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Why it is necessary to be a good detective in order to resolve migraine headaches?

 

The most challenging aspect of treating migraines is initially discovering the cause(s), of which there are many. A simple explanation is that migraines are caused due to a reaction to something internal within the body’s complex system, or reacting to an external influence.
Step 1: The body is exposed to some element of toxicity, internal or external.
Step 2: Blood flow is constricted as a strategy to protect the body from the toxin or allergen.
Step 3: The brain “over-reacts” to decreased blood supply by flooding area.
Step 4: Excess blood pushes on the brain directly as it can not quickly leave the area.
The detective work required for migraines is isolating what the specific stimulus is that is triggering the dramatic response. From my long term work with migraines I have seen that the following is a general list of possibilities:
  1. Food allergies or sensitivities.
  2. Excess hormones, which are cleaned up by the liver.
  3. Constipation, which causes the liver to take on more of it’s share of the toxic load.
  4. Heavy metals, which overload the liver.
  5. Tension headaches, which can trigger the migraine response if severe enough.
  6. Toxins in the environment, which overtax the elimination systems in general, but especially the liver.
  7. Exhaustion of the Kidney system (*1), which again, makes the liver work harder.
I keep mentioning the liver because one of it’s many jobs is to clean the blood (*2). As I stated earlier, migraines are directly related to blood flow that is altered due to toxins in the blood. There is oftentimes more than one layer involved, but the liver always plays a large part because of it’s important role in cleaning our entire body’s blood supply every night. Phew! No wonder we call it the live-r.
Probably the quickest method for getting rid of migraines is to utilize enemas or colonics (*3), as this encourages a different elimination system to remove more than it’s share of toxins, thereby lightening the load on the liver. Acupuncture is an excellent adjunct as it always directly works with the liver, no matter what the treatment strategy is. Acupuncture can also address the secondary causes that may be involved.
I personally have a chronic love-hate relationship with coffee. Recently I quit drinking coffee for (I sincerely hope!) the last time. My migraine prevention was to have an enema every day for the first 3 days after quitting, in conjunction with acupuncture. No surprise to me, it totally worked.
If you are trying to figure out, on your own, what your specific triggers for migraines are, think: “What would be the hardest thing for me to give up?”. Unfortunately, that is probably the culprit. This is because we have an elaborate coping mechanism for dealing with allergens: endorphins are created to counteract the affects. Followed by becoming addicted to said endorphins. Can you say vicious cycle? How that translates is that the things we are most interested in are probably allergens, if migraines are in the picture. The more severe the allergy, the more likely you will have migraines during usage, instead of just when it is eliminated from the system.
There are many causes for migraines and I have worked with many patients to support them in transforming this potentially very debilitating condition. Almost always the resolution requires a significant participation by the patient. That is the hard part. However, the good news is that there is a solution that works. Being pain free makes the quality of our lives so much more significant and ultimately sets the internal message: “I am worth the effort”.  As we begin this new year there can be no better self message.
(*1) check out the blog article called: “where’s the bathroom?” for more details on supporting the Kidney system.
(*2) check out the blog article: ”The live in liver”.
(*3) check out colonics with Sarah West at ashlandcolontherapy.com

 

 

Recipes to celebrate Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Chinese medicine the seasons are matched with organ systems in the body. It is a simple yet elegant way of perceiving our connection to Nature. By following as closely as we can to nature’s way we can maximize our health and our state of being

Spring is the time of the Liver organ system. It’s about growth (new buds & sprouting baby plants) and planning (starting a garden) and the exuberance of life’s potential (shifting weather: sun, rain, wind). A good analogy for a healthy liver is the clear, far-seeing vision of the eagle in flight.

How do we support our Liver?

1)      Eating bitter greens and easy to digest oils such as olive, flax, hemp, sesame.

2)      Taking walks in nature especially during the spring when the eyes are nourished by the beautiful and bountiful green. Gardening, if it is fun, is also good.

3)      Receiving acupuncture or practicing Qi Kung, both of which move the Qi. (The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in the entire body).

4)      Avoiding difficult to digest fats such as ice cream, chocolate, chips, cheese, butter, fatty meats, peanut butter ( almond, etc. okay).

