TCM and Football

Football Season is underway and did you know many top players keep themselves at peak performance with acupuncture?  

This recent article quotes one of my instructors, Matt Callison, LAc—an internationally recognized expert in acupuncture & cupping for sports medicine, on the benefits of acupuncture and cupping not just for injury recovery, but for prevention as well. His style of acupuncture is heavily influenced by a deep understanding of trigger points and muscle physiology.   

I attempted to produce a complete list of teams who use acupuncture, but after talking to some of the acupuncturists who work with these elite athletes, many consider acupuncture to be their “secret weapon” and don’t advertise who they work with for fear of another team or player “luring” them away! 

Football teams and many other sports of all levels utilize TCM to support top performance, as well as prevent and treat injury.

One of these fabulous acupuncturists is Lisa Ripi who manages a grueling schedule to care for players on 4 different teams! She uses Japanese-style acupuncture which is similar to what I was trained in. Dan Domingues, LAc is another one of those gems—he shares his role as the  team acupuncturist for the Buffalo Bills. 

Cupping is often a big part of these treatments—even National Geographic took notice in 2018  when James Harrison (then with the New England Patriots) shared his use of cupping and acupuncture. So odds are, your favorite teams probably have acupuncture and cupping in their arsenal as tools to recover quickly and be ready for the next game!

Did you know our own Robert Cecil, LAc has extensive training in Master Tung points (great for recovery from injury), and cupping (fabulous for both recovery from muscle strain and other injuries)? In fact, just one session of cupping can increase the range of motion of the treated muscle groups in athletes—and alongside other techniques, can greatly reduce recovery time after an injury. 

Acupuncture and cupping in combination with Frequency Specific Microcurrent treatments can target specific types of injured tissue to speed healing. So, regardless of if you are out on the field or cheering on your favorite players—remember we can help improve your performance!

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A frequent question we get in the clinic is “Can you get me off my diabetes medicine?" The simple answer is “no”.  Acupuncture and herbs alone are potent allies in healing, but especially with diabetes, the choices you make each day have far more impact than anything anyone can give you. The more complete answer is “it depends”: 

  • on how long you have been taking medication for diabetes 
  • if that medication includes insulin or not AND most importantly,
  • how willing you are to make changes in your diet and lifestyle 

It is also important to know that we cannot make changes to prescription medications, so it’s important to work with your doctor as well as your acupuncturist when you decide that you are ready to make the changes you need for better health.  

So why try acupuncture and TCM for diabetes?  

  • Acupuncture helps regulate metabolism, pancreatic function, and  blood sugar levels1. There is a growing body of research into the mechanism of action behind the stimulation of points classically indicated for diabetes showing measurable changes in hormone levels, gastric function, and peripheral circulation2. Many of our patients report using less insulin while undergoing acupuncture for other reasons, even when the treatment of diabetes isn’t the primary focus.
  • Neuropathy is one of the most felt and debilitating aspects of uncontrolled diabetes—and acupuncture is one of the best treatments for neuropathy—not only providing pain relief but helping the nerves and surrounding tissues to repair themselves in many cases3.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are not a “one-size fits all” treatment approach—each patient is unique and we chose our specific formulas and acupuncture points for each patient based on the presentation of the entire patient; not just a set cookie-cutter treatment. As a result, not only do we see the diabetes symptoms improve, the patient experiences better health overall. By choosing the right approach for each patient we avoid the spiral of “take this medication for this, and this medication for that, and this medication for the side effects of the first medication and yet another medication for the side effects of the second medication….” that so many patients experience.

Managing Diabetes IS possible—with the right lifestyle changes and supportive treatments!

Now as to the pesky diet and exercise thing:

If you continue to overload your body with too much of the wrong foods and not enough of the right exercise—even the best treatments and formulas, plus the medications your doctor prescribes—won’t be enough to keep the disease from progressing!

I highly recommend anyone who has diabetes or even a risk factor for diabetes (which is pretty much everyone) read “Why We Get Sick” by B. Bikman.  It’s a great book based on solid research that helps you understand what happens with diabetes and more importantly, what you can do to change it. If you need help getting off the sugar, we have amazing and compassionate coaching and nutrition partners who can help you!

