Informative articles written by Dr. Timothy O'Brien, D.Ac
Smoking With Acupuncture Help
dealing with this hard to kick habit.
What's Bugging You: Lyme Disease Prevention Avoiding and treating this seasonal threat.
Preparing For The Flu Season Maintaining your immune system to fend off colds and influenza.
Migraines Background on migraine headaches and some natural alternatives to combat them.
Coping At A Difficult Time Suggestions on dealing with emotional stresses.
Know Yourself A look at the balance between physical health and emotional well being.
Answers to Your Questions Answers to questions I have been asked on the past.
Anxiety Disorder Relief Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to this problem.
Feng Shui Balancing the environment to improve your life.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome A Complementary Medical View.
Promoting Healthy Bones to Prevent Osteoporosis Hints to help avoid this disease.
Helping You Cope With Stress Suggestions on how to reduce stress.
Tennis Anyone? A look at tennis elbow and advice on getting back into the game.
Treatment for Painful Periods Traditional and Acupuncture treatments.
Weight Reductions by Oriental Traditions A lasting solution.
Promoting Long Term Breast Health Background and hints on avoiding a major risk.
Let me know your thoughts. If you have any questions or topics, on woman’s health, that you would like to see covered in future articles please email me or write to me at: Opus Acupuncture, PO Box 837, Wyoming, RI 02898.
What's Bugging You: Lyme Disease Prevention By Dr. Timothy O’Brien, D.Ac
Lyme disease is a tick -
transmitted inflammatory disorder. Its onset is typically in the summer and fall
months. It usually occurs in people who are living near heavily wooded areas.
There are five groups of symptoms associated with Lyme
The predominate symptom include a skin rash that develops in 75% of people that have been bitten by a deer tick. It occurs as a red raised rash approximately 50 centimeters in size about 3 to 35 days after being bit by the tick. If left untreated most people develop the second group of flu-like symptoms. These include malaise, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, stiff neck, and muscle-joint pain. These symptoms are intermittent and change in intensity. The third group of symptoms is neurological such as meningitis, encephalitis and neuritis (pain, numbness, irritability, and paralysis). The fourth group has heart abnormalities such as palpitations and irregular heartbeats. The fifth group develops symptoms of arthritis. Sixty percent of Lyme disease sufferers develop intermittent swelling and pain in the large joints, with the knee being involved most of the time.
Conventional Western medical treatment for this disease is antibiotic therapy and aspirin or NSAID medication for symptomatic relief. The best treatment approach to Lyme disease is prevention. Some handy tips are:
• Wear socks pulled over long pants in an endemic area
• Wear long sleeves, a hat and closed shoes.
• Use tick repellent on you and your clothes
• Inspect yourself; your loved ones and your pets after being outdoors.
• See your doctor for a yearly Lyme titer blood test.
• Consider receiving a vaccine for prophylaxis against Borrelia burgdorferi
(the germ that is transmitted by the deer tick, i.e. Lyme disease)
If symptoms do develop consult your doctor immediately. The treatment, which is strong and a relatively prolonged course of antibiotics is needed. Typically the symptoms of Lyme disease often continue after antibiotic therapy is completed. It has been my clinical experience that combining the Western treatment with Acupuncture achieves a quicker and better effect that antibiotic therapy alone. Acupuncture has been successfully addressing such conditions as fatigue and pain for hundreds of years. For more information about Lyme disease contact the Arthritis Foundation at www.arthritis.org. Don’t get bugged this season, protect yourself. Be Well, Stay Happy.
If you have been diagnosed with Lyme disease I would like to help. Call 401-397-6333 to schedule an appointment.
Preparing For The Flu Season By Dr. Timothy O’Brien, D.Ac
It’s that time of year again. The cold and flu season has arrived. Unless you are a hermit during the winter months, you have a pretty good chance that you will come in contact with flu –like virus. Typical cold and flu symptoms may include:
Fever or chills Fatigue Headache Muscle aches Sore throat Runny nose Cough
The key to prevention is a healthy immune system. To prevent the flu from striking you try to live a balanced life-style. Good nutrition and plenty of rest, keeps your body strong. Avoid being out in the cold harsh winter environment, this can decrease the body’s defenses. People with suppressed immune systems, chronic heart or lung disease should receive vaccination (flu shot). Another way to improve your immunity is to use herbal supplements. Herbal supplements will provide added support to your immune system and help you lower the risk. For example:
Astragalus is an immune booster. It also has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. 1 – 2 cups of tea per day is needed.
Echinacea has mixed effectiveness in prevention, but research supports the reduction and severity of the symptoms once a cold begins.
Shiitake Mushrooms it’s ingredients enhance the immune system as well as some anti-viral effects.
Garlic is high in allicin a potent anti-microbial agent.
Black Elderberry enhances the immune system and has anti-oxidant activity. It is available in health food stores, as Sambucol.
Ginger also has immune boosting effects. It also has a warming and anti-nausea effect. It can help in reducing achy muscles and joints.
Elder Flower has anti-viral benefits.
Rose Hips are high in vitamin C and have antiseptic properties.
Peppermint has antiseptic and diaphoretic properties to eliminate the virus.
Reishi Mushrooms inhibit viral infections and improves white blood cell and T-cell function.
There are two great immune boosting recipes that I often use.
Cold/Flu Tea: Prepare as regular tea.
2 parts Peppermint
2 parts Astragalus
1 part Ginger root
Reishi/Shiitaki mushroom soup
1 large Reishi mushroom
6 Shiitaki mushrooms
Simmer for 1 hour with salt or season to taste
As with any herbal medicinal seek qualified advice from a certified herbalist before use. Although clerks in health and vitamin stores are trying to helpful, most of them, are not qualified to provide diagnosis and proper treatment. Discontinue use 2 weeks prior to any surgical procedures. Caution should be used during pregnancy. Most herbal supplements are safe and effective with centuries of use. Be well, stay happy.
