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

Food Allergy Natural Treatment With Chinese Medicine In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

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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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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6 Things You Can Do To Prevent Back Problems As You Age

Back Pain Relief Treatment In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of people will experience back pain at some point in their life, and aging increases your chances dramatically. As you get older, there are a number of spinal conditions that can occur as a product of wear and tear on your body.

One of the most common causes of back pain is caused by degeneration of your discs. Spinal discs are rings of tough collagen fiber with a gel-like center. They’re found in between your vertebral (spinal) bones, and act as shock absorbers as your body bends and twists. As you age, the discs become worn down and dry out, causing your vertebral bones to rub against one another. Discs may also protrude sideways or rupture, resulting in impinged nerves and inflammation. In all cases, disc problems have the potential to be extremely painful.

Spinal stenosis is another back condition associated with aging. Stenosis is a narrowing of the bony canals that house your spinal cord and spinal nerves. As the narrowing progresses, the spinal cord or accessory nerves can become compressed. Depending on where the compression occurs, it can cause pain, numbness, and loss of function, in some cases limiting your ability to walk more than short distances.

Another spinal condition related to aging is arthritis in the facet joints. These are the flexible joints in your spine that allow it to bend and twist. When the facet joints and associated ligaments become weakened, it can allow a vertebra to slip forward and out of alignment. This condition is called degenerative spondylolisthesis, and can cause pain that is worse when you’re standing up straight or bending backwards.

Older adults who have lost bone density, a condition called osteoporosis, are at an increased risk for compression fractures. This kind of fracture occurs when a vertebral bone partially collapses, triggering sudden and severe back pain, a loss in height, physical deformity, and a loss of function.

While these age-related changes in your spine may seem like a foregone conclusion as you get older, that’s not necessarily the case. In Chinese medicine, the aging process is related to the health and function of your Kidney organ system. The Chinese believe that your Kidneys are the source of your Essence, which is something akin to body constitution. The strength and health of your Essence determines how you grow, your overall health, fertility, and how you will age. Your Kidney controls the condition of your bones, your ears and hearing, the health of your brain, and even the hair on your head. Healthy Kidneys and abundant Essence translate into healthful aging.

The good news is that while aging is inevitable, there are some things that you can do to stay healthy as you grow older.  A good place to start, especially when it comes to back pain treatment, is with acupuncture. Scientists have documented that acupuncture affects chemicals in your brain to reduce pain and improve your mood. Acupuncture also decreases inflammation locally, boosts circulation, and supports the healing process.

If you work with an acupuncturist for age-related back pain, they may add electric stimulation to their acupuncture treatments, prescribe a Chinese herbal formula, or recommend dietary changes. Their goal would be to strengthen your Kidney system, nourish your Essence, relieve any pain you may be having, and support the healing process. In addition to acupuncture and Chinese medicine, there are some things that you can do to prevent back problems as you age. They include:

  1. Strengthen the core muscles of your back and abdomen with target exercises. A physical therapist or athletic trainer can help in suggesting the right exercises for your specific needs.
  2. Relieve some of the strain on your back by practicing good posture. In general, your ears, shoulders, hips, and feet should line up when you’re standing.
  3. Avoid unnecessary strain on your back, such as lifting heavy objects (no more than 25% of your body weight). When you lift, do so correctly, by bending your knees and hips into a squat, and lift by straightening your legs.
  4. What you eat can actually affect the health of your back. A good place to start is with an anti-inflammatory, Chinese food therapy diet, which includes lots of plant-based foods and limits processed foods and meat. Choose meals that include more fish, whole grains, nuts, and heart healthy fats, such as olive oil.
  5. If you’re depressed or under a lot of stress, make it a point to get some help. Strong negative emotions cause muscle tension and further aggravate any pain you may have.
  6. Stay active. If there were such a thing as the fountain of youth, physical activity would be it. Whether it’s walking, swimming, tennis, Tai Chi, or chair Yoga, movement improves your circulation, keeps your muscles strong, maintains your range of motion, and lifts your mood.

