Digestive health (and roasted cauliflower!)

I’ve been seeing an increase in people coming in with digestive problems, and it correlates interestingly with a  little revolution in my personal dietary habits.

Acupuncture for digestive upset – in this case nausea and “grumbling” intestines.

Last month I gave you a recipe for steel cut oats. They are far healthier than regular cereal for breakfast, but ironically, I am longer eating those oats… I’m off grains for the time being. A high-carb/low fat diet is not consistent with our hunter-gatherer evolution, and for some people it causes all sorts of problems, from weight gain to heartburn. I’m reading an amazing book called “Primal Body, Primal Mind.” The author cites a satisfying glut of scientific sources. The information in it resonates strongly with everything I know about physiology, and everything I’ve experienced in my personal struggles with weight. I’ve known for ages that bread is bad for me (very bad for me personally – your metabolism may differ), but it took reading this book to get up the motivation to quit. Working out and eating a “healthy diet” wasn’t doing it… but this seems to be doing the trick. It’s too early to say for sure, but I *am* losing weight and feeling good. My clothes are finally getting looser!

The old-fashioned “food pyramid” (built by lobbyists for Big Food Business) and the emphasis on low-fat, high carb has built a nation of obesity… myself included. It’s time to recognize that science demands a shift in thinking. I want to be clear here that I am not prescribing a ban on grains for everyone. You need to figure out what works for YOUR body. There are a few basic concepts, though, that I think everyone who’s reading the latest research can agree on:

1) Processed food is no substitute for actual, human-made food. If the majority of your meals are coming in bags and boxes, you need to reevaluate.

2) Empty calories (white bread, pasta, and other starches) and sugars lead to chronic inflammation, fat storage, and blood sugar problems. Put down that soda and have some water instead.

3) Fats are not the enemy. We need fats for brain function, neural insulation, and padding for organs, among other things. The trick is to get them from good sources like extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, fish, and grass-fed meats, rather than chemically-altered trans-fats.

Delicious and nutritious! Cauliflower fights cancer and has a surprising amount of Vitamins C and K (important for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory function). Of course it’s also a great source of fiber.

So here’s my new “popcorn” – Cut up cauliflower florets (about the size of a quarter or slightly bigger) and spread them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil if you like, but it’s good without, too! Add a little sea salt, and roast at 350 degree for 45 minutes. Seriously – even my red-blooded, dedicated-to-his-American-diet boyfriend loved it. Super yummy. Big thanks to personal trainer extraordinaire Brandie Sylfae. :)

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to turn into a food blog. I’ll be back to more acupuncture-oriented discussions next month! :)

 

 

Fall Health tips

Autumn is my favorite season. The crisp blue skies, the exploding yellows and oranges in the trees… It makes me crave a walk in the woods and a crunchy, juicy apple. All of a sudden pumpkins are everywhere and I’m looking for a sweater.

 Asian tradition includes responding to the energy of the seasons. This is true both philosophically (Have you seen this beautiful Korean movie?) and physically.  Remember back in the summer when I mentioned cooling foods like watermelon? For fall health, try to eat fewer cold, raw foods like salads, and more warm, cooked meals. Enjoy soups and steamed or baked vegetables such as broccoli and yams. Incorporate yellow and red foods into your diet. Consider starting your morning with hot oatmeal to fuel your day. I love Steel Cut oats! You can get them at most grocery stores, and now  Fred Meyer even has them in the bulk isle!

You want about 1/4-1/3 cup of dry oats per person. The night before your intended breakfast, put the oats and twice as much water into a pot. That means I do half a cup plus a little extra shake for Robert and me (he’s a big guy!), and just over a cup of water. Cover and let soak overnight. In the morning, cook on medium heat for 6-10 minutes, depending on how chewy vs. soft you want your oatmeal.

You can enjoy as is, but I like to toss in some walnuts for some added protein and healthy fats. Fruit (dried or fresh), honey, even maple syrup are options, too. Get creative!

