Kicking Runner's Knee

Got knee pain?  Do you run, or do a sport that puts a lot of pressure on your knees, like bicycling, skiing, basketball, etc?  Then you likely have Runner’s Knee.  Also called, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, it’s the most common diagnosis of knee pain that people get when they go to the doctor.  It’s actually a broad umbrella term used to describe a few different problems that could be going on with your knee. 

Those include 1. chondromalacia patella, which is a condition in which the cartilage on the underside of your knee cap is deteriorating, 2. Iliotibial band syndrome, which is when your IT band becomes tight or inflamed and rubs along the bones on the outside of your knee, 3. patellafemoral malalignment, which means that your patella, the knee cap, is not aligned in the groove of the femur, your thigh bone.  Often these issues occur at the same time and for the same reasons, which is why they are lumped together in the same term. 

In Pasadena, we have a lot of runners!  So we see this syndrome quite often.  And from what we’ve seen from our patients we know that runners are some of the most dedicated athletes out there.  You want as little down time as you can have before getting back to running. 

So if you have this syndrome, what is the best way to get back to running?  First it’s always good to know how this problem developed so that you can prevent it from happening again.

For most people, muscle imbalances compounded with the repetitive motion of running cause this knee pain.  Weak or tight hamstrings, weak gluteus medius, and other hip abductors, and weak inner quad muscle, the vastus medialis, are usually the culprit.  These stabilizing muscles need to be strong to keep the knee cap in the right place. 

Running on graded roads, or running downhill also put a lot of pressure on the IT band leading to runner’s knee.  And running on harder surfaces, like concrete, and running with worn shoes can increase shock damage and inflammation on your knees. So be good to your knees!  Run on softer surfaces, inspect your shoes often for wear, and be aware of running on uneven surfaces. 

Come visit us at Blue Jean Acupuncture and we can show you stretches and exercises to balance your muscles.  These home exercises combined with acupuncture treat Runner’s knee beautifully.  Acupuncture calms down inflammation and pushes blood flow to nourish and heal the tendons in and around your knees.  We’ve had great results treating Runner’s knee over the years.  So if you want to get back to running give us a call and we can help you get your knees back in running condition! 

Top 9 Tips for Healthy Flying

Vacation season is officially here.  If you’re flying out to the destination of your dreams you will absolutely want to make sure you arrive feeling your best!  Read ahead for Blue Jean Acupuncture’s top 9 tips for healthy and happy air travel.

1.      Give your vacation a head start, by making sure you’re eating as healthy as possible at least a week before flying.  That means eating whole real foods, non processed, low sugar, and low grease.  This will give your body an energy, and immunity boost!

2.      Drink water before and during your flight.  Keeping your nasal passages, and lungs hydrated helps create a barrier for germs, helping to keep you from getting sick.  Also keeping hydrated reduces jet lag.

3.      Take a teaspoon of elderberry syrup before getting on your flight.  Elderberry syrup powerfully protects your body against viruses.  So keep a bottle at home, and put taking a teaspoon on your pre-flight check list!

4.      Don’t have that cocktail while waiting to board.  Alcohol depresses your immune system, and dehydrates you.  And pass on the booze when you’re on the plane too.  Alcohol can aggravate motion sickness and altitude sickness.  That’s no fun!  Save the party for when you land.

5.      Get an acupuncture treatment before you go to knock out any aches, pains, immune system deficiencies or any other issues that might stop you from enjoying your vacation. Also, an acupuncturist can provide you with herbal remedies for common traveling maladies like food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea. These can be a lifesaver if you end up needing them!

6.      Stretch before your flight.  It’s hard to stretch properly on a plane without looking like a crazy person.  So make sure you stretch out well before leaving for the airport. You will be a lot more comfortable on the flight and this will help keep your circulation moving. Also, don't forget to get up every few hours to prevent blood clots.

7.      Board well rested.  Though this might sound counter intuitive for long flights, just think of what would happen if you were sleep deprived and then for whatever reason weren’t able to sleep on the plane.  You would arrive twice as exhausted as you would have otherwise! Bottom line is it’s always healthiest to listen to your body.  Rest when your body wants rest.

8.      Bring a lumbar support pillow or small towel to roll up to put behind your lower back.  Not only does this reduce lower back pain, but also keeps your spine in alignment which reduces neck pain also.

