February 23, 2008
Qi Blends are liquid herbal tinctures made just for dogs! We’ve launched with 12 blends that treat a variety of ailments including joint pain, digestive disorders, chronic and situational anxiety, and urinary problems. We have two “programs” for the skin and coat that include both internal and topical herbs. One program is for an itchy coat and the other one for hot spots and sores.
To learn about all our blends, please visit our website at www.qiblends.com.
We are beginning distribution nationally to holistic vets and pet health stores. If you know any dogs in need of holistic healthcare OR any veterinarians or pet stores you think may be interested, please let us know. We are getting incredibly positive feedback about the products, and are loving this new endeavor!
Our resolution lists were long! Opening Oasis Palisades in 2007 was great for us and sparked us to have lots of ideas and ambitions for ’08. But after going over all of our resolutions together, we realized one thing — We’re TIRED! Like many people we are trying to find balance: between work and family-time, exercise and relaxation, taking care of ourselves and caring for others. We’ve come to the conclusion that our first goal for the year is to boost up our energy levels. This inspired our article for the month, “Overcoming Fatigue with Chinese Medicine.”
We hope that you have the energy to achieve your goals and make your dreams come true in ’08. If you need any help or have questions about your health, please call us – (310) 454-5855. We’d love to hear from you!
Wishing you health and prosperity in the New Year,
Toni & Stephanie
February 23, 2008
by Antonia Balfour, L.Ac.
Does the site of a cozy massage table make you yawn and long for a nap? Are you grabbing for a cup of coffee by 3:00 or 4:00 every afternoon, or when you first wake up in the morning? Is daily fatigue interfering with your quality of life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, Chinese medicine may have the answers you’ve been looking for.
Fatigue is a complicated symptom with varied causes and treatments. The goal of Chinese medicine is to treat each person as an individual, addressing their unique imbalances and constitutional type. The first step to overcome fatigue is to find out why you are tired.
The causes of fatigue fall into two general categories: a deficiency of Qi or a deficiency of Yang. Qi is the body’s vital life force energy and is responsible for movement. Yang is responsible for activity (and is compared to Yin which is responsible for nourishment).
Qi and Yang can be damaged by: over-work, over-exercise, over-thinking (or worrying), aging, unhealthy eating, enduring illness, or side effects of medication.
The deficiencies in Qi and Yang that cause fatigue show up in different acupuncture meridians. The key to successful treatment of fatigue is first determining what is deficient – Qi or Yang, and then determining where in the body (or in what acupuncture meridians) these deficiencies exist. Acupuncture points and herbal formulas are prescribed to strengthen and boost the Qi and Yang in these specific areas to reestablish healthy energy levels throughout the body.
Qi deficiency causing fatigue can come from the Spleen, Kidney, or Lung meridian.
Spleen Qi Deficiency is the most commonly seen cause of fatigue. The Chinese Spleen is responsible for deriving energy from food. It separates “clear essence” which becomes energy from “turbid waste” which is excreted. Some of the symptoms of deficient Spleen Qi include poor appetite, bloating, gas, and easy bruising. The Spleen is also responsible for movement and transformation of fluids throughout the body. When the Qi is not functioning efficiently, water will accumulate and dampness occurs in the body. People with dampness may experience a feeling of heaviness, loose stools, fatigue and achy joints. Over time, dampness congeals into phlegm. For those with nasal allergies, a runny nose, or a productive cough, Spleen Qi deficiency and dampness need to be addressed in addition to the symptoms of phlegm.
Kidney Qi Deficiency – The Chinese Kidney is said to be the source of prenatal Qi, or the energy inherited from the parents. If Kidney Qi is deficient, fatigue is more extreme than that seen in Spleen Qi deficiency. There may also be lack of strength, dizziness, ringing in the ears, pain or weakness in the low back and/or knees, frequent urination, night urination, and possible edema in the ankles and lower legs.
Lung Qi Deficiency – The Chinese Lung derives energy from the air we breathe. When Lung Qi is deficient there is shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating that is worse on exertion, a weak voice, weakened immunity, and possibly an enduring weak cough.
The Yang of the body provides the energy for activity and warming. One of the hallmark symptoms of deficient yang is a feeling of cold, especially in the hands and feet. Fatigue from yang deficiency comes from the Kidney, Spleen, or Heart meridian.
