Monday, November 19, 2007

Keep looking for relief from physical symptoms
Stress for Success
November 19, 2007

When you experience a new physical problem don’t assume that you have to live with it forever. Look for its cause and mitigate it. For instance, recently I've experienced muscle tension in my hips and know it's from sitting at the computer too much. So I bought a new laptop to vary where and how I sit when working.

Also consider treatments you’ve never tried before like foot reflexology (a valid treatment for my mild muscle tension), Reiki (the most relaxed I’ve ever felt), chiropractic medicine (my chiropractor only works on the area behind my right ear, which I find very helpful), among others.

Out of curiosity recently I turned to acupuncture for a new discomfort in my right hip along with the general muscle tension mentioned above. I selected a local acupuncturist to try this 5000 year-old Chinese approach to healing and have been impressed with the three treatments I've received.

Before my first treatment she told me about acupuncture then I described my symptoms. She encouraged me to tell her about anything else bothering me because she could possibly treat multiple symptoms at the same time, depending upon what they were and their severity. So I told her about fatigued vocal chords and a recent diagnosis of falling arches (good grief!). She treated all of these conditions at the same time.

I'm happy to report that after just one treatment my newer sharp hip soreness absolutely disappeared, my falling arch hasn’t improved, but the tension in my hips is much better. Now after my morning yoga it's like I never had that muscle tension. It's like I'm 25 again (okay, 45)!

Granted, my symptoms were minor. If I'd had more serious ones three visits wouldn’t have been enough. Nor are three visits necessarily enough for my symptoms, time will tell. But given my brief and mostly successful exposure to acupuncture my mind is even more open to it than before.

Some people hesitate trying it for fear of the needles. However, the only time I felt a needle pierce was with the one that she placed in my right heel, which was over in a flash and I wouldn't even categorize it as pain. Otherwise I didn’t even feel the insertion of the other needles.

After she placed the needles she left me to relax for 30 minutes, checking back occasionally, after which she removed the needles and I was on my way. There was nothing uncomfortable or scary about the experience; in fact it was downright interesting and beneficial.

I’m not suggesting that you should try any and all alternative medical treatments. But if your physician hasn't been successful in treating you then do some research into what else is available. If you don't like taking prescription drugs, which Western medicine so quickly prescribes, you'd be an even better candidate for acupuncture.

Ultimately I encourage you to look for something to minimize negative symptoms to feel better, which allows you to remain active, which is good for your physical, mental and emotional self, not to mention your stress level.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Try acupuncture to relieve tension and to quit smoking
Stress for Success
November 13, 2007

Americans are increasingly turning to “alternative” medicine to treat what ails them; often they’re trying Acupuncture.

As I described last week, Acupuncture is based on the belief that when Chi (life energy) is blocked as it travels throughout your body’s energy pathways (meridians) it throws Yin and Yang out of balance causing illness or discomfort. Acupuncture restores the balance by inserting very fine needles into Acupuncture points to facilitate the even circulation of Chi.

Without realizing it, my first encounter with this ancient Chinese approach to healing was back in the 1980s when, out of curiosity, I tried foot reflexology. This is a form of acupressure, which uses fingers or an instrument vs. needles to stimulate ankles and the soles of the feet. It’s based on the belief that different parts of the feet are connected to specific parts of the body. By stimulating the appropriate part of your foot you can reduce the discomfort for the physical problem you’re trying to remedy. For instance, to get relief from sciatic nerve discomfort you would apply pressure to the inner part of your heel.

Our ancestors got plenty of natural acupressure opportunities. They walked on actual earth (vs. concrete) with either no shoes or less “constructed” ones, frequently stepping on pebbles and other hard or sharp objects. This sent an electrical impulse to the corresponding part of the body from the part of the foot that was stimulated. With enough repetitions these small “shocks” cleared out obstructing crystals that cause physical problems. The next time you walk on the beach and step on a shell notice this jolt of energy and in which part of your body (other than your foot) you feel it.

