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.

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.

Damp (a Chinese medicine concept)

I’ve talked briefly before about Fall in the Pacific Northwest, but let’s get into some more details about how the weather here literally leads to Damp in our bodies. I was out playing in our great outdoors, and on the way back, a fellow adventurer asked me if the soggy Portland climate affected how I practiced. It was an interesting question, so I figured I’d share my response.

In Chinese medicine, you can be “invaded” by EPIs – External Pernicious Influences:  Heat, Cold, Damp, Dryness, and Wind (There are actually two types of Heat, but I’m simplifying here). Damp Heat infection examples include yeast and urinary tract infections. Damp Heat in the Gall Bladder* can cause jaundice.

Damp can also start internally. Remember that in this system we have energetic organs* with special duties. The Spleen transforms food into energy (I think they actually meant the pancreas!), and is important in fluid management. If the Spleen fails, or if there is an invasion, fluids accumulate into Damp. A classically Damp body is overweight. Other symptoms include heavy limbs, stiffness, and edema (fluid retention). Damp left unchecked can further consolidate into Phlegm. This may be literal mucus or lipomas (fatty tumors), or “invisible Phlegm” like brain fog or even depression.

Oregon is, of course, a very wet place! Whether the rain itself penetrates us, or the fact that hiking isn’t as much fun when you have to slosh through the mud… either way, living here can definitely contribute to obesity. Alcohol and dairy are the two biggest Damp culprits in our diet. Microbrew and local cheese, anyone?

Be sure to get off the couch and enjoy the sun when you can. Try not to get soaked – a light rain jacket and hat can really make a difference. Nourish your Spleen with hearty cooked vegetables. This is especially important going into Fall and Winter, but don’t neglect them in favor of a completely raw diet even in the Summer.

Acupuncture is a great way to drain Damp, clear Heat, and restore balance to your system. Please ask if you have any questions!

* Energetic organs are typically capitalized to emphasize their distinct nature from our literal, anatomical organs.

 

 

Toenail Fungus: Prevention and Treatment

 

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the warm weather, more people are letting their feet breathe by wearing comfortable sandals and flip-flips. And with all these toes out for a walk, I’m seeing a lot of toenail fungus. Some sources claim as many as 12% of us are affected. You might have it, too! Are your nails thick? Yellowed? Crumbly? What starts as a mild case on one big toe can spread to all ten digits, and eventually deform your nails. I see it on hands, too, but not as frequently.

To prevent an infection of toenail fungus, thoroughly wash and dry your feet daily. Use only clean cotton socks, and don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row (this lets the insides dry completely). In wet common-use areas like a sauna or gym shower, use shower shoes to prevent exposure. Definitely treat your feet to an extra scrub after your dip in a public pool or hot tub. If you go for professional pedicures, you should bring your own tools (running them in the dishwasher before and after to keep them clean) to prevent picking up an infection from another client. If you are prone to toenail fungus, you should forgo polish. Fungus actually lives on the dye of the polish, according to a podiatrist friend, so use a clear coat as a base.

If you are already infected, don’t worry. Just follow the above hygiene rules, and add in a twice-daily anti-fungal treatment. Lamisil is a popular over-the-counter topical product. Vicks Vap-O-Rub works well, too, because toenail fungus dislikes an acidic environment, and the vaseline base makes it stick to the area. Apply it morning and evening, after a thorough wash and dry, then cover with clean white socks. In 6-8 weeks you should see healthy nail growth.

People who prefer the “natural” route can use tea-tree oil or vinegar, but be aware that the treatment can take months. Severe cases should ask their doctor for prescription medication. And of course, acupuncture to help boost your immune system is a great idea, too. :)

An ideal world

Do you know what you would do with your life, your career, your romantic situation in an ideal world? Do you have that mental list of things you’ll do when things get
better? Calm down? Settle? You know, life will be so much better when things get organized, when the student loans are paid, when the health scare passes, when the kids get just a little bit older.
It’s easy to think about what we would do “in an ideal world.” Unfortunately, such a world does not currently exist. That much is obvious, even to me. What’s less obvious, though, is that the ideal world will never actually exist.
We like to think about that because it gives us hope. Life as we know it is usually so crazy and stressful that we need hope to hold on to, if for no other reason than to believe that
life won’t always be like this. The trouble is, life will always be like this. If it’s not like this, then it will be like that – there’s always something! If things calm down in one area, they will un-calm themselves in another.
With that in mind, you have two choices. You can continue to stress yourself out, and postpone your happiness. Or you can choose to relish the good stuff you have right now. Focus on what really matters. I’m not saying you should blow off going to the office to eat marshmallows and smoke weed every day. I’m saying you should take a moment to enjoy time with your friends, the delicious food you are eating right now, the small achievements and successes in your day. Go for a walk. If something is making you crazy, ask yourself if it’ll matter in 5 years. Will anyone even remember this? If not… let it go, emotionally. By all means get to work and solve the problem, but don’t allow it to disturb your soul. Some problems are legitimate nightmares, of course. This is doubly true for them: You have to hang on to the positive or the negative will swallow you whole.
If you practice this, pretty soon you find you are living in something closely resembling that ideal world. Not a perfect one, but a happy one. :)

