Digestion and Gut Tips and Tricks

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

Gut Brain Axis

We have long since discovered the brain to be the master control center of of the body and its organ systems. More recently we have begun to understand that the body has a “second brain” via the vast network of neurons in the gut known as the enteric nervous system. The number of neurons in our gut equals that in our spinal cord which we suspect is so vast for the purpose of regulating the trillions of microbes that reside there.

Though it seems some people still want to believe that what we eat doesn’t have a big impact on health, there is plenty of research to suggest otherwise. For example, our diet and gut health directly impacts our mood because ninety percent of the serotonin in our system is made in the gut. Serotonin keeps our mood balanced and a deficiency leads to depression. In turn, neurotransmitters including serotonin are key regulators in gut function.

The brain is still the master controller of the body and it communicates with the gut via neurons, neurotransmitters and hormones. We would have to further discuss each one of these pathways to see all the ways our digestion can be affected. Digestion is so much more than eating and having a bowel movement. It determines the health and integrity of our tissues and if structure is negatively impacted then so will function.

Let’s see what poor function means for the two systems in question. Some indications of poor brain function are poor memory, inability to find words, and difficulty learning new things. Indications of poor digestive function are difficulty digesting food, constant episodes of bloating and gas, alternating constipation, etc.

The first thing we can do to directly impact and help our gut’s micro biome is to take probiotics. If there has been no significant change after a course of probiotics, it would be wise to do an anti-inflammatory diet or a blood test to rule out any food intolerances that would be causing inflammation and an adverse environment in the gut. We can also rule out vagal nerve involvement by doing a few tests in the office. Let’s discuss the vagus nerve more and give it its due reverence.

The vagus nerve is the direct nerve pathway by which the brain communicates with the gut but it also innervates the heart, lungs, throat and facial muscles. The vagus nerve is responsible for calming down the organs after stress or a period of the fight or flight response. The better your vagus nerve is working, the more quickly your body can be calm again and resume its healthy and regular activities. If the vagus nerve is functioning sub optimally and one of its organs, such as the gut, is compromised we can prescribe exercises that would bring it back into full gear. The vagus nerve can also be kick started with coffee enemas.

Here is the take-home message: If your brain or gut function is not working at the level you want it to, you can take steps now to begin to address that. We can help.
Dr Eugenie Giasson-Gomez


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

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.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Milkshake

Dr. Walker Loves Her…
Author: Megan from a Dash of Megnut

Prep time:  5 mins
Total time:  5 mins

Serves: 2 servings

2 cups sugar-free vegan ice cream such as So Delicious* (or other favorite ice cream)
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup - 1 cup brewed coffee, chilled
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
½ tbsp - 1 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla
whipped coconut cream, to top

Add all ingredients to the blender.
Process until smooth.
Add additional coffee if needed to thin out the milkshake or additional maple syrup to taste.
Top with whipped coconut cream if using.

If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can make my homemade version.* Or you can simply substitute the following:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
pinch of cloves

Ear Issues, Tinnitus and dizziness

What is the Ear?

The external ear is called the auricle. It is the pretty part of the ear that we see on the outside of the body and where we hook glasses or wear earrings. The mechanics of the ear exist inside the hole in the head into the auditory canal that proceed to the middle and inner ear. This is where most ear issues occur. The labyrinth is the organ of hearing inside the internal ear.
What are the most common ear problems?

* Ear pain
* Dizziness
* Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
* Fluid in the Ears
* Allergies

What is the Cause of Ear Pain?

Ear pain is most commonly caused by infection in the external ear (otitis externa) or the middle ear (otitis media). The infection itself can appear due to the following reasons; cold virus, secondary infection and/or swimming. Other causes of pain can be due to allergies that will cause fluid build up and pressure behind the ears themselves.

What is the Cause of Dizziness?

This is commonly a cause due to a spinal mis-alignment, allergies/ fluid in the ears and allergies. Some infections of the ear will also cause dizziness and nausea.

What is the cause of Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)?

It can occur due to age related hearing loss, fluid in the ears, a circulation problem or injury to the ear itself (physical trauma). Some head trauma has also been known to cause what is perceived as ringing in the ear.

How are ear conditions diagnosed?

The ear exam goes with a physical exam of the external ear. The doctor uses an otoscope and looks into the medial can and the ear drum to see if fluid is present. The doctor will look at the ear canal to determine if it is red and swollen or any damage like a scratch or foreign body is in the canal. If a patient has too much ear wax for the doctor to see, they will use an ear curette to remove the wax. The next part of the diagnoses comes from symptoms. Here is a short list of symptoms that accompany ear problems:

* Headaches
* Ear Pain
* Tooth pain
* Vertigo
* Fullness in the ear
* Ear itching
* Tinnitus or ringing in the ear
* Loss of hearing
* Loss of balance
The doctor will then evaluate whether any of these symptoms are due to virus or infection by checking past history of illness or trauma and taking the patients temperature.