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Sources:

1 Wang KX, Liang FX, Chen S, Luo ZH, Chen B, Chen ZQ, Zhang YL, Chen J, Gu XL, Zhou T, Yan P, Xu XY. Effect of electroacupuncture of "Biao-Ben" acupoints on renal function and hemorheology and eNOS level in patients with early diabetic nephropathy. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2022 Jan 25;47(1):46-52. Chinese. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.20210036. PMID: 35128870.

2 Wang H, Chen X, Chen C, Pan T, Li M, Yao L, Li X, Lu Q, Wang H, Wang Z. Electroacupuncture at Lower He-Sea and Front-Mu Acupoints Ameliorates Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Regulating the Intestinal Flora and Gut Barrier. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2022 Jul 30;15:2265-2276. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S374843. PMID: 35936053; PMCID: PMC9348137.

3 Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar;23(3):164-179. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0155. Epub 2017 Jan 23. PMID: 28112552; PMCID: PMC5359694.

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, at 2:00 am on Sunday, November 6th it will be time to dial our clocks back an hour as daylight savings time ends. Some of us can’t wait to fit in that extra hour of coveted sleep, while the rest of us are wondering what kind of cruel joke the universe is playing by completely throwing off our internal clocks. 

Whether we’re “springing back” or “falling forward”, the seasonal time changes can cause quite the disconnect between your body’s internal clock and your typical daily schedule. Sunlight helps to govern the physiological cues (or circadian rhythm) that tell your body when to sleep and when to wake up. Our sleep cycles and circadian rhythm can easily become disrupted by the change in daylight hours. These disruptions can affect much more than sleep—think mood, metabolism and weight loss, cardiovascular health, and alertness. With a few time-change survival tips for keeping your sleep schedule intact, you can escape the season unscathed: 

  1. Make an extra effort to be well rested in the week approaching the time change.  As with most things in life, a little extra rest can help you feel more prepared. Try going to bed 15-20 minutes earlier than usual the week before the time changes. This should help you feel less of a crash when it begins getting darker earlier. Melatonin can help ease this change as well; usually just for a couple of weeks after the time change is enough.
  2. Make a few small adjustments to your diet. Anything related to adjusting your diet can seem daunting, but don’t worry! We’re not asking you to make a major change here, but just enough to make it easier to fall asleep. Heavy digestive processes can disrupt your sleep quality, so try having your last meal of the day 3-4 hours before bedtime. Choose a light, healthy snack if you find it hard to fall asleep without eating something before bed. It is also important to consider caffeine and alcohol intake. These are both rather detrimental to quality sleep, so if you are going to consume either of the two, try to cut it off 4-6 hours before bed. Extra magnesium in your diet will help with sleep quality—if you can’t get enough from food, a good quality supplement can help.
  3. Put a curfew on your electronics! Electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, TVs, and tablets can wreak havoc on your internal clock. The blue light emitted from these devices mimics sunlight, which can further throw off our circadian rhythm by making us feel more alert and suppressing melatonin production. You’ll sleep more soundly by turning your devices off or placing them in another room while you sleep. If you MUST have devices on or nearby, try to not use them an hour before bed, or at the very least consider blue light-blocking glasses or a blue light-blocking app. 
  4. Stick to your schedule. Consistency in your work, eating, social, and sleep schedule is important in general, but it can also help you adjust more easily to the time change. It may take a few days to adjust, but overall you’ll feel less burdened by the shift in daylight hours.
  5. Don’t forget to squeeze in a little “me time”. Self-care should be a priority at all times of the year, but with the holidays approaching along with the shifts we experience during the time change, it’s doubly important. Self-care can be whatever feels the best to you: a hot bath, time with friends, exercise, or even a massage or acupuncture appointment. Taking good care of yourself can help you to take these changes in stride. 

