Pediatric Massage

Simple pediatric massage can have great benefits. Children respond well to meridian stimulation – and you can see immediate results. Additionally, massaging your own children will expedite their healing. You can use these techniques for treating the common cold, immune support, fever reduction and many other conditions. Please check in with your pediatrician as well.

The Power of Ginger

photo (9)Ginger is the root of the plant Zingiber officinale and is a spice used for seasoning food as well as a powerful Medicinal that has been used in many cultures for thousands of years. Originating in China and then disseminating across the trade routes, ginger is one of the most widely used spices today. 

Ginger is popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is often added to herbal formulas. Ginger therapeutic functions are to aid digestion and systemically warm the body. Moxibustion can be burned directly over ginger slices on the abdomen to “warm the digestive fire” for indigestion, diarrhea and nausea.

Ginger makes you sweat…

Sweat it out:
The easiest place for a pathogen to enter is the nape of the neck. This point is called Fang Chi, or Wind Pool, and lies where the head and neck meet. This point is often tender on palpation. This is why it is so important to keep your neck covered to avoid catching a chill.

If you catch a slight chill and feel that you are coming down with a cold the best thing to do is to generate a light sweat and then get under the covers.

Making a Ginger Root Tea is one of the most effective ways to promote a light sweat as well as reduce phlegm.

Making Ginger Root Tea:

1) Buy a root of Ginger (preferably organic or local)

2) Wash well

3) Break into pieces, or chop and pulverize with water in blender. Combine chopped ginger and water with more water to a pot.

4) Boil for 20 minutes and then simmer for at least 20 more. Strain or drink as is…Raw honey is a nice addition too, especially if your throat is sore.


Castor Nut: The Awesome, The Not-So-Hot and the Downright Deadly

Castor NutCastor Oil is an incredible substance that is obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor plant, Ricinus communis (Euphorbiaceae). It is a clear oil that has been used for medicinal use in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome, and in 17th Century Europe and the Americas. Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as “Palma Christe” because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ. This association likely arose out of people’s reverence for the plant’s healing abilities.

Castor oil is now widely used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, machinery and industry. Even Castrol motor oil for machinery is derived from castor oil….must be good for the joints?

 The Awesome:  Always start with the positives!

One of the more compelling health benefits is castor oil’s ability to support the immune system. This healing property does not require you ingest the oil, rather apply it externally. Castor oil “packs” can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues.

Popularized by psychic and intuitive healer, Edgar Cayce in the 1930s and 1940s, Castor Oil packs became widely utilized. Some say Edgar Cayce was the father of the New Age Movement. His work with castor oil was later researched and proven by primary care physician William McGarey amongst others.


Even Ancient Yogis and modern day yogis of the Ashtanga tradition follow a Saturday ritual of a castor oil bath. This helps reduce any inflammation in the joints while providing a ritual during the day off from training. In this tradition castor oil is applied liberally while the practitioner lays in corpse pose (shivasina) for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards wash the castor oil off in the shower.

Castor oil packs applied topically can:

  • Stimulate and support the immune system
  • Drain the lymphatic system
  • Increase lymphocyte production
  • Increase circulation
  • Have an antiinflamitory effect
  • Have an antiviral effect
  • Have an antifungal  effect
  • Improve painful conditions and swelling

Some conditions treated are GI complaints, ovarian cysts, menstrual issues, irregular menses, painful menses, fibroids, acne, arthritis, lymph edema and chronic infections.

 Topical Application: You can rub castor oil into the skin but if you truly want the most therapeutic effect try a “CASTOR OIL PACK”.  Packs are the most common and effective way to apply topical castor oil.

In order to make a Castor Oil Pack You will need the following supplies:

  • High quality cold-pressed castor oil
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad
  • Plastic wrap
  • Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel
  • One large old bath towel

Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen and liver. You can also treat over a local area, like swollen lymph nodes on the neck, ankles, knees…anywhere that needs additional love. Soak flannel with the oil so that it is completely saturated. The oil should be at room temperature. Place the flannel pack directly onto your abdomen; cover oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.

I recommend wearing old pajamas as the oil stains and is difficult to remove. Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes. This is a great time to do meditational breathing, reading or just relax.  You can reuse the pack several times, each time adding more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated.

The “Not-so-Pretty” but effective Internal Uses of Castor Oil:

spanky castor oil

Castor oil has been an internal remedy for thousands of years. Remember Spanky from The Little Rascals being spoon fed castor oil?  Castor oil can even be seen on Tom and Jerry as a way to harass Tom. Centuries of ingesting Castor oil by myriads of cultures have shown us that castor oil is a formidable laxative.

Castor oil has been proven to stimulate the intestines and the uterus and is often recommended to stimulate labor. I however do not recommend  castor oil for labor induction unless in very specific conditions as castor oil as it can cause violent vomiting and diarrhea which can really be tough on a laboring woman.

