Archive for November 2011

Avoiding Jet Lag

travel fun

………Travel fun up in a tree in Hawaii

I LOVE to travel! Traveling isn’t always a true holiday for me in the sense that I don’t like to just lay on a beach doing nothing but rotating periodically. My pale and freckled skin would not easily forgive me if I did do that. When I travel I usually have a planned itinerary of things to do, see, taste, and experience. Because I feel the need to squeeze every second out of my travel destination, I want to avoid the dreaded jet lag phenomenon.

Melatonin is a commonly used supplement for helping to reset an internal body clock. I don’t normally find I need to bring melatonin with me, but I do always bring a mix of valerian root, passion flower, hops, and lemon balm in tincture format to help with my first couple of nights of sleep, just in case. I also like to bring my list of acupressure points to press while waiting for the plane, on the plane, and perhaps during the first few hours of arrival at my destination.

The idea is that there are specific organ systems active during each 2-hour time block. That means that all 12 TCM organ systems are represented over a 24 hour period. Each 2-hour time block is thus associated with a different point to stimulate that organ system. So, your Lungs are most active from 3-5 a.m., Large Intestines from 5-7 a.m., Stomach from 7-9 a.m., Spleen from 9-11 a.m., Heart from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Small Intestines from 1-3 p.m., Urinary Bladder from 3-5 p.m., Kidneys from 5-7 p.m., Pericardium from 7-9 p.m., Triple Warmer (not a real organ) from 9-11 p.m., Gallbladder from 11 p.m.-1 a.m., and Liver from 1-3 a.m.

Press the points associated with your destination time in order to ready your body for the new time clock. For example, if your location time is 1:30 p.m., but your destination is 3 hours ahead, you will be pressing the Urinary Bladder point (associated with the 3-5 p.m. time). Two hours later you would press the Kidney point, etc. If you miss some of those 2 hour blocks because you’ve slept or forgotten, don’t worry about it, just press the points when you can over the first 24 hours of your travel. Try to catch at least half of the points. For details about point locations and more about how to do this, click Jetlag acupressure. For more travel tips, click Travel Tips. Enjoy your trip!

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Q&A: Can acupuncture be used to treat tension headaches?

I was recently asked this question at a health show: Can acupuncture be used to treat tension headaches?

Acupuncture absolutely can help treat, manage, and prevent tension headaches. Here is a link to an article about tension headaches and migraines and the use of acupuncture to treat them: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/136103.php

I have been treating patients for a variety of health problems for more than 10 years, but my experience started with receiving acupuncture to treat my own headaches. I used to get daily headaches, from the time I was a child until about a month into getting acupuncture, taking Chinese herbs, and implementing some nutritional changes.

Acupuncture is best recognized for its ability to treat pain and relax tight muscles. It is also fantastic at helping to relieve stress, a major cause of tension headaches.

So, if you get frequent headaches or any migraines, know that you need not suffer! Whether a tension headache or ones caused by blood sugar imbalances, changes in weather, allergies, sinusitis, chemical sensitivities, hormonal imbalance, or other, get yourself treated sooner than later.

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Top 10 Questions: #2 How Many Treatments Does It Take?

In our world of now, now now, we have been trained to become impatient. Fast food, microwaves, instant messaging, pharmaceuticals have all made our wait times shorter. We feel rushed and often short on time. I know that for me, one of my most valuable assets is, indeed, my time.

For this reason, we sometimes forget that our bodies are not machines. We can replace some parts, but even what we do that, there is recovery time. We can take a pill to relieve a symptom, but that symptom often returns when we don’t address the cause.

So, when people come in for TCM treatment, there needs to be the understanding right from the start that I have no magic wand. While some patients do find instant and lasting relief from just one treatment, there is usually a series that needs to be completed to maintain that relief as the body sets down new, healthier patterns.

More acute, less severe issues generally take only a few treatments to resolve. The more entrenched a pattern of imbalance, the longer it usually takes to create lasting changes. I often expect that it will take 3-4 sessions before some symptoms will start to show obvious and significant changes and I tell my patients this at the start. Hormonal shifts usually take at least 3 months. Pain usually finds some relief after just a few sessions, if not the first. Sometimes one simple addition, like getting enough essential fatty acids or receiving a B12 shot, can cause amazing nearly instant improvements in energy. But, remember your body is learning and learning often takes time.

