Conquering Anxiety the Natural Way!

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac. on

    Whole Body Healing treating anxiety naturally.      If you suffer from anxiety, then you know the feeling of dread, worry and the sensation in your chest and stomach, all too well. For me anxiety “attacks” can happen almost anywhere and at any moment whether I am in a stressful situation or just sitting watching TV. Sometimes it’s triggered by an action or thought I have, other times it seems completely random. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives,  but for some of  us, it becomes part of our daily lives. I don’t believe in taking antidepressants for anxiety because for me, I’m not depressed when I’m anxious ( I do realize that antidepressants are helpful for some people and I fully support that). I tried all different antidepressants and nothing came close to helping my anxiety. The only pill I ever took that “masked” my anxiety was Xanax; however it also masks all your emotions. When I entered into the alternative health care field, I made it my mission to conquer my anxiety naturally. That was quite a few years ago and I still occasionally get anxious but with some self discipline it is completely manageable.

     It starts with BALANCE!! Yes I said it. A “hippie” term that is thrown around every alternative medicine practitioner’s office. Creating  balance in your life takes effort and time, something which not many Americans are willing to do. Balance needs to be carried out in every aspect of your life, from the food you eat, to the job you do, to your own inner thoughts and pressures. I think the first and easiest things to address are lifestyle changes. For some this is a huge task, but it can be controlled so here is where I like to start. One very important etiology for anxiety in Chinese medicine is not having enough blood or “yin” in the body to nourish the “shen” or spirit. I myself see this as a cause of anxiety often. Our body makes blood from the foods we eat. Our whole system is run by the foods we put into our body on a daily basis. It is very important to eat a proper diet with clean, nutritious foods and plenty of water. Once you get your diet in order then you can move on to the next step, movement aka exercise. I don’t like using the word exercise for many reasons. One reason being that immediately you think gym or running on a treadmill. I mean taking a walk or doing something you love like dancing on a regular basis. I encourage you to try new things (while at first are scary and anxiety causing) can be very rewarding and bring a new dimension into your life. I recommend some form of exercise 3-4 times a week for about an hour each time. Exercise releases endorphins aka feel good chemicals in the brain. Also I feel exercise moves any excessive or stagnate qi or energy in the body. So get moving! Next it’s time to take a deeper look at where this anxiety comes from. Is it excessive guilt you feel or pressure? Where and who does this guilt or pressure come from? If the answer is you, which it most likely is, then ask yourself why? This is the hardest part because you need to look deeper within yourself and find those answers. I recommend doing short meditations on a daily basis. This can be as simple as taking 5 minutes before you go to bed. Close your eyes and just focus on your breathe, inhale, exhale. Another great idea to keep in mind whether you are currently experiencing anxiety or not is to remain in the present moment. Ask yourself “right now at this very moment, what is going on?” Often times when you do this during an anxiety attack you realize that nothing is going on. That you are worrying about the future or not letting go of the past, that is why you have to focus on the now. You can NOT change the past and you can’t control the future. Have faith that everything will work out if you stay calm. Plus what does getting anxious accomplish?
     There are also Chinese herbal formulas that can help to balance “qi” or energy, benefit your digestion and build blood. I also find that a small course of acupuncture treatments can stop anxiety and often allows you to feel well enough to implement the lifestyle changes mentioned above. 

If you have other questions or comments, please feel free to contact me! 

To Health, Healing and Happiness. 

Are you suffering from depression?

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac. on

Western Massachusetts Acupuncture BlogAfter hearing about the death of Robin Williams, an amazing actor and comedian, I started thinking about depression. Like many people I have had bouts of depression and anxiety. I know firsthand how hard that cycle can be to get out of. I am not a clinical psychologist but do work with many people who suffer from depression using acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I also use affirmations and other self-healing techniques that I have learn throughout my practice. The key to healing  all diseases is treating a persons mind, body and spirit.

The first thing I look at when treating depression and anxiety is your overall health. Are you eating healthy foods that are providing the nutrients your body needs. There are mineral deficiencies that can contribute to anxiety as well as depression. Every person is different but sometimes a good calcium/ magnesium powder is required. This helps to relax you and can help with sleep. There are numerous supplements that you can take depending on what is going on. There are also Chinese herbal formulas that are designed specifically for depression and anxiety.

Next are you getting a proper amount of exercise? This is different for everyone. If you don’t exercise regularly just taking a light short walk 3 times a week is a good starting point. You can also just put on some slow quiet music and stretch for 15 minutes. If strong cardio with fast beat music is what works for you then great use that. Movement of some sort is required for everyone. Our bodies crave movement and aren’t meant to be sedentary for long periods of time.

