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Did you know that your body needs fat?  Yes, it’s true!  When establishing body composition (what percentage of fat, lean muscle and water that makes up your body),  fat exists as one of three categories that make up your total fat percentage.  The categories of body fat are: 1. Essential Fat which is defined as fat necessary for your body to function 2. Reserve Fat which is needed in case you get sick or that food and water is not available and 3. Excess Fat which is the unwanted fat that contributes to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other chronic diseases. 

At White Lotus Acupuncture, we created a weight loss program designed to help you achieve a healthy body composition that consists of normal lean tissue, fat and water percentages.  When your body is balanced with respect to these percentages, you can achieve Your Best Fit Ever!

Each weight loss session offers a free body composition analysis along with nutritional recommendations, hypnosis for behavioral changes and acupuncture for cravings and stress reduction.  for additional information, check out our website at http://whitelotusonline.com/weightloss.htm or call us at 703-312-7000. You may also leave a comment here or send an email info@whitelotusonline.com We look forward to hearing from you!

Kathleen Fraser, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., C.Ht.

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Using Acupuncture to Treat Liver and Pancreatic Pain Caused by the Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi

By Kathleen Fraser, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., C.Ht.

Having treated patients with acupuncture for nearly 15 years, my clinical experience coupled with biomedical research and biology has helped me effectively treat a variety of digestive disorders.  One of the most interesting digestive disorders to treat has been regulating the Sphincter of Oddi.  I find this disorder intriguing because it is often confused with other digestive disorders such as gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, ulcers, liver problems and more.  Take for instance, my 24 year old patient who came for treatment because of the sharp pains in the upper right quadrant of her abdominal region.  She described the pain as excruciating especially when the pain spread to her epigastrium and further into the pancreas (the upper left quadrant of the abdomen).  She also complained of a constant stabbing pain in her back between the ninth and tenth thoracic vertebra about 3 inches lateral to her spine.  She suffered nausea, vomiting and migraines.  She was diagnosed with gallbladder disease (no gallstones), pancreatitis and acid reflux.  Her doctor removed her gallbladder and prescribed a prescription for her stomach pain and anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication for her emotional distress.  After the removal of her gallbladder she felt no relief and became increasingly depressed with daily symptoms that interrupted her life.  She was unable to work and spent more time at home.  She was later diagnosed with the Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi. 

Symptoms of the Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi.

The major presenting symptom in patients with Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi is
sharp acute abdominal pain. The pain is characteristically located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen or the epigastrum. The pain may be associated with nausea and/or vomiting, may last for several hours, and may radiate to the back or shoulder blades. Patients may also present with acute pancreatitis.   Please note that only your doctor may diagnosis Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi.  As an acupuncturist, if the patient reports the symptoms listed above, I recommend they see their doctor for a complete check-up.  Having made this recommendation, I continue acupuncture knowing that the patient is being monitored by their physician.  This enables both the doctor and me to monitor the relief of symptoms over the course of treatment.  Acupuncture treatment has successfully helped numerous patients achieve relief from digestive symptoms as the patient’s need for prescription drugs and over the counter digestive remedies is reduced.

Where is the Sphincter of Oddi located?

The Sphincter of Oddi is located just beneath the liver in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.  It is a muscular valve that surrounds a considerable portion of the distal bile duct of the liver and pancreatic duct of the pancreas.  The Sphincter of Oddi controls the release of digestive juices (bile and pancreatic juice) from the liver and the pancreas into the duodenum or small intestine..  There are three mini sphincters included within the muscular valve: the sphincter papillae, the sphincter pancreaticus, and the sphincter choledochus.

What is the function of the Sphincter of Oddi?

The sphincter of Oddi has three major functions: 1) regulation of bile and pancreatic flow into the duodenum or small intestine, 2) diversion of hepatic bile (bile made by the liver) into the gallbladder, and 3) the prevention of reflux of bodily waste from the duodenum intestine into the pancreatic duct. With the ingestion of a meal, the gallbladder contracts and there is a simultaneous decrease in the resistance in the sphincter of Oddi zone which allows digestive juices to flow into the small intestine.  In addition, Cholecystokinin (CCK) and nitrates decrease the resistance of flow allowed by the sphincter. Laboratory studies observing the effects of numerous peptides, hormones, and medications on the sphincter have suggested a multifactor control mechanism for the sphincter of Oddi.

Biomedicine’s Diagnosis of the Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi.

There are two types of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction: 1) papillary stenosis and 2) sphincter of Oddi dyskinesia. Papillary stenosis is a fixed anatomic narrowing of the sphincter. Sphincter of Oddi dyskinesia refers to a variety of abnormalities of the sphincter of Oddi.

Chinese Medicine’s Diagnosis of and Treatment for the Dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi.

