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Exploring Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention and Relief

Western medicine focuses on medication, surgery or science to fix a problem; Eastern medicine focuses more on providing the body with the tools it needs to fix itself. The premise for many alternative therapies and modalities come from the Eastern philosophy: mind, body and environment work together to keep a person well or make a person sick; one cannot be treated without the other.

East Meets West with Alternative Medical Therapies

One popular alternative therapy is making its way into mainstream Western medicine: acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a physical therapy that involves the subcutaneous or dermis level insertion of thin needle rods into specific acupuncture points in the body and then gently stimulating them with heat, movement, sound or vibration. The premise is that movement and vibration of the acupuncture needles helps the energy in the body flow better, to stimulate healing, circulation of blood and oxygen and energy through the places in the body that control certain reactions of the body.

I’ve seen video of the acupuncture procedures, and I’ve watched an acupuncture therapy in person at a local chiropractor’s office, and I realize the needles are tiny and they are only inserted subcutaneously. But they are still needles! I’m not so scared of needles… am I? I have an appointment scheduled in the near future, so we shall soon see.

Acupuncture Needling Procedure for Migraine Pain

Because, as a Time Magazine article on migraine headache research indicates, migraines are believed to be caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the head, using acupuncture to treat migraine pain while it is happening by placing acupuncture needles in or near the head area might actually worsen a migraine headache or at least worsen the sensation of pain associated with a migraine headache.

According to Cathy Wong, ND, CNS, who is a naturopathic doctor who performs acupuncture, acupuncture used during a migraine headache to help reduce migraine pain involves acupuncture needling of the arms and torso, with the hope of increasing circulation below the neck, so as to decrease blood flow and circulation above the neck, thus reducing the dilation of the blood vessels that might be causing the migraine pain. Dr. Wong does note, however, that there is not much conclusive research as to the effectiveness of acupuncture for treatment of pain relief during a migraine.

Does Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention Work?

There is research and anecdotal evidence that properly performed acupuncture stimulation can help prevent migraine headaches. When used in conjunction with other treatment methods, both alternative and traditional, it does seem possible that some migraines can be prevented.

My best friend, Lynn, is terrified of needles, but she also suffers from severe, debilitating migraine headaches. She currently takes two types of medication, one to help prevent migraine headaches and another one to reduce the severity of the migraine headache once it starts. Even with both medications, she sometimes has what the doctors call “breakthrough migraine headaches” that take her out of commission for hours, sometimes days.

Lynn’s medical doctor discussed alternative therapies with her, such as relaxation, stress reduction, avoiding alcohol, keeping the body at a steady temperature, meditation and medication. Other things that can cause migraines include certain foods, smells and body hormones. When she asked her medical doctor about acupuncture as a possible treatment or preventative, his answer was, “It couldn’t hurt any.”

Does Acupuncture Treatment for Migraines Hurt?

That’s ultimately the most important part about acupuncture: It doesn’t hurt to try it. I mean that both literally and figuratively. Acupuncture, when properly preformed in a clean and sterile environment, can’t really do any harm to most people. Of course, it’s always important to consult with your physician or health care practitioner before using alternative therapies, including acupuncture.

Secondly, the needling part of acupuncture doesn’t hurt! As terrified as Lynn is of needles, and as much as I don’t really like them either, the needling part of acupuncture doesn’t hurt. In fact, it’s likely you won’t even feel it, but if you do, it’s nothing more than a slight tingle. Some people might feel a warming, calming sensation too. I’ll learn more during my appointment next month, but I’ve already had one test needle inserted into my forearm, and I couldn’t even feel it.

How Does Acupuncture Prevent Migraines?

Acupuncture is believed to help prevent migraines as part of a complete lifestyle change. That is, along with stress reduction, massage, relaxation and meditation, acupuncture helps with energy flow, stress reduction, tension relief, and muscle relaxation, all of which are known to help decrease the frequency and severity of migraine headaches and headache pain.

The good news: Lynn, and other migraine headache sufferers, can combine both the alternative and traditional therapies for the best results.

That’s one of the great things about acupuncture: It allows patients to continue using their traditional therapies, or medications, for migraine headaches while trying acupuncture for healing or treatment. Acupuncture doesn’t interfere in any way with a medication regimen or traditional medical treatments. Even some insurance plans, such as Acucare and others, as well as MediCal now pay for some acupuncture treatment for certain conditions, including migraine headaches, as a preventative therapy.

