Tree of Health Integrative Medicine, PLLC


AUTUMN : A CHINESE MEDICAL PERSPECTIVE

By Kristen Mattisson, LAc, EAMP, LAc

Fall is upon us.  The long days of summer are behind us.  Autumn is a time of transition.  This is the time of year where change is very apparent all around us.  The bright leaves changing color remind us that it is time to start preparing for winter.  After presenting us with the beautiful warm colors of season, the leaves begin to fall and further prepare and conserve the energy for the tree for the upcoming months.

According to Chinese Medicine, Autumn/Fall is the season of the Metal Element, purging, setting boundaries and nurturing.   The climate factor associated with Autumn is dryness.  The Lung and Large Intestine are the yin/yang meridians associated with the Metal Element.  The lung is responsible for taking in the new. This manifests physically breathing in the crisp clean fall air and filling out lungs for oxygen.  The large intestine being a digestive organ is responsible for physically letting go of waste.

Grief and Sadness are the emotions that arise when there is dis-ease in these organs. When there is an imbalance or you experience an emotional grief you may have difficulty coping with the loss or change, may experience alienation and prolonged sadness.  With this weakness in the lung qi, you may experience a hard time “letting go of people, objects, and spend time in the past.  With prolonged and unresolved lung qi deficiency you may have weakened immune and experience frequent colds/illness.  The paired organ to the lung is the large intestine along with the grief one can experience constipation or dry stools (remember having a hard time of letting go).  On the contrary, when you are in a balanced state, the lungs are associated with clear thinking, communication, openness to new ideas and positive self-image.

In conclusion, just as nature is transitioning, it is a good time to tend to our internal environment; it is also a beneficial time to move through grief and let go of any resentment holding us back.  As we prepare for the slowness and stillness of the upcoming winter months, Fall is our time to nurture our internal health.

 

DIETARY and Lifestyle GUIDELINES FOR Fall

  • BREATHE DEEPLY
  • Take a walk in the cool crisp air.
  • Wear a scarf and protect your neck- in Chinese medicine- we call the neck the “wind gate” and as the weather cools, this area can be vulnerable to external wind invasion resulting in the common cold.
  • Avoid excessive raw foods and relish in the warming foods that are in season:  root vegetables, hearty stews, pears, apples.
  • Incorporate good Autumn foods:  Garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, vinegar, pickles, pumpkin, asparagus, cinnamon, cardamom, pear, pumpkin, walnuts and almonds
  • Fall cleaning is a good time to organize and physically let go of things that we no longer need. De-clutter your home, car and mind. Let go of things that no longer serve you.
  • Let go of negative thoughts: again this is the season of letting go, move through grief rather than being stuck.
  • Daily Dry Brushing:  to help detox the body, remove dry skin, improve circulation and engage the lymphatic system. Using a firm natural bristle use short gentle strokes towards the heart along the entire body starting by the feet. The skin should be dry and will turn pink, this is ok.

Kristen Mattisson is an East Asian Practitioner and an Acupuncturist practicing at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine. To schedule an appointment with her, call (425) 408-0040

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The Fertility-Nutrient Connection

By Dr. Elizabeth Orth

The phase “eating for two” is commonly used in society once a woman is already pregnant. However, if you think about it, eating nutrients for two should start before getting pregnant since the body uses preexisting nutrients to make a baby. In fact, nutrient deficiencies have been linked to difficulty getting pregnant. One such nutrient is the mineral called magnesium.

Magnesium is found in higher amounts in leafy greens (especially spinach and swiss chard), seeds (especially pumpkin and sesame), beans, quinoa and barley. Magnesium has multiple general roles in the body including muscle function, energy production, bone density maintenance, and nerve function. What many people are unaware of is that there are also many additional functions for magnesium that are related to reproductive health. These functions include involvement in making hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, and increasing the blood supply to the uterus.

