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Below is the transcript from this podcast.

The medical information on this podcast is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment.

Please consult with your health care provider, or contact Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs, before making any healthcare decisions or purchases.

Hello, and welcome to Changing Health Acupuncture Radio where we talk about living healthy in today’s world. I am honored that you are giving your time today to learn more about your health, and I hope that I can provide some answers for you. My name is Erik Jackson, I am a licensed acupuncturist in Texas, and I look forward to presenting you with some information over the next thirty minutes or so.

Before we get into the meat of this talk, I’d like to give you some information about myself. I am the acupuncturist at Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs in Denton, TX, which is just north of Dallas for those of you not familiar with the area. I focus on working with people who suffer from pain, fatigue, and mental stress issues. I have been licensed since 2011 and have been working in Denton for the past year. I grew up in Dallas and received my training in acupuncture at the Texas Health and Science University, or THSU, in Austin, which was called the Texas College of Traditional Chinese Medicine while I was attending—the school changed its name after I graduated.

As this is the first podcast, I would like to spend some time addressing some questions and clearing up some misconceptions people might have about acupuncture. The first question people seem to have is: what can an acupuncturist do? Many people think that acupuncturists just stick needles into someone to help with pain and that’s it. And that acupuncture works by this strange thing called “qi” which sounds like the Force in Star Wars. Well, acupuncture does work on pain and there are several explanations of qi that are rather wild, but there is more to it than that.

To answer the question of “What does acupuncture do?” I need to explain a bit on how acupuncturist are trained. Many acupuncturists do not practice just acupuncture. The requirements for becoming an acupuncturist in the U.S. are rigorous. In terms of raw hours, the training of an acupuncturist is comparable to the training of a chiropractor. While there is some variability from state to state, in general an acupuncturist trained in the U.S. will have a Master’s degree, and the majority of acupuncturists practice Oriental Medicine. This means that they will be knowledgeable in acupuncture, know some body work techniques, have some modern medical education so they can speak to other healthcare providers and the public, and herbal supplement training. The supplement training was at least a quarter of my education and it covers everything from the common cold to heart issues. While there are tea and raw forms of the herbs, most acupuncturists prescribe them as pills, which are easy to digest and rarely have side effects. Furthermore, acupuncturists will be trained in the use of nutritional supplements beyond simply Chinese herbs, so they will be able to make recommendations for supplements you would find in a health food store.

Because of this, acupuncturists can be quite versatile in what they treat, with many working to help others who have issues beyond just pain. As I stated earlier, beyond just pain, which can be anything from a headache to sciatica or arthritis—I work with fatigue and mental stress issues. There are many acupuncturists who focus on treating addictions, women’s health, and cosmetic issues; and there are many generalists as well. As far as treatment methods beyond just acupuncture, in my clinic I make use of electrical stimulation to help with nerve pain, and cupping—which helps sore muscles.

Like all other healthcare providers, acupuncturists must take medical boards to be licensed, and need to keep up their certification and education on a yearly basis. At the time I attended THSU, students were required to complete 870 clinical hours and see a minimum of 350 patients. These are typical requirements for an Oriental Medical program in the U.S.

So, moving on, acupuncturists do have a different take on how the body works. Much like osteopaths, acupuncturists view the body holistically. While a holistic practitioner can treat you simply for a symptom—such as an upset stomach—they are much more curious as to why you may have an upset stomach in the first place, and what we can do together to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This approach to health is particularly appropriate for chronic cases as well as preventative work as a holistic practitioner aims to strengthen the whole body and person, instead of address a singular symptom. As such we work with you to achieve your health goals so you can move on with your life.

More specifically, acupuncturists are taught to work with the body through meridians. Meridians are often described as lines of energy running up and down the body. The way I see meridians, however, is that they are an unrefined view of the many nerves, lymph nodes, and blood vessels in the body. This is a view I came to after a study of the medical history of the Chinese who developed their anatomical model of the human body by studying cadavers. While their studies were quite advanced for that time, there were some things they missed—most notably they view the spleen and pancreas in an unusual way. Many acupuncture points are near nerves, blood vessels, lymphatic points, or joining points of muscles, which is why I view the meridians the way I do. Chris Kresser, another acupuncturist, wrote a wonderful series of articles called “Chinese Medicine Demystified,” and I highly recommend them for anyone out there who would like more information on this topic. He goes over the work of Donald Kendall, who wrote the Dao of Chinese Medicine, which is a quite informative piece on how one can integrate both Oriental and Modern medical approaches.

So, now that I have explained some of the thought that went into the Oriental view of the body I want like to talk about qi specifically. As I stated before, many people view qi as either energy or electricity. The Chinese translate qi many different ways and there are many types of qi, so the definition certainly gets confusing. However, when it comes to qi, in regards to the body, the answer is fairly simple. Qi is seen as the force that allows the body to live and move, and in particular it helps the blood to flow. What this means is that, essentially, qi is oxygen. This becomes even clearer when you see that some people practice Chinese exercises called Qigong, broadly translated as “breathing exercises.” So, when an acupuncturist is moving qi through the body they are really trying to help oxygen within your blood move to the areas that most need it.

