About 26 million Americans endure chronic seasonal allergies, while the number of people with milder symptoms may be as high as 40 million, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Acupuncture has been used to treat seasonal allergies for centuries with great success. According to traditional medicine, treatment is directed toward clearing the nasal passages, supporting the immune system and strengthening the systems of the body to prevent allergic reactions from recurring.

Commonly called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, a seasonal allergy is an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for part of the year, such as spring or fall. Pollens spread by the wind is usually the main cause of seasonal allergies.

People who are allergic to pollen are also often sensitive to dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Airborne mold spores can be found almost year-round, along with other common allergens such as dust, dust mites, and animal dander.

Seasonal allergies are caused by the body’s hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Symptoms primarily involve the membrane lining the nose, causing allergic rhinitis, or the membrane lining the eyelids and covering the whites of the eyes, causing allergic conjunctivitis.

While there are many medications to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, these treatments can cause unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness and immune system suppression as well as an over-reliance on medications. These side effects have motivated many people to search for alternative approaches like acupuncture and Oriental medicine to manage their allergies.

When treating with acupuncture, underlying imbalances within the body are addressed and a treatment plan is developed to relieve the acute symptoms of allergic rhinitis while also treating the root problems that are contributing to the body’s reaction to allergens. Treatments often include dietary modification, the use of specifically chosen herbal formulas and acupuncture.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.

If you experience seasonal allergies, now is the time to schedule an appointment. Call for a consultation today!

A chronic cough is more than just a nuisance and may cause some serious disruptions to a person’s health. Any cough persisting for more than 8 weeks in adults, or more than 4 weeks for children, is considered a chronic cough.

Coughing attacks during the night can interrupt sleep, resulting in day-time fatigue and drowsiness. Coughing episodes can also cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches, urinary incontinence, loss of consciousness, and rib fractures.

The most common causes of a chronic cough are smoking, post nasal drip, asthma and acid reflux. Other culprits are chronic bronchitis, the flu, pneumonia, whooping cough and certain blood pressure medications. Although less likely, lung cancer or cystic fibrosis can cause a chronic cough as well. Signs and symptoms that often accompany a chronic cough include runny nose, constant need to clear the throat, difficulty breathing, sour taste in the mouth, or spitting up blood or sputum.

When treating a chronic cough, it is important to address the underlying cause, or root cause, as it is known according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Once the root cause is cleared up, the chronic cough will clear up. However, no matter what organs need rebalancing to address the root cause, treatment of the lungs is necessary.

Uncontrollable coughing represents a risky, potentially dangerous characteristic known as ‘rebellious Qi.’ Qi is the most fundamental energy essential for all forms of life. Just as it sounds, rebellious Qi flows in the wrong direction and causes health problems. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help soothe and eliminate risk factors that can contribute to a chronic cough such as smoking or acid reflux.

One of the biggest risk factors is smoking tobacco, and stopping this habit is a necessity. Reducing chemical dependencies helps reduce a patient’s craving and assists the body in detoxifying harmful substances. In the case of acid reflux, acupuncture treatments can help the stomach from forcing digestive juices upwards. As the acid reflux subsides, chronic coughing should lessen as well.

This year it is predicted that there will be 1 billion colds and 95 million cases of the flu in the United States alone. While the misery of cold and flu season might be inevitable, one thing is changing: where we look for relief.

The easiest way to protect against the flu is to have a healthy immune system. However, that doesn’t mean you still won’t come into contact with airborne virus particles. That’s why your first line of defense against the flu, or any other illness, is to strengthen your immune system.

When it comes to staying healthy during cold and flu season, acupuncture and Oriental medicine have a lot to offer. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help prevent colds and flu by strengthening the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways.

In Oriental medicine, disease prevention begins by focusing on the protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi or defensive energy. The Wei Qi involves acupuncture points known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy to boost your body’s defenses.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can also provide relief and faster healing if you have already come down with a cold or the flu by helping to relieve symptoms you are currently experiencing including chills, fever, body aches, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and cough. While bringing some immediate relief, treatments will also reduce the incidence of an upper respiratory tract infection and shorten the length of the illness.

