The Power of Mugwort and its Role in Traditional Medicine

MUGWORT OLDE

Moxibustion, or Moxa for short, is a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Therapy using dried Mugwort.  The tips of the mugwort plant are pulverized into a fluffy substance which is then burned over specific points on the body to promote healing.

Mugwort or Artemisa Vulgaris in Latin, has a long history in Traditional Medicine and has been used throughout China, Tibet, Korea and Japan. Additionally, mugwort is regarded as a sacred plant of divination and spiritual healing by traditional people of North and South America.

All of the parts of the plant can be utilized; leaves are consumed as tea or added to food and according to medieval practices, placed under pillows for dream enhancement. Mugwort was also referred to as a traveler’s herb and was traditionally used to strengthen and protect travelers. Additionally, Chinese Folklore recommends draping a bunch over the door to promote health for the entire year.

Mugowort can be spotted popping up between sidewalk cracks and along the side of highways. Mugwort is all over New York City.

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Mugwort apparently thrives in the urban jungle. 

In Notes on Bian Que’s Moxibustion, it says, “When a healthy man often has moxibustion to the points guanyuan, qihai,mingmen, and zhongwan, he would live a very long life, at least one hundred years.”

Why:

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Moxibustion is a panacea. Moxibustion has the power to travel to all of the channels of the body, which means that moxa can systemically warm the body and stimulate circulation.

Moxibustion Uses:

  • Moxibustion treats “cold conditions”, which may manifest as pain, reduced circulation and arthritis.

  • Moxibustion has an ability to support the immune system and decrease inflammation, this makes moxa useful for the treatment of chronic illnesses, fatigue, allergies and lowered immunity.

  • Additionally, moxa has the special ability to guide to the uterus. Often called a “woman’s herb” moxa is effective for the treatment of delayed, painful and irregular menses.

  • Turn breech babies. This is an empirical usage for moxibustion and have been proven an effective treatment for cephalic positioning in numerous clinical trials.

Moxibustion for Fertility:

Moxa is considered an emmengogue, which means an herb that stimulates blood flow to the uterus.

Moxa is particularly useful for treating “cold” reproductive health conditions that manifest as:

  • Irregular menses

  • Painful, clotty periods

  • Stagnation

Cold, stagnant conditions could be considered endometriosis, fibroids and cysts in the allopathic paradigm.

Using pole moxa or direct moxa over the uterus brings warmth and Qi into the organ. Blood flow quickly increases and pain diminishes.

A moxa box can also be utilized. Moxa box is literally a box stuffed with fresh moxa and burned over the abdomen. This can help concentrate the warming powers of moxa into the uterus.

Types of Moxibustion

Indirect Moxibustion:

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Indirect moxa can be applied by using Pole Moxa. Moxa is pressed and rolled into sticks that are waved over the acupuncture points or regions of the body. Pole moxa comes in smokey and smokeless forms. Smokeless Pole moxa is useful for pregnant women.

Sticky Moxa:

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Stick-on moxa is a great modern day product created in Japan, Korea and China. The base is a self-adhesive to the treatment point.

“Warming Needle”:

  • Fresh moxa is rolled into a ball and placed in the end of an acupuncture needle and lit. This drives the heat into the acupuncture needle, which is transmitted deeply into the acupuncture point.

  • “Shish-kebob moxa” are pre-rolled cones of moxa that can be applied to the tip of the needle.IMG_1457

Direct Moxibustion:

A practitioner will roll small balls otherwise known as ‘Rice Grain Moxa” and place them directly on the skin, typically over a salve to prevent accidental burning. The moxa is often lit with a stick of incense and removed when hot.

Additionally moxa can be pressed into cones that are also applied to the skin and lit.

Additional Techniques:

  • Ginger Moxa:

To enhance the warming power of moxa, direct moxa can be burned over a slice of ginger on the navel. This technique is particularly effective for stomach and intestinal conditions like diarrhea and nausea.

  • Salt moxa:

Burning direct moxa over sea salt in the umbilicus is another way to deeply warm the core of the body. This is very effective for the treatment of lowered immunity, hypothyroid and GI issues such as diarrhea.

Mugwort Leaf, Ai Ye:

The leaves of the Mugwort plant are also used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This herb, called Ai Ye is typically added to a customized formula to bring warmth to the uterus.

How:

Pole Moxa:

  • Light the pole

  • Hold the pole approximately 1.5″ from the skin. Make small circles with the pole or a pecking motion with the pole.

  • Do not touch the skin.

  • Heat each point for 3-10 Minutes.

  • Extinguish in a mason jar.

  • Do not attempt direct moxa at home.

Acupuncture Points Recommended:

zusanli (ST-36): 

Frequent moxibustion on zusanli can invigorate the spleen and stomach, assist in digestion and strengthen the body. 

Shenque (Ren-8): Frequent moxibustion on this point can tonify Qi and strengthen the body.

zhongwan (Ren-12):  Frequent moxibustion on this point can tonify Qi and strengthen the body.

yongquan (KI-1): Frequent moxibustion at this point can strengthen the body and contribute to longevity, for it replenishes the kidney and invigorates yang. When using moxa sticks for moxibustion, it should last 3-5 minutes, and in the case of using moxa cones, 3-7 cones are usually needed each time.

For Turning a Breech Baby:

Use smokeless moxa at UB 67, the lateral tip of the pinky toe for 10 minutes on each side daily. Start between 34 weeks and 38 weeks for best results.

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Share the Love…Surfing Together.

Lucia, age 6 and myself, Rockaway Beach

Lucia, age 5 and myself, Rockaway Beach

As I sit on the beach writing this, I am watching a dozen or so kids riding waves to the shoreline. Even though the sun is bright and their faces are backlit I can FEEL their smiles! I can still feel their stoke and likewise I am stoked for them. This to me is the beauty of surfing.

Anyone of any age or gender can enjoy his or her own personal connection with the ocean. As a surfer and all around ocean aficionado I am happy when other people catch waves too.

