I came across this article today and boy oh boy is it so true. I have had people come in often with a very specific area of tightness in their neck, as well as the base of their neck where it meets the shoulder. I have already started seeing inflammation in the thumbs from texting. The important thing to take away as with computers as well, TAKE A BREAK! Stretch. Often. Oh, and get acupuncture It helps with all of those tight muscles and if any inflammation is present.
One of the worlds most used herbs is now being studied to help combat one of the worlds deadliest killers among children – E Coli. This toxin is said to cause 210 millions cases of diarrhea worldwide, and is the cause of 380,000deaths. They are studying one of the extracs, zingerone, to see its role in blocking the toxin produced by E. Coli.
Ginger is used widely by cooks and herbalists alike. As an herbalist, I use ginger often to “warm” the body if there is a cold condition going on. It is also widely used as a digestive aid for stomach upset, nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy, and to used as support with arthritis, heart disease and cancer. When used for motion sickness, it can be taken before travel (in a tea, or more convenient capsule form), and during travel. As a sufferer of motion sickness, this saves me, AND when I was pregnant traveling in Germany, I took my capsules everywhere to help combat motion sickness!
Ortho Evra is a prescription patch used for birth control and releases hormones into the skin into the bloodstream via a patch. Using the patch, women are exposed to 60% higher levels of estrogen than by using the birth control pill. High levels of estrogen have been found to increase the risk of adverse side effects including stroke and blood clots.
It is important to talk with your health care practitioner if you have concern and if you use the patch. There are several options for birth control that you can use that are not reliant on hormone therapy.
It seems as the winter months pass us by and the snow continues to pile up, there has been a rise in snow related knee injuries. There are several ligaments that support the knee and can lay someone up for a long time and if severe enough can lead to surgery for repair. The easiest solution is to be prepared. If you not in shape, start slow – like bunny hill slow, or if cross country or snow shoeing, on the easy paths. Ideally you should start to train 4-6 weeks prior, building up your cardio and core strength. Building your leg strength is crucial as they support you on the twists and turns going down the hills (this is for both skiing and snowboarding). There are several machines in the gyms to help target the correct muscle groups in your legs, ask the physical trainers in your gym to show you the correct way to use them (so not to injure on those). Any cardio machine can help build up your cardio strength, a nordic track being the most obvious in terms of closeness to actual skiing.
If you do get injured during a snow outing, go see a doctor to evaluate the extent of the injury, and if it is not severe, you can seek out acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, or massage to help you heal faster.
Yes, we have all done it, said to ourselves, “starting in the new year I’m going to…” You might start with all the right intentions, then as time goes by old programs set in and we fall back to our old ways, then another year goes by. How do you avoid this? I thought you would never ask!
The most important thing to remember to be compassionate and realistic with yourself. Are you ready to do what it takes to accomplish your goals? Be realistic, do not expect to lost 50 pounds in a month, or to change a long-standing pattern over night. Set out a guideline or and outline of realistic mileposts. If it is excercising, look at your week and look at when you can pencil it in and do it. We have this wonderful world of technology, lets put it to good use, set alarms on your cell phone, or in outlook to remind you. Learn to set boundaries. If you are used to saying yes to everyone else and your time is being spread to thin, you are going to have to learn to say no. It hard. I know! However, if your goal is important, then setting aside the time to accomplish it is necessary. Set up priorities. Also, learn to ask for help. You do not need to do everything all the time. If there is something you can parcel out to carve more time, by all means do it! Listen and trust yourself, this is your intuition. You know yourself better than anyone does. You know when your “on” times are, you know, when you are really honest with yourself what holds you back. Start with listening then bring the behaviors to your awareness. When you do that more and more, then you can start changing and incorporating them into daily life. Focus on the positive. If your goal is to lose weight, imagine how that will feel when you reach your goal. Imagine feeling your body fit, healthy, full of energy. When you focus on the positive aspects of your health and goals it motivates you. If you focus on the negative, it brings you down and you will find excuses not to do it. Like the book I read to my daughter, the Little Engine That Could, the engine did not think, oh, wow, that hill is way to steep, i can’t do it. No, that engine said I have never been to the top to the town on the other side, I think I can, I think I can…you can to!
The FDA has recently stated that it is not safe to give cough and cold medicines to children under two because of potentially life-threatening side effects. Last fall the FDA strongly recommended not to use them prompting drug companies and stores to stop selling them. They said that it was questionable if they even worked in children under 6. The FDA has not decided if the OTC medicines are advisable for children from 3-6 and will decide by next fall.
