In this issue you will find:
May 8-14 - Women's Health Week
May 18 - Chicago Open House (Massage)
May 25 - Senior Health & Fitness Day
An estimated 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental health disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Approximately 18.8 million adults suffer from depression alone, and major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. U p to one-half of all visits to primary care physicians are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental or emotional problems. With so many Americans suffering from mental health disorders, the FDA estimates that sales of antidepressant drugs, such as Prozac and Zoloft, increased from 14 million prescriptions in 1992 to 157 million in 2002. However, in a study of 2,318 patients conducted by the University of Colorado , only 20 percent of the patients taking these drugs were found to improve as a result. Furthermore, studies show that these drugs may even increase the risk of suicide rather than decrease it.
According to recent studies, acupuncture may be a valuable adjunct therapy for those suffering from mental health disorders. A study conducted at the University of Arizona examined the responses of 34 depressed women to acupuncture, generalized acupuncture that didn't use specific points, and no treatment at all. Of the women who received acupuncture specifically for depression, 43 percent experienced a reduction in their symptoms, compared with 22 percent who received general acupuncture and 14 percent who received no treatment. After eight weeks, over half of the women who received specific acupuncture were no longer depressed.Acupuncture and massage provide safe, effective alternatives to controversial antidepressants. According to Chinese medical practitioners, Qi, or energy, is conducted between the surface of the body and internal organs along pathways called meridians. It is Qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of Qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, disease can result. Acupuncture and massage keep the flow of this energy unblocked, and because Chinese medical practitioners treat patients as individuals, they consequently treat the true source of the depression instead of just prescribing pills.
By: Misha Cohen, OMD, L.Ac.
To maintain a healthy reproductive system -- balanced and free of disease -- you must tend to the mind, body and spirit. The following tips on Chinese medicine practices will help you stay in harmony:
Tune into your cycle
Keep a daily log of information on your cycle and associated physical and emotional responses. Make these notations every day for at least 6 months. If you have a well-balanced cycle, it will help alert you to the development of any disharmonies. And if you are currently working to remedy an imbalance, it will alert you to triggers and help you track improvements.
The monthly log should include information on:
• Food cravings or times when you lose your appetite for specific foods (or food in general)
• Information on alcohol and caffeine consumption
• Energy levels and ability to exercise. Make note of times when sore breasts, overall heaviness or bloating, depression or fatigue make it difficult to exercise.
• Emotional ups and downs. Note times when you are irritable, cry or feel like crying, are angry or depressed. Also make note of times when your emotions are positive.
• Physical symptoms you suspect are associated with your cycle: headaches, blood sugar problems, insomnia, swollen ankles, tender breasts, swollen abdomen, cramps, acne, lower back pain
• Information about the quality of your period itself -- date of ovulation and feelings surrounding it; date of onset and description of quality of flow, color, texture, intensity, duration.
A review of this information over the course of several months should reveal a correlation between monthly cycle, diet, exercise, emotions and physical symptoms.
This information indicates how you can control or eliminate some of the troubling symptoms associated with your cycle. You'll see which times of the month you should, for example, be particularly vigilant about exercising, avoiding stress, or avoiding foods that exacerbate symptoms
The following are Chinese nutritional principles that promote gynecological health:
• Eat a diet of warm, cooked foods. Be particularly careful not to eat cold, raw foods during your period -- it only increases cramping and discomfort. This practice can avoid the development of Cold Uterus.
• Avoid excess dairy products to decrease dampness and strengthen Spleen Qi.
• Eliminate caffeine and drink a minimal amount of alcohol. (Alcohol increases PMS symptoms and is linked to increased breast cancer risk.) Artificial stimulants of all kinds amplify gynecological disharmonies causing liver Qi stagnation and liver and heart fire.
• Eat a low-fat diet. Excess body fat increases estrogen production and can lead to various gynecological problems. A fatty diet can also increase Qi stagnation and dampness, which is associated with depression and lack of energy.
• Increase fiber and grain in diet to avoid premenstrual constipation.
• Eliminate excess salt from diet to ease water retention.
• Eliminate any foods that your daily log reveals as associated with PMS, cramps, irregularity or any of the emotional and physical symptoms surrounding the progress of your cycle.
To regulate and move Qi and Xue so they flow smoothly, avoid excessive aerobic activities. If you're trying to reestablish a regular, symptom-free cycle, use yoga, Qi gong and walking to stimulate balanced flow. Once a routine is established (daily for 30 minutes), you can expand your exercises to include aerobics such as jogging, cycling and swimming. Exercising five times a week, 45 minutes a day, will strengthen Qi -- but you should avoid exercise to the point of exhaustion or you will deplete your Qi. Your total exercise time should be about seven hours and 15 minutes per week, including the yoga and/or Qi Gong and aerobics.
If you have any gynecological disharmony, weight lifting exercises should be done only three days a week. The process of tearing down and building up muscle tissue can cause Spleen deficiency, which could lead to a Xue deficiency and increased menstrual problems.
Stress is both a trigger and a result of gynecological problems. Meditation can alleviate the stress and diminish associated symptoms, such as premenstrual depression and anxiety.
Self-massage for preventive care
Qi Gong abdominal massage is effective while you are having cramps and, when used regularly throughout the month, it can dispel stagnation and dampness, relieving PMS and dysmenorrhea. You may use Cinnamon and Ginger infused almond oil to warm the abdomen while doing the self-massage. Reflexology on the hands and feet -- particularly on the points for the abdomen, womb, uterus, lower back and brain -- is also beneficial. Acupressure on Liver 3 is recommended.
Perform a monthly breast self-exam. All women over 20 years old should examine their breasts once a month for changes in texture, shape, color of skin and evidence of discharge from the nipples. To examine the breasts effectively, the American Cancer Society suggests you examine first one side of the breast, then the other, while lying slightly to the opposite side so that the breast is distended downward. Then lie flat on the back and repeat examination of center and front. Make sure you examine the area around and in your armpit as well.
For all women a daily supplement program should include:
• Essential fatty acids, such as linseed oil and evening primrose oil
• Antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamin E
• 1 gram of vitamin C per day
• Calcium hydroxyapatite (from organic beef bones, if possible)
• Chelated magnesium -- in pill form with calcium for balanced dosage, if possible
• Daily dose of acidophilus to protect against yeast infections and keep digestive tract healthy.
Adapted from The Chinese Way to Healing: Many Paths to Wholeness ,
by Misha Ruth Cohen, OMD, L.Ac. with Kalia Doner
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) oil is effective in treating menstrual disorders, endometriosis, menopausal complaints, and serves as a great nerve tonic. This oil can also help an ailing patient cope with the mental, physical and emotional challenges of dealing with serious illness, as it brings about emotional balance and humor.
Geranium's antidepressant properties promote positive thought patterns that bring on a feeling of calm, strength and security. It is great when suffering from nervous exhaustion due to stress and being overworked.
Geranium essential oil is safe and gentle to use. It's revitalizing effect on the skin makes it a good choice for all skin types and skin conditions. Use for acne, aging skin, bruises, cellulite, eczema, psoriasis, shingles and hemorrhoids. Perfect added to your favorite massage oil for its skin regenerative abilities and its emotional benefits.
"He who knows enough is enough will always have enough."