4 Common Holiday “Side Effects” and How Chinese Medicine Can Help

By Brenna Bouchard, L.Ac. /

4 Common Holiday “Side Effects” and How Chinese Medicine Can Help

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, sometimes. Other times we can feel a little bit run down, stressed out and bloated from all the Christmas cookies.  While TCM is largely based on prevention, sometimes holiday “side effects” happen!

Here’s how to remedy 4 common holiday mishaps, so you can stay happy and healthy going into the New Year:

1) Overeating and Overindulging – *Burp!*

We’ve all been there. Grandma offers you that third helping of stuffing, or you keep eyeballing that assorted chocolate tray in the workplace lunchroom. One more couldn’t hurt, right?

*gurgle gurgle*

During the holidays, we tend to overindulge on rich foods, sweets and alcohol. Instead of swigging back Pepto Bismol like it’s going out of style, acupuncture and herbs can help regulate stomach acid secretions, moderate digestive enzymes, and modulate motility in your bowels. In other words: slowing things down for diarrhea, and speeding things up for constipation.

acupuncture stress relief

2) Stressing Out!

You’re in a crowded mall. Did she say she wanted a blue or red sweater? What was that game little Timmy wanted? Blue Life Break?

Why is it so crowded in here? IS IT HOT IN HERE OR IS IT JUST ME?

Headaches, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, high cortisol levels – so much for holiday cheer right? Sometimes stress can get the best of us with all the events, shopping, and planning this time of year.

Acupuncture is a great tool for promoting relaxation, both short term and long term. In the short term, acupuncture encourages the body to release “feel good” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin to give that sense of “Ahhhhh” post treatment.

Long term, acupuncture and herbs can regulate our body’s ability to handle stress. This is done by improving the function of organs such as our Liver and Kidneys, and moderating our cortisol levels. Lowering cortisol levels also keeps our immune systems working top notch, so we don’t get the post holiday sniffles. 

3) Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – ironic name, right?)

It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s winter in Alberta. Not only do we get less sunshine and Vitamin D, but it can sometimes just feel grey and “Bleh” during the winter months. Add stressful family events or a lack of sleep from Christmas parties into the mix, and we can end up feeling quite crummy.

While SAD can have different causes for different people, some theorize that it can be caused by an over-stimulation of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin. Too much melatonin means too much “sleepy hormone”, which can cause fatigue, lethargy and depression.

Not only are herbs and supplements great for moderating the individual root causes of SAD, but acupuncture can have an effect on the pineal gland and moderate melatonin secretions. There’s even a point right over it!

yoga sore muscles

4) Sore, Cranky and Downright Grumpy Muscles

Whether it’s from hanging Christmas lights, shoveling the walks in the cold, or doing an incredibly animated impression of Mr. Bean Cooks a Turkey; our necks, backs and hips can take a beating this time of year.

Acupuncture increases circulation to the muscles and can stimulate the muscle to relax. Moxibustion and electro-acupuncture can also relieve inflammation and decrease the healing time on sprains and strains.

Add on some cupping, time under the TDP lamp and maybe even some Tuina and you’ll be back to your Rowan Atkinson impressions in to time!

meditation stress relief

Prevention is key, but sometimes holiday mishaps happen!

Eating slowly, meditating, and stretching can help us avoid these festive side effects. But sometimes we just have to let loose, and enjoy the holiday fun!  Do yourself a favor; get treatment for damage control afterwards so it doesn’t turn into a year round problem. 

Happy holidays! 

Brenna Bouchard, R.Ac, owns and practices acupuncture at Fort Saskatchewan Acupuncture. After experiencing incredible results and pain relief as an acupuncture patient, Brenna decided that she wanted to have a greater impact on people’s health not only with fitness, but all facets of health through holistic health practices.

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