Lastly self-love or at least self-respect. This is the most important factor when working with depression. Like Robin Williams who everyone saw to be amazing, if you do not see yourself as amazing then you will never be happy. It does not matter how great everyone else thinks you are if you do not see it. How can you change this? A very basic technique that I suggest is affirmations. Once a day (first thing in the morning or before you go to bed is usually the easiest to remember), say to yourself;

"I am healthy"
"I am happy"
"I am loved"
"I love myself."

At first this is going to be hard and sound silly. You can say them quietly to yourself or better yet out loud to yourself in the mirror. Repeat this mantra 3 times. I don’t care if you do not believe them, say them every day for at least a week. You can make up your own that feels right to you, “I am a hard worker”, “I am a loving person”, “I am a successful business woman”, whatever resonates with you. 

These are only 3 very basic techniques that I use at my office. There are many more Chinese herbal remedies, acupuncture points and other healing modalities that can be used. Please if you are suffering from depression and feel like you can’t go on, seek help from a professional. Please call your doctor or someone you trust and speak to them about how you are feeling. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

 To Health, Healing and Happiness! 

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Stop Putting a Band Aid on it!

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac. on

Western Massachusetts Acupuncture Blog

Do you take Advil or Tylenol more than once a week?
Are you popping tums or taking a laxative more than once a week?
Do you take medication for blood pressure and or type II diabetes?

Taking medication can often be like just putting a band aid over the problem. A good example of this is when someone gets a headache and they take a Tylenol. Is that Tylenol actually fixing what was wrong or “out of balance” within our bodies? What caused the headache in the first place? Possible causes could be hunger, dehydration, neck and shoulder tension, not enough sleep, and or anxiety/stress. Taking that Tylenol alone does not fix any of those causes. I’m not saying medication is not  necessary or that you shouldn't take it. What I am saying is fix the cause and hopefully you will be able to decrease or stop the medication all together (with the supervision of your physician). What I commonly see is we want easy quick fixes and if taking a pill helps, we stop there. Over time if you keep masking the causes and not treating the root of the problem they will develop into something harder or more serious to treat.

That’s why I love acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, a healthy diet, nutritional supplements and exercise. These are natural safe ways to treat the root of the problem. These modalities allow your body to be healthy and strong enough to fix imbalances which can prevent and treat disease. The best form of medicine is preventative. In China people don’t just use acupuncture when they are sick but get treatments regularly to prevent issues from even occurring. Remember our bodies are extremely intelligent and they let us know when something is off. Listen to your body and the clues it gives you, stop putting a band aid on it! 

If you have questions on this topic or would like some more information about Whole Body Healing, please feel free to contact me.

To Health, Healing and Happiness.

 

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Using Acupuncture to Treat Low Back Pain

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac. on

 Acupuncture for Back Pain

      Do you suffer from back pain? Well you are not alone! According to the NIH almost every person will suffer from back pain at some point in their life. This can range from a slight twinge that goes on for a couple days to chronic everyday pain.
    At Whole Body Healing, low back pain is the most common complaint that I treat patients for. For some people it’s just they slept wrong or lifted too much, other people have had multiple spinal fusions and surgeries and still no relief. I can say with confidence that in both cases 99% of patients will get some sort of relief from acupuncture. Some people feel results immediately and other people it can take a few sessions to notice a change. Acupuncture has an accumulative effect and each session builds on the next. The first session the pain relief may only last a few hours to a few days, the next session hopefully longer and so on. At my office I utilize both acupuncture and massage together. I often joke that my “perfume” is Tiger Balm because I use it so much when giving massages. (Tiger Balm is a topical liniment used for sore muscles.)

    Using Acupuncture for low back pain will help decrease the amount of medication you need to take in a safe natural way.

“I have been a patient for 4 months and love it, since beginning I haven't touched an Advil once. The whole experience was well worth it and my doctor was very patient and forthcoming.”

“Always a pleasure getting treatment at Whole Body Healing. I had a wonderful acupuncture session with one of the best and most focused massages afterwards. As I was getting dressed I realized that I had a massive increase in my range on motion. I will absolutely be going back again soon!”

If you suffer from low back pain or any painful condition, please feel free to contact me.

To Health, Healing and Happiness! 

 

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A needle on top of my head?

