Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Years Resolutions

Its that time of year of reflection where people start making resolutions. Having a goal is a good thing and I have always found that being successful in achieving my goals meant being accountable. I don't think that its important to make resolutions just as the new year approaches, in fact I think that sometimes this gives us an excuse to slack off for awhile with the excuse that I'll get to that goal with the new year. The trouble sometimes is that the excuse to start the goal can last longer then the motivation to get started.

I've found that goals should be S.M.A.R.T

S= specific

M= measurable

A= attainable

R= realistic

T= time bound

I've taken a jump start to my new year's resolutions and I write them down here to be held accountable. I'd like to be more consistent with practicing what I preach to my patients as taking care of my body allows me to have more energy to devote to helping others and feeling better at the same time. It is my intention to practice this goal for the next 3 months so that it is not overwhelming and will become a part of my routine and lifestyle and not just a kick I can maintain for a short period. I will work out at the gym 2 times a week and attend one yoga class per week for the next 3 months. After this time I can reevaluate what my free time looks like as well as how I am feeling.

I am week 2 into my resolution and I can tell you that I already feel better, have more energy and feel calmer. This is the incentive to continue on for me.

This coming week I have the entire week off from the office. I plan on using this time to really cultivate some energy as the next few months will be full of teaching at College of Lake County, teaching yoga at St. Emily's and soon Sundays at Tribalance as well as treating patients at Whole Health Acupuncture. I will be doing this in the form of 7 yoga classes in 7 days at Tribalance in Schaumburg ( feel free to join me, I can give you a free class pass and if you've never been they offer plenty of ways to make commiting to yoga affordable.

I invite you to share your smart goals for the new year. Leave a comment below and we can hold each other accountable for our best year yet.

Sarah Zender LAc LMT

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do You Know What Are In Your Vitamins?

Awhile back I posted a question on facebook to see who was taking vitamins, what people were taking, and what brands people were using. Kara and I were doing our own research as to what brand we wanted to endorse at Whole Health Acupuncture that had the best quality and value for our patients.

As we met with various reps of different supplement companies I learned one thing: everyone has the best vitamins on the market. As we poured over research data and stats and catalogs we went back to the simplest way to know if a product is worthy. We started using the vitamin samples left behind by all those reps.

I'm not going to lie, I'm not a very good supplement taker myself. At least I didn't used to be but we'll get to that. In many circles there is still controversy over the need to take vitamins. Some people feel they are a waste of time and all of those nutrients should be received from the foods we eat. Which in theory is good but who eats fresh fruits and vegetables everyday? Others argue that our soil is so depleted that vitamins are a necessity for health. Still others are starting to take note of vitamin deficiencies and their relation to certain ailments. (for example did you know if you have pain conditions many times a part of the culpret is a vitamin B deficincy?) Anyways I started taking Shaklee vitamins. They had a good reputation, they had research backing them, and as always, I wanted to see for myself. The result was I didn't really feel much of anything. I went on to another brand, this one was a powder that I mixed with water called isotonix. The result, a big sticky mess. Again I didn't feel much during the process of taking them as directed or after I stopped.

Now I was starting to get discouraged thinking that maybe vitamins weren't really all that big of deal and I should just stick with chinese herbs and call it a day. I might have if it weren't for my background in nutrition. It was around this time that I met Tyanna Cannata of Usana vitamins doing a presentation on her vitamins. She had some great information to share that I will now pass onto you.

First, the label on your vitamins that tells you what percentage of your daily requirements are in your vitamins tells only half the story actually more like 20%. Vitamin companies are only required by law to put 20% of what the label actually says is in each pill in the entire bottle. 20%! No wonder I wasn't feeling anything with these vitamins there might not have been anything in them to feel. Second, most companies use byproducts of petrochemicals (think about scraps after making a tire) as binders to keep the vitamins together in a pill form. I don't know about you but that is pretty gross. What's worse is that Tyanna had a visual of all of this. She calls it the apple test.

In three seperate jars there contained half of an apple soaking in water. The first jar had a regular old apple in water. This represented the natural aging process. The apple was starting to turn brown as apples do when they've been out for awhile. The second jar had an apple in water with a Centrum complete vitamin. This apple was floating in murky blackish gray water and the apple itself was blackish gray. This was a demonstation of the "additives" that the body absorbs when taking a vitamin that is not up to par and what it is doing to your body. The last jar held an apple floating in water with a usana vitamin. The apple had not turned brown, instead it looked as if it had just been cut. This represented using a vitamin with actual vitamins in it and how it can slow down the aging process and keep your cells healthy.

You might think big deal, so what who cares about apples. Me too. I was more intrigued by the results Kara was feeling on the vitamins. She was reporting having more energy to get more things done (she has 2 kids 1 who still doesn't sleep through the night and owns a business) and having 3 bowel movements a day and on and on. I went through my last round of trials myself, this time with Usana. I started to notice my energy levels pick up. It occured to me when it was midnight and I was laying in bed while Christian slept watching tv not because I was restless and couldn't sleep but because I wasn't tired. What was even more surprising is that I was waking up in the morning with the sun shine during the fall without an alarm clock because I wanted to not because I had to. Getting up in the morning has always been a struggle for me, to say the least.

Vitamins are rated on a star scale 0-5. 5 star having the best potentancy and purity.

Lyle MacWilliam MSc, FP has published a great book called NUTRISEARCH COMPARATIVE GUIDE TO NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS it contains over 1500 products available in the US and Canada. You can find this book just about anywhere, Borders Book, Barnes and Noble, Amazon etc.

Below are the ratings for the vitamins mentioned above taken for this book.

Shaklee = 1 star

Isotonix = 2 stars

Centrum = 0 stars

Usana = 5 stars

Now I know what its like to take vitamins with vitamins inside of them. It makes a difference to me. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself or try the apple test.

For more information visit Tyanna's website:

Sarah Zender LAc LMT

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Planting Bamboo

I took an excellent anusara yoga class last Friday at Tribalance ( p.s. if you want to try out the studio pop into our office for a free class pass.

The instructor ended class with a story of planting a bamboo seed. His image was meant for aspiring yogis but the message is pretty universal.

Did you know that when you plant a bamboo seed you must water it everyday for 5 years? In all of this time of diligently watering your bamboo seed nothing happens, or appears to be happening. Then one day a tiny sprout will shoot up from the earth and in 6 weeks time the bamboo will grow 90 feet.

Harriet Beinfield LAc and Efrem Korngold LAc OMD compare the body in "Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine" as a garden and your acupuncturist as a gardener vs western medicine being more like fixing a machine with a mechanic. Acupuncture helps to achieve balance for the whole system not just specific "parts." The goal is to remove the root cause of imbalance not just the symptom. Healing is a process and it takes time. Think of Acupuncture as planting that bamboo seed, watering and nurturing it consistently. Somedays it may seem like nothing is happening or changing because the work is happening underneath the surface. The "all of a sudden" growth can be thought of as a long, healthy life.

Watch Whole Health Acupuncture's new youtube video, planting the seeds to help you grow!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What is Cupping?

Most cultures around the world practice some form of cupping. Originally in China fire cupping was called the "horn method" because animal horns were used to dispel pus and clear infection. As the therapy of cupping evolved in clinical practice the materials used and methods practiced also evolved to include relieving colds and coughs, all kinds of pain conditions, abdominal disturbances and repiratory issues. Natural materials like bamboo were used to perform cupping as well as glass jars.

In modern times, cupping therapy mostly uses a glass jar attached to the surface of the skin to cause local congestion through negative pressure created from a vacuum. This vacumm can be created by a heat source or a manual pump. There are several ways to cup. Flash cupping is a quick contact to the skin and release using one or two cups at a time in a specific area. This encourages blood flow to the area and can confuse the muscle to assist it in relaxing. Stationary cupping uses specific acu points where cups are left for several minutes pulling old blood and stagnation out of an area. Sliding cupping feels wonderful and helps to lengthen the muscle tissue while spreading out the fasica.

Many people remember Gwenneth Paltro's cup marks a few years back. Cupping can cause a bruise or blood stasis mark. This happens when muscles have been chronically tight or if there has been a trauma to an area. When a muscle is tight or damaged blood can not efficiently move in and out of the area due to the contricted muscles. The cup pulls this old blood up leaving the cup mark or bruise and allows space for fresh oxygen and blood to take its place and correct the problem. Over time bruising will become less and less dark until there is no longer a mark on the skin. If there is not an issue in the area cupped no mark will appear when the cup is released. Although the stasis mark can look painful people do not report feeling the tenderness of a typical bruise. Redness can also appear from cupping usually due to heat or inflammation trapped in the body. As you can see in the picture to the right a stasis mark has formed on this patient's shoulder. There is also some redness in the form of lines from sliding cupping. Most patients at Whole Health Acupuncture request cupping after receiving it for the first time. Cupping is a wonderful accessory technique to aid the benefits of acupuncture or massage therapy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Harmonize in the Fall with Acupuncture

The season of autumn is now in full swing. In Chinese Medicine Autumn corresponds to the Lung, the most delicate of organs as well as the skin and nose. In the fall, dryness is what our bodies are most susceptible to invasion of. Autumn is also the time of harvest, reaping the benefits of the summer months when more energy is available to us so that we can prepare for the cold of winter. Grief is the emotion of the season as well. If you are in the process of transition in your life, lost a loved one or job and have not taken the time to acknowledge this life change or are hiding behind grief to move forward you can actually weaken the body's natural defenses.

It is believed that colds and flu attack the body from wind blowing on the neck. Think about the progression of a cold: stiff and achy neck and shoulders, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, fever or chills. It is thought that when the body is weak and allows "wind" in to the body the wind can bring in other pathogens as well including cold, heat, dampness, and dryness.

Take a look at your own body. Is your skin or hair starting to get dry as we close the windows and turn the heat on? Have you caught a "cold" or flu recently and are unable to get away from the grip of a dry, hacking cough? Perhaps you are someone who "always" gets a cold in the fall, dry skin etc. This is not something that you must endure. It is possible that at one point your body was weakened from a cold or constitutional deficiency and a pathogen such as dryness is lurking in your body manifesting during its season of power. You can change your "always" to "used to" by visiting your acupuncturist for a seasonal tune-up session and herbal tonic to moisten and strengthen the body.

Some simple things you can do to protect your body are:

>>Wear a scarf or shirts/turtlenecks that do not expose the chest and neck, layers are a plus.

>>Avoid direct contact from an open window or fan when you are sleeping. This is when the body is most susceptible to wind invasion.

>>If the Fall is the time of year when you usually get sick now is the time to harmonize. Talk to your acupuncturist about what treatment plan is right for you.
>>Many herbal formulas are preventative ask your acupuncturist which formula is best for your body.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Simple Explanation of Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine is simple; it began with observing nature and then taking these observations and applying them to the human body. This began with the concept of yin and yang. Anything in relation to anything else could either be described as being yin or yang: light or heavy, dark or light, male or female, active or passive. This meant that all things in nature were necessary to maintain balance and neither yin nor yang was more powerful. Instead, they were constantly becoming one another. Hence the yin yang symbol of equal halves of a circle with full smaller circles of opposite color in side.

The most common shape in nature is a circle, the cells of your body are circles and healthy DNA spins clockwise. The ancient Chinese also used circles to explain balance. The element circle looks like this: Water grows wood, wood grows fire, fire makes ashes or earth, inside of the earth is metal, and water condenses on metal. The Chinese applied this cycle and these elements to what they believed to be the organs of the body. Wood is the liver and gall bladder. Fire is heart and small intestine. Earth is spleen and stomach. Metal is lung and large intestine. Water is urinary bladder and kidney. In this way, the body was seen as being supported by each organ. Blood and energy, or qi, flowed through the body like water. When one organ became unbalanced every other organ was affected. When the smooth flowing circulation got blocked somewhere in the body from an imbalance, disease festered like a pond of still water growing full of sludge.

In Chinese Medicine there are no divisions of the body like in Western Medicine. Instead, the whole body is accessed to understand how an imbalance is affecting the body, mind and spirit. This is achieved through a series of questions and on examination of the tongue and pulses. The greatest diagnostic tool of Chinese Medicine is still observation. The tongue is a map and mirror to the internal body. The tip of the tongue represents the heart and just behind the lungs. The center of the tongue reflects the spleen and the stomach. The sides mirror the liver and gall bladder. The back of the tongue shows the kidneys and urinary bladder. The size, shape, color and coat tell the story of how the internal organs are functioning. Three pulses are felt on both wrists to reflect again the internal organs. The left radial pulse represents the heart, liver and kidney yin and the right radial pulse represents the lung, spleen and kidney yang. The pulse is felt for its depth, speed, and rate. Acupuncturists use descriptive words like wiry, thready, soggy, slippery or knotted when assessing the pulses.

Based on the observations of the tongue, pulse and assessment of questions an Acupuncturist will devise a treatment plan that might include acupuncture, moxabustion and herbal remedies. Through this observation “western diseases” are not being treated, instead, the body is being brought back to balance. Chinese Medicine looks at a “symptom” like a branch of a tree, and looks deeper to find the root cause. In this way, the “symptom” is addressed, as well as, what caused the symptom in the first place. The advantages of this philosophy are the “side effects.” For example, a patient being treated for back pain might also report higher energy levels, better sleep, reduction in hot flashes or heart burn, a more regular and less painful menstrual cycle and/or improved emotional wellbeing. This means that Chinese Medicine can treat virtually any condition aiding in bringing the body back to harmony. While this is true, Chinese Medicine’s true genius is preventative. Ancient Chinese doctors were responsible for keeping the community healthy; it was the doctors who had to pay if a patient was sick.

Chinese Medicine is by no means a quick fix; however it is an opportunity to impact not only one’s body, but lifestyle as well. Expect a course of treatment to last 10 sessions with treatments a couple times a week. (You wouldn't take one antibiotic pill and wait to see if it worked, you would do a full perscritption and you also wouldn't take one asprin and hope the pain would go away, you would probably take a few a day and gradually tapper off. Acupuncture is much the same way.) Massage Therapy (tui na), Exercise, Meditation, Feng Shui, and Nutrition are also key components of this system that can contribute lasting harmony. Acupuncturists recommend receiving quarterly treatments as a “tune up” when the energy of the Earth is changing to maintain wellness.
In addition to offering acupuncture on a sliding scale ($15-50) Whole Health Acupuncure now offers add on massage sessions to your treatments. Choose a 15 or 30 minute massage ($1/minute) before or after your acupuncture treatment for a well balanced body. Call 847.357.3929 to schedule your appointment today!