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.

Friday, May 28, 2010

FDA Warns Drug Co's About Misleading & False Advertising

Several years ago i began noticing a trend where new patients were looking to Chinese medicine to avoid side effects of drug treatments. The FDA at that time began requiring that the drug co's list drug risk and side effects in advertisements. since then, it's become apparent to the public how numerous the potential negative side effects and risks of pharmaceutical drugs are. Now almost all of my new patients cite drug side effects as a top reason for not wanting to proceed with a western medical approach to treatment and for their reason for coming to see me instead.

the drug co's don't want to list the potential risks and side effects of their drugs for obvious reasons: it tarnishes the brand. so they avoid doing so.

according to this report on
the FDA has sent out warning letters to 4 drug cos about violating the rules, and engaging in false and misleading advertising. Actually, the FDA has been sending out a lot of warning letters about these issues.

when Chinese medicine first came on the scene, one of the first questions the medical establishment in this country wanted answered was "Is it safe?", and the early studies were preformed as much to ensure public safety
as they were to show efficacy. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) passed the safety standard with flying colors, and i don't believe safety is even a question in people's minds anymore. i think the top questions now are "Does it hurt?" and "Is it effective? (Does it work?)"

the FAQs page of my website: answers all of the preliminary questions, and more. The resources page contains articles & studies discussing effectiveness of treatment of specific conditions on the Treatable Conditions List, and this blog has many studies about efficacy of Chinese medicine.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Black Soybean Salad - One of My Favs for Summer

When you work full time, taking time to prepare a fresh lunch is a luxury. I found a home that is near to my office, so i am fortunate to be able to go home for lunch. i have quick things i can make or reheat in 10min. This being a vacation week, the pace is a bit slower than usual, so i basked in opportunity to make one of my favorite summer salads for lunch. it took about an hour to prepare & eat. a long lunch for this working professional.

Black soybeans may not sound real appetizing, but they have a surprising nutty flavor. Finding them takes a little Internet hunting, esp. if you want organic. i got this last batch from a CO based web store called Nature's Growers.

The recipe comes from Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Cookbook. this is a well used book in my kitchen, every recipe i have made is phenomenal. Peter is well know among NY vegetarians. He spent many years as the head chef in one of NY's oldest and favorite vegetarian restaurants, Angelica's Kitchen.

Peter and i cook the beans in a pressure cooker, but you can use a regular pot if you like: it will take longer to cook. I've made a few adjustments of my own to the original recipe

You'll Need Organic:

2C Blk soybeans, soaked overnight
1T olive oil
1 clove garlic
handful fresh cilantro
1/2 red onion
1/4t peppercorns
1t sea salt
1 strip kombu (sea veg: find in macrobiotic section of natural food store)

1C sliced celery (2 stalks)
1C thinly sliced red onion (1/2 onion)
1C sliced carrots, peeled (the skin is bitter) (about 2 carrots)
1 sheet nori, toasted & crumbled (nori is a sea veg used for sushi)


1/3C lime juice (about 6 limes)
1/2C oil: 1/3 olive oil, remainder sesame oil
1/4C minced cilantro
1 1/2T chili pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 1/2T sea salt

put the beans in pressure cooker, cover with filtered water & bring to boil. Skim foam, add
oil, peppercorns, cilantro, salt, garlic & onion bring to high pressure. reduce to low heat and cook 25 min. natural release. rinse & drain beans in colander, discarding spices and veg. place on a single layer on a towel in a baking sheet & allow to cool.

Put carrot in the bottom of a veg steamer, then add onion & celery. steam 3 minutes until brightly colored and crisp tender. rinse in filtered water to stop cooking, drain and set aside.

whisk vinaigrette ingredients together until creamy.

in a large bowl combine beans, veg, crumbled nori & toss with vinaigrette.

