Take the stress out of the Holidays

The holidays are a big part of the fall and winter months. This is often a time to reconnect with family and loved ones, to attend social events, and celebrate your beliefs.

­Unfortunately, it can also be a time of extra commitments, nonstop activity, and pressure to get it all done. This can result in a lot of stress both mental and physical.

Everyone feels stressed occasionally, but when it continues for a long time or gets overwhelming it can take a real toll on your health. The immune system is particularly sensitive to the effects of stress, which means that ongoing stress can leave you vulnerable to colds, flu, and other illnesses.

The good news is that you can take charge of the stress in your life. One way to do that is to set realistic expectations for the holidays. Spend some time thinking about what’s important to you. Rather than concentrating on making everything “perfect,” try to focus on enjoying yourself whether that means spending time with family, volunteering to help others, or taking a vacation.
Another good strategy is to set boundaries. Don’t take on more than you can handle, say “no” if you have to, and ask for help if you need it.

Other ways to beat stress include:

Eating right: Remember to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and try to keep your Stress free Holidayintake of sugary holiday treats to a minimum.

Rest: Get plenty of sleep, even if you have a lot to do, to keep your body and mind healthy and energized.

Meditation: Take a few minutes during the day to sit quietly and simply focus on your breathing.

Exercise: Try to work exercise into your schedule. It’s a natural energy and mood booster. Yoga is an excellent choice this time of year.

Talking to someone: Share your thoughts and feelings with a friend or a counselor. Expressing yourself may make you feel better and you might even find solutions to stressful situations.

Vitamins and herbs: Be sure to take a daily multivitamin, and consider taking extra vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system. Herbs such as ginseng can help you adapt to stress and valerian can soothe and calm your mind.

Additional methods include treatments such as acupuncture and massage, which can help relax both mind and body. With a little preparation and adding some new coping strategies, you can make this year’s holiday season happy, healthy and stress-free!

Say Hi Inside

This simple meditation suggests that you “smile” to all of your internal organs and glands. It is a way of saying “thank you” to your body for working 24 hours­­­, 7 days a week!

Focusing your attention and smiling in this way can calm the autonomic nervous system, revitalize the internal organs, and increase the flow of blood and Qi.

 

say hi inside

Below is the Inner Smile Meditation for the main Meridian Organ Systems:

Choose a quiet spot and keep warm throughout the meditation. Sit comfortably at the edge of a chair, feet flat on the ground with your back straight. Breathe deeply and relax. Clasp your hands together, left hand on bottom and right hand on top, palms touching, and rest them in your lap.
Close your eyes and feel a connection between the soles of your feet and the ground. Focus on the midpoint between your eyebrows. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Put a smile on your face and journey down to the wonderfully amazing body that keeps you ALIVE, ALERT & ACTIVE!

Heart-See your heart as a vibrant red color. Focus the energy of “joy” into your heart. Feel it pulse with love. Breathe in and exhale with the sound of HAW.

Lungs – Radiate the feeling in your heart to your lungs. Picture your lungs as pure white. Focus on letting go of sadness and grief. Exhale with the sound of SSSSSS.

Liver – Keep the feeling spilling over into your liver, which is just under your ribs on the right side. Picture it as a vibrant grass-green. When exhaling, let go of anger and frustration with the sound of SHHHH.

Spleen- Continue to the left, under the ribs. Shine a vibrant yellow color into this organ. When you exhale, let go of over-thinking and worry, and use the sound of WHOO.

Kidney – Focus your attention on your lower back, just below and under your ribs. Imagine a deep blue-purple light. Breathe in courage and exhale fear. When you exhale, use the sound of WOOO.

It’s all right if you don’t know the exact locations of your organs. Just bringing awareness to your organs is benefit enough. Your body will love you just the same.

Perform each exercise 9 times, twice a day. These exercises can affect your body and mind, so it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise routines.

 

For more information, please refer to Mantak Chia’s book, Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality.

