Acupuncture - A Great Compliment to IVF

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time getting pregnant, acupuncture is a highly effective technique to either increase fertility on its own or as a compliment to IVF treatments. Recent studies referenced in the article below show higher success rates of pregnancy and live birth for women who add acupuncture to IVF or use acupuncture instead of clomifene (clomid, omifene). 

At Affinity Acupuncture, we have helped a significant number of women with fertility complications. Additionally, acupuncture treatments are highly effective for pregnancy-related nausea, physical discomfort, and much more. We also offer prenatal and postnatal massage on a pregnancy table, allowing future mommies to comfortably lay on their stomachs. To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, call 615-939-2787 today to set up a free consultation. 

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/811244-acupuncture-fertility-success-with-ivf-revealed/

Cilantro - Pleasing More Than Your Tastebuds

Fresh herbs are a great compliment to all of the wonderful summer produce that’s out there. Cilantro leaves are a tasty addition that provide some great health benefits, too. 

1) Antioxidant properties are wonderful for protecting against degenerative diseases. 

2) It’s rich in quercetin, dietary fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, and niacin. 

3) Cilantro has anti-anxiety effects, and can help improve sleep. 

4) Can lower blood sugar, which is incredibly helpful for people living with or at risk of developing diabetes. 

5) Worried about heavy metals in your diet? Cilantro binds to metals, loosening them from tissues and flushing them from the body. This, along with the folic acid content, make cilantro wonderful for pregnant women. 

6) Cilantro is a wonderful digestive aid, reducing gas and nausea and aiding in digestion. 

Here is one of our favorite recipes using cilantro. This side salad is wonderful with fish tacos or grilled chicken, lean beef, and pork. 

Summer Corn Salad
1 c corn kernels
1 c black beans (canned or rehydrated)
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
Small bunch cilantro, minced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 lemon, juice
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
1 t Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, squeezing the juice from the 1/2 lemon on top. Mix together and store for at least 1 hour so the flavors blend together, and enjoy. 

Acupuncture and Aging

Growing older is an inevitability. Feeling older is not. Many of the conditions experienced as we age are treatable, if not preventable, through massage therapy, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We often hear about growing older gracefully, but that doesn’t mean we have to look and feel old. 

Massage Therapy is a wonderful tool to help keep the body relaxed and improve circulation. Poor blood flow and low oxygen in the blood can lead to a lot of issues, including chronic pain.

Acupuncture can also help with many conditions related to aging, including: 

High Cholesterol & Hypertension
Mental Acuity
Stroke Paralysis
Arthritis
Osteoporosis
Menopause
Cancer
Sleep Issues
Boosting Immunity
Digestive Issues
Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Health
Fatigue
Facial Rejuvenation

High Cholesterol & Hypertension 
Acupuncture can help lower cholesterol, and acupuncture and massage can help lower blood pressure, as well. Acupuncture also helps to curb cigarette cravings, which has a highly negative impact on cardiovascular health.  Dietary recommendations also play a role; heart disease is not as common in those following diets popular in Asia. Additional information is available at http://www.affinityacupuncture.com/conditions-treated/#/circulatory-disorders/. 

Cognitive Function
Acupuncture and massage therapy help improve circulation and cell proliferation, which may contribute to cognitive improvement.  Studies show encouraging results for acupuncture performed on Alzheimer’s patients, as well, with improvements in mood, cognitive function, and verbal and motor skills.

Stroke Paralysis
When treatments are received shortly after a stroke, acupuncture can help reduce and improve resulting paralysis. 

Osteoarthritis
A landmark 2004 study proved the effectiveness of acupuncture in providing pain relief among those with osteoarthritis in the knee.  On its own or as a compliment to standard care, acupuncture decreases inflammation and provides relief for those with Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis. 

Osteoporosis
When started early in life, acupuncture can help reduce the impact of osteoporosis, which affects 80% more women than men. 

Menstruation and Menopause 
Hot flashes are normal but not natural. Yes, you read that right.  Women in the US are far more likely to suffer through negative symptoms during menstruation and menopause than women in China who regularly receive acupuncture treatments. Our diet, lifestyle and environment affect our reproductive systems, and acupuncture and TCM can help rebalance the cycle.

Cancer
Acupuncture is not a treatment for cancer, but can be used as a preventative measure as it reduces inflammation. For individuals going through cancer treatment, acupuncture can provide relief from nausea and soreness experienced during chemotherapy. 

Sleep Disorders
There are dozens of reasons people struggle with having restful sleep. Acupuncture and massage therapy are potent ways to increase blood flow and oxygenation, which impact the quality of sleep. Acupuncture also helps to regulate the stress hormones released by the adrenal gland, which can keep our minds overly active and our bodies awake when overstimulated. Additionally, acupuncture an relieve some of the pressure felt on the bladder during the night, decreasing night wakings to use the bathroom. 

Boosting Immunity
The immune system is easily compromised as we get older. Regular massage and acupuncture sessions can help increase the immune system and resistance to illness. When a virus or infection occurs, acupuncture and TCM can help speed up recovery time. 

Digestive Issues
The body’s ability to metabolize and break down food changes as we get older. The majority of our immune system is in our gut, and when there are issues with digestion, health can be compromised in other ways as well. Acupuncture and TCM can support healthy digestion and caloric use. Learn more at http://www.affinityacupuncture.com/conditions-treated/#/gastrointestinal-problems/.

Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Health
Sex is good for you. It can boost immunity, lower blood pressure, improve bladder control, reduce risk of heart attack, reduce stress, and improve sleep. It might even lower the risk of prostate cancer. Approximately 18 million men in the US have ED, and medication is not a safe option for an estimated 30% of that population. An untold number of women experience decreased libido and discomfort during sex, especially after menopause. Acupuncture is a safe, natural way to help… stimulate the body. 

Fatigue
It’s no secret that our bodies tend to slow down as we age, and many people experience fatigue. This sense of lethargy can contribute to individuals “feeling old” at any age. Acupuncture and TCM help stimulate the adrenal system and balance the body’s natural energy cycles. 

Facial Rejuvenation
Facelifts, microderm abrasion, and Botox are not the only options for reversing the appearance of aging in our skin. Acupuncture can help maintain elasticity, reduce the appearance of fine lines, decrease sagginess, and fade age spots without the use of a scalpel or toxin. More information is available at http://www.affinityacupuncture.com/conditions-treated/#/natural-facelift. 

Beginning the practice of acupuncture and incorporating regular massage therapy early on help prevent many of these conditions altogether. Wherever someone is in their health, it is possible to make positive changes to improve wellness and prevent illness.   In addition to massage therapy, acupuncture, and TCM techniques, a healthy diet, active lifestyle and emotion well-being are components that guide us on the path of a long and high quality life. 

Western medicine can be effective in treating aging-related conditions, but tends to rely on treating symptoms with medications, whereas acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on prevention and treating the disease itself.  Yes, a pill can help lower your cholesterol. Acupuncture helps your body better metabolize and process foods. Medication can also lower your blood pressure. Acupuncture and TCM can help regulate your hormones, improve circulation, and improve the oxygenation in your blood as well. Viagra and other medications help with ED and other sexual changes that occur with age, but are not options for individuals on certain medications.  

As compliments to Western techniques or as independent treatments, acupuncture, massage therapy,  and Traditional Chinese Medicine can prevent and treat many of the conditions that affect us as we age without surgery or the long-term commitment and side effects of medications. 

Affinity Acupuncture is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of care. You are more than a number to us. Our team personalizes treatments specific to the individual, considering health history, medications, lifestyle, and wellness goals. We reserve a generous amount of time for each session to ensure you get the time you deserve. Your care will be customized to your needs, and we will treat the illnesses, not just the symptoms. Call us at 615-939-2787 today to book your treatment or schedule a free acupuncture consultation. 

 

 

The Health Benefits of Hugs

When I lived in Chicago, every once in a while I’d cross paths with the “Hug Guy.” He spent countless hours a week offering hugs to strangers. When asked why once, he replied that we all need hugs. He’s 100% right on that. Human beings are social creatures, and the act of hugging is healthful on many levels.

1-     The pressure on the sternum from a hug stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates the release of white blood cells. Hugs help your immune system!

2-     Hugs help build trust and safety, leading to open and honest communication, which is good for your emotional health.

3-     Hugging releases tension in the body, relaxing muscles, taking away pain, and increasing circulation.

4-     A 6-second hug releases oxytocin, a feel-good chemical, into the system.

5-     Hugs also release serotonin, which elevates mood and creates a sense of happiness.

6-     A hug teaches encourages us to be truly present in the moment and our immediate actions, much like meditation.

7-     Hugs lower blood pressure.

8-     Hugs help our sense of well-being, lowering levels of depression.

9-     A good hug helps to balance the nervous system and improve parasympathetic balance. Huh? It helps stimulate digestion and elevate mood. In short, it builds up the body.

If you can get all of these benefits from a hug lasting at least 6 seconds, imagine what 30, 60, or 90 minutes on one of our massage tables will do for you. To truly spoil your body and mind, call us at 615-939-2787 to book a massage today.

When we’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s easy to shrug off a well-intentioned touch from someone who cares. Fight the urge to do that. Even your inner snowman likes warm hugs. 

The Health Benefits of Pistachios in a Nutshell

Our twins love pistachios. We can’t crack the shells open fast enough. And we can feel good about giving this healthy snack that benefits their heart, blood, eyes, immune system, nervous system, and skin.

Eye Health – Pistachios have two types of antioxidants called carotenoids which aren’t in many other nuts. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect your tissue from free radicals in the body, which can lead to macular degeneration among other things.

Immune System – The B6 found in pistachios is essential for a healthy immune system and brain activity.

Blood Health – Vitamin B6 also helps the body make red blood cells and maintain lymphoid glands. These help the thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes produce white blood cells that protect the body from infection. B6 also produces hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood stream.

Diabetes Help – Pistachios are rich in phosphorous, which helps the body break proteins into amino acids. It also supports glucose tolerance, which is may help prevent Type 2 diabetes. 

Skin Health – The Vitamin E found in pistachios is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that maintains the integrity of cell membranes. It also protects the skin from UV damage, and is a great defense against skin cancer and premature skin aging.

Heart Health – Pistachios can help the body reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL levels after being in your diet for only a short period of time. 

Pain Reduction – Vitamins A & E are antioxidants found in pistachios. These help fight inflammation which can trigger arthritis pain and more.

Digestive Health – A serving of pistachios contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, almost the same amount as in oatmeal.

We hear about the virtues of almonds constantly, and they’re great to have in the snack arsenal, but when you’re looking for a change of pace, grab a handful of these cute little nuts. There’s even something therapeutic about cracking open the shells when you need to get a little stress out of your system. As an added bonus, pistachios have fewer calories and less fat than most other nuts, supporting weight loss and maintenance.

The Real Problem with Sleeping Problems

Is How You (Don’t) Sleep Making You Sick?

We all know that there are short term problems with not getting a good night’s sleep – a lack of mental sharpness, irritability, falling asleep at inopportune times, etc.  Did you know there are potential long-term risks to your health also?  For instance, people who sleep less than 6 hours per night are twice as likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to have a stroke than those who sleep more than 6 hours.  They are also at greater risk of diabetes and obesity.  Extreme fatigue increases appetite and decreases metabolism, and individuals who regularly get less than 4 hours of sleep 4 nights or more a week may easily be in a pre-diabetic state. 

Half of adults 55+ have at least 1 symptom of insomnia at least 3 times per week including:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking during the night
- Waking to early and being unable to fall back to sleep
- Not feeling refreshed upon waking

Women suffer from insomnia more than men due to pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.

Twenty million Americans take prescription sleep pills regularly. Over $100 million is spent in the US on over the counter sleep aids per year, and that number does not include prescriptions.  Drug oriented OTCs have been studied and found no more effective than a placebo.  Medications alter sleeping cycles, and suppress REM sleep. This can lead to light, restless sleep with nightmares once medications end, or “REM Withdrawl Sleep.”  Many individuals often return to these sleep aids, even the ones advertised as “non-habit forming,” and the cycle continues.  Medications can cause long-term harm to your body.  Additionally, they are expensive, and only treat the symptom of an underlying problem. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the symptoms of insomnia are the branches of a disease.  An imbalance in the body, usually Chi, blood, Yin, Yan, Jing, or Shen, or a major organ system (lung, liver, heart, spleen, kidney, or liver) causes the imbalance or dysfunction, and acupuncture treatments help realign the body’s systems and help you find balance once more.  Additional methods in Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as herbs, may also help your body better process energy and achieve restful sleep. 

The following may lead to a lack of restful sleep:

The Body
Physical tension
Overeating, especially protein
Irregular sleeping hours
Lack of physical exercise
Dehydration
Menopause
Pain
Smoking
Alcoholism
Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
Sleep apnea (Associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, emotional disturbances and even psychoses.) 

The Mind
Emotional or mental stress
Preoccupation
Overstimulation to the nervous system
TV/video game excess

The Environment
Lack of adequate ventilation; oxygen debt
Allergies – an increased heart rate follows exposure. 
Lights left on at night (disrupts the pineal gland producing melatonin, a sleep hormone)
Temperature extremes in bed
Poor mattress

Diet
Restless Sleepers may have excessive amounts of the following in their diets: 
Caffeine
Alcohol
Heavy metals (such as mercury found in high fructose corn syrup, tuna, swordfish, and mackerel
Salt, which increases blood volume, heart output, and blood pressure. 
Food additives, preservatives, and colorings
Refined carbohydrates, sugar, soda, ice cream or other sweets
Iodine

They may be deficient in:
Vitamin B  
Calcium
Lycopene (found in red and orange foods such as tomatoes, bell peppers)
Total carbohydrates
Protein
Vitamin C
Selenium (found in nuts, mushrooms, meat, and shellfish).  Selenium helps with inflammation.
Lutein (found in green, leafy vegetables)

Iron or copper (found in shellfish, clams, lentils, nuts, and whole-grain foods).  Deficiency may make it take longer to fall asleep, and sleep may be less refreshing.

The body converts tryptophan into seratonin, which is then converted into melatonin.  Both make you feel relaxed and sleepy.  Foods with tryptophan include bananas yogurt, dates, figs, warm milk, dairy, and turkey.  These foods are metabolized best in combination with starches, which make the body release insulin.  This pushes the amino acids except for tryptophan into the muscle cells, leaving the tryptophan alone in the blood stream and ready to go to the brain.  Niacin, a B-vitamin, makes tryptophan work more effectively, and is found in lean meats such as canned tuna.  Melatonin naturally exists in oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, bananas, and barley.  

Magnesium rich foods can also help you relax and have restful sleep.  Low magnesium levels will stimulate brain-activation neurotransmitters, which leads to overstimulation of the brain. This is especially common in the elderly taking meds that may block magnesium absorption.  Dried beans such as pinto and navy beans, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and almonds are all rich in magnesium.

Folic acid in spinach, especially if muscle cramping or restless leg syndrome keeps you awake, are good additions to your diet. Inosytol enhances REM sleep

Avoid red meat, chocolate, ham, bacon, sausages, cheese, tomatoes, which contain the CNS stimulant tyramine.

Alcohol does not, in fact, help you get a good night’s sleep.  You may fall asleep easily, because alcohol turns off the hypocretin neurons which keep you awake, but it has a rebound effect and can wake you quickly. 

The Mess of Stress

Ever wonder why we migrate to mashed potato chips, fresh-baked bread, pastries, pasta, and other carbs when we’re stressed?  Carbohydrates increase the body’s serotonin levels, which are decreased by stress.

Stress eating is one of many minor reactions has to stress.  Other physical symptoms include increased heart rate, paling, blushing, indigestion, blood vessel constriction or dilation, dilation of pupils, impotence, allergies, asthma, depression, hearing loss, tunnel vision, shaking, muscle tension, headaches, chest pain, fatigue, altered libido, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and a suppressed immune system.  In extreme cases, it can lead to substance abuse, cancer, and heart attacks.  The average American cannot avoid stress, and likely experiences at least some physical responses every day.

Stress triggers an alarm in the body, which releases hormones such as cortisol into the bloodstream.  When the body is in proper balance, it should recover and return to its equilibrium in a relatively short period of time.  When this doesn’t happen, a stress-overload occurs: the body becomes exhausted, losing the ability to adapt.  Long-term stress can cause illness and damage to the cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems.  In extreme cases, it can lead to high blood pressure, substance abuse, heart attack and death.

