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Mental Health

How to Detox With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

herbal detox tea
Chinese herbs detox tea

Why is it important to do a detox or body cleanse periodically? When done with the right support from an acupuncturist near me, detoxing can help improve your digestion, immune function, fertility, and many other aspects of your health. Store bought colon cleanse products or a juice cleanse won’t really do the job, though. A detox program with acupuncture and Chinese herbs will do more to optimize your health than just a detox diet will.

When we recommend our Detox Program at Art of Wellness, we are not talking about fasting or detox drinks, like a master cleanse. The goal of our program is to detoxify the organ systems of the body: it’s a liver detox, kidney cleanse, lungs, heart, and spleen. This is a full body cleanse designed to give you a health reset. According to TCM philosophy, your body knows how to repair and renew itself, but it cannot do this job when it is congested and out of balance.

In TCM, we have a broad concept of what “toxins” are and how they can affect our bodies and our health. Toxic chemicals that come from our environment, such as food additives, pesticides, cleaning products, and beauty and hygiene products are certainly part of the problem. Drugs, medicines, alcohol, and unhealthy foods can also be toxic. So can behavioral habits, like sitting and looking at our screens and devices too long.

But our own bodies produce toxins, too. The waste products our organs create are “toxic,” and if they are held in the body too long without being adequately cleared out, they can negatively impact organ function. Imbalances in the system can cause conditions of excess heat or phlegm, which can lead to all kinds of problems with both your physical and mental health.

Stress, lack of sleep, and extreme emotions can also contribute to toxic conditions in the body and mind. When the organ systems are out of balance, the body is under constant pressure to keep functioning, but we do not feel our best.

Signs you need to detox include:

Inflammation is largely created by toxic conditions in the body, and most pain conditions and chronic illnesses stem, at least in part, from inflammation somewhere.

Why You Need a Liver Detox

tai qi qigong exercise detox
QiGong and Tai Qi exercises help with detox.

In conventional medicine, we think of the liver as being a sort of filter that removes toxins from the blood and helps metabolize fat. In TCM theory, we consider the liver to be the storehouse and distributor of blood; therefore, it also plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle. The liver is also strongly connected to a person’s emotional life. 

Stress, lack of sleep, too much sugar, alcohol, fatty, fried foods, pharmaceutical medicines, and recreational drugs all tax the liver above and beyond what it needs to do just to keep the blood flowing to nourish the body. When too many demands are placed on the liver, it can cause all kinds of symptoms, including: fatigue, insomnia, and headaches. Feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, and irritability may arise. Conversely, when a person is feeling bitter and resentful, and isn’t able to express it, those unresolved emotions may begin to cause trouble with liver function.

Just as the liver governs the blood, in TCM, the kidneys govern the water of the body, controlling elimination through the bladder, and maintaining blood pressure by keeping the right amount of water in the bloodstream. Signs that the kidneys are not balanced include: problems with blood pressure, edema, puffiness in the face or extremities, UTIs, chronic fatigue, and menopause symptoms, like dryness and hot flashes.

Detoxing the organ systems, including the liver and kidneys especially, can help rejuvenate the digestion and allow better nutrition to reach all parts of the body, as the quality and flow of blood and other bodily fluids will be improved.

Making sure that your excretory system is in good working order before starting a cleanse is important. If you are already having problems with constipation, for example, we will want to make sure we get things moving before we start cleansing the organs. Our detox also focuses on the body’s largest excretory organ: the skin.

Top 10 Reasons To Detox

detox herbs bath
Relax with detox herbs in your own bath.

It is a good idea for everyone to detox periodically; detoxing every six months is reasonable for most people. Sometimes we will specifically recommend a detox for a patient when they are struggling with a particular health problem, or if they are planning a pregnancy.

Detoxing can help:

  1. Boost Immunity – a cleanse will help get your lymphatic system, which produces and transports immune cells and removes waste from cells, moving, improving the efficacy of your immune system.
  2. Break Free From Addiction – if you are ready, a commitment to the detox program and food plan can help you end patterns of substance abuse, drug use, alcohol addiction, smoking, and other types of dependency.
  3. Infertility – We often advise people who come to Art of Wellness for fertility treatment to begin with the Detox Program. Not only will this help increase the chances of conception occurring, whether naturally or with the aid of ART, but it will also lay the foundation for your child’s health in the future.
  4. Improve sleep – This works both ways. In order for the body to do its routine daily work of removing toxic waste, it needs plenty of sleep. The Liver, in particular, is working hard through the night to clean and deliver fresh blood to the cells. Sleeping on your side enhances your body’s ability to do this work, allowing the internal organs to drain properly. When your body is functioning well, your sleep will be of better quality, more restful and refreshing.
  5. Improve skin and hair – Dull eyes and skin, dark circles or bags, puffiness, and thinning hair are signs of stagnant blood and Qi. Nutrients from the right foods and Chinese herbs help to nourish the skin, and clear heat, dampness, and dryness. When old cells are removed, hair and eyes can shine again. Acupuncture treatment can help stimulate collagen production, which also happens while you sleep.
  6. Weight loss – While our acupuncture detox is not about how to lose belly fat fast, many people will find that it gives them a good foundation for new eating habits. Detoxing the liver and kidneys will help your body metabolize fat better. 
  7. Balance hormones – severe PMS symptoms, bloated stomach and mood swings, perimenopause symptoms, infertility in women and infertility in men (oligospermia) can all be improved when hormone function improves. Acupuncture treatment can also help relieve conditions like PCOS, fibroids/leiomyoma, and endometriosis for women, and BPH in men.
  8. Reduce inflammation – many illnesses and pain conditions are inflammatory in nature. If you are suffering from pain due to plantar fasciitis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder or hip pain, acupuncture can help.
  9. Increased energy – better nutrition, better circulation, better sleep, and better organ function will all work synergistically to help you feel more energetic.
  10. Chronic illness – many chronic illnesses are rooted in toxic conditions within the body or exposure to toxins. Hard-to-treat conditions like autoimmune conditions and other systemic problems may be helped with alternative medicine when conventional medical treatments have not been successful. We treat many conditions with acupuncture and herbs, such as: lupus, lyme disease, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease. We also provide support for people going through cancer treatment.

