When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege it is
to be alive, to breathe,
to think, to enjoy,
- Marcus Aurelius
The festive energy of “the most magical time of the year” can be felt everywhere.
This is meant to be a season of joy, happiness and renewal.
However, extra demands and expectations piled on already full plates can be overwhelming and cause stress.
Here are some tools to help make the next month (or a year) more enjoyable for you and your family:
1) HONOR THE BASICS: Eat Well. Sleep Enough. Move Your Body.
2) SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES: Allow yourself to say “no” to holiday gatherings that might cause you unnecessary stress.
3) LOVE YOURSELF: Start the holiday season and New Year with the intention to be good to yourself!
Treat yourself like YOU are worthy right now. This includes taking care of your body, eating a healthy diet, exercising, relaxing, stop listening to negativity of others, taking actions toward achieving YOUR dreams.
“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.” (Andre Gide)
“We can’t practice compassion with others if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.” (Brenè Brown)
From the place of self-love and gratitude, enjoy your family and friends, and celebrate the joy and beauty of this magical season!
I grew up in the Mediterranean, where it was a custom to enjoy an afternoon coffee with family and friends, or an early morning coffee in a local café on the boardwalk while reading the news or watching the stillness of the sea and getting ready for the day. Coffee was a ritual connected with pleasant times with loved ones or just by yourself. It was, in a way, a free daily de-stressing psychotherapy. No one ever suspected there could be something wrong with that.
Nowadays I hear claims that coffee is a toxic stimulant, increases stress, depletes the body of nutrients, and can be harmful to thyroid and overall health.
What does coffee truly do to the body?
I looked for research on this topic in the US National Library of Medicine and these are some of the conclusions:
1. There is no association of coffee intake with cancers of the stomach, pancreas, lung, breast, ovary, prostate, esophagus, small intestine, gallbladder and biliary tract, skin, kidney, brain, thyroid, as well as for soft tissue sarcoma and lymphohematopoietic cancer.
2. Coffee consumption may play a protective role against development of benign or malignant thyroid neoplasms.
3. Coffee might protect liver in different ways: by lowering liver enzymes, protecting against fatty liver disease, and protecting against liver fibrosis.
Liver dysfunction is closely related to hypothyroidism. Any beneficial effects on the liver indirectly benefit the thyroid.
4. Caffeine intake may decrease risk of breast and ovarian cancer by protecting against estrogen dominance (lowering estrogen and increasing progesterone levels).
This is very important for thyroid health since estrogen is one of the most thyroid-suppressive hormones.
The list can go on, but I believe this gives enough scientific evidence to coffee drinkers that there is not much harm in coffee to be afraid of, to say the least.
Coffee is an herb with a long history of medicinal use in medical-dietary systems of old cultures. It has been used as a respiratory, gastric and renal stimulant, efficient diuretic and antilithic, it assists in digestion, promotes intestinal peristalsis, increases mental activity, etc.
In Chinese Herbology it is classified as an herb that “dredges the Liver to regulate the flow of Liver qi, purges the Gallbladder, opens the Heart orifices, warms the blood circulation, detoxifies, and gently tonifies”. In its medicinal properties it is very similar to bupleurum (chai hu).
With all this being said, let’s not forget that moderation is the key to healthy balance. While moderate amounts can serve as a valuable therapy (as with any herb, food, or medicine), excessive amounts can have harmful effects. Overindulgence or adding artificial sweeteners and creamers to coffee can alter its benefits.
It’s important to note that some people cannot tolerate coffee because of health conditions like blood sugar instability, insomnia, gastric issues etc. Each of those underlying conditions were not caused by coffee itself.
For the best advice regarding the use of coffee, or any other herbal teas and medicines, ask your Traditional Oriental Medicine physician as they are officially educated and Board certified in Medical Herbalism. Be aware that just because something is natural and has helped someone else (or is currently popular!) doesn’t mean it is good for you too.
East meets West, old meets new. We are always looking for the most advanced treatment options, and the latest scientific and technological advances to incorporate with traditional Chinese medicine in our clinic.
Each of the two therapies have their well-known and proven healing benefits. They also strongly complement each other. Combined together, they accelerate the healing processes for many pain conditions, and greatly benefit skin conditions - from inflammation to rejuvenation.
