TCM For Better Heart Health

Why are we so passionate about mental health at Raja Wellness? 

The link between mental health and cardiovascular health is quite significant. Stress, especially chronic psychological stress, has a profound impact on the cardiovascular system. When the “stress response” is activated, the body secretes glucocorticoids, epinephrine, and other hormones, while inhibiting the secretion of growth hormone, insulin, and reproductive hormones. The sympathetic nervous system is also activated, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure, among other physiological changes that divert blood to areas needed for immediate survival, such as the muscles and lungs, and away from non-essential areas like the gut and reproductive organs. This response is adaptive in the short term, but chronic activation due to chronic stress can lead to serious cardiovascular issues such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and myocardial ischemia.

This connection between mental health and cardiovascular health highlights the intricate intertwining of psychological and physiological factors. The body's response to chronic stress can have detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system, emphasizing the importance of managing and addressing mental health to promote overall well-being, including cardiovascular health.

Acupuncture has many benefits for cardiovascular health:

1. Stress Reduction: Stress is a known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Acupuncture has been shown to modulate the body's stress response, potentially reducing the impact of stress on the heart and blood vessels.

2. Blood Pressure Regulation: Studies indicate that acupuncture may help in regulating blood pressure. By targeting specific acupuncture points, practitioners aim to optimize blood circulation and blood pressure levels, contributing to better cardiovascular function.

3. Inflammation Management: Chronic inflammation is closely linked to cardiovascular conditions. Acupuncture may exert anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing the systemic inflammation associated with heart disease.

4. Enhanced Circulation: The stimulation of acupuncture points is believed to enhance microcirculation, improving blood flow to vital organs including the heart. Enhanced circulation can promote heart health and overall cardiovascular function.

5. Complementary Therapy: Acupuncture is often used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatments for cardiovascular issues. It may help alleviate symptoms, improve overall well-being, and enhance the effects of standard cardiovascular care.

While acupuncture has clear benefits for cardiovascular health, we recommend individuals consult healthcare professionals before integrating acupuncture into their treatment regimen. Moreover, acupuncture alone may not be enough for people dealing with chronic stress. 

Learning to manage our stress is a key part of maintaining heart health—and that’s where professional mental health care is so important as part of your overall wellness. 

Herbal formulas also play an important role in heart health. Many formulas have been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood lipid levels, decrease inflammation, and increase peripheral circulation. For example, Clear Mind Formula is one of my favorite herbal formulas for heart health, especially here in Kentucky because of its natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties. This is a raw herbal concoction that we make in-house. We do recommend consulting with a trained herbalist before incorporating any herbal remedies into your care plan. 

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For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 270-506-3853 today!


References:

1. Wayne PM, Kaptchuk TJ. Challenges inherent to t'ai chi research: part II-defining the intervention and optimal study design. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008;14(2):191-197.

2. Fu, C., Zhao, N., & Liu, Z. (2013). Chronic pain: acupuncture and related therapies. Springer Science & Business Media

3. Chen J, Ye C, Yang Z, Zhang C, Li P, Xu B, Wu A, Zhang X, Xue X. Erchen decoction to reduce oxidative stress in dyslipidemia phlegm-dampness retention syndrome mice: In vivo mechanism revealed by metabolomics (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry). Phytomedicine. 2023 Jul;115:154808. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2023.154808.

Raja Wellness is proud to introduce our new Book Club: Soulful Story Sessions!

In each interactive group session, we explore the lessons of various classic texts and how they apply to ourselves—and the world at large!

This is a unique opportunity to review a self-reflection provoking book with the guidance of our psychotherapist—Brian Miller, LCSW, to dive deeper into the lessons offered!

The first group will be reading “I Thought It Was Just Me” by Brene Brown and will be meeting weekly to explore the lessons learned and “aha’s” for each weeks reading.

We hope to see you there!

   

Mental health is crucial to our physical health and many times people suffer excessively feeling isolated and alone in their struggles. In the last couple of years, the number of patients struggling with their mental health or the mental health of a family member has grown significantly. Worse, the number of youth struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts seems to be growing exponentially with more families feeling lost and alone trying to support their loved ones.

Suicide is the second most common cause of death among people ages 10-24. From 1990-2015 teen suicide rates were up 15% but from 2020-2021 they went up again by more than 50% and continued to increase in 2022 and 2023. Self-harm has increased as well. We hope that by bringing awareness to this disturbing trend and offering support to the community, we can help change this pattern.

