Digestion and Gut Tips and Tricks

5 Dec 2016 Complementary

So the holidays are coming or your neighbors annual BBQ is around the corner, but all of these events just give you heartburn, gas, constipation or diarrhea.  This may be a sign that you have some food allergies, our gut needs to heal from something or it maybe as simple as needing some digestive assistance.  Look at our quick and easy digestive help aids. Remember if these aren’t the answer, talking to one of our doctors may be a better long-term solution.

  • Heartburn – Marshmallow tea or Slippery Elm powder (powder’s are nice since they heal mouth to stomach)
  •  Slow Digestion – Digestive enzymes (amylase, lipase, proteases)- help break down items like steak or holiday goodies
  •  Tummy ache – papaya enzymes or activated charcoal
  •  Diarrhea – Probiotics 50 Billion, Glutamine Powder
  •  Constipation – Probiotics 25 Billion, Yellow aloe


26 Sep 2016 Complementary

Cupping has gotten a lot of press lately, especially after the Olympics.  Many athletes were pictured with large, unsightly round bruises on various parts of their bodies and the benefits of cupping were widely discussed.  So here are the basics.

What is cupping?

Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice used to relieve many ailments.  Today it is most commonly used for muscle aches and pains, though it can also be used for chest colds, skin conditions, arthritis and more. Cups are placed in specific areas on the body and suctioned tightly to the skin.

What does cupping do?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine most cases of pain are diagnosed as qi and blood stagnation.  The reason for the stagnation depends on the patient but common causes are repetitive use of muscles, scar tissue, and inflammation/injury. A healthy body is one in which the qi and blood moves freely and without obstruction.  When muscles knot or enflame or when scar tissue blocks one or more channels, the qi and blood cannot move as it should and this causes pain.  By cupping the afflicted area, the stagnation of blood and qi rises to the surface of the skin and out of the damaged tissues helping to release tension and promote blood flow.

Does it hurt?

You might feel a tightness or a pulling sensation during the treatment and the circles that result may be a little tender for a day or two.  Generally, people feel much better following a treatment.

How long do the circles last?

It depends on the patient.  It is like a bruise.  So, expect it to take as long as a bruise would take to heal.

Is it safe?  Are there side effects?

Cupping is very safe. It is important to have the treatment performed by a licensed practitioner so that proper application is used. Side effects include mild discomfort and bruising.  Blistering can occur if the cups are too tight or are left for too long. This is uncommon though.

Thank you to all the athletes who wore the (temporary) brand of our medicine!

Essential Oils

26 Sep 2016 Complementary

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years but are recently a popular natural healing choice for many families. The most common ways they are used is aromatic diffusion, as a topical application, and a dietary consumption. These methods can help achieve a healthy balance in the body and aid in healing. The following are the essential oils that help us achieve a better state of mind.

Happiness Orange, Rose, Jasmine, Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Geranium
Joy Sandalwood, Frankincense, Lemon, Petitgrain, Orange, Bergamot
Peace Chamomile Roman, Neroli, Juniper, Frankincense, Melissa, Yarrow
Positive Basil, Lemon, Grapefruit, Myrrh, Patchouli, Geranium, Frankincense
Restfulness Lavender, Geranium, Clary sage, Neroli, Sandalwood
Creativity Bergamot, Lemon, Frankincense, Neroli, Rose, Jasmine, Cloves
Contentment Cypress, Lavender, Bergamot, Orange, Sandalwood, Clove, Ylang-Ylang
Alertness Basil, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Grapefruit, Peppermint, Rosemary

There is an overlap for many of the oils. Nature gives us positive side effects rather than negative side effects. Whole Foods has a few choices of Essential oils.

When beginning to combine the oils, do only 2 oils together at a time and work up to a max of 5 oils to create the best blends for you and your family.

Pregnancy & Acupuncture

8 Aug 2016 Complementary

How can Chinese Medicine help with fertility?

