Autumn 2011: History and Variety
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a documented 2000 year old history. What this tells us is that acupuncture and Chinese herbs work. Humans would not have continued using these medical approaches if they weren't effective. The other wonderful thing about acupuncture and Chinese herbs is that the disciplines are not static. They have been developed--practitioners have continually worked, tested, studied, and documented their protocols to improve their results. Other nations have adopted acupuncture and have adapted it for their own people's illnesses, climates, and temperaments. If you have any experience with acupuncture you may know that Korean hand acupuncture, Japanese needling, Five Element theory, to name a few acupuncture approaches, vary greatly from traditional Chinese needling. Even within China, acupuncture treatments vary. In the north of China it is quite cold so moxabustion is used quite often because there are more "cold" illnesses. In the south of China, the climate is warm and humid. Moxabustion is not often used as the imbalances are already hot. As an American, I like to receive gentle needling. Needles for me as a child meant pain and soreness from immunizations...I want to relax and absorb a gentle relaxing treatment that I feel better at the end of. In parts of China it is said that if you don't feel the needling the acupuncture won't work. Different approaches for different folks.
This is all to say that variety of approaches is beneficial. No one psychologist or gynecologist or internist is right for every different patient. Health care recipients come into a medical office with their own stories, from their own culture and personal history, and appreciate being approached, talked to in a way that is particular to them. It is a wonderful thing to explore the different approaches to see what makes them unique and how they feel to you personally. It is even better to find that unique approach and that specific acupuncturist that is right for you.
- Wash your hands before eating: more effective for stomach bugs than colds/flu
- Don't rub your eyes: the easiest way to get germs in your system
- Hydrate with water: be careful with teas they, as well as coffee, can be dehydrating
- Sleep: to keep your immunity up, energy up, and crankiness down
- Stress relief: stress can bring down your immunity
- Exercise: helps decrease stress, increases energy, aides good sleep and more. Make sure you chose a exercise program that is right especially if starting a new program. It is suggested you do this with the guidance of your health care practitioner.
- 100 degree soup: if you have digestive issues, it is suggested not to eat foods straight out of the refrigerator or freezer. These make your body work harder. Soups, stews, lightly cooked vegetables are considered "predigested" so your body can extract the nutrients and vitamins with the least amount of effort.
Kathleen Hiatt Cutter, L.Ac.
Summer 2009: Time for yourself
We should all be eating right, getting good deep sleep, getting exercise, and managing our stress. In short, we should be living life in Balance. This is easier said than done as we face environmental challenges, the myriad of activities that come with the end of school, and fair weather commitments.
The weather has been windy and changeable this spring. We have had a heat wave, rain, chilly evenings, and morning fog. Our bodies--our immune systems--have a hard time adjusting to this shifting environment. This means colds and flu! Until the weather settles into its consistent summer's warmth do your best to carry extra layers in your car, keep hydrated, eat well, and sleep well. This will give your body the best chance to avoid falling ill.
Allergies to grasses are in full swing. Therefore headaches, sinus congestion, wheezing, coughing, fatigue---cold/flu like symptoms--could really be your body's reaction to your environment.
At the end of the school year, we are busy helping our children and ourselves to tie up lose ends, finish projects and finals, and making summer plans to keep everybody busy, happy, and taken care of. This can be crazy making. It is more important than ever to commit ourselves to ourselves. Whether your commitment is going to a yoga class once a week (could you fit in more?), taking a walk around your neighborhood, meditating more regularly, getting a massage or acupuncture treatment...it is important to take time just for yourself for emotional, physical, and "spiritual" health.
By taking care of yourself you will be more energized and in a better state of mind and attitude to complete what you have to do. You can also think of it is as a civic duty: by doing things for ourselves we model this for our
children. We give them the opportunity to see the full potential of being an adult: that, while adults have responsibilities (parenting, working, contributing to the community), adult lives are also rewarding and enriching by commitments to and the pursuit of hobbies, activities, and personal health.
Often hectic times lead to sleeplessness, anxiety, worry, and stress. Herbal remedies can help ease anxiety, worry and stress and help re-establish good sleep, correct appetite, improve irritability,and PMS. Acupuncture can also produce an immediate relaxing effect that carries continues after getting up from the table. If you are an established patient of mine and feel that you do not have time for an acupuncture treatment please call for a time to come in so I can take your pulse and look at your tongue, discuss briefly your current symptoms and I will get you an herbal formula specific for your situation.
In these financially strained times it may seem more difficult than ever, but hiking, walking the dog, riding around the block on your bike, flying a kite, having a picnic at the park are creative ways of enjoying life and lowering stress. Oh yeah, and DO forget the cell phone for a few hours.
