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Healthy Foods for Fall

traditional chinese medicine foods for fall

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything.

As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits should be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading »

Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading »

Food (or vitamins, herbs, and miscellany) for thought…

In Western society – especially medicine – we tend to overdo things; many wonder why it seems that no matter what they do to try to fix one physical ailment, something else still gets out of whack. It’s putting on a Band-Aid instead of working with fixing/eliminating the cause, and even MDs often fall into this trap!

Here are a few tidbits of information I share with patients about some common practices and issues being experienced today in the area of “overdoing”:

  • Be careful not to overdo the intake of aspirin. According to Steven F. Hotze, MD, in his book HORMONES, HEALTH and HAPPINESS, taking aspirin for a headache on occasion is ok. However, did you know that if aspirin is taken on a regular basis, it can also deplete your folic acid levels and may interfere with the ability of vitamin C to enter cells?  As an alternative, I recommend an Herbal Analgesic blend for any kind of pain that patients may have, which contains Yan Hu Suo (Rhizoma Corydalis) and is considered to be one of the strongest and most effective herbs in the entire Chinese herbal pharmacopoeia for pain relief. It enters the xue (blood) and qi (energy) levels of the body to invigorate blood circulation, regulate the movement of the qi and relieve pain in the chest, abdomen, and limbs.  Other herbs can be added to this formula for specific pain locations; for example, to enhance the analgesic effect of Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis), Ru Xiang (Indian Olibanum tree) and Mo Yao (Myrr) are added and work synergistically to relieve a wide range of pain that may be caused by qi or blood stagnation caused by trauma or arthritic syndrome. Dang Gui (Korean Angelica) enriches the blood and causes the blood to move, and finally, Sheng Ma (Rhizoma Cimicifugae) is added and used as a channel-guiding herb, which causes upward and outward movement of the qi and has a dispersing nature, which helps break up stagnation and relieve pain.  Herbal Analgesic is also combined with other formulas for even more specific syndromes like gout, neuropathy, bone spurs, post-surgical care, gastric issues, painful menstruation, back pain – even herniated disks and many other issues of body pain!
  • Are you someone who thinks, “the more, the better” when it comes to taking antacids? Think again! Overdosing on aluminum-based antacids for heartburn can actually leach calcium from your body, which in turn increases your risk of osteoporosis. It can also deactivate vitamin B1 (thiamine), and deficiency in B1 can cause many discomforts and sickness, not the least of which is extreme fatigue, irritability, constipation, edema, and an enlarged liver. Also, on a related note, taking too much heartburn/acid reflux medications – such as Nexium and Prilosec blocks calcium from entering the bones. If you read it, the side-effects insert for these drugs DO say not intended for long term useyet many people take these medications for long periods of time! I use a variety of herbs for blocking the acids that cause heartburn and acid reflux, with no side effects.One herbal formula used is GI Care, which restores normal gastrointestinal functions by promoting smooth and complete digestion, and also has an antacid effect of relieving heartburn and ulcers and an antispasmodic effect to stop pain and relieve intestinal cramps. Most important,  the formula has an antibiotic effect against Helicobacter Pylori, which causes chronic low-level inflammation of the stomach lining and is strongly linked to the development of duodenal and gastric ulcers and even stomach cancer. More than 80% of individuals infected with Helicobacter Pylori have no symptoms!  Many gastrointestinal functions are caused by stress, anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness, which can easily intensify already present symptoms of poor appetite, headache, tension, and insomnia. In combination with GI Care, I also use a formula called Calm to address these problems, which provides a mild sedative effect to relieve nervousness and irritability and/or mood swings.   It also helps relieves stress and anxiety, and provides an analgesic action that relieves pain, headache, and muscle tension associated with stress. In Chinese medicine, we say that Calm spreads liver qi (stress), nourishes liver blood (nourishes the nervous system), clears toxic heat (some people feel very hot when under stress), and harmonizes the middle jiao (harmonizes the stomach). So to simplify the technicalities, the combination of these two are powerful healing herbal formulas for acid reflux!

The simple answer is that we need to focus more on prevention, moderation, natural treatments and nutrition that balance the system. In turn, it is wise to limit the use of most processed pharmaceuticals for the situations where they are most useful – dire, immediate circumstances that require immediate alleviation.  Only then will we be able to move out of these dangerous cycles of fixing one thing to hurt another, and instead be able to lead more balanced, healthy lives!

To Qi or Not to Qi – THAT is the Question!

Do you think the practice of acupuncture is “magic” (or even “voodoo”)? Many people do! However, the reason behind how it works is actually based on proven theory that has been in practice for thousands of years.

In Eastern medicine, pain and sickness happens when the qi (pronounced chi, as in energy) and/or the blood stagnates or is deficient through a very specific meridian – or pathway – through the body. For example, here’s a list of standard ailments and their related meridians:

  • Shingles and stress are related to the gallbladder and liver meridians;
  • Back pain is related to the kidney meridian;
  • Weight gain is related to the spleen/stomach meridian;
  • Depression is related to the heart/lung meridian;
  • Headaches and stress affect the liver meridian (this can also be a sign of heart blood stagnation);
  • Swollen feet and ankles can be related to many meridians;
  • Sinusitis is related to the lung/spleen/stomach meridians;
  • Coughs and flus are related to the lung/spleen/stomach meridians;

Because we know that these ailments are directly related to the energy flow through the respective meridians, alleviation and dissipation of any of them happens when the energy flow is corrected – which is exactly what acupuncture does.

Many people are astounded that acupuncture treats almost any ailment imaginable based on this simple connection between qi, blood flow, and meridians. I love explaining this relationship, because it helps them understand how I can help!

Aw, baby…

The summer has gone by really  fast; with every passing day, I continue to witness how acupuncture has been healing and blessing patients!!  Speaking of blessings…

One of my patients needed fertility help; I’ve been working with her in conjunction with her fertility physician for several months to help create the optimal conditions for her body to grow a baby. Well, guess what?  Three weeks ago, she called to tell me she was having twins.  And then, just the other day, she called again to tell me she was having TRIPLETS!! I cannot tell you how proud I am to be a part of such a wonderful profession where I can truly help my patients!

The fertility work is exciting, not only for the future parents involved, but for me, too — I’ve already helped with 4 sets of  twins, and some single babies also. So, if you’re having problem conceiving (or know someone else who is), know that acupuncture is a great and safe practice to help fulfill your dreams of becoming a parent. Here are some great articles with a little more information on fertility and acupuncture:

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