All posts in Acupuncture

The Unicorn: #1 requested acupuncture point

vancouver acupuncture unicorn calm stressI don’t get the Starbucks Unicorn drink craze. It doesn’t look edible, it’s full of junk, and it contains a whopping 59g of sugar! It’s not just the calories. That’s almost 15 tsp of sugar. Inflammatory sugar. 

I get that it’s only available for a short time and people just want to try it because others are trying it. I’m curious too. But I know that that drink, for me, is a recipe for a headache–even if I only have a portion of it. So, instead I propose a new unicorn craze. I’d love to start an #acupunctureunicorn trend!

Ok, so the acupuncture point is not called The Unicorn. But I do nickname it the “#1 requested acupuncture point” and the “aren’t you going to do that point” point. The acupuncture point name is actually Yintang, and the benefits are many!

The main reason people request that point from me? Because it helps calm our overactive minds. We want to be mindful, but instead we find we’re “mind full.” Who amongst us couldn’t use a bit more calm? Unicorn acupuncture to the rescue.

What about sleep? Are you able to relax well and enjoy a deep, restful sleep? No? Then perhaps you could use some “acupuncture unicorn.”

Stuffy or runny nose? Allergic rhinitis? Congested sinuses? Become an acupuncture unicorn.

Headache? Perhaps it’s because you had a Starbucks unicorn drink? Or maybe it could be from eye strain, sinus congestion, stress, or other. Some unicorn acupuncture can help with that too.

Are you in? Are you ready to make a new unicorn craze–a healthy one? Take a picture of you getting acupuncture at Yintang and share it with the hashtag #acupunctureunicorn ! That would be a trend worth sharing.

More

Top Reasons You Need Acupuncture This Spring

need acupuncture vancouver springtimeYou wouldn’t know it to look outside (the picture to the right is from last year), but spring is finally here—well, technically at least. And after Vancouver’s unusually long cold snap, many are anxious to shake off the dark dreariness of winter. If you’re feeling a little funky trying to gear up for the warmer months ahead, now is the perfect time to consider getting some springtime acupuncture.

Here are some reasons why you need acupuncture this spring.

Boost Immunity

With the start of a new season, we also run the risk of getting sick. As the weather changes, it can take a while for our bodies to adjust. But for so many Vancouverites, the first sign of the springtime sun is like a long lost friend, tempting us to prematurely shed our scarves and gloves. If your body hasn’t had the chance to properly acclimatize, you could wind up getting sick. Getting some preemptive acupuncture will help boost your immunity and prepare you for the seasonal change. 

Treat Allergies

Ahhhh…spring! Blossoming flowers, budding trees, sprouting grass—what a wonderful time of year. That is, of course, if you aren’t one of the many that suffer from seasonal allergies. For allergy sufferers, springtime means itchy watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and headaches. Don’t let allergies keep you indoors this year. Acupuncture has been shown to treat allergic reactions. Just make sure to get treatment early, before springtime pollen has a chance to send your immune system into overdrive. You might also ask me about biopuncture allergy treatment.

Manage Stress

Spring is all about change. And while many of us welcome it, the change in season does come with its own set of stress-inducing challenges. Final exams, adjusting to the time change, and taking on more work to prepare for summer vacation are all things that can send our stress levels through the roof, thus opening the door to a wide range of symptoms, including muscle pain, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and hormonal swings. Treating yourself to some calming acupuncture will help you control your stress before it controls you. 

Deal with Sports Injuries

Cycling, running, softball, and hiking— spring is a great time to get active again and enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, after a long winter of inactivity, it’s also the time of year when sports-related injuries start popping up. If you are looking to prevent injuries (or treat them when they do), acupuncture will help keep you active all season long.

Yes, you need acupuncture this spring

Now that spring has finally sprung, there’s no time like the present to get some acupuncture. You’ll be better equipped to meet the challenges of seasonal change head on and enjoy everything this marvellous time of year has to offer.   