We are now offering Celluma LED Light Therapy as a stand-alone, or add-on to acupuncture, for pain or skin treatments.
Although the effects are cumulative, most patients feel, or see, an improvement with just one or two sessions.
Many ancient cultures practiced various forms of light therapy, from worshipping the Sun as a deity that brings health (i.e., they were aware of the health benefits of light), to 1000+ years old Chinese and Indian medical scripts about combining the herbs and sun exposure to treat certain ailments.
More recently, therapeutic effects of red light on wound healing were incidentally discovered in the late 1960s by a Hungarian physician Endre Mester, while he was researching the use of laser in surgery and medicine. The evidence that low power light modulates pain dates back to the early 1970s, when Dr. Friedrich Plog (Germany) first reported pain relief in patients treated with it. His main work was creating the apparatus for laser therapy primarily used for acupuncture (AkupLaser System Plog), replacing the needle with the light beam (1975). Dr. Plog received numerous academic awards for his work in Europe, Asia, Canada and United Nations.
Light Therapy has been used in those countries ever since by many clinicians but was still not accepted by the mainstream medico-scientific world in the USA until 2002, when FDA first approved laser diode phototherapy.
In 1998, Prof Harry Whelan and his group at the NASA Space Medicine Laboratory developed ‘NASA LED’ – a new generation of LEDs that can achieve useful bioreactions through cellular photoactivation without heat or damage (which are common danger of laser). US photobiologist Kendric C. Smith renamed the previously used term ‘low level laser therapy’ (LLLT) to ‘low level light therapy’, to include LED energy.
“Phototherapy is Becoming Mainstream:
The increasing number of papers on LLLT in the Photobiomodulation sessions presented at the 2010 and especially the 2011 meetings of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) bear witness to the fact that LLLT is no longer quite the bête noir it used to be in the USA, although there is still too much skepticism, and it has achieved a reliable status worldwide. LED phototherapy has now been well-proven to work and is reported to be effective in a large variety of clinical indications such as pain attenuation, wound healing, skin rejuvenation, some viral diseases, allergic rhinitis, other allergy-related conditions and so on.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799034/)
What is Celluma?
Celluma is unique and quite unlike any other low-level light therapy device available today. Based on NASA research, Celluma delivers blue, red and near-infrared light energy simultaneously, to safely treat a wide variety of conditions.
Each wavelength is absorbed by different molecules that act as a signaling mechanism for different cellular processes. It has been successfully used to:
- Increase circulation
- Accelerate tissue repair
- Decrease wrinkles
- Decrease inflammation
- Improve skin tone, texture, and clarity
- Ease muscle and joint pain, stiffness, spasm
- Reduce arthritis pain
- Kill the bacteria that causes acne
How important are probiotics, anti-inflammatory supplements and herbs for our health?
There are about 40 trillion microorganisms in the human gut. They help us digest food and produce metabolites necessary for the functioning of our body, like B-vitamins and short chain fatty acids. They control infections by pathogens, regulate the immune system, and control our emotions. The delicate balance of these microorganisms gets disturbed by improper diet, drugs, stress, unhealthy sleep habits. That leads to inflammation, chronic and auto-immune diseases, but is most often not recognized and treated as the root cause.
“The human body hosts an enormous abundance and diversity of microbes, which perform a range of essential and beneficial functions. Our appreciation of the importance of these microbial communities to many aspects of human physiology has grown dramatically in recent years. We know, for example, that animals raised in a germ-free environment exhibit substantially altered immune and metabolic function, while the disruption of commensal microbiota in humans is associated with the development of a growing number of diseases. Evidence is now emerging that, through interactions with the gut–brain axis, the bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, the gut microbiome can also influence neural development, cognition and behavior, with recent evidence that changes in behavior alter gut microbiota composition, while modifications of the microbiome can induce depressive-like behaviors. Although an association between enteropathy and certain psychiatric conditions has long been recognized, it now appears that gut microbes represent direct mediators of psychopathology. Here, we examine roles of gut microbiome in shaping brain development and neurological function, and the mechanisms by which it can contribute to mental illness. Further, we discuss how the insight provided by this new and exciting field of research can inform care and provide a basis for the design of novel, microbiota-targeted, therapies.
