OVERACTIVE BLADDER

When a patient arrives for an appointment, I always ask if they need to use the bathroom. It’s better to get that taken care of before they are undressed and full of needles! One lady responded “When do I ever NOT need to?” with a laugh. I giggled with her, agreeing wholeheartedly. Then it occurred to me… that’s not normal!

Over the years it snuck up on me, and I hadn’t even noticed… just cracked jokes about having the world’s tiniest bladder, etc. I was getting up to pee at least once a night, and up to three times on a bad one. This is a pretty common situation with more mature women, especially those who are heavier or had children, but that doesn’t mean I had to be stuck with it!

There are two issues here – urgency and incontinence. I did some reading, and some thinking, and here’s what I came up with:

URGENCY:

There are two warning systems for your bladder. One triggers when it starts to fill: That’s the early notification, “Hey, start thinking about a biobreak?” Then there’s the demanding “NO, REALLY!! FIND A BATHROOM NOW!” when it’s completely full. Apparently if you always relieve yourself when the first alarm goes off, the two start to merge, and the urgency gets ramped up even at the early stages. The best way to combat this is to deliberately delay at the first warning. Distract yourself. Do something engaging so you forget you need to pee. When I first started doing this, I couldn’t put it off for long… maybe 5 minutes. But soon it became an hour, and then two! The trick here is to relax. When you feel that sudden NEED to go, the tendency is to panic, to squeeze your legs and try to hold it in while rushing to the toilet. Unfortunately, that’s just going to push it out! Instead, think about consciously relaxing your abdomen, pelvis, and thighs. Focus on your work or something else (maybe as you make your way to the bathroom, in the early stages). It can be a bit of a roulette at first, but keep with it! Retraining takes some time.

Secondly, I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to always be in a hurry. I was squeezing and firing off a pressurized firehose out of some misguided attempt to “be efficient.” This led to a buff bladder that was prone to “going hard” when activated. Instead, I made a conscious effort to relax when peeing, and just let it stream.

INCONTINENCE:

Pelvic floor health is super important. We’ve all heard of Kegels, and some docs recommend doing them while brushing your teeth, just to make it a frequent habit. Likewise, sexual activity and orgasm (alone or with a partner) can help get those muscles strong and healthy.

Absorbent “period panties” can be useful for containing small leaks. Thinx, TomboyX, and plenty of other brands make use of new fabric technology. These garments are machine washable (hang to dry) and – while the crotch panel may be slightly stiffer than usual – they are generally comfortable. They can be useful in the training period while challenging yourself to hold out. In worst case scenarios, if you are unable to retrain, they are a more dignified option than adult diapers (and cheaper, long term).

RESULTS:

Obviously, your mileage may vary, but I started seeing changes pretty quickly. A month after I started my experiment, I slept through the night! It’s now been three nights in a row, and one was a 10 hr lazy sleep-in over the weekend. Sleep is sacred, and anything you can do to improve your slumber will have a positive impact on the rest of your day.

Another important benefit to reducing overactive bladder symptoms is the freedom to hydrate yourself. I know far too many women who stay perpetually dehydrated because they are nervous about the end result. Take your control back by learning to relax… it may sound counterintuitive, but it’s working for me. Let me know how it works for you!

UPDATE 12/23/22: The retraining held until I rediscovered tea. It turns out caffeine brings back the frequent pit-stops for 24-48 hrs. I do just fine on herbals. :)

Points Incompatible with Pregnancy

Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) is based on energy management. I know that sounds woo-woo, and it was hard for me to wrap my scientific brain around that at first. I thought all those meridians (channels of energetic flow) were just superstition or a handy mnemonic to remember neuro-muscular junctions (where nerves join with muscles to control them). Instead, decades of experience has proved over and over to me that these energetics are real. I think we just don’t have the technology to see it yet, so it seems as mystical as an X-ray would to a medieval doctor.

There is a category of points used to promote the movement of stagnant energy. These are enormously helpful to reduce pain, and I also use them to evict overdue babies (along with some lower back points and the uterus point on the ear). I can usually help patients avoid a chemical induction that way. For a baby that’s not yet at term, I will need a doctor’s note saying it’s okay to stimulate labor before your due date.

