Can you relate to being labeled as "too sensitive"? This one is especially for those of you who have heard this numerous times, & have started to believe that this is a negative thing. If you're already asking what this has to do with health, let me offer a few qualifiers; I often find that "sensitives" display accompanying symptoms, such as sleeping issues/insomnia, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), gastro-intestinal issues, digestive problems, food sensitivities & allergies, chronic migraines/headaches, skin issues/rashes/hives, depression, anxiety, & chronic pain. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's meant to illustrate the connection existing between emotions & the physical body.
I find it valuable to re-frame being a "sensitive" person from a negative, to a positive. "Sensitive" is derived from latin, meaning "to feel". It is defined as, being "quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences" & also, "having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others' feelings." This is a trait of awareness, empathy, & adaptation. Would these be positive or negative attributes to describe yourself at a job interview? Sensitive people tend to pick-up on the emotions & vibe of an environment, & also the unspoken words. How is this not a super-power?
Trouble can arise when a sensitive:
*allows the feelings or moods of other people to change how they are feeling, or throw their day off
*makes assumptions or stories about what other people are thinking or feeling because of what they're sensing
*clings to other people's feelings or emotions, or stuffs them down, which can lead to physical illness
*mistakes empathy for sympathy; that they must wallow with another person who is in emotional or physical pain
*fails to listen to their own gut instinct & push it down or ignore it, repeatedly
*doesn't develop a healthy relationship with their sensitivity & allows other people to criticize or dismiss this trait
*chronically stays in the sympathetic/fight or flight/hyper-vigilant mode, which is the exact opposite of where a healthy body resides
A big part of sensitivity is your reaction to input & stimuli. When other people fire off a, "You're just too sensitive", they're often reacting to your seemingly over the top reaction. There are two parts here, one being the other person's inability to express themselves in a constructive manner (which we're not going to focus on now), but you may indeed have a hyperactive response to a situation that is likely upsetting to both you, & your loved ones. Or maybe your responses or coping mechanisms (OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, explosive anger, panic attack, etc.) leave you feeling exhausted, powerless, or they're destroying your relationships. Maybe you feel out of control, or maybe you even go into full-blown physical symptoms, like IBS (diarrhea), cramps, chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness or vertigo, headaches, or extreme fatigue.
Sensitivity often develops when children have an unreliable or unpredictable care-giver or parent. Meaning, the child learns an acute sense of awareness & vigilance to protect themselves from repeated abusive, neglectful, or explosive situations. Children may often learn to "walk on eggshells" at home, or use humor or talent to deflect or entertain a parent. They may also find ways to disappear or be "invisible" when their caretaker is on the war path. As a result, sensitivity to emotions strongly develops for protection purposes, as someone who is blind or deaf will strengthen their other senses to cope.
As a result, sensitives tend to learn to live chronically in the state of fight or flight, or hyper-vigilance, which activates the sympathetic nervous system. This can eventually lead to issues with regards to the delicate balance of hormones within the body, which regulate everything from sleep, energy, menstruation, fertility, digestion, & more.
Acupuncture is just one of the ways to regulate the neuro-endocrine systems of the body, which ultimately create hormone balance, & sense of calmness & well-being. In a sense, acupuncture helps hit the "re-set" button on our bodies, in the same way doing so re-sets our phones or computers. It doesn't delete all the data, but it clears out the garbage so that the body can heal itself.
Being sensitive is not a crime, nor is it a death sentence. First it's essential to learn new ways to process hyper-vigilance, then bringing awareness to when/where/what situations evoke a reaction out of you, & finally, how to protect yourself from accumulating other people's emotional "garbage". The best place to start is by scheduling your initial visit. Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
The International Journal of Nursing Studies, noted that anxiety and fatigue have undesirable effects on women’s postpartum recovery, & there aren’t many effective pharmacological interventions that can relieve these common symptoms.
Researchers aimed to examine the effectiveness of auricular acupressure (the same acupressure points are stimulated in acupuncture, we just use a needle instead) in reducing anxiety, fatigue, cortisol levels, blood pressure & heart rate after a Caesarian section.
