When I tell people that I specialize in treating allergies, I often get responses like, “My allergy symptoms are mild,” or “My sister has really bad allergies, but luckily, I don’t,” or “I only have allergies in the spring or fall.” What all of these responses have in common is the assumption that allergies are seasonal and caused by environmental agents like pollen or flowers.
As a practitioner of NAET® (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques), when I talk about treating allergies, seasonal allergies are just the tip of the iceberg. According to NAET® theory, an allergic response, which induces the immune system to fight against a perceived invasion, can be caused by nearly anything. I have had patients who are allergic or sensitive to food, to specific nutrients, vitamins, and minerals within foods like calcium, B vitamins, and salts, to things in the environment, to metals such as nickel, silver, or gold, and one patient who was even allergic to diamond.
When the body is allergic or sensitive to anything that it ingests or comes in contact with regularly, it induces an immune response. So instead of assimilating or using the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the body needs to function, it ends up fighting against them.
In some cases of ADD, ADHD, and autism, an allergy or sensitivity may be the root cause of the problem. If the person is allergic or sensitive to specific nutrients, vitamins, or minerals, the brain will not be receiving what it needs to function properly. The immune system ends up using the body’s energy to fight against these allergens, which also pulls more energy away from the brain. A study published in the journal, Integrative Medicine, has shown the NAET® is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for children with allergy-related autism.1
By figuring out what foods and nutrients an individual is allergic to, an NAET® practitioner can then desensitize their patient to those allergens. Allergies are determined through blood tests that identify specific immunoglobulins, as well as muscle response testing done by the NAET® practitioner. The treatment to desensitize the allergens involves a combination of activating the sympathetic nervous system, and avoiding the allergen for about a day. Further treatment may be necessary depending on the severity of the allergy, which will be determined by the results of the blood tests.
Whether or not an individual decides to receive NAET® treatment for all of their allergens, simply knowing that they are allergic or sensitive to certain foods or nutrients provides a useful tool in keeping their immune system from being overactive. If you know that you are allergic to apples and you avoid eating apples, you will prevent your immune system from having to fight against apples. By keeping your immune responses at bay, your body will be able to allocate that energy to other places such as brain functioning, growing, and healing.
If you or someone you know suffers from ADD, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, or even cloudy thinking, consider checking to see if allergies or sensitivities are the root cause behind these issues. If so, NAET® could be a viable treatment option.
- 1. Teitelbaum, J, et al. Improving Communication Skills in Children With Allergy-related Autism Using Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques: A Pilot Study. Integrative Medicine. 2011;10(5):36-43.
Written By: Amey Aubry, L.Ac., Ph.D.
Although it may seem obvious from its name that NAET® (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) treats allergies, there is more to NAET than you might think.
NAET® is a drug free, non-invasive technique that treats the underlying cause of many health issues. It is based on the principles of Chinese medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, and nutrition. NAET® has minimal to no side effects and is safe for any age. It even works on animals! 1
If you are curious about NAET® and wonder if it could benefit you, here is a list of the top 5 reasons to receive NAET®:
1) Food allergies/sensitivities
If there are certain foods that you cannot tolerate, NAET® can help. The initial process for all NAET® patients is to be treated for basic nutrients that you ingest every day. NAET® can reduce or eliminate food allergies and sensitivities, giving you back the freedom to choose what you want to eat, without the worry of getting sick.
2) Seasonal allergies
Tucson is ranked as the worst seasonal allergy city in the West!2 NAET® can reduce or eliminate seasonal allergy symptoms. It is not a quick fix, and for most people with mild to moderate allergies it takes a few months of regular treatment. However, if you know that every spring and/or fall you’ll have to spend most of your time inside or feel miserable, NAET® is a viable option to change the way your body interacts with environmental allergens.
3) Chronic physical conditions
Although NAET® treats allergies, you might not realize you have an allergy based on your symptoms. When a person’s immune system is bombarded with things the body is sensitive to, it leads to certain symptoms. Some of them are obvious allergy symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, or upset stomach and difficult digestion. However, some symptoms are not typical of what you might associate with an allergy. Symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches or migraines, fatigue, acne, asthma, eczema, etc. can be indicative of your immune system being overwhelmed by allergens.