Acupuncture brings the body back into balance. Difficulties couples may be facing while trying to get pregnant are often manifestations of these imbalances. Acupuncture and herbs can help prepare your body for a successful pregnancy. Furthermore, studies have shown that women undergoing western fertility treatments have a higher pregnancy rate when the patient is also receiving regular acupuncture.

Will I continue to get acupuncture once pregnant?

Once you are pregnant we will continue to see you for the first trimester to help your body and hormones adjust and give your body the support it needs to support the pregnancy. After that, we typically see pregnant women as needed for whatever might be coming up for them during their pregnancy. For example, we can help with nausea, pain relief, high blood pressure, headaches etc. Around 37 weeks we begin seeing the patient regularly again to prepare the body for birth.

How can acupuncture help turn a breech baby?

We use acupuncture and moxibustion on the outside corner of the fifth toenail, also known as Urinary Bladder 67. This point has a specific function of stimulating the uterus. The tonifying and warming effect of the moxibustion on this point promotes activity and movement in the uterus encouraging the baby to turn to a head-down presentation.

How can acupuncture help to induce labor?

There are many acupuncture and acupressure points that are avoided during pregnancy. We use needles and massage to stimulate these points. Many of these points open the hips and the lower back and stimulate uterine contraction while promoting a downward energetic movement to encourage your baby toward the birth canal. It is critical as well to be as relaxed as possible so we use many points to calm the spirit.

How does acupuncture help after I give birth?

After giving birth, the body needs to be replenished. Many fluids are depleted, leaving the mother dehydrated and fatigued. We use acupuncture and herbs to nourish and restore. We specialize in providing support with acupuncture and herbs through all stages of conception, pregnancy and birth while also placing emphasis on the importance of the recovery stages following birth. Our services help the body adjust to the physical and emotional stresses of new motherhood.
Iris Martin LAc.

Light & Joy Acupuncture Inc.

Houseplants that Make us Healthy

The air indoors, especially in the winter months can get a nasty build up of a wide variety of particles and gasses just from our daily lives. The American Lung Association voiced great concern that as a nation we have low-quality air and this air quality can be connected with allergy problems and asthma.

One of the easiest ways to clean the air in your home or office is to add a few potted plants which scrub out pollutants naturally. (This is why our office has some wonderful living friends) The plants absorb the Carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, benzene and release a pure oxygen in return.

If you don’t have a green thumb don’t worry, B.C. Wolverton Ph.D and author of the book, “How to Grow Fresh Air” states that the easiest plants to grow are also the best purifiers. Here is a short list to help you start purifying your air.

Snake plants or Mother-in-law’s tongue
Peace lily
English ivy
Gerbera Daisy
Spider plant
Areca palm
Money Plant

So how many plants do you need to purify your house? Here is a rule of thumb tested by NASA, 1 house plant to every 100 feet of your home. But some research done by Kamal Meattle says you only need 3 plants; 1 in the living room, 1 in the bedroom and 1 in the kitchen.


TumericIn India, turmeric has been used traditionally for thousands of years. It is popular in culinary use throughout Asia for centuries and many of you may already know that this plant is one of the key ingredient of curries. But did you know turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both Chinese and Indian herbal medicine treatments?

Turmeric is slightly bitter with a warm and peppery flavor that has a rich orange color and is shaped like ginger. One of the key components in turmeric is curcumin which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and acts as a strong antioxidant. Studies have shown insight into the mechanisms behind curcumin’s protective effects against Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica and Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, in laboratory animal studies, turmeric has been shown to:

  • reduce blood lipids
  • improve blood circulation to the heart
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce platelet aggregation
  • increase bile formation and secretion
  • reduce inflammation
  • alleviate pain
  • stimulate uterine contraction

Turmeric is especially effective when treating pain syndrome, including pain in the chest and hypochondriac region, amenorrhea with abdominal pain and injury pain. When patients have chest congestion due to stress or PMS for women before menses, herbal formula contains turmeric is used to relieve symptoms.

