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By Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., Oct 22 2018 08:29PM



Have you noticed all those 3 month pre-pregnancy plans out there? Why is that?


For each ovulation the egg that’s released began it’s journey almost a year before it matures! This is the time required for a primordial follicle to develop and prepare for eventual ovulation through a process called folliculogenesis. The last 3-4 months before ovulation are particularly important. During this time the egg grows and matures in a resting follicle in your ovary, and eventually is released at ovulation. The latest scientific research suggests that the hormonal environment in the ovary during the maturation process may be crucial to the development of healthy eggs.


Why is this important? It means that what you do during this time can impact the quality of your egg. If your body is strong and in balance, it can improve your chances for a genetically normal egg and of conceiving a healthy baby.



Your Body out of Balance


How are things going in your body right now? Do you have regular menstrual cycles without cramps, PMS, or other discomforts? Do you feel stressed or have problems sleeping? Your body gives you a number of little clues to show you it’s out of balance. It’s easy to overlook these little things, but they are trying to tell you something isn’t right. A number of factors can impact your body and may effect the quality of your egg including:


hormone imbalance

inflammation

stress

nutrient deficiencies

poor blood flow

unhealthy diet

Weight

Sleeping troubles

Smoking/drinking

Age



Luckily most of these can be changed with simple lifestyle modifications. When your body is healthy and balanced, it will give the follicle the best chance possible to create a healthy egg, which will ultimately lead to pregnancy and a healthy baby. Some things you can do right now to help are:



Nourishing Your Body to Create Balance


Get good sleep. Go to bed early enough to allow 9hrs of sleep a night. The goal is to wake up feeling rested. If you have problems sleeping then create healthy bedtime habits so you can get a good’s night rest.


Clean up your diet. Focus on lots of vegetables with good quality meats, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Also avoid greasy and processed foods.


Reduce stress. Add in mindfulness activities like yoga, medication, tai chi, even an evening walk around your neighborhood. Turn off screens at least 30 min before bed. Try to be aware of things in your life that cause you stress (reading the news, interacting with certain people either at work or social activities, a tv show or movie you’re watching, etc. ). Try to limit your exposure to those stressors.

Get regular exercise. This can reduce stress and increase blood flow. Find something you enjoy to do and listen to your body. If you feel like strenuous exercise is making you more stressed out, then switch up a day and do a long walk and/or stretching instead of a more vigorous workout.


Talk to a health professional. Nows a great time to schedule a pre-conception checkup and create a good relationship with an OBGYN you trust. There are also a number people out there that can help you reach your health goals. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out. Many providers exist to help you on your journey including acupucnturists (of course), nutritionists, chiropractors, health coaches, massage therapists, psychotherapists, personal trainers, naturopaths, just to name a few.



Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Can Help


One thing I love about Chinese Medicine is that it’s purpose is to balance your body. There are acupuncture points and herbs that can increase blood flow to the uterus, regulate your menstrual cycle, reduce stress, promote restful sleep, and overall help you feel more balanced in your life. They can help you get in the best shape possible so you can have a healthy pregnancy.


If you are thinking about getting pregnant, the best time to start making some of the changes is right now. Remember that your egg starts its journey almost a year before it’s released from the ovary! Already trying to get pregnant? It’s never to late to make some lifestyle changes to improve your health and feel your best.


By Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., Jul 23 2018 07:55PM



Say “Hi” Inside



Based upon Taoist meditation practices, the Inner Smile Meditation can have profound effects on your body and mind. This simple meditation suggests that you “smile” to all of your internal organs and glands. It is a way of saying “thank you” to your body for working 24 hours, 7 days a week!


Focusing your attention and smiling in this way can calm the autonomic nervous system, revitalize the internal organs, and increase the flow of blood and Qi.


Below is the Inner Smile Meditation for the main Meridian Organ Systems. For more information, please refer to Mantak Chia’s book, Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality.


