4 Reasons to Up Your Intake of Ginger

Remember when you’d have a stomach ache and your mom would give you ginger ale? Well, that was about much more than trying to boost your mood with a sweet treat. You see, ginger is like the star of the herbal world. Used in Asia, India, and Arabia for more than 2,000 years, the root has been shown to ease the gastric system, treat nausea, and even prevent vomiting.

Here are four more reasons you should up your intake of ginger:

Ginger aids the digestive process: There are two enzymes found in ginger, protease and lipase, which are used to break down fat during digestion. Not only does this aid our body in better absorbing the nutrients and energy found in these molecules, but it helps to keep bad fats from staying in our system. Ginger is also shown to speed up the emptying of the stomach by 50 percent, which can lead to a drastic decrease in discomfort associated with indigestion.

Ginger can lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease: Ginger is high in antioxidants that help prevent high levels of dangerous LDL lipoproteins, otherwise known as “bad cholesterol.” Ginger can also stimulate the gallbladder and the liver, which are essential for clearing cholesterol from the body. A 2015 study found that two grams of ginger per day reduced oxidized lipoproteins by 23 percent, thereby reducing the risk for heart disease.

Ginger can reduce pain and stiffness: Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger has been shown to reduce the progression of muscle pain, especially soreness induced by exercise. Another study found that taking ginger extract twice daily had a significant impact on the joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.

Ginger can fight infections and may prevent cancer: Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can fight and reduce the risk of infections by inhibiting the growth of many different types of bacteria. It’s especially effective against the oral bacteria that causes gum disease. While more research is needed, ginger may also prevent the growth of cancer cells in the breasts, pancreas, ovaries, and colon.

Adults should keep their intake of ginger to four grams daily. Women who are pregnant or nursing should limit their intake to one gram. You can get your daily dose of ginger in a number of different ways. While there are plenty of pills and extracts on the market, fresh ginger is the best way to reap the rewards. Add chunks of ginger to water for a zesty kick, throw pieces of it into stir fry, or make ginger tea at night for a soothing bedtime drink.

Acupuncture for Tendonitis

Frequently thought of as a condition that afflicts tennis players and golfers, tendonitis can affect people of all ages and activity levels all across the globe. The condition is caused by inflammation in the soft tissues that connect our muscles to our bones. This inflammation can result in pain, loss of motion, and, for many, the inability to enjoy activities they once loved. It may even interfere with everyday movements such as driving, typing, and climbing up stairs.

When these symptoms arise, the most common treatments prescribed are steroid injections and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. For those who seek a more natural and holistic approach to treating chronic pain, acupuncture may offer much-needed relief.

In one study, published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, patients aged 18 to 70 suffering from chronic Achilles tendonitis were split into two groups: one treated with acupuncture and one asked to perform resistance exercises. While both groups reported a decrease in their pain, those who underwent acupuncture felt 85 percent more reduction immediately after treatment, and 113 percent more reduction later while at rest.

In another study conducted by Dr. Peter Dorsher, 100 percent of patients experienced pain relief following acupuncture, with “maximal relief” being achieved after an average of 3.9 sessions. What’s more, these patients reported significantly longer lasting results than those of medications and other traditional methods. More than eight months after treatment, 77 percent of patients were still experiencing complete resolution of their symptoms.

Acupuncture for tendonitis uses high-grade surgical steel needles to stimulate the pain points, as well as other acupressure points along the corresponding meridian. The stimulation of these points activates the immune system while also increasing blood flow — both of which help the body jumpstart itself into healing. Acupuncture may also prompt the body to release a surge of endorphins, which can act as immediate relievers of pain.

While individual plans vary, the treatment of tendonitis with acupuncture typically involves multiple sessions. These sessions may last as little as 20 minutes, but can provide months of ongoing relief. If you suffer from tendonitis or other chronic pain, schedule an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist in order to design a treatment plan specifically for your needs.