Copyright ©2012 Acupuncture Media Works. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Dazey’s Immune-Boosting Stew

download

Food is powerful. It not only gives us sustenance and energy to go about our days, but it also has healing powers that can help strengthen organs, fortify Qi energy, and even boost our immune system. When we enjoy foods that grow with the season, and eat the foods our bodies need (like warm foods such as stews in winter), we can make strides towards living a healthier life.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/4 lb (1 larg clump) maitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large turnip, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or chicken bone broth
  • 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice included
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 pieces astragalus root, sliced lengthwise for easy retrieval, or 1/2 cup in a simmering bag
  • 2 cups of kale, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and then add in the onion, mushrooms, and carrot. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
  2. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute or two.
  3. Add in the butternut squash, turnip and cabbage, as well as the salt and spices. Stir to mix it all up.
  4. Pour in the broth, tomatoes (juices and all), astragalus root and the thyme. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Add in the kale, stir and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. once the kale is fully wilted, the soup is ready.
  6. Discord the thyme sprigs and astragalus root before serving and add in a bit more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Let cool slightly and then ENJOY!!

 

This recipe was found in Bastyr University’s Health Feature, Fall 2016. And at the following url: https://bastyr.edu/sites/default/files/images/insidebastyr_fall16.pdf

Your Body as a Garden

your body as a garden

The concept of gardening gives us an excellent illustration for the theories behind Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. Imagine you are a gardener whose job it is to help a garden thrive. To help nature along, you must provide necessities such as water and fertilizer.

You must make sure plants receive the right amount of sun, and you must weed out any undesirable elements. Gardening takes time and effort, but the reward is a beautiful, healthy garden, abundant with flowers and vegetables.

One of the philosophies underlying Chinese medicine is that we are not separate from nature. Nature’s constant motion – its flowing seasons and cycles – coincide with our body’s natural rhythms. When we engage in gardening, we strive to be in harmony with nature’s rhythms. This allows us to reap a bountiful harvest. Life flourishes when the elements of air, water, light and earth are balanced.

There are basic principles of gardening that you can apply to facilitating the health of your body: 

Fertilize: Just like plants need fertilizers, we need food in order to re-energize our bodies. In general, a healthy, balanced diet is made up of unprocessed, organic foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables.

Water: Our bodies are made up of 70% water. We need its life-giving force to cleanse our bodies of toxins, to regulate body temperature and to aid digestion and circulation.

Sunshine: Just like plants, we also need sun’s energy to grow and thrive. Sun provides our bodies with Vitamin D, which promotes strong bones, supple muscles and a healthy immune system.

Weeding:  Weeding your garden is vital to keeping the soil clean and disease free.  Our body also needs cleansing. One of the easiest ways to cleanse our body is sweating through exercise.

Your goal is to learn how to cultivate and support your inner garden. Your acupuncturist’s goal is to help balance your inner ecosystem so that it can flourish—and you can enjoy health and harmony.

Your body is just like a garden, and you and your acupuncturist are the gardeners. He or she will work closely with you to strengthen and balance your internal garden. By taking your entire self into account, your practitioner can help identify—and weed out—any imbalances that could cause problems.

Acupuncture isn’t a “quick fix.” It does provide you with the tools and knowledge needed to nourish the garden from within. Your participation in the process is essential. After all, you wouldn’t simply plant seeds in the ground and expect them to bloom unattended. It’s the same with your health. Working with your acupuncturist and committing to long-term care can create positive changes for your overall health.

Copyright ©2012 Acupuncture Media Works. All Rights Reserved.

How Sweet it is…

how sweet it is

Sucrose, or sugar as it is commonly known, is currently the most popular sweetener used in the food market today. On a daily basis, the average person obtains almost 20% of their calories from sugar alone. On average, that’s 150 pounds of sugar every year.

When ingested, sugar is broken down into compounds that provide quick energy for the body, affecting metabolism and appetite.

