Year of the Earth Dog

Happy New Year! It’s the year of the yellow earth dog.

Doesn’t that just sound like a relief compared to the fire rooster?

We are all pretty familiar with the nature of dogs- loyal, protective, loving.

Dogs run like to crazy then plop down and rest- so the year may have lots of starts and stops. It’s important to listen to your body and honor it’s cycles- especially your need for rest. This is an earth on earth year so there may be more natural disasters like earthquakes so **get your earthquake kits together**!

The earth element is also about digestion. Take care to eat healthy seasonal, local foods and steer clear of refined sugar, additives, and inflammatory polyunsaturated oils like sunflower, safflower, canola, soy and corn oils.

If you have chronic digestive hormonal or immune issues, please come in for a visit and let us help you get to the root cause and resolve it.

At DHH, we are passionate about the synthesis of classical Chinese medicine and modern functional medicine. We utilize classical Chinese diagnostic tools to look at what is going on with the whole person in front of us- physically, emotionally and energetically. We also utilize functional medicine testing as needed that gives us data about things like a comprehensive look at the gut, the sex and stress hormones.  The synthesis of these two views allows us to get to the root of issues in the way of our patients feeling their best and achieving goals like healthy pregnancy, sound sleep, mood stabilization, freedom from pain and great digestion.

We create a customized treatment plan for each patient that outlines our treatment goals, and our suggestions around acupuncture, diet and lifestyle. It’s a sort of roadmap to health. We then meet each patient right where they are and make the tactical changes that will have the biggest impact.  Make your health a priority- we want you feeling sexy, vibrant and balanced so you can fully enjoy the year ahead!

 

Warming the Uterus

Is your Uterus Cold?

 

Chinese medicine has been paying attention to the importance of body temperature regulation and homeostasis since the beginning. Warming a Uterus that was “Cold” was an essential treatment for improving fertility and pregnancy. Jane Lyttleton author of Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine tells us that in Traditional Chinese Medicine “the warmth of the uterus refers to its metabolic activity, actively manufacturing the secreting nutrients and maintaining a highly nurturing home for a fetus”. In the luteal phase, or second half of a menstrual cycle, progesterone produce by the corpus luteum raises the body temperature in preparation for potential implantation. Could an inadequate body temperature rise and/or lack of proper circulation be contributing to issues with your fertility?

 

When observing women with unknown fertility issues or recurrent pregnancy loss, Kidney Yang deficiency is one of the most prevalent patterns. Kidney yang deficiency has a correlation with low progesterone levels and include symptoms such as feeling colder than those around you, cold hands and feet, low libido, back pain with menses, fatigue, frequent urination, and low BBT readings. (Note that when Kidney yang deficiency is combined with other disharmonies it may present differently).

 

Kidney Yang deficiency combined with Blood stagnation is an even more common disharmony. The metabolic activity of Kidney Yang is not sufficient enough for proper blood circulation and therefore the transforming and rebuilding of the uterine lining is less than optimal, leading to conditions from dark clotty periods to endometriosis. Insufficiency of Kidney Yang is often and underlying cause of cold Uterus, further complicated by blood stagnation. A cold Uterus can stand alone (referred to as Full-Cold), although I don’t often see this presentation in the modern clinical setting.

 

 

What can you do?

 

Diet for a Cold Uterus

 

Unfortunately, those daily lunch salads may not be helping. Chinese medicine physicians have long observed that the environment around us, and what we consume on a daily basis will alter the temperature inside us. Therefore, for women trying to conceive with any sign of cold in the body should not be consuming raw-cold foods or drinking cold beverages. Here’s how to work around it:

 

·      Keep salad or raw vegetables as side dishes only. Instead choose warm, cooked foods whenever possible. Although salads are wonderful for increasing our intake of vegetables (which we should continue to do) think of veggie laden soups, stews, curries, and stir-fry-like meals as the main course and keep lettuce greens on the side.