Boost your Wei Qi and Stay Healthy

“To treat disease that has already developed is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty, and of those who begin to cast weapons after they have already engaged in battle. Would these actions not be too late?” – Huangdi Neijing

Seasonal changes affect the body’s environment. With wind, rain and snow come the colds, flu viruses and the aches and pains that accompany them.

If you catch colds easily, have low energy and require a long time recuperating from an illness your Wei Qi may be deficient. Through the process of evaluating subtle physical signs as well as the emotional condition of a person, practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine can detect health problems in their earliest stages, before a person becomes gravely ill.

Once the nature of an imbalance has been determined, a customized program can be created for you. Your treatment may include acupuncture, herbal therapy and Tui Na, as well as food, exercise and lifestyle recommendations.

Schedule a Seasonal Tune-Up:
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can prevent colds and flu by building up the immune system with just a few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. These points are known for strengthening the circulation of blood and energy and for consolidating the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle (Wei Qi) so that germs and viruses cannot enter through them.

Wash Your Hands:
Good lifestyle and hygiene habits are also proven to reduce your risk of getting sick. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that we catch colds and flu in cold weather is that we are indoors and in closer vicinity to others. Protect yourself from picking up germs by washing your hands regularly and remembering not to touch your face.

Sleep In:
The Nei Ching, an ancient Chinese classic, advised people to go to sleep early, rest well and rise late, after the sun’s rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own Yang Qi for the task of warming the body. Even busy, working people can boost their health by sleeping in on weekends.

Stress Less:
Find a release valve for your stress. According to Oriental medicine, stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can play an important part in throwing the immune system off and allowing pathogens to affect the body. Find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Such methods may include yoga, meditation and exercise. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. Call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you stay healthy this season!

Acupuncture can often produce results faster than common medications, depending upon your condition. However, it’s still important to try to get the most out of your treatment and commit to healing. Here are some tips for ensuring that you receive the maximum benefits from your sessions with a licensed acupuncturist:

  • Keep an open mind. Positive energy speeds up any healing process.
  • Only visit a licensed acupuncturist.
  • If you are asked to fill out any forms, fill them out honestly and completely. Don’t shortchange yourself by using answers you think the acupuncturist wants to hear or omitting bad habits. Some questions may seem irrelevant to your current condition, but keep in mind acupuncture is a holistic practice and deals with all aspects of your body, mind, and spirit. The most effective personalized treatment plan will come from honest answers and a comprehensive health history. Be sure to alert the acupuncturist about any other treatment you are currently receiving and any medications you are taking.
  • Prior to your acupuncture session, eat a light meal or snack. You don’t want to be starving but you also do not want to be overly full. Avoid greasy, heavy foods that could upset your stomach.
  • Refrain from alcohol and drugs for at least 12 hours before your session. Avoid strenuous activity and caffeine within a few hours of the treatment. Do not brush your tongue for at least 24 hours leading up to your appointment. This allows the acupuncturist to use the color, texture, and coating on your tongue as a diagnostic tool.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes for comfort during acupuncture sessions. Make sure the clothing can be rolled up so that the practitioner can reach all the necessary acupuncture points.
  • Engage your licensed acupuncturist and ask pertinent questions so that you feel confident and well-informed.
  • After your first acupuncture session, take notes about how you felt during and after the session. Share these notes with your practitioner so any necessary adjustments can be made.
  • Once the needles are set and the acupuncturist leaves, take the time to truly relax.
  • For the rest of the day after an acupuncture session most acupuncturists recommend that you avoid alcohol, stressful situations, caffeine, sex, strenuous exercise, food or liquid at extreme temperatures, and heavy or spicy meals.
  • You may feel tired after a session, so take it easy, drink plenty of water, and keep yourself at a comfortable temperature. If you are extremely drowsy you should rest. It’s fine to go to work, school, or other activities following treatment, but avoid overexerting yourself.
  • Be realistic. There is no such thing as an instant cure. It may take several sessions before you feel relief.

Once you undergo your first acupuncture treatment, you will know what works for you. Taking care of yourself before and after an appointment will go a long way in stimulating your body’s healing response.

