The 6 Main Reasons You’re So Exhausted…

Treating fatigue naturally with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

We all feel tired from time to time. Whether it arises from an all-consuming work project or overdoing your exercise regimen, feeling fatigue in the short term is your body’s way of telling you to take it easy and recover. However, when you feel exhausted on a daily basis for months on end, something’s up. Actually, what’s going on is that your energy is depleted to the point that you don’t have enough to get you through the day.

In Chinese medicine, one cornerstone of good health is having enough energy for your body to perform all its functions. From moving your muscles to digesting your food to powering your brain, energy is the driving force. In Chinese medicine, we call that kind of energy Qi (pronounced Chee). When your body is running on an energy deficit (or a Qi depletion), at some point you’ll feel it, and one of the most common symptoms of Qi depletion is fatigue.

So why does your body become low on energy? There are a number of reasons, but here are some of the most common:

  • Stress, depression, or emotional upsets. A second cornerstone of good health in Chinese medicine is that your Qi needs to flow smoothly. You can most readily see this in action when you think about your blood flowing in the vessels or the digestive process moving food downward. When flow is blocked, your body lets you know in the form of symptoms, such as pain, indigestion, inflammation, infection, or swelling. When it comes to flow, your emotions need to move smoothly, too. Chronic stress or depression causes your energy to become bound up or blocked, making it unavailable to support your health. Long periods of stress or being depressed can literally be exhausting.
  • Your diet. Your body makes new energy by converting the food you eat into nutrients. When you eat good food—whole grains, lots of plant-based foods, and light proteins—your body has the ingredients it needs to make good energy. When you eat a lot of packaged and preserved foods or foods that come from a drive through window, not so much.
  • Your digestion. While eating healthy food is important, the ability to digest that food well is equally as important. If you’re suffering from digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating, nausea, stomachaches, constipation or diarrhea, your body is most likely not converting all that good food you’re eating into energy very efficiently, and over time can cause fatigue.
  • Pain. Being in chronic pain can totally wipe you out. That’s because, in a way similar to stress or depression, your energy is blocked and unavailable to adequately fuel the rest of your body. Pain, along with tight muscles, loss of circulation, poor range of motion, and swelling are all symptoms of blocked energy.
  • Blood loss is also a common source of fatigue. Whether from a recent childbirth, heavy menstrual cycles, surgery, or trauma, a significant loss of blood translates into a decrease in energizing nutrients circulating throughout your body.
  • Overwork. In Chinese medicine, working too hard is considered to be an underlying cause of illness. Too many hours spent at the office, pulling all night study sessions, and even overtraining in your favorite physical activity all qualify as overwork. The balance between work and rest is an important component of good health, as your body recovers and rejuvenates while you’re resting. When that balance tips into the realm of too much work and not enough recovery, you’re using up your energy without replenishing it, which over the course of time will exhaust you.

Many people who struggle with fatigue have no idea what’s making them so tired, and many more simply don’t know what to do about it. This is where acupuncture and Chinese medicine is beneficial. Your practitioner can help you sort out the underlying cause of your fatigue and develop a strategy for regaining your energy, by incorporating acupuncture, diet, herbs, and lifestyle changes into your treatment plan.

Daniel Melton is a California board certified acupuncturist and herbalist. He earned a B.S. in biology, completed his Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is the founder of Melton Acupuncture in Morgan Hill, CA.

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Herbal Tonics for Allergies

An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen.  This could be anything from something you inhale to something you touch to something you eat.  An allergic reaction may cause sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, a running nose, a sore throat and rashes. In severe cases, allergic reactions can induce something known as anaphylactic shock, which can actually be deadly. continue reading »

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Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Allergies

Allergies, seasonal or otherwise, is one of the biggest health issues people deal with in the United States. And the numbers are rising every year. Part of this is because our agricultural practices have changed drastically in the past 40 years and our bodies are not accustomed to dealing with genetically modified foods or the excessive amounts of pesticides now being put in and on our food. We are also being over-medicated with antibiotics used in livestock we eat and that we are prescribed by our own doctors. This has created superbugs like MRSA that no longer responding to antibiotics. Our immune systems just can’t keep up. So every year, the number of people experiencing allergies is increasing. continue reading »

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Determining the Nature of Your Migraines

Treating migraines naturally with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Chances are that you or someone you know suffers from migraine headaches. About 37 million Americans get migraines, with almost three million people getting them on a regular basis. While most of us get a headache from time to time, migraines are in a class all by themselves, and are actually considered to be neurological events that move through stages, not headaches at all.

