Tips to Know Before Doing A Liver Detox

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Want to know what's all the rage again now that spring has sprung? Liver and gallbladder detoxes!

This might be an unpopular opinion - but hey! I'm full of unpopular opinions. So here's my bomb drop:

I hate detoxes.

I hate the trendy idea that our bodies are toxic and need to be starved clean. (Our bodies have some pretty amazing systems in place to make sure we don't become toxic. How many people do you know that have had toxic shock syndrome, toxic megacolon, or sepsis?)

I hate how so many cleanses and detoxes limit food and are purely focused on juicing. (Can you say blood sugar roller-coaster much?!)

I hate the misconception that our liver is just a dirty filter that needs to be rinsed out. (FYI it's not. The liver doesn't store toxins, it transforms unsafe molecules into safe molecules that can be more easily removed from the body.)

While I'm not the biggest fan of juices cleanses or fasting detoxes, I do understand why focusing on liver health is always so popular during spring: In Chinese medicine, every season is associated with one of the five elements. And every element has a color, sound, taste, emotion, and yes, organ system that is affiliated with it too. Spring's organs? No surprise, the liver and gallbladder.

So, even though I cry a little bit on the inside every time someone I know starts the master cleanse or another green juice fast, I too use the spring season to focus on my liver health.

I tend to re-commit to dietary changes like focusing more on veggies of all types and healthy fats. I also cut way back on my sugar and alcohol consumption because they both stress the liver. My favorite outlined dietary re-set is the 21 Day Sugar Detox, but you don't have to do a full-on program to make some key positive changes.

The link between springtime and the liver makes this a great time to focus on eating foods to support detoxification pathways.

Here are three ways to help your liver work more smarter, not harder this spring.

Move Your Qi Using Acupuncture and Exercise

In Chinese medicine, the liver is in charge of the free flow of qi (energy). When your qi doesn't move smoothly, it accumulates in the channels (think of those as the rivers and streams that carry the qi throughout the body). Those accumulations create pain, disease, and emotional stress so it's super important to keep the qi moving smoothly. Acupuncture and exercise are my two favorite ways to keep the qi moving.

Do Some Grounding Meditations

The energy of the liver likes to rise up. Think of all the plant life shooting up from the ground, ready to grow tall to the sky.

This energy is exciting, new, and exuberant!! But it can also be explosive - leading to symptoms like red, itchy eyes, headaches/migraines, and irritability or anger. Grounding visualizations and meditations can help anchor this energy to the earth - keeping it from blowing it's cool on the way up.

Thin Bile Using Food

Bile is created in your liver, stored in the gallbladder, and used to digest fat. When the bile is thick and murky, it creates gallstones and can get stuck in the bile duct. Eating certain foods can thin the bile and help prevent that stagnation of qi I talked about in the last tip.

A couple of my favorite bile thinning foods are lemon and beets. Starting your day off with warm water and lemon is a great way to incorporate more lemon juice into your daily diet. And if you're scared of cooking beets but looking for a great recipe, our friend Lucia has one over here.

Not into lemons or beets? Ask us about other Chinese medicine based food therapy recommendations for springtime liver health during your next appointment!

Book an appointment here!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!

Five Surprising Foods that Fight Allergies

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Allergy season is almost upon us here in Minnesota.

Maybe you’ve had allergies your whole life, or maybe they waited to drive you mad later in life. Maybe you take medication for your symptoms, or maybe you just suffer through with travel-sized tissues in your pocket at all times. No matter who you are or, how your seasonal allergies manifest, there are things that you can do to help lessen your suffering.

While acupuncture and herbs are hugely important steps to take when treating allergies, incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods is also super important.  

