World Osteoporosis Day: Down to the Bone with TCM

This October, when you see a skeleton hanging in a doorway or window to celebrate Halloween, take a moment to appreciate your own osseous framework at the very core of your body’s structure. That appreciation would be right on time as October 20th is the calendar day that marks an annual campaign to raise awareness and resources about Osteoporosis and promote better bone health. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that affects over 200 million people in the world and over 30% of all menopausal women. It is defined as the reduction in strength and density of the bones leading to increased risk of breaks and fractures. As there is no cure, the focus is on prevention.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, skeletal growth, development and repair is the domain of the kidneys. Bone loss related to aging is a result of the decline of kidney essence (or jing) over time. Prevention of bone weakness and degeneration is all about the preservation of our kidney jing which is in limited supply as we can not replenish it through our lifetime. What we get when we’re born is what we got. Through lifestyle, diet and herbs we can help to conserve our supply thereby slowing decline. While we can not directly augment the kidney essence we can tonify our kidney qi which will assist in bone repair. Maintaining proper blood flow is also essential to removing stasis that may block the production of new bone.

There are many things we can do to preserve our kidney essence, and supplement our qi while supporting proper blood flow.

*DIET: Foods that are considered kidney-nourishing in Chinese Medicine include sweet potatoes, walnuts, black beans, fish, seaweed, and bone broth. Bone broth is especially important as it is rich in minerals that help build and strengthen bones. Keep your blood nourished and moving with dark leafy greens, organically sourced meats, and stimulating flavor-boosters like onions, garlic, basil, cayenne and turmeric.

*HERBS: Some Chinese herbs that are important in maintaining kidney qi and essence are Shan Zhu Yu, (jujube), Wu Wei Zi, (five flavor fruit) and Gou qi zi, (the good’ol Goji berry!) Goji berries can be safely munched on as a kidney supporting snack as well as added to various dishes. Another herb that has gotten some attention recently as a treatment for osteoperosis is a blood mover called Dan Shen (red sage). Research has shown its value in preventing bone loss without major side effects. (*As with all herbal medicine, it is vital to seek guidance from a qualified herbalist before beginning any herbal protocols.)

*LIFESTYLE: One of the most important ways to preserve your essence is through adequate rest. The worst thing we can do is burn the candle at both ends, especially when you consider the candle to be a perfect metaphor for our Kidney jing. Life is exciting but maintain balance for the long haul. Exercise can be a healthy counterpart to appropriate rest. Weight-bearing exercise is touted as one of the best osteoporosis prevention methods but there are also qi gong exercises (such as ‘Knocking on the Doors of Life’) that bring circulation to the kidneys with very gentle movements that are safe and easy for all ages. Water is the element of the kidneys, and staying hydrated is essential to kidney function, supporting not just our bones but overall health. And let’s not forget acupuncture, the powerful and time-tested method for boosting qi, and making sure it is flowing through every cell of our amazing bodies.

An ounce of osteoporosis prevention is worth a ton of cure so get down to the bone with some acupuncture for kidney tonification, blood flow and bone building! Schedule your [1] skeleton-supporting session at Holistic Health Care Centers today!

Photo by Ivu00e1n Rivero on Pexels.com

Chiropractic Care for Soccer Players

Soccer is one of the most popular and frequently played sport in the world. This sport is played for fun or fitness. Billions of fans gather every year to watch their favorite teams and the world’s most talented athletes.

For many players and athletes, chiropractic care plays an essential role in achieving the highest peak performance in training as well as lifestyle.

Chiropractors help athletes in ensuring correct alignment of the spine and its effect on the nervous system.

In case the spine is not aligned properly or locked out of place, scientifically known as vertebral subluxation, it results in several issues which affect performance and make players susceptible to injury. Vertebral subluxation reduces spine mobility, leading to improper nerve flow, motion, performance and increased chances of related injuries.

Since chiropractors are aware of mind body association, they are able to relieve soccer players from experiencing issues such as routine strains.

