What I Want For You For Christmas

It’s really been a crazy year, yes?

David Bowie and Prince are gone… :(

The Olympics came and went…

The election…

Deep breath.

What are you all looking at?

I like the holidays because it’s (well, it should be) a quiet time of year.  You take some extra days off work.  It’s too cold to be outside (unless you’re in Austin on one of our 70 degree winter days!) and all the stores are closed.

I think it’s always a good idea to give yourself a Christmas gift (or five;) as well. 

Here’s my list of what I want you to give yourself this year.

joy-to-the-world

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE (MYSELF) GAVE TO ME…

  1. Remembering to breathe deeply often.
  2. Love yourself just the way you are.
  3. Allow yourself to invest in you:  your health, your education, and your interests.
  4. Have more experiences and adventures.
  5. Take time to read a book.
  6. Sleep.  Lots of it.
  7. A warm cup of tea.
  8. Do what you want to do.
  9. Say what you want to say.
  10. Move your body every day.
  11. Take time to cook healthy food.
  12. Thank yourself for doing such a good job!  Seriously, you should list out at least 3 things in the comments below that you accomplished this year.  Pat yourself on the back.  
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Holiday Cleanse

foodWhen you’re finally sick of mashed potatoes and pecan pie, and you know it’s time to get back on a healthy diet track, it may be time to do a cleanse.

WHY CLEANSE?

I don’t believe that fasting (as in “NOT EATING ANY FOOD”) is healthy.  

We should eat food; we can and should use food as a tool to heal our bodies.

Food can keep your body running at a top level, or it can be your worst enemy!

How and what you eat is simply a HABIT.  You get used to eating and living in a certain way.

To break or change a habit, you have to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

That, essentially, is the purpose of a cleanse.

Take the time to eat different foods in a different way.  This helps create a new, changed relationship with food.

In the cleanse process, you can feel how the food impacts your body.  After the cleanse, you will also feel how non-cleanse foods may either impact your body negatively or positively.  You will become more aware of your body’s energy changes with food.

smoothiesWHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CLEANSE?

One word:  vegetables.

The best way to eat healthier?  Eat more vegetables.

Need some ideas?

Artichokes ƒ Asparagus ƒ Avocados ƒ Bamboo shoots ƒ Bean sprouts ƒ Beets ƒ Bell peppers ƒ Broccoli ƒ Brussels sprouts ƒ Cabbages (sauerkraut) ƒ Carrots ƒ Cauliflower ƒ Celeriac ƒ Celery ƒ Chives ƒ Cucumbers ƒ Eggplant ƒ Garlic ƒ Green beans ƒ Green leafy vegetables: beet greens, bok choy, chard, chicory, collards, lettuces (including endive chicory, escarole), mustard greens, spinach ƒ Green onions ƒ Horseradish ƒ Kale ƒ Kohlrabi ƒ Leeks ƒ Mushrooms ƒ Okra ƒ Olives ƒ Onions ƒ Parsley ƒ Pimentos ƒ Radishes ƒ Rhubarb ƒ Rutabagas ƒ Squash ƒ Summer squash (yellow summer squash, zucchini) ƒ Turnips ƒ Water chestnuts Yams ƒ Winter squash (acorn, butternut) Starchy Vegetables Chickpeas ƒ Green peas ƒ Lima beans ƒ Lentils ƒ Parsnips ƒ Plantains ƒ Pumpkins ƒ Sweet potatoes

You want to shoot for 7 cups of vegetables per day!  If you do that, your body will transform.  And I’m not just talking “getting skinny,” but you will feel it emotionally and spiritually too.  You will feel calmer, clearer, and more capable.  Your energy will EXPLODE!  

For a cleanse, in addition to the vegetables, you can add in a small amount of fruit (about 1 cup per day) and protein (about 3 ounces 2 or 3 times per day).

Also, don’t forget to include plenty of healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, ghee, and raw nuts.

If you do this, you will not starve, but your body and metabolic structure will change.

broccoliWHO NEEDS TO CLEANSE?

