Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

21-Day Mantra Meditation Journey…

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Join me on a three-week journey into the powerful world of Mantra. Each day Deva Premal and Miten will introduce a mantra with a guided meditation, followed by an exploration into its energies and meanings.

Discover for yourself how these ancient sound formulas can carry us into a state of inner peace and well being.

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“A mantra is something like a seed to be allowed to go deep into your being so that it can send its roots to the sources of your life and finally to the universal life. Then its branches, its foliage will go high into the sky, and when the right time comes, when the spring comes, it will be filled with thousands of flowers.” Osho

 

Planes, Airports, and Toilets – Oh My!

Taiwan toilet SOS

On my way to Southeast Asia, for the first time I noticed the impact cell phones has had on airports. Now a proud owner of a smartphone, I was among the many looking to charge my phone for one more time before boarding a plane. To my delight I found that most airports now have free charging stations!

I had just suspended my cell phone service (to avoid unintentional exorbinant roaming charges) and was going with the idea of using Wi-fi to connect to the Internet, with hopes of finding lots of free Wi-fi in airports at the least. As a smartphone addict, I was visualizing this method would work as well as promised by a friend. (So far it has worked great! Thank you Los Angeles and Taiwan airports for the free Wi-fi, and to my friend for the Wi-fi and smartphone idea!)

At the Los Angeles airport, Samsung-sponsored plug stations were scattered around various boarding gates. (My friend almost left her phone plugged into the charging column, as we got in the boarding line shortly after midnight. Convenient charging, but not if you leave your phone and fly away!)

We were on EVA Air, my first flight with this airline. What an impressive menu (chosen when you book) and individual seat-back selections of a variety of movies, television shows, and more. (If can’t sleep on a plane, you will find lots to keep you occupied for a while!)

Two of my meals came with the coolest lime plastic utensils. We liked them so much we kept a pair as a souvenir. These have since come in handy during our travels. (We did not, however, keep the flossing tool that came with each meal.) Read the rest of this entry »

 

The Estrogen/Thyroid Connection

Having a Functional Endocrinology based practice I often focus on disorders pertaining to sexual function so I want to describe to you a rather obscure tidbit pertaining to estrogen and its relationship to thyroid function. Low thyroid function is something that I talk a lot about because it affects a great many people whether they know it or not. Indeed the thyroid gland is very misunderstood and is certainly mistreated through the mainstream approach. But the thyroid gland itself aside, this article is focused on how thyroid hormone activity (not thyroid hormone production) can be hindered due to imbalances in the sex hormone estrogen.

When looking at thyroid hormones, or any hormones really, it is important to differentiate between the protein bound and free forms of the hormone. When a hormone is created by a gland it is immediately bound up with a carrier protein who’s job it is to get that hormone to where it needs to go without being destroyed or lost along the way. Once the hormone is where it needs to be that carrier protein is removed and the hormone is “free” to do its job. That is why these hormones are called “free fraction” or “free hormones.”

In the case of thyroid hormones there is a specific carrier protein called Thyroid Binding Globulin. It just so happens that when there are elevated levels of estrogen the amount of Thyroid Binding Globulin in the blood also goes up. This increased number of binding proteins hold onto more of the thyroid hormone which works to hinder them from doing their job. Remember, protein bound hormones can’t bind to their receptor. They just float around in the blood. So if you were to do a basic thyroid screen you would usually be looking for the protein bound form (generally due to the lower cost of the test) and everything might look fine. The thyroid is producing plenty of hormone and the paperwork all looks great. But why then is this woman still having trouble losing weight, losing her hair, struggling with low energy, and not pooping very often? These are all low thyroid symptoms which exist even though the actual hormone levels are normal. “Go home, there is nothing wrong with you.” Right? Hmmm….

The reason that these symptoms persist is because the elevated estrogen induces a low thyroid state by stopping the free form of the hormone from binding to the receptor. For all intensive purposes this person is low thyroid. The unfortunate part is that the average blood work up won’t account for the interplay between estrogen and thyroid Binding Globulin.

A careful history looking for high estrogen conditions like breast cancer, breast cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or hormone replacement therapy for example should all come into play when considering complaints of low thyroid function. This is thinking outside the box of mainstream medicine. These cases are missed all the time which is unfortunate. It is also of course a great idea to have a look at estrogen levels and there is even a test for Thyroid Binding Globulin. These are tests that I can order if your primary physician is unable or unwilling to order them for you. Be prepared for such a response.

This is just another example of how hormone imbalance can have a negative affect on sexual function and health in general. Let’s face it… Someone who is experiencing low thyroid symptoms for any reason is generally low energy. And I think that we all know how great sex can be when one or more of the people involved is, “too tired!” Let’s be proactive here. Healthy sexual function can translate into great overall health and lend itself to a positive outlook on life. It is as natural as breathing, sleeping, and pooping! And when it comes to thyroid health all of the above can be involved. The solution may be as simple as just looking for the right thing.

 

Mini Monks in Nepal

Mini MonksWhen I signed up to work with Mindful Medicine Worldwide I was able to request my location so I chose to work in Chapagaon, a rural location just outside of Kathmandu. The clinic is on the grounds of a Buddhist teaching monastery. A teaching monastery is where boys age 5 to 18 come to live to learn to be Buddhist monks. That’s right, there are lots of mini monks here, running around in burgundy and yellow robes.