More

American College of Physicians New Guidelines Suggests Acupuncture to Treat Low Back Pain

Have back pain? You are not alone. Most of us have experienced back pain at one time or another. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the most common issues that send scores of people to see the doctor every year. But if you’re primed for walking out of the clinic with a prescription, you might be in for a little surprise. 

The Dope on Drugs  

Think you need over-the-counter or prescription drugs to treat low back pain? Not so, says the American College of Physicians (ACP). On February 14, the largest physician group in the U.S. released updated guidelines recommending people should treat low back pain with non-drug therapies instead.

Why, you asked? Well, as it turns out, that “trusty” bottle of acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) you’ve been reaching for all these years simply doesn’t work for low back pain. The ACP also takes a stance against doctors prescribing opioid painkillers due to the serious addiction and overdose risks associated with them. Steroid injections, corticosteroid pills, and antidepressants also get a thumb down when it comes to treating low back pain.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including non-prescription meds like ibuprofen (e.g. Advil®, Motrin®), may be helpful as a secondary approach (after non-drug methods) for acute and subacute back pain (up to 12 weeks), but they are not recommended as the starting point. For chronic back pain, the guidelines also advocate only selecting NSAIDs if the non-drug approaches are insufficient, “and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks for individual patients and after a discussion of known risks and realistic benefits with patients.”

Reframing Low Back Pain Treatment

There is definite shift in how doctors and patients view treating low back pain. Steven Atlas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital, applauds the new guidelines, and states, “We are moving away from simple fixes like a pill to a more complex view that involves a lot of lifestyle changes.”

Fortunately, there is a gambit of healthy ways to treat your low back pain. The ACP lists several non-drug options, including heat wraps, massage, yoga, exercise, multi-disciplinary rehabilitation, guided relaxation techniques, and yes, you guessed it, acupuncture. These great alternative therapies will not only provide pain relief, but also help you live a more active lifestyle.

But We Knew This, Right? Acupuncture to Treat Low Back Pain

I know it’s easy to reach for a pill. But all pills have some risks associated with use, especially when used in higher dosages or when used regularly. Acetaminophen puts your liver at risk. And NSAIDs can cause stomach or intestinal bleeding or heart attack or stroke. Plus, you are only masking the symptom, not fixing the problem. Why turn off the fire alarm if you aren’t going to also try to put out the fire?

It’s great to see that changes in policy guidelines are being offered to conventional medicine practitioners, based on evidence. Though this is the U.S. guidelines, it’s this kind of shift in understanding that can lead to changes in how we deliver healthcare, financially support treatment options, and eventually also improve the health of more and more people. We still have a way to go, but for this one update, I say “Hooray!”

More

Spark in the Machine: My first book summary (part 1) Regenerating Tissue

Spark in the Machine health book summary reviewThere’s so much going on in this book, The Spark in the Machine, that I feel I need to bite-size it. And it starts with one of the best chapters I’ve ever read in non-fiction. That’s because it is non-fiction, but reads like fiction. The author caught his thumb in a folding chair when he was three years old. Though it was reattached at the hospital, what I didn’t know (and many other medical people also don’t know) is that he would have been able to regenerate that tissue without surgical intervention!

Say whaaaaa? Yup. Though it seems like a super power,

amputations above the last joint in children under six left to heal naturally would regrow, the entire finger, without a scar or deformity.”

*Note, please don’t try this out on your neighbour’s kid, no matter how noisy they are!

My own notes on tissue regeneration

I knew that some animals have this ability. Lizards can regrow their tails, spiders can grow a new leg (glad to know that one, as I’ve accidentally amputated a few spiders in my attempts to catch and release them!), sharks replace lost teeth, starfish rebuild new arms, and animals with antlers shed and regrow them annually. Some animals are so good at regenerating that they can replace any part. Flatworms, sea cucumbers, and sponges can be cut into pieces, and each piece can become a new creature. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to duplicate yourself just once so you can be twice as productive?!