 Du20 Northampton Acupuncture

If you have received an acupuncture treatment from me, than most likely you have had a point on top of your head needled. Most people find this odd or even a little funny. It is one of my favorite points to use and it’s great for so many things. I practically use it with all my patients. The points “name” in Chinese medicine is DU 20 or Baihui. Baihui means “one hundred meetings,” and is known to treat one hundred diseases. This point is located approximately at the vertex of the skull along the midline. If you palpate it on yourself you might feel a slight depression and it could even feel like a bruise.

The most common uses for the point in my office are;
Dizziness
High Blood pressure
Trouble sleeping
Anxiety
Headaches
Trouble concentrating
Low energy (fatigue)
Memory issues
Threatened miscarriage
Prolapse of the uterus or rectum
Menstrual issues (excessive bleeding or amenorrhea)

These are just a few conditions that DU20 can be used for but you can see why I needle it so often. So next time you tell someone you had a needle in your head, you can explain to them why.

Hope to see you soon!
To Health, Healing and Happiness!

And what now?

Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac.

After reading my last post, I realized I did not talk about what I am doing now. Well six months ago I re-opened Whole Body Healing in Northampton, Massachusetts. I joined an already existing wellness office with a naturopath and psychologist. Working with other health practitioners is important as it allows for a much more comprehensive treatment if necessary. In my practice I mainly use acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas and massage. I do not use massage alone but in combination with acupuncture and or “cupping”. Acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat many different kinds of ailments but in my office I mainly see patients for women’s health issues, pain and or stress management.

In my last practice I worked with hundreds of women with fertility issues. I helped couples to conceive both naturally or assisted with IUI or IVF. Acupuncture can help increase IVF success by 70%. That is a huge considering how expensive an IVF procedure and the medications can be. Acupuncture during this time is important as it can be both emotionally and physically demanding. You want your body to be as healthy as possible. In treating women’s health I also work with menstrual irregularities and perimenopausal symptoms.

Pain management is what most people think of when they think of using acupuncture. There are thousands of studies that show acupuncture to be effective in treating low back pain, knee and shoulder injuries. It can also help with chronic headaches or migraines. It is great that you can get a reduction in pain without the use of pain medication. It has also been found to make the pain medications work more effectively so you can decrease the dose and frequency of its use. I don’t need to tell you how addictive pain killers can be and how big of a problem this has become. I feel good knowing I can help patients reduce their pain in a safe and natural way. Feeling relaxed and maybe taking a nap on the table are the main “side effects”. I personally have given thousands of acupuncture treatments for pain. I have seen people be able to put off surgeries, reduce pain meds and even completely heal after years of suffering in pain.

Lastly and the most important thing I treat is stress, anxiety and depression. There is nothing better than seeing people be able to find joy in their life again. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can’t make the stress in your life go away but it can calm you enough to move you in the right direction. There are always going to be “stressful” things in your life, it’s just how you perceive and manage them. Research has shown how acupuncture can be just as effective as some medications at regulating serotonin levels, without the negative side effects. For me seeing the shift in people from before the treatment to after the treatment is why I love what I do. People come in grumpy or anxious and leave relaxed with a smile.

So what am I doing now? Hopefully making people healthy and happy!
To Health, Healing and Happiness.

Who am I?

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac. on

Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac., Acupuncture for infertility and stress management in Northampton, Massachusetts., Northampton, Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts, Hampshire county, New EnglandHello! In case you do not already know me, my name is Elizabeth Girard. I am a licensed acupuncturist, wife and mom to my beautiful daughter Adie. I love my profession and am very passionate about health in general. I always knew that I was going to be in the health field but never really expected to be an acupuncturist. I grew up in a small town and never even heard of acupuncture and Chinese medicine until I went away to college. Like many others in my field, I came to this medicine because of my own health issues. I saw how western medicine was very limited in treating my condition and had become frustrated. After ending up in the hospital for a short stay, I sought out alternatives and stumbled onto Chinese medicine. You can read more details of this on my website under “My Story”.

I have my masters in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine and was lucky enough to attend one of the best school in the country. The school allowed for many fantastic and life changing opportunities. I volunteered in a hospice for over a year providing end of life care to terminally ill patients and their families. I have worked in free clinics for the homeless as well as private practices. Most recently I owned and operated, for 5 years, Whole Body Healing, in South Burlington Vermont. I provided in and out patient acupuncture treatments. I was even asked into large corporations to provide acupuncture in house to help decrease stress and work with smoking cessation. I have given lectures several times to UVM medical students and Fletcher Allen’s free community outreach programs.

When I am not at my office or being a mom and wife, I am always reading new research and continue to learn new things. I hope that my blog will provide some good information about health and inspire others to make necessary changes to their life. To health, healing and happiness!