Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nausea, Stress, and PMS? Treat it Yourself with Acupressure

Next up in my acupressure series... another point that is helpful in many situations!

This point is Nei Guan, Inner Border Gate, a point two finger-breadths above the wrist crease between the tendons m. palmaris longus and m. flexor carpi radialis (the two main tendons on the wrist).  You can find the tendons by making a fist. With firm pressure push here when you are experiencing:

  • Nausea. For any reason.  There are magnetic wrist bands designed to hold pressure on this point for motion sickness and morning sickness.  Or just use your fingers.
  • Depression or anxiety related to the menstrual cycle, especially PMS.  
  • In esoteric acupuncture it helps with the emotional pain and heartbreak after a relationship breaks up.
  • Acid Reflux
  • Stress of any kind, especially if it's causing stress or tension headaches in the back of the head or neck. 

Give it a try and post any thoughts or questions below!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Zu San Li: Acupressure for Digestion and Energy

Acupressure is a self-healing method that employs the energetics of the Chinese Medicine meridians and points without the needles.  In this brief series on acupressure I will outline the benefits a handful of points for helping heal yourself naturally.

Today's point is one of the most beloved and frequently used points in Chinese Medicine because of its usefulness and versatility.  Zu San Li, or Stomach 36, translates as "leg three miles" in part because it is said that stimulating this point with either needle, or firm massage allows you to walk three more miles when you are tired.  This point is on the stomach channel which extends from just under the eye, down to the second toe on both sides.  This channel affects digestion, the immune system, and in turn your energy level related to your qi, or life energy.

Zu San Li can be located by measuring one hands-breadth (the width of the palm of your hand) from the bottom of the knee cap, to a spot in the muscle below.  The point is often tender, or a little more sensitive than surrounding area.  See the photo above.  Use a thumb or even a massage tool to stimulate the point in a firm, circular motion first on one leg and then the other.  Applying heat can also be helpful.

Stomach 36 can be massaged for stomach upset or nausea and vomiting.  It regulates and boosts qi, or the body's natural protective energy, and regulates digestion.  For this reason it is also helpful for emotional upsets.  And it is used to boost immunity. It's also a wonderful point to massage on children for any of these complaints.

Questions or comments?  Or any specific points or conditions you'd like me to cover?  Please comment below!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Qi Gong for Anxiety

Anxiety and its component symptoms, heart palpitations, sweating, restlessness, muscle tightness and pain can be troublesome for many.  Anxiety can range from a chronic low levels to paralyzing attacks which can interfere with many areas of a person's life.  From the perspective of Chinese Medicine anxiety often stems from an imbalance in heart qi or a disharmony in the heart, pericardium, or kidney meridians.  In my clinic I treat this with acupuncture, herbal medicine and teaching simple Qigong exercises to my patients.  By regulating these meridians and stimulating free flow of blood and qi in these ways, anxiety is relieved.  

From a mindfulness perspective, anxiety is caused by your thoughts.  Slow your mind and be present in the moment and you will see there is no anxiety in this moment.  Only peace.  It's like the well-worn phrase "There are no stressful situations.  Only stressful thoughts."  From the Western medical model anxiety is a chronic over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Interestingly, Qigong calms anxiety very quickly and can be explained to be effective from each of these three perspectives.  Qigong, a close relative of Tai Chi, is an of a set of slow, intentional movements combining breath, intention, postures to engender a complete awareness and presence in the body in the moment.  In this sense it is referred to as an internal martial art.  From the Chinese Medicine perspective it moves the blood and cultivates the qi in the heart, pericardium, and kidney channels and this balance results in relaxation.  Which leads us to the mindfulness and Western medical perspectives.  Qigong is moving meditation which pulls the mind to this moment.  By training the mind repeatedly to focus on this moment and relax into this moment with qi gong your body "learns" to unravel the over-stimulated nervous system and maintain equilibrium.

Other ways Qigong can help reduce anxiety and induce calm:

It has been proven that Qigong practice brings about:

  • Reduced pain
  • Lowered heart-rate 
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • Deep relaxation
  • Improved balance and strength

Want to learn?  Come to my weekly Qigong class at the Om Sanctuary each 

Wednesday 9:30-10:30 a.m.

87 Richmond Hill Dr.  Asheville, NC 28806 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

S.A.V.E.D.: 5 Steps to Knock Out a Virus Before It Starts

In Chinese Medicine it is said that equanimity of mind is the path to health.  For me that always brings to mind images of placid farmers living according to the seasons, working in their rice fields, blissfully free of alarm clocks, cell phones, and deadlines.  Though equanimity of mind is not impossible today.  It just takes some mindfulness.  And even as the chaos of modern living can sometime take us out of calm presence, there are a few tried and true ways back to health.  Some of these are traditional Chinese Medicine, some are tips I've picked up in my practice, and some are clearly Western.  They are the steps that work!