·      Avoid icy cold drinks. Skip the Frappuccinos and find an herbal tea you enjoy to stay hydrated and warm. Ask your acupuncturist if there is a specific herbal tea that fits your constitution and make the most out of your daily beverage intake.

·      Some spice can be nice. Cinnamon and ginger are fantastic additions to drinks, oatmeal, smoothies and can help warm up a cold condition.

 

 

Nourish Yin and Promote Ovulation

 

Yang cannot exist without yin. (I imagine you’re already thinking “ok, but what does that mean about my fertility!?”) Let me explain, because the menstrual cycle is such a perfect example of how things must be properly balanced for optimization.

 

Let’s go back to prior mention of how the corpus luteum is responsible for maintaining progesterone levels after ovulation. It takes a healthy egg to create a healthy corpus luteum. Therefore, focusing only on supplementing the deficient, Yang, part of the cycle isn’t enough. We must also support Yin. The Yin phase of your cycle is the first half, when the follicle is being prepped and nourished for ovulation. If you’re familiar with Basal Body Temperature (BBT) charting you already know that the first half of your cycle is when your body temperate is the lowest.

 

Nourishing yin (including the ripening follicle) during this phase sets you up for a healthier and warmer second half of your cycle. Do this by eating yin and blood nourishing foods (omega 3’s such as chia, flax, fish oil, spirulina, eggs, bone broth, beets, leafy greens), getting enough rest, and taking your herbs.

 

We’re not off the hook yet! If that juicy, ripened follicle doesn’t ovulate we won’t have a luteal body to sustain progesterone levels, and therefore we will not get the full benefits of the warming half of the cycle. It seems to be a somewhat common phenomenon that our bodies will decide not to ovulate on any given cycle. A study done on a random general population in 2015 by Jerilynn C. Prior et al. showed that a third of women with normal cycle lengths did not ovulate on a given month!  So just because your period is regular, it doesn’t mean we can bet that you’re ovulating regularly. The women in this study did not differ in factors such as age*, BMI, parity or smoking. Stress is a more likely reason why the body decides to skip this step. Increases in cortisol due to an emotional, physical, or nutritional threat can inhibit the process of ovulation.

 

That means it is extra important to avoid stressful situations around ovulation time. (“Sorry I can’t this week”- At least you’re off the hook here!) Do whatever you can to put relaxation in the forefront. This is a terrific time for acupuncture. Acupuncture is great at reducing the stress response and treating hypothalamic and ovulatory disturbances. Also try things like gentle flow yoga, aromatherapy, listening to more music, deep breathing, more time with friends--or fill in your personal stress diffuser.

 

*The mean age of women in this study was approx. 41 years old. It’s important to take into account this is higher than the age of most women trying to conceive. Age was most likely a factor in why lack of ovulation was found so high.

 

 

Use moxibustion, heat packs, and a good pair of socks.

 

Moxibustion is a therapy of dried mugwort, heated and used to stimulate acupuncture points. Mugwort has been used for centuries both topically and internally for fertility and menstrual disorders, and used in moxibustion therapy to expel cold and stimulate proper flow of Qi and Blood.

 

Heat packs can also be used for this purpose. If you are doing a 3-month program to improve your fertility (and therefore not actively trying to conceive) you can use these therapies all month long. If you are currently trying, use a heat pack on the lower abdomen for 20 minutes 2 times per day from menstruation to ovulation only.

 

If you are using moxibustion therapy, see our Moxibustion-A-How-To-Guide. Use moxa the same way you would use a heat pack. 10-20 minutes 1-2 times per day from menstruation to ovulation, or all cycle long if you are prepping to conceive.

 

Keeping your feet warm is also a good practice while trying to warm your Uterus. Chinese Medicine has long thought that cold feet equate to a cold Uterus. Meridians that start in your feet connect to the reproductive organs. Therefore, avoid sabotaging your efforts by wearing warm socks, especially in colder months, and avoid walking on cold floors barefoot.

