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Seasonal food recommendations for the fall

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017 by Mariano

After the warmth of summer our bodies and minds start to make gradual adjustments in preparation for the lower temperatures. How we choose and prepare foods can support the process of getting ready for the change of weather.

During autumn, everything in nature tends to contract and dry. It is the season of harvesting as well moving inward and gathering together at all levels.

Sour foods
help organize the body and focus the mind for this season. Eat more lemons, limes, grapefruit, sourdough bread, olives, pickles, leeks, aduki beans, salt plums, rose hip tea, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, the sour varieties of apples, plums and grapes. Note that small amounts of sour foods can have a strong effect.

Salty and bitter foods
help to move energy inward and downward. As fall progresses, it is good to slowly introduce more salty and bitter flavors.

Moist foods
counter dryness in any season. Use foods that moisten: spinach, barley, millet, pear, apple, seaweeds, almond, pine nut, peanut, sesame seed, barley malt, rice syrup, milk and dairy products, eggs, clam, crab, oyster, mussel, pork, and soybean products such as tofu, tempe and soy milk.

Cooking methods
should be more focused so the food keeps more energy. In general, cook with less water, at lower heat, and for longer periods of time. The blood in our bodies needs to get thicker as the weather grows cold. Baked and sautéed foods help with this.

*Reference: Pitchford, P. (1993). Healing With Whole Foods. Berkley: North Atlantic Books

Are you sitting in front of a computer all day? Five yoga postures that can help

Posted on: September 10th, 2017 by Mariano

Many of our clients spend hours, day after day sitting in front of the computer. The intense focus on the matter at work in the digital device combined with poor posture can create the muscle imbalances that are the fertile ground for future injuries. In this article we will focus on upper body, specially shoulders and back.

Generally the chronically tight muscles will include the muscles that round your shoulders and internally rotate your upper arm (subscapularis, teres major, anterior deltoid, pectorals major and minor), the muscles that hold your neck forwards – side and back neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid, upper trapezius, scalenes and levator scapulae). At the same time the muscles that externally rotate your arm (infraspinatus, teres minor, posterior deltoid), the ones that open your chest and draw the shoulder blades down (serratus anterior, rhomboids, middle and lower trapezious) are not worked at all and may become weak.

The beauty of yoga postures is that, when done with proper alignment they stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones, helping the body create a more balanced pattern of posture. This can prevent chronic neck and back pain and rotator cuff injuries.

Five Yoga Postures to Balance your Upper Body after a long day sitting in front of the computer

photo 1Savasana with bolster along the spine and hands under the neck (photo) Lie on a bolster positioned directly under the first two thirds of your spine with the shoulders hanging on the sides and the palms of the hands facing up. Your legs are extended forwards resting on the floor, with your toes resting outwards. Bring a rolled towel under your neck so that your chin is perpendicular to the ceiling and your jaw is relaxed. Allow your body to rest here for seven minutes to fifteen minutes. Take out the towel. If you are experiencing lower back pain in this posture, place another bolster under your knees or bend your knees. This posture helps open the chest, stretching pectoral muscles and brings space in the back of the neck.

 

photo 2

Gomukasana – Cow Face pose (photo) Sit on a block or a pillow with the spine long and the legs crossed (you can also sit on a chair), bring your right arm up beside your right ear and bend the elbow, placing the right hand in between shoulder blades. Bring your left are up beside your left ear and hold your right elbow with your left arm opening your chest. Take a breath there. Keep your right arm where it is and bring your left arm down and bend the elbow across the back so that the finger reach the fingers of the right hand. If the fingers doesn’t reach, use a strap (or scarf). Keep your shoulders down and open. Stay for seven breaths and repeat on the other side. This posture help stretch deeper shoulder muscles like the subscapularis and strengthens the infraspinatus.

 

 

 

photo 3Purvotanasana preparation Upward Plank pose prep (photo) Sit with your sit bones on the floor and your knees bent, your feet on the floor aligned with your sit bones. Place your hands behind your pelvis with your shoulders externally rotated and your fingers facing forward towards your pelvis. Draw your shoulders down. The weight on your hands should be distributed throughout all of your hand including your fingers. Press down and out through your hands opening your chest. Keep your pelvis on the floor. Stay for seven breaths. This posture helps open up your chest, stretching tight muscles in the front (pectorals) and streghening weak muscles that help stabilize your shoulders (rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius).

 

photo 4Tadasana Mountain pose with interlaced finger on the back of sacrum (photo) Stand with feet hip width apart. Feel the contact of your feet with the floor. Bring your toes up and then down. Activate your center. Interlace your fingers behind your pelvis touching the heels of your hands together. Bend your elbows and point them back. Externally rotate your shoulders and bring them down. Soften your knees and extend your elbows. Make sure that your lower back and neck stays long. Take seven deep breath here. Rest and repeat one more time. This grounding posture helps balance the effects of rounding your back in front of the desk, opening your chest and engaging the middle back muscles.

 

 

 

 

photo 5

Warrior I with cactus arms Virabhadrasana I (photo) From Tadasana bring your right foot back, your feet around 3 to 4 feet apart. Bend your front knee so that it is right on top of the left ankle, in a 90 degree angle. The back foot is turned in about 30 degree angle with the outer border of the foot on the floor. The pelvis and heart are facing forward. Raise your arms up beside your ears and keep your shoulders down. Bend your elbows so that they are in line with your shoulders. Keep your hands open facing forward. Notice your shoulder blades moving towards the midline and down your back, feel your chest opening. Take seven breaths here. This posture strengthens the middle and lower trapezius and rhomboids, as well as your legs.

