Diabetes Demystified


Image from http://iheartguts.com

Did you know that diabetes is not contagious? It's time that we knew the basics facts about diabetes and how it affects those who live with it every day.  Although November is Diabetes Awareness Month, we need to be aware of our individual risks for the disease right now.

Facts about diabetes:

-You can lead a very normal life with diabetes

-Insulin is not a cure for diabetes, it is maintenance for diabetics

-Type 1 diabetes does not necessarily run in families

To keep it simple, here is a short breakdown of the types of diabetes:

Type 1: Insulin Dependent/Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults (also known as juvenile diabetes). In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas (see cute little photo at the beginning of the post) does not produce insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugars into energy needed for daily life. Type 1 diabetics need to keep their blood sugar levels carefully in check, and test their blood by pricking their finger several times a day, placing a drop of blood on a monitor, and measuring out the necessary amount of insulin they need inject into their bodies.

Type 2: This is the most common form of diabetes in the United States. With type 2 diabetes, the body is resistant to the effects of insulin, or the body doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain a normal level.  Type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening if blood sugar levels are not regulated. Millions of Americans are unaware that they are at risk of becoming a type 2 diabetic, and millions more have already been diagnosed.

Gestational: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood sugar  levels during pregnancy have gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes affects about 4% of pregnant women. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. This type of diabetes lasts throughout the pregnancy, and needs to be carefully controlled with diet. If not, there can be complications with the baby and possibly the birth.

Acupuncture is completely safe in for diabetes, as the needles are one time use only, and we carefully swab the points with alcohol inserting needles. Besides, these needles are MUCH smaller that the injection needles! There are acupuncture points to help control blood sugar, diabetic neuropathies, as well as help control other issues that may come up. Diabetics unfortunately often develop other autoimmune disorders, such as asthma or Crohn's disease. Acupuncture practitioners can also recommend safe herbal formulas to control blood sugar more effectively with Type 2 diabetics.

If you are at risk for diabetes, here a few great articles and sites to look at and start taking care of yourself:

-Look into a change in diet that can help you count carbohydrates and sugars: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

-Switch from sugar, honey and other sweeteners to great alternatives- check out this post for some ideas.

- Read this article by Christine Dionese, LAc about how to prevent diabetes!

Anya Rozek- Type 1 Diabetic and the bravest kid I know



Fertility in the Spring

It finally feels that spring has truly arrived in the Northwest. About time, if you ask me! "Spring fever" starts hitting people right around now, which means fertility planning (or even birth planning) is on our minds. There are several great sites that have a wealth of information about baby planning, and how to encourage your body to be in it's optimal state for conception to take place. Spring is definitely a time of new beginnings :)

- Acubalance.com offers an amazing book about food and fertility. The entire book is available online, and it's a wonderful resource for learning how to shop, cook, and choose the right foods for your body.

-Acupuncturist Jennifer Dubowsky, of Acupuncture Blog Chicago, posted a great article with five different links to research studies that prove how well acupuncture works for fertility. Check it out to read more about acupuncture in successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and lowered miscarriage rates.

- Dr. Randine Lewis, the author of The Infertility Cure, has information on her website The Fertile Soul about retreats and workshops offered. I have found her books incredibly useful in my own life and practice, and often refer patients to them.



Acupuncture in the news

"]Lots of talk about acupuncture in the US- check out the links below for some interesting articles! -A recent article in the New York Times discussed acupuncture in the US, and how expensive it can be, mostly due to the fact that it's not covered by insurance companies. While each clinic and each acupuncturist has a different price range, there are many options out there, including group acupuncture (which is NOT like a chair massage, as stated in the article. It's a whole-body treatment, but in a healing group environment instead of a private office). If you want to use insurance, and think you may coverage, talk to your insurance company. Better yet, have your acupuncturist do it for you! There are many plans that will cover acupuncture, but you have to ask the right questions :)

-Another controversial topic in the acupuncture world has been around medical practitioners who aren't acupuncturists, but are allowed to practice acupuncture after taking a 300 hour course. A friend of mine posted this article, and I found the study interesting- what do YOU think? Would you rather see an acupuncturist who has had 4 years of training, or someone who has had a few weeks of medical acupuncture training?



Breastfeeding and Chinese Medicine

I've received a lot of calls lately about acupuncture and breast feeding. Many mothers are concerned with lack of milk production, and others have experienced the dreaded mastitis on more than one occasion. Both of these issues are something that acupuncture and herbal medicine can definitely help with (be sure to find an acupuncture practitioner who specializes in women's health, especially fertility and pregnancy!)

