For earlier blog posts: Visit the blog page here: http://www.ewagnerholistichealth.us
Blog #60: Arthritis Pain? Holistic Medicine Can Help!
Arthritis is one of the most common ailments in the U. S., causing in pain and limitation for millions of people. The more than 100 types of arthritis share one thing in common: inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in workers in the U. S., affecting over 50 million people today. This blog will discuss three main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Of the three, osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting 32 million people in the U.S. Osteo is by far the easiest to address with holistic medicine. Although osteoarthritis can affect any or all of the joints in the body, it is not as inflammatory as most other types of arthritis, and usually responds well to heat, regular exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet, and weight loss, if needed. Osteo is often found among the middle aged and elderly, or in the joints of those people who have been injured. Helpful exercises include swimming, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong. Also helpful are therapies that improve blood and energy flow in the body, such as chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture, especially including moxabustion, the use of a special type of heat produced by burning the herb mugwort at or near acupuncture points.
Gout is quite different from osteoarthritis. Gout is more likely to develop when a person’s diet is very rich, and high in purines, alcohol, fat, sugar, and/or caffeine. Symptoms include swollen, inflamed great toes. Sometimes ankles, knees or hips are also involved, as well as low back pain associated w/kidney damage from uric acid crystals depositing in joints and forming kidney stones. Certain foods tend to break down into large amounts of uric acid. These foods include red and organ meats, turkey, some seafood, such as scallops, alcohol, especially beer, sugary drinks, caffeinated foods like chocolate or coffee, and greasy or fried foods. Holistic treatment of gout includes eliminating or greatly reducing the above foods, following an anti-inflammatory diet, chiropractic adjusting, acupuncture, massage, gentle exercise, such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong, and sometimes Chinese herbal supplements. Consumption of organic cherries and/or cherry juice can be helpful in reducing pain and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition seen in adults as well as children. It results in warm, painful and swollen joints that eventually become deformed. Most commonly, the wrists and hands are involved, often symmetrically, though other joints may also be affected. Range of motion eventually decreases. Anemia and fatigue may develop, and heart and lungs may become inflamed. Smoking increases the incidence of RA, as does stress. Pregnancy may diminish the symptoms temporarily, though they often increase after giving birth. It is believed that the disease sometimes has a genetic component. Prescription medications are often used to control Rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise is helpful, and Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and yoga can help increase the joint range of motion. Sometimes fish oil and vitamin D are helpful, as is an anti-inflammatory diet and a life of low stress. Gentle mobilization of the joints through massage and chiropractic, and acupuncture therapy can be very helpful in slowing the progression of the disease and reducing pain.
This month’s offer: contact my office with questions about arthritis and to find out how holistic treatment can be helpful in your particular case.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Blog #59: Sleep Disturbance – Holistic Medicine Can Help
Over the years, I have used holistic therapies to help many people suffering from various types of sleep disturbances. I have also addressed my own sleep issues with holistic therapies and lifestyle changes. This blog will share some causes and remedies for sleep problems.
Insomnia, which includes difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, can have single or multiple contributing factors. Some of these factors are: 1 mental overstimulation (i.e. thinking too much, reading upsetting news, or a murder mystery, worrying) soon before bedtime: 2 exposure to bright screens (computers, TV, smart phones to name a few); 3 exposure to electrical fields before bedtime or during sleep-time (talking on the phone, having the TV plugged in and close to the bed, using a heating pad or electric blanket, or charging a cell phone near the bed, for example); 4 exposure to cell phone or other radiation; 5 eating too soon before bedtime (this can result in digestive system disturbance or muscle cramping, especially in the legs); 6 eating foods to which one is allergic; 7 having the room temperature too cold or too hot at night; 8 not having the sleeping space dark enough or quiet enough; 9 sleeping on an uncomfortable bed or frame, or on a bed made of toxic, allergenic materials, such as memory foam; 10 polluted/toxic air in the sleeping space. Solutions to these factors are often simple, but until the contributing factors and solutions are pointed out, many people are not aware of them.
Sleep also becomes disturbed when people do not have a consistent waking and sleeping schedule. Usually, people find it best to sleep during the dark hours and be awake during the light hours. Of course, for those living near either pole, this is difficult due to excessive darkness during winter months, and excessive light in summer. However, light can still be shut out with thick curtains and eye-covers, and light can be delivered with bulbs and other fixtures.
Sleep apnea, another sleep disturbance, occurs when the sleeper stops breathing. Often, people experiencing sleep apnea snore. They may wake up due to low oxygen when they stop breathing. Sleep apnea often leaves people feeling tired upon awakening, and fatigued or drowsy throughout the day. Efficiency, focus and safety can be compromised, as well as one’s health. Some causes of sleep apnea are overwhelming stress during the day or at night, being overweight or obese, consuming foods to which one is allergic, eating too much or too late at night, smoking tobacco, and drinking alcohol, especially at night. Often the air passages are blocked by the tongue, inflamed throat tissue or enlarged tonsils. Sometimes, the cause originates from the central nervous system, for example, due to a prolonged period of excessive stress, the brain may become conditioned to stop a person’s breathing after they fall asleep. Some solutions to sleep apnea are to sleep on either side rather than on the back, to use a C-Pap machine, to lose weight, to eliminate allergens from the diet, and to learn to deal with stress in a constructive, self-calming way. I personally learned to control my sleep apnea by eliminating allergens from my diet and using self-hypnosis suggestions for breathing and relaxation.
This blog’s offer: call me with questions about your sleep issues. I will also offer a free consultation at my office to determine if a holistic approach will be helpful for you.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Blog#58: Winter Blues? Holistic Medicine Can Help!
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression which occurs either in spring/summer, when it is warmer and there are a lot of allergens in the air, such as pollen and mold, or else during fall/winter, when there is less light than at other times of the year. Most of us have felt tired or a bit sad on a cold, grey day when we are stuck at home due to the snow and we can’t quite get warm enough, no matter how we try. Take that feeling and multiply it by five or ten times, imagine those feelings extending over much of the winter, and we can have an idea of what SAD in the cold weather feels like. Other forms of depression may also feel somewhat similar to SAD, but are not anchored around a season.
SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, and in younger rather than older people, as well as in people who live far from the equator, and in those who have a history of another type of depression. Since seasonal affective disorder symptoms tend to be as severe in summer as in winter, it makes sense to look for a cause other than insufficient sunlight. In my opinion, based on the cases of SAD I have seen and treated, and due to my own experience of SAD in the summer months for three years, (but thankfully, not for many years, now) seasonal affective disorder is most likely due to the body being over-stressed, run down, and consequently unable to deal well with hormonal swings which may accompany weather changes. Certain issues, such as eating foods that are heavy, rich or fatty, feeling overwhelmed emotionally, especially regarding anger, and having a liver which has a hard time dealing with the body’s and the environment’s toxicity, will predispose a person to warm weather SAD. Other issues, like over-expending one’s energy, having low blood sugar, poor circulation, and having a diet which does not supply sufficient warming foods and herbs, will predispose a person to cold weather SAD.
In both cases, due in part to lifestyle and diet, the body is not resilient enough to adjust to specific seasonal changes. Here are some holistic, alternative ways to help us face winter SAD symptoms, and for that matter, all mild to moderate winter depression. These suggestions can also help with severe depression, but then prescription medication may be appropriate in addition to these holistic approaches.
Replace light bulbs at home to full spectrum bulbs, and spend time each day in front of a therapeutic light box.
Eat plenty of fresh, high quality fruit and vegetables, as well as beans, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. If you are not vegetarian, make sure, in addition, to eat some grass-fed, organically raised, and/or wild-caught animals. High quality eggs and dairy products are also recommended for those who are not vegan.
Take a good multivitamin along with high-quality B complex vitamins, or else take a well-balanced herbal supplement that supports the energy level.
Make sure to consume enough Omega 3 fatty acids, either in supplement form or in the diet (ie Flax seed oil and wild-caught salmon).
Exercise regularly – preferably at least 30 minutes per day, walking, dancing, swimming, yoga, sports, weight and resistance training, and Pilates, for example.
Engage in positive self-talk, self-hypnosis, meditation, or a similar method to help keep the mind positive.
Connect socially with positive friends and/or family on a regular basis.
Maintain a sense of purpose through work, volunteer activities, hobbies, and developing talents and interests.
Drink plenty of water and other clear fluids each day.
Make sure to get outside and breathe the (hopefully) fresh air.
Do inspirational things on a regular basis, at least weekly, such as going for a walk in a forest preserve, going to an art gallery, or listening to some favorite music.
Consult a holistic health practitioner for supportive acupuncture, chiropractic, or massage treatment.
See a supportive therapist or counselor for some talk sessions.
Use an appropriate flower essence remedy regularly.
Use St John’s Wort, an herbal anti-depressant. If using prescription anti-depressants, check for chemical interactions.
Practice an energizing, balancing Qi Gong form daily.
This month’s blog offer is a simple Qi Gong exercise, learned from Qi Gong master David Coon, that may be helpful in warming the body, increasing energy reserves, balancing the immune and endocrine systems, and elevating the spirit when done on a regular basis, over time. It is designed to help strengthen and rejuvenate the thymus gland and help balance the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Instructions: stand or sit with good posture, spine straight, body and mind relaxed. Place the palm of one hand horizontally on the midline of the upper chest, overlapping the clavicles and also positioned below the clavicles, on the sternum (breast bone). Place the palm of the other hand over the back of the first hand. Close the eyes and breathe in a relaxed manner, imagining a small ball of sunlight slowly growing larger and brighter under the hands. Imagine and gradually feel the sunlight spread throughout the body. Feel the hands growing warm, eventually, even hot. Do this to start with for perhaps three minutes, and then longer. Eventually, even one hour would not be too long for this particular exercise. For best results, do this exercise daily. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Blog#57: Opiate Addiction: Holistic Medicine Can Help
Did you know that most opiate addiction in this country stems from prescription drugs? That’s right – not from marijuana, not from alcohol, but from prescription opiates ordered and dispensed by the medical establishment. Opioids are a class of drugs including heroin, morphine, codeine, and also prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Not only do opioids reduce pain, they also have highly pleasurable and addictive effects.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is enough to give every adult in this country their own bottle of pills. Opioids not only diminish pain and increase pleasure, they also often change the personality, making the user more passive and less involved with their life and surroundings. Women and children are more likely to become addicted to opiates than are men. The number of prescriptions written for juveniles and young adults nearly doubled between 1994 and 2007, and the number of prescriptions almost quadrupled for women in a similar time frame. Also, people, especially adolescents, sometimes get these drugs from often well- intentioned people who did not finish their prescriptions.
Prescription opiates can become addictive surprisingly quickly, and sometimes people do not know that they are addicted until they try to withdraw from the drug. According to an article in JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(7):821-826, 94% of new heroin addicts began by using or abusing prescription opiates and then chose to switch to heroin because it was cheaper and easier to obtain.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, almost quadrupling from 1998 to 2008. In 2014, there were 47,055 lethal drug overdoses. Clearly, our country is in crisis regarding opiate abuse and addiction. Yet many, if not most medical doctors continue to prescribe opiates for pain, rather than initially suggesting alternative, holistic methods of pain management, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, hypnosis, and anti-inflammatory nutritional programs. One or a combination of these approaches can manage almost any pain.
Addressing musculoskeletal misalignment can greatly reduce pain by helping to restore structural stability and allowing tense muscles to relax. Acupuncture has a naturally analgesic affect on the body, and has been used in place of conventional anesthesia in numerous surgeries, especially in China, but also in the US and Europe. Hypnosis, especially when combined with self-hypnosis, can dull or eliminate almost any pain if the hypnotist and practitioner are sufficiently skilled and relaxed, respectively. Of course, pain is feedback, which the body sometimes needs in order avoid re-injury, so one must be cautious about completely suppressing pain sensations. Reputable sources such as NIH and several mainstream medical journals have found hypnosis to be effective in relieving acute pain from headaches, injuries, stress/anxiety, and burns, and in relieving chronic pain, such as cancer pain, arthritis, phantom limb pain (amputees), TMJ, and fibromyalgia, to name just a few. Finally, anti-inflammatory diets and herbs can be surprisingly effective in reducing or even eliminating pain. Check out my past Blog #16, Cooling Chronic Inflammation for some more information about anti-inflammatory nutrition. You can click on the link to my blog and then scroll/click backward through the blogs until you reach #16.
Many times in my office I have helped relieve patients’ pain using chiropractic adjusting, acupuncture, nutrition, and/or hypnosis and self-hypnosis. I also am fortunate to be able to relieve my own pain, and have done so several times with self-hypnosis. Sometimes a good chiropractic adjustment or a few good acupuncture treatments have helped me the most. And nutrition has always been helpful. If people first came to alternative practitioners like myself for treatment when they were afflicted with pain, there would be much less opiate addiction in this country today.
This blog’s offer: If you are unable to locate blog#16, or if you have any questions about how holistic medicine can help alleviate your or another’s pain, feel free to contact me with questions or for a free consultation.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Blog#56: Nerve Relaxing Tea
I first discovered Nerve Relaxing Tea at Dr. Michael’s Herbs, a small shop on Western Avenue in Chicago. The herb shop sold many single herbs and also some formulas. This particular formula is the best I have encountered for alleviating insomnia and stress. Unfortunately, the shop closed over a decade ago. I bought several boxes of Formula No. 20 (Nerve Relaxing Tea) before they closed. When I asked where I could buy the formula in the future, they told me that one of their employees appropriated several of their most popular formulas, including that one, and they had no way to precisely make the teas in the future.
Over the years, I have occasionally used this tea to help alleviate insomnia, and I also, have shared it with several of my patients. Although the ingredients are all generally safe to use, occasionally people who were taking medication for depression became anxious when they used this tea. I have decided to share the formula, as written on the box in this blog today. I will list the ingredients and then briefly explain the action of each one. Regarding quantity, the first listed ingredient is most prominent, and the last listed is the least prominent. Unfortunately, I do not know the exact proportions of these ingredients.
The tea contains the following herbs: Skullcap Herb, Valerian Root, St. Johns Wort, Licorice Root, Star Anise Seed, Fennel Seed, Blue Malva Flowers, Marigold Flowers, Peppermint Leaf, and Parsley Flakes. Actions of these herbs include these:
Skullcap is a mild sedative that helps alleviate insomnia by calming the nervous system.
Valerian Root is a mild muscle relaxant and also is a sedative for the nervous system.
St Johns Wort is a mild anti-depressant that helps calm the mind. It can interact with some anti-depressants, resulting in unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety.
Licorice Root can help support adrenal gland function and also can help alleviate digestive problems such as heartburn. Side effects include elevated blood pressure. This herb should not be taken longer than two weeks without a break of at least a week, unless directed otherwise by an herbalist.
Star Anise Seed helps alleviate gas and other abdominal upsets and also helps soothe sore throat and flu symptoms. The seeds obtained from Chinese star anise, a star-shaped fruit, are safe but a very similar herb from Japan, also called star anise, is toxic. Sometimes the Chinese herb is even contaminated with the Japanese herb, since they look similar and may grow near each other. Unless you grow your own or are sure of the source (there are several reliable sources), you should not use this herb.
Fennel Seed has powerful anti-oxidant properties and helps alleviate indigestion.
Blue Malva Flower helps soothe the digestive tract and has a mild laxative effect. Since not enough is known about the effects on nursing mothers and their infants, it is recommended that it not be used while nursing.
Marigold Flower (Calendula) is renowned for its anti-inflammatory action on skin. It also helps alleviate indigestion. It can interact in unpleasant ways with some medications, both prescription and over the counter, so if you take any medications, you should contact both an herbalist and a knowledgeable physician before using this herb.
Peppermint Leaf is mild and energizing. It can help alleviate indigestion, irritable bowl syndrome, and is also used in many formulas to help soothe symptoms of cold and flu.
Parsley Flakes are mildly diarrhetic and thus help rid the body of toxins. They also soothe the digestive tract and relax the muscles.
I have found that one or two teaspoons of the tea steeped in a quart of water works well.
This blog’s offer: as my “trick or treat” gift to you, feel free to contact me with any questions about “Nerve Relaxing Tea”.
Blog #55 Seaweed – Herbal Protein and Mineral Powerhouse
These sea herbs can be so nutritious that some people have lived on them for years as one of their main foods, along with moderate amounts of land-based fruit, root vegetables and leafy greens. Certain seaweed – algae, chlorella, and spirulina in particular – are considered by some authorities to be crosses between plants and animals, and actually contain a small amount of vitamin B12, but probably not enough to keep you healthy if you are vegan, unless you eat massive quantities if these herbs. Under the heading of seaweed are included over 20 sea organisms, some of which are chlorella, algae, spirulina, sea lettuce, kelp, dulse, kombu, wakame and nori. Seaweed is high in protein, iodine, sodium, potassium and also contains some calcium, plus many other trace minerals.
Research has shown that certain seaweeds can help with detoxification from toxic heavy minerals, especially cadmium and lead, can help protect against radiation poisoning, especially radioactive strontium, can help keep the thyroid gland healthy, can help lower LDL cholesterol, and even may possibly help prevent certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer. However, the source of the seaweed determines its quality and safety. If taken from contaminated or radioactive waters, these herbs will do more harm than good. Additionally, if taken in too large quantities, they can cause problems by either over-stimulating and disrupting the thyroid function with too much iodine or causing heart palpitations with too much potassium. Since seaweeds are also high in sodium, if taken in too large quantities, they can result in hypertension and possible kidney damage.
The “weed” in seaweed is probably a misnomer, since most sea vegetables do not over-run an aquatic area at the expense of other organisms, but instead are fairly localized, while also contributing to the integrity of the local habitat. A major exception to this are algae, which, due to climate change, including the warming of many bodies of water, are proliferating in “blooms” at the expense of other habitat residents.
Most of us will benefit from small amounts of seaweed on a daily or almost daily basis. It is vital that these herbs are sourced from uncontaminated waters and are processed appropriately. Many bodies of water from which seaweed is obtained are contaminated with bacteria or other organic materials, chemicals, heavy metals and/or radiation. Be sure that the seaweed is either certified organic or is sold through a reliable distributor. Iceland is one area that still has high quality seaweed. Frontier Herbs is usually a reliable source for seaweed, and the Synergy Company sells a high quality supplement, which contains a large quantity of these herbs.
Seaweed can be sprinkled on salads, added to soups and stews, and used as seasoning in place of salt.
This blog’s offer: contact me with questions about specific seaweed and sources. I also have a limited quantity of high quality seaweed, which I am willing to sell, since I purchased enough to last me at least ten years (seaweed has a very long shelf life).
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Blog#54: Ginger and Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory Herbs
The parts of these plants that we typically use in teas, curries and herbal formulas are rhizomes, which are modified stems that grow horizontally underground and store nutrients for the plant. Unlike roots, rhizomes often have leaves and nodes and do not anchor the plant to the ground or prevent erosion. Rhizomes may send out adventitious roots. Fresh ginger is usually green, pink, and whitish in color. The sliced rhizome is usually medium to pale yellow. Turmeric, when fresh and whole has a light brown to medium orange skin; sliced, it is bright orange. It is best to use both herbs fresh rather than dried, if you can find them that way.
When fresh, the aromatic oils are present and supply more nutrients than herbs have in the dried form. Although we are often advised to peel the skin off, if the rhizome is organically grown and free of mold, it is better to leave the skin on since that part contains a lot of nutrients. It is generally best to lightly cook these herbs, not letting the temperature rise above about 130 degrees F. Adding black pepper to Turmeric will tend to make its effects more potent. Most packaged and bottled supplements are poor quality. Fresh, whole herbs are always best, followed by organic powders from reliable sources, such as Frontier Herbs.
Ginger and Turmeric are safe for most people to use. These herbs usually would not be used as simples (singly) or in infusions (see previous several blogs for explanation of infusion) but would instead usually be used with at least one or two other herbs or in an even larger formula. They also can be used in teas or in cooking. The Ginger and Turmeric we are familiar with come from plants in the same family –Zingiberaceae. This family of plants probably originated in Southern Asia, can only thrive in a fairly narrow range of temperature, from approximately 58 to 86 degrees F, and require considerable annual rainfall.