A small study in London (1), showed that women who had a low level of magnesium in their blood cells, were able to get pregnant within 8 months after their magnesium levels got into the normal range! One interesting thing about this study is that half of the women were able to raise their magnesium level by taking magnesium alone, while the other half had to take magnesium in combination with selenium before their magnesium level would rise.  Unfortunately, many prenatal vitamins do not contain the amount of magnesium and/or selenium needed as used in the London study. 

Due to the extensive roles of magnesium in the health of mom and the development of baby, this important nutrient should have an essential place in reproductive health and fertility management.

Resources:

(1) Howard, J.M., Davies, S., & Hunnisett, A. (1994). Red cell magnesium and glutathione peroxidase in infertile women–effects of oral supplementation with magnesium and selenium. Magnesium Research, 7 (1), 49-57.

 


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Flu-Less in Seattle

By Dr. Eleonora Naydis

Flu is taking full advantage of its season:  it has been officially upgraded to an epidemic level.  How much should you worry?   Most people, while feeling quite sick for a short while, get over the flu just fine.

Let’s talk about prevention and treatment, preceded by a little disclaimer that this is not a substitute for a medical advice.  This is the information that I give to my patients, but also based on the condition of their health, I may ask them to call me in 3 days if their symptoms are very severe and/or they are not improving or are getting worse.   If you are pregnant or nursing, taking any prescription medication or other supplements, have any serious allergies, do not self-medicate, please, check in with your doctor.

Prevention first:

  1. Wash your hands, wash your hands, and wash your hands.
  2. Avoid touching your face.  My son brought a new rule from school today.  (“Every time we touch our faces, we need to go and wash our hands.”)  Love their teacher.  Thank you, Tara!
  3. Build yourself a good foundation:  this should be your lifestyle!
    1. Exercise and enjoy your exercise so that you stick to it.
    2. Healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and whole grains and lean sources of protein.    Great immune builders:  miso soup with shitake mushrooms, garlic, onions, thyme, ginger spices
    3. Decrease your sugar intake.  Sugar decreases the ability of the white blood cells to fight infection.
    4. Drink plenty of water
    5. Get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep suppresses your immune system.
    6. Manage your stress:  while we cannot sometimes change the stress around us, we can change our attitude around it.  Take a break when you feel you need it.  Your projects will not go anywhere if you take a little time for yourselves.
    7. Get regular physicals and blood work.  Some deficiencies affect your immune system, e.g. iron-deficiency anemia.
    8. If you are immune-compromised (e.g. during chemotherapy, radiation, or just on immune-suppressive therapy for any reason), avoid over-crowded places for a little while, until the flu season settles down a bit.
    9. Vaccinations:  Can you get sick this year after you had a flu vaccine?  Flu vaccines are about 50-70% effective, and the preliminary study from CDC released today shows that this year’s flu vaccine is 62% effective.[i]   Some immune-compromised people or people with chronic conditions that put them more at risk for complications may still want to vaccinate.  There are other viruses that can make you sick, so don’t just rely on the vaccine to stay healthy this season.
    10. Hydrotherapy.  Consider taking contrast showers: 3 minutes hot, 30 seconds cold, repeat 3 times, finish on cold.  You may feel more energy afterwards.
    11. Supplements:  consider immune modulating mushrooms, such as Coriolus, Reishi, Maitake.  Fungi Perfecti and Mushroom Science put out good quality supplements.

What if you are sick?

  1. Stay home and rest.  Do not run around.  Most of the things CAN wait.
  2. Depending on your health and symptoms, you may want to call your doctor.
  3. Fevers are not your enemy; they are actually good for you and increase your immune system ability to fight of infections[ii]  Manage your fever, stay hydrated and drink electrolytes.
  4. Get plenty of sleep and take all the necessary steps so that you can.
  5. You may want to run a humidifier with few drops of eucalyptus and thyme essential oil in it for anti-microbial effects and to ease breathing.
  6. Supplements to consider:
    1. Yin Qiao is a Chinese herbal remedy for wind heat (sore throat, heat)
    2. Elderberry extract (Sambucol) – actually showed to shorten the duration of the flu.
    3. Oscillococcinum – great and safe over-the-counter homeopathic remedy.