The black soybeans and nori tonify the kidney organ system in Traditional Chinese Medicine. the TCM kidney system rules growth, reproduction and the aging process. women's menopausal complaints are mostly due to kidney yin deficiency, liver qi stagnation (qi or energy not circulating well) and heart yin deficiency (causing emotional problems: insomnia, irritability, depression [also liver qi issue] and anxiety.

the western/American lifestyle: go, go, go, drink coffee, go, go, go some more (sound familiar) depletes kidney energy which is vital to life and plays a large role in immune function. the kidney rules the low back & knees and hones to the ear, so back/knee pain and poor hearing as well as graying of hair (esp. prematurely) is due to weak kidneys, in TCM. not meaning the western function of the organ: eg. nephritis; although, urinary issues, esp. after age 40 are usually due to weak TCM kidney system.

Each of the TCM organ systems have a color associated with is. Black is the color of the kidney, and salty is its flavor. that is why these inky beans and sea veg tonify the kidneys. actually all beans tonify the kidney, but black beans, adzuki beans and kidney beans (due to their shape) are strongest in this function. KB

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NY Times: Throat Exercises Improve Sleep Apnea

No one likes having to use a CPAP machine, the loud breathing apparatus & mask sleep apnea suffers use to ensure they breath through the night. Sleep apnea is a difficult condition to treat.

Anahad O'Conner reports in his NY Times Really? column that studies have shown 39% improvement in snoring and sleep quality as well as decreased neck circumference (+ risk factor) for sleep apnea sufferers who do throat exercises and play the didgeridoo (Australian musical instrument) that strengthen the airways. KB

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Regular Yoga Practice Will Keep You Healthy

Under the heading of preventative care, yoga is something you can do at home to keep you healthy. An influential yoga instructor of mine (Lindsey Clennell, Senior Iyengar instructor, NYC) once told me
4 poses daily is all you need for a yoga practice: dog pose and 3 standing poses. A few years later I noticed he had cut it back to 3. The idea is to get the mat on the floor and get started - 3-4 poses constitutes a daily practice.

I have a rope wall in my meditation/yoga room in my home. I begin with a supported dog pose using ropes for 3-4 minutes (5 minutes is optimal for dog pose). Then i do a chair twist, followed by triangle, half moon pose and usually reverse triangle (for the twisting action). Sometimes I'll throw in Warrior I or parsvottanasana. I then do some leg stretches on the wall ropes, and 21 sit-ups (21 is a Taoist number, that's why i use it). That's enough to quickly get me stretched out and to get my joints and muscle ready to take me through the day. In evenings or weekends when i have more time, i'll add a couple of inversions: headstand, shoulder stand followed by halasana (plow pose). These poses were chosen to support back health. (I've had a number of injures).

During times when i'm tired & run down i have have a group of restorative poses i like to do, including the inversions. I have worked out these sequences after years of regular (3days/week) Iyengar yoga classes in NY & San Diego.

If you don't know the poses by name, take some classes, or get a tape. Once you have a few standing poses under your belt, you can begin a home practice.

In addition to stretching the body and building muscle tone, yoga builds the immune system and reduces stress, by inducing the relaxation response. When we are under stress, we go into what's called the flight or fight scenario. We get ready for fight or flight in response to the perceived would be attacker (this response was developed over millions of years of evolution). All non-essential systems get shut down: digestion, elimination, immune function, in order to devote all available to defense or flight: muscles, energy production, vision, hearing. Yoga & acupuncture reverses the fight or flight response by putting the body into relaxation mode. The digestive system is opening and flowing so that we get optimal nutrition extracted and stored from our food to create energy and fuel the cells and organs. Immune function is restored.

The fight or flight response explains stress related conditions, such as IBS, hypertension, acid reflux and people who get sick while over-working. Eating well, getting proper rest, exercising, including stress reduction activities such as tai qi, yoga & meditation all reduce the fight or flight response and keep the body functioning optimally.

