2017-2018 Winter: Is it a cold or a flu this winter... or something else?

I got sick this winter break, which is very rare for me, but I thought it was just me.  When I started hearing from and reading several of my acupuncturist colleagues' Facebook postings that they too were sick, I knew this one was not the run of the mill cold and not one to be messed with. (See, we acupuncturists have an arsenal of herbs, dietary knowledge, immune boosting exercises, cupping and acupuncture at our disposal to keep ourselves healthy while we treat the sick.  The same prescriptions and treatment we use on our sick patients, we do onto ourselves!)

I came across this fantastic read on the non-flu flu-like viral infection that explains why this year's respiratory infections are not to be messed with.  I am not a homeopath therefore cannot comment on the gentleman's homeopathic remedies.  The information of the infection manifestation and progression is fascinating, however,  and very informative, helping to explain some of the unusual expressions this infections is causing on people.  For Southern Californians, the flu and this flu like infection is hitting our community particularly hard because our lungs have been assaulted from a year's worth of respiratory pollution and attack.  Within one year, we Los Angelenos have been bombarded with an unusual and toxic amount of environmental pollution that we didn't have a year ago. It started with the rains earlier last year, which begot mold. Sinus infections were a very frequent complaint all of last year. Then, from the abundance of rain, plants blossomed during the spring which begot all kinds of pollen and other plant releases that LA has not seen most likely in 50 years and in the amounts we have not seen in a long time. Seasonal allergy issues were rampant in my office.  People who normally don't have seasonal allergies were even suffering from allergies last year.  Then the fires. We had to inhale ash, debris, fire retardant, and environmental pollution and gases that came about from the burning of metal, gas, plastic, and other materials which are normally not in the air.  On top of this, the dry air from the fires had weakened our lungs, making us even more susceptible to infections. Many people were already battling fire-induced respiratory issues, and then this virus and the virulent Aussie flu comes along!  So we Southern Californians have been assaulted with all kinds of air particulates that, combined with the two viruses, is wreaking havoc to many and taking down not just individuals but whole families at a time. After notifying my patients of this virus, many of my patients reported that their entire families got sick over the winter break, and badly. 

No wonder even I got sick!

Be careful people. Don’t take what seems like cold symptoms lightly because it could be what this gentleman is alluding to. Stay hydrated, wash your hands frequently, prioritize good sleep, abstain from sweets/carbs, alcohol and dairy, and load up on Vit c, d, zinc. And as the homeopath in the article states, this infection has a latency tendency, so really do be mindful of your body.  If you still fill run down or tired even after the major flu-like symptoms are gone, rest, rest, rest, and rest more.  Eat clean and bland foods to protect your gut to help build back your immune system.  And of course, go see your acupuncturist to keep your immune system in top shape, too, with acupuncture and herbs..

Some tips to strengthen and moisten your Lungs:  

  • Consider incorporating humidifiers or diffusers to bring moisture to your home air. Do regular steams for you and your child.
  • Eat foods that are moistening and protective to the lungs. A classic Chinese Medicine remedy for dry lungs and dry cough is steamed Asian pear drizzled with honey and cinnamon.
  • I have more food lists and recipes for lung tonics and immune tonics here and here.



Disclaimer: The information here and on the Iyashi Wellness website in general is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with qualified health care professionals. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Save Your Summertime Skin

It's the time of year we take vacations to enjoy the outdoors, relax and soak in the sun. Although tempting to bathe in the warmth of our giant star, there are a few precautions to take.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It reflects our health and age. Today, there’s much concern about sun bathing leading to an increase in skin damage and skin cancer. 
Research suggests that skin cancer is cumulative over a lifetime. It begins with overexposure and serious sunburns during childhood.

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the production of free radicals that can adversely affect the integrity of collagen in the skin. Over time, our skin becomes wrinkled, cracked, aged, and brittle. For smokers, the effects are multiplied.

We can’t live without the sun. Our bodies require sunlight in order to manufacture Vitamin D needed for calcium absorption, among other things. So, we shouldn’t hide from our shining star. Here are a few helpful tips and precautions to take when you’re soaking in the summertime sun:

Use sunscreen - Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF number that protects against UVA and UVB rays, for greater protection. Apply it onto your skin fifteen minutes before you go outside. Don’t forget your nose, ears, and neck. 
Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s ranking of sunscreens to see where yours stands. 

If you’re averse to chemical sunscreens or prefer a natural alternative for babies and young children, coconut oil and shea butter, though low in SPF number, provide natural sun protection.  Here is a home-made recipe for natural sunscreen by Wellness Mama.