Choose a quiet spot and keep warm throughout the meditation. Sit comfortably at the edge of a chair, feet flat on the ground with your back straight. Breathe deeply and relax. Clasp your hands together, left hand on bottom and right hand on top, palms touching, and rest them in your lap.


Close your eyes and feel a connection between the soles of your feet and the ground.

Focus on the midpoint between your eyebrows. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Put a smile on your face and journey down to the wonderfully amazing body that keeps you alive, alert and active.


Heart -See your heart as a vibrant red color. Focus the energy of “joy” into your heart. Feel it pulse with love. Breathe in and exhale with the sound of HAW.


Lungs - Radiate the feeling in your heart to your lungs. Picture your lungs as pure white. Focus on letting go of sadness and grief. Exhale with the sound of SSSSSS.


Liver - Keep the feeling spilling over into your liver, which is just under your ribs on the right side. Picture it as a vibrant grass-green. When exhaling, let go of anger and frustration with the sound of SHHHH.


Spleen - Continue to the left, under the ribs. Shine a vibrant yellow color into this organ. When you exhale, let go of overthinking and worry, and use the sound of WHOO.


Kidney - Focus your attention on your lower back, just below and under your ribs. Imagine a deep blue-purple light. Breathe in courage and exhale fear. When you exhale, use the sound of WOOO.


Once you have traveled through your body, begin to focus your attention on your navel. Smile down to your navel, and focus your attention there.


Mentally move the energy in a spiral at the navel 36 times. Women start the spiral counterclockwise, men start it clockwise. Next, reverse the spiral direction and bring the energy back into the navel, circling 24 times. You can use a finger to guide the spiral motion.


It is ok if you don’t know the exact locations of your organs. Just bringing awareness to your organs is benefit enough. Your body will love you just the same.


Perform each exercise 9 times, twice a day. These exercises can affect your body and mind, so it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider.


By Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., Sep 24 2017 06:00AM

A study published by the Journal of Sleep Medicine shows acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for insomnia sufferers. The study group was composed of 72 patients with primary insomnia. Acupuncture treatments were given three times a week for four weeks and the patients were required to wear sleep monitors, as well as complete regular questionnaires. The outcomes were measured by the Insomnia Severity Index, sleep efficiency, sleep awakenings and total sleep time. The Insomnia Severity Index of the patients improved greatly, as did the sleep efficiency and the total sleep time. This study provides evidence acupuncture can be of great help to insomnia sufferers.

http://www.sleep-journal.com/article/S1389-9457(17)30093-X/fulltext

Insomnia is a pathology that affects an estimated 32 million people in the United States. Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by an inability to obtain sufficient sleep, due to difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia can be either acute or chronic in nature. Acute insomnia is brief and can happen because of certain stressful life circumstances. Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three times per week and continues for at least three months. Of the two, chronic insomnia is the worst to experience. Chronic insomnia can lead to fatigue, mental sluggishness, brain fog, irritability, depression, anxiety, excessive worry, difficulty focusing and even accidents.

Traditional Chinese Medicine acknowledges adequate sleep as vitally important for physical, as well as mental well-being. TCM usually views insomnia as an imbalance of energies throughout the body. These energies are known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). There are multiple energetic pathways or meridians that run through the body. A person suffering from insomnia may have imbalances in one or more of these meridians. Most typically, the imbalances occur along the heart, liver and kidney meridians. Stress, poor diet and a lack of exercise can produce a blockage or stagnation of Qi in the body. This stagnation can create heat and deplete fluids or yin in the body. One of the ways to bring balance back to these meridians is through the use of acupuncture.

Acupuncture can be used very effectively, to treat all types of sleep disorders and with none of the toxic side effects associated with medications or sleep aids. Because acupuncture is very customizable to the individual, there may also be beneficial side effects associated with the treatment of insomnia. Many patients report after receiving acupuncture treatments for insomnia they also notice an overall improvement of both their physical and mental wellness.

