All posts in lung health

Recipe for dry cough

Steamed Pears for Dry Cough

Though it’s no longer cold and flu season, some people I’ve seen are suffering from a lingering dry cough. The cough could also be from allergies. So, in addition to treating the immune system, what can you do? How about a Traditional Chinese Medicine food cure?

TCM food cures are remedies that have been passed from practitioner to practitioner, family to family for centuries. Just like we’ve now discovered that chicken soup really can help address the symptoms of the common cold, so too can some of the TCM food cures help modern health issues.

Steamed Pears
This is a traditional remedy from TCM.
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Ingredients
  1. Chinese pears
  2. or other pears
Instructions
  1. Cut the top off one pear (don't toss it out)
  2. Core the pear
  3. Fill the centre of the pear with honey
  4. Put the top back on the pear
  5. Steam the pear for 45 to 60 minutes
  6. Pear should be very soft
  7. Let pear cool for 10 to 15 minutes
  8. Eat the whole pear and juices
  9. Do this for 3 nights in a row
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Seriously, Laughter is Medicine

Still on my monthly habit building, last month I completed #jokeadayJuly. I committed to share a joke (at least one, sometimes more) every day for 31 days. I shared it on my Facebook page (Dr.Melissa Carr) and told it to various people around me throughout the day. 

It’s harder than you might think to find 31 decent (with both meanings of “not dirty” and also “okay”) jokes. But it was fun to search for jokes, and even to laugh at the ones that were truly bad (again, in both senses of the word). And, my favourite part was that friends also shared their jokes with me. 

paddleboardPurposefully seeking humour every day is a powerful medicine, even if it only produces a small smile or groaning giggle. Trying to tickle your funny bone means you are intentionally bringing positive into your life, and that bounces into the lives of others around you, and continuously comes back to you. It’s kind of like that paddle ball on an elastic band that you might have played with when you were a kid–but with the plus of not actually whacking you in the face when you miss. 

Laughter has been shown to:

  • Reduce feelings of stress
  • Stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles
  • Burn calories
  • Stimulate blood circulation
  • Relax tight muscles
  • Ease pain
  • Improve immune function
  • Boost mood (duh)
  • Release endorphins

* Acupuncture does a lot of these too, by the way.

No joke, look up laughter on PubMed (a reputable source of research), and you’ll find a number of articles citing the value of laughter as medicine. 

These are some of what I thought were my best jokes of the month. Send me your best jokes!

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him…(oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)…a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

What’s Orange and sounds like a Parrot? ……………..A Carrot.

Why did the hipster burn his mouth on a slice of pizza? He ate it before it was cool.

and lastly…

Two bass drums and a cymbal roll down a hill. Ba dum tssh.

 

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Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

quit smoking Vancouver BC

Create a specific action plan to improve your chances of quitting smoking forever. Write down your plan because that will make you think more carefully about what you need to do and how you can do it.

Quit Smoking Plan

  1. Decide how you are going to quit smoking. Gradual decline or cold turkey. Set a plan. Cold turkey is recommended.
  2. Determine and write down your reasons for wanting to stop smoking, e.g. health, money, social interactions, etc. The reasons should be for you, not anyone else, i.e. not because your husband/wife, girl/boyfriend, parent, boss, etc. want you to quit, but because you want to quit smoking.  This/these reason(s) will be your best motivator(s) if and when you feel your determination to quit lag.  Keep this reminder with you.  You can also carry pictures or medical test results or other such cues to remind you of your reasons.
  3. Figure out your smoking patterns. Do you like a cigarette after eating, first thing in the a.m., while talking on the phone, while driving, when you have an alcoholic drink or a coffee, etc?  Plan ahead for how you are going to deal with those situations.  These are also ideal times to press your ear seeds.
  4. Ask for support from people that you know. Both professional and non-professional people can be great teammates to getting you to stop smoking.
  5. Recognize that even if you do have cigarette one day, don’t beat yourself up. Just move forward and stop smoking again from that moment on.
  6. Write down ways that you have succeeded at something difficult in the past and recognize that you do have the ability to be successful at this as well.
  7. Reward yourself for your successes, big and small. Think of the things that you would like to do or buy for yourself as a reward for quitting.  Start a stop smoking jar and every day or week deposit the money you would normally spend on cigarettes in the jar (or in a separate bank account if that amount is too much for what purchase you would like to make).  Reward yourself when you reach the amounts that you need to do/get the things you want.
  8. Practice some of the following techniques when you feel a craving:
    • Pull out your reminder of your reasons for quitting smoking
    • Deep breathe: Inhale the deepest lung-full of air you can, and then, very slowly, exhale. Purse your lips so that the air must come out slowly. As you exhale, close your eyes, and let your chin gradually sink over onto your chest. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining out of your fingers and toes, just flowing on out.
    • Have a drink of water
    • Go for a walk
    • Call a friend/support person
    • Keep healthy snacks available so that you don’t reach for the junk food quick fix
  9. Check out this free government resource: http://www.quitnow.ca/
  10. Get help. Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine can support your healthy body, relax your mind, and help manage cravings. For more on this, check out my blog about how acupuncture can help you quit smoking.