Migraines By Dr. Timothy O’Brien, D.Ac
Migraines effect 12% of the population in the United States. Women are 2 to 4 times more likely to be afflicted with this type of re-occurring headaches. A typical migraine sufferer is young (under 35) and has had her first attack early in her teens. Hormonal changes play a significant role triggering these events. Women seem to have more attacks if they take oral contraceptives and around the time of menstruation. Attacks often lessen during pregnancy and after menopause. Other triggers for migraine attacks are; stress, fatigue, environmental changes and specific sensitivity to certain foods or drinks.
Some signs of migraines include; head pain that is one sided, lightheadedness, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Attacks can last a few hours to days and usually occur 1 to 4 times a month. If you have severe recurrent headaches you should consult your physician for evaluation and treatment. In rare cases these headaches can be a sign of serious disorders. Proper evaluation is necessary to manage your complaint appropriately. The most common remedy in the United States is pharmaceutical medications. Both over the counter and prescription medication provide relief for some people. There are many people for whom these treatments are not effective.
There are many natural alternatives that you can try, if you are among those who have not been helped by conventional treatment. The following are some ways you can use to overcome migraines.
Acupuncture is effective in 71% of cases treated for migraines (Cephagia 1999:19). This is because Acupuncture balances the body and hormones to provide relief for those who suffer from recurrent headaches. Research has shown that Acupuncture will promote the production of endorphins. Endorphins are an integral part in breaking the body’s pain cycle. Acupuncture plays an important role in the reduction of acute pain and in the prevention of chronic pain.
Biofeedback can help migraine sufferers to gain control, decrease muscle tension and reduce anxiety.
Herbal treatment and vitamin therapy have also been helpful according to several studies. This is probably due to the replacement of deficient substances in the body.
Avoid triggering factors such as stressful situations and fatigue. Also avoid certain foods associated with migraines, such as; cold cuts, chocolate, nuts, aged cheese, yeast products and sulfates.
Aromatherapy can help relax the body. The aromatic effects provide mild to moderate pain relief.
Chiropractic spinal sub-luxations that are corrected can provide long lasting relief.
Regular exercise is always helpful in relieving tension and promoting good blood circulation.
Ice packs on the head can help decrease pain during an attack.
Maintain a regular schedule, avoid skipping meals and staying up late.
Massaging the neck and head can also help during an attack.
Relaxation techniques such as Yoga and Tai Chi can also help.
Proper hydration, drinking plenty of water is strongly encouraged.
The options listed above can help you find a way to improve your quality of life. Find the ones that work for you.
Be Well Stay Happy
Coping At A Difficult Time By Dr. Tim O’Brien, D.Ac.
The stressful and confusing events of September 11, 2001 will be present with all of us for a long time. Most of us have been affected by this loss either directly, with a love one, or indirectly with a friend of a loved one. Common reactions to this tragic loss may develop in the following manner. Physical reactions generally include; fatigue, appetite changes, headaches, nausea, palpitations and insomnia. Emotional reactions to a tragic event maybe; irritability, anger, helplessness, fright, difficulty in concentration or remembering things and avoidance of people, places and activities. Copping with this grief is different for everyone. There have been five grieving stages identified by Dr. Kubler-Ross in her book "Death and Dying";
Denial – A person in this stage is probably unable to fully understand what has occurred, "this is not happening to me".
Anger – A grieving person looks for something or someone to blame.
Bargaining – Somehow we try to change the circumstances of our grief.
Depression – The person feels grief deeply. It is a sign that the person is coming to grips with the reality of the situation.
Acceptance – In this final stage the person is willing and able to accept the loss.
Understanding the stages will help us to accept and to cope with this great tragedy. Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself and your loved ones at this difficult time.
Talk with friends and family, be an active listener.
Get enough rest and try some relaxation techniques, such as yoga or tai chi
Stay away from excessive alcohol, caffeine of drugs.
Expect your emotions and moods to change frequently.
Exercise, a good walk is calming to the body and mind.
Eat regular, balanced meals.
Respect the needs of those around you.
Show compassion and dedication to your priorities.
Write about your loss, it will help you to express your sorrow and pain to allow you to move through the stages.
Turn you thoughts to the future again. Start slowly at first and be tolerant.
Keep in mind that it will take time and allow yourself the time you need. Remember it will be different for everyone. Be well and stay happy. Be Well Stay Happy
Know Yourself By Dr. Tim O’Brien D.Ac.
The holistic vision of Traditional Chinese Medicine is a balance between physical health and emotional well being. In Chinese Medicine this is all explained by the movement of Qi (pronounced chee) on the organ systems of the body. Qi is a life force that gives us the capacity to move, think, feel and experience life. Qi is a naturally flowing energy. Chinese Medicine appreciates the importance of the unseen Qi acting upon the visible body. Classical Chinese Medical texts, dating back thousands of years, state that emotional causes of disease can lead to somatic effects and somatic disease can lead to emotional effects. Chinese Medicine divides the body into five main organ systems. These systems govern both physical and mental activity by regulating and preserving Qi. The emotions are linked to their physical counterparts in the following manner:
Heart/Joy – The heart dominates the blood and controls the blood vessels. It also houses the Spirit and governs the mind. Symptoms of a heart disharmony are anxiety, restless sleep, irritability, palpitations, chest pain, and migraine headaches. The Qi can not rest becoming chaotic. There is excessive excitement (joy) and mental restlessness. The Spirit does not have a place to settle.
