Stress & Civilization

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After reading the previous article about Autumn, one of my sisters wrote and suggested the next topic: stress. I thanked her for the idea, since after nearly 8 years of writing, it is sometimes difficult to think of an interesting topic every month! Rather than echo well known and valid remedies for stress such as exercise and meditation, the focus of this article will include a couple of aspects of the “civilized” stressors… Let’s ponder just two aspects of “psychosocial stress,” predominantly social media /disconnectedness, and our basic human nature that desperately cleaves to order in an
unpredictable world.

People crave stability and predictability, but we live in this changeable place. For example, we’ve had fairly predictable weather patterns for about one hundred years, and now we are noticing a shift, and this puts people on edge. Likewise, we like our family, friends, neighbors and business to be predictable as well. None of this is realistic. But now we humans are here in this unpredictable place, and with less social connection and support partly because families live far apart, and also the manner in which we now communicate.

It is obvious that society has changed; it is less and less that families sit down and eat dinner together each day, or that friends and neighbors get together for a meal or a cup of tea. Rather, we are communicating through a variety of social media, emails, texts, but if we’re lucky, a phone call. However, there are many cultures that still value getting together every day, (usually to eat!) regardless of the fact that it is in the middle of the day, during business hours. For some, the importance of being socially connected comes before business. During these meals, the entire family, and the extended family, come to know any sensitive situation the other may be experiencing. These family members who value this “connectedness” come to know that what might appear to be “confrontation” to outsiders, is really just everyone showing that they care. No matter how uncomfortable and straight forward such closeness can be, research shows that the cultures that still “close up shop” to eat together on a regular basis have lower rates of heart disease and less problems with cholesterol.

For the most part, we are no longer very socially connected in the U.S. These new forms of communication give a false sense of connectedness. For example, we may write a text and make it sound as if we’re happy, when really the writing is taking place with many tears. The examples are endless, and at the same time, these new forms of communication are very helpful when relating basic information. So what to do? How about if we sit down and eat together on a regular basis. Use email to relate basic information, such as logistics, etc. But why not wait to speak with one another for the dynamic (unpredictable or changeable) situations…or if nothing else, use a phone to hear each other’s voice? That feeling of urgency is what seems to be a large part of stress. The urgency would probably dissipate a little if we take the time to “close up shop” and eat together, but this is most likely unrealistic as well.

Is it possible to strike a balance?

Anything is possible. And it just might require that we stop, think and eat, …and continue with being optimistic as we prepare for some unpredictable situation.

Daisy Lear, MSOM, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.
provides Chinese medicine & acupuncture in Longmont
(303)587-3557 daisylear@gmail.com

AVF Beginnings

Acupuncture for Veterans and their Families (AVF) was officially formed in November of 2009, and received it’s 501(c)(3)status on July 14, 2011. In this article, I’d like to share AVF’s mission, introduce its board members, and give thanks to those who have helped AVF along the way.

AVF’s mission is to provide low and no-cost health care for veterans, active duty persons, and their immediate family members through Chinese medicine and acupuncture in order to help alleviate stress and pain from combat experiences. Chinese medicine and acupuncture has been used successfully for the treatment of mind and body ailments for thousands of years. Currently, medical doctors, such as Col. Dr. Richard Niemtzow, have treated active duty soldiers with acupuncture, and have proposed a model for “battlefield acupuncture” to treat stress and pain related to combat. Those who have served our country often return home injured in body and mind, and yet cannot afford to pay for Chinese medicine services that could help manage and alleviate some stress and pain.