For the hypothyroid patient, when the body feels sluggish and heavy, it is important to not force oneself to perform rigorous exercise, as it will deplete the body’s energy reserves even further.

Although a hyperthyroid patient may exhibit restlessness and appear fidgety, this does not indicate an abundance of healthy physical energy.

The body is overstimulated by the overproduction of thyroid hormones and if left untreated, may eventually lead to hypothyroid as the gland wears itself out.

In both cases, suitable exercises are swimming, walking, gentle yoga, and tai chi.

Tai chi is a form of exercise that strengthens the body through fluid, gentle motions.

The rhythm of tai chi brings tranquility to the mind.

The soothing movements can bring relief to runaway emotions, help increase blood flow to the head, and increase the availability of energy to all the body.

This practice is affectionately known as ‘meditation in motion.’ For this reason, tai chi also provides stress relief.

Managing stress levels is very important when it comes to managing symptoms of any thyroid condition.

Maintaining emotional equilibrium prevents the hormone cortisol from being produced. Cortisol is like an alarm bell telling the body to prepare to flee or fight.

Cortisol, when released into the bloodstream in excess, can exacerbate imbalances in the thyroid gland, interrupting the normal rate at which thyroid hormones are produced and released.

Although it is unrealistic to live a life without any stress, it is important to reduce the impact of stressful situations.

A daily routine of tai chi, yoga or a meditation practice may help mitigate the negative consequences of tension and adverse situations when they do occur.

Getting a good night’s sleep also improves the ability to handle stress well.

When it comes to lifestyle changes, a diet rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, and iodine helps support thyroid function.

Here are three groups of foods to include in your diet:

Sea Vegetables/Seaweed
Iodine is an essential element that assists the thyroid in producing thyroid hormone. By increasing iodine intake, patients have seen an increase in the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

Although it is an essential element, too much iodine, such as an overdose of supplements, can have toxic side effects. The best natural source of iodine is kelp and other sea vegetables.

Brazil Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, and Walnuts
Containing high amounts of selenium, which is essential to efficient thyroid function and protects from goiter, these foods also contain zinc, iron, and copper–all trace metals vital to thyroid function.

Many hypothyroid patients have been found to have deficiencies in trace minerals.

Carrots, Citrus Fruits, Almonds
These are just a few foods high in antioxidants that help the thyroid gland mitigate oxidative stress.

In order for the endocrine system to function at optimum levels, the process of detoxification must occur. Detoxification removes waste and potentially hazardous material from the body. Waste can be eliminated by different means, including through urine, tears, sweat, and feces. When the body is able to properly detox, the thyroid greatly benefits. Whether you have symptoms relating to thyroid issues, or simply wish to be proactive and help prevent problems, here are a few detoxifying exercises you can perform.

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the spleen plays a vital role in removing waste products from the body. An efficient spleen will, therefore, help optimize the thyroid’s function of producing and releasing hormones. When food and drink are ingested, it is the spleen’s duty to separate the clear from the turbid. The clear, which contains valuable nutrients, is sent on to be utilized by other organs. The turbid, useless or possibly harmful matter, descends to the large intestine, where it is prepared for elimination.

To help invigorate your spleen, spending short amounts of time upside-down can help reverse the effects of gravity. If doing a head or hand stand for two to three minutes is not your thing, there are two alternatives: One is to lay face down on the floor, bend your elbows, and rest your chin in your hands so your head is positioned above the trunk of your body. Next, bend your knees and start swinging your feet back and forth. You may remember doing this one when you were a child. This can be done for as long as it is comfortable for you.

The next exercise involves lying on the ground, with your backside down. Raise your legs in the air and rest them against the wall. Relax comfortably into the pose for up to five minutes. You can keep your arms extended to your sides on the floor. If you like, you can raise your arms in the air for 30-40 seconds, and then rest them.

These upside-down exercises can assist in releasing stuck food, gases or other matter that remain trapped somewhere in your digestive system. Removing these obstacles helps improve the blood flow to and from all the organs.

One quick way to help jog your sluggish system is to literally jog in place. Even 30 seconds of doing this will stimulate your system. Or, you could try jumping up and down five times in quick succession.