 

Take herbs that warm Kidney Yang, expel Cold and move Blood.

 

Mugwort is just one of the many botanicals that are used for warming a cold uterus and regulating the menstrual cycle. I highly recommend seeing a trained herbalist who specializes in fertility to find the right herbal formula for your own personal needs.

 

 

 

Sources:

Prior, J. C., Naess, M., Langhammer, A., & Forsmo, S. (2015). Ovulation Prevalence in Women with Spontaneous Normal-Length Menstrual Cycles – A Population-Based Cohort from HUNT3, Norway. Plos One, 10(8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134473

 

Lewis, R. A. (2005). The infertility cure: the ancient Chinese programme for getting pregnant. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Moxibustion- A How-To Guide

Using Moxibustion Therapy at Home

Moxibustion (Moxa for short) is another method of stimulating an acupuncture point. Moxa is a compressed herb (Artemisia Argyi Folium) rolled into a stick that is lit and held over the acupuncture point. This stimulates and warms the acupoint to create a more tonifying experience than needling. It is easy to do at home with a little instruction and perfect to use in colder months. This therapy is used for (but not limited to) preventing colds and flus, strengthening the digestive system, and is well known for treatment for a breech presentation baby.

 What you will need:

·      Moxibustion stick (given to you by your acupuncturist)

·      A candle for lighting

·      Receptacle for ash-ing, such as an ashtray or ceramic dish

·      A glass, screw-top jar for extinguishing the stick (best when filled with a little rice)

 How to go about it:

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Light one end of the moxibustion stick over a candle. It takes a while to light the stick therefore using a candle is easier than using a lighter.

 

 

 

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You’ll know it’s ready when you can feel the warmth of the stick. NEVER let the moxibustion stick make direct contact with the skin. Gently hold the end of the stick near the back of your hand to feel if it’s warm, or gently blow on the stick to see if it is glowing.

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Now that it’s lit, find your acupuncture point of choice (or directed by your acupuncturist).

 

Stomach 36 is found by measuring the four fingers of your hand directly below the knee. Once you’re there, the point is one finger-breath from the hard tibia bone on the front of your lower leg.

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Hold the stick a few centimeters about the skin and over the acupuncture point. Direct the heat by using a pecking motion. If at any time if the point is feeling too warm, take a break for a few seconds.  

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Repeat on each leg for 5-10 minutes total. Ash the stick as needed to ensure that no moxa ash falls onto the skin.

 

UB 67 is the acupuncture point used to turn a breech or posterior positioned baby. The therapeutic time for this treatment is 20 minutes on each toe, 2 times per day.

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When you’re finished with your moxibustion treatment place the stick in the glass jar and screw the lid tight to extinguish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in our Double Happiness Health family!! We are so very grateful to work with each one of you- it is an honor to be trusted with guiding you back to balance when you need it. This year has been a tough one for so many. We have helped babies come into the world, eased hormonal imbalances, reversed pain, nurtured deep restful sleep, conquered eczema, eased anxiety, dodged colds and have had many other health adventures by your side. I cannot imagine a more fun and satisfying career. I certainly cannot imagine more inspiring patients- thank you for choosing us as your health care providers. We look forward to being there to help optimize your health in the year to come. 

With Love,

Christine

Mexican Chicken Soup Recipe (Paleo)

When you are fighting a cold or flu, or simply need an immune boost, chicken soup is the age-old remedy that delivers comfort and healing. A study published in the journal Chest shows eating chicken soup during a respiratory infection reduces the number of white blood cells, which are the cells that cause flu and cold symptoms. In Chinese Medicine, we use food to heal. Basic chicken soup is highly nutritious, but  I am partial to the Mexican version with spicy jalepeno which can disperse phelgm, cooling cilantro which detoxifies and moistening avocado for lung dryness plus a squeeze of lime to help clear stagnation and astringe fluids. Here is a simple recipe you can use to make it from scratch at home. Check out the seven easy steps and find the recipe below.