9.      Wear light weight, loose, but long sleeved layered clothing.  Airlines are not providing blankets these days, so you want to be able to prevent a chill, but also allow for good blood circulation. 

Got Heel Pain? It Might be Plantar Fasciitis

The word plantar refers to the bottom of your foot.  Fascia is fibrous connective tissue found all over your body, and the suffix “itis” means inflammation of.  So “plantar fasciitis” is the fancy medical way of saying inflammation at the bottom of your foot. 

It’s the most common cause of heel pain, and many of us get it at some point in our lives.  It’s caused by irritation to the fascia in our feet, which can happen in a number of different ways. 

Your calves have bands of connective tissue that run all the way to the bottom of your feet.  If your calves are tight then that connective tissue is being pulled taut.  This creates more friction at the bottom of your feet as the tissue slides back and forth.  Then that friction causes pain.

Also, any exercise which involves running or jumping can cause micro tears to form in the plantar fascia, and so can doing work that requires you to be on your feet all day. If you’re standing or walking for several hours a day, especially if you’re walking on a hard floor, or in shoes with worn soles you could definitely be doing damage to your feet.

If you were born with high arches or flat feet then you have to be even more careful to prevent plantar fasciitis.  Abnormalities in your foot arch can put extra strain on the plantar fascia, making injury and inflammation much more likely.

The bottom line is you need your feet to get you places!  So take care of them by being aware of plantar fasciitis and taking prevention measures.  If you have high arches or flat feet, talk to your podiatrist about getting customized shoe inserts that will help distribute your weight on your feet the right way.  Always stretch your calves and feet after exercising.  Don’t walk on hard surfaces with your bare feet.  Make sure that your shoes have good heel cushioning.  And if you’re holding onto a few extra pounds, lose that weight to take pressure off your feet. 

If you already have plantar fasciitis, then there are a couple of different things you can do to treat it.  Stretch your calves daily.  Stretch the bottom of your feet by rolling them on a tennis or golf ball.  And aim to reduce or even eliminate inflammation causing foods, like sugar, white flour, and trans-fats. 

Acupuncture powerfully treats any kind of pain and plantar fasciitis is no exception. By directing blood flow and pain relieving endorphins to your heels, acupuncture treatments can give you relief.  The needles don’t even go in your heels!  But they direct the flow of healing elements right where they need to go.   

Leaky Gut, the Syndrome You Didn't Know You Have

 

You may not know it, but your intestinal health is central to your health at large because it houses the majority of your immune system.  That’s why it’s so important to protect and keep your gut healthy. But unless you're living in a log cabin in the woods, working in the sunshine every day, growing and eating your own organic food, then chances are you probably have some level of Leaky Gut Syndrome.

According to some doctors, up to 80% of us have Leaky Gut.  How did we get this way? Most of us are abusing our gut health daily. We stress out, take medications, eat processed foods, eat too much gluten, drink too much alcohol.  These things degrade the lining of our intestines, leading to what we call Leaky Gut Syndrome,  which means that your guts have become more permeable than they should be.

You can think of your gut lining as the wall around a castle.  It’s there to protect you from things that are not supposed to be breeching the perimeter, such as undigested foods, allergens, and toxins.  Once your gut lining is compromised, all kinds of mayhem can ensue. 

80% of your immune cells live in and around your gut lining.  When “invaders” jump through the holes in your intestinal lining your immune system goes into red alert mode! It can go into over drive and begin even attacking itself, which is what happens in auto-immune conditions. 

You may not notice the changes in your health all at once, since these things happen over time, but little by little exposure to things that are not friendly to your gut will lead to different health issues.  Not everyone will have the same symptoms, but common ones for Leaky Gut, are bloating after eating, diarrhea, new food sensitivities or allergies, rashes, eczema, foggy brain, fatigue, joint pain, auto-immune issues, anxiety and others.

None of that sounds, fun, but the good news is that Leaky Gut is treatable.  It all starts with recognizing that your gut health is the keystone to your overall health. Changes can be made to your diet to stop the progression of Leaky Gut.  Then supplements, nutrition therapy, and acupuncture can help you rebuild your gut lining.  As a result you will reach a state of vitality that you didn’t know it was possible to have.  Heal your gut and you will heal your health!

 

Fertility with PCOS

PCOS is the most common fertility issue for women, but being diagnosed with it doesn't mean that you can’t get pregnant.  It just means that you need a longer time line to prepare to get pregnant.  If you want to have a baby, then we recommend starting treatment a minimum of 6 months before you want to be pregnant. 

