What is pain?

Pain Is Just Stagnation

 

When dealing with chronic, debilitating pain, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the emotions and feelings that long-lasting pain can create in the body. We can become entrenched in our stories behind the pain, the “what ifs,” and the possible self-victimization tied up with it. 

 

But what if I told you that the root cause of pain was simply stagnation? 

 

Beneath the fears, worries, and stories bound up in your personal pain, qi and blood stagnation lie at the core.  If you can think of pain in terms of stagnation or blockages, then dealing with pain becomes more manageable. Why? 

 

Because qi and blood stagnation CAN be moved, regardless of the story hidden behind the pain itself.

 

So let’s unpack this idea of stagnation a bit. What exactly do qi stagnation and blood stagnation mean? 

 

It’s easiest to think of qi as the energy force that moves us and holds us together. When qi circulates, blood circulates. If qi is stagnant, blood becomes stagnant because there is no energy to move it around (Sun, 2007).

 

800 years ago, Li Dong Yuan, a famous Chinese physician wrote:  

 

“Tong zhi bu tong. Bu tong zhi tong.“  If there is free flow, there is no pain. 

 

How does this play into our experience of pain in the body? 

 

Qi stagnation is characterized by dull pain and pain that moves around (including pain that is referred to other places). Some of you have experienced this in the clinic when we’ve chased the pain from one area of your neck to another by using distal needles in your legs. 

 

Blood stagnation is characterized by pain that gets worse with pressure and doesn’t move around. Since qi stagnation often provokes blood stagnation, both pain pictures can exist at the same time, explaining why pain can sometimes feel localized, and at other times refer to other places (Yajuan, 2009). 

 

To illustrate, let’s use a scenario we see all the time in the clinic:  You’ve had a really stressful month at work and you’ve stopped your daily exercise routine, spending most of your time sitting at your office desk. Your body starts feeling tight and tense. Frustration and agitation start to appear, as well as a dull, gnawing pain in your shoulders and neck, where you hold the tension.  The longer this goes on, the worse it gets. Now imagine this happening for years of your life!

 

What We Can Do About It + Western Medicine’s Take

 

Acupuncture is a powerful tool that can help MOVE stagnation.  It promotes the movement of qi in a direct, subtle, and impactful way. 

 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have been around for more than 8,000 years.  This ancient practice continues to be used and is recognized today as a viable tool for addressing pain at its “root” as well as its symptomatic “branches.” 

 

At Boulder East West Acupuncture we still sometimes get asked, “Does acupuncture really work?” or “Is acupuncture even recognized as a legitimate health option in the U.S.?” 

 

Although acupuncture is one of the most ancient health therapeutics on the planet, Western Medicine has only recently begun to recognize its virtues. 

 

And it happens to be particularly good at dealing with the reduction of pain, both acute and chronic. Acupuncture has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be a safe and effective modality for managing many different types of pain conditions.  It is being accepted by more and more insurance companies who see it as a cost saving measure that can keep people from becoming dependent on pharmaceutical pain killers.

 

Plus its methodology is fully recognizable from biomedical and physiologic perspectives (Fan et al., 2017). Acupuncture has been medically recognized to promote blood flow (which affects pretty much everything from hormones to nutrients we absorb from our food and beyond), stimulate neurotransmitters (aka helping to “rewire your brain”), relax muscles and tendons, and even promote the release of oxytocin and endorphins (our “feel-good” hormones).

 

So even though the root of acupuncture might discuss difficult to measure things like “qi” and “energy,” there are actual physiologic changes happening that Western medicine is beginning to understand and acknowledge.

 

Contact the Boulder East West Acupuncture & Wellness Center for more information on how you can take care of your pain with acupuncture.