  1. Place veggies and herbs in stock pot. Layer chicken pieces on top. Add 10 cups cold water, bring to boil then lower to a simmer 35 minutes or until chicken pulls apart easily with two forks.
  2.  Once chicken is done, remove the pieces from the pot, discard the skin and bones and shred meat into bite sized pieces; set aside.
  3. Now it's time to strain the "liquid gold" broth. This stuff is packed with healing properties for gut and immune system, plus supports beautiful hair, skin and nails.
  4. Boom! You've got 8 cups of broth and 4 cups of shredded chicken. From here you can make a deliciously healing chicken soup with a Mexican flare.
  5.  Heat up coconut or olive oil, then add carrots, onion and celery, season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and sautee until it is fragrant just 1-2 minutes more. Add sliced mushrooms and cabbage.
  6. Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil then simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and chopped tomato.
  7.  Serve in bowls and top with garnish of colorful radish, sliced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, cubed avocado and a wedge of lime. 

Basic Broth

Makes 4 to 5 cups shredded chicken and 8 cups chicken broth

2 stalks celery, quartered

1 large carrot, quartered

1 onion, quartered

1 head of garlic, halved horizontally

5 to 7 fresh parsley sprigs

8 to 10 thyme sprigs

4 slices fresh ginger

2 bay leaves

10 to 15 peppercorns

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 ½ to 4 pounds bone-in, chicken pieces, a mixture of dark and light meat 10 cups cold water

Put all the ingredients except the water in a large stock pot, with the chicken on top. Cover with the water, ensuring that the chicken is submerged. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a bare simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the top of the surface. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool slightly while you strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids

Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding the skin. (You can save the bones to make more stock another time or discard them.)

At this point, you can make soup right away or refrigerate the chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can refrigerate the stock in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze it for up to 2 months

Mexican Chicken Soup- Paleo Style

Serves Four with Leftovers

1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 large carrots

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 head of cabbage shredded

2 cups sliced white mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, chopped

8 cups chicken broth

4 cups coarsely shredded chicken

2 tomatoes seeded and diced

Toppings- Divide into four bowls after filling with soup

1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

1 jalepeno pepper sliced and seeded if desired

4 raw radishes sliced

1 medium avocado- cubed. 

1 lime quartered

 

 

 

 

Second Spring: How to Restore Vaginal Health

What to do about vaginal dryness

It’s not a comfortable subject for many of the patients I see, but it is a reality for over half of women going through menopause. As your body enters its“second spring”, decreased levels of estrogen cause thinning, drying and even shrinking of the tissues of the vagina. This can lead to pain or bleeding during intercourse, itching, inflammation or infection. After your body decides it’s “so over” the baby making stage of life, it draws its resources toward other life sustaining processes. Here’s how you’re not going to let that slow your mojo:

The Supplements:

Estrogen and DHEA based suppositories. Double Happiness Health carries an incredible product by Bezwecken called Hydration Cubes. These suppositories combine a winning combination of Estriol (the primary estrogen in pregnancy) and DHEA. These are made to rehydrate the tissues and rebuild the nerve fibers leading to increased pleasure and sensation. Bonus, these hormones have been shown to stay locally in the system so you don’t have to worry about secondary side effects.

Balance Spring by Evergreen Herbs is a clever blend of Chinese herbs aimed to promote the health and suppleness of the soft tissues and decrease vaginal dryness. The formula comes in capsule form, and when taken daily overtime it can reduce the occurrence of post-coital discomfort or bleeding, itching, inflammation and atrophy of the tissues. It has the added bonus of reducing other unwanted menopause related symptoms.

These are available through prescription only, so make sure you ask your DHH practitioner if it’s the right fit for you.

Lifestyle:

What you choose to eat and drink will always make a difference. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and increase the amount of nourishing foods such as yams, cucumbers, seeds, berries, beets and other root vegetables.

