My new home

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Today I finished moving in to my cosy new room at The Urban Fringe Dispensary. I’m really looking forward to practising acupuncture in such a lovely space.

The Urban Fringe Dispensary is a medical herbalist shop at the top of Colston Street by the Christmas Steps (58 Colston St, BS1 5AZ). I will be here on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I will still be at Queen Charlotte St Osteopaths on Queen Square on Mondays.

 

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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New clinic @ the Urban Fringe Dispensary!

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I’m really excited to be moving to a new room at the Urban Fringe Dispensary on Colston Street from next week (see on map).

The Urban Fringe Dispensary is a holistic medical herbalist shop and dispensary and an integrated health clinic. Have a look at what they do here: https://urbanfringe.co.uk/

I’m excited to be working alongside such a fantastic group of therapists, and in such a lovely space. I look forward to seeing you all there in the future.

I will also be keeping my Monday clinic at Queen Charlotte St Osteopaths for anybody that finds that location more convenient

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Acupuncture Awareness Week: Acupuncture for Sports Injuries

 

7-13 March is Acupuncture Awareness Week!

The focus this year is on how acupuncture can help sports injuries. Acupuncture is a fantastic treatment for muscular-skeletal pain and injuries sustained from sport (or any other reason!). I see all kinds of injuries in clinic, they are some of the most common things I treat, and they respond really successfully to treatment.

Olympian Rebecca Addlington is a great fan of acupuncture and uses it to help with injuries and performance. watch the video above to hear her talk about how acupuncture helps her.

To find out more have a look here at my fact sheet on how acupuncture can help sports injuries:

sports injuries fact sheet

Or please get in touch to find out more about how acupuncture could help your injury

 

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

 

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Christmas Gift Vouchers – The gift of better health!

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Don’t know what to buy your loved ones for Christmas this year? Looking to give them a more meaningful gift?

You could start them on the journey to better health and wellbeing with an acupuncture gift voucher.

Gift voucher for 1 treatment: £35
Special Offer:  5 treatments for the price of 4. Just £140

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Painful periods? They don’t have to be!


Painful periods affect many women and for some they can be truly debilitating, with cramps so severe they can do nothing but curl up on the sofa in pain. For some people it is not unusual for 1-3 days a month to be a write-off, unable to work or function at all. Too often a visit to the doctor results in being told this is ‘normal’, and just given painkillers or even advised to go on the contraceptive pill to address the problem. The contraceptive pill can have many other side effects and many women have to choose between the monthly debilitating pain from their periods or the emotional and physical roller coaster they get from taking hormonal contraception.

But the simple fact is: Severe period pain is not a natural part of the menstruation process! It is not something that we should have to put up with and accept. According to traditional Chinese medicine painful periods are seen as a pathological symptom of an imbalance in the body and it is something that can be resolved.

Why do we get pain?

Primary dysmenorrhoea is period pain that occurs without an underlying medical condition. When our body is ready to shed the uterine lining (endometrium) at the end of each monthly cycle, the muscular wall of the uterus contracts to constrict the blood vessels and cut off the blood supply to the endometrium. This causes the tissue to die and the endometrium is shed. a small degree of discomfort is normal, but studies show that in some women there is hyper-contraction of the muscles causing severe pain

Secondary dysmenorrhoea is pain that occurs as a result of an underlying problem with the uterus or pelvis such as endometriosis, fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease

How does acupuncture help?

Extreme pain during a period is a sign that the natural process of shedding the endometrium isn’t working at its best. Many women also experience other symptoms such as irregular cycles, heavy or long periods, digestive problems or feeling irritable or tearful. In fact all these problems are a sign that the menstrual system isn’t functioning correctly. By finding out why this is happening and addressing the problem at its cause, it is possible to be problem free.

An acupuncturist will take a full case history to determine the root cause of the dysfunction. The treatment would be then tailored to each individual according to what needs rebalancing. It may be that other methods are used in addition to acupuncture. Sometimes heat is used in the form of Moxa. Sometimes lifestyle or dietary changes are suggested.

An acupuncturist’s aim is to allow the blood to move more freely during the menstrual process. Often those with severe pain will have many clots in their menstrual blood. This is a sign of what acupuncturists call Blood Stagnation and it is that lack of easy flow that causes many problems. Acupuncture could help whether someone experiences pain from primary or secondary dysmenorrhoea.

