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Acupuncture and Fall Foods

The dropping temperatures and colorful landscape can only mean one thing: fall is right around the corner. Also known as the Autumnal Equinox, the fall season begins on September 23 and lasts until December 21. During this time many people will succumb to illness, such as the common cold, flu virus (influenza) or infections, but the good news is that you can protect yourself from seasonal fall sickness by eating the right foods and seeking the services of a licensed acupuncturist.



Pumpkins aren’t used strictly for making spooky Halloween jack-o-lanterns; they are also a nutrition-packed fruit that’s loaded in beneficial vitamins and minerals. Pumpkins are classified as a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which is the same family as squash, cantaloupes and cucumbers. This festive orange fruit is loaded in variety of free radical-fighting antioxidants, such as leutin, xanthin and carotenes.

Pumpkin seeds are equally as nutritious as the actual fruit. They are an excellent source of  fiber, monosaturated fatty acids (the good fat), protein, selenium, zinc and iron. So instead of tossing the pumpkin “guts” in the trash, bake them on a cookie sheet for a nutritious snack.


The adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” holds true during the fall season. When you feel the onset of a hunger craving, grab an apple. It’s a sweet and delicious fruit that’s chalk full of beneficial vitamins.

Apples contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and fiber. And at just 90 calories per serving, it’s a great snack choice for people who are trying to lose weight.

Brussels Sprouts

A third food that you should include in your diet this fall is Brussels sprouts. Sprouts boost immune function with their high concentration of vitamin A. and antioxidants. Brussels sprouts are also rich in protein and dietary fiber, which is just one more reason why they should be a regular part of your diet.

If you don’t prefer the taste of plain Brussels sprouts, you can make them a bit more palatable by roasting them in the oven with a glaze of olive oil and all-natural sea salt. This will create a caramelized coating that compliments its natural flavors..

Beat Seasonal Fall Illness With Acupuncture

If you really want to safeguard yourself against illness this fall season, you should consider scheduling an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist. People  from across the world have used this ancient practice for centuries to ward off disease and improve their overall health. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanism, which subsequently boosts the immune system and white blood cell (WBC) count.

Boost Your Immune System Using These Two Points

Lu 7 and St 36

Although they are invisible to the naked eye, we are exposed to millions upon millions of germs. Bacteria, viruses , fungi and protozoa are found on nearly every surface,  including doorknobs, furniture, office supplies, phones, remote controls, and even the food we eat. Thankfully, most of these germs are harmless and pose no direct threat to our health, but there are others which aim to cause infection and illness. You can safeguard yourself against these foreign invaders, however, by utilizing the Lu 7 and St 36 acupuncture po330446798_382e2ae7f7_zints.

Lu 7 Acupuncture Point

The Lu 7 (also known as the Lieque 7 or Lung 7) is an acupuncture point that’s commonly used to treat bodily infections while subsequently boosting the immune system. To locate it, form a “thumbs up” gesture with your hand and look for the small crease in your skin at the base of your thumb. The Lu 7 acupuncture point is found roughly 2 finger-lengths up the wrist from this crease. It’s most easily identified by feeling around this area of your wrist for a subtle depression at the bottom of two tendons.

Lu 7 is known to offer relief of the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Chest congestion
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

Stu 36 Acupuncture Point

The St 36 (also known as Zusanli, Leg Three Mile or Stomach 36) is another powerful immune-boosting acupuncture point. Don’t let its name fool you into thinking it’s located on the stomach, though. St 36 is actually located on the underside of the leg, directly behind and below the patella.

St 36 receives its namesake for the symptoms it’s used to treat. While Lu 7 focuses on cold and fever-like symptoms, St 36 is used more digestive problems.

Lu 7 is known to offer relief of the following symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Low energy

How Lu 7 and St 36 Can Improve Immune System Function

The human body’s built-in mechanism for defending against germs and foreign invaders is the immune system. This complex system is comprised of a variety of different white blood cells, such as neutrophilis, eosinopholis, monocytes and basophils, that actively seek out and neutralize harmful germs. Acupuncture treatments using the Lu 7 and St 36 stimulate the immune system so it produces more of these “fighters,” which in turn keeps us healthy while protecting against disease and illness.

Photo Credit:  Thunderchild7 via Flickr Creative Commons.

