Many people look forward to the holiday season and the start of a new year. It often provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family, take a few days off from work, or go on a winter vacation. But if the thought of holiday season gives you visions of stress and chaos, you are not alone. While the holiday season can be a fun and joyous time, it can also be very stressful. The combined effort of shopping, attending social events, and entertaining guests can quickly become too much to handle.
The body’s reaction to stress is meant to protect us. Our natural reactions to danger or challenge can be positive, but when we feel intense pressure or feel out of control these reactions become negative stress. The “fight or flight” response from the sympathetic nervous system occurs as we react to physical and mental changes in our equilibrium. In Chinese medicine, excessive emotional stimulation or suppression causes imbalance, thereby injuring the body and producing disease. And if you read last month’s newsletter, you know that stress is one of the things that will lower your immune system.
Here are several ways to minimize stress and anxiety so you can thoroughly enjoy this festive time of year and stay well at the same time.
Nix the Sugar
Some call this the “sugar season” which officially begins the day after Halloween and goes through New Years with many occasions to indulge in desserts, festive beverages and the like. If you want to reduce stress, sugar is one of the first things to cut out of your diet. When you’re stressed, your body releases more cortisol, a hormone responsible for helping us manage both stress and blood sugar levels. That’s because when you eat sugary foods, blood sugar levels spike, and the body must release more cortisol to balance blood sugar. The problem is that increased cortisol can also cause sleep issues, decreased immune response, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. Additionally, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels cause feelings that are similar to stress, including anxiousness and fear. By eliminating foods with added sugars—like pastries, flavored yogurt, and soda—and eating more whole foods, you’ll keep your blood sugar stable, boost your immune system and will have fewer mood swings, reduced stress, and a happier body Continue reading
Even though it’s still hot as Hades outside, we are fast approaching the change of the seasons – summer into fall – one of most susceptible times of the year for catching colds and flu. The weather should be cooling soon (fingers crossed!), school has started, and activities pick up so most likely there’s more stress. And since it’s still so hot, you may be tempted to continue to dress lightly and eat cooling foods. Kids are bringing colds or flu home from school so it spreads through the family and co-workers sharing it at the office. It’s no wonder many of us are sick during this time of year.
Autumn is the season associated with the Lung and its partner, the Large Intestine. If you tend to catch colds or have allergies in the Fall, it’s important to take care of these organs! Together the lung and large intestines are related to immunity through the strength of the protective external layer of our skin. Generally, outside pathogens most easily enter through the respiratory and digestive systems, and the lung and colon are responsible for maintaining the function of these systems so that they are not penetrated by outside pathogens. According to Chinese medicine, the body’s defensive energy is directly dependent on the strength of the lung and colon.
So how do you stay well through this vulnerable time? How do you prevent catching a cold or flu and keep your family will, too? The good news – there are many alternatives to support health through this change of seasons. But you need to get on it! NOW is the time to prepare.
Change your Diet
First of all, change your diet no to reflect the season to come. Cooler weather means ingesting warmer food and drinks. Here’s what to eat:
- Switch from salads to soups.
- Eat cooked rather than raw fruit – consider crisps, cobblers or pies.
- Use lots of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and fennel.
- Ingest root veggies and winter squash.
- Increase protein intake.
Here’s what to avoid:
- Cold, refrigerated or iced drinks
- Raw foods
- Cold juices
- Ice cream and other iced/cold foods
One of my favorite herbal formulas for digestion is Microgard Plus. These tiny micropills have many great benefits for the digestive system and tend the “micro garden” in our gut. Some of these benefits include:
- Stimulates digestive enzymes
- Regulates blood sugar and metabolism
- Helps break down proteins, fats and sugars
- Calms stomach upset, diarrhea, and indigestion (including hangovers)
- Promotes good bacteria and make conditions unfavorable for bad bacteria.
- Protects the gut microbiota
This herbal product is sourced from the finest quality Tibetan herbs. If you have a clean diet that is low on carbs and high on veggies, then you probably don’t need them, but if you eat like most Americans, then you may want to add them to your health care routine. They are particularly handy to have around for when you eat something you probably shouldn’t have, or when traveling to foreign countries where you are eating things your body isn’t accustomed to. If you’d like to learn more, please ask next time you are in the clinic or give me a call.