 

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Successfully Quit Smoking With Acupuncture Treatment

quit smoking with acupuncture

Quit Smoking with Acupuncture

Every day, people around the world vow to finally quit smoking for good only to watch their resolution go up in smoke. If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how difficult it can be. Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

The reasons to quit smoking are endless. Cigarettes have 4000 known poisons. One drop of pure nicotinic acid can kill a man. According to the CDC, tobacco kills more than 440,000 people each year in the US alone. Smoking is also associated with an enormous list of the chronic illnesses and diseases including emphysema, lung cancer, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic cough, an increased frequency of colds and flu.

Many people decide to quit because of the enormous expense of a cigarette habit or are just plain tired of being dependant on a substance. There is also considerable social pressure not to smoke and more and more places do not allow smoking.

Acupuncture is an alternative approach to smoking cessation. In fact, acupuncture is often a court-mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to curb withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings.

It’s estimated that most smokers will attempt to quit several times before finally kicking the habit. Acupuncture is not a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking, however, is effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free. If you are highly motivated and ready to quit, acupuncture can empower you to take control and begin a healthy and smoke-free life!

How Does Acupuncture Help Break the Cigarette Habit?

Acupuncture intercepts messages sent by the brain to the body that demand more nicotine, thereby disrupting the addictive process. It can eliminate most cravings, but not the habit. A successful quit smoking with acupuncture program will include patient preparation, patient commitment, and education about how to replace the unhealthy habit of smoking with healthy habits.

Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to treat the specific symptoms and patterns of imbalance that are unique to each individual. Treatments will focus on the jitters, the cravings, the irritability, and the restlessness that people commonly complain about when they quit. It will also aid in relaxation and detoxification.

What Points Are Used?

Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and points on the ear are used that are believed to influence the organs and energetic pathways associated with smoking.

Common points to help you quit smoking with acupuncture include:

Ear points:-alleviates tension; increases will power; returns the body to homeostatic balance; relieves withdrawal symptoms; Diminishes appetite and cravings.

Body points: (on the wrist) a specific point to quit smoking; a combination of two points (one on the hand & one on the foot) used to circulate energy throughout the body and calm the nervous system.

After removing the needles, ‘ear seeds’ (affixed to a small beige tape) are often applied to the ear to stimulate the points between treatments and reduce cravings.

How Many Treatments Will I Need and How Long Do they Take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last approximately sixty minutes, with the patient being treated two to three times on the first week and two more treatments the second week (5 initial treatments). I recommend a booster treatment once a month for the next four to six months. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

A quit smoking with acupuncture program will often consist of 4-6 initial treatments scheduled in the first few weeks followed by monthly treatments for four to six months.

Note that herbs and/or supplements may also be recommended to help the lungs recover and support the whole body.

Also, check out my tips for creating a quit smoking plan.

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BC wildfires and your lung health

BC wildfires July 8,15As of today in BC, there are 68 active fires of note and/or fires larger than 10 hectares (there are many more fires in total than that!). But there are actually 197 fires total active around BC! That’s huge! And unusual for us this time of year. What’s even more unusual was waking up this past Sunday morning to an eerily coloured sky caused by the haze of smoke from those fires. By Sunday afternoon in Vancouver and many surrounding areas, the smell of smoke was in the air. My husband and I had taken our bikes downtown to check out the fan activity for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and by 3 p.m. we decided that the smoke was too much, so we headed home to watch the game there. 

