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Healing Trauma in the Body

Trauma IBS Irregular Periods

Trauma Manifests in a Variety of Health Issues

I did not set out to treat trauma when I started practising Chinese Medicine. The majority of my early cases involved using acupuncture to relieve neck and shoulder pain. But every now and again young female patients would arrive at the clinic complaining of multiple issues like stomach pain, irregular painful periods and insomnia. While these conditions are common having all of them at the same time is not. It points to a bigger underlying issue – their bodies while young, were not in balance. Drilling down further into their health history and mapping a timeline patterns started to emerge. These patients grew up in traumatic environments – alcoholic parents, divorced or separated parents and sexual abuse were just some of the commonalities they all shared.

The one thing that became very obvious and consistent in my findings was this – when there is unresolved trauma, the patient will start to suffer from health issues at a young age. Take for example Susan, a 21-year-old student (not her real name) presented in my clinic with hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, IBS, migraines and irregular periods all at 21 years of age!!!!

Susan appeared healthy but somewhat guarded, friendly and very straight forward in her responses. She grew up with an alcoholic mother. Their relationship was now controlled by her social worker. When it comes to treating patients with these types of conditions and backgrounds my primary goal is always this – restore the patient to balance. Get them to calm. Often these patients and many of my patients arrive feeling anxious, overwhelmed, upset out of balance.
I use acupuncture to help regulate the Qi in their bodies and I use healing touch to reset their polyvagal nerve. Once a patient switches out of the autonomic nervous system – think flight, fright and freeze and back into their parasympathetic nervous system then their normal body functions like digestion can resume. They are no longer operating on fear induced adrenalin.

Acupuncture when combined with healing touch restores the body to calm. It gives people the capacity to cope and heal. If a patient does not have a clinical counsellor I will advise them to consider it. I treat the body and help support the mind but it takes a team to help heal the wounds of the past.

Coping with Emotional Wounds

When it comes to dealing with stress three seems to be the magic number.  If two bad things happen in a row people can handle it but if that number suddenly becomes three, then the body shuts down; we become emotional and have difficulty regulating ourselves.

In children I describe this as being “over the top” and find that a good rest will reset a child.  In adults this becomes a harder state to re-set because we can get stuck there.  It affects our mental capacity to process.  And if any emotional wounds were triggered in the process a person may become inconsolable.

I was recently treating a patient who had become triggered by old family wounds. She was ok until a visit with her sister-in-law shut her down.  The sister’s behaviour triggered an old dynamic she had with her father – a feeling of powerlessness and not being heard or having a voice. On its own this incident would have just been a rather unpleasant weekend. But when combined with two prior incidents this patient felt herself slipping back into feelings of severe panic and anxiety.

Fortunately, this patient has a coping plan when she finds herself entering back into these old feelings.  The first involves booking in with her counsellor. The second is booking in with me for an acupuncture/healing touch session.  Physiologically her body switched from parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) into sympathetic nervous system(fight or flight response.  Acupuncture moves people out of a heightened state of fear and anxiety into a calmer more relaxed state where their mind can process situations more rationally.

With the help of a counsellor, especially EMDR counselling, patients can uncover their triggers and get to the root of the action that’s causing their pain – often found in emotional childhood wounds (abuse, neglect, alcoholic parents or divorce).

Healing SpaceCovid also caused a lot of my patients to become displaced emotionally and out of balance. Again using acupuncture and healing touch to help guide this emotional energy through their bodies I am able to restore them to peace and wellbeing. Patients often leave feeling exhausted and wobbly as holding onto all that fear, anger and anxiety is exhausting especially for their nervous systems.

If patients don’t have a good counsellor to help them in their worst moments exercise is a good interim solution. A fast walk, bike ride, or yoga with lots of breathwork  – anything that gets their body moving will also help move that excess energy through their system.

Remote Acupuncture and Healing Touch

On March 16th when Covid 19 closed the doors of my clinic I wasn’t sure how I could continue to care for and treat patients. As a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine my work was all hands on – especially when in addition to acupuncture, I also performed healing touch on patients who needed more attention.