Chiropractors help players by informing them about the right method of resting their joints, and could recommend the right supplements for maintaining a nutritional balance. This also speeds up the recovery period after an injury. Soccer players need to continually bend their back during the match when getting into certain positions. Even though spinal injury is usually infrequent in soccer, chiropractic care helps in achieving a steady development of the lower back.

Even though the cervical spine (or neck region) may be flexed, adjustments can help regain the proper curvature or cervical lordosis. Therefore, aligning the spine using chiropractic care improves the strength of soccer players significantly. Furthermore, it also helps in staying away from routine strains.

If you suffer from a misaligned spine or if you have concerns about how to perform spine alignment, make sure to visit Dr. John with Holistic Health Care Centers soon for a customized plan!

Harvest to Hibernation: Preparing the Hearth

Fall is traditionally thought of as harvest time, a time for gathering nature’s bounty, and preparing it for storage. Food is preserved for hibernation season. While we, as humans, do not actually hibernate in winter, we resonate with the energy of the season. Many animals hibernate, plants die down while roots preserve energy for the spring. The sun is low in the sky, days are shorter, it is darker and colder and we are drawn home.

Home is where the heart is but it is also where the hearth is. Preparing the hearth means creating a warm, safe space. Fall is a time to make sure our homes are ready for the extreme yin season, while also preparing our bodies, minds and spirits. Surviving and thriving in winter relies on the ability to draw on the reserves of food, warmth, and energy that we have gathered and preserved in accordance with the seasons.

Here are some things to consider in Fall to better prepare for winter:

Nutritional transitions: In Chinese Medicine, Fall is lung season. Don’t miss this opportunity to nourish and moisten the lungs with foods like pears, apples, figs, cauliflower, and daikon radish. Keeping the lungs strong will build immunity for the sometimes harsh conditions we face in Winter. Plenty of fiber is also important to help clean out LI (the lung’s paired organ) and prevent digestive stagnation as everything slows down in Winter. Most food should be cooked to maintain the body’s digestive fire. Warming teas with cinnamon and ginger are delightfully seasonable as temperatures drop throughout fall and winter.

Lifestyle transitioning: Winter is the peak of yin time. Yin time is about going inward into stillness. Fall is the beginning of the yin season and when we should begin that inner journey.  The excitement of summer quiets down and we begin to require more sleep and rest in general. We simply need to slow down as we don’t want to expend the energy reserves that are needed to keep us warm and healthy throughout the frost. This is also a time to layer our clothing as the temperatures drop. Chinese medicine  practitioners will always remind you to make sure you have a favorite scarf in the Fall to cover the nape of your neck. This area of the body is especially vulnerable to chilly winds that can penetrate and disturb our homeostasis.

Emotional transitions:  In preparation for the reflective yin time ahead, we are compelled to feel some grief as we say goodbye to summer and observe the natural cycle of death happening around us as the earth progresses towards winter. If we have created space and time to feel the natural sadness of letting go in the fall, and release those energies appropriately, it will be that much easier to face the emotional energies of winter, the darkest season. Winter is associated with the emotion of fear and facing  our fears helps us tap into our strength, our courage and our willpower.

Fall is a time for practical considerations when it comes to winterizing our homes, cars, and land. Depending on where/how we live, we may find our to-do lists filled with things like cleaning out the gutters, inspecting the chimney, checking antifreeze levels, and spreading mulch in the garden. Regardless of how we prepare externally, it is just as important to prepare internally for the change of season.

Want some assistance with these internal preparations? Call Holistic Health Care Centers and schedule some fall acupuncture to ‘prepare the hearth’ and set yourself up for a smooth transition into winter!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Tips from Chinese Medicine

For more than 30 years, October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This effort to raise awareness and funds for research can be considered a recent endeavor in the history of the disease which has been around for at least 5000 years. Medical texts describe cases dating back to 3,000 BC. Today, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. (A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883). In order to promote early detection, educational campaigns share information about warning signs such as breast swelling or discomfort, nipple pain or pitted skin. Western medicine researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer, but causation is considered extremely complex.

