At YinOva we’re proud of our commitment to continuing education. We regularly bring teachers into our center from around the country to train our team and keep our knowledge current and our practice vibrant. Our in-house training program is an example of our commitment to provide our patients with the best care possible and our staff with an environment where they can continue to grow as practitioners. (more…)
Here’s a term you don’t hear every day: Nasal irrigation. If you are familiar with it, you have probably heard of neti pots, and you may be one of the many people who have found relief from sinus and allergy distress with this simple tool. It can seem a little strange at first, but for people around the world, the neti pot is the most effective thing that stands between them and seasonal & environmental suffering. Recently the YinOva Center team was filming for the “Best of Alternative Medicine” episode on the Dr. Oz Show, and for treating sinus conditions naturally, the neti pot was what the doctor recommended.
For lots of my patients (and me!), summertime is about having fun with food. Whether we are traveling abroad or tailgating at the stadium, coming together around meals is a big part of what we do when the weather gets warm.
But during these summer months, I see more people on Mondays with upset stomachs from their weekend exploits than during the rest of the entire year. Even for people who are not inclined to being over adventurous at the table, this is a time of year when it seems more likely that food can wind up being a little (or a lot) “off.”
Typically, the signs and symptoms of food poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and fever, start within hours or days and can last more than a week. Once we’ve consumed the tainted food, we actually feel poisoned and our bodies try to pass it through as quickly as possible.
In Traditional Chinese medicine we recognize two main components to food poisoning:
Dampness – which causes the icky, heavy feelings
Heat – which causes the urgency
Our goal is to rid the body of both this dampness and the heat so that food can be appropriately digested, and nutrients effectively absorbed. When encountering this, here are some tips to help get you feeling better faster.
WHAT TO DO
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for all kinds of GI upset, including food poisoning. If you are able to get in to see your acupuncturist, treatment can really help to eradicate the symptoms and recover your wellness. But we understand that leaving the house isn’t an ideal scenario for a lot of people suffering from food poisoning. For those times when you’re just not able to get out and come to a treatment, here are some things you can do for yourself and achieve results on your road to recovery.
There are two very effective remedies for food poisoning that can be purchased at any Chinese herbal pharmacy. These are great to have in your first aid kit and good to have on hand when you travel.
Po Chai pills – This well known remedy was developed over 100 years ago for quick relief of digestive distress, especially in the cases where dampness is predominant. It can dramatically reduce gas, nausea and vomiting.
Huang Lian Su (huang lian pills) – This is for cases where the heat is prominent and we want to clear it and the pathogen out of the body. Huang Lian pills contain Berberine which is a strong anti-bacterial agent and helps to eliminate toxins by reducing the inflammatory, cytokine responses.
- Activated charcoal helps to neutralize and eliminate the poisons. Take six tablets while sipping a full eight ounces of water. Goldenseal Extract is a natural antibiotic for bacterial food poisoning. Be careful not to take goldenseal for more than a few days and do not take it during pregnancy.
- Kelp to help restore electrolytes that are lost when you’re clearing your body, much like what happens in a movie theater where someone yells “fire” and everyone rushes for the door.
- Vitamins C & E are helpful detoxify and support immune function.
- Acidophilus restores healthy, friendly intestinal bacteria that gets lost with diarrhea.
- Garlic is a powerful detoxifier and natural antibiotic that can destroy unhealthy microbes in the intestines.
- Apple-Cider Vinegar stir in 2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water. Sip the mixture until it’s gone, drinking it slowly to enhance your chances of keeping it down.
- Let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours.
- Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. You’ll know that you’re getting enough fluid when you’re urinating normally, and your urine is clear and not dark.
- Get plenty of rest. The illness and dehydration may have made you weak and tired.
- Don’t use anti-diarrheal medications. Drugs intended to treat diarrhea, such as loperamide (Imodium, others) and diphenoxylate with atropine (Lomotil, Lonox), may slow elimination of bacteria or toxins from your system and can make your condition worse.
After the storm
Avoid certain foods and substances until you’re feeling better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
Gradually begin to eat bland, easy-to-digest foods. Consider the B.R.A.T. diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) Ease back into eating.