AVF board members provide invaluable assistance as well, and continue to be there while AVF is growing. James Gillies, whom I’ve known since I was seventeen, lives in Bellingham, Washington. James is a Vietnam veteran, serves as Secretary for AVF, and offers practical and financial support, and inspiration. Joe Vastano, another old friend that I met when I was just nineteen, is a professor and writer living in Austin, TX.  Joe edited written material and contacted his old friend, Devon O’dell, who is a District Court Judge in Denver. Devon then connected me with Shannon Sharrock, an attorney in Fort Collins, who donated her time to meet with me personally, over the phone and through email, and completed the bylaws and articles of incorporation along with providing guidance and direction. Both Shannon and her husband are veterans as well. AVF welcomed Deborah Coccoli as Treasurer in July of 2012. Deborah has over 20 years of experience working within the non-profit sector, is a spouse of a Vietnam veteran, and not only serves as the AVF Treasure, but very gracefully integrates her work with AVF into the community.  Kelly Martindale, served as one of the original board members in 2011. Kelly wrote two grants in the fall of 2011.  While AVF has not received grant funding, we continue by providing community style acupuncture and through the VA’s Non VA Care program.

While there is still work to do in terms of set up and fiscal support, AVF received supply donations from Blue Poppy in Boulder, and a second donation in 2012 from Honora Wolfe.  Additionally, Mike Bailey at Lhasa OMS made various supply donations.  With these donations, I began meeting with people at Veterans Helping Veterans Now, located at 600 Terry in Longmont, to offer community style acupuncture. We met there from July 7th 2011 through the August 2012 and then moved the community acupuncture services to the Longmont American Legion where chair massage was added.   Chair massage continues at the Longmont American Legion the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.  Acupuncture has moved to Daisy Lear’s office in Longmont by appointment in order to provide quiet, private sessions.

Supplement donation from Dr. Dean Chai of “Prime Chlorella” in Calgary arrived in October 2011. A prompt reply and donation of this invaluable food source, chlorella, was distributed to AVF clients the same week of it’s arrival at no cost. Dr. Chai told his colleague in Calgary, Jin Meng, of “Herb’s Best Nutrition” about AVF and Jin wrote an email offering an herbal donation. We were so happy for the offer and began distributing all the products the same week as their arrival.

Also, AVF attended the Veterans’ Resource Forum presented by U.S. Congressman Jared Polis and U.S. Senator Mark Udall on August 23 at the Boulder American Legion Post 10. There were attendees from both the state and private organizations to provide resource information such as employment opportunities, health care and benefits. I learned more about government benefits and programs that are available for veterans and their families, and also met many veterans in need of the health care that AVF has to offer.

Thank you all so much.

Daisy Lear, MSOM, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., AVF Founder and President
303.587.3557 daisylear@gmail.com Longmont, CO

Apple Cider Vinegar

By Daisy Lear

So many cultures include some type of vinegar or a fermented food with their meals.  For example, a dish in Germany will include sauerkraut or a side dish of beans and vegetables soaked in vinegar.  Besides being very tasty, fermented foods and vinegar assist in healthy digestion.  Since many people do not include these food varieties on a daily basis, a good alternative is to drink a little apple cider vinegar (fermented apple cider) with water before meals.  In this article I’ll provide some background information about the digestive system and how this vinegar can help.

Many people experience gas, bloating, or acid reflux (“heart burn” ) and think that they have too much acid in their system.  Quite the opposite is true, there is not enough acidity, such as hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and digestive enzymes to properly absorb, digest and assimilate food.  The food then ferments or putrefies, which is what we typically feel coming up and burning our esophagus.  This is generally true for people unless there is an ulcer present, in which case vinegar would not be appropriate.

Why does our digestion decrease in it’s effectiveness?  There are many reasons, two main reasons are:

> a natural decrease in digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid occurs as we age,

> stress and fear puts the  system into a state of “fight or flight” which draws attention away from the digestive system and engages muscle coordination and circulation

How does vinegar help?

> Apple cider vinegar is fermented apple cider, not all vinegars go through the fermentation process, some are distilled.  It is the fermented vinegar that works to bolster digestive enzymes within the digestive system.  Fermented vinegar is cloudy, not clear.  Most people know of Bragg organic apple cider vinegar sold in a glass container at any supermarket.

> Fermented and acidic foods such as vinegar and citrus do not make the system more acidic, but more alkaline.  It is an acidic environment that cancer cells and candida/yeast flourish, so it is important to keep a pH balance of 7 (neutral) or slightly lower (alkaline).  Another example, meat has a low pH, (more alkaline) but when assimilated into our system, contributes to an acidic environment.