Acupuncture too puts the body in deep relaxation mode, builds the immune system, reduces the effects the stress and calms the mind. KB

Friday, May 21, 2010

Studies Confirm Acupuncture is Effective in Treating Chronic Bowel Problems

Patients come to me with a wide variety of conditions: pain, gyn issues, allergies/sinusitis, cancer, MS, Lyme disease, Parkinson's disease, Bell's Palsy, TMJ, hypertension, and so on. None of these are fun to have. Bowel problems, particularly IBS & Chrohn's can make daily living tricky. The wonderful news is all of these conditions, and more, respond well to Chinese medicine.

A 2004 German study recently came to my attention, demonstrating positive effects of acupuncture on treating Chrohn's disease. In this study acupuncture patients were compared to a control group. Both groups were needled, but in the acupuncture group known acupuncture points were used where as the control group were needled in places not thought to be acupuncture points. Patients received 10 acupuncture (or sham) treatments (considered one course of treatments in Chinese medicine) over a 3 week period, and then for followed for a subsequent 12 weeks. Three months after having received one course of acupuncture treatments, patients receiving true acupuncture retained a 35% decrease in symptoms, compared to 18% in the control (sham acupuncture) group.

A 2006 Scandinavian study of ulcerative colitis
demonstrated a 50% reduction in symptoms in the true acupuncture group compared to a 25% reduction in the control group. In this study, a course of treatment (true and sham acupuncture) was administered over a 5 week period, and then followed up 4 months subsequent to the cessation of treatments.

In actual clinical practice, patients with a chronic disease, such as IBS, Chrohn's, or ulcerative colitis receive multiple courses of treatments. As symptoms improve, the frequency of treatments are reduced until the patient is able to maintain improvement with monthly, then 6 week intervals between treatments, so that the gains are consolidated before treatment is discontinued. I've seen all types of bowel problems respond well to Chinese medicine. I also prescribe customized herbal formulas which increase clinical results and allow for the consolidation of gains while acu therapy is being reduced. KB

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cholesterol: Sugar Raises It, Nuts Lower It, Chinese Medicine Treats It

Most associate cholesterol with a high fat diet. Increased consumption of sugary soft drinks combined with more sedentary lifestyle (sitting in front of computers & electronic devices) have caused the rise in obesity seen since the 1970's. The NY Times reports in Vital Signs that sugar and soft drinks also account for high cholesterol.

A recent study (funded by the nut industry, but confirmed by results in other independent studies) found that eating nuts lowers cholesterol.

In the NY Times Vital Signs column,
Roni Caryn Rabin reports:

“Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, and that is a main driver in lowering cholesterol,” said the lead author, Dr. Joan Sabaté, a professor of nutrition at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California. “They are the richest source of protein in the plant kingdom, and they also contain fiber and phytosterols, which compete with cholesterol to be absorbed. All these nutrients have been demonstrated to lower cholesterol.”

"The more nuts they ate, the greater the effect."

Chinese medicine can support your efforts to lower cholesterol. We work to improving digestive function with acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas. Some herbs have proven effects in lowing cholesterol, such as hawthorn fruit and red yeast rice. I've seen many patients cholesterol levels improve with acupuncture and herbal therapy. I recommend an initial 3 month course of acu/herbal therapy & lifestyle/dietary modifications, followed by a lipid panel re-test. The results for of the 3 month follow up test are encouraging. When blood lipid levels return to nml i recommend working with the prescribing doctor or pharmacist to begin decreasing statin drugs. Once the drugs have been fully eliminated, we begin reducing the frequency and dosing of acu/herbs. The eventual goal being see if normal blood lipid levels can be retained without the support of acu/herbal or drug therapies, while keeping the dietary/lifestyle modifications in place.

However i will offer the caveat that it is beneficial to get on a regular acupuncture maintenance schedule, be it monthly, seasonally, or on the solstices, to keep the body in top performance level, reduce the effects of stress and maintain a strong immune function.

