Daith piercings

I’m getting a lot of questions about daith piercings that supposedly help you lose weight or stop migraines. These are a bad idea.

1) Piercers are NOT licensed to practice medicine. There is a reason we go to school for all those years, have to pass national tests, and maintain state licenses. They don’t know how much they don’t know.

2) They are using the WRONG points! Here’s an actual map of the ear:

There are about 100 points on the ear, so I can treat nearly anything. Ear seeds are quick, portable, and give you a few days of acupressure.

There are about 100 points on the ear. Millimeters matter  – sloppy “daith piercing” placement by an inexperienced piercer is asking for trouble!

Here’s that migraine article again. It contains a better set of acupressure points you can use yourself.

3) Obliterating the point can give temporary relief to some, but metal piercings will cause more stagnation and problems long term. You’re setting yourself up for more pain down the road. Read this.

This is why you’ll see articles online talking about mixed results with daith piercings. The problem isn’t with acupuncture…. it’s that they aren’t using acupuncture! Even professional piercers admit they are not a legitimate treatment method.

Free Class: Acupressure for Digestive Health

PC-6, excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress.

PC-6 – excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress – one of the many points we’ll be learning about in the free class.

I’ll be teaching a free class on self-care – Acupressure for Digestive Health – Saturday, Oct 3rd at the Natural Grocers at 12155 SW Broadway St, Beaverton, OR 97005. The class is 11-12:30. Come join us!

“Learn about digestion from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We’ll discuss some handy acupressure points you can use at home to deal with reflux/ heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Crohn’s disease, gastroparesis, gastritis, and blood sugar variations.”

 

Heartburn / Acid Reflux

What causes heartburn?

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn can be terrible. My patients often come in complaining of a string of miserable nights when nothing can calm the burning in their chests. The ache can extend to the throat and jaw.* Acid reflux is more than just annoying. If left untreated for years, you can develop Barret’s Esophagus and eventually cancer. Soothing the pain has become a mega-industry, but your reflux is not a symptom of a Prilosec deficiency, and in fact long term use may cause Vitamin B12 deficiencies** or heart attacks.

 

Basic reflux defense:

Avoid alcohol, spicy or greasy foods, tomatoes, citrus, chocolate, and mint.

Sleep with an extra pillow to keep your esophagus above your stomach.

Don’t eat large meals or late in the evening.

Some people report a big reduction in symptoms when they cut down on carbs & sugar. It’s worth trying.

Stimulate PC-6. You can do acupressure on yourself.

Use apple cider vinegar.

It seems counter-intuitive to drink vinegar (acetic acid) when your throat is on fire, but it works. Here’s why: Often, the stomach isn’t making *enough* stomach acid. The sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach is signalled to close tight by the presence of acid. If it doesn’t cinch up, the weak acid you do have will escape upwards.

I can’t vouch for all the claimed “miracles” of apple cider vinegar (ACV), but it’s a powerful tool for fighting heartburn. In addition to providing the acidic signal, high quality ACV also contains probiotics that make your gut healthier. This is why you want the cloudy stuff in a glass bottle (Bragg’s) not the cheap clear supermarket brand in the plastic bottle.

Bragg-Organic-Apple-CIder-VinegarShake the bottle until the gross-looking glop becomes a uniform cloudiness. Pour a finger or two of the ACV into a glass, then dilute it to about 3-4 inches with water. Chug it down and follow with tooth brushing or at least a serious rinsing to protect your tooth enamel. Within seconds your heartburn should dissipate. Some just use it as needed – when symptoms appear. More diligent people drink it every day.

* Heart attack symptoms are sometimes confused for heartburn, which is why it’s important to get checked out by a doctor, especially if you are at risk or have heart disease in your family history.

**Vitamin B12 deficiency causes serious health consequences including anemia, osteoporosis, depression, memory loss, dementia, neuropathy and cardiovascular disease.

Ear seeds – Radishes for reflexology!

