Tidbits

An Open Letter – Harness the Times

Dear Friends,

 

Now is the time.  It’s always now, but now is a time of power and movement more than ever. 


In mind-body medicine, particularly the East Asian traditional variety, we are often very concerned with detecting stagnation and blockage.  Like a dam in a river – it will create build up on one side, and lack on the other.

This is what our society reflects, and no wonder we see it in our health.

The body keeps the score.

All the pain and trauma of the past, it can be released, but we have to identify the dams, and we have to find another way to allow flow and therefore healing after we move and remove the dams that are obstructing our health, our society.

That is a broad metaphor that does not show the absolute atrocities that continually repeat,  but what we’re seeing now with national dialogues is that the silenced voices are finally being listened to.  Solutions and ideas for healing the wrongs that have been said for so long are finally being allowed to broadcast.  I can see the old “Berlin walls” being hacked away. 

This is what our country needs.  Breaking down of old ways, hurtful and wrong ways.

The stress of all these wrongs explain so much of the dis-ease we experience. Much being subconscious, even the imprints of these past centuries and past decades of brutality and pain are carried by many of us through our connection to the collective unconscious.  And now the pain felt daily by black, indigenous, and brown people is being acknowledged globally.  

Just think of all the healing that can come from this moment we’re in – if we can all keep moving with it, and arrange our inner selves, our minds and hearts, to open to change and embrace it.  To see the beautiful possibilities of what a healed world, and what we ourselves as healed bodies, will be like.  What would it feel like to not be controlled by the stress, anger, worry, fear, that these dams inside us create?

If you are in a place of wanting to heal, wanting to move forward, wanting to be of service to this movement of change, I say thank you.  Thank you for choosing love and vulnerability. 

You don’t have to know all the hows right now.  Just be open, be open.

Know that I am here to facilitate your growth and healing.  I’m there with you.  I am learning, listening, changing, desiring good for our community. 

The important thing is to not give up, not get exhausted and burned out, but to balance the pushing forward with the breaks to rest, heal, and replenish.  If you need help with working on your inner health so that you can bring yourself out there to help others, I get it and that’s what I do.   

What a time to be alive.  It’s not easy what’s been set before us, but it’s absolutely what we’re here for, and what we’re here to learn.  It’s taken so many lifetimes of suffering, but let’s turn up the light brighter than ever to amplify and speed the healing. 

With so much love and gratitude,

Amy

 

Keys to Wellness- Why Choose Fresh, Local and Natural Foods

Have you ever imagined what the grocery store would look like if only foods grown within a 500 mile radius, made with normal kitchen equipment, were sold there?  What if refined sugar, artificial flavors, and refined vegetable oils were illegal?

As a health care provider for over 15 years, when I shop for food I’m always conscious of two main perameters:  1. is it natural or processed, or in other words, could this item be made in a kitchen or grown in the ground without a ton of technology, and 2. is it in season now in my region?  Of course, exceptions are going to happen, but when I keep these criteria in mind, I am already bound to make healthier choices.

 

Why does eating low-tech and in season mean healthy? Let’s take a look!!

 

 

Eating with the Seasons, and with your internal environment

In Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), people are always considered to be a part of nature, not separate from it.  This includes diet and nutrition.  Food is considered the first medicine, and only after diet has been corrected should other medicines be considered.  Choosing foods based on their special qualities and properties, the TEAM practitioner can prescribe certain foods to complement the patient, while advising against foods that are contraindicated for their condition.

In cold weather, foods should be warming, like soup and stews, and salads and fruit should be infrequent.   In summer, eating light, fresh and seasonal produce will encourage a deeper connection with food, and greater nutrition.

 

Going Local – The biggest bang for your buck

Thanks to world wide distribution channels and global food companies, we can have almost any fruit or vegetable, from all over the world,  year round.  This is a wonderful asset, yet, if we compare the nutritional content of what we can grow here to foods that were harvested months ago and trucked or shipped thousands of miles?  The quality of the food, and it’s vitamin and mineral content, are greatly diminished. Pesticides and other chemicals may need to be used in larger quantities to yield the types of harvests to feed the huge demands.  Strawberries are a great example – I recently read an article about all the special conditions that year round red berries in every store across the nation require.  It’s quite eye opening and provides incentive to change buying habits.

