Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's a healthy Stool?

As you may or may not be aware, I am currently in the middle of an alkaline body cleanse. In the clinic we have devised a cleanse with aims to clear the gut from toxins and residue. When these exist in our gut, they can substantially knock about your body. We have mucoid plaque which sits in our intestines, trapping harmful substances to protect our bodies, which is all good and well, but when it is left sitting in the intestines and not eliminated, the mucus itself becomes toxic also. So, I have been using alkaline forming foods as well as herbal medicines and shakes which aim to cleanse my body, eliminate mucoid plaque (google it, you will be freaked out that something so foul is more than likely existing in your gut) and alkalise my body for maximum health.
Its very interesting as a Dr of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), I tend to talk to my patients about two main things that turn many people green. Menstruation and Stools. We will leave Menstruation alone in this entry, but I do want to outline what a normal stool should look like.
The presentation of a bowel movement is a very important diagnostic tool in TCM. It allows us to analise the state of the gut, be it the stomach, the spleen, the intestines and bowel. Many TCM Dr's believe that the gut is the pivot point of all health and I tend to agree, because if the digestive system is healthy, the rest of the body generally is.
An ideal bowel movement should look the colour of cardboard. It should leave the body easily, without strain or discomfort and be over and done with in a minute or so. It shouldn't sink too quickly nor should it float. There should also be little gas involved and be a formed piece, not pebble like or runny. Now, Im sure already we may be heading toward the TMI (too much information) line, but this is the waste that YOUR body excretes and you should have a fair idea of how it presents. I am amazed daily on what little knowledge some patients have of the signs and symptoms there body is showing them. The presentation of a bowel movement is one of these indicators. Any variations to what I have described, most likely indicate imbalances present. Very often simple diet changes make the world of difference but sometimes diet alone isn't adequate - this is where cleansing under the guidance of a health care professional or some treatment will be beneficial.
I have a few days left of my cleanse, and now that I am past the initial withdrawals, Im feeling fantastic. In fact, I don't want to finish. I feel clean and healthy and my body is reflecting this also. In a perfect world, our bodies wouldn't need us to cleanse or 'detox,' as it is marketed. The truth is, we do need to in fact rid our bodies of toxins because they are everywhere. In our fruit, our veggies & our soils which means they are passed onto animals also. Toxins are what make us sick, potentially leading to weight gain, gas, bloating and potentially leading to diseases including cancer, irritable bowel, crohn's disease and alike. Immunity, which I recently spoke in another entry, is also impaired from an unhealthy gut for the same reasons.
Winter isn't a good time to cleanse, but there are still a few more weeks of Autumn left, and I encourage anybody who's bowel motions are not as described to explore why - your body will certainly thank you for it and you will feel awesome leading into winter!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Swine Flu.. its back!

I had a patient email me last night asking my thoughts on the Swine Flu Vaccination. I thought to myself "wow, she is getting in early" but it seems that actually its everywhere again. On the news, on the internet - and again, like last year I am quite certain the the media will have a field day warning us all of the risks and statistics.
The fact still remains, we all get sick. We get sick when our body systems are weakened or impaired as a result of being overworked, stressed, tired and living a toxic lifestyle. Some of us are constitutionally stronger than others, some of us born with weak lungs or weak guts or even structural weakness. I see a great variety of patients in the clinic with differing levels of health. Even though every single patient I see is unique, one things remains constant - we all need to be able to pay attention to what our body is telling us through signs and symptoms, and act on these. So given that the flu season is just around the corner, we need not freak out! What we do need to do is prepare and nurture our bodies now, in Autumn so that they have the strength to ease through the Winter months.
Winter is a very inward time, it a time where many animals hibernate and where growth is slow. Our bodies are also a reflection of this, and so in winter, it is a good time for us to nurture ourselves. Im not surprised at how sick people can get in winter time. We can only expect to get out of our bodies what we put in.
In the clinic we use several strengthening formula's to assist in building up immunity leading into winter. The beauty of these is that they can be individually tailored to the patient. So using the information that the patients body presents with allows us to strengthen specific area's of the body to prevent severe illness. Combined this with a good clean diet, plenty of good quality water, exercise, Qi Gong/Meditation and spinal care, I believe you are setting yourself up for a delightful winter! Going into winter with wellness is the key!
ALL flu's can be avoided. Unfortunately vaccinations do weaken our systems - they lower immunity at the time of immunisation, which may make us more susceptible to contracting colds and flu's. Each individual patients circumstances are different, and in some instances people are told that vaccinations are necessary. For the healthy individual, influenza vaccination are not. Generally flu's do not kill healthy people. The swine flu is no exception, in fact it is a weak virus with relatively mild symptoms. More deaths have been reported as a result of the vaccination than the flu itself.
If anything, flu's strengthen our immune systems if we allow our bodies to fight them off. If you are unfortunate enough to contract a flu this winter, suppressing the symptoms with the use of drugs will only further lengthen the recovery! Again, the key here is rest! In the clinic we use Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Herbal formula's to treat colds and flu's that primarily move the pathogen through the body, rather than treating the symptoms. This means that the symptoms may be quite strong but they are short lived. Recovery is quick and the illness does not linger on because the body has support through the peak of the illness. When drugs are used to treat the symptoms of colds and flu's, it takes longer for the body to heal; for the symptoms are the bodies natural and necessary response as it attempts to recover. We suppress these, we draw out the recovery!
So make a conscious effort now to prepare for the colder months ahead, it might mean a few changes to your diet, switching from vigorous exercise to more gentle movements, getting the rest your require or calling us for a chat to see where we can help you prepare. I can assure you small changes will mean you will not only cruise through winter but you will also welcome its beauty because you will have no reason not to!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another day in the office....