Spring 2009: Cold, Flu, and Allergies
Cold, Flu, and Allergy Season
Spring is in evidence with the Acacia trees, apple blossoms, bulbs, and weeds in bloom! However, the weather and temperatures are in a time of flux. It can be sunny and hot one moment and damp and foggy the next. Late afternoon and evenings are still quite chilly. Allergies and weather fluctuations can be hard on the immune system! Not to mention that the cold and flu season is not yet over.
A few suggestions for staying healthy:
• Herbs and acupuncture can fortify the body's immune system to help minimize allergy suffering. Ideally, acupuncture and herbs should taken prior to the onset of symptoms for best results.
• Wash your hands before meals. Avoid touching your eyes and nose as well as your mouth as these are points of germ entry.
• Dress in layers and wear a scarf or high collar and be sure to have appropriate wet weather gear. Change as soon as possible if you become wet, this includes sweaty workout clothes. Wearing wet clothes can result in becoming chilled further challenging the immune system which can make one susceptible to illness.
• Getting an acupuncture treatment when "feeling worn down" or when you feel a cold/flu coming on can help prevent or lessen the severity of a cold or flu.
• Chinese herbal formulas can help strengthen the immune system to help ward off or lessen the severity of colds and flu.
If you feel the beginnings of a cold act right away:
• Make sure you get plenty of sleep, tone down rigorous exercise routines until you feel fully recovered.
• Drink plenty of fluids (room temperature or tea temperature, not cold/icy) and soups (as they are nourishing and easy for the body to digest).
• Drink fresh ginger tea to help keep a cold from settling in. Drink it as long as any nasal/cough discharge you may be having stays clear (stop drinking if phlegm turns yellow or green).
• Make sure you are taking Vitamin C in appropriate dosage.
• You may have discovered Chinese herbal formulas for colds, flu, cough, etc. at your local health food store. I would recommend calling me or consult another Chinese herbalist before taking any Chinese herbal formula as Chinese herbal formulas are made for specific stages of colds and flu. It is important to have guidance so as not to make your cold or flu worse.
If you suffer from allergies:
• Not always practical...but minimize exposure to allergens. If you have a cat, you can keep the cat indoors so s/he doesn't bring pollen in on their fur. Another option is brushing the cat with a dander brush and keeping the cat off bedclothes.
• Irrigating your nose is a good way to wash out the allergens. There are several ways to do this. Instructions can be found at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nasal-lavage/MM00552. The Neti Pot makes nasal irrigation easy with its clever design and included instructions. One piece of advice: if you plan to use the Neti Pot in the shower or tub, use a plastic model!
• Chinese herbs are especially effective at fortifying the immune system and minimizing allergy symptoms if they are taken for the 6 weeks prior to the advent of allergy season.
• Acupuncture treatments and herbs can be very helpful in alleviating symptoms and lessening the severity of allergies.
Winter 2008-2009: Seasonal Transitions
The transition of the season from summer to autumn can be taxing to our health. Summer vacations and relaxation give way to work and school. Fall allergy season and the beginnings of the cold and flu season begin. Indian Summer days can turn breezy and cold throwing additional immunity challenges our way. For specific hints of how to "weather" the challenges of the cold-flu season, allergies, and environmental challenges, please refer to the information in the "Archived Newsletters" section of this website.
In addition to cooler weather and its challenges to our immunity, autumn brings longer nights and the "darkening" of days. Less sun exposure of the fall and winter months can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), even here in “Sunny California.” People with this mood disorder can suffer from depression, fatigue, they may wish to withdraw from social activities and have difficulties working. Changes in appetite and food cravings may also result. Symptoms can be debilitating.
Possible causes for SAD may be due to and increase in melatonin levels (a hormone that relates to sleep) and/or a drop of serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter that affects mood). Also the changes in light may throw your body’s internal clock and in turn your sleep and mood.
Traditional treatments can consist of light therapy, antidepressants, and or psychotherapy depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Additional non-traditional therapies include acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
An acupuncturist/herbalist may evaluate two people suffering from SAD or depression and come up with two different diagnoses, two different sset of acupuncture points, and two different herbal formulas. Some people suffering from depression lack an appetite, others suffer from intense cravings, still others may experience an increase in appetite; some suffer from insomnia, others from too much sleep. In short, just as no two people suffering from depression are exactly alike, no two Chinese medical treatments for depressions are exactly alike. If wish to discuss this at greater length, please do not hesitate to contact me.
So whether you are suffering from SAD or a case of “winter blues” because of spending more time indoors doing indoor activities under artificial light. I encourage you to take measures to break your “cabin fever” and seek advice/assistance from your General Practitioner (MD), acupuncturist/herbalist, or other qualified medical practitioner.
If you feel you are suffering from severe depression: do not hesitate to call 911, go to your nearest hospital, or call 1-800-SUICIDE . Seek professional help immediately.