Chinese Medicine organizes causative factors into the following categories which can also interact in complex ways:

*Stagnation (liver qi): The liver is in charge of moving the qi in the body, dispersing stagnation caused by various influences (such as the other causative factors listed below). Emotional stress can cause a weakness in its capacity for qi distribution and regulation. The liver channel also connects directly with the breasts. Unchecked stagnation can cause dense tissue and masses to form.

*Heat: On a very basic level, heat in TCM can be likened to inflammation. This can be caused by internal or external influences. One of the main external influences that can lead to heat (and therefore inflammation) in the body are environmental toxins.

*Deficiencies: Both qi and blood deficiencies can contribute to the development of breast cancer. The immune system needs enough qi to target and remove abnormal (potentially cancerous) cells and regenerate healthy ones. A deficiency of blood can lead to stagnation if there is not enough blood to maintain vigorous circulation (picture a river during a drought). Also, a deficiency of spleen qi (related to digestion) often leads to dampness in Chinese Medicine.

*Dampness: One of the ways dampness expresses itself in the body is by the accumulation of excess fat. Also, dampness and heat combined usually generates ‘phlegm stagnation’ which can take the form of hardness, nodules and tumors.

Luckily, the approach to prevention is not as complex as breaking down the causes. Dr. Kimberly Leupold is here to support you on your health journey.

Prevention tips:

Enjoy nutritious seasonal food to support the creation of new qi and blood.

Avoiding processed food will help to minimize toxic heat and dampness in the body and cut down on our body’s inflammatory responses.

Regular exercise helps us to maintain circulation and a healthy weight while allowing us to sweat out toxins.

Filtering our air and water can help minimize our exposure to environmental toxins.

Liver detox teas and gentle cleansing protocols, especially during Spring (liver time), can be very beneficial in ridding the body of accumulated toxins and supporting the liver’s role in the free flow of qi.

Managing stress is critical. Target your biggest stressors in life and make changes to either remove them, limit them or create better coping strategies.

Massage and castor oil packs can be used preventatively to help avoid local stagnation, often found in fibrocystic (lumpy) breasts (though these direct approaches are usually avoided in the treatment of actual cancerous tumors).

Acupuncture and Herbs are wonderful tools for prevention and can also help to treat side effects of conventional cancer therapies (nausea, neuropathy, pain etc.).

Simply put, TCM’s approach to Breast cancer prevention is overall health promotion. Call Holistic Health Care Centers today to get in for some health promoting acupuncture sessions, to help prevent cancer and other diseases and feel your best!

World Smile Day: The Healing Power of Your Smile

Friday, October 1st is World Smile Day, but everyday should be World Smile Day!  The doctors and practitioners at Holistic Health Care Centers will always strive to put a smile on your face.  Smiles are truly one of the most powerful healing tools we have and deserve to be celebrated! The healing effects of simply smiling are well documented. A smile helps you to relax, and reduces pain via endorphins and other natural painkillers. It also stimulates the release of serotonin, which relaxes the body and allows for better immune function. Smiling naturally makes us more attractive and can therefore boost confidence leading to greater success in our pursuits. Genuine, intense smiling is actually associated with longer lifespans. Smiling helps us to both live longer and to feel good while alive.

In TCM, the emotion of joy is generated by the heart. The Shen, which is the aspect of spirit associated with the heart, expresses itself mainly through the eyes, such as in the ‘sparkle in the eye’ but interestingly, in TCM facial diagnosis, the corners of the mouth correlate with the heart. And what better way to show off a healthy heart and spirit than pairing that sparkle in the eye with a heartfelt smile? Add in a little laughter, and after a brief initial increase in heart rate and blood pressure, you can enjoy the lasting effect of a lowered heart rate and blood pressure as well as overall muscle relaxation. Something as simple as stirring up a little joy can be the key to preventing heart disease, the number one killer in America today.

Ancient Taoists were well aware of the healing ability inherent in the energy of a smile. Qi Gong masters practiced a form of internal alchemy called the Inner Smile Meditation and passed down this tradition through the ages. It involves imagining the sensation of a smile in each of our organs and feeling the peace that the smile brings as it releases stuck energy in our organs and channels. It is said to awaken a core sense of unity and activate the inner will of our heart. This practice is known to create profound healing effects on the body.