Here's an article from my website discussing varies dietary suggestions to lower cholesterol, the role of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, & various herbs and supplements, such as red yeasted rice and policosanol. KB

Lowering Cholesterol: Drug-free Solutions

Monday, May 17, 2010

Today Show Endorses Acupuncture

Fellow PCOM (Pacific College of Oriental Medicine) alumni Dr. Daniel Hsu is interviewed on the Today Show demonstrating and explaining acupuncture, shown in a favorable light. (5min) KB

Saturday, May 15, 2010

To Develop Tolerance, Patience & Loving Kindness Learn to Embrace Your Enemy

Did not Jesus say, "Love Thy Enemy"? but this is one of the most difficult things to do. If one can learn to love her/his enemy, then the transformative power of love has manifested. one no longer has an enemy. one has a friend.

The Dali Lama says, "
It is our enemies who provide us with the challenge we need to develop the qualities of tolerance, patience, and compassion".

Everything has mind in the lead, has mind in the forefront,
is made by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a corrupt mind, misery will follow,
as the wheel of a cart follows the foot of the ox.

Everything has mind in the lead, has mind in the forefront,
is made by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness will follow,
like a shadow that never leaves.

"He reviled me; he injured me; he defeated me; he deprived me."
In those who harbor such grudges, hatred never ceases.

"He reviled me; he injured me; he defeated me; he deprived me."
In those who do not harbor such grudges, hatred eventually ceases.

Hatreds do not ever cease in this world by hating,
but by not hating;
this is an eternal truth.

"The Essential Mystics - The soul's Journey into Truth", AHarvey, editor, HarperSanFrancisco. pp72-3.

Video: Deepak Chopra & Dr. Dean Ornish Discuss Preventative Care

This TedMed video features an interesting 30min conversation with Dr. Dean Ornish and Deepak Chopra. Usefulness of cyberspace, facebook & twitter, lifestyle and meditation are discussed as it relates to health & preventative care. Watch it during lunch. KB

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

City of Portland Gets an Acupuncture Treatment: Public Arts Project

Here's something wild and crazy: the City of Portland is getting an acupuncture treatment through a new public arts project. The project hopes using mammoth acupuncture
"Needles appearing across the city will bring attention to the some of the city's most challenging problems, greatest assets, as well as places with enormous potential.

Using the body as a metaphor for the entire city, Kuby hopes to identify those places in the landscape that are important to us as a community, drawing attention not only to the significance of each focal point but also to the interconnectedness of them to each other as well as to ourselves.”

Susan Anderson

Director, Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability

Portland has 2 acupuncture colleges and more than 500 acupuncturists in a 3 county area. This Oregonian article has more photos and discusses the arts project. KB

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NY Times: Many are Misdiagnosed with Food Allergies

Many people who think they have food allergies do not, according to a front page article in this morning's Times. The true number is only 5% of adults and 8% of children, according to a new report on allergy diagnosis, commissioned by the federal government.

Yet about 30 percent of the population believe they have food allergies. And, Dr. Riedl said, about half the patients coming to his clinic because they had been told they had a food allergy did not really have one . . . People who receive a diagnosis after one of the two tests most often used . . . [skin prick test and IgE antibodies] . . . have less than a 50 percent chance of actually having a food allergy, the investigators found", reports Gina Kolata in her NY Times piece.

Dr. Marc Riedl, an author of the new paper and an allergist and immunologist at the UCLA (my almamater) and his colleagues reviewed 12,000 pages of documents of all of the studies done on allergies between 1988 and 2009, and came up with only 72 studies that met their scientific rigor. The paper will be reported today in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases are reviewing the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and expect to have a draft of new guidelines out in June.

"But for now, Dr. Matthew J. Fenton, who oversees the guidelines project for the allergy institute said, doctors should not use either the skin-prick test or the antibody test as the sole reason for thinking their patients have a food allergy. 'By themselves they are not sufficient,' Dr. Fenton said, " reports Kolata in the Times.

Acupuncture is effective treatment for all kinds of allergies, especially those affecting the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Lung system, which includes the nose, sinuses and skin. We use a 'root and branch' approach to treatment. When symptoms are present we treat the 'branch' or the symptoms: running nose, sinusitis, hives/rash. When symptoms have abated we treat the root cause of the problem: weak/hyper-immune response. In my clinic I use a combination of acupuncture and individualized Chinese herbal formulas proven effective in treating allergies.

