Monday, March 5, 2018

2018 Year of the Dog Predictions

This year the Elements at play are Earth and Earth, so it’s a double Earth year—think of a solid mass that doesn’t move easily, like mountains or a big boulder—a year that may lead people who are determined to achieve their principles and goals to take a firm stand and fight to the end. Harmony may be elusive and confrontation or clashes may be the norm, as in the politics of our country and in international relations. This tough, stubborn streak may spill into personal relationships, so watch out for unexpected misunderstandings and disagreements. With so much Earth energy this year, we need to watch out for earth disasters, too, like earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions.
Let’s examine how this year might affect the five areas of health in your life—physical, mind, relationship, career/work and finances—and what you can do to best adapt to the changing energy cycle, maximizing positive outcomes while minimizing negative ones. 
1. Physical Health
On the physical health front, pay attention to possible imbalances in the corresponding Earth organ system of digestion—stomach, pancreas, spleen and the intestines. Look out for gastrointestinal problems like reflux disorder (GERD), ulcers, hiatal hernia, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and colitis; for metabolic problems like diabetes, obesity and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), as well as muscle injuries, lumps and bumps. In the Five Elements cycle, Earth neutralizes Water and depletes the Fire Element. Therefore, it’s a good idea to also keep an eye on kidneys/adrenals and reproductive and hormonal health, as well as the cardiovascular system. In addition, the flu and other infectious diseases may be more severe than in past years due to more virulent strains and overuse of antibiotics.
Digestive System
Guard your digestive health by eating a plant-based diet of fresh land and sea vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and occasional lean animal protein instead of chasing after fad diets. Eat probiotic-rich foods such as fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.), low-sugar vegan kefir and yogurts (almond, coconut, cashew, etc.), miso and tempeh, or take a high-bioactive probiotic supplement.
Metabolic System
Work on healthy metabolism and weight wellness by starting with a measurement of your body fat composition, so you can focus your efforts on increasing lean muscle and decreasing body fat instead of concerning yourself primarily with your weight. Besides eating a healthy, balanced diet, try eating smaller meals more frequently and practice intermittent fasting, limiting your eating timespan to 10 hours a day. For example, breakfast at 8 a.m. and dinner by 6 p.m. or alternatively, 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Do not eat a meal or snack during the fasting time between dinner and the next day’s breakfast. Studies have shown that when people adhere to this schedule they decrease their body fat, blood sugar and cholesterol, they lose weight, and consume fewer calories naturally.
Cardiovascular System
Be proactive with your heart health by being physically active, eating a plant-based diet and keeping your levels of stress and inflammation under control. Regular cardiovascular exercise is key to strengthening your heart muscle and getting circulation of nutrients and oxygen to all critical areas of your body including the brain and other organs. Exercising for 30 minutes at or above a heart rate of 120 beats per minute at least four times a week will do the job. If you prefer Tai Chi and Qi Gong, studies have shown them to have the same cardio benefits as brisk walking, jogging and cycling.  Eating a vegan diet can dramatically reduce bad cholesterol and plaque. Studies show that inflammation, not high cholesterol, is what enables plaque to form on the walls of our arteries. Anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients to put in your diet include papaya, pineapple, cherries, omega fatty acids and turmeric.

