During the winter months many people feel “down”. (I put “down” in quotes but it’s much more than that.) Quite a few of these people will feel hopeless and find it hard to even perform basic tasks. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, and it affects over 3 million people a year. SAD is more than just feeling like Eeyore, the donkey. It’s a condition on where the darker, gloomier days actually affect the neurotransmitters in your brain. People with this condition often take antidepressants to help manage the winter months. Other methods include tanning beds, sun lamps, vitamin D, and acupuncture!
Acupuncture can help your body actually change the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters. Many studies show this, but here is one study which shows it raised melatonin allowing for better sleep and reduced anxiety and depression. These studies are becoming more common and help to target points and herbs which will treat patients more effectively.
If you come to a group, or private, session, you will be asked you several questions related to how your depression or anxiety is affecting you. Information such as how you sleep, how your digestion is doing, and other things can help give you the best treatment. Acupuncture Today has a good article about some of the points used to treat SAD. We may use some of these points if you come in, or we may use others, it just depends on what comes up when we do your intake.
Our goal is to have you leave a treatment feeling better. Usually you can feel a difference after a treatment or two, but some may need more. Often I encourage people to continue coming to a few sessions to help the treatment “stick”. We’re working on long term changes for your body, so stopping as soon as you feel better may cause it to come back and lead to a yo-yo type effect where you receive a treatment, feel better, then a few days or weeks later, begin having depression again. We want the body to get used to it’s new “normal” so you feel better for longer; more treatments at the beginning help with this. At the end of your first visit we will suggest a treatment plan, and give you a timeline, usually 1-2 treatment for 3-6 weeks. At the end of this timeline we will reassess how you are doing and make a new recommendation. (Note:This is how we treat most conditions.) Our goal is to make it so you come to see us “as needed” rather than bi-weekly or weekly, although we wouldn’t mind seeing you that often.
As with any condition, we encourage you to have a doctor you see regularly to discuss your physical and mental health. In certain cases, we may even encourage you to see a counselor or other mental health provider. We want to ensure you are getting the best care and working towards a solution which works best for you. Feel free to contact us with any concerns or questions you may have, we look forward to serving you!
Acupuncturists use some pretty weird terms such as meridians, excess, deficient, or stagnation. Even more common maladies such as colds and the flu have their own special names. Typically when someone has a cold or the flu we say they have a wind-heat or wind-cold invasion. This sounds pretty strange, right? Let’s break down what these mean, but first some background:
Today if someone has a cold we usually assume it’s a viral infection. People take all sorts of remedies to shorten a cold, but usually it lasts 7-10 days (sometime it could be longer, depending on the person and the virus). Since acupuncture is thousands of years old, we know the people who started it didn’t know about viruses and bacteria. They used a different terminology to describe what they saw happening in the body and to describe the herbs used as treatments. They did this for everything in the body, not just the flu or a cold.
Wind-heat and wind-cold are a way to describe symptoms of the patient. Wind-heat is seen when the person has more of a fever, feels hot, also their sneeze, or cough, produces phlegm, or mucus, yellow in color.
Wind-cold shows up with more “cold” symptoms. Chills, and all phlegm, or mucus, is white or clear. It is usually more complicated than this, but these are just a few basic symptoms to give you an idea of what we’re looking for.
In acupuncture we have multiple ways to diagnose and treat a cold or the flu. There is one herbal formula for wind-heat, Yin Qiao San, and another for wind-cold, Gui Zhi Tang. Both of these have herbs, when analyzed, have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Other formulas we can use for these conditions have herbs which help with sore throats, coughs, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a cold or flu.
This is not meant to be a way for someone to diagnose themselves or to prescribe herbs for themselves. The best thing to do when you think you might be coming down with something is to rest, and drink a good cup of warm ginger tea.
As for acupuncturists, we do not mind seeing someone with a cold or the flu. If you can, come in and we can give you a quick treatment to help you feel better. We might even be able to give you some herbs that might relieve, or alleviate, your symptoms.
Stay healthy this spring!