Lack of milk: There are several ways to boost milk production, and acupuncture combined with Chinese herbs is a great way to help promote more milk and improved flow. Getting a an acupuncture treatment is a great way to determine why milk production is lower, and finding the best herbal formula to help.  Each person has a unique constitution, and your practitioner will help you get the safest herbal formula for you and your baby.

A reduction in the flow of milk is often caused by either restricted flow of energy in the Liver, which is usually due to stress, or a blood deficiency. In Chinese medicine, the Liver influences the breast and chest regions. Stagnant Qi obstructs these channels to the breast, and then the milk cannot flow. Reducing stress whenever possible will help- finding half an hour to have for yourself every day will help immensely.
With blood deficiency, the lack of milk production is directly related to the blood. In Chinese medicine theory, blood produces the milk, and therefore a lack of blood will cause your body to produce less milk. This can be resolved with acupuncture an herbal treatment, as well as taking a good look at your diet, and making sure you are eating enough protein, such as beef, chicken, or vegetable proteins.

Mastitis: Acupuncture treatment includes acupoints in the hands, legs, upper chest, and possibly a few near the inflamed breast itself. Mastitis is inflammation of the breast, often caused by blocked milk ducts. It's necessary to move the stagnant blood and energy in the local area to clear the blockage, clear the inflammation, and get the milk moving again. Herbal medicine is also safe to take while breastfeeding- as long as you are taking the right herbs! Your practitioner will know what to give you.

If milk production just isn't working for some other reason, purchasing milk from another lactating mother is another option, and this is usually this is done through breast milk banks. You can contact a midwifery organization or your local hospital for more information about this. You can also make your own formulas- a rice or goats milk substitute is commonly used (I don't personally have experience with either of these, but would love more information from those who have used either of them!).

Another great resource is the La Leche League, a world-wide organization offers help to nursing moms, and can help with all breastfeeding concerns. It may be that you need to change the feeding schedule you are on to boost milk production, and often these small changes can make a big difference. This site has a great outline of what happens when you are breastfeeding.



Chinese Medicine in the Spring

Spring is back , and even though it's (still) raining here in the great Northwest, it's time to at least start acting like summer is on it's way! Spring cleaning season is a great time to clean out your closets, prepare for the potential summer abundance from our gardens by caring for the soil and planning gardens, and everything else that's been put off due to winter weather. Get outside and enjoy the vitamin D when the sun shines for a few minutes!

Here are some  posts from acupuncture blogs around the US with tips on a healthy spring, and just a little inspiration to get you motivated.

Lynn Jaffee, LAc of the Acupuncture Twin Cities Blog gives us ten easy ways to improve our health this spring, including eating more green vegetables, getting your eyes checked, and making time to stretch and exercise.

Lorne Brown of Acubalance wrote a great post with stories of hope for couples and women dealing with fertility. There are touching stories of people who are discovering the amazing effects of acupuncture. Even when the immediate results aren't what you expected- often patients will begin treatment for fertility, then suddenly their cramps disappear, energy and digestion improve, and they are sleeping better. The body needs to find a balance first, and these are all signs that the body is working towards balance of the mind and body.

Adam Kuby, the artist in residence for the Portland Acupuncture Project, continues with the project to heal the city of Portland by inserting needles throughout the city in the most needed places. Read about the history of the project and Mr. Kuby's vision here. More needles are sure to be popping up all over Bridgetown!



Preparation for Pregnancy

"Pregnancy is such a special time."

It certainly is, I'm not doubting that at all in writing this post. Growing a human inside your own body for 40 weeks is an incredible feat that women have been doing since...forever! While there are often many different ways of getting pregnant, the end result of carrying a child is a journey all on it's own. Some parts of it are very fun and mind-blowing (seeing the first ultrasound, feeling the baby move), others are a little less exciting to experience (constipation, nausea, breast tenderness) .

There are a lot of books out there that tell you to expect when you are pregnant, and I found some of them quite scary, personally! Several people with very good intentions recommend the old-school books their mothers gave them, thinking that they would be helpful. In this age, with all of the amazing tools and practitioners that we can  If something comes up, I want to be able to look it up in a book, then then ask my practitioner about it. I didn't want to panic about things that might happen, then not have a solution, which is what I found in a lot of the older books.