Kidney/Fear – The kidney is responsible for water metabolism as well as growth and development. It houses the Will. It nourishes the bones and the brain. A dysfunction in kidney Qi will cause it to descend and become weak. There will be lower back or knee pain, weak vision, ringing in the ears, increased urination and infertility. There is apathy, despair and decreased concentration. One will experience a decrease in willpower and become fearful. The Qi withdraws and does not circulate.
Liver/Anger – The liver maintains the free flow of Qi and stores the blood. The Qi rises or ascends and boils upward. Symptoms of a liver disorder include: headache, dizziness, hypertension, neck tension, visual disturbances, irritability, anger, frustration and depression.
Spleen/Worry – The spleen assimilates food and fluids. It also transforms and transports Qi to the body. When the Qi is disturbed the Qi becomes knotted or stuck. The damaged spleen Qi causes pensiveness, poor digestion, fatigue, scattered thinking, worry and obsession.
Lung/Sadness – A lung disharmony weakens or consumes the Qi. One may experience increased vulnerability to colds or flues, skin rashes, chest tightness and breathlessness. There is sadness, grief and tiredness. Melancholy ensues and the Qi disappears.
Understanding the movements of Qi as it relates to your
body will help you to know yourself. Increase awareness and sensitivity to the
subtle movements of Qi will help you to gain balance. This will improve your
life with vitality and wellness. Take care. Be well and stay happy. Be Well Stay
Answers to your questions: A Complementary Medical View by Dr. Tim O’Brien, M.Ac.
Mary from Warwick writes. I am 51 years old and have been on hormone replacement therapy for 2 years. I continue to have hot flashes even after several medication adjustments. Can acupuncture help me.
Yes. Within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),
menopausal syndrome is a recognized and treatable condition. It occurs
when a woman’s body no longer produces sufficient blood to support a pregnancy without draining her body of her kidney Qi (energy). TCM sees the kidney Qi as the root of life and longevity. According to Chinese medical theory when the kidney Qi becomes unbalanced, the cooling nature of the kidney yin fails to hold the heat of the kidney yang. The heat in the body rises suddenly and there is a "hot flash" usually accompanied by the bodies attempt to cool it, a "cold sweat". The use of
acupuncture can promote your body’s inherent healing ability to rebalance the yin and yang of the kidneys. Acupuncture is an extremely effective therapy without side effects for this natural aging process.
Jody from Cumberland writes. I suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections. I don’t want to be on antibiotics all the time. I heard that acupuncture might be able to treat my condition.
Yes it can. Chronic urinary tract infection called Lin
Bi in Chinese is characterized by frequency, scanty urine, urgency and
burning pain. TCM states it is due to kidney Qi deficiency. Dampness and heat (pathogen) then disrupt the deficient kidney
Qi. There are over 500 acupuncture points on the human body. Each point does something specific when activated. When
treated with acupuncture for a UTI the goal would be to strengthen or tonify the kidney qi, to stop the pain, cool the heat and resolve the dampness. Acupuncture therapy will alleviate the irritation in the urinary tract. Acupuncture will restore your
balance and improve your immunity. Once your energy is restored your body will heal itself.
Lynn from Providence writes. I am 2 months pregnant. I
am fatigued and have terrible morning sickness. I have
been hospitalized for it and would like to prevent that from happening again. Would acupuncture give me relief
with out harming my baby.
Congratulations on your pregnancy. The answer to your
question is yes. According to TCM theory morning sickness is due
to the blood of the uterus becoming rebellious with in the body. This turbidity rises upward and effects the stomach in the first trimester. Acupuncture is gentle, safe and with out side effects. It will regulate the rebellious Qi and restore the harmony of the stomach. Once your is stomach feeling better you will be able to eat normally again. Your energy will increase. Acupuncture
is a great treatment option during pregnancy for nausea as well as pain management without harmful side effects. It also
promotes strength, energy, immunity and wellbeing for you and your baby.
Donna from Newport writes. I am pretty healthy. Can you tell me how acupuncture works and can it be used to maintain my health.
Human beings are actually unique bioenergetic systems.
For thousands of years Oriental Medicine has acknowledged that
there is a vital life force that flows through all things which is called Qi (pronounced chee). In the west it is often refereed to as energy. When the balance of this energy is obstructed due to trauma, poor diet, medications, stress, hereditary conditions, environmental factors or excessive emotional issues; pain or illness results. Acupuncture focuses on correcting these energetic imbalances by breaking up any obstruction and encouraging an even flow of Qi, which stimulates the body’s natural ability to
heal itself. By focusing on prevention the Qi is maintained before a problem ensues. Be Well Stay Happy
Anxiety Disorder Relief Dr. Tim O’Brien, M. Ac
From time to time everyone experiences
anxiety and fear. They are part of our body’s innate defensive coping
When your anxiety and fear lingers to a daily event it begins to interfere with one’s life. An anxiety disorder is a state of apprehension and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event. It often manifested itself as
a physical or emotional symptom such as insomnia, irritability, muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, shaking and fear of losing control. Fear or panic is a sudden overpowering terror. This daily persistent anxiety
or worry effects 5-7 percent of the adult population. It is two times more likely to effect women.
Conventional medical treatment includes
behavior modification therapies where the person is exposed to the situation
causes the attack. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which examines a persons thought’s to correct the disorder. Medications are commonly used to help a person deal with their disorder. Anti-depressants change your mood making it easier to deal with
Many people choose natural alternatives to
deal with anxiety. Some individuals are affraid of being on medications for
periods. Others find the side effects from the medications such as fatigue, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems, headaches
and sexual dysfunction to be intolerable. Still others find that conventional treatment doesn’t work for them.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) certain lifestyle habits can predispose you to anxiety disorders.
diet, inadequate sleep, overworking both physically and mentally can drain your body of Qi or energy. A common approach to restore your body’s health (Qi) is the use of herbal medicine. The best way to take herbs is to have them administered by a
trained herbalist. Like foods, herbs work best when used in combinations. Herbs should also be cross check for any
interactions with any other medications that you take, even over the counter brands. Also like medications some cannot be
taken before a surgical procedure. To avoid an herb/drug interaction it is important to take the herbs and drugs at least two
hours apart. Herbs also work best when combined with a general health program that includes a good diet, proper rest and exercise, stress reduction and some form cognitive or behavior modification therapy.