Riding Waves is an Ancient Tradition. 

Riding Waves is Spiritual.

Connecting with nature on a deep level helps us feel more connected to our planet, the universe and ourselves.

Riding Waves Reduces Stress.

Surfing, boogie boarding and body surfing can definitely reduce stress. Some argue that the pounding waves generate Negative Ions. These Negative Ions are found in abundance in such naturally pleasant places as waterfalls, the seashore and rainstorms. They are created by the action of water hitting the land. Negative ions are simply water molecules that break apart and take on a negative electrical charge.

Riding Waves is Beautiful. 

Sometimes the best part of my surf session is witnessing the majesty of nature itself. I remember many a surf session where I can see the pelicans soaring by, little fish jumping over my board, the changing light on the horizon, the rising sun over the ocean…getting to your feet a riding a wave through the ever changing scenery is an additional perk.

Riding Waves Together.

Happiness is infectious. If there is a nice group of people then riding waves together can be an amazing, communal experience.

Riding Waves is Great Exercise. 

Surfing is an amazing total body workout. You need a strong upper body to power through the surf as well as to paddle into waves. You need a strong core to pop up onto your feet and strong legs to turn the board where you want it to go. Being stronger will improve confidence.

Overcoming Fear.

Riding waves can help you overcome fear. Delving into fear is a good way to recognize where it is coming from and why? Maybe you almost drown in the lake when you were a kid? Maybe your parents were the nervous type? Recognizing this and overcoming your fear by becoming a better swimmer and spending time in the ocean may help you in many aspects of your life.

Increase Respect: 

My kids will say to me “never turn your back on the ocean.” It is important to revere and respect Mother Nature in all of her beauty and fury. Surfing and spending time in the ocean will inevitably provide many opportunities for personal growth.

If Surfing on a board seems daunting, I’d highly suggest Boogie Boarding and Body Surfing: 

Boogie boarding.

The learning curve is very tame and there are fewer risks of injury than surfing. All you need is a $50 boogie board and you are set for life. Add fins for extra powerful kicks and then you really have a great set-up for a fun-filled summer.

Body Surfing- a classic.

Body surfing is an amazing full body workout that is totally free and guaranteed to induce laughter. Major risks include loss of bikini tops and bottoms.

If you are interested in learning how to surf on a surfboard I recommend taking a class. Classes are usually taught on foam boards, which is a safe way to get started riding waves. You will also have the opportunity to learn about surfing etiquette, which is an important element for both safety and respect.

There are many surf schools in the NYC area.

For Rockaway Beach try Steve Stathis at Boarders http://www.boarderssurfshop.com/

Locals Surf School: check in with Mike at: http://localssurfschool.com/

For Long Beach, Long Island check out: http://skudinsurf.com/

Or Unsound Surf: http://unsoundsurf.com/

Get Connected

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” -Siddhartha Guatama Buddha 

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I see a lot of “unhappy” people seeking acupuncture for help. It’s mind-boggling how many people that on the outside appear to “have it all” report being unhappy. I’m talking about successful, attractive, wealthy, incredible women and men, people that if you saw on the street you’d say to yourself “dang, she looks together.”

Some people fall into the clinically depressed and/or anxious category. I’m actually referring to people who are living with a day to day underlying sadness, loneliness or indifference. Indifference is probably the worst…it’s resigned sadness.

There are many external factors that may influence ones internal landscape but ultimately, if you listen to the happiness pros you must learn to change your self and not the circumstances. Easier said than done however, especially when we live in a society that is focused on what you produce versus who you are as a person.

Unlike many other cultures our society is focused on what we can churn out. Even the question “what do you do?” could not exist in many other cultures. Yet in our western society we can reflexively answer that question with our profession. Omitting the source of what really inspires us or helps us connect with others. 

This creates is disconnection between who we are in our heart and what we do with our bodies.

When the heart and mind are disconnected it is difficult to feel grounded, satisfied,  and content. 

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People often tell me “everything is great, I just don’t feel happy”.
It’s pretty obvious by now that stuff and achievements to do not create lasting happiness.

Happiness must come from within…but how? Why is it so elusive?

Ways that Happiness Eludes us:

Happy all the time = Happy

Many people think that they need to feel great all of the time to be truly happy. That is the stuff for social media…an unrealistic slice of life that has been proven to increase disconnectedness and depression.  No one is supposed to feel great all of the time. Seasons of life and seasons of moods are a closer reflection of the natural world.

External events create lasting Happiness:

This is generally a form of anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. Someone who constantly sets the bar higher and higher. Never comfortable with where they are at…never really happy with any accomplishment…”Perfectionism vs Optimalism”. If this resonates with you check out an outstanding book, The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben Shahar.

Some people use external life events as a way to measure happiness. “When I finish law school then I’ll be happy”. “When I’m earning a six-figured salary, I’ll be happy”. “After I run this race then I’ll be happy”. But then they run the race, get through school, get the great job, make the great salary and then what….

I often ask people what makes you feel happy? A resounding amount of people say they just don’t know?

Improving Happiness through Connecting the Mind and the Heart:

The Journey is the Destination:

My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professor says all of the time, its not the ownership of a Black Belt that is worthy but who you become in the process of earning the Black Belt. The transformation is the goal. 

Do what you love: Connect your Mind and Heart

It’s amazing how many people perform jobs and chose professions that they despise. Willing to spend countless hours if their life doing something that they hate. Their mind may be able to override the rebellion but they body cannot. This can lead to a myriad of physical complaints. Listen to your body’s inner wisdom. 

Gratitude: Connect with a higher power.

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Prayer, journaling or conscientiously paying homage to what you are truly grateful for is a powerful way to elevate your mood.