Even you can regenerate parts of yourself. We’ve known this for a long time. There’s even an ancient Greek myth about it. Prometheus was a Titan (a race of gods) that got himself into a bit of trouble with Zeus. Zeus was said to have a quick temper, so when Prometheus peeved him badly, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock to have his liver devoured every night by an eagle. Every day Prometheus’ liver would regenerate, only to be gnawed on each night. While we don’t have the ability to regrow our liver from nothing, it can regenerate its own tissue and function normally provided as little as a third of the tissue is present. This isn’t an excuse to abuse your poor liver, however!

Scientists have studied how animals are able to undertake this amazing task of regeneration and they’ve discovered that changes in electrical current and reversal of polarity actually causes the blood cells to become primitive stem cells again! Stem cells are unprogrammed cells that can repair and replace any tissue in the body. They can become a liver cell, a muscle cell, a skin cell, whatever the cell is needed. In other words, the valuable kind of cell that we’re researching for its potential to heal all!

One scientist, an orthopedic surgeon R.O. Becker, showed that

higher animals, such as rats, can sometimes regenerate limbs, especially if he provided the injury site with an extra boost of electricity.”

The problem for mammals, however, is that as we get older and as the injury becomes more severe, the weaker our “regenerative powers” become. Becker came to the conclusion that the more complex and bigger the brain of an animal, the more energy it spends on that brain, and the frailer its regenerative abilities.

But since we can repair and replace many of our damaged and old cells, we must have some sort of electrical energy driving that. And Becker found that it’s not the same as nerve impulses. So, what is it? Some call it Qi. In my next section, I’ll cover The Spark in the Machine‘s next chapters that dive into the meaning of Qi.

The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine
By Dr. Daniel Keown

Dr. Keown is both a medical doctor in the UK and a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. “The book shows how the theories of western and Chinese medicine support each other, and how the integrated theory enlarges our understanding of how bodies work on every level. Full of good stories and surprising details, Dan Keown’s book is essential reading for anyone who has ever wanted to know how the body really works.”

More

Cheat Your Way Into Meditation with Acupuncture

meditation with acupuncture“I don’t think I was asleep, but I don’t feel like I was ‘here’,” he said when I came back into the treatment room. This is a common theme for people getting acupuncture—though they do often sleep too. So, “where” was he? In a meditative zone.

That’s right. You can cheat your way into meditation with acupuncture! In fact, studies using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to measure the activity level of different areas of the brain during acupuncture have found that “acupuncture needle manipulation modulates the activity of the limbic system and subcortical structures.” What does that mean, you ask?

These areas contain structures that help you experience and respond to emotions and potential threats, attention, memory, and more. One of these areas—the amygdala—triggers feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress. Studies on meditation show a decrease in brain cell volume in this structure after just a couple of months of regular meditation. A common description by people after both acupuncture and meditation is that they feel calmer and more relaxed.

I know many of you say that you can’t meditate. I get it. It can be difficult. But meditation, like everything, takes practice. Here are some tips on meditation.

Start Small

I made a commitment to just one minute daily. That’s a stupid small number, but I chose it because it would be ridiculous for me to say I don’t have time. Sixty seconds is simple. I always choose more than one minute, but I know that I can still be successful with just that tiny bit of time.

Find Mindfulness in the Mundane

One of my patients gave me a copy of an article about practicing mindfulness while peeling a mandarin orange. This small task takes two hands and involves the sensations of sight, touch, smell, and eventually—once you’ve unpeeled it—taste. Even the citrus smell itself is mood lifting aromatherapy.

You can practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth, walking your dog, or even just waiting for the bus. It’s true–you can put down your phone and just be.

Tune Out to Tune In

Have you ever tried a float? No, not a root beer float. What I mean is the now popular sensory deprivation float tanks. Because it’s completely dark, you wear earplugs, and you are floating in body temperature water, you get to experience nothing. When I’ve done it, I’ve sometimes felt my mind firing up, trying to make up for the lack of other sensory stimulus. But eventually, my mind got bored and I “disappeared.” One time I even felt very clearly like I was floating in space, tiny in a vast void. It was liberating.

