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Healthy Foods for Fall

traditional chinese medicine foods for fall

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything.

As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices, and fruits should be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading »

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The Paradox of Our Smartphones

 

How much do we REALLY use our cell phones?

Remember the days of using landline telephones and dial-up internet? It wasn’t too long ago. Cell phones began gaining popularity almost two decades ago and during that time it was a supplementary device to the landline telephone. Oh, how times have changed!

 

In this day and age, it seems impossible to get by without the use of a cell phone. It’s a device that can literally do it all.  Roughly nine out of ten Americans own a cell phone and an estimated  43% of adults live in a cell-phone-only household. It holds a direct connection to friends, family, and coworkers. It also connects us to the world by way of unlimited news, Google searches, music, social media, and not to mention an always ready camera available at our fingertips.

 

Cell Phone Science

Cell phones give off a form of energy known as radio-frequency (RF) waves. It can be argued that the direct contact of cell phones to the head and neck region allows for the body to absorb more RF waves. Therefore, scientists and physicians are conducting research studies to identify a direct correlation with the absorption of these RF waves and incidence of head and neck tumors.

There have been a number of large-scale studies that have been analyzed by the American Cancer Society showing mixed results. However,  one particular Swedish group has studied this topic extensively and concluded that with ten or more years of cell phone use, there is an increased risk of head and neck tumors specifically to the side of the head– where cell phones are held. In another study by the same group, they used the  Swedish cancer register to find increased rates of unknown tumors of the head and neck region in the age group of 20-39. This may suggest a higher risk of these tumors in subjects that have used a cell phone device before the age of 20.

Limitations

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer and classifies RF fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans,’ based on limited evidence of a possible increase in risk for brain tumors among cell phone users, and inadequate evidence for other types of cancer.

There are many limitations of these studies to consider, such as what type of cell phone and how often it is being used. Additionally, it is impossible to know what type of pre-existing environmental and genetic risks individuals have for developing tumors. Finally, many of these studies have used subjects with cell phone habits from 10 years ago. The culture of cell phone use is changing rapidly. Now, 94% of smartphone owners carry their phone with them and 82% say they never or rarely turn their phones off. There need to be updated studies on the subject with these new cell phone habits.

So what is the message?

It is no secret that our society is continuing to be driven by technology. Therefore, that would mean we are constantly surrounded by RF waves. It takes decades for tumors to form after exposure to a carcinogen, and considering the widespread use of cell phones has only been around for 20 years, one can argue that RF exposure from the cell phone can still be a source of detrimental health effects. Given the mixed results and limitations of these studies, what should we do?

Like all good things in life, everything should be enjoyed in moderation. It is a good idea to be aware of how much we are using our cell phones. We can take easy steps to limit exposure by using speaker mode, texting, and using Bluetooth headphones which are known to emit virtually no RF waves. It’s not a bad idea to take preventative action to protect ourselves from any potential harm caused by cell phone RF waves until there are more refined studies on this subject.   

What do you think?

 

“Good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings.” — Publilius Syrus

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Spring Cleaning: Restoring Liver Health

Liver Qi  Stagnation

Who really considers their liver? Is it just a wedge-shaped spongy organ that somehow soaks up alcohol and squeezes out blood and digestive biochemicals? An imperfect champion of modern life, buffering us from the burden of late-night fries and whiskey, only to be guiltily appeased with salads and fresh juices the next morning? What is this beingwith whom we have such a tumultuous relationship? It is time to get to know the value of the liver according to Chinese medical theory.

Chinese medicine has a long history of placing the functions of the body into analogical frameworks that help make light the complex ideas of functional relationships between organ systems.

Physiologically, the liver embodies the decisive aspect of a military general, in setting up the preconditions for the correct functioning of nearly every organ system. For example, the liver is related to blood pressure via its synthesis of albumin, the blood plasma protein that helps balance oncotic pressure, which ultimately influences systemic blood pressure. The liver stores and releases important vitamins, minerals and glucose; metabolizes hormones; synthesizes proteins; detoxifies various metabolites; and secretes biochemicals vital to digestion such as bile.

These functions allow the entire body to function correctly, and in a broad Chinese medicine sense this can be understood as governing the directional movement of Qi (pronounced “ch-ee”) through the organ systems- to allow Qi to enter and exit the organs, stop and start metabolic processes, raise or lower pressure.

By allowing the correct movement of Qi through the body, the liver consequently governs the movement of blood, in a similar way to an army getting supplies and forces to the right people at the right time. The basic momentum of the blood is managed by the heart, but the usage of blood by any organ system is controlled by the liver.

So when you digest that heavy meal, blood gets shunted to the digestive organs; when you run, blood is made more available in the legs and lungs; when you sleep, blood retreats back to the liver for processing, allowing the liver to perform over 500 functions in the body.

According to Chinese medical theory, the liver Qi can become “bound up” by strong emotions, which physically inhibit its smooth functioning. Conversely, if the liver is physically injured or obstructed (say with fatty liver or even the blockage of the diaphragm), this causes a tendency toward angry outbursts, in the body’s attempt at removing obstruction with a forceful outpouring of energy.

Although this may sound like a stretch, consider the act of sighing. The liver sits just under the diaphragm physically. When the liver is obstructed by emotional tension, one begins to heave a heavy sigh to move the diaphragm and hence force the liver to move as well. It is no coincidence that a heavy sigh indicates a release of emotional tension. In this way we move our livers so our livers can “move” us, move our Qi and move our blood.

Liver Qi stagnation affects a large number of body processes, and it makes all of them less efficient. When the liver system is constantly challenged and bound up with stress, what follows are more severe imbalances of digestion, blood pressure, hormonal expression, blood sugar regulation and mood. This can cause muscle tension and pain, anxiety and/or depression, accumulation of fat, insomnia, menstrual cramps, low libido and more.

The correct movements of the body based on the “planning” action of the liver ultimately create a harmony of action of the body that nourishes a positive sense of self that allows stressful situations to be dealt with and not “held on to.” When one holds onto stress after the moment has passed, the smooth coordination of the planning process is interrupted; but as we all know, when one part of a carefully organized plan goes awry, it throws off the timing of the rest of the plan.

The modern condition of “decision fatigue” contributes directly to the binding up of activity of the liver system in a similar way to the “decision paralysis” that occurs when we have too many options or cannot decide. We go into fight or flight mode, release a bunch of stress hormones, and then stew in them because the organ system responsible for clearing out and metabolizing these stress hormones, the liver, is the one being most strongly impacted by our emotional response.

Another catch-22 of the liver system is that things like alcohol and fatty foods do tend to relax our minds and do technically ‘soothe’ the liver in small amounts. The prescription of medicinal wines are a perfect example of this; as is eating liver pâté to support liver health. However, these same substances in too large of quantities will injure the liver itself, disallowing their further use as a liver-supporting substance.

Ultimately, a little liver Qi stagnation is to be expected in modern life, and we all enjoy a bit of challenge to keep things interesting.

But, the higher the daily stress level, the more important it is to unwind this ‘bound’ Liver Qi. Allow the conscious or subconscious expression of emotion via playing sports, artistic pursuit, meditation, taking an extra long time to enjoy a healthy meal with friends, or in the most medically immediate way- seeing your acupuncturist for acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, cupping, and massage.

 

MY FAVORITE ACUPUNCTURE LIVER POINTS

LI 4
LI 3

 

Contact Integral Alternative Medicine LLC to make your appointment today!
www.integral-clinic.com
(312)-631-3095

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Spicing up your life

A recently published study has revealed the inverse correlation between eating chili peppers on a regular basis decreases the mortality.  On the other hand, the alcohol intake had a direct correlation.

If you are interested in reading the full study, here you are the citation. BMJ 2015;351:h3942

The bottom line is: add fresh chili peppers to your cooking, but in particular add fresh vegetables or fruit to each one of your meals!

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Alimentos magicos?

Con frecuencia recibo correos relacionados con alimentos que proporcionan super energía o que curan enfermedades. Algunas personas se apresuran a consumir dichos alimentos con mayor frecuencia o en cantidades ilimitadas, por ello me interesa comentar lo que algunos estudios epidemiológicos han observado.
En concreto, las personas que consumen frutas y verduras tienen menos posibilidades de contraer cáncer. Les comento un articulo sobre la Mortalidad en vegetarianos Británicos “Mortality in British vegetarians: review and preliminary results from EPIC-Oxford, publicado en el Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(suppl):533S–8S
Les resumo en español generalidades sobre el articulo:
Estudiaron una población de 11000 personas que acostumbran comprar en tiendas de comida saludable y compararon la mortalidad entre vegetarianos y no vegetarianos. Los resultados preliminares del estudio indica que la mortalidad es la misma entre vegetarianos y no vegetarianos que consumen frutas y verduras y comida saludable. Cuando comparan la mortalidad de este grupo de personas contra la mortalidad de la población abierta en la Gran Bretaña (Inglaterra), el índice de mortalidad es mucho menor.
El corolario de este articulo es que las personas que comen conscientemente y consumen frutas y verduras tienen menor incidencia de cáncer, enfermedades coronarias, diabetes, etc.
El estudio epidemiológico antes mencionado confirma lo que nuestros abuelos solían decir: !Come tus verduras! y es parte de la alimentación que la Medicina China sugiere granos enteros 40 %, verduras frescas 40%, frutas frescas y 10% de proteinas, de acuerdo al Dr. Maoshing Ni en su libro The Tao of Nutrition (2009) SevenStarCommunications Group, 3rd. edition. Los Angeles, CA. 2009.

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