Tips for Surviving Cold and Flu Season

surviving cold and flu season dreamclinic massage seattle bellevue redmondThe end of winter and early spring are prime times for the cold and flu. If you work in an office or frequently use public transit, it can seem nearly impossible to avoid some sort of illness.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to drastically reduce your risk and be successful at surviving the cold and flu season. While you probably know that you should be getting a good night’s sleep, washing your hands well, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick, there are many ways to boost your immunity that you may not have thought of. Even if you do end up catching a bug, following these tips may help you cut the time it takes you to recover.

Tap Your Chest Every Few Hours
In the middle of your breastbone, roughly at the level of your third rib, there’s an acupressure point that’s directly related to your immune system. Dr. Daniel Hsu of New York AcuHealth recommends gently tapping the area for a minute every few hours. Doing so will prompt the thymus gland to produce more T cells, which are responsible for attacking and destroying pathogens.

Take Elderberry Extract
When distilled into a syrupy extract, the nutrients found in elderberries may offer some relief from aches, pains, and congestion. A 2004 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that those who took a 15-milliliter dose four times a day for five days were able to reduce their flu symptoms by an average four days.

Stop Touching Your Face
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that people touch their nose or mouth an average of 3.6 times per hour. Putting a stop to this habit is easier said than done, but it might be one of the best things you can do to avoid transferring bacteria from surfaces like door handles and faucets.

Eat Mushrooms Daily
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition touted the medicinal qualities of shiitake mushrooms. In a group of 52 healthy men and women, those who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for a month had significantly higher numbers of T cells. They also had a reduction in what’s known as c-reactive protein, which suggested lower inflammation.

Inhale Essential Oils
Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, co-founder of Northeast Integrative Medicine, recommends inhaling essential oils for 10 minutes at least once a day. Add a few drops of thyme or eucalyptus oil to a bowl of boiling water, then hover your face above the bowl with a towel over your head. The menthol smell should help open up your airways, while antimicrobial particles in the oil will coat the nasal cavity. Bonus: The steam will also open up your pores, leaving your skin dewy and refreshed.

The Many Health Benefits of Cupping Therapy

cupping massageOriginally developed over thousands of years ago, the Chinese treatment of cupping therapy has found its way into modern-day medicine. It’s an ancient practice in which small glass or plastic cups are placed on the skin. Suction is then generated using one of two methods: A small fire is created in the cup using a flammable substance such as rubbing alcohol or paper. As soon as the fire goes out, the cup is applied to the skin. As the air cools, it creates a vacuum, causing the skin and underlying muscle to be pulled into the cup. In more modern treatments, cups may have small rubber pumps, which allow the air to be drawn out without using fire.

The ultimate goal of cupping is to enhance circulation, relieve pain, fight fatigue, and release toxins from the body, among many other benefits. While cupping can be performed on its own, it’s frequently combined with acupuncture in a single treatment. A 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that cupping, when used in conjunction with other traditional Chinese treatments, was far better than anything else at curing those with skin conditions like shingles and acne. It also addressed issues caused by nerve damage, such as facial paralysis.

Over the course of a cupping treatment, cups are typically left on the body for 5 to 15 minutes. Massage oil may be applied in order to allow the cups to be pulled across the skin. During this time, the skin becomes red due to the congestion of blood flow. This discoloration may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. There may also be some slight bruising, but this shouldn’t be painful. Once the marks have disappeared, the treatment can be repeated until the condition is resolved.

In recent years, even celebrities have been singing its praises. Stars like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have been vocal about their devotion to cupping thanks to its relaxation benefits. Chinese swimmer Wang Qun, tennis pro Andy Murray, and many of the players on the Mets have adopted the therapy as a way to relieve soreness and address injuries.

As with most traditional Chinese medicine, cupping treatments are unique to each individual and their current needs. It shouldn’t be used on people who bleed easily or have skin ulcers. While pregnant women can safely undergo cupping, it needs to be performed with extreme caution and never on the abs or the lower back. If you think you may benefit from this therapy, meet with a qualified acupuncturist to create a plan designed specifically for you. Schedule an appointment today!