Of course hot tea, in a variety of colors and flavors, is essential for me in the Fall. My favorite when I’m chilled is ginger tea. You can buy packets, but it’s best to just grate fresh ginger into a mug of hot water and add honey. Ginger is supremely warming and a soothing treat for a sore throat. It even boosts your immune system!

There’s an article here about Damp. In Chinese Medicine, colds and flus are considered to enter the body at the nape of the neck. Scarves are an important defensive weapon against getting sick. Although I think it has more to do with insulating the carotid arteries at the side of the neck, I am a big encourager of scarf wearing. In addition to preventing infections, a toasty cover will keep your neck muscles warm and relaxed. Pick out a soft, colorful one and give yourself a woolly hug.

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Cosmetic Acupuncture: Look younger naturally!

People are often surprised to learn I’m 41 years old. Here’s a quote from one of my patients back in Philly:

“While seeing Sharon for something totally unrelated, the subject of cosmetic acupuncture came up and I was willing to try it.

After a couple of sessions it seemed that I was using less foundation to even out my “Irish skin”.  That would be pale coloring with red blotches here and there.  Along with the coloring, my pores looked smaller.  Then my husband looked at me one night and remarked that I’d lost that “worried look”, the furrowed brow.

Lines and creases became smoother after a few more sessions and just recently a friend of mine, bemoaning the lines from her lips, added that it wasn’t something I needed to worry about. Those creases had really diminished.

It’s not a face lift or Botox, but I didn’t want to look like a cat.  Sharon can explain exactly what happens.  It makes sense and it’s completely natural!”

I’m terrible about remembering to take pictures, but fortunately a Portland patient snapped these:

BEFORE

AFTER

Look at the difference in the grooves above and below her mouth! Her jawline is also smoother, less “jowl-y.” A 72 year-old beauty!

Here she is in progress: One of her co-workers was so impressed, she started coming in, too.

Acupuncture facial rejuvenation uses special, tiny needles at strategic points. You can expect reduction or erasure of fine lines and the softening of deeper ones. Additionally, you may experience the firming of jowls and a reduction in the size of under-eye bags. It is not unusual for clients to report enhanced skin tone, increased energy and brighter eyes.

Here’s how it works: Local acupuncture increases collagen production, improves muscle tone, and reduces sagging around the eyes and neck. It helps eliminate puffiness by eliminating excess fluids, improves and evens out facial color, moisturizes the skin by increasing circulation of blood and lymph to the face, and reduces stress evident in the face.

If you want a more detailed perspective on how it works, read these articles: Part 1 and 2. Part 3 is for fellow acupuncturists.

Not surprisingly, if you are a smoker or sun-worshipper, you will need to make a longer commitment in order to achieve results. Session of cosmetic acupuncture only are $55 and take half an hour. You can also combine this treatment with some types of regular sessions: Please call for more information.

Packages of 5 treatments are available for $245. They make a great gift, too!

Piercings and Tattoos

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Tattoos and Piercings: Are there unintended effects?

(written August 2011)

I spent last weekend at the Portland Tattoo Expo, giving bodywork treatments to tired tattoo artists and attendees. What a fun experience, to be surrounded by illustrated people!

Body modification is nothing new. I’m sure the first caveman had a good time jazzing up his chassis, starting with paint and continuing on to more permanent decisions. The location, color, and motifs of these designs have been important in many ways. They have indicated status and held religious meaning. They have shown membership in a larger group, or had medicinal or protective properties. Of course in some cultures they are just creative, artistic expressions of the human spirit.

Otzi the Ice Man and his tattoos

“Otzi the Ice Man” lived 5,300 years ago. His frozen body, discovered in 1991, has revealed much about prehistoric life. I could write pages about the secrets he shared, but for now let’s focus on his tattoos. X-rays indicate he had lower back and knee pain.  The dotted and lined tattoos he bore relate to acupuncture points to treat those areas. They were hidden under clothing, so they were clearly not just decorative.