If you ever attend an event with me, soon you’ll notice people walking around with funny little stickers on their ears. Ear seeds are my mobile acupressure strategy. When people come up to me and ask what I can do about their back pain in the middle of a party… BAM! On go the ear seeds. These are radish seeds on a tiny piece of band-aid tape. There’s nothing magical about the radish – they are just the right size and shape to apply acupressure to any of the 100 points on your ear (map below).

You’re familiar with reflexology, right? You know how your entire body is reflected on your hands and feet? Same deal with the ears. I can treat pain or dysfunction anywhere in the body, emotional upheaval, anxiety, etc. This is why I’m not a huge fan of lots of piercings. It’s also why ear massages are like getting a full body massage, and terrific for immediately calming someone down. Try it the next time your migraines act up, your dog is freaked out, or your sweetheart has road rage. :) Just gently rub the entire ear – don’t worry about hitting specific points for this purpose.

Once the seeds are on, they are working. They will last 3-4 days, and you can shower normally. If you want to give the treatment a boost, and can’t feel them on your ears, give them a gentle squeeze to wake them up. If you are already aware of them, leave them alone… they will probably be pretty tender to the touch! Sometimes people find the ear seeds annoying or sore, particularly if they are side-sleepers or they are working superhard (the more active a point is, the more it can hurt). In that case, just take them off. The point is to make you feel better!

I never charge for ear seeds. Ask me for them anytime – I always have them in my purse, and you are welcome to drop by the clinic for a quick installation.

Note: Some people use ear staples for quitting smoking, weight loss, etc. I prefer earseeds, since sending someone out with an open wound is an invitation to infection. Acupressure is hugely powerful and hurts less, too!

There are about 100 points on the ear, so I can treat nearly anything. Ear seeds are quick, portable, and give you a few days of acupressure.

There are about 100 points on the ear, so I can treat nearly anything. Ear seeds are quick, portable, and give you a few days of acupressure.

Healthy Boots – that look great!

I got rid of 95% of my old shoes once I made the switch to minimal, wide-toed, unheeled footwear. Wearing my old collection just felt awful after my toes were liberated. Like children, once they are educated, there’s no going back. :) So I was left with my new shoes… and NO healthy boots. With our cold, damp winters, and as much time as I like to spend outside, that was no good at all. So I went on a mission. I visited Shoe Mill (their selection was disappointingly high-heeled and rigid-soled) and Footwise (just didn’t see anything that appealed to me). I would have liked to hit Cobbler Bill’s and the rest of my list, but I’m a busy girl!

I checked out both Imelda’s and Clogs & More on Hawthorne about a month back – all I found was the rain boots mentioned in the shoe shopping post. They may have some new stock now. After Nordstrom’s and Macy’s at the mall, I went online. Zappos was uncharacteristically empty of options, but the Nordstrom’s website was terrific.

Here’s what my quest brought me. I didn’t buy all of these, but I did “borrow” a few on my credit card, since they all have free shipping & returns, and I can wear them inside for a while to see how they really feel before I pick which one(s) to keep. Much better than a 30-second try in a store, right?

The Finds:

Keen Delancy

The Keen “Delancy” is close, but I couldn’t get it zipped. This is a common problem for me, since I am 4’10” and my calf muscles start lower. If you have longer / slimmer legs, try them out. I have been distressed by Keen’s new line, which is both stiff and narrow. These are a rare, and welcome, throwback.

 

phoenixside

 

Soft Star makes this boot, the “Phoenix,” but it doesn’t meet my aesthetic standards so I haven’t tested it. I’m not fond of the “Ugg” shape and I don’t do brown. If you do, give them a go!

Born Lecia

 

 

Børn “Lecia” – These made me very, very sad. Born is a great company, and I was SO excited about having red lace-up boots! Sadly, the tops were too long for me, and pushed up under my knees. They were fine for standing, but when I moved and bent my legs they were no good. If you are a normal-sized human this will not be an issue. Note – these would be fine for even bigger calves than mine: The tongue has a big overlap. Worse than the height is the heel. It has a pointed bottom, and a soft sole, so the net effect felt like a point poking up into my heel. Immediately very uncomfortable, and it got worse over 20 minutes.