6 Tips To Keep You Strong and Healthy This Fall

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 5-20% of people in the U.S. will catch the flu virus, 200,000 of whom will be hospitalized due to the complications (source).  Although you can catch the flu virus at any time of the year, it’s far more prevalent during the fall and winter months. To protect yourself against the flu, colds and other illnesses this fall, check out the following 6 tips.

#1) Stay Active

Exercise plays a direct role in the human body’s immune function. Whether it’s running, jogging, playing tennis, or using your preferred machine at the gym, physical activity stimulates white blood cells and antibodies, sending them throughout the body. This improves the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases, so be sure to exercise on a regular basis this fall.


#2) Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant that can improve your health and protect against illness. A study conducted in 2007 found that a daily 200 milligram dose of vitamin C when taken at the onset of a cold shortened its duration by 8% in adults and 14% in children. With fall and winter being the prime time of year for colds, it’s a good idea to supplement your daily diet with at least 75 milligrams of this powerful antioxidant.

#3) Cut Back on Refined Sugars

Consuming too much refined sugar can increase your risk of developing type II diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. It’s also been proven to suppress the immune system, leaving individuals more susceptible to disease and illness.

So, how sugar should you consume to stay healthy throughout the fall season? The American Heart Association (AHA) currently recommends a maximum of 37.5 grams of refined sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women.

#4) Eat Fall-Colored Foods

Yet another way to improve your health is to eat more fall-colored foods. Generally speaking, the more color you have on your dinner plate, the better. Foods that are bright orange, red and green are all excellent sources of vitamins and antioxidants. Some ideas include squash, bell peppers, zucchini and broccoli, all of which will help keep you healthy this fall season.

#5) Make a Soup

There’s no better time than the chilly fall season to make a hearty beef and vegetable soup. Avoid store-bought soups, which are usually loaded in sodium and preservatives, and instead make your own from scratch. This allows you to include a variety of beneficial vegetables and seasoning, tailoring it to your own personal preference.

The Season of Summer

Ahh, summer

time for long, sunny days, warm weather, and brightly-blooming gardens. But the season is also significant in another way. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body’s Organ systems are most accessible during specific times of year. During the late summer, the Spleen and Stomach are most active and most open to influence both positive and negative.

The Spleen and Stomach are associated with the Earth element, as well as certain colors, sounds, times of day, and other correspondences (see table). The Earth element is related to security, feeling grounded and the natural rhythms of life.

The Spleen performs many functions, including:

  • Transforming food and fluids into energy
  • Transporting energy to muscles, flesh and limbs
  • Ensuring that blood circulates throughout the body
  • Producing a “lifting” effect, keeping the internal organs in place
  • Governing our capacity for thinking and concentration

The Stomach is paired with the Spleen, and helps to digest food and transform it into energy. When the Spleen and Stomach are in balance and Qi (“life energy”) is flowing freely through them, the body will have physical energy and vitality, good muscle tone, a healthy appetite and good digestion. The Spleen and Stomach can be affected by many factors, including poor diet and eating habits, lack of exercise, excessive concentration, worry and stress.

If your Spleen and Stomach are out of balance, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms (see table on front). Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, it’s an especially good time to receive preventive acupuncture care. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine provide a natural approach to restoring and maintaining balance. When we strive for optimal balance, we achieve good health throughout the year. 

By allowing Qi to flow freely, acupuncture can help your body heal itself and help you make the most of all the energy and fun of summer!

Food for Body, Mind, Spirit

Acupuncture and the Heart

Research has shown that acupuncture can improve the health of patients who experience severe heart problems by dramatically reducing the activity in the sympathetic nervous system that regulates heartbeat and blood pressure.

The study conducted through the Los Angeles School of Medicine suggests that acupuncture can be used “successfully with long-range results in improving hypertension, and it may also be beneficial in lowering sympathetic nerve activity.”

Overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system is common with patients who suffer from heart problems. Over time, this may cause the heart to work harder, forcing blood to flow through blood vessels that are constricted due to heightened nerve activity.

The study showed that sympathetic nerve activation was significantly reduced in those individuals who received acupuncture care compared to those who only received a placebo. The lead physician in the study, Dr. Middlekauff, suggests, “that more study is needed before acupuncture can be recommended, but acupuncture has been used successfully and with long-range results in improving hypertension, and it may also be beneficial in lowering sympathetic nerve activity.”