2. Mind Health
One challenge of a double Earth year is the tendency to worry and ruminate excessively. Overthinking can lead to indecision. Overextending yourself in care-taking of others results in exhaustion. If you’re feeling insecure and depleted, it’s easy to default to and stubbornly hold on to beliefs and positions that may impede progress and lead to stagnation and stalemate. These are the attributes of an Earth Element year. Do your best to cultivate a calm, clear and flexible mind so that you can adapt to any circumstance and situation, and bring everyone to the table with a shared vision. Don’t let your mind become an obstacle to achieving your vision. Ultimately your mind is the instrument of your spirit and when you have clear vision you can manifest it through the creativity of your mind. Ancient spiritual traditions have used meditations, prayers and invocations to help people cultivate and achieve ultimate mind health. 
3. Relationship Health
All effective and fulfilling relationships require give and take. However, the world in 2018 will be faced with mountains and boulders (double Earth) that refuse to budge; this will likely lead to misunderstandings and disagreements and may take more energy and effort than usual to bring about harmony. Despite the negative tendency, we should capitalize on the loyal and caring attributes of Earth and strive to achieve harmony in all our relationships through creativity, flexibility and objectivity, instead of allowing emotions to rule the day. Fulfilling relationships require the compassion to step into someone else’s shoes, attentiveness to truly listen to the other person, and a commitment to win-win solutions for both people. I also suggest diffusing essential oils such as lavender, rose and chamomile to set the mood for happiness and love.
4. Career/Work Health
Whatever it is that you do for work, show that you care. Pay special attention to get along with co-workers and aim for effective interpersonal relationships with people at all levels. Reactivate old networks and work proactively to maintain and expand your current network of colleagues, friends and mentors. Earth Element’s main attribute is caring, so the entire service industry is likely to get a lift from the double Earth year. The unemployment rate will stay low and wages will rise, providing more opportunities to change jobs and careers. Professions particularly well-positioned to take advantage of the caring Earth include medicine, nursing, assisted-living work, mental health and social work, case management, medical research and biotech.
5. Financial Health
Industries boosted favorably by Earth Element will be technology, banking and manufacturing—all associated with Metal Element, which will benefit from Earth, its mother element. Real estate, normally associated with Earth Element, will be weighed down by the double Earth energy and projected increases in interest rates. The stock market, associated with Fire Element, is headed for a correction as the double Earth will likely stop its momentum. In an Earth year, the best activity to engage in is saving and storing up your monetary energy. An old Chinese saying is, “Earth is where the wealth is stored.” 
In summary, despite the Earth Dog Year’s tendency for stubborn defense of personal principles and pride, the bright side is the caring, loyal and generally positive attitude of the Earth that can be helpful in neutralizing conflict and confrontation. It’s a good year to practice expressing love, caring and loyalty toward loved ones, friends and co-workers. Reduce your worry and rumination with meditation and essential oils. Prevent digestive, metabolic, reproductive and cardiovascular system breakdowns with plant-based, anti-inflammatory eating along with intermittent fasting, appropriate mind-body exercises and meditation. Don’t gamble with your money in 2018—instead, save and store and focus on your financial goals. Explore possible new careers in a “caring profession,” and make sure that you bring your compassion and passion to whatever you do every day.

Friday, October 13, 2017

5 Ways to reduce Arthritis Pain - without pain killers

Colder temperatures can mean aching joints for many people with arthritis. Here are 5 ways you can reduce that pain:

1. Drink Tea - Research has shown that green tea is rich in  polyphenols - compounds that suppress a key gene involved in arthritis inflammation. Black tea is made from the same leaves and may be as beneficial. Drink one or two cups of hot or cold tea daily.

2. Boost you C and D - Vitamin C is believed to slow the loss of cartilage due to osteoarthritis, while a diet low in vitamin D can actually speed the progression of osteoarthritis. In a recent high-profile study, doctors discovered that patients who ate a diet high in vitamin D (or who took supplements) reduced their arthritis by 75%. Another study of over 25,000 people concluded that a low intake of vitamin C may increase the risk of developing arthritis. Food's rich in vitamin C include strawberries, lemons and oranges, chili peppers, red bell peppers and papayas. If you prefer supplements, take supplements that provide 500-1000 mg of vitamin C, and 400 IUs of vitamin D.

3. Boswellia - Boswellia has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and maintain healthy joints. Try 1,000mg of boswellia per day,  500 in the morning and 500 in the evening. And always, ask your doctor if you are on any prescription medications that may conflict with supplements.

4. Grapes -  Grape skin contains resveratrol, a natural compound known to act as a COX-2 inhibitor. Resveratrol both suppresses the COX-2 gene and deactivates the COX-2 enzyme, which produces inflammation at the site of the injury or pain. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry confirmed that resveratrol acts as an antioxidant and COX-2 inhibitor. Eat one cup of white or red grapes daily. And yes, purple grape juice and wine contain resveratrol too.

5. Therapeutic Taping - Wrapping tape around a joint to realign, support, and take pressure off it has great benefits for arthritis sufferers. In an Australian study, 73% of patients with osteoarthritis experienced substantially reduced symptoms after just 3 weeks of therapeutic taping. Taping must be done properly to be effective. Consult with your physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist who can show you or a family member the proper technique.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Neck Pain Causes

As you read this, consider how you are holding your neck. Is it sitting on top of your frame, evenly balanced between the front and back of your body? Or is it positioned forward with your neck muscles keeping it from falling forward?


The neck must do a great deal of work. The muscles in the back of the neck bring the head backward. The muscles on each side of the neck bend the neck laterally and they also rotate the head and neck. The muscles in the front of the neck bring the head forward. The muscles between the shoulder blades support the weight of the head.