Both Turmeric and Ginger have warming qualities and therefore should be used with caution with a fever. Otherwise, they are quite effective in strengthening the immune system, alleviating pain and inflammation, including that from arthritis. By limiting and even reversing inappropriate inflammation, these two herbs also can help improve brain function, increase energy level, elevate mood, and possibly prevent or at least slow some types of degenerative conditions, such as spinal disc degeneration and premature aging. Several studies have shown ginger to be an effective anti-microbial for both streptococcus and staphylococcus. Turmeric has also been shown to have anti-microbial properties, especially in regards to E coli and some fungi.
Occasionally, people have allergies to one or both of these herbs, usually ginger. To be safe, if you have never used one or both of these herbs before, start with a very small quantity, and if this causes no reaction, you should be able to use it. Give yourself periodic rests from using these rhizomes.
Below are two reports of successful use of these herbs.
A woman with toenail fungus mixed organic turmeric powder with either organic apple cider vinegar or just water, formed a paste, and then spread the paste on the affected nails and wrapped the nail in gauze nightly. In approximately two months, the fungal infection began to diminish and in six months the infection was no longer visible. If she stopped for longer than one month, the fungus began to return, so she had to use the paste at least twice a week thereafter. She also avoided sugar, bread, and mushrooms, and ate a healthful diet with many fresh vegetables.
A man with severe osteoarthritis of the knees began using green tea with ginger. He used two or three slices of whole organic ginger rhizome per cup of water, leaving the skin on. The green tea was also organic, one tsp per cup of water. He allowed the ginger to simmer in the tea for 20 minutes, keeping the temperature below 130 degrees F by monitoring with a candy thermometer. He made two days’ worth at a time and kept it refrigerated. He drank two to four ounces after each meal for three months before he began to notice results, and then continued for another three months before the pain and swelling were gone. At that point, he found he was best off taking a one-week break after every one to two months, to give his body a rest. If he took longer than two to three weeks’ break, pain and swelling would begin to return. He also ate a healthful diet, avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy, and processed meats.
This month’s offer: feel free to contact me with questions about references about studies done with these two herbs.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Blog #53: Red Clover – Fertility and Tonic Herb
Red clover Trifolium pratense is reputed to be an herb that supports fertility. The clover is a good source of phytosterols, that is, hormone-like substances, which the body can convert into phytoestrogens. An infusion of organically raised red clover blossoms is also high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
As noted in previous blogs, an infusion is made from placing one ounce of a safe, tonic herb in a glass quart jar, pouring just-boiled water over it, covering the top and letting it steep until the water reaches room temperature. The infusion should be consumed within 48 hrs. It is vital to only use organically raised red clover, since otherwise, the estrogenic effects of toxic sprays will interact with the phytosterols in the red clover and cause problems for the user. It is best to consult an herbalist or your PCP if he or she is knowledgeable about herbs before using red clover as part of a fertility regimen. Overuse of red clover (most likely not organic) has been known to cause fertility problems in some livestock, so, as with anything else, moderation is the key.
Red clover, or any other herbal infusion, should not be taken indefinitely. Other herbal infusions can be alternated with red clover, and sometimes breaks from all herbs should be taken. It is important to monitor response to an herb; any particular herb will not be appropriate for everyone.
Reference to this herb’s effectiveness as an expectorant can be found in Chinese herbal literature. Literature of the Wise Woman tradition describes red clover as an herb to boost fertility and help alleviate stress. Recent, but not yet fully conclusive scientific research indicates that red clover may be effective in helping reduce stress and manage benign prostatic hypertrophy (non-cancerous prostate enlargement).
Red clover is part of the Hoxsey formula, which once was used in the U. S. along with other therapies to treat some types of cancer. The government closed down the Hoxsey clinics in the U.S, though a clinic still exists in Mexico. A somewhat different formula from the original is now sold in this country as a blood detoxifier. I would never recommend red clover or any herbal combination containing it as a cancer treatment; however, when combined with a wholesome, organic diet, regular aerobic exercise, a low-stress lifestyle, and avoidance of environmental and other toxins, the periodic use of red clover and other herbal and nutritional supplements can help promote good health and possibly make the development of cancer less likely. Since some sources speculate that the phytosterols might feed estrogen-dependent cancers, red clover should be avoided in these cases, and also if one has a history of cancer.
Despite all the above-mentioned cautions, there have been very few negative side effects noted with red clover in scientific experiments, which is why I have included it as an herb that can be used in infusions. In my practice, I have found red clover effective in alleviating women’s migraine headaches when these migraines are associated with menstrual hormonal fluctuations.
This blog’s offer: contact me with questions about red clover. Bring in red clover herbs you have selected for a free consult to help determine if they are appropriate for you.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Blog#52: Dandelion Root: the Liver’s Helper
Depending on your perspective, dandelion, taraxacum officinale, could be a weed or an herb. It grows throughout much of the temperate world, including Europe, some of the Middle East, China, Korea, Australia, India, Southern Africa, and much of the Americas. The root has been used medicinally in China, Korea and Europe for centuries, and also has been used medicinally by Native Americans.
Dandelion leaves and stems can be used in salads, cooked in soups and stews, or dried to make tea, and contain more iron and calcium than spinach. They are reputed to have a diuretic effect and to help the kidneys to detoxify the body. Very occasionally, people are allergic to the lanolin in the stems, so if you have a lanolin allergy, this plant is not for you. The flowers are sometimes made into wine, usually combined with fruit, i.e. grape and dandelion wine.
By far the most used part of the plant is the root. Modern research on dandelion root, primarily on animals, indicates that the root helps the liver to produce bile and detoxify the body. According to animal studies, dandelion root appears to: protect against fatty liver, help ensure bowel regularity, help lower blood sugar, and act as an anti-inflammatory. The root also appears to sometimes help normalize and balance the immune system.
Dandelion root is highly respected and frequently used in Chinese herbal medicine for the above-mentioned benefits. You may experience a higher level of energy while using this herb, depending on your health issues. Although this herb may help to lower blood sugar, it also may interfere with medications used to control diabetes, and therefore should only be used with extreme caution by diabetics on medication, and then only under medical supervision.
As with any herb, it is vital to obtain dandelion that is grown organically. If harvested wild, be sure that the plants are not growing near a toxic site and that they have not been sprayed with pesticides. Leaves, stems and roots should be dried before using in teas and infusions. Herbs can be dried in the sun or in dehydrators. The easier but more costly way to obtain dried dandelion root and leaves is by purchasing them from a reputable herbal supply company, health food store or apothecary, or from an individual whom you trust.
As in the previous three blogs, instructions for making infusions remains the same. Steep up to ¼ cup of dried dandelion root in a quart of just boiled water. Cover the glass container and let cool to room temperature, then strain. The infusion can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days. Since the root and leaves are non-toxic, you can usually drink them over several days or weeks before taking a break. Occasionally, your pets may benefit from a small amount of the root or leaves mixed in with their food. Your compost pile will also appreciate the strained dried roots, leaves and stems.
This blog’s offer: contact me with questions about dosage or source of these herbs if you have problems obtaining them or are unsure if they are appropriate for you.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Blog #51: Stinging Nettles: An Excellent Tonic
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) has been used for centuries to help alleviate muscle pain, improve kidney and bladder function, alleviate arthritis pain, including gout, to tonify the blood in cases of iron deficiency anemia, help clear the skin in cases of eczema, and to help alleviate fatigue and even in some cases, depression. Today, it is also used to reduce or eliminate seasonal allergies and to help manage benign prostatic hyperplasia in its early stages, especially in Europe.
Nettles is considered to be an herb, and sometimes is also regarded as a weed, since the hairs or spines on the leaves and stems contain chemicals (notably formic acid) that can cause pain and redness when they come into contact with skin. Because this plant excels at pulling elements from the environment, stinging nettle is one of our most nutrient-rich greens and grows in many areas of the world. It is important that these herbs are harvested only from places with minimal or no pollution, since, in addition to thriving from areas with clean air, water, and soil, they also feed and thrive in polluted environments. If nettles are growing by the side of a heavily trafficked road, let them be. If, on the other hand, they are growing in a wooded area or on the banks of an unpolluted stream, they are safe to harvest and use. Always leave part of the plant intact so that it can continue growing the following year. It is best to wear gloves when harvesting the herb.
Nettles harvested from unpolluted areas are among the safest herbs to consume and use in infusions, but they occasionally may interfere with or magnify the actions of some medications, including blood thinners, (nettles act as mild blood thinners) diuretics, (they are mildly diuretic) drugs to lower blood pressure (nettles can lower blood pressure) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (they also act as mild anti-inflammatories).
Nettles are best harvested during April and May, so this time (late May to early June) is the tail end of nettles season, though you still may find them at farmer’s markets for the next week or two. By early to mid-June, they become ta bit tough and do not taste as good, so it is best to leave them to replenish themselves until the following spring. Also, as they mature, the chemicals in their hairs become stronger, and they can sometimes cause mild digestive upset when consumed too far along in their growing season. You know it is time to stop harvesting them when their flowers begin to form.
An infusion is made from the leaves and stems of the plants harvested in April and May. They can be cooked like spinach, and used to make teas or infusions. As with oat straw, they are usually dried to make infusions. Use anywhere from one heaping tablespoon to 1/4 cup of dried nettles (leaves and stems) to one quart of just boiled water. They are best left to steep about 4 hours, or even overnight, and then the herbs are strained out. Some pets like to have a small quantity of the strained dried nettles mixed into their food. This usually results in higher vitality for the pets, but should not be done over an extended period of time. You can also make an infusion from fresh nettles, using a handful or two of leaves and stems per quart of just boiled water. These fresh, cooked herbs can and should be eaten either with the infusion, or combined with some other dish.
You can find fresh nettles at farmers markets in April, May, and early June, and you may also be able to find dried nettles in some health food stores or holistic pharmacies. Be careful if you order them online, since you want to make sure that they have grown in a relatively clean environment. Frontier Herbs and several other reputable companies sell organic nettles, but you may not be able to purchase these unless you are a health care practitioner.
This week’s offer: if you want to try a dried nettles infusion but are unable to find these herbs, contact me and I can order dried organic nettles for you by the pound.
Blog#50: Herbs You Can Use Safely for Healing
There are many ways to use herbs for healing. They can be used as teas, which usually are mild and primarily act as mild stimulants or sedatives; they can be used as infusions, which make them act more like tonifying foods; they can be used in extractions, which allows them to become more medicinal; they can be used as seasonings, which can have a subtle effect on the various internal organs, and help in digestion; and they can be used in several other ways. These seven blogs will cover the use of herbs as infusions, a method that many people will find new and quite helpful. I recommend initially using just one herb at a time in an infusion; that way you will be able to tell exactly how it affects you. If you combine several herbs into an infusion and experience an undesirable reaction, you won’t know whether you were sensitive to a particular herb or whether the synergy of the herbal combination was problematic. All the herbs I cover are non-toxic and tonifying. They can be used singly in teas or infusions for long periods of time on a daily basis without problems, except for the rare individuals who may be allergic or sensitive to them.
Today we will look at oat straw. Oat straw is part of the plant from which we make oatmeal – it is the green, unripe stems and leaves of the common oat plant, which is called Avena Sativa. Oat straw is also sometimes referred to as wild oats. Although there is not a lot of scientific research to strongly support some claims for oat straw, it is known in folk lore and by word of mouth to be an aphrodisiac, particularly for men. It is also reputed to help people stop smoking, and is even considered to have anti-depressant and stress-reducing effects. Additionally, oat straw is reputed to help lower cholesterol and also to help increase your energy level in general.
You can find Avena Sativa at health food stores and quality herb shops. It should be organic, since wild oat is also sometimes considered to be a weed and may be sprayed with toxic pesticides, such as Round-up, if it is growing among other grains, such as wheat. You can make an oat straw infusion as follows:
Take anywhere from one heaping tablespoon to one ounce by weight of oat straw and place it in a glass ball jar which has a quality, sealing lid. Pour over the oat straw water that has just been boiled. Pour slowly and all the way to the top. Stir gently with a stainless steel or wooden spoon, if desired, to make sure the herb does not stay only on top of the water. Close the lid and leave in a shaded/dark place for anywhere from four hours to overnight. Remove the lid and strain off the herbs, leaving only the liquid infusion. Refrigerate and drink within 24 hours.
Some people are sensitive or allergic to oats, but this is fairly rare. Also, if the oats were growing amidst a crop of wheat, barley, or rye, then people who are gluten sensitive or allergic will generally react poorly to it, though their reactions will actually be to the remnants of gluten from wheat.
This week’s offer: Come in for an herbal assessment, during which I will take your pulses, look at your tongue, take a history and suggest a beneficial use of infusion for you, specifically, perhaps a combination of herbs, or else sequential uses of different single herbs.
Monday, March 21, 2016
Blog#49: Contrasting Standard and Holistic Medicine
Standard medicine, also called Allopathic medicine, is practiced in this country and in much of the Western world. In this type of medicine, antibiotics or antiviral medications are often used to fight infection, surgery is often used to remove cysts and tumors, radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs are used to destroy cancers, and anti-inflammatory medications are used to help reduce symptoms of allergic and auto-immune problems. While these approaches can sometimes be helpful and even life-saving, they also deplete the body’s natural healing powers and can result in other health problems down the line.
Holistic medicine includes TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Ayurvedic Medicine, Chiropractic, some nutritional therapies, Homeopathy, Flower Essences, Hypnosis, and more. These therapies treat the entire body, the mind, and the emotions as a unit. When injury or disease affects one body part or organ system, administration of these therapies takes into consideration all parts of a living organism and therefore frequently can minimize the occurrence of subsequent illness. Because these therapies take into consideration the entire person, results tend to take longer and can be accompanied by “healing crises” which eventually resolve, leaving the person stronger than before.
Instead of using an antibiotic to wipe out both the offending organism and healthy flora of the body, thus destroying the healthy biome and leaving the individual’s health vulnerable, Holistic medicine builds up the body’s strength and reserves with supportive Nutrition and Herbs, and with therapies such as Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage and Homeopathy until the individual can re-establish homeostasis, thus preventing infectious agents from causing further harm.
Sometimes, both Allopathic and Holistic medicine can be used together effectively. An example would be in the treatment of Lyme disease. Antibiotics can be helpful as a start to treatment, since they kill off much of the infectious agent. More important are therapies that build up a person’s overall strength to overcome the Lyme microorganism, since this strengthening allows the body to develop resistance to future infections. Many people test positive for the presence of Lyme, yet they don’t have the disease. That is because infections are opportunistic – they are present and wait for an opening, that is, a deficiency in the body’s defenses. People who test positive for Lyme or other infections yet appear healthy might begin to show symptoms later on in life, after a stressful event, such as a serious car accident or a divorce. At this time, the best approach to treatment will usually be to build up the strength and resilience of the body, as well as to help the mind and emotions heal. In this way, the person can overcome these microorganisms by either killing off most of the invaders and putting any remaining infectious organisms back into a state of latency (waiting).
Lyme disease is a spirochete infection, which is similar to a fungal infection. Both are systemic in nature, preventing the absorption of nutrients, wreaking havoc with the immune and nervous systems, and doing much more damage besides. Sometimes, heavy use of antibiotics in the past is what sets a person up for developing Lyme disease after initial exposure, since the person’s immune system has already been compromised through the destruction of a healthy biome.
Holistic medicine can be used not only to allow us to overcome health problems, but also can help prevent us from developing an illness. This was how health care worked in China centuries ago, and how many Holistic practitioners work today.
This month’s offer: feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation to explore the possible use of Holistic medicine to maintain and even improve your health.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Blog#48: Using Acupuncture Energy to Help Yourself
There is no exact Western equivalent for the energy that acupuncture uses. “Qi” is also sometimes spelled “Chi”. Ayurvedic medicine calls it “Prana”. You could call it electromagnetic energy and come close to what it is. Acupuncture from a skilled practitioner also uses the energy of a strongly focused mind. By using the technique I am going to describe here, you can develop the ability of feel “Qi” between your palms and can also apply this “Qi” to various parts of your body and possibly even to some people, animals and plants.
When you are first learning to feel Qi, make sure that you are in quiet place, away from distractions. Do this exercise either standing or seated, with your spine straight and your feet flat on the ground. With your mind empty, rub both your palms together vigorously, for at least 30 seconds. Stop, and then pay attention to sensations in your palms. You may sense warmth, tingling, pulsing, or a cool sensation. Be sure to focus your mind only on your palms. Without touching your body or face, pass each palm over an area of your body and feel for a sensation as each palm moves above your skin. You may find that the feelings are different from each hand. Do this once with your tongue lightly touching the roof of your mouth and once with your tongue away from the roof of your mouth. Can you notice any difference?
If you can feel any sensations from your palms, take the next step and, if there is an area of your body that is uncomfortable, slowly pass your palm or palms over this area. You may choose to rub your palms together again before you take this next step. Focus only on your palm. Is there a tickling or tingling sensation in the uncomfortable area? Hold your palm motionless over this area for several seconds. Does the sensation change? Has the discomfort level changed? Your mind must be calm and focused as you proceed. If you are able to notice a decrease in discomfort, continue on with this a few more times, then stop. Notice if the feeling of comfort remains, and if so, for how long? It may remain for days, weeks, months, or even permanently, depending on the cause of discomfort, and how strongly you were able to direct Qi through your palms.
Of course, this procedure should not substitute for an examination and possible treatment by a qualified health care professional, if needed. For example, even though you may be able to reduce or eliminate the pain of a toothache temporarily, that does not take the place of a visit to the dentist.
If you choose to use this technique with others, it is vital to only work with people who are reasonably healthy and with whom you share a close bond, preferably a familial one. An ideal situation would be working with your child or your spouse or partner. You can also work with your pets and plants, but make sure they are reasonably healthy.
This blog’s offer: feel free to contact me with questions. I will meet with you for up to 20 minutes free of charge to make sure you are proceeding in a way that is optimally effective and safe for yourself and others.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Blog#47: Acupuncture for Arthritis
Arthritis derives its meaning from two roots: arthr = joint and itis = inflammation. Some types of arthritis, such as osteo or other degenerative conditions, often worsen with cold weather or ice treatment and feel somewhat better during warmer weather or with heat treatment. Other types of arthritis, such as inflammatory or rheumatoid (an autoimmune disease) tend to be overly hot and worsen greatly with the application of heat. There are many types of arthritis, such as gout, which is associated from the over-consumption of rich foods, and reactive arthritis, which is associated with infections from certain types of bacteria, such as Shigella or Chlamydia. People often use over-the-counter pain relievers to manage arthritis symptoms, but repeated use of these drugs can damage the stomach, kidneys or liver. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve) can cause stomach bleeding and kidney damage. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can damage the liver. All three of these drugs can increase the risk of heart disease.
A far better treatment approach for arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, is to lose weight if needed, thereby decreasing pressure on the joints, and to exercise appropriately and regularly to strengthen muscles that in turn stabilize joints, thus reducing the likelihood of further joint damage. Acupuncture and mobilization, such as Chiropractic, can be used to improve circulation of blood and lymph to and from the joints. This helps detoxify the area and increases the rate of healing, as well as reducing the pain level. Moxibustion (Moxa), one special aspect of Acupuncture, involves using Mugwort, an herb, to heat specific points on the body, including problematic joints. This therapy can greatly speed joint healing. Moxibustion should not be used with inflammatory or reactive arthritis, and often is not appropriate with rheumatoid or gout. Several of my teachers claim that when used appropriately, on a regular basis over months and years, Moxa can help damaged ligaments, tendons and muscles regenerate. I have seen quite a few patients walk into my office in severe pain and leave almost pain-free after treatment with Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Sometimes this happens after only one treatment, sometimes only after many such treatments, since the effects of Acupuncture are cumulative.
This month’s offer. Contact me for a free consultation to find out if acupuncture is appropriate for your arthritis problems.
Blog#46: Ear Acupuncture and a New Year’s Gift
Also called auriculotherapy, this kind of acupuncture is applied to the ears. Auriculotherapy can be used to reduce or eliminate pain, help balance the autonomic nervous system, and help improve the functioning of internal organs. Although this style of acupuncture is complex and detailed, lay people can learn to locate some points and massage them gently to help in certain situations, especially when dealing with stress. Highlight and right click or double click on the link below to view an ear chart where some of the important acupuncture points are labeled.