Meditation:

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Meditation is a great way to escape perseverating thoughts. People always say “ I should meditate, but I can’t…my mind won’t stop.” Erase the vision of yourself in full lotus for an hour with a blank mind. Guided mediation is a great, user-friendly way to get started. 20 minutes before bed or upon waking a great bookend for the day. Don’t be hard on yourself, your mind is bound to chatter. Meditation will help you “watch the chatter”. Even if you can’t get there immediately you will feel something different. Connect with your consciousness.

I personally love Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindful Meditations.

Fake it till you Make it:

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Smile more, listen to happy music. It’s hard to feel depressed listening to music that makes you shake. Connect with the muse.

Find a group that supports an activity you love.

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Martial arts, cooking, exercise, dancing, pottery, knitting…you name it and there are millions of people enthused by it! Connect with others in a meaningful way.

Read inspirational or educational books.

Millions of people have successfully navigated the world and have written books about how to do it. Connect with visionaries.
 

Spend time in Nature. Connect with the source.

In the eloquent words of John Muir “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

 

Fatigue…Lowered Immunity, Swollen Glands…? How to Identify and Treat a Lingering Pathogenic Factor.

VirusMany people seek Traditional Chinese Medicine for immune support because they have a tendency to catch colds easily and take longer than average to kick it. They also often say that “they need their sleep” preferring 9-10 hours of sleep per night and often more on the weekends.

Another recurring symptom is inflammation manifesting as either chronic sinusitis, enlarged tonsils, swollen lymph nodes and/ or recurring respiratory conditions like strep throat and bronchitis.

The ancients discussed a pattern called “Lurking Pathogen” in the Nei Jing. The name, lurking pathogen, principally comes from the Inner Classic (Nei Jing), where it says “if there is damage by cold in the winter, there will be a warm pathogen disease in the spring”, and “if there is sufficient essence, there will be no warm disease in the spring.”

Western medicine recognizes a similar situation known as “Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” or “Myalgic encephalomyelitis”.

A typical history includes the revelation of past experience with a viral or bacterial illness such as Mononucleosis, Lyme’s Disease, Meningitis, Coxsackie virus. The list does not end there these are just the most frequent in my clinical experience.

Most people are able to clear the pathogen on their own but for others it isn’t fully expressed and pops up later in life. It’s as if an imprint of the virus lurks in the body and when people are under stress or run down, it pops up and resurfaces. It’s also taxing on the body to have low-lying inflammation and phlegm. These require constant energy to keep it at bay.

Phlegm is a major component of a Lingering Pathogenic Factor. Additionally, the tongue presentation is red, which runs contrary to the pattern of fatigue and weakness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we consider this to be the result of a “Lingering Pathogenic Factor”.

Typical response to a pathogen:

Typically the body is hit with a pathogen and responds with fever, shivering, sweating and phlegm. As the pathogen meets the exterior of the body the “Wei Qi” or “Defensive Qi” puts up a fight. The battle between “Evil Qi” and “Right Qi” is observed between fever and chills. The body’s temperature elevates to make the host un-hospitable to the infection. Many people feel the higher the fever the more intensely your body is fighting the pathogen.

Because the pathogen invades the skin at the surface of the body, Qi and Fluids are impeded and phlegm is produced. Most people fully clear the pathogen in time. In many it can take a week or so, others a month and some just never fully express the pathogen. Children are extremely susceptible to Lingering Pathogenic factor because their immune systems are developing and they are more fragile.

There are also other reasons that can contribute to a lingering pathogen not being completely expressed and expelled.

Compounding factors:

  • Genetic disposition

  • Overuse or improper use of antibiotics

  • Cold, phlegm producing foods

  • Antipyretics

  • Concurring illnesses

  • Emotional strains

  • Developmental milestones

  • Vaccinations

Treatment:

Allopathic medicine treats the disease. Traditional Chinese medicine treats the individual. By strengthening the individual and not suppressing the body’s own, innate knowledge, the body has the ability to clear the pathogen without the side effects of antibiotics.

Understanding the Pattern: The body is a relative balance of:
Yin / Yang

Cold/Heat

Interior/ Exterior

Deficiency/ Excess

Fatigue, lowered immunity and phlegm are usually an example of excess yin, with cold in the interior creating phlegm. A red tongue indicates the presence of heat within the body, often a remnant of the virus or toxin.

Symptoms of Fatigue (Qi deficiency) include:

  • Extreme fatigue in the morning

  • Recurring illness, lowered immunity

  • Pale, heavy menstruation

  • Bruising easily

  • Depressed / Moody

  • Runny nose or Blocked nose

  • Phlegm

Treatment:

Treatment includes clearing a heat toxin. First you need to identify where the phlegm (LPF) is remaining. It can be in the tonsils, ears, lungs, intestines or bladder. We typically see LPF after chronic urinary tract infections.

Often systemic treatment is geared towards initially strengthening the body followed by clearing phlegm.

1)   Dietary Suggestions:

Eliminate Reduce Phlegm Inducing Foods:

  • Gluten

  • Dairy (yogurt is often okay)

  • Fructose (Juice, bananas, oranges, smoothies)

  • Refined Sugars

  • Peanut butters can encourage phlegm too

Consider adding:

  • Organic meats

  • Organic vegetables and fruits that reduce phlegm like onions, garlic, lemons,

  • Nourish the lungs with white vegetables and fruit: Cauliflower, lotus root, daikon, pears

Supplements:

  • Probiotics to help repair the gut lining and reduce phlegm

  • Quercitin and Bromelain to help reduce inflammation and phlegm.

  • Tumeric: Natural antinflammatory

  • Raw Honey: anti-viral, ant-bacterial

  • Bee Propolis: Anti-inflammitiry, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Coconut oil: anti inflammatory, anti-viral, antibacterial, good for a mouth wash. Can dissolve a spoonful in water in the morning or swish it around your mouth for 1 minute and spit out.

  • Gargle with salt water

  • Olive leaf spray for swollen tonsils

  • Vitamin D for immune support

Lifestyle:

  • Nurture your down time. Make sure to get proper rest.

  • Avoid overuse of digital devices.