 

Big Food vs You

People are busy.  We work too much,  our activities take up the rest of our time.  So where’s the time to cook from scratch?   And why should we? Especially where I live in the suburbs, and in many communities, grocery stores and restaurants abound  to satisy any craving, meet any budget, and to fit into any busy lifestyle.  But when you step back and take a look from afar,   we see how health benefits are sacrificed for profits.  Insidious practices, like increasing fat, salt, sugar, and flavorings to make foods “hyperpalatable” and arguably addictive, are commonplace.  About 10 companies control the world’s food supply.  They dictate what is available and thus our choices.

When we can see the marketing and corporate decisions aimed at profits behind the products, it can open our eyes.  We don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience.  Read labels to make informed choices.  Keep it simple.  Protein, veggies, and a carbohydrate are the main components to a nourishing meal.

 

Avoid these three things for better health

The name of the health game is anti-inflammatory, since all chronic disease is a form of inflammation.  Keep these off your plate to make the biggest impact.

 

Bad Oils – certain oils produce free radicals that damage our tissues.  This article has a good summary of oils that are safe to cook with and oils that are damaging.

 

Processed Meats – I’m talking about deli meats and “meat products” like boloney, and sliced meats full of preservatives. See the link below for information about how it’s linked to cancer and heart disease.

 

SUGAR! – of course, the most fun thing, but also the most inflammatory.  This should really be limited in its refined forms.  Go for unrefined alternatives like evaporated cane juice (also called sucanat), raw local honey, and natural maple syrup. Or skip the sweeteners and retrain your tastebuds to enjoy whole fruits! Stevia and Monfruit extract are natural sweeteners only required by the drop!  The internet abounds with naturally sweetened treats recipes, and if you are savvy you can make better choices at the store for that occasional treat!

 

So next time you are tempted to buy tomatoes in winter, or donuts in the drive thru, think about your body and ask if it’s worth it.  And as a gardener, think – can I grow that? If not, maybe put it back on the shelf!

 

Sources:

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5296687/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/08/16/companies-that-control-the-worlds-food/14056133/

https://www.consumerreports.org/deli-meats/danger-at-the-deli-cold-cuts-increased-risk-cancer-heart-disease/

 

Ready for Reopening – Strategies for Stronger Immunity

Some people are ready and some are hesitant.  We all have our own comfort levels with the pandemic situation, and no one is right or wrong.  Wearing a mask in public is the law – but what else can you do to ensure your system is as strong as possible? What can you do to protect your family? How about a game plan for “re-entry”! Some points may sound redundant or obvious, but it’s good to really understand the power of the basics, plus real talk about preventative care.

 

Medicine is Anything that promotes healing and Optimizes Health

We use Medicine all the time without thinking about it.  Water, Sleep, Food, Rest, Recreation, Exercise – it’s all Medicine in my book.  Then there’s therapies that are medicine also.  Talk therapy, massage, acupuncture, herbs, nutritional supplementation, chiropractic, drugs.  Working with health care providers doesn’t always have to be reserved for illness.  We can use many therapies to prevent illness, including acupuncture and herbs!

Let’s look at some basics to cover for at home self-care, and then let’s talk about how acupuncture and herbal therapy fits in to a wellness plan during the pandemic and beyond!

 

Hydrate, Sleep, Sweat, and Giggle!

 

Water – Nectar of the Gods

      • Ideally, 1 liter per 50 lbs of body weight is what most of us should have in mind as we hydrate.  Don’t force water, but if you have a hard time drinking more than 2-4 glasses a day, you may need some assistance rebalancing fluids in your body.  We can do that with acupuncture, diet modifications, and herbs.  Remember coffee and strong tea will dehydrate, so add a bit extra water to compensate.  And adding minerals to purified water is important.

Sleep – Regular, Sufficient, Quality

    • Sleep can sometimes slip down on the priority list.  There’s lots of workaholics and overscheduled people in our community! But I’ve learned over the years, that sleep is a MAJOR MEDICINE – and it is FREE! You can make it a higher priority.  Protect it. Schedule it.  In short, make time to get quality sleep.  If sleep eludes you, let me help! Acupuncture and/or herbal medicine has been helping people get restful sleep for eons. Staying up too late can also rob you of important restful non-REM sleep, so keep to a decent bedtime too.  Keep in mind life before the light bulb!