If you have a blood sugar handling problem, I would recommend doing this type of cleanse.

What is a blood sugar handling problem?  If you have any of these problems, you may have a blood sugar handling issue.

  • Obesity and Weight Gain

When you eat carbohydrates (sugar, grains, potatoes, fruit / fructose, etc.), they convert to glucose in your gastro-tract.  Your pancreas releases insulin so your body can use the glucose.  The more glucose is there, the more insulin is needed.  The presence of insulin in your blood stream PREVENTS FAT LOSS.

*Pro-tip:  exercise pushes insulin OUT OF YOUR BLOOD STREAM!

  • Type 2 Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes

This is when the insulin receptor sites no longer bind to insulin, so the glucose can’t enter the cells.  Then you feel tired and hungry.  So you eat, which leads to more glucose not entering cells, and so on and so on.

  • Shakiness, Light-headedness, or Irritability if you miss a meal

“Reactive” low blood sugar (not related to fasting or certain medications) happens when your pancreas produces too much insulin, causing the glucose level to be too low.  This is another way of explaining the “Sugar Roller-Coaster.”  You get a “high” from the sugar or high-carb foods, then you “crash” when the glucose goes away.

  • Brain Fog

Related to low blood sugar.

  • Cravings for carbs or salt

When your blood sugar is too low, you crave high carb foods to boost the glucose level back up, but this just keeps the high/low sugar-roller-coaster rolling.

  • Constant Hunger

Fructose, found in fruit sugar, sugary drinks, processed foods, and alcohol, does not stimulate insulin, but triggers Grehlin, an appetite stimulating hormone.

  • Fatigue after meals or in the late afternoon

In Chinese medicine, we call this “Spleen Qi Deficiency” due to too much sweet food in the diet.   Even 5,000 years ago, it was known that too much sweet food weakens the digestive function.

  • Headaches

This could be due to low blood sugar, or from Liver imbalance.  Fructose in particular is not processed in the GI tract, but in the Liver.  Too much fructose could lead to a Liver imbalance and therefore headaches.  

  • Trouble Sleeping

If you fall asleep easily, but pop awake in the middle of the night, it could be from your blood sugar crashing.  Your adrenal glands play a roll in waking you up then to prevent you from falling into a diabetic coma!

  • Thinning Hair

When high blood sugar chemically reacts with red blood cells, the RBCs become misshapen which can interfere with circulation.  Impaired circulation to the hair follicles is one cause of hair loss.  In Chinese medicine, we correlate hair loss to “Blood Deficiency.”  

  • High Testosterone in Women; Low Testosterone in Men

Testosterone and other endocrine abnormalities commonly found in diabetics and those prone to blood sugar imbalances show more lifestyle tendencies that the two have in common.  

  • Increased Triglycerides

There is so much misinformation around about cholesterol!  High triglycerides (which is one side of the two-sided cholesterol coin) indicate that your Liver is trying to process and reduce inflammation in your body.  It’s one of your body’s natural anti-inflammatory response systems.  Most of the time, high triglycerides just show that you’re eating too many inflammatory foods:  sugars, processed grains, and fructose.  It’s rarely due to bacon, eggs, butter, and red meat, but the foods that most people combine with those foods (such as tortillas, fruit juice or other sugary drinks, breads and high-carb treats, etc.)  

  • Increased Blood Pressure

Again, hypertension and diabetes are often dis-eases found together due to the lifestyle factors:  high sugar, processed foods diet and not enough exercise.  I hate how most Western medical info-sites on these two dis-eases correlate them to a “high fat diet.”  NO!  It’s really not the fats; it’s the sugars and extra carbs.  

  • Depression

Most of the time, depression is simply a sign that you don’t feel good.  Your body is out of balance and that’s just depressing, right?  

  • Bloating, Gas, Digestive Problems like “Leaky Gut”

If your diet is too focused on carbs and sugars, the tendency to overgrow candida in your gut is very high.  

HOW CAN I GET STARTED?  SHOULD I ASK MY DOCTOR?