4) Chronic emotional conditions
NAET® is based on theories of Chinese medicine, which does not disassociate the physical body from the emotional body. Both physical and emotional symptoms can arise when your body is exposed to allergens (these can be either physical allergens or emotional allergens such as traumatic experiences). Issues such as depression and anxiety can benefit from NAET® treatments if they are being caused by an allergen.3
5) Immunity boost
If you are tired of catching every cold or virus of the season, NAET® can help. No matter how many or how few NAET® treatments you receive, each one will make your immune system stronger. Every time you receive NAET®, your immune system will have one less allergen to fight against, and therefore be in a better position to deal with seasonal colds and flus. So, if you’re sick of being sick, NAET® is a natural, drug-free way to give your immune system a boost!
1. Nambudripad, D.S. Say Good-Bye To Illness, Third Edition. Buena Park. Delta Publishing Company. 2002. Print
2. @weatherchannel. “Which City Is the Worst for Fall Allergies?” The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.
3. Nambudripad, D.S. Resetting Your Emotions, NAET: A Revolutionary Treatment for Your Health Problems. Buena Park. Delta Publishing Company. 2016. Print
Amey Aubry lives in Oro Valley with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, and three chickens. She loves to write, go for walks in nature, and help people to be healthier so they can live happier lives. For questions or to book an appointment, please contact Forever Able Wellness at 520-219-2400 or www.forever-able.com.
Last week, Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps and Alexander Naddour brought the Chinese medical therapy of cupping into the Olympic spotlight. News articles and web posts entitled, “What are those big red spots,” popped up everywhere. Suddenly the ancient art of cupping, which has been a modality of Chinese medicine for thousands of years, became the trend of the Olympics.
So what’s all the fuss about? What is cupping, and why, all of a sudden, are Olympic athletes utilizing it?
Cupping is simply the act of applying suction cups (they can be glass, plastic, or ceramic) to the skin in order to create local trauma (i.e. redness, petechiae, bruising). The suction is created either by using a flame (done with glass or ceramic cups) or some sort of pumping device (used for plastic cups).
Although it sounds slightly counterintuitive, the act of creating bruises on the body in this way, actually has a healing effect. Not only does cupping move energy and blood, but it also releases toxins that have built up in the muscle layer. So for athletes who are training hard and need to be at their best, cupping aids in reducing muscle stiffness and soreness, and improves recovery time.
Although the marks left from cupping look a lot like bruises, they don’t feel like bruises. Sometimes there is slight soreness that is associated with the area that has been cupped, but often no pain or discomfort occurs. Most of my patients report that although your left with a mark, cupping actually feels good!
And just because you’re not an Olympic athlete (or an athlete at all) doesn’t mean you can’t reap the rewards of cupping. Cupping can benefit sore muscles that result from chronic overuse in your day to day activities (i.e. tight shoulders from sitting at a computer all day, sore back from lifting boxes, sore shoulder from carrying children, etc). Traditionally cupping has also been used to treat coughs and colds. The local trauma that occurs from cupping (redness, bruising) increases white blood cell production, which stimulates the immune system.
Just like other health modalities, cupping will yield the best results when it is performed by a knowledgeable and skilled practitioner. Cupping is meant to be done over certain acupuncture points or specific regions of the body. And cupping will not benefit everyone equally. Depending on your constitution and what’s going on with your health, cupping may or may not be an appropriate therapy for you. In other words . . . Don’t try this at home! If you are interested in cupping, please seek out a certified medical practitioner.
Cupping is offered here at Forever Able Wellness, either on it’s own or as part of an acupuncture treatment.
Allergy season is upon us. That means lots of sneezing, wheezing, sniffling, coughing, and fuzzy-headedness for many Tucson residents. And unfortunately, conventional medicine does not offer much relief. There are of course over the counter products, such as Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra, but for some, the side effects of these medicines out-weigh the benefits. There are also doctor prescribed treatments including shots or sub-linguals, however these can be painful and time consuming procedures.
What if there was an easier way to eliminate your allergies? And not just seasonal allergies, but food allergies, and other allergy-related disorders? If you’re anything like me, you’d be skeptical. You’d think that if there was a way to eliminate allergies you would have already heard of it. After all, who wants to continue suffering from the discomforts of allergy-related symptoms.