I hope this was a concise and informative article.  If you would like to read more about apple cider vinegar and fermented foods, I’d like to recommend my favorite nutrition book by Paul Pitchford, “Healing with Whole Foods”.

 

Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil

By Daisy Lear

In this article, I would like to provide some information about Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil.  I was introduced to this fabulous oil from Herb’s Best Nutrition, herbsbestnutrition.com, in Calgary, Canada.  They wrote an email offering to donate their product to the non-profit organization, Acupuncture for Veterans and their Families (AVF).  AVF was very happy to receive such a generous donation, especially since the oil supports healthy digestive, respiratory and urogenital systems.  Sea Buckthorn Berry oil addresses problems related to immune system deficiencies, pain, inflammation, arthritis and stress.  It is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.  Since Chinese medicine and acupuncture works toward naturally reducing inflammation, supporting the immune and digestive systems, and reducing pain, the oil and acupuncture work well together.

The following information is taken from Herb’s Best Nutrition’s web site:

Sea Buckthorn is one of the most nutrient dense fruit in the world with over 190 phytonutrients and active ingredients. The berries contain large amount of flavonoids, plant lipids, vitamins, and minerals. Many studies also show that Sea Buckthorn promote tissue regeneration and anti-inflammatory action in the skin, hair and mucosa of internal organs; hence, protecting the health of respiratory, digestive and urogenital tract.  It is also the only plant source that provides omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids. The vitamin C value virtually tops among all the fruits we commonly consume.

A testimonial from Butch, mechanic and Vietnam veteran:

I just wanted to take a minute and let you know how it’s going since you put me on the Sea Buckthorn Berry oil.  The flavor is such that I don’t sprinkle it on ice cream or use it as a coffee flavoring but there are several benefits that I am thrilled with.

I am a mechanic by trade and as such I rotate my wrist repeatedly against strong resistance when using a wrench.  After work I had been experiencing pain and burning in the wrist even when at rest.  I have noticed lately that that pain has diminished considerably and now doesn’t disrupt my sleep as it had prior to using the oil.

Several years ago I had my right hip replaced.  Recently I started to have some pain in my other hip.  The pain was like what I was experiencing when my right hip started to go bad.  Today I had my left hip x-rayed and found that the damage is almost as bad as the damage was to my hip when it was replaced.  Eventually I will have to get the left hip replaced but I feel that will be quite some time in the future because of the Buckthorn oil.  Now I am walking with very little pain which is very manageable as long as I don’t get too tired.  This alone makes the taste of the oil tolerable.  Thank you for suggesting it because it has made a world of difference in my life.

Sincerely:   Butch     02/12

For more information about Sea Buckthorn:                                      http://seabuckthorninfo.net   or     http://transformyourhealth.com

Carpal Tunnel

“Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” refers to the pain in the center of the wrist that is typically worse when holding something, or if the wrist is flexed or extended.  These injuries are common among people who do a lot of typing at the computer, cutting hair, during pregnancy and holding babies and children.

Inflammation in the “tunnel” at the wrist, where many tendons and thin muscles travel from the arm to the fingers, can impinge upon the median nerve that travels from the neck, down the arm and into the hand.  In addition to this very painful inflammatory condition, quite often, the pain experienced in the wrist is also due to tight muscles in the neck and shoulders.  Since the median nerve comes from the cervical spine, and runs down the arm, tight muscles in the neck and shoulder can also impinge upon the nerve.  When people come in to my office for treatment of pain in the wrist, it is important to find where the problem begins, because it is does not always begin in the wrist.  I usually start by doing bodywork at the upper back and around the shoulder girdle.  If we do not find any “referral pain” patterns that travel from the upper back or shoulders down to the wrist, then I check the neck muscles, and also the pectoral muscles that attach at the front of the shoulder.  More often than not, referral pain, or Trigger Points, are found at one or more of these areas.  Both the source of the problem and the wrist are then treated.  As follow up, gentle stretching exercises are recommended based upon the referral pattern that was identified during treatment.