7 Steps of Detox Program With TCM Acupuncture and Herbs

cupping acupuncture detox
Cupping draws Qi and blood from deep inside the body.

Pain and dysfunction occur when there is imbalance and when there are areas of stagnation within the body. Think of the metaphor of a house that needs to be deep-cleaned; there are dark corners of the body that have been ignored for a while, where dust and cobwebs have gathered. The Detox program reaches into these pockets of stagnation, sweeps them clean, and makes sure they get some fresh air and sunlight shining on them, in the form of invigorated Qi and blood.

  1. Acupuncture Treatments – the primary goal of acupuncture treatments during the detox phase is to get Qi moving freely, remove blockages, and to assist in elimination of toxins from the body.
  2. Cupping Treatment – the TCM modality of cupping creates a vacuum-like suction that moves Qi and blood from the innermost parts of the body outwards. During the detox program, cupping helps to pull toxins out of the lungs and other organs.
  3. Detox Herbs – the Chinese herb detox tea helps to clear heat and toxins from the body and improve digestion and elimination.
  4. Foot Pad Detox – detox foot patches, worn as you sleep at night and removed in the morning, help to pull toxins and fatty deposits from the body. 
  5. Detox Bath – Sweating is an excellent way to remove toxins through the skin; this is why so many traditions rely on saunas and hot baths. Our herbal sachets allow you to enjoy a therapeutic herbal soak in your own bathtub.
  6. Exercise – Your acupuncturist will instruct you on how to practice daily exercises, based on QiGong movements, that will help to get Qi and blood moving.
  7. Nutrition – the food plan during the detox is based on whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables, flooding your system with nutrients.

Detox Near Me Los Angeles, Westside

The beginning of the year, springtime, after recovery from a long illness, while preparing for a healthy pregnancy–anytime may be the right time for you to detoxify your system and get a fresh start. We recommend that you take the time to dedicate yourself to a week of cleansing with the Art of Wellness Detox Program at least twice a year for optimal health benefits.

 

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

 

 

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How to Improve Mental Health With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

mental health acupuncture
TCM can help depression and anxiety.

Mental health problems are becoming more and more prevalent, yet more than half of Americans experiencing mental illness do not get treatment. Mental disorders like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), OCD, and postpartum depression can be improved with acupuncture and TCM, without negative side effects.

According to the most recent statistics, 19% of all adults in America are currently living with mental illness, while 15% of teenagers report having experienced major depression. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition, with 18% of the population reporting some form of anxiety disorder every year.

Addiction and substance abuse are also on the rise among both adults and teens. About 20% of people who have a mental disorder also have a problem with drug or alcohol addiction. Many people use drugs and alcohol to mask symptoms of depression and anxiety, but this only compounds the problem.

Mental health is about our emotions, our thoughts, and our relationships and social interactions with others. Mental health issues affect our behaviors, our thought patterns, and our responses to stress. TCM is an excellent form of care for mental health, because we take the whole person and their symptoms–mental, emotional, and physical–into consideration every time we work with them. 

It is generally understood that mental health problems can come about due to a combination of factors, including imbalances in brain chemistry, trauma or abuse, and genetics or family history of psychological disorders.

Typical treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems involves talk therapy and/or prescription medications like antidepressants. Many people are not getting the relief they need from these forms of therapy, and medications can cause unwanted side effects, including headaches, nausea, weight gain, and trouble sleeping. 

TCM takes a holistic approach to mental health and can help relieve signs of depression and anxiousness. TCM herbs and acupuncture can also provide an alternative treatment for many chronic illnesses that can contribute to depression.

Who Is At Risk for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Disorders?

anxiety and depression acupuncture
Anxiety and depression can happen to anyone.

