The Silent Disease – Emotional Trauma

Chinese medicine is the oldest documented medical system to recognize the connection between body and mind and they are considered equally important. This is why Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and herbal medicine, is a great treatment choice for those suffering from trauma where the physical condition is directly connected to the psychological one.

There are many forms of trauma. Perhaps the best known is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a condition that results after a person undergoes a harrowing physical or emotional event such as a war experience, car crash, natural disaster, or extreme emotional loss. Trauma and shock can also derive from an incident (or multiple incidents) in a person’s life that occurred many years ago such as child abuse or birth trauma (like umbilical cord wrapped around the neck). These traumatic experiences can create difficult emotional states, such as anxiety, depression, worry, sadness, fear, anger, paranoia and confusion.

What we now know is that trauma can diminish the functioning of the immune system, digestion, sleep, learning and memory. Emotional states ripple throughout the body and it reacts by manifesting physical symptoms. Physical reactions to emotional states can include:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain and tension
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia
  • Low libido and sexual problems
  • Brain fog
  • Other physical health issues

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Nuevo Camino – Helping Where Needed

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been asked to go on a medical mission to Peru with local non-profit, Something New and their Nuevo Camino initiative. Nuevo Camino helps abandoned and abused mothers and their children find a new path in life. It provides the tools that these moms need to get back on their feet and give their children a shot at life. For women that are ready to work and find new living arrangements, Nuevo Camino provides life coaching support coupled with financial help to help these women get back on their feet and not just surviving, but living up to their potential. This video explains more.

Along with other volunteers, I’ll be providing health care to the moms and their children, and providing public health education and health related services to people in a remote village of the Andes.  If you are interested in joining us, or would like to make a donation to help offset expenses and provide supplies, please let me know. Learn more about the trip here.

Make a donation.

5 Tips to Improve Fertility

If you’ve been trying to conceive and it’s just not happening, give these tips a try to improve your chances.  Of course I’m ready to help you too with Acupuncture,  Herbal Medicine and Nutrition Therapy.

  1. Clean up your diet – Focus on organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains and lean proteins.  Minimize processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and sweets. If you have PCOS, minimize sugar and refined carbohydrates. 
  2. Warm your belly – some cases of infertility can be from “cold” in the uterus, so try warming your abdomen gently during the time after your period until ovulation. Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on low-medium for 20 minutes in the evenings.
  3. Go easy with exercise – If you are used to intense workouts, you may want to cut back. Research shows that intense exercise more than four hours a week can decrease fertility, so reduce the intensity by 25-30% and try replacing one or two sessions with a gentle yoga or Pilates class.
  4. Avoid drinking or eating cold foods. Cold can slow circulation around the abdomen and uterus.
  5. Increase the quality of your blood with Chinese red dates, beef soup or beef, boiled eggs, beets and goji berries.

March Focus: Fertility

Spring is a time of rebirth, sudden growth, and rapid expansion; an awakening of the life process. With that in mind, my focus for this month is on Fertility.

Oh baby!

Couples who are planning to have a baby put a lot of thought into preparing for the arrival of a new child, from the Hopeful couplenursery, baby’s college fund and of course the baby’s name.  And while these are all important, the health of parents before and during the pregnancy is the most important factor in determining the health of the baby.

Best practice says you want to prepare your body at least 4-6 months before you intend to become pregnant so that it is strong, ready to conceive and carry the child through to a healthy birth. It is said in Chinese Medicine that you need to “tend the garden”, preparing the soil for a healthy baby. This goes for both Mom and Dad. In order to have healthy baby-producing sperm, we want to make sure that the father’s “garden” is properly tended too. For women, it takes the body about 120 days to mature the eggs, and for men, it takes about 70-90 days for a man’s sperm to mature.  For this reason, I stress that couples should take the time to address any imbalances before they try to become pregnant.

Along with eating a well balanced diet high in dark leafy greens and good quality protein, and reducing stress, I recommend regular acupuncture treatments and, if necessary, herbal therapy to help balance hormones, reduce stress and strengthen the body to prepare it for pregnancy.

Getting pregnant is just the beginning though. I think you’ll agree that the ultimate goal is to have a healthy child. I also provide support during the pregnancy to address any discomfort like morning sickness and back pain and minimize the risk of miscarriage.

When it’s complicated

Sometimes there are complicating factors that make getting pregnant more difficult for some. I see many patients that have issues becoming pregnant, and there can be a number of reasons for this such as:

  • Menstrual issues (irregular periods),
  • Stress,
  • Illness,
  • Ovarian cysts or Edometriosis,
  • or other seemingly unrelated factors.