The following case study is a very good example of how TCM can effectively heal and restore the body.
Joanne is a 35-year-old who came to my office for insomnia that was caused by a popular anti-depressant. She started the medication 8 months ago to relieve her constant anxiety.
She felt as if she was dying. She had
chest pains every day with dizziness. She went from specialist to specialist to
find an answer for her condition. She was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and
was placed on the medication. The medication did solve
the chest pain issues but it left her with a feeling of exhilaration. She would stay awake most of the night with that hyper
sensation. Her doctor offered to give her a medication to help her sleep. She decided that having to take one pill to elevate her despair and another to quiet her restlessness was not the way to go though life.
With her initial complaint of insomnia
discussed we talked more about her life and other symptoms that she has had. She
a very busy person with her own business. She has a husband and two grade school children. She doesn’t take the time to eat properly and is always on the go. Prior to the anxiety attacks she would get lightheaded and fatigue easily. She has in the past had problems with irritable bowel syndrome. She is angry when she shouldn’t be and drinks allot of coffee. Lately she has had generalized muscle aches but attributes them to the insomnia. Her tongue appears to be pale with a yellow coat. Her pulse was weak and rapid. Joanne’s TCM diagnosis is a digestive weakness caused by years of poor diet and overwork called Spleen Qi Deficiency. She had several acupuncture treatments to restore her balance of Qi. She was also placed on a modified herbal
formula of Xiao Yao Wan.
The herbs in the formula are; white peony
to relax the muscles and strengthen the blood, poria to calm the spirit,
to strengthen the digestion, angelicae to strengthen and promote the flow of the blood, ginger and licorice to regulate her
digestion, mint to cool the excess heat, bupleurum to relieve Qi stagnation, biotae to nourish and calm the heart. Joanne’s symptoms improved greatly over a two-month period. She began to sleep soundly and her fatigue diminished. She modified her
diet to warm, cooked foods and deceased her coffee to an occasional cup. She slowed her pace at work and began taking yoga. After three months of treatment she came off her medication for anxiety. She has not had an attack in six months. By taking control and restoring her balance Joanne is back to her old self. Joanne’s case is one example of how herbal medicine can successfully contribute to an overall health plan. Many other medical conditions can also be solved with this widely used form
of medicine. I would like to thank Joanne for allowing me to use her case as a demonstration. It is her hope that reading her
case study can also help another person. Anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life. There are many natural alternatives. Finding an effective and safe herbal remedy can enhance your performance in our ever-demanding daily life. Be Well Stay happy.
Feng Shui By Dr. Tim O’Brien, DA, M.Ac.
Oriental Medicine encompasses a variety of health care
therapies and is a way of looking at medicine that integrates all of its
therapies in its understanding. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology are the most
popular form of therapies in the United States. Other aspects include diet,
nutrition, life-style choices, Tai Qi (martial arts/physical exercise), Qi Gong
Tui Na (massage) and Feng Shui (environmental balance).
Our environment influences us all physically and
psychologically. If you have ever been moved by the decor of a room and have
enjoyed the ambiance of a garden then you have had a Feng Shui experience. Feng
Shui literally means wind and water. It is
a term used to describe the flow and the accumulation of energy or Qi (pronounced chee). Feng Shui is the study of subtle influences of energy and objects and how they might effect us. Although subtle, these forces over time have a profound effect
on our physical health, emotional wellbeing and our daily relationships. Feng Shui is a science that creates balance, comfort
Understanding the concept of Qi is key to understanding
Feng Shui. Qi is like the wind, a natural energy source that is
constantly flowing around us. We cannot see it but we know it exist. Qi is like water, an energy source that can be diverted to where it is needed to be more beneficial to our wellbeing. At the same time Qi cycles endlessly from one place to the next. If
that cycle is interrupted it will affect everything else that is dependent on that cycle. Throughout out the centuries Chinese
wisdom has handed down the Nourishing/ Constructive cycle and the Controlling/Destructive cycle relationships of the Five Elements. They are as follows;
Nourishing-Fire makes Earth that creates Metal that
holds Water which nurtures Wood which feeds Fire. A never-ending and
very well balanced cycle.
Controlling-Fire melts Metal, Metal cuts Wood, Wood
consumes the Earth, Earth dams Water, and Water extinguishes Fire.
This destructive cycle disrupts the flow of Qi.
The Qi of the Five-Element cycle are the basis for Feng
Shui. The goal of Feng Shui is to allow yourself to become one with the wind and
water of your environment. When you design your Feng Shui space keep in mind the
Five Element cycles and the
forces that affect Qi. To nourish the flow of Qi in an environment we can select natural objects such as live plants, crystal or stones. Another very effective way to correct the flow of energy is with the use of man made objects such as mirrors, wind
chimes, lamps, colorful textiles and metal objects. Forces that create negative energy in a space should be removed
immediately such as clutter, dried flowers and dust. Corrective measures should be implemented for such things as sharp
corners in a room, darkness and destructive cycle relationship such as a water fountain in your fire area (i.e. water extinguishes fire). Designing your space can be on a grand scale (house, business, etc.) or you can concentrate on an area that you spend most of your time in (office, bedroom, kitchen, etc.).