Here are five surprising foods that help lessen allergy symptoms:

  1. Apples – Maybe the old adage is true. Eat an apple a day not only to keep the doctor away, but perhaps a runny nose and itchy eyes too!
  2. Onions – Specifically, red onions eaten raw. Try them thinly sliced and quickly pickled with some beets. You’ll be amazed at how they loose their spicy kick and gain a mellow sweet flavor.
  3. Cranberries – Combine these with a chopped apple and some red grapes for a 1-2-3 punch against pollen.
  4. Capers (canned) – Did you know that capers are actually a fruit? Sprinkle them on dishes where you want a little extra salt and flavor.
  5. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Who doesn’t want an excuse to eat a little more chocolate? Just make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder. Add it to a peanut butter and banana smoothie for a decadent treat.

What do all these foods have in common that's so helpful for seasonal allergies? Quercetin.

Never heard of it? I’m not that surprised. Quercetin has long lived below the radar, but is increasingly growing in popularity due to its powerhouse abilities.  Quercetin is a type of flavanoid (plant pigment) that has antioxidant properties, but also acts like an anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine when consumed in the diet. 

A study published in the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents (I know, I know, I’m a total nerd…) concluded that:

Quercetin is a natural compound that blocks substances involved in allergies and is able to act as an inhibitor of mast cell secretion… Quercetin is a safe, natural therapy that may be used as primary therapy or in conjunction with conventional methods[i].

How will you get some quercetin in today? 


Fire Cider for Allergy Relief:

Are you interested in learning how to make my favorite herbal remedy for sinus woes and allergies? I'm teaching a "Make your own fire cider" class on Wednesday, May 16th at 7pm at our clinic.

Learn more and sign up by clicking the photo below.

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!

Why Yoga + Acupuncture Are a Match Made in Chill Heaven

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Starting in May, we'll be offering Yoga + Acupuncture on a biweekly basis at The Water Bar & Public Studios in NE Minneapolis and we couldn't be more pumped. These two practices go together like two peas in a pod and we're here to tell you why:

Their roots grow deep

Yoga and acupuncture both have very similar, long histories that go back thousands of years. While both practices have changed plenty since their respective inceptions, they also maintain a special link to their origins. The origin story of both leads to a philosophical discussion that I'll reserve for a future post. 

While yoga started as something that looks a lot different than what we see in most yoga studios today, it can still be a practice that asks its practitioner to develop a heightened sense of self awareness on a physical, mental and emotional level. What the practitioner does with that information is completely up to them. 

While Chinese Medicine has always been a medicine, the way it is practiced has gone on quite the journey. And, there are still significant differences between the way the west practices Chinese Medicine compared to East. At its core, Chinese Medicine meets you where you're at, to work with your body to create balance and fluid energy flow.

They Both Move Energy

In yoga, 'prana' is the word we use to describe life force, or more simply put: energy. In the modern practice of yoga, we use movement, breathing and meditation to move energy in a direction that nourishes us. Sometimes this looks like an intense dynamic practice, and other times it looks like a really long nap on the floor.

Qi is the Chinese medicine version of this same concept. Taking a look at the full picture of who you are and what you're navigating, Chinese Medicine doctors are able to locate areas of excess or deficiency in the body. By using using various tools along sections of the body called meridian lines, acupuncturists are able to move or nourish the qi and send it where it needs to be.

They're Both Often Misunderstood

Yoga is so much more than poses and acupuncture is so much more than needle medicine.

The word "Yoga" means "union" or "connection." It's a practice that offers you an opportunity to integrate you body with your mind with your breath and your spirit.

While we often think of stretchy pants, incense and contortionists, yoga is so much more than that. In fact, you don't even need to be on a mat to practice it. You can practice it on a long walk or on a bus without doing a single yoga pose. It has nothing to do with flexibility or strength. In fact, one of the most yogic people I know can't barely use the left side of her body.

When someone says "acupuncture" most people think of human pin cushions. But Chinese Medicine also makes use of tui na (a form of Chinese medical massage), cupping, moxa, herbs, and more.

So How do they Work Together?