Im truly blessed with a job that is not ever the same day to day. I crave a challenge and thrive on being successful in what I do - not for personal gain, but to see results in my patients is beyond satisfying.
I thought part of this blog should be a reflection of what I do in the clinic, and so far my entries have certainly been a result of situations and questions that have come up over recent weeks.
Whilst the majority of what we do at The Pagoda Tree is focused on Women's Health & Fertility, our scope goes way beyond this - and, what's more, looking at Women's Health & Fertility alone presents with a huge variety of issues in the clinic.
On Tuesday my patients complaints ranged from; several patients coming for early pregnancy with threatened miscarriage, PCOS and delayed Ovulation, Neck & Shoulder issues, several woman trying to conceive (one requiring acupuncture to induce Ovulation), a patient who suffered with a bleed on the brain and a woman attending for guidance with Cleansing her body via fasting.
Even though several of these women were coming for the same issues, ie threatened miscarriage or fertility, TCM doesn't treat them in the same way. This is why Chinese Medicine is so successful. It assesses the individual, this apparent by signs, symptoms, the pulse and the tongue presentation which allows me to diagnose the situation and treat accordingly. By doing this, I know I am giving my patients the most appropriate and specific treatment. I can be confident that if I have diagnosed correctly, by the time I see them next I will see positive changes occuring in their health - a reflection of the state of the internal workings of the body.
This is obviously an example of one day in the clinic - and I know that tomorrow will differ again! Im overjoyed by the variety my job brings. Im even more thrilled with what can be achieved through the amazing ability of Chinese Medicine and a willing patient.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

PCO dieting... is it really necessary?

Diet and lifestyle is the most important factor of overall health. Study after Study supports that good nutrition is the foundation of good health and prevention of illness and disease. Food plays a major role in the control and healing of Poly Cystic Ovaries (PCO). Most of the symptoms, be it weight problems, skin conditions, energy, menstrual irregularities and facial hair can all be improved by eating the right foods and provide your body with the nourishment it requires to function optimally. This also goes for avoiding foods which are not helpful or have a negative impact.

Of course, in the clinic we use a combination of treatments in conjunction with diet and lifestyle to treat PCO. Chinese Medicine allows us to treat each PCO patient individually because no two women present the same. This means that treatment is totally unique and specific to the patients needs. Given this, we get excellent results combining Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture with necessary Diet and Lifestyle changes.

For a women with PCO, it is most important to regulate blood sugar levels, to balance hormones and improve other symptoms that are present. The easiest and equally important way to do this is with food.

Insulin resistence is a very real issue in suffers of PCO. What this means is that the pancreas secretes insulin in response to food intake. Correct function would encourage the bodies cells to store away or use the energy of a meal. The Pancreas of a women with PCO secretes more insulin as they become ‘insulin resistant.’ This basically means that the body doesn’t quite get the message – to release a normal amount of insulin, so in response it releases higher levels. The problem with this is that large amounts of insulin in the body stimulate the ovaries to produce large amounts of male hormones. This then stops an egg being released from the ovary and a women may cease to ovulate. Evidently, if the wrong foods are eaten, too much insulin is released. If the correct foods are eaten, insulin resistance can be reduced, and your body becomes responsive again. Given this, it is really quite easy to see why a good diet is imperative for women diagnosed with PCO.

Food isn’t only important to women with PCO as it helps with insulin resistance but it is vital to all as it contains essential nutrients, which the body needs to function properly.

As a Dr of Chinese Medicine, one of the most common women’s health issues I see in the clinic is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Severity will vary from person to person, and sometimes diet alone isn’t enough to combat PCO, but it will allow other treatments to work quicker if the body is supplied with all the nutrients it requires – eating to benefit the body not to hinder its function is they key!

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