Exercise – Get sweaty for fun

    • Using a guideline of getting your heart rate up so your breathing is more labored for at least 30 minutes 4 times a week, choose something you like to do!  Or at least distract yourself from it with something to watch or listen to. 

Laughter – really is the best Medicine!

    • It’s a cliche for a reason.  There’s a bunch of scientific reasons – it decreases stress hormones, increases endorphins, and increases natural killer cell activity hence boosting immunity.  So if you are feeling somber, Saturday Night Live, the Carol Burnett Show, and the Simpsons may be just what the doctor ordered! Make a list of what brings you joy, and make a point to fit joy in as much as you can!

Supplements:

    • Go Higher – while we’ve always cautioned against doses too high especially of fat soluble vitamins, more research has been coming out.  During a pandemic, I recommend going higher on preventative vitamins and minerals. Kids can take half or 1/4 the adult dose of most supplements but always check with your pediatrician.
    • Vitamin D – it’s actually very concerning to see WebMD list levels of 20-50 ng/ml as the optimal range, and deficiency being defined as 12 – this is too low! I am concerned when I see my patients’ level below 40-50.  To me, 40 is borderline low, yet it’s not uncommon to have patients come in with levels well below 30. I want to see levels between 50-80 ng/ml.  The test to ask your doctor for, or that I can help direct you to order, is 25 Hydroxy D, and is a blood test that should be checked annually.  Low levels of D have been linked to many chronic illnesses, and several small studies of covid-19 patients indicate a strong correlation between low levels of D with greater severity of symptoms and complications, ironically also sighted on WebMD.
    • Vitamin C – controversy and disagreement has surrounded the use of this powerful antioxidant.  Yet when taken as a mineral ascorbate in higher doses throughout the day, it is really a useful medicine to prevent illness and to support nearly every metabolic process in the body, from healthy skin, lowering inflammation, supporting gut health, bone health, etc.
    • Additional supportive nutrients – zinc, selenium, vitamin A, and licorice root. Even melatonin doubles not only as a sleep aid but a gut support and immune/antiviral support.
    • Always – Work with a provider to determine appropriate doses for these and all supplements. I love incorporating nutritional supplementation as needed to enhance healing for my patients!

Overall health translates to robust immunity

 

Ultimately, we want to prevent disease.  Remember – symptoms are how your body communicates needs to your thinking mind.  Pay attention to what just doesn’t seem right, whether it’s an old problem or new, and seek support.  Prevention includes preventing minor problems from worsening.  This is why I love acupuncture and herbal medicine so much – everyone can benefit.  It’s not just for illnesses  – it’s a great preventative! 

 

Stress is a  response in the body that  manifests  in  imbalances  of  cortisol,  neurotransmitters, thyroid  hormones, and  more.  A  robust self  care routine is critical to reducing effects o f s tress  in the body, and ultimately preventing many chronic diseases.

 

My Top  3  Stress Busters are:

  1. Meditation – at  least 20 minutes a day,
  2. Sleep –  what feels  right for you  amount-wise, and
  3. Acupuncture  –  the healing state brain wave inducer!

 

What to do if you begin experiencing the symptoms of the virus?

 

Firstly – don’t panic.  Breathe. Rest. Help is available! 

With people being told to tough it out at home, and the concern of going to the hospital, my colleagues, across the US and internationally, and I have been preparing to help. I am careful here to not say I treat THE virus. And, I don’t.  I treat people experiencing symptoms.

Chinese Medicine is really suited for treating symptoms associated with bacterial and viral infections, as China has endured hundreds of pandemics that have helped shaped the medicine over the centuries.  Herbs routinely provide targeted support based on symptoms, and formulas prescribed change rapidly as the symptoms progress rapidly.  Examples of how herbal medicine can help include helping the body reduce fever, aid breathing, break up phlegm, and resolve severe body aches.

If you feel like you are coming down with something, I recommend you call or text and we’ll set up a consultation so I can get the information I need to support you!   Or if you are ready to up your prevention plan, we can do that on Zoom or in the clinic!  