Timing is key - Avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, typically from about 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Gear up - Wear a hat with a wide brim, t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt as a cover, and sunglasses that filter ultraviolet rays.  I like the following brands of sun protection gear: 
Sunday Afternoons, Solumbra, and outdoor lifestyle brands like REI. This prevention would be even more imperative if you decide to forego the chemical sunscreens and decide to use natural sunscreens.

Drink it up - By keeping your body hydrated, you can avoid dehydration and provide moisture for the skin to prevent dryness, cracking, and aging.  To enjoy hydrating, drink water infused with the bountiful fruits and vegetables available during the summer, like cucumber, lemon or lime, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or oranges.  Unsweetened, natural coconut water and aloe water are also excellent alternative.

Pop a pill - Vitamins such as A, E, and some antioxidants help prevent skin damage. Cod liver oil and flax seed oil have also been used to support skin health.

Brush it off - Before you take a shower, use a dry skin brush. This can open pores and slough off dead skin, allowing your skin to breathe easily and work more efficiently.

Keep healthy - Taking some medications may cause adverse reactions and side effects when we’re exposed to sunlight. Acupuncture may be able to provide an alternative to these medications, keeping you healthy, safely and naturally.  Acupuncture and shonishin can also help to keep you and your child's mind and body "cool" after overexposure to the sun, as these two methods help to release inflammation and pent up heat in the skin.  There are also natural herbal remedies in the instance that you do burn your skin, so contact me!

If you want to have fun now, and not worry later, practice good sun sense. You and your skin deserve it.

3 Ways to Prevent Headaches

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Headaches are no fun!  it can come on at any time of the day.  More woman suffer from headaches than men, and children suffer from them, too.  It is related to energy levels, blood sugar levels, digestive issues, stress, and hormonal fluctuations among others.

Download the headache help handout to learn how you can prevent headaches using acupressure, aromatherapy oils and stretches.

Acupuncture and herbs can also help tremendously at lessening and stopping headaches all together.  Contact me to schedule an appointment so I can help you.

Success! Milestones parent-ed talk/fundraising event

My pediatric holistic health and wellness talk was a huge success at Milestones Preschool!  I was able to raise $$$ for the school as well as raise awareness of the power and effectiveness of Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) for pediatric health care needs.  

Parents loved the hands-on portion of my Iyashi Touch protocol (a type of pediatric TEAM massage I teach my families), and I could see their children were curious and eager to have some of these tried on them that night.  I had feedback from one parent the next day that her daughter made sure that she had her special toothbrush just for her :-)

Parents also asked a lot of great questions regarding my holistic nutrition talk.  I loved being able to see how engaged they got with the information, how their minds were turning, reassessing where they were in their dietary approach to their children.  It really thrills me when I see that lightbulb go off in people, and that's why I love teaching, both to the public as well as to my students at Yo San University.  Imagine, families starting to eat healthier and implementing massages on their kiddos, changing the future of our children's health, just from empowering educational talks.  I love that I can make a difference in this world, one child, one family at a time.  

I'm also excited to share that the director has asked me to come back to do more talks on pediatric healthcare and nutrition, so be on the look out for future classes!

Thank you everyone for who attended!

A picture of me teaching part of my Iyashi Touch last year.  I taught this on 1/29/14 at Milestones.

A picture of me teaching part of my Iyashi Touch last year.  I taught this on 1/29/14 at Milestones.

Holistic Pediatric cold and flu remedies

As a mother to a toddler and a healthcare provider, I am always looking to make sure my son is eating nourishing foods and liquids, staying active, and sleeping well so that his chances of catching an infection is minimized.  With the coming of autumn, however, the chances of our children catching the sniffles increase significantly and their immune system being compromised.  It doesn't help that our children enter back to schools filled with other sick children, or even catching a virus from their parents and siblings.  I'm glad to say that in Chinese medicine, we have wonderful herbal medicinals created just for pediatric use that help both in fighting the cold/flu as well as for prevention.

Chinese Pediatrics and Herbal Medicinals
Unlike Western pediatric medicine, which is only about 150 years old in the form that it is practiced today, Chinese medicine has an extensive history of canonization and clinical experience with pediatric medicine.  Unique characteristics of children physiology were already discussed as early as 400 BC in the Inner Canon/Huangdi Neijing, an ancient medical text, and by the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), there were already significant number of pediatric texts.   The usage of pediatric herbal formulas continue today, and in the United States, you can find Chinese herbal companies producing top quality tasty syrups/liquids and tablets for children to consume.

In Chinese medicine, we diagnose specific stages in colds and the flu that help us to identify the nature and the course that the disease might take, allowing us to prescribe very targeted medicinals to children (and adults!) so as to prevent the cold or flu from taking a worse turn, or from even catching either of them all together.