While the inner smile meditation sounds simple, it is a qi gong practice that can take a lifetime to master. Meanwhile, the benefits of smiling are available to us all. The basic exercise of smiling at yourself in a mirror can transform your self-image and heal inner wounds. Also, called ‘mirror-work’,  this act of self-love generates compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and others. Take your smile out in public too and notice its effects. We’ve all heard smiles are contagious, so let yours ripple out. You have no idea how far it will go. It might possibly heal the world.

Smiling is not just an effect of health and happiness, it can also be the cause. Make sure to share it on World Smile Day and everyday. If you need a little help bringing out yours, come get a smile-boosting acupuncture session at Holistic Health Care Centers, and celebrate your own unique smile’s healing power.

Are You an Alchemist? Time to Make Gold!

Alchemists attempt to purify and perfect, historically to transmute base metals into gold, or allegorically, to purify the basic elements of our consciousness into the gold of pure spirit through the process of inner transformation.

True alchemy appreciates that the purity of the process is what determines the purity of the result. Making gold requires precision like baking. It is not simply a creative experiment (like some of us might call our cooking). Recipes, order, structure, measurements, and procedure all take precedence over carefree approaches. Alchemists must honor the details of the ritual, the science of the process.

Alchemists, therefore, embody the metal element in Chinese Medicine. Metal is associated with refinement for the sake of purity. This relates to the season of Autumn in that it is a time of drawing inward to the purity of the core and letting go of the excess. In Autumn, trees draw their sap inward towards the roots, while simultaneously sending impurities upwards towards the leaves that they will shed. It’s also harvest time, when we take the edible essence provided by the earth and discard the husks and stalks that are no longer needed. This is a time to be careful in separating out what is essential from what can be relinquished. This careful precision is the key to the alchemist’s process of extracting order from chaos. Holistic Health Care Centers is here to help your purify your mind, body, heart, and soul.

Are you an Alchemist?

Do you keep your living space tidy and organized?

Are you detail oriented?

Have you ever been called a ‘perfectionist’?

Do you follow recipes when you cook?

Is purity a value for you in any area of your life?

Do you pride yourself on your integrity?

Most of us have at least some of the metal element energies within us, in some areas of our lives. They may even be in excess when it comes to certain aspects of our personality. For instance, if we are overly rigid in regards to our own expectations of our education or career, this can lead to stress and lack of joy in the process. Or on the flip side, if we completely drop expectations and make half-hearted efforts in our work or projects, we lack that sense of refinement attributed to the metal element, and allow for sloppy results.

Exaggerated expressions of the metal element are seen in dogmatic, authoritarian strict personalities that prefer control and are bound to routine. Associated health concerns include issues of rigidity and dryness such as stiff joints and muscles, dry skin, poor circulation, restricted breathing, constipation and a reserved, flat affect unable to confer much emotion. While a collapsed version of the metal energy leads to a decay of personal values and a reliance upon external constraints (such as in a fearful adherence to a strict religion or structure) or someone who has given up on structure completely and tends towards disarray and chaos. In the extreme collapse of metal, someone may simply become numb. Health issues due to deficient metal energy manifest as weaknesses like shortness of breath, anemia, loss of body hair, easy perspiration, and stress incontinence. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please reach out to Dr. Kimberly Leupold any time.

Autumn, the season of metal, is the perfect time to tap into our inner alchemist, organize our space, bring order where it is needed, clean up the chaos, and use ritual to empower our intentions. As always, we must be aware of the equilibrium of energies and compensate for rationality and self-control with passion and spontaneity. A little dose of “go with the flow” helps to balance things out. A true alchemist will recognize that with any ritual, following a set structure is important, as long as you leave room for the magic.