Healing touch – the practice of moving one’s energy to bring the body back into balance begins at the patient’s head where I clear away their excess energy and slowly working my way down their body release stuck energy or blockages and in some cases bring in energy where it is needed.

I made a decision after a week of processing all the changes that had taken place to offer remote acupuncture treatments but combine them with healing touch.  The premise was straightforward. I would mail out acupuncture press tacks – a very tiny 1.5 mm sterilized stainless-steel needle that would only puncture the epidermis layer. The benefit of these needles is they work but they won’t cause bleeding and they can be inserted by the patient under guided instruction.

Using Zoom or FaceTime I would conduct the patient intake, guide the patient on the tack insertion and then perform real time healing touch for about 25 minutes. Afterwards the patient could take the needles out and dispose of them in regular garbage. If Chinese herbs or formulas were required, I would mail those out post treatment.

As I began this practice the most common question was, “How do you do remote acupuncture?”  What I would have asked instead was, “Does this really work?”

The results varied from patient to patient but 90% of the people I treated have since booked back in for follow up sessions.  Their experiences varied – some could feel energy moving around their head or through their fingers or down their legs.  Others felt tight neck  and back muscles release. The majority reported feeling way more relaxed, at peace and grounded.

The most amazing treatment I performed was on a patient who had travelled to Italy to take care of her elderly mother.  At 10 pm on a Friday night in Milan I performed healing touch and the results were as though I was treating her in person. She could feel me clearing the heaviness from her chest, the pain between her eyebrows also released and she felt calm and grounded.  The beauty of energy is it’s not bound by geography it can be moved with intention.

The clinic is going to re-open May 19th,  and I will continue to offer this form of treatment as it has proven itself to be very effective and well received by my patients and now new patients due to word of mouth endorsements.

It also provides an alternative to patients who are not ready to come in for a face -to -face treatment due health concerns.  The downside is most insurance companies will not cover this form of treatment even though it is covered in clinic.   The cost of this treatment is $85.

Time For A Reset

Time for a Reset

If it feels like you’re going through a transition right now you are.

With all the yang energy of summer we run on a natural high, but as light and heat of summer gives way to fall’s cooler temperatures and diminishing daylight your body goes through a period of adjustment. You may find yourself sleeping longer hours, craving warmer cooked foods and maybe feeling a little bit down or melancholy.   

Strengthening Your Immune System

In Chinese medicine, autumn is associated with metal and the lungs.  Because the lungs are the most exterior organs in the body, they are the most susceptible to getting sick.  Viruses and bacteria enter into the lung system via skin, mouth, nasal passages, so strengthening your lungs and enhancing your immune system becomes key to staying healthy.

Sipping this tea throughout the day can help boost your immune system.

Immune Boosting Tea

  • 2 slices of fresh ginger
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • Six cups boiled hot water
  • Steep for one hour

Strengthening Your Lungs

Autumn is also a dryer, windier time of year.  Seasonal allergies tend to flair up triggered by leaf mold. The dry heat in your home can further irritate the lungs. This dryness can cause the lungs to feel irritated leading to coughs and dry phlegm caught in your throat. 

Adding these foods can help nourish and moisten the lungs:

  • Pears, apples, sweet potato, honey, carrot ginger soups – soups and stews are always good for your lungs as they are moistening.

Re-Balance Your Body With Acupuncture

One of the most effective ways to help your body adjust to the changing seasons is through acupuncture.  Acupuncture naturally regulates the flow of qi or energy in your body. It can help strengthen your lungs and immune system.   It can also help release trapped energy – energy that can lead to pain, depression or lethargy.

If you are curious and would like to learn more about the restorative power of acupuncture book yourself in for a consultation. 

Julie Nelson  R.TCMP

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture utilizes the healing and balancing wisdom of Chinese Medicine with micro needling to help you look younger and feel healthy.

The micro needles stimulate the body’s collagen production by generating a wound healing response.  It also improves micro-circulation or increased blood flow to the skin’s surface.  This combined with collagen and elastin formation improve the skin’s texture and time leaving a nice healthy glow.