This is my handy 5-pronged approach I share with my patients after an acupuncture treatment, which is excellent for staying healthy when illness looks imminent.  Remember my acronym S.A.V.E.D.  Sweat, Awareness, Vitamins & Herbs, Ears, and Diet

1. Sweat.  As soon as you feel the tell tale signs, sweat.  Climb in a hot tub with 2 cups of epsom salts, a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and a cup of hot yarrow, peppermint or other diaphoretic tea to drink.  The best Chinese herbal formula for this early stage is Gui Zhi Tang, which is easily available from your acupuncturist.  At Lutea, we have an exceptional formula.  Stay in, drinking your tea until you are sweating then climb out and wrap up in blankets and go to bed, careful to stay warm. And get some sleep.

2. Awareness of your body is key.  If you don't already know your body's signs of impending illness, pay attention.  It's when you first start to feel the scratchy throat, the chills, that is the time to take action.  The faster this happens, the better off you are.  Pushing through is no nobler in the long run, especially when you find yourself miserable for weeks.  It's much harder to knock out a cold or flu that is firmly entrenched.

3.  Vitamins & Herbs.  Vitamins D, C, and zinc can help boost the immune system and keep you healthy.  If you feel the first signs of a cold you can raise your Vitamin D3 level to up to 10,000 IUs a day for an immune pump, especially as we aren't getting as much sunlight as the days shorten.  Vitamin C 1000 mg, and zinc 8mg per day.  I already mentioned Gui Zhi Tang, and there are also formulas more suited for the feverish, sore throat stage like Yin Qiao Tang.  There are a few western herbs that can be helpful too.  Olive Leaf, Colloidal Silver, and Oregano oil are all good anti-virals to stock for the winter season. 

4. Ears.  Often the ears are the first place a virus begins.  So mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol in a dropper bottle and drop 3 drops in each ear until you hear it bubbling down the canal.  Then quickly turn the head and dry the ear.  Do this on each side at the first sign of illness. This can double as a way to remove water from the ears after swimming or bathing.

5. Diet.  Eat healthy whole foods. Avoid processed food.  Also avoid refined sugar and alcohol which weaken the immune system dramatically and dairy which increases phlegm in the body.  So avoid these as much as possible.  This is an easy one to try out.  Foods that are healing to the body are steamed or sauteed vegetables, and even better are soups and stews.  Especially including slightly spicy flavored vegetables which stimulate the lungs like ginger, garlic,  onions, and radishes.  Lemon and honey in hot tea can also be soothing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Feel Your Qi

As my acupuncture practice grows and evolves over the years I am learning in deeper ways that Qi, the vital life force energy with which I am always working, is what runs the show.  I remain present and focused. I feel it, surrender to it and work with it.  To put it simply, when qi and blood are flowing smoothly, you are in health.  When there is stagnation or obstruction or chaotic movement of qi you are in pain or disease.
Acupuncture needles are only one of the tools in my toolbox.  I also employ moxa (heat therapy), dietary therapy, herbal medicine, tui na.  But all of the above are driven by my most powerful tool for healing myself and others: Qi Gong.  Qi Gong, similar to Tai Qi is an internal martial art, a series of slow movements focusing intention, mindful breath, and posture to cultivate, nourish and direct the qi throughout the body.
I've been practicing Qi Gong for nine years now and it has changed my life.  I have studied with revered masters from China and learned the finer points of cultivating qi.  And as my Qi Gong practice deepens, my results improve.  The healing results I get by working with a patient and teaching my patients specific Qi Gong exercises designed for them speeds the healing dramatically.

Daily practice of Qi Gong shifts your repetitive thought patterns, your blocks, all the defenses standing in the way of your healing.  Curious how it can help you?  Come visit a Qi Gong class any Wednesday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Om Sanctuary off Riverside Dr. in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a drop-in class, donations accepted.  All ages and all levels of ability welcome.  

Are you ready to improve your health?  Come join us Wednesdays!  Visit www.luteaherbs.com for more information.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Make Your Own Toothpaste (and Why You Should)

I have been buying fluoride-free toothpaste for years, since I learned that it was affecting my thyroid.  But when I started coming across people making their own toothpaste I was excited to try it.  Here I will outline some of the dangers of conventional toothpaste and include two recipes for making your own.  It's remarkably easy and I love the end product.  I'm hooked!

The ingredients in most toothpastes are toxic.  Ever wonder why there are warnings all over your kids toothpaste tube not to take internally?  Half a tube of typical fluoridated toothpaste can kill a child.  And anything that goes in your mouth, even if it isn't swallowed, is absorbed even more quickly than things you apply to your skin.  I'm not trying to be alarmist.  Just stating facts.