Acupuncture may help reduce symptoms of dysmenorrhoea by:

  • increasing relaxation and reducing tension (Samuels 2008). Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels  (Zhou 2008) and increasing endorphins (Han, 2004) and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee 2009), which can help to combat negative affective states
  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Zijlstra 2003; Kavoussi 2007)
  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz, 1987; Zijlstra 2003; Cheng 2009);
  • increasing nitric oxide levels, which relaxes smooth muscle and hence may inhibit uterine contractions (Wang 2009)
  • regulating neuroendocrine activities and the related receptor expression of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary axis (Liu 2009; Yang 2008)

The evidence

for full information on the evidence and research behind this information, and information on how acupuncture can help other menstrual conditions,  please see the British Acupuncture Council’s fact sheets for the following conditions:

Period Pain (dysmenorrhoea)

Endometriosis

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)

PCOS

 

If you have menstrual problems and would like to know more, please contact me for a chat.

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

 

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Acupuncture for IBS

Over 20% of the UK population suffers with ‘unexplained’ discomfort and irregularity in bowel habit. The term Irritable Bowel Syndrome is used to describe the experience of symptoms such as pain or discomfort in the abdomen, bloating, swelling, bouts of diarrhoea and/or constipation and feeling sick. It is a chronic, re-occurring and often debilitating condition which can cause misery for sufferers.

There is no single cause of IBS. Some people can trace their IBS back to a single event such as a bout of food poisoning or infectious illness; however in most cases the cause is unknown. Some people find their IBS is triggered by sensitivity to certain foods, others find it is exacerbated by stress or emotional states. Each person’s experience of IBS is different.

This lack of understanding of the cause means that conventional medicine finds IBS very hard to treat, instead focusing on symptom relief with antispasmodic drugs.

The inconsistency of symptoms and triggers isn’t a worry to a Chinese medicine practitioner. As an acupuncturist I don’t treat IBS, I treat the person. An acupuncturist looks at each individual’s experience of IBS to fully understand what functional disturbances there are in their system and why. By working out why and how someone’s digestive system isn’t functioning, we are able to treat the root cause and bring about relief.

This means that alongside acupuncture treatment we may make suggestions as to lifestyle changes that may be helpful in combating IBS symptoms. This could be dietary changes, or techniques such as meditation to address more emotional causes.

How acupuncture can help

Research (see below) has shown that acupuncture treatment may benefit IBS symptoms by:

  • Providing pain relief
  • Regulating the motility of the digestive tract
  • Increasing parasympathetic tone. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can stimulate colon spasms, causing pain and discomfort. In people with IBS, the colon can be oversensitive to the smallest amount of conflict or stress. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation or ‘rest and digest’ response.
  • Raising the sensory threshold of the gut. (A lowered threshold to bowel pain and distention are hallmarks of IBS)
  • Reducing anxiety and depression. Distressing IBS symptoms can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-anxiety and lead to feelings of depression. Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin and endorphins to combat these negative emotional states.

If you would like to know more about how acupuncture could help your digestive dysfunction, Please contact me for a no-obligation chat.

 

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

References

Chen J et al. Electroacupuncture improves impaired gastric motility and slow waves induced by rectal distension in dogs. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2008 Sep;295(3):G614-20.

Han JS. Acupuncture and endorphins. Neurosci Lett. 2004 May 6;361(1-3):258-61.

Ma XP et al. Effect of electro-acupuncture on substance P, its receptor and corticotropin-releasing hormone in rats with irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Nov 7;15(41):5211-7.

Lu B et al. A randomised controlled trial of acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome. Program and abstracts of the 65th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of  Gastroenterology; October 16-18, 2000, New York, NY. Poster 268, p.428

Pomeranz B. Scientific basis of acupuncture. In: Stux G, Pomeranz B, eds. Acupuncture Textbook and Atlas. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag; 1987:1-18.

Samuels N et al. Acupuncture for psychiatric illness: a literature review. Behav Med. 2008 Summer;34(2):55-64.Schneider S et al. Neuroendocrinological effects of acupuncture treatment in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Complement Ther Med. 2007b;15(4):255-63.

