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Staying Healthy in Autumn: Part 2

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In Part 1 we learned why autumn is a great time to work on getting healthier in the lungs and large intestine, and a few tips on how to do it. In today’s follow up post, we’ll find out even more ways to stay healthy when the leaves begin to fall.

Dr. Elson Haas in Staying Healthy with the Seasons uses a holistic approach and suggests we can use autumn’s characteristics to boost our immune systems. The following is merely a synopsis so if any of it resonates with you, the book would definitely be a good investment!

Autumn Cleansing

A week-long juice cleanse in early to mid-autumn will give us a boost of energy and eliminate any potential illnesses we’ve stored away by flushing out excesses or by improving organ functions.

Since this is harvest time, we’ve got a plethora of fruits and veggies to choose from, including the Master Cleanse recipe (lemon juice, cayenne pepper and organic maple syrup). Apples, pears and grapes are in season, and Doc Haas even suggests eating only grapes for a week coupled with a daily lemonade if the juices are too sweet.

Also, try a teaspoon of cold-pressed olive oil twice daily, as well as one cup of an herbal laxative tea (see below for some choices) on rising and before bed to keep the intestines moving.

With an internal cleanse, we might want to pay some attention to facilitating the cleansing process. Dr. Haas says to:

  1. Brush our teeth and tongue (there will be more coating during a cleanse), and to floss regularly.
  2. Bathe daily and brush our skin with a loofa sponge or skin brush to remove dead skin cells and to stimulate the clearing of toxins.
  3. Exercise, with a good sweat, is beneficial to cleansing before bathing.
  4. At the end of bath or shower, use cold water to close the skin pores and prevent heat loss and vulnerability to colds, as well as stimulate skin circulation.

Garlic

This plant and herb is a lung aid that also facilitates cleansing and healing; it’s been used for centuries by many cultures as a food and medicine for a variety of ailments. The health benefits of garlic deserves its own post, so for now, Dr. Haas says if it’s eaten regularly, it can help prevent colds, flus and other infections.

Try taking a couple of cloves a day, pressed into water or juice (it’s so potent it needs to be diluted), or as garlic capsules, taking two twice daily. Chewing parsley will help balance the strong breath odour. When your body begins to eliminate garlic odor through the skin, it’s said this is when you’ve had enough.

I’ve tried a few of the interesting recipes found in Staying Healthy with the Seasons (like this tonic made with garlic), yet one of the best has to be garlic olive oil!

Garlic Oil

  1. Peel and chop enough cloves to fill a half of a quart jar.
  2. Cover the cloves with cold-pressed olive oil to about one or two inches above the garlic and place in a sunlit window for five to seven days, shaking once daily.
  3. Strain it well through cheese cloth, and you have strong smelling garlic oil.

The soaked cloves can be refrigerated and used in cooking. The garlic oil will last for months and can be used both internally (like on salads) and externally (like rubbing it on a congested chest or even on the soles of the feet to prevent or remedy early colds)!

Colon Hydrotherapy

This autumn cleansing tip is controversial but Dr. Haas is a believer in its benefits. He says,

Many doctors have stated that constipation is one of the main causes of disease, and I feel that aging and death may well begin in the colon… Constipation can create a backup of toxicity through the body, and affect the muscular or nervous system, creating tensions and exhaustion.

Colon hydrotherapy is a non-toxic method of cleansing the large intestine and has been used for thousands of years as a natural internal bath. Before today’s machines, it was done by entering a river or lake and using a hollow reed or bamboo tube to allow water to enter the rectum.

Meditation

This section alone is worth the cost of the book! Meditation is a deep subject and Dr. Haas does a fantastic job in explaining the mind’s potential and using meditation to develop the different parts of our brain for better functioning.

For instance, he talks about how the bimodal character of our brain is crucial to how we experience life. One mode is active, thinking, time-oriented, and attempts to organize and manipulate our world. The other is receptive, sensing, timeless, and perceives and understands our external and internal environment without judgement.

Meditation is a practice which helps expand awareness and moves us to a new balance, which is neither active or receptive. It takes us to the center to experience both of these realms and has been used over the centuries to enhance sensory awareness and alter perception of the environment and oneself. Haas says,

It is important to staying healthy as it facilitates a greater communication between our inner and outer worlds, and allows a deep state of rest and rejuvenation. Physiologically, meditation lowers the respiratory rate, increases the frequency of alpha brain waves, and facilitates muscular relaxation.

Try setting aside 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a day for quiet conscious relaxation and clearing your mind of old and congested thoughts. Many people like to do this in the morning to set their day off right. Just avoid meditating on a full stomach.

Haas even hints that meditation will strengthen our will power: “You may learn how to guide your energies rather than being controlled by your impulses.”