Middlekauff HR. Acupuncture in the treatment of heart failure. Cardiol Rev. 2004 May-Jun;12(3):171-3.

Walk Your Way to Better Health

Starting a new fitness routine can be a little daunting, but improving your health doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other!

Why walk?

Walking is an effective, easy, and low-impact way to improve your health. In fact, regular physical activity such as walking can provide major benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Weight loss
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Reduced risk of developing diabetes
  • Stress relief

Getting started

Set aside some time in your day, choose a safe route, invest in some comfortable walking shoes, and go! While it’s ideal to get at least 45 minutes of moderate exercise a day, any amount of activity can be beneficial. Remember, start slowly and work your way up if you haven’t been exercising regularly. Aim to walk a short distance three times a week, and increase your distance and speed gradually.

Stay motivated by walking with a partner, listening to music, or choosing a route that you really enjoy. Try carrying a pedometer to keep track of how far you’ve gone. As your body adjusts to the new activity, you may find that you have more energy, your moods feel more balanced, and you feel healthier overall. If you set realistic goals and stick to them, you’ll be amazed at what a simple daily walk can do for your health! 

Cool-Out Summer Salad

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 large dill or sour pickle, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Allow salad to marinate for 1 hour.

Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze, discard seeds, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Toss all ingredients together. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Summertime Foods

As the weather grows warmer we often become more active and participate in a variety of outdoor activities.  An ideal summer diet is light and filled with fresh foods with high water content, and brightly colored with summer fruits and vegetables.

Foods for a Summer Diet


  • Adzuki
  • Garbanzo
  • Green
  • Kidney
  • Sprouted


  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon


  • Brown rice
  • Millet
  • White rice


  • Almonds


  • Chili pepper
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel
  • Green tea
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint


  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower


  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Green peas
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnip
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sugar peas
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato
  • Yams
  • Zucchini

Each organ has a specific flavor that affects it. Foods with a bitter taste stimulate the function of the heart. These include green leafy vegetables such as endive, escarole, lettuce and watercress, coffee, tea and chocolate. These foods can nourish the heart, but consumed in excess do more harm than good.

Raw fruits, fresh salads, cool soups and lightly cooked meals of grains and vegetables are adequate this time of year for healthy, vigorous adults. Sprouted vegetables and grains can be mixed in with a variety of dishes to help maintain a cool body temperature.

You can even add a bit of spicy, pungent or fiery flavors. At first, spicy, fiery foods may raise the body temperature, but ultimately they can draw body heat out to the surface where it can be dispersed. For this purpose you can cook with red and green hot peppers, fresh ginger, red pepper, black pepper or cayenne. But don’t overdo it. Keep your summer spice intake to a minimum.

If you are sautéing foods, use high heat for a short period of time. When simmering or steaming foods, do it as quickly as possible so you can retain the fresh tastes.

Consuming heavy foods on hot days can make you feel sluggish and slow down your digestion. Such foods include eggs, grains, seeds, nuts and meats. As a rule of thumb, eat heavier meals in the morning or evening. This type of summer diet can help you feel lighter in the heat of the day, maintain your energy, and aid in weight loss.

For better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, avoid mixing too many foods together at one sitting. Fruits and juicier foods are best eaten alone or between meals. Summer heat along with too many cold drinks can weaken digestive organs and impair digestion; too much ice cream and iced drinks are best avoided.

Summer invites us to become more active. Just be sure to stay hydrated by consuming enough water, juices and herbal teas.

Speedy Spring Cleaning Tips

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all of life is influenced by seasonal cycles.  You are probably Most people love a clean house but few people have time to do a deep clean. The days of spending a week thoroughly cleaning your home are gone.

It’s unfortunate. Spring is a great time for cleaning. Feng Shui (the Chinese study of harmonizing your environment) recommends spring cleaning, not only because it’s nice to live in a clean house, but also because it increases the Qi of your home. Living in an environment of healthy, balanced Qi supports your health and happiness.

It’s possible to have a clean home without spending days cleaning it. Follow these professional house cleaning tips to get your house sparkling in record time.

