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Does Acupressure Really Work?

It's no secret that DIY and home remedies are popular because they are convenient, cheap, and usually natural. And most of the home remedies that I seen are usually safe. My question is... Do they actually work?

Some do... and some don't.

And some remedies, like acupressure, depend on how you use them.

Acupressure is used in my practice when patients hate needles (i.e. kids) or are not able to tolerate acupuncture. Many times I will prescribe acupressure points for patients to do at home. In fact, you can find acupressure points on many reputable websites and YouTube channels, where they instruct you on acupressure. So, yes, I think acupressure works.

But if you don't understand it, or are doing acupressure for the wrong prescription, it might not. Sometimes, information on the internet might not be tailored to your specific needs. And sometimes, practitioners who don't understand acupuncture theory are prescribing acupressure points. In the end, the results are not the same if you would have had a better source.

Make sure that you are getting your acupressure prescription from someone who took the time to extensively study acupuncture, whether it's online or from a practitioner. They don't necessarily have to be an acupuncturist - some massage therapists have an AMAZING knowledge of TCM - but they should have taken the time to study acupuncture. Otherwise, this wonderful tool that can help you, might not work.

Cool it with the Diet this Summer

Extreme summer heat can be devastating to your body. Overexposure to heat can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. The  American Heart Association offers great advice to stay safe. 

But... 

Did you know that eating the right foods can also keep you cool?

When you apply the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to your diet, you can easily nourish your body when the temperatures reach their peak. TCM uses the energetic properties of foods to balance the body and mind, so we can be healthy, pain-free, and joyful!

Fruits and Vegetables

Take advantage of the fresh produce this season Summer is the best time to eat a colorful, heart-healthy meal. Fill your plate with green-leafy veggies such as kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce (not iceberg). Also include asparagus, alfalfa sprouts, celery, eggplant, spinach, tomatoes, kelp and seaweeds, mushrooms, and cucumbers in your diet.

If you are feeling slightly overheated, eating watermelon is one of the fasted ways to cool yourself. All melons, such as cantaloupe and honeydew help you to stay hydrated and reduce heat. Other cooling fruits include apples, bananas, pineapples, kiwi, strawberries, and lemons. While pears and oranges are cooling fruits, it is important to eat in season, and these two fruits are usually at their peak in the colder months.

Proteins

Proteins are important for energy, muscle and nerve repair, hormone balance, and conducting major chemical reactions in your body. Finding proteins that are cooling by TCM standards can be challenging. Mung beans are probably the most cooling protein that you could add to your diet. Soybeans and tofu are also powerful sources that cool your body - make sure that you eat in moderation and only consume from organic and non-GMO sources. Not a fan of beans? Rabbit meat and eggs are also cooling. 

Grains                                                                                  

Despite the current "anti-carb" frenzy, grains are important for nerve conduction, provide energy, and help to regulate cholesterol. The trick is to consume complex carbohydrates, as opposed to refined carbohydrates (i.e. chips, sugar, white flour, cookies). Some yummy grains to consume include barley, buckwheat, millet, and wheat. Wheat and barley contain gluten, so don't eat them if you have an intolerance.

Beverages                                                                                     

Water is the most important beverage you will ever consume. You need to stay hydrated. And if you get bored, try adding some fresh lemon, cucumber, or peppermint. Cooling teas include peppermint tea, green tea, and chrysanthemum tea. 

Don't forget...                                       

TCM is all about balance. So if you want to eat a food that is "hot," like chicken, try combining it with a fresh greens and tomato salad. Or if you absolutely craving ginger tea, add lemon. There are no hard and fast rules. 

And don't overdo it either. Eating too many cold and cooling foods can upset your digestion. Focus on gently incorporating some of these foods into your diet and see how you feel.     

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness for Those with Cancer

 

Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States and across the world. Data from 2010-2012 revealed that 39.6 percent of men and women will have a cancer diagnosis at some point during their lifetimes -- that’s four out of ten American adults. If you do get cancer, seek medical assistance from an oncologist and follow a treatment plan. However, there are also steps that you can take to care for yourself through your illness.

