A health condition not getting better – not to be confused with getting better slowly – is the primary reason people try acupuncture in the first place.  

When a health condition doesn’t get better with acupuncture and herbs, there’s something that is continually aggravating the condition either in the body or in the environment of the patient.  We need to ask ourselves, “Why is this happening?”  

The problem with that, and probably the reason we seek healthcare providers in the first place, is that it’s hard to figure out what we’re doing or what’s going on that’s causing something.  We get used to living a certain way, and it’s hard to recognize that it’s causing harm.  

Is there some kind of continual emotional stress I’m under (like a bad relationship or a stressful work environment)?

Continual, even low-grade stress is the primary reason for all hormone imbalances, including thyroid dis-ease and adrenal fatigue.  

We are accustomed to thinking that relationship tension is inevitable and normal, but it’s not.  These types of negative interactions do have an adverse impact on your health.  It can start to shut down natural body processes.  Sometimes quite literally, we get a “pain in the neck” or “pain in the a**.”  If we’re “walking on eggshells” around someone, our feet may hurt.  If we’re biting back our words, our throat chakras close off, which can lead to thyroid dis-ease.  If we’re doing all the work, we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.  You’re constantly trying to please someone, and end up with knee pain (through your unconscious genuflecting).  And so on and so forth.  

Am I eating as healthfully as possible?

Healthy eating varies from person to person, but some things that go across the board are:

  • A variety of fresh vegetables.  Vegetables should be 50% of your diet.  Aim for a wide variety.
  • Avoid 99.9% of the time:  sugary drinks; foods and drinks with artificial colors and additives; hydrogenated oils (fried foods like french fries and doughnuts), fast food and pre-packaged foods like “weight watchers” meals and “diet” drinks and shakes.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol to 1 or fewer servings of each per day, or avoid it completely if that works better for you.  
  • Be mindful of how you feel after you eat things like refined grains (white bread products and cereals), processed dairy products (most dairy from the grocery store), and caffeine and alcohol.  Try going 3 weeks without processed foods and see if you feel different.  
  • Some animal protein:  bone broth, eggs (if you’re not allergic), organ meats, and some skeletal meat (including fish) if you feel better when you eat it.  If you’re not currently eating it, try to include some type of animal protein to see if you feel a difference after one or two weeks of adding it in.  
  •  A good amount of healthy fats:  1 – 2 tablespoons of butter, ghee, olive oil daily.  Full-fat dairy products (preferably raw and unpasteurized dairy); eggs; cold-water fish and grass-fed beef are all good sources of Omega 3 and 6 oils which we need for proper nerve conduction, brain health, immune system health and hormone health.

How is my posture?  

Do you notice you hurt more when you sleep or at your desk at work or driving?  Pay attention to how you’re holding your body.  Heavy bags can lead to neck and shoulder pain; an awkward desk set up can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or headaches; certain exercises may be causing you more harm to your joints than helping.  

Even chronic pain anywhere on the spine can interfere with nerves that regulate many other body functions.  For example, lower back pain nerves can impact your digestion.  Cervical nerves can regulate the thyroid and eye function.  Be honest with yourself and willing to make changes.  

Is something going on that I’m not aware of?  

If a problem doesn’t improve, it’s always a good idea to seek outside help until you find answers.  Get blood work and tests.  Try new things.  Don’t get stuck in the idea that, “I don’t see (this type of doctor).”  We don’t need to automatically jump to “worst case scenario” every time we get sick, but it’s good to cover all potential bases.  The earlier you find something, the quicker it heals.  

Things that could be going on may include:

  • covert pathogens like a virus or fungal infection (common with chronic allergies)
  • torn ligaments or bulging discs (common with neck and back pain)
  • tumors or cancer (it’s always better to know than to not)

Health is a journey, not a destination.