Let us help you tap into your magic and nurture your inner alchemist in time for the fall season! Call today to schedule your next acupuncture session! (847) 571-5455

Acupuncture for PTSD Symptoms After Natural Disasters

In April 2019, a team of Italian researchers published a study in Medical Acupuncture that suggests acupuncture may be effective for reducing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a natural disaster. The research team looked at residents of Amatrice, Italy, where a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in 2016 left nearly 300 people dead and almost 30,000 homeless. Natural hazards, like earthquakes, that are unpredictable and wreak widespread havoc on communities, have been shown to cause psychiatric disorders in survivors, including PTSD.

The participants in this study received five weeks of acupuncture treatments starting about a month after the earthquake. Researchers used patient-reported numbers on a pain scale to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments. Before the treatments, 68 percent of the patients reported having psychological and pain symptoms associated with PTSD. Already after the third treatment, 54 percent of patients reported improvements in their psychological symptoms and 60 percent reported improvements in their pain symptoms. Using a statistical analysis, researchers measured a significant reduction between the initial reported psychological and pain scores and the scores after the third treatment. The researchers did not report any adverse side effects or events.

In the aftermath of natural disasters, communities are thrown into stress-provoking situations for myriad reasons, including loss of life, loss of property, loss of job, other economic losses, loss of community in the case some members move away and loss of infrastructure like schools or restaurants, among other things. Studies show individual mental health plays an important role in the success of communities rebuilding efforts after a natural disaster.

Although more research is needed to bolster the findings of this study, it suggests acupuncture can be an effective therapy for communities in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Studies show acupuncture is effective at balancing hormone levels that contribute to moderating stress levels in the body. The most significant body of research on acupuncture is in the field of acupuncture’s ability to reduce physical pain. This study suggests the effects of acupuncture extend to stress and pain brought on by a natural disaster.

Contact Holistic Health Care Centers Today. We are here for you.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is one of the most prevalent pain-related diseases that people suffer from. It appears that the disease and the discomfort it causes are long-term. As a result, individuals frequently seek alternative therapies, such as chiropractic care, to provide them with comfort and much-needed rest.

Fibromyalgia causes people to experience full-body pain, tiredness, and sleep problems (https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm). Most fibromyalgia patients experience pain because their brain gets incorrect pain signals, causing them to feel it all over their body.

Chiropractic care helps by relieving the tension in the neck, back, shoulders, spine, and joints. It helps realign the spine to a natural posture by using mild pressure, numerous measured motions on specific regions, or rapid thrusts. Book your session with Dr. John today.

Adjustments to the musculoskeletal system have the potential to improve regular body functioning.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia or if you have concerns about how to relieve pain, make sure to visit Holistic Health Care Centers soon for a customized treatment plan!

This Poo Shall Pass: Combat Constipation with TCM

Autumn is the season of letting go. We watch as the trees release their beautiful but ‘ready to fall’ foliage. There is a sadness to it, but a gracefulness as well. The same energy is asked of us, as humans, in Autumn. We must let go of what is no longer needed in order to consolidate our resources. This is not a time for emotional or physical constipation. And yet, some of us find ourselves extra congested come autumn, congested with emotions, with phlegm and with poop! Why is this and how do we fix it?

Autumn, in TCM, belongs to the metal element which is represented in the body by the Lung and Large Intestine energies. These are both involved in refinement and elimination, key functions associated with the metal element and the fall season. The Lungs filter the air we breathe, obtaining purified oxygen for energy while releasing carbon dioxide. The large intestine extracts the last bit of usable moisture from the body’s waste products before their final elimination.

These organs also deal with grief. Sadness and loss are the emotional themes of the season. Mourning is a fact of life and one we must face with bravery, love and patience but it is not meant to be a chronic condition. Emotional constipation can lead to a variety of more serious and physical health threats. Honoring loss also means letting it go. To everything there is a season…

Nasal congestion is also a potential seasonal issue. The lungs are said to open into the nose, so when our lungs are not ‘letting go’ properly we may feel ‘blocked up’ in our sinuses. Phlegm can also be a result of a weak earth element (digestive function) which may be causing buildup in the lungs, as the lungs are considered to be the offspring of the digestive organs and directly affected by them. Practice breathwork for lung function and avoid cold, raw and damp (such as dairy) foods to help prevent the buildup of phlegm.

