The Connection Between Pain, Inflammation and Depression

Acupuncture Chapel Hill, NC

Stress from pain or mental distress creates inflammation which exacerbates pain and depression- a link recognized by Chinese for millennia but only recently acknowledged by western medicine. The stress-pain-inflammation connection is real; but, diagnosis and treatment frequently do not reflect this critical fact. People who have high levels of stress or pain or inflammation can get confused and have trouble thinking clearly or sleeping well or coping with life. Acknowledging that stress and physical pain can cause depression is an essential first step to get patients the help they need.

From a Chinese medicine 5 Element perspective, injury or mental stress consumes water channel yin resulting in excess fire consuming heart yin. Increased pain and inflammation extinguish joy. Recent medical research shows that body inflammation crosses the blood-brain barrier causing brain inflammation resulting in a neuronal conflagration, confusion, and withdrawal, all hallmarks of depression. Some people with higher levels of chronic pain withdraw into alcohol or pain medications or other drugs in an attempt to reduce their symptoms. These can create a downward spiral as they increase inflammation and decrease the person’s ability to deal with problems, sleep soundly or make good choices.

This new understanding of the broader cause of depression from stress and injury can help practitioners and family and friends improve their patients, and loved ones recover more fully. Recognize that sleep and rest are necessary to heal. Reliance on pain medications that mask pain may be helpful to allow sleep, but long term use causes dependence can result as well as increased risk of injury to already destabilized body regions.

Some anti-inflammatory medications have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing both pain and depression. Inflammation lowering products can reduce heat volatility in the body as well as in the brain, affecting the cause of both anxiety and depression in those people. For instance, NSAIDs have been shown to reduce pain and improve the antidepression effects of medications in some people who have pain and are also taking antidepressive medications. So-called COX2 inhibitor drugs have been shown to reduce both — anxiety and depression in certain types of patients. The connection between anti-inflammatory usage is increasingly recognized.

Unfortunately, not every prescribed remedy has this beneficial dual effect, and some anti-inflammatory products have their side effects and can’t be used continuously. For instance, corticosteroids are used primarily to reduce inflammation, but they also inhibit the immune system, negatively affect calcium absorption, and can increase blood sugar. NSAIDS and COX2 inhibitors increase the risk of infections and cardiovascular events.  One needs to assess the risk-benefit of any treatment at all times.

Dietary and lifestyle steps to reduce inflammation can work to reduce pain and depression and should be used whenever possible benefit the patient without side effects. Patients are advised to take all steps possible to get restorative sleep and eat a regular healthy diet to reduce stress. Other measures to consider include: walk in nature, eat small meals, soak in lavender scented Epsom salts, avoid confrontations and other stressful life events including loud noise and distressing television; and take time to meditate, read supportive literature or reflect on life. Herbal concoctions such as ashwagandha or rosemary have been clinically shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol.

It is possible to reduce pain and inflammation and stress causing depression. If you aren’t able to achieve these goals on your own, contact a professional for help.

Contact Acupractic Natural Healing Center for more information on how to reduce pain, inflammation, and depression.

Tips for Snow Shoveling to Avoid Injury

Shoveling snow can result in back injuries or worse. We all need to get out of the house eventually following a huge snowfall like the one we just experienced here in Durham, NC. Keep a few things in mind, however, prior to going outside to shovel that snow. Back injuries and heart attacks due to snow shoveling are all too common and can be avoided. When shoveling snow, take a moment to assess the situation and realize the job may take more time than you think. Don’t rush the process—hurrying will add to the possibility of falling as well as increase the stress of the situation. Get your warm high traction boots on, suit up, grab your shovel, and head outside once you’ve taken a few moments to consider how to best approach the task. Wet snow is going to be very heavy. When you dig your shovel down into the snow, assess how heavy each shovel full is before trying to lift it, especially if you plan to twist around and pile that shovel full to the side.Twisting with the added weight of snow can injure your back quickly; doing that repetitively can cause spinal joint irritation or even a herniated disc. You may not feel the effects of injury immediately due to the numbing effects of cold so be sure to take breaks periodically. Be aware of the amount of cardiac exercise involved in moving snow, as well. Crouching, digging, lifting and twisting heavy loads repeatedly in the cold puts a lot of strain on your heart, especially if you are stressed in a hurry. Stay safe out there!