  • Do moderate exercise. If you feel exhausted after your workout try more restorative exercises like walking in the park, Hatha yoga

Acupuncture & Herbs:

Acupuncture is a great way to support the immune system to clear the trapped pathogen.

The treatment is two-fold:

1) Strengthening the immune system

2) Clearing the pathogen

Similarly an herbal regimen is helpful to help support the immune system whilst clearing heat. An herbalist will constantly update a hand tailored formula that will evolve as the pathogen is clearing and the body is being restored to balance.

Treating Migraines with Traditional Chinese Medicine

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“Visual Aura”

Chances are if you are reading this then you are probably all too familiar with migraines. I will spare you the list of painful symptoms and focus on a Traditional Chinese approach to both the understanding and the treatment of migraines.

I’ve noticed that most people suffering from migraines are incredibly in tune with the nature of their specific migraine and have a ritual to cope. The migraine type of pattern has been documented and analyzed for over 3000 years with the advent of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Characteristic of the migraine is the unilateral throbbing headache that wraps the lateral side of the head. Interestingly, in Traditional Chinese Medicine one meridian, the Gallbladder Meridian, wraps the lateral side of the head and travels down the lateral portion of the body culminating at the foot. Meridians are essentially lines that traverse the body and distribute Qi or energy. The Gallbladder meridian is most often treated to alleviate migraine symptoms and correct the root of the disharmony.

Five Elements:

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The Gallbladder Meridian is a paired meridian with the Liver meridian. The two together comprise what is known as the Wood Element, which is one of the 5 Elements discussed in Traditional Medicine that connects the external world with the individual. The other elements expressed within the body are Metal, Earth, Water and Fire. Numerous traditional cultures including Indian, Tibetan, Persian Norse, and Native American healers utilize knowledge of the elements in diagnosing and treating illnesses in people.

Between Heaven and Earth:

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Humans are a living microcosm of both the Heavens and the Earth. Rivers are reflected in the body through the meridians as well as the flow of blood through the vessels. The Liver and Gallbladder correspond to the natural world as Wood, the climactic condition of wind, the color green, the emotion of anger, the sound of shouting and a “goaty” odor. Their point of entry is in the eyes and the Qi of the Liver and Gallbladder are manifested in the sinews, joints and nails.

Migraines reflect stagnation of Qi within the Gallbladder meridian. As the Qi is constricted pain ensues and vision can be affected as the Gallbladder and Liver Qi open to the eyes.

Some Common Causes:

Diet can affect the Spleen Qi: 

Many people do not realize that they are sensitive to certain foods that can trigger a migraine. Some common offenders are processed foods high in MSG, and foods high in tyramine.

Wikipedia lists the following foods that are high in tyramine: Meats that are pickled, aged, smoked, fermented, or marinated, most pork (except cured ham), chocolate and fermented foods, such as most cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, shrimp paste, soy sauce, soybean condiments, teriyaki sauce, tempeh, miso soup, sauerkraut, kimchi, fava beans, green bean pods, avocados, bananas, pineapple, eggplants, figs, red plums, raspberries, peanuts, Brazil nuts, coconuts, processed meat and yeast.

Stress affects the Liver and Gallbladder Qi: 

Stress can release a cascade of hormones that prepare your body for fight or flight. Adrenaline or epinephrine acts as a neurotransmitter and a hormone. Adrenaline prepares the body for action by increasing the heart rate, blood pressure while slowing down some of the blood flow. Blood is drawn away from the extremities and abdomen and sent to the vital organs. Muscles often tense as they are prepared to spring into action.  This is one reason the muscles of the jaw and neck can be extremely tight on people who undergo lots of stress.

Constantly clenching your jaw (throughout the day or at night) puts a lot of tension on the Sternocleidomeastoid (SCM) muscle that inserts at the base of the head. This tightening creates a shortening of the muscle and therefore oxygen, Qi and blood flow are diminished. This tension can trigger a migraine.

Posture affects Qi and Blood in the Channels: 

Occupational hazards such as sitting for extended periods of time or leaning forward can cause “slow whiplash”. As the head leans forward pressure is placed on the occipital muscles, which, creates a decrease in Qi and blood flow. This tension can cause or exacerbate migraines.

Physical Trauma:

Many migraine sufferers can report an acute situation when their migraines began. Often this can be a car accident, acute fall, post-surgery, sacral traumas like epidurals and broken coccyx bones.

Hormones:

Migraines are often related to the fluctuating levels of estrogen. Triggers can be the sharp rise of estrogen at ovulation or the steep drop in ovulation before the menses.

Oral Birth Control affects Liver Qi and Blood:

Synthetic estrogen and progesterone can trigger migraines.

Lighting changes / Glare / Fluorescent Lighting:

Visual changes and sensitivity to light as well as extended times viewing computer screens and other digital devices can trigger migraines. Light emanating from fluorescent bulb has a flicker that is imperceptible. Ever feel woozy in a mall? This is most likely from the visual onslaught of numerous fluorescent lights.

Environmental Toxins

Holistic Treatment:

Migraines need to be evaluated based upon triggers, frequency, duration and intensity. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at every aspect of the individual to determine the root of the condition as well as a clear strategy for treatment. It is important to understand the root of your personal situation.

If you suffered a traumatic accident to either your head or sacrum CranioSacral therapy may be a valuable modality. Dr. Sutherland at the turn of the century discovered that the cranial bones are actually not fused. This is why an injury can “shift” or compress the nerve plexus and create continuous disharmony until regulated. Check out article on CranioSacral therapy for more information.

Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy is an effective way to treat the source of tension in the body while releasing musculoskeletal constrictions. Acupuncture and herbal therapy can also help address underlying causes of stress and trauma to help individuals cope with stress more manageably as well as uncover new ways of being.  Additionally, this modality can have a powerfully balancing effect of the endocrine system, which will help regulate ebb and flow of estrogen.