We will be offering a support group for family members of those struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts—primarily parents and caregivers (other family members may be allowed on a case-by-case basis). This group will meet on Tuesdays at 6 pm at Raja Wellness Elizabethtown. 

 I asked our psychotherapist, Brian Miller, to offer some suggestions for family members: 

    Suicide is a very complex issue to try to manage and can be filled with emotions. The first thing that most people need to understand is that it is alright not to know what to do or how to respond to the situation. It takes mental health professionals time to understand how complex and nuanced it is and to be comfortable talking with clients about the issue. There are many levels of suicidal behaviors including passive, active, and self-harm i.e. cutting or burning. Passive is thoughts that you would be better off dead or “not here anymore” and active is making a plan and beginning to work out how to carry out that plan. 

The key is communication, being open to talking about this with your loved one, and being ready to hear what they have to say—without judgment. If someone in your life makes suicidal statements or engages in self-harming behaviors it is important to talk about it openly and honestly, ignoring it will not make it go away. Do not be afraid to ask them if they are feeling suicidal or are having suicidal thoughts, you will not be placing those thoughts in their mind— they are probably there already. 

The next step is to have them screened for suicidality by a professional as there are many levels of self-harm and there are interventions that can be started to manage the issue. There are many resources for people to access 24 hours a day for the risk of suicide including 988 hotlines and others and this can lead to local resources that can help. You can also reach out to Raja Wellness and I can assist with what steps can be taken next. Parenting is not easy and often you feel isolated and alone—but remember you are not and there are people that want to help

By: Brian Miller, LCSW

After enjoying a delicious meal, we may be tempted to kick back and relax. However, emerging research suggests incorporating a brisk walk into your post-meal routine can offer numerous health benefits. From improved digestion to better blood sugar control, the advantages of walking after eating are backed by scientific evidence!

Enhanced Digestion:

One of the primary benefits of walking after eating is improved digestion. Physical activity helps stimulate the digestive system, encouraging the efficient breakdown of food. A study published in the "Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases" found that post-meal walks accelerated the rate at which food moved through the stomach and intestines, reducing feelings of bloating and discomfort.1

Blood Sugar Regulation:

Walking after a meal may contribute to better blood sugar control, especially for individuals with or at risk of type 2 diabetes. A study in the "Diabetes Care" journal demonstrated that a short, 15-minute walk after each meal significantly lowered post-meal blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.2

Weight Management:

Incorporating walking into your post-meal routine may contribute to weight management. A study published in the "Journal of Physical Activity and Health" found that individuals who engaged in post-meal walks experienced reduced blood triglyceride levels, which are associated with improved metabolism and weight control.3

Mental Well-being:

Physical activity, including walking, has been linked to improved mood and reduced stress levels. Taking a short stroll after a meal can help combat feelings of lethargy and promote a sense of well-being. A review in the "British Journal of Sports Medicine" highlights the positive impact of physical activity on mental health.4

Sometimes, walking may not be an option, and that’s ok! The subtle strength of any low-impact exercise offers wonderful benefits and is accessible to individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Low-impact exercises such as using a rebounder or simply bouncing in place for 2 minutes can offer similar physical and mental health benefits!

The evidence supporting the benefits of walking after eating is compelling. From aiding digestion and regulating blood sugar to contributing to weight management and mental well-being, taking a post-meal stroll or even bouncing in place is a simple yet effective way to enhance overall health!

Incorporating this habit into your daily routine may lead to long-term positive outcomes, making it a small step with significant health rewards.

Sources

  1. Phillips SF, Camilleri M, Hanson RB. Relationship of Satiety and Postprandial Transit Time to Gastric Emptying in Normal Controls. Dig Dis Sci. 1990;35(7):849-852.
  1. Colberg SR, Zarrabi L, Bennington L, Nakave A, Thomas Somma C, Swain DP, Sechrist SR. Postprandial Walking is Better for Lowering the Glycemic Effect of Dinner than Pre-Dinner Exercise in Type 2 Diabetic Individuals. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2009;10(6):394-397.
  1. Gill JM, Herd SL, Hardman AE. Moderate-intensity walking produces cardiovascular benefits for obese adults. J Sports Sci Med. 2002;1(2):51-57.
  1. Stanton R, Reaburn P. Exercise and the Treatment of Depression: A Review of the Exercise Program Variables. J Sci Med Sport. 2014;17(2):177-182.