The North Gwa represents Water. This is the career
area. The color used in this space is black. An indoor fountain, aquarium
or mirrors go well here. Use asymmetrical free flowing shapes that symbolize growth. Accomplishments also go well in this area like certificates and diplomas.
The Northeast Gwa represents the Mountain. This is an
area that is your knowledge or intelligence. The color to use is blue.
This is an area of accumulated wisdom. Pictures of grandparents, diplomas and religious objects go very well here.
The East Gwa represents Wood. It is an area of growth.
It is a family area. Pictures of family go very well here. The color to
is green. Live plants and wooden objects support the growth and maintain health.
The Southeast Gwa represents Wind. The colors are
purple and red. Wind is a positive force in this area. Wind chimes, fans,
wind instruments like a flute promotes the Qi of this area. This is an area of wealth. A coin collection, cash register or spare change influences the prosperity of the owner. Avoid clutter in this area is you are having financial problems.
The South Gwa represents Fire. This is the fame
/prosperity area. It is your position or self earned respect. It is expressed
the color red. All types of lighting, candles, lamps, fireplaces go well here. This is the most yin Gwa which relates to a female in nature. The shape is triangular. Birds in flight and objects of status belong here. In China the bride wears red.
The Southwest Gwa represent the Earth. It is the marriage corner. It is an area that fosters relationships (spouse, loved one, children, boss, neighbor, etc.). The colors are pink, white and red. Paired objects are a must in this area. Problems with a relationship should be addressed in this area. Earthware objects, live plants and square shaped objects go very well here.
The West Gwa represents Metal. The color to use is
white. All types of metal objects are used here (brass, gold, silver, copper
etc.). This is the creative area. An art studio, office or den works well in
this space. The shape in this area is circular. It is an
area for relationships with children. A picture of children harmonizes this area.
The Northwest Gwa represents Heaven. This Gwa symbolizes travel and helpful people. The colors to use are white, grey and black. This is the most yang Gwa that is associated with a male or father figure.
By using Feng Shui to create harmony within your
environment you can preserve and cultivate your qi. If it feels comfortable
you and the people around you, you have what you’re looking for. This positive energy flow will enhance your wellbeing. Have fun with it. Be Well, Stay Happy.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome By Dr. Tim O’Brien, DA, M. Ac.
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a condition
that affects women between 20 and 50 years of age. The main signs/symptoms are;
chronic severe muscle ache, stiffness, pain, fatigue, insomnia and depression.
This chronic debilitating condition has an unknown
cause. Individuals with FMS are typically sensitive to bright light, loud noises and odors. These individuals also complain of heaviness
and numbness in the extremities. They will complain about feeling like their hands and feet are swollen, even though there is no indication of edema. They have difficulty concentrating, often stating they feel "foggy". They will wake often during the night.
Many are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases. They often complain of
dull headaches and jaw pain.
The word syndrome means that all the signs/symptoms will vary with different intensity from mild to severe.
FMS sufferers are diagnosed when
they have their syndrome for more than 3 months. There are 18 specific tender
the bodies that are palpitated during the physical examination. The signs and symptoms can be aggravated by damp weather.
Western Medicine does not have a standard treatment for FMS. Commonly the treatments are targeted on the symptoms the syndrome produces. Most commonly the treatments include non-steroid anti-inflammatories, antidepressants and anti-insomniants. Unfortunately there are patients who do not tolerate the side affects of the medications or their condition well. Most people have many years of a discouraging journey to try to find relief. Many will seek out the help of alternative medicine.
Based on Traditional Chinese
Medicine, FMS is classified as a "knotty" or difficult to treat
disease. The reason it is considered
a difficult disease to treat is because, this syndrome is a combination of several diseases. Primarily it is a digestive disharmony that involves several organ systems within the body. This syndrome is brought on by years of abuse either by faulty diet,
excessive worry or over-thinking, anxiety, lack of physical exercise, overuse of antibiotics or living in a damp, hot environment.
Digestive weakness (spleen Qi
vacuity) develops over time. This malnourishment upsets the free flow of Qi (the
The Qi stagnates within the body due to the accumulation of heat and phlegm from the poor-functioning Spleen/Stomach
system. Prolonged Spleen Qi vacuity will lead to a deficient blood quality. This in turn will affect the Qi of the Liver and Kidneys. The most predominant symptom to look for with Spleen Qi vacuity would be; fatigue, poor digestion, heartburn, gas, bloating,
loose stools, cold hands and feet, muscle pain, pale complexion, irregular menstruation, restless sleep and irritability.
When treating FMS with Chinese
Medicine, attention is focused on improving digestion and sleep. This is usually
accomplished with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Acupuncture releases
the body’s natural endorphins and steroids that block
the body’s pain cycle. Acupuncture will stimulate your body’s natural inherent healing abilities. It will calm your overtaxed
system and restore harmony and balance to produce a restful sleep. Much of the body’s pain tends to disappear once the
patient’s sleep has improved. Moxabustion (a type of heat therapy) can also be used to warm the channels or meridians of
body’s energy to free the flow of Qi (energy) and reduce the pain.
To strengthen the digestive
weakness herbal medicine and dietary changes are also employed. The herbal
therapy is designed
on an individual basis to improve energy and resolve the heat/phlegm accumulation. The restored digestive weakness improves
the flow of Qi and the strength or quality of the blood.
Most people will benefit from
dietary changes almost immediately. Abstaining from alcohol, sugar, coffee and
diet low in wheat products and carbohydrates can result in dramatic changes. Avoiding foods that are harder to digest will allow
the weakened digestive system to recuperate. Some of the foods to avoid are; cold foods and ice drinks, raw foods (such as
salads and uncooked vegetables), pork, beef and nuts.
The treatment for FMS with
Chinese Medicine usually lasts several months during its active or severe phase.
