27 February 2009

Building Better Bones

Did you know that your bones are always changing? Every day of your life, some bone cells die and some new bone cells are created. From birth until your early 30s, you can easily make lots of bone cells. So long as your diet supplies the necessary nutrients, you not only replace bone cells that die, you have extras left over to lengthen and strengthen your bones.

Past the age of 35, new bone cells are more difficult to make. Sometimes there is a shortfall: more bone cells die than you can replace. In the orthodox view, this is the beginning of osteoporosis, the disease of low bone mass. By the age of forty, many American women have begun to lose bone mass; by the age of fifty, most are told they must take hormones or drugs to prevent further loss and avoid osteoporosis, hip fracture, and death.

Women who exercise regularly and eat calcium-rich foods enter their menopausal years with better bone mass than women who sit a lot and consume calcium-leaching foods (including soy "milk," tofu, coffee, soda pop, alcohol, white flour products, processed meats, nutritional yeast, and bran). But no matter how good your lifestyle choices, bone mass usually decreases during the menopausal years.
For unknown reasons, menopausal bones slow down production of new cells and seem to ignore the presence of calcium. This "bone-pause" is generally short-lived, occurring off and on for five to seven years. I noticed it in scattered episodes of falling hair, breaking fingernails, and the same "growing pains" I experienced during puberty.

I did not see it in a bone scan, because I didn't have one.

The idea behind bone scans is a good one: find women who are at risk of broken bones, alert them to the danger, and help them engage in preventative strategies. There's only one problem: bone scans don't find women who are at risk of broken bones, they find women who have low bone density.

I would like to help you let go of the idea that osteoporosis is important. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we focus on the patient, not the problem. In the Wise Woman tradition, there are no diseases and no cures for diseases. When we focus on a disease, like osteoporosis, we cannot see the whole woman. The more we focus on one disease, even its prevention, the less likely we are to nourish wholeness and health.

Focusing on osteoporosis, defining it as a disease, using drugs to counter it, we lose sight of the fact that postmenopausal bone mass is a better indicator of breast cancer risk than broken bone risk. The twenty-five percent of postmenopausal women with the highest bone mass are two-and-a-half to four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those with the lowest bone mass. And that hormones which maintain bone mass also adversely affect breast cancer risk. Women who take estrogen replacement (often given to prevent osteoporosis), even for as little as five years, increase their risk of breast cancer by twenty percent; if they take hormone replacement, the risk increases by forty percent.

Focusing on bone mass, we lose sight of the fact that a strong correlation between bone density and bone breakage has not been established, according to Susan Brown, director of the Osteoporosis Information Clearing House, and many others. We lose sight of the fact that women who faithfully take estrogen or hormone replacement still experience bone changes and suffer spinal crush fractures.

Bone-pause passes and the bones do rebuild themselves, especially when supported by nourishing herbs, which are exceptional sources of bone-building minerals and better at preventing bone breaks than supplements. The minerals in green plants seem to be ideal for keeping bones healthy. Dr. Campbell, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done extensive research in rural China where the lowest known fracture rates for midlife and older women were found. He says, "The closer people get to a diet based on plant foods and leafy vegetables, the lower the rates of many diseases, including osteoporosis." Women who consume lots of calcium-rich plants and exercise moderately build strong flexible bones. Women who rely on hormones build bones that are massive, but rigid.

Hormone replacement regimes do not increase bone cell creation; they slow (or suppress) bone cell killers (osteoclasts). There is a rebound effect; bone loss jumps when the hormones are stopped. Women who take hormones for five years or more are as much as four times more likely to break a bone in the year after they stop than a woman of the same age who never took hormones. Women who build better bones with green allies and exercise nourish the bone cell creator cells (osteoblasts).

Hormone or estrogen replacement, taken as menopause begins and continued for the rest of your life, is said to reduce post-menopausal fracture rates by 40-60 percent. Frequent walks (you don't even need to sweat) and a diet high in calcium-rich green allies (at least 1500 mg daily) have been shown to reduce post-menopausal fractures by 50 percent. The first is expensive and dangerous. The second, inexpensive and health promoting. It's easy to see why more than eighty percent of American women just "say no" to hormones. It is never too late to build better bones, and it is never too soon. Your best insurance for a fracture-free, strong-boned cronehood is to build better bones before menopause. The more exercise and calcium-rich green allies you get in your younger years, the less you'll have to worry about as you age.

"A woman has lost half of all the spongy bone (spine, wrist) she'll ever lose by the age of 50, but very little of the dense (hip, hand, forearm) bone. Attention to bone formation at every stage of life is vital; there is no time when you are too old to create healthy new bone." - American MD


"Osteoporosis is much less common in countries that consume the least calcium. That is an undisputed fact." -T. C. Campbell, PhD. Nutritional Biochemistry

Step 1: Collect Information

Calcium is, without a doubt, the most important mineral in your body. In fact, calcium makes up more than half of the total mineral content of your body. Calcium is crucial to the regular beating of your heart, your metabolism, the functioning of your muscles, the flow of impulses along your nerves, the regulation of your cellular membranes, the strength of your bones, the health of your teeth and gums, and your vital blood-clotting mechanisms. Calcium is so critical to your life that you have a gland (the parathyroid) that does little else than monitor blood levels of calcium and secrete hormones to ensure optimum levels of calcium at all times.

When you consume more calcium than you use, you are in a positive calcium balance: extra usable calcium is stored in the bones and you gain bone mass (insoluble or unusable calcium may be excreted, or stored in soft tissue, or deposited in the joints). When you consume less calcium than you use, you are in a negative calcium balance: the parathyroid produces a hormone that releases calcium stores from the bones, and you lose bone mass.

To ensure a positive calcium balance and create strong, flexible bones for your menopausal journey, take care to:

Eat three or more calcium-rich foods daily.
Avoid calcium antagonists.
Use synergistic foods to magnify the effectiveness of calcium.
Avoid calcium supplements.

Step 2: Engage the Energy

The homeopathic tissue salt Silica is said to improve bone health.

What does it mean to you to support yourself? To be supported? To stand on your own? To have a backbone in your life?

Step 3: Nourish & Tonify

What do we need to make strong flexible bones? Like all tissues, bones need protein. They need minerals (not just calcium, but also potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, chromium, and dozens of others). And in order to use those minerals, high-quality fats, including oil-soluble vitamin D.

Many menopausal women I meet believe that protein is bad for their bones. Not so. Researchers at Utah State University, looking at the diets of 32,000 postmenopausal women, found that women who ate the least protein were the most likely to fracture a hip; and that eating extra protein sped the healing of hip fractures.

Acids created by protein digestion are buffered by calcium. Traditional diets combine calcium- and protein-rich foods (e.g. seaweed with tofu, tortillas made from corn ground on limestone with beans, and melted cheese on a hamburger). Herbs such as seaweed, stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, dandelion, and comfrey leaf are rich in protein and provide plenty of calcium too. Foods such as tahini, sardines, canned salmon, yogurt, cheese, oatmeal, and goats' milk offer us protein, generous amounts of calcium, and the healthy fats our bones need. If you crave more protein during menopause, follow that craving. CAUTION: Unfermented soy (e.g., tofu) is especially detrimental to bone health being protein-rich, naturally deficient in calcium, and a calcium antagonist to boot.

Bones need lots of minerals not just calcium, which is brittle and inflexible. (Think of chalk, calcium carbonate, and how easily it breaks.) Avoid calcium supplements. Focus on getting generous amounts of calcium from herbs and foods and you will automatically get the multitude of minerals you need for flexible bones.

Because minerals are bulky, and do not compact, we must consume generous amounts to make a difference in our health. Taking mineral-rich herbs in capsule or tincture form won't do much for your bones. (One cup of nettle tincture contains the same amount of calcium - 300 mg - as one cup of nettle infusion. Many women drink two or more cups of infusion a day; no one consumes a cup of tincture a day!) Neither will eating raw foods. I frequently come across the idea that cooking robs food of nutrition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cooking maximizes the minerals available to your bones. Kale cooked for an hour delivers far more calcium than lightly steamed kale. Minerals are rock-like, and to extract them, we need heat, time, and generous quantities of plant material.

Green sources of calcium are the best. Nourishing herbs and garden weeds are far richer in minerals than ordinary greens, which are already exceptional sources of nutrients.

But calcium from green sources alone is not enough. We need calcium from white sources as well. Add a quart of yogurt a week to your diet if you want really healthy bones. Because the milk has been changed by Lactobacillus organisms, its calcium, other minerals, proteins, and sugars (no lactose) are more easily digested. This carries over, enhancing calcium and mineral absorption from other foods, too. (I have known several vegans who increased their very low bone density by as much as 6 percent in one year by eating yogurt.) Organic raw milk cheeses are another superb white source.

Horsetail herb (Equisetum arvense) works like a charm for those premenopausal women who have periodontal bone loss or difficulty with fracture healing. Taken as tea, once or twice a day, young spring-gathered horsetail dramatically strengthens bones and promotes rapid mending of breaks. CAUTION: Mature horsetail contains substances which may irritate the kidneys.

Step 4: Stimulate/Sedate

Beware of calcium antagonists. Certain foods interfere with calcium utilization. For better bones avoid consistent use of:

Greens rich in oxalic acid, including chard (silver beet), beet greens, spinach, rhubarb.
Unfermented soy products, including tofu, soy beverages, soy burgers.
Phosphorus-rich foods, including carbonated drinks, white flour products, and many processed foods. (Teenagers who drink sodas instead of milk are four times more likely to break a bone.)
Foods that produce acids requiring a calcium buffer when excreted in the urine, including coffee, white sugar, tobacco, alcohol, nutritional yeast, salt.
Fluoride in water or toothpaste.
Fiber pills, bran taken alone, bulk-producing laxatives.
Steroid medications, including corticosteroids such as prednisone and asthma inhalers. (Daily use reduces spinal bone mass by as much as ten percent a year.)
Restricted calorie diets. Women who weigh the least have the greatest loss of bone during menopause and "neither calcium supplements, vitamin D supplements, nor estrogen" slow the loss. Among 236 premenopausal women, all of whom consumed similar amounts of calcium, those who lost weight by reducing calories lost twice as much bone mass as women who maintained their weight.

Although chocolate contains oxalic acid, the levels are so low as to have only a negligible effect on calcium metabolism. An ounce/3000 mg of chocolate binds 15-20 mg of calcium; an ounce of cooked spinach, 100-125 mg calcium. Bittersweet (dark) chocolate is a source of iron. Recent research has found chocolate to be very heart healthy. As with any stimulant, daily use is not advised. Chocolate is an important and helpful ally for women. Guilt about eating it and belief that it is damaging to your health interferes with your ability to hear and respond to your body wisdom. If you want to eat chocolate - do it; and get the best. But if you're doing it every day - eat more weeds.

Excess phosphorus accelerates bone loss and demineralization. Phosphorus compounds are second only to salt as food additives. They are found in carbonated beverages, soda pop; white flour products, especially if "enriched" (bagels, cookies, cakes, donuts, pasta, bread); preserved meats (bacon, ham, sausage, lunch meat, and hot dogs); supermarket breakfast cereals; canned fruit; processed potato products such as frozen fries and instant mashed potatoes; processed cheeses; instant soups and puddings.

To avoid phosphorus overload and improve calcium absorption:

Drink spring water and herbal infusions; avoid soda pop and carbonated water.
Eat only whole grain breads, noodles, cookies, and crackers.
Buy only unpreserved meats, cheeses, potatoes.
Avoid buying foods with ingredients; they are highly processed.

Excess salt leaches calcium. Women eating 3900 mg of sodium a day excrete 30 percent more calcium than those eating 1600 mg. The main sources of dietary sodium are processed and canned foods. Seaweed is an excellent calcium-rich source of salt. Sea salt may be used freely as it contains trace amounts of calcium. Salt is critical for health; do not eliminate it from your diet.

Increase hydrochloric acid production (in your stomach) and you'll make better use of the calcium you consume. Lower stomach acid (with antacids, for example) and you will receive little bone benefit from the calcium you ingest. Some ways to acidify:

Drink lemon juice in water with or after your meal.
Take 10-25 drops dandelion root tincture in a little water before you eat.
Use calcium-rich herbal vinegars in your salad dressing; put some on cooked greens and beans, too.

Step 5a: Use Supplements

I really wish you wouldn't use calcium supplements. They expose you to dangers and don't prevent fractures. A study in Australia that followed 10,000 white women over the age of 65 for six and a half years found "Use of calcium supplements was associated with increased risk of hip and vertebral fracture; use of Tums antacid tablets was associated with increased risk of fractures of the proximal humerus."

If you insist on supplements, go for calcium-fortified orange juice or crumbly tablets of calcium citrate. Chewable calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, and calcium carbonate are acceptable sources. Dolomite, bone meal, and oyster shell are best avoided as they usually contain lead and other undesirable minerals.

For better bones, take 500 mg magnesium (not citrate) with your calcium. Better yet, wash your calcium pill down with a glass of herbal infusion; that will provide not only magnesium but lots of other bone-strengthening minerals, too.

Calcium supplements are more effective in divided doses. Two doses of 250 mg, taken morning and night, actually provide more usable calcium than a 1000 mg tablet.

Step 5b: Use Drugs

Even if you take hormone therapy (ERT or HRT) you must get adequate calcium to maintain bone mass, according to researchers at Columbia University. That's 1200-1500 mg a day (a cup of plain yogurt, two cups of nettle infusion, a splash of mineral-rich vinegar, plus three figs is about that). As you increase your intake of calcium-rich foods/herbs, gradually cut back on your hormone dose if you wish.

Step 6: Break & Enter

Bone density tests are frequently used to push women into taking hormones or drugs. If your bone density is low, use the remedies in this section and schedule another test (for at least six months later) before agreeing to such therapies.

24 February 2009

All About Organic Wines

Wines are available in a number of different types and organic wines are one type that is getting more and more attention these days. Organic wines are processed from grapes which are grown without the use of synthetic fungicides or fertilizers. In vineyards where biodiversity is encouraged, vines are grown with the help of living soil i.e. soil full of worms and bacteria which helps to draw the maximum level of minerals from soil. The wines which are grown in living soil have good resistance to disease. Biodiversity also creates an eye catching landscape.

Grape growing is organic by origin but not all vineyards are organic. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in charge of regulations for organic food products. USDA defines organic food as 'the food which is produced by farmers with the help of renewable resources and by conversion of water and soil which enhances the quality of environment for future generations'. Organic farming is done without the use of harmful pesticides or fertilizers or any ionizing radiation. Before declaring the farm as organic the government inspects the farmland and checks that the farmer rules of to meet the standards set by United States Department of Agriculture.
The Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) did not give permission for wines to be designated as organic. This decision of ATF was challenged by Hallcrest Vineyards. Since then few of the wineries have become certified processors of organic wines.

Organic wines are of four types:
• 100% organic: Produced with 100%organically grown grapes and contain no added sulphites.
• Made with organic ingredients: They have at least 70% of organically grown grapes and may contain sulfite.
• Organic: They contain at least 95% of ingredients from certified sources.
• Some organic ingredients: Thus, before buying organic wine one must know the difference between the four categories of organic wine.

The wine which is processed from organically grown grapes and which also gives information about its certifying agency is labelled as organic and is sealed by United States Department of Agriculture as 'organic wine'. Such wine does not contain any added sulfites but can consist of natural sulphites which must be less than 20 parts a million. Sulfite is a preservative of wine which is commonly known as sulphur dioxide. Sulfite has antioxidant properties and also some antimicrobial properties. It is a controversial topic whether it is possible that wine could be sulfite free. The producers of organic wine have to undergo various inspections by the organisations to get the organic certification.

Reconversion is the process by which conventional vineyards are converted to fully organic vineyards. The whole process takes up to 3 years to complete. The use of non organic treatment is strictly prohibited in the organic vineyards. As per law all the organic claims of wine are to be mentioned on the label so that one can read the label and can come to know about the contents of the bottle. Organic wines are a gem of ecosystem. Organic wines do not contain any harmful ingredients as the conventional wines.

20 February 2009

Sound – More Than Your Thinking!

If you happen to be near some piece of technology which can play an MP3 file from the internet, direct it to play as you’re reading this (you’ll learn why later). If the speakers are small and you have the option to plug in headphones, please do so, as the little speakers aren’t up to the task here.

Sound as we know it:
Listen… REALLY listen… what do you hear? Sound tells us a great deal about our environment. Sound is all around us ALL THE TIME, and unless you go to some extreme measures, it’s nearly impossible to hear NOTHING. If you were to ask a scientific person what sound is, they may say something about air molecules vibrating in a particular pattern. Although sound is indeed that, when sound is intentionally and purposefully created it can be much, much more.

Beethoven knew!
You’ve likely heard the opening notes to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at some point. What was your response or feeling upon hearing those notes? It was probably like someone just shouted at you, “HEY – sit up and pay attention, because this is important!” Why? Because that was the INTENTION (or consciousness) which Beethoven attached to those notes. You see, Beethoven was a master of sound, and he understood that SOUND IS A CARRIER WAVE FOR CONSCIOUSNESS and that in order to convey a particular intention, he had to have the RIGHT SOUND.

Sound is very complex, though, and music is just one application of sound. When creating and working with sound, the parameters which need to be taken into account are:

* Frequency (pitch).
* Amplitude (volume, or sound pressure level).
* Harmonics (timbre, or waveform) – this is why each instrument (even if it’s playing the same pitch) sounds different.
* Modulation: Frequency (vibrato), and/or amplitude (tremolo).
* “Envelope” characteristics (such as attack, initial decay, sustained level, and release).

Mind your thoughts
Before we get too mired in the mechanics of sound, let’s examine that other aspect called “consciousness.” The majority of Beethoven’s music does not have any words, yet the intention (consciousness, or feeling) comes through – which is, by the way, why Beethoven’s music remains among the most popular music ever written. How is this unspoken communication possible? To explain this, let’s use a metaphor of two types of “thinking systems” which comprise the mind. We’ll call them “left mind” and “right mind.” The “left mind” is where we live nearly all the time, and it uses thought fragments (words – both verbal and written) to communicate. The “right mind” works entirely differently and MUCH faster, using WHOLE thoughts, pictures, and metaphors. Another difference is that “right mind” is creative, whereas “left mind” can only do things as it has been taught or shown to do [almost our entire educational system teaches the “left mind”].

Music and sound
Music is sound which has been structured in a particular manner – usually divided up time wise into beats and measures, having proper melodic and harmonic structures and progressions, etc. All this makes it possible for this codification of sound, called music – largely so that it can be reproduced at some later time. And do you know what? “Left mind” loves that sort of neat, orderly, logical stuff. “Right mind” is interested in what the sound conveys. Unfortunately, being that “left mind” is where we hang out most of the time, it becomes dominant and when it’s being stimulated or used, “right mind” doesn’t get to do much.

Teaching an old mind new tricks
There’s been a lot of interest and press time lately given to various methods, processes, and so on – all designed to help people change the way they think in order to attract… whatever. Over the years I’ve tried some of them. They have some good points, I’ll admit. My experience, though, was that it was a rather long, tedious and expensive (both in terms of time and money) process with limited results. Why? Because they were using the usual “left mind” methods, and left mind cannot be taught to be creative and think in NEW ways – only to think differently. Just for a moment, think of all the thoughts you’ve had today. Can you find any thought which is NEW or UNIQUE – an idea which you’re SURE no one has ever had before? Not likely.

Edgar Cayce knew!
In at least one of his reading/prophecies, Edgar Cayce stated, “Sound will be the medicine of the future.” Why “the future?” Back when Edgar said that, electronics were pretty primitive. The accurate capture, reproduction, and distribution of that sound – still a long way off. Creation of sound was limited to acoustic sources only. A true “medicine of the future” would be one which would bring a person back into a state of harmony (balance) by affecting the cause of the dis-harmony (that being the state of consciousness of the mind). In order to affect that change in the mind, one must speak concisely in the language of consciousness. At this point in our (d)evolution, though, I don’t know of anyone who’s capable of conveying pure thought/intention to another mind, so we need a third-dimensional carrier wave to do the job, and it’s called SOUND! Today, we have available the means to produce ANY sound (because it must be the RIGHT sound) necessary to convey the consciousness, capture that sound, distribute it (let me count the ways), and reproduce it. All YOU have to do is LISTEN.

The bottom line
You cannot truly change anything about your life until you change the way you think.

You cannot change the way you think until you engage the creative abilities of your right mind.

You cannot engage the right mind with left mind constructs (language and what we see).

The right sound, coupled with the right intention is the most effective (and perhaps the only) way to reach your right mind.

19 February 2009

7 Types of Fat Burning Supplements

There are many ways to burn fat:

Increase exercise and decrease food and alcohol consumption is the most obvious and safest answer.

Another idea is a “thermic diet”: a diet that increases your metabolic rate, such as consuming whey protein which requires more energy to digest than other foods

A third alternative is taking “fat burning” supplements.

With all the choices of “fat burning” supplements out there, it’s very confusing for the average consumer what the differences are. “Fat burning” supplements can be broken down into 7 categories, where the first 4 are stimulants:

1. Ephedrine and Ephedra. Ephedrine and its herbal forms Ephedra and Ma Huang are often included in supplements designed to promote fat burning and/or energy. About 5 years ago, Ephedra was in the news over the controversial death of a baseball player Steve Bechler and football player Korey Stringer during spring training. Many believe it was a combination of heat stroke, dehydration, and lack of conditioning. The results were inconclusive.

2. Caffeine and Guarana. Caffeine and its herbal form Guarana are often included in supplements designed to promote energy and/or fat burning. Caffeine is known to suppress the appetite. Side effects include the jitters or nervousness and frequent trips to the restroom.

3. Ephedrine & Caffeine Combos. The combination of Ephedrine and Caffeine makes up the core of some popular supplements that has been proven to burn fat and while retaining lean muscle mass. The supplements below represent many variations of this popular combo or their herbal equivalents (Ephedra / Ma Huang and Guarana). Xenadrine is a popular brand in this category.

4. Synephrine Combos. The herbal form is Citrus Aurantium or Bitter Orange. These are thought to be easier on the Central Nervous System than supplements that contain ephedrine or its herbal equivalents. Synephrine is still a stimulant but is a milder alternative to ephedrine.

5. Thyroid Boosters. These are designed to preserve or increase thyroid output and increase the metabolic rate to promote fat loss stimulant free. This is an excellent alternative to supplements containing stimulants.

6. Insulin Mimickers are said to aid or act similar to insulin in order to help avoid large amounts of natural insulin from being secreted in the body - which would result in excess carbohydrates being stored as fat!
Chromium is the second best-selling mineral supplement in the United States, behind calcium. It is found in whole grains, wheat germ and nuts, and is poorly absorbed in our intestinal tract.
By combining Chromium with Picolinic Acid to create Chromium Picolinate reportedly improved absorption into the bloodstream. Evidence is currently inconclusive, and more research is required.

7. Carnitine and Actetyl-L-Carnitine. This is probably the lowest risk of the 7 types of supplements. Over 50 percent of our daily needs for Carnitine is normally supplied by the diet by meat, poultry and fish. Unless you are a vegetarian or a strict vegan, current research shows no evidence that it will reduce body fat.

Pick & choose your supplements carefully!

18 February 2009

Folic Acid, The News Keeps Getting Better

National press has recently taken an interest in the benefits of folic acid, with coverage increasing throughout the media. Folic acid, a B vitamin and other folates helps the body to form red blood cells and aids in the formation of genetic material within every body cell. Folic acid also helps to prevent birth defects. Proponents of dietary supplements have encouraged the use of folic acid by women who are of the child-bearing age for a long time.

The public is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of this nutrient to prenatal development. In a survey done by U.S. Health and Human Services in 2007, about 40% of all women surveyed reported the daily consumption of a supplement that contained folic acid, while about 42% of women surveyed reported that folic acid is the most important vitamin for women of child-bearing age. This study also found that awareness of the benefits differed by age group. Younger women were the least likely to know about the benefits of folic acid, and therefore, were the least likely to consume folic acid. These younger women were also more likely to hear about folic acid from a magazine or newspaper or school or college, rather than their health-care provider.

On the contrary, the women who aged 25-34 and 35-47 were much more likely to hear about folic acid and its benefits from their health-care provider. Because of these results, the U.S. Health and Human Services considers it vital to increase young person education and awareness. Folic acid has long been known to help prevent birth defects. Recent research on folic acid shows that it may also help in preventing premature births, boost baby weights, prevent preeclampsia, reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and even cut male smokers’ stroke risk.

Folate is determined from the term “foliage,” and is a member of the B vitamin family where it can be primarily found in dark leafy green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits, beets, meat, and wheat germ. Folic acid does not occur in nature and cannot be found in unfortified foods. It is not an active form of the B-vitamin. However, it is the most common form of folate used is supplements and in fortified food products due to the fact that it is highly bioavailable and chemically stable. It is also readily reduced to tetrahydrofolate, which is the active coenzyme form of folate. One study, comparing folic acid from orange juice and folic acid from a supplement showed that the supplement had a better absorption rate than the fortified orange juice.

Although folic acid is not generally associated with side effects, there have been some clinical reports that high level of folic acid can mask a deficiency of vitamin B-12. However, a deficiency of B-12 is very uncommon and it has been determined that only amounts about 3000 – 4000 micrograms per day of folic acid for extended periods of time may have this masking effect, which can in turn be eliminated by supplementing with a few micrograms of B-12. For more information about folic acid and its benefits to your body, contact your local health food retailer.