Congee (rice porridge) is a great way to get your nutrition back on track. Here is a great congee recipe from Jill. Include ginger in your ingredients: it has gingerols and shogals which influence the chemicals that cause muscle spasms in the stomach and gut and give quick relief. It also has anti-infective properties that make it a valuable tool for food poisoning.
Sprains & Strains
This is the second part of the YinOva Center First Aid Essentials series is focusing on Sprains and Strains. This post is for anyone who has ever ran, jumped, danced, rode, or landed. In other words, this could help all of us in the, hopefully not so near, future!
Lets start off by clearing up the meaning of the terms I’ll be using, because it can get confusing. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, and ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. (more…)
Summer is a time for play but sometimes things can get a little out of hand. This is the first of a three part series on how to take care of yourself when the good times go a bit too far.
Burns are a common injury of summertime activities. Whether it’s a sunburned nose, or a too-close encounter with the barbecue grill, most burns are fairly minor and can be effectively treated at home. Even for the small ones though, we like to take a broad approach to treatment. In addition to the degree of the injury itself, infection, dehydration and scarring can hamper the healing process. With proper care though, these complications can be minimized.
With any kind of burn, performing basic first aid is the the most important step. The first thing to do is stop the burning. Typically this means cooling the area by running it under cool tap water or even a shower. Ice is not necessary and it can even freeze the skin, leading to further tissue damage.
When its an isolated area, covering it with a clean bandage can both protect it from irritation and further injury, as well as help reduce the chance of infection. If it’s a larger are (like a sunburn), loose, light cotton clothing is the most comfortable way to go.
If the skin is broken, an antibiotic cream can be applied before bandaging. Alternatively, there is a remarkably effective Chinese ointment that I love called Qing Wan Hung. It can be used topically for any type of burn and should be a part of every home first aid kit. It contains a combination of herbs that cool, reduce pain, and help facilitate tissue repair. It’s even antimicrobial – in other words it inhibits infection.
The herbs in Qing Wan Hung include Mastic (which is a resin that contains flavonoids and tannins that help reduce infection), Myrrh, Dong Gui, Huang Lian and Safflower oil
Note: Burns are staged in 3 degrees
First Degree Burns only cause redness, swelling and pain at the superficial layers of skin
Second Degree Burns are more severe, involving deeper layers of skin with blistering and more intense pain
Third Degree Burns are the most serious and affect all skin layers, muscles, and even bones
Other dos and don’ts:
Popping blisters intentionally is generally not a good idea. They are your body’s way of cooling a burn and bringing healing cells to the area.
Butter and oils are good to eat, but really are not advisable for burn, especially with second degree and more serious burns.
Don’t leave bandages on more than a day at a time and watch for infection. As the burn heals it may begin to itch. Do not scratch it as this can lead to infection and scarring.
There are many other readily available, natural products that can help complete burn healing. Some of these include:
Manuka honey is soothing, healing and antiseptic. Methylglyoxol is the antibacterial compound that makes it a powerhouse in wound care.
Aloe Vera. Pure aloe gel feels great on burns, doesn’t accumulate or feel greasy, and can hasten the healing process.
Vitamins work to support the body’s innate healing ability.
Calendula tincture. This comes from a popular ornamental plant called a pot marigold (it is not a true marigold). You can buy ready to use calendula products in health food stores.
Chamomile relieves pain and cooling. Make a cool compress and apply for 15 minutes at a time.
Gotu kola stimulates the growth of connective tissue in the skin. madecassoside, the active ingredient in gotu kola, promotes significant wound healing activity.
Nutrition also plays a role in any kind of healing. For burns, be sure to
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to replenish your fluids.
Increase proteins (not necessarily meat) and reduce carbohydrates to assist tissue repair.
Reduce processed foods and excessive sugar intake which can undermine your immune system.
For patients with burns I also use acupuncture to support the body’s self-healing mechanisms and reduce the distress of the pain – which can be intense. Acupuncture has been shown in numerous studies to significantly accelerate healing time for thermal burns as well as chemical and radiation burns.
As with any kind of injury, prevention is the best cure. Be careful at the grill and the camp fire. For more information on sunburn prevention, click here for Jill’s piece on how to choose the best sunscreen for your family.
Patients often ask us for ideas on what they can do for themselves between acupuncture visits. Among the suggestions we make, self-treatment acupressure is a favorite.
