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albecker

albecker   , 36

from Scarsdale

Acupuncture Can Be Painless

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Japanese-style acupuncturists and enthusiasts of traditional Japanese medicine believe there is an advantage to their style of practice compared with the original Chinese system of acupuncture. The Japanese have had more than 1,400 years to modify the method and into their own highly effective and refined system.

This is not to downgrade the Chinese style, but when such differences exist it is impossible not to draw upon comparisons during explanation. Both styles of acupuncture have seen vast benefits, from treating anxiety to diabetes.

The Chinese style is often described as intolerable to most Westerners because of its use of relatively large needles that are deeply inserted and strongly manipulated, often with electric stimulation.

A common fear keeping people away from acupuncture is that once the needles are in place they will be left alone, they will not be able to move and will feel “pinned” to the table. This is not true in Japanese acupuncture. The Japanese style is the polar opposite, with gentle techniques, shorter needle retention, a hands-on approach and attentiveness of the practitioner. 

People generally have needle phobias that stem from negative vaccination, blood draw or even tattoo experiences. Hypodermic needles involved in these procedures have a hole in the center for either giving a shot or drawing blood. Hypodermic needles are thick and not in the same category as acupuncture needles.

The acupuncture needle is filiform, solid, and much thinner. The standard Japanese needle is about as thick as a human hair. The Japanese needle is so fine that a plastic guide tube must be used to keep the needle straight or it would bend too much and be unable to effectively contact the skin. The thin Japanese needle is often not inserted into the skin but only momentarily contacts or rests on the skin while still achieving effective results.

Japanese techniques are directed at using a minimal amount of stimulation. The Japanese acupuncture motto is “Do not cause the patient any pain.”

Traditionally many acupuncture practitioners in Japan were blind, and as such developed extraordinary sensitivity to gently diagnose and treat the body. This hands-on and sensitive approach translates as a very pleasurable treatment experience for the patient. Currently, 30 percent of acupuncturists in Japan are blind.

What to Expect from a Japanese Acupuncture Treatment

Your first appointment lasts about 90 minutes, which includes a 30-minute consultation followed by a 60-minute treatment. During the consultation I review your health history, discuss your chief complaints and ask questions designed to help me understand your condition. Questions involve pain location, intensity and frequency; sleep patterns; bowel and urinary habits; diet; menstrual patterns; temperature; and head, ear, eye, sinus and allergy complaints.

I will also perform the ancient art of Japanese abdominal diagnosis, pulse diagnosis and meridian palpation at the beginning of each session. All of this detail helps me accurately diagnose your specific condition, called “pattern diagnosis.”

What this means is that “no one condition is treated the same for every patient.” You are unique, and so are the specific signs and symptoms (patterns) that make up your condition. In a nutshell, the cause of your headache, backache or any condition is unique and so too must be your treatment.

 


Smoking and Oxidative Stress

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Some people come in to stop smoking before showing any signs or symptoms of illness. Some come in after a cardiac event or two or after they have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cancer anywhere in the body from the mouth to the stomach.  The lucky ones come in with only periodontal disease.

I see a progression of disease in my clients that starts with lack of energy or morning cough. Then, they notice that they are coughing during the day. Most have stopped exercising and doing all the active, fun things they loved doing, like hiking, bicycling, swimming or playing golf or tennis.

They think they are just getting old at 30 or 40 years of age! Gee, some people remain generally active into their late 80’s while others still compete in senior games until they are in their 90’s. Of course these are not smokers.

The problem with smoking is that we don’t see and can not feel the damage at first. This allows us to think (sub-consciously) “I am ok, I will stop smoking soon. After this or that happens.” We fear that we can’t do without cigarettes.

The problem with thinking “I can quit anytime I want to,” is that it allows us to procrastinate for years, some clients for 40 years or more. All the while, our bodies are becoming more and more oxidized, also known as poisoned.

