Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Art and Health by Court McCracken, Guest Blogger

My name is Court McCracken and I am an artist, writer and teacher. I write about creativity as a part of a balanced, rich and full life on my blog Art Nurture (www.artnurture.com).


I have always known that my art was more than just my major or my profession, but also my passion and part of what made me feel fully alive.


For many years I have struggled with some chromic pain. I tried many supposedly “conventional” methods of handling that pain, all of which led to other complications and issues and none of which actually helped heal the cause of the pain. The pain was so bad at times I was forced to step away from my studio or cancel a class.


Being the type of person that I am, I was unwilling to accept that this was something I had to live with; I believed there was something that could help me. 


For me, engaging in my art and my creativity is a part of my balanced and healthy lifestyle and I guide others on how to do this in their own lives. For some, this method of engaging with life in this way could seem alternative, though to me it seems very natural.


A friend of mine recommended that I try acupuncture for my pain management and healing. I am embarrassed to say that it was sort of my “last resort” as I had tried so many other things only to be let down.  I found Lara and scheduled an initial consultation regarding my pain and she believed she would most certainly be able to work with me. I have to say that I had no idea what to expect when I headed to my first appointment, but Lara’s gentle and caring manner put me at ease.


I felt like I was actually being listened to when I talked about my pain and the related struggles. I felt that Lara was paying attention to the many parts of the whole that is “me”.


I am now happy to say, that I am going into my sixth month of monthly acupuncture visits and daily herbal regimen and it is the only thing that has ever helped me manage my pain and heal my condition. The results for me have been phenomenal and I am grateful to be seeking more balance and health in this area of my life so that I can continue my work of helping others achieve health and balance when it comes to their unique art and creativity. What was once my last resort has become my most effective modality of healing in this area of my life. I wholeheartedly recommend Lutea to anyone who asks me how I am doing with my pain these days.


If you would like to hear more about my work with helping others connect with their creativity, please check out my website at www.artnurture.com


Warmest Regards,

Court McCracken

Monday, April 22, 2013

Healthy Fasting Part 2

Now that you know the benefits of fasting, time to choose how you'll do it.  Yes, there are options!  The type of fast you choose should depent upon your current health needs.  The time of year also matters a great deal.  Right now, spring here in southeastern US, when the weather is consistently warm, is a great time to start a short fast, and work your way up periodically to longer fasts if you desire.   Again, children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women should not fast. Nor should insulin-dependant diabetics or those with dramatically high blood pressure.

Five Primary Types of Fasts:

1. Raw Fruit and Vegetable Fast:
 Consuming only raw fruits and raw vegetables during the length of the fast.  Most fruits and vegetables don't combine well, so choose fruits at one meal, vegetables at the next.  This fast can also include vegetable juices, water, and unsweetened herbal teas according to thirst. 
**This type of fast is for a robust person, one who is not often cold or has weakness in any of the organ systems. This is a helpful fast for one who has been indulging in processed food and or excess meat. Also helpful for those with constipation, redness of the face and or eyes and heat signs. 

2.  Steamed-Vegetable Fast:
Consuming only steamed vegetables, preferrably 1-2 at a time, 3 at the most.  Drinking only water or unsweetened herbal teas according to thirst. 
**This is a great fast for those who tend to overeat, especially sweets which throws off the balance of good bacteria in the gut.  In these cases, cutting out all suger, even fruit sugar is important during the fast.  Also good for those who tend to be cool or deficient in an organ system.

3.  Juice Fast: 
 Vegetable OR fruit juice only made from fresh organic produce and drunk immediately. A high-powered juicer is necessary for this fast. Bottled juices are not appropriate for fasting due to the qualityfor a variety of r It's best to choose one or two vegetables or fruits to focus on for the duration.  Water and unsweetened herbal teas can also be taken.
**This is a helpful fast for those struggling with chronic illness.  In a follow-up post I will outline which fruits and vegetables, according to Chinese Medicine theory treat which imbalances.  Daikon radish, for instance is great for clearing phlegm from the head and lungs.  Celery is excellent for draining edema, etc.

4.  Absolute Fast
The absolute fast consists of no food or drink taken for 36 hours.  Begin at 7 pm the first evening and end early the second morning.  This type of fasting should be prepared for by beginning with one of the above fasts for a day or so, especially if you are new to fasting.  This type of fast can accomplish more in 36 hours than the others can over a week or so.  The Native Americans would typically fast on air for four days, sometimes up to 40. 
This type of fast is quite helpful for those who suffer water retention, excess body weight, candida overgrowth, or sluggishness.  This type of fast is not advised for the thin or overheated person. 

Happy Fasting!  Stay tuned for part 3 of  Healthy Fasting for details about when, how, and tips on what to do when it's really tough and ideas for breaking the fast.  Please post questions or comments below.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Healthy Fasting Part 1

Fasting has been a means of spiritual, mental and physical purification in most every religious tradition as far back as we can trace including Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Native American religions and many others.

Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic health traditions have embraced fasting for centuries as a means of cleansing the body-mind-spirit.  Ours is a culture of excess with little experience of deprivation.  Fasting for one who has not had the experience can be healing and liberating in many ways.  My personal experiences with 7-10 day fasts have proven to be quite valuable, regulating and health-restoring.

Fasting has many health benefits:

1.  It gives the digestive system a much-needed break.  Especially when there is gastric irritation including Crohns disease, colitis, leaky-gut or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

2.  Digestion demands a great deal of energy.  Fasting frees that energy, known as Gu Qi in Chinese Medicine for healing of all organ systems and bodily processes including eliminating phlegm and acid.

3.  Fasting provides clarity of mind and a sense of lightness and improves mood.

4.  Fasting is remarkably helpful at aiding detoxification of the body.

5.  Fasting increases energy and often resolves fatigue.

6.  Fasting for at least 48 hours resets all body processes including hunger, peristalsis, blood sugar and metabolism. Fat is lost, yes, but more importantly it helps the body reach homeostasis for the long term.

*Special note:  Children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women should not fast.  Nor should insulin-dependant diabetics or those with dramatically high blood pressure fast.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Healthy Fasting where I will discuss the different types of fasts and best times to fast as well as which is best for each of us.