And yes, that does seem like a long time when you’re in a hurry to have a baby, but PCOS is a multi-layered fertility issue that has to be treated from all angles to ensure the greatest chance of success.  Normally, there are a number of different goals we have for acupuncture and herb therapy.  These consist of reducing insulin resistance, reducing testosterone, reducing estrogen dominance, weight loss, stimulating ovulation, and boosting progesterone. 

All of those issues have to be treated in tandem for the best results.  This is why treating only one, or two of those issues such as in what is happening when you take Clomid or Metformin is often not successful. 

What most people don’t realize is that there is an ebb and a flow to hormones in the body.  Hormones are chameleons that can turn into one another under certain conditions in the body.  Under stress your body can take progesterone and turn it into cortisol.  Progesterone can also flip flop and become testosterone.  Too much insulin can also stimulate your body to produce more testosterone.  This is how your hormones can become wildly imbalanced!

And this is why acupuncture and herbs are so helpful in treating PCOS.  They stimulate your body to produce, and balance your hormones on its own.  There is a delicate symphony of different hormones being produced, released, and utilized in your body.  Acupuncture “tunes” that symphony, enhancing fertility, and naturally allowing you to become pregnant. 

If you have PCOS and you’re having difficulty getting pregnant come see us at Blue Jean Acupuncture.  We have many years of experience treating women with PCOS for fertility issues.  We can guide you through every step of the process to getting more balanced, getting healthier, and getting pregnant.

9 Ways to Age Slower than Your Friends

 

Just because you keep having birthdays doesn’t mean that you have to look or feel your age.  There are marathon runners, models, yogis, body builders who are well into their 80’s and beyond! So how do these super agers do it?  How do you keep mentally and physically healthy as you get older?

Here are our top 9 tips.

1.      Sunblock!  You have to wear it.  Believe it or not you get more damage from UV rays than from the process of aging itself. So make sure that you wear some daily, and that you get a good natural sunblock free of parabens, phthalates, and other chemicals that can actually erode your skin.  And don’t forget to re-apply!  Even super high SPF sunblocks only really work for 2-3 hours so take sunblock with you when you leave the house on sunny days.

2.      Keep your brain sharp by learning new things!  And here’s the fine print.  You have to learn something that challenges your brain. Vegging out in front of your favorite Discovery channel show isn’t going to cut it.  Just like with working out, it has to hurt a little to work best.  Your brain has to actually feel like it’s working.  So learn a new language, learn to tango, how to sail a boat, or whatever floats your boat!

3.      Avoid sugar.  It gives you wrinkles, yes seriously.  Sugar attaches to the collagen in your skin creating appropriately acronymed compounds called “AGES”, accelerated glycation products. This makes your tissues less elastic, and more brittle, which is bad news for your skin, blood vessels, kidneys and basically almost every part of you.  So be good to yourself and pass on the donuts next time.   

4.      Take Ubiquinol.  It’s a more active and absorbable form of Coq10, that helps your body make ATP, which is the energy that your cells produce.  You may have already noticed this happening, but after you turn around 30 your energy production starts to drop, and suddenly you can’t stay out until 2am anymore.  We’re not saying that it’s healthy to stay out until 2am, but Ubiquinol can help you get the energy back that you had when you were younger.  And bonus, it’s also a super potent anti-oxidant, which keeps your cells from taking on oxidative damage that lead to aging effects.

5.      Aim to eat nutrient dense foods.  Nutrient dense foods are foods that are packed with nutrients despite having few calories. The reason that most Americans are sick and unhealthy is because they are doing the opposite, eating low nutrient high calorie food.  And they are missing the wonderful nutrients available to us in whole foods.  Nutrient dense foods are like nature’s doctors.  They nourish and take care of our bodies on every level.  So make sure that your food is full of nutrients, not calories!

6.      Pump iron.  After age 30 inactive people can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass every decade, so you have to use it or you will lose it.  And studies have shown that resistance training actually reverses gene expression of aging.  Yes, you heard that right, you can actually reverse, not just slow, but actually reverse the aging process on the DNA level by weight training. So get on it!

7.      Get enough sleep.  About 7 hours is the sweet spot for most people, with either more or less producing reduced benefits for longevity.  Sleep isn’t only about getting rest, when you’re sleeping you regulate your hormones and metabolism, which keep your body running at optimum. Growth hormone initiates cellular repair, and it’s produced while you are getting deep sleep. Sleep is an absolutely essential, non-replaceable component of health.  If you’re having trouble sleeping it’s important to find the underlying cause of the issue and treat it. 

