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Memorial Day launched the summer season here in Florida and many spent the holiday at the pool or beach.  Like many, I visit the beach or pool whenever I can, lather on sunscreen, put on my hat, sunglasses  and relax, soaking up the suns rays feeling protected from the harmful UVB/UVA rays.  Upon reading a recent report that only 8% of sunscreens are recommended, I immediately went to look at the ingredients of my sunscreens.  The sunscreens I applied generously and often, had all the ingredients mentioned in the article.

So, what can I do so that I am still able to enjoy the outdoors during the day and protect myself from harmful ingredients and rays?  Luckily, Environmental Working Group (EWG), has done the work to test various sunscreens, rate their safety, and put together healthy sun tips.

Here are links to some informative articles where you can see how your sunscreen rates, which sunscreens are best, and tips for adults/children in the sun.

Sun Safety Tips

Report: Only 8% of sunscreens recommended

EWG’s 2010 Sunscreen Guide

Many people are searching for ways to eat organic without going broke.  I recently came upon an article by  the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit environmental research organization based in Washington, DC,  that reports you can lower your pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding conventional versions of the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

This EWG “Dirty Dozen” list, in order of most-to-least contaminated, offers a helpful way to prioritize which fruits and veggies to buy organic.

We suggest keeping this guide with your grocery list — especially if you’re trying to economize on groceries or have trouble finding organic versions of some produce. If you especially love one or more of these fruits or vegetables and eat them frequently, all the more reason to buy organic whenever you can.

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet Bell Peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6. Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Lettuce

9. Grapes (imported)

10. Pears

11. Spinach

12. Potatoes

So which produce is of least concern in terms of pesticides?  The EWG reports that these 12 fruits and vegetables tested lowest in pesticide residue:

1. Onions

2. Avocado

3. Sweet Corn (frozen)

4. Pineapples

5. Mango

6. Sweet Peas (frozen)

7. Asparagus

8. Kiwi

9. Bananas

10. Cabbage

11. Broccoli

12. Eggplant

Springtime is here and so are the allergies.  Normally, I am not bothered by seasonal allergies, but for whatever reason this year, I have found myself sneezing, red, watery eyes and even a cough.  Rather than taking over-the-counter medicine, I turn to acupuncture and oriental medicine to help get me through the blooming season.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be very effective in helping relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms.  It works best if people with known allergies come in prior to the ‘blooming’ season.  This depends on the severity of the allergies, so some may need to come in months prior.   The pre-season treatments allow us to prepare and strengthen the body before it is overloaded with all the allergens in the air.  During the allergy season, acupuncture and herbs are maintained to help manage allergic rhinitis.   The number of treatments during the allergy season depends on each person.  Personally, I take my herbs daily and give myself a minimum of one treatment per week.  If  I know I will be spending a lot of time outdoors, I take a couple of herbs before heading outside and the allergens do not bother me.

The American Journal of Epidemiology recently published a study that showed that acupuncture can significantly relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms.  In this German study, 5,237 men and women were analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in addition to routine care in patients with allergic rhinitis compared with treatment with routine care alone.

In this trial, patients with allergic rhinitis were randomly allocated to receive acupuncture for a 3 month period or to a control group that received no acupuncture. All patients were allowed to receive usual medical care. The Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) and general health-related quality of life (36-Item Short-Form Health Survey) were evaluated at baseline and after 3 and 6 months.

Improvements were noted at the 3 month and the 6 month evaluation for the patients receiving acupuncture. The authors of this trial concluded that treating patients with allergic rhinitis in routine care with additional acupuncture leads to clinically relevant and persistent benefits.

Source: European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2008 Nov;101(5):535-43.

Everywhere you go, you see cellphones.  It is amazing to think how anyone got anything done before their creation.  With the increase in the usage of cell phones, research is being done to see if the radiation emitted from them can cause cancer and/or other ailments.  While there is no set decision either way, it is always nice to get the facts and make a decision for yourself.  As for me, I use an head-set that I remove when not in use.  I am also looking into buying a new phone that emits less radiation when it is around.