What I want to do is talk about a few things that happened to me while being pregnant, and give solutions or at least reasons why they happened. Some of them are a little humorous, and a few things are a little unusual. Either way, it's all happening with something wonderful to look forward to in the end! Like I keep saying to myself and others: it's not forever, it's just for now. And it's worth it. You're only pregnant for a few months, and a lot of things that we may consider inconvenient have solutions.

Check out the ABC's of what I wish I'd known might happen to my body:

Abdominal Pain: I read this in a few books, but it's still not at all what I expected with my very first pregnancy. Diastasis recti, or abdominal separation, is common in women who have had multiple pregnancies, and none of the mothers I spoke with had experienced it with their first pregnancy. What happens (slowly), is that the muscles that comprise the "six-pack" of the abdomen slowly separate from the midline of the abdomen. This occurs because of the enlarging uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, and the many hormones secreted during pregnancy that cause the connective tissue to relax.

To be fair, it's not uncomfortable all of the time. It feels like there is a tiny tear in the abdomen, at first on the midline, and now, after 6-7 months, occasionally on the sides.  My wonderful midwife, Sara, told me to get a belly support band if the pain continued. However, I've found if I just support the belly myself for a bit, it helps with those little pains. There are some really great online resources about what we can do after the baby arrives.

-Be Fit Mom has some great information on the abdominal separation, and I just found this great class that I'm definitely signing up for after birth! It's pilates for moms, and you bring the baby to class- check out the Mamalates!

-Self-massaging the belly with pregnancy massage oil (I was given Mother's Special Blend) has also been helpful. Use long strokes from the outside of the ribs to the midline of the body -it's very comfortable and soothing. Take your time when applying oil or lotion, and try to find an organic oil- what's going on the outside of your skin also gets to the baby inside!

Breasts. Wow. That's all I can say. I was told they would become larger, but doubling in size? Really? The breast tenderness many women experience in the first trimester does go away, but can come and go throughout the pregnancy. Leaking small amounts of colostrum from the breasts is also very common in the weeks leading up to birth. However, some women experience it sooner (a friend of mine leaked from 16 weeks on!). You can use breast pads to help with the leaking- there are both reuseable and disposable breast pads. It's also very important to make sure you are fitted properly for a bra. Things will change the further you are along in your pregnancy, but it's definitely worth it to have at least one bra that actually fits!

Constipation. This shouldn't be early practice for birthing, ladies...), and constipation is unfortunately very common at any point in the pregnancy, especially the last trimester. The reason for constipation is that your digestion slows down as the uterus grows and expands in the pelvic cavity and the hormones (mostly progesterone) relax the muscles, which slow down the digestive process. So eat plenty of dried, non-sulphured apricots or plums, and be sure to drink as much water as you can! I know that with some of us, even plain water causes nausea and vomiting, so having a sports drink or electrolyte replenishing drink to get you started and keep you hydrated is fine. If none of these solutions work, be sure to talk to your practitioner about something else that will address your specific needs.

Discomfort in Morning sickness and nausea that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. Sometimes it happens. Several mothers I've treated or interviewed experience either nausea or vomiting in the first several weeks, but a few have both for the first 20 weeks and beyond.
I'm one of those who have had it from week six on, but strictly in the morning. I've found the best thing to do is to keep snacks on hand at all times, learn what may trigger the nausea (water, coffee....really?!), and be prepared in case vomiting does occur. There are a few teas that really helped, such as Wellness Tea by Earth Mama Angel Baby, and having some tasty ginger products on hand. What has truly helped the most is acupuncture- it's very safe during pregnancy, and so effective! I recommend weekly treatments to help with any discomforts of pregnancy.
PLEASE let your practitioner know about any discomfort you might be having- you don't have to suffer through a lot of discomfort through your pregnancy. There are a lot of great options out there that work very well - don't be afraid to ask around for help, and check out your alternative health care options. Your happiness and well-being through your pregnancy are transferred to the little one growing inside you, so be sure to take good care of yourself at this "very special time."
Photo by davhor



Maya Abdominal Massage in Portland

Photo by Jon Haynes Photography

Maya abdominal massage is a massage technique based on repositioning internal organs that have shifted, creating improved blood, energy, and lymph flow throughout the pelvic cavity. This massage is very beneficial for women, as our abdomens tend to go through many stages in life. For a few decades, we have monthly cycles that shift and change as we age, our abdominal muscles stretch (then retract) as we become pregnant, give birth, and live life in general.

I was fortunate to connect with Dr. Carrie Jones of Natural Women’s Health Care clinic in Sherwood, Oregon, and ask her a few questions about this therapeutic massage.

