7 tips to sleep better
Many of us find it hard to fall asleep at night and stay asleep, as a result we often wake up feeling groggy and not rested. Sometimes improving sleep is as simple as changing your habits during the day. Below are easy ways that can dramatically help you get a good night’s rest!
Cut yourself off in the afternoon. Believe it or not, even having caffeine at 2pm can affect your sleep. Make sure to get that last cup of coffee in beforehand and watch out for certain drinks you may forget have caffeine in them such as soda and many teas.
Try medical Qigong. Practicing deep breathing and stretching before bed can help relax the mind and body. Try spending even just ten minutes to stretch and practice mindfulness.
Limit your screen time. Let’s face it, we are all addicted to our phones and computers. It’s tempting to look at your phone until the moment you fall asleep. Turn off all electronics an hour before bed to help the brain get into sleep mode. The screens on your devices make it hard for the brain to relax.
Acupuncture. If you are finding yourself struggling with insomnia you may want to consider acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is non invasive and has been proven to reduce stress, help chronic pain and increase quality of sleep.
Aromatherapy. Lavender has been proven to lead to a better, deeper sleep and help those with insomnia fall asleep more easily. Sniff or rub lavender oil on your wrists before bed to feel the effects.
Exercise. Exercising regularly has many health benefits. It can also help you get a better sleep. Even just 20 minutes of some form of exercise a day can make a difference.
Cut down on the alcohol. Although some drink a glass of wine before bed to unwind and fall asleep, you are actually more likely to get a poorer quality of sleep. If you do decide to drink, do so earlier in the night to ensure a deep sleep.
TCM for sleep
If you are suffering from insomnia or unable to get a good night’s rest, you are not alone. Around 60 million Americans experience insomnia and sleep related problems on a daily basis. Prescription sleeping pills are one of the most highly overused medications and can lead to side effects and addiction. Acupuncture is a centuries-old practice that has been proven to help sleep disorders without the risk of addiction or putting chemicals in the body.
How acupuncture works
Acupuncture works by addressing the root of the problem to return the body back to health. One clinical study found that patients with anxiety had increased sleep time, quality of sleep and felt less stressed with acupuncture treatment. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the meridian system, the body’s channel in which energy flows through, to stimulate Qi to return the organs to balance. When there is an imbalance in the body, illness such as insomnia arises. Acupuncture uses specific points on the body related to sleep problems to treat underlying issues.
There are many problems that contribute to insomnia such as chronic pain, depression and stress. Acupuncture is known to be a great alternative treatment for these related issues. In TCM, insomnia is looked at as a heart and liver imbalance. Acupuncture especially addresses these organs to help calm the nervous system and improve the muscle and nerve channels by increasing blood flow.
Chinese herbs for sleep
There are many Chinese herbs that have been known to help insomnia and to get a better quality sleep. These herbs are easy to find at the store and are widely safe to use.
Chrysanthemum tea: Chrysanthemum is known to help the clean the liver. When the liver is not working properly, it can cause insomnia, irritability and dizziness.
Ginseng tea: Ginseng is used for a number of health benefits. It is commonly used to help fatigue, dry mouth and shortness of breath. Although ginseng is typically known as being a stimulant, the root works by normalizing your body’s stress levels. Because of this, when taken during the day, studies have shown that it can help increase quality of sleep at night.
Schisandra tea: Schisandra berry tea can be found at health stores and is known to promote lung and kidney function. Because of this, it is a great tea to help insomnia and fatigue.
There are many options when it comes to treating insomnia. Traditional Chinese Medicine offers an effective treatment that leaves out the dependency of sleep-aid medications.
Getting pregnant can be frustrating when it isn’t happening as easily as planned. There are many reasons you could be dealing with a difficult pregnancy including egg health. There are many factors that play into egg health including blood circulation, stress and hormonal balance. For improving blood and oxygen flow, try to get some sort of exercise whether it is yoga, running or simply going on a brisk walk at least three times a week. Ask a massage therapist about abdominal massage, which can increase blood flow to the reproductive system. Stress can also play a very important factor in egg health. Find ways to destress with meditation practices, acupuncture and deep breathing.