The perils of fluoride are real, though dentists still push the party line handed to us back in the 1950s.  If you were like me, you grew up with fluoride rinses, gel treatments, and Crest toothpaste all full of fluoride to make our teeth stronger.  The thing is, much like pharmaceutical drugs like Boniva, it makes the tooth appear stronger on bone scans, but internally it becomes more porous and delicate.  Fluoride is a highly toxic chemical that causes multiple health problems.  Primarily:
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Thyroid Dysfunction/ Endocrine Disruption
  • Arthritis
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Kidney Problems
  • Male Fertility Issues
  • Skeletal Fluorosis
  • Acute Toxicitcy
Fluoride is common in rat poison and the Nazis used to put it in the prisoners' water - because it's known to placate people and make them easier to control.  Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/029140_toothpaste_fluoride.html#ixzz2dnD6UeiX For more information on the risks and dangers of fluoride, how cities around the country and countries around the world are fighting to get fluoride out of our drinking water, check out:  http://www.fluoridealert.org/

So here are two toothpaste recipes that are fast, inexpensive, and effective.  I made them with my eight-year-old daughter and we had lots of fun trying different recipes and flavors including peppermint, lavender, lemon, and cinnamon.  These are the two that we agreed we liked the best.  She liked lemon flavored with glycerine and more stevia and I preferred the cinnamon with coconut oil and less, so I will call these kid and adult recipes respectively.  I really enjoy this toothpaste more than any I've ever bought.  My teeth and mouth always feel great after I use it and a nice side benefit is that my lips are moisturized by the coconut oil!  Even my little girl loves using it. 

I prescribe this supplement to patients with bone density issues. It's also a nice supplement as it combines the important minerals for bone health with several Chinese herbs for the same purpose.  So for tooth re-mineralization, this is a great formula.  It comes in capsules which I emptied into the working mix. 

Kids Lemon Glycerine Toothpaste

6 teaspoon baking soda
1 capsule Bone Density Enhancer with minerals
1/4 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
1 tablespoon glycerine
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (more on oil pulling and why coconut oil is so great for your teeth in the next post.)
4 drops lemon essential oil
12 drops concentrated liquid stevia

Put baking soda and calcium and herb powder in a bowl and stir.  Add the wet ingredients and mix until you achieve desired texture. Add a small amount of baking soda if it’s runny; add more coconut oil if it’s too dry. Taste, and add more essential oil if you want a more flavorful paste. We found the Gootube at a local store so we can squeeze it out as needed. 

Grown Up Coconut Oil Cinnamon Toothpaste

6 tsp baking soda
4 capsules calcium and herb powder
1 drop Concentrace minerals
2 tbsp coconut oil
5 drops cinnamon essential oil
8 drops stevia

Friday, August 23, 2013

Delicious Late Summer Sandwich

I admit I love an easy dinner meal that doesn't heat up the house in the summer.  I also love to use the delicious produce I find in my CSA box a different way most every time.  Keeps things interesting.  So check out this yumminess: 

From bottom to top:
bread of choice
homemade organic mayo
homemade organic pesto
organic tomatoes a plenty
organic raw cheese
Starting with the bottom layer, I chose GLUTEN FREE BREAD:  Sandwiches are my comfort food when I fall off the Paleo wagon and wheat gluten is not my friend.  Lucky for those millions of us who can't tolerate it, there are some fairly good gf breads out there.  Next up,

MAYO: (oh how I love homemade mayo.  I really, really love it.) Olive oil, egg yolk, minced garlic, and lemon juice, salt and pepper in the food processor.  I must insert here that most commercial mayonnaise is made with soybean oil which, unless labeled certified organic, is genetically modified and especially when hydrogenated causes a number of health problems such as high cholesterol, reproductive issues and many more.  You'll also find high fructose corn syrup in many mayonnaise brands, phosphoric acid, "natural flavors," the malodextrin, etc. etc. Nightmare in a jar.

PESTO:  Blend fresh CSA basil (about a cup of leaves), CSA garlic (3 cloves),  cashew nuts, salt, and olive oil drizzled into the food processor to desired consistency.

TOMATOES: CSA fresh maters-- I like to pile them on.

RAW MILK CHEDDAR:  Lots of people have sensitivity to dairy, including my little one.  Raw milk cheese, however, doesn't seem to pose as much of a problem for most people with milder sensitivities.  And I'm not referring to organic milk, though that is definitely preferable to the GM milk with rGBH, but it is still pasturized and usually homogenized which causes our bodies to process it differently.  Raw cheese, because of the cheese making process, is safe to eat. I will add too that dairy is vilified in Chinese Medicine as a phlegm-producing substance and that cows milk is only suitable for baby cows.  True and true to an extent.  So choose wisely when you consume dairy.  I just really love cheese.  Don't you?

Toaster oven toast it.  Hence not heating up the kitchen, and Voila!