White Belt journey into Vegetable gardening.

The quarantine has been an eye opener for many reasons. One major realization is that I realized that with all my education I have very little knowledge about the basics of survival. That is real. I decided that it is high time that we learn – or at least start to learn how to develop a garden. Although I am not planning on growing enough food to feed a family of four with a 4 x 8 garden plot – I am determined to LEARN something about horticulture and armed with that knowledge develop larger vegetable gardens in the future.

Part A: Planting seeds indoors. I am a complete gardening novice. This video shows our learning process and is trial and error. Goals: Nurture the seedling – build character – toughen up & plant outdoors.

WHITE BELT MISTAKES:

Make sure seedlings are warm enough

Get grow lights

Do not over water

Do not pot up too soon

Do not touch the roots of the seedlings

Healing Acute Ear Infections Naturally (Otitis Media)

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Anyone who has suffered from an earache can tell you that they are awful. Both for the parent and the child. Up all night wailing and holding their little ears…this kind of pain isn’t for the weak. Fortunately, acute ear infections usually come on fast and furiously and hopefully with correct treatment, retreat just as quickly.

The Science: What exactly is Otitis Media? Otitis media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. This happens when a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection, and the presence of bacteria or a virus  lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube.

Incidence: Acute and chronic ear infections account for 15 to 30 million visits to the doctor each year in the U.S.

Otitis media with effusion: OME is the chronic build up of fluid behind the ears that creates pressure and can affect hearing. This often causes the eardrum to bulge outwards and sounds may become more muffled. This is the most common reason children undergo surgery to receive ear grommets or tubes to release the fluid build up. I am not sure about you but I thought Grommets were little surfer dudes?

Earaches & Traditional Chinese Medicine:

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TCM looks at earaches a bit differently. While Western medicine mainly observes external causes, Traditional medicine investigates both internal and external causes of disease.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are three main reasons why a child would have an earache:

1) An external attack of wind, heat or cold entering the ear. Translation: virus or bacteria.

2) Internal causes of earaches are usually heat or cold accompanied by dampness. Translation: diet, stress, lifestyle and anatomical differences can all affect how one responds to a pathogen.

3 ) Lingering Pathogenic Factor. Translation: repeated bouts of antibiotics, a lingering virus that has never completely cleared like Lyme, or from a vaccine.

One major culprit for earaches is systemic inflammation.

Inflammation can cause a swelling of the tonsils, sinuses, adenoids, lymph nodes and parotid gland. This creates an obstruction and fluid builds up which often leads to infection. Inflammation also slows down the healing process.

How does inflammation occur?

External causes:

  • Dietary factors such as dairy, wheat, gluten, artificial colors and sweeteners.
  • Allergies to animals, dander, mold, pollen, grass, pesticides, hormones
  • Cigarette smoke

Internal causes:

  • Emotional volatility and stress can lead to stagnation which impedes blood flow and circulation.
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Overuse of antibiotics
  • Obesity

Chronic ear infections may present with:

  • Hearing loss
  • Milder pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Supplementing your child’s treatment at home:

Dietary therapy: It is important to immediately look at the child’s diet. There may be an allergy to dairy or wheat that is contributing to phlegm accumulation.

Try a challenge by removing an offender ( I would start with cows milk ) for two weeks and see if you see a reduction in symptoms. Reintroduce the milk two weeks later in a small dosage and see if the symptoms return or get worse.

If there are no changes then try eliminating wheat and then sugar.

Adding supplements and foods:

  • Quercitin: I found a great Vitamin C and Quercitin powder by Designs for Heath that works seamlessly into a smoothie. Note this is very tart.
  • Bee pollen (high in quercitin and flavinoids)
  • Bee Propolis: cant say it tastes great but worth a try.
  • Boswellia (AKA Frankincense) & Myrrh
  • Omega fish oil: I like Nordic Naturals. They are very tasty. Just make sure to floss afterwards as gummies are notorious cavity makers.
  • Turmeric

Probiotics to boost the immune system and help fight against dampness and phlegm. Klaire labs makes a great powdered probiotic. I find it very easy to slip the powdered probiotics seamlessly into smoothies and yogurt. My kids hated the chewable kind but my husband liked them so that was easy.

Herbal Therapy: Jia Jian Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Please check in with your acupuncturist about this classic formula.

Rub Castor oil along the lymph nodes around the throat and neck. I like to apply this at night with a little massage on the nape of the neck. Because castor oil is so goupy I make sure to put on old towel on the pillow and tie up my kid’s hair.

Acupressure: the goal is to clear heat and relieve pressure.

Try these acupressure points. I would apply a light tapping pressure with a small spoon.