8.      Eat foods that have healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, such as salmon, avocado, and flax seeds.  These fatty acids make up your cell membranes, essentially the “skin” of your cells.  So getting a healthy intake of these will help your skin retain moisture.  Also, they help your body maintain the correct hormone balance, as you get older which prevents premature aging. 

9.      And of course, get acupuncture!  Acupuncturists are trained to detect imbalances, and health issues in the body, by looking at your tongue, feeling different aspects of your pulse, and looking at a wide variety of other signs and symptoms. If health issues are treated early on, future illnesses and disability can be prevented. 

Acupuncture with IVF, the Perfect Match.

Very often couples will ask why they need acupuncture if they are already getting IVF.  Are they both necessary?  The answer is yes, a resounding yes, because they both play vital roles in ensuring a successful pregnancy. 

If you think of planting a seed in the ground to become a tree, you know that putting the seed in the ground is only one component of the seed’s development.  This is somewhat like what IVF does for you.  It plants the seed at the appropriate time.  However, in order for a seed to thrive, other conditions must be cultivated to ensure the tree will grow.  There must be enough water, but not too much water, enough sunlight, but not too much, the right temperature, the right soil PH, etc.   And this is where acupuncture and herbs come in.  They make sure that you have the right conditions in your body for a pregnancy to occur and to thrive.

Just as a farmer has to cultivate her fields before planting crops, you must cultivate your “field” before trying to conceive.  That is why we recommend coming in for acupuncture and herbs for a minimum of 3 months before doing any IVF procedure.  Six months may even be needed for anyone with more serious fertility issues.  This will ensure that you correct any hormone imbalances before going into the procedure, improve egg health,  improve uterine circulation, build the correct thickness of your uterine lining, calm the mind, clear stress, and many other benefits. 

IVF can be costly both financially, and emotionally so you want to give yourself the best chance that you can for a healthy pregnancy.  Acupuncture and herbs can greatly improve your chance of not only becoming pregnant, but also sustained health for both mother and baby throughout the pregnancy. 

Here at Blue Jean Acupuncture we specialize in women’s health and fertility.  If you’re not sure if acupuncture and herbs are right for your situation we invite you to come talk to us.  You can make an appointment for a complimentary consultation at bluejeanacu.com. 

Bloated? Foggy headed? Tired? You may have Candida

 

Do you often feel tired, foggy headed, bloated, and generally unwell?  If so you might have an overgrowth of candida.  What is candida?  It is a form of yeast that lives in your body, mostly in your digestive system.  A small amount will help you digest your food, but too much will lead to health issues.

One of the big ways that candida affects your health is that it compromises the lining of your intestines which then causes “leaky gut” syndrome.  It means that the lining of your intestines has become more porous than it is supposed to be.  And particulates of undigested food, microbes, and toxins leak through into your blood stream. Eek!  As you can imagine, entry of foreign particulates into your blood stream is not good news.  This can lead to new food allergies, autoimmune conditions, or chronic inflammation.  It can trigger Crohns disease, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

When your body senses something in your blood stream that shouldn’t be there it goes into high alert, activating autoimmune reactions that can manifest as gas, bloating, indigestion, rashes, joint pain, fatigue, and several other issues.

Often times you may have several of these symptoms at once, and think that they are separate issues when really they have all come from the same source.    Our modern lifestyles encourage the growth of candida so this is an extremely common problem to have.  High stress lifestyles, drinking alcohol, consuming sugars, or simple starches, and taking birth control pills all encourage candida to rapidly multiply.

If you think you may have candida but aren’t sure you can try this simple test at home.  Put water into a clear glass.  Spit into the glass.  Wait for half an hour and then take a look.  If the water is clear then you likely don’t have candida.  If you see instead, something that looks like a jelly fish, a blob with little tendrils coming off of it you likely have candida.  Another telling sign can be a thick coating on your tongue. 

A candida cleanse may not be enough to clear health issues associated with candida. Leaky gut, auto-immune issues, and allergies are something you should really go over with a physician who can help you re balance your gut flora, restore healthy digestion, and reverse autoimmune issues.  If you’re sick of feeling “under normal” give us a call at Blue Jean Acupuncture, where we have experience treating all issues surrounding candida overgrowth. 