Ergonomic & Repetitive Stress Injuries

Good ergonomic posture at your desk is important. Even more important - take frequent breaks to walk and stretch.

Good ergonomic posture at your desk is important. Even more important – take frequent breaks to walk and stretch.

Repetitive stress injuries happen when you perform the same movement over and over for an extended period of time. Ergonomic problems are when your position or movement is counter to what your body does naturally. Common examples include carpal tunnel syndrome from using a computer, or a swimmer’s bad shoulder. Sitting itself can cause problems if you do it too much. To avoid injury:

1) Break up the repetitive nature of your motions. Get up and do a lap around the office (or house) every hour or so. Change your routine: Instead of typing on Tuesdays and filing on Wednesdays, do a little of each both days, so you aren’t making the same precise movements for hours. Can you switch to the other side or hand? Even small changes can make a difference. For example, my knitting friends who have trouble will opt for a different size needle (which affects hand position and motion) or even type of project. The more variety the better.

2) Double check your ergonomic situation. It may be helpful to get someone to take a picture of you while you’re working so you can see your own posture. If you use the phone, try a headset. Sitting at your computer, you should be looking straight ahead at the top third of the screen. If you are looking up or down, adjust either your seat height or the monitor. Your elbows should be resting at 90 degrees, and your wrists should be straight. Having them bent down or cocked back for the keyboard increases strain. Your knees should be at hip height or just above. If your chair is too tall, use a footrest. If you have a penny-pinching boss, you should know that OSHA can send out an ergonomic expert (free!) to suggest cheap/free fixes in your office.

When playing sports or working out, consult a coach or professional trainer to be sure you’re using good form. Learn the anatomy relating to your activity. In addition to preventing injury, your performance will improve! I used to be a bodybuilder and certified trainer, so feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

3) Stop as soon as symptoms start. Give your body a chance to heal. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may be helpful here, as will an anti-inflammatory diet. Likewise, get care early. A new problem is always easier to chase away than an entrenched one. Myofascial release will free up adhesions. Osteopathic medical massage can retrain your tight muscles, and acupuncture will reduce inflammation.  Rest. Stretch gently, and do any physical therapy exercises your healthcare professional recommends. Try to avoid that activity for a while.

Frequently re-examine your routine and ergonomics to identify any areas that need improvement. By nipping problems in the bud, you can prevent a long-term aggravation.

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! :)

 

 

Fibromyalgia & how to beat it

The FIRST thing to know about Fibromyalgia is that it’s real.

The SECOND thing to know about Fibromyalgia is that it doesn’t have to be forever.

So many people, when they are finally diagnosed, have a bittersweet reaction. At last, they know what is wrong. They might feel vindicated, having endured the eye-rolls and boredom of family members who didn’t believe anything was really wrong. On the other hand, some patients take the diagnosis as a death sentence. They’ve heard nothing but a negative prognosis. They think they are stuck with the pain for the rest of their lives. Some people, exhausted and depressed, can even take on the disease as an identity. DO NOT do this. You are a beautiful person dealing with a temporary disease. There’s a Southern saying “If you’re going through Hell, don’t pitch a tent!” This is perfect advice. Resist the urge to wallow. Focus on the things you CAN do to make yourself better, and keep moving!

I am here to tell you that you CAN overcome Fibromyalgia. I used to have it myself. Now, as long as I am reasonable with my diet and exercise, I am symptom-free!

I see FM as a kind of physical Post-Traumatic Stress. Generally it can be traced back to a physical or emotional trauma. The body’s pain system becomes oversensitive. It reads any little insult as a major injury. To stop this over-reaction, we have to decrease inflammation, reduce stagnation, and decrease stress.

Sleep: See my article on Sleep. Letting your body restore itself overnight is very important!