Perfectly, of course. By moving the body slowly and mindfully, with a focus on gentle, but deep breathing, you will begin the process of moving the energy in the body with as much or as little vigor as you choose. After the movement piece is complete, you will take your final resting pose and an acupuncturist will perform distal acupuncture on you. You may get a few needles in your hands, feet, head and face, depending on the class focus. As you rest, the medicine will do its work. You'll leave class feeling grounded, connected and pretty blissed out. 

If this sounds like your kind of night, sign up for an upcoming Yoga + Acupuncture class at The Water Bar!

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!

How Do You Know When Acupuncture Is Working?

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Many patients visit my clinic as a last ditch effort for their health. They've seen their primary physician, one or many specialists, and possibly other integrative care practitioners before they decide to give acupuncture a shot. By this time, their symptoms may have been present anywhere between 6 months to several decades. At this point, their condition is clinically considered "chronic".

Acupuncture isn't a magic pill. There are times when it can produce almost miraculous results - I've seen it myself - but those are generally the exception, not the rule. You can't expect a chronic condition of several years resolve in one or two sessions. Acupuncture works cumulatively - just like strength training or learning a new language. As I discuss in this blog post, the frequency and length of treatment varies from patient to patient. And while the primary symptoms might not abate in the first few treatments, there are other markers you can look for to know when acupuncture is working for you.

Signs that acupuncture is working:

You're less stressed

Stress reeks havoc on our bodies. Research on the relationship between mental/emotional stress and physical health has shown that increased emotional stress can result in varying issues from poor surgical outcomes to a decrease in immune system functioning. (i

Stress relief is one of the first noticeable side effects of acupuncture treatments. Patients often exclaim how relaxed they feel after a treatment, or how stress related ailments such as TMJ (jaw) pain or anxiety are greatly reduced after visiting my office. I can safely say that the majority of ailments I see in my clinic are exacerbated by stress. Therefore lowering the patient's stress level often brings patient's pain levels down drastically.

You're sleeping better

This is a fan favorite sign that acupuncture is working. Often, new patients report that their sleep is "just fine" in their initial intake, only exclaiming a few treatments later that they're "sleeping so much better!" They are so used to their poor sleeping pattern that they don't even realize that a quality night's rest is available to them.

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. When we are sleeping our bodies regulate our hormones, repair damaged tissue, form new pathways in our brain, and trigger growth and development. Research has shown that persistent sleeplessness can lead to chronic disease later in life. (ii)

You're more energetic

This one goes hand in hand with better sleep. When we spend more of our nighttime hours enjoying quality, restorative sleep, we wake feeling more refreshed and have more energy to go about our day. Fatigue is rarely a patient's #1 reason for coming to my clinic, but it's one of the most common complaints I hear from in new patients.

While acupuncture is naturally relaxing (many patients take a needle nap on the treatment table), it's normal to feel a surge of energy in the days following treatment. This energy isn't' like a caffeine buzz, it's more of an awareness in your body and increased motivation to complete tasks.

You're digesting better

Acupuncture is all about creating movement. Illness arises when substances such as blood, lymph fluid, and qi (energy) become stagnant within the body. By increasing the circulation of those substances, the body has the ability to nourish all of its organs and tissues and can begin the process of healing.

So while acupuncture treatments are geared towards moving things within the body, things, well, tend to move. If your digestion tends to be a bit sluggish you might find that you bowel movements happen on a more regular basis (pun intended). Conversely, if your digestion tends to be on the more frequent or erratic side, you might find that acupuncture relaxes the smooth muscle in your colon, resulting in less spasms, pain, and frequent trips to the bathroom.

Acupuncture at work

Noticing these positive changes in your body means that acupuncture is working for you. Stay strong and stick with your treatment plan. Complying with any homework assignments such as dietary therapy, herbs, supplements, or lifestyle modifications that your acupuncturist has prescribed for you will help accelerate the healing process and get you back to optimal health before you know it.

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but we'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. We only recommend products we use in our own daily life!