Well, surprisingly enough, there is a very effective, natural solution to treat allergies of all types and sensitivities, as well as allergy-related disorders. It is call NAET® or Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques and was developed in the early 1980’s by Dr. Devi Nambudripad. There are currently more than 12,000 licensed medical practitioners worldwide that are trained in NAET®.
Dr. Nambudripad is an MD, chiropractor, and acupuncturist. Her interest in health and wellness developed out of necessity as she suffered from numerous chronic health issues during childhood and early adult life. She had eczema, arthritis, bronchitis, insomnia, sinusitis, migraine headaches, and depression. At various times in her life she noticed that her symptoms would improve when she fasted or only ate white rice. When she was in acupuncture school she learned that all of her health issues were a result of food allergies.1
With time and training, Dr. Namburdripad developed an allergy elimination treatment, which is a combination of principles and techniques from allopathic medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, kinesiology, Chinese medicine, and nutrition. 1
NAET® is a drug free, non-invasive treatment that is designed to reduce and even eliminate allergies and sensitivities, often with lasting results. It treats the underlying causes of health issues while avoiding unnecessary pharmaceuticals that often have harmful side effects. NAET® has minimal to no side effects and is safe on all ages ranging from newborn babies up to 100 plus years old. It is even an effective treatment for animals! 1
I first learned of NAET® when I was a beginning acupuncture student. A friend and fellow student had undergone NAET® treatments for ulcerative colitis. He had been told by several different allopathic medical doctors that there was nothing they could do to treat his condition. Then he found a NAET® practitioner. After 4 months of intensive NAET® treatments, his digestion had normalized and he no longer suffered from any of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Needless to say, my interest was piqued by his story. Nearly every other NAET® story and experience that I heard or read about was similar – someone with a chronic or life-altering allergy or health condition got better after receiving NAET® treatments. For more stories on people’s experiences with NAET® visit the website https://www.naet.com/Patients/testimonials.aspx.
NAET® is not a miracle cure or a quick fix. Depending on the number and severity of your allergies, it could require months to a year or more of treatment. However, NAET® will not only relieve your symptoms, but will eliminate the root cause. This means that you will no longer suffer from congestion, sneezing, and fatigue every time the pollen count is high. You won’t have to avoid eating certain foods because they upset your digestion. And best of all, you’ll feel healthier and happier and be able to maintain a state of good health all year long.
NAET® is available at Forever Able Wellness, the first and only acupuncture clinic in Tucson offering NAET® treatments!
1.Nambudripad, D.S. Say Good-Bye To Illness, Third Edition. Buena Park. Delta Publishing Company. 2002. Print.
Written By: Amey Aubry, L.Ac., P.hD.
The Spleen, according to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is quite a different beast than that described in Western medicine. The Western description of the Spleen says that it has one main function: to filter blood. That’s it. In TCM, which deals with a set of energetic functions as opposed to literal physical functions, refers to it as the main organ of digestion. So in order to understand the Spleen from a Chinese perspective, it is best to forget about its literal purpose, and think of it as a concept: the chief representative, or the front man of the digestive system.
The TCM description of the Spleen says that its main function is to support the function of the Stomach, by transforming and transporting food. That means that it is responsible for breaking down food into usable parts and then delivering said parts to the appropriate organs and tissues for use. It is also the central organ in the production of Qi. Since the Spleen is the first recipient of food and drink, it takes these materials in their initial form and extracts as much Qi from them as possible and makes it available to the body systems that need it.
(Qi, pronounced chee, is energy. It is our life force, material force, vital power. Qi is at the basis for all phenomenon in the universe, and it is through Qi that acupuncture works.)
Since the Spleen is the primary organ for ensuring proper nourishment, producing Qi, building strong muscles, and is the center for building vitality, it is important to take care of it and make sure it is a “happy” organ.
Every organ/energetic system in TCM has a set of characteristics. It is as if they all have their own personalities complete with likes and dislikes. The things that they like make them stronger, while dislikes weaken them. With this in mind, living in a way that is harmonious with the Spleen will ensure healthy digestion, a good level of energy, and vitality.
