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Healthy Eating For Spring

Spring is a time of renewal, regeneration, growth and energy. Plants and animals awaken from their slumber during the cold winter months, and vital nutrients stored in the roots of the plants and bodies of the animals come to the surface as life becomes more vibrant and fluid.

Human beings are no different. Humans stay indoors more during the winter months, and tend to pack on a little extra weight in the process. As the weather warms, humans become more gregarious and spend more time outside enjoying nature. This is just a natural process.

Therefore, it makes sense that what was observed by the ancient Chinese should still hold true today. Humans are supposed to take their cues from nature. As a species, humans should be more active during the warmer spring months. And to do this, we need proper nourishment. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is sometimes translated into energy. This Qi is the vital substance that keeps our bodies functioning until the day we die. To keep the Qi plentiful, we need to eat the proper foods at the proper times.

During the spring, we should be eating foods that have upward energies, such as green, sprouting vegetables. But we also need foods that will provide the extra nourishment for the increased amounts of activity that accompany the season of spring. This is where sweeter foods play a vital role. Foods such as fruits, nuts, yams, carrots and potatoes can provide the extra energy needed during the spring. But be careful not to overdo it. Too much sweet can overload the body and make it sluggish.

Sweets should be countered with pungent foods. Pungent foods aid in the movement of Qi upwards and outwards through the process of perspiration. Pungent flavored foods include scallions, onions, ginger, radishes, garlic, leeks and chives.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, spring is the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs regulate a smooth flow of energy throughout the whole body. However, they are prone to stagnation because we do not take proper care of ourselves. This can manifest as anger, irritability, depression, insomnia and even pain. Stagnation can occur when people eat too many poor-quality foods that may be full of chemicals.

Foods that help ward off stagnation include foods rich in chlorophyll, such as wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, parsley, kale, Swiss chard and collard greens. All of these foods are abundant during the months of spring. It is also a good idea to have a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon first thing in the morning. This will help detoxify the liver and gallbladder to start the day off fresh. Lastly, foods that have a slightly bitter taste can help ward off heat in the liver. This includes foods like asparagus, quinoa, romaine lettuce and dandelion tea.

If you are curious about how to eat according to the seasons, contact Heidi at (218) 724-3400. She will be able to guide you along your healing journey through the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine and nutritional counseling.

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Herbal Tonics for Allergies

An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. This could be anything from something you inhale to something you touch to something you eat. An allergic reaction may cause sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, a running nose, a sore throat and rashes. In severe cases, allergic reactions can induce something known as anaphylactic shock, which can actually be deadly.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly 50 million Americans are affected by nasal allergies. These numbers are increasing too. To date, allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. Anaphylactic reactions are typically triggered by medications, food and insect stings, with pharmaceuticals causing the most allergy-related deaths. The cost of allergies exceeds $18 billion per year!

There are ways to deal with allergies though. Obviously with life-threatening allergies, a person needs to know what they are allergic to and be very adamant about avoiding those substances. For others who deal with seasonal allergies, things aren’t as dire and the inconvenience of allergies can be navigated using many natural remedies, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years. The general theory behind TCM is to treat the patient holistically, taking into account all aspects of the patient’s illness. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat the patient, including acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, formulas, cupping and nutrition. For treating allergies, there are some wonderful herbs and formulas that can be implemented.

Here’s a short list of items that can be used to treat non-life threatening allergies:

  1. Reishi or Medicinal Mushrooms:
    Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries to help with everything from balancing blood sugar to decreasing inflammation. But they are also well-known for their immune-boosting properties. Reishi mushrooms are adaptogenic and they help regulate stress in the body. This is great for allergy sufferers because allergies can be exacerbated by stress.
  2. Scutellaria or Huang Qin:
    This herb is frequently used to treat acute respiratory infections and bronchitis. Two key components of Huang Qin are particularly good at relieving allergic asthma attacks.
  3. Saposhnikovia or Fang Feng:
    Fang Feng is used frequently by TCM practitioners to expel and prevent wind pathogen invasions. So for allergies that prompt headaches and nasal symptoms, this is a great herb to have on hand.
  4. Magnolia Flower or Xin Yi Hua:
    Flowers are used a lot in TCM due to their aromatic nature. Xin Yi Hua is another great herb to have on hand when seasonal allergies flare up. This herb is great at relieving nasal congestion, sinus headaches and the runny nose that frequently
    accompanies allergies.
  5. Cang Er Zi San:
    This is an herbal formula frequently prescribed for people who are suffering from allergy attacks. Cang Er Zi San works to open up the nasal passageways, helps expel congested mucus, decreases sneezing and helps to alleviate red itchy eyes. It is a go-to herbal formula for TCM practitioners during allergy season.

Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from allergies. Ask us to find out more about these herbs, we can help you navigate the world of medicinal herbs and find the exact combination right for you.

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The Effects of Acupuncture on Allergies

Millions of people (as many as 50 million per year) suffer from recurring allergy symptoms. The causes of allergies are as many as the people who suffer from them. The severity of an individual’s reaction to a given allergy can vary greatly from one person to another and one allergic event to the next. Allergies range in severity from minor to mild, to irritating to severe, and some allergies can even be deadly. 

The most common, most problematic allergic sensitivity is Hay Fever or allergic rhinitis. Many people miss work and other important activities on a seasonal basis when severe Hay Fever symptoms are not controlled.

For these reasons, many people seek relief from allergies, and fortunately there are many healthcare options available for those who are looking for better ways to treat their allergies. One of the most promising, and often overlooked treatments can be acupuncture and acupressure.

The Effect of Acupuncture on Allergies

While medication can reduce inflammation and suppress other symptoms of allergies, medications almost always come with undesirable side effects. Few medications can resolve the underlying problem that makes a given person allergic to a given substance. Conversely, acupuncture has been used for a number of years now by a wide range of practitioners to successfully relieve allergy symptoms.

Acupuncture is an ancient practice developed in mainland China. It has been used for a wide variety of conditions. Since becoming popular in the West, it has been frequently used as a complement to western medicinal options. Acupuncture helps to correct functional imbalances and restore the flow of your body’s innate energies, thus returning you to a more natural state of well-being. And hopefully allergy-free!

Acupuncture, and Its Effect on Allergic Rhinitis

This study took aim at the most troublesome of all allergies, allergic rhinitis. It corroborates the reports by patients and practitioners that acupuncture is an effective way to treat allergies.

The study looked at 422 patients who tested positive for pollen allergies and presented with allergic nasal symptoms. The researchers randomly assigned participants to three different groups. One group was given 12 acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines as they normally would. The next group took 12 sham acupuncture treatments and antihistamines as they would normally do to combat symptoms. The third group took only antihistamines with no acupuncture treatments.

The research team found that those who received both real acupuncture and antihistamines reported the largest decrease in symptoms. They also reported using antihistamines less frequently than the other two groups.
While this study was limited to one allergy, it is promising that other, if not all chronic allergies, can be successfully treated through the regular use of acupuncture and/or acupressure.

If you or someone you know suffers from allergies, give Heidi a call at (218) 724-3400, maybe acupuncture can help.


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It’s World Autism Awareness Day!

Every year, on the 2nd of April, the world celebrates World Autism Awareness Day.

Today, we strive to create understanding, acceptance and celebration of life for people on the Autism Spectrum.

Let’s recognize and spread awareness for the rights of people with autism. Let’s celebrate the resilience of those affected by the disorder and promote awareness of it.

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Western & Eastern Medicine Treatment Approaches to Headaches

According to Eastern Medicine thought, there are many paths up a mountain. In this article we will be discussing headaches and how both Eastern and Westerin medicine view headaches. The Western (aka Biomedical) approach is reductionist and relies on empirical observation and symptom differential. The Eastern approach is dynamic, holistic, personalized and also relies on a symptom differential. However, that process looks quite different from the conventional approach. Here we discuss both approaches and how they differ.

