Naturopathic medicine has long espoused the connection between digestive health and overall wellness. The internal ‘terrain’ of the body determines susceptibility to illness and the general state of health, and has everything to do with the ecosystem of the gut. The term ‘dysbiosis’ refers to an imbalance of this internal ecosystem, a complex environment of microflora, chemical signaling, and immune activity. Disturbances of the gut can have far-reaching effects including digestive symptoms, immune issues like allergies or autoimmunity, and mood or neurological conditions. Fortunately, naturopathic medicine specializes in identifying and resolving imbalances of the gut.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the theory of “Qi Energy”. Qi energy is what guides all functions in our body – breath, movement, reproduction, digestion are all functions of qi. In TCM, every organ has Qi energy and each organ’s qi oversees different functions of the body. Every organ has a season in which the functions of that organ are “in the spotlight”. The organ (and qi) associated with the spring is the Liver.
Spring is a good time for rejuvenation and change. It is a also good time to think about supporting the Liver. In TCM, the Liver Qi regulates the flow of qi throughout the whole body. There are over 20 kinds of qi that the Liver QI keeps flowing smoothly. Stress in our life tends to effect the Liver qi. When this happens, the Liver qi does not flow smoothly, and it gets stagnant. Headaches, PMS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Depression, Irritability are all thought to be associated with Liver Qi stagnation. There are many ways we can support the Liver and assist it in its job. [Read more…]
We’re now a week into the new year and some of us are beginning to realize that things aren’t panning out as we’d intended. We aren’t zooming around on hover boards as predicted back in 1985, and the perennial commitments to hit the gym every day may not have come to fruition. Some will be discouraged by this and decide to throw in the towel with guilt and dismay. Others will pledge to ‘try harder’ and compel themselves even more earnestly to do more, do better, be more.
What if there were another option?
What if, rather than fervently throwing ourselves into yet another rapid weight loss plan or heroic detox regimen, we shifted the focus toward greater self-acceptance and compassion? Would health goals be easier or more likely to attain if the motivating factor were self-love and commitment to our primary relationship with ourselves for the long haul? The research suggests this to be true.
Begin with self-compassion and gentleness
Why do you have goals for wellness and health in the first place? Hopefully because you care about yourself and want to take good care of yourself! When the motivator is self-care rather than on self-criticism, sticking with your plan and feeling good is much more likely. Positive regard for oneself leads to self-efficacy, the belief that you can achieve your goals in a specific area, which is a predictor of effective health behavior change and maintenance.[i]
Self-compassion is good for your health
Having compassion, whether for ourselves or for others, increases our production of a hormone called oxytocin which creates positive feelings such as love and trust, and also helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. Conversely, self criticism activates a fight-or-flight response in the body with increased adrenaline, cortisol and blood pressure.[ii] The long-term effects of cortisol are very damaging and lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, fatigue, brain fog, hormonal imbalance, sleep disturbance and many more of the chronic ailments prevalent today. Dr. Hans Selye coined the term ‘General Adaptation Syndrome’ to describe the effects of chronic adrenal stress.
Often times, there are good reasons why people rely on the less-than-healthy habits in their lives. Perhaps you suffer from adrenal stress and fatigue, and can’t imagine getting through the day without a triple espresso. Maybe your sleep is poor, and you have an extra glass of wine in the evening to try to get some sleep. Or perhaps your carb cravings are absolutely unmanageable in the afternoon when your blood sugar and serotonin levels dip and you just have to have that chocolate chip cookie. In all of these scenarios, underlying metabolic and neuroendocrine issues set the stage for reliance on a ‘crutch’ to keep functioning. The problem isn’t faulty will-power, but an actual physiologic imbalance, and when resolved, the cravings simply fade away. A naturopathic consultation for wellness and prevention can help identify obstacles to achieving your goals and get you on the right path.
Identify what you really want and begin where you are
Would you like to lose 20 lb, get in good enough shape to run a half marathon this spring, take up yoga, and do a complete nutrition overhaul? It’s possible that you could achieve all of these goals, but a realistic strategy is to identify what you really want and break it into manageable steps, centered around self-acceptance rather than perfectionism. In addition to self-compassion and gentleness, support can help clarify your goals and identify obstacles in your path. Whether you seek more radical changes or simply to fine-tune your nutrition or supplement regimen for optimal wellness and prevention, the tools you need to get there with gentleness are available.