Where did you learn this wonderful technique?

I learned this massage from Rosita Arvigo herself. She does trainings at her clinic in Belize as well as on the east coast, Colorado and in Oregon. You can find out more about trainings, or find other practitioners in your area by heading to this site: http://arvigomassage.com/

Who benefits from Maya Abdominal Massage?

The massage can help women of all ages.  It's great for younger women who have heavy periods or painful periods. It's very beneficial to those looking to become pregnant, as it improves circulation, lymphatic and nerve flow to the pelvic area as well as corrects uterine displacement.  For women who are currently pregnant, it can be really helpful for back and leg pain, abdominal heaviness associated with a growing baby, and make for a smoother birth.  I also have menopausal women who experience prolapse or urinary incontinence and want to improve the health of the area.

The massage can be very helpful to the menstrual cycle and is amazing at relieving cramps.  Because all that fresh blood, oxygen, lymph and nerve flow is moving through the area, women will report that their first period after the massage is more 'cleansing' in that it's a bit heavier with more clots.  After that it's usually a lot smoother.  I also find that women with endometriosis benefit from the work because the massage works right over the abdomen and can be helpful in reducing adhesions.

What should a patient expect from the initial session?

3) During the first session, we usually have an initial consultation where I get a better understanding of their lifestyle, menstrual cycle, overall health and their goals with the massage. I explain what I'm going to do then we begin!  It's like a traditional massage in some aspects as you lay on a massage table and usually undress so that I have access to the entire back down to the hip and tailbone and then over the stomach area.  The massage generally lasts 35-45 minutes depending on findings.  Like a traditional massage, many of my patients fall asleep or zone out while I'm working.

What can I expect from this massage?

5) The massage is all external over the skin. There is no internal work like during a gynecological exam.  Even then, it can be deeply personal or even ticklish to many women as our bellies aren't often touched. I can work right over smooth clothing for the first massage, and want the massage experience to be as comfortable as possible.

Be aware that the following times and patients are not good candidates:

  • During menstrual bleeding
  • Within the first 6 weeks following a normal vaginal delivery or the first 3 months after a c-section
  • For a woman using an IUD for birth control
  • If cancer is present or suspected anywhere in the pelvis, or the client is undergoing chemotherapy for this condition
  • During the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Hiatal Hernia – gentle touch only

Portland-based therapists who offer Mayan massage:

-Dr. Carrie Jones of Natural Women's Health Care clinic in Sherwood

-Tami Kent, MSPT who is also the author of the book Wild Feminine, is a practitioner here in East Portland, Oregon. She also offers other services to improve pelvic health for women- check out her  Wild Feminine website for more information.

-Dr. Sara Wylie of Kwan Yin Healing Arts and Red Blossom blog wrote a post dedicated to Mayan abdominal massage, including what Maya Abdominal Massage can treat, and another wonderful post on preparation for birth with the massage techniques. Sara also provides great tips and strategies in preparing for birth using abdominal massage.



Acupuncture Weekly Roundup

Here is a quick "roundup" of a few things that are happening in the acupuncture world (plus a good demonstration video).

  • Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, wrote a great article about how acupuncture helps with pain in breast cancer patients who are undergoing hormone therapy. Read the excerpt below, then check out her blog post for more information.

    The study found that the true acupuncture group had significant improvement in joint pain and stiffness as well as an improved sense of well-being. Furthermore, 20 percent of the patients taking pain relief medications did not need them after receiving acupuncture. This benefit was not seen in the control group.

  • A study came out that shows how acupuncture helps calm anxiety before dental work, and may even help with preoperative work. For more information on dental procedures in acupuncture, check out this post on dental procedures during acupuncture.
  • The Acupuncture Relief project is looking for volunteers! This great project that provides thousands of acupuncture treatments and a wonderful opportunity for practitioners to treat a lot of people and spend time in a beautiful place. There is also a need for donations to this great project- take a look at a previous post here.
  • Still a little scared of getting that first treatment? Watch this acupuncture for back pain video to get a taste of how relaxing, safe, and comfortable acupuncture is.

Acupuncture Therapy : Acupuncture Back Pain Demo



Happy Year of the Tiger!

It's now the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese calendar, and the Year of the Ox has moved on. I'm posting this late as I spent today preparing for the New Year by cleaning and painting a room in my house- whew! Tradition is that you do these things before the New Year begins, but we had a last start. On the topic of traditions for a proper Chinese New Year Celebration, read some great posts for ideas on the new year - it's not too late to celebrate!

