Author: Rita

Anxiety and IBS. The Terrible Twins

Vicky first came to see me feeling uncharacteristically anxious. As a news editor, she did a stressful job but now she was finding things she would normally take in her stride had become anxiety inducing.  She started worrying about everything. Much of it was related to travelling; for example, whether she’d be able to go to the loo if she was out, but also having meetings with her peers which she had done a hundred times before without incident. She would work herself up to whatever the event was that she was concerned about, until she really felt quite bad. It was rarely how she imagined it, but this is the nature of anxiety and it’s not easy then to talk yourself down. As she was peri-menopausal, I wasn’t surprised by her symptoms and felt I could help her.

 

In addition to this she developed what could be termed as irritable bowel syndrome. She regularly experienced  diarrhoea which only added to her anxiety. 

 

Acupuncture is very effective at calming the mind and helping the gut to process food properly and transport that energy around the body. And with the anxiety in check, life is just much more manageable.  In Chinese medicine, worry and overthinking are linked to same meridian as gut issues, so as acupuncturists we often see them together. The terrible twins…

 

I think it’s always useful to take a fully holistic approach and in this case, that meant Vicky acquiring the tools to deal with the cycle of negative thinking. I therefore advised Vicky to get CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) alongside acupuncture. 

 

Vicky’s story 

I had been suffering from anxiety and stomach problems and a couple of friends had mentioned that acupuncture might help. I had only tried acupuncture once before to induce labour and I was quite sceptical about the whole thing.

 

I have quite a stressful job, probably don’t look after myself as much as I should, drink a bit too much and am also approaching the menopause. I had never really had any mental health problems before and I was worried about how debilitating it was. Feeling anxious was also giving me a bad stomach, I would often have diarrhoea or worried about needing a wee when I was out, and all this seemed to be getting into a cycle where the anxiety was making my stomach worse and then having a bad stomach was making me anxious!! The problems had been building up for at least a couple of months before seeing Rita,

 

Since I’ve been having acupuncture, I feel it has really helped, Rita really put me at my ease and she is so easy to talk to and empathetic I didn’t feel embarrassed telling her about how I was feeling. During my first session she had to take all the needles out after she’d just put them in because I suddenly needed the loo!!  I didn’t even really feel too embarrassed about that as she is such a warm and understanding person. 

 

Both my stomach and my anxiety are much improved, I worry much less about travelling and am having far fewer incidences where my stomach is bad. I actually look forward to acupuncture now and feel much less ragged and calmer after a session.

 

I’m so grateful and happy to have found Rita and she has given me really good advice even outside acupuncture about dealing with my anxiety, and for instance about CBT.

 

I have also already recommended her to a friend who is suffering with insomnia.

 

Back pain, Sciatica and Disc Prolapse

Chronic back pain and Sciatica due to disc issues are frighteningly common. I see patients in a great deal of pain, unable to get comfortable or sleep, in some cases unable to work. Sufferers will sometimes opt for cortisone injections which can work for a limited time, spinal surgery and of course physiotherapy. Many people I see are on high doses of NSAIDS and opioids as other alternatives haven’t worked for them.

 

When Jacquie first came to see me with back pain, pins and needles in her legs and sciatica, she had decided against surgery. She was extremely motivated to keep her weight down, work with a PT to exercise safely and commit to regular treatments of Acupuncture and TuiNa medical massage. This has undoubtedly played a big part in her recovery.

 

She responded very well to electro-acupuncture and TuiNa, coming every week for treatment. Jacquie is now pretty much pain free and her general wellbeing much improved. She was also sleeping badly and this has now been resolved. 

 

Acupuncture is known for reducing pain. In the US there is evidence that it is helping in the fight against opiod addiction. TuiNa is a highly effective remedial massage that complements acupuncture and relieves muscle pain and tension.

 

In addition, Jacqui also sees Kung, Peachy’s Thai oil masseuse, to manage general muscle tightness, improve blood flow and aid relaxation.

 

Jacqui’s story

After suffering severe back pain I was diagnosed with a burst disc and slipped disc in L4/L5 region. I was medically treated with an epidural hydrocortisone treatment. The consultant said I also needed to have physio and non-impact exercise as part of my rehab. After a few months of weight loss and exercise I still had residual pins and needles in my legs, dull ache in my buttocks and lower back, and generally was not sleeping well.