 

Any other topics you’d like me to cover in future newsletters?  Reach out to me at dr.aQui@bouldereastwestacu.com

 

REFERENCES

 

Fan, A.Y., Miller, D.W., Bolash, B., Bauer, M., McDonald, J., Faggert, S., … & Pang, J. (2017). Acupuncture’s role in solving the opioid epidemic: Evidence, cost-effectiveness, and care availability for acupuncture as a primary, non-pharmacologic method for pain relief and management-white paper 2017. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 15(6), 411-425. http://doi.org/10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60378-9 

 

Scheid, V. (2013). Depression, constraint, and the liver: (Dis)assembling the treatment of emotion-related disorders in Chinese medicine. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 37(1), 30-58. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-012-9290-y 

 

Sun, P. (2007). Management of postoperative pain with acupuncture. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Limited.

 

Yajuan, W. (2009). Micro-acupuncture therapeutics. Micro-acupuncture in practice. http://doi.org/10.1016/B978-044306732-7.50026-X 

 

Leaky What?? Leaky Gut!

Leaky What?? Leaky Gut!

If you’ve ever dealt with digestive woes, you’ve probably heard the phrase “leaky gut”. Leaky gut syndrome has become a trendy, catch-all diagnosis for many gut-related issues and digestive imbalances. The name, however, can be slightly misleading.

Leaky gut typically refers to increased permeability of the intestinal walls. This occurs when the tight junctions of our epithelial cells become looser, or “leaky” (Byers, n.d.).

But is the gut actually “leaky”? Not exactly… Believe it or not, intestinal permeability is actually a normal phenomenon. In their natural, healthy state our intestines are selectively permeable membranes. They choose what to take in and what to keep out so that we can properly absorb nutrients in our food. Nutrition would not actually occur if your gut was completely impermeable (Yarnell, 2011).

When leaky gut begins it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden the gut is leaking all of its contents out into our bloodstream. What it means is that key junctions in the gut’s membrane are actually functioning poorly, allowing more substances to cross over into our bloodstream than normal. The gut membrane has become hyperpermeable.  This can be caused by a combination of possible triggers.

While leaky gut syndrome is just starting to be professionally researched, we are just starting to demystify what is really going on in that dark, secretive gut of ours.  Since leaky gut’s actual mechanisms are just starting to be understood the term is often used to describe a set of symptoms that indicates an underlying imbalance in the body.

Other Possible Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Another reason why leaky gut syndrome can be so confusing is that not everyone’s symptoms looks the same. The label “leaky gut,” often encases a broad array of different digestive symptoms including gas, bloating, abdominal distention, diarrhea, constipation, and more.

It all starts in the gut, and what starts in the gut doesn’t usually stay in the gut.

Digestive issues are often connected to other symptoms that we can experience throughout the rest of the body.

Common symptoms experienced alongside digestive issues include: headaches, chronic fatigue, brain fog, memory impairment, lowered immunity, joint pain, skin rashes, anxiety, depression, and many others.

Additionally, the gut has its own nervous system. It produces 80% of our serotonin for example, and communicates with other organs and systems in the body (particularly the brain) which can lead to a cascade of potential issues further down the road.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

Like most health conditions, the direct triggers of leaky gut are always unique to the individual and can vary substantially from person to person.

Common triggers that can impact leaky gut-type symptoms in the body include: STRESS (this is a big one!!), medications, NSAIDS (ibuprofen in particular), antacids, oral birth control pills, alcohol, infections (viral, bacterial, and fungal), impaired liver function, and food sensitivities.

What Can YOU Do About It?

Here’s some good news:

If you struggle with leaky gut, there is hope!

Your gut can be repaired using completely natural methods. Be forewarned, however, healing the gut isn’t usually an instant fix and will require a healthy amount of personal diligence in identifying and addressing your own triggers.

At our clinic we have found Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to be very effective support for your journey back to health.

One of the first things we try to do is to get you out of the stress response and into the relaxation response.   

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have the potential to get you unstuck from the fight or flight conditioning courtesy of our modern world.  

When we finally get unstuck, our bodies are able to self-organize and we are finally able to self-heal.   

In our clinic we use specific nutritional therapeutics that have been proven to restore healthy gut function. L-glutamine and zinc are two that play essential roles in helping rebuild the lining of the gut by modifying the tight junctions of the intestinal walls.

All Disease Begins In The Gut

Hippocrates said it long ago: “all disease begins in the gut.”  As we learned in this article, leaky gut symptoms don’t only present in the gut itself, but can affect our cognition, emotions, and even our sleep!