There is not just one set of points to treat every person with insomnia. Also the root cause of the insomnia may stem from one or multiple issues. Each person is treated holistically with TCM and their bodies are considered unique. Qi may flow differently in some people due to previous surgeries and medical implants. These are things the TCM practitioner considers before determining the treatment plan for each patient.

If you or somebody you know is suffering from insomnia, it might be worth the time to locate a properly trained and fully-licensed acupuncturist in your area. With licensed acupuncturists in nearly all fifty states, restful sleep may be just a few pin pricks away.



By Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., Sep 12 2017 06:47PM

One of the most common frustrations for those suffering from depression is the lack of motivation to do regular daily activities, an inability to find enjoyment and an overwhelming amount of negative thoughts. Depression cannot be simply cured by “mind over matter”, but that does not mean it can’t be treated and improved significantly. Depression is not an illness that one should have to suffer through alone, treatment and therapy can be crucial to the healing process back to better health.


Along with treatment options you may be considering, small additions to your daily routine can prove to have significant effects on lowering depression symptoms over time.


Put yourself and your mental health first

It is easy to put your health on the backburner when life gets busy and stressful. Maybe you are hating the office job you have, or you're fighting with a spouse. When life gets tough, it is easy to neglect our bodies physically and mentally. Look at life in the larger terms and understand how you take care of your health now, will affect you for years down the road. If you are suffering from depression, seeking treatment is the first step back to better quality of life and can truly make all the difference.


Get a routine going

It may be hard to keep and be motivated about a routine. However, by setting goals and habits on a daily or weekly basis, you are continuing to improve upon your condition. Just stick with it. Try to set goals for exercise, if you can go on a jog just three days a week, you’ll be boosting your serotonin, your mood and your physical health. Take time to go outside in nature and get some fresh air. Depression is hard, but getting out of your normal environment can help you get out of your head for a bit. Practicing mindfulness is something everyone should do on a daily basis. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and not the past or future. By doing so, we let go of anxieties we feel about the future or negative thoughts we have about the past, eliminating feelings of worry.


Reach out

Don’t go through this alone. Chances are there are people in your life that love and care about you very much. Although it may seem hard to reach out or socialize, being around people can help you feel more connected. It is easy to isolate yourself when depression is consuming your mind and thoughts, but talking to friends and family can have profound benefits on beginning the process to better health.


Depression is not easy, but also doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Contact a medical professional about the best treatment options for you and consider alternative treatments such as acupuncture.

By Sarah Shupe Hung L.Ac., Aug 21 2014 06:32PM

Acupuncture can help: Acupuncture has shown to help achieve a relaxing and sound sleep. Two powerful points in the ear can send you off to dreamland.


Take a moment: Make some time in your schedule for a pre-sleep relaxation ritual. Taking a hot bath just before bed has been shown to promote a deep, restful sleep. You can also add a handful of hops to the bathwater or place a small amount of dried hops wrapped in a cloth inside your pillow case. Hops are used to reduce restlessness during sleep.


Aromatherapy: Put a few drops of chamomile essential oil on your pillow just before bed. You can also use an aromatherapy diffuser or add a few drops to water in a spray bottle to disperse the scent around your bedroom.


Relax your soles: Tap the soles and both sides of the feet gently with a hairbrush for five minutes, paying special attention to the point below the ball of the foot in the center, about one-third the distance between the toes and heel.


Evening snack tips: If you choose to eat before bed, a light snack should consist of mostly carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. This combination increases the availability of tryptophan to the brain. Try eating a small bowl of low sugar oatmeal along with low fat milk. A sliced apple with a few slices of cheese can also do the trick. Avoid large amounts of protein before bed, it may keep you from falling into a sound sleep.


Want more? Read an article about sleep in my August newsletter.


Sarah's Wellness Blog

Welcome to my blog

 

My name is Sarah Shupe Hung and I'm a licensed acupuncturist working in Northern Virginia.  My goal with the blog is to bring you current information on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, as well as other health related topics like nutrition, meditation, and exercise.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.  

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