 

If you have any questions please contact me. I could also teach you this on a one-on-one yoga class.

Soledad Torres RYT and co/owner of Integrated Therapies

Relaxation massage: how it helps your body & mind

Posted on: May 24th, 2017 by Mariano

Modern life is replete with sources of stress – everything from jobs with unrealistic expectations, to the demands of a busy family, to the overabundance of technology and stimulation. So much is happening and the pace is so fast, sometimes it feels like there’s too little of us to go around. More people are suffering from stress-related conditions than ever before – conditions that impact physical as well as mental and psychological health.

With the distractions and constraints that the constant pressure in our lives creates, it can be hard to remember what simply being alive and fully present in our bodies is supposed to feel like, or to make space for re-grounding ourselves.

But life balance is essential to maintaining ongoing health and wellness, and while we cannot control many of the pressures that bombard us in our daily lives, we can control the steps we choose to take to counteract their negative effects.

One of the best and simplest ways to manage stress and become more present with the inner self is relaxation massage.

The benefits of relaxation massage therapy:

  • Relaxation massage lowers stress levels by reducing the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, removing tension, creating a feeling of ease and mental clarity, and uplifting the mood.

 

  • Relaxation massage reduces muscular tension. The incorporation of deep diaphragmatic breathing during the session enhances this result.

 

  • The relaxing tempo and longer strokes of relaxation massage promote increased cardiac return and lymphatic flow, bringing freshly oxygenated blood to all the muscles and fascia of the body. Improved circulation promotes tissue healing and overall health.

 

  • When the body relaxes, troublesome areas become more apparent and easier for the therapist to access and address. The therapist can use deeper pressure to work on the problem areas in the course of creating full-body relaxation.

 

  • Touch is therapeutic. Many of us have a shortage of physical contact in our lives. Massage addresses the primal animal need for touch and creates a profound sense of well-being.

 

The state of relaxation and enhanced self-awareness that is achieved after a session has far-reaching benefits that have a positive impact on all areas of your health and your life. It’s important to regularly re-connect with yourself through massage.

If you feel that work or life is becoming too demanding on your body, or if you feel you need a space to be calm and relax and clear your mind, consider the benefits of a full-body relaxation massage. It’s an important part of taking good care of yourself.

portrait-emily

Emily Kaminsky, RMT

Emily is part of the team of Integrated Therapies. Read more about her here. If you like to book a session with her you can do it online or call the health centre at (780) 432-4803

Spring: the season of renewal and growth by Dr. Yangyang

Posted on: March 30th, 2017 by Mariano

 Spring according to Traditional Chinese Medicine and the five element theory

The flow of qi and balance of yin and yang can be described in five distinct stages. And each stage is associated with its own time of year, element, organ system, colour, emotion, and many more qualities. With each stage, there are sets of general guidelines to follow to help the body deal with the environmental qualities of that stage, and also to help with the transition into the next season.

Spring, in particular, is associated with the wood element, the Liver organ, the emotion of anger, and the colour green. When you think about it, it makes sense. Spring conjures up images of plants sprouting and leaves budding on trees, and what colour are most plants and leaves? That’s right, green! And since green is the colour associated with spring, eating more young, leafy green vegetables during this time of year is especially good for the body. Also, the taste associated with the Liver is sour, so you can incorporate some sour elements into your diet such as using lemon in cooking or drinking lemon-infused beverages. Be careful not to over-indulge in sour foods though, because too much of the sour taste can, conversely, have an adverse effect on the Liver.

The Liver, the organ of the spring

The Liver in Chinese Medicine is responsible for the smooth flow of qi throughout the whole body. When the Liver runs properly, physical and emotional activity also function smoothly. The Liver also controls the tendons. So a good activity to do in the spring is to stretch. Stretching can increase blood flow and circulation to the muscles and tendons, which is another one of the Liver’s other main functions- to store and distribute blood when needed. Activities such as yoga, jogging, and taichi are great things to do in the spring.

Chinese scripture for spring with explanation.

Chinese scripture for spring with explanation.

However, since weather during springtime is somewhat unpredictable (warming weather mixed with sudden cold fronts), we need to be careful about our exposure to wind and cold. Spring also corresponds to wind environmentally, and the Liver is very susceptible to the effects of wind, which can bundle with other pathogens such as heat or cold and cause symptoms like the common cold.

An old Chinese saying states “春捂秋冻、不生杂病: chun wu qiu dong, bu sheng za bing”, which translates to “bundling up in the spring and keeping cool in the fall prevents you from getting various illnesses”.

When transitioning from winter to spring, the body needs to gradually get used to the warmer weather. Since spring is the season for growth, this also refers to the Yang (or hot) energy gradually growing and building up. However, since the Yang is still rising and relatively weak to the unpredictable coldness of the environment that can appear without warning, we need keep bundled up so that the Yang energy can be nurtured and pathogens can be kept out.

Acupuncture for this season

Getting acupuncture is a good way to prep your body and help with the transition into spring. Using TCM theories, acupuncture can help balance the body, improve the overall health of the Liver, and help deal with emotional issues such as anger, stress, or frustration which are commonly seen in Liver qi disharmony.

Acupuncture treatments can harmonize the inner organ systems and correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. See an acupuncturist or TCM practitioner to see how acupuncture can help you stay healthy this spring!