When massaged gently, usually in a clockwise direction, some of these points can help calm the mind and relax the body. Four of the most important and effective points for relaxation and stress reduction are ZERO POINT, SHEN MEN, LUNG and ENDOCRINE. It is important that if you are massaging these points, you do so in a loving and respectful manner, accepting whatever results occur. When used appropriately, ZERO POINT helps balance the entire body, SHEN MEN helps calm the mind, LUNG POINT helps relax the diaphragm and can improve vital capacity and oxygenation of the body, and ENDOCRINE POINT helps improve the functioning of the endocrine glands, which include the adrenal glands, gonads, pancreas, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pituitary, and pineal gland.
An acupuncturist often uses small needles on ear points, and also often allows these needles to be left in for several hours or up to a couple of days. Needles often fall out by themselves, and sometimes they can be gently removed, either by the acupuncturist or the recipient of treatment. After needle removal, the ear should be cleansed with alcohol or perhaps hydrogen peroxide or iodine to make sure the area does not become infected.
Recently, “Battlefield Acupuncture”, which uses several ear points, has gained some popularity. Just as it sounds, these points are sometimes used in emergency situations to calm wounded soldiers, reduce pain, or even slow bleeding when other treatments are not available.
This blog’s offer: feel free to contact me with questions regarding these four points. Also, I offer a “happy hour” treatment which takes about 20 minutes, and can leave you feeling calmer and more relaxed.
During the month of January, I will mail out something I think will be of interest to you. Please give me your feedback about the mailing and also let me know if you did not receive it.
Blog#45 Pain Is Not a Lifestyle
Almost everyone suffers from chronic physical pain at some time; some people will have chronic pain from long periods of time, and a few will experience it for most of their lives. Sometimes, they are prescribed medications to manage their pain. Many of these medications have serious long-term side-effects, and are addictive. Life does not have to be that way; there are many ways pain can be reduced or eliminated without harm or addiction. I offer many of these ways in my practice. Listed below are several highly effective and safe holistic approaches to reducing or eliminating pain.
- Improved nutrition. Several types of foods tend to be pro-inflammatory, which means, among other things, that their consumption will tend to increase pain level and duration. Gluten, found in several types of grains, especially wheat, barley, and rye, is pro-inflammatory. In addition, certain foods feed yeast and long-term, high consumption can result in increased abdominal discomfort and bloating as well as eventual problems such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, joint pain, and a compromised immune system. Some studies have shown that frequent consumption of wheat, especially white flour and white and brown sugar, as well as some other sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup, pasteurized honey, and some artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, saccharin, and splenda can result in the above-mentioned health issues as well as blood sugar imbalances. Also, processed foods, such as packaged cereals, breads, pastas, and especially processed meats, can exacerbate arthritic problems and other health issues.
- Appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises. Exercise helps improve blood and lymph circulation, improve brain function, elevate the spirit, calm the mind, increase energy level, stabilize the musculoskeletal system, and strengthen the immune system. Too much overly demanding exercise can be draining or even lead to injury, so it is important for each person to find and adhere to the appropriate amount and intensity of exercise for them. Walking, yoga, tai chi, chi gong and Pilates are all exercise types that can be appropriate.
- Using the mind calmly and effectively. Hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and meditation can all be helpful. Through hypnosis and self-hypnosis (all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis) pain can be reduced or eliminated. This is a relatively simple process taught by a hypnotist. Pain should not changed or eliminated until a thorough investigation is made to find the source of the pain, since in some cases, pain must be addressed physically and not erased by the mind; otherwise, more serious problems may arise. Self-hypnosis and meditation can also be used to relax with the pain so that it is not so distressing.
- Energy work such as acupuncture. Acupuncture is well known for its ability to relieve pain. It is sometimes used as anesthesia for surgery in China and also in the U.S. and other countries. Although a skillful acupuncturist can often reduce or eliminate pain with a treatment, the relief may be short term unless the root of the pain is found and addressed. Acupuncture, along with other holistic approaches, such as improved nutrition, herbal therapy, chiropractic adjusting, exercise, massage, and meditation can help eliminate the root problem, and this way, the pain will not recur.
I credit one of my chiropractic and acupuncture teachers, Michael S. Greene, of Lee’s Summit, MO with the phrase “pain is not a lifestyle”.
This blog’s offer: contact me for a free20 minute consultation about what kind of holistic approach would help alleviate your pain.
Blog#44 Let Acupuncture Support You Through the Holidays
The holidays, beginning with Halloween, with its sugar overload, moving on through Thanksgiving, with its massive feast, and ending with Christmas, Kwanza or Hanukah, with their rituals, rich food and close interaction with family and friends, can stress our digestive and nervous systems.
Acupuncture, with its ability to calm the mind and relax the body, as well as its ability to support the digestive and eliminative systems, can be helpful at the times we encounter these stressors, and also afterward, when we may be suffering some of the discomforts arising from the holidays’ excesses and other challenges.
A skillful acupuncture treatment can help relax the gallbladder sphincter and allow it to empty into the duodenum, thus taking stress off the liver. This can alleviate or eliminate abdominal pain which some of us experience after a large meal of rich food. This same treatment approach can also help relax tense muscles, especially the gluteals and the piriformis (all located in the buttock area), the muscles running along the spinal column (the paraspinal muscles), and muscles in the thighs and legs.
A special combination of acupuncture points, referred to as the four gates, can help circulate blood and energy throughout the body and result in a more relaxed body and a calmer mind. Special points on the abdomen located on either side of the navel as well as above and below the navel, can often help alleviate constipation, gas, abdominal bloating, and acid reflux. Included below is a link to an article published by the University of Chicago listing the many scientifically proven benefits of a good acupuncture treatment. http://www.uchospitals.edu/online-library/content=P00171
Quite a few points on the body respond well to direct or circular clockwise pressure; they are safe and are worth a try if you find yourself in discomfort and unable to find an acupuncturist for treatment. One point is liver 3 (translated from the Chinese as Great Surge), located between the first and second toes. Below is a link to an excellent short You Tube instruction about locating and massaging this point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsYtzlrp1Ls
A point that can be helpful in strengthening the function of the digestive tract and giving us more energy to get through those long hours of holiday festivity, is stomach 36 (translated from the Chinese as Leg Three Miles), located on the lateral aspect of the calf approximately three inches below the inferior border of the kneecap (patella). Below is a link which shows how to locate and massage this point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8wF9QEKCYU
One last tip involves moving the hand downward, from one acupuncture point on the abdomen to another. All the points encountered in this downward sweeping motion are located on the midline of the abdomen. The uppermost point, Conception Vessel 12 (translated from the Chinese as Central Venter), is located approximately five inches above the navel, on the midline. Below is a link to help you locate this point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAf94gk5KoY The bottom-most point, Conception Vessel 4 (translated from the Chinese as Gate of Origin), is located approximately three inches below the navel, also on the midline. It is vital to make sure the sweeping motion is only directed downward; do not run your fingers back up this line in order to reach CV12 to repeat the sweep. Instead, remove your hand completely from the abdomen and then place it again on CV12. Below is a link that will help you locate CV4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPo7IW0FRIw
This blog’s offer: contact me for an appointment to help you make it comfortably through the holidays, while retaining vitality and peace of mind.
Blog# 43 An Introduction to Acupuncture and Qi
Acupuncture, an ancient system of Asian medicine, can address many health issues and also help optimize mental and physical functioning and comfort. Especially well-known as a method of pain control, acupuncture can also help improve hearing and eyesight, help injuries heal more quickly than they otherwise would, calm the mind and emotions, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, relax muscle spasm, help relieve some types of constipation and diarrhea, relieve and prevent sinus and other respiratory infections, alleviate headaches, help regulate blood sugar, strengthen the immune system, and much more.
Acupuncture works with Qi, also spelled “chi”, which is a concept and energy for which Western medicine has no precise equivalent. Qi can direct blood and lymph flow, allows internal organs to function more healthfully and efficiently, relax muscles, help the immune system function in a balanced and harmonious way, and help the mind function more effectively. Qi runs in channels (also referred to as meridians) in the body which connect internal organs, muscles, skin and bone. Qi has both magnetic and electrical qualities. When you receive an acupuncture treatment, if you keep your mind totally quiet and just focus on the needles and your body, you may be able to sense tingling, mild fasciculation, warming or cooling of certain areas of the body, and sometimes even a lightness or heaviness of limbs or of the body in general. These feelings are due to the presence and movement of Qi, which is a mental as well as a physical energy.
Acupuncture includes several different types of techniques which all work with specific points and channels. In addition to needling, acupuncture includes massage (acupressure and tui na), cupping (creating suction over larger, flat areas of the body by using one or more cup-like apparatus), and moxibustion (the skilled and very specific use of heat usually generated by burning the herb mugwort).
One of my favorite uses of acupuncture is to help improve the circulation to and from the nasal sinuses and the other sinuses in the head. The improvement of circulation results in less sinus congestion and fewer infections. Some people have been able to feel the direction of Qi flow in the body during a treatment, and eventually have been able to help improve and regulate Qi flow with their minds. These fortunate people need fewer treatments than most of us, and often can learn to regulate their sinus health most of the time.
This blog’s offer: at your request, during an acupuncture treatment I will help you become more aware of Qi sensations.
Blog#42: A Nine Part Qi Gong from Which You Can Benefit
Of all the Qi Gong Exercises I have learned over the years, my favorite is my modified version of a set of nine simple forms Master Stephen Co learned from one of his students, and then chose to share in his well-received book, Your Hands Can Heal You. This set of qi gong forms will help keep your mind calm and your body energized. Like any other skill, qi gong can take several years to learn at a deep level, though you are likely to find it enjoyable after just several weeks of daily practice. Eventually, when you learn something well enough, you are totally present and can sense thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in minute detail. In this state, the concerto may play through the pianist, the poem may write through the author, and the qi gong form may manifest through the practitioner. Just to be clear: I am not particularly a fan of Pranic Healing and other similar techniques. However, I do know a good qi gong form when I see and practice one, and this form is excellent, safe, accessible, and short (you can finish it in less than fifteen minutes).
I will present the first three forms in this blog. The first form is in my version, but not in Stephen Co’s. It can be found in blog #38. It is done standing relaxed, with knees slightly bent, heels touching, and toes pointing out at approximately 45 -60 degrees. The shoulders are relaxed and the fingers dangle downwards, palms facing the sides of the body.
The second form involves alternate nostril breathing. In my modified version, standing with the lower body in the same position as above, the left nostril is closed with the left index finger or thumb for half of this exercise. First one inhales through the right nostril for a count of six, holds it in for a count of three, exhales through only the mouth for a count of six, and holds the breath out for a count of three. This is done a total of three times. Next comes the second part of the exercise, where the left nostril is released and the right is closed while inhaling into the left nostril for a count of six. The breath is held in for a count of three. After this, the left nostril is closed and the right is released, while one exhales for a count of six through the right nostril. The breath is held out for a count of three, and the process of inhaling through the left and exhaling through the right is repeated two more times, for a total of three times.
The third form I will describe is also done standing in the same way; it is very similar to Stephen Co’s description. Shoulders are relaxed; hands dangle down by the sides. The following is done fourteen times: the head is extended in a relaxed manner while inhaling through both nostrils, then the head is flexed forward while exhaling forcefully through the mouth. This is done relatively quickly – the whole process should not take more than a half a minute.
A fourth, transitional exercise, which I do not count as a form but Stephen Co does, involves standing relaxed, with the eyes closed and the mind resting on an area just below the navel. Inhale and exhale slowly, at least three times. This helps gather qi (energy) circulating from the previous form and also helps focus energy for use in the next form. This transitional exercise is done between each form, and also after the last form.
With practice, after doing just these three forms plus the transitional one, the sinuses may become cool and much clearer. The whole body may feel more relaxed and energized, and the mind may become calmer.
This Blog’s offer: feel free to call or email me with questions about these three forms, and also if you want to learn my version of all nine forms. If there is interest, I will free up an hour between 7 and 8 pm on Tuesday night, and/or an hour between 10 and 11 am on Thursday morning to help people learn and practice this form.
Blog#41: Qi Gong Can Help Relieve Pain
Because Qi Gong is energy work, and can help move and increase energy when used appropriately, it can also sometimes help relieve pain, including back and joint pain. The exercises described in the previous five blogs, especially Blog#40, can be helpful in this way. It is important to understand that although the pain relief experienced can be impressive, it also usually is temporary. Practicing Qi Gong exercises on a regular basis – probably daily – can help results be more lasting. However, to achieve long-term pain relief, lifestyle changes and possibly also time, rest, and sometimes vitamins, herbs, medication or even surgery may also be necessary.
If pain is due to an acute strain or sprain, rest and time will be absolutely essential for recovery. Since there are many different types of Qi Gong, exercises done while seated, standing, or lying down may be most helpful initially.
Another type of Qi Gong which may be helpful in alleviating pain is easy to learn and practice. The hands are placed over or on either side of the problem area. In order to allow the hands to help maximally with pain control and healing, keep the mind empty, the spine straight, and rub the hands together rapidly for at least 30 seconds. Then, focus on the palms of the hands and check for a tingling, warm, and perhaps a pulsing sensation. Pressure or a magnetic pull may also be felt when the palms are facing each other. The closer the palms come together, the stronger the pressure or pull may be. As the palms are drawn away from each other, the sensation tends to be less noticeable. A point may be reached when the hands are so far apart that the pressure or pull are no longer perceived. They still may be present, however.
Now, having maximized the sensations between the palms, place the hands on either side of the affected area. If that is not possible, then place one or both hands close to the area needing help. This can be done multiple times each day, for several minutes each time. This Qi Gong method should be done on oneself only, not on another person. It takes much training to use this method successfully on another person without causing problems for oneself.
This blog’s offer: feel free to contact me free of charge with questions about the above exercise. For a reasonable fee, I will spend 30 to 60 minutes with you to make sure you know how to use this technique appropriately.
Blog #40: Qi Gong for Lungs and Kidneys
Today’s blog will give step by step instructions about how to practice a short Qi Gong exercise that frequently can help improve vitality and health on several levels. The steps of this practice are listed below:
- 1 Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and fairly loose, comfortable clothing. Stand on a flat surface, indoors or outside. If practicing out of doors, the temperature should be comfortable, and not windy or rainy. The air should be relatively clean and it would be ideal to do this exercise standing on earth or grass, near trees.
- 2 Feet are shoulder width apart, with toes pointing forward or slightly outward. Knees are slightly bent. Initially, arms hand loosely at the sides, and shoulders are relaxed and slightly rounded. Posture is straight, yet relaxed. Pelvis is slightly tilted forward. Eyes are slightly open, either gazing straight ahead, or down at your abdomen. If a line were drawn through the top of your head, down through your body, ideally, it would exit through your perineum and touch the ground midway between the feet.
- 3 Breathing is from the abdomen, and very relaxed. Mind is also relaxed, aware solely of practicing this exercise and expectant that it will help support health and vitality.
- 4 Jaw and tongue are relaxed. Shoulders, elbows, wrists are relaxed, arms dangle at sides.
- 5 Keeping feet in their same location and knees still bent, smoothly twist hips, torso and head to one side and then to the other side a total of twelve times to each side, first to the left, then to the right.
- 6 The smooth twisting motion will also propel the arms and hands forward. It will not be necessary to use muscles to move the arms and hands – relaxation and momentum will do this, as well as an intention about when and where the arms will move and the hands will land.
- 7 When twisting to the left, the right palm lightly slaps the front of chest, by the left shoulder. At the same time, the left hand swings behind the back and the back of the left hand lightly slaps on or above the location of the right kidney. When twisting to the right, the left palm lightly slaps the front of chest, by the right shoulder, and the right hand swings behind the back and lightly slaps on or above the location of the left kidney.
- 8 Continue in relaxed, perpetual motion until the body has twisted to the left, then to the right a total of twelve times each side.
- 9 Afterward, the body stays centered; the hands are brought up just under the navel, one palm flat against the abdomen and the other hand covering the first placed hand. Both palms face toward the body.
- 10 Count slowly to twelve, with eyes closed. Then open the eyes and slowly enter back into the rest of life. Practicing this every day will gradually lead to proficiency and noticeable benefits. It can take up to three months before one or more benefits appear. Urinary and/or respiratory systems may start functioning better, more ease may be found when handling stressful situations, the body may be more relaxed and comfortable, and the energy level may increase.
This month’s offer: contact me free of charge with questions about this exercise. Additionally, for a small fee, I will teach this and possibly other qi gong exercises in person, if the exercises are suitable for the individuals present.
Blog #39: Qi Gong = Energy Work
Energy work uses the mind to achieve something. Since Qi Gong is generally geared to improving health, it can be thought of as energy work to improve one’s health. This blog will teach a simple meditation with which can help lower blood pressure, slow heart rate and breathing, relax the body and mind, and aid digestion. This meditation is done as follows:
First, sit or lie supine in a comfortable setting. While still staying relaxed, make sure your spine is as straight as possible. Take three deep breaths, a long inhale and exhale. Then, smile with your eyes, and connect with a loving, happy feeling. It is essential that you feel relaxed and positive when you do this meditation. When you meditate and feel upsetting or negative emotions, even worry, you can push the negative emotion deeper inside you if you feel it when you are meditating, so be sure to bring in calm and happy feelings. All feelings are transient, so it is absolutely possible to feel positive and calm during this meditation and then return to the concerns and challenges in your life when you have finished meditating.
Next, close your eyes and direct your positive attention inside your body, specifically to your liver. The liver is located under and below the right rib-cage. After remaining there a few seconds, move your positive attention to your heart. The heart is located higher than the liver, and just to the left of the sternum (breast bone). After remaining there a few seconds, next move your positive attention to your pancreas and spleen. Both of these organs are located on the left side of the abdomen. The pancreas is a little below the heart, and the spleen is located behind and towards the bottom of the left rib-cage. After remaining here for several seconds, move your positive attention next to your lungs. The lungs are located in the chest, to the right and left of the midline. Remain there for several seconds, and then move your positive attention to the kidneys and adrenal glands. The kidneys are located in the lower part of the back, to the right and left of midline, and the adrenals sit on top of the kidneys.
You can go through this cycle several times or just end the meditation after one full cycle. Make sure to always begin with the liver and end with the kidneys. The five positions/sets of organs mentioned here correspond to the Five Elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Five Elements correspond not just to the internal organs, but also to the sensory organs, the seasons, flavors, scents, sounds, colors, and much more. The five elements are covered in more detail in blog #6.
This meditation can be done anywhere and at any time of day, though early morning is generally the best time, and a peaceful, safe location where you feel comfortable and will not be interrupted is the best location.
This month’s offer: contact me with any questions you have about this meditation. If you want to learn about it in more detail, you can set up a session with me and bring along other people if you care to. A small fee will apply.
Blog#38: Qi Gong to Help Correct Near-sightedness
Below is a modified version of a blog I wrote several years ago.
A qi gong-like exercise which I call “walking trees” has been responsible for the correction of my near-sightedness for several decades. I’ve taught it to many patients and some friends and family members. Those who have used this exercise daily, in the prescribed manner, have often obtained beneficial results. “Walking trees” also could be considered yoga; it involves specific movements accompanied by a positively expectant state of mind. I first learned a version of this exercise through the Edgar Cayce Association. Edgar Cayce was arguably the most famous and accurate psychic of the twentieth century. He referred to this yoga/qi gong as the “head and neck exercises”.
“Walking trees” can be done sitting, standing, or walking. It is best done walking out of doors among trees, on somewhat uneven terrain. The spine should be reasonably straight. This therapy consists of six sets of movements, each done three times. First, the head and neck are flexed forward and then brought back to midline before again flexing forward. After three of these movements, the head and neck are extended backward, three times, then flexed laterally to the right, then to the left, then rotated clockwise and finally rotated counterclockwise three times each. After each movement in a set of three, and before each new type of movement, the head and neck are always returned to midline. Head and neck move slowly, in a relaxed manner, and to their furthest possible range without causing significant discomfort. A sensation of tightness is alright, as are sounds of popping or grinding, without pain.