Hormonal imbalances in women are common and can result in weight gain, fatigue, skin problems, infertility and PMS. Hormones are an important part to our body’s growth and development, mood, reproduction and metabolism. To keep your body in balance, avoid high omega-6 polyunsaturated fats that are found in vegetable oils. Reduce your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can have a negative impact on the endocrine system. Most importantly, make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. When the body does not get enough rest, hormones cannot regulate.
There are many reasons that some women have a higher risk of breast cancer including both genetics and environmental impacts. Research has shown that keeping a diet of fresh, unprocessed foods can help the health of breast tissue. Chemical exposure from foods as well as other environmental factors have been shown to be high in women who have breast cancer. Foods to eliminate from your diet include highly processed foods, additives, canned foods and soy. Avoiding foods that are high in hormones and adding foods that are packed with antioxidants such as berries can help lower your risk of breast cancer.
Many women feel their metabolism has slowed over the years, making it harder to break down and burn calories and fat. Try adding more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet such as salmon and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help regulate blood sugar and lower inflammation, which can then improve metabolic function. Increasing strength training can also help give the metabolism a boost. The more muscle you have, the more your resting metabolism will increase to burn fat. Lastly, eating breakfast has been shown to give your metabolism a jump start for the day compared to eating your first meal later in the day.
Don’t let the cold and flu season get you down this year. There are many natural ways to boost your immune system to prevent illness and to improve energy levels. Assess your stress levels and take action if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Spend some time practicing deep breathing or finding an activity that you find relaxing. Try adding in more garlic and ginger to your diet. These natural ingredients contain properties that help boost the immune system and lower cold and flu symptoms.
Affecting one in three adults, high blood pressure is one of the most common health issues in America and most often the result of busy schedules and high-stress jobs. Sometimes it can be hard to slow down, however, addressing high blood pressure is very important to improving overall health and quality of life. Below are natural ways that can help lower your blood pressure.
Working less hours is one of the hardest commitments for Americans for multiple reasons. According to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, those who worked more than 41 hours a week had an increased risk of hypertension by 15 percent. Try to stick to 40 hours a week in the office. Take advantage of those vacations days when you can, you deserve it!
Drink less caffeine
A study done by Duke University Medical Center found that consuming around three cups of coffee has a lasting effect on blood pressure. Caffeine tightens blood vessels, which results in an increase in blood pressure. When caffeine increases blood flow, it magnifies the feelings of stress you are probably already feeling. Try to cut down on the coffee and turn to decaf.
Researchers at the University of Florence in Italy found that listening to calming music for 30 minutes daily can help lower blood pressure. Listeners who practiced this daily on top of deep breathing lowered their average systolic reading by 3.2 points. Taking the time every day to listen to music and relax is simple and effective.
Acupuncture is an effective natural treatment for hypertension. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that when one has high blood pressure, the body is out of balance. Acupuncture works to relax the body and mind and return the body’s natural energy flow back to balance. TCM believes the Liver and Kidney organs are associated with high blood pressure and focuses on these acupuncture points to relieve stress.
Massage therapy is well known for reducing stress and hypertension. A study done at the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine found that patients experienced less muscle tension and a lower heart rate after massage therapy treatment. Massage is non invasive and not only relaxes the body, but the mind as well.
Lowering your blood pressure is not something that happens overnight. Sticking to a healthy diet and exercise plan and finding a natural treatment that works for you can help you get back on the road to health and reduce stress and hypertension.
Natural Facelifts with Acupuncture
More and more Americans are turning away from Botox and invasive cosmetic procedures and finding that facial acupuncture is giving them the natural facelift they are looking for.
Facial acupuncture, which has seen a large increase in popularity in the past ten years, works by improving blood flow at the site of the needle placement and stimulating cell growth.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, inserting acupuncture needles “encourages the production of healing collagen, the protein which the body uses to keep the skin youthful and elastic.”
Patients have reported glowing skin after receiving a 30-minute acupuncture treatment as well as smoother and brighter skin the next day. Color to the face also sees improvement from the increase in blood flow.
Cosmetic acupuncture can reduce and soften fine lines in the face as well as reducing bags under the eyes.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine work by addressing the body as a whole. Facial acupuncture will not only change the way your skin looks, but will improve overall wellbeing. Reports of better sleep and less stress have also been seen from facial acupuncture.
Because TCM believes that every part of the body is linked to internal organs, it is believed that sagging skin can be a result of a weakness in the spleen, and dark circles under the eye are linked to a liver or stomach weakness.
