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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease that can be mild or severe. Understanding the causes and symptoms of anxiety is crucial in managing and treating this condition.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Research suggests that certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, play a role in regulating mood and anxiety levels.

How is Anxiety Treated with Acupuncture?

Acupuncture can naturally enhance the production and distribution of serotonin and dopamine in the nervous system to help regulate the body and calm the mind. Some patients may need to continue with anti-anxiety medication during this acupuncture treatment period, and some patients can completely get off of their medications overtime. 

Consistent acupuncture treatments can definitely help to reduce anxiety level in patients as well as improve their quality of life.

~ Dr. Luo

Image credit to Burst

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Knee Pain

Knee Pain

I always hear my patients tell me "don't get old".  I smile and reply "we are all going to get old one day and we have no control over that, but we CAN find ways to help ourselves not to feel our OLDNESS".  One of the ways is to get regular acupuncture treatments.  One of the most common complaints as we age is knee pain.  When we gain weight, it also puts extra pressure on our knees.  Did you know that every pound of weight you lose equals to 4 times less pressure on your knees?!  That makes a huge difference.  Knee pain can be felt at different locations, such as on top of the knee, medial side of the knee cap (most common), below the knee cap, and lateral side of the knee cap.  Pain on top of the knee might be related to tendonitis or swelling.  Pain on the inside of the knee may be due to arthritis, meniscus tear or ligament tear.  Pain under the patella may be due to overuse.  Pain on the outside of the knee may be also due to arthritis, ligament or meniscus tear.  MRI would provide the best image of the knee and diagnose the cause of the knee pain, so that appropriate treatments can be provided.  Physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture are alternative ways to help reduce knee pain, and important to try these modalities together before resorting to partial or total knee replacement.  Electro-acupuncture is often used to treat knee pain and also very effective in reducing pain and increasing flexibility and mobility.  Regular treatments are necessary to keep the pain away and help the body to learn how to protect itself from future damage.  With less pain, there is an improvement in quality of life and ability to exercise again.  In acupuncture, it would be best to treat the problem before it gets worse.  So I always tell my patients that as soon as they feel pain, seek out for acupuncture and take care of the pain promptly.  You should not deal with pain for more than a week.  When a condition has settled in for more than 3 months, it is considered chronic.  Use acupuncture to help you manage pain and start feeling better now.

~ Mei Lin Maunakea

Image credit to Matthew Henry

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June is PTSD Awareness Month

June is PTSD Awareness Month

There are currently over 8 million people suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the United States. People with PTSD continue to be depressed and anxious months or even years following the event.  The main treatment for patients with PTSD is psychotherapy, which may include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), or Present Centered Therapy (PCT).  At our office, we treat many veterans with PTSD.  Acupuncture helps to balance the autonomic nervous system and induces the release of dopamine and serotonin to help stabilize mood and improve sleep quality.  Patients often have to take medications to regulate serotonin levels in the nervous system, but by receiving regular acupuncture treatments can achieve the same effect naturally.  In the long run, patients are less dependent on medications and their mood will naturally improve over time.  All of this can be achieved with just 30 minutes of acupuncture a week.  I am really not biased when I say that I strongly believe everyone can benefit from acupuncture!

~ Mei-Lin Maunakea

Image Credit to Gordon Hatusupy from Burst

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Tinnitus

Tinnitus

Pronounced "TIN-nuh-tuhs" affects more people than you think.  This is a condition where you hear ringing or noises in one or both of your ears.  It is a common condition that affect older adults in 15 to 20% of the population.  In Chinese Medicine, the pitch of the ringing can indicate which internal organ is involved in causing the condition.  Many of my patients have had success with using acupuncture to treat both acute and chronic tinnitus.  In some cases, the ringing can be completely eliminated.  If you think you have tinnitus, I would highly recommend confirming the diagnosis with your doctor first, either low-pitched or high-pitched tinnitus, because sometimes tinnitus can also be part of Meniere's disease, which is another topic in itself.  Also, sometimes a Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist can help with removing ear wax that might help to reduce tinnitus.  In clinic, I notice that patients with tinnitus might also experience poor circulation throughout the body, generally have tight neck and shoulder muscles, may experience jaw pain, or tend to clench their teeth at night.  When the correct cause is addressed and treated, then tinnitus will resolve fairly quickly and easily.  It doesn't hurt to try acupuncture, because it either will help to improve your condition or the condition will not change and cannot get worse.  Don't you feel it is at least worth a try?!