Intestinal constipation is also one of the main health concerns of the season. The large intestine is designed for preparing the waste for release and then actually delivering it out of the body. There are many challenges to this system, especially with this change of season. We are shifting gears in Autumn, from the extreme yang outward energy of summer to the first inward turn of yin, beginning to prepare for winter. During this internal pull, there may be a temptation to hold on to what is not essential while drawing in resources. That pull can actually inhibit peristalsis, the natural rhythmic movement of our intestines that guides the stool out of the body. Autumn is also a time of dryness, as the humidity of summer is drained out of the air, and pulled back into the earth. This ‘drying out’ energy can be overdone in our intestines, leading to a dry constipation.

Combat Constipation with:

  • The practice of letting go of stuck emotions: requires awareness of emotional energies and time and space to process them. Give it a go!
  • Abdominal massage: castor oil is a great oil to penetrate the tissues and encourage movement of stagnation. You can use clockwise circular motions on your lower belly.
  • Fiber: eat your prunes! The fiber binds to toxins in the intestines and gives the intestinal walls something to work with to assist peristalsis.
  • Stay hydrated: With Autumn being the season of dryness, keep a healthy fluid balance in the intestines with daily water intake and occasional aloe vera juice for internal hydration.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese herbs: Acupuncture is fantastic at helping to balance patterns associated with constipation. There are also chinese herbal formulas such as Ma Zi Ren Wan that help alleviate intestinal dryness, as well as other formulas geared to other causes. These should be used with guidance from a qualified herbalist. Dr. Kimberly Leupold is here to guide you.

Let us help you flow and let go with the season, schedule an appointment to assist your body in making the shift! Holistic Health Care Centers is open 7 days a week.

TCM to Improve Children’s Immune System

Acupuncture is part of an ancient medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is commonly used to treat a multitude of ailments in adults and is gaining popularity among pediatrics. There are licensed acupuncturists who specialize in treating children and are in high demand. These pediatric acupuncturists are helping children where others can’t and for many, it is lifesaving. Holistic Health Care Centers specialize in treating children and adults.

Most kids, as well as a lot of adults, are afraid of needles. So the pairing of acupuncture and kids might not be an obvious one. However, more and more parents are seeking alternative methods of treatment for their children. This is because our conventional medical system is faltering a bit. Pharmaceuticals are proving to be more harmful than beneficial for many, especially kids. And with the bodies and brains of children still being developed, who can really blame a parent for wanting to find an alternative to drugs with adverse side effects?

Parents are turning to acupuncture because it provides a safe resolution of illness, while also preventing future illnesses. This happens because acupuncture and acupressure stimulate the body’s ability to restore and heal itself. Our bodies are fully capable of fighting off disease and healing injuries when the right tools are provided. Acupuncture not only stimulates the immune system, but also relaxes the nervous system and regulates the digestive and hormonal systems. All of these things need to be in balance for the body to heal.

Kids are more prone to getting sick because their immune systems are still being built.  Children also tend to be more susceptible to bacteria and viruses because of their immature immune systems. For some kids, school can create added stress that taxes the immune system. There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to staying healthy. This is where TCM can be very beneficial.

TCM approaches illness and ailments from a very different angle. In TCM, wind is one of the six external pathogens that can invade the body and produce symptoms. The external pathogens responsible for the cold are seen as invasions of wind. The body is protected by something known as the Wei Qi (defensive Qi, pronounced “way chee”). The Wei Qi is comparable to the immune system in conventional medicine and acts as the first line of defense when the body is under attack from external pathogens. If the Wei Qi is strong, then the body is capable of fighting off invaders like viruses and bacteria. The Wei Qi keeps the pores of the skin closed and prevents wind from entering.

There are specific acupressure points on the body that can help improve a child’s immune system. There are also other techniques that are used in TCM that may help, like gua sha or cupping. Both of these techniques stimulate blood flow and help remove toxins through the skin, which can boost immunity.

Not only is acupuncture cost effective for treating children, but it is a logical approach to healing their illnesses.