One of the perks of being in this clinic is getting to treat the mini monks, whether it be rubbing Neem oil on their heads or dressing their many cuts and scrapes. (What the hell is Neem oil ? Why, it’s a wonderful Ayurvedic antimicrobial, antifungal, skin healing plant oil that has a gnarly funk to it.)

In my head, before I came here, I had thought how peaceful it would be to be next to a Buddhist monastery. I had pictured rolling green hills and monks chanting in unison at dusk. Monks in training are actually quite noisy; they’re learning to play horns, they chant out of tune and tempo. Every morning at 9:30 and evening at 7:30 they come into the clinic using the little English they know, “hellloo, hello, helloo?” I massage the Neem onto their shaved, fungus-infected heads, not bothering to wash my hands in between. A few of them roll back their ears to show crusty spots where I apply a Chinese herbal balm to it. Another shows me the chunk of skin missing on the bottom of his foot and points to the Calendula. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Teaching Massage in Nepal

Nepal clinic

This is my second blog on being in Nepal as a volunteer for Mindful Medicine. (See my earlier blog for more details on how I ended up in Nepal.)

What I like about Mindful Medicine is that they want their work to be sustainable, to make a lasting difference. Instead of just bringing acupuncturists in for 2 to 4 month periods to treat, they have them teach as well. The Vajra Varahi clinic-paid interpreters have been learning basic acupuncture treatments so that they can help the acupuncturists that come here as well as treat in their absence.

Since I am a body worker and only halfway through my training as an acupuncturist I came to work here in a slightly different capacity. I was able to bring a massage table that was donated from Earthlight to do the work (30 pounds, by the way!). My job here is to teach the staff the basics of massage and anatomy so that they can continue to help the local population. A lot of people here have low-back, neck, and shoulder pain, often accompanied with arthritis. See the picture below (enough said).

Nepal bushels

nepal_women

I’ve started teaching. The students are Satyamohan, Sonya, and Prajwal who are all 25 years old and Ramita who is 33 and the only one with a child. They all have other jobs in the clinic, such as interpreting and reception work. I designed my classes based on my 6 years of experience, what Jessica and Grainne of Mindful Medicine had talked to me about, and what I went over with the clinic director when I got here. The students are picking it up fast and I’m actually envious of the way they get to learn massage, with one-on-one attention and none of the bullshit classes I had to take to satisfy state requirements. I’m working really hard to make sure that they can apply what I am teaching them once I am gone. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Volunteering in Nepal, A Personal Story

Amy in NepalThis metal monkey just turned 30 and is a body worker. I have been a body worker and holistic health practitioner for 6 years. It’s my life, it’s who I am, it’s what I do and the motivation for most of my endeavors. I am also currently working on a master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine so that I can become an acupuncturist and herbalist. I’ve made it halfway through the 4 years it takes to accomplish this, that is, 4 years if you don’t care about having a life.

I want to have a life! I want to experience things, people, and places as well as be in love with Chinese medicine. To become an acupuncturist you have to be passionate about it, you have to love people, and you have to be driven. It’s not an easy path but it’s very rewarding. To be a Chinese medicine practitioner is to give your life to it, to live it, and to be an example. At least that’s what they tell you. To become a traditional healer, you have to do hours of rote memorization, you have to study relentlessly, and you have to get to a point where you just don’t give a shit any more and then try to remember why you’re there. You have to half ass your way sometimes and choose your battles.

So, I needed a break. A good break, a real break—not just the measly two to three weeks you usually get in between trimesters. (Yes, school is year round.)

I’ve never been to Asia before and here I am studying Chinese medicine. So much is lost on me because I don’t innately know the culture. Asia is huge; it encompasses places like Nepal, China, Tibet, both Koreas, and Japan. I’m not a very experienced traveler; I’ve been to some of the standard locations in the U.S. , as well as to Spain, Mexico, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. None of this could really prepare me for what it’s like to come to Nepal. I knew I had to get the hell out of dodge and take a break from school before I went crazy, stopped giving a shit, and stopped learning. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Wind Invasions and Other Funny Business

Wind InvasionEver wonder what in the world us acupuncturists are thinking when we tell you that you have some kind damp heat accumulation in your lower jiao, or that your liver qi is attacking your spleen? Well how about a wind invasion?

I hope to help you understand a bit better where we are coming from by talking today about wind invasions. After all, it is the time of year for them. By wind invasion I am really talking about colds and flus. So how does what we do for a cold differ from what you might otherwise accomplish at the drug store? Simply put, the methods, and herbs prescribed for these illnesses work to both address the symptom as well as fight off the infection. And it does this with specificity in mind as to the particular type of infection. A cold pill only gets you through it.

Now we all know the basic symptoms of a cold or flu, but not every infection will present the same. Take for example what we call a wind heat invasion. This is the type of cold that creates hot-type symptoms such as fever, cough, red/swollen throat, sweats and perhaps a thick green or yellow mucus. This is in sharp contrast to the type of cold that produces chills, headache, stiff neck, and a clear runny nose as seen in a wind cold invasion. Read the rest of this entry »