Women who underwent a C-section were randomly assigned to two groups: intervention and control. The intervention group received auricular acupressure twice a day, while the control group received the usual postpartum care. The researchers measured serum cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and fatigue.
Of the 76 women who finished the study, the ones who received auricular acupressure, had significantly lower cortisol levels, heart rate, fatigue symptoms and anxiety symptoms five days postpartum than those in the control group. Sounds like a great reason to get acupuncture!
Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine can be extremely foreign, scary, & downright odd if you've never been exposed to it. I doubt many folks WANT to get poked with needles (though I assure you, the tools used in acupuncture are small, hair-thin needles that elicit a very relaxing & rejuvenating experience) but what most people DO want is to feel better -- & for their symptoms to go away.
I decided to make a major life-change by going to medical school for Traditional Chinese Medicine. My initial exposure to acupuncture was for a chronic shoulder injury, though I was pleasantly surprised by how light & floaty & centered I felt after my first treatment. It was truly a holistic experience like nothing I had encountered before. Although many people come to see me for pain or other undesirable symptoms, this medicine & what I do is not just about symptom relief. It's about changing your life & being the best version of you (I know that sounds like an Oprah-ism, but Oprah's usually pretty right on).
I often begin by explaining to my patients that no symptom within the body, whether it's back pain or hot flashes or digestive issues or fertility challenges or anxiety -- is existing independently within your body. A human is made up of systems that are both visible -- your physical body -- and not visible -- your personality, your thoughts, your spirit, & even your internal body, which is not visible unless you're cut open. We know all of these things exist, even if we cannot physically see them. As an example, we know our thoughts exist because they occur. But if I asked you to "show" me your thoughts, how could you do that? We don't live in a time where that's physically possible. Since you are not an island within your community, your symptoms are not islands independent from all the factors that make you, you.
I am a practitioner who helps my patients grow as humans, If you are having physical symptoms you need help with, great. But do you also want a practitioner who can address emotional and spiritual issues or challenges too? Do you desire long-term results? In my clinical experience, long-term results come from changes that start from the inside, out. I also want my patients to feel like they can come to me for ANY issue, whether it's a broken heart, clouded thinking, insomnia, food issues, migraines, or shoulder pain. I want my patients to also feel empowered, so that they can learn how to deal with issues without my assistance all the time.
Being truly "well" is to focus on how you feel emotionally, understanding how to fully experience your emotions, & following your passions. It's also about doing things that light you up & express why you are here on Earth in the first place.
Schedule an appointment so that we can talk about how I can help you! Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist in Lexington, Kentucky at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine.
Here in Kentucky, it's the week of Derby, a national holiday in this neck of the woods. What's the iconic beverage of the Derby? Why, the Mint Julep! What's that have to do with Chinese medicine? Well, there's an entire sub-set of acupuncture points located within the ear, which can be used to treat just about any condition or issue. I love to use these points for calming, especially in cases of anxiety, worry, stress, or insomnia.
One of my favorite ear points is affectionately called the Mint Julep! It's known by several names: Master Cerebral specifically - and Neurasthenia. Neurasthenia is a relatively out-dated term, but I appreciate the visual created by its descriptive nature; I imagine ladies quietly sipping Mint Juleps in the shade, relaxing and watching the world go by, even though 20 minutes ago, they were feeling quite flummoxed and frazzled. Who isn't already feeling calmer imagining that scene?
This point targets the prefrontal lobe of the brain, the part of the brain that makes decisions and initiates conscious action. It's known to calm nervous anxiety, fear, worry, dream-disturbed sleep, poor memory, obsessive-compulsive disorders, psychosomatic disorders, and the negative thinking that often accompanies chronic pain.
Want to try the Mint Julep point for yourself? Schedule an appointment today! Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
Ancient Chinese secrets inevitably support modern traditions! In celebration of Valentine's Day, let's talk a little about the Heart meridian - which incidentally coincides with the element of fire. A little fire & passion keeps the Heart energy pumping! Naturally, the energetics related to the balanced functioning of the Heart are joy, love, peace, contentment, wisdom, courtesy, & forgiveness. When the Heart is out of balance, anxiety, insomnia, racing thoughts, excessive energy, & anger can all be present.
