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.

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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. Try deliberately thinking about something calm and relaxing (things you are grateful for, a happy memory, a new plan that you’re looking forward to). Allow your body to go completely limp and imagine sinking into the mattress.

Biochemical assistance may be appropriate. I have a combo CBD & melatonin supplement called Sleep Aid that a lot of my patients like. 

Acupuncture can be an invaluable tool in getting your sleep back on track. There are some specific points that help sleep and calm the nervous system. Come in for a soothing reboot to your sleep system. I can’t visit you every night with my needles, but here are a few points you can stimulate at home:

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.

If you share your bed with a partner, have them do this for you:

Stroking the Dragon: Place two fingertips on either side of the spine, and gently but firmly stroke from the top towards the feet. Do not stimulate the neck or lower back: Just the thoracic (ribs) area. After a minute or so of this, apply pressure to Kidney 1 (pic below), on the soles of the feet. Good night!

KD-1 for headaches and any other time you want to descend energy or be grounded.