A personal plan will be formulated to address your specific needs. Herbal therapy, dietary therapy, manual manipulation and acupuncture will be utilized to help reduce migraine frequency and intensity.

Naturally Treating Constipation in Babies and Children

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Painting by Mary Cassat

Constipation should be considered when a baby or child is moving their bowels less frequently than normal, or the stools are small and hard. There can be pain and fear about going to the toilet.

 There are many possible causes of constipation including:

  • Diet

  • Frequency of Feeding

  • External Stress

  • Internal Stress

  • Lowered Immunity

  • Difficult Birth

Middle Jiao:

In Traditional Chinese medicine the Middle Jiao is the area generally below the heart to the pubic bone. All Middle Jiao issues revolve around the transformation and transportation of food and fluids. We can include the Stomach, the Intestines, the Spleen, the Liver, the Bladder and the Uterus in the Middle Jiao.

When we think about Constipation we mainly look at the Spleen, Stomach, Liver and Gallbladder as the main organs that affect how food is transformed into energy and excreted.

Spleen:

Unlike Western Medicine the Spleen plays a vital role in processing food. The Stomach is considered the Hearth of the body and has the name the “Hundred Degree Soup”. The Spleen functions better with regularly spaced meals, cooked foods and easily digested foods. The Spleen needs to be able to turn the food into rapid energy and then send the waste to the colon for excretion.

How things get “slowed” down:

Irregular feedings:

Most babies and toddlers graze a lot throughout the day. Often snacks keep them happy temporarily but can affect the amount of “proper” food eaten at a meal.

Eating abundance of cold, raw foods:

Cold raw food (including an excess of raw vegetables, fruits, ice cream, cold drinks) can affect the digestive powers of the Middle Jiao.

External and Internal Stress:

New environments can create an interruption in bowel movements such as travel and/ or school. Additionally potty training and issues around that can create constipation.

Traditional Chinese Medicine typically breaks down symptoms into clusters to strategize the best treatment.

Constipation generally falls into two specific categories: Excess and Deficiency.

Excess Type Constipation / Accumulation  

Symptoms:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Stools can be very hard and smelly
  • Stools can fluctuate hard and loose
  • Often the cheeks are red or flushed
  • Strong Child
  • When they yell you are forced to take notice
  • Green or yellow nasal discharge
  • Irritable

Deficient Constitution / Weakened Spleen and Stomach Qi:

These children often do not have the energy or Qi to properly move their bowels.

  • Prone to more frequent illnesses

  • Weak or floppy looking

  • Possibly a challenging childbirth

  • Bowel movement infrequent, possibly hard

  • Not particularly odorous bowel movement

Acupuncture and Acupressure Treatment Strategies:

For the child who has Accumulation Issues we use acupuncture, Shoni shin massage and dietary therapy to help relieve constipation. This pattern is typically revolved around clearing heat and stimulating the colon to move. The colon is essentially bogged down and needs a bit of help passing the accumulated food through.

Children typically respond very quickly. *Do not be alarmed if the bowels move very suddenly!

Acupuncture needles are generally not retained for children under the age if seven years old. Typically a pin is placed and removed quickly before the child even sees it. Shonishin pediatric massage is utilized to stimulate the Stomach, Gallbladder and San Jiao meridian. Often the acupuncturist will leave press tacks in points that are particularly effective including St 36 or St 25.

What you can do at home:

Gently massage the abdomen in a circular fashion over the umbilicus.

Massage Stomach 36 with a tapping motion.

Children with a weaker Constitution are treated similarly but the emphasis is less on draining excess food but warming and strengthening the middle to process food more effectively. We often utilize moxabustion to tonify the digestive strength.

Similarly pins are not retained for children under the age of seven.

Dietary Suggestions:

Probiotics:

Klaire Labs and Jarro make great powdered probiotics that can be seamlessly added to just about any food.

More cooked, easily digestible foods like grains, millet, quinoa, rice, sweet potato, root vegetables,

Fewer sugary foods and drinks

Congee:

Congee is a type of rice porridge that is popular in many Asian cultures. Congee is easily digested which makes it a popular dish when one is sick or constipated.

Grains are generally cooked in a 6-1 (water to grain) dilution until the grain disintegrates. You can add a bit of meat or scallion and soy sauce for a savory congee or honey or maple syrup for a sweet congee. Traditionally rice is the most commonly used grain or you can try millet or quinoa.

Epsom salt baths: 

A few times a day place your child in a warm bath with enough water to cover most of the abdomen. This often works to loosen things up. It tends to relax the body, which is particularly useful with kids who hold stool in. Some kids will allow you to gently massage their belly while they soak in the bath. Adding about 1/2 cup of epsom salts, which contains magnesium and sulfates that are absorbed through the skin, can also help ease constipation.

CranioSacral Therapy

Brain

Craniosacral Therapy is another tool to encourage physical, emotional and spiritual health through alignment the cranium and the sacrum.

The brain is connected to the sacrum by the spinal cord, which creates the central nervous system. Cerebral spinal fluid is produced within the CranioSacral system and maintains the physiological environment in which your brain and nervous system develop and function.  Just as the ocean has a tidal flow, so does the cerebral spinal fluid within the spinal column.

The goal of CranioSacral Therapy treatment is to listen to this “tidal flow” and gently encourage the body to open up blockages, which cause pain, emotional conditions and diminished health.

Often issues within the lower pelvis are related to compressions, or reduced flow, in the skull and visa versa. A classic example would be of someone suffering chronic headaches and migraines after a car accident or from the “slow whiplash” of working at a desk and leaning forward for many years at work. Often there is a subtle pressure of the nerves from posture that may not show up in a MRI. This in turn can affect the flow of blood, Qi and cerebral spinal fluid at the sacrum resulting in decreased function.

CranioSacral Therapy is designed to listen to the dynamically changing physical body and encourage positive change.