Tian XY et al. Electro-acupuncture attenuates stress-induced defecation in rats with chronic visceral hypersensitivity via serotonergic pathway. Brain Res. 2006 May 9;1088(1):101-8.

Tian SL et al. Repeated electro-acupuncture attenuates chronic visceral hypersensitivity and spinal cord NMDA receptor phosphorylation in a rat irritable bowel syndrome model. Life Sci. 2008 Aug 29;83(9-10):356-63

Trujillo NP. Acupuncture for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Med Acupunct 2008 Mar 20(1):47-49

Xing J et al. Transcutaneous electrical acustimulation can reduce visceral perception in patients with the irritable bowel syndrome: a pilot study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Jan-Feb;10(1):38-42.

Xu GY et al. Electroacupuncture attenuates visceral hyperalgesia and inhibits the enhanced excitability of colon specific sensory neurons in a rat model of irritable bowel syndrome. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2009 Dec;21(12):1302-e125

Yin J, Chen JD. Gastrointestinal motility disorders and acupuncture. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Apr 2.

 

for more information on this research please go to http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs.html

 

 

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Anxiety and Acupuncture

Are you Anxiety Aware. Mental Health Awareness Week 2014. 12-18 May.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (12-18 May 2014) with the theme of Anxiety, so I’d like to talk about anxiety and how acupuncture can help.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness. Normal anxiety, stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system, has its root in fear and serves an important survival function. In fact feeling anxious in response to unpleasant upcoming events such as a job interview or a medical test is perfectly normal. However, when that anxiety becomes persistent, irrational and excessive, it can begin to take over your life and is an indication that there is an imbalance in the sympathetic nervous system.

Chronic anxiety can involve uncontrollable and irrational worry about everyday things. It can be as severe as a panic attack, or it may be more of a generalized and unfocused feeling of unease. People often experience physical symptoms, such as breathlessness or a racing heart, which are usually a result of adrenaline (our fight or flight response hormone) acting on the body. The experience of anxiety is unique to each individual and people can experience very different symptoms.

How acupuncture can help

Conventional treatments for anxiety generally consist of drug therapies which, although helpful may have debilitating side effects or dependence. Acupuncture is a medication-free way to relieve anxiety with both immediate and long-lasting results.

Anxiety is one of the most common conditions that people come to me with, and I find acupuncture is a really effective treatment.  It can make a real difference to people’s lives, enabling them to feel calmer, happier and back in control. In fact it was my own experience of anxiety that first led me to try acupuncture many years ago, and the profound affect it had sparked my love of Chinese medicine.

In traditional acupuncture every patient is considered to be unique, and this means that there is no single treatment for each sufferer as each person has differing symptoms.  We aim to treat you as an individual, identifying the imbalances which cause your anxiety, not just treating the symptoms themselves. In traditional acupuncture, we see that mind and body are intrinsically linked, and therefore we treat you as a whole, mind and body.

Acupuncture treatment is enhanced when used alongside other self-help tools such as breathing techniques, exercise or mindfulness. We can develop a personalised ‘toolbox’ of techniques to help you manage your anxiety and enable you to retake control

How does it help?

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:

  • Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010).
  • Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain’s mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Samuels 2008; Zhou 2008; Yuan 2007).
  • Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system (Arranz 2007). Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response.
  • Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with anxiety (Arranz 2007)
  • Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).

For details of further research and evidence of acupuncture effectiveness see the British Acupuncture Councils factsheet on anxiety here

If you suffer with anxiety and would like to have a chat about how acupuncture could help you, please give me a call on 07834 160906, or drop me an email

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

 

References:

Arranz L et al. Effect of acupuncture treatment on the immune function impairment found in anxious women. American Journal of Chinese Medicine.  2007;35(1):35-51

Hui KK et al. Acupuncture, the limbic system, and the anticorrelated networks of the brain. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Oct 28;157(1-2):81-90.

Kim H  et al. The effects of acupuncture stimulation at PC6 (Neiguan) on chronic mild stress-induced biochemical and behavioral responses. Neuroscience Letters. 2009; 460 (1) (pp 56-60)

Lee B et al. Effects of acupuncture on chronic corticosterone-induced depression-like behavior and expression of neuropeptide Y in the rats. Neuroscience Letters 2009; 453: 151-6.