The “walking trees” exercise might best be attempted seated first and then standing. When a person no longer gets dizzy standing while doing this exercise, it is time to begin walking, first on even ground and then among trees, where roots and stones may cause the ground to gently swell or sink. The eyes are kept open, and if glasses or contact lenses are normally worn, they are removed during this time. If the person is so near-sighted without glasses that they might be in danger of walking into branches, protective clear goggles can be worn. Numerous factors make this a particularly effective exercise. Movement in various directions while the eyes are open forces the eyes to focus on different spots. Doing this exercise while walking challenges every part of the eye, including the lens and the surrounding muscles. Walking on uneven ground, outside among trees, carries benefits even further, for now the practitioner is able to breathe in more oxygen from the surrounding vegetation, and to absorb other forms of beneficial energy from the out of doors. At the same time, the trees absorb exhaled carbon dioxide. According to acupuncture five element theory, the wood element is associated with trees and the liver, and the eyes are the sensory organ connected with the liver.
This exercise can be used to support treatment of visual problems with TCM (using acupuncture and herbal therapy). It is best to do “walking trees” every day for an entire year. Gentle use of “walking trees” can also aid in the healing of neck and upper back injuries through the mobilization, stretching and strengthening, and the relaxation which this exercise allows. For this purpose, it is usually practiced morning and evening, in a comfortable seated position. Over several weeks or months, local blockages in acupuncture channels which traverse the head and face, the neck, and the upper back can be reduced or eliminated, restoring normal flow of qi and blood through the tissues. Since everything is connected, in the body and in the universe at large, this will ultimately improve a person’s overall health.
This blog was extracted from an article I wrote for the Oriental Medicine Journal in 2011. You can reach their website at omjournal.com You can reach the A.R.E., the organization which organizes and shares Edgar Cayce’s readings at edgarcayce.org Share this blog with others who might benefit. This blog’s free offer is the opportunity to read the entire article on correcting eyesight without glasses. Just contact me at email@example.com or (773) 274-6827 to arrange a time to drop by my office. I will also take a few minutes to teach you “walking trees” if you have questions about it.
Blog#37: Chinese Exercises for Health
The Chinese culture has developed many exercises which, if used regularly, correctly, and with positive expectations for improved health, can be helpful for many people. The exercises I present in this blog are safe for everyone to use. This month, I will share a simple walking exercise which combines erect posture, a positive attitude and a focused mind. It can be used for a moment or almost all the time when walking. People who practice yoga or tai chi regularly usually have excellent posture, and almost anyone else can too. A few hints to improve posture, if improvement is needed are to stand and walk with shoulders relaxed, but not slouched forward, to avoid locking the knees when standing and walking, and to imagine that the top of the head is suspended from a string that reaches directly upward. Generally, when posture is optimal or close to it, the body will feel lighter and more relaxed and energized than when posture is poor.
Here is the very simple exercise: while walking and maintaining good posture, place the mind on the soles of the feet and say the word “yes” silently in your mind. Obviously, common sense tells us that there are situations in which this exercise would be distracting and even problematic. Another thing: the mind should be truly positive when thinking/saying the word “yes” and the focus on the soles of the feet should be unwavering. Of course, it is important to also be aware of one’s surroundings while walking. If practicing all three together is too difficult, it will still be beneficial to practice any one or two of the three aspects of this qi gong exercise: 1. Good posture, 2. Thinking/saying the word “yes” with each step, and 3. Focusing the mind unwaveringly on the soles of both feet while walking.
Potential benefits of this exercise are many. People usually find that they feel more sure-footed, they are more confident and optimistic, and walking becomes easier and sometimes almost effortless. This exercise can be especially helpful while walking through ice and snow.
This month’s offer: as always, feel free to contact me with questions about this exercise. In addition, I want to share the link below with you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg2Pnon5hg8 Either cut and paste the link to your browser or highlight it with your mouse and then right click to view and listen to a 13 – 14 minute You Tube video of two songs with art, photography, and acting as accompaniment. This video, “Ovations for a Wise Man and a Fool”, was directed by Claudia Hommel. Several of my nature photographs are included in the first song, “For a Tree”, written and sung by Elizabeth Doyle. Claudia Hommel sang and directed the second piece, “Bravo for the Clown”. Both women are world class cabaret singers. And, incidentally, next month’s qi gong will be something I call “walking trees”.
Blog #36: Some Questions about Qi Gong Answered
We just finished the seventh blog on Chiropractic, and now, I am going to share seven monthly blogs about Qi Gong.
Q: What is Qi Gong anyway?
A: Qi Gong includes many different types of exercises, some done standing, sitting, moving, or lying down, and all are geared to improving health and vitality by improving blood and energy circulation, calming the mind, and sometimes even helping internal organs function more effectively.
Q: Can anyone do qi gong?
A: Just about everyone can practice qi gong. The more vital energy a person has and the more stable their mind is, the more benefit they will receive. If a person is not able to focus their mind, they may not be able to benefit from qi gong. It is also helpful if the person can stand and walk.
Q: Is Qi Gong difficult to learn and practice?
A: Most Qi Gong is fairly easy to learn and practice; there will be a period of several weeks or months during which skill is developed. Eventually the person achieves competence in the exercise. With greater competence come greater benefits. The same is true for any type of exercise or discipline.
Q: Will this blog teach specific Qi Gong exercises?
A: Yes, even this first blog will teach an exercise.
This exercise can help some people fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. I say some, because if they are suffering from a serious illness, sleep apnea, asthma, PTSD, or some other problems, they may require additional help to solve sleep issues. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis, improved nutrition, weight loss, and some life-style choices, such as not watching television or working on a computer within 2 hours of bedtime, may be necessary before a person achieves improved quality of sleep.
Here is the exercise:
Lie supine (on your back) in bed, or wherever you intend to sleep right after this exercise. Make sure you are comfortable and that all screens which can emit light and images and all equipment which can emit sounds are turned off. Cell phones should be removed from the room. Close your eyes and inhale deeply, starting from the soles of your feet, and bring the breath all the way up to your clavicles (collar bones). Then exhale, sending the breath out, down your chest, abdomen, thighs, legs, and finally out through the soles of your feet. As you breathe, you are relaxed. When you inhale, your mouth is closed, and when you exhale, your lips are slightly parted and your teeth are very lightly touching. Exhaling, make the sound heeee, or hseee. The sound should be silent or almost silent, although you will feel it in your body. Do this at least three times, and as many more times as you like. Eventually, let yourself drift off to sleep.
This blog’s offer: feel free to email or call me with any questions about this exercise.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Blog#35: Ways to Maximize Your Benefit from Chiropractic
Some people need regular chiropractic adjustments for years or even decades because they were born with structural anomalies, or have suffered injuries which resulted in long-term postural imbalances. Most people need only a few weeks or months of chiropractic to help them regain health and function after an illness or injury. Sometimes, when people are under severe stress, don’t get enough sleep, are exposed to environmental toxins, have poor diets, unknowingly suffer from food allergies, abuse substances such as cigarettes or alcohol, take many prescription drugs, or experience chronic depression and/or anxiety, chiropractic adjustments may not be as helpful as they could be. Here are ten ways to help maximize your benefit from chiropractic adjusting.
- Take a walk in the woods at least once a week.
- Sing a song or play a musical instrument every day.
- Before you fall asleep each night, think of at least ten people, situations, or things that you enjoy and that inspire you.
- Take the opportunity for one day a week to eat strictly vegan and organic, and drink at least 6 glasses of purified/filtered water on that day.
- Fast from technology at least one day a week and instead read a real book, write in a journal, or get together with others and have a stimulating conversation which challenges your viewpoint and intellect.
- Explore something new at least once a week, such as a neighborhood where you have never been, an art gallery you have never visited, or a meeting of an organization about which you would like to learn more.
- Practice a refreshing and fortifying type of daily exercise, such as yoga or qigong.
- Engage in a creative form of expression, such as writing, painting, music, weaving, cooking, gardening, or re-decorating your home or workplace.
- Find the most appropriate flower essence to support your healing process, calm your mind or lift your spirits.
- Take time daily to meditate or help yourself with self-hypnosis.
You can sometimes enjoy several of these suggestions/resolutions simultaneously – i.e. meeting with a knitting or weaving group on a day when you are technology-free, taking a camping or boating trip with a person or persons whose company and intellect you enjoy, or even joining me some Sunday for the Nature Writing Group, which meets once a month at the North Park Village Nature Center in Chicago, at 5801 North Pulaski Road. If this last idea interests you, the writing group’s next meeting is Sunday January 18th from 11 am until 1 pm. We gather by the fireplace, share and critique writing, and walk through the nature preserve.
This month’s offer: contact me anytime to find out when the next Nature Writing Group will meet. Also, consider contacting me for instructions in self-hypnosis, qi gong, or simple meditation.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Blog#34: Chiropractic and Rib Subluxations
Many people have not heard of a rib subluxation, or any other kind of subluxation, for that matter. Subluxation means that a bone or joint is somewhat out of alignment but not fully dislocated. Usually a person with a subluxated rib or some other type of subluxation can still function. However, some discomfort persists until the subluxation is resolved or until the body adapts to the misalignment by allowing other bones and/or joints to misalign. A person with a subluxated rib may change the position of one shoulder blade, contract the upper trapezius muscle on one side of their body, or even shift their pelvis to accommodate this rib imbalance and thus alleviate some of their pain. Although this shift may reduce pain initially, in the long run more problems usually will arise. Since musculoskeletal stability and balance are no longer optimal, problems such as shoulder, neck, and pelvic misalignments will eventually develop and injuries will become more likely. Subluxations, pain, and injuries give rise to compromised blood and lymph circulation and sub-optimal neurological function, thus giving rise to further problems.
We typically have twelve ribs. The top seven are attached to the first through seventh thoracic vertebrae in back and to the sternum (breast bone) in front. The eighth through tenth ribs connect to thoracic vertebrae eight through ten in the back. In the front, these three ribs connect to the costal cartilages of the ribs just above them. The bottom two ribs, sometimes referred to as “floating ribs” are only connected to the bottom two thoracic vertebrae in the back.
Ribs can become misaligned for many reasons, including falls or other traumas, inappropriate exercise such as an incorrect yoga posture, or by using a shovel, spade or other tool inappropriately. Rib subluxations can be extremely painful. Several times in my career, patients have come to my office after spending hours in the ER because of extreme pain. Sometimes they thought they were having a heart attack. Chiropractic appeared magical in these situations, since it usually is fairly easy to move a rib back into place. Instantaneous pain relief often results. Usually no more than two or three follow-up treatments are necessary to stabilize the rib or ribs into their correct position. Occasionally one side of the rib-cage is misaligned. Even though this sounds much more daunting, it usually is also fairly easy to remedy.
There are many ways to adjust subluxated ribs. My favorite method is a gentle, subtle technique called Ortho-Bionomy. Originally developed by an osteopath, Ortho-Bionomy includes moving the patient into a position that allows release of the tension holding the bone/joint in subluxation. This technique also helps break up patterns of pain and stress without creating more pain, and allows the resurgence of normal blood and energy (qi) circulation as well as the return of healthy muscular and neurological function.
This blog’s offer: contact me for a free consultation if you have persistent back, side, or chest pain that does not respond significantly to stretching or other exercises or to over the counter muscle-relaxant or anti-inflammatory medication. I will tell you if I think you are suffering from a rib subluxation and will let you know how I can help.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Blog#33: Chiropractic and the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
Temporomandibular joint problems are common in the U. S. Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include jaw pain, aching in and around the ear, difficulty or discomfort while chewing, facial pain, headaches, locking of the jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, clicking when opening the mouth or chewing. Anyone can develop TMJ problems, but women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most frequent sufferers. Causes recognized by allopathic medicine include head trauma, arthritic changes in the joint, and wear and/or dislocation of the joint. Chiropractic recognizes other causes, including malposition (subluxation) of the joint without dislocation, high levels of toxicity, malnutrition, substance abuse, and mental or emotional stress.
Allopathic medicine and dentistry primarily offers TMJ syndrome sufferers painkillers, surgery, mouth guards, and orthodontia. For decades chiropractic physicians have used massage and manipulation of the TMJ, along with stretching and relaxation exercises. Many chiropractors also approach TMJ dysfunction with nutritional guidance, acupuncture therapy, and suggestions for lifestyle changes. Improved posture and breathing patterns, meditation, hypnosis and self-hypnosis, and biofeedback also often can help correct TMJ problems. Depending on the cause of the problem, one approach or group of approaches may be more effective.
One technique which can sometimes temporarily help alleviate TMJ pain, and which is safe to teach through this blog involves lightly and simultaneously touching the areas just above both mandibular angles with the index fingers. The fingers are held lightly in place until a faint pulsation is felt coming from both points of contact. The contact is then held for 15 seconds and released. The mind must be completely quiet in order to detect the pulse in this technique, which is part of a much larger therapeutic approach I have used in my office for 35 years with great success. Below is a link which shows pictures and the location of the angle of the mandible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_of_the_mandible
This blog’s offer: call my office to schedule a free consultation to assess the condition of your temporomandibular joint. I will test for and discuss with you the nature of the problem and let you know if I can help. As part of my program of TMJ therapy, I teach people how to adjust their own TMJ’s and teach them how to address this dysfunction in other ways as well, such as maintaining proper posture and breathing, improving nutrition, and using self-hypnosis.
Blog #32: Chiropractic and Shoulder Health
The shoulder is the body’s most complex and vulnerable joint. Chiropractic mobilization and massage of local tendons and muscles, as well as adjustment of the various bony structures comprising the shoulder joint can help prevent problems such as frozen shoulder, biceps tendonitis, and osteoarthritis. Acupuncture can also be useful. Additionally, specific stretching exercises can help maintain or increase range of motion, while specific strengthening exercises can increase shoulder stability and decrease the probability of injuries such as rotator cuff tear, shoulder dislocation, arthritis, and tendonitis. Also helpful for maintaining shoulder health is the regular practice of disciplines such as yoga, tai qi, and qi gong. An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle will help prevent shoulder pain and injury as well as improve general health and comfort. Blog #16: Cooling Chronic Inflammation supplies information about foods that will tend to increase or decrease the body’s level of inflammation. You can find this blog by going to www.ewagnerholistichealth.us and scrolling down until you reach #16. You may also need to click on the tab that directs you to previous blogs.
A problem that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed is frozen shoulder. This condition usually can be differentiated from a rotator cuff injury with a simple exam. In both cases, the extent to which the injured person can actively move the shoulder is limited. However, the examiner can passively move the shoulder much further when the patient has a rotator cuff injury. When a patient has a frozen shoulder, both active and passive ranges of motion are equally limited. Frozen shoulder almost always responds well to chiropractic, physical therapy, and other similar therapies. Most cases resolve within one to three years. Resolution is defined as a return of at least 80% of the previous range of motion, without discomfort. Specific qi gong exercises as well as more conventional stretching, and eventually, strengthening exercises will usually significantly shorten recovery time. X-rays can rule out fractures or other injuries or pathologies. MRI is often an appropriate diagnostic tool once an exam has ruled out frozen shoulder. If a rotator cuff tear is severe, surgery may be the best option. Rehabilitative stretching and strengthening exercises administered by a physical therapist or chiropractor will also be necessary for optimal recovery. Mild rotator cuff tears are best addressed with exercises that increase shoulder strength and stability. A chiropractor or physical therapist can help in these cases.
This month’s offer: if you are having shoulder pain and limited range of motion, contact me for a complementary shoulder examination. I will let you know if I can help. I may refer you to an orthopedist if necessary.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Blog#31: Benefits of Chiropractic Adjusting
Chiropractic adjusting can benefit you in many ways. When gentle, or combined with at least a little massage, chiropractic adjustments help improve blood circulation locally and elsewhere in the body. When spinal vertebrae and other joint articulations are mobilized appropriately, the resulting improved blood circulation brings more red blood cells to better oxygenate the area and more white blood cells to attend to the body’s defense. With proper adjusting and improved circulation, muscles and also internal organs function more comfortably and effectively. Since lymphatic circulation is also improved by chiropractic adjusting, local debris, such as the waste products of cellular metabolism, is more efficiently carried away from the area and brought to organs such as the spleen, kidneys, lungs and large intestine for elimination from the body. Additionally, chiropractic adjustments help the nervous system function optimally. When vertebrae or other joint articulations are subluxated (misaligned) due to injury, poor posture, muscle spasm, or other causes, the local nerves can sometimes be impinged upon and irritated. This impingement and/or irritation can compromise nerve function and result in muscle discomfort or weakness and even sometimes in diminished organ function. Cranial adjustments, that is, adjustments of the skull, can improve sinus function, reduce headache severity and frequency, and greatly alleviate TMJ (jaw) problems. And there’s more: gentle chiropractic adjusting helps your body and mind relax. All of the above benefits add up to a healthier immune system, with less colds and other ailments, especially if chiropractic treatment is received regularly. And, of course, since chiropractic adjusting alleviates pain and accelerates the healing of injuries, it helps people function better and enjoy life more.
I first learned about chiropractic when I was in my mid-teens, after my mother injured her low back during a Grand Canyon mule tour. The resulting pain forced her to resign from her secretarial job. Neither orthopedic physicians nor physical therapists could help her. After almost a year of suffering, a woman from her previous job told her about a man who had fixed her painful neck, which had been in spasm and turned toward one shoulder, in only a few visits. This woman had consulted M.D.’s and physical therapists to no avail for several months. Dr. Klingenna, the chiropractor, worked out of the basement of his home. The first time he saw my mother, he did a little massage on her back and tractioned her low back by pulling on her ankles. The second visit, he repeated this procedure, but for a longer time, and added ultrasound therapy. At the third appointment, he once again had my mother lay on his table and this time he followed the above procedures with chiropractic spinal adjustments. After that treatment, she remained pain free for over two years. Since her job had hired temporary employees to fill her spot, she was able to reclaim her position. From then on, every two to three years my mother developed low back pain and returned to Dr. Klingenna for several treatments. After I graduated from chiropractic school, I adjusted my mother at those times.
This month’s offer: call me to set up an appointment for a chiropractic adjustment to reduce discomfort and improve your health. Seasonal transitions, that is, the times around the equinoxes and solstices, are excellent opportunities for treatment.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Blog#30: Stand Tall and Breathe!
Two essentials for health and vitality are often overlooked: posture and breath. Humans have evolved to stand upright despite the fact that standing on only two limbs poses unique challenges to the musculoskeletal system, especially the spinal column. Everything musculoskeletal is connected. Feet are the foundation – if flat, deformed, injured, everted (turned outward) or inverted (turned inward) then legs, thighs, hips, pelvis, and spine will all be adversely affected. Unstable, injured knees can lead to spinal problems, as can poor articulation in one or both hip joints. The coccyx (tail bone) or sacrum (bony structure just above the coccyx and below the lumbar vertebrae) can also be tipped too far forward or backward or otherwise twisted and misaligned. Any of these foundational problems can adversely affect the spinal column. Spinal subluxations (minor, but sometimes persistent misalignments of the vertebrae) can also be problematic. These subluxations can be due to injury, poor posture, birth defects and other problems. All the above postural challenges can lead to discomfort, injuries, compromise of blood or lymph circulation, neurological dysfunction, and even sub-optimal health of internal organs, including the brain. You might find it interesting to experiment with standing or sitting posture. Notice how slouching compromises your breathing and energy level. Diminished energy level can lead to rigidity or limitation when facing life’s challenges. Depression can sometimes result from chronic poor posture. Now notice how much better you feel when you sit or stand with spine straight, pelvis slightly tucked in (if standing). Also beneficial to your spine and well-being while sitting is keeping your legs and feet flat on the floor and extended out in front of the chair, not tucked underneath the chair.
Optimal breathing is also essential for good health and high energy. Many people hold abdomen, diaphragm and chest tight and tense when they breathe, and because of this, they barely manage to bring in enough oxygen to function. Instead of breathing from the abdomen and then allowing the chest and lungs to fill, they only breathe with the chest, cutting off the lower torso as a center for activity and a reservoir for life energy. Watch how professional singers breathe from the lower abdomen and then let the chest and lungs fill. Abdominal and chest muscles, including the diaphragm, the large muscle that separates and also connects the chest and abdomen, can function as life and energy enhancers or suppressors, depending on whether they are relaxed and dynamic or tense and stuck. These muscles help circulate blood and lymph and also massage the internal organs in the abdomen and chest as they move. Virtually everyone can learn to breathe more efficiently with practice. I recommend spending at least five to ten minutes every day breathing from the lower abdomen. Often, it is easiest to breathe this way supine (lying face up) so that position can sometimes be the best way to begin. Eventually, it will become natural to breathe with the abdomen while sitting standing, and walking.
