Tag Archive for: acupuncture

Acupuncture for Grief: How It Can Help

Last week we had to say goodbye to our sweet, best good boy, Murphy Dog. He was a certified old geezer at 15 years old, but it still broke my heart.

If you’ve ever lost a beloved pet, you know how hard it is. To make things even harder, our sweet Murphy passed on the two-year anniversary of the day my dad died.

I can’t decide if this makes things extra difficult, grief-wise, or if it’s actually very efficient. However you look at it, the grief has been heavy.

Grief Sucks

It really, really sucks. It hits you right in the chest, almost knocking the wind out of you. Makes your whole body contract, and makes your heart literally ache.

The way grief comes in waves is a relief when it subsides, or it can knock your feet out from under you. Sometimes, I just feel so thankful for having had that sweet, loving dog in our lives. Other times, I forget he’s gone and expect him to come running for greetings and love when I walk in the door.

All the little things that you take for granted, from when they come to wake you up in the morning for breakfast, to even feeling sad that there’s so much less poop to scoop in the yard now that he is gone.* (Murphy had enviably good digestion. Also, my husband thinks this is very weird that it makes me sad, lol, so it’s ok if you do, too. It’s just another sign he isn’t here to me.)

As an acupuncturist, I know that all emotions are good and healthy, as long as they don’t get stuck in our bodies.

Grief According to East-Asian Medicine

Grief is said to “knot the Qi.” I feel that..like all the energy is tied up, almost making it hard to breathe. Grief is related to the Lung and Large Intestine (Metal Element), which govern taking in energy through breathing and letting go appropriately through the breath and Large Intestine.

So while it is important to feel your emotions, it is equally important to keep them from getting stuck in our bodies. When grief gets stuck in our bodies, it can weaken our immune systems, cause tightness in the chest and lungs, constipation, and cause a lot of stagnation in our whole body/mind/spirit.

This is where acupuncture and herbal medicine can help.

How Acupuncture Can Help Manage Grief

And while acupuncture and herbal medicine can’t take away your grief (nor do I think we’d totally want it to), it CAN help keep it from getting so stuck in your body.

And of course, I always recommend a good therapist to help with this, too. But sometimes the grief is also stuck in our bodies, and acupuncture and herbal medicine are some of the best remedies for that particular aspect of grief (or any other stuck emotion).

Acupuncture will calm the feeling of overwhelm, and help you breathe a little easier, help get things moving that are stuck. And it will help you feel better right there on the table during your treatment. And because acupuncture is cumulative, taking care of yourself with a series of treatments will help you even more.

This is important because it helps us to move forward in our own lives, not by avoiding or burying our grief, but by helping us grow with it. It can help us get out of that “stuckness.”

A few days ago, I had a wonderful acupuncture session with Sarah at our office. I felt “tied up” emotionally and even physically. That treatment helped soften my whole body and being. And it reminded me how thankful I am for this medicine, and all it can do.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine work best when used weekly, for the cumulative effect, for Grief, and most other things, too.

At Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to help you manage and heal your whole being, from emotional issues to chronic pain.

For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.

Book a massage anytime here.

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac 
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Acupuncture for Grief

If you’ve ever suffered from chronic pain, you know how much it affects every aspect of your life.

You can’t do the things you want to do. You don’t sleep well. It affects your mood, even your outlook on life. There’s a certain desperation that sets in, wondering if you’ll ever be back to normal.

Chronic pain can come from an injury that didn’t heal well. It can be from migraines, arthritis, chronic inflammation, digestive problems, and many other things.

The Four Major Pain Types[1]

  1. Nociceptive Pain: Usually from an injury, like back pain, a shoulder injury, or post-surgical pain.
  2. Inflammatory Pain: Caused by an inappropriate immune system response, such as Gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. Neuropathic Pain: Pain from nerve irritation, such as neuropathy or neuralgias. These are often from nerve impingement or entrapment.
  4. Functional Pain: the IDK of pain. There’s no obvious cause of the pain, like fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome.

Regardless of what kind of pain you’re having, there are some things you can do to help. Some of this is pure common sense, but when you’re plagued with chronic pain, sometimes we all forget the basics.