Gua sha for Pain Relief

What is gua sha?

Acupuncture, yoga and cupping are increasingly seen in the media and gaining popularity as a holistic treatment method for pain reduction. I want to introduce you to gua sha. Gua sha is a traditional Chinese treatment — whose name roughly translates to “scraping bruises” — and involves using a smooth spoon-like instrument to break up restricted muscles. This method often creates bruising on the skin. The most constricted muscles turn the deepest red during scraping. The treatment’s been used by Asian acupuncturists since at least 220 CE, but it’s recently been gaining popularity in the West.

You might be wondering why someone would voluntarily choose to scrape up their skin. Let us explain.

Gua sha releases unhealthy elements and stimulates blood flow in the soft tissue. By creating a deliberate injury above and below the skin, the body jump-starts itself into healing. This produces immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects that can last for days following a single treatment. Gua sha for pain relief and stiffness is most commonly used, but it can also address conditions such as asthma, fever, chills, colds, and spasms.

During the treatment, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the area being treated. The acupuncturist then uses the instrument to apply a variation of long and short strokes to the skin. Treatment typically lasts for about 30 minutes and, for some, can be a bit uncomfortable. Following therapy, the treated skin will look red and bruised, and possibly show some welting. This should subside after just a few days, during which time issues such as muscle pain and poor circulation should rapidly improve.

One study published in a 2011 issue of Pain Medicine found that those who suffered from neck pain felt significant improvement after one treatment with gua sha, compared to the use of a thermal heating pad. Similar studies have been conducted at Harvard University and by teaching faculty at the Beth Israel Medical Center.

As with any treatment of this nature, it’s important to first meet with a qualified acupuncturist to determine your individual needs. If you’re found to be a good candidate for the therapy, your acupuncturist will create a plan specifically for you. Schedule an acupuncture appointment today!

​Treatment of Stomach-Related Illness with Zusanli Acupuncture

What is Zusanli?

Zusanli is an acupoint running along the stomach meridian. If there is an interruption in this meridian it can cause an imbalance that results in discomfort, pain, and illness and induce abdominal distention, vomiting, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and acute appendicitis.

Most acupuncture therapy involves stimulating numerous points along the body, however those who suffer from certain stomach issues may find one of these acupoints to be particularly beneficial. It’s called zusanli, and it’s located about four-finger widths below the bottom of the knee, towards the outside of the shin. While many acupuncturists prefer to perform more complex treatments, stimulation of this point, even on its own, can mean profound improvements on quality of life.

According to Ma Danyang, a famous Daoist known for his work with acupuncture, zusanli is one of the 12 most important acupoints on the body, and perhaps the most critical when dealing with issues of the stomach. Needling this point can help stop disease, and restore vitality in some cases, with a single 10- to 20-minute treatment.

Perhaps the most convincing argument for the importance of zusanli acupuncture is just how crucial our stomach is to our overall health. The lining of the gut is the core of the immune system, so when the stomach’s not working properly, we put ourselves at risk for viruses and bacteria. The stomach also produces 95% of the body’s serotonin. The brain produces the other 5%, meaning the brain and stomach are in constant contact. If our stomachs are in distress, it alerts the brain to feel stress, which causes a host of other negative impacts on the body.

If you suffer with any of the stomach issues listed above, consult with a qualified acupuncturist. Treatment of the zusanli acupoint may be able to bring you some relief, as well as lead you on a path towards better health. Schedule an acupuncture appointment today!

3 Tips for Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder

acupuncture seattle seasonal affective disorder

For those who love warm weather, long days, and getting out into nature, winter can be a tough time of year. While the beginning of spring is just around the corner, the last few days of the cold season can feel seemingly unending. For some, winter has an even bigger effect on our lives than what we wear and how we spend our weekends. It can also cause fatigue, irritability, and depression, thereby having a negative impact on our overall health and wellness.

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or simply feel less pep in your step during the cold weather months these three suggestions will help you avoid the winter blues.