Chinese medicine looks at symptoms as the manifestation of a pattern of imbalance in the body.  Your practitioner may ask, “Is the symptom sharp or dull, hot or cold, does it move up or down, is the symptom constant or intermittent, and so on..  The predominant symptom associated with the Dysfunction of the Oddi Sphincter is sharp pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.  To the acupuncturist, sharp pain is an indication of stagnated blood. If the area is hot, it indicates excess heat.  If the heat has become chronic, the area will become inflamed.  Stress, bad diet, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, overwork, lack of sleep, strained relationships and not drinking water all have the potential to create excess heat.  With excess heat in an organ and stagnation of blood, the organ cannot function.

Since the Sphincter of Oddi is controlling the bile and pancreatic juices that enter the duodenum, there are some generalized symptoms that indicate that the sphincter is not functioning.  These symptoms may also indicate that the juices are accumulating in the immediate area of the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Initial symptoms may include pain/discomfort in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen (Liver/gallbladder region).  It may also extend laterally across the midline of the body (thus irritating the esophagus) over to the left upper quadrant of the abdomen thus irritating the pancreas.  In addition to pain, the individual may experience loose stools with episodes of constipation.  Since bile is responsible for the brown coloring of feces (not a nice subject but necessary for a greater understanding), if the bile is not flowing properly, the feces may be light brown or even white.

If the bile and pancreatic juices are not entering the duodenum, where do they go?  The digestive juices that have been produced can move to other areas of the torso.  Since these digestive juices were meant for the duodenum, the juices will disrupt the function of whatever tissue it permeates outside of the duodenum.  For instance, if the juices move laterally in the body, they can cause irritation of the esophagus and inflammation in the pancreas.  The digestive juices may even move towards the skin surface causing itching and a yellowing of the skin (jaundice)

In addition, the dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi may allow fecal matter from the duodenum to move backward up the ducts and into the upper organs of the digestive system.

In Chinese medicine, when substances that are supposed to move downward in the body (bile, digestive juices, fecal matter, and waste material) begin to move up, the substance is referred to as “turbid fluid”.  The “turbid fluid” will cause a disruption in the functions of the upper portions of the body, which over time, may cause disruption to the lower portions of the body.  Upper body symptoms may include headache, migraines, swelling of the face, vascular constriction, nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, foul breath, acne, lack of concentration, poor vision and more.   Turbid fluid travels upward with the aid of circulating blood, normal body fluids, and rising energy (Qi) of the body.

The principle for treating the disorder with Chinese medicine is to strengthen and normalize the digestive system, resolve stagnant blood, drain the excess heat, normalize the circulation of the body’s energy and resolve the turbid fluid.  This approach relieves symptoms and restores health by reinstating the body’s normal functions.

In acupuncture treatment, there are 14 main pathways of energy that are stimulated in order to restore health.  These pathways course along the surface of the body as well as travel into the organs of the body. Each pathway has points which are located on the skin and when needled will stimulate the energy that runs along that pathway and will effect the associated internal organ.  The selection of acupuncture points for treatment of digestive disorders may include points along the Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen and Stomach meridians.  These points serve to strengthen digestion and to normalize the production of and secretion of bile, enzymes and digestive juices.  Additional points from the Kidney meridian and the Triple Heater meridian serve to normalize the body’s alkaline levels, metabolic processes (which helps to rid the body of toxins) and to correct the distribution of water circulating throughout the body.

Take for instance, our 24 year old patient suffering from the dysfunction of the Sphincter of Oddi.  After the first acupuncture treatment, she was relieved of the sharp abdominal pains and her migraines lessened in frequency and duration.  Within 4 treatments, she reduced her prescribed medication.  After 15 treatments, she discontinued all prescription medications for digestion and for anxiety.  She continues to reduce the prescribed anti-depressants (an anti- depressant that requires a slow reduction due to adverse effects if reduced abruptly).  Our patient has changed her diet, increased exercise and now feels more positive about her self and her life.

If you would like to discuss your current health condition or would like to receive additional information, feel free to call and receive a free 20 minute consultation.  I may also be reached by email, Kathleen@whitelotusonline.com if wish to contact me by email.

May the Best of Health Be Yours,

Kathleen Fraser, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., C.Ht.

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Do you want to quit smoking?

I am trying to figure out what is up with March.  I’ve had 16 people this past month come for smoking cessation.  Is March the official Quit Smoking Month?  Whatever the reason, it has been great helping people quit a habit that is destroying their body and literally stealing everything they are working for.

When you break it down, smoking takes up time, money, health, opportunity, intimacy, longevity and whatever else it is you would like to do with your life.  I know this first hand. I watched my aunt die of emphysema and it was a slow and painfully cruel death.  In fact, as I write, my father, who quit smoking in his late 40’s suffers from emphysema.  Even though he quit, he has been on an oxygen tank for the last 10 years. He is now 79.  In fact, smoking, a killer who slowly kills you from the inside out, started limiting him when he was in his mid-30’s.  I can’t imagine.  He remembers that even back then he was experiencing low endurance, difficulty thinking, fatigue and difficulty breathing.  Hearing this is difficult. It means that for more than 1/2 his life he has experienced significant life-limiting symptoms due to smoking, that changed the course of his entire life.  Does he regret ever picking up a cigarette?  You bet he does. 