Kim Knight, LAc wrote a post about the traditions of this New Year on her blog:

It is traditional that the New Year be celebrated with a lot of the color red. Lamps, costumes and other items will be flashed red today. The deities of the Heaven and the Earth will be welcomed, after cleaning the house and it is traditional to exchange gifts in the form of a red envelope containing money, generally in amounts of even numbers and giving the amount of 8 is considered particularly auspicious because the word for eight is a homophone for “wealth”.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc wrote about the characteristics of Tigers-they sound like fun people to spend time with! In the spirit of Valentines Day, here is a section from her post about Tigers as partners:

Tigers make interesting partners – they are creative, passionate and will never bore their mates. They’re expressive, polite and trustworthy, but watch out. Partners need to have a high energy level and a sense of adventure to keep up with a Tiger.

A few colleague's sent me this 2010 forecast from Dr. Maoshing Ni, complete with exercise and diet tips!

I wish you a safe, happy, and most of all healthy year of the Tiger.



Acupuncture Making a Difference in Haiti

Acupuncturists Without Borders, a non-profit group that travels to places where disasters have occurred and treats those in need at no cost. The most recent group traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to help with pain management, stress, and emotional and physical trauma. Watch the video below to see the work they are doing over in Haiti with great results.

To help out, donate, or for more information, go to www.acwb.info. This is a great organization who is doing important work all over the world!



Pregnancy and Yoga

Photo by christyscherrer
Taking an exercise class while you are pregnant may be one of the furthest things from your mind. Naps, rest, and food often seem much more appealing! However, it's very important, especially during pregnancy, that you become more in tune with your body and work on flexibility, and work on strengthening both your mind and especially your body. Yoga offers both of these in a low impact, relaxing environment that encourages you to exercise your body as well as focus on the life that is growing within you. It's a very special time, and very important you take care of yourself!
Prenatal yoga classes teach you how to open the pelvis and develop a deeper sense of concentration. Many active birth classes are based yoga techniques, and different positions for labor and delivery are taught to both the mother and birth partner. Breathing techniques learned in yoga will help during labor, as well as learning to hold one position longer than a few seconds (which you will need during longer contractions).
Learning poses to ease the lower back pain and stretch out the round ligament pain (the stretching you feel in the lower abdomen) is very helpful in the first, second, and third trimesters. Yoga exercises will lead to improved physical coordination, increased confidence in yourself and your body, and a sense of inner balance. These tools will be vital during labor and delivery, as well as the ability to breathe into contractions, and relaxing when you have the opportunity.
Prenatal yoga classes are also a good way to meet other pregnant women who are in the same stage as you are,  just starting out, or even close to their due date. Yoga classes offer a great way to discuss what's been happening in your pregnancy with women who understand, and will help you through the next few months. There is something very stretch out aching backs and calves, and a time to meditate on the life growing within you. The sense of community that you feel in the classes may be difficult to find in other aspects of your life at this time.

Call around your local yoga shops, and keep in mind that it's best to bring your own mat- most yoga studios have some to lend out, but having your own is nice.

If you aren't having any luck finding a prenatal yoga class in your area, there a lot of CD's available to pregnant mamas that will walk you through the poses. CAUTION: There are yoga poses that should be avoided during pregnancy, so be sure to check with your practitioner and only practice prenatal yoga poses. The Health and Yoga site shows women poses for each trimester with pics and an explanation of how to do each pose, along with the benefits of each one. Or you can check outThe book Yoga for Pregnancy by Judith Lasater, PhD, is a good beginning book for those of us who are new to yoga. There are simple explanations, and a few poses to get you started. Preparing for Birth with Yoga by Janet Balaskas is another highly recommended book, and there are explanations of each pose, and meditations to help with labor, and even techniques to use during delivery.



Fertility and Chemical Exposure

There is a lot of speculation around what a woman should or should not be exposed to while trying to get pregnant. For example, caffeine consumption, tuna fish, processed sugars, and refined flours are all to be avoided when trying to conceive, and only fresh, organic foods should be consumed (which is all true). However, did you know that your environment can also harbor several unknown hazards?

A recent article came out about a research study on fire retardant chemicals and their affect on the ability to conceive :

Researchers looked at data on 223 pregnant women participating in a study specifically studying chemical exposure and any effect on reproductive health. What they discovered was that women born outside the U.S. had lower levels of PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in their blood than American-born women. And when the researchers looked at data on women trying to conceive a child, they found that women who tested with high levels of the flame retardant in their blood were 50% less likely to become pregnant in any given month than women with lower blood levels of the chemicals.

