Spring

Written by Beth Bloomfield, L.Ac., MS

Spring is (almost) in the air

spring

 

If you’ve found that your New Years resolutions have gone by the wayside, not to worry!  In Chinese philosophy, the springtime is an even more harmonious time of year to start new routines. With spring starts the “wood phase” of year— a time for growth, change and expansion. Stirring from the dark rest of winter (“water phase”), it is ideal that we rise from our winter respite, well-rested and ready to go. 

However, for some of us, the prospect of blooming plants brings drippy noses and itchy eyes. Many allergy sufferers are on allergy medications year round for chronic rhinitis, leaving few options once spring hits.

There are a few things you can do to lessen your allergy symptoms:

  • Dairy is a well known aggravator of nasal congestion, whether you have dietary sensitivity to milk products or not.  Avoid it whenever you are having issues.  
  • Using a neti pot daily helps mechanically remove allergens and mucus secretions from the nasal passages.
  • Especially if you find that you wake up in the morning with worsened nasal symptoms and itchy eyes, make sure you wash sheets in hot water and do so frequently (at least once a week.)  Dry your laundry indoors where it won’t pick up pollen. 
  • Keep your bedroom windows closed during pollen season, and leave your shoes at the door so you do not track pollen into your home.    
  • You may choose to invest in an air filter to remove airborne particles.  HEPA type filters will screen out pollen particles.
  • Regular acupuncture improves allergy symptoms by calming the immune system, which is hyperactive during the spring season.
  • Your natural health provider may also suggest trying an herbal formula. For instance, freeze-dried nettles can be just as effective as an over-the-counter medication and are best started just before the trees sprout and symptoms begin.

Seasonal Eating for Spring

Spring also brings a wide array of green leafy vegetables popping up at the farmer’s market.
Bitter greens are beneficial to incorporate into your diet, especially while they are fresh and in season. They are vitamin packed (A, K and C, plus minerals like potassium and magnesium) and a good source of fiber. Whether you should eat them cooked or raw depends on your preference and digestive integrity—eat them cooked or blanched if you find you have problems breaking them down fully. If you aren’t crazy about the idea of eating them on their own, they can be added to stews, used in place of lettuce in sandwiches, or eaten raw in a salad. 

You may hear that greens are a “detoxifying” food. Detoxing has become a bit of a natural health buzzword. But what does this mean really? Firstly, the fiber in greens helps physically clean out any buildup in your intestines. Bitter taste stimulates release of bile and enzymes, which aid in proper digestion. Eating these foods during the spring (wood phase) of the year, in which they are freshest and the liver is at it’s energetic best, may give your body an extra boost. 

Whether you go for arugula or amaranth, chard, escarole, or dandelion greens, try to incorporate leafy green vegetables into your diet a few times every week this spring. 

Spring Recipe: Sautéed greens

This “recipe” will work for most green leafy vegetables and is ready in under 20 minutes start-to-finish.  It is a delicious way to eat chard, spinach, kale or mustard greens. 

There isn’t a lot of measuring or timing involved, and it comes together quickly.  (This is how I make them in a pinch, hope you enjoy!)


What you’ll need: 

1 bunch greens
1-2 cloves garlic (depends on preference)
cooking oil of choice(olive or coconut work well.)
lemon juice to taste (start with half a lemon or 1 tablespoon)
salt/pepper to taste
water (about 1/2 cup)

 Wash 1 bunch greens thoroughly. Cut out tough cores and chop the cores widthwise into roughly half inch pieces.  Leaves may be left whole or cut into smaller pieces.   Keep separate.  Chop up garlic.  Either minced or sliced is okay.  Lightly coat bottom of pan with oil of choice, warm over medium heat.   When pan is hot, add garlic and chopped stems.  Cook, stirring, until stems are somewhat softened. Add greens, then add approximately 1/2 cup of water.  Cover pan immediately.  Cook until greens are soft, usually around five minutes.  Uncover, and cook, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Squeeze lemon juice on top and serve hot. 

 

 

 

Stop GERD and Get Off Your Heartburn Medications

WHAT IS GERD?

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is caused by a chronic, repeated regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.  While your stomach is perfectly suited to handle its highly acidic contents, your esophagus is not.  The unwelcome exposure can cause heartburn, throat pain, belching, a sour taste in the mouth, nausea, coughing, wheezing, upper abdominal pain, hoarseness, postnasal drip, throat pain, sinus congestion, and /or a sensation of having a lump in the throat.