This month’s offer: the same as last month’s: contact me with questions about your posture and breathing and I will meet with you free of charge for fifteen minutes and give you some suggestions for improvement.
Blog #29: Chiropractic is Adjusting the Spine and Much More
In each state in the U.S. chiropractors are licensed differently and allowed to offer different services to the public. In Michigan, possibly the most restrictive state, chiropractors are only allowed to adjust the spine. In Illinois, by contrast, chiropractors (DC’s) are included under the same physician license as osteopaths (DO’s) and allopaths (MD’s). DC’s can provide almost any service the other two groups of physicians can, with the exception of writing prescriptions for drugs and performing surgery. Some chiropractors in Illinois function as primary care physicians (PCP’s). Others have nutritional practices. Some manly help rehabilitate injured athletes, or practice solely as radiologists. Chiropractors have been trained to use massage, mobilization and other adjustments to help optimize position and function of all the bones, as well as of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and more. Many techniques are gentle and slow, others are faster and more forceful. In order to enter chiropractic school, students must first complete a standard premed curriculum. Once in chiropractic school, DC’s receive extensive training in radiology, pathology, microbiology, pathology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, spinal and extremity adjusting, pediatrics, geriatrics, and more.
Since DC’s have been trained to recognize and diagnose disease, and to restore the body to health without the use of drugs or surgery, it is often wise to consult a chiropractor first with a problem, and therefore avoid unnecessary prescription medication or surgery. After an initial history and examination, the DC may commence treatment, run some tests, or refer a patient out to an MD or DO, depending on the health issue.
It is within the scope of a DC’s license to practice hypnosis, offer nutritional guidance, prescribe herbs, practice acupuncture, draw blood, use ultrasound and electrostim, teach therapeutic exercises, and more. Several chiropractic schools offer excellent advanced curricula in acupuncture, homeopathy, hypnosis, massage, sports rehabilitation, radiology, and other aspects of health care.
This Blog’s offer: two things I always notice about patients that come to my office are posture and breathing. Poor posture or breathing can perpetuate pain and prevent healing. This means that excellent posture and breathing can greatly lessen or eliminate pain and speed healing. Feel free to contact me for a five to ten minute appointment, free of charge, during which I will show you how to improve both posture and breathing.
Blog # 28: A Walk in the Woods
As you no doubt have noticed by the seventh and last blog on flower essences, this remedy is a type of energy medicine, and is more subtle than medications or herbs. You can begin to discover the mood-altering effectiveness of flowers and other entities in the natural world by simply taking a walk in a wooded, secluded area, such as a forest preserve. Quiet your mind for a moment and check in on the mood or emotion you are currently holding. You may also discover other, more hidden emotions during your quiet moment. Then, as you walk, be open to colors, shapes, fragrances, and sounds that appeal to you. Maybe you will be drawn to a large oak tree or a clump of violets. Maybe you will see a feather, or rock with unusual colors or markings. You might choose to pick up and hold the item or you might just observe it. Whatever you choose to do, focus your entire attention on this discovery for a minute or even several minutes, and then check your emotion or mood. Has there been a change? If so, what kind of change? You could do this several times during your walk. This was probably how the first flower essence practitioners developed their repertoires and skills.
Next month, I will begin a new series of seven blogs, this time on chiropractic adjusting and health, particularly orthopedic health. Chiropractic is a relatively down-to-earth, grounded topic, very different from these last seven blogs on flower essences. In case you haven’t noticed, I alternate a series of seven blogs on grounded, down-to-earth topics with seven blogs covering more “new age” energetic approaches to health and wellness.
This month’s offer: in honor of the summer solstice and all the beautiful leafing, blooming plants, I will be at the North Park Village Nature Center on Sunday, June 22 at 1:00 pm to accompany anyone who shows up on a walk and demonstration of how we can tune in to plants and other aspects of the natural world in order to grow more calm, happy, focused, optimistic, or whatever else each of us might be seeking. We will meet by the fireplace. The walk will leave at 1:05 pm. The Nature Center’s address is 5801 North Pulaski Road, in Chicago. If you are driving, turn east at the traffic light at Ardmore, which is just south of Peterson Avenue. Feel free to contact me with any questions at (773) 274-6827 if you intend to show up.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Blog#27: War Veterans, PTSD, and Flower Essences
In the last several decades, medication has been used to help returning veterans manage some of the worst PTSD symptoms. For several years, acupuncture, especially auriculotherapy (needling points on the ear) has been used in clinics in many urban clinics to help with these symptoms. Very recently, companion dogs have been found to be effective in some cases of PTSD. Flower essence therapy can also be effective. The Bach flower essence formula Rescue Remedy, as well as the individual components all can be helpful in dealing with trauma and stress. Components are:
Impatiens: For those who act and think quickly and have no patience for what they perceive as the slowness of others. They often prefer to work alone. Impatiens can help the individual learn empathy, understanding, and patience. When appropriate, it can help quickly alleviate impatient attitudes and diminish stress.
Star of Bethlehem: For trauma and shock, whether experienced recently or in the past. It can help the individual recover from trauma and then integrate these experiences into present life.
Cherry Plum: Can be effective for those who fear losing control of their thoughts and actions and doing things they know are bad for them or which they consider wrong. This essence can help the individual trust in their spontaneous wisdom and do what is most suitable for them.
Rock Rose: This essence can have a comforting, calming influence in situations when a person is overwhelmed by panic or terror. It can help the individual let go of terror and build courage.
Clematis: Can help those who find their lives unhappy and withdraw into fantasy worlds, becoming indifferent to details of everyday life. This essence can help the individual establish a bridge between the physical world and the world of ideas, and can also help bring clarity and alertness to the present moment.
Rescue Remedy is designed to help with immediate problems. For deeper, underlying problems other essences may be more appropriate. Improved nutrition, regular exercise, counseling, and other approaches may also be helpful, and should often used in conjunction with flower essence therapy.
This month’s offer: contact me for more information about other flower essences which can be used to address stress and PTSD.
Blog# 26: Three Important Flower Essences for Spring
Dandelion. This flower can help those who keep overwhelmingly busy schedules and suffer the consequences. These people are so busy that they neglect their physical, emotional, and spiritual health, and consequently develop great tension in their bodies, especially in their upper back and neck. Dandelion flower essence helps to release this tension and the associated blocked or suppressed emotions. The essence can be taken orally, added to massage oil, and even lightly sprayed in a workplace or home. Dandelion is well known as a detoxifying bitter tonic which cleanses the liver, increases bile flow, and restores normal bowel function. The herb also helps release stagnant emotions, especially anger, which is the emotion associated with the liver and gall bladder in Asian Medicine.
Nettles. Also called stinging nettles, this flower essence can help people who tend to be cold and angry, even spiteful, possibly because they feel cheated by others or by life in general. It can help in the expression of these emotions, thus allowing more open and honest connection with others. Nettles flower essence helps cleanse toxins from the body which are due to emotional stress. The essence also helps the body relax. It is especially effective in reducing or resolving conflict and cruelty within the home or workplace. The herb is one of the world’s most nutritious greens, especially rich in vitamins A and C, as well as in iron, silica, and potassium. It helps rid the body of toxins by stimulating kidney and liver function, and has long been used to support those convalescing from illness or suffering from anemia.
Peppermint. As a flower essence, peppermint helps people who suffer from mental sluggishness and digestive tract upset due to stress or an inappropriate diet. It can help improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, and, as a result, can increase mental and physical energy. Peppermint flower essence is sometimes used to help improve mental concentration and is an excellent remedy for students, especially around exam time, including spring final exams. It can also help alleviate mild depression. As an herbal remedy, it can improve blood circulation and warms the body. It tends to relax tension and relieve pain, including menstrual cramps. Peppermint herb acts as a mild muscle relaxant, and can help alleviate problems ranging from indigestion, mild asthmatic attacks, and insomnia.
This blog’s offer: contact me for information about other herbs and flower essences that can help with detoxification and energy level.
Blog #25: Flower Essences that Help With Spring Detox
Just as herbs, diet, exercise, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, short juice fasts, meditation, deep breathing, and time spent in nature can help us detoxify, so can flower essences. Almost any flower essence can be helpful in detoxification, as long as the essence is appropriate at that particular time. When stress, fear, pain, or confusion are minimized, the body is more easily detoxified and can more easily return to balance. Ten of the essences that can be helpful in detoxification are:
- Crab Apple: Can help when a person feels contaminated and is overly concerned about being clean. Feelings of contamination in these cases are sometimes rooted in exposure to toxic chemicals and their subsequent effect on the skin. Rashes, which often arise due to toxic chemical exposure combined with stress, sometimes respond well to a combination of crab apple and pine flower essences. This combination of essences also can be helpful for those who feel unclean due to guilt about past behavior, such as taking lives in wartime, or violence and abuse in the home. This essence and others, such as Star of Bethlehem, can help with detoxification after chemotherapy.
- Iris: Can support a person during a spring cleanse by helping them let go of outmoded possessions and beliefs and open to new experiences and creativity.
- Cayenne: Can provide a spark of energy and motivation to change and move. This energy can help a person stay on the detox program. It also can help a reserved or somewhat depressed person express anger in a clear, constructive manner.
- Hornbeam: May help those who are exhausted, drained, or overwhelmed by life. It can assist in the recovery of people who have endured long illness. Hornbeam is usually most effective when combined with other essences, such as olive, for total exhaustion, gentian, for distrust and pessimism, or white chestnut, for unwanted thoughts and insomnia.
- Arnica: Can help people detoxify and heal more rapidly after trauma, such as an automobile accident or a fall. Helps sooth swelling, bruises, strains and sprains of the physical body and psyche.
- Willow: Can be extremely powerful for transforming bitterness, resentment, anger and hatred towards people or situations associated with a person’s disappointment or illness. It can also transform a negative outlook towards life in general. It can be helpful to people undergoing chemotherapy, helping them detox more effectively during and after treatment, and helping them have a more positive and optimistic attitude in the face of challenges.
- Dagger Hakea: Can help resolve issues of resentment and bitterness towards loved ones and find the power to forgive. Can help restore balance to body and mind and bring tranquility to the emotions.
- Yarrow: Can help to detoxify the body after radiotherapy, as well as protect sensitive people from toxic elements in the environment and problematic people with whom they come into contact.
- Holly: Can help ease the subconsciously envious, angry feelings towards people or situations.
- Stinging Nettle: Can assist with the stress and the grief from separation, divorce, feelings of resentment, anger and hatred towards people or situations associated with a person’s disappointment or affliction. The essence can help alleviate tensions associated with feelings of being a victim, and of being unjustly treated.
This blog’s offer: Contact me to find the best essence to help support you during a spring detox, and I will find and essence for among the six excellent sets in my office.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Blog #24: A Story for the Month of Valentines
This may the only case study I ever share through these blogs. I have changed information to protect this person’s confidentiality.
Some Buddhist and Taoist traditions view certain illnesses and conditions as karmic. Patients’ headaches occasionally have complex, hidden roots that could be viewed in this way. Certain sects of Taoism and Buddhism maintain that karmic conditions can sometimes be alleviated through a long course of treatment, including acupuncture and herbal medicine, through the discipline of meditation and physical exercises such as walking and medical qi gong, through ritual performed for the sufferer by someone with religious authority, and even through magic. Western medicine might tend to view these types of conditions as deep psychological disturbances such as split personality, deep-seated guilt, or post-traumatic stress disorder and would probably treat the individual with counseling and medication.
Sharon, a patient I treated about twenty years ago, had suffered from migraines for over a decade. She used no medication, not even over-the-counter remedies, since they did not help. As with all my patients, I did a thorough history and examination. Since most patients are open and willing to share details about their lives and health in an effort to recover from an illness, I assumed that Sharon would also be this way. Now in her mid-thirties, gradually worsening symptoms had kept her home from work at least half a day each week for the past year. She told me she was concerned about losing her secretarial job, and was tired of suffering. She was afraid of needles and insisted we avoid acupuncture.
I treated her with full-spine chiropractic adjusting for the first several visits. Especially notable were subluxations of her low back, which took several adjusting sessions to resolve. Her diet was heavy on sugar, dairy, corn, and wheat. She also consumed red meat several times a week. I recommended that she gradually switch to a more vegetable and fruit-based diet with little dairy, processed foods, or refined sugars, relying on fish and plain organic yoghurt as her only animal protein. She also agreed to eliminate products made with flour from her diet, instead consuming organic grains that she cooked whole. We identified several migraine triggers, such as watching television at night, which she said she would avoid. After a few weeks, she experienced a modest diminution in headache severity but no change in frequency. At this point, we spent three sessions working with hypnosis and self-hypnosis for stress reduction and pain relief.
Because no change occurred after these three sessions, we decided to explore flower essences as a therapy. I prefer to select essences via muscle testing, and did so in this case, making sure, as always, that neither I nor the patient could read names of the essences for which we tested. We found the flower essence, (blue) salvia, from the Perelandra garden essence set to be appropriate. Salvia can help alleviate headaches, including migraines, and is also indicated when an individual has suffered severe early childhood trauma, usually physical or sexual in nature, which has lodged in the subconscious and in the body on a cellular level. This kind of trauma is very difficult to release. Sharon said that she had not suffered physical or sexual abuse during her childhood, but that her mother was a Nazi concentration camp survivor, and had been forced to service German officers in order to survive her two years at Auschwitz. Sharon tested to use salvia for three months.
There was further improvement in her symptoms for two months; then her headaches increased in both severity and frequency. After much questioning, Sharon told me that she had begun dating a man several weeks ago, and, as with each man she dated, if the relationship became sexual, she grew tense, fearful, and unresponsive. She also became severely constipated during these times, and her headaches worsened. She said, however, that this man was different from the others; he was both patient and sensitive. During this time, we added dried fruit and flax seeds, and also ginger and dandelion root teas to help alleviate her constipation. I treated Sharon weekly with chiropractic spinal adjusting, especially concentrating on her low back, which again had become subluxated. By the time she had been taking the flower essence salvia for three months, she and her boyfriend had worked things out, and her migraines were gone. She did not suffer another migraine headache during the approximately two years she kept in touch with me afterward.
We cannot know with complete certainty that the flower essence salvia was a major help for Sharon, but I believe that it was the key to her healing. Flower essences are a type of energy medicine and can change the subconscious and emotional vibrations which people broadcast. Sharon may have drawn a different kind of man to her, and also may have found herself attracted to a kinder, more sensitive kind of man than before. Also, this may have been the first time that Sharon made the conscious connection between her mother’s experiences in Nazi Germany, Sharon’s relationship problems, and her migraine headaches.
This blog’s offer: feel free to call or email me with questions about this particular blog. Also, I teach people about the use of flower essences. Mention the blog and I will give you a discount.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Blog#23: Flower Essences Can Help with New Year’s Resolutions
Flower essences can make life run more smoothly and lend support to help reach many New Year’s resolutions. Of course, most important are consistency and commitment in daily life to reaching a goal or making a change. For best results, work with a professional flower essence practitioner. Some of popular goals held for the New Year are smoking cessation, weight control, and stress management.
Smoking cessation: work on several different levels is usually necessary to achieve this goal. Most important is the determination to free oneself from cigarettes (or cigars and pipes) no matter how difficult the task. For one thing, it is necessary to weather the two or three weeks of physical discomfort as the body frees itself from addictive substances. At the same time, it is important to substitute other activities for smoking. Hopefully, these activities are neither addictive nor harmful. One also needs to successfully cope with the stresses that smoking helped alleviate as well as stresses that arise from releasing an addiction and coping mechanism. Finally, if cigarettes have been regarded as the smoker’s close friend, it is necessary to find support and pleasure in other avenues, such as artistic outlets, sports, new friendships, or volunteer work. When these steps are in place, flower essences can make the change much smoother than it might be otherwise. Two essences that are sometimes helpful for those who want to quit smoking are Nicotiana and Yarrow, both from the Flower Essence Society. Nicotiana helps to alleviate irritability and cravings for cigarettes due to physical addiction. Yarrow is most helpful when the cravings are mainly emotional, as when cigarettes are used as a shield from stressful situations.
Weight control: it is important to ascertain that weight problems are not from physical imbalances, such as thyroid dysfunction or fluid retention. As with smoking cessation, it is essential to be committed to see the task through to the end, no matter how challenging it becomes. Adhering to a healthy diet that will not give rise to cravings is important, as is engaging in activities that are fulfilling and energizing. Regular exercise is helpful with weight loss, but a healthy, low-caloric diet is even more important. Several Bach Flower Essences which are sometimes helpful with weight loss are Cherry Plum, which has a calming effect and increases self-control, Chestnut Bud, which helps break mindless eating habits, and Crab Apple, which helps enhance self-confidence and regulate mood swings. Each individual is different, so other essences from the Bach set or from other essence sets may be more appropriate and effective.
Stress management: virtually everyone can benefit from stress reduction. Simplifying one’s life and letting go of possessions and activities that are not essential is important. Also important are regular exercise, adequate sleep and rest, a healthy diet, sufficient water consumption, and both social contact and time alone. The Australian Bush Flower Essences have several remedies which can help with stress management, including Black-eyed Susan, which addresses the need to be busy all the time and helps one slow down and feel more peaceful inside. Also helpful in crisis situations and with injuries is Rescue Remedy, a combination of five essences from the Bach Flower Essences: Rock Rose, Clematis, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and Star of Bethlehem. Because there are many factors contributing to stress, it is best to work with a professional to find the most effective essences.
This blog’s offer: schedule an appointment to help determine which essences will be most likely to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions. For $50.00 I will find and make up one or more essences for you, give you directions about how to use them, and provide you with free refills.
Blog #22: What Are Flower Essences?
Flower essences are homeopathic-like extracts of flowers which often are taken orally. They also sometimes are used topically, or even sprayed in a room or used in bathwater. They can help alleviate emotional distress, resolve some physical complaints, strengthen the immune system, lend support during times of transition or personal growth, and much more. Flower essences can also help plants and animals. Of all the modalities in my practice, I regard these remedies as the most profound and powerful when chosen and used correctly. Some flower essences or essence combinations, such as Rescue Remedy, will most likely be helpful to everyone at some point in their lives.
Essences usually are prepared either by boiling parts of a specific plant in pure water for one half hour, or by placing blossoms from a plant into a clean bowl of pure water for several hours in an unpolluted, sunny outdoor setting. During the second type of preparation, cheesecloth or another covering may be used to protect the water and blooms from falling insects, leaves, etc. With both of these methods, the flowers leave their species-unique electrical imprint on the water. The flowers are carefully removed from the water, and the imprinted water is then mixed with brandy or vinegar to preserve the solution. Essences are stored in stock bottles and transferred to smaller glass dropper bottles when sold or distributed.
The unique personality of a species of flower comes from color of blossoms, size of plants, shape and texture of leaves, quality and mineral content of soil in which it best grows, climate and challenges the species faces while growing, the plant’s natural habitat (e.g. desert or swamp), the level of environmental pollution, and other factors. Flower essences can be selected intuitively, analytically, or through muscle testing. Almost anyone can work safely with flower essences, since they will do no serious harm if misused. However, it can take several years to gain skill with muscle-testing, (also called kinesiology). Acupuncturists and body workers have an advantage because they already have developed sensitivity in their hands. Also essential to accurate muscle-testing are keeping the mind empty, the emotions calm, and focusing totally on the process.
In some ways, flower essences resemble homeopathic remedies. Both utilize the electrical imprint or “spirit” of something to help speed healing. Both are usually taken orally, at least fifteen minutes away from anything else taken by mouth, except water. However, flower essence dilutions are not as precise as those of homeopathic remedies. And, while homeopathy usually works with the law of “similars”, pushing an ailing entity a little further into specific pathology in order to then rouse a healing response somewhat similar to inoculation, flower essences work more gently. They gift an ailing consciousness with constructive energies to subtly, and sometimes swiftly, move the entity back to balance and inner harmony. Use of flower essences along with acupuncture, nutrition, chiropractic, herbs, exercise, massage and other approaches to healing has benefitted many people suffering from depression. The wide varieties of essences I have used for this problem indicate that there are many origins and types of depression.