Drugs

Another fascinating section of this chapter in Staying Healthy with the Seasons, Dr. Haas says that drugs can be helpful but should be reserved as a last resort because they all affect our physical, mental, and emotional states. The use of drugs as medicines is part of the same picture as using drugs to alter psychological states.

He suggests that therapeutic options should be:

  1. Lifestyle changes first
  2. Natural therapies second
  3. Drugs last

Short-term use of any drug may lead to weakened resistance to illness and more vulnerable to colds, flus, hepatitis, lung and skin problems. Long-range effects help create many of the degenerating and chronic diseases through toxin build up in the body, and by weakening specific organs and systems.

Haas says it’s time to break the patterns of relying on drugs (including sugar as a stimulant!) to make us feel better:

Understanding your natural cycles will help you see the importance of creating healthier bodies by the use of good foods, exercise, and eliminating toxins in your life. Pleasure drugs are a lazy way to alter and control your energy. And the body will not be able to re-experience this relaxed or stimulated state without drugs unless you take the time to tune your machine to its most healthful state.

Autumn Diet

If you have habits or addictions you’d like to overcome, it’s helpful to change other aspects of your life, such as diet, exercise and attitudes. (And as we learned, meditation may also help strengthen your mind and resolve for change!)

After the week-long juice fast (or, in my case, I just started a month-long mini-cleanse), an autumn diet is a bit heavier and builds on the late summer diet. For meat eaters, this means more meats and dairy products. For vegetarians, autumn requires an increase in grains, nuts, beans and seeds, and eggs and dairy if used.

Although we need these heat-producing foods to combat the colder weather, too many congesting foods (or simply overeating) tends to keep our internal state at the level of physical sensations and indulgences.

How do we know how much of what to choose?

Dr. Haas says diets are totally individual and related to personal character, activity and to the climate in which you live. We must listen to our bodies for clues as to its preferences. This Food Balance Breakdown might help when choosing certain food types, combinations and proportions:

  • Builders: Animal proteins and beans
  • Cleansers: Fruits and vegetables
  • Congestors: Sweets, cheese and breads
  • Lubricators: Nuts, seeds, and their oils

While there are less fruits available in the autumn, an abundance of veggies helps us balance out our diets.

Exercise

The longer nights make the season and our energy more yin (quiet, inward and contracting) so Dr. Haas says we might want to concentrate on staying loose and relaxed:

Stretching, calisthenics, running, and hiking will all help. A strengthening program using weights and isometric exercises will build more muscles from your higher protein meals. Exercise keeps your weight in balance, too, with the heavier autumn diet. It is natural to gain a few pounds during autumn and winter, so turn some of it into muscle as well as a little fat to keep you warmer.

Herbs

In the colder months, just as our energy turns inward, so does the energy in plants. To gain energy in autumn and winter for us, we use root herbs. Dr. Haas suggests quite a few herbs, mainly those that facilitate cleansing in the lungs, skin and large intestine.

For instance, burdock root and comfrey root can both be used as tonics, the former for skin disorders and the latter for intestinal lining, mucous membranes and the lungs. He also suggests simmering fresh ginger root for 15-20 minutes (which I do regularly since reading this book) for more body heat and clearer lungs.

To tone and clear out the intestine, casara sagrada is an effective laxative and tonic. So is licorice root and oregon root.

Dr. Haas imparts a wealth of knowledge and many more tips in his chapter on staying healthy in autumn. Try these out and when you’re ready, get the book  so you can stay healthy throughout the year!

Are you doing an autumn cleanse or juice fast? I’ve got ginger, pumpkin, squash, olive oil and garlic so far on my shopping list for this week!

by Head Health Nutter

The Spirits of the Points: The Large Intestine Meridian

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Acupuncture Today
October, 2011, Vol. 12, Issue 10

By Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac

Each acupuncture point has a name, translated from classical Chinese calligraphy, which indicates the unique spiritual qualities of that point and the gift it is capable of delivering to the patient in need.

In Classical Five-Element Acupuncture, points are mostly chosen for their spiritual connotation from the patient’s causative factor meridians.

The causative factor is the one element of the five (fire, Earth, metal, water or wood) which is the primary imbalance and the root cause of the patient’s symptoms. The causative factor is determined by assessing the patient’s odor, color lateral to the eyes, sound of voice and emotional expression. These are the four major pillars of diagnosis. The patient’s symptoms may vary tremendously. Symptoms do not lead us to the causative factor, as once there is a primary imbalance in any of the five elements and their corresponding officials (organs/functions), the imbalance must affect the balance of all the rest. Thus, by the time patients come in for treatment, it is likely that they will be presenting symptoms in multiple elements and organs and all 12 pulses will be imbalanced. Our focus, therefore, is to identify, support, balance and harmonize the causative factor.