Acupressure is a form of healing that has been used for thousands of years around the world. While it is part of many traditional medicines, it is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and is based on the same principals as acupuncture. Our bodies are activated by a vital energy we call Qi, which travels along pathways that connect with all of our organs & muscles. On the surface of our skin there are specific points which can be stimulated to regulate how this energy flows. This is how we restore and maintain vitality and health.
This part of TCM began with an idea that we all intuitively understand: A lot of the time if something hurts, be it a tight muscle or a headache, rubbing it can help it feel better. Over time and through experience we began to recognize the connections between different parts of the body. For example, we figured out that rubbing a particular point on your hand not only relieves tension there, but also helps elbow pain and headaches.
Acupressure is a great way for patients to sustain the benefits of their acupuncture treatments, and also helps them care for some of their day-to-day stress and aches & pains.
Does it hurt?
It really shouldn’t hurt. There may be some dull achiness during and after a treatment however it isn’t and endurance test of how much pressure can you take for how long. It should feel soothing and relaxing, so if you are doing it with a partner, remember to communicate about how it feels. The duration of treatments can vary, depending on the condition. Generally we recommend about 2 to 5 minutes for self treatments, though you can do it longer if it feels right.
What types of problems can acupressure relieve?
Acupressure can help to treat a broad range of conditions safely. It cant treat everything though and speaking with your licensed practitioner about your health concerns is always a good idea. Here are some of the things that acupressure can be used for:
Support healthy digestion
There is no age limit for acupressure. It is safe and can be used by people of all ages – in fact at the YinOva Center we often show new parents how to use it with their infants and it is a gentle therapy that can be used with the elderly. If you are pregnant, there are some points that should be avoided and it is best to ask your practitioner about what’s right for you.
Here are two points that we commonly show our patients to help them relax. They’re great for stress reduction and to help you drift to sleep.
Hall of Impression (Yin Tang) This point is really is relaxing and great for helping sleep. It is located right between your eyebrows. It is an area that many traditions consider the third eye and a spiritual center. We teach our YinOva moms to rub this point on their newborns because it is a powerful point for calming the mind. Because of its location, it is also great to sooth many kinds of headaches.
Inner Pass (Nei Guan) One of the most important points to help circulate energy through the body, and soothes the chest where a lot of people feel tension and anxiety that prevents sleep. Its also very well known for treating nausea from morning sickness, food poisoning, motion sickness, or any other cause. There are even bracelets that can you can buy at most pharmacies which have a plastic bead on the inside that presses the point.
This point is located 3 finger breadths above the inner crease of your wrist, right in the center, between the two big tendons.
Gentle, direct pressure here is all you need as it is a sensitive area.
For more information on acupressure points ask your practitioner or check out Michael Reed Gach’s book here.
Over the past four weeks, since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the coastal regions of New York and New Jersey, we have all seen extraordinary outpourings of generosity and kindness in almost every conceivable form. From those with carpentry & construction skills, to food trucks to healthcare providers, it’s been a time of people being their best.
One of the ways we are contributing at the YinOva Center is through a raffle. Over the next two weeks you can try your luck at winning some really cool prizes and contributing to a really good cause at the same time. All proceeds from the YinOva Raffle – along with those from our benefit this Sunday – will go to NYCares and their Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
Here’s how it works….
I’m back after a two week trip to Iquitos, Peru where I had the opportunity to study herbal medicine with a group of Shipibo Shamen. The experience of working with these masters was nothing short of extraordinary.
Shipibo traditions span milenia, and much of the culture is embodied in their medicine. As an herbalist myself, much of this resonated with me as it is based on the understanding that there is a boundless pharmacy to be found in the natural environment around us. Shipibo medical “education” is typically acquired through a mentor, but is not complete without dieting on the herbs and plants, a process where the practitioner actually takes and experiences the effects of each remedy. Over time a broadened repertoire evolves. As their expertise develops, practitioners are seen to embody not only the knowledge of each medicinal substance, but also the elements that underpin Shipibo philosophy. This is similar to Chinese medicine where the models of diagnosis and treatment that are drawn from nature also reflect our personal, cultural, and cosmic awareness. Five Element theory, recently made popular through feng shui, is a classic example of this.