Every person that walks through my office door has started to feel the limits created by their smoking habit.  The limits being their wake up call.  One patient, a beautiful young woman in her mid-20’s received her wake-up call.  She was on a 1st date with a handsome young man that she was genuinely interested in.  She did not tell him she smoked.  About 1/2 way through the date, she wanted a cigarette. She excused herself to the bathroom, then sneaked outside to smoke.  Well, he figured it out.  When she returned to their table, he was gone!  No one wants to kiss an ashtray, let alone witness the horrible reality of watching a loved one die slowly and painfully.  What is your wake up call?  What is going to be your limit?  I’m here at the office and would love the opportunity to help you quit for good!

Best Regards,

Kathleen Fraser, L.Ac. ,Dipl. Ac., C.Ht.

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Congratulations!  By reading this blog, you are obviously interested in eating healthy and either losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.  Many of my acupuncture and hypnosis patients are often confused about what to eat, how often to eat and in what portions of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  Having been in the health field for over 20 years, I have heard it all.  Chinese medicine has the healthiest approach to eating well and for your body type.  It’s philosophy is that your body is 100% organic therefor it can effectively process food and drink that is 100% organic.  Yes you can ingest chemicals, processed food, rancid food, toxins and other materials, but your body will struggle to process it.  Over time, this struggle will create a sluggish digestion (the organs and internal tissues associated with digestion are becoming worn out with their attempt at processing the unnatural) AND will lower metabolism.  All calories, depending on their source organic or not organic, are not created equal because the body’s ability to process them are different.  By working with patients, I have discovered the following guidelines.   They are the first steps in creating the attitude and behaviors required for healthy eating and maintaining your normal weight: 

1. Never Overeat – the digestive system is elastic and it has a peristalsis effect (it massages the food down through the tissue and organs); when we habitually overeat, we compromise this system and this decreases our ability to breakdown food, absorb nutrients and pass waste.  Under these conditions, the body tends to store substances as fat instead of processing it.  The outcome of this may be low metabolism, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, belly fat, ulcers, yeast build up, diverticulitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, pockets in the colon wall and other digestion related disorders.  After all that, is that 2nd helping really worth it?

2. Eat only organic food and drink.  I realize this may be impossible but do your best.  Your body was not meant to digest food all by itself.  You need enzymes from food to do this. Live food such as vegetables and fruits have enzymes that help in digestion.  Did you know that your favorite spices stimulate enzyme production in your mouth and gut?  Basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary are just a few of the enzyme stimulating herbs with which you can spice it up!  Make sure your food/drink is fresh and it’s clean.

3. Eating is a Conscious Investment of your Time, Attention and Value System.  For some, this is a hard concept to accept because it is a change in lifestyle.  This means grocery shopping, cooking, sit down to eat, taking your time, and doing the dishes! Unless you are fortunate enough to have someone grocery shop, cook and clean for you.  This can be a major lifestyle change and you may want to do it in steps that create a gradual transition instead of one that creates so much change, you are setting yourself up for failure.

4.  You need good carbohydrates, good fats and good proteins in moderate portions.  I repeated good because hopefully by now, we all recognize there are good and bad forms of carbs, fats and proteins.  Loading up on one or the other, isn’t going to be good for your body.  To much protein hurts the kidneys, to many carbohydrates creates imbalance in the pancreas (secrets insulin), and to many fats will collect in your system unprocessed.  To little of any of these will cost you required nutrients and will imbalance your system as well. Your body can only absorb so much so moderate portions allow for optimum absorption. Check out the National Institute of Health’s web site at www.nih.gov  for additional information and scientific research on how your body digests food effectively and how imbalances in your diet adversely effect your body and your mind. 

6. Eat breakfast, lunch & dinner with a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  Living healthy requires one to prioritize eating well.  For some, skipping meals, eating quickly, or eating large meals that keep you full for hours may seem convenient but the health risks involved are not convenient.  Your body is always in a state of self-regulation.  Eating regularly and in small to moderate portions helps your body regulate your metabolism, energy levels, blood sugar levels and more.  

These are a few of the guidelines.  As I said before, eating healthy is a lifestyle that requires certain behaviors and the right attitude.  If you need help transitioning your thoughts and behaviors around food and drink,  give us a call.  We offer a free 20 minute consult that lets you know if we can help you achieve your goals towards better health.

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Hello world!

Hi and Welcome to my Acupuncture Blog,

My name is Kathleen Fraser and I have practiced acupuncture for 14 years and hypnotherapy for 13 years.  I offer this blog space as a forum of discussion regarding acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional recommendations, hypnotherapy, movement therapy and meditation.  In addition to natural therapies, I open the floor for discussing how to cultivate one’s spirituality, destiny and how to create success in life on earth.   Chinese medicine offers a perspective that serves to move life forward in a way that facilitates growth, love, compassion, value and wisdom.  In today’s culture, where influences distract us from our true nature, such a perspective offers insight into how we may strengthen and return to our authentic self.  Your comments, stories and questions are welcome.

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