09 February 2009

Why Can’t I Lose Weight

Eating Too Much
Being a strong believer in sound nutrition and always preaching that nutrition is not only how much you eat but when, what, and why? These three words determine if you lose or gain weight. Let’s break them down really quick.

When, What, and Why? Eating at certain periods in the day is crucial for healthy nutrition and satisfying weight loss. For starters, the two most important meals of the day are breakfast and dinner. These two meals are the jump start and hibernating factors of your fat storing or burning metabolism. Eating a big breakfast will ensure you are burning calories all day while elevating your metabolism as much as possible without exercise. Dinner is the hibernating factor as it should be your last meal of the day and I might want to add that it should be your smallest one as well.

You have two choices on what your dinner will do for you. If you eat a low carb, low fat, and high protein meal equaling in fewer calories, your metabolism will most likely burn fat throughout the night while you are sleeping. If you eat a high carb and calorie dinner your metabolism will do it’s best to try burning all those calories you just ate but most often they will go straight to your fat storages.

So are you having your body turning your food you ate during the day to fat while you sleep? I am pretty sure this is not what you want so force your body to burn fat all day and all night long.
Not Eating Enough
Not eating enough calories will decrease the amount of calories your body burns during the day by itself which also indicated having a sluggish metabolism. Personally, when someone tells me they want to lose weight while only eating 1200 calorie or less per day, it automatically has me saying in my head that it is a sure-fire way to ensure that they don't lose a pound and pack on more than when you started. Determining the right amount of calories to consume for weight loss is very important, and is the most effective method for losing weight for the long term.

Exercise Is Not Efficient
I don’t like to step on anybody’s feet on this section but most people don’t know how to exercise that will actually give them satisfying results. I love to see people walking around town with friends and family or doing lap swim at the city pool as they are having fun while exercising. On the other hand; if their goal is to lose weight as fast as possible, than just walking is not effective enough for their desired results.

I’m not saying you have to go through hell but a little intensity is the key for success. Besides encouraging you to increase the physical activity in your daily life, your workouts should consist of weight training and cardio together.

Depending if you are going to workout 3, 4, 5, etc. days in a week, remember that you only have to be in the gym no longer than hour when you increase your intensity. Some simple tips for increasing your intensity are super sets in the weight room to lift more in less time. Another tip is lifting the appropriate weight, so if your going to lift around 15-20 reps than your muscle should be burning between 15-20. Keep shorter rest periods as this will keep your heart rate up, and your fat burning accelerated.

There is so much more you can do to get the most out of your workouts, and if you want the best results I recommend the #1 natural bodybuilder Tom Venuto's book, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.”

Diet Is Not Efficient
Even if you take the time by motivating yourself to increase your exercise intensity and frequency, you must consider cleaning up your diet as nutrition is 80% responsible for losing weight. Healthy eating consist of eating balanced meals, eating the right portions at the right times, and one of the most important, having the right foods at the right times.

Some simple tips you hear all the time are to consume more fruits and vegetables while making sure to eat a heart healthy breakfast to jump start your day. With that, I also recommend increasing daily protein in take as it speed up the metabolism 35% more than carbohydrates and fats, and is less likely to be stored as fat. Another tip that should be followed is to consume enough water during the day to keep your body hydrated and can also help decrease your hunger cravings.

A few tips I am going to leave you with are eating less-processed foods, stick with whole grain carbs, and purchase extra low fat ground beef/steak so the fat in take is not excessive. Your day should consist of more carbs in the morning and decreasing throughout the day till dinner that should be low carb and high protein.

Don’t cut yourself short of your weight loss goals with poor eating.

“Eating clean makes your body adjusts to being lean.”

Too Much Stress
Having too much stress in your life can make weight loss seem impossible and it’s not all your fault. When you are stress your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This stress hormone regulates blood sugar, energy production, inflammation, and healing. Too little of cortisol can leave you fatigue and basically feeling like crap. If that’s not bad enough, if you have to much cortisol your body mobilizes the energy into mostly fat making weight gain every easy. There are many types of form of stress but let me list out some ways to decrease this effect.

• Get enough sleep preferably 6-8 hours
• Eat a balanced diet
• Exercise regularly to relieve stress
• Take 30 minutes and do something relaxing
• Drink mostly water and decrease consumption of caffeinated beverages

We all have every busy lives and stress is one of the things that many people don’t think of when they can’t seem to lose any weight. Life is too short to be stressed out all the time, so give it your best shot and good luck.

08 February 2009

Can Aromatherapy Heal Depression?

Most people who are affected by depression become very flat, lifeless, stressed out and easily agitated. Some individuals even have trouble getting out of the bed. This makes it very difficult to recover or bounce back. The essential oils used in aromatherapy, may help to reverse this by positively affecting the brain. Essential oils can provide an emotional lift and help to alleviate some of the tension and anxiety associated with depression.

Some common essential oils that are believed to help chase away the blues include: Geranium, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Rose, Peppermint and Ylang Ylang.

Although counseling and medication have been the mainstays in the fight against depression, there are many side effects associated with pharmaceutical meds and many people stay in counseling for years without any significant progress. Others do experience relief using these methods and that is great. However, there are groups of individuals who would rather not use pharmaceutical drugs to cure their depression, or may be simply looking to supplement their drug regimen. They may be interested in experimenting with natural remedies. Aromatherapy gives them that option. It can be added as an additional tool in the fight against depression. To increase the effectiveness of this approach, changes in diet, physical activity, and supplementation can really help to multiply the effects of aromatherapy.

A 17th century herbalist by the name of John Gerard, believed that clary sage was good to use when individuals were suffering from mental tiredness, depression and other mental disorders. Today, many aromatherapists tend to agree. According to research conducted at the International Flavors and Fragrances in New Jersey, fragrances of orange are also believed to be helpful in reducing anxiety

Aromatherapy is generally more effective in people who are only having mild bouts of depression, and that either do not require medication or who are being weaned off of it. . This is because there is no threat of dangerous drug interactions. Now while aromatherapy can be very helpful, it is important that one doesn’t suddenly stop using their medications. This could potentially be quite dangerous. It is vital that one works closely with their doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist, so that they can safely create an effective game plan to be weaned off prescribed medications as a health professional sees fit.

Probably the most effective forms of aromatherapy to treat depression are bath and massage oils. These allow you take advantage of both your sense of touch and smell. Aromatherapy is a fantastic way for individuals to treat mild depression. Lavender, geranium, rose and peppermint are some of the very best essential oils to use when one has the prolonged blues.

07 February 2009

Hair Loss Natural Treatment

Thinning hair, hair loss and especially baldness are stressful and traumatic issues for men as they grow older. At least 50% of male population of earth suffers from hair loss problems and this percentage is higher for men in developed world, due to tense life, unhealthy nutrition and pestiferous climate. Moreover, if your father had hair loss then you probably encounter with the same hair condition because “male pattern baldness” is a hereditary disease.

Treating hair loss has interested physicians and scientists through out history and many natural and pharmaceutical cures has been proposed. Recently, medical researches have finally proved the overall cause of hair loss. An androgenic hormone (named dihydrotestosterone or DHT) gradually increases in the receptors at hair follicles as men grow up and as a result, hair follicles shrink, hair becomes thinner, progressively falls and eventually no new healthy hair grows.

The understanding of the cause of hair loss does not mean that there has been success in discovery of hair loss treatment. Many pharmaceutical, beauty products and natural remedies “promise” to improve hair health but nothing can be considered as panacea. Below there are some natural treatment (some have been used for centuries) that concern hair loss. Of course, treating hair loss may last long and therefore you should be patient and determined. You will not see a new head full of hair after just one or two treatments Nevertheless, repeated use will probably offer you a better looking, healthier and fuller hair.

A widely used home remedy is with use of herb Aloe Vera. It is believed that by rubbing your head with leafs of Aloe Vera, you achieved balanced scalp’s Ph, improved circulation to the area and stimulated hair follicles able to provide new healthy hair.

Another popular treatment with essential oils suggests before going to bed, to apply to head a blend composed of 4 essential oils and 1 vegetable oil: 2 drops of lavender oil, 2 drops of rosemary oil, 2 drops of thyme oil and 2 of cedarwood oil based in 50 ml of jojoba vegetable oil. After applying, massage your scalp for half an hour or more, in order the blend to have the time to take action and then give it a rinse. If you are not experienced with aromatherapy blends, you can benefit from essential oils by just adding 4 drops of bay oil to your normal shampoo.

Finally, follow these everyday advices for stronger and healthier hair. After shampooing your hair, you dry it naturally or use a hairdryer. Remember that you should never rub or wring your hair with a towel to dry it. This will damage the brittle and breakable hair. You can also wrap a large and thick towel around your hair and wait until the towel absorb the water. Moreover, if you choose the hairdryer solution, do not overdo with it, because too hot or too much drying leads to undesirable results. Additionally, keep in mind that sleeping in a tight braid can cause hair breakage or loss of hair over time.

06 February 2009

What is Insomnia?

Many adults have suffered from symptoms of insomnia at one point in their life. As many as 30-40% of adults surveyed report symptoms of insomnia over the period of a year; however, less than 10% of people actually have chronic insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person has difficulty falling asleep and/or maintaining sleep through out the night. Loss of sleep can be caused by multiple factors like stress, depression or life event changes. Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder that can be diagnosed and treated. Women and the elderly are the most common targets of this disorder. There are two types of insomnia, primary and secondary.

The causes of primary insomnia are environmental influences that a person may encounter and are not related to other health conditions. In contrast, secondary insomnia is related to other issues such as health conditions, chronic pain, medication or other substances one is consuming, like alcohol.

Causes of insomnia…

Insomnia can also be classified by the amount of time one is affected by it. Acute insomnia is a short-term ordeal, where difficulty sleeping is sporadic, or may last for only a few weeks. However, chronic insomnia is long-term. Chronic insomnia is distinguished by being unable to sleep for at least three nights per week, and can last for a month or longer.
The causes of acute insomnia are most often related to irregular conditions in a person’s day-to-day life experiences. Significant stress from life like loss of a loved one, loosing a job or divorce can cause trouble sleeping. Illness, physical strain or medications may disrupt a person’s sleep cycle for a period of time as well. Some medications for colds, allergies or depression can act as stimulants. If this is the case, speak with your health care provider to find an alternative that will not disrupt your sleep. Other environmental influences can cause sleep disruption as well, like light, noise or temperature. In today’s modern society, working “swing shifts”, a night shift or jet lag also commonly cause sleep cycle disruptions.

Chronic insomnia is related to other underlying conditions such as depression or anxiety, pain or discomfort during the night or chronic stress. If the trouble sleeping is related to a medical condition, it is imperative that the medical condition is addressed. Loss of sleep while ill may lead to decreased ability to recover from an illness. In addition, treating the medical condition causing ones insomnia will most often relieve the symptoms of insomnia.

Signs and Symptoms…

There are various signs and symptoms of insomnia. Commonly sufferers of insomnia report the inability to fall asleep, waking during the night, failure to return to sleep after waking or waking up too early in the morning. Unrefreshed rest resulting from a pattern of sleep difficulties may cause significant daytime sleepiness and general fatigue. These symptoms can lead to irritability, problems concentrating or memory problems. Insomnia is one of the leading causes of absenteeism from work and decreased productivity while at work. Fatigue and tiredness may leave a person feeling drained at the end of the day, which can also negatively influence their quality of life while at home.

Women specifically can suffer from insomnia due to fluctuating hormone levels at specific points in their life cycle. Sleeplessness may be caused by menopause, menstruation and pregnancy.

Steps to insure sleep…

A person can make several helpful choices to encourage a restful night of sleep. The first and most basic being listen to ones own “internal clock”. A person’s sleep-wake cycle is regulated by ones own Circadian Rhythm, which is a portion of the body’s “internal clock”. When a person begins a new sleep pattern, the body’s sleep clock is still on its original schedule and wants to sleep at its preprogrammed time. This is the most basic reason why a person still feels tired even though they are unable to sleep. If a person is having trouble sleeping, there are steps that can be taken to promote a restful night. Some basic sleep hygiene steps (steps to promote sleep) are:

* Sleep at the same time every night, including weekends. At the same time, ensure you are getting the proper amount of sleep that your body desires.
* Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that may keep you awake. Alcohol, although it can make a person feel sleepy, can also reduce sleep quality leaving one feeling unrested in the morning.
* Get regular exercise, studies show exercise may reduce stress. However, do not exercise with in 3-4 hours before bed.
* Avoid heavy meals before bedtime. However, if you are hungry, a light snack before bed may actually help you sleep.
* Make sure your bedroom and bed are comfortable. Keep your sleep environment dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature, not too cool, not too warm. If light is a problem, try black out curtains or a sleep mask, if noise is a problem, try a white noise machine, a fan or ear plugs.
* Have a time to relax before bed. Reading a book or taking a bath may promote relaxation.
* Do not use the bedroom for anything other than sleep or sex :).
* If a person feels unable to sleep and does not feel drowsy, get up. Engage in something that is relaxing like reading or listening to music.
* While in bed if one finds their mind flooded with tomorrows “to do list”, make a list before bed. This way ones thoughts will not constantly replay what needs to be accomplished the next day.


Insomnia can be difficult to diagnose because of differentiations in individual sleep patterns and reported levels of fatigue. If you feel you suffer from insomnia, see your health care professional. The initial evaluation may include a physical exam and questions about your medical history. To determine the level of sleeplessness you are experiencing, your health care provider may ask you several questions, like how long the symptoms last, weather or not you snore, or if the symptoms occur every night. A health care professional may also ask a person to start a sleep diary so one can record the events as they happen. Currently there is also a short survey available to health care providers which is designed to evaluate the level of daytime sleepiness and sleep-wake patterns; this will assist in determining how severe ones insomnia may be. If a health care provider thinks it is necessary, they may refer one to a sleep disorder clinic for further diagnosis or treatment.


There are several different treatment options for insomnia. A person working with their health care provider can decide on what is the most appropriate course of action to take. The course of treatment will be based on what is keeping a person from experiencing the level of sleep their body specifically needs. A health care provider may suggest behavior modification, like creating an environment that is conducive to relaxation and sleeping. Another option may be to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Exercise during the day may also be recommended, as it does reduce stress and promotes a deeper level of sleep.
Sleep Hygiene Tips

As an alternate option, a health care provider may prescribe a medication. Currently there are several medications available for treatment of insomnia. These medications, called hypnotics, are prescribed when the cause of insomnia has been determined and other appropriate therapy options have been explored. A heath care provider will determine, based on your medical history, your current medical condition and your level of insomnia, if hypnotics are right for treatment. Hypnotics carry out their chemical task on specific sleep related areas of the brain. Hypnotics do induce sleep and some activate the ability to stay asleep through the night. There are side effects from hypnotics, as with any drug. Before starting a regimen of medication, talk to a health care provider about any side effects like morning headaches, sleepwalking or dependency.

05 February 2009

Oolong Tea and Weight Loss

here is so much interest in weight loss and oolong tea (a.k.a. wulong tea) that we are going to look at research supporting the connection.

Let's start at the beginning

All tea comes from one plant Camellia Sinensis if it doesn't come from that plant it is not tea (herbs come from a variety of plants). Over time, the plant has protected itself from photosynthetic stressors by forming chemical compounds known as polyphenols. Polyphenols, which include flavonoids, have the same beneficial class of compounds, antioxidants, that make fruits and vegetables good for you.

The difference in green tea and oolong tea is processing. All tea is green when picked. Green tea is heated in order to halt the natural enzymatic reaction (oxidation) of the leaf. Once dried, green tea leaves are then rolled intentionally breaking the cell structure. Oolong tea leaves are plucked, kept under carefully controlled conditions and allowed to oxidize. These leaves are not intentionally broken, leaving most of the cell structure intact. These processing differences make each category of tea beneficially different even though they come from the same plant.

he Weight Loss Connection

The two main ways to reduce food related body weight are; increase energy expenditure (EE) and inhibit the absorption of nutrients, including fat and carbohydrates. Caffeine is a stimulant so it is widely accepted that the caffeine in tea increases metabolism, hence increasing EE. So the question becomes, is it only the caffeine or are other compounds in the tea contributing to that increase?

The Research

The Chinese have long believed that oolong tea is beneficial in reducing and maintaining weight. A Chinese study, in 1998, of 102 females showed that continuous consumption of oolong tea for six weeks resulted in a reduction of body weight. This study, along with the question of other compounds contributing to tea's weight loss benefits, spurred further research.

In 2001, Physiologist Dr. William Rumpler, of the US Agriculture Research Services' Diet and Human Laboratory, investigated the ancient Chinese belief that oolong tea is effective in controlling body weight. The study measured how tea influences energy expenditure (EE) and included 12 male volunteers who were given 4 separate beverage formulas over three consecutive days. The beverage formulas consisted of; 1) full strength oolong tea, 2) caffeinated water with caffeine equal to full strength oolong tea, 3) half strength oolong tea and 4) non caffeinated water.

The participants 24 hour EE was measured and resulted in;

- EE levels of about 3% higher when they drank either the full strength oolong tea or the caffeinated water versus the non caffeinated water.
- Participants burned an average of 67 more calories per day when drinking the full strength oolong tea.
- Participants increased fat oxidation (fat burning) by a whooping 12% after consuming the full strength oolong tea versus the caffeinated water.
- This data confirms that a component other than caffeine is responsible for promoting the preferential use of fat as an energy source.

The increase in fat oxidation in this study is amazing! Drinking oolong tea can actually tell your body to burn fat for energy! Scientists then speculated that caffeine combined with EGCGs worked together to increase fat oxidation.

A Japanese study, conducted in 2003, went one step further comparing the benefits of oolong tea and green tea on weight reduction. Eleven healthy young female students participated in this well controlled study. Participants received three different beverage formulas; 1) oolong tea, 2) powdered green tea leaves and 3) water.

Both teas were prepared with boiling water. The oolong tea steeped for five minutes and the powdered green tea leaves were dissolved.

After measurements were taken, the results determined;

- Oolong tea had higher EE levels from beginning to end and at intervals of 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes.
- EE levels peaked at 90 minutes for both oolong and green tea and remained at their respective levels until 120 minutes.
- These results indicate that after consuming oolong tea you will expend more energy then if you were to drink green tea or water and that it can last up to two hours.

The concentrations of caffeine, individual catechins and other polyphenols were also measured producing these interesting findings;

- The caffeine and EGCG content was much higher in the green tea versus the oolong tea.
- The concentration of polymerized polyphenols was significantly higher in the oolong tea versus the green tea.

These findings show that it's the polymerized polyphenols, highest in oolong tea, that link tea to burning fat, not just the caffeine or just the combination of caffeine and EGCGs. Furthermore, the rest of the compounds compared in the teas were similar or equal to one another with no marked differences, reinforcing the results.

We have shown that oolong tea significantly increases EE for up to as much as 120 minutes and can even promote preferential use of fat as an energy source making it a healthy tool for reducing and maintaining weight. So what about absorption of nutrients?

Oolong tea's effect on blocking the absorption of fats and carbohydrates is thought to play a key role in its weight reducing benefits. While more studies need to be done, initial studies indicate that oolong tea has absorption blocking potential.

There are proven methods for losing weight and keeping it off; exercise, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. Oolong tea can enhance these positive changes and garner faster results.

Let's Face It

- Oolong tea is not a quick fix despite the recent advertising claims by slick marketing "professionals."
- These studies do not indicate that oolongs grown in a specific area are better fat burners than other oolongs. It's the processing that counts.
- Losing 20 lbs in 30 days by adding two cups of oolong tea to your daily routine is nothing more than hype. If this were true, I'd be a size 2.
- If you were dieting, drinking oolong and exercising it would be hard to achieve that much weight loss in 30 days.
- If it sounds too good to be true, then it is to good to be true!

Oolong - The Facts

- Oolong teas taste great and are delicious hot or cold.
- There is a tremendous variety of affordable oolong tea.
- Enjoy a cup of oolong 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to your walk, workout or yoga session and reap the rewards!
- Drink oolong in the afternoon to stave off late day sweet cravings and energy slumps.
- All of these aid in healthy weight loss and maintenance

03 February 2009

Herbs Provide Fuel For The Body to Build it Stronger and Healthier

Herbs have been used for a long time as foods to heal disease in our human society. It can be estimated that herbs have been used by humans for at least 15,000 years, with animals using the herbs as medicine for much longer. They, fortunately, had the instinct to search and find the herb they need when it is needed, while our animals of today are limited by fences. Many veterinarians claim that horses will go out and look for a plant that will be helpful to get them to get rid of a parasite when they have it. This plant is called Wormwood. A lot of the first herb uses were actually learned from observing and ill animal and watching it go out and get a plant. Man then followed and ate the plant himself.

The Indians in South American discovered that the Pau d’Arco tree possesses a lot of medicinal ability in the inner back by observing that the inner bark repelled the insects that flooded other trees in the rain forest. The Indians also found a bush that is found in a certain canyon increased their eyesight, so they named it Eyebright. Similarly, the Arizona Apache and Pima Indians found that if they took a twig of the Chaparral bush and heated it and placed it in or next to a tooth hoe, the pain and infection were relieved.

Because of the above, it can be inferred that man has been using herbs for an extremely long time. This is important, especially when taking it to comparison just how short-term the use of chemicals has been. There is no doubt to anyone that chemical use over a long period of time causes a negative effect on the human body. It seems extremely odd that the scientific community prefers their scientific laboratory experiments with chemicals over 4,000 to 5,000 years of herb use. It seems as if someone would see the inadequacy of trying to find a medicine in laboratories by working with animals over a period of months versus the use of herbs by humans in their natural habitat for thousands of years.

Chemicals are not food for the human body as they have all sorts of negative effects including unwanted immune responses which cause inflammation. They do not provide any nutritional affects. Herbs, on the other hand, are foods that fuel the human body, nourishing it and also cleansing it so that it may be energized. Additionally, these herbs have a lot of unknown positive effects. This seems so simple that some wonder how anyone in a professional status could see the truths in prescribing a drug for their spouse or client. A lot of times it is suggested that patients ask their doctors if they would prescribe the same drug or surgery for their wife or children. We need to become aware of the responsibility we have to our bodies.

Many herbs have Glyconutrients and polysaccharides that can feed the immune system. These Glyconutrients or polysaccharides are simple sugars that provide raw materials for the body to build its self better and stronger. Every cell in the body is wrapped with instructions. When the immune system come in contact with each cell, it determines whether its friend or foe. Herbs can help the body build its self better.

Those people who ask if they will become dependant on an herb are thinking of the herbs as a drug instead of food. Although we are dependant on food, it is better to eat food that has been proven to help our body, rather than one which will poison it. Herbs are foods that have proven elements involved which will provide a positive effect on our body. Each specific herb can provide a specific need to our body

02 February 2009

Although acupuncture has a history that spans approximately 5,000 years and is used by 25% of the world's population, it has only been in the last decade that its popularity has increased significantly in North America. One of the reasons for that increase is that people have discovered that acupuncture produces results. In a study conducted in six clinics in five states, 91.5% of patients treated with acupuncture reported disappearance or improvement of symptoms; 84% said they go to see their physicians less frequently; 79% said they use fewer prescription drugs; and 70% of those to whom surgery had been recommended said they avoided it.

What is Acupuncture?

Most people know that acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into the body but many don't really understand how it works or the philosophy behind the treatment. Acupuncture is a major part of the system of Oriental medicine. It's based on the same basic principle from which all of the Oriental healing arts spring - that an invisible energy system underlies the body, and that imbalance in that energy (Qi) leads to illness. Eastern modalities also include Oriental bodywork therapy, dietary therapy, herbal medicine and Qi Gong (energy-based meditation). Underlying them all is a world view that sees human beings as directly connected to all life, and part of the same design that includes the entire cosmos.

In the Oriental view, health is balance or harmony within a person and their environment that manifests as a peaceful vitality. Oriental medicine emphasizes the prevention and treatment of illness, addressing the diet and lifestyle factors which influence health and disease, and encouraging a person to become more self-aware. The goal of therapy, with acupuncture and the other arts, is to restore balance to a person's underlying foundational energy, and in doing so attune her to that part of herself that knows how to live in a healthful and peaceful way. The ultimate aim is to help people manifest their unique potential or destiny (ming) in life.

How It Works

Acupuncture first used stone needles (ouch!) and later employed iron, bronze and bamboo as technology advanced. Today's needles are very fine, sterile, stainless steel needles which are quite comfortable, and generally inserted with the aid of plastic guide tubes which minimize the sensation of insertion. Nearly all American practitioners use disposable needles, to save time and expense, and to help patients be at ease. They are much thinner than the hypodermic needles we remember from the doctor's office, and so are far more comfortable when inserted.

Acupuncture is not painful, nor is it entirely painless. Once the needle is set, it usually is not even felt at all. Needles are left in for about 20 minutes, then removed. The specific sites used, often called points, are doorways into the energy system. These energic portals lie on pathways called channels or meridians. Channels are unseen rivers that carry the life energy (Qi) which underlies all human function. Each channel corresponds to and affects a specific organ system, which includes a range of physical functions, as well as emotional, mental and spiritual aspects.