Edward Bach, considered to be the father of flower essences, was an English physician who became disillusioned with the medical practices of his day. He first turned to homeopathy and then retired to the countryside in Wales where he sought remedies in nature. Walking though meadows, he discovered that if he held his hand over a particular flower, it affected him in a way unique to its species. Research with flowers followed until he created the 38 Bach Flower Remedies. He chose each essence to address a particular emotional imbalance, for he believed that anger, worry, fear, grief, guilt, and other negative emotions wore down the person, eventually leading to physical illness. Since Dr. Bach’s death in 1938, demand for flower remedies has increased steadily. They are commonly found in pharmacies in England and Germany, and in most health food stores and some pharmacies in the U.S. They are extremely delicate, and must be kept at least a small distance away from operating computer monitors, television sets, cell phones, x-ray machines, and the like.
I work with several sets of remedies, which include the North American Flower Essences Set, Bach Flower Essences, Petite Fleur Essences, Perelandra Essences Set, Desert Flower Essences, and the Australian Bush Flower Essences. Each set has particular qualities, stemming in part from the developer and also from the state or country of origin. There is much more I could write about regarding these amazing remedies, but I believe that the best way to learn is by first using them with the guidance of an experienced practitioner and then by helping oneself and others over the course of many years.
This blog’s offer: contact me for flower essences testing, and I will only charge $50.00 for the hour session, including the essence for no additional charge. If we find that essences are not appropriate, there will be no charge for my time with you.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Blog #21: Joy of Cooking Healthy
Food preparation can be creative, fun, social, meditative, healing, down-to-earth and enlightening. Here are three recipes I have used, varied, and shared with others. Used on a regular basis, they can be very effective.
Anti-Inflammatory Alkalinizing Smoothie: Into a blender place eight ounces of filtered water or young coconut water. Add one serving of a high quality alkalinizing green protein powder, such as Pure Synergy from the Synergy Company, or another kind of alkalinizing protein powder, such as the rice-based UltraClear Plus pH from Metagenics. Add ½ tsp cinnamon, a total of three large handfuls of different raw organic green vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli florets, water cress, etc., a handful of organic fresh or frozen fruit, such as blueberries, pitted cherries, banana or mango, and blend until smooth. Additional ingredients could include fresh or dried ginger root, and juice from ½ lemon or lime. This can make an excellent meal. Some find it filling enough to divide in half and consume at two meals. Refrigerate after blending, and use within 12 hours.
Bone Strengthening Soup: Into a crock pot or double boiler combine your choice of the following items to make stock: water, sea salt or sea vegetables, herbs such as turmeric, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger root, onion, nettles, oregano, and sage, root vegetables such as carrot, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, white potato, and yam, green vegetables such as celery, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, broccoli, collard, turnip, and mustard greens. You may also want to add mushrooms, eggplant, squash or other foods, as well as some fresh or high quality organic canned tomato. The most important ingredient in this recipe is, as the name says, bones. Usually, chicken necks, backs, and feet are used. It is important that the chickens are raised without the use of hormones and antibiotics. Ideally, they should be fed an organic diet, and be free-range. Remove as much skin as possible before cooking. Bones should be cooked in the soup for several hours or even overnight, until soft.
Juice, Soup, and Stew Tonic for Blood and Energy: These three versions have almost the same ingredients. They include apples, carrots, burdock root, beet root and greens, dandelion greens, spinach, parsley, kale, celery stalk, broccoli, red cabbage, and fresh nettles, if available. Ingredients should be unsprayed, and preferably organically grown. Nettles tend to absorb environmental toxins, so if they are wild, make sure they are not growing near a well-trafficked road or other source of pollution. Generally, two kinds of root vegetables are sufficient in these recipes.
Juice: Using a (preferably) good quality juicer, such as the Green Star, Green Power Juicer, Norwalk, Champion, Samson 6 – 1, or Super Angel, juice the ingredients, making sure to include lots of green vegetables. It is best to drink the juice right away, in order to obtain as much of the enzymes and other nutrients as possible. Fresh made juice will usually keep up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. Include beet root, greens and nettles to build blood.
Soup: Simmer chopped ingredients for several hours in a double boiler or crock pot. Mushrooms, sea vegetables, and turkey are other ingredients you may want to add, especially around this time of year. For sweetness add black strap molasses.
Stew: Prepare in oven in a casserole dish, in a pressure cooker, or in a crock pot. In addition to the above vegetables and herbs, kidney and/or liver from organically raised, grass-fed animals will help build blood and energy. Dried fruit, especially raisins and wolfberries also will help build blood and energy, and help support the eyes. If using a conventional oven, it is preferable to cook foods at relatively low temperatures, i.e. 200 degrees F, for two or more hours rather than at 350 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes, since cooking at lower temperatures will preserve more enzymes and other nutrients. There is disagreement about the effectiveness of microwave ovens in preserving vitamins and enzymes. I don’t recommend their use.
This blog’s offer: Schedule a session to meet and discuss specific foods, herbs, and recipes that would be especially beneficial for you. Mention this blog and I will take extra time to review blood work with you or test you for specific supplements. A reasonable fee will apply.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Blog#20: Organic vs. Conventional: What Are the Differences?
The “Organic” label indicates that a food or other product has been produced using approved agricultural methods that conserve and recycle natural resources, promote ecological balance, and protect biodiversity. It uses techniques such as crop rotation, composting, green manure, and biological pest control. Genetic engineering (GMO’s), synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and sewage sludge are not used in organic farming. However, certain pesticides, called biopesticides are allowed when necessary. These biopesticides, used in small quantities, often decompose quickly, and tend to be much less harmful than conventional pesticides because they affect only the target pest and closely related organisms. This is in contrast with broad-spectrum conventional pesticides, which can affect not only the target pest, but also birds, insects, and even mammals.
Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). Within the U.S. there are several regulating and enforcing agencies in addition to the USDA, such as Oregon Tilth. Based on the stringent and costly process of becoming a certified organic farm, and the significant number of farms which lose their certification each year, it appears that these agencies do a reasonably good job. Of course if you want to be absolutely certain that the produce you consume is grown organically, you will have to grow it yourself or rely on someone whom you totally trust to grow your food.
Most conventional farmers use sewage sludge, broad-spectrum pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), synthetic fertilizers, and irradiation. Our soil has been progressively more depleted by continuous planting and harvesting without times of rest, i.e., a fallow year after several years of farming. Nutrients which crops pull from the soil in order to grow are not fully replaced by chemical fertilizers, which usually only contain a few valuable minerals.
Sewage sludge is what it sounds like: biosolids left over after sewage is treated and processed. Sewage sludge contains some valuable nutrients; unfortunately, it also often contains heavy metals, including cadmium and lead, dangerous synthetic organic compounds including toluene, chlorobenzene, and dioxins, highly toxic pesticides, traces of medications, including cabamazepine (an anti-seizure drug) and broad spectrum antibiotics, and dangerous microorganisms, such as staph, strep, C diff, E coli, and salmonella.
Irradiation is a process of exposing food to high doses of gamma rays, x-rays, or electron beams. It can kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria, but not viruses. It kills fruit flies and other pests, and prolongs the shelf life of foods. The long term health consequences of eating irradiated foods are still unknown; however, irradiation has been shown to change the molecular structure of foods and create known carcinogens. Additionally, some animals which were fed irradiated foods died prematurely, and suffered nutritional deficiencies, mutations, still births, and organ damage. Irradiated foods are labeled.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a lesser-known approach to controlling pests. Growers who are aware of the potential for pest infestation follow a four-tiered approach. The four steps include:
1 Action thresholds – before taking any action, IPM first sets a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken.
2 Monitoring and identifying pests – since some organisms are not harmful and may even be beneficial, monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed, or that the wrong type of pesticide will be used.
3 Prevention – as a first line of defense, IPM programs manage crops to prevent pests from becoming a threat. This may involve using methods such as crop rotation, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock.
4 Control – when pest control is required, IPM programs evaluate control methods for both effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky controls are chosen first, such as highly targeted chemicals, like pheromones, to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If these less risky controls are not working, additional methods may be used, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides would be a last resort.
I highly recommend that you check out the website and new film called “Symphony of the Soil” http://www.symphonyofthesoil.com/ This documentary clearly and beautifully shows the dilemma conventional farming faces and the promise organic farming holds.
This blog’s offer: call me for a nutritional consult if you have a specific health challenge that you think might respond to an organic diet and I will help you plan a dietary program.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Blog # 19: pH Balance, Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
An aspect of nutrition and health which is often misunderstood is the body’s pH balance. pH refers to potential hydrogen atoms available to make a solution more basic or acidic. A pH of 0 to 6.9 is acidic, 7.0 is neutral, and 7.1 to 14 is alkaline. Human venous blood serum is slightly alkaline and most research indicates that it stays within a small pH range from 7.35 to 7.45. Blood pH outside that range indicates illness, such as kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, or prolonged, excessive exercise (acidic, or below 7.35) or prolonged vomiting or the use of certain diuretic medications (alkaline, or above 7.45).
If you examine most sources of information about this topic, you will discover companies that are trying to sell you pH testing devices, pH changing substances which you are supposed to use long term, and even expensive alkalizing water purifiers. These companies suggest that you can determine the pH of blood by monitoring the pH of urine and saliva. From the small amount of research that has been done on this topic, it appears that pH values of saliva and urine are not good indicators of blood pH.
Several factors affect the body’s pH. Perhaps the main factor is personality, general attitude toward life and how a person deals with stress. The more tense and hyperactive a person is, more acidic their blood tends to be. People who are tired and hypoactive tend to have more alkaline blood. This variation occurs within the normal range already noted above. Other factors that can affect the body’s pH include malfunctioning internal organs, extreme environmental toxicity, dysfunctional breathing, and continued extreme over-exertion.
Certain areas of the body, such as the stomach, tend to be very acidic. When the gastric environment becomes less acidic than normal, digestive problems will result. When urine becomes too acidic or alkaline, different types of kidney stones can develop. When the body starts to become too acidic, it will draw on highly alkalizing elements to counteract this trend. Unfortunately, calcium is one of the most alkaline elements in the body, and osteopenia or osteoporosis can result from its use as a buffer. A woman told me that ever since she was a small child, her body had been overly acidic. She found that living a low stress lifestyle, following a generally healthy diet, and avoiding medications helped her somewhat. Unfortunately, to maintain a relatively normal pH, her body had to mobilize calcium from her bones, especially from her hip joints. As a result, she had already received three bilateral hip replacements by the time she was 52.
Since the alkaline diet is generally beneficial, it is worth sharing here. Fruits and vegetables tend to be alkalizing with a few exceptions, some of which include cranberries, blackberries, blueberries, green beans, potatoes without skins, cooked spinach, rhubarb, plums, and pasteurized fruit juices. Other alkalizing substances include mineral water, seaweed, raw almonds, green coconut, and millet. Meat, fish, eggs, and most dairy tend to be acidifying. Exceptions are grass-fed raw goat milk products, and butter. Also acidifying are corn and most nuts, grains, beans, and legumes, distilled water, coffee, medications, soda, and alcoholic beverages. These lists could go on, but this gives you an idea.
This month’s offer: feel free to call or email me with questions about the body’s pH and about this diet.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Blog #18: Carnivore, Omnivore, Herbivore, Frugivore….
There are many dietary choices. Carnivores eat primarily or only meat. Some well-known carnivores in the animal and plant world include lions, crocodiles, and the Venus flytrap. Occasionally humans follow this diet and benefit, though some people become constipated and toxic. One of my teachers was basically a carnivore for about a decade, eating almost exclusively raw animal protein, primarily raw beef. He was, and still is, high energy and healthy. You might want to check out the link below, where the soundman from the Grateful Dead writes about his life as a strict carnivore for several decades. http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?t=287013
Omnivores consume a variety of foods, including animal protein, fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Some well-known animal omnivores are bears, chimpanzees, and turtles. Although there is much debate over which dietary regimen is natural for humans, most scientists conclude that prehistoric humans appear to have been omnivores and that this diet is probably the easiest to follow. Many people who eat primarily whole, organic foods tend to stay healthy and vital as omnivores. The Omnivore’s Delemma, by Michael Pollan, is an excellent book. A link outlining the book’s contents is below.
Herbivores consume little or no animal protein. Human herbivores are usually classified as vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians eat eggs and dairy in addition to fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, beans, seeds, nuts, etc. Vegans consume no animal protein. Well-known animal herbivores include rabbits, giraffes, and honeybees. Some people maintain that humans are meant to be vegetarians because of the length of their intestines, which are much longer than the typical carnivore’s, the relatively small human mouth compared with those of carnivores and because human teeth are more suited to grinding and chewing grains and vegetables than seizing and tearing flesh. It can be challenging to obtain sufficient quantities of Vitamin B12 as a vegan, but when people consume a high quality, balanced vegan or vegetarian diet and supplement with juices, herbs and vitamins as needed, there is strong scientific evidence that this type of diet often leads to improved health and greater longevity compared with people who consume meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. Here is a relevant link http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/48/3/712
Frugivores consume only fruit, nuts, and seeds. Some insects, such as the fruit fly, are frugivores, and some bats, birds, and lizards in tropical areas consume primarily fruit, seeds, and nuts, except around the time when they are feeding offspring. Occasionally humans thrive as frugivores, especially when they live low stress lifestyles in unpolluted environments, such as some tropical islands. One danger of following this type of diet and the vegan diet is that after several years, the bodily functions dedicated to digesting animal protein become dormant or shut down completely, i.e. the stomach is no longer acidic enough to digest animal protein, and a different proportion of enzymes is secreted by the pancreas and liver. Then, if animal protein is re-introduced into the diet, serious health consequences can result. Below is a relevant link. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2013/02/07/ashton-kutchers-fruitarian-diet-what-went-wrong
People also follow other types of diets, i.e., totally raw, raw vegetarian or raw vegan, liquids only, and breatharian (deriving all nutrients from sunlight, air, and water). There are serious health risks associated with these diets, although I know several people who have thrived on totally raw and even raw vegan diets for many years. In order to maintain healthy teeth and bones, raw vegans generally need to consume vast quantities of organic leafy greens, consume wheatgrass juice and other vegetable and fruit juices, and take nutritional supplements. Infants are liquidarians for the first several months of their lives. Some people follow such a diet for several days or weeks and seem to benefit from it; however, roughage is an essential element for most people and aids in detoxification. I do not know of any people who can prove they have followed a breatharian “diet” any longer than a few weeks without damaging their health. Most plants could be considered breatharians. Here is a sensible link addressing a raw foods diet: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/raw-food-diet_b_2015598.html
This blog’s offer: feel free to contact me with more specific questions regarding any of these diets. If you would like guidance regarding your own diet, or want to begin a detoxification program, I will help you with that at a reduced fee if you mention this blog. Please share this blog with others.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Blog #17 What Are GMO’s?
The World Health Organization defines GMO’s as organisms in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. An extreme example of this was a tomato plant that had a fish gene spliced into its DNA. This tomato was never used commercially, since it was not frost resistant. There is much debate about the safety and efficacy of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) used in agriculture. Proponents of GMO technology claim that GMO food has significantly reduced green house gas emissions, herbicide run-off and soil erosion. They say that they are producing plants which can better withstand drought, disease, and insects and which require less natural resources and pesticides to produce. These plants are immune to the negative effects of one or more pesticides, including RoundUp, which disrupts the digestive processes in insects. Monsanto, a major inventor and distributor of many GMO seeds, has spent a lot of money developing GMO’s and has chosen to patent the seeds, making it necessary for farmers to purchase new seeds every year rather than use seeds from the previous year’s plants.
Although numerous scientists have asked that more time be allowed to test GMO products for safety before placing them on the market, Monsanto and other companies refused to wait, making the U. S. and world population the testing ground for product safety. Some results of animal testing since GMO’s have been in use are as follows: thousands of sheep, buffalo and goats in India died after grazing on GM cotton plants; mice eating GM corn for a large portion of their lives had smaller and fewer babies; more than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks and were abnormally small; testicle cells of mice and rats fed a GMO soy diet changed significantly by the 3rd generation; most hamsters fed a GMO soy diet lost the ability to reproduce. Also, in the U. K., human soy allergies increased by 50% soon after GM soy was introduced. Approximately 85% of commercially produced foods in the U.S. contain some GMO ingredients; however, we often don’t know which products or ingredients they are, since food manufacturers are not required to inform the public.
GMO plants also effect the environment. Unintended and uncontrolled mutations tend to occur in GMO plants, and when these interact with other organisms in the environment, they generate unintended, unpredictable side-effects. For example, when ordinary commercial corn or organically raised corn is exposed to the pollen from GMO corn, GMO corn characteristics take over in future generations, threatening the existence of non-GMO corn and organic corn. The same is true for other GMO crops. Some of the plants that are now genetically modified include corn, white potatoes, cotton, wheat, sugar beets, zucchini, tobacco, tomatoes, strawberries, alfalfa, peas, soy, rapeseed (the source of canola oil), sorghum, papaya, pineapple, and some trees. There also are plans for the use of GMO salmon in the very near future. Cows, poultry, sheep, and other animals that are fed GMO foods also may have an unfavorable effect on our health and the environment compared with animals raised humanely and organically.
It is my opinion that until the safety of GMO foods has been proven, it would be advisable to avoid consuming them as much as possible. Many countries, including Australia, Brazil, Norway, France, Germany, and Spain have chosen to protect their citizens and environment with partial or complete bans on some GMO seeds and/or products. Ways to eliminate GMO foods from the diet in the U. S. are by consuming only certified 100 % organically grown foods, growing your own food, checking the labels on produce (5 digits beginning with a 9 means that the food was organically produced), purchasing foods only from local farmers whom you trust, and only buying foods with the following certifications: QAI, Oregon Tilth, or CCOF. USDA Organic standards are nowhere near as stringent as the former three. Below are a few links which I would strongly recommend you explore for even more information about GMO foods.
This month’s offer: contact me if you have any questions about particular foods containing GMO ingredients. Either I will talk with you over the phone or ask you to come into my office along with the particular food(s) in question. Depending on the time I spend with you, I may charge a small fee. The first 15 minutes are free of charge.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Blog #16 Cooling Chronic Inflammation
During the last couple of decades, medical scientific literature has increasingly blamed inflammation – the body’s inflammatory response of swelling, redness, heat and/or pain for many of humanity’s physical ailments. Certain kinds of inflammation, such as fevers which destroy bacterial overgrowth, are desirable, but most types of inflammation are considered destructive. Examples of conditions driven by chronic inflammation are sleep apnea, arthritis, especially rheumatoid, inflammatory, and gout, atherosclerosis, acne, allergies, celiac disease, many autoimmune illnesses, including lupus, MS, Graves disease, scleroderma and psoriasis, chronic prostatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, duodenal and gastric ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, depression, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Inappropriate, chronic inflammation involves the body’s over-reaction to a threat or imbalance such as aging, obesity, mental or emotional stress, toxicity, chronic infection, and nutritional deficiency. Although we cannot individually control some of these threats, such as aging or air pollution, other factors are well within our control. Fortunately, nutrition is a controllable factor for many people, once they know what foods are pro-inflammatory and what foods help counteract inflammation.