Practice Daily

The key to the benefits of meditation is regular practice. Once a week for 20 minutes is not as good as 5 minutes every day. Consistency, habits, routines–that’s what prevails.

Find Meditation with Acupuncture

Another of my patients pays specific attention to how she feels when she gets acupuncture. She focuses on the sensations, pays mind to where and how she feels relaxed, and then makes sure to store that in her body memory so she can recall it later. She told me that she can even “experience acupuncture” when she’s sitting on a busy bus.

Our minds are designed to more easily recall the things we pay attention to. Perhaps you are like me, thinking you don’t have a good memory for names. But what happens when you are introduced?  When your new friend told you their name, were you really listening or were you thinking about what you were going to respond? Problems with memory are often actually problems of attention.

So, the next time you get acupuncture, pay attention to how it feels to relax when I leave the room. Pay attention to that feeling of calm as you get off the table. Then practice recalling those sensations later on. ‘Cause, guess what?

Acupuncture can help you cheat your way into meditation.

 

More

Could it be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome–TOS, for short

thoracic outlet syndrome acupunctureWhen it first began with shoulder and upper back, I thought it was just muscular tension from leaning over the computer or patients as I’m doing acupuncture. But as the initial pain resolved and the throbbing pain moved to my forearm, I knew what it was. Thoracic outlet syndrome

Unfortunately, I was on my way to a week long yoga/surf retreat, so there was little I could do to address it immediately. The forearm pain progressed to tingling and numbness in my fingers, so sitting still in meditation or savasana (corpse pose–lying down on back and remaining still) was really a struggle. I one-handed some of the yoga poses and skipped out on others. Surfing and paddle boarding were a bit of a challenge, but workable. Perhaps it aggravated my TOS since the numbness persists, but at least now the pain is gone.

Isn’t it interesting though that once you experience something yourself, you seem to draw in others experiencing the same? Such is the case for me in my practice, so I thought I would blog about thoracic outlet syndrome, so you can know if maybe you or someone you know has the same.

What is thoracic outlet syndrome?

TOS is a condition caused by compression of the nerves, blood vessels, or both as they pass through a narrow area between the base of the neck and the armpit, called the thoracic outlet (makes sense). It’s kind of like the more commonly recognized carpal tunnel syndrome, except where the arm meets the torso instead of at the wrist. 

How it thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosed?

First, symptoms are considered. Do you have:

  • neck, shoulder, or arm pain
  • numbness or tingling in the fingers
  • weakness in the hand
  • impaired circulation to your hands and fingers
  • redness or swelling in your arm
  • hands or arms that are easily fatigued

If you have those, you can try out this the Roos test. Raise your arms by your sides and bend at your elbows 90 degrees, hands facing front. Quickly open and close your hands for up to two minutes. If the affected side feels worse than the non-affected side, reproducing your symptoms, then you may have TOS.

You can also get electrical and radiological tests.

What causes thoracic outlet syndrome?

The thoracic outlet really doesn’t leave much space for the blood vessels and nerves to pass through, so anything that causes compression on them can result in TOS. I mentioned that mine is predominantly tight pecs minor muscle. But it could also be tightness or inflammation in the scalene muscles (along the side of the neck) or an extra rib called a cervical rib.

My thoracic outlet syndrome was from carrying one dog in a front body carrier while walking my other dog who sometimes pulls me forward (my first and only time doing that). I wish I could say it was from doing something amazing like a one-handed handstand or saving someone’s life, but sadly, it wasn’t. 

You might also get it from an imbalance of strong chest muscles to upper back muscles, improper weight lifting, impact injury, repetitive movements, poor posture, obesity, or just that you happen to be born with a cervical rib.

What can you do about thoracic outlet syndrome?