 What to Expect during a CranioSacral Treatment:

CranialSacral treatments are non-invasive and performed with the client fully clothed.  Treatment begins with a general “listening” to the body’s flow of energy or cerebral spinal fluid with the hands at a minimal pressure. Then the practitioner will aim to relax the fascia, which is the fabric that holds muscles and organs in place. A gentle release may make the area feel lighter and less tense.

The practitioner will spend quite a bit of time holding the head, gently facilitating the release restrictions in the head. One may experience a feeling of deep relaxation or one may feel nothing at first. Despite not feeling much at first, the results can be profoundly therapeutic resulting in improved range of motion, decreased pain and an overall improved sense of well-being.

Some conditions that are treated with CranioSacral Therapy are:

  • Headaches/ Migraines

  • Hyperactivity in Children

  • Chronic Congestion

  • Depression

  • Menstrual Irregularities, Hormonal Imbalances

  • Pelvic Pain (cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic infections)

  • Postural dysfunctions

  • TMJ syndrome

  • Tinnitus

  • Pain

  • Digestive Issues

Dietary Therapy & IVF

The-Vegetable-Seller-xx-Joachim-Beuckelaer-or-Bueckelaer

“The Vegetable Seller” by Joachim Beuckelaer

Many patients pair IVF treatments with Traditional Chinese Medicine. For those people, it is important to know some general traditional principles to help facilitate the process and make things easier and clearer. If you are one of these patients, in addition to your regular acupuncture regimen I would also suggest dietary therapy. Dietary therapy, which applies nutrition to treat conditions, will help to support each step of the IVF process.

Pre-Stimulation Phase (Down Regulating Step):

Some steps of IVF use medications to shut down or down regulate the ovaries. This can be to help synchronize your menstrual cycle and/or to help promote more follicular growth during the stimulation phase.

Often women are prescribed Lupron or the birth control pill. In the case of Lupron or other antagonists, some women experience symptoms such as irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, and headaches. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we characterize these symptoms as heat. In order to stave that heat, a diet full of neutral and cool foods can help to cool the body and let off some steam.

Some examples of cooling foods include:

  • Lightly sautéed dark green leafy vegetables

  • Grains such as millet, quinoa, brown rice

  • Lean Proteins

  • Berries such as blueberries, strawberries

  • Green apples

  • Pears

Just as there are foods you should try and eat, there are also some foods you should try to avoid:

  • Avoid spicy, greasy and deep fried foods

  • Avoid meat and dairy that are not free range or organic

  • Avoid coffee, alcohol and sugar

Some women are put on over-the-counter birth control pills. In Chinese Medicine, the pill can cause stagnation. Because of this, a diet based on foods that move the Qi and blood are recommended.
Examples are as follows:

  • Small portions of salads with cooked foods inside

  • Lean proteins

  • Dark, green leafy vegetables

  • Apple cider Vinegar

  • Onions, garlic

  • Bitter greens

  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts

Stimulation Phase:

Once you begin the stimulation portion of IVF you will need to make sure that you are adequately hydrated and that you are eating enough proteins and brightly colored foods high in anti-oxidants. During the stim phase of a regular IVF, most women are doing at least two injections – twice daily to stimulate the ovaries.

During this time we suggest food that nourishes the follicles while reducing water retention and bloating. Along with water of course, I think that coconut water is a great and natural way to balance electrolytes in the body. You are asking your body to do a year’s worth of work in about 10 days so make sure you get enough sleep and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

I personally prefer organic food or local farm raised food as the pesticides and growth hormones are minimized. Organic food is pricier but you are making an investment into your health.

Here are some food suggestions to help support the follicles:

  • Avocado

  • Walnuts

  • Wild Salmon or Artic Char

  • Cod liver oil

  • Full fat butter (unless you are a waterlogged person)

  • Eggs

Fruits and vegetables nourish the follicles and support ovarian growth while reducing water retention.

Suggested fruits are:

  • Pears

  • Apples

  • Lychee nuts

  • Grapes

  • Watermelon

  • Cantaloupe

  • Berries

Vegetables:
Lightly steamed and sautéed

As with everything, there are certain things you should avoid, such as:

  • Highly acidic vegetables like the night-shades

  • Processed foods

  • Overly salty food

  • Artificial colors and sweeteners

  • Coffee and alcohol – even decaf coffee can be drying for the body.

You can, and also should, apply heat with a water bottle during the stimulation phase only.

Pre-Retrieval:

It is important to get a good night’s sleep before retrieval. A five minute guided meditation is a good way to say goodnight as well as start the day.

Some women report feeling bloated after retrieval. Again, coconut water, Gatorade or even your own electrolyte drink will help regulate your fluids. You can also create your own drink with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and water.

During the next few days when you are awaiting transfer, it is very important to still eat well. Don’t fall off the wagon because the eggs have been retrieved. A diet rich in healthy fats, protein, grains, fruits and vegetables is highly recommended.

Transfer:

Once you transfer, discontinue using the hot water bottle on your abdomen but sill keep your uterus energetically warm by consuming warm foods. Try to avoid icy drinks likes smoothies, ice cream and lots of cold raw foods.

Pineapple is high in the enzyme Bromelain which has been used for thousands of years as a meat tenderizer. Bromelain is highly concentrated in the core of the pineapple. Studies have shown that bromelain can support implantation by relaxing the muscles of the uterine wall. Wives tale or not, pineapple is pretty easy to eat and for those of you who run very cold you can grill the pineapple on the barbecue.

Other tips:

It is important to breathe deeply and try to remain as positive as possible. Set yourself a daily goal that is easy to accomplish. Try to turn in early and put your health as the number one priority.

Eating well is just another way to thank your body and mind.

Manuka Honey Makes it to the NY Post

Buzzy bodies: Health nuts high on healing power of honey – but does it really work?

Health nuts are high on the healing potential of a special honey from New Zealand’s manuka bush. But is it really so sweet?

