- Energy Flow Acupuncture & Wellness Center24W500 Maple Ave Suite 203D
Naperville, IL 60540630-335-1069
Clinic HoursBy Appointment Only
Why probiotics For Women
There are a dizzying array of probiotic products out there, so how do you know which to choose? Are they all pretty much the same? When do you need them? What are they needed for?
Probiotics for a healthy Vaginal Ecology
For those who tend to yeast infections, odors, unusual discharge, or dryness, itchiness, or any imbalance, a probiotic geared toward female health can make a huge difference, both in treating and preventing. The difference is that these bacterial strains are those typically found in a healthy vaginal ecosystem, versus other bacterial strains that are found in other ecosystems of the body. I typically have a patient take 1-2 capsules daily, and women often notice an immediate improvement! So easy, and there are no negative side effects.
Probiotics for Immunity
Our immune system is engaged every day as we encounter all kinds of viruses and bacteria and other microbes in our environment and our food. There are several places in our bodies that are susceptible, more or less for different people. We also are walking around with varying internal microbial environments, and not always ideal. Antibiotic use is a major culprit that negatively impacts our internal microflora. Most people have had multiple rounds of antibiotics in their lives, often even in childhood. This can set us up for a host of different problems (pun intended ;). This is why probiotics can be a smart tool for repairing our immune system. For example, someone who gets recurrent UTIs, it’s often due to an underlying imbalance of healthy and harmful or overgrown bacteria making the urethral tract an environment more suited to the wrong kind of microbes. Another example is recurrent sinus infections – their sinuses are growing harmful bacteria because the natural defense system was compromised.
Probiotics can help constipation and diarrhea
If healthy elimination has been elusive for you, try a probiotic. Again, taking a daily probiotic, and adjusting the dose as needed, and adjusting the strain combination, can work wonders for irregular bowel movements. Frequent loose stools are often a different imbalance than slow, hard, or sluggish stools, and therefore can require different strains of bacteria and/or beneficial natural yeasts. I work with my patients to determine what type they need if any, and to find the right quantity.
Probiotics Benefit Mood and Mental Health
Have you heard that the gut is your second brain? Did you know it produces a significant amount of neurotransmitters? Those are the chemical messengers such as dopamine that affect mood and mental health. So many cases of mental health challenges including anxiety and depression are linked to a gut imbalance. I always start with the gut when working with patients as a Chinese Medicine practitioner, I see the gut as the central tube that goes from mouth to anus, and that must be working properly for everything else to work right. It can’t be ignored even in cases of depression and anxiety, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), or mood irregularities and changes.
Probiotics support Whole Body Health
What about foods that support a healthy internal ecosystem?
I often hear people say “Well I eat yogurt”. And here’s what I say to that:
“From the store or homemade? Store bought yogurt has been pasturized, and sits in a package for a while, and you don’t really know what you are getting when you open it at home. Plus most yogurts are full of sugar, or come from commercially raised animals that are not in a humane environment. There is definitely options for healthy probiotic foods though! I recommend homemade 24 hour yogurt. This entails starting with high quality milk, whether from grass fed/pastured cows, raw milk from a trusted source, or organic and humanely raised, or choosing an additive free coconut milk. Then getting a quality culture starter suited to the milk you choose, and then allowing it to ferment accordingly, for 24 hours. Also making your own or buying quality lacto-fermented vegetables such as a sauerkraut.
I recommend the foods above especially to support an already healthy microbiome or someone who is well on the path of recovering gut health. But probiotic supplements can be the tool that helps you overcome serious health issues.
Finding the Right Probiotics
For quality probiotics from my trusted sources, I do have an online store here. When we work together I am able to prescribe a variety of beneficial bacteria that are right for you. Here’s to your health!
“For Who?” “When?”
These questions are the key according to Chinese Medicine Nutrition Therapy. No one diet fits an entire population. The one way of eating is individual to a person, living in a specific climate, at a certain age, during a given season.
In popular media, gurus will tout one diet over another – eat more of this, eat less of this, drink more water, eat less sugar, more fat, less fat, etc.
Ok, some of the things we hear are useful. Sugar, in its refined form, and added to pretty much everything, is not a natural way to healthy eating. Too much sugar is pretty much one thing I think everyone can agree is a recipe for health problems.
