Steve Coster Acupuncture for hay fever

Love Summer, not Hayfever!

The hayfever season is fast approaching.  I have a special interest in hayfever;  I’ve always suffered with it: as a child,  through my teens, even as an adult.   And I even wrote my dissertation it.  But I don’t love it, I hate it!

So if you would like to give Acupuncture a try, now is the time, or as soon as possible before the sneezing season starts.  Clinical experience has shown that for best results treatment should start before your symptoms start.  It’s better to build your defences up early, before the true onslaught begins

Steve Coster Acupuncture for hay fever

What is hayfever?

Hayfever is basically an autoimmune disease.  It is an immunoglobulin E – mediated disease; that is, allergen-specific IgE is synthesized in response to allergens in the environment, become fixed on the membranes of mast cells and basophils.  This causes a classic inflammatory response: sneezing, nasal itching, nasal blockage and watery secretions.  Other symptoms can include general tiredness, fever, sore eyes, cough, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Some interesting facts about sneezing!  (Bless you)

You can’t sneeze when you are sleeping.
Looking at the sun can make you sneeze (it’s called the photic sneeze reflex).
Your eyes close automatically when you sneeze.
The spray from a sneeze can travel 5 feet or more.
Donna Griffiths of Worcestershire, England, sneezed continuously for 978 days!

Why don’t we all get hayfever?

In Chinese Medicine we believe that hayfever symptoms are due to a weak constitution caused by the weather/environment, diet, overwork and stress, which can lead to a ‘Wind Invasion’.  This is exactly the same process as catching a cold.

It has also been suggested that we are constitutionally weakened as babies, due to overfeeding or being fed hard to digest foods.  This can lead to a lifetime of allergies.  On the other hand, some children will grow out of their allergies as they mature and become constitutionally stronger.  My hayfever isn’t as strong as it was when I was in school, but it can still be pretty miserable in the summer.

Acupuncture can help relieve hayfever symptoms

Current Western treatment includes antihistamines and corticosteroids (both of which help with symptoms of local inflammation) but both have side-effects, from drowsiness to anaphylactic shock.

However, recent studies suggest that acupuncture treatment is able to modulate immunosuppressed or immune-activated conditions through various immune functions, including the activities of macrophages, neutrophils, NK cells and lymphocytes, immunoglobulin production, and complement systems.

That is, acupuncture has been shown it is able to lower Immunoglobulin-E levels and thus reduce inflammation; exactly what antihistamines do what without the side-effects!

Does Acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture does not hurt. Some people feel the needles as they go in, and some people feel nothing.  Acupuncture needles are solid needles, not hollow like hypodermic needles, and they are much, much thinner – about the diameter of a thick human hair.

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture and hayfever.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  

Steve

Liver as Warrior Steve Coster Acupuncture

Spring is here: Awaken your inner Warrior!

I think now the Spring Equinox has passed we can safely say Spring is here.  Get your shorts ready but don’t put them on yet.  And remember to protect yourself against the Wind, it’s still pretty chilly out there!

The Liver’s Role:  East & West

So this week I want to talk a little more about the Liver, its role in fighting infection and autoimmune disease.

The Liver has one main similarity in both Chinese and Western medicine, it stores blood.  However, in Chinese Medicine (CM) it is also responsible for ensuring the smooth flowing of Qi, which influences every other part of the body as well as our emotions (see my anger blog). In CM storing of the blood has three functions:

  1. It regulates blood volume 
  2. It regulates menstruation 
  3. It moistens the eyes and sinews

In Western Medicine (WM) the liver‘s job of storing the blood is more accurately filtering the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. In this way the liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines.  It also controls and makes the proteins, fats, cholesterol and clotting agents.

So whichever way you look at it, the Liver is pretty important.

The Warrior within us all

There is another similarity between the East and West concepts of the Liver that I would like to focus on, and that is it’s role in the body’s ability to fight infection.  

In Chinese Medicine the Liver is said to be the General, the minister responsible for defending the nation’s borders.  To help explain this, let me first tell you a little about how the ancient Chinese viewed the body.  The Chinese saw the body as a reflection of the world around them and our organs represented the ministers required to manage an empire.   The channels and bodily processes are the empire in action – agriculture and grain storage, irrigation and waste management, and an army.   In this system the Heart represents the role of Emperor, the sovereign of all organs.  It is responsible for intelligence, wisdom, and spiritual transformation. The Liver, however, is the General, smart and courageous, and responsible for defending the borders of the Empire and making plans to do so.  In other words, fighting infection.

Protecting the boundaries

In Western Medicine the liver is the primary organ for breaking histamine down, that’s why  antihistamines are used to help treat the symptoms of liver failure.  In this way it is the Liver that is responsible for mobilising the troops against foreign invaders, such as bugs and parasites.  And if you have ever had hay fever, you know that histamines can make you feel very irritable.

This role of the Liver fighting off infectious agents that attack the body suggests the image of a warrior, whose job it is to defend the boundaries of the empire.  Without an adequate plan, the immune system would be ineffective, unable to resist potential invaders.  This is quite commonly the explanation when a person suffers from recurrent infections.  

Autoimmune disease

On the other hand, when the primary symptom is allergies (or hay fever as mentioned above), the immune system is essentially attacking the wrong enemy, generating antibodies against pollens, which are harmless.  Then it is as if the Liver is an overly zealous military leader, going to war too vigorously with no leniency.  In the case of autoimmune disease, the immune system can be seen to be a hyper-vigilant warrior who actually turns against his own side, creating an inflammatory reaction within the body’s tissues. 