There is also a need to be aware of not only of which foods you consume, but the chemicals added to the foods during the packaging process. What you find may surprise you! This Times Online article discusses how chemicals used during food packaging are also linked to fertility problems:

A study of 1,240 women has found that those with higher levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their bloodstreams tend to take longer to become pregnant than those with lower levels.

To avoid perflourinated chemicals, check out this article from the site Pollution in People. It has great tips on how to avoid these chemicals that are added to packaging in foods and other consumer products. Look for the words "fluoro” or ”perfluoro" and avoid anything with the word Teflon in the packaging.

Reading the packaging carefully, and trying to eat fresh foods made from ingredients that you either made yourself or cooked at home. Prepare your own meals and take care of your body by eating whole, fresh foods. Organic fruits and vegetables, and preparing homemade soups, stews, and sauces to have on hand is a great way to avoid frozen and prepackaged foods.

A few more articles to check out to improve your fertility and avoid toxic chemicals are: 5 top fats for fertility by Dr. Nishant Rao at WellWire.com, and on Natural Baby Pros, a great article from Lorne Brown- Natural Fertility: Boosting Fertility with Chinese Medicine.



Acupuncture in the media

Carved Buddha The global spread of Chinese Medicine is taking place before our eyes! Acupuncture is becoming more accepted into the mainstream every day - it's a great time to be an acupuncturist, and I can't wait to see where we are in 10 years.

*If you are interested in more acupuncture articles, go to WellWire.com and look in the 'News' section. WellWire has a stream of new articles and ideas posted daily on the site, written by naturopathic doctors, acupuncture practitioners, top herbalists, and a lot of other amazing authors! I'm honored to be a part of this project and be connected with other practitioners who also love what they do.

*The economy needs acupuncture to heal itself. Well, not exactly in those words, but pretty close! The New York Times posted this article discussing how we need to prevent instead of treating the symptoms of the problem, which is exactly what Traditional Chinese Medicine does. We help prevent injuries to that already unstable knee, take care of the imbalance within the body that is causing digestive problems or difficulty getting pregnant, and preventing colds and coughs. Prevent the crisis you see coming BEFORE it happens!

*I know this has been in the news for a while, but women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer and are using the drug Tamoxifen often suffer from hot flashes as a side effect. Acupuncture has proven to help with these side effects safely and effectively - read more about the study in which two treatment groups were divided into either the anti-depressant drug Effexor (the standard treatment) or acupuncture alone. The results were that the women in the acupuncture group experienced less side effects and had relief from the hot flashes.

Acupuncture is becoming more widely used, it prevents problems we can't foresee, and it really works! These are just three great reasons to give acupuncture a try this year!



Resources: Acupuncture for Dogs in Portland

While browsing through the millions of pages on Facebook, I discovered a wonderful veterinary acupuncture site that many of my peers already knew about- Four Paws Acupuncture in Massachusetts. Jeanie Mossa Kraft, the owner of the site, has fantastic posts on the blog- I love the latest one about stray dogs riding the subway in Russia! She also has a recipe for healthy doggie meatballs, as well as a protective winter wax for dog paws (in case we actually see snow here in Portland again!). Her site is also full of information for feeding dogs appropriate foods (no onions!), acupuncture and other alternative care ideas.

Frontier Veterinary Hospital in Hillsboro offers acupuncture to the patients, and the Veterinary Acupuncturist is Dr. Lisa Yung. Read this great post on the My Life With Dogs Blog - it's a story about a dog named Bruiser who received acupuncture when it was discovered there was a problem with the a disc in his spinal cord. Be sure to read the story, and check out the  list of resources listed:

Becca Seitz, LAc treats pets at her clinic, Thrive Acupuncture, in Northeast Portland

Dr. Brenda Brown at Cedar Hills Vet Clinic now offers acupuncture as well

Dr. Prouty practices in Clackamas, Oregon at NW Vet Specialist

Massage/Integrated Touch:

Animal massage: Heal NW with Ruby Sullivan (I attended one of her seminars at Rose City Veterinary Hospital last year- she was amazing!)

Lauren McCall, The Integrated Animal- Uses TTouch technique to promote healing- read more about it on their informative site.

Other resources:

Dove Lewis – Portland's main emergency veterinary hospital

Animal chiropractors – Dr. Chattigre’ at Cascade Summit Veterinary Hospital in West Linn, Oregon

Portland Veterinary Medical Association: A great resource for pets of all sizes

Pet ramps – include some Web sites: Orvis.com or KVVet.com

If you are interested in learning more about veterinarians in the US and Canada, check out the site for the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.