~Mei-Lin Maunakea

image: credit to Farah from Burst

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Tips to Help Boost Your Immunity During a Pandemic

Tips to Help Boost Your Immunity During a Pandemic

I have closed my practice for the month of April to help the community to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Needless to say this virus is destroying humanity globally.  We must stay strong and work together to combat this virus!  I am staying home just like you.  Now we have the perfect opportunity to work on our health while we are staying home to avoid being infected.  In the morning, start with a teaspoon of Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar and 8 ounces of warm water to clean your digestive system and minimize the amount of acidity in your blood to decrease overall inflammation.  Consume more fruits like oranges, strawberries, and blueberries to boost your immune system.  Drink herbal teas with dandelion root to detoxify your body.  I also recommend taking Andrographis as a preventative to catching colds and flu.  We have used this herb in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to treat common cold and flu symptoms.  Astragalus is another popular herb used in Chinese Medicine to help boost the immune system.  We can use this herb in soups or teas, and a little goes a long way.  Another great herb full of antioxidants is Go Ji Berry.  Place at least 10 berries in a cup of hot water, let it steep for a minute, drink the water, and eat the berries afterwards.  Go Ji Berries are great for the Liver and brighten the eyes, especially helpful in women's health.  Another herb that can help is Elderberry.  You can find this in the supplement isle at Whole Foods or Down to Earth.  Now, don't go crazy taking all of these herbs at once, you can overwhelm your system.  You can alternate from day to day.  Of course, at least 30 minutes of exercise and stretching will be beneficial along with taking antioxidants to enhance your immune system.  I also highly recommend Tai Ji, Qi Gong, or Yoga Stretch videos on YouTube.  Grab your partner or your pet, and get moving.  I hope this will be helpful, for you and your family.  I wish the best for everyone to stay safe and healthy during this unprecedented global crisis, and hope to see you all real soon!

~Mei-Lin Maunakea

~Image Credit to Pegleess Barrios

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Stress Management

Stress Management

Recently I was asked to speak about stress management at the workplace.  I could not think of a better topic to discuss and promote acupuncture as one of many ways to help with stress relief.  Acupuncture has been known to control the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) that regulates our body's response to stress signals.  Many research studies have shown and proved this mechanism.  In addition, new research in Functional MRI (fMRI) of the brain showed that by inserting thin needles to specific acupuncture points can activate or deactivate certain parts of the brain.  Now THAT is pretty neat findings!  Essentially, acupuncture therapy acts like physical therapy for the brain and the Central Nervous System (CNS).  Stress signals cause the body to release cortisol and adrenaline.  For a short while, it does not do harm to your health.  However, chronic stress signals can lead to skin issues, weight gain, excessive appetite, hypertension, insomnia, muscle tightness, headaches, indigestion, and more.  Naturally, we all have stress in our lives, but it is how we deal with stress that matters in the long term.  By incorporating acupuncture into your lifestyle can greatly alter how your body and brain handle stress that can change your health for the better.  Have you had your acupuncture therapy yet?!

~Mei-Lin Maunakea,

Image Credit to Matthew Henry

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Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux

We love to eat!  It's a nuisance to constantly worry about what to eat and what NOT to eat in order to keep your acid reflux in check.  When it gets bad, symptoms can even resemble a heart attack like chest tightness and difficulty breathing.  Most of the time, patients might experience chronic sore throat, cough, and bloating.  Some patients might already have the diagnosis of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  However,  the more anti-acid medications you take, the body becomes dependent on them to digest food.  This is why some people are stuck taking anti-acids for the rest of their lives.  But... there is still hope.  Acupuncture can help to increase your metabolism and regulate the acid production during meal times.  Accompanied with Chinese herbal formula, acid reflux can be treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine.  With consistent and frequent treatments, improvements can be seen within a month to two months.  Why not treat your body better and give acupuncture a try?!

~ Mei Lin Maunakea

Image Credit to Matthew Henry

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Type II Diabetes

Type II Diabetes

More than a third of adults have prediabetes that can develop into Type II Diabetes if left untreated, and majority of these patients don't know that they have it unless blood work is done.  Most patients have to take medications to lower their blood sugar, because their bodies have developed insulin-resistance.  So how does acupuncture fit in the picture?!  Well, thousands of years ago, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Diabetes was described as the "Wasting and Thirsting Disease" or "Xiao Ke", where symptoms included excessive thirst, irritability, itchy skin, dry mouth and red, swollen gums.  Acupuncture can help to restore Qi/Vital Energy in the body and improve blood flow while nourishing and enhancing internal organ functions.  This prevents the condition from worsening. Acupuncture alone is not sufficient to treat this inflammatory disease, but along with proper dietary changes, exercise, and appropriate lifestyle changes, Diabetes can be prevented or possibly even reversed in the early stages.  Regular acupuncture treatments can also help to prevent the increase in dosages of diabetic medications.  There is very little risk in trying acupuncture compared to typical and sometimes severe sides effects of medications.  It's never too late, your body wants to be healthy, and acupuncture can help bring you one step closer to achieving that goal.  