It’s looking like Newvember with all the great changes we have coming!

Raja Wellness welcomes Fielding Carroll, LAc!  Those of you coming in to see us for allergy treatments recently have probably already met Fielding. Fielding is a native Kentuckian and a classmate of mine from Acupuncture school. I am happy to welcome him aboard to our team! He’s been diligently learning the nuances of SAAT (our specialty acupuncture technique for alleviating allergies of all kinds that was pioneered by Dr. Soliman). In addition to his focus on mastering this new technique, he brings a wealth of experience in the treatment of digestive disorders and health coaching embracing food as the first medicine and foundation of better health! In addition to offering acupuncture services, personalized nutritional coaching is also available with Fielding. 

Raja Wellness gets its name from yoga, specifically Raja Yoga, the level of practice where the mind, body, and spirit are healthy and aligned. In that spirit, we are proud to announce that in addition to the Equine Gestalt Coaching through our sister organization Rowdy Cowgirl Coaching, we will be offering in-house mental health care with Brian Miller, LCSW. Brian brings years of experience in different types of therapeutic modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Logotherapy, Talk Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and many, many others.

Brian has a passion for helping others and as a veteran, personal insight into how important mental health care is to our overall well-being. He will be seeing clients in person at our Elizabethtown location on Mondays and in our Magnolia location on Fridays beginning in December. In addition, telehealth sessions will be available for patients. Sessions are self-pay only to start. Brian will be leading our “Nurturing the Caregiver” support group helping patients maintain a balance of caring for themselves while taking care of others. All are welcome to this group. This group will meet on Mondays at our Elizabethtown location starting Jan 8, 2024. For more information or to sign up, give our office a call at 270-506-3853.

Fall wellness is a frequent topic for us—as the days get shorter and colder, it’s important to fuel our immune systems with adequate rest, plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and to reduce junk foods from our diet. Our gut and immune systems are intimately intertwined and for some people, probiotic support may be helpful in addition to meditation, immune-supporting herbs, and preventative acupuncture care. 

As we move forward toward 2024, we want to let our patients know our prices will be going up. We strive to offer a range of services at affordable prices and as part of that commitment, we are announcing this change early to give patients the option to “stock up” on treatments at our current price. All patients currently scheduled will pay the price at the time their service was booked. Current patients can pre-pay up to 5 visits each at our current rates, but those visits must be used before Mar 31, 2024. Our new prices will go into effect Dec 1, 2023 for all visits booked after that date. 

In addition, you will see some new options in our services including nutrition coaching with Fielding, FSM-only treatments, BrainTap sessions & Glow sessions (combined light therapy & FSM for renewed skin). With those new options, we are also testing out some membership options, giving patients access to a select combination of treatments monthly at a reduced cost for members. Watch your emails for early access to these!

Our online store is also coming back soon with some changes!

At Raja Wellness, we continually strive to make your shopping experience as easy and affordable as possible.

CBD is legal in all 50 states, yet some banks and credit card processors impart their judgments on access to these legal products by refusing to process transactions involving the sales of CBD products of any kind. Their oversight unfortunately incorrectly flagged our blog about the health benefits of CBD for osteoporosis as a “product for sale” and our processor held our funds and thus forced us to stop using them as a processor. This has been a gray area for many years and is one of the reasons you see CBD in our offices but not in our online store. Unfortunately, the list of companies that allow this is very short. Please bear with us as we continue to search for a more fair, CBD-friendly payment processor that also allows us to offer you the best prices and convenience.

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how acupuncture and TCM helps men’s health; and to remind men that they need to take care of themselves too. Statistically men are less likely than women to seek health care and married men tend to see the doctor more often than single men, but still less often than women (even accounting for pregnancy needs). One of the biggest complaints I hear from male patients is they are too busy or they don’t want to walk out with another pill to take. 

I started this with a search of “top reasons men go to the doctor” and could only find research and articles on why men should go to the doctor—it seems we haven’t really looked at why they do go when they do in much detail. I did find this gem from The Cleveland Clinic and their support of the MENtion It Campaign—an initiative to encourage men to seek care. Despite the fact that the majority of men want better health to care for their families, less than half of those who listed that as a priorit, seek regular care. 

The top reasons why? They don’t want to know they have to make a lifestyle change, or fear of finding out what they have. We get it—but there are better options than neglecting your health. And if you don’t want to take a pill when things are going wrong, yes, you will need to make a change.  But aren’t you and your family worth it? So if you have an issue—MENtion It! We are here to listen.