 

Dr. Yangyang practices acupuncture and other TCM modalities at Integrated Therapies. If you would like to have more information:

read more about Dr.Yangyang

read more about acupuncture

book an appointment online

 

 

 

 

Effectively treating low back pain with acupuncture & massage

Posted on: March 12th, 2017 by Mariano

by Mariano Torres, R.Ac / director of Integrated Therapies

 

I have been a bodywork therapist for more than fifteen years. My expertise includes Shiatsu, Thai Massage and Tuina. I am also a registered acupuncturist with additional training in sports medicine acupuncture for orthopaedic disorders.

One of the most prevalent and debilitating conditions I treat is lower back pain. Here’s a brief overview of how I address and resolve lower back pain problems with acupuncture and bodywork.

This is by no means intended to explain either every step of every treatment or the intricacies of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, but only to illustrate typical treatments for lower back pain.

Acute vs chronic back pain

When addressing lower back pain, it’s important to differentiate between acute and chronic conditions. An acute condition may be an injury that happened a few days or weeks ago or a sudden pain that started recently. A chronic condition is pain that is recurrent or constant and has been present for more than three months.

As a rule, acute issues are easier to treat because the body is still strong and hasn’t been debilitated by ongoing pain. A body with chronic pain is weakened both by pain and by compensatory abnormalities or restrictions in movement. Chronic lower back pain may be the result of an old injury, bad posture, improper diet, stress, lack of exercise, or digestive or menstrual problems. All applicable causes must be addressed to correct the condition.

Once we assess and identify the type of pain, we can decide what kind of treatment is appropriate.

The assessment

assessment of sacroiliac joint

assessment of sacroiliac joint

Assessment starts with diagnostic questions then moves on to orthopaedic and muscle imbalance testing. Diagnostic questions explore the history of the pain and identify symptoms and lifestyle considerations. The orthopaedic assessment addresses the alignment of the hipbones and sacrum. In 90% of cases where lower back pain is present, there is a structural misalignment that needs to be addressed.

We first check the position of the hipbones. They may be tilted to the front (figure 1), which causes constriction of the lower back, or to the back (figure 2), which causes weakness and poor stability in the lower back.

We then test the sacroiliac joint for movement. The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum bone to both hipbones or iliac bones (figure 3). It is often locked on one or both sides when lower back problems are present.

Finally, we conduct muscle testing to reveal which muscles are weak or not firing well, and which muscles are working

hip alignment examples

hip alignment examples

harder to compensate, causing fatigue, weakness, pain, and misalignment. Muscle malfunction can be either the cause of the problem or the result of an alignment issue. For example, if the gluteal muscles are weak, the hip will tilt forward because they cannot hold it in the correct position.

The treatment

In Chinese medicine, we address acute pain as “Blood and Qi Stagnation”, which is a lack of movement of blood and flow of energy. The stagnation of energy and blood is caused by a blockage in the injured or painful area, and treatment is focused on re-establishing the movement of blood and energy to remove it.

In the case of chronic lower back pain, we primarily address the kidney energy in the body. A common symptom of deficient kidney Qi is lower back pain. In Chinese medicine, kidney energy is the main source of strength and the capacity to thrive. By strengthening that energy, we help the body to heal itself.

Acute lower back pain usually requires one to two treatments weekly for a few weeks, while chronic pain might need one treatment every ten days for up to several months.

Each ninety-minute treatment works toward correcting the issues identified during the assessment and addressing any constitutional issues that are present.

A typical example

A client complains of being tired and having pain in the right hip that radiates down the leg (commonly called sciatic pain). During the orthopedic assessment, we discover that the client’s sacroiliac joint is locked on the right side, and that the right hip is tilted forward. Muscle testing reveals that the gluteal muscles are weak and the psoas muscles are not functioning well, especially on the right side.

Treatment includes:

Acupuncture

  • unlocking the sacroiliac joint by inserting needles at key points
  • resetting muscles by inserting needles in the motor points to restore firing
  • addressing the anterior tilt of the right hip by inserting needles in specific point combinations
  • releasing the root nerve of the psoas and gluteal muscles by inserting needles close to the vertebrae
  • addressing the constitutional issues with point combinations that correct weak kidney energy

 

Bodywork

  • deep tissue massage in the area
  • stretching and decompression of the lower back, legs and feet (Thai Massage style therapy)
  • acupressure in certain areas of the hips and back (Shiatsu style)

 

After the initial session, we will conduct a reassessment to see if the alignment has changed, and make recommendations for a treatment plan.

Read more about Mariano

If you like to book a first treatment and assessment with Mariano please call the clinic at (780) 432-4803 or book online: “Acupuncture first treatment and assessment” he will combine acupuncture and massage.

 

Portrait of Mariano Torres

Mariano Torres R.Ac/ director

Some client comments:

“Mr. Torres is an individual with the power to enhance, or change your life. His knowledge and skill with the mind and body of a patient provide relief from discomfort, peace of mind, and nurturing for the soul. In my times of pain he has been a provider of wonderful relief, spirit, and positive energy.

He is well versed and skilled in traditional western therapies, as well as traditional healing techniques – and whether you are a believer in alternative medicine and therapy or not, Mariano is a practitioner of great warmth. He is truly one of the healers who has made a direct and lasting impact on my quality of life.