It may be followed
up by several more months of herbal therapy of preventative treatment. This "knotty disease" is treatable. To achieve the
greatest clinical success all of the various symptoms of FMS must be treated together as a whole. This is the foundation of Chinese Medicine, which has transcended the test of time. Don’t Suffer Needlessly. BE WELL STAY HAPPY
Promoting Healthy Bones to Prevent Osteoporosis By Dr. Tim O’Brien, DA, M. Ac.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become
porous and brittle effects the young, old in both men and women. In the United
States 10 million women and men have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low
bone density. This gradual silent disease progresses without symptoms until a
People who are at risk of developing Osteoporosis are as follows:
Women are 4 times more likely to develop Osteoporosis than men, especially women who are:
Caucasians and Asians
Deficient in dietary or supplemental calcium
Caffeinated beverage drinkers
Excessive exercisers who have experienced loss of periods or excessive weight loss
People who take certain medications (steroids, thyroid medication, chemotherapy)
People with complicated medical conditions
The key is early detection and prevention. Bone density testing can indicate the presence of osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. Prevention is the best way to avoid the development of Osteoporosis. It is never too late to begin.
Ways to begin preventing the development of Osteoporosis:
Eat foods that are rich in calcium
Leafy green vegetables
Soup made with bones with marrow
Dairy products like Yogurt
Sea weed (kelp, hijiki)
Take calcium supplements with magnesium (500 mg per day) and Vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium)
Avoid foods that inhibit the absorption of calcium:
Eating excessive proteins
Caffeinated drinks (coffee, soda, and tea)
Excess salt and refined sugars
Get regular exercise
(especially weight bearing exercise, walking, low impact aerobics) Exercise
helps to prevent bone loss
and makes bones stronger.
Prevent falls if possible. Remove hazards in your home and have your vision checked regularly.
Certain medications and hormone replacement therapy can help those who have already developed Osteoporosis. These treatments are not for everyone; you must consult with your physician to determine if they are appropriate for you.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
provides a natural and safe alternative to help improve the density of your
bones. In Chinese
Medicine the disease mechanism that is responsible for Osteoporosis is the decline of Kidney energy in both Yin and Yang.
There are herbal formulas that can help promote bone health by engendering Kidney energy. One good example is Blue
Poppy’s formula called Supplement Yin Decoction. This formula is designed to strengthen Kidney energy and re-enforce the
bones. This formula is only available from a qualified Oriental Medicine Practitioner.
Remember the best way to preserve your health and
vitality is early detection and prevention. You can find more information
on Osteoporosis by contacting, The National Osteoporosis Foundation at www.nof.org or call 202-223-2226.
BE WELL STAY HAPPY
Helping You Cope with Stress By Dr. Tim O’Brien, DA, M.Ac.
The silent killer in today’s busy world is not
cancer, high blood pressure, heart attacks or stroke. It is STRESS. Since
invention of the wheel we have been on the go. In today’s fast paced society stress is at an all time high. Left-unchecked
stress will play a significant role in your physical health and emotional well being. Stress can impair pre-existing health
conditions such as cardiovascular or gastrointestinal problems. It will lower your immunity and increase fatigue. It can cause anxiety, depression, irritability, infertility, loss of sex drive and eating disorders.
Signs and symptoms of stress can vary. Some of the most
common include; frequent headaches, unusual amount of
yawning, palpitations, teeth clenching, numbness in extremities, forgetfulness, inattentiveness, irritability, crying, losing your temper, being accident prone, nervous habits and an increase use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sugar or caffeine
There are many cost-effective ways to fight back and reduce stress to improve your overall health. The following stress relief strategies that will work wonders taken from Cedars-Sinai Integrative Medicine Medical Group is:
Take a deep breath
Stretch during the day especially if you sit for long periods of time
Listen to soothing music
Appreciate something beautiful
Leave 15 minutes early for your next appointment and take your time in getting there
Pick a task and accomplish it
Have a cup of calming tea that is decaffeinated
Call a friend and hear some good news
Watch fish swim in an aquarium
Look out the window, daydream
Due to the events of September 11th the
Acupuncture Peace Clinic was born in New York City. This free clinic
stress management for the victim’s families and the workers of the World Trade Centers. The stress reduction treatment
involves using six acupuncture points on the body for 20 minutes. The clinical results have been dramatic. People receiving
the 20-minute treatments have reported less fatigue and a deep inner calmness. Also reported were less of the associated symptoms of stress and an improved out look of life.
Herbal therapy has been used for thousands of years.
Valerian Root, Kava Kava, and Chamomile sooth the overactive nervous system and
reduces stress. Check with your physician or certified herbalist whether they
are right for you. Better sleep is
reported using these herbal medicinal at the proper doses. A good nights sleep goes a long way in reducing stress.
Deep breathing techniques relax the body and mind.
Clear your mind and take slow deep breaths. Inhale through your nose
slowly. As you breathe push your abdomen out. Exhale through your mouth with a gentle sigh. Allow your diaphragm to
expand. Focus your mind on the moment with rhythmic breathing. Practice this daily in the car, in the shower or after meals.
Take the time to decrease your stress level. Do it for
you and it will be passed on to the ones that you love.
Be Well, Stay Happy.
Tennis Anyone by Tim O’Brien, DA, M.Ac.
Summer has finally arrived and July has been designated
National Tennis Month. So dust off that racket and go have some fun.
If your one of the 10% of Americans that can’t due to tennis elbow here is some helpful advice to get back into the game.