Samuels N et al. Acupuncture for psychiatric illness: a literature review.Behav Med 2008; 34: 55-64

Yuan Q. Li J.-N. Liu B. Wu Z.-F. Jin R. Effect of Jin-3-needling therapy on plasma corticosteroid, adrenocorticotropic hormone and platelet 5-HT levels in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine.2007; 13 (4):  264-268.

Zhou Q et al. The effect of electro-acupuncture on the imbalance between monoamine neurotransmitters and GABA in the CNS of rats with chronic emotional stress-induced anxiety. Int J Clin Acupunct 2008 ;17: 79-84.

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5 new acupuncture discoveries


There’s been some great new discoveries in the world of acupuncture recently. Here’s my top 5:

1.Overwhelming scientific evidence that acupuncture reduces pain.
Published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from New York and Munich conclusively proved that acupuncture reduces pain. The sham-placebo controls examined in the meta-analysis met the highest standards and put to rest the age old question, does it work? The comprehensive investigation reviewed 31 studies involving 19,827 patients. After 2,000 years of clinical success it is now official, acupuncture stops pain. Learn more in the full news article. 

This comes along with research demonstrating that acupuncture is safe and effective for relieving pain and nausea in an A&E setting. The study concluded that acupuncture combined with biomedical care improves patient outcomes. This type of study reflects a myriad of new research demonstrating the role of acupuncture in an integrative medical environment. Read about this finding in the article on acupuncture 

2. CT Scans identify acupuncture points as distinct structures
CT (computerized tomography) X-ray scans now reveal the anatomical structure of acupuncture points. This rocked the research world after being published in the Journal of the Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena. Prior to these findings, researchers were able to map electrical, heat and oxygen density patterns for acupuncture points. This most recent discovery finding, however, included the very first CT images of acupuncture point structures. To learn more, take a look at the Healthcare Medicine Institute’s acupuncture continuing education article.

3. New evidence of acupunctures effect on brain cells in depression
Acupuncture is shown to increase brain cell health associated with mental health. An examination of brain cells following acupuncture treatments uncovered important mechanisms by which acupuncture exerts its antidepressant effects.

The researchers discovered that acupuncture exhibits regulatory effects on special brain cells in the hippocampus. These cells contribute to the maintenance of the brain and spinal cord. The research team cited numerous studies demonstrating “that acupuncture is an effective remedy for depression and it may be as effective as antidepressant drugs.” They also note that electro-acupuncture increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus in the same way as SSRIs a class of antidepressant medications. To learn more, a full write-up is available online at HealthCMi.

3. research concluding that acupuncture significantly reduces hypertension.
Researchers conclude that acupuncture has a “stable antihypertensive effect.” Acupuncture point KI3, located in the ankle region, was shown to have an “antihypertensive effect for essential hypertension.” Over 1.5 billion people have high blood pressure and it is the leading cause of death amoung cardiovascular disorders. In the USA, high blood pressure is the most common chronic medical disorder associated with doctor office visits. The American Heart Association estimated that the cost of this disorder exceeded $76 billion dollars in 2010. To find out more, visit the HealthCMi page on this topic.

5. Acupuncture  improves pregnancy rates and has potent effects in reversing infertility.
The study measured acupuncture’s success in patients using IUI, IVF and for those using no biomedical interventions. All three groups showed significant improvements in pregnancy rates. Lear more in the article on acupuncture for fertility. 

To find out more about how acupuncture could help you, call me for a chat on 07834 160906, or drop me an email

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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Acupuncture and Insomnia

acupuncture for insomnia - Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol
Sleep is important, and yet so many of us struggle to get enough. It is thought that as many of 1 in 3 of us experience insomnia, a condition of unsatisfactory sleep, whether that be due to difficulty falling asleep, waking early or through the night, or shallow restless sleep. We need sleep for its restorative powers, both physically and mentally.  The body carries out many healing and maintenance processes while we sleep.  Not only can sleepless nights leave us fatigued and cognitively impaired throughout the day, but long term lack of sleep can be associated with mood disturbances, a reduced quality of life and can predispose us to illness. Sleeplessness is one of the most debilitating and demoralizing symptoms we can experience.