 

Thaw Out Your Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that can really creep up on you.  First you feel some discomfort in your shoulder, and stiffening.  Gradually it gets worse and suddenly you’re finding that it’s too painful to sleep on your side, that you can’t put your shirt over head, that you can’t wash dishes, put up your hair, or do any task easily that requires two hands. 

You become hyper aware of all the tasks that require two hands because it’s now ten times more difficult to do them!  You might wonder what is happening because you didn’t injure your shoulder, at least not recently. So what is going on?

If you are between the ages of 40-70, and this is happening to you, it’s quite possible that you are experiencing frozen shoulder. Some people refer to this condition as “fifties shoulder” because it usually occurs right around that decade of life.  

Often times people that have this condition have had a previous shoulder injury.  And also commonly people with chronic diseases such as diabetes can develop frozen shoulder too.    The common theme is that both injuries and chronic diseases, such as diabetes can limit circulation to the shoulder causing the tissues in and around the shoulder to “freeze” up. 

And this is why acupuncture is the PERFECT treatment for frozen shoulder.   Acupuncture directs blood flow around the body through stimulating the nerve pathways.  Circulation returns to the shoulder tissues, restoring mobility, and reducing pain.

Here at Blue Jean Acupuncture we have treated several cases of frozen shoulder throughout the years, with very successful results.  Most people experience relief and restoration of normal functioning after just a few treatments. 

The prognosis for frozen shoulder without treatment is that most people get better after one year.  However, it has been our experience that most people would rather not wait that long to get the use of their arms back! 

If you’ve been suffering with frozen shoulder, don’t wait to get help.  There is no need to suffer with pain and immobility. Give us a call and get started with treatments today. 

Stop Suffering from Migraines

Roxy's Blog

Do you have migraines?  If you do, you know that they can ruin your day, or worse, several of your days at a time.   Yesterday one of my patients mentioned to me that she had a migraine.  Apparently, this happens to her quite regularly.  Out of the blue a killer migraine will sucker punch her and she’s down for the count.  Her day is basically over.  She has to go home draw the blinds, and curl up in a ball of pain.

The truly miserable part is that she’s had to deal with this at least once a month for at least 10 years.  Counting that up, that’s a lot of days that she didn’t get to go out with her friends, work on her garden, play tennis, or do anything else she enjoys.  That’s a lot of missing out!

Oddly enough, though I’ve been treating this patient for 2 months now, this is the first time she had ever mentioned this problem to me.  She has been seeing me for a entirely different health issue.  When I asked her why she hadn’t mentioned her migraines before, she said that she didn’t know that acupuncture could help. 

This moment struck me like déjà vu.  This exact same scenario has happened to me before.  It always goes the same way.  I’m treating a patient for condition X, Y or Z, and then when they’re getting better and I ask them how they’re feeling with other aspects of their health, then off-handedly they tell me that they get migraines.  Usually it’s said an air of futility almost as if they’re talking to a dentist about foot pain. 

I decided I couldn’t let this happen again.  So here I am letting you know, so you won’t be the next person to tell me they didn’t know, acupuncture is WONDERFUL for treating migraines.  In fact, it’s one of the conditions where acupuncture is the most helpful. 

I know this personally because I’ve been treating people with acupuncture for 12 years now, and in that time I’ve taken many people from the point of having chronic migraines, to having barely any, or none at all. 

Why does it work?  And what does it have over medication?  If you’re like most migraine sufferers, you probably take NSAIDS or Triptans to control your symptoms.  Like most pharmaceuticals these can come with some not to nice side effects.   Long term use of NSAIDS can cause bleeding of the stomach or Leaky Gut syndrome.  Triptans can cause nausea, dizziness and fatigue.  And what’s really ironic about migraine medications is that they can lead to rebound headaches.  That’s right!  You can actually get headaches from long-term use of migraine medication.

Also as you were probably aware, migraine medications don’t actually treat your problem.  They just cover up the symptoms.  Acupuncture, on the other hand communicates with and balances your nervous system.  It “retunes” your body.  In other words, acupuncture works on the root cause of your migraines, providing naturally stable and long lasting relief.  It is the most sustainable and healthful treatment for migraines you can find anywhere.   That's why migraines are one of my most favorite things to treat.  If you need help with migraines, it's time to stop suffering.  Give me a call and let me help you get back to a normal pain free life.