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!
My husband is a runner. He’s been running on and off since he joined the Navy. Most recently he’s been training for a 10k to a half marathon in September. He does a lot of stretching and wears good shoes, but has a lot of stress on his knees. He’s also had some severe ankle injuries. Despite the care he takes, the strain and pressure work together to cause pain a lot of ankle and knee pain So, how do I help him keep his knees healthy?
First, I make sure he receives weekly treatments. Needles in various places on his body, help alleviate pain. Some points are specifically for the knees and ankles, while others will be for general health and wellness. I also add in some needles which help his muscles and tendons relax and get the rest they need. Lastlyt, I insert needles directly into his knee joint. This may sound painful, and sometimes it is a little achy, but overall he doesn’t even know they are there unless he looks. Then I will “moxa” his kne..
What is “moxa”? Glad you asked. Moxibustion, or moxa, is an herb, mugwort. There are many ways to use this herb and many forms it is processed into. What we use is a moxa stick. This is a ‘cigar’ which we peel the wrapper off of and light so the tip is burning. We place the lit end near, not on, the knee and heat the whole area. We continue to heat each knee with the moxa stick until the knee is pink and warm to the touch. Then we place the stick in a jar of salt to extinguish it and save it for next time. We try to do this daily.
So what does all this do for his knees?
The needling I do on his body is to help with his pain in general. From a more western medicine perspective the needles release endorphins. Endorphins are what makes you feel good. So, this will help him relax and will help ease the pain. Then the knee has a lot of cartilage which is very slow to heal. Also, the knee does not have a lot of blood flowing into the joint space to aid in healing the cartilage. So placing needles, and heating it with moxa, serves to aid in increasing the blood flowing to the joint space. It also serves to make the body “alert” to the injuries in the knee and begin the healing processes.
Using this multifaceted approach works well and he is able to continue running. His pain is reduced and I expect as time goes on his knees will begin to feel even better.
I treat my patients in this same manner. Many find acupuncture very effective for their joint issues. I will often encourage my patients to use moxa on their own joints, when it is applicable. This enables them to receive care on the days they are not getting a treatment. It also aids in their healing. If you are suffering joint pains, come in and we can evaluate the best methods of treatment for you. If you have questions, call me and we can talk about whether acupuncture is right for you!