  • Simplify your cleaning products. Most cleaning only needs two solutions: an all-purpose cleaning solution and a window cleaner. This means you only need to carry two bottles and some rags.
  • Use a tool-belt. Use a tool or garden belt to keep your supplies handy at all times. If you simplify your cleaners, you’ll need a pocket for some rags and two loops to hang the spritzer bottles.
  • Have a large supply of rags. Instead of rinsing your rag when it gets dirty, get a clean one. When you are finished, throw all the rags in the washer at once.
  • Work clockwise. Begin directly to the right of the door. Work high to low and circle the room clockwise. For example, dust top shelves before the lower ones; wipe counter tops before baseboards. Be very systematic—don’t jump ahead or backtrack. Clean top to bottom and when you finish one patch, move to your right to do the next. You’ll finish the room in one cycle.
  • Clean all aspects of a room in a single cycle. Dust, wipe and do windows in one pass. Make sure that you have all your supplies in your belt before you begin.
  • Vacuum or sweep the floor last.
  • Soak your tub. If your tub or shower has soap scum built up, spritz with white vinegar 10 minutes before you get to the bathroom to allow time for it to soak.
  • Use a squeegee. Squeegees make window and mirror cleaning fast. For the best results, use a professional-grade squeegee. After you squeegee your window, use a dry rag to clean up the edges. If the surface has sticky dirt, use a rag to scrub the window before squeegeeing.
  • Collect your clutter. Use a laundry basket to collect items that need to be returned to a different room. Move the basket from room to room and only empty it when you are finished.
  • Clean inside to out. Clean the inside of the toilet before the outside. When you clean the outside, start from the top of the tank and work down. Use a rag until it is dirty. Throw the rag in a pile to be washed later—don’t take time to rinse it.

Green Cleaning Products

Some of the strongest toxins in your home are from cleaning products. And sadly, most cleaning jobs don’t even need them.

Mix your own cleaning products to keep your home fresh and healthy.

All-purpose cleaner: Mix ½ cup white vinegar (or use the citrus vinegar below), one teaspoon castile soap, two cups water and 15 drops of essential oil. Shake to mix the essential oils with the water. Add tea tree, lavender or lemon essential oils to boost the germ-killing properties.

Window cleaner: Mix ¼ cup white vinegar and two cups water. Use in a spritzer bottle. For best results, wipe with a squeegee.

Scrubbing powder: Mix baking soda with water to make a paste. Scrub. Use this on sinks, countertops and dishes with stubborn, baked-on food.

Mineral deposits: Use vinegar to get rid of mineral deposits in your sink, toilet, showerhead—even your coffee maker. Spritz the surface with white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to penetrate and wipe away. Depending on the buildup, you may need to reapply. Sometimes you can spritz and then scrub with baking soda to remove chunks of deposits.

Air freshener: Use essential oils to make your home smell fresh. Try lemon, orange or grapefruit for an uplifting scent.

Homemade citrus cleaner: Peel oranges and put as many peels as you can in a quart jar. Fill the jar with vinegar and let sit for two weeks. Strain the peels and use the orange-scented vinegar in your cleaning products.

What You Need to Know about Food Allergies

Food allergies are common these days. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.[1]

No one knows why food allergies are increasing, although several theories exist. This leaves doctors and scientists unsure about what to recommend in order to prevent them.

In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a strong grasp of allergies. From a TCM perspective, many allergies are caused by a Wei Qi imbalance. Wei Qi is similar to the Western medicine view of the immune system; Wei Qi defends the body against foreign substances.

And unlike Western medicine, TCM recommendations for food allergies are always individualized. Your specific diagnosis impacts your treatment plan and how you will balance your immune system.

Until you get a personal diagnosis, use these tips to control your food allergies.

  • See an allergist and get tested to learn exactly what you are allergic to.
  • Avoid your food allergens, especially if you are exposed to multiple allergens at once. For example, you may be more sensitive to your food allergens when you have hay fever.
  • he most common food allergens are peanuts, the proteins in cow’s milk, shellfish, tree nuts, fish, eggs, gluten, wheat and soy. These are good foods to avoid if you don’t know exactly what you’re allergic to.
  • Ask about ingredients when you eat at restaurants or when your meal is prepared by someone else. Don’t be shy to get specific.
  • Read labels to make sure there aren’t any “hidden” ingredients you’re allergic to.
  • Sometimes people outgrow food allergies. Talk to your allergist to get tested if you believe you’re no longer allergic.
  • Eat foods that nourish your immune system. Cauliflower, Asian pears, water chestnuts and white cabbage are good antioxidants and support your Wei Qi. Be sure to eat both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are found in salmon, tuna, mackerel and other cold-water fish.