Now that we have covered all of the background information, I would like to talk about something that is affecting many people right now. As I said earlier, one of the things I focus on helping people to overcome is fatigue. People feel tired, unmotivated, and just don’t have the energy to live their life. Fatigue is often a symptom of another issue such as chronic pain or inflammation which can be tied to a dysfunction in one of several body systems, such as circulation, respiratory, gastrointestinal, or endocrine. When I say I focus on fatigue, what I mean to say is that I help people to improve issues within their body systems which are leading to fatigue. I am going to focus on the endocrine aspects today as these often underpin digestion aspects as well.

The endocrine system is made up of the thyroid, adrenals, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive glands, among other structures. These glands work roughly like a house of cards, each one balancing and supporting other glands in response to normal stimuli as you go through life. Balance is different for each person, and does not mean that the levels are going to be equal. Balance is fluid, so things change from time to time to keep your body healthy. However, much like a house of cards, if one gland is over-stressed it will effect other glands and throw the whole body off.
We live in a high stress society, and, it being an election year and tax season, everyone is even more on edge, so practically everyone is under some degree of low grade stress. That is O.K., we are meant to be able to cope with some degree of stress, but if there is never any relief then we will suffer. Like a car that has run out of gas, chronic stress will tax the adrenals to the point of failure. The adrenals produce cortisol in response to stress and if that cortisol production is never turned off then people will have difficulties with sleep, weight gain, immune function, and poor circulation.

Now, that is bad enough all on its own, but remember the house of cards. Now that the adrenal card is removed, the thyroid is likely the next to go. This is because there are some adrenal hormones that help the conversion of thyroid hormones. The adrenals can only do so much and so the thyroid becomes neglected. Now a thyroid issue—which, joy of joys, will mimic some of the adrenal issues—has developed and cannot be adequately addressed without fixing the adrenal issue. So, you have just compounded the issue.

Now, say on top of the stress, say someone also has not been eating well. This will impact the liver and gastrointestinal tract. Your immune system is primarily located in your gut and is heavily influenced by what you eat. The poorer the diet, the poorer the immune system and the more inflammation your body has, and down goes the entire house of cards.

So, someone is now overweight, fatigued, eating poorly, and feeling terrible. What can be done? Before I even get in to working on their physical symptoms, I want to know a bit about their life. Chances are you haven’t gotten into this state because you have no stress. I cannot make your boss nicer, or stop your family from driving you crazy, but I can point you in the right direction to make your stress more manageable. I can help you sleep better, and that should help the fatigue. I can give you herbal and supplement suggestions to recalibrate your body, and I can point you in the direction of some great recipes that: taste good; are healthy; and, generally, will not cause reactions. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. If you want to be healthy, you can be.

Helping you feel better starts by understanding where you are in life and what you can control. Sleeping in total darkness will help the quality of your sleep, as will turning off the TV or computer 30 minutes to half an hour before you want to sleep. There are some mental coping strategies that will help you to manage stress. And you can also eat tasty, healthy food—in appropriate amounts—to start helping your body to heal.

If you were to come in to my clinic and ask me what I can do to get you energized, I would be looking at how your digestive system is functioning, and how well your kidneys and liver are working. After I had some idea of that—once you answered some questions—I’d move on to appropriate dietary and supplement advice, and see what we can do with acupuncture to treat you as a whole and reduce the symptoms. At the time of this podcast, I have two products in particular in my online store which you can purchase to address fatigue issues, and you can also call me to ask for more specific advice.

So, before I go, I’d like to give you a recipe. I have really been putting effort into improving my cooking for about the past two years and I just figured out how to make lasagna. So I was wanting to cook this for my dad. Problem was: he is both gluten and corn intolerant. Trying to find lasagna noodles without corn or gluten is a losing proposition, but I remembered that some people make their spaghetti noodles out of zucchini, and I had actually done this myself a few times. The thing is, what makes any pasta, is more the sauce than it is the noodles; the noodles are just the canvas for your creation. So I peeled and sliced up some zucchini, made my lasagna noodles out of that, and it worked wonderfully. Probably would cut them a bit thicker and boil them a bit if I were to do it again, but it worked fine with just that one ingredient substitution. And you can do this too, you can make good food that is healthy.

So, as we are at the the end of our talk today, I’d like to cover a few important details. Firstly, this is a national broadcast but I do have an clinic in Denton, Texas, which is located at 524 N. Locust St.—right next to the post office and a restaurant, called The Greenhouse. As I stated earlier I am available for phone consultations, and patient visits, both which you can schedule through my website, and “chelements” is all one word. You can also call me to schedule at 940-441-5404 [repeated]. My website has a number of previous articles that I have written, including a fairly technical review that I wrote on one of the works of Dr. Ritche Shoemaker, who has worked with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, which relates to fatigue. I would love to hear from you with suggestions or questions through my website or my Facebook page, Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs, or Twitter, @changingelement.

I am planning another broadcast in two weeks, probably aim for the 20th or so, and I look forward to speaking with all of you then. For those of you in the Dallas area who would like to meet me in person, I will be at the Denton Community Market regularly starting in April; and, also starting next month, I will be doing a one hour Qigong workshop at 2 PM the first Saturday of every month at Fred Moore Park in Denton. So, that will be April 2nd, at 2 PM when that happens. Hope you have a great day and, ’til next time, I am Erik Jackson. This is Changing Health Acupuncture Radio from Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs in Denton, Texas.

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