Allergies are a chronic problem, and require some continued care with acu-herbal therapy. When the patient and practitioner stick with treatment, results are rewarding. I find that branch symptoms are generally contained fairly quickly, but continued maintenance is required to strengthen immune function for a more sustained resolution.

Here's a couple of articles I've written & a study on allergy treatment with Chinese medicine, from the Treatable Conditions list on my website

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

White-Coat Hypertension is 50% Predictive of Developing Sustained Hypertension

In the Really? column in this week's Science Times (NY Times) Anahad O'Conner discusses white-coat hypertension, the so-called phenomenon that patients with 'normal' blood pressure (normotension) will show abnormally high readings in the doctor's office due to increased anxiety in a medical setting. The high readings have been dismissed when the patients blood pressure is normal outside of the doctor's office, or at home.

As a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) I have felt that these high readings are information about how the patients body reacts to stress and anxiety. If the blood pressure goes up in the doctors office, then it also goes up in other circumstances when the patient is under stress. I have felt this patient should be treated to address the condition.

Well apparently studies are showing that white-coat hypertension is 50% predictive of developing sustained hypertension (experienced also at home, or outside of medical settings). A 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed 128 people for 8 years. Those with white-coat hypertension had a 47% rate of developing primary hypertension, compared to 22% of those with with normotension (normal blood pressure).

The findings were repeated in a 2009 study published in Hypertention magazine that followed 1400 people for 10 years. 43% of the white-coat hypertensives and 47% of the masked hypertensives developed into sustained hypertension.

Acupuncture is effective in lowering blood pressure, over time. In my clinic I use a combined approach of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas. As treatment progresses and blood pressure stabilizes I recommend patients work with their doctor or pharmacist to begin safely lowering the dosage of the anti-hypertensive medications and see which can be eliminated. We work toward eliminating all anti-hypertensive medication. Once the patient has stopped the medications we begin decreasing the frequency of acupuncture treatments, while continuing the herbal formulas to control the blood pressure. Once the patient can sustain normal blood pressure for several months with monthly or even 6 week intervals between acupuncture treatments the herbal dosages are reduced, working towards eventual elimination of acupuncture and herbs.

Hypertension is a chronic condition, generally having gone on for some years prior to the patience commencing TCM treatment. Acupuncture and herbs are therapies, requiring continued treatment to achieve clinical success. Response is individual, generally speaking for chronic conditions continued care will be necessary for some time. However my goal of treatment is always to be able to carefully withdraw acupuncture and herbal therapy and maintain a state of symptom-free equilibrium. When symptoms recur, the patient quickly returns to the office and generally a short course of treatment will resolve the issue. In the case of hypertension, generally stress causes the blood pressure to rise, and often a new life stress issue will need to be addressed to return the patient to normotension. KB

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Breakfast Rice

I've been making this sweet baked rice for breakfast for the past year. It's easy and provides a slightly sweet carbohydrate to begin the day. Those who like hot cereal in the morning might like this. I find that generally about 2 hours later I'm ready for some protein.

Lately I've been eating local Amish eggs. I've been assured that the chickens are well treated, spend lots of time outdoors and have plenty of room to move about. So as a vegan, I'm ok with eating these eggs that are raised on small, local farms. They provide animal protein which Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) feels is a required source of nutrition for building blood.

I found this recipe in The Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook (Leslie Mc Eachern). Angelica's Kitchen is one of NY's oldest and most highly regarded vegetarian restaurant, established 1976. The food is delicious. Last time i visited i spied Adrian Grenier outside with his entourage, waiting for cabs.

This recipe will help those with digestive issues, or who aren't hungry in the morning. In Chinese dietary therapy we use congees (rice porridge) to help build the digestive systems for those with chronic illness, including cancer. Congees are easy to digest and provides some nutrition for those who find it difficult to eat. This recipe is kind of a baked congee. It's derived from the Angelica's Kitchen recipe, but I've made changes.