 

Merrel Haven (Nordies)

Merrell “Haven” is no oasis.

My first impression: The Havens are the least comfortable Merrell’s I’ve ever worn. They are far too narrow. By the time I sized up to a decent width, they were crazy long… Like, clown shoe long. Try again, Merrell. Plus, the look isn’t really my style. Note: The Captiva (not shown) is wider and better looking, but I couldn’t zip it. Besides, it has a small heel lift.

 

 

Born Kaila (Macys) healthy boots

THE WINNER! I was Born to wear these healthy boots! :)

Børn “Kaila,”  at Macy’s 

Love these! They do have about a half inch net heel – the most heel I’ve worn in months – but it’s not bothering me. Initially the top of the calf was snug on me, but it quickly stretched sufficiently that I don’t feel it anymore. Bonus: There is an adjustable buckle at the top. Mine are matte black. This glossy pic is the “mahogany.”

Verdict: YES! There was even room for my Correct Toes inside these gorgeous things!

Romika Fiona

Romika,  please make a quieter, taller version!

 

 

 

Romika “Fiona” at Nordie’s. 

Also in black. These look narrow, but feel huge inside! I swear they are made of Tardis! Unfortunately the zippers jingle when I walk (I’d have to swap the tab out), and the height of the calf is awkward and unflattering. They would be good under pants or jeans, but I pretty much only wear skirts.

 

 

NF JaneyNorth Face “Janey II Luxe” (Ordered from Nordstrom’s website)

I very much liked the short zipper at the inner ankle, which allowed for easy on-off. However, the toebox was narrow and stiffly structured. That’s a no.

 

 

 

Sorel Yaquina

 

Sorel “Yaquina”  (Ordered from Nordstrom’s website)

So close! The toebox is just a little too snug. I could feel it pressing against my big toe. If you have narrow feet, these will work beautifully for you. But not for me.

 

 

Final verdict:

The only pair that really worked for me 100% was the Born Kaila. I’m wearing the black ones right now, and I’m ordering a second pair of “mahogany.” The Keen “Delancy” and Sorel’s “Yaquina” were close… try them if you are, respectively, slim-calved and narrow-footed.

Hopefully this little review has helped you find some healthy boots, and more importantly, reminded you of what to look for when shopping. Please let me know if you find any other good candidates!

NOTE: For rainboots, I love my Bogs! They have a nice wide toebox and are zero drop, unlike most wellies.

Human Touch

I shared a link on Facebook last week about the importance of human touch, and there was an immediate pile of private messages thanking me. One person shared that just that day a co-worker had touched her shoulder as she scooted past her in a tight space, and it made her realize how much she needed a hug. Although the article focuses on men, it’s true for women, too.

Some cowboys have to resort to other species to get their snuggles!

Some cowboys have to resort to other species to get their snuggles!

 

I’m so grateful that Robert is physically affectionate. But then, that’s one of the many reasons I chose him. I’m a hugger, and I couldn’t be partners with someone who wasn’t.

 

 

 

 

aaport3

Men as friends, enjoying comfortable physical affection. It’s a beautiful thing.

In our current American society, man aren’t really allowed to touch each other platonically. They shake hands, or slap each other butts to celebrate a touchdown, but they don’t hug the way women do. In European nations, it’s not unusual see male friends walking arm-in-arm. We used to do that here, too, but homophobia and general isolation have reduced common touch to a rarity. Look at these pictures. The intimacy of these pals is heartwarming. Let’s spread a little of that around here… grab a friend and give them a squeeze! Have some buddies over for movies and make a puppy pile on the couch!

 

 

friendssnapshots7

World peace though HUGS!