Be conscious and attentive, however, to the smaller improvements that can happen very early on. We often forget to even pay attention to how we feel following a treatment, just as we often shove food into our faces without even experiencing the taste of that food. Be mindful of the small, yet important, changes that happen and they will multiply.

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Q&A: What is the best way to maintain healthy levels of good and bad bacteria in your body?

I was recently asked this question at a health show.

There are two parts to this question.

One aspect is keeping limited the bad bacteria in the body. Some ways to do that include limiting its food source, especially sugar; keeping the immune system strong; and not putting in more bacteria and yeast through poor quality food.

The second aspect is to boost up the good bacteria and limit their demise. Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, kombucha tea, sauerkraut, and yogurt are food sources of this good bacteria. There are many different strains of good bacteria (probiotics), including acidophilus, bifidus, and a multitude of others. A variety of strains is important. Probiotic supplements are the best way to make sure to you get enough of this good bacteria. Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria that they are intended to kill.

When Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) originated, we did not know about good and bad bacteria in the body. However, TCM can address improving the digestive system, immune system, and the nervous system, all related to treating and preventing yeast infections and balance the body’s natural flora.

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Top 10 Questions: #1 Can you treat [X] symptom, disease, illness?

This is a very common question because we’ve become used to taking one pill for one problem. Have a headache? Take a Tylenol. Have heartburn? Take Tums. With Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the focus is not on treating the illness, disease, or symptom. The focus is on treating the individual.

Ten people with headaches can each be treated very differently. One person’s headaches may be caused by low blood sugar levels. Another’s by changes in the weather. And still another by eating certain foods. Headaches that are dull and achy are different than those that are thunderous pounding. Headaches may be felt at the very top of the head while others are behind the eyes and still others are at the temples.

Of course a painkiller can mask the pain of any of those kinds of headaches…maybe. But, they don’t address the actual cause of the headaches—the source, the root.

This is where TCM is brilliant. The assessment is done on the person, based on the that person’s experiences with the health issue, the medical history, the family medical history, the emotions and state of mind, the triggers and things that relieve the problem, and all of the various other complexities of that individual’s body, mind, and spirit.

So, when someone asks, “can you treat x?”, my answer is almost always “yes”, but with a reminder that I’m treating the person, not the symptoms. TCM can seem mystical and even miraculous sometimes, but that is not really because it can cure any disease. It is because it can address the patterns of imbalance that arise for all of us at times and because we are all designed with the capacity to heal ourselves. TCM simply provides us with the tools and avenues to do that healing.

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Answering a question: What can be done for psoriasis?

I was asked this question at a health show I attended and the following is my response:

To answer your question about psoriasis, there are many things that can be done and it really is dependent on the individual as each and every person is different.

Having said that, there are some common key pieces to consider.

1. With all skin disorders (and really for everyone), essential fatty acids (EFAs) are really important. You may have heard of them as omega 3 or omega 6 oils. The most common deficiency is of omega 3 which you can find in fish oils from fish like salmon (wild is best), tuna, cod, and halibut. One thing to consider when eating these large fish is that they have the potential for containing higher quantities of heavy metals such as mercury. The little fish like herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are good alternatives. Because we generally don’t eat enough fish, a good quality fish oil is often recommended. Another source of omega 3 fatty acids is flax in the form  of ground flax seeds or flax seed oil, not baked in bread or cereal or whatever as those are heated and the oils are largely destroyed.

2. A good probiotic (e.g. acidophilus), not just in yogurt.

3. Check your diet. There may be triggers.

4. Determine if there are any allergies that may be able to be avoided or treated.

5. Use clean topical products, no petroleum, no cortisone (though you may need to choose cortisone creams occasionally) for regular use.

6. Most of my skin patients receive customized Chinese herbs to help treat the cause and the symptoms of their skin problems.

So, the long and short of it is that there are many options that can be tailored to each individual and I’m happy to help out in person if you like.

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