The best time to perform these exercises is before eating, or waiting at least two hours after a meal.

The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is found at the front of the neck, below the Adam’s apple. Although small in size, this gland has a big influence on the body’s ability to transform food into the energy needed to sustain life. Thyroid hormones control the growth, temperature, and function of every cell in the body. It is a vital component of the endocrine system, an elaborate network of hormone-producing glands acting upon the cardiovascular, digestive, neurological, and reproductive systems. The importance of this gland, therefore, cannot be understated.

When functioning properly, the thyroid gland secretes just the right amount of thyroid hormone to regulate almost all the metabolic processes in your body. Too much or too little of these vital body chemicals, and it can drastically influence energy levels, body weight, and your mental health. Cultivating your thyroid health, combined with proper nutrition and diet, can boost energy, improve appetite, reduce insomnia, relieve depression symptoms, improve circulation, relieve muscle aches, and assist you in recovering from endocrine disorders. An easy way to improve thyroid health and the health of your endocrine system, is to eat nutritious meals and maintain a well-balanced diet.

There are two primary ways the thyroid can malfunction: It can be overactive, or hyperthyroid, producing symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, excessive hunger, weight loss, diarrhea, and heat sensations. Or, conversely, it can underproduce, known as hypothyroid, creating symptoms like a slow heartbeat, reduced appetite, weight gain, constipation, and cold sensations.

If you experience any symptoms, it is important to see your medical doctor in addition to visiting your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. Hormones secreted by the thyroid are measured, as well as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a chemical released by the pituitary gland that triggers hormone production in the thyroid.

Oriental medicine treatments take all symptoms into account and are aimed at balancing the production and release of thyroid hormones through a variety of approaches, including acupuncture and herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, and special exercises. In the treatment of thyroid problems, acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions, and help manage sleep. There are several acupuncture points on the ear and the body that can be used to regulate the production of thyroid hormones.

If you have a thyroid issues, call for a consultation. A custom-tailored treatment plan will be created to suit your individual needs so that you can feel better quickly and safely!

Ear massage is an extremely relaxing and effective therapy aimed at decreasing cravings, reducing stress, promoting well-being, and addressing various health issues. Ear acupuncture is used throughout the world to reduce food cravings, assist in the detoxification of addictive substances, manage pain, and calm anxiety.

Ear massage triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Studies have demonstrated that ear stimulation increases levels of endorphins in both the blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Here is a great ear massage that you can do for yourself or your loved ones:

#1 – Rub in small circular motions with your thumbs inside the widest upper part inside the ears, holding them from outside with the index and middle fingers.

#2 – Use your index finger to massage inside the smaller crevices if your thumbs don’t fit and along the front of your ear where it attaches to the head.

#3 – Massage the earlobes by gently pulling them down and making circles with your thumb and index finger.

About Dr. Rosemary Harris

Dr. Harris is a Nationally Board Certified Licensed Acupuncture Physician practicing in Naples, Florida. Dr. Harris has studied and worked with great masters specializing in fertility and women’s health issues, and is a member of the American Pregnancy Association and sees patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Estero, FL.

In addition to getting treatment, here are seven lifestyle changes you can make to help curb cravings, improve your overall well-being, and assist in your recovery.

1. Exercise more. Exercise can reduce your stress and help you relax.

2. Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices to neutralize and clear the blood and to fortify blood sugar.

3. Carrots, celery, leafy green salads, and citrus fruits promote body alkalinity and decrease cravings.

4. Avoid junk food, sugar, and coffee. They can upset blood sugar levels and increase blood acidity, which can aggravate withdrawal symptoms.

5. Lobelia tea or green tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage cravings. Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.

6. Drink water. Research shows that dryness causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day.

7. Practice deep breathing exercises to increase body oxygen and keep calm.

About Dr. Rosemary Harris

Dr. Harris is a Nationally Board Certified Licensed Acupuncture Physician practicing in Naples, Florida. Dr. Harris has studied and worked with great masters specializing in fertility and women’s health issues, and is a member of the American Pregnancy Association and sees patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Estero, FL.