The Spleen is in charge of so much, so it likes when its jobs are simple. Like when it receives food that is easy to digest. What foods fit into this category can vary widely from person to person, however there are some general guidelines that everyone can apply
First of all, the Spleen likes it when it receives food that is easy to digest and is eaten in a calm environment. That means eating when not distracted by television, reading, studying, driving, or heaven forbid, arguing. All of these activities direct attention away from the activity of receiving and assimilating food, which also distracts awareness from how full we feel or if a food is agreeing with us. This in turn can keep our food from being digested properly because we have put our bodies into sympathetic mode (fight or flight) rather than parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). So the first step to healthy digestion is to eat in a relaxed environment with limited distractions, and preferably with people who make us happy and feel loved.
Cooked foods and warm beverages are easier to digest than raw foods and cold beverages. Even though raw foods often do have a higher nutrient content, these nutrients tend to be difficult for your body to access. Think of the old saying “digestive fire.” That’s actually quite a literal statement. It means that your body needs to warm what has been eaten as the first step of the digestive process, and a healthy digestion has a healthy “fire.” So when you eat cold, raw foods, or drink iced beverages, your body must first warm them before it can begin to digest them. Not only do cold food and beverages weaken the “digestive fire,” but this process takes excess energy and can eventually weaken the whole system leading to difficulty in accessing nutrients. You might even see evidence of this in undigested food in your stools.
Excessive consumption of dairy products, greasy, and sweet foods can “dampen” the digestive process. These types of foods notoriously over tax the digestive system, causing it to be sluggish, slowing it down to almost a halt, and causing your body to feel heavy, tired, and phlegmy. Limiting your intake of dairy, greasy, and sweet foods will keep your Spleen happy.
Avoid processed foods. If you can’t determine what the ingredients of a food is by looking at it, or if the ingredient list is shockingly long or contains words that you can’t pronounce, then that food is too processed. There are two problems with processed foods. First of all, by the time they reach your lips, most of the nutrients have been lost, from lengthy storage time, chemical treatment, or they didn’t contain much nutrition to begin with. Second, processed foods tend to be altered from its original form so much that your body has difficulty identifying what it is. When that happens, your body spends an excessive amount of time trying to determine what to do with it, and all too frequently will leave it up to your liver (physical, Western definition of liver, not TCM energetic definition) to filter out. When the liver gets congested with these unidentifiable ingredients, it tends to put them away for storage in the form of fat cells, often resulting in obesity, or visceral fat, the bad type of fat that surrounds the internal organs.
When you eat organic, whole foods, your body knows just what to do with them. The nutrients are processed quickly and are sent to the appropriate tissue.
And the last general key to healthy digestion is to stop eating at least 2 hours before going to bed. This gives your body time to process its contents. When you sleep, your whole body needs to use that time to rest and recover. If you still have food in your stomach, your digestive system will be working after hours. Just like you probably don’t like to work into the night, neither does your digestive system. This will weaken the digestive system quickly. Conversely, going to bed without food in your stomach gives it time to rest and restore itself after a long day.
A healthy diet can vary greatly from person to person. Some foods that are appropriate for one person, may be detrimental to the next, however, these basic concepts can apply to everyone and yield a healthier, happier Spleen, and therefore more abundant Qi, and vitality.
Written By: Jamie Szybala, L.Ac.
In the previous blog, we discussed ways to reduce stress in order to boost immunity. Today, I am introducing ways to optimize immune function by making simple changes to your diet.
The relationship of the digestive and the immune systems is becoming more apparent, with a deepening understanding of the human microbiome. The interdependence of these systems is important, as the gut houses about 70% of our immune system. The digestive system of the average person harbors more than 500 distinct species of bacteria. Referred to as the microbiome or gut flora, these trillions of useful bacteria provide dozens of various functions and capabilities and mostly reside in the colon (large intestine) and ileum. The human gut flora is critical to the vitality of the host and plays a fundamental role in nutrient absorption, metabolism, pathogen resistance, and regulation of the immune response. The composition and distribution of this microbiome varies according to age, state of health, and even geographic region.
Excessive antibiotic use poses probably the single most deleterious effect on gut health, as it decimates healthy gut flora, allowing pathogenic bacteria the opportunity to populate. This effect is highlighted in one study where after just one single course of ciprofloxacin, presence of the harmful bacterium clostridium difficile was found in the subjects’ digestive tracts in higher than normal amounts. This, in addition to other factors like chronic stress, can lead to a cascade of harmful events such as intestinal hyper-permeability, systemic inflammation, and insulin insensitivity.