I recently came across the Environmental Working Group, who test various cellphones and rates their radiation emission.   I was not too happy to find that my current phone emits a high dose of radiation by the ear, as well as when it rests near me.   (It might be time to take advantage of the ‘upgrade’ option.)  Below is one of the articles on their website listing “8 Safety Tips” for cell phone usage.  At the end of the article, I have included a link to their website so you can check your phones radiation emission rating.

“EWG’s Guide to Reduce Cell Phone Radiation Exposure”

Cell phones emit radiation to send voice and text messages to the other caller. Health risks aren’t confirmed, but some (not all) studies of frequent cell phone users suggest increased risks for brain and mouth tumors and children’s behavior problems.

To be on the safe side, follow the tips below to reduce exposures.

1. BUY A LOW-RADIATION PHONE

Look up your phone on EWG’s buyer’s guide. (Your phone’s model number may be printed under your battery.) Consider replacing your phone with one that emits the lowest radiation possible and still meets your needs.

2. USE A HEADSET OR SPEAKER

Headsets emit much less radiation than phones. Choose either wired or wireless (experts are split on which version is safer) using our cell phone headset guide. Some wireless headsets emit continuous, low-level radiation, so take yours off your ear when you’re not on a call. Using your phone in speaker mode also reduces radiation to the head.

3. LISTEN MORE, TALK LESS

Your phone emits radiation when you talk or text, but not when you’re receiving messages. Listening more and talking less reduces your exposures.

4. HOLD PHONE AWAY FROM YOUR BODY

Hold the phone away from your torso when you’re talking (with headset or speaker), not against your ear, in a pocket, or on your belt where soft body tissues absorb radiation.

5. CHOOSE TEXTING OVER TALKING

Phones use less power (less radiation) to send text than voice. And unlike when you speak with the phone at your ear, texting keeps radiation away from your head.  (Note from me: Do not text while driving)

6. POOR SIGNAL? STAY OFF THE PHONE

Fewer signal bars on your phone means that it emits more radiation to get the signal to the tower. Make and take calls when your phone has a strong signal.

7. LIMIT CHILDREN’S PHONE USE

Young children’s brains absorb twice the cell phone radiation as an adult’s. EWG joins health agencies in at least 6 countries in recommending limits for children’s phone use, such as for emergency situations only.

8. SKIP THE “RADIATION SHIELD”

Radiation shields such as antenna caps or keypad covers reduce the connection quality and force the phone to transmit at a higher power with higher radiation.

For more information, click here to visit EMG’s website.



Acupuncture & Pregnancy

Acupuncture is based on the theory that the body consists of various acupuncture points which are connected through pathways, called meridians. In these meridians, a vital energy called qi (pronounced “chee”) flows throughout the body. An unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, the environment, emotional or psychological issues, toxins, or hereditary can cause an imbalance of qi resulting in symptoms or illness. To correct the imbalance, acupuncture uses very fine, flexible, disposable needles to stimulate specific points on the meridians. The meridians and acu-points restore balance and help the body maintain its own health.

Before, During and After Pregnancy

Acupuncture is an ideal form of treatment before, during and after pregnancy. It offers women a drug-free option for many problems that may arise from conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Regular acupuncture treatments throughout pregnancy can enhance the health and well-being of the mother. It can also help prevent complications during pregnancy and influence the development of the baby. Research shows that acupuncture can be helpful with many of the conditions that may develop during pregnancy.

Click here to continue the article.

Stress Tips

One of the biggest complaints I hear by my clients is…stress.  I honestly think every client that walks in my door has some level of stress in their life, causing various ailments.  Some show stress by weight gain, muscle tension, migraines, irritability, premature gray hair, some sort of addiction, insomnia, high blood pressure and so many more complaints.   Each person handles stress in their life differently and what you think is stressful, might not be to another person.

I can relate to the feeling of being stressed out.  Prior to finding the joy in acupuncture, I had a very high stress job in project management.  Even in my current field, being an acupuncturist is stress-free but the job of running a full-time private practice is stressful.  My clients always ask me what I do to stay stress-free so I thought I would share my stress-free tips.