 

The pins and needles have completely gone. I went back to see the consultant who was hugely impressed with my speed of recovery. Since the initial diagnosis I have also been suffering from a taut IT band which has now been resolved through acupuncture

 

The acupuncture has been a godsend in speeding up the recovery process for the back problems I had. Rita is fantastic and the set up is friendly, informal, clean and peaceful.

 

Jacquieline O’Donnell, Highgate

 

 

 

Migraine and Back Pain in Pregnancy

Ella came for treatment when she was 12 weeks pregnant. She had always suffered from severe migraines but they had become more frequent and intense since becoming pregnant. She had chronic neck, back and rib pain and was also experiencing the kind of symptoms usually associated with pregnancy such as gut issues, leg cramps and heartburn.

Ella has a busy job as a nanny, with regularly long hours. Her sleep was affected due to the chronic pain, and she was really struggling to function. The constant pain meant her muscles tightened in response which only increased the pain she was in. It was a vicious circle.

Treating pregnant women while completely safe, does require appropriate training to ensure the points that are used aren’t contraindicated. Consequently there are some limitations on what treatment protocols can be used.

Acupuncture and TuiNa remedial massage were the most appropriate techniques and her migraines almost immediately decreased significantly. Reducing her general emotional and physical tension meant that day to day life became much more manageable.

 

Ella’s story

I have suffered from chronic pain, headaches and migraines for over 15 years and have tried everything under the sun. I needed something to help me as it worsened significantly through pregnancy and I was finding it very difficult to work. I did try acupuncture a few years back in Australia but did not find I had good results. 

I found Peachy on Google and Rita’s response time was great and she fitted me in on short notice.

Rita has treated me for pregnancy symptoms such as indigestion, leg cramps, and constipation. Furthermore I had 15 plus years back pain, neck, headache and migraine.

It’s made such a significant difference!! I had my first consistent relief from migraines ever!  I think Tuina combined with Acupuncture is so beneficial to me as I hold a great deal of tension.

Rita is lovely and warm and the clinic is comfortable and clean and it’s easy to park – I would absolutely recommend her! She is very good and listens well, I have noticed incredible differences in my health and pain.  I am incredibly grateful for all her assistance and her advice.

 

Ella Hayes, Highgate

Men’s Bits – Infertility

Needless to say when it comes to our bits and things going wrong with them we don’t want to talk about it let alone submit to a doctor’s examination. When men are asked, they will usually use the excuse that they were too busy to go.  However, when we  delve further it is often tied into their masculinity. Men don’t want to be perceived as weak, and the older they get, the less likely they are to go. The fear of the diagnosis is also a major factor.

 

But things are changing. Apart from being able to Google your symptoms anonymously, (we all do that) campaigns like Movember (Testicular Cancer) and March for Men (Prostate Cancer) have caught men’s imagination.

 

There is however one health issue that is still taboo – male infertility.

 

Whereas the narrative is usually around women, it is now shifting towards men.  WebMD reported that an estimated 10% of men are infertile, and the male partner is a factor in up to 50% of infertile couples. In many cases, the cause of male infertility is unknown. Previous studies of acupuncture and male infertility have suggested that acupuncture can improve sperm production and motility (a measure of sperm movement).

 

Researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture on the structural health of sperm in men with infertility of unknown cause.

 

Twenty-eight infertile men received acupuncture treatments twice a week for five weeks, and 12 received no treatment and served as a comparison group. Researchers analysed sperm samples at the beginning and end of the study and found significant improvements in sperm quality in the acupuncture group compared with the other group. Acupuncture treatment was associated with fewer structural defects in the sperm and an increase in the number of normal sperm in ejaculate.

 

But there’s also evidence that men have a biological clock.

 

A survey study of 1976 British women reported a five times greater increase in time to pregnancy in men aged 45 and older, compared with men under 25.  To evaluate pregnancy rates in different age groups, a French study examined 901 cycles of intrauterine artificial insemination. They found that the most significant factor contributing to probability of pregnancy was the age of the male partner. So age is a factor for both men and women.

 

How can acupuncture help? (Stener-Victorin 2010)

 

  • lowering scrotal temperature (Siterman 2009);

  • enhancing local microcirculation, by increasing the diameter and blood flow velocity of peripheral arterioles (Komori 2009);

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors  (Zijlstra 2003)

  • by improving sperm maturation in the epididymis, increasing testosterone levels, and reducing liquid peroxidation of sperm  (Crimmel 2001)

 

Fertility is complicated, but acupuncture has been shown to make a difference and is commonly used independently and alongside IVF to improve pregnancy rates.

 

We’ve had a few Peachy babies ourselves!

 

I understand that fertility is a difficult and emotive issue for all concerned. And with men, it taps into their very masculinity. So I think it’s important to take a holistic view of what is ultimately a multifaceted health issue. Chinese Medicine takes into account your diet, stress levels, emotions and physiology. It focuses on you.

 

Andy Levy BSc Hons, MBAcC, LicTuiNa, MRTCM

Andy is Associate Acupuncturist at Peachy Acupuncture

 

Fit over 40 – Men and Sports Injuries

Something changed for me at 40 that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Finally the light bulb moment occurred and I realised I needed to change the way I related to my body. After not thinking much at all about it, I needed to give it a bit more respect and time to recover from life’s small (or large) knocks.

 

As we age our bodies grow and mature but this slows to its peak at between 25-30 years old and in hindsight the thing that I couldn’t put my finger on was a change in my physicality. At around 40 our bones start to lose mass quicker than we can build it which means that we are more susceptible to stress and fractures. Muscles lose mass too especially if you work in an office and don’t move much. Smaller weaker muscles are more likely to injure as the larger muscles take priority of the circulating blood. Cartilage and tendons become drier and are prone to wear and tear. Ligaments are less elastic and this sort of connective tissue becomes less flexible. All this points to the fact that things are slowly…. drying out.

 

So the most frequent injuries once you hit 40 are tennis elbow, stress fractures, lower back problem, sciatica, rotator cuff, hamstring tears, ACL, meniscus tears and knee problems, plantar fasciitis etc. The possibilities are endless! Working at a desk, overtraining, poor posture and age are what drive these injuries. I’ve had a few of them

 

And we see them at the Peachy Clinic all the time. Some are relatively easy to fix, others if they’ve been allowed to become chronic take more time, there are conditions that we can support while you’re going the medical route, or improve the quality of life for those living with multiple or complex conditions. You don’t need to live with it.

 

How does Chinese Medicine help? Acupuncture is seen to stimulate points close to nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. The stimulation increases blood flow, while at the same time triggering the activity of the body’s natural painkillers. TuiNa is a dynamic remedial massage ideal for musculo-skeletal injuries. It is also useful in reducing stress, encouraging relaxation, and deepening sleep. Chinese medicine has quite a toolbox and your practitioner may include fire cupping and guasha. These oriental therapies increase blood flow, move lymph and reduce pain, tightness and inflammation. Athletes, tennis players and Olympians are increasingly turning to these therapies to keep them injury free.

 

• The key is to remember that you need to pace or alter your exercise regime and recognise that the older you are, the more susceptible you are to injuries.

• Keep on top of small injuries before they escalate into larger ones by seeking remedial treatments. We often see someone who started with a bit of lower back pain, who later develops sciatica or knee problems because they’ve not addressed it early enough.

• Remember you’ll take longer to recover, so don’t go straight back to running 10k after an Achilles injury.

• Drink lots of water

• Get regular maintenance treatments, say every month or six weeks to iron out any issues and keep you well.

 

My go to is obviously acupuncture, TuiNa medical massage and cupping. I am regularly treated with Chinese medicine and I treat people with it. It’s a wonderfully diverse and effective holistic health system – particularly for musculo-skeletal issues.

 

I’m keen to get men thinking more about their health. Look at alternative ways of staying healthy and keeping injuries to a minimum. Whether you’re a regular gym goer or a marathon runner, work hunched over a computer, or would like to start a maintenance programme to stay well, then I’m always happy to chat about how acupuncture can help.

 

Andy Levy BSc Hons, MBAcC, LicTuiNa, MRTCM

Andy is Associate Acupuncturist at Peachy Acupuncture