In past blog entries, I have introduced the Chinese medicine view of the Spleen. Here I will delve a bit deeper into it, focusing on its primary function: digestion. According to TCM, the Spleen is responsible for the transformation and transportation of food essences into blood and Qi in the body. This means that the quality of food we eat is directly proportional to the quality of our blood and Qi. This view relates almost identically to the western medical view of the digestive system, in that its primary function is to receive food, extract minerals and nutrients, and turn it into useful energy for the body. One common condition we see in the clinic, especially in the United States, is called Spleen Qi deficiency. This manifests as fatigue, reduced energy, loose stools, gas and bloating, undigested food in the stools, and in advanced cases, prolapse or blood loss. The major contributor to this condition (in addition to overwork and chronic stress as we learned in the previous blog post) is improper eating habits. This includes excessively damp-forming foods such as greasy, fried, alcohol, dairy, and too much eating of cold or raw foods, as well as eating at irregular intervals or times, or eating while emotionally upset. Also, as seen above, antibiotics have a destructive effect on the gut (which we now know is equal to the concept of the Spleen in TCM)
Spleen Qi deficiency. This manifests as fatigue, reduced energy, loose stools, gas and bloating, and undigested food in the stools.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the human microbiome and the TCM view of the Spleen, let’s discuss ways to improve it. Gut health will invariably involve a 3 fold approach: healing what has been damaged, digestive and immune maintenance, and then finally prevention. For this I suggest visiting a practitioner who is well versed in the area of nutrition, so that he/she may guide you in the process of reconstructing your gut.
What can you do to address and improve gut health on your own? Here is a list of some foods that have been shown to benefit the immune system either directly or indirectly via the digestive system, and I highly recommend eating them as often as possible. Integrating them slowly into your diet, as well as eliminating some of the harmful foods I have listed here, will help improve your overall health.
Mushrooms, such as shiitake: Shiitake, a Japanese mushroom that has been cultivated for over 1000 years, contains strong immune system regulating properties, along with antibacterial and antiviral properties, including that of stimulation of macrophage activity (macrophages are one form of white blood cells responsible for the body’s first response to infection).
Eat a diet that is very high in antioxidant rich foods: From vegetables, fruits (especially berries), and beans
Probiotics: Fermented food sources such as kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kvass – all of these contain high levels of probiotics which are helpful in replenishing healthy gut bacteria/flora. You may also simply take a probiotic supplement. There are several high-probiotic yogurts as well.
Prebiotic foods: Such as asparagus, and the night shade family (onion, garlic)
Omega-3 fatty acids to control inflammation: High quality fish oil or fresh wild-caught fatty fish like salmon is a great source for this
Dark leafy greens and micro-algae: Such as spirulina and chlorella offer immune-enhancing properties and a high dose of B-12, an immune superstar vitamin.
Quercetin: A powerful antioxidant found in green tea, tomatoes, and…is found to be a strong immunostimulant as well.
Yellow and orange foods: The color that benefits the Spleen. Eat foods of these colors (in addition to other colors of course) such as peppers, yams, and Japanese potato to strengthen the Spleen.
Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, excessive alcohol, dairy, and cold foods: all which promote inflammation and deplete healthy gut bacteria and allow unhealthy bacteria to flourish as well as overgrowth of Candida albicans (yeast).
Written by: Lauren Phillips, L.Ac.
Healing with Whole foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Paul Pitchford. North Atlantic Books. 2002.
Back to school season is wonderful in so many ways. I love seeing how excited my daughter gets when being reunited with many of her friends that she did not see over the summer. And I’m always hit with the nostalgia of school supply shopping during my youth. However, there is one not-so-great occurrence that tends to go along with kids heading back to school . . . getting sick.
When my daughter first started preschool I was horrified at how often she got sick. It seemed like every couple of weeks, just when she started feeling better from one cold, she began sniffling or coughing with the next. Although kids in school (along with their parents and teachers) are probably always going to suffer from at least one or two colds throughout the season, I am happy to be able to share some strategies used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that will greatly reduce the number and severity of the illnesses in your household.
Although most people tend to think of acupuncture as a treatment for pain, it can also be an incredibly useful and effective remedy for the common cold. An acupuncture treatment that is given at the first sign of cold and flu symptoms can often rid the body completely of the virus or bacteria that was causing the issue.