  • By HAILEY EBER

  • Last Updated: 10:55 AM, August 14, 2013

  • Posted: 11:12 PM, August 13, 2013

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Rahav Segev/Photopass.com

When daughter Lucia gets a scrape, Laurel Carroll opts for honey, not Neosporin.

Earlier this year, Laurel Carroll was diagnosed with H. pylori, a type of bacteria that infects the stomach. Her doctor broke out his prescription pad, but Carroll had her own remedy in mind: honey, specifically manuka honey.

“The doctor said I could do a really hard-core course of antibiotics. I was like, ‘There’s no way,’ ” recalls the 39-year-old acupuncturist, who lives in Windsor Terrace. “I was determined to cure it naturally.”

Carroll is one of a growing number of people, in New York and elsewhere, looking to manuka honey to treat everything from acne to ulcers. Imported from New Zealand and long popular there and in Great Britain, manuka honey is thought to have unique healing properties thanks to a high concentration of methylglyoxal, an antibacterial agent, in the nectar of manuka bush flowers.

Whole Foods stores in the Northeast began stocking manuka honey products about half a dozen years ago, and now offer as many as 15 varieties. “It’s consistently grown in popularity each year,” says Whole Foods public relations manager Michael Sinatra.

At Perelandra Natural Food Center in Brooklyn Heights, co-owner Roland Auer has seen manuka honey fly off his shelves — almost literally. After his shop kept running out of the pricey bee food — which the store sells for $33.59 to $39.99 for a 17.6-ounce jar — he realized that customers were stealing it.

Now he stocks it behind the vitamin counter, where it’s safe from sticky fingers, but it’s still a hot commodity. Given its high price, “it’s a very popular item,” Auer says.

Carroll buys her manuka honey online and estimates that with herself, her husband and their two daughters, the family goes through a $50 8-ounce tub every month. She ingests a spoonful each day for general health, as does her husband, Stewart Carroll, 41.

Stewart, a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu — the couple owns a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school in Rockaway Beach called Rock-Jitsu — is especially interested in manuka honey’s potential anti-inflammatory properties. (He’s not the only athlete buzzing for the honey. In his upcoming book, “Serve To Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence,” out next week, tennis star Novak Djokovic reveals that he takes at least two spoonfuls of the honey every day.)

With their daughters, Lucia, 7, and Saachi, 5, Laurel uses manuka regularly to treat their cuts, scrapes and warts. “Clearly, with any kind of scab or abrasion, the first line of defense is honey,” she says.
The whole family uses a special toothpaste made from manuka honey and propolis, another bee product, and Carroll tries to get her girls to ingest a spoonful of honey as often as possible, though the kids don’t like the taste. “It smells like hydrogen peroxide,” she admits.

Still, some caution that the honey might not be a magical cure-all for everything.

“I don’t ingest manuka honey and I don’t recommend it,” says Nathaniel Altman, author of “The Honey Prescription” and a Park Slope resident.

He believes the honey is best used topically to treat scratches, fungal infections and the like. “They have found that sometimes when you eat manuka honey, it can cause problems for people who have diabetes or are prone to it.”

Cymone Speed, 33, loves eating manuka honey, not for the alleged health benefits but because she enjoys the unique taste.

“It’s soft and creamy,” enthuses Speed, a catering director and chef who lives on the Upper West Side. “I eat it by the spoonful.”

Speed has also used the honey as an acne wash for the past two years and says it’s made her skin soft and dewy.

“I have really good skin for my age. I get a lot of compliments,” she says. Plus, if a little gets in her mouth while she’s washing her face, “it tastes delicious.”

The traditional medical establishment is even taking note of manuka honey’s potential healing powers. Dr. Michael Lanigan, medical director of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, says that while he hasn’t seen any of his patients helped by the honey, the research on it is intriguing, especially for treating burns.

He notes that a comprehensive analysis of studies on honey has been performed by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international group of scientists based in England who conduct extensive reviews of medical research. “That usually means you’ve piqued the medical community’s interest,” he explains. “The fact that Cochrane has even bothered to look at this is interesting.”

While he says the studies don’t appear to be conclusive at this point, he also notes that many popular, common medications have never been fully proven to help people.

“Cold medicines have never been shown to conclusively make a patient better, but a lot of people take them. Nobody’s ever shown, to my knowledge, that multivitamins are really conclusively helpful,” he says. “Manuka honey at this point would fit into the same realm. If it’s making a patient feel like they’re in a better place, more power to them.”

That’s how Laurel Carroll seems to feel. The stomach infection she originally started taking manuka honey for turned out to be a false positive. When her older daughter had a nasty sore throat in the spring, she had her take spoonfuls of honey every few hours, and believes she recovered more quickly because of it.

But for the most part, she says, she can’t pinpoint feeling noticeably healthier since she started using the honey.

“I feel like it’s one of those things that measures over time,” she says. “If it makes our minds feel like we’re healthy, it can only help the physical.”

heber@nypost.com

Manuka Honey = Honey Cray Cray

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I must admit I am Honey Crazy or as my 7 year-old daughter would say “Honey Cray Cray”. Spending $50 on a container of honey seems perfectly justified. I mean, my number one priority is health and Honey is my medicine. I love the creamy, raw kind that leaves bits of wax and other flotsam in my tea. I’ve always heard about Manuka Honey but a recent diagnosis of asymptomatic H Pylori in my yearly bloods gave me the perfect excuse to try this top shelf varietal. In the health food store Manuka honey is often stored behind the counter or locked in a glass case. I’m not talking about Krylon cans at the hardware store or jewels at Tiffany’s, this is medicinal grade honey from the Manuka Tree from New Zealand.

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey appears to have a touch of magic inside. From all I’ve read it’s clear that they really cannot pinpoint exactly why Manuka Honey has such a strong antibacterial quality. This stuff is one of the only substances that has been proven effective against the deadly and antibiotic resistant MRSA virus. Truly.

