Do you dream of being thin? How many times have said to yourself, if I could only lose this weight I would feel and look great. Well being thin should not be your ultimate goal. Feeling healthy and living a healthy lifestyle should be. To often I see people who are thin and very unhealthy. At the same time there are those who are a little overweight and robustly healthy. Personally I would rather be the latter. In a weight obsessed society that idolizes the “beauty” of unrealistically sized runway and cover models, it is hard to remind ourselves that looking good and feeling good should take precedence.
Being “naturally skinny” often means not having to watch what one eats. This means that junk food and a poor (or no) exercise routine becomes habit. Unfortunately we are what we eat and even if poor diet and lifestyle don’t add up on the scale it has to take it’s toll somewhere. Excess sugar is hard on the liver and pancreas. Excess salt is hard on the kidneys that have to balance our blood volume and pressure. Chemicals, additive, preservatives and poor quality fats are also hard on the liver which never seems to get a break. Weight loss plans usually cut out too many healthy fats which are essential for healthy hormone balance, brain function and beautiful skin. And these are just a few examples of how striving to just lose weight can can cause us to be unhealthy. Our bodies are complicated well balanced machines. If we disrupt this balance, the resulting imbalance can effect multiple body systems and lead to overall poor health.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at any age, but it should be achieved through a healthy lifestyle of good food, exercise and a proper self care routine.
When we become healthy on the inside, it will naturally reflect on the outside.
As a health care provider, I have come to realize a fundamental principle. You don’t have to be the best health practitioner in the world to help people get better, you just have to spend a little time. In a medical world where patients are lucky to get 5 minutes with their doctor, I have adopted a treatment style that involves spending a lot of time with my patients. The more I get to know, not just what ails each client but the client themselves, the better I understand the root cause of their issue and the better I can treat them. The better I can treat them, the faster their health conditions improve.
What is the secret? Caring. After completing a promotion with Groupon last month I looked at my reviews by clients who had redeemed their coupons. I had 100% positive reviews. This is unheard of with Groupon deals where someone or several someones feel/s they were slighted in some way. Not with me. I treat each and every person that walks through my clinic door the same. This means the same attentive, thoughtful and thorough health care tailored to each individual.
Attentive health care involves a number of different things, the first of which is spending more time with the client. Another thing I do is listen. Many people do not feel heard. Just listening to leads to the patient not only feeling understood but helps them to work through and figure out for themselves the etiology of their situation. Often talking is enough to relieve an enormous amount of stress which is the number one thing that not only ages us, but exacerbates just about every medical condition on the planet. The third thing I do is actually touch my patients. Studies show that non-sexual supportive touch tempers stress and is healing used all by itself. Finally what I do is strive to develop really great treatment methods which are best suited to each individual. This all leads to a faster recovery and healthier, happier clients.
I strive daily to improve my acupuncture medical knowledge, methodology and techniques. I know that in 10 or 20 years, I will be a better practitioner than I am today. But today I am pretty darn good and that’s because the state of my clients’ health really matters to me.
I have decided to try and answer the most frequently asked acupuncture question: “How does acupuncture work?”
First let me digress into a teeny tiny rant.
No one ever asks their Western doc how their drugs work.
Scenario 1: Patient walks into their doctor’s office and is prescribed a cholesterol lowering drug called lipitor.
Patient: How does my lipitor work?
Doctor: It lowers your cholesterol.
The real answer is that it lowers your cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme found in liver tissue that plays a key role in production of cholesterol in the body. Hence it reduces your body’s production of cholesterol. But nobody really wants to know about this because they are told that lipitor works and their doctor tells them to take it, so they take it.
Here is my western medicalized acupuncture scenario.
Scenario 2: Patient goes into see their acupuncturist’s office with the chief complaint of ankle pain.
Patient: How does acupuncture work for?
Acupuncturist: It get’s rid of your ankle pain.
Ah, wouldn’t that be sweet if that is all I had to say. But this is not the answer that you want. But to get the real answer, I would have take you into the paradigm that is Chinese medicine and talk about Yin, Yang, Qi, meridians and a bunch of other stuff that literally took me years to learn and understand. You probably don’t want to know about Shao Yin and Jue Yin any more than how the HMG-CoA reductase is inhibited. (If you do want to know, I can suggest some really good long text books for you).
But I sympathize with your curiosity and desire to understand this medicine, so here is my non- “woo woo” and hopefully not too technical answer.
Acupuncture stimulates your body’s natural ability to heal itself by getting your brain to “take another look at the problem”. When we get sick, we recover. If we break a bone, it mends. So why do some people suffer from chronic issues such as back pain or digestive issues? The answer is simple. If we spend too long out of balance, the body finds this new state as the state to maintain. Something has to trigger the brain to recognize that the back or digestion or whatever is not “all good” in order to break out this holding pattern. When it does, it stimulates your body’s natural healing system to take over. Endorphins are release to immediately relieve pain. Blood circulation is improved to speed healing and/or restore function. Finally it balances the nervous system to stop chronic pain cycles and improve overall health far into the future.