Most people have heard of antioxidants. Let’s break that word apart. We know that “anti” means against, or opposite. Now, oxidant is for oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons from a substance to an oxidizing agent.

We can see oxidation happening in a banana after we take the skin off or an apple after we slice it, but we cannot see oxidation in our bodies, even though it is indeed happening. Oxidation causes free radicals, which start chain reactions that damage cells. Air pollution, water pollution, pesticides, stress and not getting enough fruits & vegetables all contribute to oxidation in the body.

Cigarette smoke contains large amountsof free radicals, which, in combination with a lower intake of antioxidant vitaminsin smokers than in nonsmokers, lead to increased prooxidantstress in smokers. In addition, stress is higher in smokers than in non-smokers. Even though they think that smoking calms them, it actually causes the heart to beat 10-20 times per minute faster; the arteries constrict and the blood pressure goes up. So are we relaxed? Not actually.

People say they smoke because of stress, but it’s not like they smoke twice as much on a stressful day and forget to smoke when they are on vacation or on a peaceful day. So if you are a person who has a lot of stress in your life because, lets be honest, everyone has a lot of stress in their day, what is the best way to cope with that stress? Is it to stimulate your stress hormones with more coffee and more and more cigarettes? Or would it be better to stop poisoning yourself with cigarettes, exercise to squeeze the stress hormones out of the body, get some quality sleep, drink a lot of water to flush the toxins out, eat 5-9 fruits and vegetables per day, take anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals and omega-3 fatty acids to get the cholesterol out of the body?

We have much more control of our health than we want to think. We all say that we want to be healthy and happy,  so….what is going to make your body healthier and your life more peaceful and happy?


Staying Well Through the Holidays

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With the holidays approaching, we all look forward to more time with friends and family.  The gatherings, the meals, the sweet treats, the shopping in crowded malls, travel, school parties, office parties, alcohol, more sweet treats and more shopping.  

With all of the added activity, we can be left feeling fatigued, overwhelmed and overfed.  It is not surprising that many people get sick this time of year.

During the holiday season, we can manage to consume much more sugar than we are used to. And although our bodies require some sugar in order to stay healthy, we tend to overdo it during the holidays.  All of this over-consumption seems to start with Halloween and subsides after the beginning of the New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight are enforced once again.  

Along with the added stress and over-consumption of sugar, we find ourselves in crowded malls where we are exposed to more viruses then we would care to acknowledge.  All of these things combined make this a prime time to come down with a cold or flu.

How Much Sugar Do We Consume?

One of the main culprits to a weakened immune system is sugar.  The average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar per week. Over the last 20 years, we have increased our annual sugar consumption from 26 pounds to 135 pounds.  Prior to the 1900’s, our sugar consumption was only five pounds per year.

You are probably wondering how you could be eating that much sugar when you don’t eat a lot of sweets.  The unfortunate reality is that sugar, in its many forms, is added to processed foods as a flavor enhancer and preservative.  Even though you may not be eating sweets or drinking sodas, if you are eating processed food, you are getting added sugar in your diet.  

How Does Sugar Affect Our Immune System?

We know that over consuming sugar is not good for our health.  Not only does it contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance, it dramatically suppresses the activity of the immune system.  Foods that are high in sugar raise insulin levels very quickly.  High insulin levels can suppress growth hormones which in turn suppresses the activity of the immune system.  

The white blood cells (WBCs) of the immune system contain a 50 times higher concentration of vitamin C than the surrounding cells.  Vitamin C helps WBCs to engulf viruses and bacteria. Glucose and vitamin C are very similar in structure and compete for absorption into WBCs.  A high glucose concentration in the blood lowers the vitamin C content in the WBCs which in turn suppresses their activity.

A blood glucose level of 120 can suppress WBC activity by 75%.  Maximum immune suppression occurs 1-2 hours after ingestion and remains suppressed for up to five hours.  If you have consumed a lot of sugar and encounter a potent virus or bacteria, you are much more likely to become ill as a result of that exposure.  

Reducing Sugar Consumption

The first step in reducing sugar consumption is to read ingredient and nutrition labels on the foods that you buy- which can be a very tricky process, as companies try to hide the amount of sugar in their products.  You will be surprised to find sugar as a main ingredient in many packaged foods.  Refuse to buy anything that has added sugar if it is not meant to be a sweet food.

Avoid sodas and other sweetened beverages without replacing them with artificial sweeteners.  Artificial sweeteners are actually worse than sugar – but that is another article waiting to be written.  

There are other sweeteners than white sugar, however, we must remember that most of these healthier sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup, sucanat, molasses and agave nectar, will breakdown into glucose once they are digested. Some natural sweeteners digest slower than table sugar and do have some nutritional value which makes them healthier.  The bottom line is to use sweeteners sparingly.

Giving In to Temptation

If you are going to eat sugar, make it worth it.  In other words, be selective - using your genion desires - about the sweet foods that you consume and keep the quantity limited.  For example, if you like chocolate, try a few squares of high cacao content dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate which contains more sugar.  

If you are going to eat something sweet, do so after you have eaten a balanced meal so the effect of the sugar is lessened by the presence of other nutrient dense foods in your GI tract.  As always, choose high quality ingredients. Your indulgence should contain ingredients that you recognize as food rather than chemicals.

Staying Healthy

In addition to reducing sugar consumption, eat a balanced diet rich in veggies, low-sugar fruit, high quality protein, healthy fats and oils and pure water.  To add to this, take a broad spectrum multi rich in B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, powdered green drinks, probiotics, vitamin C and essential fats. Spend time outdoors, exercise regularly and get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

 


Do You Have a Healthy Liver?

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In natural health education we hear again and again, “When in doubt, treat the liver.”  What our teachers were telling us is that the liver is the single most important organ in our bodies for detoxification and that most human suffering is related in some degree to improper liver function.

The liver is the largest organ in the body. It removes about 99% of all unwanted toxins and bacteria through its filtration process.  It is first to process the nutrients delivered by way of the blood stream. It also releases substances to neutralize harmful chemicals, viruses and bacteria. It filters two quarts of blood every minute and secretes a quart of bile each day. Bile is necessary for absorbing fat-soluble substances, including certain vitamins. Bile also helps eliminate toxic chemicals. Bile is mixed with dietary fiber and voided through the colon.

Over time, a low fiber, high fat, processed food diet along with more of a sedentary lifestyle (get out there and exercise) will contribute daily to “sludging” up the bile flow within the liver, causing a slow running bile flow system that results in chronic constipation. Good bile flow is the key to free moving bowels that frequently and effectively empty themselves. Many popular drugs have an extremely negative impact on our livers, especially cholesterol lowering and weight loss drugs. Prescription drug use is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Liver disease of various types falls within the top ten causes of death. Some of the general symptoms of a stressed liver include bloating, constipation, decreased fertility, fatigue, insomnia, gas, hormonal irregularities, nausea, poor appetite, weakness, weight loss or gain, yellowish or itchy skin, and varicose veins, including hemorrhoids.

For hundreds of years people have cleansed their livers naturally.  There are liver flush recipes that can be commonly found, using simple ingredients found at a health food store.  Castor oil packs have a wonderful rejuvenating effect on the liver, as does juicing - to heal and maintain healthy liver function and improve elevated liver enzymes. Juicing works within 15 minutes of ingestion by getting directly to the cellular level. Adding raw superfoods makes juicing even more medicinal with great healing capability.

Liver and colon function are closely related. Colon cleansing will help re-establish regular bowel movements by restoring muscle tone and normal peristalsis (muscular contractions in the large intestine for moving waste). Peristalsis also stimulates the liver to produce more bile, which aids in the absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins. The absorption of the vital nutrients is greater when the colon is thoroughly cleaned. People find that they heal and rejuvenate quickly and have a vibrant quality about their lives.

 


Sexual Health

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What is Your Goal?

Sexual health is part of your overall health. Your goal may be pleasure – yes – but those pleasures directly help your health. The melting sensations of arousal show that the floodgates of life energy are open. Stress and tightness let go, capillaries expand, nutrients flood into waiting tissues, and toxins wash out.

Your goal may be bonding with a loved one – a good thing – but the revitalized relationship also helps your health. The comfort and relaxation after sex decrease your stress levels, so your cardiovascular risk goes down. Gratitude itself is life-affirming. Partners who gladly help each other in bed also cooperate to get through life more easily and live longer.

Your goal may be orgasm – why not? – but once again you’re choosing health. Orgasm not only releases tension, but it renews the sparkle in your eye. Being more relaxed, attractive and upbeat help you wherever you go.

Sexuality

Sexuality is a central part of a person, although it can be suppressed or even sometimes ignored. Because it is central, people experience it and express it bodily as well as with thoughts, feelings, and behavior. A person’s sexuality is influenced by everything they are exposed to in the world around them. Sexuality is holistic. Sexuality can focus people in ways that are positively enriching, such as enhancing communication and love. Psychologically, all our pursuits of pleasure and fulfillment are related to our sexuality.

Sexual Health

Sexual health involves well-being of body, self and soul. It is not merely the absence of disease and dysfunction. Sexual health is expansive and positive, promoting pleasurable sexual experiences free of harm. This includes gaining knowledge to make informed choices that give you the best chance for happiness. You could define sexual health as the ability to enjoy sexual activity of one’s own free choice without suffering physical or mental harm or causing harm to others. This includes protecting children. Sexual health aims toward the rights of all persons being respected and given the chance for fulfillment according to their circumstances, and it should be noted that females have their own requirements in order to have healthy sex.

Sexual Rights

Sexual rights are built upon basic human rights. They include the rights to sexual education, health care, bodily safety, gender equality, diversity, free choice about having children, and consensual relationships and activities. Sexual rights aim toward freedom from fear, shame, guilt, false beliefs, and any other psychological factors that get in the way of a person’s well-being.

One example: Many women don’t feel actual desire for sex. Their desire may only awaken after a partner has stimulated them to arousal and genital readiness, or not even then. These women may consider themselves happy. And we all know women are becoming more empowered than ever.  but can still feel coerced into sexual activity, as if thinking, “It’s been so long, I have to do something or he’ll get angry.” These situations can improve with therapy.

Sex Therapy

Sex therapy involves sensitive communication about any of these private matters. This gives a person a chance to discover a new point of view. Often a person finds that the issue facing them dates as far back as their childhood. Airing things out can help a client grow as a person, as well as resolve a current issue. This could mean better communication in relationships or standing up for oneself. It could mean new ways of coping with anxiety, depression, illness, surgical results, medication side effects, or sexual risks such as STDs. It could include education about human anatomy. It could involve spirituality. It could mean getting out of your head so you’re more connected with your body. Of course, sex therapy never includes sexual touching, nudity or demonstrations. It is talk therapy of the highest caliber.

Culture

Sexual health also relates to a person’s culture. For instance, media images of sexuality without concern for human well-being can have a big impact on young people. Economic, political and even religious factors can be harmful when disadvantaged people are coerced into dangerous situations which may even last for years.

Abstinence

Many people have no sexual activity at all. Adults sometimes drift into abstinence after bad experiences with sex. This can be a temporary improvement, but sexual starvation has its own risks. Sex therapy promotes the right of a person to choose the status quo, while still opening a door toward possible change and growth.

The Highest Levels

People at the highest levels of emotional health experience a higher level of sexuality beyond ordinary desire, arousal and orgasm or ejaculation. With a loving relationship and their minds and bodies fully connected, people can experience the flow of life energy amassing in their private parts during sexual arousal and intercourse, then disbursing with full bodied, involuntary convulsions accompanying orgasm. At this level, sexual functioning discharges stagnant, built-up energy and protects a person from neurosis.