When acupuncture addresses these organs through specific points on the body, it returns the body to its normal function and as a result helps the problem areas.
Facial/cosmetic acupuncture is non-invasive and has no side effects. It is painless and not only helps rejuvenate the face, but reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. Acupuncture helps improve the body’s natural energy flow, called qi, returning the body back to balance.
Call us for a free consultation to learn more about how facial acupuncture can not only improve and rejuvenate skin, but destress and relax the body and mind.
7 Steps to Detox After the Holidays
Get rid of leftovers
The holidays bring delicious homemade food, and along with that come the leftovers. Holiday leftovers can be just as good as when you cook the meal the first time and become a tempting go-to snack. Time to let go. Toss the leftovers, they most likely aren’t the healthiest dishes and it’s time to start fresh.
Most Americans do not drink enough water, and there is no better time to start than now! Fill up your glass at least 8 times a day. Some find it easier to carry a water bottle throughout the day to remind yourself to keep hydrated. Staying hydrated can flush out toxins and detox your body, as well as keeping you feeling good.
Ditch the sugar
The holidays are a notorious time that the sugar intake starts ramping up. Now that they are over, it’s time to remove added sugar to your diet. Limit how often you eat dessert and when you do, eat in moderation. Replace sugary foods with natural sweet foods like fruit. Fruit can fix your sweet tooth and also give you a boost of vitamins.
Drink green tea
Green tea is packed with antioxidants and nutrients to help your body get back on track. It is one of the healthiest beverages you could choose, it can act as a replacement for coffee, lower your risk of cancer and protect your brain as you age.
Hit the gym
Sweating is another great way to flush out toxins. Exercise has many health benefits long term and short term. Find just 30 minutes a day to get some form of exercise, whether it’s going on a run, yoga or simply going for a walk. Getting your body moving is important for your metabolism as well as overall health.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine believe in addressing the body as a whole when illness arises or the body is run down. Because of this, acupuncture treatment works by returning the body back to balance and restoring its natural energy. Certain acupuncture points can detoxify important organs like the kidneys, colon, lungs, liver and skin.
Don’t forget to relax and give yourself some downtime. The holidays are hectic and stressful, which can lead to bad habits and bad eating. Give yourself some time now that they are over to relax. Find activities you enjoy and make sure you make time for them every week. Detoxing is not just for improving your body physically, but mentally as well.
Steps to Stay Smoke-Free
So you’ve quit smoking, or maybe you’re trying and not sure how long you will last. Either way, quitting is not easy, and staying smoke-free in the long term is even harder. You may have periods of time when you’re feeling confident and a cigarette is the last thing on your mind, or you may all of a sudden have intense cravings. Below are some ways to help keep you smoke-free for a better, healthier life.
Having good and bad days are a part of life, and same goes for quitting smoking. Some days are going to be easier than others, but it is important on the bad days to remind yourself why quitting is worth it. Health should be number one in your life and according to the CDC, quitting smoking will lower your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory complications and more. If you have been a smoker, you know the side effects well. Staying positive and motivated to keep the bad habit away will pay off tremendously in the long run. Talk to others who have quit or join a support group. It is always great to hear from others who are going through the same experience as you and to see success stories.
Know your triggers
Smokers usually have triggers that give them the urge to light up. Be aware of what these are and find ways to avoid them. Common triggers include stress, drinking coffee, after a meal, drinking alcohol, if someone else is smoking or feeling restless. Once you know your triggers, you can know how to handle them in a healthy manner that doesn’t include smoking. When you start to feel an urge, try deep breathing or go on a short walk. Keep your mind and body occupied.
Take up a new hobby/activity
Kicking a bad habit is the perfect time to take up a healthy one. Spend more time exercising or doing something you enjoy. Activities like biking, swimming or yoga are not only fun but also beneficial for your mental and physical health. If feeling stressed or down is a trigger for you, becoming more active can help lower these symptoms.
Don’t give up
The decision to quit smoking was probably one of the best lifestyle choices you could make. You already took that first step, and although it may seem like an uphill battle, staying smoke-free will add years on to your life and improve your quality of life tremendously. Don’t give up, and don’t get down on yourself if you cave. It is never too late to quit smoking and begin the journey to better health.