In this review, we consider the potential of dysbiosis to contribute to psychopathology and the evidence linking disruption of gut microbiota with specific psychiatric disorders. We examine the role of the microbiome in neurological development and regulation, and consider its contribution to aging-related morbidity. Finally, we discuss the potential for modification of the gut microbiome to provide clinical benefit in the context of altered brain function.”
Read this expert review (written by GB Rogers, DJ Keating, RL Young, M-L Wong, J Licinio and S Wesselingh) here to learn more about:
- Regulation of neurological function by the gut microbiome
- The microbiome in specific psychiatric conditions
- Treatment interactions with the microbiome in mental illness
- The role of the microbiome in brain development
- Mechanisms of interaction
- The role of the microbiome in age-related cognitive decline
- Modification of the gut microbiota to affect therapeutic change
As I am getting ready for another trip, the little butterflies in my stomach are becoming increasingly active. This feeling is a mix of excitement, overwhelm, and determination.
Every new travel alone is a new search of myself.
Breaking of a routine that is often defined by others, doing things only I want, looking the way only I care of, finding the strengths I forgot I had, completely engaging all my senses in capturing new places and experiences. Above all it is constantly and consciously being with myself, and fully listening to my inner voice that so often I unwillingly ignore.
Every new travel brings me closer to myself, my real home.
Eastern Medicine, whether dealing with Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine or both, is no more faith-based than Western Medicine. Animals have been successfully treated with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine ever since people have, and they don't have any beliefs. They do not know what is placebo effect either.
In 2017 in South Florida someone found the Gopher tortoise with a cracked shell, and took it into the South Florida Wildlife Center for help. It was successfully treated by acupuncture:
“Horses have been receiving acupuncture for almost as long as people have—since the practice began in China some 2,500 years ago. As beasts of burden, horses were of tremendous value to the Chinese, and their health was almost as important as that of their owners. Today veterinary acupuncturists can treat nearly any animal, from a bear to a porcupine to a dog. Training courses, such as those from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, teach licensed veterinarians how to incorporate acupuncture into their practice.” (National Geographic):
Acupuncture helps millions of Americans every year. The attached survey by US Department of Health and Human Services - National Institutes of Health is from 11 years ago. The use of Acupuncture in the USA has come a long way since then:
Acupuncture is officially recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH) (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction), and the World Health Organization (WHO) (http://www.who.int/traditional-complementary-integrative-medicine/en/), to be effective in treatment of a wide variety of medical problems.
If administered properly, Acupuncture is one of the safest available therapies. For the safety and effectiveness of our medicine, NIH emphasizes the importance of your clinician’s training and credentials. Acupuncture Physicians in the State of Florida are licensed by The Department of Health’s Board of Acupuncture (http://floridasacupuncture.gov/), after completing 4-year Master’s Program, thousands of clinic hours, and successfully passing four comprehensive National Board exams.
The biggest factor in success or failure of our therapy is how motivated our patients are to get well by keeping their appointments, taking the prescribed herbal medicines and supplements, and, last but not least, making the recommended diet and lifestyle changes. Our medicine in most cases is not a quick fix, although the effects can be felt almost immediately. Our treatments help awaken your body’s natural healing systems, but, for the long-term results, we expect you to take the ownership of your health. Your energy level is dependent on the amount of rest you get, the kind of food you eat, hydration, exercise, regular relaxation, lifestyle. With our recommended changes in your lifestyle, along with our natural treatments and therapies, you can feel better and be able to do more of the stuff you love.
To observe the effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on insomnia and explore its mechanism.
One hundred and twenty patients were randomly divided into an experiment group and a control group.
Sixty patients in the experiment group were treated once a day with acupuncture at Baihui (GV 20), Sishencong (EX-HN 1), Shenmai (BL 62), and Zhaohai (KI 6) and with moxibustion at Baihui (GV 20) and Sishencong (EX-HN 1).
Sixty patients in the control group were acupunctured once a day at Shenmen (HT 7), Neiguan (PC 6), and Sanyinjiao (SP 6).
The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to compare sleep improvement between the two groups.
The total effective rate was 87.7% in the experiment group and 76.3% in the control group. The PSQI scores and the total score were lower after treatment than before treatment in both groups. However, the reduction in the experiment group was greater than that in the control group in sleeping quality, time to fall asleep, sleeping disorder, and daytime function (P < 0.05).