Check with insurance carriers for their coverage and then find a local provider. Be sure the acupuncture clinic or practitioner is clean, uses new needles for each acupuncture treatment, and is properly certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, or through a state acupuncture certifying or licensing board in your state.

Dealing with Court Ordered Counseling

In many states if one party asks for it, the court will order post marital counseling for you and your ex. Some states require it as a course of your divorce whether or not someone asks for it. To many, this may seem like a huge waste of time. To some it may provide some help with communication or at least a forum where some communication can occur.

Getting through each session can be trying but you can make it easier by coming prepared with a list of topics you would like to discuss rather than allowing the counselor or your ex to completely lead the way. A good counselor will actually appreciate this proactive approach. The counselor does not know you or your ex so it will take weeks for her to pull the issues out unless you move it forward with a list of topics. Once you do this, it is likely that your ex will bring his own list next time, so always be on your best behavior and do your best not to be a cause of communication problems and issues.

To make your list do not use it as a way to attack your ex. Instead use it as a way to foster communication with your ex. This is not a time to bring up the past. You are divorced therefore you can only bring up issues that affect the future. “Why did my ex leave me for that woman” is irrelevant at this point. What is done, is done. “I want to communicate about the children’s schedules with my ex without yelling” is something for the list. This is about the future and is appropriate. Anything that can change or affect the future in a better way is something you bring up. “I want my ex to quit telling the kids that I am a cheater” is something to bring up, “I want my ex to call me when there are changes in the visitation 48 hours in advance and to stop sending messages via the children” is something to talk about in front of the counselor.

During the time between visits try the tips your counselor offers keeping note of how it works. This will help your counselor with his approach. If you keep good notes void of accusations and approach each session with an attitude of how can “I” make life better, how can “I” change you will get the most out of the counseling. Actually trying to make things better as discussed during the counseling sessions will take everything even farther and before you know it, you and your ex will not need the help of the professional anymore as you’ll both have moved past the issues which required it in the first place.

Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

I’ve heard that your practice is dedicated to treating infertility. Why do you specialize in treating infertility? When I started my practice, like most practitioners of acupuncture, I had a general practice. I had one patient who was suffering from infertility. She had been trying to conceive for three years, with an FSH of 40. She was forty-two. After treating her for three months she burst through my door crying! I didn’t know what to think. I was startled and confused until she started laughing and informed me that she was pregnant! I have a photograph of her little boy on my office wall. That moment changed her life and mine. It was then that I decided to devote myself to helping couples to have the most important thing in their lives; kids!

What types of infertility can acupuncture and herbal medicine treat? We have used our proprietary acupuncture and herbal medicine protocols to successfully treat infertility due to hormonal imbalances such as elevated FSH as well as luteal phase defect, PCOS, endometriosis, thin lining, low ovarian reserve and poor egg quality. We have also seen excellent results when treating those with clotting disorders and immunological pathologies including but not limited to activated NK cells and antiphospholipid antibodies, Factor V Leiden, dual gene variant MTHFR with hypehomocysteinemia. We continue to yield impressive improvements when treating poor motility, poor morphology and low sperm count and sperm DNA fragmentation. There was a study done at Harvard which showed that stress may reduce the function of the hypothalamic-anterior pituitary-ovarian axis, thus contributing to infertility. This pathomechansim can be explained thus: Stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to cause vaso and arterial constriction which results in degradation of blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Arterial constriction is seen at the uterine artery and ovarian arteries. If fact, when a transvaginal Doppler exam is performed and the uterine artery impedance is greater than 3, pregnancy will not be achieved. Beta-endorphins released via acupuncture intervention interrupts the negative activity of the sympathetic nervous system causing dilation of the arteries facilitating increased blood flow to the lining and ovaries. Thus, the lining thickens and there is often improved egg quality. This is sometimes all it takes to achieve a viable pregnancy.

Who is your typical patient? We have female and male patients. Typically, they are between the ages of thirty-two to forty-two. Many want to try acupuncture and herbal medicine before considering the utilization of Assisted Reproductive Technological intervention; many want to use acupuncture and herbal medicine in conjunction with their A.R.T. process. As the reputation of our success grows so to has our practice.

Should my husband be treated? If your hubby has low sperm count, poor morphology, poor motility and/or sperm DNA fragmentation he is a good candidate for treatment.

