What, me? I don't snore . . . .
Stop Snoring with Chinese Medicine -Cassandra Krug, MSAOM, L.Ac
We have all had it happen- that moment of disorientation when you wake up from a dreamy sleep to the howling from the laundry room… or wait, is it grandma snoring from all the way down the hall? That cannot be healthy. Should we check on her? If your loved one is snoring, there are two people suffering, one who may have serious health problems, and the other who is wishing for a good pair of earplugs! There is no need to suffer night after night when there is nutrition therapy, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and for a select few, a C-PAP machine. Help is available!
Snoring is a vibration caused by air not flowing freely through your airways. There are many causes including nasal congestion, phlegm obstruction, large tonsils, or structural abnormalities. When you snore your cells and tissues do not receive an adequate amount of oxygen and this can be detrimental to your health. Poor sleep quality can lead to lowered immune system functioning, decreased healing time for injuries, low energy, poor memory, depression, an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
Chinese medicine can work through a variety of mechanisms to help you or your loved ones stop snoring. Chinese nutritional and herbal therapy along with acupuncture can help transform phlegm and reduce nasal congestion to unblock your sinuses. It can also decrease inflammation and improve circulation. That being said, if there are structural abnormalities, then proper sinus drainage may not be achieved. Eliminating phlegm and decreasing inflammation can help, but in some cases you may need to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT). Additionally, snoring can be a result of a sleep apnea condition where people periodically stop breathing during their sleep. In these cases, a continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) machine may be needed, which can be determined through a sleep study.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when we talk about phlegm, congestion, or post nasal drip we are looking to address both the spleen which creates the phlegm and the lung which stores the phlegm. In TCM, our spleen function is more easily compared to the western medicine pancreas, as it plays a vital role in digestion. One of its roles is to break down the food we eat into what our body uses to fuel our cells and tissues. This is the transforming and transporting function of the spleen. Dysfunction in this mechanism could lead to the production of dampness, phlegm or edema. When the phlegm is stored in the lungs it might lead to symptoms of snoring, coughing up sputum, wheezing or a rattling noise when breathing. Phlegm does not always have to be productive or visible; it can also be stored as nodules, cysts, lumps, lipomas or deformities. At the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder all of our practitioners will gladly provide an initial evaluation to determine the cause and most effective treatment plan for you (or your spouse) to stop snoring!
The foods you eat play a big part in your health. One of the most beneficial changes you can make in your diet is to cut down on or eliminate phlegm-producing foods. These foods include dairy products, greasy foods, fried or processed foods and especially sugar (including drinks, such as soda). It is also helpful to avoid raw foods. This means cooking your veggies and even your fruits! Although raw foods are dense in nutrients, they are more difficult to digest and your body has to use more energy to break them down. Some great food ideas include: homemade soups, steamed vegetables incorporating dark leafy greens (eg: kale, spinach, rainbow chard) or cooking sliced apples and berries in with your oatmeal. You will find a congee recipe to help get you started at the end of the article!
One of many studies regarding Chinese medicine suggests it is a beneficial solution for putting an end to your snoring and getting a better night’s sleep. A study published in 2012 in “The American Journal of Chinese Medicine” by Yi-Hong Wu and colleagues found a significant amount of relief from snoring based on 118 participants, according to before and after scores determined with the Snore Outcome Survey (SOS). There was also a significant correlation signifying that the cases with more severe snoring at baseline had greater improvement with the Chinese herbal treatment that was administered for four weeks. Excessive daytime sleepiness was also greatly improved according to the results of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). During the study, no significant side effects were observed among the participants. (1)
Because there are so many causes to storing and disturbed sleep it is important to eliminate structural or physical contributors to this condition. We would like to be a part of your healthcare journey and help you learn ways to improve your health. Schedule your acupuncture consultation today! The next time your spouse hears large crashing waves we hope you are at the beach!
Congee with Chinese Medicine
Congee is a simple rice soup that is easily digested and used in TCM to warm the spleen and stomach. Congee becomes more therapeutic to help stop snoring by adding the appropriate vegetables, grains or herbs. Strengthening the spleen, promoting digestion, transforming phlegm and dispelling dampness will aid in decreasing snoring.
1 cup rice
6-8 cups water
Consider adding any of the following:
Alfalfa sprouts- Benefits spleen and stomach, dispels dampness
Carrots- promotes digestion, detoxifies, benefits eyes
Celery- Cooling, promotes digestion, clears heat, lowers blood pressure
Chinese Chives- warming, dispels dampness
Cilantro- strengthens digestion, promotes sweating, relieves stomach fullness
Daikon Radish- promotes digestion, moistens lungs, stops coughing, transforms mucus
Lotus Root- clears heat, relieves irritability, strengthens spleen, promotes urination
Shitake Mushrooms- strengthens stomach, promotes healing, lowers blood pressure
Onion, Leek- resolves phlegm, clears sinus infections and allergies
Scallion- eliminates nasal congestion and allergies.
Add rice and water to pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce to low. Add in any extra ingredients. Cook on low for 2-6 hours. The longer it cooks, the more therapeutic it becomes.
Alternatively, add ingredients to crock-pot and cook on low for 6 or more hours.
Yi-Hong Wu et al. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2012 40:01, 11-24. Clinical Outcomes of Traditional Chinese Medicine Compound Formula in Treating Sleep-Disordered Breathing Patients
Ni M, McNease C. The Tao of Nutrition, 3rd Los Angeles, CA: Tao of Wellness Press; 2009.