One distinction between Shipibo medicine and Chinese medicine is how knowledge is transmitted. Shipibo masters are informed through an oral tradition that spans thousands of years and they are considered personal custodians of wisdom. Chinese medicine on the other hand possesses an expansive canon of literature that dates back over 2300 years to it’s foundation text, the Huang Di Nei Jing.
Despite these systematic differences though, the common thread of Nature between these medicines is a powerful one. Both see our
personal experience as a micro-cosm of the world and universe around us. This creates an in-common belief that our health, like the Amazon is inherently self-regulating and prioritizes support of the organism rather than destruction of the pathogen. This outlook also allows both to have unique but elegant understandings of the relationships between body, mind and spirit.
People travel from all over the world to the Amazon for healing through this traditional medicine, often for conditions that conventional medicine has not been able to address effectively for them. These include everything from psycho-emotional disorders like anxiety and depression, to pain syndromes, to neuro-degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
Stay tuned, as over the coming weeks I will write more about my experience in Peru, the power of the Amazon, and the medicine it produces.
These are just some of the euphemisms I regularly hear from patients when we discuss their digestion, and they almost always refer to constipation. In my practice and across the nation, constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints people have. It is typically a temporary condition and is usually a symptom of imbalance rather than a disease itself. Yet while we don’t always consider it a serious health concern, it is telling that that constipation accounts for 2.5 million doctors visits and $725 million dollars spent on laxative products annually.
Constipation means different things to different people. It breaks down into one or both of two factors: frequency and quality. Typically constipation means having a bowel movement fewer than three times per week, although anyone who doesn’t go daily is suffering from some degree of constipation.
Constipation also refers to stool that is hard, dry, small in size or difficult to eliminate. Often our patients don’t pay attention to their stool but do notice irregularity, a need to strain, the sensation of fullness (even after a bowel movement), and pain. (more…)
This takes me off guard for a moment here in the parking lot of my clinic where I go out of my way to maintain visitors’ privacy. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to me though. For the past three years, I have been treating veterans in our Chatham, NY Acupuncture clinic, free of charge. License plates are just another one of the ways they have of spotting each other.
War is something I have been fortunate enough to not see up close in my life. Despite the coverage, the images, and the statistics, I haven’t been there, so I don’t really get it. But, as my wife says, service is service. While some wars have been more dividing and controversial than others, all veterans have offered themselves in ways most of us can’t understand.
Numbers from the Veterans Administration are sobering. There are over 24 million vets in the United States. Last year over 6 million of them sought treatment at VA clinics and over 3 million were receiving disability benefits. So while navigating the healthcare system is a challenge for anyone, and even though the VA is doing it’s best within it’s budget, is it any wonder that when you ask a vet whether he or she is receiving adequate mental and physical health benefits, the answer too often is a resounding “No”?
The ways I have gained from offering free acupuncture to vets are innumerable. First, I think I’m helping a couple of people with acupuncture who might not have gotten it any other way, and that feels good. I also get to hear stories from people who have had experiences that I haven’t. There are also the quirky expressions of gratitude, like one patient who brings me baklava each visit for my efforts. And then there are those moments like that one in the parking lot.
The patient I was walking with got home, went online and found an image of the other guy’s boat. He made a copy and left it for him at my front desk. This is beautiful I thought. This is the kind of identification and camaraderie that transcends time and personal affect. One sailor saw another’s car and in effect said, “yeah I know him”. As a former Paramedic I can relate a bit, in that ever July I go to a reunion that meets behind Harlem Hospital. A lineage of Paramedics and EMTs that goes back over thirty years migrates home from all over the country to stand on common ground. Even if it’s the only thing we have in common, it shaped our lives. Seeing this between my patients makes me happy.
With the Holidays upon us, this is a good time of year to consider how you or your business might support vets, whatever your politics. You don’t have to love war, but love people.
As any regular reader of our blog knows, Jill & I cook with tomatoes a lot. We grow our own during the summer and continue exploring recipes with them when winter comes – often with fresh and canned tomatoes we pick up at the supermarket. Well last night our eyes were opened and we may have to reconsider the way we buy our winter tomatoes. Award winning film maker and environmental health advocate Penelope Jagessar Chaffer gave a talk at The YinOva Center on how to be a non-toxic New Yorker and to our surprise, our beloved red fruits did not escape her gaze.