One advantage acupuncture has over other options is we treat the whole body during a session—you may be coming in for back pain or knee pain, but we will also be addressing sleep, digestion, immune function, endocrine balance and more. If you think about it, it is truly a great value! Similarly, our approach using herbal formulas is to select a formula that addresses as many issues at once as possible—so you can take one thing and have multiple issues get better.  And unlike just treating a symptom, when we are able to get to the root of the problem, and as a result, you feel better and stay that way even without being on herbs all the time.

Menopause gets a lot of notice, but did you know men go through a similar process called Andropause? First written about in 1946, a landmark paper in JAMA entitled, “The Male Climacteric” characterized it with nervousness, reduced potency, decreased libido, irritability, fatigue, depression, memory problems, sleep disturbances, and hot flushes. Hypogonadism is broad scientific term and it refers to a “clinical syndrome caused by androgen deficiency, which may adversely affect multiple organ functions and quality of life.”1  Decreasing testosterone levels are linked to a number of disease processes and shorter life-span. The traditional approach is supplemental testosterone, but acupuncture and traditional East Asian herbal medicine have also been shown to regulate testosterone levels in the body, improve mood, sleep, endocrine function and cardiovascular health.

Speaking of hearth heath—statistically 1 in 4 men will die of heart disease and it’s complications. Men tend to develop heart disease earlier in life than women and are less likely to make the lifestyle changes necessary to reverse heart disease. Coronary artery disease is one of the most common forms of heart disease among men and responds incredibly well to lifestyle and diet changes. Tons of this research can be found here.

JAMA: Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease

If you made it this far into the article, congratulations! As a thank you for being loyal reader, use the code “mentionit” for 10% off you next order from our website. Discount code valid 6/15/23 - 7/15/23. Not valid with other offers, not valid for gift cards. Other restrictions may apply.

Did you know half of men who have heart attacks have no symptoms before it happens? Or perhaps, didn’t know they were having symptoms. One of the earliest signs of heart disease is erectile dysfunction. Another early sign of heart disease is new onset anxiety2. Mental health issues and heart disease are often tangled together and in many cases of anxiety being caused by low grade (not yet detectable) heart disease, the typical anxiety medications don’t work well. Acupuncture is very effective for both mental health and cardiovascular health—and as we mentioned above, can address both issues in the same sessions!

Last, but not least is prostate health. Benign Prostate Hyperplasia responds very well to acupuncture and herbal therapies3. Acupuncture can increase urinary output, reduce the size of the prostate, and beyond hyperplasia is effective for treating Prostatitis as well. 

Harvard Study on Acupuncture Relieving Prostatitis Symptoms

These results tend to be long-lasting after the initial course of treatment. Prostatitis alone is responsible for over 2 million doctors visits a year, and is often recurring and has no clear cause. So even if we can’t convince you to see your doctor once a year (yet), schedule an appointment with one of our acupuncturists, check out our online resources, and remember—Dads are an important part of the family and it’s important they get the care they need so they can take care of others!


1 Singh P. Andropause: Current concepts. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Dec;17(Suppl 3):S621-9. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.123552. PMID: 24910824; PMCID: PMC4046605.

2 Celano CM, Daunis DJ, Lokko HN, Campbell KA, Huffman JC. Anxiety Disorders and Cardiovascular Disease. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Nov;18(11):101. doi: 10.1007/s11920-016-0739-5. PMID: 27671918; PMCID: PMC5149447.

3 Zhang W, Ma L, Bauer BA, Liu Z, Lu Y. Acupuncture for benign prostatic hyperplasia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017 Apr 4;12(4):e0174586. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174586. PMID: 28376120; PMCID: PMC5380320.

May is a month loaded with great awareness campaigns—most of which we see routinely in our clinic: Lyme, Mental Health, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Celiac Disease. Two of those are largely genetic—Celiac Disease and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome—and while we can’t change your genes, acupuncture, herbs, and appropriate nutritional support can greatly improve the quality of life for patients with these conditions. 

Our favorite supplements for Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome are available below; but please note these options are not all vegan or gluten-free so please contact our office for help choosing replacement products for this protocol if you need to avoid mammal or gluten:

Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance—What’s the Difference?

