Category Archives: holistic health

Research On Staying Focused with Holistic Health Help

Taking a Holistic View on Your Health Can Help Improve Cognitive Function

Take a holistic health approach to improving your focus with herbs.A recent study published by the Journal of Neural Regeneration Research found acupuncture treatments can lead to improved cognitive function. Functional brain MRIs showed an increase in the communication areas of the brain associated with higher level cognitive function and memory. When cognitive function is improved, so too is one’s ability to stay focused and on task. This study also concluded acupuncture treatments can increase neural plasticity, which decreases naturally as we age. All of this demonstrates acupuncture can indeed improve overall brain function, allowing people to live more fulfilling lives.

Staying focused can be challenging in the world we live in. We are constantly bombarded with sights, sounds, smells, interruptions and more. It can be really frustrating. A recent study by Microsoft found the average human has an attention span of only eight seconds! By comparison, a goldfish has a nine second attention span. We, as a species, can’t even remain focused as long as a goldfish. This speaks volumes about the state of the world.

Part of the problem is our bodies were designed to move and we have become too sedentary. Our nervous system doesn’t know how to respond to this. And it also affects our muscles, tendons and circulatory systems. The more time we spend on our phones, tablets, etc., the more stagnant everything becomes. Our muscles shorten, tighten and atrophy, our circulation becomes sluggish and our brains foggy. For everything to function properly, you have to get up and move. But there are other ways to increase focus and concentration.

Holistic health can be very helpful when it comes to improving focus and concentration. There are specific acupuncture points, as well as individual herbs and herbal formulas that can be utilized.

One of the most commonly used acupuncture points for improving focus is called Du 20 or Governing Vessel 20. This point is located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of both ears. Du 20 has been noted to improve mental clarity and awareness, while also enhancing memory.

Yin Tang is another favorite point of licensed acupuncturists. Yin Tang is located between the inner ends of both eyebrows. Yin Tang improves concentration and memory, while also clearing the mind and lifting the spirits.

There are a couple of individual herbs used in holistic health that can be very helpful for improving focus. The first is known as Dan Shen or Salvia. Holistic health uses this herb to increase blood flow and a study done in 2003 showed focus and memory were improved on subjects who used this herb.

An herbal formula known as Bu Nao Wan is frequently prescribed for people who have memory problems related to weakness in the kidney system of holistic health. Several of the herbs in this formula have been used for centuries to calm the mind and improve focus.

If you or somebody you know suffers from attention deficit issues, acupuncture might be exactly what they need to get back on track. If you are interested in holistic health and increasing your focus, make an appointment at our Tigard office.

Acupuncture & Natural Medicine for Sprains & Strains

Oregon Natural Medicine for Sprains & Strains

We’ve all heard of and maybe even experienced a sprain or a strain. But do you really know the difference? A sprain is defined as a stretch or tear of a ligament. A strain, on the other hand, is defined as an injury to a muscle or tendon. Sprains can result from a fall, a sudden twist or a blow to the body that forces a joint out of place, while a strain can happen from twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon.

Natural medicine & acupuncture for strains & sprains.There are specific ways of telling the difference between a sprain and a strain based on the symptoms that appear. Symptoms of a sprain include pain, swelling, instability, bruising and loss of functional joint ability. Sometimes there is an audible pop when the injury occurs. There are different levels of sprains too. A Grade I or mild sprain is generally caused by overstretching or the minor tearing of a ligament, but the person will still have joint stability. A Grade II or moderate sprain is more intense, but the person only experiences some loss of joint function. A Grade III or severe sprain occurs when there is a complete tear in the ligament and the person is unable to put any weight on the joint.

Strains, on the other hand, have very different symptoms. Most people who experience a strain, will report pain, limited range of motion, muscle spasms and possibly muscle weakness. There may also be cramping, swelling and inflammation.

Instinctively, when a person experiences a sprain or a strain, learned first aid skills take over. Things like taking the pressure off the joint, raising the joint and applying ice to alleviate swelling and inflammation are all great places to start. Icing a sprain or strain is only good for the first 48 to 72 hours, as it will help decrease swelling. However, prolonged use of ice may impair movement and also interfere with the healing process because it constricts the tissues and impedes blood flow. But there are other possible solutions to healing a sprain or a strain. And one of these would be to see an acupuncturist or natural medicine practitioner.