 

MEDICATIONS FOR GERD

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and Histamine-2 Antagonists (H2 Blockers), are used to slow or stop the production of stomach acid.  These drugs work really well on the symptoms.  However, they do not stop the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus - they merely reduce the acidity, providing you with temporary relief but at a potential health cost.

 

WHAT’S WRONG WITH HEARTBURN MEDICATIONS?

Long-term use of these medications have been associated with increased risk of bone fractures, vitamin B12 deficiency, C. Difficile (a severe gastrointestinal infection), dementia, hypomagnesemia, and chronic kidney disease.  We don’t know why these associations are there, but we have some possible explanations.  Stomach acid starts the digestion of protein, activates digestive enzymes, and liberates the minerals (like calcium, magnesium, and zinc) in your food so that you can absorb them.  It also kills most of the bacteria that you put into your mouth and swallow.  Essentially, we get more nutrients out of our food and minimize pathogens when we have adequate stomach acid.

 

HIATAL HERNIA AS A CAUSE

In my experience, the vast majority of GERD is caused by what is called a hiatal hernia - even when a hiatal hernia is not detected through imaging.  Understanding the hiatal hernia requires a very brief anatomy lesson:   Between your esophagus and the opening of your stomach, you have a one-way valve.  When working properly, it allows your food to move down into your stomach, but doesn’t allow your stomach contents to move up into your esophagus.  Your respiratory diaphragm - the one that moves your lungs when you breathe - sits right above your stomach, surrounds the valve, and helps to keep it tight.  A hiatal hernia is what you have when your stomach is chronically or repeatedly pulled up too high and the diaphragm is no longer properly aligned.  Without its help, the valve stays open when it shouldn’t be.  This allows your stomach contents to reflux into your esophagus.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Heel Drops:  This is my first-line GERD treatment.  Here is what you do.  First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach:  Drink a tall glass of water.  Stand on your tiptoes as you inhale.  Exhale as you quickly and abruptly drop to you heels.  You want to pound those heels into the floor.  Do 5 every morning (only one glass of water).  The weight of that water in your stomach has enough inertia that when your heels hit and your body stops, your stomach keeps dropping and pulls itself down to where it needs to be.  Over time, by correcting the hiatal hernia, the reflux should stop, and the need for medications should resolve.

Manual Hiatal Hernia Reduction:  In the rare instance that the Heel Drops don’t work, I can manually attempt to grab ahold of the stomach and pull it down into place.  This often takes only one or two treatments.

You might also:  Elevate the head of your bed 6-8 inches, eat smaller meals; avoid drinking with meals; minimize alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and mint; avoid meals for 2-3 hours before bed; lose weight, quit smoking, try deglychyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), manage your stress, eat slowly, and practice deep abdominal breathing.

 

STOPPING MEDICATIONS

If you are able to stop the reflux, the symptoms will resolve.  However, long-term, untreated reflux can create other serious problems, so I do not recommend letting heartburn or other symptoms of GERD go without treatment or consultation.   If you are able to stop the reflux and you wish to stop your reflux medications, you may need to taper your dosage.  If you continue to have symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.

 

Greg Burkland, ND

Caring for the Common Cold ~ Natural support for when you are feeling under the weather

 

Prevention is the best medicine

    If you take care of your body, your immune system will be more able to handle whatever cold season throws at it.  This means doing all the things we probably know we should do: getting adequate sleep, bundling up when going outside in the cold, and consistently eating a balanced diet.

    When we fall short dietarily, Vitamin C and Zinc are good immune supportive supplements to consider.  Vitamin C is found in many plant sources, particularly citrus fruits, but is also available as an over the counter tablet.  Vegetarians and vegans may find they have trouble getting enough zinc in their daily diet, and may want to consider supplementing regularly.  

    Keep in mind that regular acupuncture treatment keeps the body balanced and has immune regulating effects.  If you find that you tend to get sick frequently, be sure to mention it to your acupuncturist on your next visit.

 

Drink plenty of fluids

     Increasing fluid consumption is one of the simplest and under-rated ways to shorten the duration of a cold.
    Non-caffeinated fluids are an essential part of recovery from illness.  Water flushes out the system, and keeps body tissues supple.  Adequate water thins mucous secretions. It is essential for removing cellular debris, and maintaining proper cellular function.  It is also necessary for assimilating vitamins (vitamins B an C are among the water soluble vitamins) that boost the immune system.  