Acupuncture works to boost your body’s immune system, making it possible for you to more effectively fight whatever pathogen is making you sick. There are no residual side effects from an acupuncture treatment like the drowsiness or cotton mouth that you may experience from taking over-the-counter medications (although you may get so relaxed during your acupuncture treatment that you take a restful napJ).
Children respond particularly well to acupuncture. People may not think of taking their kids to an acupuncturist because of the needles, however, in pediatric acupuncture needles are often not even used. By stimulating acupuncture points with our hands, lasers, or other non-puncturing tools, or by using tui na (Chinese bodywork), acupuncturists can accomplish the same results as when using needles.
There are several formulas of Chinese herbs that work amazingly well for the common cold. Unlike over the counter medicine or antibiotics, Chinese herbal formulas can be tailored to treat your specific needs. There are different formulas for different types of colds, and specific herbs can easily be added to a formula if need be.
There are also some herbs that are very effective in boosting the immune system, which could prevent you or your kids from getting sick at all.
Chinese herbs can be taken in several different ways including teas, tablets, capsules, and tinctures. There are also pediatric formulas that have been created specifically for children.
Food as medicine
Depending on the symptoms that you are suffering from, different foods can actually help diminish your symptoms and even rid your body of the pathogen altogether.
For colds with thin white or clear nasal discharge, chills, runny nose, itchy throat, aching limbs, aching neck and shoulder, coughing with thin phlegm, no sweating, and little to no fever, the following foods are indicated:
Cinnamon, Chilies, Coriander, Garlic, Ginger, Green onion
For colds with a fever, sore throat, dry cough or cough with thick yellow mucus, thick yellow nasal discharge, and body aches, the following foods are indicated:
Apple, Carrots, Celery, Cilantro, Green tea, Pear, Peppermint
A good rule of thumb when you are sick is to eat light, easy-to-digest foods like soups, cooked vegetables, and rice. Homemade chicken soup is always healing when you are sick and specific ingredients such as ginger, garlic, and green onions, or cilantro, celery, and carrots can be added depending on your symptoms. Make a basic broth ahead of time and freeze so it will be ready and waiting in case someone in your household gets sick.
So as your kids are heading back to school, if you start to notice that you or one of your family members is coming down with a cold, please contact us at Forever Able Wellness with your questions or to set up an appointment. And check out the back-to-school special we are offering for the month of September!
Written by: Amey Aubry, L.Ac., Ph.D.
The immune system is an intricate and delicate system that involves many complex biological structures and processes that protect the body against pathogens. It is directly associated with the digestive system, and gut health plays an important role in immune health. Additionally, the immune system is inextricably intertwined with the nervous and endocrine systems, as many of their processes involve a perfect balance of hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters that communicate with one another. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, immunity is also quite complex. It involves the Spleen, the Liver, and the Lung (viewed as energetic systems, rather than the Western organs). The TCM view of immunity focuses on prevention of illness, rather than treating an illness after it has already occurred. In this series of posts, I will show you easy, simple ways to boost your immunity which will help prevent illness in the future. Let’s start with stress.
Stress wreaks havoc on most systems of the body, including the immune system. Stress hormones (namely, cortisol and epinephrine/adrenaline) that are activated immediately and dissolve quickly in animals (for example, an antelope being chased by a lion) do not seem to diminish quite as rapidly in humans. In fact, when we experience a stressful event we tend to mull it over repeatedly, dream about it, and relive it endlessly. This creates a perpetual state of stress hormone production in the body, which suppresses immune function. There is so much research being conducted on the link between stress and immune function that an entire field of medicine is now dedicated to it: it is called psychoneuroimmunology. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a higher rate of infection of the common cold in individuals with higher stress levels. Additional studies show that people who meditate have healthier/stronger immune function. This strong link between mind and body has always existed in Chinese medicine.
TCM view of stress and the emotional effects on physical health:
Spleen- The Spleen is one of the most crucial organs in the body and is responsible for transporting and transforming food essences into the Qi and blood for the entire body. Highly affected by food and drink, it is also susceptible to damage by chronic overthinking. When the Spleen does not function properly, dampness can accumulate in the body (this can be compared to Candida overgrowth, edema, or excessive mucous). The Spleen is a central organ of the digestive system, which when depleted, like in Western medicine, can lead to immune suppression. The Spleen is also where Wei Qi is formed, which is the Qi that is responsible for protecting the body against external pathogenic invasion.
