Acupuncture for Women’s Health

Red Leaf Wellness offers acupuncture and functional medicine services in Edmonton, Alberta. I provide whole health, functional and alternative medicine strategies by blending the best of ancient Eastern healing and modern Western medicine. In addition to traditional acupuncture care, I offer highly specialized treatment for stress management, female wellness, men’s health, weight loss, digestive issues, chronic and acute pain management and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A woman’s body experiences countless changes throughout its cycles and throughout her lifespan. With hormones fluctuating constantly, many women find they are subject to disharmony within the body. Painful menstrual cycles, PMS, hormonal imbalances, frequent UTI’s, and gynecological syndromes like endometriosis are just a few examples of this disharmony in the body.

This disharmony induces stress.  However, existing stress at an anatomical level can be present from genetic or hereditary conditions – resulting in imbalance.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s View

In TCM, menstrual disorders in particular, show a weakening of the key foundations of reproductive health like the Kidney, the Blood and the Uterus. In many cases, these areas of the body are overworked causing stress symptoms such as pain and inflammation.

Any additional stress on the body from improper diet to stressful emotional environments can add to this load. This constant state of stress can increase a person’s sensitivity to pain and other symptoms – and can be the underlying cause of chronic conditions.

This state of stress must be addressed to ensure that serious damage is not inflicted onto internal organs. It is also important to address to make sure that it does not cause any further emotional damage as well.

Other physical symptoms present from this disharmony include:

  • (Painful) Cysts
  • Fibroids
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Incontinence
  • Urinary dribbling

Osteoporosis

Characterized by a decrease in bone mass and an increased likelihood of fractures osteoporosis is not simply a calcium deficiency. As a complex living tissue, bone is made of many different components and is influenced by many variables including the body’s use of calcium from the bone to balance pH levels in the blood. Osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans, of which 68% are women, reports the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Osteoporosis is largely preventable.  The behaviours that women develop in their childhood, in their adolescence, and in their early adult years really play a significant role in the development of the disease.  That’s because bodies build up most of bone mass until age 30. Then new bone stops forming and the focus switches to the maintenance of old bone.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine coupled with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, have much to offer in improving the quality of life for those who suffer from bone and joint problems.

Menopause

Menopause is a transitional period marking the cessation of ovulation in a woman’s body. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and are brought on as our bodies try to adapt to decreasing amounts of estrogen. Symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, dryness, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain. Menopause patients are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight, stabilize blood sugar, and eliminate stress, tension and anxiety or learn new techniques to cope with them to diminish the effects they have.

Oriental medicine does not recognize menopause as one particular syndrome and aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbs, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body.

With support from Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine along with small changes in lifestyle and diet, menopause can be a time of a revival of vital energy and an opportunity for personal growth

Cardiovascular Health

As the number one threat to women’s health, cardiovascular disease is not just a man’s disease. In women, the condition is responsible for about 29% of deaths, reports the CDC. Although more men die of heart disease than women, females tend to be under diagnosed, often to the point that it’s too late to help them once the condition is discovered. By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as eighty percent.

Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, quitting smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, reducing stress and improved sleep – all of which can be helped with acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, researchers have been able to stimulate the release of opioids, which decreases the heart’s activity and its need for oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

Cancer

There have been many advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer. While the standard medical care for cancer is effective, the treatments are aggressive and cause numerous unwanted side effects as well as a lowered immune system. The three most common cancers among women are breast, lung and colorectal cancer. While breast cancer is the most common cancer in women it is second in the leading cause of cancer death. Early detection screenings and recommended self examinations should be taken seriously.

Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery, and improving overall quality of life.

From a preventive approach Oriental medicine works to restore imbalances in the system with a variety of treatment modalities including acupuncture, herbal therapy, tui na, qi gong in addition to food, exercise and lifestyle suggestions. Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year serve to tonify the inner organ systems and correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.

Depression

Depressive disorders affect 10%-25% of women at some point in their lives. The body’s immune system is compromised and symptoms reduce functioning, impair work performance and social relationships. Common symptoms of depressive disorders include: a decreased interest in most activities, insomnia, fatigue, and feeling empty and worthless. At its worst, hopelessness sets in and suicide becomes a desperate option for approximately 15% of people who suffer from severe depressive disorders.

Oriental medicine does not view people as a collection of segmented parts to be treated independently but rather addresses the link between the body, spirit and mind. The goal of Oriental medicine is to bring all the human systems into a healthy balance, insuring that both the mind and body feel well and when used in conjunction with psychotherapy acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed patients. If you suffer from depression, consider acupuncture therapy in conjunction with your treatment plan to regain peace of mind, regulate your immune system and stay healthy.

What can Acupuncture do?

In TCM, the Uterus and the Liver are very closely related. The Liver ensures the free flow of Qi – which is responsible for moving the Blood and bringing vital energy to the body. The Liver, Kidney and Spleen run on channels through the pelvis – making their function have a profound effect on the menstruation cycle.

If any of these channels are subject to blockages or are not performing well, this tends to point to a menstrual problem.

The following acupoints are some of the few which are most commonly used to treat women’s health issues.

  • LV-3 – The third point on the Liver meridian (Taichong) is an acupoint located on the top of the foot between the first and second toes. Balancing emotional energy to regulate menstruation is what it is best known for. Another point on this meridian helps to reduce tension and pain, alleviate lower abdominal disorders and help with urinary problems.
  • SP-6 – The sixth point on the Spleen meridian (Sanyinjiao) is located on the inner side of the leg (above the ankle). While it influences the digestive system, this acupoint is also extremely valuable for treating hormonal disorders that lead to irregular menstruation and immune disorders. The 9th point (Yinlingquan) is also located just before the knee and is used for the treatment of urinary diseases, abdominal and back pain and disorders affecting the female reproductive system.
  • LI-4 – The fourth point of the Large Intestine meridian (Hegu) is located on the back side of the hand between the thumb and the first finger. It is concerned with relieving pain, constipation and other bowel disorders. It helps with inflammation and intestinal disorders and cramping in particular.
  • ST-36 –The 36th point of the Stomach meridian (Zusanli) is located on the front of the leg (below the knee). It helps with nausea, vomiting and abdominal distention. It also helps with treating anemia – as a result of low iron levels in the body, immune deficiency and fatigue – all of which contribute to women’s health issues.
  • UB-40 – The 40th point of the Urinary Bladder (Weizhong) meridian is located at the back of the knee. It targets abdominal pain and vomiting as a result of the pain. The 23rd point (Shenshu) is also used to treat urinary problems, lower back pain and weakness associated with this pain – as the meridian flows along the spine.
  • K-3 – The third point of the Kidney meridian (Taixi) steps in to cover most of what the Urinary Bladder does in helping with urinary problems, pain in the lower back and menstrual irregularities.

By stimulating these points, relief can be given to a large amount of symptoms that women face in their lives. More importantly, acupuncture seeks to address the internal imbalances that cause these problems while relieving the external symptoms.

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