    Steam from hot or warm fluids has the added benefit of opening up the nasal passages. Peppermint or chrysanthemum tea are both widely available good choices for cold care.  Tea blends with licorice can further soothe a sore throat and mildly suppress a dry cough.

 

See your natural health provider for herbal treatment

    Traditional East Asian medicine has always taken the treatment of colds very seriously.  The ancients knew well that an untreated cold could morph into a more serious illness if left untreated.  Herbal soups and teas were prescribed based upon patient symptoms (chills or fever or both? dry cough or thick sputum?) but with particular attention paid to the patient’s constitutional ability to fight disease.

    Many of these ancient herbal formulas are now tested by modern research and can be prescribed to you by an herbal practitioner.  For example, honeysuckle and Forsythia is a traditional herbal pairing commonly found in many of our herbal formulations for initial stages of upper-respiratory type infections.  It has since been discovered to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.  These two herbs are synergistic—they have stronger effect in combination than alone.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497423/ 

    Many acupuncturists are trained and board certified in herbal medicine and can recommend herbal formulations to lessen the severity or duration of your symptoms when you are under the weather.  Both providers at Rutland Integrative Health are dually licensed in both acupuncture and herbal medicine! www.rutlandintegrativehealth.com

 

Use a Neti pot (nasal irrigation)

    A neti pot is one of the most effective ways you can lessen post-nasal drip.  Originating from the Indian subcontinent, it is a way of flushing out the nasal passages with a saline solution.  For some, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s effectiveness generally wins people over.  Just think of it as good hygiene for the nasal passages. 

    If you’ve never seen one, a neti pot looks kind of like a watering can or a teapot.  It is filled with a warm salt water solution, and placed against one nostril with the head tilted.  Water goes in one nostril and comes out the other, washing out excess nasal secretions with it.  

    Using your neti pot at the first sign of congestion or itchy throat may help prevent a more serious sinus or throat infection by washing out infected mucus before it drips down the back of your throat and spreads infection.

    Keep your neti pot around for allergy season too, as the nasal irrigation process can physically wash the pollen/allergens out of your nose.  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/neti-pots#1

 

As always, we are here to support you on your way to better health.

Written by Beth Bloomfield, L.AC., MS

What Is Naturopathic Primary Care?

More and more people are turning towards wholistic health care for various reasons and one of the simplest changes they can make is in their primary care doctor.  A primary care doctor is your general practice physician, who you might see for a sore throat or an ear infection.  They are often the first doctor that you see when you get sick, develop a rash, or when you need a routine physical examination.  Have you considered naturopathic primary care?

As a naturopathic primary care physician, I perform the same tasks as a primary care physician (PCP), but with a more wholistic approach.  I perform physicals, order preventive screening tests, administer immunizations, order diagnostic testing, refer to specialists, diagnose diseases, recommend and provide treatments, and prescribe medications.  As a naturopathic physician, I may recommend herbs, dietary and lifestyle interventions, nutritional supplements, and/or hydrotherapy for treatment of acute and chronic conditions.  

Naturopathic medicine is an approach to medicine that primarily uses natural therapies for healing.    As with all medical professionals, naturopathic physicians “First Do No Harm.”  However, we tend to dig deeper in identifying and treating the underlying causes of disease, as well as treating the whole person, rather than isolated symptoms and body parts.  We do this while respecting and utilizing the body’s innate intelligence and self-healing potential.  

To give just a few examples, naturopathic primary care physicians acknowledge that:

  • Many medications are overprescribed.  The need for prescriptions and possible alternatives should be considered in each situation.
  • A mild-to-moderate infection may often be treated successfully with herbs or other low-force interventions.  
  • Skin disorders may often be caused, at least in part, by dietary factors and digestive problems.
  • Digestive problems can be caused by:  stress, poor sleep habits, lack of exercise, imbalance of intestinal bacteria, specific food intolerances, digestive enzyme insufficiency, stomach acid deficiency, hiatal hernia, as well as the more serious diseases that also need to be ruled out.
  • Fatigue, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain could be related to diet, lifestyle, toxic exposures, or a myriad of other factors.
  • Every patient is different, with different values, motivations, tolerances, and responses to treatment.
  • It is critical to be able to recognize when standard medical care is needed and either provide that care or refer appropriately.