Get Acupuncture
In acupuncture theory, human beings are viewed as microcosms of nature. They are intimately affected by their surroundings, which includes the changing seasons. A tendency toward sadness, a pulling inward, is appropriate as the weather turns harsh. It’s when a patient is unable to settle into the emotional change, or transition out of it, that an acupuncturist might suspect an imbalance.

In Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, a great book for understanding the tenets of acupuncture theory, the authors say, “The climates, emotions, and activities of life are not intrinsically good or bad. It is their excess or deficiency that distorts the pattern of flow.”

Acupuncturists think in terms of interconnected systems, so excessive sadness, for example, affects the Lungs—the organ, as well as the meridian, and associated structures (skin is one) and functions. This explains why fall is such a popular time for the onset of respiratory infections and dry skin that often linger into winter.

Acupuncture for Seasonal Affective Disorder requires regular acupuncture treatments in the fall and winter to help maintain immune strength and emotional balance.

Exercise Outside
It might seem counterintuitive in the winter, but exercising outside — even in the cold and the rain — can mean big benefits for your health. A 2005 study from Harvard University found that those who walked briskly for 35 minutes a day, five times a week (or 60 minutes, three times a week) saw significant improvements in their symptoms of depression. These positive effects also lasted longer than those of antidepressants. Walking in nature is even more beneficial, as exercising outside boosts brain function and mental clarity, while lowering stress and improving mood.

Eat Chocolate
As if you needed another reason to indulge in your favorite chocolate, the treat has been shown to be a powerful mood enhancer. An article published in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science reveals that chocolate generally increases pleasant feelings and reduces tension. Get the maximum benefits of chocolate by sticking to 1-ounce daily of at least 70% dark chocolate, which has much higher levels of iron, fiber, and magnesium compared to milk chocolate. It’s also got half the amount of sugar, while boasting nearly 300% more theobromine, an alkaloid that helps to lower blood pressure.

Schedule an acupuncture appointment with Dreamclinic.

Workplace Stress Relief: 3 Tips to Quickly Calm You Down

dreamclinic massageBetween long meetings, tight deadlines, and unnecessary office drama, workplace stress can quickly become overwhelming. As a result, our mental clarity declines and our productivity goes down. Many of us then carry this stress back home, where we take it out on our families, partners, and healthy sleep cycles.

Thankfully, there are many things we can do when our blood starts to boil and our heart rates begin to rise. In fact, you might be surprised how a few tiny tweaks have the power to transform your entire day.

Take a 10-Minute Walk
The human body was not built to be sedentary for long periods of time, and incorporating some movement is especially important when you feel like you’re about to break. Stress atrophies the brain, but exercise promotes the production of neurohormones that fight that harmful effect.

When tensions are running high, go for a 10-minute walk. If you can, take a stroll through a park or another green area, which can put your body into a state of meditation called “involuntary attention.”   According to a study out of Dartmouth College, frequent walking can boost BDNF, a protein responsible for mental acuity and learning (ie: you’ll be more effective once you return).

Grab Coffee With a Coworker
Turns out having friends at work isn’t a distraction — it’s actually beneficial to your health! In a study published in Health Psychology in 2011, researchers found that those who didn’t have a good support system at work were 2-1/2 times more likely to die over a 20-year period. Positive social interactions are shown to help increase happiness, self-esteem, and relaxation, while lowering levels of cortisol that contribute to all manner of issues like heart disease and obesity.

If you feel your stress starting to rise, ask a friendly coworker to grab coffee or tea. Good company and time away from the office will help you clear your mind. Just focus on keeping the conversation positive and not about workplace stress.

Massage Your Ears
If you truly can’t find 10 or 15 minutes to escape the office, try this instead: Massage your ear. The simple technique is quick and easy, and it’s shown to release endorphins to the brain that make you feel good. (Plus, an ear massage is much more inconspicuous than taking off your shoes and giving yourself a foot rub.)

Start by gently rubbing and pulling down on your earlobes with your thumb and index finger. Focus on your breath as you do this five or six times. Next, move up the outer edges of the ear, squeezing as you make your way to the top. Finally, take your index and middle fingers and massage the bony part of your skull right behind the ears. Ta-da! Peace and relaxation.

Acupuncture Helps Those Struggling with Fertility

For couples trying to get pregnant, the process can be one of the most excitingly joy-filled or exhaustingly frustrating times of their lives. 

Treatments like in vitro fertilization and hormone shots have varying reliability and sometimes come with a steep financial burden. These factors often leave couples looking for alternative approaches to complement their existing infertility treatments.  You might be surprised to learn that acupuncture helps over 4.5 million couples/year with infertility.

According to Dr. Raymond Chang, who’s both a Western-trained physician and a classically trained acupuncturist, the ancient Chinese treatment can stimulate egg production in women who can’t or don’t want to take fertility medications. In a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, he notes that acupuncture increases the production of “feel good” endorphins, which play a critical role in regulating ovulation.

Dr. Raymond Chang reported to WebMD “When you compare the pregnancy rates for an egg producing drug to acupuncture alone, the rates are equal, “a 50 percent chance of pregnancy in three months for patients not undergoing IVF. However, acupuncture is even more successful when used in conjunction with IVF. 

A 2012 study conducted by Tel Aviv University found that 65.5 percent of a test group who combined the treatments were able to conceive, compared to 39.5 percent of the group who did IVF alone. Why did this happen? It largely comes down to stress.

Acupuncture has been proven to be an incredibly effective tool for stress management. When stress is lowered, blood flow is increased throughout the body, including the uterus and ovaries. This increased blood flow creates a thicker uterine wall, and therefore a stronger environment for an egg to be nourished and carried full term.

For those who are struggling with infertility, many doctors recommend this type of two-pronged approach. Acupuncture helps infertility by allowing your body to function more efficiently, which in turns makes your more responsive to treatments like IVF.

If you’re considering treatment for infertility, speak to your OB/GYN and find a licensed and qualified acupuncturist. Experts estimate you’ll need a 30-minute session roughly two times per week, and it may take several months before your body begins working as it should. Hopefully, with the right acupuncturist and the proper treatment plan, you’ll be picking out maternity clothes before you know it.

Research Shows Acupuncture to Be an Effective Treatment for Eczema

If you’ve ever suffered from eczema — a skin condition plaguing nearly 10 percent of the entire U.S. population — you know how uncomfortable and embarrassing it can be. This inflammation causes skin to be itchy, bumpy, scaly, and raw, sometimes even leading to blisters and bleeding.

When these conditions arise, many doctors are quick to prescribe steroid injections and over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. However, as Jennifer Jacobs — a homeopathic doctor and professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington — says, these treatments only mask the problem. They don’t address what’s going on in the body to be causing eczema in the first place. What’s more, with continued use, the body can become immune to these types of treatments.

Thankfully, acupuncture provides a safe and natural option for battling eczema. Research shows acupuncture to be an effective treatment for battling other skin conditions as well, such as melasma, psoriasis, shingles, and neurodermatitis, a disease similar to eczema. According to Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials published by the World Health Organization, 53 percent of melasma cases were cured within three months of treatment with acupuncture, compared to 13 percent of cases treated with vitamins C and E. Even more impressive, cure rates for neurodermatitis were 100 percent, compared to just 17 percent for the group treated with more traditional Western medicine.

To address eczema and other skin conditions with acupuncture, high-grade surgical steel needles are used to stimulate points typically along the torso, legs, and arms. The stimulation of these points simultaneously activates the immune and endocrine systems, which jumpstarts the body into healing itself. Depending on your individual needs and the plan you’ve discussed with your acupuncturist, this treatment may last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.

Those with skin disorders also tend to have more sensitivities to diet. People with eczema and other conditions are encouraged to avoid the things that can cause inflammation, such as alcohol, and focus on a diet high in fruits and leafy green vegetables.