Liver- The Liver is responsible for controlling the smooth and even flow of Qi throughout the body. Chinese medicine views emotional stress as highly damaging to the Liver because emotions can congest Qi, a condition known as Liver Qi stagnation.
Lung- The Lung is seen as the organ responsible for grief: it can become damaged in times of excessive sadness, worry, or grief. The Lung is also the first organ to act as a barrier against pathogenic invasion.
Of these organs, the Liver and Spleen are the most readily affected by stress. However, in TCM all of the body’s organs, fluids, and the mind are interdependent. Therefore where one is affected, all systems will be affected.
To reduce stress, try practicing any of the following tips:
- Relaxation and deep breathing techniques: A deep, steady breath has been shown to immediately engage the parasympathetic (rest and relax) nervous system. This can be extremely useful while driving in traffic or during a meeting, when stress levels can build.
- Chamomile tea: Soothes the nervous system, especially helpful in the evening during the few hours before sleep.
- A glass of red wine: Not only does it contain antioxidants and promotes production of HDL (the good cholesterol), but the skins of the grapes contain varying levels of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleepiness.
- An evening bath: wind down your evening with a warm bath. Add some Epsom salt to soothe tight muscles and some essential oils like lavender for extra stress reduction.
- Meditation: meditation is a powerful tool in combatting stress and learning a simple technique and using it first thing in the morning or just before bed.
- A walk: just a short walk can get blood moving and take your mind off your troubles.
- Open a book: reading a book can take your mind off of stressful situations and keep you entertained. Try something light and funny.
- Cut caffeine: if you are a regular drinker of sodas and coffee, try cutting them out (or down) as caffeine is a stress contributor.
- Get a massage and/or acupuncture regularly: These techniques are notorious for calming the nervous system and providing relief from anxiety, nervousness, and physical and emotional stress.
These are just a few of the many simple ways you can take your health into your own hands and lower your stress levels. Try different options, and discover which of the tools work best for you, and use them each day to combat stress.
Stay tuned: In the next blog, we will look at how the diet affects the immune system and I will provide dietary solutions for boosting your immunity.
Written by: Lauren Phillips, L.Ac.
We are now only a few weeks away from the summer solstice or midsummer (also known as Litha in the Pagan religion). This will be the official first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Many cultures in the Northern hemisphere celebrate this day with some type of ritual. In southern England, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to see the sunrise from the vantage point of the center of the stone circle. In many ancient and current cultures, a Sun God is worshipped, and fire is a treasured element used in these rituals. As explained in the previous blog, summer in Chinese medicine correlates with the element of Fire. Fire is a very transformative element, as an object becomes something else entirely once it has been burned.
With summer upon us, and the changing of the seasons, so is an opportunity to make a transformation within, to light your own inner-fire. What better time to kick your “butts” to the curb than during the season of transformation? Have you been thinking about quitting smoking, but can’t find the tools to help along the way? Or maybe you hadn’t thought about quitting, because the thought of giving up a habit so physically and emotionally tied to your being is just plain scary. Or perhaps you have tried quitting in the past but were disheartened by intense withdrawal symptoms or subsequent weight gain. It’s true, quitting is no easy feat but the good news is that it may be easier than you thought possible. Because we at Forever Able Wellness can help you with acupuncture!
While acupuncture has been used for millennia to treat pain and disease, its use in the treatment of drug and alcohol dependency is relatively recent. In 1972, Hong Kong neurosurgeon H.L. Wen, MD, found that acupuncture effectively reduced withdrawal symptoms, and since then it has been used with increasing frequency in healthcare settings worldwide for drug detoxification. Beyond that, Dr. Michael Smith developed a five-point auricular protocol for addiction at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York. This protocol was so effective that it lead to the formation of the National Acupuncture Detox Association (NADA) in 1985, which was established to promote education and training of clinicians in the use of the NADA protocol.
The NADA protocol consists of inserting small, sterile, disposable needles into five designated points of the outer ear. The points are called Shen Men, Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung. Shen Men and Sympathetic both calm the nervous system and promote relaxation. Kidney is used to address underlying psychological causes for addiction. Additionally, in Chinese medicine the Kidney relates to our will (Zhi), therefore stimulation of this point may strengthen one’s will-power to battle an addiction. The Liver is responsible for controlling the free movement of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the Qi does not flow properly, it becomes obstructed, resulting in emotional stress. The Lung is the primary organ affected by smoking. Once the needles are inserted, they are retained for around 30 minutes, allowing the patient to fully relax and for the body to accept the effects of the treatment. NADA recommends that the protocol be used as a supportive therapy in conjunction with other modalities of treatment such as counseling and/or support groups.