How does acupuncture help treat infertility? Acupuncture and herbal medicine work in two entirely different ways. Acupuncture invigorates or enhances the circulation of blood and energy throughout the body. This is extremely important for those individuals who are having difficulty conceiving. Some manifestations of obstructed flow of blood are endometriosis, blocked tubes, fibroids, clotting in the menstruate, premenstrual lower abdominal aching or sharp pain, sharp and stabbing pain over the ovaries during ovulation, menstruation or ovulation related headaches, breast aching, extreme emotional lability and cold hands and feet. While the above signs and symptoms in and of themselves will not necessarily render one infertile, they do reveal internal blockages of energy and blood which may contribute to infertility.

Source: Acupuncture Arlington

The Suburban Vixen Manifesto

You and I fit the same demographic. The infamous “soccer mom.” We are twenty, thirty or forty-something, have some children, a partner, maybe working some, mumming all the time; generally, we are all about motherhood. You may even drive a minivan. I do. People see us at the grocery store and think they have us all figured out. We see each other at the grocery store and immediately feel like we know each other already. We seem to lead parallel lives.

At some point, we likely made the choice to become mothers, although some of us may have been caught by surprise. We may have happened to become mothers with ease and impulsiveness or with diligence and intention. Regardless of how we made our way to motherhood, no one could have prepared us for the gravity and magnitude of the experience for all involved. Our focus on the health and growth of our children is often the sole and paramount consideration. We willingly sacrifice attention to ourselves for the well being of our families which is why we need to think sometimes about our own health. Read more here hypnotherapy Chicago and take a step in the right direction.

Contrary to how it may feel, care for your family and care for yourself is not an either-or proposition. The well being of your family is best served through the thoughtful care for all people involved, including YOU. As the mother, you do not exist outside the family system. You are a part of it: just as the rest of the family is growing and developing, as are you.

Keep in mind: physiologically your heart keeps the entire body alive and it pumps blood to itself first. This is not a selfish act, but one of necessity. If the heart is not nourished the rest of the body cannot flourish: as it is with you and your family. As the heart of the family, you must pump blood to yourself first, out of necessity. If mama is not nourished, no one can flourish. Or as they say, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.” No accounting for grammar, but whoever said that knows what’s up.

You don’t just deserve to focus energy on yourself . . .it is a necessity. If you don’t build that focused time for yourself into the daily working of the family now, you will be forced to do so at some point in the future when you have completely lost yourself and any life balance. The well being of your family cannot be considered to the exclusion of our own transformation and evolution. With the gravity of such a monumental transition in your own life, it is crucial that you honor yourself with patience, sensitivity and opportunity for reflection and growth.

Finding that balance is a challenge. You may already be struggling with the effects of disregarding your own growth and evolution. I did. As I have grown into my role as partner and mother, it has taken quite a long time to actively realize that I am still in there.

Interestingly, the experience of becoming a mother, which seemed sometimes to rob me of myself and at least call into question the very essence of who I am, was the path through which I grew to reclaim and own what is mine. Through the experience of losing myself completely, I learned the crucial importance of being exactly who I am all the time. Some of these epiphanies centered on my professional work. Some centered on my life’s priorities. And some centered on my essence of self and how I relate in relationships.

In becoming a mother, we feel the effects of such a transformation physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a comprehensive overhaul of our entire being. We may not immediately recognize that for a number of reasons like: we have made a conscious decision to start a family; we have been waiting a long time for the arrival of a baby; we may be taken completely by surprise that we are starting a family; we may think that having children is something many people have done and it is a natural process; we may perceive, as post-feminist women, that we can do it all.

There is no question that the experience of having children is the most disorienting, yet centering experience a woman can have. You may have wrestled with life’s big questions before you became a mother, but now the stakes are heavy duty; all the more reason to prioritize yourself and allow mental space for exploration and growth.

Becoming a mother is truly a transformational experience. We tend to focus on the growth and development of our amazing children. We read books. We compare notes with other parents. We keep track of heights, weights and developmental milestones. It is no wonder that our own development and metamorphosis takes a back seat.

Consider a similar focus on our own developmental milestones: the mama version. It seems laughable, but I believe if we paid even a fraction of the careful attention to our personal evolution as we do to the milestones of our offspring, we could avoid much personal and relational unhappiness and difficulty down the road. I am not advocating that we relegate our children to the back seat, but simply that we acknowledge that we are also developing and evolving ourselves. Selfless mothers do just that: completely lose themselves. That scenario is not good for anyone.

As difficult as finding that balance may seem, we should focus some energy on our own evolution. We must proactively reframe the current conception of motherhood to actively include our own well being as part of the equation. That is what it means to experience transformational motherhood.