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!

 

 

5 Essentials After Having A Baby

I am an acupuncturist and a mother of a beautiful little boy. He is 9 months old and we are JUST starting to get back into the groove of things. Having a baby is no small feat and what is even more of a challenge is balancing caring for your little one as well as yourself! I have a great deal of compassion for new moms and do my best to set my patients up for success after the baby arrives. Here are the 5 essentials for after the babe arrives:

1. Stay in bed. My number one tip is to take the first month and be horizontal. I am super serious about this. You are going to feel fine and even great at times and you will want to resume normal life, moving around, walking, and household chores; don't. Stay horizontal. Rest. Your organs literally have to regain their blood supply and organize themselves back to a normal physiological state. The more you move around, the more the blood moves away from the center where it needs to be. I recall wanting desperately just to do the dishes!

2. Therapy for your vagina! That’s right! Your vagina needs some support. Pelvic Floor therapy is a total essential regardless of how you brought your babe into this world. The weight of carrying your baby and the stress that was put on the pelvic floor during pregnancy demands that some physical therapy be had. No sooner than 8 weeks postpartum is when I recommend starting Pelvic Floor Therapy. I often recommend this to patients pre­birth as well and see much less tearing or problems after birth. Try Miracle P.T.

3. Have some support lined up. As you are adjusting to being a mom and recovering from the birth, you will need some support. A postpartum doula is a person that is trained to support families once the baby is born. I learned so much about being a mom just by watching my postpartum doula. She is literally part of our family now and my son lights up when she walks in the room. Doulas can be found through Natural Resources in the missionOther support can include hiring someone to clean the house, having family and friends drop off prepared meals for the month following birth. A great way to organize that is through MealBaby. If you are in the Bay Area there are many amazing places to order pre­made meals. I often recommend Three Stone Hearth. We order from them weekly and they literally prepare the highest quality food on the planet. 

4. Work with somebody. Have an established relationship with a practitioner that can really be there to support you. It is really true that if Mom is not doing well, the ENTIRE family is not doing well. This truth continues through motherhood. It’s so important to put your health first. So many issues can come up physically, emotionally, and spiritually in the time period after bearing a child. These things can not be predicted and they are different for everyone. Working with a trusted practitioner can create the space for you to heal in whatever way is needed for YOU. After all you have just created another life using your body and energy as the vehicle. I would be lost without my team of support!

5. Take in the joy. Having a baby can be so overwhelming and as new moms we are incredibly tuned in and focused on our baby that at times we can forget to take it all in. Enjoy these early days and months with the new love of your life. This time is so precious and it truly goes by fast. Allow for the moments where you connect to your partner and honor each other for being an incredible parent. Take in the connection you feel to your own parents and the depth to which you understand them now being a parent yourself. Becoming a mom or a dad is one of the most tangible transformations you will experience as a human on this planet. Take it in.

With the truest and warmest sense of compassion for all mothers,

Carissa Kelly LAc. 

Clear Out Heavy Metals With This Cleansing Cilantro Pesto

Cilantro is the fragrant, zesty green herb also known as fresh coriander. It is used a lot in Latin American and South East Asian cuisine. It tastes bright and citrus-y to many of us, but soapy to those of us with a genetic variant. High in Vitamins A, C and K, cilantro is proven to have anti-cancer properties as well as the ability to clear toxic heavy metals from our bodies gently and quickly. Many of us have accumulated heavy metals like mercury, lead and aluminum without realizing it. Hair or urine testing can let you know. These heavy metals cause symptoms such as hormone imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, neurological disturbances, mental fog, depression, allergies and even cancer. This delicious, inexpensive, easy to make pesto utilizes common ingredients to help your body remove- or chelate these toxic metals from your body. You can use it on top of your veggies, meat, fish, eggs or with anything that sounds good to you!

Cleansing Cilantro Pesto

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium)

  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine)

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium)

  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro (coriander, Chinese parsley) (vitamin A)

  • 2/3 cup flaxseed oil

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C)

  • 2 tsp dulse (seaweed) powder

  • Sea salt to taste

Process the cilantro and flaxseed oil in a blender until the cilantro is chopped. Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Add a pinch to sea salt to taste and blend again. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well, so purchase cilantro in season and fill enough jars to last through the year.

Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead, and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies. Consider doing this cleanse for three weeks at least once a year. Enjoy!

It's Spring! Time to Give Some Love to Your Liver.

Hello Friends,

Spring is here in all its glory after lots of rain. In Chinese Medicine we see the individual as the microcosm reflecting all of nature. The seasons reflect within us, as well all of the elements we see in nature; fire, water, earth, metal and wood. Because it is the season of spring, and in Chinese Medicine we say that springtime is when our liver energy is at it’s peak, it is a special opportunity to detoxify and nourish our liver- essentially to LOVE our liver. In spring everything in nature is teeming with possibility and new life. Birds are finding mates, building nests, starting new life. Flowers are budding, new grass is growing, leaves are unfurling. There is a newness, a freshness and a delicacy to all this new life, yet it takes an incredible force to birth newness. Whether in nature or in ourselves, be it a new challenge, an idea, some kind of growth or transformation- that is the liver energy at work. The liver energy represents both the delicacy and the force of energy necessary for this new life or transformation to take place. When we feel stuck, or are experiencing a lot of irritability and depression, this is a signal that your liver is stagnant and needs some attention.

From a physiological point of view, the liver is an amazing organ system that we all should appreciate. Some stats: the liver is huge- about three pounds, It is the second largest organ in the body (skin being the largest). It is also the largest gland in the body. It makes sure the right elements get in and the wrong ones are eliminated. Using an intricate network of specialized cells, the liver transforms and detoxifies nutrients and chemicals in our blood.