Inflammatory Anti-inflammatory or Neutral
refined sugars, including white or brown sugar, raw honey, maple syrup, blackstrap corn syrup, agave nectar, artificial sweeteners, in molasses, stevia
aspartame, saccharin, sucralose
high omega-6 oils, including peanut, corn, soy, high omega-3 or balanced oils: olive, flax seed
safflower, grape seed, walnut, sesame, wheat germ avocado, coconut, macadamia, wild-caught fish
canola, margarine, farmed fish
fried foods, especially deep-fried, grilled, boiled, steamed, poached, raw, braised, barbequed, juiced, foods baked at low heat, broiled
meats and poultry: grain-fed, processed, 100 % grass-fed, organically raised meats and high-fat, factory-fed, and feedlot poultry
most dried fruit, some canned and frozen fruit fresh, organically raised fruit, raw, juiced, cooked at low temperatures
seeds and nuts: rancid, fried, roasted, salted organically raised, raw, unsalted in small quantities
vegetables: sprayed, GMO, cooked as above vegetables: raw, cooked using above methods non-GMO, pesticide free, especially cruciferous and
– leafy greens
refined, sprayed, or GMO grains, all flours occasional whole organic, non-GMO grains
large amounts of legumes and beans occasional organic, non-GMO legumes and beans
refined table salt high quality unrefined sea salt Himalayan salt,
alcohol, especially hard liquor and beer wine – high quality, in small quantities
in large amounts, over time
commercial milk, cream, cheese, cow milk organic or grass-fed plain unsweetened yogurt,
– cottage cheese, goat, sheep dairy products
commercial eggs high omega-3 eggs, from free-range poultry
commercial teas pesticide-free teas
commercial coffee coffee: organically raised, fresh ground, black,
– unsweetened, one to two cups/day
– herbs: ginger and turmeric root , boswellia
– supplements: high quality multi, highly absorbable
– magnesium, Vitamin D3, pro-biotic supplements or
– foods i.e. yogurt, raw sauerkraut, raw fermented miso
This list is not exhaustive (though some may find it exhausting) but it is a good beginning. Usually, it is not possible to adhere to this kind of nutritional program perfectly, nor is it usually necessary to do so, except in rare cases. Keep in mind that other lifestyle changes in addition to improved nutrition may be necessary to maximize chances of partial or complete recovery from inflammation-driven illness. Stress management, appropriate exercise, sufficient sleep and rest, meaningful social connections and networks, creative outlets, and more may be important components of treatment. Below are two links which address the biochemical processes and effective medical management of chronic inflammation. The specific condition addressed in the first link is sleep apnea.
This month’s offer: feel free to call or email me with specific questions regarding this article. Also, if you bring in a week’s food diary I will help you develop a specific diet with recipes for $50.00. Feel free to share this blog with others.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Blog# 15: Detoxification
In the industrialized world, where factory waste and automobile exhaust pollute the air, where drinking water is often contaminated with fluoride, trace amounts of medications, heavy metals and bacteria, where food is increasingly tainted with antibiotics and growth hormones or mass-produced in soil containing less and less nutrients, disease usually springs from two problems: toxicity and/or deficiency. In order to absorb nutrients from food and manufacture and use energy at the cellular level, it is important to first “clean house”. Otherwise, the body’s toxic load interferes with absorption of nutrients. Some of the consequences of excessive toxicity include leaky gut syndrome, food and environmental allergies, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, skin rashes, asthma, thyroid and other endocrine gland imbalances, back pain, localized and generalized edema, and autoimmune disorders.
The body usually detoxifies via the kidneys and bladder, lower GI tract, upper GI tract (vomiting), the pores, (sweating) skin (rashes, eczema), lungs (breathing, coughing, mucous discharge, sneezing). Helpful therapies include massage and other bodywork, acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, sweat-inducing exercise, skin scrubs, enemas and colonics, improved and/or restricted diets, fasts, meditation, yoga, and qi gong. Detox is most effective and safe when designed specifically for an individual, rather than taken from a book or the internet. Below, I will share some information about detoxification, as well as some relevant links.
Embarking on some detox programs without strict adherence can reduce benefits or even result in new health problems. For example, water fasts can be dangerous and, if embarked upon at all, blood, urine, blood pressure, and other information should be monitored by a knowledgeable health care professional. Breaking a highly restricted fast inappropriately can be dangerous. After a water or juice fast of several days, it is safest to begin eating only small quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, and, over several days, to gradually increase the amount and variety of food.
Detoxification without nurturing or strengthening measures which may include sea salt baths, herbal therapy, sufficient fresh fruit and vegetable juices or weight-bearing exercises can result in deficiency-related problems such as osteoporosis, depression, and fatigue. This is especially important for perimenopausal women and people with degenerative diseases.
The use oils for detoxification purposes, such as the currently popular “oil pulling” or the use of castor oil packs over the liver or elsewhere, can acidify the body, and so are best balanced by alkalizing procedures, such as washing off oil with an solution of baking soda and water, or using a toothpaste that contains baking soda and other alkalinizing ingredients. Too much acidity in the body can lead to arthritis, decalcification of bones, kidney stones, and other problems. Stress, air pollution, and intake of large quantities of processed meats, and bread can all be acidifying. It is usually beneficial to help the body balance pH by using alkalinizing procedures such as consuming large quantities of leafy green vegetables, and the use of certain mineral salts or herbs. Below are links on the use of castor oil packs and on the alkalinity and acidity of foods.
Beginning a challenging detoxification program which your schedule, finances, or lifestyle will not accommodate, or without the support of family or friends can result in failure to complete the program. It is important to insure the support of others or to at least ascertain that one has the resources, strength, and self-discipline to finish. A program such as the internationally known Gerson Therapy, used to treat cancer and other degenerative and autoimmune diseases, is especially difficult to follow. Deviation can lead to a worsening of the illness. Below is a link about the Gerson therapy.
Returning to an unhealthy diet after a detox can result in a return of the original health problem, or even a worsening of the problem. However, pushing oneself too hard in a program can result in emotional stress which may acidify the body and cancel out the beneficial effects of the detoxification. Calming herbs, meditation, and sufficient rest can often alleviate stress in these cases.
For most people, a good detoxification program with which to start is simply eating only certified organic and/or home grown, unsprayed fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lots of water, vegetable broths, and freshly made juices for a week. For people with blood sugar issues, small quantities of a high quality, green nutritional powder, such as Pure Synergy (check the link to the Synergy Company to the right of this blog) could be used to supply extra protein. Occasionally, there are people for whom this type of mild detox will result in unpleasant symptoms. These people would do well seeing someone for more specific testing and guidance.
This month’s offer: Contact me for more information about specific fruits, vegetables, and juices which would be beneficial for a short restricted diet for detoxification.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Blog # 14: The Role of Creativity and Self-Expression in Healing
To round out these seven blogs on hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and meditation, I believe that it is important to mention how creativity and inspiration can enhance physical, emotional, and mental well-being. At one point, I suffered with physical and emotional pain stemming from many things, including my father’s death. Mining life for inspiration and sharing through creative outlets helped me more deeply than anything else during this difficult time. Of course, I did get lots of rest, ate wholesome food, practiced qi gong exercises, and received regular treatments which included chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, homeopathy, and flower essence therapy. Two of the other things that helped me were spending time in nature, and writing.
Because of my love of nature and writing, I facilitate a nature writing group at North Park Village Nature Center one Sunday each month. The nature writing group is open to whoever feels drawn to it. Each month we share writing and walk in the nature preserve. I hope that the group has been helpful to many of the people who have participated over the years.
Below, you can read writings of some of the people who have attended this group.
By Robert Lawrence, this poem was published in Exact Change Only, winter 2013 edition
When I feel blue,
I receive the most acute comfort
from listening to the rough twang
and painful times of down-home blues.
Sky-blue is simultaneously
cell membrane thin and depthless.
Red is a warm color;
blue is a cool color (blue
walls can lower blood pressure)
but blue flames burn much
hotter than red flames.
I summon these paradoxes
after storm clouds have cleared
and a blue star shines high
over glistening snow crystals.
Elder Home Visit: Alice
By Ilda Castellanos
Alice, how are you?
It’s so good to see you.
I sing you “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”,
You say “that’s a nice song.”
Your love, John, is happy to see you.
Your Lynn, your first born, is delighted to see you.
You serve up delicious pickled beets with onions
That you made just for us, which we snack on before
I teach you how to play skip-Bo.
“Not a fun game,” you say,
But you try a few games.
“How are things with you,” you always say
After you greet me,
After you tell me to take off my coat
And get comfortable.
On a Winter Path
By Betty Jacobsen
on a winter path
my foot catches on a small branch
frozen upright in the snow
I fall face forward
onto the icy earth, then turn
and lie gazing upward
beneath a darkening sky
under a looming cloud of gray
In the apiary nearby hives hum quietly
with the winter work of bees
dying drones cast out
from the honey of sweet companionship
gasp and struggle beside me
on the cold white ground
their life force spent
in the act of procreation
the frigid air is thick with portent
hung with prescience
heavy with augury
something’s about to happen
or an awful storm
I hope you enjoyed these poems. People have brought short stories, essays, articles, journal entries, blogs, songs, and even excerpts from novels to our group.
Starting next month, the next seven issues of this blog will cover detoxification and nutrition.
This blog’s offer: Come join us at our next Nature Writing Group on Sunday, May 19th from 11 am until 1 pm at the Nature Center in North Park Village, at 5801 North Pulaski, in Chicago. Feel free to contact me with questions about directions. As always, please share this blog with others.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Blog #13: How Hypnosis Can Help You Meet Your Muse
Many famous artists and scientists have used self-hypnosis intentionally or unintentionally to access discoveries and intuitive insights. The Nobel Prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats wrote of the time when he was sitting at his desk writing poetry and accidentally dropped his pen. When he bent to pick it up, he recalled many fantastic adventures, one after another, and then realized that he was remembering dreams of nights past. When he tried to think about these dreams, they drifted from his memory and he again forgot them. He realized that when he wrote poetry, he was in this dream state, equivalent to deep hypnosis. Thomas Alva Edison, possibly the most famous and prolific inventor in U. S. history, said that he made many of his discoveries while napping in his easy chair in his library. He would spend some time pondering details of a particular challenge he faced, then would ask his mind to give him an answer. He then fell asleep in the chair, letting both his arms dangle down over the chair’s arms. In one hand, he held a large glass ball. When he fell asleep, his hands would relax and the glass ball would clatter to the floor.
The resulting vibrations would wake him and he would have an answer, sometimes in the form of a diagram. These answers were not always correct, but many were, or were able to eventually lead him to a correct answer. Children are spontaneously and naturally creative. They often daydream, and can access information intuitively, a process which is quicker than analytical thinking. Of course, accessing both the intuitive and the analytical minds simultaneously is often the best way to be creative. This can be difficult for many people.Hypnosis and self-hypnosis are skills that will help with this.
This blog’s offer: call my office for a free fifteen minute consultation regarding a specific challenge in your creative endeavors. I will also let you know if hypnosis or another method would be likely to be helpful.
Also: Come see my photo show at The Coffee Shop, at 1135 W. Sheridan Road, in Chicago. The show will be there through March 31st. There will be a special reception with music andcelebration from 7 pm until 9 pm on March 22nd. Laurie Little, a photographer and award-winning film-maker, has some beautiful photographs of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in winter. Laurie also designed my blog.
- My photographs were taken during my travels in Kenya
and Mali. Some narrative accompanies many of the pictures.
Blog #10: Hypnosis for Pain Control
It is important to be selective with the use of hypnosis for pain relief, since pain is a message from the nervous system. When discomfort is covered up, a person can be at risk of further injury because warning signals about the body’s vulnerabilities are diminished or re-interpreted. I strongly recommend appropriate diagnostic tests, such as x-ray, MRI, blood work or urinalysis, as well as a course of physical treatment, such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, medication, or appropriate dietary changes before turning to hypnosis for relief. Once it has been established that a person’s pain sensations are no longer necessary or appropriate for feedback and healing, hypnosis can help dramatically.
Some examples of the appropriate and safe use of hypnosis with pain are at the dentist’s office, with phantom limb pain, with burns or abrasions that will be protected from further irritation, to prevent discomfort in the course of a normal childbirth, and to relieve muscle spasm arising from emotional distress. Many of my patients and students have reduced or eliminated acute pain from burns and other injuries, as well as chronic pain of unknown origin.
Several years ago, I helped a patient eliminate severe low back pain with hypnosis. First, I sent her for x-rays and an MRI of her low back, both of which appeared normal. She was an athletic woman who missed long-distance running and playing on a volleyball team. She limped into my office the first day of treatment, and could think of no injury that caused her back problem. She received chiropractic and acupuncture for two months. At the end of that time, her pain was reduced by 30 percent, but no further improvement occurred.
She was highly hypnotizable and had a positive, expectant attitude about therapy. A combination of progressive relaxation and glove anesthesia proved effective for her. Progressive relaxation involves focusing on one area of the body at a time, from the head down to the feet, or vice versa, and allowing each area to relax. Learning glove anesthesia can be quite challenging, but this woman learned the technique quickly and was pain-free by her sixth hypnosis session. The glove technique involves temporarily eliciting a cold, numb feeling in one hand, placing that hand over the area of pain, and transferring numbness to that part of the body. This woman used the two techniques at home several times each day. She resumed her athletic activities and her low back remains pain-free.
This blog’s offer: contact me for a free consultation about your pain. I will tell you if hypnosis could be effective and will tell you what, if any, tests and therapies would be advisable prior to using hypnosis and self-hypnosis for pain control.
Share this blog with your friends and co-workers. If you have missed any previous blog entries, you can access them by going to my blog site and scrolling down from this current entry.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Blog # 9 Hypnosis and Meditation: What’s the Difference?
There are many similarities between the two. Here’s the main difference: in meditation, a mantra, color, image, feeling, or energy pattern is focused on in order to eventually free the mind from all distraction and allow the meditator to enter into the present moment and/or connect with divinity. In self-hypnosis, the conscious, thinking mind connects with the intuitive, subconscious mind and gives directions and suggestions via words, music, color scent, taste, touch, imagery, and more, in order to achieve something specific in one’s life. Both can use the same state of mind, the place between waking and sleeping, to benefit the individual.
The state of mind between waking and sleeping can be reached and utilized at least twice a day, when falling asleep and when waking up. Early in the morning and late at night are good times for meditation, and are times when one can easily use self-hypnosis without specific inductions. It is very important to have positive expectations and a loving, respectful attitude toward oneself and others when giving suggestions. If there are conflicted attitudes about a particular goal or toward oneself, then it would be best to obtain the help of a professional hypnotist, at least initially.
The previous blog discussed how to use words to speak effectively and positively to the subconscious mind. To make words even more effective, they can be paired with a favorite imagined color, fragrance, taste, sound, or texture. One of my favorites, rose, can encompass color, fragrance, texture, and possibly even taste and sound.
A simple, but effective meditation can help make the mind more calm and positive just prior to self-hypnosis. My personal favorite involves smiling inward with the eyes while also letting a half-smile happen on the mouth. The smiles are not forced – they feel natural and comfortable. Let the eyes close, and breathe peacefully three times, then open the eyes. That’s it. The more often this is done, the more effective this meditation will be. It can be done seated, standing or lying down, with the spine straight.
This blog’s offer: bring in one other person for a hypnosis session and/or self-hypnosis instruction and I will work with both of you for the price I usually charge for just one person. Self-hypnosis is best covered in three sessions but can be covered in less. Goals such as stress management and improving sleep are topics that can usually be covered effectively in groups or individually. Please share this blog with others. You can contact me at (773) 274-6827, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Blog #8 Hypnosis for the Good Life
The word “hypnosis” really refers to self-hypnosis, since virtually all hypnosis can be accomplished only with the cooperation of the person being hypnotized. Also, a hypnotist cannot make a person do anything he or she would be unwilling to do in their ordinary waking consciousness. Hypnosis is a skill that can be used for a lifetime to help people make beneficial changes in their lives. These changes are possible because hypnosis can reach the subconscious and bring it into agreement with the conscious mind. Often, when people claim they want to make changes but have not been done so, it is because, on a subconscious level, there is reluctance to make these changes. Contradictions between the conscious and subconscious mind can be due to many things, including previous negative programming, guilt or shame about past actions, or an inability to perceive the benefits of the release of a habit or addiction. Hypnosis can trick the subconscious to treat us to a better life.
Over the years, I have experienced for myself and observed in students and patients many examples of the power of hypnosis. In my early 20’s, I permanently eliminated my own migraine headaches through just one self-hypnosis session. I can easily control and eliminate occasional sleep apnea symptoms for weeks at a time through simple self-hypnosis techniques. I can lower occasional high blood pressure within two minutes with self-hypnosis, and keep it low for months. I have stopped severe bleeding and pain from deep cuts and second and third degree burns on my hands. Many of my students and patients have successfully used hypnosis to stop smoking, lose weight, eliminate chronic pain, enhance creativity, strengthen their immune systems, and overcome food and environmental allergies. Sometimes the resolution of problems came after just one or two sessions; other times, people needed to experience more extended sessions or instruction before they achieved the desired results. Of course, a desire for improvement and a willingness to make significant material changes in one’s life are essential for change. At the very least, hypnosis will help people feel more relaxed; sometimes these techniques can help them achieve amazing results.
Successful hypnosis uses words effectively. It is vital to speak to the subconscious clearly, simply, specifically, in the present tense, and in a positive manner. To sleep more soundly, a person could give him or herself a suggestion about this at night, before drifting off to sleep. An example of an effective sentence would be: I sleep soundly and deeply each night, and wake up in the morning refreshed and feeling great.
This blog’s offer: call or email me with a sentence you have constructed to help you reach a desired goal and I will offer suggestions for possible change or improvement of this sentence. Please share this blog with others who might be interested or who could benefit from this information.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Welcome to blog #7!
Because rest and vacation are important ways to replenish, every seventh blog will be fun and relaxed. This one is about Iceland, where I traveled a few years ago. Check out my Iceland photos on my blog under the photo gallery tab. ewagnerholistichealth.com gets you to my blog.
Iceland was first settled in 870-930 A.D. by Vikings from Norway and Denmark. The Sagas, which recall legends of the Viking settlers, are still renowned in Iceland and were probably the world’s first novels.
Iceland’s 320,000 population triples during tourist season. Twenty years ago, most of its people lived in rural and farm areas. Now, two thirds live in or around Reykjavik, Iceland’s largest city. Agriculture is being concentrated in the larger remaining farms. The Icelanders are the most trustworthy, trusting, generous, considerate, and clean people I have encountered in my travels. Their qualities may stem from the low population density they enjoy.
The average temperature in June is 56 F; temperatures during the long winters range from the 20’s to 30’s. Rain and snow are common. There are 24 hours of light at summer solstice and 24 hours of dark at winter solstice. Northern lights are visible in the colder months.
Iceland, the youngest of the European countries, was formed by underwater volcanic eruptions along the North American and Eurasian plates 17 – 20 million years ago. Myvatin (midge lake) in NE Iceland is a geothermal wonderland. Eyjafjallajokull is the volcano which erupted a few years ago. Much glacier and ice cap melting accompanied this eruption. Possibly the purest, best-tasting tap water in the world comes from Iceland’s melting glaciers.
A sign in the Reykjavik airport says: “More U.S. factory stacks = more Iceland glacier cracks.” Glaciers are melting at the alarming rate of one meter or more per year.
The clean energy derived from thermal activity is used throughout the country. Iceland has begun to export this energy to the rest of the world. Alcoa’s aluminum smelter, dams, funnels, high tension power lines, towers, and reservoirs all contribute to habitat destruction and pollution there. Protests and bankruptcy have stopped some of these problems, at least temporarily.
Iceland has 1500 kinds of mushrooms. Habitats include grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, lava lands, and savannahs. Once the island had many trees, but settlers’ grazing sheep destroyed all the trees by eating the bark. Erosion resulted. In 1945 the nootka lupine plant was introduced to help anchor and hold nitrogen in the soil, but because it tastes bitter, the sheep won’t eat it, and without these natural controls, this tall plant shades out indigenous lichen, grasses, shrubs, fungi, and young trees. In the past generation, the government has instituted a policy of planting twenty trees for each citizen.
Native or long-term resident animals include arctic fox, reindeer, pigs, sheep, Icelandic ponies, cows, cats, dogs, and an occasional polar bear. Birds include puffins, razorbills, ducks, gannets, sandpipers, arctic terns, owls, gulls, and guillemots. Among the sea animals are arctic char, trout, salmon, haddock, monkfish, turbot, halibut, herring, cod, shrimp, oyster, mussels, lobster, shrimp, whale, and dolphin. Herring and cod, upon which many coastal towns have been dependent for a livelihood, have moved further away from shore, into the colder waters.
Naturally growing crops are rhubarb, cabbage, potatoes, onion, turnips, cauliflower, kale, and some grains (rye, barley). Greenhouses extend the growing season and allow peppers, greens, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, radishes, strawberries, bananas, and apples to grow. Animal products include eggs, milk, cream, skyr (yoghurt), lamb, beef, chicken, and farmed fish such as salmon.