As far as Celiac Disease, there is a wide range of experiences: from those with an allergy to gluten creating the sensitivity, to those with true Celiac disease who simply won’t be able to effectively process gluten, to those who aren’t allergic—but react to the lectins in gluten and have an inflammatory response to these grains. While conventional thinking says allergies can only be managed and not treated, we are seeing people’s allergies actually go away (even as measured with IgE in the bloodwork) as a result of a highly specialized technique called “Soliman’s Auricular Allergy Treatment” pioneered by Dr. Nader Soliman, MD, LAc. While this technique is most widely known for helping people with alpha-gal allergies (an allergy to a carbohydrate found in mammal products triggered by tick bites) it actually is effective for most allergies. 

We have helped people with nut allergies, dairy allergies, animal allergies, and even severe environmental allergies—not just pollen, dust, and molds, but more rare allergies such as sunlight and water! Gluten allergies also respond very well to this treatment; which brings me back to my earlier point about allergies vs. genetic limits vs. inflammatory response to other elements of gluten. For someone coming in with just a gluten allergy, this treatment will normally allow them to eat gluten without a reaction if they had a measurable IgE response to gluten in the past, and in many cases, this will disappear.  Those with a genetic intolerance (what we refer to as “true Celiac”) still can’t eat gluten routinely after SAAT, but if they are accidentally exposed to gluten, they report that the reactions are greatly reduced. A similar effect is reported among those with lectin intolerance; they can’t always eat as much as they want, but small amounts and cross-contamination don’t cause the severe reactions they used to have.

For those with true Celiac—the reduced reactivity is a welcome relief; allowing them more options to enjoy meals with friends and family who may not realize what “gluten-free” really means even with the best intentions. For example, many people know that wheat has gluten, but they don’t realize most beers contain gluten. Foods like soy sauce and many spice blends contain small amounts of gluten as well, and for people with Celiac disease, even small amounts can create distressing reactions. Worse yet, labeling requirements are very bad in the US and many products contain unlabeled sources of gluten! In more severe cases, even topical exposure to gluten through lotions, soaps, or hair care products can create a reaction (though so far those reactions seem to be greatly reduced even in the most severe cases after SAAT). 

Have someone in your life who needs to be gluten-free?

We created this handy guide of safe foods and hidden sources of gluten for reference!


The Hidden Cost of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease may be one of the most pervasive and least frequently diagnosed conditions in the US. The current standard test, the ELISA test is estimated to be 70% accurate, but some independent testing has shown the current standard of combining an ELISA test with a Western Blot Test (which is reported to be 99% accurate) may be off more than 50% of the time, especially in cases of neurological Lyme. Worse yet, most doctors haven’t read the research about how a history of concussion or whiplash can make someone up to 80% more likely to develop chronic neurological Lyme because of damage to the blood-brain barrier. If there are other underlying chronic pathogens such as Epstein Barr Virus or Covid, those numbers very quickly get much worse. Diagnoses of Lyme Disease from Columbia University Medical Center

So in a month of Mental Health Awareness—why am I writing about misdiagnosed Lyme? 

“People with psychiatric disorders related to Lyme disease may experience symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog, rage, sleep disturbances, Bipolar disorder, and more. The longer that Lyme disease goes untreated, the more likely a patient is to develop these symptoms and disorders.” 

The Effects of Lyme Disease, igenex.com

Chronic Lyme can also cause autonomic neuropathy. In these cases, the range of symptoms that can emerge is extremely broad and often leaves providers perplexed because the usual tests for those conditions will all be “normal”. Autonomic Neuropathy, Medscape

Arguably this subject can fill a book (one that I am working on) but suffice to say, many of the treatment strategies that are key to recovering from Lyme are beneficial for mental health, even in the absence of Lyme. Without going too far down into the weeds, it’s important to feed the body real food, minimize sugars (even hidden sugars like grains and breads), focus on nutrient-dense veggies for about 70% of your diet, and then find a balance of grains, fruits, and meats for the remaining 30% that keeps you feeling good. The same goes for mental health—better nutrition supports better mental health. In addition, nutrition to support the mitochondria in the cells can make a huge difference. Some of our favorites can be found here:

Feeling overwhelmed with how to eat healthy? Check out our free Facebook group, Raja Wellness Ways to Health for recipes, tips, inspiration, and to share those techniques that work for you! 

Need one-on-one support? Clean Good Eats is a great resource—they have group classes on healthy cooking, or you can reach out to Dr. Sakinah Bunch for private coaching. 

Yours in Health,

Jenny-Marie

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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