My patients cover the spectrum between those seeking wholly natural treatments (those who don’t want prescription medications unless absolutely necessary) and conventional (those who are suspicious of anything outside of the standard medical protocol).  The ability to accommodate a wide range of patients with different philosophies while integrating both worlds makes naturopathic primary care a valuable resource in our community.  

 

Happy New Year - What is Healthy and Why Should I Get Acupuncture?

By Dalite Sancic, LAC, MS

Hello and Happy New Year!

We here at Rutland Integrative Health believe that you deserve to live a healthy life. But what is healthy you ask? Health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

For many of us, the concept of health is something we don’t think of often and the answer to the question may vary depending on who is answering. It is a realm that is vast and complicated for some that may be struggling with physical ailments, while others may feel it within reach physically yet struggle with poor interpersonal choices or meaningful connections and lack joy. Either way, aligning physical well-being; including sound sleep, feeling energized, and relatively well in your body along with emotional and social satisfaction is the goal. Considering the question at hand, reframing the idea of health may help us actualize our objective.

Live the life of your dreams.
— Moshe Feldenkrais

At Rutland Integrative Health, we are here to help you achieve the kind of healthy life you want. We provide acupuncture, nutritional guidance, herbal and nutraceutical prescriptions, primary care, functional testing and more. Stay connected to us this year as you pursue your health goals. Sign up for our newsletter and like us on Facebook!

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years starting in Asia. It has become well known all over the world but is still seen in the United States as a ‘new’ form of healing. Since its inception more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture has been used in a wide variety of settings to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health. Used in rural communities as an inexpensive, minimally invasive form of medicine, it is now used alongside western treatment in hospitals around the world. There are clinics that specialize in post-stroke rehabilitation, infertility, sports medicine, cosmetic acupuncture and more. It is widely used in addiction clinics as well as in the US military to treat PTSD. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognize and endorse acupuncture in the treatment of many conditions. The training for a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) is both rigorous and lengthy. It includes a 4 year Master of Science degree, 4,000 supervised clinical hours, state and national licensing requirements, as well as continuing education obligations.

So, what IS acupuncture? Acupuncture is a healing modality within the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine in which tiny, stainless steel, solid, sterile needles are inserted into the skin in specific points. Research suggests that the needling process, and other techniques used in acupuncture, produce a variety of effects in the body and the brain. One theory is that stimulated nerve fibers transmit signals to the spinal cord and brain, activating the body's central nervous system. The spinal cord and brain then release hormones responsible for making us feel less pain while improving overall health. In fact, a study using images of the brain confirmed that acupuncture increases our pain threshold, which may explain why it produces long-term pain relief. Acupuncture also increases blood circulation and body temperature, affects white blood cell activity (responsible for our immune function), reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and regulates blood sugar levels.

Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medial treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders. Acupuncture is particularly effective for pain relief and for nausea and vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy. In addition, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the NIH recognize that acupuncture can be a helpful part of a treatment plan for many illnesses. A partial list includes: addiction (such as alcoholism), asthma, bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, facial tics, fibromyalgia, headaches, irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low back pain, menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, sinusitis, spastic colon (often called irritable bowel syndrome), stroke rehabilitation, tendinitis, tennis elbow, and urinary problems, such as incontinence. You can safely combine acupuncture with prescription drugs and other conventional treatments, but it is important for your primary care physician to monitor how acupuncture treatments may be affecting your conventional therapies.

The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture also lists a wide range of conditions for which acupuncture is appropriate. In addition to those listed above, they recommend acupuncture for sports injuries, sprains, strains, whiplash, neck pain, sciatica, nerve pain due to compression, overuse syndromes similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, allergies, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sore throat (called pharyngitis), high blood pressure, gastro-esophageal reflux (felt as heartburn or indigestion), ulcers, chronic and recurrent bladder and kidney infections, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), infertility, endometriosis, anorexia, memory problems, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, sensory disturbances, drug detoxification, depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.

Acupuncture is typically not a one time deal. Because it takes some time before the body even feels symptoms of dis-ease, it requires a series of visits for the body to become rebalanced. For more information on ‘What to Expect’, check out our page for first-timers.

We wish you a year of health, vitality, joy and much more.