Like one of those big-pharma commercials, “Ask your doctor if vegetables are right for you!”  Ha!

Of course vegetables are “right for you.”

Things that your doctor WILL be concerned about:

CONCERN #1

You’re taking weird supplements like caffeine pills or strange herbs that may interact with medications.

Tell Them:  “No worries, Doc.  It’s all food-based; and I won’t be starving, but eating more healthy food than ever before!”   

CONCERN #2

The cleanse will work SO WELL, that your medications for diabetes and high blood pressure will then be too strong and you may pass out from low blood sugar or low blood pressure.  

Ask Them:  “Doc, my goal is to eventually get off those medications, so what is the best way to regularly check my sugars and blood pressure so I know when to ask you for a smaller dose of those prescriptions?”  

CONCERN #3

Is this cleanse medically supervised?

Tell Them:  “Yes, with my acupuncturist.”  OK: then you need to give me (or your preferred area acupuncturist) a call.  

WHEN CAN I GET STARTED?  

You’re in luck.

bloodsugar-productsHere’s what we have:

  1. An pre-cleanse nutrition consultation.  I want to know what your goals are for the cleanse.  From this we can determine what you have already, what you need to know, what you need to buy from the grocery store, and recipe ideas.  I will answer any questions:  medication concerns, what to do with cravings, or specific dis-ease interactions.
  2. An actual cleanse packet.  Standard Process is the brand we are using.  Why?  They are the best quality and they are all FOOD-BASED supplements.  The products included in the cleanse (in addition to the regular food you will be eating) are
    • a protein powder (whey-based or pea-based for vegans or the dairy sensitive);
    • Gymnema (a natural herb that helps your body to NOT CRAVE SUGAR);
    • Diaplex (a multi-vitamin high in chromium which supports healthy carbohydrate metabolism);
    • a cleanse guidebook; and
    • SP Cleanse (combination of 20 foods and botanicals that support healthy Liver, Intestinal, and Kidney function for optimal detoxification).  
  3. A mid-cleanse nutrition consultation.  Let’s see how you’re doing and any challenges you may be having that we can help you overcome.  A little pep-rally to keep up the good work!  
  4. A post-cleanse consult.  Where do we go from here?  How can we keep up the positive changes made?  

Until the end of January, this package is on sale for 15% off.  If you have insurance, they may cover a portion of the cost as well.  You can call our office for more information on how to get started.  

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Back Pain? Tighten your corset!

doans-2If you’re having lumbar pain (that’s the small of your back or the area where the Doan’s back pain guy is holding), listen up!

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the importance of “strengthening your core.” But I have some important information for you, especially if you have been working on your core but you’re still having pain.

The part that you may miss in your core work is called the “Inner Corset.” (Courtesy of Esther Gokhale)

Where can I buy this “Inner Corset,” you may be asking?

Good news!  It’s free.

Your body already has one, you just need to activate it.

Even more good news: you don’t have to do any weird special exercises to make it stronger.

We need to know 2 things to activate your Inner Corset: the location, and the how-to.

LOCATION:

internal-abdominal-oblique-muscleThe abdominal oblique muscles wrap around your waist like a corset.

Place your hands just under your ribs, across your belly. You’re right on top of them. 
HOW TO:

To engage the obliques, you need to anchor your ribs.

I can’t emphasize this enough.  Anchor your ribs.  

Do this test: put one hand on your lumbar spine while you “sit up straight.”  Do you feel how your back muscles are tight and ropey?

Now use your other hand to guide your ribs down toward your belly, as if you’re going to hunch over. Feel your back now. The muscles are no longer tight, but relaxed. This is how you want them to be all the time.

With your ribs anchored and down (not popping out), then engage your abdominal muscles.

You can do this as if you’re about to lift something heavy, or reach for something on a high shelf.

In fact, you can engage this inner corset (rib anchor with oblique muscle flexion) anytime during the day. I recommend doing it at least 12 times every day.

Now you no longer need to do crunches at the gym. You’re welcome!