3 1/2C filtered water (soaked white rice: 4 1/2C for brown basmati or unsoaked rice)
1 1/2C rice milk
1/4t sea salt
1 vanilla bean (
French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville has organic vanilla beans)
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/3C white basmati rice, rinsed & soaked 24h (brown rice takes longer to cook)
3/4 C raisins
1/4C Gou Ji berries (gou qi zi: tonify blood, Liver & Kidney qi & eyes)
freshly grated nutmeg

I use all organic ingredients. Soak the rice 24h in advance. It makes it easier to digest and requires less water and cooking time. You can use the soaking water as part of the liquid in the recipe. Those with loose stools should use white rice, not brown.

Preheat oven to 325. Bring water, rice milk & salt to a boil in a covered pot. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and then cut in half crosswise. Using the tip of a small knife, scape out the seeds and add the seeds and pod to the cooking liquid with the
cinnamon stick and dried fruit. (i've tried subing vanilla extract. You need the whole bean for the flavor in this unseasoned dish.) When the liquid comes to a boil, add the rice and reduce to a simmer.

Grease a casserole with coconut oil (its got the healthy types of fats we need: much better than Crisco. i always sub coconut oil for the oil in recipes for baked goods.) Pour the rice/liquid into the casserole and top with grated nutmeg. Bake in convection ovens for 35min (or less: until liquid has absorbed). Conventional ovens and brown or unsoaked rice will require longer cooking times).

Remove from oven, discard cinnamon stick and vanilla bean (they are usually on the top) and allow to cool a bit before serving. I like to float it in a bowl with rice milk.

Store it in the refridge. For one person, this will provide breakfast for about a week. If you want to serve it for dessert, you could add 1/3C maple syrup. KB

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Alocohol Worsens Allergies

I love the Really? column in the Science Times section of the NY Times. In April Anahad O'Connor reported that studies are showing that alcohol worsens allergy symptoms due to the histamines and sulfites they contain. Wine is the worse offender, and women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

2005 Swedish Study

A 2008 Danish study showed that drinking 2 glasses of wine daily doubles risk of symptoms, even for those who are otherwise unaffected.

Other foods that release histamines included cheese, pickled/fermented foods & yeasty foods: breads, cider and grapes. Maybe the grapes are causing the issue with the wine.

Chinese medicine is quite effective at treating allergies. In my clinic, I generally do a combination of individualized herbal formulas and acupuncture. During the allergy season we treat the branch, or the symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, sinus congestion, itchy eyes. Between the flare-ups we concentrate on the root problem: strengthening the immune system. Symptoms begin responding quickly; however, ongoing treatment is required to fully resolve the condition. For seasonal allergies, several seasons of back and forth between root and branch is needed. More frequent treatments during the season for treating branch symptoms, then backing off to a maintenance interval between season while addressing the root. Continuing herbal therapy makes reducing the frequency of acupuncture treatments possible.

Here's some articles I've written explaining allergy treatment with Chinese Medicine from my website .

For Safety and Maximum Effectiveness See a Licensed Acupuncturist

In order to be preformed safely an effectively, acupuncture must be preformed by a qualified practitioner with adequate training in Chinese medicine. Unfortunately MD's and chiropractors have been allowed to add acupuncture as a modality in their practices after taking only a few weekend seminars in it, totally 100-300 hours. Considering that Licensed Acupuncturist now must complete 3000-4000 hours of training in order to become licensed, it is inconceivable that states would consider 100-300 adequate training for practicing on patients. Those that are poorly trained make mistakes ranging from ineffective treatment to injuries to patients.

A study by the Institute of Community Medicine, University of Tromso, Norway about acupuncture safety concludes:

"Most adverse effects of acupuncture seem to rely on insufficient basic medical knowledge, low hygienic standard, and inadequate acupuncture education. The study confirms the adverse effects of acupuncture under certain circumstances. Serious adverse effects, however, are few, and acupuncture can generally be considered as a safe treatment."