Sugar may seem like a “sweetie,” but it may be doing more harm than good. Sugar can be addictive, and too much can cause unhealthy weight gain and hasten tooth decay. It also affects the brain by offering a false rush of energy, and then lets you down, lower than where your energy levels were. Sugar can affect the spleen’s ability to release blood cells and platelets which can raise insulin levels resulting in diabetes, hypoglycemia, and even high blood pressure.

Sugar disrupts the delicate balance of minerals in the body, such as magnesium and zinc, and can block the absorption of calcium, leading to stiff, “arthritic” joints. Also, a high sugar diet can cause the body to become a breeding ground for bacteria that thrive on sugary foods.

A sugar-free diet doesn’t mean that you will never be able to eat sweets again.
There are alternatives to sugar. Here is a list to start with:

Molasses – Has more calcium ounce for ounce than milk, more iron than eggs, and more potassium than any other food. It’s also rich in other vitamins and minerals.

Honey – All natural, made with the goodness of bees. Honey has antiseptic and antibiotic properties.

Sucanat – Made from dried and granulated cane juice.

Date Sugar – Made from dried, ground dates.

Stevia – A natural sweetener made from the stevia rebaudiana leaf. Tests have shown that stevia regulates blood sugar and lowers high blood pressure. In South America, people who suffer from hypoglycemia and diabetes have used it with great success. It’s also said that stevia can aid in mental alertness, improve digestion and even inhibit tooth decay.

Barley Malt or Brown Rice Syrup – Made from cultured rice and water and barley sprouts.

The world is still a sweet place. Now you have healthier choices.

Copyright ©2012 Acupuncture Media Works. All Rights Reserved.

Devil in Disguise

Woman holding pile of white pills in her cupped hands

Painkillers are being abused like never before.  The media likes to sensationalize the use of prescription pain meds being sold in dark alleys by neighborhood thugs and resident riff-raff.

But what about the gentleman who just purchased the drugs legally from his local pharmacy, as prescribed by his doctor.  Is he in any less danger than the guy who obtains his through the black market?

You can argue that in the short-term he is, since he is taking the drugs as prescribed and in the proper dosage.  But how about over the long haul?

When you are injured, signals are sent from the injury site to the brain to register pain.  Pain is useful in that it alerts us to some form of tissue damage or bodily crisis.  The logical course of action would be to address the situation and correct the underlying root cause.

If you set a heavy box down on your foot, you create pain.  Remove the box, and the pain goes away.  Some things just make too much sense.

Instead, we are in effect encouraged by doctors to strap the box on, walk around with it for a lifetime, and guzzle painkillers to make up for the difference.  It sounds silly when described this way, but it is no less crazy than swallowing pain meds every day while living with chronic pain.

So what’s the big problem with taking painkillers?

First, as with any medication, painkillers come with a whole slew of side effects.  Any drug, especially when used chronically, takes a toll on the body, particularly the liver and kidneys.

Beyond that, pain medications override your body’s internal warning system.  What would normally be a signal to back off or slow down in order to avoid risking farther injury, is no longer present.  So the chances of exacerbating an injury are elevated when taking painkillers.

In addition, pain meds are not corrective.  When pain and symptoms arise due to meridian system imbalances, the only correction is an acupuncture treatment.  When artificially masking the symptoms with painkillers, the underlying cause is left to fester and become worse.  Not only do these types of medicines not fix anything, they can actually contribute to making the problem worse.  In essence, they do nothing more than help your body deteriorate more comfortably.

So to be at your best, ditch the painkillers and get acupuncture, which brings health with no side effects!

Copyright ©2011 Acupuncture Media Works All Rights Reserved.

Detox your Mind

Whether you realize it or not, one of the most powerful forces in your life is your self-image.  A positive, healthy self-image can carry you to heights you’ve never imagined, while a negative self-image will pin you down like a lead weight.