Cupping for Colds and Flu

Cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that many people have heard of in conjunction with the Olympics as a treatment for muscle aches. Were you also aware that cupping can be an effective treatment for cold and flu symptoms? That’s because cupping relieves congestion in the body and stimulates movement of energy to restore and heal. Cupping deep tissue massage improves blood flow and helps to detoxify the area cupped and connected regions.
What is cupping?
Cupping utilizes silicon or glass shaped `cups` under which vacuum is created via suction or oxygen consumption. When placed on the skin and slid across trigger points and knots, cupping is an unparalleled example of transverse friction massage combined with skin lifting technique. Common areas of application for persons suffering from congestion, colds and flu include the midback between the shoulder blades, the upper back and shoulders, and lower back just below the ribs around the diaphragm. Stimulation of these areas with cupping reduces muscle spasm and helps with respiration and lymph flow. Following cupping you ill experience redness and warming to the area cupped as blood flow is increased and the skin and underlying muscles are rubbed with friction.
Essential oils and ointments can be applied on the skin surface prior to cupping. Oils such as eucalyptus, lavender and frankincense are anti-inflammatory, warming and pain relieving. These and other oils aid in circulation and naturally support the immune system. Other oil choices can include: oregano, rosemary, tea tree, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, cinnamon, clove bud, grapefruit, sandalwood, basil, juniper berry, thyme, sage, ginger, cypress, and pine. A few drops of each essential oil can be added to a carrier neutral oil and massaged into the skin. Cupping performs gentle exfoliation and blood flow stimulation which helps the oil absorb while also helping to `exteriorize` toxins and reduce stagnation in general.
Persistent cupping marks that stay on the body post-cupping can be unsightly and undesirable to some. These can be avoided by moving the cups around and reducing the amount of time the cup is left in one place. Discuss this and other treatment goals with your practitioner prior to treatment. Also, some people may be concerned with the use of hot glass cups and the potential for burning of the skin. Many practitioners use unheated silicon cups today to avoid that concern.
You may receive cupping therapy as part of a holistic treatment regimen for cold and flu that also includes acupuncture treatment or the chiropractic adjustment, or all three together. These alternative medicine remedies for cold and flu are very effective for improving overall health and the body’s ability to heal itself naturally. Acupuncture meridian therapy improves metal yin (lung) and water yin (kidney) energy flow to heal the lungs and reduce stress in the body overall. Chiropractic adjustments to the neck and back improve nerve flow to vital organs such as the lungs and heart, and increase respiratory motion under the ribs and reduce congestion in the chest. Cupping works well with these treatments.
Following cupping therapy for colds and flu, keep the cupped area covered for 24 hours to avoid cold and wind exposure of the cupped area. If possible, try to retain warmth and rest for several hours to allow the treatment to take its full effect.
When you aren’t feeling well, contact your acupuncture and chiropractor provider to see if cupping can help you. It can improve your health and well-being on many levels.

Acupuncture for Back Pain- How Does it Work?

Acupuncture stimulates the brain’s DMN to heal the body mind.
Acupuncture for chronic back pain—how does it work?
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for various types of back pain, yet scientists have struggled for many years to understand how it works. Recent research in the BMJ Journal (https://aim.bmj.com/content/32/2/102) demonstrates a potential mechanism that has eluded researchers. This creates an understanding of how acupuncture treatment can affect many conditions including: chronic back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy.
The research utilized functional MRI brain scans of healthy and chronic back pain sufferers. These scans demonstrate altered and reduced connectivity in an important brain pathway called DMN (default mode network) in the chronic back pain sufferers. DMN represents our brain’s default mode when we are awake but restful, as in meditation or daydreaming. Reduced connectivity in this important pain modulation pathway may indicate that some people may not be able to fully access the relaxation and healing response the DMN is thought to provide. Thirty minutes of acupuncture with intermittent de qi needle stimulation was shown to increase DMN connectivity in parts of the brain associated with pain modulation. This suggests a possible mechanism of action for chronic back pain sufferers who experience pain relief using acupuncture. The connection between what helps us relax and what helps us heal is very real and this new research helps us understand that connection a bit more.
This research is exciting because it helps us understand and explain how a drugless, nonsurgical treatment such as acupuncture can help reduce suffering for so many people.
Call our office today to see how acupuncture can help you reduce back pain or migraine pain.
(919) 929-1400 schedule@acudocnc.com 24- hour online scheduling www.acudocnc.com
Acupractic Natural Healing Center, 800 Eastowne Dr. Suite 103, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
The acupuncture and chiropractic offices of Dr. Lisa Oskardmay

Storms Affect Arthritis

How does weather affect pain levels?  Many people say that they can tell when a storm is coming on because their arthritis flares up. Studies show that a 10 degree drop in temperature creates a commensurate increase in pain levels. A drop in barometric pressure makes people more physically uncomfortable. When it rains or humidity levels are high people also experience more pain. Arthritis can feel worse around the time a storm is brewing because factors that disturb the weather outside also increase inflammation in your body. Cold constricts already damaged joint surfaces causing more friction, humidity causes more swelling of already swollen areas and decreased barometric pressure irritates joints and muscles.

Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. A rheumatic condition, arthritis is associated with many things:  heredity and genetics, viruses, wear and tear, diet, immune system function, and stress. Joints affected may be widespread or limited to specific areas such as the hands, hips, feet, or back. Blood test markers such as ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) or CRP (C reactive protein) to measure inflammation will be elevated in arthritis. While stormy weather may make you want to stay in bed and eat comfort food, this may not be the best approach to reduce pain and inflammation.

When pain intrudes it is important to remember to move your body to reduce stagnation of systems that heal you. Prepare in advance to include a bit of movement in your daily plan on stormy days. This can include walking around the house, attending to chores, or venturing outside if weather permits. Movement will mobilize tissues, detoxify, and warm the body.

If cold worsens pain, try to stay warm. Wear warm clothes and socks and shoes in cold environments. If you can get to one, an infrared sauna can be very healing. A warm Epsom salt bath can deep heat your muscles, joints, and bones to reduce arthritis pain. Warmth will reduce cold in the body and help to detoxify.

When the weather is bad, eating well can improve your mood and mental state and reduce pain. To reduce inflammation, try to eat more naturally occurring fruits and vegetables which will provide you with lots of fiber and vitamin C and A to heal your joints and reduce swelling. Drink warm tea to reduce inflammation and warm the interior.  Increase the consumption of healthy proteins and fats, especially Omega 3 rich fish and flax oil to help improve the inflammation fighting Omega3:Omega 6 ratio.

As always, it is a good idea to drink adequate water throughout the day. Drink water rather than sodas, fruit juices, or alcohol to keep arthritis pain levels down. Especially avoid artificially sweetened beverages using aspartame as these increase inflammation in the body. Stevia is a better choice for non-sugar sweetener.

Chiropractic adjustments to the spine and extremities can help reduce pain and inflammation and acupuncture treatments to the meridians and channels of the body are supportive therapies if you need additional help. These healing treatments can keep arthritis flare ups at bay for the long run.

While preparing for stormy weather keep these tips in mind to help you survive any weather related event. Arthritis may help you predict an oncoming storm, but it doesn’t have to incapacitate you.

 

Electro acupuncture shown to stimulate stem cell production and release in the body.

Stem cell therapy is a fairly new, but increasingly widely used medical treatment for many conditions. Promise using stem cell injections has been shown for rotator cuff repair, knee tendonitis, Parkinsonism and even Type 1 diabetes.  Stem cells derived from the recipient’s own body or another source are injected into specific regions to promote tissue regrowth and repair- stem cells then attach and rebuild missing or damaged tissue. While not FDA approved, the treatment holds promise and clinics are moving forward to provide such treatments. Nonethless, there are dangers and risks associated with this new treatment.

The human body utilizes stem cells naturally to heal itself in virtually every organ, muscle, ligament is contains. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could increase our own healing response internally using stem cells our body already makes?

In the NIH grant funded medical journal Stem Cells Journal (May 2017) (https://stemcellsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/stem.2613), its authors show that electro-acupuncture applied to specific points in the body stimulates significant release of stem cells by action of the hypothalamus. Release of stem cells may provide another reason why acupuncture treatment helps improve healing for such conditions as arthritis and asthma.  With the production of stem cells occuring in ones own body, this may obviate the need for harvesting and injection of stem cells back onto the body, a costly and potentially more dangerous route than allowing the body to use its own resources, stimulated by electroacupuncture.

People who receive acupuncture frequently experience healing on several levels. Stimulation of pluripotent stem cells may be one mechanism of action.

 

Holistic Care

Holistic care refers to healthcare that tries to integrate the whole person rather than symptom based `comprehensive` care that tends to look at one symptom at a time. Persons with chronic disease often experience an involvement of multiple body systems. A comprehensive care approach to patient care is often used with the belief that a health care team will ensure that a patient’s needs will be covered. Instead, this approach is reductionist in practice and leads to fragmentation of care, and the difficult patients often slip through the cracks of the health care system. However, a holistic theory-based approach puts a patient’s perceived needs first and offers care not only for the body but also for the human spirit.