PMID: 9395661 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Here's an document from the FAQs page of my website discussing the difference in training of acupuncturists and MD's & Chiropractor's with the 100-300 hour medical acupuncture certificate:

Licensed vs Certified Acupuncturists

The Medical Acupuncture Facts website discusses the issue of MD's and chiropractors with 100-300 hours training preforming acupuncture, and the
associated problems. Here's an article from the site discussing this issue. KB

Studies Confirm Acupuncture is Unsafe When Practiced By Non-Licensed Acupuncturists

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Drink Lemon Water @ Room Temperature

The average American drinks iced beverages throughout year, especially during warm weather. In Chinese medicine we disagree with this practice, and advice our patients to drink room temperature or warm beverages.

Why? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees digestion as a warm process: it takes heat to break down the food in the stomach and intestines and extract the nutrients we need. Putting cold foods and beverages into the stomach weakens digestive function (Spleen Qi, in TCM speak). When digestive function (Spleen Qi) is weak, nutrients do not get extracted in order for the body to make strong Qi (energy) and Blood (nutrition for the cells, organs, muscles, skin and tissues). Fluids are not transformed well, setting up the processes for inflammation, edema, phlegm (allergies and sinusitis) and damp/oozing/blistering skin conditions (acne, hives and rashes).

TCM is preventative care oriented. By engaging in a healthy lifestyle we can prevent disease processes from occurring, and minimize their consequences when they do. Diet, exercise and reducing stress, not over-working and getting proper rest/sleep are the main components of lifestyle considerations for westerners.

When the weather gets warm (or any time of year) start drinking room temperature water with lemon for a little flavor. I recommend filtered water. In his book, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Dr. Elson Haas gets into the detail of filtered water. Carbon filtration and reverse osmosis are important. Use only glass containers for storing water as the polyurethane will leak into the water: especially if there are any scratches in the container. The same goes for food storage: use glass or stainless steel containers, no aluminum: it leaches. Especially throw away any plastic containers that are stained or are scratch: they are leaching. When drinking lemon water, don't use a plastic cup as the acid in the lemon will cause the polyurethane to leach.

At first drinking room temperature beverages takes some acclimating. remember that of all the countries in the world, we are the only ones who regularly drink iced beverages. if you encounter iced beverages when you travel, the establishments are catering to American tastes. within a month or two you will become accustomed to room temperature beverages. after a while you'll find cold or iced beverages are too cold. at restaurants, tell the server to bring the drink without ice and to add a slice of lemon to the water. if you get an iced drink, send it back, or just take the ice out with a spoon and put it in an empty dish. i've been doing this for years: it's no big deal.

And while your making such an effort to drink healthy, avoid caffeinated drinks including coffee, sodas and tea (and yes, the decaffeinated beverages are a misnomer: they still have caffeine). Avoid drinks with chemicals such as soft drinks, sports drinks and so on. A reliable rule of thumb is if you don't understand a word in the ingredient list, don't put it in your body.

The same holds true for foods (chemicals are not food) and anything you apply on your body surface, such as shampoo, lotion, cosmetics and shaving cream. remember the skin is the largest organ of your body. Chinese medicine includes the skin as part of the Lung system. chemicals get absorbed from the skin directly into the blood stream through the capillaries and micro vessels that circulate in the skin. Many people get rashes due to chemical irritants and exposure because the immune system (also included in the TCM Lung system) is not able to mount an effective response against them.

So drink clear, pure water. a little lemon adds flavor, and is cleansing. Many fasters do a 30 day master cleanse elimination diet for detoxification. Foods are gradually eliminated, beginning with drugs, alcohol, caffeine, sodas, then meats, carbs, fruits and veg until 3 days of juice fasting remains. During this time, a beverage of lemon water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper is sipped throughout the day. Lemon for cleansing, syrup for energy, and cayenne for warming and moving the blood. foods are then gradually added back in, in reverse order, beginning with fruits and vegetable. each new food is added one at a time, several hours apart, checking for any negative reactions in the body that would suggest a food sensitivity or allergy.