I cannot recommend him highly enough – as a practitioner, or as a person.”
Greg Scratchley

 

“I have had various treatments recently at Integrated Therapies and would highly recommend the therapists that I have had treatment with :-
Mariano Torres treated me for pain in my lower back that was becoming so intense, any kind of movement was difficult. He has a warm, kind manner that with his sensitivity and knowledge of Acupuncture – holds a safe and caring space in which I could trust and totally relax.  My back pain was greatly helped in the first appointment, and a day later, with rest, the nerve pain had completely gone. Mariano is a master in his field.
Kim Reimnitz

 

“When I came to integrated therapies, I had been experiencing pain in the left side of my lower back for over two years. I had seen and followed treatment with a physiotherapist and a chiropractor, but they were not able to really diagnose what was causing the inflammation. They were treating my symptoms and as soon as I would stop going, the pain would come back. When I started seeing Mariano, he found the root cause of my pain the very first day and worked from here. After a couple of sessions my pain started changing and then slowly releasing. He did not only ease up the pain, but taught me to create more awareness with my back. I am happy to say that I finished my treatment with him almost two months ago and I am pain free. Not only that, I can keep up with all my physical activities and not worry about how I am going to wake up the next day. He is really magical with those needles. I experienced him as very knowledgeable, kind and professional. I highly recommend him to anyone.”
Gabriela Touma

 

“True healing experience with a true doctor! I had so much trouble with my back pain. I have gone to a drop-in clinic doctor for three months, a chiropractor, a physiotherapist (expensive and very well-known) and a masseuse. Nothing made changes. The back pain has only got aggravated over time. And I met Mariano and I finally feel that he really cares for me and is willing to work this out. I have no doubt that with his treatment I will get better and get back to my normal active life. He focuses not only on the regional pain you have, but also on the general wellness and balance of your body. If you are seeking for a more mindful, integrated approach to treating your pain, this is the right place.”
Karen Kang

 

“I had my first acupuncture appointment with Mariano. My pain relief wasn’t instant but by the end of the next day, my pain was gone! I will make acupuncture with Mariano one of my “must have” treatments! Thanks Mariano! “
Audrey M.

 

“Mariano is an exceptional practitioner of acupuncture and massage. He is highly skilled at assessing where the problem lies and how to approach treatment. I have had several types of treatment for physical problems and his technique is definitely superior. I have felt significantly better and look forward to more treatments. Thank you so much Mariano.” S.D.

Golden Milk, a recipe for inflammatory conditions and much more.

Posted on: November 4th, 2016 by Mariano

Golden Milk recipe Golden Milk recipe
Its great for you! Start drinking it every evening before bed.

Golden Milk is an Ayurvedic recipe. I started recommending Golden Milk to some of my clients that suffer from inflammatory conditions in the joints, from just muscle tension to more serious condition like cartilage degeneration.

Now I recommend this “magic potion” to all my clients because it has amazing benefits:

  1. It’s an antiseptic and an analgesic, so it helps with pain relief
  2. It detoxes the liver and helps to purify the blood
  3. It helps your digestive system
  4. It’s great for joint problems, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  5. It works well for different skin problems.
  6. It offers a general immunity boost and provides you with a good dose of antioxidants.

 

I recommend to drink Golden Milk before bed. It will help you sleep as well. My wife and I drink it every night.

The recipe is divided into two parts. First, we’ll look at how to make the turmeric paste. Then, we’ll use the paste to make the golden milk.

Turmeric paste
½ cup of clean water
¼ cup of turmeric powder
½ teaspoon of ground pepper

Put the pan with water in it on a medium heat setting. Add turmeric and pepper and stir well, so you create a smooth paste. It takes about 7 to 9 minutes to get the paste properly cooked. If it becomes too dry, you can add some more water.

Allow the mixture to cool down and then place it in a glass container with an airtight lid. The paste will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks.

Some people take this paste directly, without making it into a concoction. It’s good for pain relief. For severe pain, it’s recommended to take half to 1 teaspoon of turmeric paste a day.

Golden milk recipe
¼ teaspoon (or more if you can tolerate the taste) of turmeric paste
1 cup almond milk (you can also use organic cow’s milk or other milk substitute)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil (you can also use sesame oil or sweet almond oil) – get unrefined, cold pressed oil
Some honey (or use another natural sweetener such as maple syrup, stevia)

Put milk and turmeric paste in a pot and cook on medium heat. Heat the mixture until steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat. When the drink cools down, add honey and oil. The oil supplies you with healthy fats and further increases turmeric absorption. It helps with joint lubrication and promotes cellular function.

Enjoy!

Mariano Torres / director at Integrated Therapies

Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture by Peter Lee

Posted on: June 13th, 2016 by Mariano

While acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of conditions, each acupuncturist tends to have an individual style and an area of particular focus. I am most interested in alleviating psychoemotional conditions such as depression and insomnia.

 

Psychological and emotional conditions are difficult to treat, and western medicine does not offer many options. Most are medication-based, and attempt only to address symptoms while ignoring root causes – and, inevitably, medications have side effects, which are sometimes severe. Also, discovering the best medication and the exact right dose for any given patient is a process of trial and error that can be prolonged and is not always successful, if indeed it is undertaken at all. More commonly, cookie-cutter solutions are imposed without regard to individual fit or efficacy.

 

How acupuncture works with psychoemotional conditions

Acupuncture, on the other hand, seeks to address both root and branches of psychoemotional conditions, and can do so effectively and with minimal risk of side effects. One of the most basic tenets of acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine is that everyone is different, so treatment begins with a recognition of the uniqueness of the individual. Proceeding through gathering relevant diagnostic information to correct diagnosis and correctly targeted treatment, acupuncture can relieve depression and insomnia without risk of side-effects.