Update 1/8/13: Otzi now “lives” in a museum exhibit in northern Italy.

My first thought was a question. I wondered if the application of the tattoos was itself the treatment, or if it was a guide to show him where to apply acupressure. I’ve certainly been known to send patients home with Sharpie marks to indicate where they should press for the next few days. The process of tattooing will of course stimulate the point, and act as an effective treatment. Long term, however, the ink doesn’t continue to activate the area (as far as I know).

Piercings have a more lasting energetic impact because of the jewelry. Metal blocks energy flow. I think this is actually how acupuncture works – the surgical steel of the needle disrupts the energy flow and draws the body’s attention to the area. A tiny needle, in place for a few minutes, has a therapeutic effect. A large gauge piercing, worn permanently, can cause problems by overstimulating the area. This is one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of the Daith piercing. I’ve had patients develop unexplained shoulder pain, digestive trouble, and migraines following body modification to those corresponding points on the ear. I encourage them to either remove the piercings or at least switch to glass or bone. Personally, I wear earrings out for events, but not day-to-day and I never sleep in them. I used to have a belly ring but had to remove it due to interference with my Ren channel. Not everyone is sensitive, though: Plenty of people have piercings with no ill effects. It’s up to you as an individual to weigh the impact vs. advantage.

There was a recent discussion on an acupuncturist’s discussion board where a number of providers cited patients unconsciously placing tattoos where they need treatment. For example, someone with a Spleen* deficiency having a design above her inner ankle. I haven’t seen that trend myself, but I do recall a particularly disturbed young man I met while waiting in line for a fitting room at Goodwill. He was clearly mentally ill, and very agitated. He had Shenmen (the seat of mental health) pierced on both sides, an unusual location for an earring. I asked him why he chose that site, and he said it just felt right. Shen Men is a terrific point, and I think his instinct to stimulate the point was a good one, but he went about it the wrong way. Having a large piece of metal blocking the point 24/7 can actually cause more problems.

Where are your piercings?

Ear acupuncture points (most of them) with Shenmen marked.

I’m not anti-body-modification. In fact, I have an ankle bracelet tattoo myself that says “VIVO VT SERVIAM” – Latin for “I live to serve.” As with all big changes to your body, however, you should undertake them with thought.

*Remember that in Chinese medicine, capitalized organs are energetic concepts and should not be confused with your anatomical organs. In this case, the Spleen transforms food into energy, while your physical spleen stores and filters blood, and plays a role in the immune system.

 

Anti-inflammatory Diet & Nightshades

If you have osteo-arthritis or an inflammatory disease (Fibromyalgia, IBS, etc), listen up: There are ways to alter your diet that will help decrease your pain! It’s also very helpful when you want to reduce inflammation after an injury.

1) Avoid sugar. This includes soda* and high-glycemic foods that will break down quickly into sugars. White bread, pasta, and starches will all contribute to inflammation.
2) Avoid fried foods. Enough said.
3) Grain-fed red meat is a problem for some people. Grass-fed meat is less inflammatory, since the fat structure is different.
4) You can counteract pain by eating ANTI-inflammatory foods. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach will help a lot. Berries (except for goji and blueberries), turmeric, garlic, celery, pineapple, cocoa, ginger, and foods containing good fats (extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts) are great, too. If you are sensitive to oxalates, however, be careful not to overdose on the dark leafy greens.

5) Foods your body doesn’t like. Some people are sensitive to dairy or wheat, for example. If you know you react badly to something, avoid it when you are in pain.

6) The Nightshade (Solanaceae) plants contain a small amount of an alkaloid toxin called solanine. Some people aren’t bothered by it. Other people, especially those with auto-immune issues & arthritis, tend to be sensitive to this family of plants. Most are unaware of the pain they are causing themselves, because they eat them so often, and because the inflammation & ache are delayed up to 24 hrs.