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Recipe of the Month – Salmon with Immune Boosting Mushrooms

Mushrooms are packed with healing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that destroy infections, slow down aging, and regenerate nerve cells. Asian mushrooms are best and shitakes are probably the easiest of them to find at your local market. Try this healthy recipe from Eating Well magazine to add some immune boosting power to your diet.

Seared Salmon with Mushroom-Shallot Sauce

  • 4 (4 ounce) fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced shitake, cremeni or button mushrooms
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse the fish; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Measure thickness of fillets. Cook the salmon in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes per ½-inch thickness or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork, carefully turning once halfway through cooking. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
  2. Add mushrooms and shallot to the same skillet. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and carefully add wine, mustard, and thyme. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined and heated through.
  3. Place the salmon on serving plates and top with the mushroom sauce.  Serve with a side of vegetables.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. The year 2019 is represented by the Yin Earth Brown Pig. Pigs are considered a symbol of wealth and their cute chubby faces and big ears denote good fortune. This is a time for new beginnings and for improving your health for the long term. Here’s wishing you a great 2019 filled with good health and good fortune!

February Focus on Fibromyalgia

If you or someone you know has Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue (or really any autoimmune disease or chronicPain pain), you know just how frustrating it can be for them. They may experience pain and fatigue so severe they may feel like they have the flu all the time. They might have stopped doing the things they once enjoyed and are no longer spending time with those they love. The way I approach these conditions is unique because I look at the eight different causes and devise a plan that resolves each of them in a very logical step-by-step approach. I help people take their life back and offer solutions that they can do at home to improve their quality of life.

With these illnesses, the body has become so inflamed and out of balance that key functions fail, creating pain of several types, flu-like symptoms, digestive issues, circulatory problems and more. Imagine a house that has a leaky roof that eventually leads to ruined walls and carpet, mold in the house, electrical problems, etc. In order to repair the house, you’d fix the roof first right? No point in replacing the carpet before the leaks are repaired. Many people have unknowingly taken this approach with their health though, trying to fix their symptoms before fixing the underlying cause. This can cause other symptoms to reappear or get worse and results don’t last. That equals FRUSTRATION! The order we make repairs is vitally important to restore the body’s natural balance. The evidence-based methods I use when working with people who have autoimmune conditions include a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, breathing exercises and qigong. I follow a specific order in applying treatments, each step lasting 2 – 4 weeks along with self care and nutrition advice. In 12 weeks or less, my patients see remarkable results when following my FibroFatigue program. This includes less pain, more energy, improved digestion, better sleep and an overall improvement in quality of life. Continue reading

Yoga and Guided Meditation for Improved Sleep

Two years into World War II, the US military realized that due to extraordinarily high levels of stress and lack of sleep many of the combat pilots began to freeze up in flight and make potentially fatal mistakes. To counteract that, they invited Naval Ensign Bud Winter to teach relaxation to combat pilots. Winter had previously been a successful football and track coach who worked with a professor of psychology to teach athletes how to perform better under the stress of competition.

“The end goal of the program was to teach the Naval aviators how to relax so that they could learn more quickly, speed up their reaction time, sharpen their focus, and diminish their fear. The course also aimed to teach combat aviators to be able to go to sleep in two minutes any time, day or night, under any and all conditions.”

If you suffer from insomnia, this should sound pretty intriguing!  The practice below uses simple movement, deep belly breathing, and meditation to gradually let go of the regrets, worries, and problems of the day. The practice also includes guided relaxation that is based on the script that Bud Winter had used with his pilots.

Here’s the link to the full article.  

Living a Healthy New Year

Ancient advice for health during Winter says “Desires and mental activity should be kept quiet and subdued, as if keeping a happy secret. Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep the skin covered.” With the cold weather, hibernation of animals, decrease in plant life, and few daylight hours, winter was the toughest season to maintain health in the ancient world.

Even though the #1 New Year Resolution is weight loss, the winter months really aren’t ideal to try and lose weight. Make Health a PriorityWhy? Because human health has long been considered to be closely tied to nature. As organic creatures, it stands to reason that we humans are affected, directly and indirectly, by the natural environment including weather, climate, or duration of daylight.

These factors, particularly less daylight and our natural instinct to hibernate, make losing weight more difficult and frustrating which leads us to give up on that goal altogether. Less sunlight means we aren’t getting as much vitamin D. It appears that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage—so calories you consume are stored in fat cells rather than being used for energy. A second factor is an increase in melatonin, the hormone that signals your body that it is time to sleep, and is triggered by darkness. Since winter means less hours of daylight, melatonin levels tend to increase and increased melatonin is associated with increased appetite. It can feel like a losing battle. Continue reading