Stretching is helpful. Check out this video for a few stretching options. Stretching the neck and the chest helps open up more space for the structures to pass through the thoracic outlet. Balancing that with strengthening exercises to help pull the shoulders back and position the head better over the torso are also helpful. 

I use a rolled up yoga mat to lie on (place it between your shoulder blades and stretch your arms out to your sides or over your head), but you can also use a rolled up towel, blanket, or sheets. Or, another option might be to do a Zipline and stretch out this way! Not exactly practical, but definitely more fun! 😉

thoracic outlet syndrome stretch

What I find most helpful is acupuncture. While I was at the retreat, I was unable to get someone to acupuncture me and I was unable to acupuncture my own shoulder, pecs, and back, so I did a very simple forearm treatment (shown partially completed above) that helped. Oh, and kinesiotaping to support the muscles. That really helped in between the acupuncture sessions.

More

Yoga Retreat Benefits and Acupuncture

yoga retreat acupuncture VancouverI recently went to Costa Rica for a yoga retreat. It had long been on my wish list, but when I saw that a friend from my university days would be co-hosting this particular retreat, I knew I needed to go. Fortunately another friend decided to join me and I was also approved to provide a lecture on Traditional Chinese Medicine nutrition.

Five years ago I went on my first yoga retreat. It was a short one to Uclulet, before I had done more than just a few yoga classes at my gym. In fact, the reason I decided to do that retreat was because I took hip hop fitness classes from the teacher and thought he was fun, and because I wanted to try surfing, which was also part of the retreat.

As it turned out, I wasn’t much a fan of surfing (at least cold water surfing), but I loved the yoga, and it started me on a brand new path. Because of that retreat I tried a 40 day yoga challenge. After that I quit my gym and joined a yoga studio instead. At the beginning, it was all about the physical practice for me. Yoga made me feel stronger. But even then I knew that there was something more to it. One of my friends asked me “how” yoga had changed me, not “if” it had. I thought that was an interesting way of phrasing the question. But he was right. It had started to change me in subtle ways.

Back to 2016, I was curious to see what this yoga retreat would bring. The name of this retreat was “Discover/Rediscover,” so we were asked in advance to think of a question we’d like to answer for ourselves. I was mostly just excited to reconnect with friends, give surfing another shot, and enjoy a daily yoga practice (I only get 3-4 days a week of yoga at home). But I did think of one question I hoped to resolve over the retreat.

One thing I love about yoga, about retreats, about taking time for oneself, is that you will always learn something, though it may not necessarily be what you want or expect.

I didn’t get the answer to my question, but two things impacted me. First, a couple of days before I left for this trip, I injured my left arm/shoulder and ended up with thoracic nerve outlet syndrome (numbness, tingling, and pain). That meant that my physical yoga practice had to be modified. I had to let go of practicing the postures I could normally do. I had to work on letting go of ego. And I had to be more compassionate toward myself than I was used to.

My second learning manifested while I was in Costa Rica. I mentioned here that I was excited to reconnect with friends at this retreat. And I did. But also, during the week I was away, I received an email from my TCM association, asking if I would like to go to Ottawa to help create TCM exam questions. Though it would challenge my schedule, I recognized it as a chance to meet up with some of my other university friends. The main reason I went became an opportunity for more of the very same!

I was very fortunate to be able to go to this yoga retreat, and I recognize that not everyone will have the ability. But I do believe that you can create your own mini version.

What does a retreat provide?

  1. Time to relax
  2. A space that is quiet and/or in nature
  3. Connection with like-minded others
  4. Focus on healing and/or intention

There’s no reason we can’t create these parameters without going on a week-long retreat—though of course it’s nice if we can.

Can you give yourself the gift of just 5-30 minutes a day to invest in yourself? How about 30 minutes just once a week? Or pick an hour or two or more once a month? Is there a place in you can close out the usual thoughts of “things-to-do” and “I must be”? Do you know others who you can share your experiences with? You don’t have to sit in silence or do yoga with them, but it helps to have someone you can share with afterward. And, do you have something you’d like to shift in your life? An intention that is meaningful to you?