Keep the focus on what you will add, rather than take away
Instead of focusing on the things you want to cut from your diet, begin by building a relationship with the things that you’ll add. For example, if you’ve vowed to cut out sugar from your diet, begin by gathering recipes calling for natural sweeteners and exploring new healthy treats. You need not feel deprived to reach your goals. In addition to the nourishing additions to your life, practices such as Emotional Freedom Technique are helpful for reinforcing your commitment to self-care and let go of attachment to the old habits that no longer serve you.
Wellness & Prevention Offering
In the spirit of supporting self-compassion in our patients wellness goals, we’re offering a special naturopathic wellness & prevention package for 2015. This one-hour intake session is designed to help clarify wellness goals, identify obstacles, and offer tools to support you on your path to greater health. Happy new year!
[i] Stretcher V. The role of self-efficacy in achieving health behavior change. Health Education Quarterly. Spring 1986 Vol 13(1):73-91.
[ii] Neff Kristen. Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. 2011
The principals of Chinese medical diet always emphasizes the importance of warm foods and cooked vegetables. Especially during the winter months, this principal has never been so important! I acquired the following beet recipe from a friend in acupuncture school. Over time, I’ve made a few modifications but its one of our favorite soups in our house! [Read more…]
Imagine that someone tells you that there is a type of medicine that can proactively help support your body in healing itself. In addition, this type of medicine can prevent illness from occurring. Imagine being told – you will feel better and build a foundation of health and wellness for your body.
This medicine does not involve taking any chemicals or synthetic pills. There are no gimmicks or false claims. It’s not a quick fix or a “one size fits all” medicine.
Imagine being able to achieve this while relaxing in a quiet room with soothing music, dimmed lights and warm bed underneath you. Imagine coming out of this room feeling refreshed and rejuvenated; knowing you have done something good for yourself!
What if someone told you that there are many different health concerns this medicine can address. From subtle issues like insomnia, fatigue or anxiety to more chronic health concerns like inflammation, autoimmune issues and cancer.
Are you wondering what this medicine is?
The medicine is Traditional Chinese Medicine and its most well respected tool – Acupuncture! [Read more…]
As a Chinese herbalist, I am often asked “which herbs are good to eat?” Well, that is a very broad question. First, different herbs are good for different things. We all have unique energetic imbalances and require different treatments. If we eat an excessive amount of “warming” or “cooling” herbs, this can lead to a severe imbalance in the digestive tract! Also, many Chinese herbs are not so commonly found in your local grocery store. (I have yet to find fresh rehmannia root or even white peony) However, diet and digestion is so important in Chinese medicine, that there are a few herbs that can be used across the board to support good health! [Read more…]
Cinnamon has been all over the wellness-news lately for a plethora of health benefits. From blood sugar regulation to anti-inflammatory properties, Cinnamon is the current “it” herb. Gui zhi, as I like to think of it, has been in the Chinese medical materia medica for thousands of years and has always been an important part of Chinese herbal medicine. [Read more…]
Over the last 20 years, we have become more aware of the many challenges couples face in getting pregnant. Individuals are marrying later in age and couples are waiting longer to have children. In addition, Environmental toxins and our own diet can have direct impact on our health and trying to conceive. From a western medical viewpoint, advanced age and ovulatory dysfunction, PCOS, thyroid issues as well as male fertility can all play a part in having difficult conceiving.
There are many ways to take care of our bodies and support a successful pregnancy. During these times, many couples turn to integrative medicine as an alternative or in complement with western medicine.
Acupuncture has many benefits for women trying to conceive including increasing blood flow to and relaxing the uterus, improving egg quality and quantity, and increasing the thickness of the uterine lining. A study done in Germany found that acupuncture can increase the chances of pregnancy for women undergoing and IVF cycle. When we are under stress from dealing with fertility, our nervous system activates the “fight or flight” response and can cause a myriad of health issues. Acupuncture is very effective in calming and balancing the sympathetic nervous system.
Nutrition and Supplements
The essential fatty acids in flax seed has been known to lengthen the follicular phase and delay early ovulation, increase the frequency of ovulation in women who do not ovulate regularly. L-Arganine, an amino acid, taken in high doses, has been shown to improve fertilization rates in women who had previously failed cycles. Bee Pollen and its close friend Royal Jelly are both rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals and have also shown to increase fertility. Antioxidants such as OPC’s (which are bioflavanoids) stimulate our body’s own natural antioxidant defense and clean free radicals from the blood stream. [Read more…]
Most of our clients who come to the office bristle at the thought of having their tongue diagnosed. When we first ask to see the tongue, most are embarrassed. “I did not brush my teeth before I came in” or “I ate blueberries” are common responses. We are often asked to explain what we are looking for and what changes we have noticed. With this in mind, I thought I would to explain the importance of Tongue Diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine.