STIMULATION OF THESE POINTS, ESPECIALLY EARLY IN A PREGNANCY, CAN LEAD TO MISCARRIAGE.

Other acupuncture is perfectly safe for pregnancy. If you have pain, I can use indirect methods to treat it symptomatically, and do the musculoskeletal work to relax your muscles and realign the bones.

If you are pregnant and want to stay that way, AVOID THESE POINTS when getting a massage, etc. The first three have links to more information and pictures.

silhouette of a female body with four acupuncture points marked
Avoid acupressure and acupuncture on these points if you are pregnant and want to stay that way.

Note: These points are on both the left and right. I just marked one side for simplicity.

LI4: Moves stagnation in the upper body

LV3: Moves stagnation in the lower body

GB 21: Descends energy

SP 6: Stimulates uterine contractions

Sp6: Do not use if you’re pregnant and want to stay that way!

Restaurant cards for Nightshade avoidance

Explaining Nightshade sensitivities to busy waitstaff can be a nightmare… so I made these handy cards. This way they can bring one back to the kitchen for the chef to review. I’m not going to say they work perfectly – I still get cherry tomatoes in my salads! – but they definitely help.

Print these out on card stock and keep a few in your wallet. Bon appetit!

English front  English back

Spanish front  Spanish back

French front  French back

Dutch front Dutch back

German front   German back

Italian front  Italian back

If you notice a mistake or possible improvement in any of these translations, PLEASE let me know! :)

Fascia – the best kept secret in healthcare

I’ve talked about fascia before in this blog, but I wanted to share this video:  It explains the work I do beautifully. It’s so frustrating to me that fascia is unknown by average people, and ignored by so many types of healthcare practitioners. It’s ESSENTIAL in understanding biomechanical dysfunction and healing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swlXzrguPxY&feature=share

Once I bought a rotisserie chicken from a regular grocery store. As I was taking it apart, I was stunned at how bound up the bird was, compared to the free-range chickens I was used to. A lifetime of forced inactivity had created fascial adhesions all over – you know, that white sheeting? The muscles were all shrink-wrapped in place. “This poor chicken needed a massage!” I told Robert. I felt so bad for it. Just another lesson on how important light, frequent movement is for our bodies.

Connective tissue / fascia (white) and muscle fibers (tan)

Tight fascia will pull on our muscles and bones, preventing free movement and potentially causing misalignments. In severe cases, it can constrict nerve and blood vessel function, creating swelling, pain, or numbness & tingling.

Resolving fascial adhesions is as simple as knowing the right medical massage technique, myofascial release. I can do it for you, and I can show you how to treat yourself and your loved ones.

For hard-to-reach areas, you can use a foam roller to soften the adhesions. I advise people to use it against a wall, rather than lying down on it, because you can control the pressure better. Remember you do NOT want to cause intense pain – that will spark an alarm response. The body will think you have a new injury and will send sticky connective tissue to glue up whatever is torn or bleeding – which means the adhesions you just broke up will reform themselves.  It’s best to use the roller gently, then move. Go for a walk or do your usual workout. Movement will help release those weakened adhesions.

Want to learn more? There’s a treasure trove of articles here.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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 or bed wedge to keep your esophagus above your stomach.

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

Most people report a big reduction in symptoms when they cut down on carbs & sugar.

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

There are TWO types of acid dysfunction reflux:

Sometimes the stomach is making too much acid, or the lining is damaged with ulcers, cancer, etc. In these cases, reducing stomach acid via pharmaceuticals can help, particularly in the short term.

More commonly, the stomach isn’t making *enough* acid. This is because the body only bothers to promote acid when it’s in the parasympathetic / “rest and digest” mode. If you are stuck in the sympathetic / “fight or flight” mode due to stress & anxiety, your digestion will slow down.

Have you heard the old tip about using apple cider vinegar? It seems counter-intuitive to drink vinegar (acetic acid) when your throat is on fire, but it works. Here’s why: 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.

Protip: Pickle juice also works! Try a swig out of the jar of kosher spears in your fridge!

* 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.


What causes heartburn?

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 (Update: closed in Dec 2022) 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.