An average adult head weighs 10 to 15 pounds. Poor posture with improper positioning of your head can add pounds of weight strain to your neck. For example, leaning your head 45 degrees forward for extended periods of time will more than triple the weight burden to your neck, up to 49 pounds. Leaning 60 degrees forward will have you carrying the equivalent of a 60-pound bag of dog food at the back of your neck!

Then there’s texting, which happens to be a growing source of neck pain.
 
The average teen or adult spends up to four hours a day texting or looking down at their mobile devices. This habit of repeatedly looking down at your device reinforces the tendency of neck muscles to work hard in order to support an unhealthy posture. The trapezius and deltoids have to work overtime to hold your head in an upright position, as the smaller splenius muscles get strained.


This continuous forward tugging of the head impacts the natural curvature of your cervical spine and can cause stiff neck, difficulty in turning the head, pain when looking down and spasms. The weight of the head bearing down on the neck and the countless head movements we make every day may cause strain and inflammation that can constrict blood circulation and slow down healing, which in turn can put stress on ligaments that aggravate muscle strains. This harmful pattern explains why people suffer from chronic neck pain that may persist for decades.


You can still use your electronic devices, but your neck will thank you if you do so with awareness of your head tilt. Try holding your mobile device higher so your head doesn’t arc forward as much. Check your work station for appropriate ergonomics, ensuring that the height of your computer screen is more or less level with your eyes.


Simple neck stretches such as clasping your hands behind your back and looking over each shoulder toward your heel can bring relief to tight muscles and help relieve stress in the process.

And of course, regular massage from a professional can keep you happily texting and computing pain free.

Tom


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Chinese Principle for Pain Free Living

Bu Tong Ze Tong, Tong Ze Bu Tong. This phrase, taken from the The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine written around 200BC, translates literally as: “when open there is no pain, when there is pain, it is not open.”
This is one of the basic principles of my practice as a pain/massage therapist.  If we can allow the energy (qi) to take it’s natural course of healing, then it pushes against the blockages or stagnation until there’s enough energy pushing on it that it clears it out. Think of river with a dam in it. On one side of the dam, the river becomes a pool of stagnant and rotten smelling water, while the other side dries out, devoid of all life and energy. When the water is flowing, the river is healthy and self cleaning. It's the same with your body, flowing energy means healthy cells and tissue.

Body awareness is another of my guiding principles for living a pain life. In my Tai Chi and Qigong classes, I am constantly urging my students to take a moment to just breathe, and become aware of their bodies. People today are so focused on the destination, they forget to take care and be aware of the vehicle they travel in! Pain is just a signal from the body telling us it needs help.
Some people just live with the pain, saying it's just a part of old age, or results of an old sports injury. Some even seem to wear their pain like a badge of honor!

In time, the pain may lessen, and even disappear, but this doesn't necessarily mean the cause of the pain has been resolved. The human body is an amazing machine, and one of it's talents is to hide or mask pain, so that we can get through our day.  Many of my massage clients are surprised at the number of sore or painful spots I discover on their body. These are areas of blockage, places where the energy has stopped flowing. This creates a cascade effect in the body, blocking blood flow and qi, which in turn causes muscle and ligaments to not function, which creates pain and lack of mobility.

Today is a great day to start taking care of yourself. Move you body - take a class in Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga. Eat with moderation, and only when you are hungry. Drink water and avoid soft drinks. And yes, whenever possible, get regular massages to stay in the flow!

Tom

Monday, April 3, 2017

Brown Rice is good for you!

Brown Rice is Good for the Body
Many of you know that I love Chinese food, I consider it my comfort food! And now most Chinese restaurants will give you two choices for the rice dish, white or brown.  I recommend the brown rice.
Rice has been a staple in the diet of many cultures for centuries and natural brown rice has been considered a magical healer since way back around 2800 B.C. It was believed to be nature's most perfect healing food because of its delicate, natural balance – offering an optimal yin/yang balance. The ancients viewed brown rice as a food of inner peace, tranquility and divine health. Early folk healers noted the calming serenity brown rice promoted and viewed it as a gift from the gods. What the ancients knew instinctively has largely been confirmed through analysis.

Natural brown rice protein contains eight (out of a total of eleven) essential amino acids, is a valuable source of the B-complex vitamins, plus minerals like manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, zinc and more. Natural brown rice is an abundant source of many of the elements required for better health and wellness. Vitamins and minerals found in rice promote youthful vitality, soothe the nerves, nourish the hormonal system, enrich the bloodstream, help to heal wounds, assist in regulating blood pressure, work to establish a normal heartbeat and maintain a healthy internal water balance.

