Sinus Health & Chinese Medicine

Sinuses are a network of hollow cavities in the head that are lined with a thin layer of mucous. There are four of them- the frontal (behind the forehead), the ethmoid and sphenoid (between the eyes and behind the nose), and the maxillary sinuses (behind the cheeks). They moisten and filter the air we breathe and they add to vocal resonance. Their mucous drains into the nose. (more…)

Fitness in Late Winter

Recently, I have heard so many patients despair over their lack of energy and motivation around fitness and healthy eating. This time of year is challenging for most of us in the northeastern US. The weather is gloomy, the sun isn’t shining so brightly, and cold and flu viruses run rampant in schools and workplaces. It’s difficult to stay motivated to exercise when it’s dark and cold outdoors and sedentary lifestyles seem so much more appealing. Partly, we can blame low vitamin D levels, post holiday weight gain and unpredictable weather for this general malaise- but what is practical in terms of change? I just read an article by an author who documented her health after drinking 2 cups of lemon water per day for 2 weeks. The jist was that it seemed to help, but moreover it jumpstarted her motivation to address her other lifestyle habits. (more…)

Post-Holiday Malaise and Winter Blues

Since the holiday season is over and winter has finally arrived with single digit temperatures and snow here in the Big Apple, I have noticed many patients reporting not only common cold and respiratory illnesses, but feeling “blue.” This doesn’t surprise me, given the shorter daylight hours and the dismal climate. Some patients are also attributing holiday-related stress with their outlook. Again, no surprise. Holidays pose a unique combination of stress for some folks, whether due to family dynamics, financial strain or unsatisfying life assessments brought on by a new calendar year. Overeating and drinking- always in abundance during holidays- and irregular schedules of sleeping and working can lead to feeling off-balance. Leftover food and alcohol can lead to poor choices just at the stage when you want to start afresh and begin the year with healthier habits. It is hard to find the motivation to exercise and eat right when you’ve been on an unhealthy trajectory for several weeks and when it’s below freezing outside. All in all, this time of year is a challenge for many. (more…)

Lyme Disease

I feel compelled to write about Lyme Disease, as three of my patients were diagnosed within one week this summer. Two of them had very atypical itchy rashes, but never saw a tick on their bodies. The third had no rash whatsoever, and was the only of the three to see an actual tick on herself. Luckily, all three patients had the insight to see a doctor and to get tested and treated promptly. However, the fatigue, aches, rash, joint pain (and in one case, Bell’s palsy, or facial paralysis) were problematic and persistent symptoms. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be helpful for all of these symptoms. (more…)

Staying Cool As a Cucumber in Summer

Cucumbers belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, related to pumpkins, watermelons and other squash. Technically a fruit, they grow on a vine along the ground and come in hundreds of varieties, among them the common slicing and the popular pickle types. Gherkins are actually immature cucumbers that have been pickled in a brine. (more…)

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), a Great Summer Food

Watermelons supposedly originated in Africa. The Moors introduced them to Europe and trade routes eventually lead them as far as China, now the world’s top watermelon producer. There are many varieties of this colorful summer fruit, which is related to squash and cucumbers, the family Cucurbitaceae. Every part of the watermelon is edible, including the rind, which is customarily pickled in some cultures. (more…)

Happy, Healthy Summer Feet

Summer is here and that means it’s sandal season. But hot weather, sweaty feet and new shoes can make feet ripe with discomfort and disease. Many people develop skin infections from walking barefoot at swimming pools or in locker rooms, have callouses and blisters on their feet from uncomfortable summer sandals, while others develop toenail fungus from nail salons. I have seen these issues in abundance during past summers in both men and women, and it can be more than a nuisance. (more…)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press in the past decade. It is a fat soluble vitamin that has the properties of a hormone as well. Some of its complex functions in the body include: a role in the absorption and use of phosphorus and calcium, development of bones and teeth (especially in children), regulation of heart rate, maintenance of muscle mass, reducing inflammation, regulation of blood sugar, immune function, thyroid function and normal blood clotting. Because of its extensive role, maintaining normal levels of vitamin D is important in preventing diseases like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, and possibly diabetes. Recent research suggests that insufficient levels of this vitamin can even increase the risk for certain cancers and autoimmune diseases. People with medical conditions may be prone to vitamin D deficiencies: those with kidney disease, those with absorption disorders (like Crohn’s disease), and the obese. (more…)

What is Qi? A Brief Summary

Qi (pronounced “Chee”) is a fundamental concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It comes from an ancient Chinese notion which is difficult to translate and describe: everything in the universe is made of qi; everything that happens is a result of a change or movement of qi. “Qi is the pulsation of the cosmos itself… Qi is the thread connecting all being… Qi is the potential and actualization of transformation.”* Many translations explain qi as vital energy, or the life force. This is an oversimplification, but suffices as a brief definition. (more…)

Winter and the Kidneys

The kidneys are thought to be the “mother of all the organs” in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Among the many important functions of the kidneys according to TCM are: storing the body’s energy, affecting water metabolism and inspiration, relating to the bones, hair, and ears, just to name a few. The kidneys are also thought to be associated with the season winter, cold temperatures, the color blue/black, the taste salty. (more…)