Here’s a loving reminder…

1. Reduce Your Toxic Load

Toxic Load is all the many chemical toxins that we unwittingly dump into and onto our bodies every day. Things like V.O.Cs (volatile organic compounds), sulfates, parabens and phthalates that you find in your shampoo, body wash, laundry detergents and fabric softerners, air fresheners.[2]

Even your makeup may not be safe. Check for PEG compounds, which are linked to cancer, parabens, which cause hormone disruption, formaldehyde/methylene glycol, which cause a whole host of issues.[3]

You are even getting a load of toxins from the packaging of processed foods, which may contain PFAS, aka “forever chemicals”,[4] that get transferred into the food. Yuck. These are seriously bad.

Instead, go for products from stores like Natural Grocers or Whole Foods, which don’t carry products that contain these toxins. Think scents from essential oils vs. chemical “fragrance.” You’ll be helping the environment, too, by making the switch.

2. Get Moving, Goldilocks Style…

In Chinese Medicine, stagnation is one of the main causes of pain for any reason. One of the best remedies for stagnation? Movement.

It can be hard to want to move when you have pain, but the more you sit, the more stagnant you become, and it will likely make your pain worse.

Now, when you have chronic pain, this is a bit of a dance.

You need to keep moving gently, consistently, as much as you’re able, but without exhausting yourself or flaring up your pain. That’s the Goldilock’s piece…finding what type and amount of movement work best for you and is just right.

Generally, shorter bouts of movement several times a day are a good place to start. Gentle stretching, walking, and light exercise as tolerated (avoiding injured areas as applicable.) Swimming, yoga, and sometimes even just dancing to your favorite music for a few minutes are good options, too.

Find what works for you, and be consistent!

3. Eat Better

We all know eating a lot of junk won’t make you feel very good.

For those of us with chronic pain, eating too much (and sometimes any) of the wrong foods can cause a flare-up of pain. Avoiding heavily processed foods, red meat, sugary foods, fried foods, MSG, rich foods and alcohol can go a long way towards easing chronic pain.[5]

So what can you eat to help manage pain?

The Mediterranean Diet is hands down the best diet, year after year for all health outcomes. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest and most delish diets out there.

  • Mono-unsaturated oils like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or Avocado Oil for when you need a flavorless oil for baking or cooking
  • Green leafy veggies, like spinach, salad greens, arugula, kale, and collard greens
  • Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, and sardines
  • Lots of fresh fruits, especially berries, citrus, and apples.
  • A variety of veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussel sprouts, etc.
  • Whole grains, from quinoa to whole wheat, sorghum, buckwheat, and brown rice.

Of course, if you have a food sensitivity, cater this to fit what you need.

4. Drink More Water

You probably are not drinking enough water on a daily basis. Me, too. Some days we do great at staying hydrated, but other days we get distracted and just forget.

Dehydration is a major factor in many kinds of pain, from headaches to chronic muscle and joint pain. So, drinking enough water should be a goal to help fend off pain (and it’s great for your skin, too!)

Here are some tips to make staying hydrated a habit

  • Start your day with a glass of water first thing in the morning. Keep a glass by your bed and drink it as soon as you sit up in the morning.
  • Carry a non-BPA water bottle with you and sip throughout the day.
  • Have a glass of water with each meal.
  • Eat more hydrating foods, like watermelon, cucumbers, salads, and soups.
  • Keep track of how much water you’re drinking. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks are actually dehydrating, so keep that in mind.

5. Get Regular Acupuncture & Massage Therapy

Research has found again and again that acupuncture is effective at treating chronic pain. [6]

Whether it’s musculoskeletal pain, TMJ, back pain, neck pain, migraines or other headaches, arthritis, IBS, or even chronic period pain, acupuncture has been successfully treating chronic pain for centuries. Your acupuncture treatment can also include cupping, which is great at releasing tight fascia.

Likewise, massage therapy is “recognized as a legitimate therapy”[7] for several pain mechanisms, and is effective at relieving musculoskeletal pain, relieving stress and anxiety related to chronic pain, and helping to stop pain by stimulating competing nerves.

Both acupuncture and massage work best when used regularly in managing chronic pain. At Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to help you manage and heal from your chronic pain. 

For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.

Book a massage anytime here.