Most impressively in Chinese medicine, is the recognition of the psycho-emotional aspects of the Heart. Before modern scientific knowledge, the Heart was often viewed as the emotional center of the body, & truthfully, a contented Heart is the seat of the soul. Keeping some of these concepts relatively simplified, the main essence or "Spirit" of the body, is housed in the Heart. This can be somewhat of a difficult concept to grasp, as it is not necessarily the religious definition of "Spirit", though has to do with how the body & mind receive & interpret sensory information. Basically, how a person views the world, processes it, & responds, is in direct correlation to a relaxed & free-flowing inner "Spirit".
At night, the "Spirit" should return to the safety of the Heart, to rest peacefully & rejuvenate for the following day. Deficiency in this aspect can lead to restlessness, worrying, & poor or dream-disturbed sleep. It's no wonder heartbreak can cause sleepless nights.
Modern insight & research shows just how unique the Heart really is. It contains unique cells & muscle structures that ONLY exist within the Heart. It produces approximately 50 times the amount of electricity the brain does, & communicates directly with the neo-cortex via specific ganglia. Think of how your Heart functions effortlessly without your conscious effort.
Alternately, both your thoughts & breathing can alter the rate & speed with which your Heart beats & the efficiency with which it functions. And for ladies who are looking to conceive or obtain an optimal menstrual cycle, the Heart plays a direct role in the healthy flow of blood to the Uterus during menstruation. This may explain why in times of distress or excessive worrying, the period may be delayed, scanty, or missed all together.
Craving chocolate on Valentine's? The good news is, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for your Heart! And each meridian in Chinese medicine is associated with a particular flavor, in this case, bitter is the language of the Heart (in more ways than one!). Foods that are naturally red &/or bitter by nature, will support the health of your Heart:
Red wine (small amounts, please), dark chocolate, beets, red meat (organic, grass-fed is best), cherries, red beans (kidney, adzuki, etc.), radishes, strawberries, rhubarb, dates, & coffee are all excellent to indulge in when you want to give a little boost to your Heart.
Curious if your Heart meridian needs a tune-up? Or insomnia, worry, & menstrual issues got you down? Even if you're post-heartbreak & need some support, come in for a treatment to feel better & receive tailored help. Here's to your health & Heart! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
Beginning of a new year & post holidays, cleanses & detoxes get a lot of attention - and partially due to the indulgences of the festive season. Maybe we feel sluggish & burnt out or just plain guilty & critical of our choices. So - does your body need to be cleansed or detoxed? In a simple answer, no - & - let me explain why:
Your body came equipped with its own detoxification protocol:
Specifically, your liver & to a certain extent, your kidneys all play a natural role in detoxification. Subsequently, you release waste through sweat, urine, feces, skin, hair, & some may be stored in fat. It is important to understand that substances, such as drugs & alcohol can, over time, damage the detoxification processes of these organs, which is why moderation or avoidance are preferable. If you have over-consumed alcohol, drugs, been exposed excessively to heavy-metals, or have taken over-the-counter pain relievers (Tylenol or acetaminophen are notorious for damaging the liver) you should SUPPORT these organs, which leads to the next point...
Less deficiency, more sufficiency:
MOST people are operating in a deficient, run-down state, not an excess state. In Chinese medicine, there are conditions & constitutions where there is too much of a substance, where a valve needs to be released, similar to an over-inflated tire. This is where too much is not necessarily a good thing & a "purge-like" treatment may be useful. This is a very specific individual or disease-state, & most people do not necessarily need to be "detoxed" in this situation. They may need more calming & nourishing herbs & food - or to have the more nourishing aspects of the body (often referred to as yin) built up & supported. In the end, detoxing or cleansing often leaves people feeling more poorly or with another issue that then needs to be addressed, especially when they self-prescribe.