One of the most common frustrations for those suffering from depression is the lack of motivation to do regular daily activities, an inability to find enjoyment and an overwhelming amount of negative thoughts. Depression cannot be simply cured by “mind over matter”, but that does not mean it can’t be treated and improved significantly. Depression is not an illness that one should have to suffer through alone, treatment and therapy can be crucial to the healing process back to better health.
Along with treatment options you may be considering, small additions to your daily routine can prove to have significant effects on lowering depression symptoms over time.
Put yourself and your mental health first
It is easy to put your health on the backburner when life gets busy and stressful. Maybe you are hating the office job you have, or you're fighting with a spouse. When life gets tough, it is easy to neglect our bodies physically and mentally. Look at life in the larger terms and understand how you take care of your health now, will affect you for years down the road. If you are suffering from depression, seeking treatment is the first step back to better quality of life and can truly make all the difference.
Get a routine going
It may be hard to keep and be motivated about a routine. However, by setting goals and habits on a daily or weekly basis, you are continuing to improve upon your condition. Just stick with it. Try to set goals for exercise, if you can go on a jog just three days a week, you’ll be boosting your serotonin, your mood and your physical health. Take time to go outside in nature and get some fresh air. Depression is hard, but getting out of your normal environment can help you get out of your head for a bit. Practicing mindfulness is something everyone should do on a daily basis. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and not the past or future. By doing so, we let go of anxieties we feel about the future or negative thoughts we have about the past, eliminating feelings of worry.
Don’t go through this alone. Chances are there are people in your life that love and care about you very much. Although it may seem hard to reach out or socialize, being around people can help you feel more connected. It is easy to isolate yourself when depression is consuming your mind and thoughts, but talking to friends and family can have profound benefits on beginning the process to better health.
Depression is not easy, but also doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Contact a medical professional about the best treatment options for you and consider alternative treatments such as acupuncture, herbal and orthomolecular medicine.
Acupuncture and Prostate Health
Whether you are looking to reduce your risk of prostate disease or treat an existing condition, acupuncture may be able to help. Because of its holistic approach, acupuncture can help relieve symptoms associated with prostate problems like frequent and painful urination.
A report titled Traditional Chinese Medicine and Prostate Health published by Pacific College found Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to be effective in the treatment of prostatitis, urinary tract infections, and symptoms associated with prostate cancer supportive care.
There have been multiple studies that have proven acupuncture helpful. A Chinese study published in 2008 found that electroacupuncture, a form of acupuncture, had a 96.4 percent rate of effectiveness for treatment.
In modern practice of acupuncture, each patient is assessed and given a treatment plan to reduce their symptoms. Acupuncture accomplishes this by addressing the body as a whole and using acupuncture points to stimulate meridians that then return the body to balance and natural flow.
The principle behind this practice is that our bodies have a natural energy flowing through them at all times. When our body’s energies become stuck or stagnant, our bodies are susceptible to disease and illness, including prostate cancer and prostatitis.
3 Tips for Prostate Health
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among men in the United States with around 290,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you are at risk or currently dealing with prostate cancer or prostatitis, you are not alone.
1 Diet and Exercise
Certain foods are known to help prostate health and prevent cancer. These include nuts, seeds, pumpkin, mushrooms and berries. Foods that contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene can be very effective. Some of foods high in lycopene include: watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya, apricot and tomatoes.
Focusing on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods and meat high in fat is a part of a healthy diet for maintenance and preventive care. Reducing stress and regular exercise can also decrease your risk of cancer.
2 Traditional Chinese Medicine
Prostate cancer and decreased prostate health are associated with a heat and kidney deficiency in TCM. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat and improve prostate function as well as energy flow in this area and throughout the body. As you get older, the kidney function starts to decrease, which can lead to other issues including decreased prostate health. Acupuncture focuses on the kidney meridian to help improve the body’s circulation.
3 Stop Smoking
According to the American Cancer Society, smokers are more likely to have a more severe form of prostate cancer. A patient who smokes also has a higher rate of recurrence. Consider quitting smoking to better your overall health and reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Patients who quit smoking for over 10 years reduced their mortality risk by an amount comparable to those who had never smoked.
Contact me if you think you are at risk or are currently managing prostate cancer and are looking for an alternative, safe treatment option.