So now what. You have a young child, it has the sniffles, a cold, or a cough. You have traditionally gone to the drug store and gotten one of these OTC medicines. Well, there are options. Alternative medicine has been used for thousands of years to help combat the cold season for people of all ages. The obvious, although sometimes not so obvious is rest and fluids. Rest, meaning stop, stay home, and rest. Sleep as much as needed, and allow your body to restore and repair. Fluids – tons! Drinking fluids for kids will help the mucous thin and soothe sore throats. A tea made of honey and lemon (honey should not be used in children under 1) can also help. This combination is tried and true to help soothe dry and sore throats. A cool mist humidifier while they sleep can help keep their nasal passages and lungs moist during the night. If their noses are completely stuffy, have them try to blow it. If they are not at that stage yet, a nasal aspirator can help. Gently suction out the mucous. A saline spray/drop can also be used to thin out mucous. Have them also sleep slightly propped up in bed. If they sleep on a pillow, then use a rolled up towel underneath, if they are in a crib, you can put the same under the crib mattress. This helps with coughs and stuffy noses. For coughs, sometimes standing in the bathroom with a hot shower going can soothe their cough. If it is croup, going outside in the cold air can help. Hydrotherapy on a little ones chest can help ease symptoms and increase their immune system. This includes alternating a hot and cold washcloth on their chest for a total of three times each. Make sure the child stays warm and does not catch a chill. A mentholated salve with a combo of menthol, eucalyptus and camphor rubbed on the chest can also help. Have them stay away from dairy products, as they can increase the production of phlegm. Stick with “clear” foods, like soups. If there is a fever, keep the child in loose fitting clothing, don’t bundle, or plunge into a cold water bath. Cool washcloths on the forehead are ok. Fevers are pretty “normal” for kids, although you want to contact your primary care if they have a fever over 104 or a fever for more than 3-4 days. Childrens Tylenol or ibuprofin can be used if they seem really uncomfortable. Never use aspirin.
The most important thing for kids is constant hand washing. This will help prevent a cold to start with and help prevent its passage “around the house”. Also, most important is lots of love and cuddle time. A good movie, their favorite blanky, and mom and dad are some of the best remedies a kid could ask for!
Wow, one out of every three people are affected with arthritis according to eh CDC! That is a new one on me. There are many forms of it, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Lets start with the definition of a Joint: it is where two or more bones come together and they are covered by cartilage which cushions the joint. This cushion is present to allow movement of the joint without pain. There is also a lining called the synovium, which produces synovial fluid, that nourishes the joint and keeps down friction. There are also the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the joint as well. Back to arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form occurring when the cartilage covering the ends of the bones starts to deteriorate.
Without the cartilage, the bones start to rub on each other and that leads to a cascade effect of pain and swelling. It can occur in any joint and is most common in the weight bearing ones, often occurring as time passes (aka with “age”). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that can happen at any age and can be long lasting. It can affect any joint, but is most common in the hands, wrist, and knees. The immune system (our defense system) attacks itself (I know, bizarre), and causes an inflammation in the joint lining (the synovium). The inflammation spreads and can reek havoc on the surrounding cartilage and bones. The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, and warmth of the joint. Causes are vast, but age, gender (women over men), obesity, environment and work (repetitive stress, lifting), and diet.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at “arthritis” as bi (bone) syndrome, and occurs when there is a blockage of the normal flow of qi (energy) in the body. It looks at the cause and how it manifests. For example, is the joint hot and swollen (that would be more of a damp heat bi syndrome), or is it worse when it is cold/damp and raining out (that would be cold damp bi syndrome). TCM will look at all the factors of your life, work, diet, exercise, how your body is working together, stress, emotions, and any history of trauma and come up with a pattern differentiation (diagnosis) and work with you on the best treatment protocol. It will often include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, exercise, bodywork, moxibustion, and dietary recommendations. It takes time to treat, because of course it took time to get to the point of it occurring in the body, but TCM can be a fantastic alternative to the more conventional Western treatments which often include medicines which can be harsh on your body. So if you, or someone you know has this disharmony occurring, do not think you have to “live with it”, or “its just part of getting old,” seek out a licensed practitioner and start living life a pain free!