5)      Avoiding drugs of all kinds, especially coffee and alcohol as these have the property of heating up the liver.

The following recipes are designed for those who don’t really like the flavor of bitter. My 12 year old daughter, Althea, is the inspiration.

Yummy bitter greens:

Half head of lettuce of any kind (I like romaine for its crunchiness)

One bunch of parsley

One bunch of arugula or dandelion greens

One fennel bulb, stems removed & sliced thinly with a mandolin slicer

Prepare all greens into bite size pieces & combine with sliced fennel bulb. This salad keeps well, prepared ahead, as long as not dressed. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.

 

Leslie’s balsamic vinaigrette:

Place all ingredients in a blender & blend until smooth:

3/4th cup olive oil

1/4th cup Napa Valley Naturals grand reserve balsamic vinegar

(I have used other balsamic vinegars and they just don’t rate for this recipe)

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 “branch” of fresh rosemary 4 to 6 inches long with needles removed for use

1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. tamari (or salt to taste)

 

Arugula roasted beet salad:

(serves 4)

1 bunch arugula

2 beets roasted at 400 degrees for 1 hour & then thinly sliced

(beets can also be sliced & then steamed for @ 15 minutes, but roasted are much sweeter)

4 tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds

4 tbsp. chevre goat cheese (optional)

Balsamic vinaigrette

 

Arrange arugula whole leaves on a small salad plate in a circle, with stems in the middle and rounded end on outer perimeter of the plate. When arranged this way it looks like a green flower. Add ½ of a sliced beet arranged in the center of the “flower”. Drizzle vinaigrette over whole “flower” in a spiral starting with outside edge & continuing to the center. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of pumpkin seeds, and if desired one tbsp. of chevre broken into small pieces & scattered over whole “flower”.

 

The following recipe is for those of us who (oddly) enjoy the flavor of bitter greens.

 

Spring dandelions:

Pull up dandelions, root & all, from your yard (or a friends!): wash thoroughly leaving them whole. For deliciousness they should be only about a maximum of  4 to 5 inches across with a 2 to 3 inch root. The slight bitter flavor turns overwhelming when harvested too late in the season. The time is now!

Serve with olive oil, fresh lemon or lime, & a little salt. You can also use vinaigrette, but I really enjoy the simple dressing best.

Hope you and your loved ones enjoy these recipes as much as our family does. Bitter greens are a natural expression of spring’s beginning & are an important addition to the diet to help our livers be healthy and happy. Bon appetite!

Leslie

The “Live” in Liver

 

The Reason “Live” Is In Liver

-Leslie Moyer

Scenario one:

Imagine you are walking along a beautiful trail in the woods and up ahead, as far as the eye can see, is your favorite body of water. I always see the ocean below an impressive cliff. Perhaps it is a waterfall or bubbling creek for you. Continuing along the trail, humming , singing or whistling because life is good, you suddenly come upon a large section that is covered with blackberry bushes. In the middle of these berries is a bear, who not only completely blocks the trail, but also the view. In fact, there is no way to even get around the annoying bear. The feeling of being thwarted is what we are left with. The goal of reaching the expected destination of water of beauty, no longer a possibility.

Scenario two:

Imagine you are an eagle gliding over a lush valley. With your keen eyesight you can see a lot of details for a long ways ahead. Suddenly you spot a delicious looking mouse and glide ahead where you swoop it into the sky with your talons, providing your next meal. Mission accomplished, with a sense of  freedom added as extra bonus.

Both of these metaphors represent the psychological aspect of the liver system in Chinese medicine. The first scenario represents a liver that is being blocked; also known as stagnation. The second scenario represents a healthy liver: unimpeded forward movement towards a goal. For many of us, how we experience life has a big impact on how our livers function. If we don’t have a sense of purpose, or that sense of purpose is thwarted, or if there is nothing to look forward to, then our bodies pay the price: more than we realize.

Acupuncture follows a system that has Nature as it’s guide. To bring health to our livers, in a world that has become 10 times exponentially more toxic in the last 20 years, we are required to do much more than eat well and exercise. Those things were enough when Nature was King. Now everyone has to work a little harder, metaphorically, in order for our liver to be at it’s best. The tricks we employed even a decade ago are now not so effective because of the huge overload which has occurred.

I find, when discussing liver health with my patients, that the first response is to do some kind of liver cleanse or utilize harsh liver cleansing herbs. In the recent past, that would have been a worthwhile plan. Currently, aggressive cleansing to the liver just causes even more overload to an organ that is already doing the best it can under the circumstances.  Supporting the other elimination organ systems to increase their function is one of the best modern ways to support our livers physically. Of those methods, I think the enema/colonic is one of the best. Irrigating the colon stimulates it’s own function and so is therefore superior to laxatives because it is not habit forming for the body. Because the colon removes so many toxins and is directly related to the liver and gall bladder, enemas are one of the most effective ways to support our liver. In addition, any cleansing that is gentle on the body can also be utilized such as alternating hot/cold showers or other hydro-therapy techniques, and of course, through dietary support. Fasting used to be a very effective method for supporting the liver that I personally no longer do, or recommend, with the exception of someone who has been keto adapted. An excellent alternative to fasting via a class, is offered at Hidden Springs, through Naturapathic Dr. Bonnie Nedrow and involves a very gentle dietary cleanse which is gradually introduced over a 5 week period.

Dietary suggestions for the liver include decreasing the difficult to digest fats such as cheese, chocolate,  ice cream, peanut butter, and animal fats. If possible, also the gradual reduction of coffee, alcohol and other drugs. Increasing healthy fats such as olive oil, seed oils, nuts and avocados greatly supports the liver’s function of digesting fats. Eating lots of greens helps the liver directly and also is the right kind of fiber needed for the colon. Many people are sensitive to grains so that the fiber aspect is canceled out, perhaps even becoming causative for poor colon health. The last food suggestion would be to eat liver, as long as it is organic. The following is a recipe for meatloaf that has liver as one of the ingredients, but the flavor is disguised. Even for picky eaters the liver is not noticeable.

Leslie’s savory meatloaf

preheat oven to 350

1 lb. ground beef

½ lb. liver (chicken is mildest) ground smooth in food processor or hand held blender

1 & ½ c. onion, finely chopped

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 small can tomato paste

2/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup hemp or flax seeds, ground

1 tbsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. tasty salt (such as Himalayan, for ie.)

Knead together, with your hands, all ingredients until blended. Fill loaf pan and set on cookie sheet to catch drips. Meatloaf is done when firm to the touch and has also slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan (1 to 1 & ¼ hours). Best to let sit for about 10 minutes before you serve so that it holds together better. Serve with ketchup or thai chili sauce.

My final suggestion is to incorporate acupuncture, and/or Qi Kung, or meditation, as adjunct therapies that are very specific to the liver. Acupuncture has it’s roots in Qi Kung so they are mutually supportive to each other. Check out Chad’s morning classes for Qi Kung available at People’s Choice. In Chinese medicine the nervous system is ruled by the liver. Anything we can do to calm the nervous system is the superior medicine we are looking for, when it comes to the liver.

 

 

The Amazing Psoas Muscle: How It Relates to Low Back, Hip and Sciatic Pain. 

 

Prior to becoming a mother, I used to have a lot of fun dancing salsa. When my daughter was about 3 or 4 my husband, Chad, gave me a Christmas gift of salsa lessons for the two of us. As luck would have it, shortly thereafter, we had the opportunity to dance salsa to a live band. I figured 1 & ½  hours of dancing would be okay since my prior dance adventures averaged about 5 hours. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The next morning I could barely get myself out of bed. Standing up or sitting down was so painful it was scary to contemplate. The first thing Chad says to me: “we should check your psoas”. My response: “it’s not my psoas, it’s gotta be something worse than that!”. But of course, with the gentlest palpation the psoas was obviously the cause of pain. This came as a complete surprise to me because I was (supposedly) an expert on the subject of the psoas: it had been my favorite muscle for at least a decade & a half at this point. There is nothing like severe pain to teach a person the REAL story.

Fortunately, my mis-adventure with the psoas was short lived. Daily acupuncture combined with therapeutic hot stone massage got me free of pain in a matter of days. But it did change my whole perspective on this amazing muscle and expanded my repertoire for healing techniques.

Clinically what I see most often as a causative factor for psoas problems is stress, not injury. This is probably because the psoas is connected to our limbic system, also known as the reptilian brain. This is the part of our brain that is directly connected to the nervous system so that we can get out of danger quicker than processing through our relatively slow cerebral cortex. A good example of this is moving a hand off a hot stove. Another example might possibly be running from predators, back in the days when such things applied. We no longer have saber- tooth tigers, etc., but we do have financial pressures or challenging relationships or any number of modern “saber -tooths”.

To get a better understanding about how the psoas is connected to the limbic system we have to look at its structure. The psoas is physically connected to the diaphragm, so breath is integral to its function. The psoas is also attached to all of the lumbar vertebrae and to the entire inner lining of the ilium (hip bone) and finally ends on the inner upper thigh. This makes it very stable, plus a very important muscle for running and jumping, especially up hill. As a re-cap: it is a huge muscle that is located exactly in the middle of the body, from any direction of view, and connects the upper body to the lower body. The psoas is perfectly designed to get us out of danger quickly: breath, stability, stamina, legs plus back connection.

Because of the location and stabilizing function of the psoas, when it contracts, a lot of other muscles become affected. Clinically, the muscle I see most commonly affected is the piriformis, which is located deep in the hip. The piriformis pulls on the sacral iliac joint which causes the hips to be out of alignment and thereby mimicking sciatica.

Okay, if any of the above info seems related to your back or hip pain what can you do to assist the healing? One of the best things you can do is a body meditation with focus on the psoas. Lie down on your back with your legs propped up under several pillows or in the fetal position on your side with pillows assisting proper alignment. Imagine your psoas. When you get a good picture, ask it if there is any communication that would be good to share with you. It may not say anything, but just start hurting. That is actually just fine; it means that the stress of the day is being released instead of being added to the muscle’s storage. All muscles have this function, but the psoas is more pronounced due to its limbic system connection. If the original contraction happened in a car accident, then just getting in a car can trigger it. When a baby is held by its feet and slapped, the muscle that attempts to get baby back in the safe fetal position is the psoas. Future “slaps” from behind can create psoas contraction as a coping strategy. So checking in with this muscle can be very powerful in helping it feel good again.

Other modalities that are useful are acupuncture and gentle massage: pain during session should never go past a 5 on a 1 to 10 scale. The psoas fights back by getting tighter if treated too aggressively. In the category of massage, I find therapeutic hot stone to be very helpful as the heat relaxes the muscle so that the therapist is able to go much deeper in a session without causing pain.

Standing Qi Kung is also another helpful tool. Check out Chad’s class as he incorporates this technique in his classes. This is a good addition for the long term picture in prevention of future difficulties with the psoas.

Things to avoid when the psoas is healing: stairs, “crunches” or abdominal work (as these utilize psoas), walking up hill, riding bike up hill, any kind of jumping or kicking.

Recap:

1. daily meditation for the psoas at end of day (at least 10 minutes, or until pain lets up)

2. acupuncture

3. gentle massage

4. avoid hills & ab work

5. be gentle & go at the speed your body desires, in terms of healing this truly amazing  muscle.

– Leslie Moyer

 

The “Pause” in Menopause

By Leslie Moyer

Many years ago, at the beginning of my personal peri-menopausal hormonal shift, I began to have symptoms that are very typical for many American women. Because of my training in Chinese medicine I knew that this was an indication of disharmony, and was therefore correctable.

The most annoying symptoms at the time were hot flashes and difficulty staying asleep. In our world, these things are considered “normal” and just part of the additional adjustment we must make as women when going through this big hormonal shift.

I ended up only having hot flashes for about 1 month because of the support from acupuncture, herbal medicine and eliminating un-necessary stress. The first two aspects were actually the easiest to treat. For most of us, life style changes can sometimes be the most challenging factors to address. In my particular case it meant taking a break from working in the clinic. Home became a place to offer some massage and to get caught up on the many things that became neglected from taking on the large task of helping build People’s Choice. My family never ate so well as during that 6 month hiatus!

Those of you who have previously read my blog article called “Where’s the bathroom?” know that my chronic pattern is to over do it, especially when I am overwhelmed. It is a way to override the body’s communication in order to get everything done that feels necessary. Most of the time, however, it isn’t really possible to get everything done anyway. For my personal stress factor I had to remove myself from the environment that I had difficulties making healthy boundaries in. Once out of overwhelm I was able to re-enter the work arena. Many of you reading this article can likely relate to this dynamic. Perhaps it is not possible to stop work for any significant length of time. If that is the case, then other ways will have to come into the forefront.

If overdoing it is your go-to then the pause in menopause is absolutely essential to balancing the negative symptoms that can arise during this period. On the other hand, if your pattern is to be a couch potato then exercise may now be a must. Menopause is a time to re-claim, perhaps for the first time ever, self care habits. The focus for women is oftentimes on our families and the hormonal dance lets us know immediately what is possible and what is not. If you are a married woman going through this change I highly recommend that your partner also reads this article. Everyone in the family will be served when the woman gets the support she needs during this time. As we have all heard, and perhaps know directly, peri-menopause can be an emotionally challenging time for both the woman plus anyone in her inner circle.

The bottom line about dancing happily through this particular life chapter is the ability to be flexible and try a new way of approaching the symptoms. Just because it is common for women to have symptoms doesn’t mean it is necessary.

Elegant solutions are available which may also have the added bonus of potentially discovering a new outlook on life by generally helping us to feel better. Hormones exaggerate the picture and basically let us know how we need to make changes.

The following is a list of recommendations that support being symptom free. -Acupuncture combined with herbal formulas specific to your imbalances. -Stress reducing techniques such as Qi Kung, yoga, receiving massage, meditation, body based therapies.

-Avoiding coffee and alcohol. For some women also eliminating chocolate and/or sugar.

-Go to bed by 9:30 or 10, especially if sleep is an issue. If you wake up at night and can’t go easily back to sleep use the time to meditate, do yoga/Qi Kung, or read non-stimulating books with a cup of tea. This takes the angst out of the experience and oftentimes allows the nervous system to relax enough to go back to sleep after an hour or so.

-For the over-doers: make a list of things you want done in a day and then only actually do about 70% on the list. Enlist the help of your significant others if available: perceiving over-doing is probably more visible to them.

-For both the under-doers and the over-doers: exercise everyday for about 30 minutes. This is a very important aspect of regular self care.

-Create a body diary that focuses on the things that worked. Basically reinforcing how our body is doing it’s best to keep us in balance.

-Delegating assistance. This is a time in life where asking for help is a benefit to everyone involved. Letting go of control is part of the process: mirroring the physical aspect of the hormone decline.

-Last, but certainly not least: refuse to buy into the belief that menopause has to be difficult. It has the potential to be a very liberating time as long as we follow our body’s lead.

Are you challenged by what to have for breakfast? Here are two recipes that I developed, that are user friendly for those with dietary limitations.

I have recently had the honor to meet two amazing young people at People’s Choice. The first is a young woman of 17 who has celiac disease and endometriosis, both conditions being quite painful. The second is a girl, nearly 12, who has severe migraines which are, of course, also very painful. What has struck me about both girls is not only their poise and courage to face their health difficulties, but mostly their willingness to do what is needed. It is truly inspiring and I “tip my hat” to you both.

My first recipe I dedicate to the 17 year old:

Paleonola

3 cups seed meal or nut meal: make this with a food processor; takes about 1 minute

(I started with almond meal, but the sky is the limit: filberts, walnuts, cashews or sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)

3 cups hemp seed meal

2 cups shredded coconut

2 cups flaked coconut

7 & 1/2 cups nuts (or seeds)

(I started with 3 different nuts of 2 cups each plus 1 &1/2 cups pumpkin seeds)

1 cup coconut oil heated until liquid

1 cup maple syrup or 3/4th cup honey or 1 tbsp. stevia

3 tbsp. vanilla

1 heaping tbsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

Mix in a super large bowl or large soup pot, with a long spatula. Start with dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, then add wet ingredients and again mix thoroughly.

To bake, put on a cookie sheet about 1 inch thick at 300 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. It does not need to be stirred during cooking, but it is done when the color is slightly darker. The texture gets crunchy when cooled.

Note: this cereal is protein dense so smaller serving portions are suggested.

Recipe #2 dedicated to the 12 year old:

Flourless Muffins

1 & ½ cups  nut meal: make this with food processor

3/4th cup hemp seed meal

4 eggs

½ cup unsweetened apple sauce

½ cup coconut milk

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tbsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp baking soda

Optional additions:

½ cup of one of the following:

Fresh blueberries

Currants

Fresh pear, chopped into small pieces

Whisk eggs, add remaining wet ingredients, then add remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in fruit (if desired).

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Do not over-bake as they will be dry.

Note: these muffins do not have much loft, but they do have more “stick to your ribs” power so less will be needed to get full.

I hope these recipes will give folks some more ideas. Another recipe source I recommend is: Primal Blueprint: Quick & easy meals. You can get this book by ordering at Book Wagon. For non breakfast meals Hidden Springs has a great cookbook for veggie based meals written by my sister, Bonnie Nedrow, N.D., and Chef Jeff, who live right here in Ashland.

Ok, So I Have Blood Deficiency, But What Does That MEAN?

My first acupuncturist helped me resolve my life-long issue of frequent urination, which I detailed in my last blog. When I first started receiving acupuncture treatments from my teacher, Dr. Lily Chang, I still had a deficient blood situation due to my weak digestive system. I was skinny as a rail (malnourished) and my blood pressure was 60 over 40!

At the time of my first treatment with Dr. Chang I had been a vegetarian for 16 years. So you can probably guess what she suggested. Unlike my first acupuncturist, who intuitively knew how stubborn I could be, Dr. Chang gave me very firm instructions regarding my diet. She requested that I cook a bunch of herbs with a cornish game hen to make a blood-tonifying soup. My response: “ Does it have to be a cornish game hen?”. Her response, an emphatic: “yes!”. To get some perspective, imagine a chi kung master who is also a 64th generation Taoist master, the first woman in the lineage. She is not exactly a person you could argue with, or at least that you would want to.

Shifu, aka Dr. Chang, explained that our blueprint is set up in the first 7 years of our life: our basic sources of protein especially. Because she is Taoist there is also the component of fate. If our parents are vegetarian then that is our particular fate to also be vegetarian, and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be healthy going off our blueprint; it just means we will probably just have to work harder at it. In my case, my health was chronically in bad shape a long time before receiving care so turning it around while simultaneously staying vegetarian was probably not a viable solution. Generally, Shifu has witnessed patient’s health beginning to show signs of decline (in a noticeable to the patient way) in about 10 years after changing the diet. After 15 years, the signs of poorer health are generally not ignorable.

What does it mean if your acupuncturist reports that you are blood deficient? In a general way it indicates that your digestive system is weak and unable to get enough nourishment. Blood deficiency is twofold from a Chinese medicine standpoint: volume and quality. Both are determined by:1) what we eat, and 2) how our bodies are able to process the food. Women tend to have more problems with this due to the monthly period, especially if heavy flow, and breast feeding which is equivalent to the same demand on the body. Women are also more likely to skip meals, eat on the run, multi-task while eating and “diet”: all of which make it harder for the digestive system to thrive.

If you are Blood deficient the most important factor for correcting this is through diet. If you are vegetarian, but not raised as such, then adding herbs prescribed by your acupuncturist is essential. The second most important factor is herbs, which are considered food for the organs. One of the best “herbs” for blood deficiency is bone marrow soup. My next blog will be a recipe for making bone marrow plus a delicious soup that can be made out of it.

Strategies (in a nutshell) for correcting blood deficiency:
1) Eat a large, hot, protein based breakfast; within 1 to 2 hours after arising. Please no smoothies, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal: all of these foods slow down the function of the pancreas if consumed as the first meal, which then further impairs the digestive system.
2) Chew food thoroughly and without distractions (such as driving for example).
3) Eat dinner by 6 or 6:30 pm.
4) Snacks in between meals are okay if protein based; such as nuts or seeds or bean dip with veggies, etc. This is the time to have that smoothie as long as not super cold.
5) Utilize Chinese herbs and /or bone marrow soup.
6) Receive acupuncture.
7) Be patient: blood deficiency takes awhile to manifest and may take time to resolve.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the blog. I will do my best to assist you in reaching your health goals.
Yours in health,
Leslie Shanai

“Where’s the Bathroom?” (aka: frequent urination)

My case of frequent urination began at a very early age: around 9 or 10 years old. By the time I was a teenager, my life was controlled by the availability of a bathroom due to the need for using, about once per hour. After numerous tests, including a very painful procedure involving enlarging the urethra, I was assessed with having an untreatable condition with no known cause.

Sometime in my mid twenties I developed digestive issues AND I still had frequent urination. I had the good fortune at this time, to meet an acupuncturist at a workshop. She noticed that I was making very frequent visits to the bathroom all through the workshop, and suggested acupuncture as a possible treatment to cure this problem. However, I was terrified of needles, plus I also felt pretty hopeless about anything helping my condition. Over time, I became good friends with the acupuncturist and decided to allow her to insert one needle. Suffice it to say I discovered it was no big deal and proceeded to receive regular treatments, along with herbal therapy prescribed by my acupuncturist. After 1 & ½ years, my condition was completely reversed. Since I had the problem for close to 20 years, it felt like a reasonable time frame to reverse an “untreatable” condition.

In Chinese Medicine we think of frequent urination as a problem with the kidneys not the urinary bladder. The kidneys provide the energy for the bladder to contain the urine. Frequency is a different measure than volume, with this model. If a person has frequent urination, the number of trips to the bathroom stays pretty much the same with just the volume changing, when the amount of water consumed is higher. The other important distinction of Chinese Medicine is that deficiency patterns, such as frequent urination, have a different strategy for treatment than excess patterns, such as kidney stones. For frequent urination it is recommended to only drink water when you are thirsty as too much water makes the kidneys work harder. If you have kidney stones, then it is a good idea to drink lots of water.

If you have frequent urination what are some things you can do to help minimize or at least slow down the progression? First and foremost is getting enough rest. Going to bed by 9:30pm or 10pm to avoid cortisol surges, which negatively affects the adrenals, a significant part of the Kidney system. Rest also includes taking breaks when you are tired, such as those wonderful power naps Chad mentioned earlier, plus following the 70/30 rule. What that means is to only use 70% of your total available energy at any given time. This is potentially very challenging for Kidney deficient folks as they often use their will to power through, as a chronic coping strategy. In other-words, they rarely know what their 70% is. If you suspect this is an accurate picture of yourself, it’s very helpful to have an ally. Someone who can point out that you are in over-do-it mode and actually encourages you to take a break when you need one. Speaking from experience, it is potentially a difficult habit to break.

Seasons that are more challenging are winter and the transition into spring when temperatures go to extremes very quickly. One of the many functions of the Kidney system is to regulate our internal temperature: keeping us cool in summer and warm in winter. Heating is generally more demanding, so in times of cold weather it is even more important to get enough rest. Hibernating bears have the right idea.

Exercise that doesn’t require a huge exertion is more supportive for Kidney deficiency. This principal is sort of shunned in the west, where everyone is viewed as being the same kind of tree: exercise hard and use your will to power through. Some people are pine trees, some are coconut, etc. Each tree needs different conditions to thrive. For deficiency conditions, less is generally more.

My next comment will probably illicit annoyance from many of those reading this article. Here, in America, we like to think of ourselves as immortal. We expect to do just as much when we are 60 years old as 40 years old. However, to age gracefully, it may be more appropriate to tune in and really listen to see how much energy is in the savings account and spending it wisely. This is why you see middle aged and the elderly doing Chi Kung in the parks of China: they can no longer deny the effects of aging and wish to enhance their savings account and make it last. Age appropriate exercise has a very significant outcome. Some people age more quickly, due to what they have inherited, and of course the opposite is true. So the important thing is to learn how to listen and feel what is right as an ongoing process.

I will end this article with an image that will hopefully be helpful to those of you reading that can’t help over-doing. A number of years ago, when Chad and I were in the first stages of developing People’s Choice, I came home from work really tired. On the couch was a gigantic pile of laundry. Rather than folding, I decided to read a little so I pushed the laundry aside to make room for myself. About 4 hours later, Chad came home and took one look and started to applaud. This had a huge impact for me and is an image I treasure. It contradicts all of my up-bringing that says I was just being lazy. Does this sound familiar? We really are own worst critics and it is so important to avoid comparing ourselves to others. We inherit strengths and weaknesses and acknowledging this has the potential to empower and truly reveal our gifts.