 

The importance of sleep

Most people acknowledge the importance of sleep, but few truly understand its profound impact on overall health. Insufficient sleep increases the risk of – or directly leads to – irritability, headaches, heart disease, weight gain, poor vision, infection, gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), depression, diabetes, and cancer. Both the amount and quality of sleep is directly related to all aspects of physical and mental health.

In traditional East Asian medicine, insomnia is defined as a condition in which quantity and quality of sleep are decreased consistently for more than a month. Insomnia may be present in the form of one or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep, waking up easily throughout the night (except from pain or full bladder), early awakening with difficulty going back to sleep, and dream-disturbed sleep. Insomnia may be due to multiple factors including pathogenic heat, overthinking, emotional frustration, and depression.

 

Research in the effectiveness  of acupuncture in treating insomnia

Scientific research verifies the effectiveness of acupuncture in this area. In an article recently published in the Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, for example, acupuncture was shown to be 90% effective in improving total sleep duration and sleep quality for patients with depression, with similar clinical results as an antidepressant, but lower relapse rates and no side effects.

There were two groups, the acupuncture group and the antidepressant medication (Mirtazapine) group. Total effectiveness rate for acupuncture treatment was 90% with no side effects of any kind. Total effectiveness of mirtazapine treatment was 92.5%, but with dizziness, drowsiness, vision changes, weight gain, increased appetite, and constipation listed as common side effects.

In the research, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) was used to measure improvement. Within one month of treatment, the acupuncture group showed 9.7% improvement in HAM-D score while the medication group showed 15.9% improvement in the HAM-D score. Within three months of treatment, the acupuncture group showed 36.2% improvement while the medication group showed 32.5% improvement.

For three months, the acupuncture group received treatments every other day while the medication group were given 20 mg of mirtazapine tablets orally once a day. The point prescription for the acupuncture group consisted of primary acupuncture points which addressed the depression and insomnia, and of secondary acupuncture points which addressed the differential diagnosis of each individual. The primary points included a point on the wrist (Shenmen – HT-7), a point on the leg (Sanyinjiao – SP-6), and a point between the eyebrows (Yintang). The secondary acupuncture points, which were added to address the different needs of each individual, included a point on the foot (Taichong – LR-3) and a point on the leg (Yanglingquan – GB-34) if the other symptoms they had were liver related symptoms such as headache, irritability, and rib pain, or a point on the arm (Jianshi – PC-5), and a point on the leg (Zusanli – ST-36) if the other symptoms they had were spleen symptoms such as poor appetite, indigestion, vomiting, nausea, and epigastric or abdominal pain. The needles were stimulated every 10 minutes and were retained for 30 minutes.

It was concluded that acupuncture improves total sleep duration and sleep quality significantly, which in return reduced the relapse rate for depression and insomnia and improved overall health, both physically and mentally, without any side effects.

Another study, a single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled research, concluded that acupuncture improves sleep and reduces insomnia when compared to sham acupuncture (random needling) and to a medication, estazolam. Acupuncture showed significantly superior results improving total sleep duration and sleep quality, like the previously mentioned study. The point prescription in this study included a few points on the head (Shenting – GV-24, Sishencong, and Baihui – GV-20), a point on the wrist (Shenmen – HT-7), and a point on the leg (Sanyinjiao – SP-6). The estazolam medication group experienced side effects such as daytime drowsiness.

In a further study, acupuncture was shown to increase the bodily serotonin levels and the concentration of gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in cerebrospinal fluid. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters which regulate cognitive function, mood, sleep, and appetite, while GABA is another neurotransmitter which reduces the excitability of the neurons. In this study, acupuncture was shown to have 93.3% total effectiveness rate in the treatment of insomnia. The point prescription included a point on the head (Shenting – GV-24), a point on the wrist (Shenmen – HT-7), points on the leg (Sanyinjiao – SP-6 and Zusanli – ST-36), a point between the eyebrows (Yintang), and a point behind the ears (Anmian). The needles were retained for 45 minutes each session. Additionally, acupuncture points in the ear (Subcortex and Shenmen) were used with ear seeds (Vaccaria seeds covered with zinc oxide tape) rather than needles and patients were asked to stimulate them for few minutes each day.

 

In conclusion

Research is confirming the effectiveness of the ancient arts of healing. In studies examining the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating insomnia and depression, acupuncture successfully increased total sleep duration and quality while decreasing daytime dysfunction and sleepiness, with no side effects. It’s important to understand that acupuncture does not alleviate symptoms as quickly as medications because it does not add synthetic hormones into the system or chemically modify the body, and that the absence of side effects is a significant compensation for the longer duration of treatment. Unless a condition developed overnight, it will not disappear overnight, and the additional time it takes to remediate a condition of long standing allows a more natural and lasting course of healing and restoring balance.

Read more about the author Peter Lee R.Ac. or book an appointment with him.

 

References

Kelman L, Rains JC (2005). Headache and Sleep: Examination of Sleep Patterns and Complaints in a Large Clinical Sample of Migraineurs.

Meier-Ewert HK, Ridker PM, Rifai N, Regan MM, Price NJ (2004). Effects of Sleep Loss on C-reactive protein, an Inflammatory Marker of Cardiovascular Risk.

Benedict C, Brooks SJ, O’Daly OG, Almen MS, Morell A (2012). Acute Sleep Deprivation enhances the Brain’s Reponse to Hedonic Food Stimuli: an fMRI Study.

