Top 4 Ways to Eliminate Allergies – Naturally

Enjoy the summer without allergies

Late summer is ragweed season and it is also the time of year that “hay fever ” sufferers tend to stay indoors until the first killing frost.  If this is your “modus operandi”, please read on.  There are healthy, lasting solutions to your allergies, thanks to Chinese medicine.

More than one in six Canadians suffer from hay fever, known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is associated with the release of pollen from trees, flowers and grasses each spring and summer. Common symptoms include itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and breathing problems.

Allergic reactions are said to occur when the immune system launches an attack against otherwise harmless substances. What causes this over the top response from the immune system is still unclear but our genetic make-up is seen as the greatest contributing factor. Indeed, if either or both parents have allergies, their children inherit a 60-65% chance of developing them too.
Your Immune System
The immune system is often weakened with stress, fatigue, poor diet and lack of physical exercise. Combine these factors with the increased exposure to harsh chemicals in the environment and it is no wonder that allergies of all kinds are actually on the rise in the Canadian population.
Conventional treatment
Two of the more popular treatments available to allergy sufferers are over the counter medications or immunotherapy, (allergy shots). Thankfully, other options exist for those who no longer wish to endure the side effects from medications or those who have difficulty adhering to the 3-5 year allergy shot regimen.

Here are my top 4 ways to get the jump on allergies naturally.

1). Get Acupuncture.
A series of treatments just before or during allergy season will reduce your symptoms and strengthen your immune system. Need more convincing? The World Health Organization recommends acupuncture as an effective way to treat allergies.

2). Eliminate Dairy Products
An important reduction in symptoms can be had by simply cutting back on dairy products. I mean all dairy; milk, cheese yogurt and even Kefir, as the presence of dairy in the body exacerbates the overproduction of mucous and phlegm.

3). Vitamin C
Mega doses of ascorbic acid supplements (vitamin C) have been shown to strengthen the immune system. In fact, studies have proven its use can protect against colds and flu. (source : Pub Med) See your health care professional for dosage.

4). Manage your Stress
Stress management has also proven to be an important means of coping with allergies. In fact, research over the past 30 years has demonstrated a link between chronic stress and suppression of the immune system. The practice of restorative yoga, meditation or Qi Gong, an ancient self-healing system, can calm the nervous system and reduce the stress response, thus protecting and supporting the immune system.

Heel Spurs, Bone Spurs Resolved with Acupuncture

Because I used to teach skiing up here in  Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, I know all about bone spurs and heel spurs.  Many a Ski pro with whom I worked complained each winter about the pain they endured thanks to their bone spurs.  Now that I am an acupuncturist, I know that you need not be an athlete to be familiar with them too.

Bone spurs, as the name implies are bony outgrowths that can occur anywhere on any bone or tendon in the body.  They are most often caused by a gradual build up of bone in response to inflammation due to tendinitis or osteoarthritis.  My colleagues in the ski school would often blame poorly fitting ski boots (probably causing friction and inflammation on the foot) for their woes. The medical name for bone spurs is osteophytes  and, when symptomatic, their presence can be quite painful.  However, many people have bone spurs that cause no pain at all.

For people experiencing pain due to osteophytes, cortisone shots are often recommended to bring down the inflammation, but more often than not, the pain returns.  Unfortunately,  people are often told that the only other treatment for stubborn and very painful bone spurs is surgery, where the offending spur is cut away.

Here are 2 cases where I successfully treated bone spurs and a similar condition, heel spurs, with acupuncture.  In Chinese medicine, we look at such cases as a blockage of circulation in the affected areas.  Our needles work to stimulate circulation and bring down inflammation. This helps not only to relieve pain, but it allows the body to heal the area itself.

In the first case, my patient was a competitive skier facing surgery for very painful bone spurs that had accumulated over a few years on the Achilles tendon of each foot.   I treated him 3 times and sent him home with a moxa stick to use himself every day.  Moxa is a herb that, once lit, sends an infrared quality of heat deep into the tissues.  Gently warming the local area with moxa will improve circulation immensely.

1. Heel spur on Achilles tendon before acupuncture

1. Heel spur on Achilles tendon before acupuncture

Improvement of bone spur on Acilles tendon after 3 treatments and two weeks of daily moxa.