Simply by engaging the musculature you already have, in the natural way it is meant to be used, your “core” muscles develop beautifully on their own. 

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Keeping Out of the Doctor’s Office

rhinitis-tablets-2#1 reason people miss their appointments with me:  work meetings.  #2 reason:  traffic.   #3:  sick (themselves or children).

Okay:  first of all, come in because you’re sick!  We’re kind of like a doctor’s office…and we can help you get better.  Unless you’re not able to get here, running to the bathroom to vomit every 2 minutes, then just, we’ll see you tomorrow hopefully.  

Many people don’t know that we can treat the same things that you would see your “regular” doctor for…but with natural things.  We can treat:

head colds, flu, sinus infections, croup, phlegm, coughs, weird rashes, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, parasites, and all the other million things kids bring home from school and you pick up from your coworkers at the office.

This is a photo of my “medicine cabinet” at home and everything I need – my arsenal if you will – for treating my family and myself at home.

medicine-cabinet

For any sort of “invasion” of virus / bacteria:

1.Congaplex (chewable or capsules):  this you can get from any Standard Process rep where ever you live.  It’s mainly used for when you are sick, but I have my kids take 2 or 3 every morning during the school year as a prophylactic.  If they are sick:  take 2 every 3 hours as needed.  For adults, 3 every 3 hours as needed.  

 

2.CQ Jr.:  this is a pediatric liquid herbal antibiotic / antiviral.  It is a life saver for me.  I have used it for:  high fever, croup, hand-foot-and-mouth, anal itching, UTI, flu, head colds and sinus infections.  Basically anything.  You can get it in our office or at an acupuncturist’s office who specializes in pediatric care.  Take 1/2 to 3 dropperfuls every 4 hours, depending on the size of the child.

(Side note:  we also have pediatric herbs for teething pain, allergies, insomnia, ADD, and anxiety.)

 

3.Essential Oils:  

I use Rocky Mountain Essential Oils; but I also think Do Terra or Young Living also have good, quality oils.  I’m no expert in EOs, but

  • I like eucalyptus and pine for sinus congestion or a cough.  

(WARNING:  never put pure oil directly on a child’s skin; always use a “carrier oil” or a blend specifically designed for use on sensitive skin.  Also, never use eucalyptus on asthmatics.)  

  • Other blends, like “Thieve’s Oil,” which is called other names (RMO calls it “Immune Strength”), but is a blend of cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary, has antiseptic properties.  It’s a good one to add into the bathtub water (5 – 10 drops).  
  • For topical use, I use a roll-on or non-irritating oil blend like “Breathe“.  Anytime you can put drops of a blend or single oil in an oil diffuser.  It makes your house smell really nice.
  • Frankincense (or Boswellia is it’s Latin name) oil is great for stress and pain relief.  Soak in a tub with several drops of it, or put some on directly to sore muscles.  It’s even known to help shrink cancerous tumors!  (Please don’t rely solely on frankincense to treat cancer if you have that.  Seek the help of a qualified doctor.)
  • Lavender oil in a diluted spray or in the bathtub or diffuser is great for stress relief and sleep.  

 

colloidal-silver4.Colloidal Silver Nose Spray:  I discovered this magical stuff when I went on a vacation with my family without my herbs.  (That will never happen again!)  My daughter, aged 18 months at the time, and I came down with raging sinus infections and were miserable, snotty things.  In desperation, I went to the Whole Foods in the city we were staying (thankfully it was a place with a health food store), and the lady there recommended this.  You spray it in your nostrils (my baby girl thought that was hilarious), and it drips out a little, but it will kill off the infection.  I used it every 3 hours for 3 or 4 days until we were better.  