Avoid drying or irritating topical soaps. Use natural products that are not scented. The same thing goes for lotions or douches; it’s best to avoid those all together to reduce the risk of infection.

Lastly, as with most things, you’ve got to use it or you’ll loose it. Create regular opportunities for increased blood flow to that area either alone or with your partner. If libido is an issue, herbal medicine and acupuncture are also helpful in that area so tell your practitioner. You could also check out this tantalizing read by NYC acupuncturist Jill Blakeway.

Happy Thanksgiving

Greetings to all of our Double Happiness Health patients!

We wish to wish you a most happy, peaceful and satisfying time this Thanksgiving. 

It has been a challenging month for many of us, and we would like to invite anyone who is dealing with stress or anxiety to support themselves with the healing benefits of acupuncture or massage.

Paulene Harrell is available for massage over Thanksgiving:

  •  Thursday (24th) 9:30am-1pm

  •  Friday (25th) 10am-5pm

  •  Sunday (27th) 4-5pm

Book online through our website or call Paulene directly to book your massage: 415-517-6248

 

...the rest of us will be back in the studio next week.

With appreciation from our tribe to yours,

Christine, Mia, Rachel, Pauline, Carissa and the admin team of Jillian, Diana, Jasmine and Dean. 

Fertile Sex

Let’s Talk About Sex…and Babies.

Up to this point, you've used a lot of energy and worry trying NOT to get pregnant.  Now that you’re ready to have a baby you might be realizing that it’s not as easy as you thought. Healthy couples in their fertile prime have a 25% chance each month of putting a bun in their oven.  Add a few years of age or any complications, and the percentage can fall dramatically. One easy thing you can do to increase your chances of conception is make sure you’re “doing it right”.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind so you and your partner can try smarter:

1.    Understand when you’re ovulating. This is something they don’t always teach us in school. In a typical 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation most likely occurs on cycle day 14 (two weeks after the start of your period).  However, many of us are not menstrual metronomes and have cycles that vary in length or are longer or shorter than 28 days. Luckily, there are many ways to find when your ovulation occurs:

·      Download a fertility app on your phone to track your cycle (Kindara or Clue are good ones). Find one that will tell you your “fertile window” (the days you’re most likely to conceive) based on a calculation of your cycle length. This is not the most accurate way to go, but for most, it’s sufficient enough to get you started.

·      Use an Ovulation Prediction Kit (OPKs). These are little strips that can be found online or at drugstores to measure a hormone spike in your urine that happens right before ovulation occurs. Use them daily from approximately day 10 of your cycle to day 17. Ovulation will most likely occur 12-36 hours after a positive OPK reading.

·      Record your Basal Body Temperature. (BBT). Take your temperature first thing in the morning before you get out of bed and chart it over the course of the menstrual month starting on the first day of your period (there are free paper versions online that you can download, or use your fertility app to track your results). You should see a small spike in temperature just after you ovulated. When done correctly, BBT charting can be a cheap and indispensable diagnostic tool for discovering clues about your fertility hitches.  

·      Monitor your cervical fluid. Changes in hormones and body temperature throughout the month will change the mucous you produce. After the end of your menses, your cervix will create mucous that might be opaque, white or slightly yellow and creamy and will increase in volume. As you approach ovulation, your cervical mucous will become clear, slippery and abundant (will be similar to uncooked egg-whites). This will last for an average of three days, and these days will be the most fertile days of the month. After ovulation, the fluid dries up rather quickly and the fertile window is most likely over.

2.     Make sure there is enough (natural!) lubrication. Ideally your body will create the perfect swimming environment for sperm to travel during ovulation. If you find that sex during ovulation is dry and uncomfortable, that could mean your reproductive system isn’t creating the fluid necessary for those swimmers.

