Seasonal Medicine

A few Saturday evenings ago, I was driving on a quiet neighborhood road and a small, waddling, Texas animal (armadillo/possum?) was slowly crossing the street ahead of me.  So I slowed down.  WAY down.  It’s Saturday night!  I’m doing nothing truly important.  Just hanging out.  The truck behind me was not happy about it.  They flashed their lights and honked, and sped around me as soon as they could.  Don’t worry, the animal made it to the side of the road OK.  Thousands of years ago, as Chinese medicine was evolving, skilled practitioners noticed the fluctuations of nature, the cyclical changes of plants, animals, weather, and people. Winter is a time of rest and slowing down.  The seeds are in the ground; animals are hibernating; and even the water can freeze and stop. But here in the “modernized” world, we’re in a freakin’ hurry.  Get all the presents!  Go to all the parties!  Travel!  Get out of my way!  Let’s not save all our resting for just the 25th and January 1st.  Let’s slow it down.  Test yourself:  see how slow you can breathe.  See how slow you can walk down the hallway when you stand up from your computer or phone.  See how slow you can drive (!) without endangering yourself or others.   One thing I remember from years of martial arts training:  in a drill where you and a partner square off and one person punches while the other person blocks, if you try to block in a hurry, your arm tightens up.  Tight muscles are less responsive.  You lose the connection between your eyes and...

Choose Your Own Adventure

I constantly tortured my little brother when we were growing up.  We were both hard-headed.  Since I was 10 years older, I would try to force him to do what I wanted him to do.  Luckily I’ve learned since then!  At the time, even as a little kid, I remember him saying something profound to me one time that has stuck with me since, “I don’t want to do what I don’t want to do!“ Whoa. Now keep in mind this is coming from someone who, just a few months later, spit out of a window of a fast-moving car whilst facing forward.  But still.  We don’t want to do what we don’t want to do. Because we do want to do what we want to do.  If something makes you feel good, you can (within reasonable limits) keep doing it.  It doesn’t need to be logical.  It doesn’t need to have a specific outcome by a specific date.  And you don’t need anyone else’s approval to do it either.  Unless it’s with someone else, of course. What you want to do one day may be different on another day and that’s OK If you’re constantly on the go, you have to pay attention to when your inner voice tells you it’s time to slow down. It goes the other way too:  if you’re in a phase where you’re slothing around, maybe watching too much TV, you need to listen to when that inner voice says, “Get off your butt.  Let’s go do something.” By following what feels good, you have a perfect map to lead you to a...

Wellness is a Journey – Not a Destination

If you Google “wellness,” you’ll find images like this: The reality is that wellness, especially when we’re first deciding to seek it out, rarely feels or looks like that.  It can get pretty ugly!  Detoxing reactions. Addictive behaviors we don’t want to give up.  Trial and error.  Healing happens when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.  It’s not pretty.  Sometimes there’s tears or yelling, or both.  You may have to disagree with family members who have different opinions of what you should do with your health.  There’s almost always some trial and error.  If you want to feel different, you have to be willing to experience discomfort and doing something different.  It’s like the opposite of “comfort food.”  Plus, even as things heal, there are ups and downs that are bound to happen.  It’s life.    A big frustration for natural health practitioners are patients who want this immediately: Patient:  “I’m not better yet, I want a refund!” Me:  “It’s been 2 weeks of treatment and you’ve had the pain for 10 years.” Patient:  “I’m just going to take some (pain medication) my doctor gave me.” 先苦后甜 ” Bitter first, Sweet later ” ~ A Chinese Proverb.  What does this mean?  A bitter practice could be waking up an hour earlier to exercise; choosing the broccoli instead of the mac-n-cheese as your side dish; or having an acupuncture treatment on Friday afternoon instead of joining your friends for happy hour after work.  Bitter practice leads to a sweet life.  Sweet as in, you feel good.  In the realm of herbal remedies and physical medicine like acupuncture,...

Wireless Technology – a Modern Horror Story

Happy Halloween!   Wanna hear a scary story?  A former patient of mine had come in to my office with a terrible ringing in her ear.  She felt it had something to do with a radio antenna just installed close to her home.  The ringing was incessant and severe.  She couldn’t sleep or function during the day.  Acupuncture provided some relief, but the problem would come back as soon as she went back home.  Out of desperation to feel better, she relented to having brain surgery.  She came in for a treatment soon after, her whole head bandaged up.  The surgeon had cut one of her auditory nerves, I believe.  This was a while back, so I don’t exactly remember, and I lost touch with her soon after this, unfortunately.  She still had the ringing in her ears.  And other members of her family were having health problems coming up too.  It’s horrifying to think that something around all of us all the time could cause serious health problems.  With the cell phone technology, wireless everything, smart TVs, ear buds and apple watches, we are being bombarded with invisible radio waves non-stop.  Some studies have shown that it may lead to the growth of tumors or cancer.  The waves heat up whatever is in its vicinity.  Imagine what this hot radiation can do to your brain, or if it’s in your pocket, to your sex organs.  Studies or not, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to have too much exposure.  And some of us are more sensitive to it than others.  But at some level, it’s affecting...

If you carry tension in your shoulders, read this

To be more specific, by “shoulders” I mean your upper trapezius, and sometimes also your levator scapulae and rhomboids.  We’ll talk more about the deltoids, supraspinatus, and teres minor another time.  My gymnastics instructor said, “what most people don’t realize is that your ‘shoulders’ really extend all the way to the middle/lower part of your back!” Why is this such a common area of pain and tension?  Life.  So much of what we do every day involved forward bending:  driving, computer work, picking up kids, and cleaning things.  When your body moves forward, it’s tempting, especially if you’re tired, to forget about your posture and slump.  When your neck slumps forward, the shoulder muscles tense up.  This is why so many people say it’s stress because, when we’re stressed we’re usually more tired and slump more.  Times of stress also usually coincide with times of increased work, when we’re also doing more of these forward-motions.  What can we do then – just stop working?  Our bodies are designed to work and do things, so doing nothing is not a good solution either.  But we have to work smart.  SHOULDER BLADE CONTROL Each muscle has an opposite muscle.  When one contracts, the other relaxes.  For the muscles on top of your shoulders to relax more, it makes sense that there are muscles that need more activation.  Typically, if the tops of your shoulders have more tension, it’s the muscles that pull your shoulders down and open your chest that need more activation. There are exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles that keep the tops of your shoulders more...
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