Our bodies work like a thermostat & are not dirty or broken:
There has been a perpetuation of the belief that our bodies are "dirty" or "un-clean" - especially for women. Our bodies are dynamic & function on a constant feedback loop. All of our hormones, including appetite, temperature, urination, reproduction, sleep, thirst, pH levels - are at a delicate set-point & our systems inherently know how to determine the best set-point - without needing to be "purged". Quite often, detoxing can lead to a longer healing process. Acupuncture is an excellent way to help the system re-set. Exercise & working up a sweat, helps to naturally release waste from our tissues, as do infer-red saunas.
Food and appropriate herbal medicine assist with optimal wellness:
Eating a well-balanced diet, in addition to intermittent fasting, keep the gut healthy. A healthy gut means a strong immune system, efficiently running organs, and excellent mental health (there is more seratonin located in our gut than our brain). Appropriate herbal formulas can help boost our systems as needed, but I believe getting digestion on-track is one of the most vital aspects to optimal wellness.
Feeling guilty about your dietary choices is going to make the issue WORSE:
I am the first to agree that we are what we eat - BUT - how we feel about ourselves, including the potentially critical voices in our head - can be even more destructive to our health. If you made some less than ideal choices over the holidays, it's okay. It really is. Did you enjoy yourself? Well, that's the key right there. If you are going to eat a cookie or ten, just enjoy that moment and move on. If you have a difficult time abstaining from the stuff you know makes you feel bad - or you feel drawn to it - these are issues I can help you with. These are what I call ROOT issues. I can help you address these root issues, which will ultimately help with BRANCH symptoms - which can be excess weight, pain, inflammation, insomnia, & mental health issues. Simply losing weight & stopping pain do not typically lead to long-term results. The root cause of the issue needs to be addressed, & I am good at that.
Ready to tackle some of the over-whelm & over-indulgence of the season? Schedule your consultation or appointment now! Here's to your health - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, KY.
Last month, I was invited to speak at the Lung Force Expo in Lexington - held by the American Lung Association. Our Lungs are particularly susceptible to injury & illness during the dry months of Late Autumn & deep Winter & the information I shared at the Expo is relevant for happy & healthy respiration.
The Lungs are sensitive & particular & aptly named "The Delicate Organ" in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dryness, heat, & cold are all said to damage the Lungs, as can excessive phlegm or dampness.
Colds, flu, respiratory illness, asthma, loss of voice, coughs, & other diseases of the Lungs can be caused by harsh temperatures, poor dietary habits, smoking, stress, speaking too much (teachers & anyone who speaks often needs regular treatment to prevent laryngitis) & emotional dis-regulation.
The Lungs are especially sensitive to grief & sadness. Prolonged depression or excessive sadness can precipitate a cold - or progress to a more serious illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Chronic grief could - in theory cause more severe respiratory distress such as wheezing & asthma. Have you or someone you love gotten really sick after a death or severe loss? This is considered a direct strike to the Lungs!
The Lungs are more susceptible during Autumn & into Winter - when the air tends to be drier. Also, the prevailing energy of Autumn is harvest & Winter is about hibernation. Our bodies can sense this & experience seasonal “mourning”. I encourage you to embrace the change (possibly decrease) of energy as we roll into Winter. Fighting or denying the changes of season can cause disease & illness. Our bodies are a manifestation of nature & want to naturally slow down, rest more, & pursue contemplative activities such as reading, watching movies, & visiting with loved ones during colder months.
The Lungs are associated with the color white - naturally white foods, such as cauliflower (which incidentally resemble lungs), and Asian pears are excellent for the Lungs, as is honey (created from pollen from flowers). Pears that have been sliced, baked in the oven, & drizzled with raw, local honey, are very pleasing to the Lungs & can soothe a dry, Winter cough.
Please note that this information is general & not intended to replace consultation with a licensed medical professional. For specific & tailored information, please schedule a consulation or appointment. Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, KY.