The stages of a migraine include:

  • The Prodromal stage, which is a fancy term for a pre-headache. You may feel a little out of sorts, fatigued, or have weird food cravings.
  • The Aura stage involves neurological changes, most commonly in the form of vision problems, including light flashes, seeing stars, blind spots, and blurriness. Other senses may also be affected, and your speech or hearing may be affected or you may feel confused. This generally happens up to an hour before the headache actually kicks in, but many migraine sufferers don’t experience this stage at all.
  • The main attack, which involves pain that can be severe enough to lay you low for hours to days. Most commonly the pain begins on one side of your head, but may affect both sides as the attack progresses. During this stage, you may have sensitivity to light or sounds, feel nauseous, or feel chilled or feverish.
  • Resolution is the period of time when your headache is going away. It may fade away slowly, or can result after vomiting, crying, or sleeping for several hours.
  • Postdrome is a little bit like a headache hangover. Your headache is gone, but you’re left feeling pretty drained. This stage has been described as a little bit like a shadow headache—not really there, but you can still feel its effects.

Many people have chosen acupuncture to treat their migraines, and for good reason. A number of prominent research studies have concluded that acupuncture is a valuable option in reducing the frequency of migraines and preventing future attacks.

If you turn to a practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat your migraines, they will first determine the underlying pattern, or imbalance, that’s causing them. While there are a number of patterns or combinations of patterns that can cause migraines, there are two that are the most common culprits.

One pattern is related to your Liver, which is the Chinese organ that regulates the free flow of your body’s systems and substances. This includes the movement of your muscles, your digestion, blood flow, and even your emotions. The general direction of energetic movement in your body is to move upward slowly, like water in a plant or sap in a tree. However, sometimes that energy moves upward quickly and uncontrollably, causing a migraine. This is a Liver headache, and is often accompanied by dizziness, feeling feverish, and visual disturbances. Frequent triggers for a Liver headache include anger, stress, or emotional upsets.

A second common pattern for migraines in Chinese medicine is caused by the constriction of Blood in the area of pain—usually the blood vessels in your head. This is called Blood stagnation, and the nature of this kind of headache is that the pain is in a fixed location—it doesn’t move around—and the pain is throbbing or stabbing.

Your practitioner will ask you a number of questions to determine the exact nature of your migraines. Once they have determined the underlying cause, they will most likely treat it with acupuncture. To enhance your treatment, they may also combine other therapies, such as an herbal formula, dietary therapy, and stress reduction strategies. It’s also important to keep track of triggers, such as when your migraines occur, what you’ve eaten, weather changes, stressful situations, hydration, and sleep. All of these can be factors in causing your migraines, as well as offering up clues for treating them effectively.

Daniel Melton is a California board certified acupuncturist and herbalist. He earned a B.S. in biology, completed his Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is the founder of Melton Acupuncture in Morgan Hill, CA.

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Eating According to TCM: Five Foods for Spring

Spring is a time of renewal, regeneration, growth and energy. The plants and animals awaken from the slumber of the cold winter months. The vital nutrients that have been stored in the roots of the plants and the bodies of the animals, comes to the surface and life becomes more vibrant and fluid. Human beings are no different. Humans tend to stay indoors more during the winter months and sometimes pack on a little extra weight in the process. As the weather warms, humans become more gregarious and spend more time outside enjoying nature. This is just a natural process. continue reading »

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