Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD

This time of the year we have a tendency to over indulge, especially when it comes to food. Along with the desserts, appetizers, fried food, and so on, many of us experience heartburn or acid reflux. The medical term for acid reflux is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, can offer an effective and natural treatment for acid reflux.

Your acupuncturist will place thin needles into various parts of your body to regulate the flow of Qi (energy) to restore organs, such as the spleen, liver, heart, stomach and kidneys, to their normal function.

During the busy holiday season, if you cannot get in for a treatment here are some points you can use to help yourself.

• PC 6 (inner gate) is located on the palm side of you wrist, about 2 thumb widths above the wrist crease and in the center of the arm. Use the thumb of the opposite hand to apply firm pressure on the point; inhale and exhale deeply for a few minutes while applying pressure.

• ST 36 (three mile) is located on the lateral (outside) side of the lower leg, four fingers width from below the lower border of the kneecap and one finger width off the shin bone on the outside. Apply firm pressure for about a minute.

Regarding herbal remedies, your TCM practitioner will need to diagnose the cause of your reflux. For example, acid reflux may be caused by a TCM condition known as stomach fire, which indicates that excessive heat is flowing into your stomach and irritating it. Another cause for acid reflux could be an imbalance in the liver. One function of the liver, according to TCM, is to control the proper flow of Qi throughout the body. Qi flows through specific pathways, known as meridians, to ensure that all organs of the body are functioning properly. If the liver is not functioning at maximum potential, medical problems can develop in the body.

A number of factors may contribute to acid reflux:

• Obesity
• Smoking
• Pregnancy
• Consumption of certain types of foods (such as spicy foods)

Lifestyle changes can cure or greatly reduce symptoms:

• Eat smaller meals throughout the day
• Do not eat right before bedtime
• A glass of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning
• Saltine crackers first thing in the morning
• 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 oz. of water
• If you feel you ate something that caused your stomach to be upset, then try chewing on a piece of ginger or drink ginger tea to help your stomach feel better.
• Most of all, reduce the stress in your life

For long term and lasting results, I would encourage you to talk to a Chinese Medicine practitioner for specifics on your reflux symptoms.

I would like to wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Winter Eating

With the colder weather coming, this is a good time of year to assess your eating habits. 

One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to eat according to what is available during the harvest of each season. It is important to transition into eating warmer, cooked foods during this time of year, and to save the salads and raw foods until next summer.

Foods in season during the fall:

Brussels sprouts
Collard Greens
Winter Squash
Concord grapes
Wild Turkey
Atlantic Mackerel
Native Oysters
Pacific Salmon
Red Snapper
Scallops (bay and sea)

A good guideline to follow for eating during the fall is to see what is available at your local farmer's market. Use those foods as a template for building a meal that is appropriate to the season.  Also, look at what’s on sale in grocery stores; they tend to put on sale those foods that are in abundance and readily available.
Additional tips for this season:

Carry around a sweater/sweatshirt/scarf - even if it feels warm outside. During the fall, it is cold in the shade and warm in the sun. This is typically the season where people still dress like it is summer, because the sun still has warmth during the high point of the day. This drastic change in temperature without the proper protection from the environment can put your body at risk. Make sure to dress in layers if you are working or exercising outdoors. You can shed the layers as your muscles warm up.

Eat soup - this is the time of season to begin thinking about and making more nourishing, wholesome, all-encompassing foods, like soups. The best soups contain a protein, veggies, and carbohydrates. They are a great all in one meal! The warm temperature is also beneficial to the yang to prepare oneself for winter.

Keep hydrated - autumn is a time of dryness. The moisture from the humid summer gives way to autumn’s dryness. Also, with the use of heaters, it’s extra dry. It is important to remember this. Drink tea or room temperature water to help your body remain hydrated.

See your acupuncturist – autumn, especially with school back in session, is often the time when people catch the most head colds.  Seeing your acupuncturist can build up your protective Qi to lessen colds during the winter.

Get out and enjoy the change of season, but remember to be prepared for the change in temperature. You don't want to be caught off guard.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Healthy and Protected

Here are a few tips to keep you healthy and protected throughout the remaining days of summer.

Stay hydrated. Try cucumber water. Benefits: Great for keeping skin moisturized and soft; and helps to control body temperature.