Lateral epicondylitis, also called tenosynovitis consists of inflammation of the tendons attached to the lateral or outside of the elbow at the epicondyle of the humerus. Pain, burning and numbness usually effect the elbow and may radiate into the forearm
and hand. The pain usually occurs whenever there is a grasping motion such as opening a door, jar or holding a racket. It is accompanied by weakness and increased ache at rest or during the night. A sudden injury or repetitive strain to the elbow
causes this inflammation. Tennis elbow is not only found in tennis players but in any one who repeats an arm motion over and
over again. Basketball players, carpenters, musicians, swimmers, meat cutters, excessive mousing on a computer and
plumbers all have the potential in developing tennis elbow.
The Western medical treatment for lateral epicondylitis
mainly consists of rest, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy
and the application of ice. Surgery is indicated in 5% of the cases whenever the above measures have failed. Patients then typically require 6-8 weeks of recuperation with several months before being able to do any heavy use of the arm. Consider
other alternatives if the conventional treatment has stalled or failed.
In Chinese medicine tennis elbow is called zhou lao
or elbow taxation. Overwork taxation causes detriment and damage to the sinews
or tendon. This taxation causes insufficient blood flow to nourish the sinews,
while on the other hand there is blood
stasis obstructing the free flow of energy (qi) to the vessels. This usually results in a cold type ache with increased pain and numbness in the evening.
In order to get satisfactory results with tennis elbow
you need to refrain from any (work or play) activity that causes
This will allow your body to heal and the inflammation to dissipate. Alter that activity if can’t rest such as mousing with the
opposite hand or using a lighter tool to complete the task at hand. Tennis elbow from a Chinese medical perspective is a
weakness complicated by cold. Self-administration of moist heat several times a day is the best medicine, if your elbow is not
red, hot, or swollen. Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating this common injury. Acupuncture will reduce the pain and enhance your recuperative power. It can re-establish the flow of qi and blood to the local area. As your condition improves
fewer acupuncture sessions are required. For those of you that are needle shy, tui-na (massage) therapy and /or bio-magnetic therapy is also a useful adjunct if performed by a qualified practitioner. To improve the strength of the tendons you need to
nourish your blood. Consume more leafy greens, yellow and orange vegetables, berries and protein type foods. Take a
supplement with vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. Get back in the game before the summer season is gone. Enjoy yourself.
Be well, stay happy.
Treatment for Painful Periods By Dr. Tim O’Brien
Dysmenorrhea (painful periods) consists of painful
cramps in the lower abdomen associated with the onset of menses.
Secondary symptoms include headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and irritability. Symptoms are typically severe during the first 2 days of the menstrual cycle. Dysmenorrhea affects up to 90% of all women with approximately 20% having
severe symptoms. The main cause of dysmenorrhea is an elevated blood level of hormones called prostaglandin’s. Other
reasons why women suffer with these symptoms during menstruation are; gynecological problems, gastrointestinal upset and psychological/stress factors.
Conventional treatments for dysmenorrhea include the
use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (Nsaids) and oral
contraceptives (OCP). NSAIDS and OCP will alleviated the symptoms in 40 – 60%
of women. However, there are some women who don’t get any relief from the use
of conventional therapies. Many women have found relief using acupuncture as
alternative treatment. Acupuncture’s documented effects on prostaglandin levels are of specific interest in dysmenorrhea
treatment. In a recent randomized controlled clinical trial, 43 women with recurrent pain were treated 3 times per month for 3 months. The results showed significant improvement in symptoms in 90.9% of these women. There was also a reduction by
41% of the women in the use of NSAIDS and OCP medication. These women were able to improve their quality of life by using
a therapy natural and chemical free.
Why wait! Don’t hinder the quality of your life. If
conventional treatment leaves you lying down, with a heating pad or a hot water
bottle for two days a month, you should seek other ways to resolve your
condition. Conventional treatments offer only temporary symptomatic relief that
is usually expensive, invasive and fraught with potential serious side effects.
Acupuncture works by restoring the balance in your body. It unleashes your body’s
natural healing powers for long lasting relief. You don’t have to be
miserable. You can be productive and active during this time. There is an
alternative that works. Acupuncture has been effective
for greater that 2 thousand years. Acupuncture’s well known effects are now supported by modern clinical research.
BE WELL STAY HAPPY
Weight Reduction by Oriental Traditions By Dr. Tim O’Brien, M.Ac.
As the warm weather approaches,
many individuals are trying to reduce their weight. The hard facts about many of
loss diets are that they don’t work. Fad diets are extremely unhealthy. Losing weight too quickly can suppress the immune
system and cause electrolyte imbalance. Once off a fad diet 95% of all dieters will regain their weight loss within one year.
The key to a successful and
lasting weight loss plan is to adapt a healthier lifestyle. The Oriental
tradition of the yin and yang theory restores the balance to our bodies and
allows for a healthier weight adaptation. Overweight conditions, like many
imbalances are of two types. Some overweight people eat excessively and so gain
weight. Others eat very little and still they
gain weight. Many people turn to be treated with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to restore their balance.
The excessive overeater is out of
control. They give into the food cravings to satisfy their energetic needs.
Whether it is to pacify the rising liver Qi and unfulfilled desires or to solve
the midday fatigue, the outcome is the same, gain. For those of you who are
trying to satisfy their cravings Acupuncture can work wonders. Acupuncture will
rebalance the main organ systems that are causing the cravings. It will pacify
that hunger and sooth that overactive liver energy. Once you are in balance you
less food to satisfy the body’s energy demands. Employing mild exercise and avoiding refined sweets will also lower your weight and improve your overall energy. Adding gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is found in flaxseed oil, will control the appetite and assist in the metabolism of fats. Drinking green tea, a half-hour before meals, will help the digestion and curb the appetite. To
repair and rejuvenate your body, you may want to add some Chinese Herbal Medicinal to your diet. The herbal medicine will naturally restore the body’s digestive functions. Your body will utilize the food you eat more effectively, therefore needing fewer calories. By using the wisdom of Oriental traditions, you will attain your weight loss goal and maintain your weight for many
years to come.