Treat acute pain:
Acupressure on SJ 5
Gallbladder 41
Large intestine 11
Large intestine 4

  • Cranio Sacral Therapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Shonishin treatment is a great way to reduce the pain and swelling around the ear. Make an appointment with your acupuncturist.

Sometimes that pain is so intense that any sensation around the ear feels like torture. For these I avoid the local area and focus on these points on the arms and feet.

Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ear-infections/DS00303

Immune Support

Fatigue…Lowered Immunity, Swollen Glands…? How to Identify and Treat a Lingering Pathogenic Factor.

Virus

Many people seek Traditional Chinese Medicine for immune support because they have a tendency to catch colds easily and take longer than average to kick it. They also often say that “they need their sleep” preferring 9-10 hours of sleep per night and often more on the weekends.

Another recurring symptom is inflammation manifesting as either chronic sinusitis, enlarged tonsils, swollen lymph nodes and/ or recurring respiratory conditions like strep throat and bronchitis.

The ancients discussed a pattern called “Lurking Pathogen” in the Nei Jing. The name, lurking pathogen, principally comes from the Inner Classic (Nei Jing), where it says “if there is damage by cold in the winter, there will be a warm pathogen disease in the spring”, and “if there is sufficient essence, there will be no warm disease in the spring.”

Western medicine recognizes a similar situation known as “Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” or “Myalgic encephalomyelitis”.

A typical history includes the revelation of past experience with a viral or bacterial illness such as Mononucleosis, Lyme’s Disease, Meningitis, Coxsackie virus. The list does not end there these are just the most frequent in my clinical experience.

Most people are able to clear the pathogen on their own but for others it isn’t fully expressed and pops up later in life. It’s as if an imprint of the virus lurks in the body and when people are under stress or run down, it pops up and resurfaces. It’s also taxing on the body to have low-lying inflammation and phlegm. These require constant energy to keep it at bay.

Phlegm is a major component of a Lingering Pathogenic Factor. Additionally, the tongue presentation is red, which runs contrary to the pattern of fatigue and weakness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we consider this to be the result of a “Lingering Pathogenic Factor”.

Typical response to a pathogen:

Typically the body is hit with a pathogen and responds with fever, shivering, sweating and phlegm. As the pathogen meets the exterior of the body the “Wei Qi” or “Defensive Qi” puts up a fight. The battle between “Evil Qi” and “Right Qi” is observed between fever and chills. The body’s temperature elevates to make the host un-hospitable to the infection. Many people feel the higher the fever the more intensely your body is fighting the pathogen.

Because the pathogen invades the skin at the surface of the body, Qi and Fluids are impeded and phlegm is produced. Most people fully clear the pathogen in time. In many it can take a week or so, others a month and some just never fully express the pathogen. Children are extremely susceptible to Lingering Pathogenic factor because their immune systems are developing and they are more fragile.

There are also other reasons that can contribute to a lingering pathogen not being completely expressed and expelled.

Compounding factors:

  • Genetic disposition
  • Overuse or improper use of antibiotics
  • Cold, phlegm producing foods
  • Antipyretics
  • Concurring illnesses
  • Emotional strains
  • Developmental milestones
  • Vaccinations

Treatment:

Allopathic medicine treats the disease. Traditional Chinese medicine treats the individual. By strengthening the individual and not suppressing the body’s own, innate knowledge, the body has the ability to clear the pathogen without the side effects of antibiotics.

Understanding the Pattern: The body is a relative balance of:
Yin / Yang

Cold/Heat

Interior/ Exterior

Deficiency/ Excess

Fatigue, lowered immunity and phlegm are usually an example of excess yin, with cold in the interior creating phlegm. A red tongue indicates the presence of heat within the body, often a remnant of the virus or toxin.

Symptoms of Fatigue (Qi deficiency) include:

  • Extreme fatigue in the morning
  • Recurring illness, lowered immunity
  • Pale, heavy menstruation
  • Bruising easily
  • Depressed / Moody
  • Runny nose or Blocked nose
  • Phlegm

Treatment:

Treatment includes clearing a heat toxin. First you need to identify where the phlegm (LPF) is remaining. It can be in the tonsils, ears, lungs, intestines or bladder. We typically see LPF after chronic urinary tract infections.

Often systemic treatment is geared towards initially strengthening the body followed by clearing phlegm.