To a large degree your self-image is influenced by the pictures and messages you continually feed into your mind.  Positive, uplifting messages help to foster a healthy self image, while stories of doom and despair are sure to bring you down.

detox your mind

Your mind, just like your body, is conditioned by the pattern of your daily habits.  If you get into the routine of exercising every day and putting wholesome nutritious food into your body, it is inevitable that your level of health will improve.  By the same token, feasting on donuts and soda everyday while taking up permanent residence on the couch is like punching your ticket on the express train out of here.

By treating our minds like our bodies, that is feeding them what makes them healthier and exercising them the right way, we can make a complete shift in our mental make-up.

Detoxing your mind takes practice and discipline, but the payoff is invaluable.  The eventual goal should be to always ooze positivity, but start by challenging yourself with a few days to a week of elevating your attitude and build from there.  Journal your progress and take note of the changes that you see in yourself and in those around you.

Start by replacing the “junk food” that you force feed into your head with outrageously nutritious material.  Focus on feeding nothing but positive, motivating things into your mind.  This goes for what you watch, read, listen to, and most importantly, what you think.

Replace the dread and corruption reported on the evening news with a motivational reading, spiritual study, or uplifting music.  Break away from gossip and get into the habit of passing out compliments.

If negative thoughts about yourself or someone else enter your mind (and they will) work on eliminating them or putting a positive spin on them.  For example, instead of complaining that your water bill is too high, come up with creative ways to lower it or simply be thankful that you have running water at the turn of a knob.

You draw into your life those things that you consistently focus your time and energy on.  Become a magnet for happiness and prosperity by continually thinking happy, prosperous thoughts.

Copyright ©2011 Acupuncture Media Works All Rights Reserved.

Orthodontics for your Health

One of the biggest myths about acupuncture is that “once you start, you have to go forever.”

First of all, it is entirely up to you how long you choose to continue to get treatments.  Of course, like any other healthy habit, the longer you maintain it, the better your quality of life.  But just to clear up some confusion, let’s look at the process of a comprehensive schedule of acupuncture care in another light.

Perhaps the most apt analogy for continuing care for the meridian system is reconstructive orthodontics for your teeth.  Both disciplines consist of an initial phase of care that usually involves overcoming a weakness, followed by a reconstructive or rehabilitative phase of care, and finally culminating in wellness or maintenance.

The earliest phase of your care usually consists of the highest visit frequency.  In cases of chronic imbalances within the meridian system it is common to initially require treatments a few days a week until your bodies energy is properly balanced and restored.

Using our orthodontic analogy, this would be the point at which the brackets and wires are put on your teeth and you are seen for check-ups every couple weeks.  Since there is no wire affixed within your meridian system, your acupuncture visits occur more frequently than orthodontic appointments, and are instead “wired together” by specific exercises, herbal prescriptions, self-care recommendations, etc.

orthodontics

As balance returns to your body, your visit frequency is diminished.  This is the phase in which the orthodontist would also begin spacing out his visits and begin to “tweak” the wires to make fine adjustments to your teeth and allow them to settle into their new structural pattern.  In both cases, this is a critical phase of care in that it is setting the stage for lifelong wellness or maintenance.

In regard to orthodontics, this is when you would be fitted for a retainer to be worn at least nightly for the rest of your life, or for as long as you wish to maintain healthy teeth.

As for acupuncture, this marks the transition to a schedule of wellness or maintenance care to ensure a lifelong abundance of health and well-being.

The maintenance or wellness phase of care is without a doubt the most important.  What is sickness, but a lack of wellness?  The whole objective of everything leading up to your wellness care is to get your body back to its natural state of balance.  Once there, staying well is simply a matter of sustaining that balance.

Wear your retainer and maintain a life of health and wellness.  Or neglect your maintenance and have the braces put back on?  The choice is clear.

Copyright ©2011 Acupuncture Media Works All Rights Reserved.