It is not easy growing up with a dad with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When I was young my dad traveled a lot. Later I learned why. He had trouble holding down a job longer than a couple of months and always liked to keep moving. I didn’t really understand PTSD, but I understood how it effected my life-I had a dad who was hardly every around. In my early twenties, my dad went to the VA hospital for help. If it weren’t for the counseling and support he received at that time, I don’t know where my dad would be now. It feel like it saved him and helped him rebuild the life and relationships that had always eluded him. I was thankful for to have my dad back. This Sunday November 11th is Veterans day. On Monday November 12th the profits from all acupuncture visits at Green Leaf clinic will be donated to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. www.vfw.org
If you are a veteran you should come to the Portland Veterans Acupuncture Project (PVAP) where I periodically volunteer my time as an acupuncturist. The clinic is on Thursdays from 5-8 pm at the Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church located at 2828 SE Stephens St in Portland, OR. PVAP is a non-profit and free clinic started by a researcher and two acupuncturists who realized that more veterans were returning from deployment suffering from serious stress symptoms such as frequent nightmares, irritability, flashbacks, hypervigilance and emotional detachment, not to mention any injuries sustained during a tour. Current research shows that where medications can help control symptoms, only acupuncture and counseling show promise in treating the cause of the issues. Sadly acupuncture is often not included in military benefits. PVAP is a free acupuncture clinic for any and all veterans and their families. No appointment is needed. Just drop in. Check out the website for more information. http://portlandveteranacupuncture.homestead.com/
The Portland office has moved. We are still located in the Milepost 5 building, we’ve just moved downstairs to a more easily accessible office. We are now located in suite 102, just down the hall from the art gallery on the right hand side. If you get to the elevator, you have gone too far!
Starting this month, all appointments in Portland will be in this new treatment space. We are excited to be easier and quicker to get to as well as being more visible to the public on the ground floor. The client parking space #7 will remain the same.
One of the great things about the Milepost 5 office building is the community. Every first Friday, the art gallery at Milepost 5 showcases the work of a local artist. This Friday, September 7th, Green Leaf will be participating in First Friday by hosting a reception at our new office space from 6-10pm. Come check out the new space, enjoy a drink on us, and enter the raffle to win a massage or acupuncture treatment. Hope to see you there!
Varicose veins are common during pregnancy. The blood volume in a woman’s body nearly doubles and veins are elastic, but sometimes the stress is too much and they bulge or burst causing those little spider veins as well as big painful ones. Varicosities are most common in the lower limbs and can be present in vaginal or rectal tissue. Rectal varicosities are called hemorrhoids and can be exacerbated by the added weight of your baby, constipation and birth.
One of the single best things you can do to benefit varicosities is to increase your intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is crucial in the formation of collagen. Collogen is what make your veins elastic and more able to stretch versus bulge or break with the increasing pressure. Interestingly enough, collagen is also what makes your skin elastic so vitamin C will also help make your skin more supple and prevent stretch marks. Vitamin C also helps with the absorption of iron and gives the immune system a boost.
Most often we think of orange juice when we want to add vitamin C to our diets, but here are some sources of vitamin C that you may not have thought of: sweet peppers, kiwi, tomato juice, brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe. In supplement form it is perfectly safe to take 500 mg twice a day on top of your regular prenatal vitamin. Because vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, what the body doesn’t need, it will excrete in the urine.
Many women find a lot of relief from compression hose and support belts. Sante Mama, the mama and baby botique that I work at, sells a wide variety of these and accept many kinds of insurance! Additionally you mind relief from the following tips: take rest when you need it, avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods and take the weight off in a pool or hot tub. If you have varicose veins in your legs, try massaging in an upward direction along your inner thigh. This will help the blood that may be pooling to return to the heart.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective pregnancy varicosities are usually caused by a lack of energy combined with reduced circulation. It takes a lot of energy to make a baby. And having energy is what holds us upright and makes us feel strong. Likewise, it is also what makes your blood vessels feel strong. Most of the energy in your body is being diverted to making the baby. Also as your belly and baby grow in size the added pressure on the inguinal region can block proper return of blood to the heart.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine can build your energy, and strengthen the blood vessels. I never needle into varicose veins, so please don’t be nervous about trying acupuncture if you have vaginal or rectal varicosities. The bonus of using acupuncture is that you will leave your treatments feeling more energized in addition to your varicosities being less painful.
Heart burn is common during pregnancy even if you have never experienced it before pregnancy. The reason is that during pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. This hormone also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up, which causes that unpleasant burning sensation. Progesterone also slows down the wavelike contractions of your esophagus and intestines, making digestion sluggish. Later in pregnancy, your growing baby crowds the abdominal cavity, pushing the stomach acids back up into the esophagus. Heartburn is mostly harmless, but cab be quite uncomfortable. My hope here is to give you some all natural alternatives to western medical prescriptions for heartburn during pregnancy.