Many people like to begin their day with lemon water prior to breakfast: rise, drink a glass of lemon water, followed by meditation, yoga, qi gong, tai qi or other light exercise, then breakfast. this is a gentle way to begin the day and make the transition from sleep/dreams to waking/life. KB

And by the way: fasting should only be done by those with a strong constitution. Those who are weak, ill, infirm or hypoglycemic should not engage in fasting as the body cannot afford to go without regular nutrition throughout the day. Check with a health care practitioner prior to beginning a fast to be sure it is safe for you. TCM does not recommend fasting as we feel the Spleen needs regular meals and that fasting puts too much strain on the body. However, I can see the benefit of an elimination fast for those seeking to identify food sensitivities, if the patient has a strong and robust constitution.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons. Anglebattle brosJune 2016

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don't Let Worldly Matters Upset You: Some Meditation Tips

"That's a worldly matter: don't let it upset you". I've been trying to focus on this statement lately when something comes along that is disturbing or causes some fear or fret. "Remember your calm place" my inner voice intones.

The calm place is that place that i go to during meditation. It has taken me years of meditation practice to consistently find it. I notice that when i'm meditating daily i can remember it easily, but if i start skipping days and am inconsistent then i spend most of my time trying to calm the discursive thoughts.

beginners find this discursiveness frustrating and often give up. experienced meditators recognize it as an aspect of mind, and work through it.

i let my state of mind be a signal to me of my stress level: if i can't easily calm my thoughts, then i know i must work at reducing the stress in my life which is preventing me from being calm.

when i sit in meditation i begin with some yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) followed by chanting. this helps to quiet the mind. i chant om mani padme hum . any repetitive world or phase from any spiritual tradition will be helpful. choose a phrase that is meaningful to you. Om is a universal spiritual sound, pronounced "Aum" or ah-o-mmm. it is the root for the word amen .

Wikipedia on Om

before the breathing and the chanting, i like to state my purpose for meditating: why am i sitting today and what do i wish to accomplish from this meditation session. when my mind begins to wander i call it back, and try to remember my purpose in sitting.

when the thoughts get especially discursive and i cannot stay quiet, i visualize an image that's meaningful and inspiring to me. a deity, prophet or saint from any spiritual tradition will be helpful for this purpose. Whatever is inspirational to you and can help you to keep your focus.

when i'm meditating daily i can usually go fairly quickly to that place of calm abiding. in the body, i find it in my chest, behind my sternum (breast bone). it's connected to the heart energy. if i don't immediately find it, i can sometimes get there by focusing on the third eye (the spiritual center, between the eyebrows) and the heart energy simultaneously (i literally go to to the area of my physical heart behind the ribs in my chest). when i have those 2 centers in focus, i stay with it for a bit. then i go the well of my true being. not the one that flitters about, one minute happy, making plans, later angry or sad, but the wise, knowing 'old soul' as some may call it. i find this place physically behind the sternum. i remind myself to remember where this place is so i can easily find it again. when i waver, i call myself back to this dwelling place.

when i find myself fretting, worrying, sad or angry, i remind my self that the problem is a worldly matter and to find the place of calm abiding in which to dwell. KB

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fox News Interviews Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc About Allergy Treatment

"Do you ever google yourself?" I was asked last week. "It's been a long time", I replied. "Mostly professional stuff comes up: my website, blog, articles I've written and so on".

With this conversation in mind, i put my name in the search box, and hit enter. The expected hits came up. As I scrolled through them I came across an interview I did with Fox News several years ago for an article on allergy treatment using Chinese Medicine. I believe the article was (at least in part) ghostwritten. Manny Alvarez was given the byline, but it was a woman who interviewed me that spring morning.

This is a thoughtfully written article first explaining some basics about TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) theory and terminology, then going into the the interview with me about allergy treatment using Chinese Medicine, followed by a 2004 study on TCM treatment of allergies published in Allergy Magazine. KB

Fox News Allergy Interview with Kath Bartlett, LAc