Like other diagnostic methods in TCM, the skill and intuition of the acupuncturist is an important part of tongue diagnosis. It is not uncommon to have 5 acupuncturists each have a different take on the tongue. . An experienced practitioner will be able to give a more accurate interpretation.
First off, it is important to understand the relationship of the tongue to the inside of the body. The color and shape of the tongue reflects the quality of the circulation of qi and blood in the body. A pale tongue, for example, may indicate that the body is lacking some of the qi/blood nourishment it needs to flourish. The tongue coating is indicative of the body fluids (or lack thereof) in the body. The tongue is a very important diagnostic tool for the digestion – a coated tongue, for example, can reflect a sluggish digestion. A geographic/red tongue can reflect heat in the stomach which may manifest as Acid Reflux. [Read more…]
Ask The Naturopath…
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Summer is a time to grow and expand. We see trees blossoming and the sun shining radiantly. We can match our internal energy too by waking early in the summer, playing in the garden, and exploring the natural world around us. Traditional Chinese Medicine places great importance on eating right for the season. Eating less and eating light foods on hot days is a natural way of being in tune with the rhythms of the summer months. There are also specific foods that keep us in balance during this time.
These foods are sure to keep us hydrated so that our bodies can handle the heat of summer :
Fruits: apples, watermelon, lemons, lines
Fresh Foods: salads, sprouts, cucumber, tofu
Teas: chrysanthemum, mint, chamomile
4 Cups cooked brown rice
1 green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
1 Cup peas, slightly cooked
2 Tablespoons umeboshi vinegar, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted) or pine nuts
Mix ingredients together, toss gently with dressing, marinate for several hours
Let marinate several hours
Recipes from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
A few moments with Eran Reznik
Q: Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into massage.
I knew for quite some time that I wanted to help people through practicing some kind of holistic medicine. Living in Israel at the time, the most serious training program was Traditional Chinese medicine. I studied to be an acupuncturist. I also wanted to be able to connect and help people through touch so I joined a Shiatsu program
Q: What makes your massage unique?
I believe touch is an essential tool in healing and have always been told I have gifted hands!. When I graduated from TCM school I wanted to expend my tools and went to study massage therapy.
The treatments I do are very different from the average massage. I combine techniques from massage, shiatsu, the use of acupressure points and the vast knowledge I have received in my Chinese medicine training. I look at the body as a whole and make the connection between the emotional and mental state to the physiological condition and the way the body is aligned.
Q: What type of conditions do you see in your practice?
I see many orthopedic issues involving lower back or hip pain and lots of shoulder and neck tension that are accompanied by chronic headaches and migraines. Most of them are inner connected to emotions that, when aligned, allow for the proper movement of energy in the body.
Julie Shindler-Cohen, MSTOM, Dipl. C.H., Dipl. Ac.
In Chinese medicine, the impact of seasonal allergies are related to the qi energy of the lung. The lung’ qi is our “defensive qi” and thereby prevents environmental factors from invading the body. Whenever the body is affected by any outside influence (like weather, mold, cats, dogs), this is a sign that the “lung qi” is not strong enough to protect the body. This is why there are two treatment strategies for seasonal allergies!
First, when symptoms are severe, the treatment strategy is to release the pathogen from our body. Acupuncture is the #1 way to accomplish this. Most patients notice an immediate difference in their allergies after acupuncture.
The second treatment strategy is to support the lung qi so that allergy symptoms will be reduced or eliminated in the future. Acupuncture, along with Chinese Herbal Medicine and diet can make a significant difference! This is a strategy that we work on as maintenance treatment before allergy season begins!
Acupuncture and Fertility Study
“Doctors with expertise in reproductive medicine have recently published that acupuncture and herbs are useful in the treatment of infertility, complications related to childbirth and for several other gynecological concerns. The doctors cited research stating that acupuncture and herbal medicine improve the success rate of in vitro fertilization. Pregnancy rates are improved in subfertile women undergoing IVF and in women with PCOS wherein ovulation may be restored using acupuncture. In the latter, acupuncture is noted as a treatment option for both reproductive issues and endocrine disturbances for women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).”
According to Reproductive Medicine Specialists from Penn State University, University of Gothenbery and Heilognjiang University
Make this a happy & healthy Summer.
Don’t take a vacation from your health.
Call for an appointment today.
JULY Office Specials!
Naturopathic Medicine Consultation:
$20.00 off your consultation with Dr. Diana Quinn!
$55.00 for new patients first massage with Eran Reznik!