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Summer, skeeters and sunburns

Hey everyone, I want to get the word out about two timely and unique products that we make and sell.  They are the inspired brainchildren of my genius husband John. The first is our sunburn body mist. It could be used as a nice fresh summer skin moisturizer, but the relief it offers for burns is out of this world.  I put it on a patient recently at the beginning of her treatment, and by the end, the color of her skin had changed from an angry red to brown. In addition to aloe and lavender, it contains Saint John’s wort and German chamomile which create synergy that just works.

Our catnip essential oil mosquito spray is unique in that it smells good, and it works.  It does not unpleasantly grease up your skin, and lasts until it evaporates, and can be reapplied. What makes this spray unique is that the catnip oil we use contains high levels of Nepetalactone, a constituent that rivals DEET in effectiveness.

Happy Summer Everyone!

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Rheumatology by Lynn Van Airsdale

A 2008 issue of Rheumatology published the article, Demystifying Acupuncture, which reviewed the different theories on acupuncture’s mechanism of action.  There appear to be three main ideas.  One involves acupuncture’s effects on pain inhibitory pathways of the peripheral and central nervous system.  The second idea is acupuncture’s analgesic effects from opioid and serotonin release.  The third idea is that there is a change in the muscle’s neuromatrix, or how the pain fibers respond and transmit messages.  All three help our western understanding of how acupuncture works.  There are several studies that show acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, on endorphin and hormonal release and regulation, as well as on the combined effort of the muscle/fascia response to acupuncture needling.  There is much more research to conduct, but in the meantime we can rely on the ancient perspective of TCM and acupuncture’s ability to illicit positive change on the body.

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Foods and activities to grow the Liver-Yin by Laurel Redmon

As Bob Flaws and Honora Wolfe mention in their dietetic book, Prince Wen Hui’s Cook, the American baby boomers are at increased risk for the syndrome of Liver-Yin deficiency due to inferior nutrition in childhood as well as ‘lifestyle excesses’. I imagine that this would include various youthful binges and benders as well as managing family, full-time work and keeping up with the Joneses.

The Yin nature is by definition grounding and slow-growing: like the tortoise we must commit to long-term, consistent effort. Things like not rushing or over-scheduling one’s day can have a big impact.  Exercise like yoga and tai qi will have more benefit than over-heating and thus drying and tendon-fraying weekend warrior pursuits. Try to get enough sleep, and decide what’s enough with your body, not just your brain.

Vegetable foods are invaluable to incorporate daily.  Try different sprouted seeds and grains– there is a lot of variety out there these days, or you can easily make your own for cheap. Fruits, especially berries like blueberries, raspberries and grapes are great, as is citrusCelery, seaweeds, wood ear fungus, sesame seeds and burdock root are incredibly good.  A note on this last group of ingredients: using then isn’t rocket science. We’re so lucky to live in a culture where we have access to wonderful food traditions from all over the world. These ingredients can be locally sourced and organic.   Heat up some water, add some herbs or miso, put the ingredients in and have it for lunch, dinner a snack or even breakfast! You’ll feel really good.

Next step- get out and harvest some nettles, a great spring delicacy as a pot herb or tea, just protect your hands before you cook or dry them.

redsagehealth.com

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This spring we have been highlighting the organs and the elements represented by the season:  the liver and gall bladder and the wood element.  These organs govern the eyes, tendons and sinews.  They’re also involved with emotional aspects like frustration, anger, decision-making, bravery and steadfastness: all very important stuff when creating a good life for yourself.

An over-booked, fast-paced lifestyle depletes the yin aspect of the body:  that which helps us sleep and feel grounded, lubricated and anxiety-free.  Technological products, like computers pull the liver yin from our bodies via the liver’s portal of the eyes.  There is even a slang term that describes the sensation of the liver yin being zapped after a too-long computer session:  gweeped.  Tendon related wrist, elbow and shoulder problems are further evidence of this phenomenon. These are all parts of our bodies that rely on liver yin for nourishment.

Some say yin deficiency in a body is akin to running a car without oil in the engine.  Indeed, I’ve thought of the earth warming and drying as her oil – heavy, supportive, cooling and grounding yin – is pumped out of her reserves.

Here’s the situation, next time we’ll discuss solutions.  Caring for our liver yin is a personally and ecologically helpful act.

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Large Intestine 4 (LI 4, He Gu), aka, “that point that always hurts”.

There are many important points along the Large Intestine channel, but the one I want to highlight here is LI 4.  This point is located on the dorsum of one’s hand, in the web space between the thumb and index finger.  If you are palpating it now you may notice its tenderness.  This is a very powerful point.  Traditionally it is used for a long list of indications, especially for the head, face, digestion, and overall body pain.

Scientifically LI 4 has been shown to have a relatively high electrical conductance field when compared with other acupuncture points.  A 1976 study published in Psychoenergetic Systems found in general that acupuncture points and meridians maintain electrophysiological conductance patterns when compared to areas of the body where there is an absence of an acupuncture point, and therefore a meridian[1].  This very potential of electrical conductivity may be part of the explanation Western science desires in order to understand the mystery behind acupuncture’s mechanism of action.  More importantly, this may also explain to patients, and practitioners, why LI 4 is indeed often so darn tender.


[1] Becker RO, Reichmanis M, Marino AA, and Spadaro JA.  (1976).  Electrophysiological Correlates of Acupuncture Points and Meridians.  Psychoenergetic Systems.  1: 105-112.

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Currently, I am in an animal development class at UW-Madison. I’ve found a very striking similarity between Chinese and Western medicine in regards to how an embryo develops. It all begins with the kidneys. In general, mammalian embryo’s gonadal development also includes the development of a glomerulus (kidney). The kidneys are one of the first organs to develop. In Chinese medicine all channels originate from the kidneys. The kidneys are also our supply of Yin and Yang prior to and at conception (referred to as Heavenly essence). Our Earthly essence is our Yin and Yang supply that comes from food and drink, and the strength of our Spleen and Stomach Qi is vital for that food and drink to be converted into Yin, Yang, Qi, and blood. Returning to our Heavenly essence (Yin and Yang), I want to make note that we can look at the uniting of sperm and egg as a uniting of Yang and Yin. On a molecular level, each gamete (sperm/Yang and egg/Yin) contains genetic material that, upon fertilization, directs embryonic development at all stages. We need both Yin and Yang to generate a living organism, and that initial Yin and Yang originates within the kidneys. Thus, from my understanding we could look at the Chinese kidney as holding all the potential of our system’s genetic material.

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Springtime

Spring!

Here in Wisconsin, spring fever is a given. We have endured and survived the winter. After living in California, I know that there is no feeling like the enthusiasm and rebirth of spring in Wisconsin. I love encouraging people to piggyback on this renewal, shedding depression and bad habits, embracing blossoms, freshness and joy.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, the Wood element and liver energy embody spring. A major pathology associated with this is wind. Wind is one of the “six evils” of Traditional Chinese medicine, things that cause disharmony and sickness. These issues involve spasms, twitching, allergies, colds, and reckless or ungrounded energy.

Luckily, many of the first greens sprouting can help us balance these: nettles and dandelion greens in particular are perfect helpers that emerge at this time.

Acupuncture points located around the neck and occiput can also expel wind, and can be stimulated with needles or massage. Protecting these wind portals with a scarf, particularly during breezy weather, is a simple and free way to protect yourself from wind evil.

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