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Archive for May, 2014

Smoothies for healthy living and detoxingSo here’s the thing. Protein shakes are not traditionally a part of Chinese Medicine. It is a concept borrowed from Western culture to help Western patients make changes in their health. Protein shakes are cold in nature. They overstimulate Vata in Ayurveda. Fruit sugars can aggravate Candida conditions. I don’t recommend them always or feel that they are the end all be all of perfect health choices. Is having a cold smoothie, packed with freeze dried supergreens, powered protein and frozen berries a perfect breakfast? No. Is it better than skipping breakfast or heaven forbid, a fast food breakfast. Hell yes. I’m not talking about the kind you get at Smoothie Land that’s packed with sugar and artificial everything either. I’m talking about the kind made at home with physician grade supplements and organic ingredients. The kind that might be a part of a detox diet.

The issue that Chinese Medicine has with smoothies is that foods which are cold in nature can damage the digestion. The digestion is thought of as a fire cooking food in a pot. If you dump cold food directly into the pot, the fire has to burn hotter to get its job done. This is why water should be taken at room temperature and ice cream should be kept to a minimum and ideally only in the warmer months. Smoothies also contain a fair amount of sugar, albeit in the form of whole fruits. Too much sugar can damage the digestion and particularly the Chinese Spleen. Protein powders themselves can be hard on the digestion. It is important to find one that contains a kind of protein that is easy for your body to handle. I like Rice Protein or Pea Protein.

What a girl to do? Would I like it if everyone sautéed some dark organic greens and ate them with a nice piece of organic beef fillet every morning? Yes. Or better yet, congee cooked with Chinese herbs or egg and rice for breakfast? Yes. Hopefully you have tried some of these yummy non-Western breakfasts because they set you up for an awesome day.

For short periods of time, when protein and other foods might be limited in your daily diet, I think smoothies are great. Take a food and supplement based cleanse for instance. Plunk in 20g pf protein and vitamins in a blender, add greens, probiotics, and detoxifiers and make it tastes like a treat? Great idea. Would I prefer to recommend stews and soups? Yes, and I do. Whoever wants to have those for breakfast with some supplements added let me know and invite me.

So let’s talk about ways to minimize the impact of the cold nature of smoothies. First, don’t add ice. ½ a frozen banana is cold enough and it’ll taste yummy. Second and the easiest thing to do, is to leave your smoothie out for 20 min. or so and let it warm up a bit. This isn’t a gourmet experience people it’s a vehicle for all those delicious, nutritious powders you’re eating.

An important point to consider is the fact that the vast majority of Western patients I see clinically have pathogenic heat and dampness as part of their constitution. Here’s an example. A person has trouble digesting certain foods and a weaker constitution. At the same time they have another pattern of bacterial overgrowth/imbalance or inflammation. In Chinese Medicine we would treat the heat/ damp excess condition first, or at least concurrently, with the weaker digestion root cause. This individual will benefit from a cleanse, complete with cold smoothies in the short term (3 weeks or less). Once a few layers of excess are cleared off it is much easier to strengthen the underlying pattern.

Chinese Medicine has a long herbal tradition of using heat and damp clearing formulas first, to pave the way for tonics later. So see? There is a historical basis for smoothie use after all 😉

Ways to offset the cooling nature of smoothies and add more life

Add warming herbs and good fats: Chia seeds, flax seeds or oil, hemp seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (fresh or dried) add tons of flavor, add nutrients, warm things up and balance the cooling smoothie.

Warm up your digestion first: Have a cup of hot tea. I like to let the tea brew while I make the smoothie then drink the tea while I let the smoothie warm up a bit.

Lindsey Lawson Acupuncture in Seattle WALindsey Lawson MS EAMP is an Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural Health and Seattle Fertility Acupuncturist. She is passionate about healthy, happy living, exercise and food- both functional and delicious. She is a regular blogger.  For an appointment call Glow at 206 568 7545.

 

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Mother's Day Massage in Seattle WAMassage for Mother’s Day is always a win! Treat Mom to a relaxing and therapeutic massage this Mother’s Day. Choose from our many massage services from our spa menu to deep tissue. Did you know we offer massage 7 days a week? Call today to book your appointment using coupon code: MOM! (206) 910 2709

Hurry! Offer valid through May 16th. Not for use with Insurance plans. Most insurances accepted.

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Healthy women in Seattle WAOk, this is going to feel like a foreign concept to many. That’s because it is. But it’s one that has been tested and retested for thousands of years in Chinese physicians, daughters, mothers and grandmothers. It’s simple. Menstruation and childbirth are the most depleting things for a women’s body. This happens on a deep level, a level called jing which relates to genetics, aging, and vitality. Jing has a hormonal and reproductive aspect and also relates to your creative potential. Jing is limited and once it’s gone, it’s gone, and without it women suffer from problems with menses, fertility, menopause, libido and energy.   How can you support your body, prevent the loss of jing and enjoy better vitality?  The answer is menstrual and postpartum recovery practices. These activities help your body conserve and strengthen itself at these crucial transition times. This is one of the true gems I have found in Chinese medicine that can revolutionize the way women treat their bodies.

My grandmother may have been right when she told me that too much exercise would be bad for my ”lady parts.” I thought she was crazy. I played sports and loved them.  But I didn’t have the whole picture and neither did she. It’s not that ALL exercise is bad ALL the time. We know that’s not true. Here’s the key, it’s when and how you’re exercising that matters. Each phase of a women’s life and each phase of her cycle has different needs. Menarche (first menses), childbirth, menopause and after each period are all transition times where great care should be taken to support and protect the body.

Women are fundamentally tied to nature through our menstrual cycle. Just like Spring leads to Summer so does menarche lead to childbearing years and then to menopause. In our modern culture we have lost the connection to the cycles of nature and to our own natural cycles. In the winter, we eat summer time fruits and veggies and stay up late into the darkness of night. The same disconnection from nature leads us to take a spinning class and go to a late party on the third day of a heavy period. There is a time for everything. Listen to your intuition. Reconnect.

What can you do? During your period and post-partum: Rest, limit vigorous exercise, keep yourself warm, eat foods which nourish and replenish. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very powerful at this time. Listen to your body.

Lindsey Lawson Acupuncture in Seattle WALindsey Lawson MS EAMP is an Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural Health and Seattle Fertility Acupuncturist. She is passionate about healthy, happy living, food and is a regular blogger.  For an appointment call Glow at 206 568 7545.

 

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Healthy Muscle Length and Strength

exerciseMuscles have one primary function and that function is contraction. The best way to understand muscle contraction is to visualize muscles becoming tense and taut in response to stimulation. When a muscle becomes tense it might actually contract, like your hamstrings or they might stabilize like the core muscles in your abdomen. In both situations muscles might get stuck in contraction due to overuse, under use, trauma or repetitive movement. This continued contraction can lead to muscular spasm, tight ropy bands of muscle tissue and injury at the muscle, tendon and bone attachment.

In most outdoor activities the whole body is engaged. The muscles in your legs and thighs propel you forward, the muscles in arms and shoulder grasp and hold. Even the muscles deep in your abdomen help stabilize your core. As these muscles work and perform their assigned jobs the chance for injury increases.

A good way to avoid injury is to work towards healthy muscle length and strength.

In East Asian medicine (acupuncture), healthy muscle length and strength can be achieved through the concepts of balance and harmony.

When a muscle is out of balance it can become short, tight and constricted. This imbalance causes a stagnation of your body’s vital substances (Qi and Blood), leading to trauma. These constricted muscles also pull on tendon attachment sites (bones) causing injury.

A great activity for balancing the body is cross training. Cross training makes sure you’re not spending too much time in one activity, engaging many muscles groups and body regions. Keeping your body engaged in different activities will balance the muscle groups, enhancing your strengthen and endurance.

Good activities to add to any cross training routine are yoga, tai qi and swimming

Along with cross training, a good pre and post stretching routine is recommended. An added component to the post exercise stretching is a technique I call “active acupressure”. This technique uses acupressure points to help release muscle stagnation and tightness, helping you avoid injury.

Acupuncture is a great way to achieve the harmony needed to recovery from injury. By addressing the entire body, the injury has a better chance to fully heal. Acupuncture works to improve circulation, decrease inflammation and stop the pain associated with trauma.

By giving the office a call and scheduling an appointment, you’ll be on your way to a more balanced and harmonious life.

 Author:

Dr. Derek Kirkham, DAOM, MS, EAMP, LAc is an Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinic Director at Glow Natural health Center.

 

 

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