As with all acupuncture visits, points are selected according to further information the person provides regarding their health, and the nature of the pain in the wrist area.  The nature of the pain pattern is also important since each person has a different experience.  Taking into consideration all of the person’s background helps to provide a more well rounded treatment in order to get to the source of the overall health concern(s).

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines can occur for a variety of reasons.  The most commonly known sources are from dehydration, barometric pressure changes, and blood circulation.  Another common source of headaches and migraines, that is less well known, is due to cervical muscle tension, physical trauma, and head injury.  The location of the headache or migraine will usually indicate whether or not it comes from the muscle, or another source.

Typically, headaches experienced on the forehead and behind the eyes come from the sternocleidomastoid, (SCM) the large muscle in the front of the neck, or the Scalenes, which are thinner muscles behind the SCM.    These muscles are vulnerable in traumatic situations such as car accidents where the head is forced forward, and these muscles contract, causing increased muscle tension and “trigger points”.  Trigger points are areas on the muscle that, when pressed or rubbed in one particular area, pain is felt in an entirely different area.  For example, during palpation and massage of the SCM, I often find Trigger points along the muscle that re-create a headache or migraine pain pattern that feels like the headache is “behind the eye”.  When these Trigger points are found, they are treated through both acupuncture and massage techniques.

More acupuncture points are selected according to further information the person provides regarding their health, and the nature of the headaches or migraines.  The nature of the headache or migraine pattern is also important since each person has a different experience.  For example, some people experience a sharp stabbing pain, others feel a pounding or dull constant ache, and some are sensitive to light and feel nauseous. Taking into consideration all of the person’s background helps to provide a more well rounded treatment in order to get to the source of the overall health concern(s).

 

Shonishin

Creative Years childcare center in Frederick asked me if I would teach their infant and toddler care givers massage techniques for the children in their classes. They are interested in learning methods that will help soothe and comfort, and I was glad to be asked and also happy to hear of their interest. This article is a very short version of the handout given to both the care givers and parents and will focus upon the main concern for infants and toddlers, digestion and one basic Shonishin technique.

Shonishin is the Japanese form of acupuncture for infants and children. Shonishin does not involve using acupuncture needles, but rather massage and acupressure type of techniques using the whole hand, fingertips, q-tips, and very soft toothbrushes. Infants and children usually respond quickly and more dramatically. These techniques can also be used with teenagers and adults. Adults usually require more time and persistence since these techniques are more gentle and adults usually have a longer history with the health concern.

Eating is one our first experiences, so I’ll begin here. In general, people digest food best by eating slowly, comfortably and happily. A stress free environment is important for proper digestion, and for developing a healthy relationship with food. Children also seem to do best with easily assimilated food offered at regular times throughout the day.

The most widely known technique for addressing digestive upset such as constipation, diarrhea, alternating constipation and diarrhea, intestinal spasms, cramping and bloating is abdominal massage: Begin in a clockwise direction making small circles around the umbilicus, gradually making wider circles until reaching the edges of the ribs and top of the hip and pubic bones. Abdominal massage is very calming and can be done when baby is feeling good too. Moving in a clockwise direction is important because at the outer circle we are following the ascending colon, which goes up the right side of the abdomen, then across the transverse colon at the top near the ribs, and down  the left side over the descending colon. We are just helping the natural movement of the digestive system.

When people have consistent digestive upset I usually suggest doing a food allergy test through food elimination. When children are having difficulty with certain foods, darkness may appear under the eyes while the rest of the face is pale, and they may also appear dull and fatigued. It is very hard on their entire system to continually eat foods that produce inflammation and difficult digestion. Try eliminating one typical allergen producing food group at a time such as wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs or nuts. Eliminate the food from the diet for at least four weeks in order to get a real assessment since people with food sensitivities experience inflammation in the system which can sometimes take quite some time to work through. After the food is eliminated from the diet for about four weeks, reintroduce the food to find out if the same digestive upset occurs. Try another food group if necessary.