Stay healthy this season!


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GM Who? GMO’s: Genetically Modified Organisms …And What It Means for You as a Consumer

By Dr. Eleonora Naydis

In 1994 genetically modified delayed ripening tomatoes hit the markets for the first time, opening the doors to the commercial sale of genetically modified foods.  What does it mean for us?  It means that our food supply has been rapidly infused by GMO’s, but most of us are unaware of that.  For example, if you are buying non-organic corn or soy products, you are very likely buying GMO products because most of the soybean and corn sold in the United States have been genetically modified.  Same goes for vegetable oils.

What exactly are GMO’s and how are they different from normal development of plants or animal species?

First we need to understand that genetic material is a program that enables things to become what they are.  For example, corn genes allow corn to grow into corn and not into a cow; human genes contain information for development of a human and not a cat, etc. (you get the idea).   There are many genes in the organisms: each gene has specific purpose, for example, there are genes that make your eyes blue or your hair red.

Scientists now know which genes are responsible for which function.  They can even isolate the genes and move them from organism to organism, e.g. from cow to pig, and from human to corn.  When the genes are transplanted in such manner from one organism to another, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are created.

Are GMO’s safe for us and the environment?   Latest research says maybe not…

A recent study published in 2012 looked at the genetically modified corn that has been manipulated to produce special Bt toxin.[i]  When insects eat this corn, the toxin splits bugs’ stomachs open.  When this toxin was tested on human cells, it also damaged the human cells!  This study was done almost 20 years AFTER this genetically modified corn has been introduced to the consumers.  This corn may possibly damage the lining of our intestines, creating inflammation in our gut (also known informally as “leaky gut” problem). How do we know if this toxin is making way to our bodies?  Another study published in 2011 showed that Bt toxin from GMO’s was found in 93% of pregnant women and in 80% of their fetuses.[ii]

And how do GMO’s impact our environment?  Let’s take a look at herbicide-resistant crops.  Roundup (glyphosade) is a common pesticide to kill weeds.  Monsanto created a corn seed that was genetically modified so that Roundup would kill weeds but would not affect the corn crop, i.e. Roundup-resistant corn.  Sounds like a good idea, but the problem is that this Roundup resistance can transfer from corn to weeds, creating herbicide-resistant super weeds!  That leads to introduction of more toxic herbicides use.   How did mice that ate this Roundup-resistant corn do?  Well, the study results published in September of 2012 found out the following: mice that ate this type of GMO corn developed more tumors and died more than the mice that ate regular corn.[iii]  The tumors occurred at 4 and 7 months of feeding, which means that standard 90-day trials that test for safety of newly created GMO’s are inadequate.

Genetically modified foods have been implicated in allergies, infertility, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, birth defects, decreased nutrient absorption, and antibiotic resistance.  More studies need to be conducted before this food becomes available to general public.  Unfortunately, FDA is very lax in terms of regulation of GMO’s.  The United States do not require GMO labeling.   The latest proposition to label GMO’s in California did not pass, in part because most people are unaware of GMO’s and their implications.

For more information, check out the following documentaries and books.

  1. Genetic Roulette (documentary)
  2. Harvest of Fear (documentary)
  3. Eat Your Genes:  How Genetically Modified Food is Entering Your Diet by Stephen Nottingham
  4. The Ecological Risks of Engineered Crops by Jane Rissler and Margaret Mellon

[i] Mesnage, R., Clair, E., Gress, S., Then, C., Szekacs, A., Seralini, G.E.  (2012) Cytotoxicity on human cells of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac Bt insecticidal toxins alone or with a glyphosate-based herbicide.  J Appl Toxicol.

[ii] Aris A., Leblanc, S. (2011) Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.  Reprod Toxicol, 31(4): 528-33.

[iii] Seralini, G.-S., Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Gress, S., Defarge, N., Malatesta, M., Hennequin, D., Spiroux de Vendomois, J. (2012) Long term toxicity of Roundup herbicide and Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.   Food and chemical toxicology.