2. Improvement of bone spur on Achilles tendon after 3 treatments and two weeks of daily moxa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He returned a few weeks later, much improved with less pain and surgery seemed no longer necessary.  I had the foresight to take photos and the improvement is visible. I learned that a month or so later, his bone spurs completely disappeared and he was pain-free.

By the way, the surgery is routine but requires a long recovery period… here’s an image of what my patient could have undergone, were it not for acupuncture.

 

 Surgery for heel spur.  Long recovery!

 

Not just athletes

Another gentleman consulted me immediately after he received a diagnosis of a bone spur on the heel of his left foot . The pain was acute, having suddenly appeared a few days before he saw me.  When he arrived at my door he was limping badly.  He was a trucker and the pain was threatening his ability to drive and walk and make his deliveries. His spur was situated along the plantar fascia which is the fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the ball of the foot.

 

 

Heel Spur

 

 

In this case I treated him once, attaching electric stimulation to the needles ( see photo below).  He left my office with the pain 80% gone and he was able to walk out my door with ease.  I saw him 2 days later for a final treatment but he was already 100% better. He was delighted and he promised to return should it ever flare up in the future.  It has been 2 years and I learned from one of his relatives that he is still doing the happy dance!

Acupuncture treatment for heel spur , (acupuncture épine de lenoir)

The key here is the rapidity with which this man consulted. The earlier we can treat, the better and quicker the outcome.  In both cases acupuncture was able to stimulate the blood circulation enough to reduce the inflammation and allow the body’s own healing to take place.  When you consider that everything our bodies need to heal is found in our blood, it’s easy to understand how valuable acupuncture can be for bone and heel spurs.

Rosemary McDonough, L.Ac June, 2014

 

Chill Out with Acupuncture

IMG_1572In today’s fast paced world, everyone experiences stress from time to time. Stress is actually the body’s protective ‘fight or flight’ reaction to a threatening event.

While some stress is acceptable, too much unmanaged stress can accumulate and lead to health issues.  Physical problems such as headaches, back pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system can be attributed to stress over-load as well as emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.  Long-term stress can have a profound impact on just about every system in your body and therefore  it can also be responsible for some cases of infertility, pre-menstrual syndrome and difficulties during menopause.

How Acupuncture Can Help

Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the oldest health system in the world. Tiny, disposable needles, as fine as a strand of hair are gently tapped under the skin on various places on the body in order to resolve pain and to improve and maintain health.  Basically acupuncture relieves pain, reduces inflammation and restores homeostasis, which is the body’s ability to maintain equilibrium.

Acupuncture works to promote proper blood flow.  This is an important point when you consider that the nutrients of the food we absorb, the oxygen we breathe, our hormones, natural pain-killers and anti-inflammatory substances, everything the body needs to heal itself, gets transported via the bloodstream.

Acupuncture can reduce stress.  Acupuncture calms the nervous system by regulating that ‘fight or flight’ response activity in the brain.  Studies have shown that chemicals such as cortisol, which are present in the blood in response to stress, decrease after acupuncture.  Isn’t that amazing? Moreover, acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that activates the parasympathetic nervous system,  otherwise known as the ‘rest and digest system’,paving the way to a state of serenity, bliss and optimal health!

Getting acupuncture can actually be a very relaxing experience.  Many patients doze off during treatment and report that they feel very calm and focused for days afterward. While there are many studies confirming the efficacy of acupuncture,science is at a loss to explain just how it works.  When you consider that so many illnesses feature some degree of pain,chronic inflammation and suppression of the parasympathetic nervous system, you can begin to understand why acupuncture can treat so many conditions.

INFERTILITY

If getting pregnant has been a challenge for you and your partner, you are not alone. Sixteen percent of Canadian couples are considered infertile.  Fertility problems are usually diagnosed after a couple has been unsuccessful after a year of trying to get pregnant.

Common diagnoses that are treatable with acupuncture include endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, blocked fallopian tube(s), frequent miscarriage, fibroids, irregular menstruation, anovulation and even unexplained infertility.

Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and balancing the endocrine system.  Acupuncture is a safe, painless treatment that has no side effects and can be administered even if the patient is on fertility medication.  Acupuncture can actually increase in-vitro fertilization success rates by 42% and can also address male infertility by improving sperm count and motility.

Whether you wish to conceive naturally or via reproductive assistance, acupuncture can greatly help you achieve your dream of becoming a parent.

Acu Lifting, The New Face of Anti-Aging

Cosmetic Acupuncture

I was skeptical when I signed up for a post graduate training in Facial Rejuvenation- until the instructor picked ME as the guinea pig. Having just finished 3 grueling years of acupuncture study, I felt exhausted and I guess it was obvious I needed a lift!

This acupuncture treatment is an alternative to facelift surgery and injectable fillers. It is used by models and actors ( Cher, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna), to maintain a more youthful looking appearance with virtually none of the risks of other cosmetic procedures.

Others realize that an acupuncture face lift works deeper to correct underlying conditions that contribute to aging such as hormonal imbalances, digestive problems and stress while treating the external signs of sagging and wrinkles – potentially erasing 5-10 years from the face. It is also a very relaxing way to spend an hour of your time.

I only had 2 treatments that week but I felt and observed that my skin became firmer, my eyelids less puffy and I felt a surge of energy for the days following the treatment. My daughter noticed that my skin tone was once again pink and glowing- a nice change from the ashen pallor I had before the treatment.

As a practitioner, I can say I LOVE helping someone return to their youthful looks with acupuncture. It is exciting and the effects can be noticed by others after the 6th or 7th treatment. For more information please visit my site

www.acupuncturemonttremblant.com

Your comments or questions are welcome.

Acupuncture offers relief for Migraines and Headaches

I've had a migraine/headache for 6 days straig...

Migraine ranks in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses. Seventy percent of migraine sufferers are women whose symptoms occur with hormonal fluctuations related to the menstrual cycle.

Characterized by moderate to intense pain usually on one side of the head and often accompanied by dizziness, nausea and vomiting, migraines can result in lost days of work, affect work performance, restrict activities and disrupt relationships.

Tension headaches are much more common and usually occur with stress.  They can cause a dull, steady pain on both sides of the head, neck and shoulders.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for many types of headaches because it can reduce inflammation, calm nervous tension, balance hormone levels and restore proper circulation to the head. Acupuncture often provides immediate relief for a headache in progress without any of the side effects associated with medication.

Self care for headaches and migraines

There are many kinds of headaches and most can be managed if not prevented with diet and lifestyle changes.

Diet

Certain foods trigger migraine attacks. Try eliminating culprits like cheese, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol from your diet and see what happens.

Stress management

At the first sign of a migraine, retreat from your usual activities if possible. Learn stress reduction techniques to calm yourself. Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.

Try temperature therapy.

Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles; warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.

Massage painful areas.

Apply gentle pressure to your scalp or temples. Alleviate muscle tension with a shoulder or neck massage.

Exercise regularly

During physical activity, your body releases certain chemicals that block pain signals to your brain. These chemicals also help alleviate anxiety and depression, which can make migraines worse.

Regardless of which type of headache you suffer from, it can be eliminated or reduced in intensity and frequency quite easily with acupuncture. The WHO highly recommends acupuncture for headache pain.

Mini Acupuncture class in Mont-Tremblant Village Jan. 30!

Hello and Happy Year of the Water Snake!  I sincerely hope that 2013 finds you all doing well and blessed with good health.

I’d like to invite you to an afternoon presentation, a kind of mini course about acupuncture and Chinese medicine, its history, how it works and why the World Health Organization recommends it for a vast number of health conditions.

It takes place Wednesday, January 30 at 1:30-4:00pm and is hosted by the English chapter of the Université de Troisième Âge. Location is Salle des Loisirs, 144 rue du Couvent, in Mt-Tremblant Village.  Admission is $15.  Please register online here or contact coordinator Elaine St-Pierre at (819) 425-9735.

Together we’ll  clear up some misconceptions about this effective health practice that has become my chosen profession. There will be time to ask questions and hopefully all will come away with a heightened awareness about Chinese medicine.

I love this kind of local event because it gives me the chance to meet you, so please register, mark your calendar and bring a friend!
Be well!
Rosemary McDonough, LAc.