Need a Quick Mood Boost this Fall?

 Photo credit: Anita Austvika

Photo credit: Anita Austvika

The acupuncture point Neiguan (P6), or “Inner Pass,” belongs to the Pericardium Channel and has many useful functions pertaining to the 
spirit, heart, and chest.

While it’s commonly known for treating nausea (sea sickness wrist bands, anyone?) it also has the function of “regulating the heart and calming the spirit,”  which helps everything from palpitations to heart pain, chest tightness as well as pacifying the mind.

To find P6, place 3 fingers at your wrist crease and the point is located between the tendons on the inside of the wrist. You can apply gentle pressure to stimulate the point. Interestingly, this point treats hiccoughs too!

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4 Ways to Get Relief From Spring Allergies

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Spring has officially arrived which means sunlight, warmer days, Cherry Blossom festivals and fresh energy. This also means allergy season which can include symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, sinus congestion, sneezing and foggy headaches for many people this time of year.

In Chinese Medicine, allergies come about because the body’s “protective wall,” called Wei Qi or Defensive Qi is weakened and not able to keep the external environment out, hence a battle is waged between your system and the external stressors (pollen, grasses, etc.,)  

Obviously, one cannot avoid the environment as a whole, so the solution lies in building your system up from the inside, so that the protective layer is firm and creates proper boundaries. In Western terms, this translates to regulating the immune response by reducing inflammation and histamine release.

Here are a few things you can do to get rid of your allergies so you can stop and smell the flowers!

1.  Give Acupuncture A Try

Starting acupuncture in the weeks leading up to allergy season is a great way to regulate your immune system before things get out of hand. Studies have shown acupuncture’s effectiveness for treating allergic rhinitis as well as eye symptoms.

2.  Reduce or Eliminate Sugar and Dairy

While some argue that dairy has no effect on mucous production in the body, years of anecdotal evidence in my clinic have inexorably linked the two.  I find that when patients eliminate sugar and dairy from their diet, allergies are dramatically reduced.

3. Consider Herbal Remedies

Going the “natural route” with herbs and supplements, yields a fantastic result in the battle against allergies.  A go-to product in my clinic, Natural D-Hist,  uses enzymes, antioxidants and Stinging Nettles to reduce histamine response and inflammation without the drying effects of traditional anti-histamines.  

Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas such as Gui Zhi Tang and Yu Ping Feng San are widely used to “build up the protective barrier,” with good effect.  Your herbalist can help find the right blend for your particular constitution and pattern.

4. Try Facial Cupping

This very simple home treatment is gaining popularity for its beauty applications, by boosting circulation in the face and keeping fluids from accumulating in the tissues.  It is great for opening up the sinuses and de-puffing the eyes!  Try a home-use set like this from Lure.

How to Create a New Habit and Make it STICK

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Here we are at the beginning of a new year and our minds fill with ideas about how we are going to make changes towards living a better life. You want to start meditating, exercising, waking up earlier or flossing twice a day.  But how long does it ACTUALLY take?  (Hint: longer than you think.)  What can you do to give it staying power?  (Hint: MANY things!)

Some have been under the assumption that starting a new habit only takes about 30 days. That has been a circulating rumor for a while. How frustrating to have a month come and go, only to find you are still not easily sprinting out of bed at 6:00 A.M. to run those 3 miles before work!

So, what’s the deal?  66 days.   

When Phillippa Lally and her team of researchers actually performed a behavioral study, it was found that SOME participants formed simpler habits in as little as 21 days, but some took up to 240 days and the MAJORITY established their new habits around 66 days.  

Here’s what you can do during those 66 days to set yourself up for success:

1)  Only try 1 new habit at a time (and take baby steps.)   

If you want to start exercising, begin with a commitment to 10 minutes a day instead of an hour to avoid overwhelm.

2)  Write it down.

Putting your goal in writing establishes a firmer commitment. Period.

3)  Set a reminder.  

Put an alert on your phone, or stick a post-it on your computer or bathroom mirror. DON’T just count on your brain to remind you.

4)   “Anchor” the habit and stay consistent.

Attach your new habit to an existing one and do it at the same time every day,  such as flossing your teeth right after you brush them, and always upon waking/ going to bed.  (Provided you brush your teeth twice a day!!)

5)  Remove triggers.

It may go without saying, but getting rid of all the cookies and your “secret stash” of cigarettes will make it all the harder to surrender to them in a tempting moment.

6)  Replace lost needs.

If your nightly glass of wine is associated with relaxation but you want to cut back on drinking, then replace it with another ritual like a cup of tea or a hot bath.