For those who eat very little and still gain weight, your condition is related to a weakened digestive energy. Your body has a problem absorbing the nutrients from the food you take in. It transforms your intake to excess water gain. Acupuncture is very effective in restoring digestive function. The extra fluid or dampness within the body is leached out of the cells and is utilized for energy and eliminated. Individuals with this problem must change their diet to easily digestible foods. Avoid cold, raw and sweet foods and drinks. Eat only warm cooked foods in small meals 4 to 6 times a day. Add ginger and cardamom to your diet to help you in improving your digestion. Light exercise (walking) and deep breathing will facilitate the flow of Qi (energy) to improve your digestion. As described above Chinese Herbal Medicine will strengthen your digestive function and restore your vitality.
By harmonizing your body with
acupuncture and modifying your lifestyle with the principals of Oriental
traditions you will be able
to reduce your weight and feel more comfortable with your body. Be well, Stay Happy.
Promoting Long Term Breast Health Dr. Tim O’Brien, D.Ac.
It is estimated that 190,000 women and
1,500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Approximately 38,000
women and 500 men will die of breast cancer in 2002. The major risk factor for
this disease, from a western medical standpoint include; aging, family history
and being a women. Based on an Oriental Medicine perspective there is a higher
incidence of breast cancer
in women who have had other diseases (Premenstrual Breast Distension, Fibrocystic Breasts, Fibroadenomas, Mastitis and Papillomas).
Signs of breast cancer disease include: 1)
a lump or thickening in the breasts or arm pit, 2) a change in the size or shape
of the breast, 3) bloody, brown or green discharge from the nipple, 4) change in
the color or texture of the skin or areola. Detection can
be made by palpation, mammography, needle aspiration or biopsy. Western treatments include; lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy. The earlier breast cancer is detected and treated the better the chance of complete recovery.
For most women breast disease is a
frightening topic the loss or disfigurement of the breast can affect many
aspects of a
woman’s life. As an Oriental Medicine practitioner I feel it is essential for women to try to prevent serious disease from arising in the first place. Minor breast disorders should not be taken lightly or left untreated. The presence of breast tenderness, before a period, is a symptom of an imbalance, which can and should be improved. Treating these disorders early a women can help
a serious complication in the future. In Oriental Medicine, breast tumors and other diseases such as; endometriosis, uterine fibroids and dysfunctional uterine bleeding are caused by imbalances of Qi (energy) and blood stagnation. If the Qi and blood transform to a severe state of stagnation a serious disease is born.
Oriental Medicine, based on its vision of
balance (body, mind and soul), offers remedial treatment through Acupuncture
Herbal Medicine for all breast disease. It also offers numerous self-help techniques (nutrition, massage and relaxation) for the prevention of breast disease. Some suggestions taken from Honara Lee Wolfe’s book on better breast health are:
eating, this stagnates the stomach Qi. The stomach channel, in Oriental
Medicine, irrigates the breast tissue. Stagnant Qi in any form
is bad for the breast.
Try to avoid becoming overweight. There is a known relationship between body fat, fat consumption and breast cancer.
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine over stimulates the liver Qi that overacts on the stomach Qi. Green tea is far more beneficial to the body (anti-oxidant) with it’s lower concentration of caffeine.
Eat a diet high in fiber with many fresh lightly cooked vegetables. Avoid spicy/greasy foods that stagnate the stomach Qi.
When you use oil use olive oil. Studies show it to be a better option for breast health.
Stress, when not released is an enemy of breast health. Try to let go of what you can not change and work at changing what you can.
Go for a walk. Regular exercise will increase circulation and decrease blood stagnation, a major cause of many diseases.
Breast massage is helpful in keeping Qi and blood circulating. Breast self-examination is great for early detection. The technique can be learned from the American Cancer Society.
Finally don’t beat yourself up if and when you do get an illness or disease. Everyone’s body will develop disease at some point in life. Do as much as you can to stay healthy for as long as you can in your life. Be Well, Stay Happy.
Quit Smoking With Acupuncture
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you are on your way to kicking the habit and becoming smoke-free and healthier. Every year, more than 3 million Americans try to quit smoking, but only half of them succeed. But with the help of acupuncture you have a greater chance of success!
Most experts agree that quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. More than 25 diseases are associated with tobacco use, including cancer of the lungs, bladder, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, uterus, and cervix. Smoking also raises the chances of developing emphysema or increase the risks of having a stroke by 30 percent.
There is plenty of incentive to quit, but it isn’t necessarily easy. The good news is that acupuncture has helped millions of people to overcome their addictions and stay smoke-free.
How Acupuncture Can Help
Some of the largest stumbling blocks to becoming smoke-free are the stress, anxiety, and depression associated with quitting. Fortunately, acupuncture treatment is quite successful at calming, and relaxing the mind, reducing anxiety and alleviating depressive feelings.
Your practitioner will select specific acupoints in the ear and wrist to accomplish this. Additional acupoints may be included that help suppress your appetite, stimulate repair and healing of organ systems, and reduce food and nicotine cravings.
More Than Just Kicking The Habit
Using acupuncture to quit smoking yields enormous benefits. Aside from addressing the key problems that can cause you to resume the habit, acupuncture can help restore your body and its systems to a healthy balance. if you are ready to become smoke-free, acupuncture can provide you with the support you need.
Here Are A Few Tips To Guide You Through Your Acupuncture Care
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to quit smoking. The focus is upon achieving a balance of body and mind, and eliminate cravings so you can become smoke-free and healthier.
More than just kicking a habit. You’re changing you life and the lives of those around you. Its never to late to start. Be Well, Stay Happy
Call Opus Acupuncture 401-397-6333. We can help you live better.