The”Downright Deadly” but infrequently seen use of the Castor nut:

Unless you go into the business of manufacturing castor oil you will not come into contact with Ricin. Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring protein and even a dose the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human. Heating during the oil extraction process denatures and inactivates the protein rendering castor oil harmless.

In a few occurrences since the late 1970’s ricin has been utilized as a biological toxic weapon.  As a matter of fact even this year,  an envelope addressed to President Obama tested positive for ricin.  All that being said, castor oil has been deemed safe and effective by the FDA so do not worry.

 Castor Oil is an ancient and effective way to improve your health. Give it a try for yourself.

Power of Propolis

Bee-PropolisMy family of Bee Keepers recently paid a visit in NYC and I was so excited to chat with them extensively about the power of Bees and their extraordinary products. My cousin Gustav is a third generation of beekeeper and I have fond memories meeting his Grandfather (my great, great Uncle) in Sweden when I was eight. I have an image in my head of my Great Uncle in his bee suit and huge drums of creamy honey in the basement. Maybe that started my deep love for honey?

Gustav had a lot of information to share. Sadly a lot of the discussion was about the disappearance of bees. He has been working extremely hard over the past ten years developing ways to keep his beehives healthy.

There were so many fascinating medicinal facts and bee products that I was inspired to write a 4-Part Piece on Bee products including Honey, Propolis, Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly. I’ll start with Propolis.

The Power of Propolis

Gustav called Propolis “the anti” because of  its antiinflamitory, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor and antiseptic properties. Honey bees are “propolis harvesters”. Bees collect resins from treebuds and mix the resins with a little honey, wax and enzymes to create propolis. Propolis essentially contains resins, balsams, essential oils, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and pollen. Analysis shows that bees don’t significantly change the resins they collect which makes propolis an herbal medicine similar to other medicinal gums and resins such as boswellia and myrrh.

Propolis is a Greek word that translates to “before the city” and is used by bees in the hives to line the hive to keep the hive clean. Propolis also acts as an adhesive as it assists in gluing the hive together and protect the hive from inclement weather. Bees not only line their hive with Propolis but leave Propolis as a “doormat” at the entrance. Gustav mentioned that bees step their feet in the Propolis before entering the hive to “clean” their feet before entering. Additionally Bees embalm invaders. Ancient Egyptians followed the bees knowledge and used propolis to embalming agents for their mummies. If a pest were to enter the hive and die the bees cover the dead animal in Propolis to keep the hive and the Queen Bee protected from germs.

Even The Gracie Diet, a diet created by Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, the forefather of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who lived and trained into his 90’s, listed Propolis as one of the 10 foods that should be eaten daily. Following the Hippocratean maxim “Let your food be your remedy”, Grandmaster Carlos Gracie aimed at founding a system that would primarily prevent illness on days of competition.The basic principle of the Gracie Diet is to keep blood pH level neutral by consuming only compatible nutrients at each meal.

A study on PubMed reported that “More than 15 Greek and Roman authors report on the preparation and application of the so-called third natural product of the bees (besides honey and wax). Aristoteles described the fundamental issues of its biology in his ‘Historia Animalium’ correctly.” Propolis has been utilized since ancient times as a topical antiseptic used for open wounds. It is said that Propolis is the most natural antibiotic man has ever discovered. The remarkable thing about this statement is the fact that this discovery took place some 2000 years ago.”

Integrate Propolis into your daily regimen:

In cell culture tests Propolis extracts have been shown to significantly inhibit the growth in the Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphyloccocus, clostridium, corynebacterium diptheriae and some streptococcus species.

Propolis Salve:
Treating open wounds it is superior to use a blend of propolis as a topical salve rather than a single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Antibiotics are overused and their overuse are creating a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. The complex bend of compounds in propolis is superior to the single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Gladiators know how to treat wounds!

Propolis as mouth wash:
Propolis mouth wash inhibits the growth of common human oral bacteria which helps the body heal after surgery, prevent bad breath, gingivitis, tooth decay and gum disease.

Upper respiratory conditions:

Propolis can be added to saline for a sinus irrigation. In many Eastern European countries widespread use of antibiotics is less common than beekeeping. Washing, gargling and irrigating the sinuses with propolis rinses are more commonly used.

Promote heart health. Propolis has been demonstrated to be an antiinflammatory.

Emollient: Studies also indicate that Propolis may be effective in treating skin burns.

Immune Support: Propolis exhibits immunostimulant effects in numerous clinical trials.

Propolis is available in powder, lozenges, tincture, capsules and pills.

As my family was heading back home they were eager to hug and kiss everyone of us before boarding the plane. Gustav waved a hearty goodbye as he popped some Propolis in his mouth.

Stay tuned for Bee Pollen!!

Immune Boosting Treatments and Supplements


I was inspired this month by my daughter’s dance teacher, Mrs Hendley from Breezy Point. This 86 year-old fire cracker wears a leotard and tights, thigh high stockings and teaches both ballet and tumbling to scores of three and a half year-olds. I hope to be like her when I am eighty-six!