Kidney Yang Deficiency – Kidney Yang deficiency is the most commonly seen deficiency of yang. Symptoms include low back pain or knee pain, frequent urination at night, cold feet, and diminished libido. There may also be dizziness and vertigo, ear ringing, or daybreak diarrhea.
Spleen Yang deficiency effects the digestive system causing a dull pain in the stomach or abdomen that feels better with pressure, loose stools, and/or diarrhea. There will also be a cold feeling in the body or cold hands and feet, and excessive clear urination.
Heart Yang deficiency symptoms include spontaneous sweating, chest oppression, palpitations, and agitation or anxiety together with the symptoms of Kidney yang deficiency.
It’s been 6 months since we opened the doors here at Oasis Palisades. We’ve done so much work and had a lot of fun at the same time. We’re still growing and making changes, so next time you come in you’ll notice some exciting new things.
On the personal side, we’ve had reason to celebrate recently. Last month Stephanie’s son Josh became an Eagle Scout with Troop 223 here in the Palisades. It’s a great accomplishment for him, and the end of an era for the whole family. Toni escaped to Boston for Thanksgiving where she spent time with husband Marc’s family, and took a side trip to Maine to indulge in major lobster-eating. This was the inspiration for the article below, “Holistic Tips to Boost Metabolism”.
We hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and are enjoying the holiday season!
As we reflect on the holidays, we feel so blessed to be in this community and have so much support from all of you. Thanks again for everything!
Your health and wellness are our primary concern. Feel free to contact us with any health questions and please spread the word to your friends that we’re here!
Wishing you the best of health,
Toni & Stephanie
February 23, 2008
Have you ever experienced a time when your emotions went haywire and you were extremely anxious one second, and overcome with sadness the next? Did you wonder about the source of your emotions? Is there a way to cope with this kind of emotional up and down?
Fortunately for most of us, there are many different kinds of treatments to help deal with some of the emotional issues that come up now and then. One of the most enjoyable and relaxing ones is massage – the healing power of touch.
This kind of healing not only promotes wellness in maintaining a balance in our physical body, but also stimulates growth emotionally, building optimism and emotional strength as well as soothing the mind. In an article from Insight Journal, Massage for Emotional Balance, Nan Little states, “Studies show that massage can help manage the physical symptoms of stress by lowering blood pressure, alleviating muscle tension, reducing pain, and promoting deep breathing. Emotionally, massage also promotes relaxation and a calm sense of peace, creates a general feeling of well-being, and increases sensitivity to the state of the body. This makes it easier to determine when to engage in the de-stressing activities in the future.”
Not only does this healing touch release stress, it also can smooth out mental issues like depression. According to an article in Massage Today, Ruth Werner indicates in Depression and the Stress Response System, that massage succeeds in healing where many other types of costly and strenuous treatments fail. Oftentimes a patient taking medication for depression or stress relief reaps fuller benefits when also receiving the healing touch of massage. Werner states, “Most people suffering from depression will reap several benefits from bodywork [massage]. Receiving non sexual, nurturing, non threatening touch is one of the most important ways humans and other mammals have to keep a healthy stress response. Massage is one of the few distinctively pleasurable things people can do that is also really good for them. The act of receiving a massage is a step toward self-determination that depressed people can take with little risk of having it backfire.” According to Little, massage also detoxifies and stimulates the production of hormones and neuro-chemicals that can help regulate mood.
Massage helps take the mind off worries and problem situations. It not only reduces anxiety but also strengthens the immune system, which anyone suffering from emotional instability should watch out for.
In short, the healing touch of massage is great as a healing treatment and also as a way to stabilize emotions and help you maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Teresa Xu is a junior at Wildwood School interning at Oasis Palisades.
February 23, 2008
by Antonia Balfour, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. & C.H.
Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from recurring headaches each year. The debilitating pain from chronic headaches can be life altering, causing sufferers to miss work, lose sleep, and experience a diminished quality of life. Side effects from pain medication can create an additional set of problems such as stomach pain, digestive complaints, dizziness, and muscle weakness.
Chinese Medicine treats headaches holistically, bringing balance to the body and emotions without negative side effects. This is done with acupuncture treatment, dietary therapy, and herbal remedies that are specific to the individual needs of each patient. Instead of treating every person’s headache the same way, Chinese medicine addresses their “patterns of disharmony” (or areas or imbalance).