We already knew that getting our tomatoes delivered from Florida in December create a sizable carbon footprint. What we didn’t entirely understand was the ways they are treated and packaged to preserve their seeming freshness can involve potentially toxic chemicals. From pesticides and stabilizers, to the estrogen-mimicking liners of metal cans that leach into the foods, this was not something we liked hearing.
The bottom line: living in New York Penelope says, we are regularly marketed better looking, fresher smelling, quicker acting products, from food to cosmetics and household cleaners, that are, quite frankly toxic. In amongst the eye opening statistics though, she had good news: tangible ways to recognize and make healthy choices about the products we use in and on our bodies.
Penelope’s talk The Ultimate Guide to Being a Non-Toxic New Yorker was a revealing discussion about how to transform our lives with some really simple steps. By reading labels and finding out what an unpronounceable ingredient really is, and asking questions like “What does green dry cleaning actually mean?”, we can become what Penelope calls “internal environmentalists”.
Of course awareness is just the beginning. Penelope also had lots of information on ways to take action, including the power of voting with your wallet and how to talk to kids about healthy choices. She also talked about the importance of supporting legislative initiatives such as NYS Senators’ Schumer and Gillibrand’s call for product labeling transparency, such as with sunscreens (which Jill also wrote about here).
Penelope’s film Toxic Baby is a blend of music, animation and hard science about the increasing exposure that our children face to thousands of harmful chemicals in everyday products. The film’s website features more information, resources and ways to detoxify your world.
What comes after the race?
Whether you are a seasoned tri-athlete or this is a “one-time-bucket-list-check-off”, post race conditioning is as important as getting ready for the race itself. All of the care and determination that got you to the starting line still needs to be summoned to recover after the run. The last thing you want is to have put all this effort in and have the resounding memory be an unhealed injury.
Advice on post-race rest, runs, nutrition and other activities is everywhere. From classic books to trainers’ blogs, there is a lot of great information available. Whether you have a personal mentor or are part of a group like our friends at Fred’s Team (who we have helped support for the last 5 years), their post-run guidance is invaluable: they got you to this point and their experience will help you get back on the road. The challenges faced after the run however are generally agreed on and we have worked with many runners and their trainers to help overcome them. In broad terms, these include:
Exhaustion and immune suppression The energy that it takes to run a marathon can leave you and your immune system depleted. After the big run you are more vulnerable to colds and other infections. The cortisol release alone that comes from this kind of exertion can dramatically lower your resistance.
Physiological stress A long race involves not only your muscles but also all of the organs involved in metabolism. A marathoner will easily burn over 2200 calories in a couple of hours. Electrolytes, neurotransmitters and hormones all shift during a 26.2 mile run and you want to get your inner balance back as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Emotional stress Any marathoner will tell you that it’s all about where your head is. Yet even after all of the validation and psychological conditioning, many runners experience post-marathon blues. Sometimes it is because of chemical shifts and changes in neurotransmitters; sometimes it is simply not knowing what to do next after the excitement of this life-changing event.
Injuries from blisters to sprains, small or large, injuries are a given in this race. Absorbing the impact of 30-50,00 steps and all the training that went into it is bound to take a toll and improperly addressed injuries can linger for a long time to come. The more prepared you are to take care of these things after the big run, the more likely you are to look forward to your regular athletic routine and a better training cycle in the future. The tips for post-marathon recovery are simultaneously general and personal, based on your training background. Essentially they are:
- Hydrate and eat properly
- Heal both physically and mentally
- Resume your training with clear goals for after the run
Week 1Attend to acute injuries Support immune function Promote qi circulation for general aches and pains.
Continue to address injury healing
Reduce stagnation physically (aches) and mentally (depression, insomnia)
Begin to re-build Qi energy to support physiological health
Week ThreeAs your body heals and you are getting back in the game, we will begin to tonify the blood that nourishes muscles and provides fuel for them as well as continue to address any unresolved issues.
Week FourFrom here we look forward to increasing your athletic performance with an increased focus on your individual, constitutional picture and addressing any lingering post marathon health concerns. This plan, along with conscientious cross training has proven itself to be a sensible part of making the most out of your marathon experience. With all of our fingers here at the YinOva Center crossed for a beautiful day, have a GREAT run!
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