Addiction Prevention                                                                                                                                              

People who are diagnosed with cancer not only have to wrestle with its physical symptoms, but they also often combat prescription opioid addiction, as well. These prescriptions might include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that the nationwide cost from abusing prescription opioids could be as high as $78.5 billion. Take some precautions whenever you’re prescribed medicine. Talk to your doctor to make sure the dosage is safe and appropriate for your condition. Then have the same conversation with your pharmacist. Finally, if you ever feel sedated, as if you’re drifting through a fog, stop taking it and consult your oncologist.

Sleeping

People with cancer often say they don’t sleep well for a variety of reasons. Many medications keep you up at night. Plus, you’re wrestling with nausea, chronic pain, and frequently going to the bathroom. As such, it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Take your medication on time every day. Unplug your iPad or iPhone, limit how much TV you watch, and give yourself permission to relax. Cut down on your sugar, alcohol, and nicotine intake, and go cold turkey on non-prescription drugs. If it helps, listen to classical music. Try to follow bedtime patterns that help you drift off, such as putting on a face mask, opening a window in the spring, or keeping a noise-machine going.

Eating

Proper nutrition is essential for everyone, but perhaps more so for people with cancer. Eating right stabilizes your metabolism, makes you feel stronger and more energetic, and reduces your risk of coming down with infections. So if you were mostly foraging on fast food and soda, switch up your diet. Fruits and veggies are a must. Go for proteins like nuts, eggs, low-fat yogurt, and lean meats like chicken and omega-3 fatty fish. Slash carbs, but don’t avoid whole grains found in flour, breads, and cereals. And, of course, drink water. Lots of water. About 60 percent of the human body is water, so it’s vital to keep replenishing it.

The Spiritual Side

For effective cancer treatment, nothing replaces going to the hospital and consulting with an oncologist. However, spiritual treatment also exists for cancer patients who want to focus on holistic healing rather than only attending to their physical symptoms. People who are given a cancer diagnosis confront their own mortality, and they often turn to spirituality for meaning. Spiritual treatment can help ease feelings of anger, anxiety, isolation, or hopelessness and lower your risk of committing or considering suicide. This is not a clinical or empirically tested treatment, but if it gives you a sense of inner peace, there’s no reason you shouldn’t explore it.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, seek the expertise of an oncologist as soon as you can. Keep in mind that you are more than just your physical symptoms, so make sure you’re treating yourself right. Drink enough water. Sleep eight hours a night. Cut all the toxins and impurities out of your diet. You’ll feel better, which may help you recover faster.

 

Scott Sanders is the  Author and Creator of cancerwell.org

Image via Unsplash

What to do when you are left waiting...

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

As a culture addicted to constant stimulation, any type of action feels good. Even if the result is unfavorable, taking action seems better than waiting. Because when you are waiting, you are trapped in a sort of limbo with no guarantee that you will receive your desired outcome.

This hatred of waiting can manifest in many ways. Take traffic, for example. When you are stuck in traffic, this can create a lot of stress, because you are anxious to get to your destination. You can't control the traffic... unless you are the yutz who is causing the jam! But if you've read this far, I don't think you are a yutz, so let's focus on what you can control... your attitude. You can either get upset because you are stuck or you can use that time productively. Meditate, talk to your kids, or listen to your music.

Your patience is also tested when you are waiting on money. Entrepreneurs go through periods where they have to wait for clients to either sign up or to pay. Employees sometimes have to wait from paycheck to paycheck. Trust me, I understand that when money is tight, it can send everything else in your life into a tailspin. So what can you control? If you don't have kids - or are fortunate to have family who will babysit - this is the time to take action! Get a second job! It doesn't have to be grueling labor, in fact it could in fact be fun! Another way you could make the waiting period better is to look into some means of passive income. If you have kids (or no free sitter), you really need to work on your inner calm and patience because the stress of being in limbo can turn you into psycho-mom (or dad). It's not easy, especially when you have no food and no money.

Let's shift your focus to your health. Are you sick and waiting for the doctor to call? For your test results? All that anxiety isn't going to push the results in your favor. It's only going to make you upset. Or are you wanting to lose weight, but are in too much pain to exercise? Are you are waiting for the pain to subside so you can start burning some calories? Can you try to love yourself and bless the fact that you have an abundance of food? And can you start to reduce certain things in your diet (i.e. processed foods) that could contribute to your inflammation? Maybe you know of a good acupuncturist who could help?

Or maybe you are trying to conceive? Whether you are waiting for the test results or are waiting to see if you got your period, how do you stay in faith while you are waiting for your miracle? When everything seems beyond your control, finding patience and peace can seem impossible.

No matter what the circumstance, patience isn't something that comes easily. Not only is it a skill, but it is also a fruit of the Spirit. So attaining patience doesn't mean working harder. It means letting go. As you exhale the tension and frustration, patience will naturally come in when you rebound and inhale. You just have to ask for it.

 

Top 5 Causes of Female Infertility

As an acupuncturist and chiropractor, I prefer simple and natural solutions to solve most health problems. Infertility is no exception. A strong understanding of the allopathic world is essential, because information is power, and there are few things more disempowering than not being able to conceive. While there are many different causes of infertility, let's learn about the top five that plague so many women.

1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)                                                                                                             

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. According to Dr. Louise Chang, PCOS affects over 7 million women. The multiple ovarian cysts that occur with PCOS create a hormonal imbalance, causing your body to produce androgens (male sex hormones). Androgens hinder your ability to ovulate and become pregnant. While it is not impossible to get pregnant with PCOS, your ability to release eggs is impaired. Symptoms of PCOS include insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, irregular or missed periods, acne, skin tags, male-pattern baldness, anxiety, and depression.

If you think you may have PCOS, it is important to get treated because you may be at a greater risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, endometrial cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. There is no conventional cure; however, there are methods to help you manage your symptoms and prevent co-morbid illnesses. 

2. Endometriosis                                                                                                                                               

Endometriosis is a painful condition that occurs when your uterine lining, or endometrium, develops outside of your uterus. Your endometrium can grow on your fallopian tubes or ovaries, creating cysts. Symptoms include pelvic pain, excessive bleeding, painful periods, and pain with intercourse, urination, and bowel movements. You may also experience nausea, fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Allopathic treatment for endometriosis involves medications and surgery. Medications include NSAIDs, naproxen, contraceptives, and drugs that decrease estrogen and increase progesterone. While surgery removes misplaced endometrial tissue, it can scar your reproductive organs and block the passage of sperm.

3. Pituitary Problems                                                                                                                                                   

The pituitary gland is known as the "master gland" because it controls the entire endocrine system. Dysfunction with your pituitary gland negatively impacts your thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, and ovaries. Many times, pituitary dysfunction requires medication and a good endocrinologist.

Your pituitary gland produces two major hormones that stimulate ovulation: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The most common signs of imbalances of FSH and LH are irregular or absent periods. Other signs include hyperprolactinemia, hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, and Cushing's disease.

Hyperprolactinemia occurs when the anterior portion of your pituitary gland produces too much prolactin. Too much prolactin decreases your body's estrogen production, making conception difficult. Hyperprolactinemia may resolve on its own, but is often managed with medication.

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid does not produce enough thyroxine (T4). Your chances of conception are affected because low levels of T4 interferes with ovulation. Fortunately, this is an easy fix! There are a variety of thyroid medications on the market and most are relatively safe to take during pregnancy. Integrative approaches such as supplements, diet, and certain Yoga poses may also be beneficial

Adrenal insufficiency occurs when your adrenal glands don't produce enough cortisol and ATCH. Even though cortisol has a bad reputation, this stress hormone is necessary for immune function, stress response, and homeostasis. If you have adrenal insufficiency, you have to take steroids to make sure you stay alive. Hydrocortisone is the closest to the natural cortisol produced by your body.

Cushing's disease occurs when a tumor on your pituitary gland wreaks havoc on your body. Common symptoms of Cushing’s disease include truncal obesity, excessive hair growth on your face and body, rounding of the face (“moon face”), spinal distortions ("Buffalo hump"), weakening of your muscles and bones, fragile and thin skin, fatigue, acne, and of course... elevated cortisol. Some doctors may advise you to "watch and wait," which is fine if your symptoms are mild. But it is ultimately better to get the surgery before the tumor grows too large. When the tumor is small, surgeons can remove it by going up your nose or through your eye. Even though this sounds scary, it is a relatively low-risk procedure. It is better to have the tumor removed when it is small, so the surgeons do not have to open your skull.

4. Premature Ovarian Failure                                                                                                                     

Premature ovarian failure occurs when your ovaries no longer produce eggs. The decrease in estrogen that occurs produces the following symptoms: irregular or missed periods, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability, and of course, infertility. Premature ovarian failure may also be caused by chemotherapy, and you will want to inform your oncologist if this happens to you.

However, you can be misdiagnosed and labeled as "menopausal" or "perimenopausal." This is why blood work is so important, because it provides tangible evidence that cannot be dismissed. Blood work should test the levels of your estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin.

Another option would be genetic testing. Genetic testing may include a "karyotype" that would examine your chromosomes for any problems and an FMR1 test to make sure that both of your X chromosomes are intact. In addition to infertility and discomfort, prematurely low estrogen can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, and dementia.

5. Unknown                                                                                                                                                             

Sometimes there is no known cause for not being able to have a baby. When there is no “traditional” medical answer, there is no way to label your infertility. Even though you and your partner may both be very healthy, it still hurts. Since there is no "reason" you are left feeling even more helpless. When there is no apparent reason for your infertility, focusing on alternative methods such as acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition, can be extremely beneficial. These approaches will support and nourish your body and help you to be better able to support a baby.

Whatever the reason for your struggle with fertility, know that you are not alone. I encourage you to reach out for support to friends, family, coaches, and counselors. 

If you would like to learn more and be part of a group of kind and caring individuals, please feel free to join our Facebook group, Hope & Healing Fertility.

The Easiest Way to Get Pregnant!

If you have been struggling to get pregnant, it's no secret that diet plays an important role in your journey to fertility. Women are often placed on super-strict diets that require the complete elimination of their favorite foods. While a nutritious diet is important, drastic changes can be stressful and overwhelming.

And if the doctor doesn't bother to take your constitution into account, the results can be disastrous.  

Since I am all about making things easy, I want to share the simplest way to get pregnant...

Can you guess?

Eat one egg every day.

That's it. Fertility diets can really be that simple.

In my practice, I come across a lot of women who mention that they want to have a baby. So without me giving them a complete fertility treatment, I share that the easiest way to increase their fertility is to add an egg to their diet.  

And 80% of the time, it works!

Now if you are among the other 20%, please don't stress! There is nothing wrong with you, but you just may need some extra help.  

To find out a little more about easy tips for fertility, please feel free to join our Hope & Healing Fertility Facebook group! If you'd like some more personal attention about your fertility struggles, I would encourage you to shoot me an email!

How do Balanced Chakras Increase Fertility?

You are probably aware that you need to be healthy physically in order to conceive a healthy baby. Mothers-to-be are often placed on strict diets with intent to nourish their babies and also their bodies.

But did you know that there is an energetic principle to fertility?

No... Not just in having energy to do the "baby dance," or in a New Age "woo woo" way.

Good energy/Qi/Prana is important for very practical reasons. Your chakras are directly related to your endocrine system, which produces and regulates hormones. If you've been struggling with infertility, you know the importance of balanced hormones.

Your chakras, they act as energy vortexes that help to facilitate the circulation of Qi, or vital energy, throughout your body. You have seven major chakras, and they are each associated with their own function, element, endocrine gland, and color.

Fun, huh?'

So let's start at the "Root..."

Root Chakra

With your Root Chakra, Muladara! This grounding energy center is associated with the Earth element and the color red. It is located at the base of the spine, in the perineum - the thin membrane that separates your vagina from your anus. You can become aware of your perineum when you perform"Kegal" exercises.

Your Root Chakra is associated with safety, security, and having a strong sense of belonging. It is linked to your adrenal glands and results in fear, neediness, and self-destructive behaviors (i.e. addictions) when out of balance. I don't think I need to say how problematic addictions can be for a developing baby... But I will say that it is important that your foundation is strong, so your baby can be supported.

Sacral Chakra

The Sacral Chakra, Svadhisthana, is associated with the water element and the color orange. It is located near your uterus, right below the navel. In TCM, this area is known as the "Dan Tien, a major focus point for Qi Gong and Tai Chi practice. This is is the place where your baby will grow!

Svadhisthana is responsible for your reproductive organs: your uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes. Your Sacral Chakra is associated with sensuality and sexuality, creativity, and manifestation. Any imbalances will appear as guilt, poor self-esteem, insecurity, and lack of emotion.

Solar Plexus Chakra

The Solar Plexus Chakra, Manipura, is associated with fire, is the color yellow, and is located in the area from your solar plexus to naval. It is the center of your personal power, will, confidence, judgments, and discipline. Manipura is the seat of your ego, and how you perceive yourself in the world.

At this point, I would like to ask you a personal question... Why do you want a baby?

Some women may find that they experience problems because they have placed so much of their identity in having children. Let go of your personal image and you may find it easier to conceive. By releasing your ego, you also release your anxiety and can begin to enjoy your journey to creating a happy, healthy baby.

Your Solar Plexus Chakra is connected your digestive and metabolic systems, specifically, the pancreas. Your pancreas controls your blood sugar, playing an important role in managing conditions such as PCOS, and preventing gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.

Heart Chakra

The Heart Chakra, Anahata, is extremely important on your journey to a family. This chakra holds your peace, love, and joy, not just for yourself, but for your partner and your baby! Anahata is usually green in color, although may be pink in some cases. It is located in the center of your chest, and is charge of your thymus gland, which is important in the regulation of your immune system. Anahata also controls your heart, lungs, and your upper burner in TCM.

This chakra serves as a connection between your upper and lower chakras. Anahata provides a transition of Qi between your Earthly body and you aspirations, spirituality, or Higher Self. When there is an imbalance in your Heart Chakra, you may experience defensiveness, jealousy, and unforgiveness. Or you may be a desperate people-pleaser and focus all of your energy on getting people to accept you. When Anahata in harmony, your baby will grow and develop with all of the love, peace, and joy you could imagine.

Throat Chakra

Your Throat Chakra, Vishuddha, allows for the purification and passage of energy between your head and your body. This chakra is associated with the thyroid gland. An underactive or overactive thyroid can cause problems with conception. The main function of this sky-blue chakra is authentic expression and communication. Speaking your truth and setting boundaries are essential for a strong Vishuddha.

Consider this...

On your fertility journey, there is a chance that you may encounter naysayers and people who "mean well," but are overly critical and stick their noses where they don't belong. If you decide to get acupuncture for fertility, they will tell you to get IVF. If you choose IVF, they will tell you to get acupuncture. And that is only before you are pregnant!

If you are not able to set boundaries and enforce them, then you will allow these people and circumstances to get in the way of the happiness of your family. You matter. You deserve to be heard. You don't need to be mean, but tell them to buzz off... Nicely.

Third-Eye Chakra

The Third-Eye Chakra, Ajna, is located between your eyebrows. Though its color is usually indigo, it can sometimes appear as purple. Ajna is responsible for imagination, visualization, intuition, and critical thinking. It is associated with the pituitary gland, the "master gland" that controls your entire endocrine system.

Imbalances may manifest as living in a fantasy land and overindulging in psychic delusions. Conversely, a lack of clarity and complete rejection anything spiritual may result when Ajna is out of sync.

This chakra will be important on your fertility journey because it allows you to visualize your goals and connect to your own wisdom and trust yourself.

Crown Chakra

Your Crown Chakra, Sahasrara, is located at the top of your head. Its color is purple, although in cases of extreme spirituality, may manifest as white or even gold. Your Crown Chakra provides you with a higher state of consciousness and connects you to God, the Divine, your Creator. You don't have to be religious to experience this connection... All you have to do is ask for it.

Sahasrara controls your pineal gland. This tiny gland produces melatonin and seratonin, both hormones that are responsible for your body's inner rhythm. Unfortunately, the pineal gland has a tendency to calcify as we age. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that good melatonin can be pricey?

Imbalances in your Crown Chakra may manifest as close-mindedness, cynicism and derision to spirituality; or conversely, extreme disconnection with your body and obsession with spirituality.

So why is Sahasrara so important on your journey to fertility? This journey will be filled with challenges and trials. And even after you have your baby, parenting can be intense. Having a connection with something greater than yourself will give you the strength to carry on when times get tough. And this connection will help you to see the "bigger picture" of your journey.

If you would like to learn a little more about fertility, or how a balanced chakra/endocrine system can help you on your journey, please feel free to shoot me an email or join our Facebook group, Hope & Healing Fertility!