Acupuncture treatment

All is not lost. Acupuncture is a fantastic treatment for insomnia. Trouble sleeping is one of the most common problems that clients come to me with. Even in people who do not recognize or mention sleep as a problem, acupuncture has a tendency to produce more restful nights. This often goes unnoticed until asked about on a follow-up visit. I often hear people say: “You know, now that you mention it, I have been sleeping a lot better since I started coming for acupuncture.”

Acupuncture has an extremely calming effect on the nervous system, and over time, it can help to correct the imbalances causing insomnia without creating side effects. In fact, besides improved sleep, people often report a greater sense of well-being and an overall improvement in health.

From a Chinese medicine perspective there are a number of well established patterns which explain why the mind refuses to close down at night even though the person is physically exhausted. Insomnia doesn’t have a single specified treatment, and each person who cannot sleep does so in a way that is unique to them. Diagnosis will focus on the individual, understanding their particular experience and treating accordingly.

Often, patients come to an acupuncturist reporting insomnia because of other emotional issues they are facing. These emotions can often surface as insomnia, anxiety, or mild depression. As the stresses of modern life take their toll, our minds can no longer relax and our sleep becomes disturbed. In these cases treatment will be focussed on addressing and releasing these emotions.

See here a BBC news interview with an acupuncturist and GP explaining the benefits of acupuncture for insomnia: http://youtu.be/XqlgDQgLUgI

The evidence

In a study conducted at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, researchers found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia.

The researchers wrote that five weeks of acupuncture treatment was associated with a significant nocturnal increase in endogenous melatonin secretion and significant improvements in polysomnographic measures of sleep onset latency, arousal index, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency. Significant reductions in anxiety scores were also found. “These objective findings are consistent with clinical reports of acupuncture’s relaxant effects,” they concluded.

Other studies have confirmed that acupuncture treatment normalizes melatonin production for insomniacs.

Studies have found that acupuncture increases certain central nervous system hormones, which may explain why there is such a positive association between insomnia and acupuncture therapy in research studies.

The British Acupuncture Council has a fact sheet on insomnia with further research, click here to view.

What you can do

Alongside having acupuncture treatment there are a number of changes you can make to improve your sleep. here’s 5 top tips:

  1. Exercise: ideally every day. This positive stress will tire out your body in a good way. However make sure you exercise long before going to bed (preferably at least 3 hours) so that your nervous system has time to settle down
  2. Don’t work before bed: Excessive thinking at night can over-stimulate your mind causing insomnia. Phones and computer screens also emit ‘blue light’ which suppress sleep hormones. Stop work at least 2 hours before bed to allow your mind to relax
  3. Food & drink: Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages near your bedtime, try and avoid caffeine after lunch,  and avoid large meals for a couple of hours before bed
  4. Quiet the Mind: Wind down by reading or bathing before bedtime. Try breathing exercises, meditation, and other forms of relaxation to help your insomnia.
  5. Keep on schedule: go to bed at the same time every night. Our natural body clock means that sleep hormones will be released at the right time as long as we keep to a routine

To find out more about how acupuncture could help you have a better nights sleep, call me for a chat on 07834 160906, or drop me an email

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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The Energy of Spring: A great surge….


Its the first official day of Spring today, and in the last couple of weeks you have probably noticed the change in the energy around us.

Spring is a time for change, a shift in energy from the quiet introspection of winter. In nature seeds sprout, buds open, and the sun warms the earth. There is a sense of renewal and new life all around. In Chinese medicine, Spring is associated with ‘Wood’ energy of the Liver. After the hibernation of winter Wood energy brings an energetic time of growth and movement, a time for creativity and ideas, new plans.

Our spring energy naturally surges forwards, needing to grow and move. If this is constrained, either by continued cold weather, or even by a lack of direction in our lives, we can feel frustrated or depressed. Physically we can experience headaches and neck tension, inflexibility in our joints.

There are ways we can shift our constrained energy. If you are feeling a little pent up, get outside and move! This will allow all that stuck energy to move properly through your body. Being open to change and starting something new can allow that energy to flow. If you’re still feeling stuck, acupuncture can help, relieving the tension, giving you vision and inspiration and allowing you to be open to change.

Eleanor Breen Acupuncture, Bristol

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