Chinese Medicine considers preventative care as important as treating the disease itself. If we cultivate our health we can prevent illness and injury from occurring and minimize their consequences when 'disease evils' do attack us. Join Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc as she shares thoughts, news articles, recipes & tips derived from a wide variety of source material, as it relates to Chinese medicine and cultivating optimal health for the body, mind and spirit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Maintaining Inner Peace to Provide Certainty During Uncertain Times

I noticed this piece, What You Don't Know Makes You Nervous, on the cause of anxiety in the Op/Ed of the NY Times this morning. In it, Daniel Gilbert shows that people are happier with certainty, and that uncertainty is the cause unhappiness. To make his point, Gilbert cites studies showing that faced with the certainty verses the uncertainty of an unfortunate circumstance, such as a chronic disease condition, those with certainty of the unfortunate event were less nervous than those for whom the predictability of the event is uncertain. In other words, it is the the 'not knowing' that causes mental unrest, not the actual event.

Gilbert relates this information to the uncertain economic times we live in. People have a lot of fear about their economic future, their job security and so forth, which is causing an upswing in the incidence of depression, anxiety and insomnia. According to Gilbert, it is the uncertainty about the future that is causing the mental angst, not the actual outcome. If people were certain about the outcome, even a negative one, such as job loss, they would have more mental stability. Certainty gives one a course to chart, rather than aimless drifting which is difficult for the mind to deal with.

This is where one's spiritual convictions come to play. Knowing that one is in this (physical) world, but not of it (of the spiritual realm) helps one to avoid the pitfall of getting tossed around by the drama of the day. Knowing that we are mere players on this stage, but that our real place is in another dimension allows us to step out of the set, and gain perspective on the scene being played out.

I will cop to a panic weekend last November, when the markets had crashed and the economy had plummeted. I credit my meditation practice with getting me through the emotional crisis. In meditation one connects to our true nature (spirit, soul . . .) and gets out of the ego-driven mind. Our true nature is our connection to the divine (tao, universal consciousness . . .). Operating from this place we are able to navigate the trouble waters, whatever they may be. Maintaining this soul-connection we have the knowledge and strength to weather the storms of life. The real challenge is in maintaining this connection to our core being. If we are able to do that the rest falls away, allowing the underlying peace and stillness of our true nature to emerge.

For this reason, I advocate developing and maintaining a daily meditation practice to calm the mind, to foster this connection, and to stay plugged in.

One of the keys to getting through this recession intact is to take care of oneself. Due to the increased stress of economic uncertainty, now more than ever it is of vital importance to maintain one's physical and mental health. In doing so, you send a firm message to yourself that you are taking care of yourself. Knowing that you are able to take care and provide for your needs, and are doing so, works to develop peace of mind and eliminate the uncertainty of the future. It is certain that you will take are of your needs because you are doing just that. Taking care of yourself means developing and maintaining a regular exercise program, eating regular nutritious, satisfying meals in a relaxed space, incorporating stress reduction activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, walking in nature . . . , and treating any health conditions as they arise. By taking care of yourself you reinforce that regardless of the external circumstances you are providing for your well being. In doing so you gain peace of mind in knowing that you are providing for your physical, mental and spiritual needs and maintaining inner harmony. KB

Daniel Gilbert is professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of “Stumbling on Happiness.” More of his writing and videos of his appearances can be found at his Web site.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Natural Gatorade (Electrolyte Replacement Drink)

I found this recipe a while back on the WHO website & have recently run across it again in my files. The recipe is for an electrolyte replacement beverage that could be used instead of Gatorade. This one is not neon & obviously is safer.

Electrolyte replacement is necessary after extreme fluid loss, such as after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting. Athletes drink Gatorade due to the electrolyte loss through perspiration.

3/4 t sea salt
1/2 t backing soda
4 t cream of tarter (or eat 2 bananas for potassium)
1T sugar
1 liter of water

optional: 1T orange juice or 2t lemon juice

Monday, May 4, 2009

Castor Oil Packs

I've recently been researching Castor oil packs. Many holistic practitioners recommend them, and they have some intriguing uses. Castor oil comes from the Castor bean. It's use was popularized by early new-ager, psychic and medical intuitive, Edgar Cayce. You might find wikipedia's entry on him of interest: .