 

Human touch is important to generate oxytocin, a hormone linked to social bonding and happiness. The people in Richard Renaldi’s “Touching Strangers” project reported that they actually felt themselves caring for their fellow models, more than they expected. I know some of my massage patients come to see me more for the touch than for the therapeutics. It’s why they keep coming back long after I’ve fixed them. And I’m fine with that – it’s my job to help in any way I can – but if we all just touched a friend’s shoulder now and then we could reduce everyone’s stress quite a bit.

 

 

Triple Threat Chicken Recipes – 1 Bird, 3 Meals

One bird can feed 2 people for three days with a little creativity. Try these chicken recipes – they’re all easy, healthy, yummy, and frugal – it’s the total chicken package!

 Day 1: Roasted chicken

You can do this yourself (it’s not hard) or pick up a pre-cooked beauty at the grocery store on your way home. Did you know Whole Foods sells pre-cooked organic ones? That’s terrific if you’re exhausted and working late, but if you have time, try this:

A little rosemary on top makes for a beautiful and tasty presentation.

A little rosemary on top makes for a beautiful and tasty presentation.

Super-Easy Roast Chicken Recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry.
Rub the skin with butter or olive oil. Dust with salt & pepper. You can also try thyme, sage, and of course rosemary.
Roast for 20 min/lb. Some chicken recipes call for basting every 20 minutes after 40, but I don’t bother and it comes out fine.

Seriously – that’s it! If you can wiggle the drumstick easily, it’s cooked! You can also use a meat thermometer – the inside should be 165 degrees F.

For some variation, slide orange slices, lemon slices, or garlic cloves under the skin. You can also cut up apples and put them inside the bird.

Serve with some veggies (of course).

After dinner, remove all remaining meat from the bones. Stick it in the fridge for Day 2.
Throw the bones, vinegar, and some veggies into a crockpot to start a broth (instructions here) for Day 3.

Day 2: Chicken Salad

Chop the leftover meat into small pieces. Combine with:

chopped celery
chopped dried cranberries (or raisins)
chopped nuts (I love Trader Joe’s rosemary almonds but plain almonds, walnuts & pecans are lovely too)
just enough mayo to moisten (making your own is much healthier)
salt & pepper (omit salt if using seasoned nuts)

This batch contained lots of smoked almonds and *wow* it was delicious!

This batch contained lots of smoked almonds. Delicious!

Serve the chicken salad as a sandwich, or over a green salad. You can also use tortillas or butter lettuce as a wrap.

Has your broth been cooking for more than 24 hrs? If so, use a slotted spoon to remove the solids (bones and veggies – these are nutritionally tapped out at this point), and pour the remaining liquid into a medium soup pot, which goes in the fridge for Day 3.

 

This batch of homemade chicken noodle soup contained chunks of chicken meat, celery, some leftover bacon, and pepper. Re-using an almond butter jar makes getting to work spill-free!

This brew of homemade chicken noodle soup contained chunks of chicken meat, celery, some leftover bacon, and pepper. Re-using an almond butter jar makes getting to work spill-free!

Day 3: Chicken Soup

Remove the congealed fat (white disk on top) from the broth. Put the broth on the stove, and add veggies, pasta or quinoa, and spices. This can be super-hearty with kale and sweet potatoes, or light nourishment for someone fighting a cold. Have fun experimenting! If you don’t want chicken a third day in your week, the broth will freeze beautifully. Just chill it in the fridge and remove the fat layer from the chicken jello before transferring it to the freezer.

Got any favorite chicken recipes of your own? Please share!

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

I get a lot of questions about acupuncture for weight loss, and I figured it was time to say something about it here.

Weight Loss Isn’t Always About Eating Less and Exercising More

Acupuncture for weight loss!

Acupuncture for weight loss!

If you have an oral fixation, or if your hunger sensation seems to be “off,” there’s an acupuncture point for that.

If you stress eat, I have some terrific acupuncture-based anti-anxiety solutions for you.