SUP Yoga beach

I did SUP yoga that morning, and this was the view of Kits beach as I headed out. (photo not modified)

Within a few hours the air quality advisory for Vancouver was at 7/10–in the high risk category–and we could feel it. For some it caused shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma attacks, coughing, scratchy throat, and irritated sinues. My husband experienced burning eyes. I got a headache (headaches are my barometer for pretty much anything that is not right for my body). Those with lung health issues, the elderly, and the very young are those most at risk with poor air quality advisories.

Thankfully air quality has improved in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, though the values are still wavering between a low to moderate level (2-5). In Squamish and Whistler right now, the numbers are much worse, with Whistler at 8 right now.

You’ve likely heard the recommendations to close your windows and get inside an air conditioned building. That may be doable during the daytime, but it’s hard to do that at night if you don’t have air conditioning in your home. I know that on Sunday we debated between keeping the windows open so we could cool our place down and closing the windows so no more smoke would enter. We chose the latter. Better to be warm than risk damaging our health.

Protect Your Lungs

  1. Check out the air quality ratings in your area. In BC, this is the link: bcairquality.ca
  2. If you hear advisories about air quality in the news, listen to them. 
  3. Minimize your exposure. Close windows and minimize outdoor activities. If you have heart or lung disease or are frail, consider leaving the area to stay somewhere with better air quality.
  4. Avoid burning things like wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves, and even candles when smoke levels are high. Unlikely you’ll want to be lighting up your wood fireplace in this heat, but gas stoves might be more of a challenge for some.
  5. Don’t vacuum, as that stirs up particles already in your home. I like the excuse not to vacuum! However, some people noticed an accumulation of ash in their place. When you clean, consider using a proper particulate mask. Dust masks are not enough. An effective mask must be able to filter very small particles. Smoke particulate averages about 0.3 microns. It must also provide an airtight seal around your face. Masks marked with “R95,” “N95,” or “P95” can help (I found these online at Home Depot), but R,N, or P99 or 100 masks filter even more (Amazon has some 99 ones). Note that they won’t work if you don’t get a proper seal, and that those of you with beards will have a near impossible time to get a good seal. You might also find it’s hard to breathe through the masks, as they increase resistance to airflow.
  6. Use an air purifier to help filter some of the particulate out of your indoor environment.
  7. And, clearly, it’s better if you don’t smoke. That pollutes you and the lungs of people around you even more. Maybe it’s good timing to quit (see my blog on quitting smoking).

Support Your Lungs

  1. Find a clear air place to practice some deep cleansing breath work. Breathe in through your nose, fully and deeply. Hold your breath for a count of five. Then open your mouth and fully and slowly exhale all the air out of your lungs. When you think you’ve breathed it all out, use your abdominal muscles to help your diaphragm lift up further by exhaling “ha…ha…ha” to push out more air. Breathe in again, and repeat this sequence a few times. If you have chronic lung health issues, consult with a health professional before trying this. Also be careful if this makes you dizzy. Practicing this or other deep breathing exercises can help strengthen the lungs.
  2. Hydrate well. Your whole body needs water to function properly. Water also helps with mucus production and movement, key to collecting and getting rid of viruses, bacteria, other pathogens, toxins, and cellular waste products.
  3. Include garlic and onions in your diet. They help fight infections and decrease inflammation.
  4. Eat kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. They are part of the cruciferous veggie category, and they are rich in antioxidants that help to manage cellular damage. They have also been shown to help prevent and fight lung cancer.
  5. Chomp on apples. Several studies have shown that eating two to five apples a week can reduce the risk and severity of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is believed that the flavonoids in apples, especially khellin, can help open up airways.
  6. Get treated. If you have lung health issues–asthma, allergies, COPD, emphysema, etc.–Traditional Chinese Medicine has a variety of powerful ways to support your lung health, from acupuncture and herbs to foods and lifestyle changes. 

Remember, even if you don’t have any lung health issues, your lungs are vital to your good health, so take good care of them!

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