Here is quick way on how to prepare your own turmeric tea:

  • Boiling water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of organic honey

JANUARYturmeric photo copyTumericmix them together and drink once a day and make sure your source of turmeric is organic.

Enjoy!JANUARYturmeric photo copy

Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise does a lot to keep you healthy and some of those benefits are also true for pregnant women.

Exercise will:

  • reduce blood pressure
  • decrease cardiovascular risks like the formation of clots
  • help to maintain an ideal body weight
  • help to manage stable diabetes

Additional benefits specific to pregnant women include:

  • Improving the labor process and delivery. “Pregnant women who exercise have shorter labor times, and faster, easier deliveries.”
  • Exercise can also improve self-esteem and high self-esteem has been associated with a decrease in complaints of back aches, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Exercising women will also be more conditioned for difficult breathing.

Exercise continued after delivery will help to decrease varicose veins, leg cramps, and swelling in the limbs.

A fundamental function of exercise is promoting blood flow to deliver nutrients to where they are needed and eliminating stored toxins. The metabolism of calcium will also be improved. It will ultimately lead to healthier organs, stronger connective tissue, and denser bones.

There are a lot of changes that occur to the women’s physiology in pregnancy and this warrants safety considerations for the mother and the baby. Over-stepping the limitations in pregnancy can divert blood flow away from the growing baby to provide more to the mother’s exercising muscles. This could deprive the baby of oxygen and stunt his/her growth and put the baby in distress. Exercising conservatively can appease the additional risks of membrane rupture, placental separation, premature labor, direct fetal injury, or umbilical cord entanglement. With due caution and consideration, effects on the fetus by maternal exercise does not contraindicate exercise.

These are the 7 safety guidelines:

1. Heart rate needs to be less than 140 beats per minute

2. Exercise intensity should be low. You should be able to speak during the exercise without your breath becoming rapid.

3. Do not perform strenuous exercise for more than 15 minutes

4. Starting at 5 months pregnant, avoid exercising on your back

5. Avoid exercises in which you hold your breath and strain

6. Be sure that you are eating enough to meet the needs of the pregnancy and of the exercise.

7. Core temperature should not exceed 38 degrees Celsius/100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not overheat yourself.

You should stop the exercise immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • back pain
  • feeling disoriented
  • extreme nausea
  • marked swelling
  • pubic pain
  • sharp pain in the abdomen or chest
  • feeling extremely hot, cold, or clammy
  • uterine contractions
  • any vaginal bleeding or gush or fluid from the vagina
  • decrease in fetal movement
  • blurry vision
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • difficulty in walking
  • shortness of breath
  • pain or palpitations

If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, have had more than three miscarriages, or are pregnant with more than one baby, you should not exercise at all during pregnancy. If you have any pre-existing health conditions, then you should consult your doctor about exercise first.

Exercise recommendations for pregnancy:

  • Jogging. This is recommended if the mother jogged regularly before pregnancy.
  • Walking. A safe option because it does not involve jerky movements while still helping to condition the cardiovascular system. A good brisk walk for half an hour three times a week will ensure that you are getting the benefits of exercise. Your cardiovascular system will be strengthened when worked for at least fifteen minutes.
  • Cycling. This can be started during pregnancy because it is not a weight-bearing activity. A stationary bike is safer.
  • Aerobics. Avoid exercises that require you to be on your back, include jerky or bouncy movements, and deep flexion and extension after the 4th month of pregnancy. Low impact aerobics is tolerated well in the third trimester. Ballroom dancing or aerobic dance are great aerobic exercises.
  • Swimming. A great option. Avoid excessively cold or hot water though. Water aerobics is another option rather than swimming laps.
  • Weight lifting. Light weights can be used to maintain strength as long as you are breathing properly. No holding your breath and straining. Perform with caution. If unaccustomed to this exercise, begin with just resistance against gravity first.
 Racquetball, squash and tennis are fairly safe. Adjust the intensity of play as the pregnancy progresses.
  • Scuba diving. For experienced divers only. Do not exceed 1 ATM in pressure and limit the time to 30 minutes or less.
  • Yoga. Great for relaxation. Also helps to maintain muscle tone and flexibility. Best when accompanied by some form of aerobic exercise. Do not try to do the same amount as before you were pregnant.