What a magical and powerful thing it is indeed. Qi/Chi (sounds like Chee) is your go-go juice for lack of a better translation. It is the “energy” that allows us to live, breathe, digest, feel, walk, run, think, etc. Without it we, this body as we know it would die. Qi is much more than all of this. It is within everything, not just us. The trees, rivers, oceans, animals, etc. (again), all have qi within and around them animating them as well. Can this be quantified or seen, people have and are trying. There are several machines that can “see” patterns of qi, areas of qi concentration along the acupuncture points, and those that can “manipulate” qi. Energy workers, acupuncturists, body workers, down to yes, traditional western docs all manipulate qi. We all do it in unique ways, Anything we choose to “do” to our bodies will “help” or “hinder” our qi. For example, if you wake up after a good nights sleep, stretch, perhaps do some yoga, go for a run, eat well balanced, organic foods, consciously breathe throughout your day, you are helping your qi to function optimumly. However, if you choose to get a couple of hours of sleep, wake up, eat a donut, go to work, sit in front of your computer all day, don’t stretch, eat perhaps McDonalds for lunch, go home, sit in front of the TV, have a few beers, this is not optimum for our qi. Some of us will crash faster than others, but the effects will accumulate over time, and you will not be living the most optimum you can within your body.
It is important to be aware and respectful of the qi within your own body, as well as the rest of the planet. Nourish it well and you will be nourished back. Some ways to nourish include: yoga, tai chi, qi gong, organic foods, meditation, and overall balance in life. The link I am including is to You Tube and is a longish video, but perhaps one of the most poignant demonstrations of qi by a true master on the planet. I truly hope you take the ten minutes to watch it. As always, if you are in question if your qi is moving and running well in your body, please call.
With all the glories of the upcoming Spring months, so many people dread it sadly because of allergy season. You know, the sneezing, coughing, runny nose, teary red eyes, your head foggy and full of pressure – I’ll stop there. Oriental Medicine looks much deeper for the cause of all of these symptoms. The symptoms are from an invasion of Wind Cold into the Lung channel of the nose (much different that a Western point of view). This invasion results in all of the symptoms above. You can treat the symptoms very effectively with acupuncture and herbs, however, to get to a place of deeper harmony in the body, and more lasting results, you need to look to the roots or cause as well.
Chronic allergic rhinitis (or allergies), can start in childhood or develop as one grows older. Some people come to me who have stated that they never had allergies, and after living in a particular area, they got worse every year. In Oriental Medicine, allergies are due to a weakness in the Lung and Kidney Wei Qi – or the Defensive Qi of the body. It does pretty much what it sounds like – defends the body from what we call the Six Evils or Pathogenic Factors – what you more easily understand as “bugs.” If you have a weakness in this qi, you are more susceptible to colds, flus, and allergies. When treating someone with allergies, it is best to start before the “active” season to treat the root with tonifying herbs and acupuncture points. However, if you finds yourself in the crux of the season and miserable, before you grab that antihistamine, consider acupuncture and herbs for treatment. They can help alleviate symptoms without the unpleasant side effects (dizzyness, dryness, fatigue, GI disturbances). It looks poetically at what is happening (Wind Cold invasion) and works at opening the nasal passages, clearing the wind, and reduce nasal congestion – doesn’t that sound like more fun! (OK – I know – well it is fun to me! – and will be for you if you have any of those things going on!)
Look upon nature and you can see that Spring is a time for renewal and rebirth. It is full of rapid expansion, excitement, and predicted and unpredictable change as the wind blows about. The organ associated with this time of year is the Liver, whose element is wood, and is associated with wind. The Liver is in charge of the smooth flow of qi and blood in the body. When picturing healthy Liver function, you think of soft, gentle, subtle, flowing. The opposite being stagnant…it is the most sensitive to stagnation. It is also controls bile production, so is very important in the digestion of fluid and food. Lastly, the Liver harmonizes the emotions. When functioning optimally, it is like the willow tree, bending with the wind in an easy-going, go with the flow sort of way. It’s own emotion is anger and frustration – but it is also affected by all of the other emotions.
So what does this have to do with Spring. In ancient China, the people honored the changes of the season with the knowledge of the opportunity that they could provide. Spring is truly a time for renewal and rebirth – coming out of the darkness and starkness that winter provided to replenish the body. This is a time for stretching, movement, expression, and goal achievement (winter being the optimum time for the goal setting). So get out, breathe deep, move your body, shake off the cobwebs of winter and go forth with a smidgen of knowledge of spring – Oriental Medicine style!
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