The world’s foremost expert on Manka Honey is Professor Peter Charles Molan MBE. Since 1981 Professor Molan has been researching Manuka Honey. In a recent article by the BBC Professor Molan stated “In all honeys, there is -to different levels – hydrogen peroxide produced from an enzyme that bees add to the nectar. “In manuka honey, and its close relative which grows in Australia called jellybush, there’s something else besides the hydrogen peroxide. “And there’s nothing like that ever been found anywhere else in the world.” That “something else” has proved very hard to pin down. Even now, after more than twenty years of research, Peter Molan admits he still has no idea exactly what it is. But he has given it a name: unique manuka factor, or UMF.”

manuka_tea_tree_38

This small, flowering shrub goes by many different names including Manuka, Kanuka (a close cousin of the Manuka tree),  Leptospermum scoparium, Tea Tree or Jellybush. Manuka is the traditional Maori name for the shrub. Hives are placed within regions that have flowering Manuka Trees. Although it is impossible to police the whereabouts of bees, Manuka Honey is tested and must maintain at least 70% of its source from the pollen of the Manuka Tree.

The Science: Manuka Honey’s Healing Properties

bees-egypt-heiroglyphs-300x225Honey has been used for thousands of years as a topical antibiotic treatment from Ancient Egypt through World War II. The popularity of antibiotics decreased the popularity of honey as topical medicine until the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA. This age-old remedy is rising in popularity again.

Manuka Honey has been shown to have hydrogen peroxide which stimulates the growth of cells responsible for replacing damaged tissue. The plant based hydrogen peroxide in Manuka Honey also stimulates the development of new blood vessels which is an important step in tissue regeneration. Manuka honey also contains MGO (Methylglyoxal) which is responsible for Manuka honey’s stable antibacterial activity and is not as sensitive to light and heat like hydrogen peroxide. Some research finds that the sugar in honey also helps reduce odor from a healing wound.

The honey not only fights infection and aids tissue healing but has been found in clinical trials to reduce inflammation and scarring.

The most common wound-infecting species of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, has been found to be particularly sensitive to this honey. Recent tests on many strains of multi-antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA have no resistance to Manuka honey.

Manuka Honey has been proven effective for the treatment of:

  • Oral and dental health like preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease

  • Sinusitis

  • Sore throats

  • Digestive problems

  • Diarrhea

  • Indigestion

  • Stomach ulcers from H Pylori bacteria

  • Gastroenteritis

Manuka honey topically can treat:

  •  MRSA

  • Wound healing post surgery

  • Acute trauma/ lacerations

  • Acne

  • Aging spots/wrinkles

  • Sunburns

  • Plantar warts

  • Bed sores

  • Ulcers

  • Insect bites, stings

Taste:

Manuka Honey has a very specific almost medicinal taste. which has been characterized as, “earthy, oily, herbaceous”, and “florid, rich and complex”. Other qualificatives used by the New Zealand honey industry are, a “damp earth, heather, aromatic” aroma and a “mineral, slightly bitter” flavor.

Usage Tips:

For the treatment of GI complaints including H Pylori the suggestion is eating one teaspoonful of honey  with a small piece of toast or a cracker half hour before meals three times daily. The food helps slow the honeys absorption into the blood stream.

Topical usages include spot treatments on acne and abrasions. For deeper wounds apply Manuka Honey and wrap with gauze bandages. Change dressing three times daily.

Although honey has always been touted for its antibacterial qualities Maunka Honey exhibits stronger healing power which is graded by its UMF or MGO.

GRADING SYSTEM: Getting the Good Stuff

Manuka honey is so valuable that a grading system was implemented to classify its healing powers. This grading system also enables people to buy Manuka Honey in varying degrees of potency as well as expose people trying to sell knock-offs with much less medicinal value for inflated prices.

Check for these two Grades

UMF® Rating vs MGO Rating

-5The UMF® testing procedure, known in the industry as the non-peroxide test, was established by Professor Molan. The name UMF® is followed by a number that indicates the strength of its UMF® antibacterial property in a batch of UMF® Manuka Honey tested in the licensed laboratory after the honey has been packed.

The UMF test involves comparing the performance of a Manuka honey sample on Staphylococcus aureus to Phenol, a common antiseptic. This test is the more standardized way to test the antibiotic content of Manuka Honey. This means that a honey with a UMF grade of 20+ is equivalent to a 20% solution of Phenol. All Manuka Honey that has a rating of 10+ is considered Active Manuka Honey.

MGO Rating is a system for testing the level of Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey. The higher the MGO rating the more powerful the antibacterial power. Manuka Honey MGO™ 100+ is the minimum Methylglyoxal (MGO™) content required to help kill many of the major bacterias. This is equivalent to UMF®10.

Therapeutic values are generally over 10+ UMF. Some more serious conditions require 15+ or even 20+ UMF.

Traditional Maori Uses of the Manuka Tree:

maori-women5

Both the Manuka and Kanuka plants have historically been used by Maori and early European settlers for medicinal purposes. This use includes using the bark as a poultice, for colds, for flu, and stomach aches. Ashes of mānuka were rubbed on the scalp to cure dandruff, Mānuka branches were used to splint broken limbs. Leaves were put in a calabash with water and hot stones, and the liquid was drunk to ease a fever. The bark was boiled in water, which was drunk to cure dysentery and diarrhoea.

I spent a week eating Manuka honey as prescribed 3x daily with a spoon while I waited for the H Pylori breath test results (the breath test is more conclusive than blood work). The results came back negative which meant I was fine all along!

Through all this research I stumbled up Sidr Honey. This honey is from the Ancient and Mystical Sidr Tree in Yemen and is the most expensive honey on the planet. Let’s just say my curiosity is piqued. Stay tuned as I bring you some info on Sidr Honey, the Louboutin of all Honeys….YUM!

Resources:

http://www.drmanukahoney.com/the-benefits-of-manuka-honey.php

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/rongoa-medicinal-use-of-plants/page-1

Newzealand.com