Did you know that acupuncture can give you the opportunity to have your own retreat? A space to heal and relax, the mind softens its grip on control as acupuncture releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) and loosens tight muscles. Next time you come in for some acupuncture, ask me for your own acupuncture retreat.

More

Group Acupuncture for Limited Time

New to acupuncture? Limited health budget? Starting in MAY and for a limited number of sessions, Connect Health is offering a few group acupuncture sessions. Call now for one of these coveted spots.

What is Group Acupuncture?

Group acupuncture VancouverIn a typical group acupuncture setting, you will receive your treatment in a room with 1-3 other people. Treatments are booked every 20 minutes, so you can quietly discuss your concern with your practitioner before receiving the actual treatment. We do ask that patients be mindful of being as quiet as possible so that everyone can benefit from a relaxing and peaceful environment.

Even though there isn’t any group chat, some people find it reassuring knowing they are not alone. There is a sense of community that is created when people experience their health collectively. Better yet, book times with your family and/or friends, so you can get healthy together.

This is a fantastic option for people who are seeking additional treatments, but for whom cost may be a barrier. This setting may not be right for you if you feel that privacy may be a concern. Additionally, if you are seeking acupuncture for a fairly complex health issue, it might be better treated in a longer one-on-one session with our registered doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dr. Carr or Dr. Cmolik.

Paula Woodward is a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner from Kelowna who will be offering the group acupuncture sessions May 7th, June 4th, June 25th, and August 13th for $25 per treatment.

We look forward to seeing you, and if you have any questions about whether or not group acupuncture might be right for you, please feel free to contact Connect Health’s office at 604-733-4400.

By Paula Woodward and Dr. Melissa Carr

More

Acupuncture for sprains and strains

acupuncture for sprains strains injuryI’ve been doing a fair amount of acupuncture for sprains and strains lately, so I thought I’d share why you want to make acupuncture one of your first choices for treatments if you are unlucky enough to injure yourself.

I’ve sprained my right ankle twice. The first time, I was playing intramural volleyball in high school. I jumped up to block a ball, and when I landed, someone’s foot was on my side of the net, so I crash landed when I came down on it. It was a bad sprain. I still remember how it felt when the doctor stuck his finger into the tennis ball-sized swelling that I had once called an ankle. The image here is kind of what my ankle looked like, though my legs were somewhat less hairy. 🙂

I had a number of physio sessions–icing, taping, ultrasound, and exercises. I was on my school’s volleyball team so after a week or so of rest, I continued to play with my ankle tightly wrapped. Once healed, my ankle was not the same. I turned it constantly. The stretched ligaments were no longer as supportive as they should have been.

The second time I sprained my ankle, I was in TCM school. I was simply running across the street when my ankle did its then common floppy roll. Boom. On the ground and writhing in pain. This time I had TCM on my side. I received acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and I did my own version of stabilizing exercises. I was told by the medical doctor that my ankle would be worse, even more prone to sprains and strains, as those lazy ligaments would have even more laxity. They don’t. My right ankle is now just like my left–uninjured and strong–ankle. This is just one of the reasons I recommend acupuncture for sprains and other injuries.

Acupuncture for Sprains and Injuries

Acupuncture can help improve local blood flow to an injured area. That helps bring in healing nutrients and remove waste products from damaged tissue. Acupuncture can also relieve pain, allowing you to be able to sleep well, instead of struggling to get comfortable at night, for faster recovery. Acupuncture supports stress management. One of the ways it does so is by causing a release of feel-good hormones like endorphins. If you are less stressed, your body can be in a healing state instead of a defensive state.

If you’re worried about needles, don’t. If your injured part is too sensitive for me to treat directly, I can treat around it. And, acupuncture is not painful. Acupuncture needles are skiiiiinnnnny. Super skinny. That makes it easy for me to treat you comfortably.

So, if you are injured, don’t hesitate. Come in for acupuncture for sprains, strains, tears, inflammation, bruising, fractures (after proper xray, bone setting, and other medical emergency treatment, of course), or other injury so you can heal faster and better than with time alone.

