Auriculotherapy and Vagal Nerve Stimulation

Auriculotherapy for Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Kirkland, Wa

August, 2019


I’ve long been fascinated by the Vagus Nerve, the main nerve responsible for regulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System, commonly known as the “Rest and Digest” part of the nervous system.  In fact, I’ve been so intrigued by it that I wrote about it for my capstone project to complete Acupuncture School, and frequently discuss Vagal Nerve Stimulation techniques in the yoga classes that I teach. 

Here’s a quick overview of the vagus nerve:  the Vagus Nerve is the longest running cranial nerve in your body. It is one of ten paired cranial nerves and goes from your brain stem all the way down to your gut. 

The word “vagus” literally translates to “wandering” in Latin, and the Vagus Nerve certainly lives up to its name. As the longest and most complex of all the cranial nerves, it starts at the stem of the brain, travels behind the ears before making its way down the sides of the neck, through the chest, eventually ending in the abdomen innervating the heart, lungs, throat and gut along the way. 

When the flight of fight or “stresss” response is triggered by the sympathetic nervous system, a host of physical changes happen. Adrenaline begins pumping through the body. The heart and breath rates are accelerated, digestion slows or stops altogether, blood vessels constrict and muscles tense in preparation to fight or flee.

The Vagus Nerve and parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for bringing the body back to homeostasis. After periods of stress and anxiety, this "calm" state is brought about by releasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

More and more studies are showing how detrimental stress is to our health, and how high stress levels can lead to diseases that are linked to high levels of inflammation.  Naturally, researchers and clinicians are looking into how Vagal Nerve Stimulation can be used to bring the body back into balance, restoring health and wellness. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to stimulate the Vagus Nerve.  One of my favorites is by using Auriculotherapy, or ear acupuncture because the Vagus nerve actually innervates part of the ear.  In fact, I treat all of my patients with ear needles as part of their treatments.  Healing happens when we can make that shift from the “Fight of Flight” state to the “Rest and Digest” state, and I have found ear treatments particularly helpful in making this shift.  Other great ways to stimulate the Vagus nerve are by practices such as meditation and yoga. 

Considering Facial Acupuncture? Here's What You Should Know.

Recently there's been a huge upsurge in interest in a more holistic, natural and effective approach to beauty.  After all, the very best beauty should also be GOOD for you.  If you've heard  the positive buzz about facial acupuncture, believe it.  

Facial acupuncture does include the insertion of very fine needles into the dermis to naturally stimulate the production of fibroblasts, the cells that are responsible for producing collagen.  It's this natural increase in collagen, along with an increase of blood flow and "Qi" to the face that is responsible for all of the amazing benefits of facial acupuncture -  brighter skin,  with an increase in skin firmness and elasticity, a smoothing out and softening of lines and wrinkles, and a decrease in breakouts and acne with the clearing of hyperpigmentation.  Many people are surprised to learn that additional body needles are added to the treatment to support the effects of the facial needles by balancing the body holistically.  That means that along with addressing signs of aging in the face and neck, other conditions are also getting treated - insomnia, constipation, joint pain, infertility, allergies - and more!

A lot of my clients are interested in alternatives to injectables and Botox, and that's great.  However, I also work with a lot of people who don't want to stop using them, and I honor that, too.  Botox works by freezing the muscles around the injection site, allowing the muscles to relax, thus resulting in fewer wrinkles and creases.  This "freezing" however also reduces the flow of lymph, blood and qi to the tissues.  Facial acupuncture works by restoring the flow of lymph, blood and qi to the face.  Facial acupuncture can cause the Botox to stop working, so I recommend several facial acupuncture appointments to restore the flow of blood and qi to the face before you get your next injections.  This allows the face to "wake up" after a long period of dormancy.  Many of these clients are able to lengthen the time between each injectables treatment, and some have chosen to stop injectables entirely with this strategy.  