Tomatoes
Potatoes (Sweet potatoes and yams are ok)
Peppers, including spicy, chili, and bell peppers, and paprika (Black, white, and green pepper is ok- it’s actually a peppercorn. Long pepper is ok, too.)
Eggplant
Tobacco

Although less well known, Goji berries are nightshades, too.

Note: Blueberries, huckleberries, artichokes, and okra are not in the Nightshade family, but they also contain solanine.

The good news: It’s very easy to find out if you are Nightshade sensitive. Simply remove all of them from your diet for two weeks (Note: You’ll have to read labels carefully. “Spices” may contain paprika, and lots of prepared foods like shredded cheese can contain potato flour). Then have a big dose of tomatoes, potatoes, or drink a V8. See how you feel that evening and the next day. If within 24 hrs your pain is worse, you are Nightshade-sensitive. Wherever you have inflammation, that’s where it will show up. If not, congrats – you can go back to all the tomatoes you want.

The alkaloid is degraded by heat. Raw Nightshades are more toxic than cooked, and the extreme heat of deep-frying is even better … but fried foods are inflammatory for other reasons, so don’t get too excited. I will eat a small amount of potato chips on a special occasion because they are fried all the way through, but not french fries, since they are still squishy in the middle.

The combination of Nightshades and sugar is a doozy. I can get away with a small amount of tomato paste, but even a tiny squirt of ketchup will make my hands ache the next day.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a relatively simple way to decrease your pain and make a real difference in your quality of life. Some people have inflammatory reactions to dairy or wheat, and that may be worth testing the same way as the Nightshades. You don’t have to be perfect all the time – just pick your battles, okay?

Spicy food junkies: Fear not! You can still enjoy horseradish, onion, garlic, ginger, and all the peppercorns, including long pepper.

Here’s a nightshade-free curry recipe and one for NonNightshade Mexican. Substitute either cauliflower or sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. Pizza and pasta are great with pesto sauce. There’s even a “No-Mato” marinara sauce I found online (OMG SO GOOD!!!! I used the higher levels of spice for everything and loved it! If you use all regular beets it’s purple. If you use 50% regular beets and 50% golden beets, you’ll get a red sauce with a less “beety” taste. Freezes well, too!).

Like to eat out? Free restaurant cards are here. 

UPDATE 4/29/16: Now that I’ve been Nightshade-free for a decade, I’ve found that I can get away with cheating once in a while. There seems to be a cumulative effect. By staying away 99% of the time, and preventing a build-up of inflammation, I can enjoy the occasional indiscretion. 

*Diet soda isn’t a good solution. While it doesn’t contain sugar, the artificial sweeteners cause their own problems, including triggering the body to start storing more calories as fat.

Note: Biodegradable drinking straws are becoming popular here in Portland, and some are made with potato. It’s a small enough amount it may not be a factor for you, but if you are highly sensitive, start carrying your own collapsible straw for eating out.

Quit Smoking with Acupuncture

IMG_20160709_105847My paternal grandfather smoked himself to death when I was 3 years old. I only have one memory: His face as he was picking me up. My beautiful, amazing Grandma was lonely for 38 years until she passed on. She also suffered from emphysema, although she never smoked herself. Because of them I am determined to help you quit smoking, and it really is free. There’s no purchase required or other hidden charges. I pay my rent by treating other conditions, but this I do simply because I am passionate about it. All I ask in exchange is that you respect my time and efforts, and keep your appointments. Last minute cancellations and no-shows will be charged a missed appointment fee, just like my regular patients.

Here’s the scoop: Using acupuncture on the ears and wrists speeds up the detox aspect of quitting. The nicotine flushes out of your system more rapidly, leaving you with less irritability, fewer jitters, and reduced cravings. It won’t make you want to quit, but it will make quitting easier. I’m going to show you a few things about the effect of smoking on your body you may not know about, explain the process, then we’ll get to the good stuff: 10 tips to help you toss out the cancer sticks for good!