Chinese Medicine in Winter

The longest night is now behind us with the passing of Winter Solstice, and the days will slowly become brighter. Now that winter has officially arrived, we can start to treat our bodies and minds with the Chinese Medicine knowledge that has been around and practiced by many for years.

This is the season where we are told to meditate more, sleep in when possible, and take care of our fatigued bodies. This is what we call the Yin (cold, dark, slow )time of year, as opposed to Summer's Yang (warm, bright, energetic). Winter here is definitely Yin, with the cold, dampness, and dark days (unless you are in Australia...). It is the time we eat a little more, sleep a little more, and nourish our bodies for the coming spring.

Chinese medicine is a great way to keep your body cold and flu-free. Practitioners often use moxibustion this time of the year for its power to keep dampness (which is that heavy sensation we may feel in our bodies, along with a lack of energy). Moxibustion is a powerful tool, and it keeps cold out of the body (this is especially a problem here in the Northwest). Acupuncture points are chosen to keep the immune system in check, and also to keep your energy at a balanced level.

Speaking of energy, you may notice that you don't have the same amount of "get-up" you do in the summer, which is a good thing. Not that you should be feeling lethargic, but life is a little slower in the winter- take your cues from nature. The ground is cold, animals are hibernating- life is building up to slowly burst forth in the spring. Not that we have the luxury of taking a few months off to sleep as the animals do, but our general nature should slow down.

Acupuncture practitioner Diane Joswick, MSOM, wrote this great excerpt on the acufinder site (I think it embodies a great deal of the TCM philosophy):

"Winter is ruled by the water element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands. According to the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy (Qi) within the body. They store all of the reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully. During the winter months it is important to nurture and nourish our kidney Qi. It is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter — rest, reflection, conservation, and storage."

A few thoughts on making the most of food during the winter:

-Time to stop drinking iced teas and coffees- go for the warm versions of these (I recommend a nice herbal tea, as coffee increases dampness in the body). -Choose warm and nourishing soups and stews over cold summer salads. Be sure to choose good quality meat and fish for these meals- know where your ingredients come from. -Eat more root vegetables, such as potatoes and yams. They are a great base for soups and stews. -Make your own food instead of eating out- it will warm your house as well as your heart. Use a slow cooker to simmer nourishing meals for yourself and those you love.

Happy Wintering!


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Interview with Jill Blakeway, LAc and Dr. Sami David

Watch this clip with Dr. Sami David and Jill Blakeway, LAc, discuss their book Making Babies:A Proven 3-month Program for Maximum Fertility on Parents TV. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4wZ89WXxqE&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Dr Sami David is a reproductive endocrinologist who has been working with Jill Blakeway, LAc for several years. Dr. David discusses concerns about IVF and why acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are a healthier alternative to fertility drugs. Jill Blakeway explains the types of people who come in for treatment, and how they have come up with a way to find the "type" of people who come in for treatments.

1.Tired 2. Dry 3. Pale 4. Stuck 5. Waterlogged

Jill gives specific advice about each type, and explains that in Chinese medicine, we treat each person individually. Each type and each person will have specific treatment plans tailored exactly to what they need. Jill also reminds couples that it's not always the woman who may be the reason a couple is unable to conceive, and that men should also get checked out. If you are curious about your "type" go to the Making Babies Program website and take the test (I took it- it's easy!). I also recommend checking out the YinOva blog for a great post on how men can boost their fertility potential.

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Morning Sickness and Chinese Medicine

Why oh why is it called "morning" sickness? For so many women, this part of an otherwise joyous experience lasts all day, sometimes through the night, and occasionally in the afternoon. Many women I've spoken to say that they either had no symptoms, a little nausea, a lot of nausea, or were just constantly sick. The consensus seemed to be that the majority of the nausea was over by around 12 weeks, but for some it lasted 20 weeks (halfway through the pregnancy).

There are often changes with the symptoms as the levels of hormones change, and the body begins to adjust to life with extra hormones and blood. The hormone HGC (human chorionic gonadotropin) is said to be the possible cause of the heaving and nausea. Others say the shifting hormones make you out of balance, which is very close to the way we see it in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the early stages of pregnancy, a woman's body is Yin. When egg is fertilized, it begings to bring more Yang into the body, which in turn causes something of an upheaval and imbalance of the Yin and Yang within the body, leading to nausea.