Happy Autumn! I'm pleased to offer Saturday appointments at my new location at 203 Walton Avenue in Lexington, Kentucky. Schedule now between 10am - 5pm. Change of season is an excellent time to get in for a tune-up! Hope to see you soon - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine.
It's prime-time bug-bite season in Central Kentucky & here's a simple & effective skin-care tip using a plant that is almost certainly growing in your yard or neighborhood: Plantain. I've spotted Plantain growing everywhere in the U.S. & it's generally regarded a weed (though one of the more common plants you'll see growing in grass with dandelion, which we also know better than to regard as a weed). There are two typical species of Plantain in North America (not to be confused with the banana-shaped fruit of Latin America):
Plants are our allies. Traditionally, our ancestors used plants growing in near-by forests, fields, & growing outside their dwellings to heal themselves. It may seem cliche, but if we are experiencing a health issue, the "treatment" almost always lives near-by. I encourage you to explore & observe the plants that natively grow in the region you reside in & learn their therapeutic uses. Plantain typically grows from spring to early fall, especially flourishing in the heat of summer. Therefore, it excels at stopping the itching, swelling, & pain of summer insect bites (I love Plantain for pesky mosquito bites), but can really soothe any type of irritated, hot, painful, swollen, itchy skin issues. The magic of Plantain is that even a child can run into the yard & use a piece of a leaf when they get a "boo-boo".
Making a supply of home-made Plantain oil for year-round use is super fast & easy. If you have kiddos, this would be a great project for them to get involved in - from the leaf picking to packing the container, to pouring the oil. Similarly to using fresh Plantain, harvest leaves from plants during a sunny, dry time of the day to prevent mold & mildew. Rinse the leaves & allow them to air-dy. Chop the leaves as desired & fill a container that can be closed securely (I like a jar with a resealable lid with a tight rubber seal). Pack the leaves as tightly as possible to the top, fill with your desired oil of choice, & seal the container tightly. Store in a dark, cool location for a minimum of six weeks to allow full integration of the Plantain in the oil. If desired, you can remove the plant matter before using, though the leaves can still be used topically on bites or tender skin. If you do remove the plant matter, remember it can be composted & go right back to Mother Nature!
Choosing the type of oil you use is really up to personal preference. I like Jojoba, Olive, & Sesame oils on the skin as they are lightweight & readily absorbable. Argan & Avocado oils are also wonderful for the skin, but can be rather pricey, so you may not wish to use them if you are making a decent amount of oil. I do recommend organic oils, as anything we put on our skin goes directly into our bodies (if you wouldn't eat it, use it with caution on your skin). Coconut is also a great skin oil, though please note that it typically solidifies under 70 degrees, so it will be a bit more difficult to use during winter months. I hope this inspires you to explore the wonderful world of plant allies all around us this summer. Get out & enjoy it! Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
Encouragingly, acupuncture has proven more effective for resolving chronic headaches than aspirin! In my clinical experience, acupuncture can stop a headache or migraine in its tracks, reduce accompanying symptoms, & the necessity for prescription & over-the-counter pain reducers. Acupuncture is so relaxing, headache-sufferers often fall asleep on the massage table as their pain & tension subsides.
Headaches run the gamut from occasional tension headaches, up to chronic & debilitating migraines. Ideally, we should not solely rely on over-the-counter pain relievers for relief (Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen) as they can have particularly undesirable side-effects:
*Less common, but can also cause stomach ulcer/bleeding, increased blood pressure, & allergic reactions.
Acetaminophen (often known as Tylenol) in excesses of 325mg can also cause liver damage. It's easy to over-dose acetaminophen, as it's often "hidden" in cough syrups & cold medications, so please consult carefully if you DO decide to use it.
Tension headaches are quite simply addressed with acupuncture, & I address underlying issues, such as stress, dietary & food choices, exercise, & sleep. I can offer drug-free relief that is long-lasting & allows you to be in control of your life.
Migraines, especially chronic, can be down-right debilitating. Acupuncture & Chinese medicine can address their root cause(s), reducing their frequency & severity. You don't need to suffer. You can schedule an appointment online here, or feel free to call with any questions at 859-757-0475. Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.