A variety of exercise will prevent imbalance by overworking the same muscle groups and will ensure that all muscles get a turn.

Remember: Your cardiovascular system will be strengthened if worked at least three times a week for a minimum of fifteen minutes.

Exercises to Avoid:

  • All contact sports
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback riding
  • Water skiing
  • Ice skating

Any exercise program should begin with a five-minute warm-up and aerobic programs should end with a five-minute cool-down exercise. The cool-down should include light stretching and relaxation exercises. This will help to prevent muscle stiffness after exercise and will help in bringing the heart rate and body temperature back to normal. All exercises should be performed on both sides.

Here are some exercises that are performed in the standing position that can be used to warm up or cool down:

  • Shoulder rolling. To loosen the neck and shoulder muscles, bring your shoulders up to your ears, back and down again. Perform six times.
  • Arm swinging. To release shoulder stiffness, increase circulation, and stretch your upper back, swing your arms from side to side by turning your upper body.
  • Knee raising. To loosen the knees and pelvic joints and gently massage your internal organs, bring each knee in turn up toward your chest and hold for two seconds.

Exercises for the neck and upper back:

  • Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Slowly bring your head to the end of every position and hold for ten seconds at each position. That is, down to your chest, then back to look up at the ceiling, look over each shoulder and finally drop your head down to each shoulder. Repeat three times. This will relieve tension in the neck and upper back.
  • Cat stretch. Come to your hands and knees and keep a straight back. Round your back and look toward your knees. Then relax to a flat back and look toward the ceiling. Repeat five times.
  • Dog stretch. Keep your hands and heels on the floor and push your buttocks toward the ceiling. Repeat two times. This should not be performed beyond the first trimester.

Exercises for the lower back and legs:

  • Butterfly. Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to relax out to the sides. Gently bring your knees up and down. Then with your knees down, slowly come forward and attempt to touch your feet with your head. Slowly come back up and breathe. Repeat three times.
  • Bridge. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your hands on the floor at your sides. Slowly raise your pelvis and lift your buttocks and lower part of your back off the floor. Hold for ten seconds. Then slowly come back down, bringing your buttocks down last. Repeat three times.
  • Alternate leg stretch. In a seated position, spread your legs apart. Bring one foot to the inside of the opposite thigh. Face the outstretched leg and slowly bring your head to your knee and stretch your arms forward. Do not strain or bounce. Slowly come up and repeat on the other side. Do this twice.
  • Squat. Squat down with feet flat on the floor, palms together in front of the chest and elbows pressing against the knees. Hold for 20 seconds while breathing normally. Then sit back on your buttocks and relax your legs. Repeat once. Work up to holding the squat for one minute.

Abdominal Exercises:

  • Sit-ups. In a seated position, have your knees bent with your arms extended over your knees. Slowly roll back one vertebra at a time until the shoulders recline. Then sit up. Repeat three times and work up to repeat ten times.
  • Alternate Leg Raise. Lay down and put your hands beneath your low back. Without straining, bring your leg up toward your head and hold for 20 seconds with normal breathing. Then lower your leg slowly while exhaling. Repeat with the opposite leg. If you have lower back discomfort or pain, bend the opposite leg with your foot on the floor. Repeat three times on each side.
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises
 The pelvic floor supports the bladder, uterus, and rectum. These supporting muscles can be strained during pregnancy and child birth. Kegel exercises work these muscles and can be done at any time. Practice stopping your urine flow midstream during each urination. Once you have mastered the urine stoppage midstream, you will know how to contract the muscles anytime not just during urination.

Reference: Pediatric Chiropractic. Anrig, Plaugher. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1998
ISBN 10: 0683001361 / ISBN 13: 9780683001365.