More

March is National Kidney Month

kidneys National Kidney MonthWhen patients come in to address particular organ health, they most often mention their heart, their liver, their lungs, or the various organs of their digestive system and reproductive system, but rarely does someone ask me about their kidneys. Your kidneys do a lot of work for you, but I doubt you think much about them, unless you have kidney health issues. This month is National Kidney Month, so I ask you to think about this hard working duo, and consider how you can keep them healthy.

What do your kidneys do?

Your kidneys filter about 200 litres of blood daily. You know that the kidneys help eliminate waste products and excess fluid from your body, but did you also know that your kidneys are needed to:

  • Regulate your blood pressure
  • Produce an active form of vitamin D 
  • Control the production of red blood cells

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we look to the TCM Kidney system when issues arise for bone and joint health, low back pain, issues with fear and anxiety, fatigue, edema, reproductive health, menopausal symptoms, and more. If you’ve experienced trauma, ongoing chronic stress, or have been told you have adrenal issues, we consider the Kidneys for that too, as the adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys.

How do kidneys malfunction?

There are many reasons why your kidneys could find themselves in trouble. Things that can increase your risk include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections that travel to the kidneys, a family history of kidney disease, and aging. Some are just born with congenital issues affecting the kidneys, and those of Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Island, African/Caribbean, and Hispanic descent are at higher risk.

Though most aren’t aware of it, estimates are that up to two million Canadians have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or are at risk for it.

How do you know if your kidneys are struggling? One simple blood test you can get is called estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Check out this risk assessment online tool for National Kidney Month to see if you should ask your doctor for this blood test.

How do I keep my kidneys healthy?

  1. Hydrate. You don’t have to go overboard, but I find many of my patients are chronically dehydrated. Unless you are taking B vitamins (including in a multi)–in which case your urine is likely to be bright yellow–your urine can help you determine if you are sufficiently hydrated. It should be a very pale yellow. If it’s a dark yellow, you may be dehydrated. Keep in mind that diuretics, like some blood pressure medications and caffeinated beverages, can make you have to pee much more often, as can overactive bladder and prostate problems.
  2. Keep healthy eating and exercise habits. Both will help manage your blood pressure, diabetes, stress, and weight. Watch your salt intake. Yes, salt is important for our health, but many take in too much salt, as it’s found in so many processed foods. You can also overdo the “good salt” like sea salt and Himalayan salt, especially if you have high blood pressure. 
  3. Stop smoking. So many reasons to quit. Smoking damages your blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and increases your risk for kidney cancer. Acupuncture can help you quit smoking.
  4. Don’t overdo pain medications like Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause kidney damage if taken too often. Acupuncture is best known for its ability to help treat and manage pain. Check out TCM for pain management options.
  5. Treat your diabetes, high blood pressure (click me), and urinary tract infections. Because these all increase your risk of kidney disease, it’s vital that you treat these health issues appropriately. Did you know that Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you not just treat the symptoms of these problems, but also work on getting to the source?
  6. Manage your stress. Stress can be a catalyst for disease. When the body is in chronic stress, it has a hard time healing. It doesn’t do a good job of simultaneously defending and repairing the body–often picking defending as its preferential course of action. There are many ways to cope with stress and support your adrenal glands. For more on adrenal fatigue click here.
  7. Come in for a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultation. While I won’t be able to detect your GFR levels without lab results, your body may be giving clues that your kidneys need to be addressed. Plus, it’s better to work preventively than in response to organ failure. 

National Kidney Month

I have a friend who has a kidney transplant. He knows the challenges that come with dialysis, organ transplant, and ongoing health issues. I urge you to remember to pay attention to the health of your kidneys this National Kidney Month and beyond, and to register for organ donation. It’s easy to do. Simply start with clicking here.

Facing the Facts about Kidney Disease National Kidney Month

More
%d bloggers like this: