Additive sugar is prevalent throughout modern society’s current food system, the addition of extra sugar is one of the causes of the increase in obesity among children. Coincidentally, the increased rate of obesity in children has led to a rise in the imbibement of sugar-sweetened beverages among them. A study published by The New England Journal of Medicine found children with an increased rate of sugar in their beverage intake led to weight gain. This is due to the fact beverages with added sugar do not reduce the amount of calories taken in from other food and drink. The study found children were more susceptible to overeating and receive a higher calorie intake when drinking the sugar-added beverages, because it did not lead to a feeling of satiation. The study was conducted over an 18-month period, and children participating ranged from four to 11 years old, two experimental groups were created. One group of students received eight ounces of a sugar-free beverage a day during the trial period and the other group received the same amount of a sugar-added beverage. The results found a weight increase of 6.35kg in the sugar-free group and a weight gain of 7.37kg in the sugar-added group. Fat mass and skinfold-thickness among the children in the sugar-added group also increased. As the study shows, try to avoid sugar-additive food and drink within your child’s diet. Reach out to Dr. Kimberly Leupold DACM and the incredible team at Holistic Health Care Centers any time for more information and tips to keep your family healthy.
Western medicine is catching up now on the fact that there’s a link between the gut and the brain. Chinese medicine has known this for thousands of years. Western thinking can actually complement Chinese medicine and vice versa. Patients with a lot of anxiety and worry can be treated with vitamins, particularly B vitamins. When the Earth element organs of the Stomach and Spleen are weak we crave sugar more. Sugar will compound this problem causing further weakness and an accumulation of dampness. Sugar can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins – especially B-vitamins which are important for cognitive function and mental health.
Yi, or thought, is the spirit of the spleen. This is why overthinking can weaken the spleen and a weakened spleen can lead to overthinking. As a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, I hear patients telling me every day, “I can’t meditate because I can’t switch my mind off or I’ve got too many thoughts.” No amount of trying to control your thinking is going to work. Strengthening the Spleen will help and there are some ways you can:
- Eat your biggest meal between 7 and 11am.
- avoid damp, sugary, cold, raw and greasy foods.
- eat more warming foods, herbs like ginger, plenty of warming soups, cooked vegetables – particularly orange vegetables are really, really, really nourishing for the spleen. And barley, rice and ginger tea etc.
- Energy Healing
Overthinking is the mental aspect and worry is the emotional aspect of a weakened spleen. Worry actually knots the chi of the stomach and spleen. So if you’re suffering right now from overthinking and worry, it’s a reflection of the state of your body, the way the chi is moving in your body, in your digestive system and the way your digestive system is transforming energy for other systems. If the emotions are not being heard then that can cause a lot of issues, physically and mentally as well. 90% of what I see coming into the treatment room is emotional in nature, compounded stuck emotion and then all the overthinking and the stories on top that have come from trying to work out why you are feeling that way. Having acupuncture and giving yourself space and time to process your emotions in a healthy way is the best treatment for this. The earth element also thrives on a good routine, eating at regular times, going to bed, getting up at regular times is important. Ideally you want to be going to bed as early as possible, waking up as early as possible and eating your main meal as early as possible for energy, for immunity, for lifelong strong earth element and clarity of mind. Our team at Holistic Health Care Centers can help bring your body and energies into balance.
A Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) doctor, similar to Dr. Kimberly Leupold, DACM, and a western medical doctor perceive the body somewhat differently. Each organ according to TCM has its own set of functions. Some overlap with the western functions, and some are entirely different.
One thing that is important to think about, is that when an acupuncturist talks about your organs, they are talking about them in terms of the way they were trained to make a diagnosis. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something biologically wrong. It means that according to the ways an acupuncturist was trained, that particular organ could be part of the overall pattern that is leading to specific symptoms and signs.
According to TCM, one of the main functions of the spleen is to transform and transport energy and fluids from food. When your spleen is healthy it sends excess fluid up to the lungs, where it will be vaporized and expelled.
The energy of the stomach is descending in nature so excess fluid and food waste will be sent downwards to the excretion organs. If stomach energies rebel, the energy moves upwards instead of downwards, causing nausea, vomiting and excess gas.
When the energy of the spleen is weak instead of ascending the Qi (or vital life source according to TCM) sinks downwards resulting in lethargy, excess dampness and phlegm – and in extreme cases, prolapse of organs.
Stress, overactive liver, illness and pregnancy are all potential causes for stomach Qi ascending.
Things like overthinking, excessive work habits, and even eating while working, are potential causes of spleen Qi sinking.
Stomach 36 – Zusanli
The stomach and spleen are also responsible for powering the muscles. So, to maintain physical strength, I will often use acupuncture point Stomach 36 in the treatment room!
It’s just below your knee. It’s known to treat digestive issues, it can support your immune health and even expel “pathogens” from the body. I had a teacher in acupuncture school who used to burn stomach 36, he would take moxa herb and actually burn and scar the acupuncture point Stomach 36 (ST-36) every winter so that the point is continuously activated, fighting off pathogens all through the cold and flu season. ST-36 is also great for fatigue.
Zusanli is the chinese name for this point, the translation means ‘leg three miles’. If you’re running and you’ve run out of muscle power you can massage point ST-36 and get another three miles. This point is all around an amazing point for overall well being.
When you’re feeling tired and fatigued – even if you have brain fog, another acupuncture point Spleen 3 (SP-3). This point can be used in conjunction with ST-36.
An acupuncturists super-simple guide to keep your spleen strong
Avoid damp, sugary, greasy, cold foods. Eat warm, dry foods, herbs, warm drinks. You do not need to worry about this too much in the summertime, but always be mindful about warming the digestion and stoking the digestive fire. You don’t want to dilute the digestive fire by adding too much yin, water, and too much dampness. Your digestion is the first point of generation of your physical chi, for your body, for your mind, for your life and for your dreams.
You may also have an imbalance of these acupuncture organ systems if you answer yes to any of the questions below:
- Do you get sweet cravings?
- Have you got any food insensitivities?
- Do you get bloated after meals?
- Do you find it difficult to get up in the morning?
- Do you have physical or mental fatigue?
- Do you get loose stools?
If you have at least two or three of the above conditions contact Holistic Health Care Centers and our team of health care providers can offer a free in-person or virtual consultation to see what may be done to help strengthen your spleen meridian.
- Rots and ripens food
- Origin of fluids
- Produce blood from the energy of your food – lack of energy can be a sign that your spleen is out of balance.
- Controls the blood vessels, and it’s been thought to prevent hemorrhage and bruising – If you bruise easily it’s a sign that your spleen is a little bit weak.
- Helps prevent your organs “upright”, and from prolapsing – prolase according to TCM is thought to stem from a spleen disturbance.
- Houses clear thinking – so if your spleen is out of balance, your thoughts may not be as clear and your thinking muddled.
- control of muscles – weak muscles and atrophy can be a reflection of an imbalance.
Let’s talk about late summer – from an acupuncturist’s view.
The season of the late summer is the time of the stomach and spleen. The summer season actually belongs to the heart and small intestine, the late summer which is that hazy time between summer and autumn. It’s that time when yin and yang feel really balanced. When it’s not too hot, it’s not cold yet, there’s a slight crispness in the air early morning and late evening. It’s a time of perfect balance at the end of summer, and it’s also the harvest time, suggesting that there’s a sense of abundance. You’ll notice, there’s an abundance of food ripening, quite literally off the vine. This is when the earth element is at its peak.
The fascinating thing about the earth element is that it also has a season in between every other season. There’s a little window in between every season where we have ‘late summer’ again, even in-between winter and spring, in between spring and summer, definitely in-between summer and autumn and in between autumn and winter as well. These are little windows in-between every season which are known as late summer, or earth season are times of balance.
This time between seasons is a time of everything coming back to the core – all of your energies coming back into the center, grounding, rebalancing and then ready to go again into a new season which has new opportunities and new challenges. At the time of writing we’re in the earth element now, we have crossed over from spring into summer. So this is a perfect opportunity for you to come back to your center, spend a little bit of time regrouping, grounding and preparing for what’s coming next in the summer months. When we do this, we give our body an abundance of energy again to work with and do whatever it needs to do to balance itself in the next season. There’s nothing for you to do, just come back to ground zero and give your body a break. Get grounded in nature, rest up and your body does what it knows it needs to do with the energy. Your acupuncturist will also be able to treat these organs and maximize your ability to recharge these organs in their horary time.
If you are an earth element constitutional type you can also receive treatment on the Stomach and spleen during their horary time of day. Receiving treatment between 7am and 11 am is the best time to treat these organs. Each organ has its own time of day where it’s at its strongest. The time of day for the Earth element, Stomach and Spleen, is 7-9am, and 9-11am. The old housewife tale says eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince and eat dinner like a pauper. This is true because the chi is the strongest in the digestive system in the stomach between 7:00 and 9:00AM, and in the spleen between 9:00 and 11:00AM. Eating your biggest meal of the day between these times means you’re going to have optimum digestion, and your body is going to be able to take the most chi from the food and transform it to give your body the most energy available. Eating your biggest meals at the opposite times will have the opposite effect, as there’s the least amount of chi in the digestive system 12 hours later. So between 7:00AM and 11:00AM is when we’ve got the most chi in the digestive system, and then 12 hours later, between 7:00PM and 11:00PM we’ve got the least.
If you want to learn what your element constitutional type is, come on in (virtually or in-person :)! Holistic Health Care Centers may be able to shed some light on this for you.
Subluxation is a disorder of the spine, where its position has moved, placing additional pressure on your nerves. A healthy nervous system would also require that your spinal column stays healthy. However, due to a sudden load or trauma, vertebrae may become misaligned and exert pressure on the spinal nerves. This misalignment may be caused by any physical, mental or chemical reasons. This may result in loss of function in the surrounding joints and tissues. There are specific techniques used by chiropractors to adjust and restore original positioning of the vertebrae, so it does not hinder or affect any movement. These treatments are also known as spinal adjustments or manipulations.
During spinal adjustment by Dr. John at Holistic Health Care Centers in Lisle, IL, the vertebrae is freed from the misaligned position and returned to its anatomically correct position in the spinal column. After the treatment, your body is allowed to heal and maintain homeostasis.
Chiropractors are trained to perform a variety of adjustment techniques either by hand or specialized instruments. Such treatments are often painless and may occur at any time or age during your life.
A chiropractic evaluation is required to correctly determine the subluxation in the spine. Usually, symptoms for subluxation are not prominent. However, there are some indicators such as back pain, neck pain, dizziness, headaches, balance issues, weakness or tightness, muscle spasms, joint pain, reduced mobility, low energy or tingling, and numbness in the extremities. Further research is required to understand the effect of chiropractic treatment in managing subluxation. Nevertheless, there is a role for chiropractors to play in helping with your overall mobility and balance.
There are certain health issues more prevalent in men than women and many of these conditions can be easily addressed or treated using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Afflictions such as high blood pressure, depression, urinary issues, stress and prostate problems are just a few of the issues that are frequently seen in men. And these issues, along with many others, respond very favorably to acupuncture, a modality of TCM dating back thousands of years.
Without purposely trying to cause a debate between the sexes, it is statistically shown that men are less likely to seek help when experiencing physical or emotional unease. This is where something like acupuncture, a safe, natural and side-effect free modality of TCM can be a great asset for men of all ages.
Acupuncture can calm the mind, the nervous system and the endocrine system. All of these things work in conjunction to keep the body functioning properly. However, in the world we currently live in, stress, anxiety and depression have become rampant. Specific acupuncture points can literally decrease the heart rate, slow breathing and relax the mind in a matter of seconds to minutes. This helps alleviate the added stress that men, in particular, feel on a daily basis.
TCM has a long history of being used to help with fertility issues and sexual vitality. As men age and life takes over, many men experience a lack of libido and decreased sexual function. Improperly balanced hormones affected by long hours at the office, improper diet and lack of sleep can all lead to sexual dysfunction and fertility problems.
Simple Acupressure Routine for Men’s Health
Yin Tang: This point is located midway between the inner ends of the eyebrows. Yin Tang is used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. It is also a great point to use for eye issues, nasal problems and headaches.
Heart 7 (HT-7): This point is located on the underside of the wrist crease on the outer edge. It is found in the depression on the outer side of the tendon. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this point is used to calm the mind and heart. It works well for anxiety, stress and anger too.
Kidney 3 (KD-3): Located in the depression between the tip of the medial malleolus and the Achilles tendon. This point tonifies the kidneys, while strengthening the lower back and knees.
Stomach 36 (ST-36): Known as the Longevity Point, this point is located bilaterally on the lower outer leg. It can be found 1 finger-breadth from the border of the upper tibia and about 3 thumb-breadths below the lower border of the knee cap. This point boosts the energy of the body and stimulates the immune function.
Liver 3 (LV-3): This point is located on the top of the foot in the depression between the big toe and the second toe, where the metatarsal bones meet. Stimulating this point helps stagnant blood to move freely again. In Chinese medicine theory, stagnant blood flow can lead to depression. LV-3 is used frequently in traditional Chinese medicine treatments to reestablish the flow of blood throughout the body.
This just touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to men’s health. But it is easy to see why choosing acupuncture to help keep the body in alignment is a great option, especially for men.
Personality and behavioral changes are common with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimers is a progressive and irreversible disease that can slowly destroy not only long term memory, but can disturb basic cognitive function as well. Those who suffer from Alzheimers eventually lose the inability to carry out everyday tasks, and therefore are rendered completely dependent on the help of others.
A caregiver is anyone who provides care for another person. In the United States millions of people care for a family member, friend or patient suffering from Alzheimer’s and other related Dementia. For many families, looking after someone with Alzheimer’s is not a job for one person, but the role of many caregivers sharing responsibility.
Caregivers cannot stop the progression of Alzheimer’s related personality and behavioral changes, but we together can communicate more effectively to help those suffering live more fulfilling and comfortable lives.
Here are four tips on how to help someone with Alzheimer’s disease:
- Keep things simple:
Try to ask or say only one thing at a time. Plan simple activities and ask them for help. For example “let’s go for a walk together” or “could you help me set the table” and “I need your help folding clothes”.
- Encourage routine:
Setting a time for bathing, dressing and eating are great ways to start. Plan activities they enjoy and work these into the routine. Help the person keep track with to-do lists, appointments, events and activities in a notebook or calendar.
- Keep it light:
Obviously arguing with someone who is struggling with Alzheimer’s is a losing battle. Instead if they are confused, anxious, agitated, uncnoltrollably pacing, or simply disoriented, try using music, singing, or dance to distract them. Focus on feelings. For instance instead of saying “why are you so worried” try “you seem worried”. This allows the person to look inward for solutions, rather than outward for stimulus. If you find yourself getting upset by the situation, step away and ask for help. Do not let yourself become so overwhelmed by the complexity that is this awful disease that you lose track of your own wellbeing.
- Give them space to move:
Allowing someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease enough space to walk safely can make a massive difference in their mental wellbeing. We don’t need to get into the specifics of how beneficial exercise is for the human body, but know that even with this disease it is important to keep them moving physically. Provide comfortable appropriate clothes for the weather if outside, as well as sturdy shoes. Remember to give snacks as to not lose too much weight and plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
Among the challenges are moments of joy.
Because Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at the individual holistically, this medicine has modalities that can help those suffering from Alzheimer’s. TCM is safe, natural, effective and side-effect free. Considering a TCM perspective could dramatically help both those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as well as those supporting caregivers.
Arthritis can be one of the most life-altering and unpleasant common pain conditions. Caused by a swelling of the joints, it can range from bothersome to extremely painful and can be a hindrance to everyday activities. Arthritis is also associated with other chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Over 54 million adults in the United States are affected by arthritis. That’s one in four adults! Interestingly, it is more common in rural areas. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States.
That means millions of people aren’t able to work or are limited in their ability to work, are missing out on life-enhancing activities and travel, and may be in near-constant pain due to arthritis.
Thankfully there are a multitude of ways to manage arthritis and the pain that so inhibits sufferers’ lives.
Acupuncture For Arthritis
When you consider that Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) dates back over 3,000 years, it is easy to see the vastness of theory and history involved. This complementary medicine arms practitioners with a plethora of unique diagnostic tools. These tools include an ability to detect Qi imbalances, define the underlying problems and correct them.
Many clinical studies support acupuncture’s ability to be an effective treatment for arthritis. In addition to the increased production of endogenous opioid endorphins (the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals), acupuncture is a great option to keep in mind to reduce swelling and increase range of motion safely, naturally and without harmful side effects.
“Motion is lotion,” you may have heard a physical therapist, chiropractor, or acupuncturist say. Movement can help reduce arthritic swelling and pain, and is a sure-fire mood-booster that can also help manage those conditions that are common in conjunction with arthritis. It’s important that people suffering from arthritis choose low-impact exercise and only engage in physical activity that feel safe.
Stress has a big impact on the body’s ability to heal itself, especially when it comes to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The pain of arthritis can also contribute to stress, creating a vicious cycle.
Making sure you are taking care of your mental and emotional health by making self-care time, getting exercise and outdoor time, and having a mindfulness routine can all help manage daily stress.
The Mediterranean Diet
No diet can cure arthritis outright, but you have a full table of options when it comes to foods that can help fight inflammation and pain.
Often called the The Mediterranean Diet (because, well, it’s common in the Mediterranean regions!), a diet low in processed food and full of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans, and healthy oil can greatly reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Plus, it’s just good for you!
Everyone can benefit from stretching our muscles, tendons and ligaments in the back, legs and buttocks. Any limitation in the back and spine can produce pain. Mobilization of the spine is necessary to prevent low back pain.
General Tips for Stretching to Relieve Back Pain
• Wear comfortable clothes that will not limit your movement
• Stretching should be pain free. Do not force the body into difficult positions.
• Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing.
• Hold stretches long enough (minimum of 30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose.
• Repeat the stretch, generally 5 times.
If one already has lower back pain, it is best to check with your chiropractor to discuss whether the following lower back pain stretches should be done.
Stretches to Ease Lower Back Pain
The goal of stretching is to improve flexibility of the body specifically, the back where everything is connected. Stretching just a part can make a difference.
Knee to Chest Stretch
While lying on the back with the knees bent and both heels on the floor, place both hands behind one knee and bring it to the chest.
The hips and buttocks (where the gluteus muscles are) support the lower back, and stretching these muscle groups plays a pivotal role in maintaining spine flexibility.
While standing with feet shoulder-width apart, take a half-step back with the right foot, bend the left knee and shift weight back to the right hip.
While keeping the right leg straight, bend forward more and reach down the right leg until a stretch in the outer hip is felt.
Piriformis Muscle Stretch The piriformis muscle runs through the buttock and can contribute to back pain or leg pain. To stretch this muscle, lie on the
back and cross one leg over the other and gently pull the other knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock area.
The hamstrings run through the back of each thigh.
Tightness in this muscle limits motion in the pelvis which can increase stress across the lower back and corrupt correct posture.
Stretching the hamstrings can gradually lengthen them and reduce the stress felt in the lower back. Remember, if stretches are too painful, consult your chiropractor!
Spring is a time when headaches can strike even the least suspecting person. Allergens in the air, changing humidity and barometric pressure, and the return to stimulating, active lifestyle can all contribute to headaches. Even if you don’t typically suffer from headaches, springtime might be the season you do feel them cropping up.
Stretches for Headache Relief
It’s possible that your headaches are caused by tension in your upper body, specifically in the neck, jaw, face, and eyes. If you have a computer-based desk job, it’s quite likely that afternoon headaches are triggered by staring at a screen for hours with tension in your neck and shoulders.
Try these stretches throughout the day:
Chest and shoulder opening: Reach both arms behind your low back, clasp your fingers together. If you can’t get your hands to touch, hold a belt or small towel between your hands. Reach your knuckles back and down.
Lateral neck stretch: Slowly tilt one ear to the same shoulder. Use your hand to very gently encourage the stretch. DO NOT pull or force your neck to stretch!
Chin tuck and extend: Bring your chin down toward your chest, using your fingertips to gently encourage the stretch. Spend a few breaths here, then reverse: tilt your chin upwards. Don’t force your chin up beyond what feels safe for your neck.
Acupressure Self-Care Routine for Headache Relief
Get into a comfortable position so that you can easily access all points. Apply finger pressure in a slow, rhythmic manner to enable the layers of tissue and the internal organs to respond. Never press any area in an abrupt, forceful, or jarring way. Stimulate each of the points on both sides of the body at the same time. Spend 30-60 seconds on each point and apply firm pressure while breathing steadily into your lower abdomen. It’s best to do this routine at least once in the morning and once before bed.
Begin with GV-20 and work your way down the body.
Governing Vessel 20: This point is located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of both ears. GV-20 stimulates circulation throughout the body and calms the mind. GV-20 has been noted to improve mental clarity and awareness, while also enhancing memory.
Large Intestine 4: LI-4 is located bilaterally on the back of the hand. When the thumb and forefinger are brought together, this point can be found directly in the middle of the fleshy mound that is created. Known as “The Master Pain Elimination” point, it can address pain in many parts of the body and has been praised for its ability to intercept chronic and acute headaches. DO NOT USE DURING PREGNANCY!
Liver 3: LV-3 can be found on the top of the foot, in the depression between where the first and second metatarsal bones meet. This point is most commonly used to combat dizziness, headaches, vertigo, and depression; and is known to facilitate headache relief. DO NOT USE DURING PREGNANCY!
Kidney 1: KD-1 is located on the sole of the foot, at the junction of the arch, and the ball of the foot. You can find this point between the second and third toes, and approximately 1/3 the distance between the base of the second toe and the heel. Kidney 1 can sedate and calm the mind, while also regulating blood flow to the vital organs of the upper body, such as the brain.
Keep track of the results of your self-acupressure practice to pay close attention to your progress and well-being. This is vital information that we can use in your next acupuncture appointment to help you feel even better!