The bottom line is that as you age, your back will show some signs of wear and tear. However, it is possible to stay active and pain-free through good self-care and help in the form of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

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Do You Often Feel Like Something Is Stuck In Your Throat?

Esophageal Spasm Treatment In Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

Esophageal spasm can be a scary and uncomfortable condition. It can be mistaken for acid reflux, heart problems or the feeling that food is caught in your throat. It’s a condition where the muscles of your esophagus, the tube between your mouth and stomach, involuntarily contract. This can cause a painful sensation that something is stuck in your throat or chest, can be associated with heartburn, or cause food to be regurgitated.

Esophageal spasm can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, because it’s frequently related to or occurs in tandem with other conditions. One common issue is when the cricopharyngeal muscle, also known as the upper esophageal sphincter, spasms and partially closes your esophagus.  This causes the painful sensation of something being caught in your throat that no amount of swallowing will relieve. Another related condition is heartburn, also called GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), in which inflammation to your esophagus from heartburn can trigger painful spasms.

There are a number of factors that may contribute to the cause of this condition. Among them are drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods, eating very hot or very cold foods, chronic sinus drainage, and stress or emotional upsets.

If you were to go to your doctor for the symptoms of esophageal spasm, in most cases their first order of business would be to rule out dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing, and a different condition altogether. They would also try to determine the cause of your spasms, but in many cases may not find any underlying source of your symptoms. Often, they will treat your condition by prescribing medications for heartburn, antidepressants to manage the pain, proton pump inhibiting medications to control excess stomach acid, or in extreme and intractable cases, recommend surgery.

Your doctor may also recommend some lifestyle changes that can help with the symptoms. Among them:

  • Avoiding triggers, such as foods that are very spicy or high in acid, alcoholic drinks, and any other foods that may irritate your esophagus or cause acid reflux.

  • Eating smaller meals more frequently.

  • Avoid eating two hours before bedtime, so you’re not digesting while lying down.

  • Losing weight if you need to, which can improve your digestion.

Esophageal spasm is a common and effectively treated condition in Chinese medicine. It’s frequently diagnosed as an imbalance called a disharmony between your Liver and Spleen. While that may sound complicated, it simply describes a pattern in which stress and emotional upsets override your digestion, causing a wide variety of symptoms, including esophageal spasms. While esophageal spasm is commonly diagnosed as a Liver and Spleen disharmony, it’s also frequently described as something called Plum Pit Qi. This apt name describes the sensation of having a lump in your throat the size of a plum pit, which doesn’t move, despite nothing being there.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine aren’t suggesting that this condition is all in your head. However, emotional upsets and chronic stress are a common factor that can cause or aggravate digestive problems, from loss of appetite to IBS. We have all felt a nervous stomach before a presentation or a big event, and scientists confirm that your brain and your gut are indeed connected. Your digestion is very reactive to emotions, from the sensation of butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous to the loss of appetite that comes with grief and emotional loss. Interestingly, this brain—gut connection moves both ways, in that stress, anxiety, or depression can cause digestive problems, however digestive problems can also cause stress, anxiety, or depression.

If you choose to treat your esophageal spasm with Chinese medicine, your practitioner will develop a treatment strategy specific to your unique history and symptoms. They will most likely work with you to smooth your emotions, support your digestion, and address any additional symptoms you may be having. In most cases, acupuncture would be the first line of treatment, as there are some very specific points and protocols that are effectively used for this condition.

Chinese herbs can also be a useful healing tool when it comes to treating esophageal spasm. One formula, Ban Xia Hou Po Tang, has been used since ancient times to relieve tightness and spasm in the throat, as well as to treat psychological distress. In addition, esophageal spasm is a condition that benefits from Chinese food therapy. The Chinese believe that food is medicine that you eat three times a day, and your practitioner can help you choose the foods that are the most appropriate for this diagnosis, suggest foods that support good digestion, and help you identify those that may aggravate or trigger your symptoms.