1)   Dietary Suggestions:

Eliminate Reduce Phlegm Inducing Foods:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy (yogurt is often okay)
  • Fructose (Juice, bananas, oranges, smoothies)
  • Refined Sugars
  • Peanut butters can encourage phlegm too

Consider adding:

  • Organic meats
  • Organic vegetables and fruits that reduce phlegm like onions, garlic, lemons,
  • Nourish the lungs with white vegetables and fruit: Cauliflower, lotus root, daikon, pears

Supplements:

  • Probiotics to help repair the gut lining and reduce phlegm
  • Quercitin and Bromelain to help reduce inflammation and phlegm.
  • Tumeric: Natural antinflammatory
  • Raw Honey: anti-viral, ant-bacterial
  • Bee Propolis: Anti-inflammitiry, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Coconut oil: anti inflammatory, anti-viral, antibacterial, good for a mouth wash. Can dissolve a spoonful in water in the morning or swish it around your mouth for 1 minute and spit out.
  • Gargle with salt water
  • Olive leaf spray for swollen tonsils
  • Vitamin D for immune support

Lifestyle:

  • Nurture your down time. Make sure to get proper rest.
  • Avoid overuse of digital devices.
  • Do moderate exercise. If you feel exhausted after your workout try more restorative exercises like walking in the park, Hatha yoga

Acupuncture & Herbs:

Acupuncture is a great way to support the immune system to clear the trapped pathogen.

The treatment is two-fold:

1) Strengthening the immune system

2) Clearing the pathogen

Similarly an herbal regimen is helpful to help support the immune system whilst clearing heat. An herbalist will constantly update a hand tailored formula that will evolve as the pathogen is clearing and the body is being restored to balance.

Get Connected: Choosing to be content.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” -Siddhartha Guatama Buddha 

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It’s mind-boggling how many people that on the outside appear to “have it all” report being unhappy.
Some people fall into the clinically depressed and/or anxious category. I’m actually referring to people who are living with a day to day underlying sadness, loneliness or indifference. Indifference is probably the worst…it’s resigned sadness.

There are many external factors that may influence ones internal landscape but ultimately, if you listen to the happiness pros you must learn to change your self and not the circumstances. Easier said than done however, especially when we live in a society that is focused on what you produce versus who you are as a person.

Unlike many other cultures our society is focused on what we can churn out. Even the question “what do you do?” could not exist in many other cultures. Yet in our western society we can reflexively answer that question with our profession. Omitting the source of what really inspires us or helps us connect with others. 

This creates is disconnection between who we are in our heart and what we do with our bodies.

When the heart and mind are disconnected it is difficult to feel grounded, satisfied,  and content. 

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People often tell me “everything is great, I just don’t feel happy”.
It’s pretty obvious by now that stuff and achievements to do not create lasting happiness. Happiness must come from within…but how? Why is it so elusive?

Ways that Happiness Eludes us:

Happy all the time = Happy

Many people think that they need to feel great all of the time to be truly happy. That is the stuff for social media…an unrealistic slice of life that has been proven to increase disconnectedness and depression.  No one is supposed to feel great all of the time. Seasons of life and seasons of moods are a closer reflection of the natural world.

External events create lasting Happiness:

This is generally a form of anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. Someone who constantly sets the bar higher and higher. Never comfortable with where they are at…never really happy with any accomplishment…”Perfectionism vs Optimalism”. If this resonates with you check out an outstanding book, The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben Shahar.

Some people use external life events as a way to measure happiness. “When I finish law school then I’ll be happy”. “When I’m earning a six-figured salary, I’ll be happy”. “After I run this race then I’ll be happy”. But then they run the race, get through school, get the great job, make the great salary and then what….

I often ask people what makes you feel happy? A resounding amount of people say they just don’t know?

Improving Happiness through Connecting the Mind and the Heart:

The Journey is the Destination:

My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professor says all of the time, its not the ownership of a Black Belt that is worthy but who you become in the process of earning the Black Belt. The transformation is the goal. 

Do what you love: Connect your Mind and Heart

It’s amazing how many people perform jobs and chose professions that they despise. Willing to spend countless hours if their life doing something that they hate. Their mind may be able to override the rebellion but they body cannot. This can lead to a myriad of physical complaints. Listen to your body’s inner wisdom. 

Gratitude: Connect with a higher power.

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Prayer, journaling or conscientiously paying homage to what you are truly grateful for is a powerful way to elevate your mood.

Meditation:

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Meditation is a great way to escape perseverating thoughts. People always say “ I should meditate, but I can’t…my mind won’t stop.” Erase the vision of yourself in full lotus for an hour with a blank mind. Guided mediation is a great, user-friendly way to get started. 20 minutes before bed or upon waking a great bookend for the day. Don’t be hard on yourself, your mind is bound to chatter. Meditation will help you “watch the chatter”. Even if you can’t get there immediately you will feel something different. Connect with your consciousness.