What can you do? 

Well, as you would have gathered from my blogs so far, good health is a balancing act.  When it comes to the Liver, it’s important of course what goes through it:  too much alcohol, fatty food and medicines will all have a detrimental effect on the Liver over time….or not, of course, because we are all different.  We all feel and express anger in different ways.  Some of us exercise, others do not.

balancing act Steve Coster acupuncture Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

Chinese philosophy advocates a balanced life, but a life that is lived.  Eat well (and drink), but in moderation.  Exercise is important, but you don’t need to run a marathon.  In Qi Gong there are various exercises and posture that are practiced to cleanse and nourish the Liver.  And an Acupuncture session every now and then will ensure your Liver Qi flows smoothly.

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture or any of the issues discussed above.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  

Steve

Anger blog Steve Coster Acupuncture

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!

Over the weekend the strong winds of storm Gareth toppled a relatively young tree in my garden.  But youth didn’t do it any good; on closer inspection the trunk was rotten, so one big gust and it was a goner.  Unfortunately I was too late to help the tree, but I have been able to help many people in the Acupuncture clinic presenting with anger related issues.

The Wood, the Wind and Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine the Wind is the climatic condition associated with the Spring.  It whips everything up and clears away the stagnation from the Winter months, making way for the fresh and new.  

Similarly, Wood is the element of Spring.  So remember what I touched on last week?  A healthy wood needs to be supple and flexible, able to bend and yield to the Wind.  Just like the tree in my garden, if we lack flexibility we are more likely to snap under pressure.  That is what anger can do; it can make us rigid and irrational and unable to see clearly.  

Anger is not a bad emotion

Anger can be a powerful, positive force, but only if it is expressed appropriately and in the right direction.  It can be insidious and all consuming, and often it is so prevalent we don’t even realise we are angry!  The pressures of modern living certainly give us all plenty of reason to be angry.  But prolonged anger, just like all unfettered emotions, will eventually have a negative effect on our health.  In Chinese Medicine it is the Liver that is particularly associated with Anger, but given time it won’t be long before all the body’s organs are affected.

The Dalai Lama explains it very well:

I think that anger and hatred actually cause more harm to us than to the person responsible for our problem.  Imagine that your neighbour hates you and is always creating problems for you.  If you lose your temper and develop hatred toward him, your digestion is harmed, your sound sleep goes, and you have to start to use tranquillisers and sleeping pills.  You then have to increase the dosages of these, which harms your body.  Your mood is affected; as a result, your old friends hesitate to visit you.  You gradually get more white hair and winkles, and you may eventually develop more serious health problems.  Then your neighbour is really happy.  

So what can help with Anger?

Anger will affect the free-flow of Qi in the body.  It will first affect the Mind:  before you know it you are getting angry in the car, angry queuing up in the supermarket, or yelling at the TV!  And then, over time it will start to affect the body: if the free flow of Qi is impaired then the result can be stiff neck, headache or migraine, insomnia, constipation, or any number of autoimmune diseases.  

Anger needs to be expressed, but as you know from my earlier post ‘Is Spring finally here?‘, not all expressions of anger are appropriate.   So what is an appropriate expression of anger?  Well sport and exercise can be good outlets, but simply hitting a punch bag or pounding the pavement will only take you so far.  It may feel good at the time but it won’t deal with the cause.

Qi Gong and Tai Chi to direct the flow of Qi

The Dalai Lama  goes on to say that all the things that stirred up your anger can go away with a peaceful mind.  Well, Mind in Chinese Medicine is just another expression of Qi, so directing the Mind through meditation (which includes Qi Gong and Tai Chi) can help the Qi flow more smoothly.  Martial Arts such as Wing Chun can also help.  But when dealing with the long term effects of anger, such as migraine, you may need the help of Acupuncture and Tui na.  

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture or any of the issues discussed above.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  

Steve

Treating PCOS with Steve Coster Acupuncture Southend

Acupuncture can help when the Doctors can’t

Tried every option?

Sometimes it can feel like you have tried everything to get back to full health.   You have gone down all the usual routes – seen the GP, seen the specialist, taken the drugs.  But at the end of the day it can feel like the Doctors have washed their hands of you.   Acupuncture can be a real help when you think there is nowhere left to turn.

So when I received this fantastic testimonial, it made me think of all the people out there who are thinking there is nothing more that can be done!

Because of the holistic nature of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, there isn’t a one-treatment-fits-all method.  Everyone is treated as an individual and therefore each individual has a treatment tailor-made for them.  Two people may be suffering with PCOS, for instance, but the road that lead them there will be very different.

So, thank you to Emily for this testimonial:

“I was diagnosed with PCOS back in 2017 and since doctors said there was nothing I could do about it I turned to acupuncture to see if I could get my body back into balance naturally. I tried two acupuncturists before I moved to Southend and then found Steve. In my first session Steve confidently said he’d get me a period back within three months. As I hadn’t had a period for nine months I thought that sounded ambitious… Low and behold, in just three weeks I had a natural period! I couldn’t recommend Steve highly enough. Sessions with him are always relaxing and informative, he knows how to make you feel at ease and give you hope that the body does know how to heal. Thank you!”

Please do contact me if you have any questions about Acupuncture or PCOS.  Or you can find out more about any of the topics in my blogs here, about me, or my treatments  

Steve