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In Summer, Nourish Your Heart.

Summer is a time of abundant energy, long sunshine-filled days, and warmth. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer has many different associations that help define it and therefore help us understand how to stay in balance with the season. To shed some light on the context of summer, its element is fire, the color is red, its emotion is joy and the governing organs are the heart and the small intestine. One way you can stay healthy this Summer is to adjust your habits in order to support your heart. The heart is the main organ associated with the season of summer, and as such, it should be paid close attention to and nourished to remain healthy. The heart’s main function is to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. In TCM, mental activity is also associated with the heart. This mental activity is known as Shen in Chinese medicine. Often compared to our mind, the Shen goes deeper to include our thought processes, memory, consciousness, and emotional well-being.
Summer is the most appropriate time to calm the Shen and provide it with enrichment that will last throughout the whole year.
When the fire element is balanced, the mind is calm, sleep is sound and the heart organ is strong and healthy. If the fire element is not balanced, there may be depression or an excess of joy which manifests as mania. Symptoms of an unbalanced fire element include heartburn, insomnia, agitation, nervousness, digestive upset, rashes, palpitations, and excessive perspiration. The small intestine, the second organ associated with summer in TCM, is responsible for separating the pure from the impure, allowing the body to use the pure and dispose of the impure. When the heart is not balanced, the small intestine, the brother to the heart, will not function properly either. For many people, this manifests as digestive upset of some sort: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, etc.

Going outside and engaging all of your senses is an easy way to nourish the heart. A technique known as “grounding” has been gaining popularity over the past decade, and science is showing that it can be very beneficial. All one has to do is walk or stand in the grass while barefoot. The energy from the earth is incredible, and it can be very healing. While you’re there, take time to listen to the sounds of nature that surround you and enjoy the fragrances of the flowers. Taking in the experience with all your senses can be very grounding and have a calming effect on the mind and body. Probably the two most important things you can do for heart health during the summer months is drink plenty of fresh water and eat cooling foods. No matter what season of the year, water is vital. It is recommended we drink at least 64 ounces per day. Cooling foods like fruits are good at keeping fire under control, which is healthy for the whole body. Other foods that are beneficial for the summer months include peppers, eggplant, cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, melons of all kinds, beets, radishes, jicama, carrots, berries, pineapple, cucumbers, peaches, peppermint, grapefruit, and mushrooms.

If you notice yourself experiencing a heart or fire imbalance, consider adding acupuncture to your routine. Acupuncture is very good at reducing or increasing the body’s yang or fire energy, depending upon your individual needs. Ask me if you have any questions about using your acupuncture treatments to support your health this summer.

Osteoporosis: The Toxic Metal Effect

Millions of Americans have been led to believe that osteoporosis is simply a deficiency of the common drugs, Boniva, Evista, Actonel, or Fosamax. Many are prescribed the “knee-jerk” recommendation of 1500 mgs of calcium a day to prevent osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is important to know that you can take these drugs like an ideal patient and will not gain the benefit of a “real” improvement for osteoporosis.

In fact, many have “not” been told that these drugs only improve bone by about 2% a year for a couple of years and then the benefit dwindles or ceases.

The best you can expect is a “temporary” improvement in bone density but this will be short-lived because the underlying root cause of the problem has been overlooked or ignored.

As a quick reminder, normal bone breaks down and repairs itself every day, just as all tissues do. But these drugs have the unique ability to “artificially manipulate” this normal process of bone repair leaving unnatural bone build-up.

This bone build-up is not the same as a healthy bone. It comes with a laundry list of side effects and long-term problems.

One concern I have with this lack of bone turn-over and repair is the fact that it encourages the accumulation of heavy toxic metals.

One toxic heavy metal of great concern is cadmium.

Without normal bone turn-over, this metal has an affinity for bone. Basically the metal will accumulate in the bone.

But cadmium also frequently ends up in the kidneys causing high blood pressure and kidney disease, or it ends up in coronary blood vessels causing coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy, or in the lungs causing emphysema.

Once cadmium gets in the bone, it will kick out zinc.

Of special interest, zinc is a mineral not only needed for bone strength, but for over 200 other enzymes in the body.

Once cadmium displaces enough zinc, the bones lose its strength and you have a greater potential of developing osteopenia, osteomalacia, easy fractures and osteoporosis.

Cadmium actually makes the bone matrix, which is mostly collagen, abnormally weak.

To make matters worse, physicians not schooled in nutritional biochemistry or functional medicine will make the common mistake of prescribing 1000-1500 mg of calcium a day.

This increased calcium has the ability to kick out even more zinc and makes room for more cadmium and further complicates the osteoporosis scenario.

Not only does this extra calcium make people age faster by calcifying or hardening their brain and heart arteries, but this unbalanced high dose of calcium has never been proven to be the end-all answer for osteoporosis.

One important clue that you may have a zinc deficiency is an alkaline phosphatase blood test below 70.

Remember a zinc deficiency can come from cadmium, plasticizers, unbalanced high calcium doses, and more.

So, can you see how the sick may in fact get sicker when the underlying root cause(s) is not identified and fixed?

I recommend you demand that your doctor order a RBC intracellular nutrient and toxic heavy metal profile. This will be the first step in helping in your quest to beat osteoporosis.

Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., D.A.C.B.N., M.S

www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com

References:

Bonner FW, et al, Cadmium-induced reduction of bone alkaline phosphatase and its prevention by zinc, Chem Biologl Interact, 29:360 9-72, 1980

Brzoska MM, et al, Low-level exposure to cadmium during a lifetime increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures of the lumbar spine in the elderly: studies on a rat model of human environmental exposure, Toxicolog Sci, 82: 468-77, 2004

Wood RJ, Zheng JJ, High dietary calcium intakes reduced zinc absorption and balance in humans, Am J Clin Nutr, 65: 1803-1809, 1997

Rogers SA. Total Wellness, Prestige Publishing, August 2007

Healthy Foods for Fall

traditional chinese medicine foods for fall

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything.

As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits should be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading »

Five Reasons to Get Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Statistics show eight out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. continue reading »