What are the common Diseases of the Ear and how are they treated?

* Ear infection: Topical medication and/or oral antibiotic ( herbal alternatives available) and Chiropractic adjustments of the neck to drain fluids.
* Vertigo: Chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture and Epley’s Maneuver
* Tinitus: Chiropractic adjustments or acupuncture (if these fail to relieve the ringing a neurologic exam is often warranted)
* Meinere's Disease: medication, acupuncture, or rehabilitaation and in extreme cases surgery
* Allergy related ear fullness: medication, acupuncture and massage


2 Limes, juiced
2/3 C. Cilantro
2 Garlic Cloves
2 T. Honey
1/2 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T. White Vinegar
1 t. Sea Salt
1/2 C. Cilantro
2 Limes, juiced
2 t. Sea Salt
2 Garlic Cloves
1 t. Cumin
1 t. Chili Powder
1/4 C. Olive Oil
4 Chicken Breasts, cut into strips (can also buy Trader Joes just chicken cooked strips to save time)
1 Large Yellow Onion, peeled and sliced
1 Large Yellow Bell Pepper, seeds removed, cut into strips
2-3 heads Romaine Hearts, cut into bit sized pieces
1 Avocado, sliced
3/4 C. Cherry tomatoes, halved
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend together until the garlic is well chopped and ingredients have emulsified.
Refrigerate dressing.
Using the same blender or processor that the vinaigrette was made in(you don't need to wash it out), place all ingredients for the marinade inside and puree until garlic is finely chopped.
Pour 1/2 of the marinade into a bowl or Ziploc bag and add chicken to the marinade. Pour the other half of the marinade into another bag or bowl and add the sliced onion and peppers to it.
Let marinate overnight or for several hours, if possible. You can also skip letting it marinade and use it immediately. It will still taste great!
Prepare salad plates(or a large bowl) by placing lettuce, avocado sliced, and cherry tomatoes on each plate(or all together in a bowl)
Heat a large sauté pan or wok on high. Add the vegetables(do not add the marinade) to the hot pan and cook quickly, tossing with tongs or a spatula until the veggies are still crisp, but golden brown in spots.
Remove from pan and keep warm. In the same pan on high heat, add the chicken and marinade to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and slightly caramelized. Toss with the vegetables.
Top salads with the hot chicken and vegetables. Drizzle with the cilantro lime vinaigrette.

This is a favorite Recipe that we discovered on Pinterest and then modified that comes from the following blog which we love: http://www.mynaturalfamily.com

Pregnancy & Acupuncture

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.

Chiropractic Adjustment for the Respiratory System

During the Spring and winter months we used to have people suffering with terrible allergy symptoms. But I am writing this article for the summer because in California more and more people are having allergies in the summer due to growing climate changes and our fire season. One surprising solution to provide relief for breathing issues is chiropractic adjustments. So we are looking at how chiropractic helps on both a mechanical level and on the level of the nervous system specifically the autonomic nervous system.

First of all if a rib is not articulating with the mid back vertebrae’s correctly we will have a mechanical impingement of the rib cage which directly effects our ability to take a full breath. Sometimes if we have a rib mis-aligned we may never realize there is a problem unless we try and do some deep breathing and realize we are limited. Other times we may have pain that prevents the full breath in and so be restricted that way this may even feel like a sharp pain while taking a full breath in that stops us short.

Secondly we know that any adjustment that stimulates the nervous system will also stimulate the autonomic nervous system which is split into parasympathetic ( relaxation side) and sympathetic ( stress response side). In the case of asthma or allergies we get constriction of the bronchi and mucous formation in the trachea. Stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system will help by bronchodilating and reducing mucous and this stimulation comes from stimulating a sympathetic chain located in the thoracic vertebra from T1 to L3. Sympathetic stimulation for the trachea is T1-T4.

Current research states that a chiropractic adjustment will affect the autonomic nervous system when done in the thoracic spine causing a reduction in mucus and bronchodilation. (McCorry, Laurie K., PhD. “A Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 71.4 (2007): n. pag Web 12 Feb 2013)

So here is how to do a quick check on yourself:

  • Sit up very straight and put your hands on the lower part of your rib cage and take a deep breath in and out. Does your rib cage move evenly if no or unsure you would benefit from and adjustment.

  • Can you take a full breath in?

  • Do you have pain with taking a full breath or pain in your rib cage when laying on your side.

If you did answer no to any of he above questions and you also have allergies and asthma then semi-regular adjustment especially during your allergy season can help manage your symptoms.