Linked to the digestive tract, the liver processes the bi-products of food digestion and changes it into essential nutrients such as proteins, fats and vitamins. It produces bile necessary to emulsify fats. It produces and manages cholesterol, which is needed for cell structure. The liver also stores sugars (glycogen) for quick energy and converts iron into heme, the main oxygen-transporting molecule in red blood cells. Talk about creativity- Liver is the most regenerative organ- able to literally re-create itself!

So the liver functions as the gatekeeper, regulator of nutritional health and as a purifying system.  Playing a major role in circulation and the composition of blood, it’s no wonder the immune system, digestive tract, kidneys, brain, cardiovascular system and the regulation of sex hormones are all dependent on a healthy liver. 

   

Here are 3 ways you can love your liver:

  • Toss- toxic products from your life, they sneak into your body through body and home products from sunscreens, moisturizers to deodorant and detergents. Some contain chemicals that act as toxins and hormone disruptors, adding a huge work load to your liver. Check out the Environmental Working Group's website and App to vet your products with their well-researched rating system. 

  • Cleanse- Consider a detoxifying dietary cleanse anywhere from 10 to 21 days. Let a DHH practitioner tailor a detox program just for you or try a the DHH basic gentle detox. Pro tips: get prepared ahead of time, making sure you have all the foods you need in the house before you start. Focus on all the yummy foods you CAN eat, not on what you are avoiding. Hydration is key. You will feel great and do your liver a huge favor!

  • Meditate- Power down your device and give your mind a break from all the DOING. This will help your mood and productivity. You might even recover your inspiration and creativity!  If you are new to this, try Headspace. 10 minutes a day for 10 days- this free trial offers instruction on mindfulness with Andy. He makes it super easy. 

Enjoy the spring in your step you gain from a happy and healthy liver! 

Carissa Kelly is Back!

We are super happy to welcome Carissa Kelly L.Ac. back to DHH after birthing her beautiful baby boy! Full of mama wisdom to share, she is at DHH every Friday from 9:30 -1:30pm. Book online through our Double Happiness Health website or give us a call.

You can also hear her teach a fertility class at Natural Resources in the mission this Tuesday 4/19 from 6:30-8 pm. Here is the link to register.

Year of the Fire Monkey

Happy New Year, friends! We are shifting into a very new kind of energy- from watery yin into fire-y yang. This means we can each go from a quiet cultivation of our energy into to more active forms of expression.  Enjoy your playful side, and aim to realize your dreams!  As always, we are in a dynamic balance. Be sure to take good care of yourself as you venture forth!

ForeverConscious.com tells us what to expect:

"On February 8, 2016 we will shift out of the year of the nurturing Yin Wood Sheep and into the year of the passionate Yang Fire Monkey.

As the name suggests, the year of the Yang Fire Monkey is all about having fun, taking risks, being proactive and going after what you truly desire.

Yang energy is action based energy, so 2016 will really favour making bold decisions, getting ahead and staying assertive."

We can't wait to hear what you are up to and how we can support your wellness. Hope to see you soon at Double Happiness Health. 

 

Try This: Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac

While looking for a unique meal to serve friends for the holiday I came across a fabulous, hearty dish from the cookbook Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenhi and Sami Tamimi. I figure there really wasn't a better cuisine for celebrating Jesus's birthday. Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac is a riot of colors, flavors and textures. The meal is perfect for winter as the lamb is warming and nourishes blood while the pine nuts and yogurt benefit yin. The authors include many variations so it's easy to avoid possible food sensitivities and improvise with what you have in the kitchen. Perfect to satisfy a crowd! Jerusalem: A Cookbook is filled with other recipes I absolutely love. Highly recommended. And the cookbook makes a great present for yourself or a friend. Enjoy!

 

BRAISED EGGS WITH LAMB, TAHINI, SUMAC, AND CHARRED TOMATOES

yield: 4 SERVINGS

 

prep time: 10 MINUTES

cook time: 30 MINUTES

Ingredients:

BRAISED EGGS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (1¼ cups/200 grams total)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces/300 grams ground lamb (ask your butcher for two-thirds shoulder and one-third belly)
  • 2 teaspoons sumac, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Scant ½ cup/50 grams toasted, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 7 tablespoons/50 grams toasted pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon peel
  • 1 1/3 cups/200 grams cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters chicken stock
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • ¼ cup/5 grams cilantro leaves or 1 tablespoon Zhoug
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

YOGURT SAUCE:

  • Scant ½ cup/100 grams Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons/25 grams tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy-bottomed frying pan for which you have a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 6 minutes to soften and color a bit. Raise the heat to high, add the lamb, and brown well, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with the sumac, cumin, ¾ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat, stir in the nuts, harissa, and preserved lemon and set aside.
  2. While the onion is cooking, heat a separate small cast-iron or other heavy pan over high heat. Once piping hot, add the cherry tomatoes and char for 4 to 6 minutes, tossing them in the pan occasionally, until slightly blackened on the outside. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the yogurt sauce by whisking together all the ingredients with a pinch of salt. It needs to be thick and rich, but you may need to add a splash of water if it is stiff.
  4. You can leave the meat, tomatoes, and sauce at this stage for up to an hour. When you are ready to serve, reheat the meat, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Make 4 small wells in the mix and break an egg into each well. Cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat for 3 minutes. Place the tomatoes on top, avoiding the yolks, cover again, and cook for 5 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.
  5. Remove from the heat and dot with dollops of the yogurt sauce, sprinkle with sumac, and finish with the cilantro. Serve at once.

recipe from from Jerusalem: A Cookbook.