Digestive upset while nursing: Mother tries the elimination diet instead. In addition to the above mentioned food groups, also include acid forming foods such as citrus, coffee, chocolate, meat, tomatoes and tomato sauce, etc.

If certain foods are avoided during infancy and childhood, then as a child grows, they may grow out of these food sensitivities and they may be less likely to continue having digestive upset. Please feel free to call or write with any questions or concerns.

Winter

The cold winter months are typically the time of year when we rest and quietly reflect a bit more in order to conserve our energy for the burst of outward energy that comes in the spring time.  In essence, it is a time for storage, and building up our reserves.

In Chinese medical theory, this time of year places emphasis on the water element, which corresponds to the Kidney and Urinary Bladder.  The Urinary Bladder is   considered the storehouse of emotions, and is one of the longest channels in the body, running from the head, down the back and legs to end at the small toes.  Tension and held in emotions can cause congestion along this channel, which can lead to stiffness and pain.  The Kidneys are perceived as storing the energetic life force; birth, life and death, or the cycle of transformation.  The seat of willpower is situated here, generating ambition and the desire to do something with one’s life.  Lack of motivation can reflect an imbalance in the Kidney energy.  Both functionally and energetically, the Kidneys act as a complex filter to keep our system in perfect balance.  Physically, they filter the blood and keep the blood and body clean.  For example, the delicate water and acid-base balance in the body is maintained by the Kidney.

To help maintain a healthy Urinary Bladder and Kidney this winter, maintain your exercise routine, do not increase the level of activity (save that for spring and summer).  Quiet activities such as playing cards and board games, meditation, and slow movement activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and tai qi are best in the winter.  Eat cooked, easily digested foods such as soups and stews and root vegetables.  Avoid over doing carbohydrates and meats as these cause too much internal heat production (inflammation) in the body.    Also, keep warm, especially the lower back, belly and neck!

Spring

At this time of year most people tend to do “spring cleaning” in the home, so I thought it would be fun to share some information about the importance of spring cleaning to help keep our mind and body happy and healthy. According to Chinese Medicine the Liver and Gallbladder are the internal organs associated with spring, and so this article will discuss the importance of taking good care of these vital organs.

This season of renewal and rejuvenation is a great time to do simple “cleansing,” especially for the Liver. According to Chinese medicine the season of spring relates to the Liver and Gall Bladder organs. Both of these organs are always working to renew the body in several ways, such as their role in digestion and ridding the body of toxins. The Liver is a very hard working organ whose functions are fairly extensive in both Western and Chinese medical theory. For instance, the Liver is the largest internal organ and functions include storing and distributing nourishment throughout the body, filtering toxins from the blood, and is involved in the formation and breakdown of blood. The liver, or hepatic cells, make bile which aids in digestion and stores the bile in the gallbladder to be used in the intestines for the breakdown of fats, and for enhancing the small intestine’s ability to absorb fatty acids.

According to Chinese medicine, the Liver also involves regulating emotions, particularly anger, forgiveness, flexibility, and planning. It is a smooth and healthy Liver that contributes to our ability to visualize and make plans. If the Liver were a person she would be the one who writes the mission statement for a company. And, if the Gallbladder were a person, he would be the one to carry out the plans, and delegate responsibility to the best and appropriate people in order to get the job done right. These are just a few functions of the Liver and Gallbladder, which shows how important it is to take good care of these organs.

There are some very general dietary guidelines to keep in mind during early springtime which include eating less, limiting or avoiding heavy foods such as meat, dairy, poor quality fats, and intoxicants. A general list of foods that help the Liver and Gallbladder function include the onion family, vinegar, leafy greens, especially dandelion and mustard greens, basil, lemon and mint. Carrying out a springtime cleansecan be very simple, or more involved depending upon your individual need. It is best if done with the guidance of a healthcare practitioner, and also as a family, or along with a friend so that you have someone to ask questions and talk with about the experience. In general, people notice that even though doing a cleanse for the Liver/Gallbladder may have been very trying at times, they feel so much more vibrant when it’s finished.