Kathleen Hiatt Cutter
Autumn 2008: Taking Care of Ourselves
During the winter and the holiday season, despite our best
intentions, things can get a bit tense.
Between family and out-of-town guests, rich food, shopping, social
obligations, and expectations we may find ourselves growing tense, anxious, and
irritable. So much for a joyous season!
Here I’d like to suggest ways in which you can best be prepared
to deal with the hoopla. I’d also like
to share some techniques you can use to get back to a calm state after you find
yourself “worked up.”
There are a few things you can do to reconnect with yourself
and what you need—for you! This may be
the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and by proxy to our families. When we are more connected with ourselves we
are able to give to our families from the heart without resentment. In other words, when we feel taken care of,
we live and interact with others from a feeling fullness. Children
especially sense when we are less than 100%...they can sense when we are tired,
distracted by “things” at this time they tend to demand more attention at that
moment. Begin: the snowball effect.
More and more studies stress the importance of good nights
sleep. With those of us in care giving
roles or with young children that may seem laughably impossible. Try to take a nap if you can. If that still seems comical, try lying on
your right side for 10 minutes. In
Chinese medical theory the liver is where the blood gets replenished. By lying on your right side the blood can “pool”
there thus increasing restorative powers.
Try lying down with your baby/child for 10 minutes of his/her nap…then
get back to it!
Other options to drinking water are non-caffeinated
teas. Coffee can increase feelings of
anxiety or stress. If you are a die hard
coffee drinker try switching one or more cups to a green or black tea. Your body may respond very differently to the
caffeinated tea than coffee. Iced drinks
are not recommended: room temperature or
hot. Our bodies need to be hydrated to
help our immunity ward off colds and flu not to mention, the dry weather and
Soups and stews are the best choices at this time of year
because a soup packed with veggies and legumes (or meat) make it easy for our
bodies to easily absorb their nutrients.
Slow cookers make meal preparation really easy: chop, add water, and turn it on before you
run out the door in the morning (any of you laughing?)
Parties and Winter time "comfort food" can weigh us down leading to
bowel changes, bloating, abdominal discomfort, feelings of sluggishness and
lethargy, and even mood changes. Make
note of these reactions and try to figure the culprit(s). This information puts
you in charge…you can make a choice of “momentary” enjoyment or the consequence.
You may be experiencing “food
intolerance.” You may want to consider
a rotation diet…if there is interest in this you can call me for a consultation.
Connect through a
Whether playing an instrument, running, hiking, listening to
music, gardening, painting or sculpting—connect with some activity that gives
you more energy and a sense of deep satisfaction. This will help bring clarity and peace to
your deepest levels.
You have found
yourself upset..what to do now.
During the situation:
One of my favorite techniques to use with a difficult person
is to visualize a triangle between that person and myself. It can be any size; you can shrink it and
enlarge it during the situation. This
triangle is a black hole. I had a client
with narcissistic sister. Her sister,
using their past closeness and sense of sisterly obligation, tried to get my client
to bail her out of another tough spot.
My client, knowing that by helping her out was enabling this dynamic to
continue, “placed’ the triangle between them.
By doing this, my client disengaged and was not drawn in by her sister. She was able to sympathize with her sister’s
predicament and yet not take it on.
The aftermath of a situation:
Whether you are dealing with a minor fender bender, a heated
family confrontation, or a “scare/near miss,” your body has been changed
physiologically. Your heart rate may be
accelerated, you may notice you are perspiring; a feeling of anxiousness won’t
seem to leave even though the “danger” is over.
It is important to take your
body out of “high alert” status. Here
are a few techniques.
Do something physical:
Go for a run, brisk walk, or ride, whatever it is to do the
“flight” after the fright. Fully engage
your respiratory system. Really take
deep breaths and consciously breathe the situation out—visualize it leaving
Can’t leave the kids/work?
Put on some crazy music and dance it out with your kids or
listen to your Ipod. Madly paint/chalk the sidewalk/butcher paper
or scribble on a pad of paper.
Kids asleep, can’t leave?
Go to your kids bury your nose in their smell and breathe them in deeply and
breathe out your love and gratitude for them to them just as fully. It is important that this circle is
complete. They are not responsible for
taking care of us emotionally even when they are asleep.
Visualize the situation and change your emotion:
You can’t change what has happened but perhaps you can
revisit it and have it feel different in your body. When I was 8 months pregnant, I was driving
down the freeway when a car lost control in front of me. I was able to pull over to the far left lane,
call 911 and wait just until the paramedics arrived. Afraid that this was endangering my unborn
baby as well as myself, I left without talking to anyone. I was shaken up. I pulled over to a safe place and breathed
“wellness” (aka prayers) for the driver and compassion and forgiveness towards
myself for leaving.
That’s the short course.
Hope it helps and I hope the holidays are restorative and full of good
company and joy.
Kathleen Hiatt Cutter