Orzel-Gryglewska J (2010). Consequences of Sleep Deprivation.

C. A. Everson. (1993). Sustained Sleep Deprivation impairs Host Defense. American Journal of Physiology.

Tauseef Ali. James Choe, Ahmed Awab, Theodore L Wagener (2013). Sleep, Immunity, and Inflammation in Gastrointestinal Disorder. World Journal of Gastroenterology.

Baglioni C, Battagliese G, Feige B, Spiegelhaldar K (2011). Insomnia as a Predictor of Depression: A Meta-Analytic Evaluation of Longitudinal Epidemiological Studies.

Ye GC & Yan H. (2014). Therapeutic Observation of Acupuncture for Depressive Insomnia. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 55(6)

Lin-Peng Wang, Guo, Jing, Cun-Zhi Liu, Jie Zhang, Gui-Ling Wang, Jing-Hong, Yi, Jin- Lian cheng, and R. Musil. Efficacy of Acupuncture for Primary Insomnia: a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Akupunktur 57, No. 4 (2014): 31-32

Wang H, Meng X.H, Zou W. (2014). Curative Effect of Acupuncture Therapy of Regulating Mentality combined with Auricular Point in the Treatment of Insomnia. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 30(7).

A therapist’s guide of Integrated Therapies

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Mariano

Have you ever asked yourself which therapist is most appropriate for your current needs? Here are brief descriptions of the qualities that we see in some of our team members that will help you choose the right therapist for each visit.

 

Marina Sokalski, Massage Therapy StudentMarina is our newest massage therapist. She is still a student who will finish her course in a few months. We decided to hire her prior to graduation because she is exceptional. She has the hands and presence of someone with many years of experience. She knows how to deliver a deep and healing treatment. Because she is still at school her fees are almost 30% less than the rest of the massage therapists.

“I saw Marina and I was in pain with a sprained muscle in my lower rib in my back. I loved it, I felt so relaxed and felt better in 2 days. She had just enough pressure and gentleness for the whole body. I will definitely be back :)” Lindz

Read about Marina

 

Frank Lai, Registered Massage TherapistFrank is one of our popular registered massage therapists. People love his sessions. He has an innocent gentleness in his personality. His sessions are strong and sensitive at the same time.

“I went for Massage Therapy with Frank Lai annoyed by my neck pain and he reduced it so much that next day I was already back at the climbing gym. I was amazed by how good he is and how professional. It is a gem you shouldn’t miss.” Anna Viladoms

Read about Frank

 

Peter Lee, AcupuncturistPeter is our newest member. He is a registered acupuncturist and excited to be working in our team. His knowledge and skills are outstanding. He will make a precise, detailed diagnosis of your concerns and deliver a treatment that will address your problem. He has no reviews because he just started with us. His fees are 25% less for a limited time.

Read about Peter

 

Anne Liebhart, RMT, Craniosacral TherapistAnne is our most experience registered massage therapist. Her 30 years of experience, her physiotherapy background combined with a wide variety of subtle energy work makes her a popular and uncommon massage therapist under Canadian standards. She loves what she does and it shows.

“I have had 2 sessions with Anne and both were equally unique and wonderful. Anne is extremely knowledgeable and intuitive. She has a genuine interest in working with you to improve all aspects of your health. Trust me, do yourself a favor and book an appointment with her, you will know what I am talking about!” Rhonda

Read about Anne

 

And here is one more review for your enjoyment… or mine:

“If you are looking to be treated well from beginning to end, I recommend you visit Integrated Therapies. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is comfortable and inviting. I have had Acupuncture and massage with Mariano. He is a master of his art! During each of my many appointments over the past few years, I have felt that Mariano has heard my concerns and has put both his heart and great expertise into his treatments. I always feel much better after a visit to Mariano. I have also seen Frank for massage. I feel very comfortable asking for what I want with Frank – more or less pressure, for example, and I find Frank to be very responsive. As with Mariano, each time I have seen Frank I have left feeling well taken-care of and relaxed. And Kim at the front desk is absolutely lovely! She is so very friendly as well as efficient at what she does. It is always nice to come in and have Kim greet me! Going to Integrated Therapies is a gift I am grateful that I give to myself!”
Jill Koziey

 

Thank you for reading,
Mariano/director

Hypothyroidism and Acupuncture by Peter Lee R.Ac

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 by Mariano

Introduction

 

While it is well known that acupuncture effectively treats musculoskeletal issues, acupuncture can also treat many other disorders. Controlled clinical trials carried out by the World Health Organization lists numerous disorders including neurological, respiratory, digestive, blood-related, urogenital, gynecological, obstetric, cardiovascular, psychiatric, and pediatric disorders, as well as skin diseases. In case of thyroid issues, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of the symptoms and also the dosage of the thyroid medications.

Western Medicine Overview

Hypothyroidism is a condition where there is an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone in the body with decreased level of circulating thyroid hormone (TH). It may be a result of thyroid gland malfunction, the pituitary malfunction, or the hypothalamus malfunction.

Although the causes differ from different countries, in developed countries such as the United States and Canada, the inflammation of thyroid gland is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. This inflammation and swelling damage the thyroid gland and in return the thyroid gland malfunctions. This may be due to autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, iodine deficiency, viral infections, medications, pregnancy, birth defects, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, and radiation treatments.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Overview

In TCM, improper diet, poor constitution, and overstrain lead to hypothyroidism. First of all, improper diet may damage the Spleen and Stomach, leading to fatigue, weakness, reduced concentration, cold body, weight gain, and constipation (Qi and Blood Deficiency in TCM). Secondly, poor constitution and/or overstrain may result in weak Spleen, Stomach, or Kidneys, leading to retention of water.