Let me give you examples of what I mean by specific stages.  We have herbal medicinals at the first sign of a sore throat that prevent the sore throat from becoming anything more than a sore throat (which can be a sign of a simple cold or the beginnings of a nasty pharyngitis or laryngitis, for example).  If we miss that stage, and a child starts to feel more cranky or tired, with less appetite, and with some shivers with fevers and runny nose, we have a specific medicinal that we can give to - again, prevent it from getting worse.  And what do we mean by getting worse?  From going internal and affecting the organs as opposed to the superficial layers of the body.  In Chinese medicine, we want upper respiratory infections to stay as superficial and in the outer layers of the body as much as possible so that it doesn't go into the lungs and possibly becoming bronchitis, for example.  If we were able to catch it from going internal but there is a lingering cough (and we know coughs are very difficult to get rid of!) with a lot of phlegm or runny nose, we here also have specific medicinals to help address the lung's ability to break up and dissolve the mucus and phlegm, open up the chest to relieve the chest tightness, and stop cough.  (To learn more in depth at the power of Chinese herbs for respiratory conditions, go here.)

During the cold and flu season, please consider Chinese pediatric herbal medicinals for your children which are extremely effective at fighting colds and the flu and the myriad of accompanying distressing symptoms that come with them, like coughs, fever, phlegm and runny noses, body aches, and sleepless nights - without any side effects and pharmaceutical intervention.  These formulas are completely safe, made from natural ingredients, and have been in use for hundreds and thousands of years by millions of children.

Dietary Remedy
As for food, when a child is under the weather, minimize their dairy, sugar, and carb intake and offer more bland, simple-to-digest soups.  Cold, raw foods are contraindicated while sick.  Clear broth soups full of vegetables and some form of protein is excellent in general.  If a child has what we call Wind-Cold symptoms (more chills than fever, stuffy nose with nasal discharge, cough with white, thin sputum) offer them tangerine tea, ginger soup or leek-ginger-egg soup.  If a child has what we call Wind Heat symptoms (sore throat, cough with yellowish, sticky sputum, more fever than chills, thirst), offer them Chinese barley (job's tear) and mung bean soup, mint green tea or daikon radish soup.  Avoid giving them spicy, peppery foods, and foods with ginger.

Home Care
In Chinese medicine, we say Wind is the bringer of 100 diseases, and the neck is most susceptible to "attacks" of Wind, so keep your child's neck well protected with a scarf when outdoors and dress them appropriately warm as the weather gets colder and colder.  Children, especially small children, can't yet regulate their body temperatures well, and may not realize they are cold, and will insist to take off their jackets.  Don't let them.

Consider having a vaporizer or humidifier in your child's room and turned on at night so as to keep your child's skin and lungs hydrated.  We say in Chinese medicine that the Lungs don't like dryness.  Autumn and winter air is very dry, with heaters causing the air to get even dryer.  This is another reason why we become so susceptible to cold and flus because our nasal passages lose the ability to stay moist, which prevents viruses and bacteria from entering the lungs via the nasal passages.

During bath time, consider using some eucalyptus or lavender essential oil.  Just couple, three drops in the bath will do wonders to open up the sinuses and ease stress in children.  You can use either of the oils in the vaporizer to aid in more restful sleep, and if sick, eucalyptus will aid in opening up the chest and sinuses to ease congestion.  Also, after the bath, give a nice rub down on your child's back, especially along the spine, to keep the spinal fluid moving and active.  There are many important acupuncture points between the spine and scapula, that if stimulated, aid in keeping the immune system and internal organ systems healthy and strong.  Make sure to keep the bathroom door closed during bath time and while drying your child down, again, to prevent drafts from seeping into your child's neck and skin and causing a cold to come on.

Once sick and it's gone more internal, don't forget to rub herbal chest rubs with menthol or eucalyptus to aid in breathing.

If the fever won't abate, consider putting lemon socks on their feet when they go to sleep.  Get cotton socks dampened with lemon water.  The lemon will pull or astringe the fever away from the body through the feet, and the cool, damp socks will also aid in this effect.  By the next day, the socks should be nice and toasty, having been dried up by the fever that came out through the feet.

And of course, make sure your children wash their hands often, and teach them to sneeze into their inner elbow  so as to prevent any viruses from spreading to others around them.

These are some simple measures you can take at home.  Other natural cold/flu remedies are found here.  What home remedies do you use for your children when they are sick?

I offer cold-and-flu herbal consultations for families and provide the safe natural herbal medicinals I mentioned earlier for your children.  (I can vouch for them as I use them with my own son, and can happily report that his recovery from colds are very fast and his symptoms are always minimal!)  For easy appointment set up, click on the Book An Appointment button at the top bar to set up an appointment, or click here.

For more on pediatric wellness, click on: