Chronic Cough? Find Relief with Acupuncture
Any cough persisting for more than 8 weeks in adults, or more than 4 weeks for children, is considered chronic. A chronic cough is more than just a nuisance; it can cause serious disruptions to your health.
Coughing attacks during the night tend to interrupt sleep, resulting in day-time fatigue and drowsiness. Episodes can also result in vomiting, dizziness, headaches, urinary incontinence, loss of consciousness, and rib fractures.
Smoking, post nasal drip, asthma and acid reflux are the most common causes, followed by chronic bronchitis, the flu, pneumonia, whooping cough, and certain blood pressure medications. Although less likely, lung cancer or cystic fibrosis can lead to a chronic cough as well. Signs and symptoms may include runny nose, constant need to clear the throat, difficulty breathing, sour taste in the mouth, or spitting up blood or sputum.
When treating a chronic cough, it is important to address the root cause, as it is known according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Once the underlying cause is cleared up, the chronic cough clears up too. However, no matter what organs need rebalancing to address the root cause, treatment focuses on the lungs.
Uncontrollable coughing represents a characteristic known as ‘rebellious Qi.’ Qi is the most fundamental energy essential for all forms of life and when it is unruly, Qi flows in the wrong direction, causing health problems. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help soothe your cough and eliminate risk factors that contribute to a chronic cough such as smoking or acid reflux.
Reducing chemical dependencies helps reduce a patient’s craving and assists the body in detoxifying harmful substances. In the case of acid reflux, acupuncture treatments can help the stomach from forcing digestive juices upwards. As the acid reflux subsides, chronic coughing should also lessen.
Do you have a chronic cough? Call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!
Acupuncture for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the name for a group of diseases that damage the lungs and pose difficulties in breathing, is the third leading cause of death in the Unites States. Symptoms often start slowly and may take years to present, leading many to receive delayed diagnosis and treatment. By the time the signs are noticeable, extensive lung tissue damage has usually occurred.
This damage is not reversible but symptoms such as chest tightness, strained breathing, and excess mucus production can be stabilized and further harm can be mitigated with treatment. It is very important to seek medical treatment immediately if you notice that you can no longer climb stairs or walk without becoming short of breath, your lips and/or fingernails become blue when you exert yourself, or you notice your mental abilities are failing.
The two most common diseases associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Both obstruct airflow but for different reasons. Emphysema is a degenerative disease that destroys the air passages in the lungs over time and reduces the body’s ability to absorb oxygen. Its hallmark symptom is feeling short of breath. Other prominent symptoms include a chronic (long-term) cough, excess coughing up of mucus and saliva (known as sputum), and breathlessness. Chronic bronchitis affects the lungs, with the main symptom being a long-term cough (over 3 months) with thick mucus present.
According to the American Lung Association, long-term tobacco smoking causes approximately 80-90 percent of COPD deaths. Long-term exposure to breathing in toxins such as air pollution, manufacturing fumes, and other airborne irritants may also contribute to development of the disease.
There are many ways acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help. First, if you need help breaking a smoking addiction, there are very specific ear acupuncture and/or body acupuncture protocols designed to do just that. Second, there are acupuncture treatments to assist your lungs by helping them relax. Once your body is at rest, blood and airflow may increase, which helps your breathing. Third, dietary recommendations can strengthen your digestive system, which, in turn, supports your immune system.
During your visit, symptoms are assessed and a treatment plan is designed specifically for you. For example, you may show signs of phlegm in the lungs if you constantly bring up sputum, experience breathlessness even when at rest, and your tongue has a thick white or yellow coating on it. A thick tongue coating, plus other symptoms, indicates to your practitioner that the air passages in your lungs may need phlegm removed from them.
In addition to acupuncture, you may receive dietary advice to help relieve your symptoms. When the body is constantly coughing up sputum, reducing your intake of fatty, cloying foods can help reduce phlegm production. Avocados, nuts, and olive oil provide a fat source that can be easier on the digestive system. Warm, fragrant soups are also an option for an easy-to-digest meal.
Allergies? Get Relief with Acupuncture!
About 26 million Americans endure chronic seasonal allergies, while the number of people with milder symptoms may be as high as 50 million, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Acupuncture has been used to treat seasonal allergies for centuries with great success. According to traditional medicine, treatment is geared toward clearing the nasal passages, supporting the immune system, and strengthening the systems of the body to prevent allergic reactions from recurring.
Commonly called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergy is caused by the body’s hypersensitivity to substances in the environment and is typically only triggered during part of the year, such as spring or fall. Pollens spread by the wind are usually the main cause. People who are allergic to pollen are also often sensitive to dust, dust mites, animal dander, and mold–all of which can be found almost year-round. Symptoms primarily involve the membrane lining the nose or the membrane lining the eyelids and covering the whites of the eyes.
While there are many medications to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, these treatments can cause unwanted side effects like drowsiness and immune system suppression as well as an over-reliance on medications. These reactions have motivated many people to turn to acupuncture and Oriental medicine as a natural approach to the management of allergies.
When treating with acupuncture, underlying imbalances within the body are addressed and a treatment plan is developed to relieve acute symptoms while also treating the root problems that are contributing to the body’s reaction to allergens. Treatments often include dietary modification, the use of specifically chosen herbal formulas, and acupuncture.
Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.
If you experience seasonal allergies, now is the time to schedule an appointment. Call for a consultation today!
Meta Analysis Finds Acupuncture Provides Allergic Rhinitis Symptom Relief
How well does acupuncture address the symptoms of allergic rhinitis? A study entitled “Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis” answers this question. This trial can be found in the January 2015 edition of the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy.
Researchers decided to take an in-depth look at numerous scientific studies from all over the world that focused on patients with nasal problems due to allergies. To maintain the integrity of the meta-analysis, only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were utilized. The focus of the investigation centered on the potency and safety of using acupuncture to address symptoms affecting the nose.
The large-scale analysis included several studies with nearly 2,400 test subjects. To properly assess the efficacy of acupuncture, researchers looked at rhinitis quality of life questionnaires and 36-item short form surveys (SF-36). These are medical tools used to evaluate a patient’s symptoms.
To help discern the power of acupuncture, researchers scrutinized evaluation charts regarding the severity and symptoms of each patient. Additionally, levels of serum IgE in the bloodstream and medication usage for each participant were important factors.
In all the studies, researchers discovered that the groups of patients receiving acupuncture experienced exceptional, statistically-significant reductions in nasal symptoms, in comparison to the participants in control groups. The results proved that acupuncture is a safe, effective therapy to relieve nasal symptoms resulting from allergies.
Source: Feng S, Han M, Fan Y, Yang G, Liao Z, Liao W, Li H. (2015). “Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. American Journal Rhinology Allergy. 29(1):57-62. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2015.29.4116.
Antioxidants to Reduce Respiratory Symptoms
Antioxidants are a special group of substances that are found in foods or produced in your body. They help defend your cells from free radicals that seek to destroy them. Without antioxidants to act as guards, the harmful molecules build up, leading to cellular damage (oxidative stress).
Lifestyle habits, such as alcohol and tobacco, and environmental air pollution contribute to the degeneration of cells, proteins, and DNA. Suddenly the body’s aging process is expedited and conditions like heart disease, lung infection, and cancer are more likely to crop up.
In the case of pulmonary oxidant stress, this could result in acute breathing problems, lung infections, inflammation, and other symptoms of pulmonary distress.
A diet rich in antioxidants is one way to build up your defenses. Vitamins C and E are powerhouses of nutrition. Upping your intake of these foods is a great start to supporting a healthy respiratory system.
Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient that is easily absorbed into the body and mobilizes quickly for immediate use. Luckily, it is never hard to find. The list of fruits and vegetables containing it is prodigious. If you enjoy fruit, try sampling a variety of citruses such as oranges, kiwis, lemons, guavas, grapefruit, watermelons, cantaloupe, mango, and pineapple.
As far as vegetables go, your options are just as varied. If you prefer hearty, fibrous, cruciferous veggies, opt for more from the cabbage family. This includes red and green cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, garden cress, and savoy cabbage. Leafy greens like mustard, collard, kale, turnip greens, and spinach are also good sources. Tomatoes, red peppers, yams and sweet potatoes provide significant amounts of vitamin C power too. But that power can run out as vitamin C can’t be produced by the body and what is obtained through food or supplements isn’t stored for future use. Whatever the body doesn’t use gets excreted, so you must replenish.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that sticks with you longer. It can remain stored in fat cells and the liver for a duration of time. While complimentary, this vitamin should not be consumed in large amounts as it can become counter productive.
Use wheat germ oil. Eat salmon, avocado, trout, mango, turnip greens, and kiwis. Munch on a handful of sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, and cashew nuts. Those seeds and nuts you place in your hand, though small, are enough to derive nutritional benefits as each seed or nut is chock full of the antioxidant. Dry roasting them on a hot pan for a minute or two gives them a little extra flavor.
These are just some foods that charge your body with antioxidants. If you want to find more options, you really don’t have to go too far. You’ll know them by their bright colors and variations. Some darker foods and drinks also contain what we need. Red wine, black tea, dark chocolate, blackberries, cherries and green tea all have an antioxidant called catechins.
With the incredible variety of foods laden with rich antioxidants, enjoying your food while supporting your lung health couldn’t be easier.
For assistance in identifying nutrients that will best address your health concerns, call for an appointment today!
National Institutes of Health. (2018). Vitamin C. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
National Institutes of Health. (2018). Vitamin E. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
Nutrition Tips for Optimal Respiratory Health
Difficulty breathing, wheezing, mucus build-up in the lungs, tightness in the chest, fatigue, blue nail beds, and chronic coughing are common signs that your respiratory system is struggling to function.
Give your lungs a helping hand by opting for a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, antioxidants, and the most essential chemical substance: water.
Doing so can improve lung function and possibly repair damaged lung tissue, as well as decrease cell damage.
Staying hydrated is essential for respiratory health. Dehydration can cause excessive, sticky mucus buildup, which can make breathing difficult.
Water is a chemical-based nutrient (H2O) that moistens mucous membranes of the lungs. The lungs love water as this precious liquid helps thin out mucus and unblock air passages.
While our bodies are mostly made of water, the amounts required exceed the body’s ability to produce it and must be replenished daily. Eight glasses of water are the baseline recommendation, but to break up tough mucus, up to 12 glasses of water a day may be needed to see improvement.
According to Oriental medicine, the lungs are affiliated with the element of water and the emotion of sadness. This is why when one cries from grief, the lungs suffer. It can be said that a fully functioning respiratory system helps keep emotions in balance.
In addition to drinking water, try to maintain a regular breathing pattern, especially at times when you’re upset. This can help bring equanimity to the situation.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A real treat for the lungs and the entire cardiovascular system, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can address lung irritations and swelling that result in asthma and difficulty breathing. This good fat may also be able to remove harmful plaque build-up from the walls of the arteries, so that the heart may receive a healthy flow of oxygen-enriched blood.
The most common sources of food for omega-3 fatty acids are Brussels sprouts, blueberries, salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseed oil. Some meal suggestions rich in these nutrients are orange-glazed salmon with wilted kale and walnut-encrusted baked tuna with Brussels sprouts. For dessert, a blueberry banana smoothie.
To keep respiration flowing smoothly and breathing issues at bay, try foods with magnesium. When magnesium is low, that means calcium is high.
High levels of calcium cause bronchial smooth muscle tension and contraction. This can result in difficulty breathing, especially for the asthmatic or COPD patient. Higher levels of magnesium will offset the dangerous presence of copious amounts of calcium in the lungs.
Rich sources of magnesium are found in a variety of foods such as spinach, quinoa, dark chocolate, black beans, avocado, yogurt, peanuts, and cashews.
Antioxidants are a group of nutrients that fight off free radicals that cause cellular damage. Eliminating free radicals in the lungs will lead to a reduction in the inflammation that causes asthma. This means easier breathing.
Good choices of foods endowed with antioxidants are kale, strawberries, artichokes, raspberries, kale, red cabbage, beets, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and onion.
A simple and ready-to-go condiment–once it’s made–is pickled onion. Thinly slice an onion and dribble vinegar over it. Let it marinate for at least 10 minutes. The longer you let it sit, the more flavorful and beneficial it becomes.
The onion has antioxidants in abundance, and vinegar is particularly good for your liver.
According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the liver, when over-stressed from detoxifying the body, can interfere with the digestive system.
When you are angry or indulge in too many greasy, heavy foods, the liver becomes overactive and is prone to ‘invade the stomach and spleen.’ The end result of the invasion is excess phlegm, which is produced in the stomach but stored in the lungs.
This build-up of pathological fluids disrupts breathing and creates an ideal environment for infectious agents.
The onion and vinegar combo helps keep the lungs clean and has the added benefit of assisting with digestion and promoting bowel movements.
Lung Institute. (2016). Staying Hydrated with COPD. Retrieved from https://lunginstitute.com/blog/staying-hydrated-copd/
Berthon BS, Wood LG. (2015). Nutrition and Respiratory Health–Feature Review. Nutrients. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377870/