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Acupuncture Provides Relief From Painful Periods: So What Are You Waiting For?

There is a good chance that if you are a person with a period, you have experienced pain associated with your menstrual cycle at some point. One study indicates that as many as 90% of women experience painful periods, and roughly 33% report pain so severe that it requires them to take pain relieving medication such as NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen etc). Many women report pain that requires both medication AND absence from school, work, or other daily life obligations. Despite the fact that the majority of women experience some pain with their menstrual cycle, Western medicine offers few options for the treatment of these complaints. The two most common approaches to the treatment of painful periods are:

  • The prescription of birth control to “regulate” your menstrual cycle
  • The recommendation to take NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen when the symptoms cause discomfort.

Ok so what’s wrong with this picture? Well for starters we have a condition that seriously affects quality of life for up to 50% of women. Then we have treatment options that do NOTHING to address the underlying cause of the condition. These same treatments often produce both immediate side effects and long term consequences for your health. Another important fact is that up to 25% of the women who are prescribed these interventions do not experience improvement with them! Those are discouraging odds for women hoping to get relief from painful periods!

We’ll get more into the risks and side effects birth control, and NSAID drugs in the upcoming weeks, but I will offer this quick overview for now. The most commonly reported side effects of NSAID drugs are stomach pain and irritation, ulcers, headache, dizziness, and high blood pressure, with more serious side effects being risk of kidney and liver damage. It is now common knowledge that when used chronically NSAIDs are damaging to your digestive tract. Common side effects of oral contraceptives  are things like mood swings, weight gain, breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, and increased risk of blood clots, stroke, and many types of cancer.

One thing that is important to understand is that your menstrual cycle is a delicate balance of signals between your reproductive system, and your nervous system. There are MANY reasons why your period might be painful, heavy, irregular, or otherwise out of balance, and they all have a root cause.

Some of the root causes behind painful periods are:

  1. HORMONAL IMBALANCE-low progesterone, high estrogen or testosterone? these can all affect your cycle length, flow, pain level, mood, sleep, and more (more in next weeks blog post)
  2. DIGESTIVE IMBALANCE-did you know that your digestion plays a role in keeping your hormones balanced and healthy? If your digestion is not functioning optimally this is one thing that can contribute to the accumulation of excess estrogen in the body, also known as estrogen dominance.
  3. CHRONIC STRESS-our stress hormones are intimately connected to our reproductive hormones.
  4. LIVER HEALTH-your liver plays a key role in the activation and processing of many important hormones. If it’s not functioning optimally it makes it hard for your body to achieve optimal hormone balance.
  5. CHRONIC INFLAMMATION-period pain is often marked by higher than normal levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.

So where does Acupuncture come in?! Some studies have shown that acupuncture is as effective as NSAIDS, or birth control  in the treatment of period pain.  The BIG DIFFERENCE it is both EFFECTIVE, and produces NO WIDESPREAD SIDE EFFECTS.

Acupuncture has been shown to both reduce inflammation, and trigger your nervous system to release natural pain relieving compounds like serotonin, endorphins, and acetylcholine. When combined with herbal medicine, and lifestyle modification to address underlying causes of chronic stress, digestive disturbance, and hormone imbalance, you can achieve PAIN FREE periods for a lifetime.

Most women who come into my office have no idea WHY they have pain with their periods, or that there are options are available to them. Women deserve more than band-aid treatment options that simply mask their symptoms. When we work together to create a custom treatment plan these women achieve regular, pain free periods, improved quality of life, and a greater sense of empowerment over their body and health. Women deserve effective, natural solutions that preserve their health, fertility, and well being for a lifetime. Don’t you agree? If you’re ready to take the next steps to work on addressing the root cause of your painful periods, book a FREE initial consult with us here.

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Chinese Medicine Nutrition In The Season of Late Summer

Nutrition is one of my favorite topics to write about, so you’ll be seeing more on this topic in the upcoming months.  My philosophy on nutrition is evidence based, accessible, and influenced by the principles of Chinese medicine.

Living in harmony with the seasons is a key concept in Chinese medicine.  In follow up posts we will talk about how this applies to topics like illness prevention, and the treatment of cold, flu, and other common ailments with nutrition, and herbal medicine. Stay tuned for that, and follow our blog to make sure you get our regular updates.

Chinese medicine recognizes five distinct seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Late Summer, and Autumn. The shift from one season to the next is a time to slow down and reflect on how the change in season affects our daily lives.

The change from Summer, to Late Summer is considered to be especially significant.  This is when we move from the most Yang (warm, hot, dry, bright, active) time of year, to a more Yin (cool, moist, dark, quiet, still) time of year. In Late Summer the weather is still warm and sunny, but we begin to see and feel the Autumn approaching. The air becomes more dry and crisp, and the leaves are slowly changing. We are enjoying the full harvest. It is a time to slow down and prepare for the Fall and Winter.