It’s easy and rather normal to feel “a little off” as our bodies and internal clocks adjust to fewer daylight hours, but it’s easy to get back into the swing of things! Luckily, most folks find it easier to adjust to the shorter days of fall and winter than to the longer days of spring and summer. Remember these easy tips for keeping your sleep cycle in check and on the mend! And don’t forget: acupuncture is an excellent way to bring the body back to homeostasis, improve your quality of sleep, and boost your mood. If you need further help sleeping soundly and adjusting to the upcoming hustle and bustle, we’re here to help!

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One question we hear from patients quite often is, “If I’m getting acupuncture, is it ok to see the chiropractor?” or vice versa. Chiropractic care and acupuncture are actually rather complementary to one another! In fact, we have some exciting news: Beginning October 2022, we will have chiropractic care available at our Magnolia location with Dr. Nowelle Altman-Sigman!

Chiropractic care is a manual, hands-on treatment that focuses on correcting misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column. This is a viable treatment for those experiencing neck, back, or joint pain and for those suffering from headaches and neuromusculoskeletal problems. Chiropractic treatments are an effective, non-invasive and holistic approach to many ailments, providing pain relief and in many cases, relief from further issues stemming from blockages in the body caused by misalignment. Often, patients of chiropractic care also note improvements in quality of sleep, digestion, energy levels, and even mood. 

Acupuncture is an entirely different modality—using fine, sterile needles inserted at specific anatomical points on the body. While acupuncture treats a wide range of ailments by promoting the body’s natural healing abilities, releasing feel-good endorphins and restoring the body to homeostasis, it does have commonalities with chiropractic care. Both are holistic, drug-free options for care with a patient-centered approach that promotes natural healing and optimal health. Acupuncture and chiropractic care both share the objective of balancing the body’s structure and its support systems. 

When both acupuncture and chiropractic treatments are combined, you can expect to see more improvement over less time. While a chiropractic adjustment corrects the body’s structure and eliminates blockages in the body caused by misalignment, acupuncture further relaxes the muscles, reduces pain and inflammation, and assists the flow of energy through the body where these blockages once existed; more importantly, it helps the body adapt to and maintain its corrected structure.  

These two treatments working together offer an unmatched, supportive and holistic approach to pain relief. If you’d like to incorporate chiropractic care into your acupuncture routine we will begin offering treatments with Nowelle Altman-Sigman, DC starting October 2022! 

She will be available on Wednesdays at our Magnolia location and we couldn’t be more excited! Along with chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Nowelle Altman-Sigman will also offer craniosacral therapy, visceral manipulation, and functional medicine. For further information or to be added to her waitlist, call our office at 270-506-3853, and stay tuned to our website for more updates! 

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Let’s face it, acupuncture doesn’t always have the best public image. People think of Kungfu Panda or Pinhead—needles randomly poking everywhere. Or maybe they’ve been on Instagram and seen some photos and videos of poorly done dry needling (through clothing, dangerous needle placement over organs, etc) and equate that with acupuncture. Who wants to risk an infection or organ puncture—no thank you!  Then someone says they are going to stick needles in your ears and help you feel better—truly, I understand the skepticism!  Now, let me break down some of the mysteries. 

Acupuncture isn’t a singular practice. There are dozens of different systems and styles and a myriad of variations among those. Acupuncturists have many resources to address your issues with those tiny little needles. One of these systems is Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture. Amazingly the entire body, internal and external, including the emotions are reflected in the ear. 

Don’t believe it? Here are some photos and video of the changes one patient experienced after having her knees locked straight for years after her bilateral knee replacement. This immobility in her knees made it hard to walk, and uncomfortable to sit; caused problems in her knees, hips, back, and feet…and repeatedly she was told her case was hopeless. Even trying to force the knees to bend under sedation didn’t work. She originally came to see me for allergies (also resolved), but her knees were so clearly painful and her legs just stuck out straight even sitting on the edge of the chair. I asked her if I could see if some extra needles might help with the pain.

First visit-locked legs showing improvement
Immediate improvement!
Next visit-continued improvement!