Esophageal spasm is not just something that’s all in your head; it’s a very real condition. Anxiety, stress, and emotional upsets are the underlying cause of a number of physiological changes in your body, especially when it comes to the connection between your brain and your gut. Acupuncture can be an effective treatment strategy for this condition for a number of reasons. It causes the release of feel-good and pain relieving neurotransmitters in your brain, it can help balance your stress hormones, regulate insulin, and promote good digestion.

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7 Things You Can Do To Help Or Hinder The Speed At Which You Heal

Heal Faster With Acupuncture Overland Park, KS - Eastern Healing Solutions

The healing process is an amazing thing. When you heal, damaged tissues regenerate, broken bones knit and grow back together, lungs recover after years of smoking, and even your brain forms new pathways after an injury. Despite traumatic injuries, illness, and everyday bumps and bruises, your body is programmed to heal.

Sometimes we forget that we’re hardwired to heal, especially if the process of getting better is taking longer than you think it should. The reality is that as you get older, you heal at a slower rate than when you were a child. In addition, the amount of trauma involved or severity of the illness, your overall health, and even the amount of pain you’re in can affect the rate at which your body heals.

The good news is that acupuncture can play an important role in speeding up your recovery in a number of ways. Researchers have found that it increases the amount of white blood cells locally where the needles have been placed, which acts to reduce inflammation. Acupuncture affects your brain chemistry to control pain through the increased circulation of your body’s own natural opioids. Furthermore, your overall circulation in enhanced by acupuncture, which clears out toxins and brings regenerative nutrients to the area of injury. Acupuncture can also help you keep your head in the healing game. It’s effectiveness in reducing stress and treating depression and anxiety is recognized through extensive research.

It’s also important to know that there are a number of things that you can do to help or hinder the speed at which you heal. Among them:

  1. Rest. Everything your body does, from thinking to digesting to moving your muscles takes energy, or Qi, and healing is no exception. Your body’s cells regenerate and recover while you’re resting or asleep, which is why it’s common to feel exhausted after a surgery or an illness. Give your body the time it needs to heal by conserving your energy through rest and getting enough hours of good sleep.

  2. Eat well. Not only is your body using a lot of energy to heal, but it also needs the building blocks to regenerate itself. That translates into eating as well as your appetite and digestion will allow. Getting adequate protein, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and plant-based fats are crucial. Also, don’t worry too much about gaining a couple of pounds while you’re recovering. Those pounds represent extra energy that you need to heal. There will be plenty of time to think about your weight when you’re up and moving around once again.

  3. Keep your spirits up. It’s easy to become frustrated, bored, fearful, stressed, and even depressed by your current state of health. It may be helpful to know that those feelings are common in people who are recovering from injury or illness. You may feel like you’ll never get better, worry about things that aren’t getting done, or think about how your life has been changed by your current state of health. It can be helpful to talk about your feelings to a family member, friend, or health professional. In addition, acupuncture can be an effective way to boost your mood, relieve stress, and deal with depression.

  4. Allow yourself the time to heal completely. It’s frustrating to feel like you will never heal, and you may feel the urge to test your body before it’s ready. In a word, don’t. Pushing too much too soon is a recipe for reinjuring yourself or reversing some of the progress you’ve already made. Give your body the time it needs to heal completely; you’ll be up and around soon enough.

  5. Don’t be a hero when it comes to pain. It’s incredibly difficult for your body to heal when you’re in a great deal of pain. If you’re hurting, talk to your doctor about pain medication, get some acupuncture, or try over the counter analgesics.

  6. Listen to what your body is telling you. It will tell you when you’re good to go. If you’re still feeling exhausted, in pain, or not feeling quite right, give things a rest. Your body is still healing.

  7. Tap into what complementary therapies have to offer. In addition to acupuncture, working with a massage therapist or physical therapist can be an effective way to speed up the healing process.

The bottom line is that how you care for yourself is an important component to getting better as quickly as possible. And when it comes to self-care, acupuncture can be a valuable healing tool. Your acupuncturist may add Chinese herbs, heat therapy, dietary changes, and bodywork to your treatments for the best results. A few acupuncture sessions can work wonders to relieve your pain, help you sleep better, reduce your stress, alleviate inflammation, and speed up your recovery process.

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