“Since spring is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates, one should attempt to correspond to it directly by being open and unsuppressed, both physically and emotionally.” -Huang Di Nei Jing

Summer

According to traditional Chinese medicine, each organ is not only identified with its physical structure and function, but also with seasons, emotions, color, sound, and elements (fire, earth, metal, water and wood). Since it is summer, the season of growth, I’d like to dedicate this article to the related organs: Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine and San Jiao. All together, these organs correspond with summer, the fire element, the color red, the sound of laughter, and the ability to communicate and authentically connect with people.

The Fire element corresponds to the more active and social aspects in life, quite the opposite of the Water element that is associated with the season of winter and being more introspective and quiet. We are all familiar with these two very distinctly different experiences and see that both are just as important as the other. There are also those moments where we feel more outgoing in the winter, or more introspective in the summer, depending upon life circumstances. In any event, balance is key. When we are in touch with what the seasons have to offer, and correspond to them accordingly and openly, we then know that the organ(s) associated are also in balance.

When summer time comes around we usually experience that increased desire to socialize, dance and play. The Heart feels more “open” to possibilities. Also, the Heart has a strong connection with the mind, however in this case the mind is not thought of as just brain function but more of the relationship between the two. In Chinese medicine this relationship between the Heart and the mind is referred to as Shen. The Shen is revealed through the eyes, we can see how someone is feeling on a mental/emotional level just by looking into their eyes. In addition to the Heart, there are three other organs involved within the Fire element. The one physically closest to the Heart is the Pericardium, an organ that is seen as the “Heart Wrapper” and functionally protects the Heart. As we look at our own “Heart Wrapper” we can ask ourselves, are we protecting ourselves too much / not enough or is there an appropriate balance of both?

Next, the Small Intestine is the Yang paired organ to the Heart. All organs have a paired organ, and the physically hollow organs are considered Yang, the more solid organs considered Yin. The main function of the Small Intestine is to receive food from the stomach and further digest and absorb it and send the residue to the large intestine and urinary bladder. Essentially, the Small Intestine “separates the pure from the turbid”. On an emotional level, the ability to provide ourselves with clear boundaries and know when to appropriately separate emotionally also pertains to the Small Intestine. For example, sometimes there is a need to separate the many different roles we play such as in the work place and at home. If it is difficult to separate each role appropriately and find ourselves mixing the roles together, the purity dissipates and becomes muddy and unclear. As a further example, as a parent we cannot truly be “buddies” with our children since parents are the people providing love, structure and security, which provides children with what they truly need in order to then create their own strong and lasting friendships.

The last organ associated happens to be the only one not recognized in Western medicine, and therefore has no direct English translation. It is the San Jiao, the Yang paired organ to the Pericardium. There are three jiaos; upper, middle and lower, each pertaining to the organs in those locations of the torso. In a very small nutshell, the San Jiao connects all the organs, with a strong connection with water (the human body is about 72% water) “the San Jiao is the irrigation official who builds waterways”. This function of essentially keeping proper functioning and communication between the organs might be translated emotionally to that aspect that keeps us physically and spiritually connected with the people close to us and with the community. Together, the organs related to the Fire element help us to keep our actions, words and thoughts clear and full of loving intention.

Before engaging in a “serious” conversation or any other action it seems important to ask the question of intention…what are my intentions? do my intentions come from a place of love? compassion? If they don’t, then why bother? Social connectedness is one of the most important factors in keeping the Heart healthy. When we are able to do so with loving intention, we are witness to the feeling as it vibrates throughout our life and into the people around us and into the community.

When you have the courage to open your heart completely to love, a miracle happens. You start perceiving the reflection of your love in everything. Then eating, walking, talking, singing, dancing, working, playing – everything you do becomes a ritual of love. – Don Miguel Ruiz


Autumn

The change of seasons presents an excellent opportunity for self reflection, introspection, and renewal. The Five Element Theory of Chinese Medicine associates all energy and substance to five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each element corresponds to a particular season. Autumn is characterized by the Metal element.