It's no wonder the ancients considered natural brown rice to be a food of divine health and longevity. Easy to process internally and fully digested in about one hour – natural brown rice is an ideal food for anyone seeking a rapid and healthy assimilation. It's low in fat, sodium and cholesterol too, making it a wise choice for anyone seeking better overall health, or trying to manage their weight. While the folk healers believed the positive effects of natural brown rice consumption included the restoration of inner peace and tranquility along with youthful vitality – they probably didn't know why. As it turns out, rice is a primary source of meatless protein. When this protein is metabolized into health-inducing amino acids, a total internal rejuvenation occurs.

It's wise to add more rice to your diet, but you need to be aware that although there are natural nutrients in all long grain rice types – not all forms are equally beneficial. The kind of rice I'm referring to is whole grain, brown and organically grown. White rice is completely different and far-less beneficial to your overall health and well-being. Sure it tastes fine and cooks much faster than brown, but white rice has been overly-processed, causing it to lose much of its nutritional value.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Save your Vision with Vitamin C

 Vitamin C may help you see better, according to a new study that found people with high vitamin C intakes had a decreased risk for cataracts. Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can occur during aging, are the leading cause of blindness around the world. Researchers of the study, which was published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at data from 2,054 female twins, ages 50 to 83, who participated in the TwinsUK cohort study. Participants completed food frequency questionnaires about their vitamin C intake (from foods and supplements), and about their intake of other nutrients. Researchers used digital imaging to examine the participants’ eyes for cataracts at the beginning of the study. Then, around ten years later, researchers followed up with 324 of the twins to examine for cataracts again. Researchers also tested the participants for a genetic predisposition for cataracts to understand which factors contributed to the development of cataracts. At the end of the study, the researchers found that:
  • At around age 60, participants who had high dietary vitamin C intakes had a 19% reduced risk for cataracts, and ten years later they had a 33% reduced risk, compared with those who had low dietary vitamin C intakes.
  • Over the ten year follow-up period, genetic factors accounted for 35% of cataract formation, while environmental factors (such as diet) accounted for the remaining 65%.
While more clinical research is needed to confirm the findings, this is the first study that shows environmental factors may play a larger role in cataract formation than hereditary factors. The evidence also suggests that eating a diet rich in vitamin C may help you keep your eyes healthy. If you want to boost your vitamin C intake, citrus fruits are a great place to start. But if you’re in the mood for something a little less sweet: broccoli, yellow peppers, Brussels sprouts, parsley, and kale are also vitamin C superstars.
Source: Ophthalmology

Thursday, February 2, 2017

More Year of the Rooster predictions

2017 Year of the Rooster Predictions
-a Taoist Perspective 
by my teacher Master Zhongxian Wu




This Spring Ushers in DingYou 丁酉 - Fire Rooster
From a cosmological perspective, the DingYou year will be an uneasy and challenging year on many levels, with much of the world experiencing unseasonal climate conditions.
Given the stormy global political landscape lately, I am sure that this news comes as no big surprise. 
The current state of affairs has helped me broaden my understanding of the Daoist concept of Tian Ren He Yi (天人合一) , the union of human beings and Nature. Perhaps the ways of humans and nature are mirrors of each other more than we care to believe?

Conflicts between Fire and Metal
There are inherent conflicts between Ding (Fire) and You (Metal) that will lead many of us to experience heart-break and grief this year.
In your clinical practice, expect to see more people suffering from liver, heart, lung, and/or GI problems.

In the early spring this year, we will not experience many warm days. Instead,  Cold and Damp energies will dominate until approximately March 20th, 2017.
These energies will prove difficult for those who have a weak digestive tract, weak lung function and/or edema.

Late Spring - Fire Energy Takes Over

After March 20th, Fire energy will suddenly take charge. Temperatures will jump high very quickly. This sudden  change in temperature may cause big climate disasters affecting humans, other animals, and many forms of plant life.
In addition, a beastly strain of influenza may appear during the time period of March 20 - May 20.  

Protecting Yourself

To protect yourself this spring season, please be sure to cultivate your Yang Qi and eat healthy! Place special focus on eating cooked, warming foods - even simple rice porridge daily will be good for you.

2018 Year of the Dog Predictions

This year the Elements at play are Earth and Earth, so it’s a double Earth year—think of a solid mass that doesn’t move easily, like mounta...