Acupuncture, Prism Blog

Why I Love Acupuncture, and You Should Too

Prior to being an acupuncturist, my background was in health education. I had also worked as a personal care assistant and receptionist at a chiropractic clinic. All of these experiences taught me that I wanted to be able to work with patients, and I wanted to have the tools to help them right then and there. I didn’t like western medicine, which tends to see the doctor as all knowing and doesn’t take into account patients experiences of their bodies and needs. Also, though I do a lot of health education in my acupuncture work now, I didn’t like just educating people, without being able to actually do anything for them. I wanted it to be a two-way street. I wanted to be able to provide them with care that would help them right away AND involve them in their own healing process. This led me to explore various alternative medicine fields.

I came to acupuncture specifically through a love of herbal medicine, sparked by my botanist father who taught me a deep appreciation for plants, and the women in my family who taught me the value of caring for others.

I had only had acupuncture once, on a whim, before starting acupuncture school and I didn’t really know if I’d like it. I’m sure some of you can relate!

I decided that if I didn’t like it, I’d just study the herbs and skip the rest of the program. It turns out I LOVE acupuncture and being an acupuncturist and I’m so glad I started this journey.

My favorite part of my job is watching people regain ownership of their healing process, reconnect with their bodies, and make positive changes in their lives.

Acupuncture is a holistic system that brings you back into balance by fixing the root of a problem rather than just the symptoms.

Some acupoints trigger a release of calming hormones, some rewrite pain pathways, some awaken the immune system, have anti-inflammatory effects, or increase circulation. Together, they help our nervous systems switch from ‘fight or flight’ (stress) mode into ‘rest and digest’ (healing) mode. This helps us keep calm, sleep well, build our immune systems, and repair cellular damage.

Most importantly, acupuncture helps people reconnect with their bodies and take true ownership of their healing processes.

Acupuncture makes small adjustments in your body to set you on the right path for healing. It’s your choice to continue to follow that path in between your treatments. Your body wants to heal. It likes getting a little reset so it can get back to doing what it does best. Acupuncture allows you to set your healing intentions and send you in the right direction to actually accomplish them. What a wonderful gift.

The more scientifically identifiable effects of an acupuncture treatment (including changes in nerve and pain pathways, as well as endorphins and other brain chemicals that are released) last about four days after a session. Notice how you feel over the first 3-4 days after your treatment, jotting down any improvements or symptoms that you notice, like increased energy, better sleep, better digestion, and improvement in whatever symptoms you came in for. This allows you to keep in touch with your body and understand what it needs, and also helps us understand how you’re responding to treatment.

When you listen to your body, follow the healing path that acupuncture lays out for you, and come in often, this truly allows the healing momentum to build up. Rather than bouncing back and forth between better after acupuncture and worse again between each session, you begin to improve and improve and improve. Each time you come in, you’re expanding upon what you’ve already accomplished and you can actually start to see dramatic changes in your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Even once you’re feeling great it’s important to come in for your monthly or seasonal ‘tune-up’, just to keep your body on the right track of healing so that you can continue to enjoy good health.

It can be really challenging to create new habits and let go of old patterns that don’t serve us. It is so much easier just to come in and expect your healthcare provider to fix you. And sometimes we can do exactly that. But mostly those kind of fixes are temporary; the lasting changes come with work that you do outside of our sessions as well. Acupuncture can help you get there by resetting your nervous system and helping you reconnect to what your body has been telling you all along.

What do you do to get the most out of your acupuncture sessions? Why do you love acupuncture?


Schedule your first acupuncture session now, at www.prismacupuncture.com/appointments


This information is for educational purposes only, please consult a healthcare provider before exercising and always follow your surgeon’s advice.

Sandy Baird DC of Riverstone Chiropractic
Prism Blog

Featured on RiverstoneChiropractic.com: Acupuncture and Post-Surgical Care

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to share my newest article, which was featured on riverstonechiropractic.com (my favorite—and LGBTQ-focused!—chiropractor). Click to read more.

“In Chinese medicine, surgery is considered to block the flow of the meridians (similar to nerve and blood vessel damage in Western medicine). Improperly healed scars and old scar tissue can have the same effect, potentially causing pain, sensation loss, decreased circulation, and even impaired internal organ function depending on the depth of the scar tissue. Acupuncture as soon as possible after surgery helps to promote healing, reduce pain, swelling, and bruising, and prevent scar tissue from forming. Once the bandages are removed, scars can be worked on directly to prevent adhesions and reduce the appearance of scars. Cupping massage is also used to treat surgical scarring and adhesions to underlying tissues, and moxa can be used for post-surgical pain as well as reducing scars…

Surgical scars that are at least two weeks old can be worked on with acupuncture. Such treatments not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to less noticeable scars and a reduction in keloiding. Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on health…”

Click to read more.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

A transgender woman with long hair
Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Treating Post-Surgical Constipation

photo credit: Practical Cures on flickr CC

Constipation is extremely common post-surgery, especially in combination with constipating pain killers, less physical activity, and irregular fluid and food intake. Often a bowel movement is required before a hospital will let a patient go home, so encouraging this process is especially beneficial to get you home sooner.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is extremely useful for alleviating postoperative constipation. Studies have shown that patients receiving regular acupuncture post-surgery actually perform better (have more frequent, easier,  less painful, more complete bowel movements) than those taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Points on your arms, legs, and abdomen are most frequently chosen for this purpose, especially points on either side of your navel and points on the stomach and large intestine ‘meridians’ (lines along the body in Chinese Medicine, sort of like dermatomes).

Acupressure

Several of these points can also be used at home as acupressure points for constipation. Press each point lightly (no more than an inch deep for abdominal points, about the pressure of holding hands for arm and leg points) for about 30 seconds at a time:

Massage

Belly massage is also helpful. You can find a Chi-Nei-Tsang practitioner near you, or watch this video demo to perform a similar belly massage yourself. You can also refer to the illustrated steps available here. There are many methods of breathing exercises for constipation as well that massage your belly from the inside!

Herbs

Acupuncture can be complemented with some herbs that stimulate bowel motility like:

Nutrition

Hydration is key. Drink plenty of water and incorporate more warm foods and beverages to wake up your digestive system gently. Try ginger tea, hot water with lemon, and bone broth. If you urinate more frequently than every 2 hours you may be drinking too much or too fast. If you urinate less frequently than every 5 hours you are dehydrated!

Eat warm, easy-to-digest foods like rice porridge, oatmeal, and mashed sweet potato or yams. When you’re ready, try lamb or vegetable and mushroom soup. Give your family and friends recipes to make for you during your recovery, such as: Magical Mineral Broth, Congee, and Almond flour ginger cookies.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”


Further study:

  Acupuncture at ST25 and BL25   Acupuncture at LI11 and ST37   Acupuncture at ST25, BL25, LI11 and ST37   Medicine:oral use of mosapride citrate: 4-week oral use, 5mg, three times daily 0.5 hour before meal   Total
SBMs [1]
[units: times per week]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.7  (1.9)   2.5  (1.7)   2.9  (2.0)   2.9  (2.8)   2.8  (2.1)
Bristol scale [2]
[units: units on a scale]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.8  (1.3)   2.9  (1.4)   3.0  (1.5)   2.7  (1.4)   2.9  (1.8)
Degree of straining during defecation [3]
[units: participants]
0   5   8   9   5   27
1   63   60   68   59   250
2   68   69   58   72   267
3   30   35   28   31   124
no defecation   2   0   2   3   7

 

Scar reduction therapy
Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Neuropathy, Prism Blog, Scar Reduction, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture for Scar Treatment

Why Should We Treat Scars?
Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on the health of the individual. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction.
Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, and chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and numbness). Scars are especially notable on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar.
In Chinese medicine, significant scars are considered to block the flow of the meridians, (similar to the nerve and blood vessel damage pointed to by Western medicine) causing not only pain and decreased circulation, but also potentially impaired internal organ function depending on the meridian affected.

Scar Treatment with Acupuncture and Herbs
Scars that are at least two weeks old can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
A 2014 study used local acupuncture (“surrounding the dragon“: using needles directly around and through the scar) with distal points (4 gates and ST36). After eight treatments in 5 weeks the scar pain had reduced from a 7/10 to a 1-2/10. Such treatments can not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to flatter, smaller, less noticeable scars and a reduction of keloiding.
Moxibustion (a gentle warming treatment achieved by burning dried mugwort), may also be used. Small amounts of moxa may be burned directly on the skin -with a sesame oil cream as a medium to prevent burns- around the scar, or a stick of rolled moxa may be burned above the site to warm the area. Both methods are pleasant and effective.
Topical herbs can also be very beneficial for scar healing. It is generally best to apply your liniment of choice over the affected area before bed and cover with a tshirt (or other clean soft article of clothing depending on the site of the scar), so that it has plenty of time to soak in without washing or sweating which would interfere with product absorption during the day.

Which Topical Should You Choose?
  • Prism’s Scar Oil has frankincense and other essential oils that break up scar tissue in a tamanu oil base, a great oil for reducing the appearance of scars, including keloids.
  • Zheng Gu Shui is beneficial for deep scars that may have adhesions to underlying tissues (for example surgical scars). They can improve local circulation, healing of the scar and the area that was injured, and reduce associated pain. It is better for healing and restoring health to the area than for cosmetic scar reduction.
  • Wan Hua Oil prevents scarring, increases blood circulation, reduces swelling, and helps regenerate damaged tissues. Once the wound closes, massage the oil directly over the scar daily to prevent scarring and promote healing. This option is best to prevent cosmetic scars from surgery. It is also effective for scars from burns.
  • Aloe aids scar healing and reduces infection and swelling. If used during the healing process it can reduce the formation of scars. Be sure to use 100% aloe (fresh is best), not aloe with alcohol or other additives that can dry and irritate the area.
  • Ching Wan Hung oil promotes healing and new tissue growth, reduces scarring, and prevents infection. It is especially effective for scars from burns.
  • You can also use castor oil compresses, to break up deeper scar tissue and adhesions, but I don’t recommend this for new scars that are still healing (or any open wounds).

Note: Many people recommend the usage of Vitamin E on scars, but newer research shows that Vitamin E does not help reduce the appearance of scars, and in the case of surgical scars can actually make scars more visible due to the development of irritation or contact dermatitis.


Providers: read more about acupuncture scar treatments from Skya Abbate, DOM.

Additionally, my colleague, Dena Gold LAc, suggests a Japanese style version of surrounding the dragon that involved needling slightly outside the scar, towards and under under the scar superficially enough that the needle falls rather than roots. Dena also suggests checking the fire points of the channel the scar intersects and if they are tender, needle the metal and water points of that channel before treating the scar directly.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”

 

"First Steps Towards Making Your Clinic Trans-Inclusive" by Katrina Hanson, published in CJOM
Acupuncture, For Providers, Press, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Article Published in CJOM: Making Clinics Trans-Inclusive

I’m so honored to have had my article (First Steps Towards Making Your Clinic Trans-Inclusive) recently published in the California Journal of Oriental Medicine (CJOM), a semiannual peer-reviewed publication of the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA). My hope is that this article will help other practitioners to start making their clinics more trans, queer, and gender spectrum inclusive.

To read the full article, subscribe to CJOM, pick up a copy at your local Acupuncture College, or view in PDF: Page One and Page Two.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

an elder lesbian
Acupuncture, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery

10 Reasons LGBTQ Seniors Should Get Acupuncture

  1. LGBT older people face significant health disparities, “linked to a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, violence and victimization; higher poverty rates; a lack of access to LGBT-competent providers; and low rates of health insurance coverage” (Out & Visible). Therefore, LGBTQ older adults need even more access to healthcare.
  2. Acupuncture helps to protect the immune system and prevent the potentially dangerous infections that become more likely as we age.
  3. Acupuncture eases pain and arthritis as well as strengthening bones to prevent osteoporosis and injuries, so you can maintain mobility and reduce the need for surgeries and medications.
  4. Acupuncture lowers blood pressure and strengthens the circulatory system, preventing potentially life threatening cardiovascular events.
  5. LGBT elders “deal disproportionately with mental health concerns, which is a primary risk factor for social isolation” (Sage USA). Acupuncture reduces anxiety and depression, helps you to adapt constructively to change, and to move through grief.
  6. Acupuncture helps your body prepare for surgery and to heal faster after surgery, reducing complications and need for pain medications.
  7. Acupuncture does all of this without having to worry about drug-drug interactions!
  8. AIMC Berkeley is an LGBTQ safe space so you don’t have to worry about healthcare discrimination. “44% of transgender older people worry that their relationships with healthcare providers would be negatively affected if their gender identities were known, as opposed to 20% of LGB older people” (Autostraddle on LGBTQ Seniors).
  9. Treatment is determined based on the individual, not the illness. All the symptoms are seen in relation to each other leading to a unique treatment for each patient instead of cookie cutter prescriptions.
  10. You get more time with a practitioner than you would with an MD. With 60 minute appointments, Katrina can take time to really listen to you.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

yin yang of masculine and feminine can be trans inclusive
Acupuncture, For Providers, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Yin and Yang; Masculine and Feminine

 

“Instead of saying that all gender is this or all gender is that, let’s recognize that the word gender has scores of meanings built into it. It’s an amalgamation of bodies, identities, and life experiences, subconscious urges, sensations, and behaviours, some of which develop organically, and others which are shaped by language and culture. Instead of saying that gender is any one single thing, let’s start describing it as a holistic experience.” –Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman (Gender Outlaws)

Most diagnoses in Chinese medicine, represent the interaction between hot and cold, day and night, yin and yang, masculine and feminine. However, Chinese medicine’s outlook on these dualities is actually much more inclusive of LGBTQ identities when you look beyond this basic binary.

Yin and yang, though often associated with male and female, are more accurately represented by masculine and feminine. Masculinity and femininity are indeed seen as opposites, but they are also in a constant state of transformation from one into the other, and at each stage yang contains yin and yin contains yang.

Basic Principles of Yin & Yang/Masculinity and Femininity:

1. Masculinity and Femininity are opposites

2. Masculinity and Femininity are interdependent: There is always masculinity within Femininity and femininity within Masculinity

3. Masculinity and Femininity are mutually consuming and in a constant state of transformation of one into the other

In this way, masculinity and femininity cannot exist without both opposing each other and containing a piece of the other. Most people in discussing yin and yang theory today, and even most Chinese Medicine practitioners, only focus on the first principle, which alone can be used to reinforce our culture’s thinking of gender as binary. However, traditionally this medicine was much more inclusive of gender variations and spectrums!

Further Sources:
genderevolve.blogspot.com
acupuncturetoday.com


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

An older woman touching her stomach
Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

How Can Acupuncture Help With Hep C?

There are many acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and its complications, whether or not you are undergoing western treatment.

Often western medical practitioners will advise patients with early stage HCV to wait to seek treatment until there are drugs available with less serious side effects, but you may already be experiencing symptoms at this point. Chinese medicine can be invaluable in alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the virus until you are able to seek further treatment to clear the virus.

Current standard western anti-viral treatment involves interferon and ribarin, which together are able to clear HCV infection from about half of people affected. By combining these drugs with protease inhibitors, many more people can be cleared of the virus, but this combination produces serious side-effects. Many patients stop taking these drugs because of the side effects they produce, sometimes creating medication resistant HCV strains in their bodies. These side effects can be even worse if the patient is already in poor health when they begin taking these medications. Chinese medicine can be used to lessen the side effects of those western treatments and work on any concurrent health problems that may interfere with treatment.

Guan Ye Lian Qiao (St. John’s Wort), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), and Shui Fei Ji (Milk Thistle) don’t mix with western HCV treatment. Two weeks prior to starting western treatment, and during the course of treatment, the following herbs and supplements should be avoided: silymarin/milk thistle (though this herb can reduce liver inflammation for folks with HCV who are not taking anti-virals), St. John’s Wort, Chai Hu/Bupleurum. The following herbs and supplements can help soothe symptoms of HCV and side effects of treatment: lactobacillus acidophilis/probiotics, b-compex (especially B-12 and folic acid), omega 3 fatty acids & essential fatty acids, selenium, chromium, carotenoids, lycopenes, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid.

It is recommended to get an acupuncture treatment within 24 hours or receiving an interferon injection, to help relieve side effects of the injection. Furthermore, HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S., and chinese medicine can be helpful in supporting patients through this surgery and support their transplant as well.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.