The best way to relieve stress is to avoid it, but we all know that isn’t realistic, especially because most people report that work is their #1 stress trigger. We cannot let it run and ruin our lives, though.

How To Cope With Stress:
1) Change how you manage stress.
2) Identify the triggers that cause stress for you.
3) Figure out ways to deal with your stress triggers.
4) Try acupuncture.  It helps the body restore balance by regulating hormone levels, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep and digestive function, decreasing tension, and much more.
5) Get regular massages.  They help loosen muscles, increase circulation, and allow for a peaceful and relaxing experience.
5) Incorporate self-guided stress relief techniques such as Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, and pranayama, the art of yoga breathing.

Types of Meditation
Guided Meditation
 - forming mental images of locations or situations you find relaxing.
Mantra Meditation - Silently repeating a calming word, though, or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
Mindfulness Meditation - Focusing on the experience of meditation itself, such as the flow of breath, and/or increasing acceptance and awareness of living in the present moment.
Transcendental Meditation - Silently repeating a mantra (a word, sound, or phrase), to eliminate other thoughts from your mind until you reach a state of perfect stillness and consciousness.

Meditation Techniques
Deep Breathing
 - Focus all of your attention on breathing.  Listen to your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale through your nose, and concentrate on the feeling of the air passing through your nostrils and into your lungs.

Body Scan - Focus your mind on how different parts of your body feel at the moment. Is there pain, tension, warmth, or relaxation? Imagine your breath touching different parts of your body and removing any negative sensations.

Walking Meditation - Focusing on the movement of walking itself, repeating the action words of walking (lifting, moving, placing) in your mind. This method usually has a slower pace of walking so you can increase focus on your movements.

Prayer - Most faith traditions have spoken and written prayers, which are some of the best known and most widely practiced forms of meditation.

Reflection - There are benefits to reading poetry or text, listening to music or spoken word that relaxes or inspires you, and then taking some time to reflect on the meaning of the piece.  You can journal or discuss your reflections with others.

Foods For Lowering Cortisol
Elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels can damage the body over the long term.  The following foods are beneficial in reducing cortisol levels.

Lean Proteins
Turkey
Chicken
Dairy
Eggs

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon
Sardines
Tuna
Mackerel
Halibut
Soybeans
Walnuts

Low-Glycemic Foods
Whole wheat pastas
Rye bread
Raw apples
Raw pears
Lentils

AVOID INFLAMMATORY FOODS!
Refined grains
Refined starches
Refined sugars
Saturated Fat
Trans fats
Bovine dairy
Alcohol
Excess caffeinated beverages, such as coffee
Red meat
Processed meats (i.e. sausage)

Antioxidants
Dark Chocolate
Apricots
Watermelon
Strawberries
Raisins
Raspberries
Avocados
Cherries
Cranberries
Grapes
Oranges
Peaches
Arugula

Phosphatidylserine Foods
Liver
Soybeans
White beans

Black Tea  –  A study at University College, London, showed lower cortisol levels in individuals who consumed black tea four times daily over a six week period.

How’s Your Thyroid Health

Nearly 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid disorder, and many don’t even realize it. The butterfly-shaped gland in the neck regulates hormone levels, energy levels, body weight, and mental health. When it is over or under productive, a lot can go wrong. 

Hyperthyroidism (Overproduction of thyroid hormones)

Increased appetite and weight loss
• Nervousness, excess perspiration, heart palpitations, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure
• Muscle weakness, sometimes with trembling hands
• Lighter or shorter menses
• More frequent bowel movements with occasional diarrhea

Hypothyroidism (Underproduction of thyroid hormones)
• Tingling of numbness in hands
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Constipation
• Heavy menses
• Dry skin and hair
• Lethargy
• Depression and/or slower mental processes

Acupuncture and herbal remedies can help regulate the release of thyroid hormones and restore immune function. It can also regulate energy levels, stabilize emotions, and help manage sleep and menstrual issues. There are also foods that can increase or decrease thyroid hormone production. 

Acupuncture Restores Hand Function for Paralysis Patients