How does a Western Medicine Clinician View, Evaluate and Treat Headaches?

According to conventional western medicine, a headache is quite simply defined as the experience of pain in the upper neck, head or face. According to Western Medicine, the most common types of headaches are vascular (think migraines), or involve muscle tension and stress.

Primary and Secondary Type Headaches

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two classifications of headaches, primary and secondary. In primary headaches, there is no identifiable underlying disease process that is the cause. Primary headaches are most common and are categorized as migraines, migraines with aura, tension and cluster headaches. Here we will briefly discuss the two most common primary headaches, tension and migraine.

Primary headaches are mainly due to lifestyle factors that trigger the headache. Examples include stressful events, poor sleep, poor posture, specific foods, skipping meals, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations, certain smells or bright lights.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. These account for 90% of all headaches and are usually felt on both sides of the head and can affect the eyes, scalp, neck as well as the head. Tension headaches are most commonly caused by chronic stress or a stressful event.

Secondary headaches are caused by an underlying disease process or illness. The list of causes is extensive but includes such things as sinus infections, influenza, infections, dental problems, glaucoma, hangovers, etc….

A Western doctor will classify your headache as primary or secondary by assessing your symptoms and by doing a medical exam. If necessary, you may need blood tests or an image of the head or neck. However, primary-type headaches are most common and usually do not require more than an in-office exam.

Western Treatment of Headaches

Treatment is determined based on your diagnosis. However, most people with primary headaches will be given over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen.

If the headache is a migraine, treatment may include a prescription medication used specifically for migraines. The most likely scenario is that you will leave your clinician’s office with some advice to rest and a prescription of some kind.

How does an Eastern Medicine Doctor View, Evaluate and Treat Headaches?

According to Eastern Medicine Clinicians, a headache is a manifestation of a symptom, in this case pain, caused by an internal imbalance, known as the root cause. Just like in Western medicine where headaches are categorized as primary or secondary, in Eastern thought, the cause is also categorized but in a very different way. The clinician will assess whether the pain is due to an internal imbalance or due to an external influence like an infection.

Most patients who have headaches due to an internal balance will be assessed for the type of imbalance by checking the patient’s pulse, respiratory rate, color and quality of their complexion, their tongue color and coat. The patient will also be asked about the onset, time, location and character of the pain.

Through this lens, the clinician looks for a pattern unique to the individual to assess what type of imbalance is causing the headache. This differentiation establishes whether the person has imbalance from a state of excess or a state of deficiency somewhere in the body. This means the patient may have an accumulation of too much energy stuck in their body or it could mean they are low in energy and need some kind of tonifying treatment to relieve their headache.

Excess headaches include symptoms like sharp or throbbing pain in the temples or behind the eyes, a feeling of cotton or wool inside the head, sharp pain or feeling of heat in the head or face, feelings of nausea or chest oppression. Deficiency headaches are usually dull rather than sharp, involve the whole head, and are relieved by rest or eating.

In a nutshell, the Eastern clinician is looking for patterns unique to the individual. After a pattern has been established, a diagnosis can be made and that is how treatment is decided.

What are your treatment options in Eastern Medicine?

There are several options for treatment in the Eastern Medicine clinician’s toolbox. This may range from nutrition advice, Qi Gong, stretching, stress-reducing techniques, meditation or simple exercises.

The patient’s stress levels and environment will be assessed along with treatment of the underlying internal imbalance. The patient will have their history and current lifestyle considered in context with their symptoms.

The primary tools used inside the Eastern clinician’s office are high-quality traditional botanical medicines, acupuncture or acupressure. In many instances, a simple trip for an acupuncture treatment can eliminate a tension headache or migraine in one session. Other times, it takes a few treatments as the underlying pattern is addressed. Patients will often come in for preventative treatment so that they can remain headache-free.

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