Exercise: Light, frequent exercise is key to reducing pain. In severe cases, you may need to start with a 5-10 minute walk once a day. That’s fine… just gradually increase the duration. Get up and move a little every few hours instead of sitting still all day. Try to keep your activity levels about the same day to day. Doing too much or being too sedentary will hurt – listen to your body!

Nutrition: Making a few changes in your diet can drastically reduce your pain. Avoid the inflammatory nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, tobacco) as most people with FM tend to be sensitive to their natural alkaloids. Sugar is the other big offender. Some people are more sensitive to dairy products, commercial red meat, alcohol, and caffeine than others. It’s worth experimenting a little to find out how your body reacts. Go two weeks without the item in question, then have a big dose. See how you feel that day and especially the next. The answer is usually pretty obvious. If you’re ready/able to make big changes in your diet, you may find that eliminating starches (pasta, bread, rice, etc) can be surprisingly helpful.

Try to eliminate fried and processed foods from your diet as much as possible. Anti-inflammatory foods like dark leafy greens and good fats are important to include.

Relaxation: Being happy is important, too. Pamper yourself by allowing time to read or pursue your other hobbies. Have fun! Enjoy a funny movie, hang out with your friends, pet a cat. Pay attention to the beautiful things in your everyday life.

Good touch: The hypersensitivity of fibromyalgia means that the wrong kind of pressure, even well-intentioned, can be very painful. Deep-tissue work and hard hugs are not appropriate. Instead, I use a gentle touch. Careful medical massage, using a large contact (palm of the hand) instead of a pokey one (fingertips), is wonderful for helping disperse blood and lymphatic stagnation. If there’s a partner in your life, I can teach him or her how to work on you. I am also conservative in my needling for FM patients. I use the skinniest possible (42 gauge) and not many of them… too many can wipe out your energy.

Address the cause: Most FM seems to stem from a past trauma, either physical or emotional. Many patients report a history of abuse. Find a good therapist or some other way to address any hidden grief. Some patients find it useful to write letters to people involved in these emotional injuries. Say it all. You can even write one to yourself (current you or younger you). It doesn’t matter if the person is still part of your life or if they are still alive – it’s about expressing yourself. Afterwards, burn the letter as a symbol of letting go of those emotions.

I can’t overstate the importance of this step. You may feel like you’ve dealt with whatever trauma kicked your FM off, but stop and think. Those land mines can be buried deep. In my case, I had to dig back to my sister’s death when I was 18, as well as the obvious car accident. Once I re-addressed my grief, the majority of my symptoms melted away. Take some time to find the splinters in your soul.

Keeping your identity as separate from a disease, and focusing on the actions you can take, is important for everything herpes to HIV. Some people with long-term managed illnesses, like diabetes or fibromyalgia, actually wind up healthier because they get serious about their diet and exercise. This life is what we make of it. Go make something awesome! 

 

Common Typical TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Patterns for Fibromyalgia

One person may exhibit more than one pattern.

Liver* Qi Stagnation – anxiety, emotional upset, headaches (including migraine headache), being easily angered, muscle stiffness in neck and shoulders, insomnia, waking frequently and having difficulty falling back to sleep, irritable bowel syndrome. All symptoms may be triggered by emotional stress.

Qi and Blood Deficiency – specifically spleen Qi deficiency and heart blood/liver blood deficiency, with such symptoms as chronic fatigue, exhaustion, dull headache, muscle weakness and numbness, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep and waking up tired, palpitations and depression.

Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis – aches and pains in the whole body, burning or gnawing pain with tingling sensations in extremities, headaches.

Kidney* Deficiency (either Yin, Yang, Qi or Essence Deficiency) – there will be impotence or lack of libido for males and infertility issues for both males and females. Other symptoms: sore lower back with restless leg syndrome, irritable bladder, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, hot flashes and night sweats.

* Please note that the Chinese organs are energetic concepts and may or may not relate to the physical organs!

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide relief of symptoms by balancing Yin and Yang, and adjusting the circulation of Qi and the blood. Local measures such as heat, gentle therapeutic massage, and moxibustion* in specific regions also help to reduce the pain. A regular plan, with long-term, consistent integrative treatment is necessary in patients with fibromyalgia.

* I prefer myofacial release and moxa as methods to break up stagnation rather than cupping for people with fibromyalgia. Cupping, especially if done too harshly, creates bruising / bleeding under the skin and contributes to excess inflammation.

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. 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, and all the peppercorns.

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!).

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.

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/