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

[1] https://www.spinemd.com/name-your-pain-exploring-the-four-types-of-pain

[2] https://www.webmd.com/beauty/what-to-know-about-shampoo-ingredients

[3] https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/harmful-chemicals-in-your-cosmetics

[4] https://www.consumerreports.org/pfas-food-packaging/dangerous-pfas-chemicals-are-in-your-food-packaging-a3786252074/

[5] https://www.medicinenet.com/what_foods_cause_joint_pain/article.htm

[6] https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20180521acupuncture.html

[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-integrative-health/therapeutic-massage-for-pain-relief

Has anyone ever told you they tried acupuncture once and it didn’t work?

Well, that’s because just one acupuncture treatment may make you feel better for a day or two, but as magical as acupuncture can be, a series of treatments is needed to achieve deep and lasting results.

How many treatments you’ll need depends on a few things, including what issue we’re treating, how long you’ve had it, your overall health, and how severe the issue is. Long-standing chronic issues, or very severe problems, will likely require a longer series of treatments, while something like a mild ankle sprain will respond well in just 2-3 treatments.  

Acupuncture and massage therapy are dose-dependent.

Cumulative treatments are usually needed, just like when you see a chiropractor or physical therapist. You’ll get some relief from your first treatment, but a series of treatments make lasting changes by retraining the nervous system and muscle memory, calming inflammation, improving circulation, strengthening the immune system, and regulating hormones.

In general with acupuncture, we recommend weekly treatment for the first 4-6 visits, then taper to every other week, then monthly if needed. You should feel better after each treatment, however, it takes multiple visits close together to create lasting change. Herbal medicine may also be recommended, and can greatly enhance and speed up treatment since it is taken daily.

Here are some examples of commonly treated problems that usually follow this treatment plan

(If your symptoms are especially severe, you may need more weekly treatment, or 2+ visits the first week or two for best results):

Migraines

Weekly acupuncture for 4-6 weeks, then every other week for 1-2 months, then as needed as migraines subside. Herbs may be prescribed. Craniosacral therapy and neck massage may also be recommended

Painful and/or irregular periods

Weekly acupuncture for 4 weeks, then every other week for two more months, as near as possible to ovulation and period. Herbs are highly recommended for best results. Visceral manipulation for painful periods may be recommended.

Long-Covid

Weekly acupuncture 4+ weeks then tapering as above. This depends entirely on the severity of symptoms and the systems affected. Mild symptoms may resolve in a month, severe symptoms can take months to clear. Herbal medicine is highly recommended in most cases.

Insomnia

Weekly 4-6 visits, then tapering as above. Herbal medicine is highly recommended.

Anxiety

Weekly 4-6 weeks, then tapering as above. Herbal medicine is very helpful and works daily. Those with chronic anxiety do best with monthly maintenance sessions once symptoms are managed. Craniosacral therapy may be recommended, as well.

For massage, you may just need a session or two to relieve your sore muscles or occasional massages for self-care.

Several weekly treatments are recommended for chronic conditions that are causing you ongoing problems. Problems like chronic neck or back pain, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, or any other chronic musculoskeletal pain respond best to consistent work during the first few weeks, as your massage therapist releases tension and adhesions in the tissue and surrounding areas that may be contributing to your pain patterns.

Of course, many people get a regular monthly massage and/or acupuncture for health maintenance, too.

We highly recommend monthly maintenance sessions as a wonderful and feel-good part of your healthy lifestyle! Monthly maintenance sessions are a great way to manage stress, calm anxiety, improve circulation, manage chronic health issues, and keep your immune system strong.

We are also here if you need us for those flare-ups, new issues and to help manage stress and anxiety.

As always, let us know if you have questions about treatment, including what we can treat. We’re happy to help!

Book an appointment for acupuncture or massage, or a 15-minute free initial consult at https://acusimple.com/access/7870/#/appointments/1016/

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Have you ever had some kind of health issue that is really debilitating, but none of your western medicine doctors can figure out what is going on, or how to help?

Our family is in the midst of one of those situations at the moment. Our daughter has had severe lower right abdominal pain for 11 days, along with exhaustion and a low-grade fever. We’ve been to Urgent Care, the ER twice, and now a pediatric GI specialist trying to figure out what’s going on, and how to help the poor kid. She is really suffering.