Commit… Then Follow Through

commit then follow through

Let’s get right to the point.  There is no magic bullet, the easy way out is the wrong way, and quick fixes never stand the test of time.  We all know this to be true yet, astoundingly, we have been led to believe the exact opposite when it comes to our health and well-being.  Medicine has become our magic elixir, our get-out-of-jail-free card.  Why exercise your bones and joints when you can pop a pill instead?  Sure you risk abdominal cramping and bone death, but at least you don’t have to get off the couch.  Hair loss, obesity, short temper, shyness, itchy skin, dry eyes…  You can bet that whatever ails you, no matter how trivial, there is a pill marketed for it.

The reason acupuncture continues to thrive for the past 2,500 years, even at times in the face of fierce opposition, is because it is built on solid, lasting, time-tested principles and theories.

The health of your body is in direct proportion to the health of how your bodies innate healing energies travel throughout your meridian system. Energy flows throughout your body by way of an intricate network of pathways called the meridian system.

Taking migraine medicine for a headache requires that your body not only fight the cause of the migraine, but now also the dangerous chemicals you are dumping into it.  We have essentially been trained to put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline.   We have been led to believe that the work that the body has been accomplishing over thousands of years with amazing efficiency is suddenly no longer possible in the absence of drugs.

As much as we tend to overcomplicate it, staying healthy is really pretty simple.  Getting well requires that we optimize the function and flow of energy within our meridian system and then maintain its integrity to allow the body to do what it was created to do.  The reason that so many of us struggle with our health is because as simple as the concept is, actually following through requires a high level of commitment and necessitates specific action steps on a daily basis.  Everyone knows the formula for losing weight is to cut out the bad calories, watch your portions, and exercise daily, but few people can commit to following through.  It’s easier to look for the pill that requires no work output or the exercise video that promises miracles after 2 weeks, or to simply give into temptation.

Your body is a masterpiece and it requires consistent attention and respect.  If you’re ready to make the commitment to getting well – not just feeling better through artificial means, but truly getting well – then welcome aboard!  We’ll do everything we can to help you get there.

Copyright ©2011 Acupuncture Media Works All Rights Reserved.

Are you on a Slow Simmer?

slow simmer

There’s an old metaphor about a frog in boiling water.  If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will immediately jump out because of the sudden, drastic change in temperature.  If, however, you put a frog in a pot of tepid water and slowly bring it to a boil, the temperature change will be so subtle that the frog will never know what hit him as he boils to death.

People are very similar to the frog when it comes to identifying underlying health problems and seeking help. Based on the perceived severity of the problem, you are either driven to action, or more prone to let the problem continue as a mere annoyance.

Those who have suffered a major trauma such as an auto accident, work injury, or slip and fall are like a frog dropped in boiling water.  Because they have undergone such sudden and massive physical change they seek immediate action in correcting the damage done and look to professional help without delay.  Bear in mind that these are the same people who would normally overlook more minor aches and pains without a second thought.

Why does one act so quickly in a situation like this?  The injury happens so suddenly and swings them so far from their comfort zone that they will do whatever it takes to bring things back to normalcy as quickly as possible.  After all, a knock in your engine is something that you would typically let go for awhile, but a sudden cloud of smoke billowing from under the hood would likely spur you to immediate action.

The majority of people, however, are like a frog in tepid water, on a slow simmer until eventually being brought to a boil.  Most imbalances develop over time, and because they are often very subtle, and many times painless, the danger of their impact on our bodies goes unnoticed.

Over time, however, these imbalances are no less devastating to us than boiling water is to the frog.  A slow drip in your attic might not seem like a big deal, but its cumulative effects can eventually send your ceiling crashing down.

Until we get into the habit of being proactive when it comes to our health, these “simmering” imbalances will always be a threat.  Neutralizing that threat requires that we shift our thinking away from pain-based, symptom-relief care and more toward a system built around prevention and wellness.

If you know someone who has not been examined for imbalances yet, regardless of whether or not they are exhibiting any symptoms, send them in for an acupuncture evaluation.  Let’s get them the help they need before their pot comes to a boil!

Copyright ©2011 Acupuncture Media Works All Rights Reserved.