WHY QUIT?

Nearly every single disease you can ever contract will be worse if you are a smoker (because your body can’t get enough oxygen to fight back), and your odds for getting these illnesses is vastly increased if you smoke. Seriously. It’s time to quit!

In case you need a few more reasons:

Twin B is a smoker and sunbather.

Lung cancer gets all the press, but nicotine destroys all the capillaries in your body. Capillaries are how blood actually gets to and from your individual cells. As a result, all of those cells are suffocated by a lack of oxygen. Decreased blood flow also means they can’t “take out the trash” so waste products collect. That’s right, smokers, your cells are sitting in their own poop. Wounds are slow to heal. Infections are harder to beat. Your skin turns to leather. Your bones are weakened and make you more prone to osteoporosis. The same process that strangles cardiac blood vessels and causes heart attacks will cut off blood flow to your extremities, and many men suffer impotence.

photo_of_osteoporosis


smokerslungsSmoker on the right. Note the difference in bone density, and the enlarged heart!

In cases of very heavy smokers, Buerger’s disease can make your fingers fall off. I’m going to be nice and not include a pic here, but Google it if you’ve got a strong stomach.

We’ve known for a long time “that thousands and tens of thousands die of diseases of the lungs generally brought on by tobacco smoking. . . . How is it possible to be otherwise? Tobacco is a poison. A man will die of an infusion of tobacco as of a shot through the head.” —Samuel Green, New England Almanack and Farmer’s Friend (1836).

And that was before cigarette companies started adding caffeine, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. Forty-three known carcinogens are in mainstream smoke, sidestream smoke, or both.

And if you’re pregnant? Wow. 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

The 5NP (5 needle protocol) ear acupuncture is used to speed up the physiological aspect of detox from all chemical addictions. In addition, there are specific wrist points to help you quit smoking. Your cravings, irritability, and jitters will be much reduced by the acupuncture. I was trained in this system by David Eisen, one of the founders of NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association), and honed my skills by volunteering at PAHC (Portland Alternative Health Center) working with post-acute withdrawal patients.

Acupuncture won’t make you want to quit smoking, it just makes the quitting easier. You should taper down and be ready to quit at your first appointment, even if your last cigarette was only a few hours (or minutes) earlier.

The needles I use are sterile, single-use disposable ones. They are only about the thickness of a human hair and relatively painless. The needles stay in for about 20 minutes. The acupuncture session by itself is very powerful, but I can also give you ear seeds on those points to take home. These are radish seeds on tiny squares of band-aid type tape, for acupressure on the detox points. If you’re needlephobic, we can skip the acupuncture and just do the ear seeds.

Ear acupuncture is relaxing and powerful!

Ear acupuncture is relaxing and powerful!

Ideally, I’d like to treat you three times over about a week. At that point the tobacco is pretty much out of your system, so the physiological part of the addiction is over. You will still have challenges with the psychological addiction, and it can take up to a year for your brain chemistry to return to normal. In the meantime you might feel foggy-headed as your neurons repair.

It won’t be easy, but it will be doable! If you need “booster” treatments I’ll be happy to provide those, too.

Quitting smoking really has two parts.

One is the habits and psychological addiction. Reading this article should help with that. It won’t be easy – I can’t make you not WANT to smoke – but following this guide will make it easier to put up a fight.

The other is the physical addiction to the nicotine. Some people prefer to use gum (or patches) to split this into two separate battles. If you want to get over the habit part using a different delivery method for nicotine, then use me to ditch the nicotine afterwards, that’s a perfectly valid plan. It still counts as an effort to quit smoking and it’s still free. Since the point of the acupuncture is to get toxins (including prescription drugs) out of your system, however, seeing me is NOT COMPATIBLE with using Chantix, patches, e-cigs with a nicotine cartridge, or nicotine gum.

quit smoking acupuncture

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?