Transitioning to Autum
With autumn approaching and the beginning of the yin cycle, the energy of plants is moving down into their roots, helping the body become aware of the energy of the season. This season is a time for the body to begin gathering energy for the colder months to come.
The lungs and large intestine are the organs associated with fall. The lungs are responsible for the circulation of Qi (the body’s natural flow and circulation), and are also very susceptible to cold and illness. For this reason, it is important to stay healthy and warm during the season. If the Qi circulation is weakened, muscles will not be able to warm the body properly.
Vegetables of autumn like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can help purify and protect your body against free radicals. These color-rich vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune system, especially as the cold and flu season rolls in. These vegetables can also strengthen your lungs and large intestine to fight illness.
Vegetables to cook with:
● winter squash
● turnip greens
Autumn weather becomes more yin, calling for warming dishes. Foods to cook that are in harmony with the season include more sour foods, as well as foods rich in protein and fats.
Sour/pungent foods to cook with:
● sourdough bread
● adzuki beans
● rosehip tea
Some find it hard to let go of summer, with the longer days and warm air transitioning into the crisp and shorter days of fall. Acupuncture not only helps the body physically, but mentally as well. Fall is a great time to see an acupuncturist as your body and mind adapt to the changing of the season.
Give your acupuncturist a visit to prepare for the new season ahead and to stay in good health!
Skin issues can happen at any age. Whether you have dry, oily or sensitive skin, it can get complicated. Although there are many products on the market that promise to “cure” your skin ailments, natural alternatives have proven to be effective and one of the safest options for skin treatment.
Here are just a few of the different oils that are easy to add to your skin maintenance routine and can help with frustrations you may be facing.
Moringa oil has been around for thousands of years and was originally used by ancient Egyptians. This oil contains antioxidants and fatty acids that help prevent the skin from sun damage and aging while being a natural moisturizer.
Argan oil is used today as an effective anti-aging treatment. Regular use of argan oil can help tighten the skin and increase oxygenation and nutrients in the cells.
Because of its high content of Vitamin C and Omega fatty acids, rosehip oil is an excellent treatment for restoring the skin and helping heal scar tissue. This oil will help your skin feel replenished and brightened.
Hemp seed oil
If you struggle with oily skin and blocked pores, believe or not, this dry oil can help. Hemp seed oil has a high content of Omega fatty acids that can reduce pore size and eliminate acne. This oil is also used to treat psoriasis and eczema because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Coconut oil has many uses and benefits. Not only is it used for skin treatment, but can also be used to whiten your teeth. If you spend a lot of the time in the sun and have dry skin, coconut oil can be used to replenish and moisturize your skin. If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, doing a coconut oil rinse has been proven to remove bacteria and plaque.
There are other alternative options to improving your skin beyond what you apply on the surface. Here are some easy steps to add to your daily routine.
Here are some alternative treatments for healthy looking skin.
Avoid food allergies: Most people who have skin issues also have food allergies that can worsen their skin. Common foods to avoid include gluten, dairy and artificial additives. You can eliminate each food group one at a time to test if it improves your skin.
Replace meat and dairy: By replacing these inflammatory saturated fats with unsaturated fats, you will increase your intake of nutrients that can aid your skin. Unsaturated fats to add to your diet include avocado, olive oil, nuts and flaxseed.
Probiotics: Taking a daily probiotic supplement has been proven to reduce symptoms of dermatitis, a disorder causing itchy, red skin. Probiotics add healthy bacteria to your gut and improve your digestive tract system, which in turn improves the overall health and function of your body.
Remove sugar: Remove sugar and processed foods from your diet. Besides not having a rich nutritional value, processed foods can affect and worsen allergies and skin disorders.
Herbal tea: Herbal teas have been shown to reduce inflammation that comes with eczema. Teas to try include chamomile tea, nettle tea or drinking Aloe Vera.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture can stimulate the production of endorphins in the body, which then can improve function of the immune and endocrine systems. Improving these systems can greatly affect the skin and restore it to better health.
Like most common health issues, a healthy diet, exercise and reducing stress can be of great help. Environmental factors can have a large impact on skin and overall health of the body. By following a daily routine that includes eating natural foods, exercising regularly and eliminating excess stress, you can see your skin start to improve as well!
Dr. Igor Bril