I personally love Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindful Meditations.

Fake it till you Make it:

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Smile more, listen to happy music. It’s hard to feel depressed listening to music that makes you shake. Connect with the muse.

Find a group that supports an activity you love.

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Martial arts, cooking, exercise, dancing, pottery, knitting…you name it and there are millions of people enthused by it! Connect with others in a meaningful way.

Read inspirational or educational books.

Millions of people have successfully navigated the world and have written books about how to do it. Connect with visionaries.

Spend time in Nature. Connect with the source.

In the eloquent words of John Muir “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

The Power of Mugwort and its Role in Traditional Medicine

Moxibustion, or Moxa for short, is a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Therapy using dried Mugwort.  The tips of the mugwort plant are pulverized into a fluffy substance which is then burned over specific points on the body to promote healing.

Mugwort or Artemisa Vulgaris in Latin, has a long history in Traditional Medicine and has been used throughout China, Tibet, Korea and Japan. Additionally, mugwort is regarded as a sacred plant of divination and spiritual healing by traditional people of North and South America.

All of the parts of the plant can be utilized; leaves are consumed as tea or added to food and according to medieval practices, placed under pillows for dream enhancement. Mugwort was also referred to as a traveler’s herb and was traditionally used to strengthen and protect travelers. Additionally, Chinese Folklore recommends draping a bunch over the door to promote health for the entire year.

In Notes on Bian Que’s Moxibustion, it says, “When a healthy man often has moxibustion to the points guanyuan, qihai,mingmen, and zhongwan, he would live a very long life, at least one hundred years.”

Why:

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Moxibustion is a panacea. Moxibustion has the power to travel to all of the channels of the body, which means that moxa can systemically warm the body and stimulate circulation.

Moxibustion Uses:

  • Moxibustion treats “cold conditions”, which may manifest as pain, reduced circulation and arthritis.
  • Moxibustion has an ability to support the immune system and decrease inflammation, this makes moxa useful for the treatment of chronic illnesses, fatigue, allergies and lowered immunity.
  • Additionally, moxa has the special ability to guide to the uterus. Often called a “woman’s herb” moxa is effective for the treatment of delayed, painful and irregular menses.
  • Turn breech babies. This is an empirical usage for moxibustion and have been proven an effective treatment for cephalic positioning in numerous clinical trials.

Moxibustion for Fertility:

Moxa is considered an emmengogue, which means an herb that stimulates blood flow to the uterus.

Moxa is particularly useful for treating “cold” reproductive health conditions that manifest as:

  • Irregular menses
  • Painful, clotty periods
  • Stagnation

Cold, stagnant conditions could be considered endometriosis, fibroids and cysts in the allopathic paradigm.

Using pole moxa or direct moxa over the uterus brings warmth and Qi into the organ. Blood flow quickly increases and pain diminishes.

A moxa box can also be utilized. Moxa box is literally a box stuffed with fresh moxa and burned over the abdomen. This can help concentrate the warming powers of moxa into the uterus.

Types of Moxibustion

Indirect Moxibustion:

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Indirect moxa can be applied by using Pole Moxa. Moxa is pressed and rolled into sticks that are waved over the acupuncture points or regions of the body. Pole moxa comes in smokey and smokeless forms. Smokeless Pole moxa is useful for pregnant women.

Sticky Moxa:

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Stick-on moxa is a great modern day product created in Japan, Korea and China. The base is a self-adhesive to the treatment point.

“Warming Needle”:

  • Fresh moxa is rolled into a ball and placed in the end of an acupuncture needle and lit. This drives the heat into the acupuncture needle, which is transmitted deeply into the acupuncture point.
  • “Shish-kebob moxa” are pre-rolled cones of moxa that can be applied to the tip of the needle.

Direct Moxibustion:

A practitioner will roll small balls otherwise known as ‘Rice Grain Moxa” and place them directly on the skin, typically over a salve to prevent accidental burning. The moxa is often lit with a stick of incense and removed when hot.

Additionally moxa can be pressed into cones that are also applied to the skin and lit.

How:

Pole Moxa:

  • Light the pole
  • Hold the pole approximately 1.5″ from the skin. Make small circles with the pole or a pecking motion with the pole.
  • Do not touch the skin.
  • Heat each point for 3-10 Minutes.
  • Extinguish in a mason jar.
  • Do not attempt direct moxa at home.

Moxibustion for Immune Support

For Turning a Breech Baby:

Use smokeless moxa at UB 67, the lateral tip of the pinky toe for 10 minutes on each side daily. Start between 34 weeks and 38 weeks for best results.

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