Patterns of disharmony take into account -
· Yin & Yang –
Yin and Yang are opposites. A person’s symptoms can be looked at in terms of yin/yang parameters. For example, cold is yin and heat is yang. Damp is yin and dry is yang. An acupuncturist’s job is to apply the theories of yin and yang to all aspects of the patient. Specifically for headaches, one would ask – are the eyes dry or watery? Is there a cold sensation in the head, or a sensation of heat with burning eyes?
· Qi, Blood, and Body Fluids –
Qi (vital energy), blood, and body fluid are fundamental substances that sustain health. Imbalances in these three areas can cause a variety of health problems. Qi, blood, and body fluids can be weak and deficient, in which case they are unable to nourish the body and function properly. Deficient qi causes a dull headache with an empty sensation in the head along with fatigue and shortness of breath. Deficient blood and body fluids create a dull headache with dizziness and possibly blurry vision. On the other hand – qi, blood and body fluids can be excess and overflowing in which case they become stuck or stagnant. Qi and blood that are stuck can cause a sharp, fixed pain that may be severe. On the emotional side, stuck qi can cause frustration and irritability. To attain balance, these three vital substances need to be strong and healthy in their flow.
· Channels and Collaterals –
The channels and collaterals are considered to be a series of connecting passages through which qi and blood flow. The primary channels are indicated by the lines that are shown on acupuncture charts. Ten of the 12 primary channels are named for organs they are associated with. It’s important to note that these organs in Chinese medicine are not the same as their western counterparts. The Chinese Kidney, for example, may have some of the same functions as the western Kidney, but it is a much broader concept than simply the anatomical organ. If the yin of the Kidney meridian is deficient there may be a headache with an “empty” sensation in the head. A Kidney yang deficiency creates a dull headache possibly with a cold sensation in the head. In both these cases, it’s likely that the anatomical kidney is perfectly healthy. Imbalances in the Liver meridian also cause headaches. When yang energy rises up the Liver meridian, this causes headaches at the top of the head or in the temples. Excess heat, or fire, in the Liver meridian creates a headache with a distended feeling in the head and red eyes. Chinese meridians also have emotions associated with them. The emotion of the Kidney is fear and the emotion of the Liver is anger or irritability.
This brief explanation of patterns of disharmony just touches the surface in describing the many different ways an acupuncturist analyzes imbalance. Most people have multiple patterns going on at a time, sometimes as many as eight or ten.
Treatment with Chinese medicine is customized – specifically addressing the unique needs of each patient. Its success has been recognized by the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, and in studies conducted around the world. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers in Italy examined the effectiveness of acupuncture versus a variety of pharmacological therapies in treating migraines. Results revealed that patients given acupuncture experienced fewer migraine episodes, missed fewer days from work, and suffered no side effects compared to patients on conventional drug therapy.
To learn more about our treatment of headaches with Chinese medicine, see The Chronic Headache Treatment Program.
Through the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, gentle exercise, and relaxation techniques, whole health and wellness is within reach!
As many of you know, at the beginning of June we opened a new Health & Wellness Center, Oasis Palisades. After working in Holistic Healthcare in the Palisades for many years, we’ve expanded to a new business featuring Acupuncture, Herbs, & Massage.
Our vision for Oasis Palisades is to focus on “affordability” and “quality”. Bodywork treatments include Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, pregnancy massage, and Shiatsu — all at very reasonable prices. For the optimal benefit of your skin, our massages use organic oils (rich in Vitamin E) or hypoallergenic lotions. Treatment with acupuncture is gentle, relaxing, and is beneficial for a variety of conditions from back pain to headaches to fertility. We also offer customized herbal formulas, individually tailored for each patient.
The Oasis has a serene and beautiful atmosphere (thanks to our fabulous designer, Thane Roberts!) We look very forward to sharing it with you.
We LOVE our location (a hidden Oasis in the Palisades), but could use your help in getting the word out that we’re here! If you have any friends who may be interested, please feel free to tell them about us.
Wishing you the best of health,
Toni & Stephanie
February 23, 2008
by Antonia Balfour, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. & C.H.
Acupuncture and massage therapy in particular are used for the two most common arthritis disorders, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage shuts down leading to severe pain and stiffness. Commonly affected areas include the hips, knees, fingers, and spine. The wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles can also be involved when there is a prior injury or weakness from repetitive strain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation and soft tissue swelling. Commonly, the immune system attacks the body’s joints (often several joints at a time). This inflammatory condition can also affect the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles. RA can last a long time and can be a disease of flares (active symptoms) and remissions (few to no symptoms).