Staying hydrated is one part of this, so make sure you’re drinking enough fluid throughout your day. Most women will need extra help by taking herbal medicine and making some diet changes as well. One short cut you could try is to use Pre-seed lubricant. Normal lubricants contain spermicides or are too acidic for sperm to survive in, however Pre-seed is made specifically for couples trying to conceive and is formulated to replicate the pH and functionality of fertile cervical fluid. Also to note, spit and water are not substitutes for natural lubrications as they can also be sperm killers. 

3.     Positions people! Whether you like it or not, the missionary position is thought to be the best for increasing your changes of conceiving. It is also very helpful if you do not get up right away to use the bathroom. Take about 15 minutes to rest and relax in bed after intercourse.

4.     Keep it fun Try not to let the fact that you’re starting a family take the fun out of your intimacy. If you’re having trouble conceiving, it can put pressure on you and your partner to perform even when you may not be in the mood. In some cases it may be a long road, so talk to your partner and brainstorm ways to keep it exciting. If you suspect this could be part of the issue, pick up this tantalizing this read.

If you need more in-depth information on any of the ways to track your ovulation, ask a DHH practitioner, we’d be happy to help. Using an App to know when to try is the easiest way, but the least accurate. I recommend trying all ways for a few months to get to the most information on your ovulation.

Once you know what day you’re ovulating, it’s best to start trying early. Sperm can live in a woman’s reproductive system for approximately 72 hours, while an egg can only be fertilized for 12-24 hours after ovulation occurs. So try every day starting few days before you will ovulate. If everyday seems like too much, or your partner has low sperm parameters, every other day is also sufficient.

Happy trying! 

 

 

Should You Do A Liver Cleanse?

If you remember, Spring is the season of the Liver (see CF's blog post). Cleaning out the old and preparing for the new seems natural this time of year. Almost certainly you make cleaning up and clearing out your home a ritual for spring.  Why not start a similar ritual for your body and challenge yourself to a liver cleanse? A Liver cleanse is a great way to hit the ‘reset button’ to both improve your health, and shed a few winter pounds all in just a couple weeks time. Cleansing is important because we are relentlessly exposed to toxic chemicals in our environment, pesticides and plastics in our food, and contaminates in our water. So is a Liver Cleanse a good idea for you? These are some of the top reasons I recommend doing one:

1.     You’re a female who has signs of a hormonal imbalance such as: irregular periods, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, PMS, uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, and some forms of acne and eczema. Many toxic chemicals in plastics, beauty products, household cleaning products, furniture, food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals are known endocrine disruptors. That is, they throw off the delicate balance of female hormones by mimicking them and clogging up their receptor sites. This will deregulate the normal feedback system your body has to regulate its hormonal output, and create chaos the system.  While it’s important to limit your exposure to endocrine disruptors (check your product safety with the Skin Deep app), total avoidance is nearly impossible. Therefore, giving your liver some love, and aiding its ability to detox can make a big difference in achieving healthy hormonal balance.  

2.     If you are trying to conceive or if you’re planning on conceiving in the next year.  See above! Aiding your body’s natural detox process during your menses, or doing a 14 or 21 day cleanse, can be a game changer for unexplained fertility issues. Furthermore, detoxing BEFORE you conceive may be beneficial for your future child. Our toxicity is expressed in our breast milk. Breast milk has routinely been found to contain pollutants such as heavy metals, flame-retardants, pesticides and more. Even more shocking, a study done by the EWG showed over 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood.

3.    You’re convinced you cannot live without that cup of coffee in the morning/your 3 o’clock chocolate chip cookie/your evening glass of wine with dinner, or fill in the blank____________________________________.  I promise you if I can do it so can you! Doing a 21 day liver cleanse really resets your daily habits, and makes you fully aware of what it is you’re consuming on a daily basis. Most of the time when it’s all over you’ll incorporate some of your new awesome habits because your skin will be glowing, your pants will fit better, and you’ll discover new healthy recipes you love.

Double Happiness Health has detox kits and resources ready for you. If you need help getting started, or if you want to find out how to limit your exposure to environmental toxins, see any of our practitioners. We can help!