Signs and Symptoms

The hormone from the thyroid gland regulates metabolism, body temperature, energy levels, mood, heart rate and blood pressure. With such functions, lack of thyroid hormone results in related symptoms. In the early stages, hypothyroidism shows fatigue, weakness, depression, reduced concentration, cold body, unexplained weight gain, constipation, slower heart rate, headache, pale complexion and edema. In the later stages, the symptoms of the early stage may worsen and there may be continued weight gain despite the poor appetite, goiter, slow speech, thickening of the skin and decreased sense of taste and smell.

Acupuncture Treatments

Acupuncture is one of the ancient healing techniques that have been effectively treating diseases for thousands of years. Acupuncture stimulates and promotes the body’s inherent healing abilities, regulates the nervous and endocrine systems, and strengthens the immune system. Acupuncture is slowly getting more attention and acknowledgements as technological advancements allow modern studies to show that acupuncture is effective.

All diseases are essentially imbalance of yin and yang in TCM. Hence, restoring the balance between yin and yang is the first and the most important goal of an acupuncture treatment. In fact, human body has inherent healing abilities. A healthy immune system knows how to defend and heal our body. Unfortunately, there are times when it is too weak to do its job or when it is overwhelmed and does not know what to do. That is when acupuncture comes in. Without physically or chemically modifying the body, acupuncture can remind the body which way to go, on the journey to recovery.

In TCM, Hypothyroidism is considered to be due to weak Spleen and Kidney. As previously mentioned, Spleen and Kidney can be damaged from improper diet, poor constitution, and overstrain. In this case, not only does acupuncture restore the balance between yin and yang, but also, with different protocols, acupuncture strengthens the affected organs, Spleen and Kidneys, thereby significantly reducing the signs and symptoms manifested by weak Spleen and Kidneys.

Hypothyroidism is a difficult disease to treat. That is why modern medicine can only offer you synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine also known as Levothroid, or Synthroid. Acupuncture can reduce the dosage of these thyroid medications hence reducing the risks of possible side effects. While acupuncture alone can significantly reduce the dosage of the medications as well as severity and frequency of the signs and symptoms, even greater results can be achieved with adjustments in diet and lifestyle. In the best case scenario, patients were able to completely get off the medications.

Dietary Suggestions

Patients with hypothyroidism are recommended to increase their iodine and selenium intakes while reducing goitrogens and goitrogenic foods but do not over-consume iodine. In addition, smaller but more frequent meals rather than big heavy meals are suggested. Furthermore, replacing refined sugar snacks with fruits will also help maintain a healthy diet while keeping weight in check.

Foods to Consume

Iodine is required in TH production. Daily iodine requirement is about 150 micrograms. While three ounces of cod fish, shrimp, and turkey contain 99, 35, and 34 micrograms of iodine respectively, iodized salt contains about 140 micrograms per half a teaspoon. Hence, it is recommended to consume iodized salt, seaweeds, and sea foods.

Several foods that can be recommended for the patients with hypothyroidism are fish, nuts, whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, sea weeds, beans and dairy products. First of all, fish including tuna and wild salmon, contains the Omega-3 Series, which decrease inflammation, and boost immune system, and selenium, which also decreases inflammation. Secondly, nuts including Brazil nuts, Macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts contain large amounts of selenium but they also contain high level of fat. Over- consumption should be avoided. Whole grain foods including cereal, bread, pasta, and rice contain fiber, which will help constipation, but fiber may also interfere with thyroid medications. It is suggested that the thyroid medications are taken several hours away from dietary fiber consumption. Thirdly, fresh fruits and vegetables with low calorie and high nutrient including cherries, blue berries, potatoes, and green peppers, which contain antioxidants, will help with weight gain. Garlic and onion also contain high concentration of selenium.

Fourthly, there is calcium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and a high concentration of iodine, the precursor to the production of TH, in seaweeds, such as nori, dulse, and wakame. However, over- consumption of iodine may worsen conditions affecting the thyroid gland. Fifthly, as beans contain antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and other vitamins and minerals, they offer sustained energy which will help the fatigue that patients with hypothyroidism often experiences. Lastly, dairy products including fortified milk which contain extra calcium, iodine, protein, and vitamin D will assist Hashimoto’s Disease, which is found to be one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism.

Foods to Avoid

Foods that interfere with the body’s ability to use TH, to produce TH, or to absorb necessary nutrients should be avoided. They are soy, cruciferous vegetables, gluten, fats, sugar, processed foods, coffee, and alcohol. First of all, soy contains plant-based phyto-estrogen and estrogen interferes with TH usage. Secondly, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and cabbage negatively impacts the TH production as they may prevent iodine absorption. Thirdly, gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and other grains, may interfere with thyroid medication absorption. Fourthly, fats from fried food and fatty cuts of meat may interfere with thyroid medication absorption and with hormone production. Next, refined sugar or foods with large amount of sugar have high calories without any beneficial nutrients and they only lead to weight gain. In addition, processed foods contain large amount of sodium, which increases the risk of high blood pressure. Furthermore, dietary fiber in excess may interfere with thyroid medication absorption. Moreover, coffee and alcohol should be avoided. Coffee containing caffeine may block thyroid medication absorption while alcohol is shown to interfere with the TH usage and to have toxic effect on the thyroid gland. Other foods that should be avoided include cassava, linseed, peanuts, mustard, millet, peaches, and spinach.