The NADA protocol has proven to be hugely effective for all types of drug and alcohol dependence. “Among the benefits reported by patients and clinicians are improved program retention, a more optimistic and cooperative attitude toward the process of recovery, as well as reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and need for pharmaceuticals.” (NADA)
Facts about the NADA protocol:
Quick: It only takes a minute or two to insert all of the needles.
Generally painless: Needles are small, short, and hair-fine. Many people feel a small prick initially but most report feeling nothing once needles have been inserted.
Effective: We recommend a series of daily treatments for one week followed by weekly maintenance visits to increase effectiveness and reduce cravings.
Inexpensive: Because we perform the NADA protocol in a community setting, treatments can be offered at a reduced rate.
If you are interested in taking advantage of this unique treatment protocol to help quit smoking, please review our smoking cessation program or call 219-2400 for more information.
Written by: Lauren Phillips, L.Ac.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), each season is associated and ruled by one of the following five elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each element is viewed as a complex system that includes a pair of organs (an organ system), an emotion, a body fluid, and an area of the body. Imbalances associated with each element can create issues within the corresponding organ system. TCM advocates that special care should be given during each season in order to maintain stability within these complex systems.
Summer corresponds to the Fire element, and is the most Yang (bright, active, energetic) season of the year. Its associated organs are the heart and small intestines, the emotion is joy, the fluid is sweat, and the area of the body is the tongue. Another important relationship to mention is that between the Heart and the mind, or Shen. The Fire element is Yang in nature, and its blazing heat has an affinity for creating disharmony in these areas.
When Fire is out of balance, a person’s level of joy tends to be affected, which can manifest as either too much or too little. You might be wondering what that looks like. Well, excess joy can cause manic behavior, nervousness, agitation, anxiety, a feeling of chaos and even insomnia. Too little joy is the opposite end of the spectrum: depression, melancholy, disinterest in life, and low energy. Another more obvious way that Fire can affect us if it’s blazing out of control, is by making us over-heat, especially in the upper areas of the body. This can cause a feeling of heat in the chest and head, possible tongue ulcers and excessive sweating, and even a tendency to get irritated or angry.
The Water element helps to balance the Fire element, so taking advantage of Water energy, not only by drinking enough water to stay hydrated, but by spending time in and around water whenever possible is hugely beneficial (but don’t forget the hat and sunscreen). Carry water with you at all times!
Luckily, there are a lot of little changes that we can make to live in harmony with the Fire element. In order to keep our Hearts and minds balanced during the hot summer days, TCM recommends that we should embrace the longer days (of sun exposure) by getting up a little earlier in the morning, going to bed a little later at night, and trying to rest at mid-day. This makes sense here in the desert, because if we want to spend any time outdoors, it is best done early in the morning or after the sun goes down. Staying hydrated is also crucial, especially in the desert, as is eating lighter meals and cooler foods. Try to steer clear of heavy meals, hot and spicy foods, a lot of red meat, and fried or heavily oiled foods. You might notice that your cravings and tastes naturally shift in the summer to more fresh fruits, salads, seafood, and lightly cooked vegetables. Your body has an innate intelligence, as does nature in providing these foods abundantly during the summer season.
Last but not least, summer is an ideal time to focus on and implement positive changes in our lives – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Fire is the ultimate Yang and symbolizes activity and vigorous metabolic processes. It’s the perfect time to do more robust physical activity, spend time outside in nature, and be more socially active and outgoing. Embrace the sun’s energy and feel the joy that it brings to your life!
Tips for Summer Health:
- Wake up slightly earlier in the morning
- Rest at mid-day
- Go to bed slightly later at night
- Drink plenty of water, better yet – drink cucumber water to hydrate & cool down
- Spend time in and around water
- Eat lighter meals & cooler foods (see below)
- Be physically and socially active
- Embrace joy!
Chart information from Helping Ourselves – A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics by Daverick Leggitt
By: Jessica Deahl, L.Ac., LMT, MSTCM