People travel in Iceland by airplane, bus, car, four wheel drive vehicles, canoe, kayak, and of course, on foot, but travel is mainly via the Ring Road and the roads diverging from it. The Ring Road is rough in spots, not all sealed, can flood at any time, and is icy before June and after August. Travel through the interior is also popular. Guides and four wheel drive vehicles are necessary for interior travel.
Housing ranges from modern to old. The ancient grass houses are just one story tall. Primarily stone, concrete and steel structures exist in the cities.
One of the population’s favorite past times is soaking in pools or hot mineral springs. Drinking in Reykjavik on Friday summer nights is also popular, as is camping in some of the more remote wilderness areas in the interior.
Iceland was first among the Western nations to elect a woman president and to legalize gay marriage. Its primary religions are Lutheran and Pagan, and people find no conflict between the two.
This month’s tip: come enjoy an armchair safari on Sunday, October 7th from 2 to 4 pm at the North Park Village Nature Center, in Chicago. I will be sharing slides of my photos from a trip to Kenya during the annual wildebeest migration. Please let others know about this blog and the event on October 7th.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Blog # 6: The Five Elements in Asian Medicine, Our Bodies, and the World
The previous five blogs addressed topics involving the five elements in Asian Medicine (AM): metal (air), water, wood (trees, eye exercises), fire, and earth (organic farming). Today, we cover how these five elements correspond to internal and sensory organs, and to the world in general, and how AM, which includes acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, massage, meditation, qi gong, and moxabustion can help balance these five elements in the human body.
AM five element treatments and other holistic therapies can often effectively address imbalances in internal organ function, especially when the problems have arisen fairly recently. For this reason, it is often wise to consult a holistic health professional first for many issues. If necessary, the health professional will refer you out for more conventional care, involving medication or surgery. The chart below gives some five elements correspondences. Refer to it to help clarify the rest of this blog.
Heart/Small Intestine; Pericardium/Triple Warmer
Mouth and Lips
The five elements can be linked in an endless circle which can be entered at any element. As a rule, any strong element A has a nurturing, strengthening effect on element B immediately following A, and has a subduing, counteracting effect on element C, which follows B. Looking at our country’s unusually warm, weak 2011-12 winter and its effects on our environment and health from a five element standpoint, we would see this: a deficient winter resulted in an atypical spring which was hotter and longer than usual, with some late freezes, resulting in early budding vegetation followed by considerable frost damage, plus more mold and pollen than usual, resulting in more allergic symptoms, especially itchy eyes (the sensory organ of spring/wood). Spring 2012 was also less windy than usual, since wind results from a strong warm front meeting a strong cold front. A strong, cold winter (A) would have made the spring (B) more typical, and also would have subdued the summer (C). Since winter was weak, summer is/was excessively hot and dry, with severe, widespread forest fires, and the worst droughts the U.S. has suffered in many decades. People had more fevers, respiratory problems, hot flashes, heat stroke, and heat-related deaths than usual this summer. If there is no intervention in the cycle (i.e. cold air currents from the arctic) late summer and autumn may also be unseasonably warm.
Humans and other organisms experience five element patterns within their bodies. Imbalances can often be observed and corrected through AM. An example: Joe has weak kidneys (the water element). That means his kidneys (A) are unable to cool his body sufficiently; they cannot handle or balance fluids properly and therefore do not rid his body of enough toxins to maintain good health. As a result, the liver (B) is stressed and inflamed (too warm) from handling an increased toxic load. Because the liver is inflamed, this will tend to inflame the heart (C) as well. The kidneys also may not be filtering enough water to maintain safe levels sodium and potassium, and this can stress the heart. Weak kidney function has many causes, including: 1. dehydration or insufficient fluid intake, 2. damage from medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, Aspirin, or naproxen, some antibiotics and blood pressure medications, and 3. over-consumption of toxic substances such as alcohol, cocaine, and heavy metals (i.e. cadmium, lead, mercury). It is essential to correct the root causes of Joe’s weak kidneys, which in this case are staying out in the sun too long without drinking enough water to compensate for fluids lost through sweat, his over-indulgence in alcohol, plus his regular use of ibuprofen to alleviate low back pain, which can itself be a symptom of poor kidney function. It is important to also support his weak kidneys with AM or another holistic therapy and thus help them regain normal function as soon as possible so that negative impact on other internal organs can be minimized or avoided. Uncorrected kidney deficiency will eventually result in excessive liver heat/fire and in symptoms such as headaches, hot flashes, and red, itchy eyes. If this imbalance is allowed to go on even longer, it will affect the fire element (the heart), and hypertension or certain types of heart problems can develop, such as angina, rapid heartbeat and cardiac arrhythmias. If the kidney deficiency continues even longer, the earth element will be impacted and digestive problems such as heartburn, ulcers, gastric reflux and decreased appetite can develop.
Fortunately, unpleasant symptoms will probably motivate Joe to eliminate the roots of his problem, assuming he can recognize these roots. An acupuncturist’s thorough history-taking, as well as skilled pulse and tongue diagnosis can help identify the root causes of health problems. AM treatment can also help resolve these problems. A few of many treatment options follow. Specific acupuncture points can dramatically subdue inflammation and help cool and moisten the kidney (water) element. Many herbs disperse heat/inflammation and tonify the water element. A few non-toxic, herbs are green tea, watermelon seeds, turmeric, and nettles. Food and drink, such as water, vegetable and fruit juices, watermelon, cucumber, tomato, celery, green leafy vegetables, berries (especially cranberries), cherries, grapes, apples, and red bell peppers can be helpful. These foods must be organically grown; pesticides cause inflammation and will put further strain on kidneys and liver. Qi gong exercises, like the six healing sounds plus almost any standing and moving qi gong forms, such as eight pieces of silk, “kick and swing” exercises, and “mental physics” exercises, or brisk walking all can help the kidneys and liver.
Please share this blog with others. This month’s offer: make an appointment at my office for a complementary pulse and tongue diagnosis. This does not apply to patients I am currently treating.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Blog #5 – Why Organic?
Conventional farming uses pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic farming minimizes pesticides and uses natural, nutrient-rich fertilizers. Pesticides exert stress on the liver and kidneys and can negatively impact digestion, detoxification, the immune system, and energy level. Most pesticides used today have an estrogenic and, eventually, a mutagenic effect on the body. This means that the person who is exposed to pesticides, whether through diet, skin contact, or inhalation, will be more likely to suffer from such symptoms as fatigue, edema, food sensitivities, rashes and other skin outbreaks, irritable bowel syndrome, infertility, depression, and reduced mental concentration. They will also be more likely to develop degenerative ailments, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Biodynamic farming, an even more holistic approach to farming than organic, uses natural composts, treats farm animals humanely, and synchronizes planting and harvesting with times of day and phases of the moon.
Our soil has been adulterated by chemical fertilizers and depleted through continuous planting and harvesting without times of rest, i.e. a fallow year after several years of farming. Crops pull nutrients from the soil in order to grow, and these nutrients are often not fully replaced. Fewer nutrients in the soil results in fewer nutrients in crops, and therefore less nutrients for humans and other animals to absorb from food. Instead of using nutrient-rich fertilizers such as mushroom compost, vegetable compost, liquid kelp, or manure from grass fed, organically raised cows, conventional farmers use chemical fertilizers that only replace a few lost minerals – usually just phosphorous, nitrogen, sulfur, potassium, and calcium. Even these minerals are not replenished completely by chemical fertilizers. Produce and animal products from large, organic farms are less toxic and more nutrient-rich than the products from conventional farms. We can enjoy and benefit from even better nutrition by shopping at organic farmers markets or growing food in our homes, yards, or community gardens. Indoor or backyard composting is one way to enrich our soil and decrease household waste at the same time. Check out Urban Worm Girl, a Chicago-based home composting non-profit. Nutritional products, such as herbal tonics and some vitamin and mineral supplements made from food rather than chemicals, can help make up for some of the nutrients lacking in today’s diets. Some companies which sell excellent vitamin products include Shaklee, Standard Process, and The Synergy Company.
GMO agriculture is relatively new; there is not yet sufficient data to predict how these products will affect the world’s populations. What we do know is that a significant number of people have developed sensitivities and allergies to wheat, corn, soy, and other genetically modified crops. This does not bode well for the future of more sensitive people, since more and more crops are being modified in this way. Some European countries are boycotting GMO crops.
Some of the most striking arguments for eating organically grown food can be found in chapters 23 and 24 of A Cancer Therapy Results of Fifty Cases, written by Max Gerson, M.D., copyright 1958. Ground-breaking then, it is still highly relevant today. I recommend that you obtain the book and read it. It can be found at the public library and can be purchased in paperback or as an e-book.
This month’s offer: bring in your nutritional supplements plus a week’s food diary and I will make suggestions about changes you can make to improve your energy level and health. There will be a charge of $50.00 for this service, and insurance does not apply. Please share this blog with others.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Blog#4 – Fire!
This summer, as I write this fourth blog, wildfires rage in Colorado, California, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii (Maui). Global warming is likely responsible for much of the temperature and weather extremes that led to these fires. A hundred years ago, when the world’s ecology was more in balance, fires begun by lightning strikes were ultimately beneficial to the environment despite their short-term harm to vegetation and animals. Fires burn away dense land-covering, re-open large areas of land to sunlight, and allow the re-emergence of grasslands and young trees. Seeds of some flowers and grasses only germinate when exposed to fire’s high temperatures. Today, closely supervised burning of carefully chosen areas is one way to effectively manage wilderness areas.
With the recent decrease of wooded areas and aquifers, and the construction of homes in or near woodlands, fires have posed an increasingly serious problem for humans. Not only do forest fires reduce the total amount of oxygen available; they also increase the amount of dioxins in the air. In cities and suburbs, destructive fires can be caused by burning leaves, neglected cigarettes, or faulty electrical wiring. Clearing sections of trees from wooded areas to provide fire-breaks and treating indoor and outdoor fires with great care can help with prevention. By keeping increasing numbers of plants in our homes and using air filters, we can partially counteract oxygen loss and air pollution due to fires.
I had the opportunity to experience the threat of forest fires at close range on a visit to Montana and Glacier National Park in 2003, a year of record fires in Glacier. As far away as Missoula, where I spent the first few days of my trip, ash filled the air and turned my white car grey overnight. Because I felt extremely fatigued, achy and feverish, and too ill to treat myself, I made an appointment with a local chiropractor and acupuncturist. She offered me warm water and powdered turmeric (an anti-inflammatory and tonic herb) afterward. Her skillful treatment kept me comfortable and energetic for the rest of my visit.
In Chinese five element theory, summer is the season of the element fire. According to this theory, forest fires or global warming could be represented by one or more pathologically strong elements in the body or Nature, such as fire (fever or inflammation) throwing some or all of the other four elements (earth, metal, water wood) out of balance. Illness or environmental distress can result. A skilled acupuncturist can use fire, the most powerful of the five elements, to help patients heal from illness and stay healthy.
This blog’s tip: mid-June through the end of July is the most powerful time for the element fire. Acupuncture treatments are especially effective during these several weeks. I highly recommend making an appointment during this time, in order to reduce inflammation and to use the strength of the fire element in your body and the environment for accelerated healing.
at 7:02 AM No comments:
Friday, June 8, 2012
Welcome to this blog! If you scroll down, you can read the previous posts. Check out Health Tips TV and some of the other cool things on this website/blog.
“Walking Trees”: Correcting Eyesight without Glasses or Surgery
A qi gong-like exercise which I call “walking trees” has been responsible for the correction of my near-sightedness for several decades. I’ve taught it to many patients and some friends and family members. Those who have used this exercise daily, in the prescribed manner, have almost always obtained beneficial results. “Walking trees” also could be considered yoga; it involves specific movements accompanied by a positively expectant state of mind. I first learned of this exercise through the Edgar Cayce Association. Edgar Cayce was arguably the most famous and accurate psychic of the twentieth century. He referred to this yoga/qi gong as the “head and neck exercises”.
“Walking trees” can be done sitting, standing, or walking. It is best done walking out of doors among trees, on somewhat uneven terrain. The spine should be reasonably straight. This therapy consists of six sets of movements, each done three times. First, the head and neck are flexed forward and then brought back to midline before again flexing forward. After three of these movements, the head and neck are extended backward, three times, then flexed laterally to the right, then to the left, then rotated clockwise and finally rotated counterclockwise three times each. Between each set of three, and before each new type of movement, the head and neck are returned to midline. Head and neck should be moved slowly, in a relaxed manner, and to their furthest possible range without causing discomfort.
The “walking trees” exercise might best be attempted seated first and then standing. When a person no longer gets dizzy standing while doing this exercise, it is time to begin walking, first on even ground and then among trees, where roots and stones may cause the ground to gently swell or sink. The eyes are kept open, and if glasses or contact lenses are normally worn, they are removed during this time. If the person is so near-sighted without glasses that they might be in danger of walking into branches, protective clear goggles can be worn. Numerous factors make this a particularly effective exercise. Movement in various directions while the eyes are open forces the eyes to focus on different spots. Doing this exercise while walking challenges every part of the eye, including the lens and the surrounding muscles. Walking on uneven ground, outside among trees, carries benefits even further, for now the practitioner is able to breathe in more oxygen from the surrounding vegetation, and to absorb other forms of beneficial energy from the out of doors. At the same time, the trees absorb the person’s carbon dioxide. According to acupuncture five element theory, the wood element is associated with trees and the liver, and the eyes are the sensory organ connected with the liver.
This exercise can be used to support acupuncture treatment of visual problems. It is best to do “walking trees” every day for an entire year. Gentle use of “walking trees” can also aid in the healing of neck and upper back injuries through the mobilization, stretching and strengthening, and relaxation which this exercise allows. To this end, it is usually practiced morning and evening, in a comfortable seated position. Over several weeks or months, local blockages in acupuncture channels which traverse the head and face, the neck, and the upper back can be reduced or eliminated, restoring normal flow of qi and blood through the tissues. Since everything is connected, in the body and in the universe at large, this will ultimately improve a person’s overall health.
This blog was extracted from an article I wrote for the Oriental Medicine Journal in 2011. You can reach their website by clicking on omjournal.com You can reach the A.R.E., the organization which organizes and shares Edgar Cayce’s readings by clicking on edgarcayce.org Share this blog with others who might benefit. This blog’s free offer is the opportunity to read the entire article on correcting eyesight without glasses. Just contact me at email@example.com or (773) 274-6827 to arrange a time to drop by my office. I will also take a few minutes to teach you “walking trees” if you have questions about it.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Welcome to this blog!
Approximately every two to four weeks I will be sharing information, tips, and offers through this blog. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions.
Why Tap Water May Be Hazardous to Your Health
If you’ve ever traveled to South or Central America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, or even to some European countries and made the mistake of drinking water directly from the tap, you may have had an unpleasant surprise. Our country’s unfiltered, chlorinated tap water seems like a blessing in light of such experiences.
Our tap water is not perfect, of course. It contains a significant amount of chlorine, a disinfectant and known carcinogen; it may have copper, cadmium, or lead from old or damaged water pipes and almost certainly contains traces of the many medications our population uses. Well water taken from aquifers near commercially-run farms, or near land-fills or factories may be dangerously toxic. Love Canal is a well-known example. President Jimmy Carter declared this site a federal emergency area in 1978.
Simply boiling your water in a pan on the stovetop for three to five minutes will do a reasonably good job of killing bacteria and removing chlorine and many heavy metal contaminants. Charcoal filters, reverse osmosis systems, and steam distillation all will remove many contaminants from tap water. By far the most difficult contaminant to remove is fluoride, a compound of fluorine. Fluorine, the first and smallest of the gaseous molecules on the elemental chart, is one of the most toxic elements on the planet. Over the past sixty years or so, fluoride compounds have been added to tap water in many cities and states as a way to reduce the incidence of cavities. These fluoride compounds are not pharmaceutical grade; they are waste products from the phosphate fertilizer industry. One of the many hazardous impurities in these waste products is arsenic, a human carcinogen with no safe level. Not only is much of our water treated with fluoride compounds; many brands of toothpaste and some foods and drinks also contain them.
Interestingly, up until the 1970’s, European physicians used fluoride as a thyroid suppressing medication for patients with hyperthyroid (over-active thyroid function). A dosage of 2 mg per day was found to be effective. Many people in this country receive more than 2 mg of this compound per day from drinking water and toothpaste. Fluoride disrupts thyroid function in many ways; check out http://rense.com/general57/FLUR.HTM for details. Fluorine and Iodine are both halogens, that is, they have similar chemical structures. Because fluorine is smaller and more active than iodine, it displaces it in the body. The thyroid gland needs iodine to function normally; fluorine won’t do. In fact, fluoride competes with TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) for receptor sites on the thyroid and thus can slow thyroid function. Most likely the ever-increasing cases of hypothyroid (under-active thyroid function) in the U.S. are due at least in part to the increase of fluoride in our bodies. Only three methods significantly reduce the amount of fluoride in water: activated alumina filters (55%), reverse osmosis (70 -95%), and steam distillation (100%).
Below are two more links of interest. http://www.fluoridealert.org/50-reasons.htmhttp://www.consumerhealth.org/articles/display.cfm?ID=19990817225011
Share my blog/website at ewagnerholistichealth.com with others. The offer with this blog: if you suffer from hypothyroid function and want to correct this holistically, contact me for a consult and possible help through chiropractic, diet, herbs, acupuncture, and more.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Welcome to this blog! In the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing insights, tips, special offers, and more approximately every two weeks. This blog will primarily be concerned with holistic healthcare, self-care, creativity, and the environment. Please feel free to email me with questions and suggestions at email@example.com
Today, I want to share with you a concern about air quality and also partial solutions to that concern. The oxygen level in the air, especially in major cities, is lower than in forested areas, and the carbon dioxide level is higher, due to the human population explosion and the high concentration of people in cities. Manufacturing, automobile traffic, and the decreasing number of trees in the city and in the world also contribute to this problem. The increasing severity of respiratory problems which arise on days with the most severe air pollution offers strong evidence that poor air quality is a threat to our health and longevity. Of course, using more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as walking, biking, public transportation, carpooling, hybrid, electric, or diesel vehicles, will help, at least on a small scale. Also, more environmentally responsible consumption, such as eating organic or vegetarian, purchasing second-hand items, buying as much local produce and other products as possible, growing our own food, traveling less, and other things can also be helpful. Changes that can be made inside the home, such as using air filters, natural, non-toxic painting and cleaning supplies; avoiding particleboard and out-gassing plastic products can also be positive steps to take. An especially important, inexpensive, and effective partial solution, and something we often don’t think of using, are indoor plants. Although it can take 20 or more plants to supply enough oxygen and dispose of enough carbon dioxide to provide optimally beneficial air for one human, even one or two plants, strategically placed, say in the bedroom or living room, will make a significant difference. Virtually all plants will be helpful, but some are easier to take care of, smaller, or more effective in either providing O2 or reducing CO2. The snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, spider plant, Boston fern, English ivy, rubber plant, Areca palm tree, ficus tree, money plant, and the peace lilly are all especially effective in oxygenating and purifying the air. It also will help to have some windows open when weather permits, especially if the home is near trees. And, of course, it is best to smoke outside of the home. Those of us with pets which may destroy plants or be poisoned by them, can still enjoy hanging plants in our homes.
Also helpful, on an individual basis, is breathing to optimize oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output. Over the years, many of us have begun to breathe more shallowly, moving away from deep abdominal breathing into shallow chest breathing. If you place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your lower abdomen and then breathe, you will quickly be able to tell how deep or shallow your breathing is. Usually, it is easiest to breathe abdominally when supine. My suggestion is to devote five minutes a day to monitoring your breath and helping increase your lungs’ vital capacity.
Today’s offer: bring in a copy of this blog and receive a breathing assessment, along with suggestions and exercises to help improve your lung function and the oxygenation of your body for only $30.00. No insurance accepted with this offer.
Also, check out the health tips TV page of this blog site.
Below is a link you might find interesting. Cut and paste to your browser. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/13/carbonemissions.climatechange