Once having determined the causative factor and having removed any and all energetic blocks, we can set about addressing the needs of the patient in body, mind and spirit. I emphasize that we can only reach the body, mind or spirit of a patient if there are no energetic blocks present. It is impossible for any spirit point to deliver its gift if the patient is blocked. Such blocks include possession, aggressive energy, a husband/wife imbalance or an entry/exit block between meridians. It is beyond the scope of this article to expound on these and a good deal of clinical experience and guidance is required to develop the sensory skills to detect them, but the question of a block must always be held in mind if a patient is not responding.

The vast majority of patients we see are imbalanced at the spirit level, regardless of the presence of physical symptoms. To truly and holistically heal, all levels must be addressed. To reach the spirit of a patient, we call upon the spirits of the points.

Reaching the Patient’s Core

I would like to discuss several points on the Large Intestine (Colon) meridian and their spiritual connotations and uses. The Large Intestine belongs to the element Metal, whose functions are, specifically, that of the Lung: receiving the pure qi from the heavens and the Colon and eliminating the waste. The Colon removes more than just the waste of the digestive process. It removes the waste of every organ and function, as well as mental and spiritual rubbish. If this official is doing its job, rubbish will not collect, stagnate and rot. There will not only be a clean body, but a clear mind – able to let go of old “baggage” of the past and take in new and fresh ideas. The patient also will manifest a clean, radiant spirit – able to be inspired, to inspire others and to live in the beauty of the eternal present. Just as metal gives value to the Earth in the form of minerals and trace elements, it gives us our sense of self worth. Keywords associated with the Metal element include: respect, awe, purity, honor, inspiration, value and quality.

The translations of the points that follow are those taught by my teacher of nearly 25 years, Professor J.R. Worsley. I have found, in more than three decades of practice, that these translations capture the essential meanings of the individual points and the context of the element in which they reside.

The meanings are as timeless as nature itself and as needed by today’s patients as those who received them thousands of years ago.

Large Intestine 1 Merchant Yang

Merchants know the value of things. Their success depends on their acquisition and sale or exchange of things people want and need, as well as the elimination of what is old, stale or unnecessary. A “yang” merchant is one who is vibrant and active. There will be no accumulation of rubbish in this merchant’s shop. What will be found there will be of the highest quality, impeccably fresh and clean.

Many patients have accumulated so much rubbish – physically, mentally and spiritually – that they have lost touch with what is innately pure, incorruptible and eternal. Using this point on the metal-imbalanced patient in such a state is akin to cleaning layers of debris from a stone and revealing a dazzling diamond beneath.

Large Intestine 4 Joining of the Valleys

Valleys are low-lying places between hills or mountains. When the rain comes or the snow melts, all the debris that had accumulated on the mountainside (e.g. dead leaves, twigs, fruit fallen from trees, organic waste) falls into these low places and are washed away to the sea. Some of the plant and animal waste will soak into the soil to fertilize and enrich the valleys, which will abound with life as a result. But, that which is toxic and of no use will be washed away. When many valleys are joined, they connect into one vast, cleansing flow from every mountainside – from every official and every level. Many metal imbalanced-patients seem unable to wash away the waste of their own bodies, minds or spirits. As debris collects, they may become physically constipated, but also cynical and negative, tending to see the worst in themselves, others and in life situations. This point, also known as “The Great Eliminator” has the ability to flush out the stale and toxic within, allowing for inspiration to occur.

Large Intestine 5 Yang Stream

A stream is a body of water, moving with a current, confined within banks. As such, it has a specific direction and flow. The yang aspect adds the qualities of warmth, light and activity. This is the fire point of the meridian. Fire controls metal by melting and softening, making it malleable. Like metal that has become cold and inert, many metal-imbalanced patients have become hard, immobile, unable to bend, attached to the past, holding on to shame, guilt and unworthiness. They become unable to let go of that which binds them. This point, used at the right time, encourages release – direct, active and with a good measure of humor, love and compassion – the warmth of fire. In many cultures, the ritual of baptism is a rite of purification – a symbolic washing away of that which defiles and compromises our perception of our true selves as pure, incorruptible spirit. Using this point is akin to immersing the patient in need in these divine cleansing waters.

Large Intestine 6 Side Passage

This point, the junction (or Luo/Connecting) point of the meridian used for its spiritual connotation can be used to prevent backup of waste as it is eliminated. It is rather like the cleaning out of an old closet where, on the way to the trash bins, the garbage is temporarily piled in the nearby hallway. Before long, the hallway becomes so filled with trash that it is jammed tight and nothing can pass through. What is needed is a “side passage,” providing another way out. It might happen that as we treat the Colon official and it begins its job of eliminating accumulated waste from every level that things get stuck. This point can be used with such patients to unclog the jam, reestablishing and reinforcing the movement and flow of elimination.