Some dietary recommendations can be very useful to stem the majority of symptoms. Eat smaller meals more frequently through the day and avoid drinking large amounts of fluids with meals to avoid extending your stomach. Avoid foods that cause gastrointestinal distress. This is different for everyone and you probably already know the foods that irritate your tummy but common culprits are: greasy fried foods, tomatoes or other acidic foods, spicy or highly seasoned foods. Helpful foods are prunes and dark leafy green vegetables. Chewing almonds thoroughly and slowly can be beneficial as well as making the “original Dr. Pepper”. Dr. Pepper was originally invented as a digestive aid and was a mixture of prune juice and bubbly water.
Antacids can be effective, but remember that your digestion is already running sluggish and decrease in acidity is only going to slow down the process and cause a decrease in absorption of vitamins. Taking too many antacids also may cause kidney stones. Taking papaya enzymes or another all natural digestive enzyme mix can help improve digestion while decreasing heart burn.
In Chinese medicine heartburn is thought to be caused by stagnation in the stomach channel. Weekly acupuncture can help to relieve this stagnation and help your digestion be less sluggish. Tailored herbal prescriptions are effective to give you the relief you need while being safe for your growing baby.
I am not talking about baby constipation here. I am talking about sham”poo” and lack there of. Late last year I heard of a new fad of going without shampoo. My first thought was “gross”. My hair at 3 days without shampooing is itchy, oily and dirty. What would happen if I stopped shampooing all together? After reading countless blogs on the topic and actually trying it out myself, I have to say, I’m now a believer. I use to suffer from itchy scalp and mild dandruff. I tried different shampoos: anti-dandruff, moisterizing, all natural/chemical free, etc. I tried shampooing more often then less often. I tried expensive herbal scalp sprays, mayonaise “masks”, expensive herbal masks, even rinsing my scalp with green tea after shampooing, to no avail.
Here are the facts. Even the all natural and all organic shampoos still function by using a surfactant or detergent which strips the hair of it’s natural oil produced by the scalp. This triggers the scalp to produce more oils which necessitates more frequent shampooing to avoid greasy build up. To balance the drying effects of the shampoo, conditioner was invented to add moister back to the hair and scalp. This always leaves a residue which attracts dirt and necessitates more washing. Since nothing could seem grosser than the mayonnaise masks, I figured, “what the hey, I’ll give it a try”. I didn’t actually go without cleaning my hair, I just went without traditional shampoo and conditioner.
So what does No Poo entail? What I use is baking soda and vinegar. Not at the same time, because I don’t desire for a volcano to erupt on my scalp, but one at a time. Baking soda, being a mild base, gently cleans dirt without stripping the hair and scalp of moisturizing oils that protect and condition your hair. After sufficient rinsing. I add a mixture of vinegar and water. Vinegar seals the hair cuticle, protecting your hair from drying out or becoming frizzy and leaves it shiny and soft.
Here is what I used to wash my hair sans “poo”.
The Poo: 1T baking soda mixed with 3 cups warm water.
The Conditioner Poo: 1 T vinegar mixed with 3 cups warm water
I place my Poos into old shampoo and condtioner bottles respectively so as not to mix them up. The concentrations of vinegar and baking soda can be altered to your preference. I use just a tiny squirt to get all strands accounted for and then after working it in (there is not that satifying lather in “no poo”), I rinse my hair out well.
I found that I only need to clean my hair once every 3 to 4 days now. I no longer have an itchy scalp and any trace of my dandruff is gone. My hair is soft, shiny and manageable. My new poos cost a fraction of what my previous shampoos cost and are completely biodegradable. Oh yeah, and not a single person has noticed I made the switch to no poo over a year ago: because it’s impossible to tell!
Change is good. And it’s time. Just one month ago, the Green Leaf moved it’s Portland office. I had been toying with the idea of moving out of my home office for months. My baby is old enough to throw mini screaming tantrums and to be honest it is difficult keeping the place spotless with her crawling everywhere creating chaos. So far, I have been enjoying the physical separation of work and home. My new space
My office is not the only thing that has moved. My blog has always been with Worpress, and I love them. So I decided to merge my website and blog together and move it all over to WordPress. Now when you visit my blog, you will already be at my website. I have added forms
What? Why? Those were my first thoughts many years ago when I first learned how acupuncture and herbs can stop lactation. I had the uninformed idea that once the baby stopped breastfeeding, it took only a day, maybe two for the milk to dry up. And I literally imagined it drying up like water disappears into a sandy beach. It never occurred to me that there may some lag time: that not only could last for weeks, but could involve serious engorgement as well as a lot of pain for mothers.
Stopping lactation is not a topic I have heard discussed outside of my training. But there comes a time in every mom’s life, where she decides to stop breast feeding. This is not always an easy decision so prolonged physical suffering only brings insult to injury.
Tapering is the first and best option to painlessly stop breast feeding, but if this is not a possibility for you, see your local acupuncturist to employ the use Chinese medicine. A single Chinese herb used in appropriate dosage along with acupuncture and moxabustion is excellent to steeply stem the production of milk within a day or two.