I have also used this on open wounds quite successfully.  

elderberry-syrup5.Elderberry cough syrup:  Actually I like to use raw honey more than I like Elderberry for getting rid of a cough, but I do use this from time to time as well.  The Gaia brand also has some California Poppy in it to help with sleep.  

braggs6.Apple Cider Vinegar:  

  • good for the stomach, like for acid reflux – if it doesn’t make it worse – but you will only know by trying.  It’s usually one or the other.  If you have ulcers, don’t use it.  
  • ACV is also amazing for yeast and fungal infections.  Soak in it or drink it (1 – 2 T. daily).  
  • Take it with a little bit of water, lemon, and honey = bye-bye sore throat.  

 

The thing I like about these natural remedies is that you really can’t overdose on them.  The most “dangerous” thing would be herbal medicines, because you really should consult with a qualified herbalist before taking any of those.

People who do not have success with natural remedies are usually:

  1. Not using enough.  Seriously, use all of these things every few hours.  Keep using them.  Give it a good try:  at least 3 days before trying something different.
  2. Imbalanced lifestyle.  I do occasionally give my kids pizza and ice cream.  But when they’re trying to heal their little bodies, I do my best to get them plenty of protein, veggies, and fruit.  Cut out the sugars and processed foods for a few days.  Rest and repeat!

 

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Dealing with Grief

candles

The Holy-days are approaching, and you may start to feel sadness from ones past, or sadness and anger from the last election…

There’s a tendency in our society to want to mask these emotions.  It makes people feel uncomfortable if we’re not smiling 24-7. We don’t like that in other people so we don’t like that in ourselves…or is it the other way around?  

My way to deal with grief and the other so-called “negative” emotions, is to let them fully ensconce you.  You have to let go of the need to feel happy and just let yourself feel what you feel.  Take a sick day from work if you need to.  

How to have an awesome “Mental Health Day”:

  1. Wear all black.  Bonus points for rips and tears in your clothes.  Bonus points for incorporating part of your Halloween costume.  
  2. Put on outrageous makeup and make your hair all crazy-looking.  
  3. Listen to some really angry / sad music. 
  4. Cry / scream / dance
  5. Watch a movie or read a book that makes you cry.
  6. Make /do something creative:  art collage, altar, painting, or even just cleaning out your closet (literally and figuratively!)

You need to take your time with the grieving process.  You can’t rush this, but allowing yourself to wallow for a time will help you move through the process quicker.  

If you try to rush the process of grieving, it will only slow you down.  

Take as long as you need.  Don’t hide it.  If people ask you how you’re feeling, tell them the truth.  

Like this:

Store Clerk:  “Hi, how are you today?”

You:  (grunt, shrug)

Store Clerk:  (indignant) “You’re supposed to say, ‘fine, how are you!”

I’m kidding.  No one is going to say that.  

I think it is so weird that we expect people to just go around with smiles plastered on their faces all day long.  “I’m fine!  How are YOU?  I hope you’re fine too because it will be so awkward if you’re not!”  

Then, you will notice a shift.  

It’s like when you’re sick with a cold, then eventually you’re like, “I’m so sick of being sick!” and the next day you feel better.  

Once you’re sick of feeling sad and mopey, you’re done.  You don’t need Prozac; you don’t need Seraquil or whatever the newest antidepressant is on the market today.  You need to feel your feels and take your time doing it.  

If you repress it, it will stick with you.  That’s when you have a problem.  

Express; don’t repress.  When you repress emotions, your Qi stagnates.  Then you feel angry, irritable.  You have more body pain, headaches, PMS.  Emotional eating.  

Be OK with being “not OK.”  Your body, mind, and spirit will then circle back to feeling OK without much effort.  It kind of just happens on its own if you don’t force it.  

RULES FOR FEELING “NOT OK”:

  1. No fake smiles.
  2. No “I’m fine; how are you?”  It’s OK to say, “I don’t want to talk about it,” though.  
  3. Dress like how you feel.
  4. Still take exquisite self-care:  eating properly, massages, intimacy, meditation, exercise, and whatever else you need to take care of your body, mind, and spirit.  
  5. Repeat after me, “I am not responsible for other people’s happiness.”  
  6. Social media is optional.  But you may be better taking a break from it.  Delete the apps from your phone.  
  7. Remember what you’re grateful for.  Brag about it.  
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