6 Ways to Minimize Fall Allergies

Sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, ears and throat, fatigue: Yes, allergy season is in full swing. And if it feels like it’s lasting forever, you may be right. Fall allergies, typically due to ragweed, are lasting longer, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The later the first freeze, the longer you have to suffer. That means millions of people, including you or someone in your family, are spending more time being miserable or doped up on allergy meds. Here, how to feel better without hitting the pills:

Heal your gut. Your gastrointestinal tract houses the bulk of your immune system and allergies are an overreaction of the immune system. A healthy gut impacts your entire body, from your brain to your lungs to your skin. A diet high in sugar and low in fiber can throw off your gut microbiome, making you more sensitive to allergens. If you have a history of frequent antibiotic use, you need to be especially vigilant about eating healthy foods that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Some research has shown that a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (like the kind found in nuts and olive oil) and fish, may help protect against seasonal allergies.

Get tested. Seasonal allergies are often a diagnosis of exclusion — and timing. If you’re not convinced your symptoms are being caused by pollen and you’ve ruled out the other usual suspects, such as pets, mold and dust mites, you may want to get tested. An allergist will prick your skin and apply the allergen directly or they may inject the allergen under your skin. (Research has shown that blood tests for allergies may not be as reliable as skin testing.) The results can help you pinpoint the culprits, such as a specific tree pollen, ragweed or something entirely different. Skip the hair and muscle tests for allergens; research doesn’t back them up.

Avoid dairy. Cheese, milk and other dairy products can contribute to phlegm, which makes allergies worse. While research hasn’t shown a conclusive link between dairy intake and allergy severity, many people swear they feel better when they cut it out, at least during allergy season. The only way to know if it will help is to give it a try. (Naturally, if you’re allergic to dairy or have lactose intolerance, you’ll want to find alternatives.)

Take a time out. Research has shown that increased stress can worsen allergy symptoms, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Stress makes just about everything health-related worse. Meditation, exercise and adequate sleep can help turn down the dial on tension and improve your allergy symptoms.

Try acupuncture. In 2015, the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery issued updated clinical practice guidelines for treating allergic rhinitis and they include seeking out acupuncture. (Bonus: It’s also good for alleviating stress.)

Keep it clean. Regularly washing your bedding and towels in hot water, vacuuming and dusting, and shedding your “outdoor” clothes as soon as you get inside can help minimize tracked-in pollen.

Not sure whether you have allergies or something else? See this article I wrote for Consumer Reports. For more details on acupuncture and how it can help, go to vitalityholisticmedicine.com.

by Janet Lee, Dr. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Janet Lee received her first professional doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine (DACM) from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego. She is a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) in both California and Missouri and a diplomate of Oriental medicine (Dipl. OM). Janet has completed specialized training in women’s health and infertility, sports medicine, oncology, autoimmune disorders and HIV and has dedicated hundreds of additional hours to the further study of treating infertility. In 2013, she also completed a training program at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Chengdu, China, with rotations in oncology, neurology, cardiology and andrology.
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Love the surprising benefits of cupping

Cupping Therapy

           As a Holistic Health Practitioner it is always useful to have a variety of techniques and therapies in your healing tool box. One of my favorite techniques I utilize is Cupping Therapy. There are many health benefits to the patient, not to mention that five minutes of cupping is equal to thirty minutes of deep tissue massage.

During a typical massage session a therapist will push into a muscle to alleviate tensions in the body. It helps to think of Cupping Therapy as the reverse of regular massage. Using suction, cupping provides a gentle pulling (rather than pushing) on the muscles for a more complete release of fascia, nerves and adhesions. It may seem new, strange or trendy, seeing as it is now under celebrity endorsement. The truth is that this technique has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Maya Medicine* (TMM) for thousands of years. It is used by both cultures to disperse wind out of the body, improve blood stagnation and promote vital Qi flow.

The first types of cupping tools were made of bamboo, clay or animal horns; followed by the use of glass, plastic, rubber, and silicone. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is common to place many stationary cups on the body along various meridian points on the patient. Often these cups will stay in place for 15-30 min. Due to Qi, blood and tissue stagnation toxins are often brought to the surface of the skin resulting in a temporary skin discoloration where the cup was placed. This temporary reddish discoloration is not a bruise and is only a sign there has been diminished oxygen and blood supply to the tissue.

Another method involves always moving or running the cups on the body. It is commonly used in Traditional Maya Medicine and is the one I prefer to use in my holistic practice. To run the cups, massage oil is first applied to the skin, allowing for the cup to glide over the muscles and release adhesions. Running the cups also greatly reduces any chances for skin discoloration.

I was first introduced to Cupping Therapy in 2008 when I took a seminar on the different styles and applications for clinical use. After this seminar, I began to use the plastic stationary cups and silicone cups that could be moved on the body using oil. Although these methods had many benefits, the style never completely resonated with me. I had all but set aside Cupping Therapy from my healing practice. Little did I know that two years later I would fall in love with Cupping Therapy on a trip to Mexico. I was studying Traditional Maya Medicine from a well-known Traditional Healer named Rita Navarette Perez from Mexico City. She taught me the art of fire cupping, or Ventosas as it is known in TMM. I also had the honor of experiencing a personal fire cupping session from Rita and was amazed at how great I felt in such a short time.

Fire cupping is very safe when done by a trained practitioner. Furthermore, the addition of heat has a soothing effect to the nervous system. Why is this technique so effective? The cups are vertical or round glasses, similar to a regular drinking glass. In order to create a heat vacuum, a flame is placed in the glass very rapidly (1 sec.) then taken out and the glass is immediately placed on the body. The result is a gentle warming heat and mild suction of the skin into the glass. Oil is also used to be able to run (move) the cups on the body – getting a wide area of contracted and congested tissue to soften quickly. Let me tell you, this feels amazing!

Just beneath the skin are layers of fascia or connective tissue that attach to every muscle in our body. Fascia is fibrous and sticky, helping to hold muscle tissue and organs in place. Overused muscles cause inflammation and a build-up lactic of acid to occur. When fascial tissue gets bound it creates adhesions and causes muscle soreness, joint restriction, nerve pain, and reduced blood flow and oxygen to the tissues. Cupping allows separation to occur by gently pulling on multiple fascial layers to free adhesions and nerves, thus restoring oxygen to the tissue. It produces a profound vasodilation reaction, drawing blood to areas of pain while promoting metabolism within the skin tissue for better functioning of sweat and sebaceous glands. It also flushes toxins and lymph, activates synovial fluid in joints, and has a calming effect on the nervous system.

Common conditions treated by Cupping Therapy include: sciatica, chronic headache and back pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia, poor circulation, nervous tension, respiratory infections and colds, arthritis, muscle and joint pain.

Here are some of the benefits of Cupping Therapy:

  • Loosens adhesions
  • Improves circulation and reduces inflammation
  • Expels congestion and stagnation
  • Promotes the free flow of Qi
  • Strengthens immune system by promoting lymphatic flow
  • Releases impaired nerves
  • Pulls toxins to the surface of the skin

The good news is that you don’t have to travel across the world to experience these great benefits. Along with Centered Spirit, a Traditional Maya Medicine practice, there are many acupuncturists in the local Kansas City area that utilize cupping in their treatments. It is exciting and healthy to add new forms of bodywork into your lifestyle enhancement program. I hope you get the chance this year to try…and maybe fall in love with Cupping Therapy.

By: Alex Jackson

Cabbage & Shiitake Pho Soup

Asian Noodle Soup

Hello Fellow Cooks! Today I am offering this version of Vegetarian Pho soup. It is really easy to make and quick to prepare. This is the perfect recipe to cook during a cold week day (less than 30 min).

Ingredients:

  • 32 to 64 ounces (depends on your taste) homemade or vegetable Pho broth (available healthy grocery store already made) 
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 ounces tofu cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot cut into thin
  • 14 ounces rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 8 ounces bean sprouts
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro, basil, lime wedges, hoisin sauce, and chili garlic sauce or sriracha for serving

Instructions:

  1. Use 3 tbs of vegetable broth  in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and the carrots. Sauté for about 6 minutes, or until tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in the hoisin sauce until the sauce thickens and coats the mushrooms, about 1 minute more.
  2. In a large pot, combine the shredded cabbage, crushed garlic and the vegetable broth. Cook to a full boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 min, then turn off the heat.
  3. Divide the rice noodles between four to six large bowls, then fill each bowl with the broth. Add bean sprouts, sliced jalapeños, shiitake mushrooms, fresh basil, and cilantro and serve with lime wedges, hoisin, and chili garlic sauce.

Bon Appétit!

Emilie