Acupuncture and moxibustion at Baihui (GV 20), Sishencong (EX-HN 1), Shenmai (BL 62), and Zhaohai (KI 6) significantly improved insomnia symptoms in the experiment group compared with the control group.
Gao X(1), Xu C, Wang P, Ren S, Zhou Y, Yang X, Gao L.
J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Aug;33(4):428-32.
PMID: 24187860 [Indexed for MEDLINE]
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Acupuncture is now recommended for several chronic pain conditions. Despite supportive evidence of its effectiveness, this ancient approach is often misunderstood, and may still be underused in mainstream practice. A critical review on its effectiveness and practice integration, and mechanisms of action is essential to the medical community that is continuing to seek nonopioid therapies for chronic pain.
Mounting evidence supports the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat chronic low back, neck, shoulder, and knee pain, as well as headaches. Additional data are emerging that support the use of acupuncture as an adjunct or alternative to opioids, and in perioperative settings. Findings related to its mechanisms of action include transient receptor potential cation channel vanilloid 1 activation in the periphery, microglial suppression in the cerebral cortex and spinal cord, and regulation of cytokines and other key inflammatory factors in the spinal cord. Incremental integration of acupuncture into pain medicine practices and training programmes continues to grow.
Acupuncture is effective, safe, and cost-effective for treating several chronic pain conditions when performed by well-trained healthcare professionals.
Further studies on its use as an adjunct or alternative to opioids, and in perioperative settings are needed.
Yin C(1), Buchheit TE, Park JJ.
Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2017 Oct;30(5):583-592.
To compare the therapeutic effect of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM), Acupuncture, and Hormone Therapy on menopause- related symptoms of peri- and postmenopausal women.
Fifty-seven women completed 2 months of treatment with either CHM (5 g twice daily, n = 22), acupuncture plus CHM (Kun Bao Wan) 5 g twice daily plus sessions of acupuncture, n = 20), or hormone therapy (n = 15).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Kupperman index score, levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol, and the number of symptoms before and after treatment were the main outcome measures.
CHM, acupuncture plus CHM, and hormone therapy significantly decreased Kupperman score (P < .001 in each group) and number of symptoms (P < .05). The mean difference in Kupperman score between baseline and 2 months among the three groups was significantly varied (P = .02). The difference was only between acupuncture plus CHM and CHM with significantly better results by acupuncture plus CHM. Acupuncture plus CHM, as well as hormone therapy, significantly reduced the level of FSH (P < .05), but CHM alone didn't cause any significant decrease in FSH levels (P > .05). The mean difference in the level of FSH between baseline and 2 months among the three groups was significantly different (P = .02). This difference was only between CHM and hormone therapy with significantly better results by hormone therapy. The three treatments didn't make any significant increase in the level of E2 (P > .05).
Application of the combination of Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture proved as effective as hormone therapy in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms, and it achieved better outcomes than Herbal Medicine alone.
Azizi H(1), Feng Liu Y, Du L, Hua Wang C, Bahrami-Taghanaki H, Ollah Esmaily H, Azizi H, Ou Xue X.
Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;17(4):48-53.
PMID: 22314633 [Indexed for MEDLINE]
This research study included 27 female patients who applied for medical treatment of arthralgias and myalgias. They were found to have elevated levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone in conjunction with the normal concentrations of thyroid hormones.
The therapeutic procedures included corporal and auricular acupuncture, introduction of needles into the reflexogenic scalp and wrist zones (depending on clinical symptoms) and into the thyroid gland projection zones on the skin, massage of paravertebral regions of the cervical and thoracic spine using a bone scraper (the Gua Sha healing technique).
Twenty of the 27 patients completed two therapeutic courses with a 3-4 month interval between them.
The acupuncture treatment resulted in a significant decrease of the number and severity of the initial clinical symptoms; the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone fell down to the physiological values, characteristics of the quality of life became comparable with those of healthy subjects.
It is concluded that acupuncture may be regarded as an alternative to substitution therapy of subclinical hypothyroidism.
Luzina KÉ, Luzina LL, Vasilenko AM.
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2011 Sep-Oct;(5):29-33.
PMID: 22165143 [Indexed for MEDLINE]