In Chinese medicine Late Summer corresponds to the Earth element. The Earth element represents the digestive organs. Earth represents nourishment, both physical and emotional.  In the cycle of the Five elements, the Earth is the center. It representsthe place of stability, the axis around which the rest of our physiology revolves. This means that thousands of years ago they already knew what modern medicine is just catching up to, that digestive health is the foundation of good health!


farmers market abundance

The Earth season is the perfect time to focus on eating nourishing foods, and creating time to connect with close friends and family. It’s a good time to ask yourself if eating is making you feel energized, and happy, or does eating have you feeling pain, and distress? Are you taking time out to eat your meals in a calm environment, chewing thoroughly, not rushing through meals? Do you feel emotionally nourished by your life? Are you feeling loved, supported, and inspired, or drained, and unsatisfied? Supporting the Earth element with proper nutrition, mindful eating, and herbal medicine can improve your health in the upcoming Fall and Winter months. Here are 5 things you can implement TODAY, that are FREE, and will go a long way to supporting your digestive health.

  1. Take Time to Eat at Regular Intervals throughout your day. What schedule works for you might depend on your individual needs. If this is a challenge because your time is extremely limited, aim for something reasonable like 15-20 minutes for each meal. Work up to at least 30 minutes for each meal.
  2. Chew Thoroughly! This may seem like a small thing, but good digestion begins with how well we CHEW our food, and most of us don’t do so well enough. The more thoroughly we chew our food, the easier it is for the enzymes in the digestive tract to break it down, extract the nutrients from it, and get rid of the waste products.
  3. Try to Eat in a Low Stress Environment.  Try not to eat in loud, stimulating environments (if possible). Is there a quiet place at your work/school where you can eat? Can you avoid the crowded, busy lunch room? This will allow your body to relax into a parasympathetic state, which is optimal for digestion.
  4. Focus on Eating a WHOLE FOODS DIET.  Avoid processed foods, refined grains, and sugar. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, pasture raised meats and eggs, nuts, and seeds. *If you have complex digestive complaints you may need customized nutrition coaching.
  5. Try to eat what is LOCAL and IN SEASON as much as possible. Try to implement a wide variety of cooked and raw foods.  Transition to mostly cooked foods as Fall approaches. Not only will this support optimal digestion, but it supports your local farmer, and minimizes environmental impact by reducing food transportation.

If you’re feeling run down, worried about getting sick easily, experiencing digestive upset, or struggling to create nourishing relationships in your life, now is the perfect time to come in for a new digestive wellness plan.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes for Late Summer and Early Autumn to get you started.



What Makes Ancient Fern Medicine Unique

Hello, and welcome to the inaugural blog post for Ancient Fern Medicine. We are very excited to be launching this new adventure, and look forward to writing about some of our favorite health and Chinese medicine topics in the weeks and months to come. We wanted to start by writing an introduction to help our current and prospective patients get to know us better.

In the process of developing our new website we spent a lot of time trying to define our “brand”, and a clear vision for what it is we’re trying to accomplish in the world. We chose careers in healthcare for the obvious reason of wanting to help people, but we were asked about what we feel makes our work unique? The answer we came up with is our VALUES!

Our values are the cornerstone of our business and they inform every decision we make, from the smallest administrative task, to the way we deliver patient care. Everything is done with the intention to reflect these values.

Tim and I have a long history of contemplating life’s mysteries and big questions together. It’s part of what drew us together as a couple, and as business partners. Here we are back when we first met, gazing into the abyss and having a deep philosophical conversation about the nature of healing.

When we sat down to define our values for our business, we listed them independently, and when we compared answers found that our answers were an exact match. That made it pretty clear to us that this is the driving motivation behind everything we do. Here are our answers.

  1. INTEGRITY– We hold ourselves to the highest personal and professional standards of conduct. This means putting the needs of our patients first, and operating our business with a high degree of transparency.
  2. COMPASSION-One of the most important aspects of what we do is listening, accepting, and having compassion for everyone who enters our clinic.
  3. AUTHENTICITY-We will always be our full, authentic selves. We will show up with an open heart, and bring the entirety of our knowledge and personal experience to serve each and every patient.
  4. SUSTAINABILITY-We take great care to reduce and eliminate waste, use environmentally friendly products, and support renewable energy. We use herbal medicine companies that adhere to the highest ethical and environmental standards in their harvesting and production practices.
  5. TRUST-We work hard to cultivate a high degree of trust between each patient and their practitioner. This relationship can be a powerful therapeutic tool, and it is of the utmost importance to us that patients know that we provide safe, accepting, confidential, and non judgmental space for them.

We hope this gives you a glimpse into our inner workings, and the intentions that we bring to the care we provide. We always welcome your questions and comments, as well as requests on health topics you’d like to see us write about.