changes that accompany the stress response. As a result, there are an endless number of symptoms and conditions that can be attributed to long-term, unabated stress. Among them:

  • Chronic headaches, especially tension headaches. In addition, stress can be a trigger for people who suffer from migraines.
  • Heartburn. Stress can increase your body’s production of stomach acid, setting you up for heartburn or reflux symptoms.
  • Other digestive issues. In addition to heartburn, stress can suppress your appetite, give you a stomachache, cause diarrhea or constipation, and be the underlying source for irritable bowel conditions.
  • Insomnia. If your mind is racing while you should be sleeping, stress may be to blame. Stress can interrupt your sleep, too, making it hard for you to drop off or stay asleep, or in severe cases it can keep you awake all night.
  • Depression. Over time, chronic stress can wear you down, giving way to frustration, irritability, anger, and ultimately depression.
  • Weakened immune system. During the Fight or Flight response, immunity it put on hold. If the response is prolonged, it can keep your immunity suppressed, making you more vulnerable to colds, flu, or other illnesses.
  • Increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Stress impacts the interplay of your hormones, increasing cortisol and adrenaline, and suppressing insulin, which ushers glucose into your cells. In addition, during stressful times, your liver releases extra glucose, resulting in elevated blood sugar. Coupled with decreased insulin, chronically high levels of glucose (blood sugar) increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Hypertension. When you’re stressed, your heart pumps faster and stress hormones cause your blood vessels to tighten. Long-lasting stress can increase your risk not only for high blood pressure, but also for a heart attack.
  • Muscle tension. When you’re stressed, your muscles become tense. Over the long term, however your tense muscles can produce neck and shoulder pain, muscle spasms, tooth clenching or TMJ problems, and headaches.

While it’s clear that long-term stress can sabotage your health, doing something about it can be stressful, too. When you’re busy, overwhelmed, or just trying to get through your day, adding one more thing to your To Do list can feel like too much. However, there are a number of actions you can take that are worthwhile because they’re effective, but also are enjoyable and some don’t take much time.

  • Get some acupuncture. Scientists have found that acupuncture increases the circulation of calming neurotransmitters in your brain to help lower stress and stabilize your mood. A few relaxing acupuncture sessions can also help balance your hormones, including your body’s stress hormones. Acupuncture is also a safe, effective, and natural way to treat stress-related illnesses or symptoms. The bottom line is that acupuncture is one of stress relief’s best kept secrets!
  • Breathe. You may have heard this before and thought it sounds overused and ineffective. However, the reality is that taking a few deep breaths or slowing your breathing down sends a message to your brain to activate your parasympathetic nervous system—to rest and digest. In other words, slow deep breathing helps you slow down and chill out.
  • Take a walk. Moving your body boosts your circulation, physically and emotionally takes you out of a stressful situation, and increases the circulation of endorphins, the feel good chemicals in your brain responsible for a sensation of calm and well-being.
  • Vent. Sometimes just talking, or even ranting, about what’s bugging you can be incredibly helpful in clearing your mind and allowing you to move forward without feeling so overwhelmed.
  • Do something you find fun or joyful. When you’re stressed, often self-care is the first thing you abandon. However, finding some time for the things you enjoy makes it easier to cope with the stress at hand.

Adding any of these activities to your day or week can help tamp down the pressure and lower your risk for stress-related health problems. Pick one (or more!) and make it a habit. Your body will thank you.

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Whether You’re A Weekend Athlete Or A Major Competitor, Acupuncture Has A Lot To Offer

Sports Injury Treatment In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

If you’ve watched The Big Game on TV, occasionally, a sports commentator will take you back into the athletes’ training room. There you’ll see large tubs for ice baths, massage tables, whirlpools, and all manner of equipment and personnel to help get those high profile athletes back into the game.

Whether you’re a professional athlete, weekend competitor, or a casual participant, sports injuries happen. They occur as a result of inadequate training, improper or ill-fitting equipment, incorrect footwear, overtraining, and trauma. There are generally two types of injuries; acute and chronic. Acute injuries tend to be the result of trauma, such as being hit with a baseball, a rough tackle in football, or falling off a bike. Chronic injuries occur over a period of weeks or even months, and often come from overuse, repetitive movements, or poor form.

While you may not see them on TV, more and more sports teams are employing the services of acupuncturists to help keep their athletes in shape and injury-free. In addition, many athletes use acupuncture on their own. Whether you’re a paid athlete or engage in your sport just for fun or conditioning, acupuncture has a lot to offer.

Acupuncture for Sports Injuries

If you’re an injured athlete, acupuncture can help you in a number of ways. Some of the most common sports injuries include ligament sprains and muscles or tendon strains.  These injuries can be painful, but also may be inflamed, swollen, and associated with reduced mobility. For both acute and chronic injuries, many injured athletes have found that acupuncture treatments can be helpful beyond the conventional wisdom of R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). With many injuries, pain relief is a priority, and acupuncture can be an effective treatment in many instances, because it increases the circulation of chemicals in your brain, called endorphins, which act like your body’s own opioid system.

Acupuncture can also decrease inflammation associated with your injury. Researchers have found that the concentration of inflammation-fighting white blood cells are increased by about 40 percent in the areas where acupuncture needles are placed. Acupuncture treatments boost your circulation overall, and coupled with the decreased inflammation, it can speed up the time it takes to recover and get back to your sport.

Acupuncture can also help your musculoskeletal system in the form of better range of motion and decreased swelling and bruising after an injury. In addition, when directed at knots, trigger points, or muscle spasms, acupuncture helps relax tight muscles and increase your mobility.

Athletic Performance and Your Overall Health

Many athletes that use acupuncture do so because it helps their performance and keeps them healthy. Acupuncture is all about your body’s energy, and regular treatments naturally enhance your energy to help recover faster after workouts or competition. In addition, acupuncture is relaxing and used as a treatment for insomnia. Better sleep translates into better energy, and hopefully better athletic performance. Furthermore, scientists have found that acupuncture can strengthen your immune system.

When it comes to keeping your head in the game, acupuncture may also help. Researchers have found that acupuncture alters your brain chemicals to relieve stress. It can be used as a method to relieve pre-game anxiety. In addition, your mental performance can get a boost from a few sessions on the acupuncture table. Athletes report better focus, self-confidence, and feeling more relaxed before their competition as a result of their treatments.

The Acupuncturist’s Toolbox

While all acupuncturists perform acupuncture, most also offer a number of healing methods from the tradition of Chinese medicine. You may have seen Michael Phelps and many other athletes during the Olympics in Rio with marks on their bodies from cupping. Used to speed up recovery, heal sore muscles, and athletic injuries, cupping involves the use of glass or plastic cups in which a vacuum has been created. A little like a reverse massage, the cups pull your skin, fascia, and muscles and breaks the tiny capillaries at the surface. This promotes healing, enhances circulation, opens your pores, and removes toxins.

A sports acupuncturist may also apply a mild electrical current to the needles to make the treatment more effective. They may also perform ear acupuncture, which is especially useful in pain relief and dealing with stress. Most acupuncturists are also trained in Chinese herbal medicine, and can prescribe an herbal formula to support your energy, speed healing, or treat other health conditions that you may have. They are also trained in dietary counseling to treat specific health issues.

The bottom line is that whether you’re a weekend athlete or a major competitor, acupuncture has a lot to offer. It can help support and speed up healing and relieve pain if you’re injured. It can boost your energy so you can sustain heavy workouts, and help with your mental game in the form of stress relief and better focus. If you’re looking for a way to up your game, acupuncture may give you the edge you need.

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Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivities vs. Food Intolerance – What’s The Difference?

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Many people confuse food allergies with food sensitivities and food intolerances. They may use the terms interchangeably or mistake one for another. However, the difference between an allergy to a certain food and an intolerance is very real, and is determined by whether or not your immune system is involved.

Food Allergy

A food allergy can be severe, and in some instances, life threatening. Some of the most common foods associated with allergies include peanuts, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, milk, and foods that contain sulfites. When you eat a food that you’re allergic to, your immune system perceives the food as a foreign invader, and goes into overdrive. Certain immune cells are mobilized to attack the offending substance, and histamines and other chemicals are released in an attempt to wipe it out. However, the histamines that are released can cause damage and inflammation to your tissues, leading to symptoms, such as hives, swelling, and in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock. Usually, a food allergy affects your airways, gastrointestinal tract, and skin.

An allergic reaction to an offending food is almost immediate. In contrast, a food sensitivity tends to happen in slow motion. It may take an hour or up to a couple of days after eating a food for symptoms associated with a food sensitivity to appear. Like a food allergy, a food sensitivity also involves your immune system, but the symptoms associated with a food sensitivity are not as severe, and any system in your body may be involved in a food sensitivity reaction.

Food Sensitivity

A food sensitivity tends to be dose dependent, which means that you may be able to eat a small amount of the offending food and not experience symptoms. However, with a true food allergy, it only takes a single molecule of the allergic food to set off an immune reaction.  Because symptoms associated with a food sensitivity tend to appear more slowly, may not involve a histamine reaction, and can affect a variety of organs, it is often difficult to diagnose a sensitivity and pinpoint the triggering food. For that reason, food sensitivities tend to be misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed. In contrast, most people who have a food allergy know exactly what food will trigger a reaction.

Food Intolerance

A food intolerance is different from a food allergy or sensitivity, in that it doesn’t affect your immune system. An intolerance to a food means that your body can’t digest it properly for one reason or another. For example, people with an intolerance to gluten have problems digesting the proteins found in wheat and other grains, and people with a lactose intolerance are missing an enzyme necessary to digest milk. The symptoms associated with a food intolerance are related to your inability to digest the food, and tend to be limited to your gastrointestinal tract. They may include gas, bloating, intestinal cramping, loose stools, or diarrhea.

Food intolerance may also manifest in skin rashes, or conditions such as psoriasis and eczema; excess mucus or phlegm in the respiratory tract; joint pain; memory loss, lack of focus, signs of dementia; and other seemingly unrelated and chronic symptoms.

There are a number of reasons that you may develop a sensitivity to certain foods. Some possible explanations include:

  • Weak digestion
  • An imbalance in the microbes in your gut, or intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Overstressing your immune system
  • Chronic stress, emotional upset, or trauma
  • Toxicity from food additives, pesticides, and other chemicals
  • Family history or genetics

If you were to seek out Chinese medicine for food sensitivities, your practitioner would first diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms. They would likely determine that you have a Spleen Qi depletion, a Liver and Spleen disharmony, or depleted Lung Qi.

Your Chinese Spleen organ system is responsible for digesting the food you eat and converting it into the energy and nutrients needed to fuel every system and function in your body. Therefore, a Spleen depletion means that your digestion is not up to par. A Liver and Spleen disharmony simply means that overwhelming stress or strong emotions which are usually held in check by your Liver system are out of control and affecting your digestion (Spleen).

In Chinese medicine, your immune system is governed by your Lungs, as they’re responsible for the exterior of your body. Think about it; when you get a cold, the flu, or seasonal allergies, they’ve come from outside your body, and tend to affect your lungs or respiratory tract first. A strong Lung system translates into strong immunity.  When your Lungs become depleted, it can result in weakened immunity. A weakened or out of balance immune system can be the source of food sensitivities or allergies.

There are a number of strategies involved in treating food sensitivities in Chinese medicine. Your practitioner would work with you and your unique health history to develop a plan that may include strengthening your Spleen system to improve digestion, calming your emotions and relieving stress, and nourishing your Lungs as a way to boost and balance your immunity. Your treatment plan would likely involve acupuncture, and may be combined with herbal medicine, food therapy, and lifestyle modifications for the best results. 

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