At this time of year, we take the ripe fruits and vegetables from our gardens. We pick the jewels which we carefully planted in the spring, and nurtured throughout the summer. The concept of “harvest” and “metal” are important aspects relegated to Autumn, as metal / jewels are also harvested from the ground. These concept of living life in cooperation with the seasons is the traditional Chinese view of a healthy internal balance with respect to nature.

Metal corresponds to the Lungs and Large Intestine. These are the organs of inspiration/ exhalation, and elimination. The lungs receive necessary oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide, taking in what we need and eliminating what no longer serves a purpose. The large intestine functions to eliminate waste products. Both organs need to eliminate properly for survival. If the large intestine is not functioning properly, waste can build up and begin to rot or leak toxins into the body. Constipation, emotional stagnation, acne, and accumulation of phlegm can result from a sluggish large intestine or lung.

The emotional process of elimination and “letting go” is not an easy practice for many people. Generally, in this culture we have the desire to hold on. We collect mementos, clothing, pictures, and we hold onto relationships, pain, ideas and values that may not be serving us anymore. The lesson of autumn and the metal element is that of trusting that letting go of what no longer serves a purpose will bring us what we need to receive.

Autumn is a good time of the year to eliminate unwanted materials, emotions, habits and beliefs. It is also a good time to take the opportunity to clean out both emotional and physical spaces. As we breath in, we accept what is necessary and favorable, and as we breath out, we get rid of anything that is not serving us anymore. As we go through the house and get rid of the accumulated stuff that no longer serves a purpose, we tend to think about what we value both materially and spiritually. What is no longer valuable to us may be absolutely essential to another. The elimination process is vital to prepare for receiving what is essential.

Allergies, an Experiment

Allergies that are commonly experienced by people in Colorado in the Spring and Fall can be very disruptive to life. A common question people ask is, can acupuncture help ease or eliminate allergies? The answer is yes, however, there are a few things that we can do for ourselves at home as well.

I used to have allergic reactions all year long, and had successfully eliminated all but the month of August’s allergies. The only thing I’d found to combat the symptoms was one particular Chinese herbal formula, nothing else worked. This year I finally took my own advice, something I’ve been meaning to do for a few years. The month before allergy season I’d eliminated gluten from my diet. This was mostly as an experiment. Gluten is very sticky and I wanted to see if avoiding it altogether would help clean up my whole system and, at the very least, possibly reduce the amount of phlegm I usually have to contend with during August. Additionally, a friend of mine who practices Homeopathy advised me to take Quercetin the month prior to allergy season. I followed these directions unknowingly, discovering that it was included with the vitamin C that I’d been taking most of the year. The following information about quercetin is taken from the University of Maryland Medical Center. The entire article can be viewed at:

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/quercetin-000322.htm

Quercetin
Overview:

Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that give many fruits, flowers, and vegetables their color.

Flavonoids, such as quercetin, are antioxidants — they scavenge damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. They also help keep LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from being damaged, which scientists think may contribute to heart disease. In test tubes, quercetin has strong antioxidant properties, but researchers aren’t sure whether taking quercetin (and many other antioxidants) has the same effects inside the body.

Quercetin acts like an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory, and may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Quercetin can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Allergies, Asthma, Hay Fever and Hives

In test tubes, quercetin prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, chemicals that cause allergic reactions. On that basis, researchers think that quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling of the face and lips. However, there is no evidence yet that it works in humans.

August began and I noticed that I wasn’t sneezing like a maniac, but I carried the allergy formula around with me all the time, just in case. The Chinese herbal formula did come in handy sometimes, but it wasn’t nearly as necessary as it was in previous years. More often than not, I didn’t need to take anything. Honestly, I’m not sure what worked, eliminating gluten or taking Quercetin. Both were easy to do, and, most likely, both contributed to being 95% allergy free this August.

About Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical systems, dating back thousands of years to ancient China. Traditionally, acupuncture was used as a preventative medicine to correct imbalances before they became serious diseases. It is still used today by one third of the world as a primary health care system due to its time tested effectiveness and simplicity.