Large Intestine 11 Crooked Pond

This point, the Earth point of the meridian, brings the qualities of groundedness and stability to the process of elimination. Letting go can be a fearful prospect to a patient who has become identified with attachments of the past, old ways of thought, beliefs, opinions and assumptions. Being held securely in the loving arms of the mother, for many might be the best and most comforting encouragement for the letting go to occur.

The image of a pond again gives the image of water. One of water’s principal qualities is to cleanse. “Crooked” implies the ability to bend and move in different directions. All of the old waste must be cleansed in order to be mentally and spiritually free – not just that with which one is comfortable in eliminating. One cannot be truly free and still hold to those attachments to which one feels especially entitled or identified. It is like asserting, “I want enlightenment, but I want to hold on to my anger. I have a right to be angry. Damn right, I do!” True, perhaps, but in continuing to hold that old resentment, one is in a prison of one’s own making and freedom is but an idea, not a reality. “Crooked Pond” can reach those hard-to-reach places, smooth out sharp edges and help ease the way to rediscover the beauty and clarity within.


Click here for more information about Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac.

Acupuncture for Healthy Skin!

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Acupuncture for Healthy Skin

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms and can provide significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.

The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution as well as environmental influences, such as wind, dryness, dampness, and heat can all contribute to the development of a skin disorder. To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color.

General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual.

Andrea Lamont, R. TCM.P

Sabeeha Kurji, R. TCM.P

7 Foods that make you pretty

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If you want younger, better looking skin, think beyond the sunscreen (but use that too) and tinker with your diet. “Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin,” says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami Beach. The natural ingredients in food help do everything from speed the pace of exfoliation to protect skin from the UV damage that causes brown spots and wrinkles. Here, 7 everyday foods that are guaranteed to make you glow.

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1. Romaine Lettuce
Why You’ll Glow: Six leaves provide more than 100% of your DV of vitamin A, which revitalizes skin by increasing cell turnover. The mineral potassium in romaine “gives skin a refreshing boost of nutrients and oxygen by improving circulation,” says Lisa Drayer, RD, author of The Beauty Diet.

Health Bonus: That same serving of romaine contains 45% of the DV of vitamin K, which a recent study shows activates a protein that supports vascular health–making a future with bulging leg veins less likely.

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2. Tomatoes
Why You’ll Glow: Eating red helps keep skin from turning red. Volunteers who consumed 5 tablespoons of high-in-lycopene tomato paste daily for 3 months had nearly 25% more protection against sunburn in one study. Even better, skin had more collagen, which prevents sagging. Another reason to toss an extra tomato into your salad: German scientists report that higher skin levels of this antioxidant correlate to fewer fine lines and furrows.

Health Bonus: Research suggests that lycopene may also lower your chances of heart disease: In one study, women with the highest levels of it had a 34% reduced risk.

Reduce redness and irritation in just 12 weeks

3. Strawberries
Why You’ll Glow: A cup has up to 130% of the DV of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that boosts production of collagen fibers that help keep skin smooth and firm. More C may mean fewer fine lines too: Women with lower intakes were likelier to have dry, wrinkled skin. Early research also shows that ellagic acid, an antioxidant abundant in strawberries, protects the elastic fibers that keep skin from sagging.

Health Bonus: Strawberries may lower your risk of cancer by inhibiting the development of malignant cancer cells. In one study, people eating the most strawberries were 3 times less likely to develop the disease.

Food cures for cancer

4. Apples
Why You’ll Glow: Quercetin, an antioxidant in the peel of many varieties, provides hefty protection from the “burning” UVB rays that trigger skin cancer. A few offering the biggest dose: Monroe, Cortland, and Golden Delicious.

Health Bonus: Eating two or more apples a week for 1 year reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 15% in one study of 34,000 healthy postmenopausal women. Whatever variety you choose, be sure to eat the peel, the source of nearly all the antioxidants.

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5. Eggs
Why You’ll Glow: Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in eggs, more than quadrupled protection against the UV damage that leads to lines, brown spots, and cancer in one study on women. Skin was also markedly softer, firmer, and better hydrated.

Health Bonus: Eating just one egg a day significantly increases blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin (but not cholesterol), which may stave off macular degeneration by protecting the retina from light damage, finds a study in the Journal of Nutrition.

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6. Almonds

Why You’ll Glow: “Eating a handful of almonds every day boosts levels of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for skin health,” says Baumann. You’ll get a surge in moisture too–a boon for those prone to dryness.

Health Bonus: Though nuts are high in calories, women who ate them at least twice a week were less likely to gain weight than those who rarely did, in a new study of over 50,000 women.

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7. Walnuts
Why You’ll Glow: These nuts are storehouses of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that’s a key component of the lubricating layer that keeps skin moist and supple. A 1/2-ounce serving of walnuts provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of ALA.

Health Bonus: Eating walnuts at dinner may deliver better shut-eye. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center discovered that walnuts contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.

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[photo credit: Getty Images]