If you are too sedentary because of chronic pain, my acupuncture and medical massage can relieve that and get you able to exercise.

If you have a Damp accumulation (a Chinese medicine concept), acupuncture is ideal.

If you are overeating because your digestion is poor, so your body is starving for nutrients, I can help with that. I take a two-pronged approach of improving your digestion through acupuncture, plus doing some nutrition analysis and getting you onto a more nourishing diet, with a better nutrient to calorie ratio.

If you’re packing on extra fat because of toxins (chemical exposure, dietary, etc.) being stored in adipose tissue, acupuncture is fantastic for detoxing.

If your metabolism is slow due to thyroid or other hormonal issues like PCOS, we can work with that, too, but acupuncture is not a magic bullet (keep reading for a metabolism reality check).

Maybe you’ve been following that laughably outdated “food pyramid,” or haven’t yet heard that the War on Fat was misguided and has created a nation of obese diabetics. In that case, I can help you with some nutritional guidance (hint: Good fats are needed to form membranes on cells, insulation for nerves, padding for organs, etc. When we don’t eat enough fat, the body stores it, thinking we are starving. Good fats: Seeds, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed beef, fish, etc. Bad fats are trans, fried, fake “foods” like margarine, canola oil, etc. There are lots of different types of healthy diets, but one thing they all agree on is eating lots of veggies!).

weight-loss-cartoon-the-invisible-man-and-wonder-womanOf course there’s always the possibility that you aren’t actually overweight, but have a body dysmorphia issue (Hint: Do your friends and family insist you look slim, and can’t believe you’re “dieting?”). Acupuncture and counseling can help with that, too.

In short, it’s good, but acupuncture for weight loss is not magical. Personally, I used to be a body-builder (my workouts were 1.5hrs, 6 days a week) and personal trainer. I was also a rock-climber and martial artist, and played paintball in the woods for fun. In other words, I was very fit. After a car accident left me unable to walk more than 10 minutes at a time, let alone work out, I was in pretty much constant agony. This was before I knew how to knit, so I just laid on the couch and watched movies, read books, and ate. I started packing on weight, but I figured it was no big deal. Once my back healed I’d just work it off, right?

Fast forward to ten years later. My back recovered (yay for acupuncture and Osteopathic medical massage!), but my metabolism had been wrecked. I was back in the gym and lifting. I was getting stronger, and building endurance and stability. I felt good, but sometimes my energy was low, and I hit a plateau where I just COULD NOT shed a pound. Muscle is heavier than fat, so I didn’t worry at first, but come on… as active as I was, my belly should have been retreating. It’s frankly embarrassing to be a health care provider who needs to lose weight.

Unfortunately, years of starving myself had gotten me to a point where I had tuned my cells to be far, far too efficient. If there wasn’t enough food coming in, they certainly weren’t going to use what they had stored… what if things got *worse*!?

By the way, I had no idea what my daily calorie count was at the time. It was only after I started tracking with MyFitnessPal about a year ago that I realized how low I was averaging… about 800-1000 per day. That is simply not enough. I boosted up to 1500-1800, but the counting & tracking made me crazy. Eventually I decided to quit counting and just eat whenever my body asked for fuel (what a concept!). After years of perpetual hunger, it was such a blessing to be allowed to nourish myself. I try to make good quality choices (sometimes I’m better at that than others) but I quit beating myself up for mistakes.

I still haven’t slimmed down past my initial 50 lb weight loss. It will take a while for my metabolism to correct, if it ever does. But I’m eating close to twice as much as I used to, and I haven’t *gained* an ounce. I’m working out three times a week, plus LARPing or hiking or whatever on weekends. My energy is better. I can lift more weight. :)

I am not thrilled with my physique right now. Honestly, it’s hard to look in the mirror and see this belly when I used to be so ripped. But I’m *okay* with it. What’s more important is that I feel better. I am working hard at staying active (SO important!) and making healthy, non-toxic food choices. That’s the best I can do right now for me.

mostly_water

 

As for you, come on in. Let’s talk about the various reasons you want to lose weight, and how I can help. I can’t promise you’ll drop 30 lbs in 30 days (in fact I guarantee you won’t – that’s dangerous as hell!), but I do promise to guide you in the right direction.