From the point of view of Chinese Medicine, Castor oil seems to have the ability to move Qi, Blood and Phelgm (congealed fluids). This is seen by the claims to dissolve tumors and nodules and to improve Liver function, including treating cirrhosis.

Uses include bursitis/arthritis/joint pain, improving digestion/constipation, treating the liver/gallbladder, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, reducing menstrual cramping and dissolving tumours and nodules. I've seen claims of improving sleep/insomnia and relaxing facial wrinkles. You can find Castor oil in the health and body section of a natural food store. You might try a drug store, some may carry it. Do not ingest Castor oil as it is toxic. Do not use over open sores/wounds. Do not use with heavy bleeding (including menstrual).

For insomnia, put a drop on each eyelid before retiring, and then do my insomnia meditation described in an earlier post, 4/09.

For the face, put a few drops of Castor oil on the face at night to soften skin, relax wrinkles and reduce swelling and blemishes. Pay particular attention to problematic areas.

The following link gives a long list of personal testimonials of people's experiences with using Castor oil packs. There's a wide variety of intriguing uses presented here:

Usually Castor oil is administered as a Castor oil pack. I've include the instructions for making a Castor oil pack below (taken from For most conditions, do Castor oil packs 4x/week for one hour duration.

* Three layers of undyed wool or cotton flannel large enough to cover the affected area
* Castor oil
* Plastic wrap cut 1-2" larger than the flannel (can be cut from a plastic bag)
* Hot water bottle
* Container with lid
* Old clothes and sheets. Castor oil will stain clothing and bedding.

Place the flannel in the container. Soak it in Castor oil so that it is saturated, but not dripping. Place the pack over the affected body part. Cover with plastic. Place the hot water bottle over the pack. Leave it on for 45-60 minutes. Rest while the pack is in place. After removing the pack, cleanse the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the pack in the covered container in the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times.

I am interested in learning about your experience with Castor oil, positive or negative. Please send me your feedback about this. KB

Obama on Acupuncture

Here's the reply from Obama to a question by an acupuncturist inquiring about whether alternative medicine is on the table to be included in the new health care plan:

Q I'm a licensed acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist in Florissant. And so --

THE PRESIDENT: I could use one right now. (Laughter.) My back is stiff. I've been working hard.

Q I'll be happy to help you. (Laughter.) And this kind of fits into what you were just talking about as far as health care. I'm wondering, as a practitioner of Oriental medicine, knowing that the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization has discovered through their studies that alternative medicine often is more cost-effective and very effective, how will alternative medicine fit in your new health care program?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, my attitude is that we should -- we should do what works. So I think it is pretty well documented through scientific studies that acupuncture, for example, can be very helpful in relieving certain things like migraines and other ailments -- or at least as effective as more intrusive interventions.

I will let the science guide me. We just swore in an outstanding new Secretary of Health and Human Service, Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of Kansas. (Applause.) It's good to see that a Jay Hawk got applause on this side of the border here. (Laughter.) But she's going to do an outstanding job. And my charge to her is, as we're going through health care reform let's find out what works.

I think one basic principle that we know is that the more we do on the prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road. So giving children early checkups, making sure that they get immunized, making sure that they are diagnosed if they've got eyesight problems, making sure that they're taught proper nutrition to avoid a life of obesity -- those are all issues that we have some control over. And if we're making those investments, we will save huge amounts of money in the long-term.

Unfortunately, the hardest thing to do in politics -- and certainly in health care reform -- has been to get policymakers to make investments early that will have long-term payoffs. Because people -- their attitude is, well, I'll be out of office by the time that kid grows up; and, the fact that they're healthy, that doesn't help me. And in the private sector insurance system, oftentimes insurers make the same calculation. Their attitude is, well, people change jobs enough for us to pay for the preventive medicine now when the problem may not crop up for another 20 years and they'll be long out of our system, so we don't want to reimburse it because it will make things more costly. That's the logic of our health care system that we're going to have to change.

The recovery package put a huge amount in prevention. We are, in our budget, calling for significant increases in prevention. And my hope is, is that working in a bipartisan fashion we are going to be able to get a health care reform bill on my desk before the end of the year that will start seeing the kinds of investments that will make everybody healthier. All right? (Applause.)