~ Mei Lin Maunakea

Image Credit to Sarah Pflug

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Sciatica

Sciatica

What is sciatica?  It is pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, that can be caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often due to degeneration of an intervertebral disk.  Sciatica can occur at any age.  Sciatic pain is so prevalent, but can be easily corrected when treated in the early stages.  Some patients end up in emergency rooms hoping to get relief from this excruciating pain.  Unfortunately, typical medical or hospital treatments for pain are medications or injections.  Yet, acupuncture is not mentioned at all as an alternative treatment for sciatic pain.  Of course, when there is a structural issue, such as severe stenosis or disc herniations, acupuncture is not going to be the best option.  However, the important message is to treat the pain early and prevent the condition from further deterioration.

When it comes to pain, my experience is to treat it right away with acupuncture and the body will heal so much faster.  Acupuncture helps and enhances the body's natural healing capabilities, preventing the condition from worsening or even reoccurring in the future.  Patients usually show improvements in 2-3 weeks of treatments.  Acupuncture can help to reduce pain and inflammation locally, and also improve blood flow in the area that is experiencing pain.  

If you have been self-medicating as a form of pain management, maybe it's time to think about acupuncture as an alternative instead.  It doesn't hurt to try, and acupuncture doesn't make the condition worse, it can only help.  

~ Mei Lin Maunakea

Image Credit to Nicole De Kohrs

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Insomnia!

Insomnia!

One in four Americans develop insomnia each year.  Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?  Have you become dependent on Melatonin or other medications to help with sleep?  A less habit forming way is through acupuncture therapy.  Many patients report that they sleep better on the day of receiving acupuncture.  This is due to the release of endorphins in the body that helps to calm down the nervous system.  As the acupuncture treatments accumulate, it becomes easier for patients to fall asleep and stay asleep, there is also a less tendency of waking up with anxiety.  Many menopausal women have trouble with sleep, and acupuncture is a natural and safe method to help the body to find its balance and achieve a better rest through the night.  This also applies to patients with vivid dreams or wake up with nightmares.  Acupuncture therapy can help to reduce those incidences and induce a less active and more peaceful sleep.  I firmly believe Sleep is NOT overrated!  When it comes to sleep, quality is MORE important than quantity.  With a good night's sleep, you can function more efficiently and be more productive during the day.  Overtime with lack of sleep, it can affect memory, concentration and other bodily functions.  So, worry no more, try acupuncture and let it help you achieve your best beauty rest!  

~ Mei Lin Maunakea

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Hypertension

Hypertension

More than 3 million Americans are diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure every year.  Yet the increase use of medication to treat hypertension is NOT helping Americans to get healthier and reducing the number of cases diagnosed every year. Why is that?  You would think with advanced technology, we should be getting healthier and living longer.  Well, we are living longer, but not necessarily healthier.  I think the reason is because we are not focusing our attention on PREVENTION.  As soon as a patient is diagnosed, I would recommend trying to change the diet, lifestyle, and acupuncture first before resorting to medication right away. Give your body a chance to fight and regain its balance before introducing drugs and chemicals.  Patients are surprised that with consistent acupuncture treatments and sometimes in conjunction with herbal supplements, their blood pressure naturally drops to normal readings. It's not surprising, because of the beta-endorphins effect acupuncture initiates in the body upon insertion. I would encourage patients and our community to try alternative methods FIRST before quickly jumping on the medication bandwagon.

In other cases, I have seen acupuncture can help patients who have been taking blood pressure medication for years to stop increasing their dosage.  With acupuncture, the body can better absorb the effects of the medication and not fully develop a dependency on it. 

So, whether you are recently diagnosed or have had the diagnosis for years, acupuncture can still help.

Have you tried acupuncture yet?  It doesn't hurt and your health depends on it. 

- Mei Lin Maunakea

Image Credit By Sarah Pflug 

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The Truth About Bell's Palsy

The Truth About Bell's Palsy

Bell's Palsy can develop suddenly causing one side of the face to droop and lose function, such as difficulty with closing the eyelid and chewing food on the affected side.  This condition affects the function of the 7th Cranial Nerve.  Without proper and immediate treatment, this condition can persist for the rest of a person's life.  Many people, including doctors, are not aware of the efficacy of acupuncture therapy in the early stage of Bell's Palsy. 

In Chinese Medicine, we believe that Bell's Palsy is caused by a pathogen known as the Cold pathogen, and accompanied with severe stress, the immune system is susceptible to the entry of this pathogen.  Some patients report they experience headaches or achiness in the neck or back of the head before the onset of Bell's Palsy.

With acupuncture therapy, I have seen immediate and great results in restoring muscle function and elasticity of the skin within two weeks of treatments.  

Next time when you see a friend or family member with this condition, don't hesitate to refer him/her to our office right away!

-Mei Lin Maunakea

Image Credit to AllAboutVision.com

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