Curious to learn more about leaky gut syndrome? Looking for support with your digestive issues? Contact the Boulder East West Acupuncture & Wellness Center for more information and to schedule an appointment.

 

References

Byers, S. (n.d.). What is “leaky gut syndrome”? Retrieved from: https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/sites/default/files/stephen_byers_-_leaky_gut.pdf

Holmes, P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs (Vol 1). Boulder, Co: Lotus Press.

Yarnell, E. (2011). Natural approach to gastroenterology. East Wenatchee, WA: Healing Mountain Publishing, Inc.

The Colorado sun is very powerful. Protect yourself with these basic pieces of advice from EWG.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US  – more than 2 million Americans are diagnosed every year, it’s 15% higher in Colorado than the rest of the nation.  A 2004 survey found that 45.1% of white adults in Colorado had at least one sunburn in the past year. 1

So before you head out, check out EWG’s 2014 Sunscreen Guide to find top-rated sunscreens.

Sunscreens are NOT created equal!

I pulled these reactions from an email from EWG.  Hilarious.

1. No spray sunscreens!

Convenient, but they may pose serious risks if inhaled and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.

No spray sunscreens!

2. Super-high SPFs (SPF 50 or higher) are not your friend.

SPF – sun protection factor – refers only to protection against UVB radiation and has little to do with protecting you from UVA rays – the ones that accelerate skin aging and have been linked to skin cancer.

Super-high SPFs (SPF 50 or higher) are not your friend.

3. Oxybenzone can mimic estrogen.

That’s right, estrogen. A number of sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates skin, gets into the bloodstream and may act like estrogen in the body! It can also trigger allergic reactions.

Oxybenzone can mimic estrogen.

4. Retinyl palmitate may harm your skin.

On sun-exposed skin, the retinyl palmitate found in some sunscreens has been shown to speed development of skin tumors and lesions.

Retinyl palmitate may harm your skin.

5. Skip sunscreen/bug repellent combos.

Studies suggest that in some cases chemicals that filter harmful ultraviolet rays can interact with insect repelling chemicals in ways that decrease sunburn protection. Also, if you apply these products every two hours (as you should for proper sun protection!), you may be overexposed to the repellent chemicals.

Skip sunscreen/bug repellent combos.

6. Keep away from sunscreen powders and towelettes.

Even the FDA’s weak sunscreen rules bar these products! Their level of protection is quite dubious.

Keep away from sunscreen powders and towelettes.

7. Seriously – no tanning oils!

Tanning oils are just a bad idea. They barely – if at all – protect you from the sun.

Seriously – no tanning oils!

Donate!


The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The EWG Action Fund is a legislative advocacy organization that uses EWG research to promote healthy and sustainable policies.

HEADQUARTERS 1436 U St. NW, Suite 100 | Washington, DC 20009 | (202) 667-6982

1.  http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/doc/co_facts_print.pdf

Mother’s Day Giving Day

Please help us help the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence.

Next Saturday (May 10th) I’m teaming up with Samhitta Jones and Community Acupuncture Boulder to raise money for the Safehouse Alliance. $40 for 1-hour acupuncture sessions. All proceeds go to the Safehouse. Please spread the word!

Call to make an appointment!  303-828-6759

Call to make an appointment! 303-828-6759

21 Day Spring Detox Program

Spring DetoxEastern Medicine believes that in order to return to optimal health we need to cleanse our bodies each spring and fall. It’s still cold outside, but spring is coming.

Boulder East West Acupuncture and Community Acupuncture Clinic are teaming up to offer you a 21 day detox program that combines acupuncture, foot reflexology, and some amazing cutting-edge nutritional support. It’s all designed to clean out your gastrointestinal system, assist in detoxifying your liver, and reduce overall inflammation.

The 21 Day Spring Detox Program will begin on March 22nd and continue to April 13th. Email ACUaQui@gmail.com or call 303-828-6759 to reserve your spot or with questions about the program.

Check back for more details as we get closer to the start of the program.