 

Reference:

https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/vitamin-d-deficiency#2-5

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200518/more-vitamin-d-lower-risk-of-severe-covid-19

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17265549/

https://time.com/3183183/best-time-to-sleep/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762283/

 

Teen Health Concerns and Chinese Medicine

teen in pain

It’s tough being a teenager these days.  Well it always has been actually.  But it is REALLY tough now.  We’ve all been there and can empathize, but now as parents what can we do to help  our kids feel their  best  so t hey can  truly shine  their  brightest?    It  hurts so much to see your child hurting, and unfortunately many teens are suffering more than they should have to.

 

In this article I want to focus mainly on young women and especially the most common health issues they encounter: menstrual difficulties, chronic headaches, and anxiety.

 

When I’ve talked with groups of high schoolers, they talk like headaches, cramps, and anxiety are par for the course.  A day in the life.  But honestly, that’s not fair.   And it’s not true. These are all symptoms that there’s an imbalance, and the body is crying for help.

 

Menstrual Problems

 

Normally the period will begin anywhere from age 9 to 18.  Of course the middle of that range is the most typical.  In health class they may learn some things about menstruation, but there’s a lot more that is not really freely discussed.  Yep, all those details.  Some girls  may think that  however their  mom or  sisters other relatives experience is explanation enough for what to expect.  And while some  patterns can  be hereditary, it doesn’t mean she should just  resign to  pain or suffering.  Chinese medicine has  been  treating gynecological  issues  for thousands  of  years, and often we can  really relieve many common problems that  may occur even in the early years of menstruation.  Here is a list of  problems that  I  commonly help  with:

 

  • Cramps and Pain (dysmenorrhea)
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular cycles
  • Lack of  bleeding (amenorrhea)
  • PMS
  • PCOS

Our clinic specializes in a variety of gynecological issues, and we are passionate about setting up young women for healthier cycles.  Taking care of imbalances early will often prevent many longer term problems that lead to more serious problems.

 

Headaches

Headaches are not normal! Maybe 1 to 2 headaches a year I wouldn’t be concerned about, but daily, weekly, even monthly headaches are a definite sign of an imbalance in the body.  Through our diagnostic methods we find the root cause and come up with a treatment plan to stop recurring headaches and migraines.  Life is much easier when it’s pain free, and teen girls can use all the help they can to get through these years.

 

Anxiety

 

While this is a complex issue, there is so much that acupuncture and sometimes herbs can address.  Often there is an underlying energetic imbalance in addition to habits and lifestyle choices that greatly impact our ability to handle stress.   I often also use Neuro  Emotional Technique to address underlying stress patterns to get to the root  issues.

 

Taking Steps For a Happier Healthier Teen

If you know a young person who suffers with any of these concerns, please have her parents contact me to arrange a free  consultation over Zoom or in person.  A more vibrant life is a call or text away.

Response to the Pandemic – Now Offering Telemedicine

My Dear Community, these times are trying, and I want you to know I’m here to support you!

 

Remaining Open for In-Person Visits

After much study, meditation, and thinking, I have decided to remain open to serve the community’s ongoing health needs, both mental and physical – as I consider myself first and foremost a Mind-Body Healthcare Provider.  I have the tools needed to reduce the effects of this respiratory illness and for the stress that it is heightened.

 

Repeating CDC Guidelines for your safety and community safety

Anyone with a fever above 99.0, a cough, shortness of breath, and/or intense body pains, please STAY HOME IN BED or ON THE COUCH and call or text me 630-335-1069.  I am trained in herbal medicine to treat these symptoms, and I can do so via video conferencing.

I also am NOT open for those who may have been exposed to the virus, and please follow CDC guidelines if you are immune compromised or over age 65.

 

Precautions

I am following all CDC recommendations for making my clinic safe – sanitizing all touch surfaces including my phone and laptop before and after each patient visit, and changing all bedding each patient visit and copious hand washing.  I am also limiting all contact outside of clinic, staying home and limiting visits to stores.  *Taking Social Distancing Seriously*

 

The Future is Here – Now Offering Telemedicine

I am offering consultations via a secure video conferencing platform that is easy to use and will allow us to talk to each other without meeting in person! This is available to anyone and I especially encourage you to schedule an online consultation with me to address high anxiety, panic, respiratory issues, or to address immunity boosting.  Herbal prescriptions and supplements can be mailed to you or arranged for pickup from Estuary Center.

Here is a link to schedule a virtual consultation at the introductory fee of $75 for 30 minutes for existing patients, and here’s the link for a new patient consultation for 60 minutes.