But maybe you’ve heard of keto, paleo, vegan, raw, juicing, etc. In my experience, and backed by the wisdom of the ages, Chinese Medicine has evolved and spanned and refined what works and what doesn’t on the individual level. What one eats depends on one’s constitution and health status.
Five Tips for Health Eating According to Chinese Medicine
Here are my 5 tips as a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, for a healthy way of eating:
- Eat According to Season
- Eat According to your Chinese Medicine Pattern
- Don’t eat until full. Eat until 3/4 full.
- Don’t eat close to bedtime
- Eat in a relaxed manner, don’t rush or multi-task during mealtimes.
Eating According to Season
One of the foundational concepts in Chinese Medicine is that people are a part of nature. The environmental climate directly impacts us, and if we’re eating in a way that is out of sync, then we’ll be affected. For example, in summer, someone who overheats easily would be encouraged to eat watermelon to help cool. Yet the same food in winter would not be appropriate. Light fresh salads are best in spring and summer because spring in the time when new plants sprout and grow, and in summer greenery flourishes. This aids our upward and outward Liver-Wood energy that is active in the spring and feeds the Fire element of summer. Yet in winter, salads should be consumed more sparingly if at all, because winter is a time of storage.
Eat According to your Chinese Medicine Pattern
This one is really important, and the best example is someone who is full of mucus and congestion is encouraged to stay away from mucus-producing foods such as all dairy, refined sugar, and wheat or doughy foods. Also, someone who is dry overall would be encouraged to eat juice moistening foods such as sweet potatoes, fats, and eggs.
Eat until 75-80% Full
Overeating taxes the digestive system which is often weak in many people. Leaving room is a key to longevity according to many studies.
Don’t Eat Right Before Bed
If we go to bed right after eating a full meal, our energy must go to digesting that food instead of going dormant into our healing state as it should for sleep. This can create excessive dreaming, groggy feeling in the morning, and overall sluggishness and lack of concentration the next day. I tell my patients to allow 3 hours between the last meal and bedtime. I also recommend fasting for around 12 hours every night to allow the digestive system time to repair and rest.
Relax during meals
It’s important although admittedly not easy, to just focus on eating during mealtimes. It’s so tempting to read something on our phones, watch TV, be cooking or cleaning while eating. But your Gastro-Intestinal system will thank you if you just sit, and chew, and perhaps talk lightly with friends or family. Mindful eating is becoming a lost art, and I encourage you to try it if you tend to multi-task at mealtime!
Perhaps you’ve heard it before – but your diet consists of everything you consume through all of your senses, especially what you allow into your brain and not just what you put in your mouth!
Here’s a recap and a reset — look for that one small change that will help you break out of an old habit that no longer serves the best version of you!
What Are You Consuming?
Eyes: What are you reading or looking at? Can you challenge yourself not to look at billboards, or to get rid of that ugly nicknack that’s been grating on you?
Mouth: What are you feeding your body? Yes, when we eat we are feeding our cells, nervous and cardiovascular systems, internal organs, bones, glands, and connective tissues – remember that next time you get the urge to grab that not processed or sugary snack!
Ears: What are you listening to and watching? Listening to the news or watching violence are things that our mind-body has to process, like we have to process a greasy or preservative-laden meal. So remember that too!
Nose: What home and personal care products are scented or have added chemicals that get into your lungs and bloodstream? Any synthetic scents are part of your toxic load, and I advocate to minimize chemicals in your home and on your skin and hair especially if you struggle with any health issue. Essential Oils are from plants and are a great way to uplift your mood, relax, or energize. Have a couple that really speak to you on your bathroom counter or nightstand, and take a whiff when you are getting ready for your day or settling in for bed at night!
Skin/Touch – What sensations do you enjoy feeling? A warm bath, a soft pet, the sun on your back, playing an instrument? How can you invite more pleasurable joyfilled feels into your daily life?
Enjoy your senses by thoughtfully curating positive choices for what you read, listen to, smell, and feel! Be conscious of the toxins you let into your sensory fields, and your body and mind will thank you!
Poop like a champ! Eliminating waste on a daily basis is not a ‘nice-to-have’. It’s a top-down job!