Here are 10 tricks you can use to make quitting easier.

1)    Find a substitution. This can be as simple as a 3 inch section of a plastic drinking straw for your fingers to play with. The people who do best tend to be those who pick up a new hobby, or reinvest in an old one. It doesn’t matter what you do. Build a model train set, or sing, or scrapbook. Play a game on your phone (My favorites right now are Zen Koi and 1010). I’ll be thrilled to teach you how to knit. I’d love for someone to take up the harmonica – it’s portable, and uses your mouth and hands. But simply going for a stroll around the block would probably be easier on the ears.

2) Identify your triggers. When do you tend to smoke? Figure out a way to break the rhythm of those habits.

In the car? Completely Febreeze & detail your interior to reduce the smell. Instead of lighting up, rock out with the radio. Put your windows down – or up – whatever’s different.

On break at work? Go for a quick walk around the building.

When you’re drinking? Try going out to non-drinking events instead (movies, dinner at a smoke-free restaurant, etc) or at least hang out with non-smoking friends.

You get the idea… come up with a way to change your patterns. The trick is to be ready with an alternative, so you don’t default back to smoking because you can’t think of something else to do. Going for a walk around the block is always a great substitute and will help avoid weight gain.

3)    If you used to smoke when stressed, focus on new ways to relax. Visualizations can be very helpful. Try some Deep Breathing techniques. Every time you want a cigarette, do this instead: Close your eyes. Inhale the deepest lung-full of air you can. Really fill up your chest. Exhale very slowly. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining down your body and out of your fingers and toes.

Repeat that three times (at least). With some practice, you’ll be able to use it to deal with terrible bosses, screaming children, or those ever-vigilant tow-trucks.

4)    Consider finding a sponsor (think AA). This can be someone who quit in the past, or someone who’s just determined to help you. Call them when your cravings get bad, 24/7, and they’ll help divert you by reminding you of all the reasons you decided to quit.

5)    If getting mad will help you stay strong, think about those rotten tobacco companies and how they’ve been knowingly profiting from people getting sick for years. Refuse to give them any more of your money!

6)    Remember that both tobacco plants and cigarettes have been engineered for decades to maximize your addiction. It’s actually harder to quit smoking than heroin! Understand that it’s okay if you aren’t perfect. Most people need a few tries to quit for good. Just keep on trying! Identify why you slipped and build a better strategy (or reinforce your old one so it’s stronger). Learn from your mistakes… and pretty soon you’ll be smoke-free and happy!

7) Eat your veggies! Previous data has shown that smokers tend to consume fewer fruits and vegetables than non smokers. It turns out that certain foods actually make the taste of cigarettes worse – especially milk, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables– while, coffee, red meat and alcohol make cigarettes taste better. Studies further suggest that cravings for food and cigarettes are likely linked and often confused with one another. So one thought is that eating a diet with higher fiber content may actually make you feel fuller and prevent such “craving confusion” from developing. In practical terms, however, individuals who consume more fruits and vegetables are probably more health conscious and thus more likely to quit smoking overall.

8) Drink a lot of water. Your body will be going through a heavy detoxification. Help it out by diluting your system with a few extra glasses of H2O. Caffeine and sodas are diuretics (they make you pee) so you’ll need some extra water if you have those as well.

9) Wait 5 minutes if you get a craving. Just hold on… most sudden pangs of desire will fade as soon as they come on. Distract yourself for 5 minutes… 10… suddenly 20 has gone by and you’re just fine. :)

10) Remember that you only get this one body. You can’t trade it in, and you can’t buy a new one. You HAVE to take care of the one you’re wearing, because hopefully you’ll be around for a while, and Future You is going to want to look and feel as good as possible.