She agreed. I placed a tiny 3mm long needle in just the right spot aiming to simply reduce her pain and within a few seconds the knee had bent a little and the pain was greatly reduced! Encouraged and amazed, I continued on. Another needle, another increase in range of motion. 3 needles and her knee had gained a visible range of motion. Fast forward 2 months—her knee was now bending even more, almost to 90 degrees if she really focused on it, with no pain and no further treatment. We then decided to do the same thing for the opposite knee…same result.  

An “impossible” case was getting nearly immediate and long-lasting relief. Sounds too good to be true, I get it!  This is why I love what I do. Changing people’s lives for the better without drugs and working with the body, instead of against it. And that’s the point, helping people live better, one person at a time.

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Acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions and help manage sleep, emotions and menstrual problems. There are several powerful acupuncture points on the ear and the body that can be used to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. Studies have shown acupuncture can reduce thyroid nodules, restore normal thyroid function and reduce the need for thyroid hormone supplementation1.

When it comes to lifestyle changes, a diet rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, and iodine helps support thyroid function; while certain foods known as goitrogens may interfere with thyroid hormone production and should be limited. These include cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts), peanuts, and soy. Stress-reducing exercises such as yoga or tai chi are also beneficial.

In a normal, healthy state—the thyroid gland secretes just the right amount of thyroid hormone to regulate almost all the metabolic processes in your body. Too much or too little of these vital body chemicals can drastically influence your health. With over 20 million Americans living with some form of thyroid disease, much attention has been given to the many ways that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can treat thyroid problems.

When your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can produce too much hormone (Hyperthyroidism) or too little (Hypothyroidism).

Hyperthyroidism:

  • Weight loss despite increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate, heart palpitations, higher blood pressure, nervousness, and excessive perspiration
  • More frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness, trembling hands
  • Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
  • Lighter or shorter menstrual periods

Hypothyroidism:

  • Lethargy, slower mental processes, or depression
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands
  • Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
  • Constipation, heavy menstrual periods or dry skin and hair

If you have a thyroid problem, call us for a consultation. A custom-tailored treatment plan will be created to suit your individual needs—so that you can feel better quickly and safely!

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Source:

1 Chen Q, Zhou J, Zhang X, Wang L, Yang B, Xia J, Zhong M, Tang X. Acupuncture for thyroid nodule treatment: A protocol of systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Oct 2;99(40):e22276. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000022276. PMID: 33019402; PMCID: PMC7535653.

Integrative medicine solutions including acupuncture and East Asian Medicine have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment providing pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms, and improving overall quality of life. In addition, acupuncture increases the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy for women with autoimmune conditions.

Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 100 serious chronic illnesses in this category including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison's disease, pernicious anemia, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain–Barré syndrome.

The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not entirely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. It is theorized that the inflammation initiated by these agents, toxic or infectious, somehow provokes in the body a "sensitization" (autoimmune reaction) in the involved tissues.

As the disease develops, vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, possible rashes or low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss. The following symptoms may indicate something wrong: numbness and tingling in hands and feet, dry eyes, hair loss, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or repeated miscarriages can also be caused by an autoimmune response.

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), more than 24 million people in the US have autoimmune diseases and another 8 million have autoimmune markers without a clear disease diagnosis. Of these, more than 80% are women. Each disease appears uncommon on an individual basis but, as a group, the disorders make up the fourth-largest cause of disability among women.

How Acupuncture Treats Autoimmune Disorders

According to East Asian Medicine theory, autoimmune disorders occur when there is an imbalance within the body systems related to immune functions. Imbalances can come from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of Qi through the body. While these explanations sound strange, when the model is applied to the body, the treatments are very effective. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance; treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.

Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, organ function, and parts of the brain. These responses help the body rebalance. As a result things like blood pressure, body temperature, and the immune system return to a more normal and healthy state.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine provide safe and effective options for the management of autoimmune conditions and improving quality of life. Please contact our office with any questions.

The products and statements made about specific products on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. All information provided on this web site or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a guarantee that you will achieve the same results.
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