Dandelion Pesto

Makes 2 cups

  • 12 ounces washed and cleaned dandelion leaves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  1. Put one-third of the dandelion greens in a food processor or blender with the olive oil and chop for a minute. Add the remaining dandelion greens in two batches until they’re finely chopped.
  2. Add the garlic, pine nuts, salt and Parmesan, and process until everything is a smooth puree.
  3. Taste; add more salt if necessary.  Thin with olive oil or water if needed.

Storage: The pesto can be refrigerated in a jar for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months.  To prevent the top from darkening pour a thin layer of olive on top.

Acu 101: The Eight Principles

When you go to an acupuncturist, have you noticed that the way they describe your illness is different than the way your doctor describes it?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks for patterns of imbalance. Identifying these patterns allows your acupuncturist to form a TCM diagnosis and leads to your treatment. Because of this, illnesses that western medicine considers unrelated may be considered similar by your acupuncturist.

There are several systems for viewing these patterns. One of them is called the Eight Principles. In this system, four sets of qualities help define your illness.

  • Interior/Exterior. Your acupuncturist will look at your illness and determine if it is located in an interior organ or if it is caused by an exterior pathogen.
  • Hot/Cold. Your acupuncturist will determine if your imbalance is hot (like a fever) or cold (like chilliness).
  • Full (excess)/Empty (deficiency). Your acupuncturist checks the strength of your Qi and whether there is a pathogen present.
  • Yin/Yang. Your acupuncturist determines if your condition is primarily yin or yang in nature.


How can the Eight Principles Help You?

If you’re not familiar with TCM, getting a diagnosis of “excess heat in the interior” won’t mean anything to you. But remember, the Eight Principles are patterns of imbalance.

Ask your acupuncturist what your diagnosis means. Then ask what symptoms point to that diagnosis.

Start observing your everyday complaints, aches, pains and health challenges. Notice if you regularly have symptoms that point to the diagnosis. It’s likely that you will start to see patterns in your symptoms, even if western medicine doesn’t understand the links between them.

Once you know your constitutional tendencies, you can begin a long term plan to balance your body and prevent illness.

Acupuncture 101: Kidneys

Winter is the season for the kidneys & bladder.

In Western medicine, kidneys are the organs that filter and purify blood.  They maintain pH, mineral and electrolyte balance by removing excess water and salts to create urine.  The urine is then stored in the bladder until you pee.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the kidneys and bladder are seen as an energetic system, bigger than just the physiological function of the organs themselves.  To TCM, the kidneys govern reproduction, produce bone marrow, influence growth and development and control sexual energy.

From a TCM perspective, there are several kidney functions that differ from a Western perspective.

Like in Western medicine, the kidneys are responsible for water metabolism.  However, instead of understanding water and salts from a bio-chemical perspective, TCM describes fluid as clear or turbid.  Clear fluid is lighter and the kidneys send it upward to moisten the lungs.  Turbid fluids are heavier and they are sent downward to be released through the bladder.

One of the kidneys’ primary roles is storing the vital essence called Jing Qi.  Jing is the essence of Qi and is responsible for reproduction and regeneration. There are two types of Jing—the Jing inherited from your parents and forming your basic constitution, and the Jing acquired from the food, water and air of your daily life. The kidneys store and control Jing, and this process influences growth and development, sexual maturation, reproduction and aging.

The kidneys are also in charge of “Zhi”—mental drive and courage.  Zhi is the will to live and provides determination and focus to accomplish your goals and realize your dreams.

It’s important to provide care and nourishment to your kidneys.  Eat warming foods, and avoid raw foods and cold drinks.  While a green salad is OK now and again, winter is not the season to be salad-crazy.  Eat soups and stews.  Add extra root vegetables, squash, beans, miso and seaweed to your diet.  Use garlic and ginger for flavor.  If you want fruit, eat blueberries or blackberries.

And keep your kidneys warm.  Wear long shirts and sweaters that come down to your hips. Better yet, make a haramaki (see sidebar) and wear it every day.