More Info on building your Quit Plan

1) Determined to Quit

2) Anti-Smoking.org (includes some fun advertising info)

Online Support Forums / Communities

1) Quitza

2) Delphi Forums

3) Web MD

4) http://www.theeasywaytostopsmoking.com/

Detox your body and spirit

(written Jan 2012)

It seems like every January, people ask me about detoxification programs. That makes sense. We live in a pretty dirty world, in terms of chemical pollution. There are hormones and horrifying chemicals in our food. And of course our heads are full of unhealthy thoughts. How do we take an internal shower? Here are some ideas for both physical and emotional detoxing.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn detox strategies from David Eisen, the co-founder of the National Acupuncture Detox Association, while volunteering at the Portland Alternative Health Center (now Central City). After addicts got past those worst few hours of stopping drugs, they came to us. I treated people getting clean from crystal meth, heroin, PCP, and alcohol. All of these cases had one set of ear needles in common, the 5 Needle Protocol. 5NP uses points that calm agitation and to speed up the body’s process of filtering out toxins.

We can also use 5NP to clear out pollutants like mercury and pesticides. In my Pennsylvania clinic, it was shockingly effective in relieving pain for a patient who had a bad reaction to a statin drug. Here’s her story:

“I was in terrible pain due to an adverse reaction to a new prescription from my doctor. I hadn’t slept in four nights and I was taking 800 mg of Motrin every four hours to no effect. My doctor ordered blood tests and ruled out other causes and wanted to give me Percocet for the pain. I knew from experience that I would react badly to Percocet. I left the doctor’s office with no hope and a possible referral to a busy rheumatologist who could see me the following week. I knew I’d never make it. I called Sharon Rose. She made a house call and saw me that afternoon. Immediately, I was free of pain and slept that night. After 12 hours, some of the pain and swelling returned but with treatments from Sharon every other day I was soon totally off the Motrin, free of pain, free of swelling, and feeling the best I’ve felt in years.”

This same detox protocol, combined with two specific wrist points, are my smoking cessation treatment. By getting the nicotine out of the system more rapidly, it helps reduce the “jitters” and irritability, and decreases cravings. Remember that I am happy to help anyone quit smoking for free – so tell your friends if they’re still hooked. I’m here when they’re ready.

Okay  – so that’s the physical side. What about mental and emotional toxicity? Negative thought patterns, like prolonged fear and anger, will poison us just as surely as hemlock.

Take a minute to ground yourself. Ideally, you should lie down in a quiet place and consciously relax. I love to teach my patients the French Press visualization (now is when you have to pardon me for the “grounds” pun).

French Press

French Press: Filter out the bad stuff!

Imagine you’re that cylinder, with the filter at the top of your head. Slowly move it down, trapping all the bad stuff as it goes. Clear your mind… all the tension & pain is yucky black goo getting swept up by the filter. Above it, you are clear, relaxed, happy. Gradually move that filter down your body, focusing on each level. Neck, shoulders, back… with each inch, more toxins are ensnared. Finally, you will have a clean, healthy body with all the bad stuff stuck at the bottom. If the French Press doesn’t float your boat, be a tube of toothpaste and squish the goo out. I don’t care what image you use as long as it works for you. Here’s the important bit – push it out of your body through the bottoms of your feet or the tips of your toes (Note: Don’t do this with a pet sitting at your feet – they are sensitive to energy work).  Repeat as necessary.

6209734716_88e1482ece_mYou can also imagine yourself floating in a magic stream, with your head upstream. The water is flowing through you, washing away all the pain, tension, disease… all the bad stuff… it just gets swept away by the cleansing water moving through you.

The quickie version, at work or when there’s a houseful of screaming kids and bickering relatives: Go to the bathroom, shut the door, and take a deep breath. Sit down for a second and do a mini version of the filter technique. You’ll be amazed at how well it works with just a little practice.