“The RBG Workout” by Bryant Johnson shows you how to get strong so you can be your best.

After seeing the movie RBG at a local theatre, I was impressed with this dynamo RBG and wrote to her trainer. He sent me a t shirt and copy of his book. I have referred several of my chiropractic and acupuncture clients to the book, and bought more copies for the office. It is my contention that working out in the manner outlined in this compact book will heal most people remarkably well. When combined with other natural healing methods, exercise is a powerhouse- just like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In his book RBG Workout, trainer Bryant Johnson concisely describes how he came to work with the famous Justice RBG following her first bout with cancer 18 years ago. Her husband told her that she looked like an Auswitz survivor and suggested she get a trainer- the rest is history. She worked through that bout of cancer, all the while also working as a Supreme Court Justice; the training regimen Bryant created for her helped her to heal and gain strength, endurance and confidence. Several years later she was struck with pancreatic cancer and she survived this awful diagnosis as well. I have no doubt that her willingness to perform the workout exercises detailed in his book are at least partly responsible for her remarkable ability to heal from cancer as well as to maintain the mental clarity and agility she demonstrates on the Supreme Court.

The book starts out with a nice introduction from RBG herself. Following that, it describes easily performed stretches that work on preparing the body for a workout- the stretches are nicely described using basic home equipment. Next, the exercises are described, first demonstrated on gym equipment, then using basic weights and straps for people who can’t get to a gym or prefer to work at home. As always, timing and repetitions are detailed so that even a beginner can get some idea of how to do the exercises without overdoing them.

Many people would benefit from the workout described in nice detail in the book RBG Workout. It’s a full body exercise regimen that could be done a few times a week in total. If you have any questions,call my office. We are here to help.

Summer humidity affects us all

As summer approaches, humidity rises especially here in the south. For many people, high humidity makes it harder to breathe, to cool off, and to feel energetic. It is easy to get dehydrated when the humidity is high in the summer because body temperature is higher. Also, a person’s anxiety level can rise, and heart attack risks increase with high levels of humidity.

From the perspective of Chinese medicine, high humidity affects the body as dampness. Many illnesses are associated with dampness: fibromyalgia, a feeling of  heaviness and bloating, nodular masses, sore joints, dizziness, and other conditions.

When summer’s high humidity is here, we turn on the AC. We depend on air conditioning to not only cool off the air, but to also reduce the water level in the air. If we don’t have AC, we open windows or turn on fans to move air, reduce stagnation, and improve our bodies’ ability to evaporate sweat to cool us.

Certain herbal remedies and dietary changes can resolve dampness.  Herbs such as mint, fennel seed, coriander, saffron, dill, and small amounts of cumin or cardamom can be added to cooked dishes or tea to promote cooling and reduce the overheating effects of high humidity. Drinking adequate cool water and electrolyte rich beverages can reduce the risk of dehydration as well as cool the body.

Moderate exercise and yoga postures can help to improve movement of the organs, reducing stagnation, and improve elimination.

As humidity levels rise, take care of at-risk folks and yourself. If you feel high humidity levels negatively affect you, be sure to ask your healthcare provider for help.

 

Insurance helps pay for acupuncture care in Chapel Hill.

At Acupractic in Chapel Hill we help a lot of people with acupuncture care through our in-office Acupuncture at Eastowne clinic. Patients receive care for pain, stress, headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders, to name a few. Acupuncture involves the insertion of small sterile needles inserted along body meridians to release stagnation and improve energy flow so that the body can heal itself. Used in conjunction with massage techniques and/or adjustments, acupuncture is a powerful healing tool that helps people of all ages to improve their heal naturally on many levels.

A licensed acupuncturist, Dr. Oskardmay loves seeing people get well using acupuncture and other natural methods. Insurance coverage has improved over the years and many plans, including UHC, BCBS Student Health, Veterans Health Insurance, Cigna, Aetna and others support this type of care, making it more accessible for many people.

Call today to schedule an appointment or to get your questions answered; 24 hour online scheduling is available on our website: acudocnc.com

We look forward to working with you.

Serving the communities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Hillsborough, and the rest of the NC Triangle

800 Eastowne Drive #103 Chapel Hill, NC 27514 | (919) 929-1400

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