Many of the naturally-occurring chemicals such as goitrogens found in plants interfere with thyroid functions. When the thyroid gland attempts to produce TH by putting together the salt iodine and the amino acid tyrosine, in the presence of goitrogens, the thyroid gland is instead interrupted and enlarged, resulting in goiter. First of all, goitrin, found in the seeds of cruciferous vegetables, is by far the most problematic plant goitrogen resulting in goiter even with the presence of high concentration of iodine by lowering the activity of thyroid peroxidase. Thyroid peroxidase is an enzyme which is necessary to insert iodine into the TH.

Secondly, thiocyanates, which is formed from bamboo shoots, cassava, corn, flax sweet potato, and cruciferous vegetables when they are cut or chewed, also lower the thyroid peroxidase activity and interfere with iodine absorption as they compete with iodine to enter the thyroid gland but the effects of thiocyanates can be combated by iodine consumption. Thiocyanates however are able to cross the placenta and affect the newborns, resulting in thyroid dysfunctions in newborns. Another way to reduce thiocyanates levels is to cook or to ferment.

Thirdly, soy flavonoids and millet flavonoids also lower the thyroid peroxidase activity but increasing iodine consumption will combat this effect. Fourthly, quercetin, kaempferol, and rutin also lower the enzyme activity of thyroid peroxidase and hepatic deiodinase (a liver enzyme which activate TH). Apple, broccoli, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, and onions contain large amounts of quercetin. Endive and grapefruit contain kaempferol. Asparagus, citrus fruits, and cranberries contain rutin.

Lifestyle Suggestions

Peter Lee, AcupuncturistFirst of all, it is important to exercise, in order to help with fatigue and weakness. It may be difficult as the patients already feel out of energy but increasing physical activity will help increase energy levels by building up Qi. Secondly, it is important to improve sleep quality. It is recommended that patients sleep seven to nine hours on regular bases in a dark and sound-free environment. It is also suggested that they keep the same schedule even during the holidays or the weekends. Exercising will also help improving sleep quality. Thirdly, it is important to stop smoking. Nicotine found in cigarettes interferes with sleep and worsens the fatigue.

Peter is a registered acupuncturist that practices at Integrated Therapies in Edmonton. If you have any questions regarding this article please write to Peter at info@integratedtherapies.ca

If you would like to see Peter for acupuncture please book online or call (780) 432-4803.

Read about Peter
Read about more about Acupuncture

References

1. Lazenby, R. B., Handbook of Pathophysiology, 4th Edition, pp 327

2. Hypothyroidism, Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000353.htm

3. Tao Chunxiang (2008), How to Give TCM Differential Treatment for Hypothyroidism?, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine; 28(3): pp 231-232

4. Theobald, M., 7 Hypothyroidism-Friendly Foods to Add to Your Diet. Everyday Health. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/thyroid-pictures/foods-to- eat.aspx#/slide-1

5. Thompson, D., 9 Foods to Avoid With Hypothyroidism. Everyday Health. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/thyroid-pictures/foods-to- avoid.aspx#/slide-1

6. Vann, M., 8 Ways to Stay Energized With Hypothyroidism. Everyday Health. Retrieved from

7. Ede, G., Foods that cause Hypothyroidism. Diagnosis: Diet. Retrieved from http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/foods-and-hypothyroidism/

8. Hypothyroidism Diet. Hypothyroidisma.com. Retrieved from http://hypothyroidisma.com/hypothyroidism-diet.php

The power of suction cup therapy with massage

Posted on: October 30th, 2015 by Mariano

by Frank Lai, RMT

I have been aware of suction cup therapy since I was a child in Taiwan. My father is a doctor of Chinese medicine and he uses this ancient technique every day in his practice. I am a great believer in its benefits, and use it where appropriate to enhance both relaxation and therapeutic massage treatments.

The therapy has two stages: assessment and treatment. Once assessment of the patient’s condition has been completed through questioning and physical testing, the cups are applied to the areas requiring attention and left in place for five to ten minutes. The vacuum created by expelling air from the cups creates suction which mobilizes blood flow and promotes healing. It also resets the fascia if they are compressed or misaligned.

Cupping is often used on the broad areas of the back, and is a wonderful addition to any massage.

The treatment is sedating, and people will often descend into a profound state of relaxation. Larger cups may be used on the back for a stronger effect. The strong vacuum mimics the rolling action of deep tissue massage without the discomfort. The movement may be long and draining, or circular and stimulating, for stubborn knots and areas of rigid tissue.

 Cupping can also be used to treat:

  • blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
  • rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • fertility and gynecological disorders
  • skin problems such as eczema and acne
  • high blood pressure (hypertension )
  • migraine
  • anxiety and depression
  • bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
  • varicose veins

 

It can have minor side effects, including:

  • mild discomfort
  • burns
  • bruises

 

Cupping should not be used on:

  • pregnant or menstruating women
  • people with metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another)
  • people with bone fractures or muscle spasms

 

and must not be applied to sites with:

  • a deep vein thrombosis
  • an ulcer
  • an artery
  • a pulse that can be felt

 

Read more about massage therapy with cupping.

Frank Lai, Registered Massage Therapist

 

Frank is a registered massage therapist at Integrated Therapies.

If you would like to experience the benefits of massage therapy with cupping,

book an appointment to see him. Call (780) 432-4803 or book online.