Facial acupuncture treatments are best done as a series of 2 sessions biweekly for 5 weeks.  Within the first few appointments you'll see and feel noticeable results. Additionally, don't be surprised if you find that you notice an improvement in sleep, digestion, libido and mood!  I'll never forget one of my first clients who hadn't had a lot of experience with regular acupuncture before her first course of facial acupuncture treatment, and she experienced all of these lovely "side effects":)  After the first course of 10 treatments, monthly tune-ups are enough to maintain the results, especially if you repeat the cycle about once a year.  

Facial acupuncture has always been a part of holistic acupuncture.  And now with the trend in green and effective skin care, there has been an increase in the number of people interested in and seeking out natural alternatives  to fillers and Botox.  It's been so  rewarding as a practitioner to be part of that movement, by helping clients find natural beauty from an empowered and self-loving place.  I practice facial acupuncture on a daily basis in Kirkland, Washington, and am happy to answer any questions you might have and to schedule you for an appointment.  


Considering Acupuncture?

by Anne Gordon

Something that I hear ALL the time, is that people have been considering acupuncture but aren’t quite sure that 1: acupuncture can help them, or 2: they don’t know where to find a qualified acupuncturist.

Here are some things to think about and perhaps take those steps to find a qualified practitioner and begin your journey towards better health.

How can acupuncture help me?

Acupuncture itself is one part of a holistic system of medicine that dates back thousands of years in China, making it one of the oldest and most frequently used medical practices in the world. Acupuncture uses filiform needles - which are very fine, solid needles - inserted into specific points on the body to help the body heal itself. Because it is such an effective technique, it continues to grow in popularity, becoming integrated into many Western medical clinics and hospitals.

Acupuncture is best known for treating pain of all kinds: headaches and migraines, back pain, knee and joint pain, arthritis, and TMJ. And the World Health Organization also promotes acupuncture for the help treating the following conditions:  

Allergies and asthma, increases overall immunity
Women’s health issues, like PMS, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, painful periods, peri- and menopausal conditions
Digestive complaints -nausea, GERD, bloating, IBS
Neurological issues like neuropathy, facial pain, tinnitus, Parkinson’s and MS symptom management
PTSD, emotional stress, anxiety, insomnia
General health and wellness

Acupuncture can be used as a supportive treatment for chronic conditions or more serious conditions like cancer, by decreasing the severity of symptoms or the side effects of treatment.  

How do I find a qualified practitioner?

A licensed acupuncturist (LAc) has completed a 3-4 year Master’s program in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. They then take a series of national board exams, and upon passing, they earn certification through the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Finally, they apply for state licensure.  

Once you find an acupuncturist, make sure they are a good fit for you: explore their website, read their bios and testimonials, and schedule a visit. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine welcome calls and questions to discuss your unique health care concerns.  

These are two of the most frequently asked questions. Acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced by a qualified acupuncturist. All acupuncture needles are non-toxic, disposable, single use needles, that come in sterile packages. Millions of people are treated every year in the US using acupuncture, making acupuncture one of the safest “alternative” practices.

Because the acupuncture needles are so thin, unlike the hollow, larger gauge injection needles, most people don’t experience much sensation. The needles are inserted swiftly, most often with a guide tube, and should there be any discomfort, the needles can be adjusted.

Why wait? Come and see what millions of people have discovered. That acupuncture works.

Considering Acupuncture?, Atha Wellness in Kirkland, WA

Stay Healthy and Live Long - Acupuncture and Self-Care

by Anne Gordon

Yes!  Acupuncture to live well, and live long!  As part of the Yangsheng long and healthy life tradition, consider acupuncture as the next step of (easy) self-care.  Much like getting our exercise in, and making sure we are eating a balanced diet, acupuncture helps us maintain our health.  Once a month, give acupuncture 45 minutes of your time.  Why?  Because a small commitment to acupuncture will produce a deep and impactful benefit for your health.  Even if you do not have an active health diagnosis, as a preventive health treatment acupuncture treats disease and poor health before they arise and stops them from occurring.

So little time, and so many benefits!  Treatment is  simple - 1. show up, 2 . lay down,  3. have a nice "reset" as the needles do the work - AND produces profound results. Hopefully, monthly treatments will then become part of your health routine and something to which you look forward.

Why wait? Come on in! Take the next step in your commitment to health and wellbeing - give acupuncture a try!