1.  Acupuncture
Yes, I have an advantage as I can needle myself at any time for free.  I give myself an acupuncture treatment at least once a week.  If I have more free time, then I definitely take advantage of it, but I make sure I get at least one treatment a week.  I recommend for my clients to aim for acupuncture once a week or every two weeks.  In Oriental Medicine, we believe ailments are due to the flow of qi in the body being restricted for whatever reason.  Acupuncture helps balance the body and get the qi moving properly.  It helps reduce the side effects of stress, such as irritability, high blood pressure and insomnia, to name a few.  Acupuncture helps quiet the body and the mind, giving you a personal time-out to rejuvenate your body.

2.  Exercise
This is the dreaded word that may cause people to stop reading.  Any form of exercise keeps the oxygen and blood flowing properly through the body.  It helps clear the mind and helps strengthen the heart.  I could get all scientific on you, but you have read the studies and heard it all before.  The key is to get some sort of exercise every day.  I tend to break-up my workouts, as I am not a fan of getting up at 5 am to hit the gym or going at 9 pm at night.  I get at least 30 minutes in the morning.  I found that if I watch one of my favorite shows in the morning while working out, it helps make it go faster.  If you can not find 30 minutes, then break it up into three 10-minute workouts.  (Note: there is even a 10-minute workout by the creator of P90X).  The key is to find something that works for you and your schedule.  There is no set rule, as long as you are getting some exercise during the day.

3.  Diet
Again, I am sure you have read enough articles on diets and what to eat or not eat.  I tend to stick with lean meats, veggies and fruit.  I try to limit the carbs and if I do have them, I have them for breakfast or lunch.  This was something I learned from a personal trainer years ago and it really helped me drop the pounds.  Try to add a variety of color to your diet.  If you are limited on time, there are some great cookbooks out there for quick and easy meals.  The recipes are tasty and fast which is very handy for me since I am not a fan of cooking huge meals after a long day in the office.

4.  Herbal Medicine
There are various herbal remedies to help keep you healthy and de-stressed.  Herbal remedies are personally selected based on your imbalance.   Please check with a qualified herbalist to make sure nothing conflicts with any prescription medications you are taking.  People think since it is natural it is safe, but there are some herb-drug interactions.  Check with a qualified herbalist to make sure there is no interaction between your medications.

5.  Breathing
Sounds simple, but most people do not breathe correctly.  When I ask clients to take a deep breath, they inhale and their chest rises.  This is very shallow breathing and most people do this type of breathing.  The best and most beneficial breathing is abdominal breathing or yogic breath.  Lay down on your bed and place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.  When you breath in through your nose, the belly should rise FIRST, then into the chest.  As you inhale, you expand and extend your belly.  As you exhale, pull your belly in towards your spine.  When first doing this, do not be surprised if you feel light headed, which is why I suggest to do it laying down.  You are getting a full expansion of the diaphragm, which has been constricted with all the shallow breathing.  Once you can do it laying down, try it while seated.  Throughout the day, stop what you are doing, place your hands on your belly and take a few deep breaths.  This will help refresh the mind, calm the heart and help you de-stress.  Soon you will breath this way naturally and support a de-stressed state of mind.

6.  Essential Oils
There are so many various oils out there for various things.  Find a qualified aromatherapist to find which oil is best for you.  My favorite (which pairs wonderfully with the deep breathing) is eucalyptus oil.  It can help calm your down if you are stressed or give you energy when you are low.  Lavender is another great calming oil.  I would suggest this at night, as it might make you very sleepy at work.  Orange is great to help stimulate the mind.  Spearmint helps calm your appetite.

These are just a few things I do to help manage my stress.  If it seems overwhelming to do all of them, then start with incorporating one at a time.    Start on the path to a stress-free life.

Happy 2010 New Year!

The New Year is just around the corner.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and are preparing for better things in the new year.

What is the meaning of this New Year’s Eve Song? Auld Lang Syne is about old friends who have parted and meet again. To celebrate their long friendship, they share a drink together and reminisce of memories from long ago. The basic message is that we should not forget our old friends and should celebrate a reunion with them.

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, gather everyone together at your party or celebration to sing the New Years Song and remember the good memories of family and friends from long ago.

Translation for New Year’s Eve Song – Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

“Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago !

Chorus:
For old long ago, my dear
For old long ago,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For old long ago.

We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since old long ago.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill draught (of ale)
For old long ago!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago!”

Wishing you a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!