What is IBS?
While it’s beyond the scope of this short blog, Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a nutshell manifests as diarrhea, or constipation, or both alternating, often with pain and unpredictability/dysregulation of elimination.
How Often is Normal?
We are designed to poop every single day. In fact, passing formed stools 1-3 times a day is normal. Less than that and your intestines are sluggish. More than that and you’re in the diarrhea zone. Loose indicates an imbalance.
Sometimes, every other day is within normal limits, as long as it’s complete and you feel good.
Digestion Top to bottom
There are myriad reasons why elimination becomes compromised, and it’s not always insufficient fiber or water intake. I use individualized observations and findings to determine what’s backing you up, and how to open the pipes.
In Chinese medicine, the digestive system is seen as one tube from mouth to anus, and the overall directionality is downward. So we look at symptoms in terms of going down too fast, too slow, or coming up. Reflux, nausea, vomiting are all considered counterflow, and can accompany constipation or even diarrhea. We also regard the digestive system as the center around which all other bodily functions operate. We need to have this tube open and regulated to relieve other problems in the body as well. It’s often the first stop on the healing train – fix digestion, then see what is left to resolve after.
One Patient’s Story
Ebony, 39, had been very constipated her whole entire life. Her mom recalls giving her suppositories as a child. Fast forward, and add on endometriosis, chronic pain, reflux, and nausea. Constipation alternating with explosive diarrhea where she can’t stay away from a toilet was a daily interference with her life. Then she came to me to help to get some relief from all these issues. And the first thing that resolved was the perpetual IBS constipation alternating with diarrhea, along with less frequent and less intense reflux. Within a few weeks, she reduced the reflux medication by half, and the explose bouts of IBS were gone. Instead, she’s been having daily formed, complete BMs. The regulation of her digestion system has been such a big relief!
reasons why we choose acupuncture #2 – avoid medications
While the adage ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is still meaningful and relevant, eating a healthy diet is not the only thing you can do to prevent developing disease. There is an ancient Chinese proverb ‘the best physician has no sick patients’. This speaks to the fact that long ago physicians were adept at spotting imbalances before illness developed. This is what I and my fellow Chinese medical practitioners strive for as well. We look at the tongue, feel the pulse, feel the abdomen, ask questions, and then gain an understanding of the inner patterns that are becoming out of balance. We can notice the minor annoyances, irritations, things that maybe the patient doesn’t think is anything to consider. And we know the systems that need attention in order to prevent problems from worsening, and symptoms from getting more severe. Then it’s the patient’s job to follow through on the prescribed treatment plan.
Drugs Often Mask the Underlying Problems
Many young people today are barraged with problems resulting from stress. Many people deal with it, thinking everyone feels that way. I have patients who come because they don’t feel good. The doctor says you’re fine, and offers perhaps an anti-anxiolytic or anti-depressant, or birth control to “regulate the hormones”. However, in my clinic, I just see an overall healthy youthful person who just needs some gentle acupuncture and perhaps a course of gentle herbs to adjust the mechanism in the body causing dis-ease.
I’m very passionate about helping teens and young adults to avoid medications, or to discontinue medications. Allow the body to heal itself!
Ready to feel good? Try acupuncture!
I have had numerous cases of young women being faced with starting birth control for hormonal imbalances, and not for birth control. E’s mom called me because of miserable menstrual cycles every month (headaches, nausea, pain, fatigue). They were about ready to follow the pediatrician’s advice to start oral contraceptive. After one treatment, her cycle came at the expected time, but without all the awful symptoms. It was easy for the first time in many months. Continuing consistent treatments for 2- 4 cycles usually results in greatly reducing premenstrual and menstrual symptoms while regulating. Here’s my blog about the guidelines for a healthy cycle.
Start with Less invasive therapies before resorting to drugs and surgery
This also applies to the way menstrual imbalances if left untreated can result in surgical procedures such as hysterectomy because that is a common solution offered by conventional medicine. By treating imbalances throughout our life cycle, we can often head off crises and prevent drastic measures. Before suffering for extended periods of time with excessive bleeding, seek care that takes you the whole person into account. Starting with less invasive measures when problems arise can truly make a difference.