Natural medicine practitioners have many tools at their disposal that can assist in increased healing of a strain or sprain. When either of these injuries occur, the muscles surrounding the area tighten up in an effort to protect the injured site. This can then lead to stiffness in that joint. This is the body’s natural defense mechanism that decreases strong blood flow to the area. Natural medicine practitioners use acupuncture and other modalities to help loosen up the muscles and increase blood flow to the area, which brings in tissue-healing oxygen and nutrients.

Increasing blood flow is just one way natural medicine can help. There are also specific acupressure points that reduce swelling, decrease inflammation and alleviate pain. Through the use of regular acupuncture treatments following a sprain or strain injury, the body can heal faster. The more frequently a person comes in for their acupuncture treatments, the quicker the results will occur.

If you are having problems with strains or sprains, make an appointment to see how natural medicine and acupuncture can help you.

Eating Natural Healthy: Five Foods for Summer

Natural, Seasonal, Healthy Foods for the Time of Utmost Yang

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system thousands of years old and incorporates many different modalities. TCM theory emphasizes that Mother Nature provides the right kind of food for the right kind of environment. For instance, if the weather is cold, then warming, nutrient-dense foods are best for the body. Likewise, when summer rolls around, it is best to partake of cooling foods and foods abundant during this season.

Summer natural healthy foods for the Portland area.Summer is a time of great abundance. Or as the Chinese refer to it, the time of utmost yang. The days are longer and warmer. And everything and everybody seems to be more active. The warmth of the summer sun encourages growth and maturation. In TCM, summer relates to the element of fire and the heart and small intestine energetic pathways or meridians. Because summer is a time of growth, many fruits and vegetables become abundant during the season. And because the season tends to be the warmest, it is important to stay cool and hydrated.

The summer months are generally hot and therefore the body needs to be kept cool. This is the perfect time to eat more raw foods that can clear heat. But as with anything, don’t overdo it. Too many cold or raw foods can wreak havoc on the digestive tract causing spasms, tightness and contractions. This will make the body work harder to warm the food being eaten, which can then deplete the Qi of the spleen and stomach meridians. Therefore cooked foods and even soups are still recommended during the warm summer months. They are usually made with seasonally-available foods or eaten at room temperature to avoid any digestive conflict.

It is best to avoid heavy, greasy and fried foods during the summer months, as they can also clog up the digestive system. They can also create excess phlegm in the lungs leading to respiratory problems. And when cooking during the season of summer, it is best to create meals quickly and simply by grilling or stir frying.

As mentioned, foods cooling or neutral in nature and hydrating foods are all good choices during the summer months. Here are some foods recommended to eat throughout the season of summer.

1. Summer Vegetables: Things like peppers, eggplant, onions and summer squash are all good choices. They tend to be high in water content which helps keep the body cool.

2. Greens: Foods like cabbage, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach are great choices to add to a salad or even to stir fry. They tend to be neutral to cooling in nature.

3. Melons: Melons are high in water content, so they are great to have around on those really hot summer days for replenishing lost fluids. They are also non-calorie dense, so they won’t be heavy on the stomach.

4. Seafood: While most meats tend to be warming in nature, seafood is not. It leans more heavily toward the cooling nature of food. This makes it a great choice for summer dinners. It’s also high in protein and easy to throw on the grill.

5. Fruit: Summer is when there is an abundance of fruits. Most fruit tends to be cooling in nature, but the high sugar content can be detrimental to the spleen. The best choices are fruits grown in tropical climates, as they have the highest water content.

If you need more help understanding or designing a proper seasonal eating plan, stop by our Portland area office or make an appointment. We want to help identify what plan works best for you.

Start the Year Out Right with Stir-fry for Your Holistic Health

Chicken or Tofu Stir-fry Holistic Health Recipe

If you are looking to spice up your family meal this spring, why not try a healthy chicken stir fry. A meal that is colorful, warm, seasonal and easy to make.

In Traditional Chinese medicine and Five Element theory, food is medicine. Not only is food healthy and nutritious biochemically, but it also has properties in temperature, taste, color and shape that benefit specific organs. Colors and taste benefit certain organs, for example, sour and the color green go to the liver. Pungent flavors such as garlic, ginger and onions benefit the lungs. Dark and salty foods like seaweed benefit the kidneys. The best thing to remember is to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season and try to add color to your food to encourage the healthy actions the organs have in the body. Warm and cooked vegetables are easier on the digestion than cold and raw food. A terrific item to add to the cooking schedule is a colorful and tasty stir-fry.

A holistic health stir-fry recipe with chicken or tofu.

A stir-fry has a healthy variety of colors, vegetables, meat, spices and seasoning. Typically what goes into a stir-fry includes chicken, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger, onion and rice.

Preparation is simple and you can find countless recipes by conducting an Internet search. Typically, a recipe will look like this:

    1 lb. chicken                        1 tbs rice vinegar    green onion to taste

    1 tbsp cornstarch                 1 tbs honey

    2 tbsp soy sauce                  3 cloves garlic

    2 tbsp oyster sauce              1 tbsp ginger

Marinating the chicken overnight adds richer flavor, if you so choose. Combine cornstarch, soy and oyster sauce, rice vinegar, honey and garlic. Stir fry in chicken until brown, set aside. Add vegetables and cook until crisp. Stir in chicken, add onion, peanuts or other things to taste. Serve over rice.

For vegetarians, replacing tofu for chicken works as a delicious alternative. Play with some variety throughout the seasons. In the spring, opt for green foods to benefit the liver and gallbladder. In the summer, cool celery and basil might be soothing on a hot day. Autumn flavors might include leeks and white mushrooms to benefit the lungs. For winter, beef could be an alternative to chicken, as beef is warmer.

As you can see, a nice stir-fry with a variety of seasonal vegetables just might be a great and healthy way to exercise the notion that “food is medicine” to your diet.

For more information on how to make good holistic health choices, make an appointment at our Tigard office.

Natural Medicine to Reduce Stress with Herbs

Oregon Natural Medicine Can Help Treat Stress

Stress is something that affects everybody. Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional tension or strain resulting from demanding or adverse circumstances. This can result in a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, pain, insomnia, worry, anxiety, depression and even disease. And according to a recent survey, nearly 77 percent of all Americans regularly experience physical or psychological symptoms caused by stress (American Institute of Stress, May 2017).

Oregon natural tonic medicine to reduce stress.On a cellular level, chronic stress has actually been shown to shorten the immune cell telomeres. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found in chromosomes that promote genetic stability. When the body is stressed, the immune cells are less likely to duplicate and this puts the body at risk of infection or illness.

So what can be done to reduce stress? The simple answer is a ton. Some examples of ways to deal with stress include exercising, journaling, meditation, coloring, getting a massage, reading, watching a movie, talking with friends, playing games, sitting in nature, eating healthy food and even acupuncture.

This leads us to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a 3,000 year old medical system that can balance the body, relieve stress and decrease/prevent disease. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat people, but according to many scholars, it all began with herbal medicine. Herbs can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to create customized formulas that help heal the body. Here are some examples of herbs and formulas that can combat stress.

  1. Eleuthro or Ci Wu Jia: This herb is an adaptogen, meaning it has revitalizing or restorative properties. In particular, Ci Wu Jia works very well for people who work high stress jobs, work long hours or have erratic schedules. It supports quality sleep and also strengthens the immune system.
  2. Aswhagandha: While this herb is not regularly used in TCM, it is still a very potent herb for tackling stress. Specifically, ashwagandha helps with anxiety, fatigue and stress-induced insomnia. It is also used to support the immune system and stimulate the thyroid gland for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
  3. Xiao Yao San: This herbal formula combines several herbs to become one of the most frequently prescribed formulas in TCM. Xiao Yao San soothes the liver, which according to TCM theory is where stress is controlled.
  4. Cordyceps or Dong Chong Xia Cao: Cordyceps is a type of fungus found on caterpillars. It has been used by TCM practitioners for centuries to fight fatigue, support the immune system and protect the liver and kidneys.
  5. Suan Zao Ren Tang: This herbal formula is very effective for treating agitation, insomnia, irritability and scattered thoughts. These symptoms are very common in people who are overworked and emotionally stressed out.

Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from stress and anxiety. To find out more about these herbs and other natural Oregon medicines, make an appointment!

Healthy Natural Eating for Fall

Fall Descends On Portland With Natural Healthy Seasonal Eating

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals start scrounging for food to help get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything. Sweatpants and hoodies become more commonplace and everything…EVERYTHING is pumpkin flavored.

Natural healthy seasonal food for the Portland fall.As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits need to be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body. This is just one principle followed by Traditional Chinese Medicine.

There are many facets to TCM and nutrition is one of the most important. The ancient Chinese observed what took place in nature and followed those cues accordingly. So when the season changed to fall and the amount of daylight decreased and the temperatures cooled, the Chinese began to eat what was available. This is what it means to “eat for the season.” By eating according to the season, we can avoid many illnesses and diseases. If we continue to eat raw, cold foods during the cooler fall and winter months, then we set ourselves up for digestive problems, colds, sinus infections and even painful joints.

When a person eats seasonally, they will inevitably notice certain foods are no longer abundant or available. In the season of fall, one should fill their pantry and cupboards with dried foods, heavy grains, seeds, roots and squashes that can help move the body’s energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) inward.

Fall is also a time to slow down. This means we should cook food for longer periods of time on lower heat. How we cook food will affect how the body tolerates it and how the energy is utilized. Some examples of how to cook for the season of fall include making soups and stews, using a crockpot or slow cooker, roasting and baking foods. These methods create a deeper warmth and supply greater energy from the food.

Foods that are nourishing to the lung are very important during the season of fall. Since many people get sick during these months, lung tonifying foods can be very beneficial. This includes healthy foods like ginger, onion, garlic, pears, walnuts, miso, navy beans, almonds asparagus, broccoli, apricots, bananas, apples, plums and grapes.

The dryer weather can also cause chapped lips, a dry nose, an itchy throat, rough skin and even dry stools. To counter these issues, it is recommended to eat foods that promote the production of bodily fluids, such as nuts, seeds, pears, pumpkin, honey and a traditional Chinese porridge known as congee.

Animal products tend to be warming and grounding by nature. And for those who eat animal flesh, increasing the intake can be beneficial during the cooler fall months. As mentioned before, roasting, baking or stewing the meats is the most beneficial.

When we follow the cues given to us by nature, we can maintain a very healthy existence. To learn more about eating according to the seasons in Traditional Chinese Medicine, make an appointment with our Portland area office to promote your natural health.

Holistic Health Advice for Why You’re Feeling So Cold

Why Are You So Cold? Holistic Advice for Full & Empty Cold

Feeling Cold Can Have a Holistic Health Answer.

Everyone feels cold sometimes, but some people are perpetually chilled to a point where it interferes with their lives.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, there are two different kinds of cold in the body: full cold and empty cold. Full cold refers to a condition where there is an excess of cold-type energy in the body leading to a feeling of cold, and most likely other health problems, as well. The other kind of cold is empty cold. This means there is not an abundance of cold energy but rather a weakness of the warm fiery energy. When there isn’t enough warmth in the body, you will feel cold – not because the cold is so strong, but because you don’t have enough fire to balance it out.

Full cold

As mentioned, a full cold condition refers to an over-abundance of cold type energy in the body. This is often an acute case and may relate to being outside on cold weather, or exposing a certain area of your body to cold water, cold wind or cold weather. Symptoms really depend on the location of the cold in the body.

For instance, you might feel really cold when you are coming down with a cold virus. From a TCM perspective, this is cold being trapped under the skin or in certain channels on the back of the neck. Other associated symptoms may be a stiff neck, a runny nose or an occipital headache.

Full cold can also lodge itself in the digestive system – this may happen following a meal of cold food, drinking cold beverages in a cold environment or following exposure to very cold temperatures. Full cold in the digestive system can lead to a feeling of cold, as well as painful cramping, diarrhea or loose stools and pain in the abdomen.

Another common site of a full-cold condition is the uterus. This can be from exposure to cold temperatures such as swimming in cold water or sitting on a cold surface. Certain gynecological procedures can also introduce cold into the uterus. This type of cold manifests as a feeling of cold, particularly with the period and very painful cramping before and during the period. There will likely also be clots and possible problems with fertility.

All of these full-cold conditions can be avoided by limiting exposure to cold environments and cold foods. Also introducing heat internally through teas, soups and warming herbs can help.

Empty cold

In TCM, health is a state of balance between yin and yang. Yin refers to the cool, watery, passive parts of our physiology, whereas yang refers to the hot, fiery, active parts. When the yang energy is weakened, there isn’t enough fire to balance out the cool and watery yin. This leads to a pervasive feeling of cold that is hard to shake, even with lots of blankets and warm drinks. This is someone who always feels chilled, no matter what. There may be other symptoms, as well, such as loose stools, a lack of energy or motivation, wanting to sleep all the time or fluid accumulation. Yang deficiency cold often requires use of herbal medicine, acupuncture, and moxa to treat appropriately.

While these are the main reasons for feeling cold, there are two other energetic imbalances that can also lead to feeling cold – Qi stagnation and blood deficiency.  When Qi is stuck, circulation is impaired and heat can’t get to our extremities effectively. This kind of cold often manifests as very cold hands and feet. It can be helped by regular exercise, reducing stress and limiting heavy foods. A weakness in the blood energy of the body leads to a low-grade constant feeling of cold less severe than a yang deficiency cold, but still pervasive and consistent. It can be helped with getting enough sleep, reducing stressors and eating a well-balanced diet of blood-nourishing foods.

If you are feeling cold and are interested in holistic health treatments, contact our Tigard office. 

Holistic Health Food for Type 2 Diabetes

A Diabetes Holistic Health Diet

Fresh fruits are a holistic health food for a Diabetes diet.When diagnosed with type 2 diabetes it is imperative to watch your diet. Eating a healthy and holistic balanced diet can greatly improve your way of life, and help you avoid potential health complications. Those with type 2 diabetes know it can be hard to create a healthy diet just right for their constitution. But if you focus on obtaining a balanced amount of healthy carbs, fats, sugars and salts, you can live a more active and vibrant life.

Here are a list of food tips every person should consider adding to their diet, regardless of type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

  • Focus on the fiber – Fresh fruits and vegetables are a must for every healthy diet. Incorporate these into your diet to promote healthy blood pressure and promote circulation
  • Healthy fats are important – Limit your amount of trans and saturated fats, choose lean cuts of meat, low-fat cheeses and milk
  • Less is more – Use little amounts of salt in your cooking. You can still make your food delicious without dousing it with heavy amounts of salt.
  • Carbs with a purpose – Healthy carbs are good carbs. Make sure to stock your diet full of healthy carbohydrates such as cereals, nuts and whole grains.

For more information on holistic health practices to help with your Diabetes, contact us at our Tigard office.

Holistic Health for Your Body Type with Five Elements

Healthy Eating for Your Body Type with These Holistic Guidelines

What's the right food for your body type? Holistic health at Tigard, OR.Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system that has been around for nearly 3,000 years, views the body differently than modern medicine. When the body is broken down to its core, its tiniest molecules can be classified as energy. This means every element of the universe resides within the human body, to some degree. And every organ has its own properties and energies that must remain balanced for the body to function properly. The energies within the body must be a perfect synergy of elements. This allows for homeostatic balance, biochemical balance, longevity and harmony between the body and mind in holistic health.

The food we put in our mouths can either fuel us or slowly kill us. By knowing which body type we fit into based on the five elements, wood, fire, water, earth or metal, we can then eat a balanced diet that will allow us to remain healthy and strong throughout our lives. Here are some guidelines that may be helpful. Continue reading

Building Protective Qi with Natural Medicine

Holistic Treatment of the Immune System (Wei Qi) With Oregon Natural Medicine

By: Kim M. Filkins, L.Ac.

Immune System Wei Qi Health with Natural MedicineEverybody gets sick at some point in their life. For some, it’s just a quick weekend thing. For others, it can last for several days and even weeks. Why do some people always get sick whenever there is a bug going around and others don’t? It all comes down to immunity. People who have a stronger immune system, tend to be sick less often. Those with compromised or weak immune systems, seem to get sick at the drop of a hat. There are many things that can be done to strengthen the immune system though. And Traditional Chinese Medicine is probably one of the best and least invasive ways to boost the immune system, not just during the winter months, but all year long. Continue reading