Acupuncture practitioners have wonderful tools to help ease this sometimes difficult transition. Besides using acupuncture needles, a common formula for nausea is Gui Zhi Tang, which contains cinnamon bark, red dates, white peony, and ginger- a great combination to warm and ease the stomach as well as help balance out the struggle with the Yin and Yang of the body. Once this balance is achieved, the nausea should improve. There are other formulas that may be helpful, and acupuncture treatments are very safe and effective if you are worried about taking formulas or anything besides prenatal care. Also, keep in mind that this formula may not be for everyone- ALWAYS check with a practitioner before taking formulas during your pregnancy.

Common tips from women were:

-eat small meals frequently,

-try to eat a little protein in the morning

-keep crackers, dry toast, and clear soda near the bed to avoid getting hungry (which may lead to nausea)

-take prenatal vitamins on a full stomach

*If you experience a fever, or are vomiting so severely you cannot keep food or liquids down, contact your health care provider immediately*

I welcome any more tips for discussion! Chinese Medicine is a great tool, and I feel that sharing the wisdom passed down from women is the best way to learn more about how we can help each other at this special time. Also, check out Blossom Clinc's recommendations for morning sickness!



Acupuncture Relief Project: The First Year


I can't say enough good things about the Acupuncture Relief Project.

The project, which just celebrated it's one year anniversary, has finished the first six weeks of practitioners in Nepal, and now a new group is on the way in to treat. Acupuncturists from all over the US are taking time out of their lives and practices to come to Chapagoan, Nepal and treat at a free clinic.

Here is a short excerpt from the blog:

One year ago, November 11th 2008, the Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP) helped open the Vajra Varhi Natural Healthcare Clinic, in Chapagoan. The day before the doors opened we sat around wondering if anyone from the village would even show up to our clinic. How would this community embrace us and our strange medicine? Now a year later the ARP has provided over 10,000 acupuncture treatments to this rural Newari and Nepali village. The clinic continues to grow and serves upward of 400 patients per week. Some walking up to 5 hours to reach the clinic. In addition to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, the clinic now has practitioners who practice Tibetan herbal medicine and homeopathy. The clinic has also hosted two dental camps.

Recently, ARP has joined up with Saathi Samua Care House and is now treating people with HIV and those who are trying to rehabilitate from drug use. Check out this short video of practitioners in action in this clinic:

Saathi Samuha: Acupuncture Relief Project Partnership

ARP is open to practitioners, and is always in need of donations, no matter the size. Go to their blog and have a look at the beautiful photos and see the faces of people they have helped.



Acupuncture in the Fall

In the spirit of Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is the time of the Lung, which means that our lungs and skin are more likely to have problems at this time of the year, such as eczema, psoriasis, and cough, colds and flu. Each season has a feeling associated with it, and the Lung organ is Grief. But instead of mourning the loss of summer and light with the arrival of fall, check in with the smells of this unique and beautiful season change. Chinese medicine encourages living with the seasons, eating the foods that are in abundance in certain months, and allowing your body to follow the natural rhythm of the year. You have hopefully energized yourself with plenty of sun these past few months, and now that the winds are returning, it's time to start dressing a warmer, eat nourishing foods, drinking plenty of fresh water, and get enough sleep.

Fall in TCM is also the time of dryness, which we can see all around us in the trees- the leaves are turning colors because they are drying out and falling off the tree. The lung is a delicate organ that many of us take for granted by smoking or inhaling toxic chemicals. Eating pears, soups, stews, and foods that will keep your lungs warm and moist are a good way to keep healthy. Yoga, stretching, and taking walks in the beautiful colors that autumn has to offer are also good ways to ease into fall.

-For a thoughtful post on how to keep healthy this fall season, read this site for tips on how to stay your healthiest in these fall months.

-Go to WellWire.com to check out articles on skin health by Gibran Ramos, ND, MSOM, and a recipe for fighting the flu by Dr. Nishant Rao.

Have a wonderful fall!




Health Care at the Portland Women's Show

The Portland Women's Show is coming to town this weekend- Friday and Saturday from 10-6, and Sunday from 10-5. There's something for everyone! There will be booths for women of all ages, space for kids, and a Relaxation Station(including a foot massage!). There will be several health care practitioners at the show, and you can sample an acupuncture treatment and have a stress test or blood pressure reading. Several stages will have cooking demonstrations, and there will be lectures and seminars from local practitioners.

Dr. Igor Schwartzman and myself will be representing Whole Family Wellness Center- come down and say hello!