Not only did reflexology feel good to me, it had impressive results for my minor muscle tension.

I have a caution, however. After receiving treatment from a professional I bought a reflexology book and tried it on my husband, who was very skeptical of the practice. The book said to use a pencil eraser and apply as much pressure as possible to the soles of the feet. I did. For the next couple of days, he couldn’t open his jaw! He became a believer that I had over-stimulated something that was apparently connected to his jaw.

My husband had our next experience with another form of Acupuncture, Auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture) to help him quit smoking. Three electrical jolts were sent into each ear lobe to decrease his cravings. (This can also be used to treat other addictions.) It was only intended to help him through the first three days of withdrawal, but those were the worst. So, for it to work, you must want to quit. It was the only treatment that ever helped him kick this unhealthy habit of thirty years.

My most recent experience with Acupuncture was just recently. After writing an article about successful Acupuncture treatments for headaches that lasted for months, I decided I’d finally try it and that’s what I’ll address next week.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Try acupuncture for what ails you
Stress for Success
November 6, 2007

Recently I wrote about research findings of acupuncture treatments for chronic headaches lasting for months. I’d long been curious about Acupuncture so I decided to try it for myself.

In today’s column I’ll explain this ancient treatment. In following ones I’ll describe my own experiences with it.

To me, any “successful” treatment that has stood the test of time is worth considering. Acupuncture certainly meets this criterion. Chinese have practiced it for about 5,000 years for pain relief, the prevention and treatment of disease, and anesthetizing surgical patients.

It’s based on the belief that every living creature has the universal life energy called Chi or Qi, which includes the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. This energy travels throughout your body along pathways called meridians.

Chi is comprised of two parts: Yin and Yang, which are opposite forces, and when balanced, work together. Yin is represented by female attributes: passive, dark, cold and moist. Yang is signified by male attributes: active, light, warm and dry. Nothing is completely one or the other.

When Chi’s flow is blocked or unstable, Yin and Yang are thrown out of balance, which causes illness. Acupuncture, which literally means “needle piercing”, restores the balance by inserting very fine (and disposable) needles into Acupuncture points (where the meridians come to the skin surface) to facilitate an even circulation of Chi.

Acupuncture commonly treats:
۰ Addictions including food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes
۰ Arthritic conditions
۰ Headaches, including migraines
۰ Allergies
۰ Tendonitis
۰ Lower back pain, etc.

Besides needle insertion other treatments include:
۰ Cupping: stimulation of acupuncture points through suction; the partial vacuum produces blood congestion at the site of the physical problem; used mostly for low backaches, sprains, soft tissue injuries and relieving fluids from the lungs caused by chronic bronchitis
۰ Auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture): ears have a rich nerve and blood supply and believed to be connected to points throughout the body facilitating treatment of many disorders
۰ Moxibustion: applying heat to acupuncture points used for bronchial asthma, bronchitis, some types of paralysis and arthritic disorders
۰ Acupressure: the use of fingers or an instrument vs. needles; e.g., foot-reflexology where the soles of the feet and ankles are stimulated

There are many attempts to explain why acupuncture seems to work, including that it:
۰ enhances the immune system by raising triglycerides, certain hormones, white blood counts, etc.
۰ stimulates secretion of endorphins, serotonin and noradrenalin
۰ releases vasodilators such as histamine constricting or dilating blood vessels
۰ regulates the part of the nervous system that perceives pain

While not all are convinced, western medicine increasingly accepts Acupuncture. The World Health Organization recognizes more than 30 diseases or conditions, ranging from allergies to tennis elbow that can be helped by it. In 1997 the National Institute of Health stated that for headaches, low back pain, menstrual cramps and carpal tunnel syndrome, “Acupuncture was useful as part of a comprehensive pain management program.”

With Acupuncture’s emphasis on prevention and its 5,000 year track-record I think it has earned our consideration as a treatment option.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., of InterAction Associates, is a trainer and a Stress Coach. E-mail her at with your questions or for information about her workshops on this and other topics and to invite her to speak to your organization.