Posture: It does a body good!

Posture does more than make you look good: It’s important for your health! Being bent over creates tremendous stress on our muscles, squishes our organs, and blocks blood flow. I also affects our mood and digestion.

Modern-evolution

We all sit too much. And that tends to lead to slumping. At work, at home, in the car… it’s actually gotten worse as technology has gotten better. We’re not even staring at computer screens over a desk anymore – we’re looking down at laptops and phones, and as a result, our collective necks are becoming permanently bent!

Posture2

There’s a funny sort of cascade that happens when you are out of whack. A forward head posture, for example, is very common. In that position, the muscles that flex the neck are underworked. The muscles on the back of the neck are overstretched and cranky. The hips tend to shift to compensate, and you get a similar pattern at the pelvis.

 

 

Picture a string running from the base of your spine, up through the top of your head. Imagine yourself pulled up by that string. You will naturally straighten, and your shoulders will relax into their proper position. I like this much better than the rigid shoulders that can happen from just trying to “stand up straight.”

Of course in about 5 minutes you may find yourself back in the familiar slouch. Pull up on that string again! It takes practice, but like any habit, it gets easier the more you do it, and eventually it’ll be automatic. Yes, your postural muscles will be weak at first, but they’ll get stronger. Stick with it!

Top 8 reasons to use good posture:

1) Create confidence and elevate your mood. The link between mind and body goes both ways… you can literally lift your spirits by lifting your head!

Posture12) Reduce pain in the neck and shoulders. Your trapezious muscles get pulled tight when you slump forward, which causes all sorts of inappropriate tension.  And as you can see, keeping your head aligned is the best way to distribute the weight of your skull. A forward neck posture creates leverage that works against your body.

 

3) The individual bones of your spine – both neck and back – will be able to move more freely. This means less chance of spinal injuries or pinched nerves, and can prevent fusion between bones as you age.

4) You’ll look slimmer! Most of those “before and after” weight loss poses can be achieved with nothing more than good posture and different lighting.

5) Increase the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid. If you’re a collapsed beanbag, various pathways can be cut off, preventing your body from working as it should.

6) Give your digestive organs room to move. Remember, they have to push food around, from the stomach on down, to mix it with the different stages of digestive enzymes and extract nutrients and water.

7) Make a better impression on the people you meet.

8) Look up and see the beautiful world around you! The sidewalk isn’t nearly as attractive as the people, architecture, and nature around you.

Keep at it. Keep reminding yourself… eventually it will become second nature. Good posture is so important, and it may be the single simplest, free thing we can do for ourselves.

 

Arnica for bruises, sprains, strains

I generally don’t use topical stuff or supplements. Even when I have a good remedy, I have a bad tendency to forget to use it. Arnica is my big exception. Arnica montana is an herb that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It makes a terrific topical oil for bruises, sprains, and strains. It’s fantastic for reducing inflammation in the area and speeding up healing.

arnicaoilI have a source for organic, locally-grown, hand-picked, hand-processed Arnica oil. It also contains a little St. Johns Wort for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, and olive oil so it soaks into the skin. I prefer topical application to the pills, because it puts the medication where you need it, rather than spreading it out over the entire body, and because in high doses, taken internally, it can be toxic.

In all my years of martial arts, personal training, and running an acupuncture clinic (not to mention my own boo-boos), this is easily the best preparation I have found. It’s far superior to the multitude of diluted oils, creams and homeopathic pills generally available (most contain only small amounts of arnica), and that’s why it’s the only product I carry. I have bottles for $15 – swing by and pick one up! Use on unbroken skin only, please, and of course discontinue if your skin is irritated.