Immune support starts with the foods that you eat and the practices you keep. Immunity decreases with fewer hours of sleep, irregular eating patterns, foods with poor nutritional value, sugary foods and stress.

I am offering some suggestions to help keep you and your crew as healthy as can be this winter.

Sweat it out:

In Chinese medicine we discuss the notion of your Wei Qi or your protective Qi. This is the barrier that fights against oncoming pathogens. When one has a fever it is considered a struggle between the Wei Qi and the Evil Qi trying to enter the body.

The easiest place for a pathogen to enter is the nape of the neck. This point is called Fang Chi, or wind pool and lies where the head and neck meet. This point is often tender on palpation. This is why it is so important to keep your neck covered and avoid catching a chill…Okay Grandma

If you catch a slight chill and feel that you are coming down with something the best thing to do is to generate a light sweat and then get under the covers. Ways to to do this are:

-Miso soup– fermented soy products have long been touted for their medicinal uses, scallions help fight cold and the hot, steamy broth makes you sweat.

-Chicken Soup: used since the 12th century, chicken soup has all the ingredients to heal, chicken bones leach calcium, oregano is an anti-bacterial, onions, i just added cabbage to mine thanks to Salud in Ditmas Park and it packs a higher vitamin punch.

-Tea: contains powerful, cold-fighting antioxidants called tannins and catechins that effectively fight free radicals in our body. A study conducted at Harvard University found that drinking five daily cups of black tea quadrupled our immune system in just two weeks!

-Tea with a Punch/Hot toddy: 2 cups of water, one shot of whisky and a squeeze of lemon, honey. puts you into a deep sleep and makes you sweat like crazy.

-Spicy Thai Fish Soup– Try it at Sripaphai, probably the best Thai food outside of Thailand.

-Sauna: I grew up with some crazy Finnish cousins who had saunas in their basements. I have vivid memories of family members rolling around in the snow naked after sustaining 200 degree plus temps for extended periods of time. I am not sure if it made them stronger but it sure looked tough? For a good Russian bathhouse Sandooney on Ave I and McDonald is a personal favorite.

Some Suggestions:

-Hand-washing & moisturizing. Obvious but important. Moisturize to keep the small cracks to a minimum-especially if you’ve been washing your hands a lot.

-Keep the sinus passages moist: Neti-pot or a Sinus rinse is key.

-Sleep: 7-9 hours is best. Catching up with naps is helpful too.

-Decrease stress: exercise, meditation, reading, laughing…

-Acupuncture: naturally stimulate the immune system.


-Vitamin D3: lots of info in the news about high doses of Vitamin D3 for immunity.

Add some herbs to your diet:

-Raw Garlic
-A potent antimicrobial compound found in garlic called allicin has been shown to make us 3x less likely to get sick.

-Ginger Root: antiviral, antibacterial, diaphoretic, soothes the stomach. Makes an awesome tea with raw honey if your throat is starting to get scratchy.

boosts immunity, decongestant, tonifies the Lungs.

-Peppermint: antiviral, antibacterial, soothes the stomach, decongestant. Sometimes I put a little essential peppermint oil on my kids pajamas when they are congested. Just dont let them touch the oil.

-Echinacia: immune booster, tonic.

-Sage: stomach soother, antiviral, reduces fever.

-Elderberry: boosts immunity, tonic, promotes sweating. Tea or tincture works well.

Autumn & Letting Go

Autumn & Letting Go

diamonds“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”
Havelock Ellis

Autumn is upon us and what a fabulous time to DETOXIFY your body and mind. Just as the universe is casting out its bright colors in the last moments of autumn, people too can choose to hold onto experiences from the past year or let them go.

Are you ready to let go? Ann Landers said that “hanging onto resentment is like letting someone live rent free in your head.” From a Chinese medicine point of view, resentment, food stagnation and toxins cause inevitable sickness and unhappiness. Stop the cycle now.

Autumn & The METAL Element

The METAL element in Traditional Chinese medicine is synonymous with refined taste, the spark of creativity, the brilliance of diamonds, the shine of polished silver and the sentiment of respect. Metal can be manifested in one’s feeling of self-worth and their inherent value.

The METAL element is manifested in the outside world in the season autumn. The fall is the turning point when all of nature’s bounty reaches its apex and turn towards decline. Decaying plants, leaves and foods left over from spring and summer pour nutrients back into the earth ensuring future growth in the spring.

Autumn is also the season characterized by the Lungs and the Large Intestines. The lungs are in charge of pulling in fresh energy from the cosmos and literally providing INSPIRATION….whilst the large intestine lets go of the body’s impurities. Some texts state that individuals who suffer from chronic diarrhea suffer from an inability to hold onto what is beneficial for them while those suffering from constipation are unable to let go of what is toxic for them. Do any of these concepts resonate with you?