Holiday season – Chinese Medicine tip

17 Dec 2014 Complementary

We are in the full swing of the holiday season that starts from Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and ends with the New Year.

A common holiday feast condition is indigestion – full and burning sensation, upper abdominal pain, bloating or nausea.

In Chinese medicine, indigestion is known as food stagnation. Symptoms include a lack of appetite and a bloating feeling in the stomach. The treatment principle for food stagnation is to open and move qi in the stomach so our digestive and elimination function can work optimally. Bao He Wan is a great herb formula for this.

The main function of Bao He Wan is to harmonize the stomach and reduce food stagnation. Here are the herbs in the formula:
Hawthorn Fruit
Massa Fermentata
Radish Seeds
Tangerine Peel
Pinellia Rhizome
Forsythia Fruit

Hawthorn fruit is excellent for reducing stagnation from meat and fatty food. Radish seed is good to bring qi downward. Orange/Tangerine Peel is great to clear stagnation and regulate qi. Hoelen is best known to reduce dampness and tonify the spleen channel. Forsythia fruit can reduce heat from food stagnation.

You’ve probably heard this before – the average weight gain during the holiday season is one pound. That is one pound that stays and accumulates year after year. While Bao He Wan works for indigestion, it won’t help to lose the weight gained over time. Balancing our diet, managing stress and exercise are still the sure way to maintain our health.

Massage During Pregnancy and Beyond

17 Dec 2014 Complementary

Adding to the Peace of the World
Did you know that anthropological studies show that the majority of the world’s most peaceful cultures, use touch prominently during pregnancy and early childhood?

Bodywork, including therapeutic massage, can have a tremendously soothing effect – physically, mentally and emotionally. In pregnancy, this is true for mothers and their babies.

Alleviating Concerns
Each trimester brings its own set of thrills and challenges.  While some women are concerned about the contraindications of massage during pregnancy, barring any health concerns expressed by their doctor, or midwife, massage can be very beneficial during each stage of the process.  Certified therapists are aware of the appropriate precautions to take, and can be valuable partners to aid in providing comfort and support.

Indications That You May Need a Massage

1. Are you dealing with increased stress?
2. Do you having trouble sleeping?
3. Are you having some fluid retention?
4. Are you experiencing pain in your lower back and hips?
5. Do you have increased pain in your shoulders and neck?

Some Benefits of Pre-Natal & Post-Partum Massage

• Counters the negative effects of stress
• Provides increased oxytocin production and feelings of well-being
• Increases immunological functioning
• Can reduce maternal blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates
• Can reduce labor time and discomfort
• Increases uterine blood supply to enhance fetal health
• Feels good!
If you are experiencing any of the above-noted indications, and are looking for some of the benefits, give us a call!  We hope to see you soon!

5 Tips to Stop the panic of the holidays

17 Dec 2014 Complementary

When the holidays are here we have too many parties and social errands to run and we get over-whelmed. Anxiety or panic attacks can happen to all of us and will generally feel like your heart is racing, you can’t catch your breath, dizziness or light-headedness, sometimes narrowing vision and sudden fatigue. If you know one is coming or you are only experiencing one or two of the symptoms we suggest the following tips for both stopping an attack and preventing one.

1. Stop and slow your breathing, focusing on the exhalation of breath more than the inhalation. This can be done easier when sitting up very straight(but can be done standing in a check out line if necessary)
2. Change your own current atmosphere: examples – leave a store, drink a cold glass of water, focus on a joke or on something unique and odd to you. All of these examples are changing your mental atmosphere even if you can’t change your current environment.
3. Don’t avoid trigger situations entirely; simply lessen the time of exposure so that you don’t create a greater fear response in the future to certain settings.
4. Keep a journal and figure out what is triggering your anxiety. Writing during an attack has actually been shown to be calming and you can write on anything you choose.
5. Suck on a peppermint. The act of sucking on something like a mint or candy is a soothing response in humans and does release good hormones. In this busy season, carry your favorite mint to keep the stress down.

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