  • 1 cucumber, sliced 
  • 1 lime, sliced 
  • 4 celery stalks 
  • 1 watermelon rind — optional; however, the more, the better 


  1. Place all ingredients into a pitcher of water. 
  2. Let soak overnight in the refrigerator for at least eight hours. 
  3. Remove items before 12 hours to keep water from taking on a bitter taste. 
  4. Use any left over ingredients as garnish on glasses, and enjoy. 

Use sunscreen inside and out. In addition to sunscreen that you use externally on your body, there are also foods that are natural sunscreens.

Try adding the following to your diet: carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, peppers, cantaloupe melons, nectarines, papaya, mango and dark green vegetables. Beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein are carotenoids (a class of mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, which give color to plant parts such as ripe tomatoes and autumn leaves). Studies have shown that carotenoids are particularly effective for protecting the skin against sun damage.

Studies have also shown that eicosapentaenoic acid (also called EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid, helps lengthen the time that it takes skin to burn during sun exposure. Additionally, it helps reduce the risk of skin cancer. The best omega-3 fatty acids containing EPA and DHA are found in animal products such as, grass-fed beef, cold water and wild caught fish (e.g., salmon, sardines, and mackerel), and free-range chickens/eggs.

Marinate with ginger, especially seafood. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory food. Its antibacterial properties are especially good for upset stomachs.

Lastly, enjoy every second of it! The summer goes by fast, so enjoy every moment of it with friends and family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I love myself!

As humans, we are social beings. We are meant to connect to others, and we have a desire to be loved, to feel significant. We want someone to love us, even though we do not show ourselves love. They say actions speak louder than words. Do your actions say, “I love myself?”

Loving yourself starts with treating yourself well, inside and out. If your actions do not show love towards yourself, then start by feeding yourself nourishing and fortifying foods, such as vegetables, fish, lean meats, nuts, and legumes!

When grocery shopping, only buy foods that are found around the perimeter of the grocery store, from a Farmers Market, or through a local co-op. Focus on foods that have high nutritional value and do not require a label, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Avoid foods that have been processed with chemicals. Read all labels, and if you cannot pronounce an ingredient, then do not purchase the item. Try to stay to 5 ingredients or less if you are buying processed foods.

Additionally, keep in mind, that the following are all sugars: cane sugar, maple syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, crystallized or evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, maltodextrin (or dextrin), dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. It is best to avoid sugars as much as possible; thus, try to buy one-ingredient foods, like kale and broccoli.

In my own practice, I see many patients who are starving their bodies of good nutrients by eating a lot of frozen meals and fast foods on a regular basis. When it came to food, author Michael Pollan said, "the longer shelf life the shorter your life". In other words, buy foods that will expire.

For many people, knowing what to eat gets very complicated. Here are some simple rules that are good to live by:

• Change your eating habits slowly – find out what works for your life.
• Buy food staples that you know you will eat.
• Choose natural foods whenever possible. When fresh food isn’t possible, then frozen fruits and vegetables are the next best choice.
• Buy organic meats and wild caught seafood.
• Eat according to the seasons. Hint: Usually, the produce that is on sale is what is in season.
• And, most importantly, eat when you are hungry and not before. In addition, stop eating before you are full.

Another way to determine what foods to eat is to find out what nutrients your body is missing or lacking. A traditional Chinese Practitioner can determine what is deficient or excess in your body. S/he can also help you balance your body’s inner system. And, in doing so, your body will be better at telling you what it needs to live healthy.

With all of these rules and suggestions in mind, remember, the best way to balance your body and to show yourself how much you love yourself is to not practice extremes. Balance is the key to being balanced! You can still eat all foods that you enjoy. Deprivation will only cause cravings. However, with everything and anything, including fruits and vegetables, remember moderation is the one rule you need to practice!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

PTSD - An important issue to address

Happy Spring everyone! This month's blog takes us off topic a bit but it's an important issue to address.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

PTSD symptoms can be extremely disruptive to daily life and can include depression, anger, persistent frightening thoughts and memories, sleep problems, and a feeling of numbness or detachment from life. Currently, the U.S. military is successfully treating PTSD with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

Although data is limited, early results demonstrate that acupuncture can reduce anxieties and cravings for alcohol and other substances. Acupuncture points are like the on and off ramps to the energy highway, and can help energy flow smoothly through one’s body to help alleviate the feelings of stress and anxieties that are predominate in PTSD patients. Additionally, acupuncture can alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but also the stress and anxiety itself.

Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB), a group that provided relief to the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti and Katrina, the hurricane in New Orleans, launched The Military Stress Recovery Project. This organization provides free acupuncture treatments for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families. To learn more about AWB, go to

You can learn more about PTSD at If you think you or someone you know may have PTSD, make an appointment with a mental health professional to get a formal diagnosis.

If you know you are struggling with PTSD, I encourage you to seek out an acupuncturist/Chinese Medicine practitioner in your area. If you are a Veteran, let the practitioner know, many practices will gladly give you a reduced rate. Points of Wellness Acupuncture (, located in Long Grove, IL, gives a 40% discount to Veterans for PTSD treatments.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Loving who you are

In this month, where we set aside a special day to celebrate love, remember that love isn’t just a feeling you have for others; it is also a feeling you have for yourself.

So, love thyself this month!

Throughout our lives, we have all strived for perfection, or what society defines as “perfection.” We want a perfect body! We want 6-pack abs. Unfortunately, that type of thinking puts our bodies and lives in a negative light. We diet, binge and abuse our bodies to try to obtain “perfection.” Or, we simply give up, and do not care for our bodies at all.

I challenge you today to stand in front of your mirror and really study and look at your body. Get to know your physical body; your real physical body, not the distorted one in your head. Most of all, love what you see. See the person you are and are meant to be, not the mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, or coworker that you think everyone wants you to be. Just be the best version of YOU that you can be.

During this month of love, everyone should strive to love themselves by striving to be the healthiest person s/he can be. Eat balanced meals and incorporate activity into your daily life. When the body and/or mind is out of balance, that’s when you have cravings for the “bad” stuff, like junk food. As your body and mind become balanced, as separate entities and with each other, then you become in tune with your body and can learn what you need to flourish.

As the year is still early, go and get a physical if you have not done so recently. Get all of the usual numbers checked (e.g., cholesterol, blood pressure, TSH levels). See if you are deficient in any vitamins. Consider also seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner, s/he will study your tongue, listen to your pulse and ask a lot of questions to learn what your body needs to be balanced. Once you have a complete picture of your body, then you can truly set goals to balance your body and mind.

The road to a balanced body and life is difficult. However, when it comes to balance, you are your own roadblock, and the journey starts with loving yourself, AS YOU ARE!

The March 2012 issue of Real Simple has a great quote from Miss Piggy, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

And, I would just like to add, “even if that beholder is yourself.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Start with yourself...

We all want to see change in the world; however, not all of us know where to start. My advice to you for this New Year is to start with changing yourself. As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Living is a choice. Your life is a reflection of the choices you have made. Chinese medicine teaches us that we are each given a certain amount of Jing (life energies) from our parents. That means that genetically you are pre-dispose to certain illnesses or complications in terms of your health. However, what you do with the Jing you are given is entirely up to you. Remember, you are not your genes. 
Here are some thoughts to ponder as we move into 2012:
• Healthy living is a choice. For example, exercise is absolutely essential for healthy living, but we have a choice everyday to be active or not. Most of us do not have physically demanding jobs; thus, it is necessary to schedule exercise time and make it a priority. Start living today by going for that walk! Join a sports team! Go to the pool! Do that one thing that has been on your list for years. Choose to live life actively and not passively.
• NOT dieting should be a goal. Instead of getting on and off diets, make a commitment to eat mindfully. Weight loss is the outcome of healthier and mindful living choices. Eat balanced meals with more vegetables and less meats. Eat lean proteins. Most of all, eat according to the seasons. However, do not deny your cravings, life is meant to be enjoyed. Just remember moderation is the key to a balanced life. Enjoy your food, even the things that are not so good for your body. If you decide to put it in your mouth, then savor each bite.
• De-stress! Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses. Stress also affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases. Do what it takes to relax your mind and body. For some, it may be meditation. For others, it’s a good punching bag, a long walk, an acupuncture treatment, reading a book, or watching a movie. Declare a chore-less weekend, and do all the things you enjoy that weekend. Take a mental health day from work and do nothing. Try a day without your cell phone (ok that might be taking it too far). How about a day of not checking emails or text messages on your phone, only taking calls?
• Visit an acupuncturist or a Chinese Medicine practitioner and see if you are balanced or if your body is deficient or has excess in any way. The acupuncturist or practitioner will ask you lots of questions, take a look at the quality of your pulses, and ask to see your tongue. S/he is trying to see what your body is saying. A traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis helps you learn more about your body and what it needs to be balanced.
So, I wish you a very Happy New Year. And, hope that in 2012, you can make a change towards a healthier and happier world. Starting with you!