From a Chinese medicine viewpoint, arthritis arises when the cycle of “Qi” (or life-force energy) in the meridians becomes blocked. This blockage is called “bi” pain and is categorized according to location, quality of pain, impaired mobility, and the amount of heat, inflammation, and swelling. Pain from arthritis can be caused by internal or external factors. Internal factors include stress, weakened defenses, or depletion of vital energy resulting in the degeneration of bone, tendons, and cartilage; and external factors include wind, temperature extremes, and dampness.
Recent studies show the efficacy of Chinese medicine in the treatment of arthritis. The National Institutes of Health published a study involving 570 patients with knee arthritis who, despite taking pain medication, still experienced moderate to severe pain. After 14 weeks of acupuncture treatment the patients in the acupuncture group reported a nearly 40 percent improvement in function and after 26 weeks reported even better results.
A Scandinavian study reports that 25 percent of arthritis patients who had been scheduled for hip replacement surgery cancelled their operation after acupuncture treatment.
Tips to Eliminate Arthritis Pain
· Get Treated with Acupuncture
Acupuncture is highly effective at treating arthritis because Chinese medicine customizes treatment according to the individual symptoms each patient experiences. Acupuncture (often together with Chinese herbs) can strengthen Qi or disperse blockages of Qi. Chinese medicine also addresses the pathogens wind, cold, dampness, and damp-heat associated with arthritis. This means that whether your pain is heavy, sharp, burning, fixed, moving, hot, or cold – treatment will be designed specifically for you. Acupuncture has no side effects and does not add toxins to the body.
· Have Regular Massage
Massage is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but also has a therapeutic effect in successfully treating a variety of pain conditions. There are a variety of massage styles to benefit arthritis pain. Swedish massage is the most relaxing and is used to stimulate blood flow to the skin and relax the muscles. Deep tissue massage goes deeper into specific muscles and joints to decrease pain and improve movement. Reflexology is a style of massage where deep pressure is applied to points on the feet that correspond with the whole body. During an acute flare-up of arthritis inflammation, reflexology is often a good massage choice as painful joints are not being directly touched, but are still being addressed through the corresponding area of the foot.
For people with frequent arthritis flare-ups, consistent massage will rid the body of toxins that aggravate inflammation. Fresh nutrients and oxygen are brought to the joints and tissues, reducing swelling, stiffness, and pain.
· Keep Consistent with Exercise
The best types of exercise to keep joints mobile, increase circulation, and strengthen the tendons, ligaments and muscles are swimming, gentle yoga, Qi Gong, walking, and light weight training.
· Eat Healthy Foods According to your Constitution
Your diet plays an important role in helping control pain from arthritis. Chinese medicine teaches the importance of eating foods according to your constitution.
Dampness — If your joints become swollen or your symptoms are worse in damp and rainy weather, it’s important to eliminate “damp” foods from your diet. Stay away from dairy products, sugar, heavy foods like peanut butter, and greasy or fried foods.
Heat — If painful areas are red, have a hot or burning sensation, or feel hot to the touch then it’s important to avoid foods that add heat to the body. Stay away from spicy dishes and coffee.
Cold — If there is severe pain at a fixed location (usually a joint or muscle) that is alleviated by applying warmth, this is likely “cold bi pain”. Avoid cold foods such as ice cream or icy drinks and keep the consumption of raw foods (like salads and raw vegetables) to a minimum. Steamed vegetables and soups are a healthy alternative to salad and ginger tea is a great beverage choice.
Wind –Wind in arthritis is characterized by the movement of symptoms from place to place. Joint movement is limited, and soreness and pain move from joint to joint. Avoid nuts, alcohol, sugar, and fried or fatty foods. Wind will commonly combine with cold or heat, so follow the eating guidelines in those categories as well.
All arthritis sufferers – Focus your diet on fresh vegetables, grains, beans, some fruit, and a small amount of meat. Try increasing the amount of fish in your diet (cold-water fish like mackerel and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which reduce pain and swelling). Maintain a healthy weight to avoid overtaxing the joints.
· Avoid Medications unless they are TRULY Necessary
Painkillers should be reserved for those times when they are really needed. This prevents the body from being weakened by over-medicating, and the painkillers will be more effective when used.
Even after the onset of arthritis, you can expect to return to a full and active life. Used in combination, the tips listed above can dramatically improve your symptoms and return you to having a great quality of life.