Take advantage of my free offer below…
June is Men’s Health Month and with Father’s Day coming up, now is a great time to stress the importance of men’s health. Let’s face it, men smoke more, drink more alcohol, make riskier choices and put off seeking healthcare. Some aren’t even aware of what their health risks are. When men are aware of health concerns important to them, they can do a better job of taking care of themselves.
Here’s why I think it’s important to discuss this topic.
- Men are 24% less likely than a woman to have visited a health care practitioner in the last year.
- Men who are overweight, obese, or physically inactive are at greater risk for high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
- 40% of men are smokers compared to 9% of women. Smoking can not only cause cancer, but can cause erectile dysfunction and damage to the DNA in sperm which may lead to infertility.
- Men make up over 75% of suicide victims in the United States. Depression may be different for men. Emotional and physical tension are signs of stress and may put you at risk for anxiety, depression and other health problems.
- Over 50% of men in their 60s and as many as 90% in their 70s or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Men are more frequently diagnosed with serious digestive-related conditions because they are less likely to seek help for heartburn, acid reflux, and other digestive symptoms until they have become a real problem.
Making Healthier Choices
Making healthy choices includes consulting health professionals and becoming educated on the preventative measures that are important for your health. This includes diet, exercise and positive mental health. Here are a few things you can do to improve your health. Continue reading
You’ve probably heard all about the wild deer around our area, and if you have a garden like I do, you’ve seen the evidence that they are all around. Did you know that our area is also a hotbed for ticks – particularly those that carry Lyme Disease? There are many different kinds of ticks throughout the world and the one that carries Lyme disease is the Ixodes tick, also called the blacklegged tick or deer tick (hence my referral to the deer in our area).
Ticks are related to spiders and mites. They are arachnids, not insects. Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals in order to survive. They are called vectors (carriers) because they can feed on a Lyme disease-infected animal (such as a mouse), then carry and transmit the Lyme bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) to the next animal or person they bite. It’s estimated that about 50% of deer ticks carry Lyme.
If it wasn’t bad enough that these these ticks carry Lyme, they can also carry bacterial co-infections in addition to Lyme, such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. These co-infections can complicate one’s Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment. Lyme and it’s co-infections can be really nasty if not caught early. Prevention, early diagnosis and treatment are key to reducing the chances of becoming infected and having to live with what can many times be debilitating symptoms.
Lyme is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the US. Annual reported cases have increased 25-fold since 1982. Lyme infects 300,000 around people a year in the US. That’s 25,000 new cases a month, 5,700 a week, 822 a day, or 34 per hour!! And the CDC estimates that these numbers are actually much higher due to misdiagnosis, under reporting and poor testing. Continue reading
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:
- High blood pressure
- Neck, shoulder and back pain and tension
- Digestive problems
- Low libido and sexual problems
- Brain fog
- Other physical health issues
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid drinking or eating cold foods. Cold can slow circulation around the abdomen and uterus.
- Increase the quality of your blood with Chinese red dates, beef soup or beef, boiled eggs, beets and goji berries.
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.
Couples who are planning to have a baby put a lot of thought into preparing for the arrival of a new child, from the nursery, 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),
- Ovarian cysts or Edometriosis,
- or other seemingly unrelated factors.
If you or someone you know has Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue (or really any autoimmune disease or chronic 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
I’m always being asked at my clinic if Acupuncture can boost the Immune System. The answer is yes, and it is amazing at doing this!
If you tend to get sick during the winter months, making you feel lousy and causing you to miss work or school, then listen up. Having acupuncture treatments and taking Chinese herbs before the cold weather hits can change this. Traditional Chinese Medicine theory claims that colds and flu happen when our protective surface energy is weak, allowing pathogens (bacteria and viruses) to enter our body.
A healthy balanced body has a strong and effective immune system. If you’ve had long term stress, recurring infections, excessive use of medications like antibiotics or chemotherapy, surgical operations or traumatic life events, your immune system may already be very low. All the things that leave us feeling run down, tired lethargic or depressed will lower immunity and compromise how our bodies respond to pathogens. The time to boost your immune system is now, before the cold winter months arrive. Continue reading