7)  Reframe your assumptions about yourself.

“I’m just not a morning person” can be reframed to “I didn’t used to get up early, but now I do.”

8)  Allow for imperfection.

It was also found that missing a day here or there did NOT hinder success. So, if things go awry, just resume the next day. No problem. 

Good Luck!

4 Tips to Boost Immunity

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As the weather cools off, our “protective layer” works to keep us safe from the many "external pernicious influences" that circulate. (Colds and Flus!) In Chinese Medicine, immunity is closely linked with the Lung Organ System, and in general, Chinese Medicine aims to keep ALL of the body’s organ systems strong so that we are less susceptible to environmental stressors. Here are a few simple things you can do to fend off this season's bugs!

1. Take a Probiotic

Probiotics have been studied extensively in the area of immunity and we now know that a lot of immunity comes from the gut.  Taking daily, multi-strain probiotics have been shown to improve a number of immune responses.  I like Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete.

2. Eat Pears!  

Pears nourish and fortify the lungs.  They are a great food to counter the dryness that comes with cold weather and I always recommend them to those who suffer from a dry cough.   An easy treat is to bake pear slices, drizzle them with local honey and sprinkle them with cinnamon.  

3.  Don’t Go Overboard with the Vitamin C

Although Vitamin C is often recommended to help with a whole host of health issues including immunity and is considered helpful in doses around 500-1000 mg.  Taking very large doses (above 1000 mg) on a regular basis may cause certain aspects of the body’s PH to change (such as cervical mucous in women- which is important when trying to fall pregnant.)  In large doses it can also cause loose stools in some people.   To avoid “overdose,” you can source your Vitamin C from foods such as strawberries, tomatoes, citrus and greens.

4. Consider a Chinese Herbal Formula

Two famous formulas, “Yu Ping Feng San,”  and “Gan Mao Ling” are often recruited to help fortify the immune systems of my patients who suffer from frequent colds and/ or allergies.  As always, it is best to check with an herbalist who can help choose the best formula for your particular constitution.  

Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture: A Holistic Approach to Beauty

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For those wanting a safe, natural alternative to conventional beauty treatments, this ancient practice has stood the test of time.

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture, sometimes called an “Acupuncture Facelift," is based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, wherein internal balance is reflected on the outside appearance. Historically, these treatments were used by the Empress and the Emperor’s concubines in China to keep themselves youthful and radiant. Today, facial rejuvenation acupuncture is gaining a lot of popularity with those wanting to take years off their face, without the risks of more invasive treatments.

A facial rejuvenation acupuncture series addresses all aspects of the individual’s health and beauty. On the surface, it improves facial tone by stimulating the muscles of the face and reestablishing firmness. This can improve the look of a sagging jaw line, naso-labial folds, drooping eyelids and can redefine cheekbones. Acupuncture also stimulates circulation in the face, improving facial color, under eye bags or circles, and a flushed face. By stimulating collagen production, individual lines and wrinkles are diminished. Acupuncture affects the endocrine system and balances hormones which will improve problems pertaining to the skin such as acne, oily skin, and dry skin.

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture includes a whole body treatment. The aim of the series is not only to resolve problems at the surface, but also to address the internal imbalance that is causing the problem at the root.  For example, in Chinese Medicine, a lack of tone in facial muscles can be due to a weakness in the internal organ system relating to the spleen. Therefore, in addition to stimulating the facial muscles themselves, the practitioner will also strengthen the system at its root, so that sagging is less likely to recur. This whole body approach to rejuvenation provides lasting results and many report that they not only start looking better, but also feel better, sleep better, have improved digestion and are relieved of aches and pains. 

A facial rejuvenation series consists of 10-12 weekly or bi-weekly treatments. During the first few sessions, one will begin to see a brightening of the complexion. By about the 6th or 7th session an improvement in facial tone and diminishing of lines becomes more apparent. The results are not as dramatic as a surgical facelift. Rather, the changes are gradual over the course of several weeks. By the end of a series, the face is lifted and bright, wrinkles are diminished, and facial tone and color are markedly improved. Results like these were confirmed by a study published in the Journal of Clinical Acupuncture in which 300 individuals completed a full facial acupuncture series. 90% of the participants concluded with noticeable improvements in their skin. Monthly maintenance sessions are recommended to keep results lasting for years.

Those with conditions such as high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, acute infections and pregnancy are are not ideal candidates for facial rejuvenation acupuncture. A practitioner will pre-screen all potential patients to make sure they are good candidates for the series.