Acupuncture is a unique form of treatment that assists the body’s natural healing abilities by balancing Qi, the vital energy that moves from one organ to another along pathways called channels. Too much or too little energy in a pathway creates imbalance that may lead to physical or emotional disturbances. The practitioner is trained to assess where the channels of energy are blocked and to open them so that energy may flow smoothly.

Acupuncture is a natural form of healing that most people associate with pain relief. However, the World Health Organization also recognizes acupuncture for use in treating a wide variety of conditions including anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, insomnia, stress, chronic diseases, cold and flu, respiratory conditions, high blood pressure, postoperative pain, digestive dysregulation, fertility, menstrual, pregnancy and menopausal issues.

For infants and children, acupuncture needles are not used. Instead, various techniques, such as massage and acupressure, are used to restore balance.

Vitamin B12

I became more aware of the importance of B12 a few years ago when I needed to have regular injections due to anemia during pregnancy. After doing some research, I’ve learned more about the role B12 plays in relation to the health of our nervous system, brain function and circulation. In this article I will give you a list of foods containing B12, briefly explain B12 functioning within the human body, the common reason for poor absorption, and the simple way to remedy B12 deficiency.

B12 is an essential vitamin, the body cannot make it on its own. So, we must eat certain foods abundant in Vitamin B12. The following is a list of foods high in B12, taken from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford:

• animal meat such as chicken, beef and fish
• cheese
• beans, especially aduki beans, dry peas, lentils and soybeans
• nuts and seeds, especially sunflower and sesame seeds, almonds and filberts
• some fermented foods such as yogurt, miso and tempeh
• “green foods” such as chlorella, wild blue-green algae and spirulina
• seaweeds such as nori, dulse, kelp, wakame and kombu
• nutritional yeast

B12 builds immunity and promotes growth of the nervous system and body in general, and so it is absolutely vital for pregnant and nursing women. It plays a critical role in the formation of myelin, the protective material that encases every neuron in the body and it also plays a key role in the synthesis of red blood cells and DNA. Knowing the vital role of Vitamin B12, it is easier to understand how a deficiency has been strongly linked to the following:

• cognitive impairment
• age-related dementia
• memory loss
• confusion
• depression
• numbness and tingling in the extremities caused by nerve damage
• fatigue
• vision problems
• circulatory disorders including anemia, heart disease and stroke

While getting B12 through diet would seem like a clear solution, it is also a problematic one. One of the problems is that B12 possesses the largest and most complex molecular structure of all the vitamins, making it difficult to absorb and maintain. The other problem is due to poor digestion in general. Most of the symptoms of B12 deficiency are age-related due to mal-absorption. As we age, the functioning of the lining in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract decreases. The GI tract governs the release of a digestive compound known as intrinsic factor. In the absence of intrinsic factor, the body’s ability to absorb B12 from food is compromised. Instead of actively transporting B12 into the blood, the body must rely on passive diffusion through the intestinal wall, resulting in sub-optimal B12 absorption and lower B12 levels. Furthermore, the use of popular prescription and over the counter drugs that reduce stomach acid further decreases B12 absorption since stomach acid is necessary to separate B12 from the food proteins to which it is bound. In adults over the age of 50, a thinning of the stomach lining can still further reduce acid secretion and limit B12 levels. Aside from malabsorption due to the natural process of aging, there are also those with digestive dysfunction who are at risk for B12 deficiency, especially those with Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Because of GI tract and stomach mal- absorption it is also difficult for the digestive system to process B12 in vitamin, or quick-dissolving tablet form. The most efficient and cost-effective manner to make B12 bio available is through injection. Since a large percentage of my clients are over the age of 50, I chose to keep preservative free B12 on hand. The clients who have come in for B12 injections did not find it painful or costly, but instead were happy to find a place to get their needs met quickly.

I hope you have found this article to be helpful. Please feel free to give me a call with any further questions.

Daisy Lear, MSOM, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.
practices Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in Longmont
(303)587-3557
AVFCommunication@gmail.com