At first, it looked like a textbook case of appendicitis.

The ER got her right in, and got tests going immediately. She’s had an ultrasound, CT, and an MRI (those should be fun bills….), along with bloodwork, flu test, strep test, mono test, urine test…. Then… They couldn’t find anything. Idiopathic Abdominal Pain is the official diagnosis (aka I Don’t Know). But, hey, at least they ruled out any rupturing organs!

It’s frustrating when you don’t get answers, and even more frustrating when you don’t get any relief from your symptoms.

So…what’s next? Was all that a waste? Not at all.

Now I know I can safely treat her from a structural and Chinese medicine perspective. Many people who come to see me have been through a similar maze of tests and doctor appointments. Often, for a longer time and more appointments. The good news is, they’ve ruled out the really dangerous stuff, which is so important to know.

As with most tricky patients, my daughter probably won’t heal overnight, but we’ll see steady progress. It’s not just about treating the symptoms in this kind of medicine. We want to help her pain go away, and we also want to find the root of WHY it happened. We will treat that, too, so we can help it go away for good.

Sometimes, the problem is something that doesn’t totally goes away, like Celiac or Crohn’s disease. With acupuncture, herbal medicine, supplements, nutrition, and bodywork like visceral manipulation and craniosacral therapy, we can still manage the illness well, reducing symptoms, frequency and duration of flare-ups.

If you’ve ever been in this situation, book a consult and see if we can help.

We offer free 15-minute consultations so we can give you a better idea of how we can help you. We are your partners in regaining your health, helping your body to heal, teaching you better ways to take care of yourself.

I often get asked what exactly it is that I do in my treatment sessions. Most people say it’s unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. It’s relaxing and calming, occasionally intense, and it gets results. Deep, lasting, sometimes profound results.

I’m an acupuncturist and herbalist, and I am also a bodyworker.

I started out as a massage therapist (about 20 years ago). Every time I started to get competent at what I had been learning, I realized there was another layer. This led me to study Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial Release, Structural Integration techniques, Reiki, Visceral and Neural Manipulation. And still, there were more layers. Things I couldn’t reach with bodywork alone.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which encompasses acupuncture, herbal medicine, and several other modalities like cupping, was the healing tradition that filled in the holes. TCM strengthens the body quickly and efficiently, while removing blockages. Now, I combine both worlds in my treatments.

These days, I don’t do much “massage,” in the sense of what you’d expect at a spa. The bodywork I do is very specific and focused on specific structures, even organs and the nervous system. At the Barral Institute, where I study Visceral and Neural Manipulation, they say that the more specific you can get with your work, the less you need. With these modalities, I can get that specificity on a structural level, and at the same time with acupuncture and herbal medicine, I can hone in on the body’s other imbalances.

The combination is powerful.

Depending on what brings you in, along with your history, I’ll let you know what the best combination will be for you after we’ve done our initial intake. For some patients, acupuncture and herbs are the best route. For others, adding bodywork will make a profound difference. You can also let me know your preference.

Some good examples of when a combination of acupuncture and bodywork are the most powerful are when there have been injuries or surgeries, even years past, or when a patient comes in with chronic headaches.

In one case, a patient came in with chronic low back and sciatic pain, along with fatigue and irritability. She has 2 small kids, and had a C-section a few years ago. The pain started a few months later. She was depleted from pregnancy and motherhood, which we treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine. The low back and sciatic pain, however, was directly related to scar tissue from the C-Section. We used a combination of Visceral and Neural Manipulation, along with myofascial release, to correct the structural imbalance. After about 10 treatments, she was pain-free and felt like herself again.

In another case, a patient came in with chronic, debilitating migraines for over 20 years. Nothing had helped, and he had nearly given up. We used acupuncture and herbs to treat the underlying excess stress issues which made hime prone to headaches. Craniosacral therapy and Neural Manipulation released restrictions in his head and neck caused by a major accident years before. His headaches reduced by 80 in 5 visits.

Every case and person is unique, as is their treatment. By combining acupuncture, herbal medicine, and these advanced bodywork techniques, we can address many aspects at once. We delve into the root of the issue and help you feel better, fast.