 

Sleep

Lack of sleep in the middle of the night isn’t always a bad thing, but it sure can be. Insomnia is maddening… it starts out irritating or boring, but over time it affects your energy, your memory, and even your sanity. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try these tactics before resorting to an artificial sleep aid.

images

 

Bedtime patterns: Teach your body how to relax and prepare for sleep at bedtime. Build a ritual of activities that you do every night. These should be low-key: Save the heavy exercise for the mornings. Relax for twenty minutes. Meditate. Take a hot bath or a slow stroll around the block. Knit, read, work on your model trains… whatever makes you feel peaceful and happy. This should not take place in the bedroom.

Timing: Try to go to sleep at the same time every night, before 11 pm. If you are having trouble with your sleep, get up the same time every morning, too (yes, on weekends!) to reinforce the training. If you find yourself awake at night, relax your body and try to drift off. If you can’t, get up rather than stare at the ceiling. If you think it’s possible to fall asleep, repeat your nighttime ritual and go back to bed. If not, do something else until you start to feel sleepy.

Avoid “screens” at night: Light stimulates the pineal gland (It’s daytime!). In the dark, the pineal gland produces melatonin, which helps you sleep. Watching TV or checking your email one last time before bed can be counterproductive. Note: Use this free app for your computer (Mac or PC) or iPhone to reduce visual stimulation after sunset!

Environment: The bedroom itself should only be used for sleep and sex. Prepare your space for restful sleep. If there’s a TV in there, take it out. It should be quiet. If you cannot achieve quiet, try some white noise from a fan to block out background chatter. The key here is to eliminate sensory stimulation. Likewise, your bedroom should be dark. Use opaque curtains or a blindfold if necessary. Personally, I use an eye-pillow. It blocks all ambient light, and the gentle pressure feels great. Blocking light is important because it allows your brain to generate melatonin (see above).

Exercise: Stimulating your metabolism through exercise is a great way to make you more awake during the day, and sleep better at night. This doesn’t have to be an epic weight-slamming workout – even a walk will help. The best time to get moving is the morning. Doing it just before bed will raise your adrenaline levels and make it harder to sleep.

Reduce caffeine: Try to limit your intake during the day and avoid stimulants after 6pm. This includes caffeinated soda and chocolate (sorry!). One Hershey’s kiss won’t make or break you, but use your common sense. Green tea contains less caffeine than black tea, and herbal tea is usually caffeine-free.

Percy, one of my former nocturnal visitors.

No disruptive pets in bed: I hate to admit it because I miss sleeping with my boys… It’s so sweet when they wake you up to tell you how much they love you. I miss their warm furry purring bodies… But I’m sleeping so much better now that we’re kicking them out of the bedroom at night. No wonder I felt exhausted for years! Brushing my teeth in the morning is a challenge, though, because they can’t get enough affection and basically leap into my arms.

Give your sleep some respect: I have people tell me they are too busy to sleep and they can’t stop working, but they need to remember that a tired brain is not efficient. Your memory and decision-making will suffer with sleep deprivation. Extreme exhaustion will literally turn a sane person into a temporary schizophrenic. Getting sleep is your job if you want to be productive!

Consciously relax: Breathing techniques and visualizations can be very helpful. Go to your happy place. Allow your body to go completely limp and imagine sinking into the mattress.

Acupuncture can be an invaluable tool in getting your sleep back on track. There are some specific points that help sleep. I also have a great treatment called Stroking the Dragon that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s terrific as an evening housecall. My patients tend to mumble “let yourself out…” into their pillows, and I hear snoring before I get out the door. :)

Acupressure for yourself! Try Du-20 & 24 as a simple combo. Du 20 is at the crown of the head, above the ears. Du 24 is half an inch inside the hairline (or where it used to be!). Put a fingertip on each, aimed towards each other, and press firmly but gently for a few seconds. Good night!

Press these two points gently but firmly, towards each other, for a few seconds at bedtime for better sleep.

Press these two points gently but firmly, towards each other, for a few seconds at bedtime for better sleep.