Everyone feels deep sadness and worry at times. When these feelings persist for a long time, they need to be addressed. Anyone, at any age, can experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. But some people are more at risk for mental health problems.

Risk Factors for mental illness include:

  • Family history – if other people in your family have experienced mental illness, you may be more likely to have mental health issues, too.
  • Stress – people who are going through financial insecurity, severe job stress, the loss of a loved one, or the breakup of a relationship are more likely to feel depressed.
  • Trauma – having gone through a traumatic experience, such as abuse in a relationship, or being in an accident, or witnessing something terrible, can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
  • Minority and marginalized communities – people who have experienced discrimination due to their race/ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation are at a higher risk for mental health problems and often face extra barriers when they try to get help.
  • Head trauma – having an injury to the head or brain can cause mental disorders.
  • Chronic illness – having a longstanding serious illness or pain condition that dramatically impacts a person’s quality of life can lead to depression.

Medical science has been able to discern that certain imbalances in brain chemistry, including malfunctioning neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system, are part of the physical root cause of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Low serotonin, especially, is associated with a depressed mood, insomnia, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and even suicidal ideation. This is why the medical solution for depression and anxiety is often prescription medications like SSRIs, which impact the levels of serotonin in the brain.

Acupuncture and other TCM treatments can also have a positive effect on neurochemistry, without the dependence or side effects that medications can cause.

Can Acupuncture Help Mental Health Problems?

TCM has become more and more accepted by the scientific community as an effective way to relieve depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental disorders.

The Five Elements Theory used in TCM allows us to link physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of depression and anxiety and see specific patterns.

A medical doctor or therapist may hear that a patient has headaches, gastric upset, sleep problems, and episodes of anger, and view these as separate symptoms, treatable by separate medications. The acupuncturist sees a pattern that points to a particular imbalance in the organ systems. 

TCM can help many mental health issues, including:

  1. Depression – according to TCM, depressed mood is usually related to some form of stagnation in the Qi of the liver, kidney, spleen, and/or heart. Feelings of grief are associated with the lungs.
  2. Anxiety – Depression with anxiety is often due to a deficiency of Yin, which can cause sleep problems, back pain, and irritability. Excessive worrying is related to the spleen. Studies have indicated that acupuncture treatment facilitates the release of serotonin, endorphins, and norepinephrine, which can help to calm feelings of anxiety, even immediately after treatment.
  3. Panic Attacks – TCM can help people with panic disorders. The intense feelings of fear that can come on with a panic attack may be related to the kidneys, which are involved in the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormones. 
  4. PTSD – Sometimes people suffering from PTSD or other trauma-related mental health problems are unable to go through talk therapy in order to deal with their feelings. There can be all kinds of reasons why a person is not able to speak about abuse or horrors they have suffered. Acupuncture treatments offer a real solution to ease the heavy feelings. A TCM provider offers healing by being able to sense a person’s energy, and facilitate shifts in that energy.
  5. SAD – Some forms of depression are temporary, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t serious or don’t require attention. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects many people, year after year. Acupuncture can help prevent this cycle from recurring.
  6. PMS/PMDD – People who menstruate often experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome), which can have emotional and mental symptoms. PMDD, an extreme form of PMS, can cause severe feelings of depression and even suicidal ideation. Acupuncture and herbs are an excellent way to address all kinds of problems with the menstrual cycle, including intense mood swings.
  7. Postpartum Depression – Many women experience depression during pregnancy and postpartum depression after having given birth. This condition, brought on by dramatic changes in hormones, can affect a new parent’s ability to care for themselves and their baby. Acupuncture treatment can effectively address postpartum depression, without fear of side effects from drugs.
  8. ADD/ADHD – ADD/ADHD are mental health disorders that affect a person’s ability to concentrate and can cause hyperactivity, mood swings, and social problems. Acupuncture and TCM can help both adults and children who are having problems with attentiveness, frustration, and restlessness.
acupuncture treatment
TCM can help all types of mental health issues.

Acupuncture can also help people who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Addictive behaviors are related to brain chemistry, and acupuncture can be utilized as an effective treatment for symptoms of withdrawal and as support for the mental and emotional aspects of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.

Many people who are living with serious chronic illnesses also suffer from depression. When a health condition impacts a person’s quality of life every day, it can feel defeating and exhausting. 

Neurological disorders that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, can create feelings of anger and frustration, bringing about changes in personality. 

Autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), Lyme disease, MS (multiple sclerosis), and Lupus–can also engender feelings of depression because it can be so difficult to find treatment for their symptoms. People with serious conditions like HIV/AIDS and ALS are also apt to suffer from depression. Acupuncture and TCM not only provide help for the depression, but may be able to provide an adjunct or alternative treatment for these conditions, providing long-sought relief from symptoms and frustration.

Acupuncture Near Me For Mental Health Care in Los Angeles

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, consider acupuncture as an alternative or adjunct to therapy and medications. People with mental health issues need a support system. At Art of Wellness in West LA, we have over 30 years of experience helping people find relief from the emotional, mental, and physical symptoms of anxiety and depression.

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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