TCM and Football

Football Season is underway and did you know many top players keep themselves at peak performance with acupuncture?  

This recent article quotes one of my instructors, Matt Callison, LAc—an internationally recognized expert in acupuncture & cupping for sports medicine, on the benefits of acupuncture and cupping not just for injury recovery, but for prevention as well. His style of acupuncture is heavily influenced by a deep understanding of trigger points and muscle physiology.   

I attempted to produce a complete list of teams who use acupuncture, but after talking to some of the acupuncturists who work with these elite athletes, many consider acupuncture to be their “secret weapon” and don’t advertise who they work with for fear of another team or player “luring” them away! 

Football teams and many other sports of all levels utilize TCM to support top performance, as well as prevent and treat injury.

One of these fabulous acupuncturists is Lisa Ripi who manages a grueling schedule to care for players on 4 different teams! She uses Japanese-style acupuncture which is similar to what I was trained in. Dan Domingues, LAc is another one of those gems—he shares his role as the  team acupuncturist for the Buffalo Bills. 

Cupping is often a big part of these treatments—even National Geographic took notice in 2018  when James Harrison (then with the New England Patriots) shared his use of cupping and acupuncture. So odds are, your favorite teams probably have acupuncture and cupping in their arsenal as tools to recover quickly and be ready for the next game!

Did you know our own Robert Cecil, LAc has extensive training in Master Tung points (great for recovery from injury), and cupping (fabulous for both recovery from muscle strain and other injuries)? In fact, just one session of cupping can increase the range of motion of the treated muscle groups in athletes—and alongside other techniques, can greatly reduce recovery time after an injury. 

Acupuncture and cupping in combination with Frequency Specific Microcurrent treatments can target specific types of injured tissue to speed healing. So, regardless of if you are out on the field or cheering on your favorite players—remember we can help improve your performance!

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A frequent question we get in the clinic is “Can you get me off my diabetes medicine?" The simple answer is “no”.  Acupuncture and herbs alone are potent allies in healing, but especially with diabetes, the choices you make each day have far more impact than anything anyone can give you. The more complete answer is “it depends”: 

  • on how long you have been taking medication for diabetes 
  • if that medication includes insulin or not AND most importantly,
  • how willing you are to make changes in your diet and lifestyle 

It is also important to know that we cannot make changes to prescription medications, so it’s important to work with your doctor as well as your acupuncturist when you decide that you are ready to make the changes you need for better health.  

So why try acupuncture and TCM for diabetes?  

  • Acupuncture helps regulate metabolism, pancreatic function, and  blood sugar levels1. There is a growing body of research into the mechanism of action behind the stimulation of points classically indicated for diabetes showing measurable changes in hormone levels, gastric function, and peripheral circulation2. Many of our patients report using less insulin while undergoing acupuncture for other reasons, even when the treatment of diabetes isn’t the primary focus.
  • Neuropathy is one of the most felt and debilitating aspects of uncontrolled diabetes—and acupuncture is one of the best treatments for neuropathy—not only providing pain relief but helping the nerves and surrounding tissues to repair themselves in many cases3.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are not a “one-size fits all” treatment approach—each patient is unique and we chose our specific formulas and acupuncture points for each patient based on the presentation of the entire patient; not just a set cookie-cutter treatment. As a result, not only do we see the diabetes symptoms improve, the patient experiences better health overall. By choosing the right approach for each patient we avoid the spiral of “take this medication for this, and this medication for that, and this medication for the side effects of the first medication and yet another medication for the side effects of the second medication….” that so many patients experience.

Managing Diabetes IS possible—with the right lifestyle changes and supportive treatments!

Now as to the pesky diet and exercise thing:

If you continue to overload your body with too much of the wrong foods and not enough of the right exercise—even the best treatments and formulas, plus the medications your doctor prescribes—won’t be enough to keep the disease from progressing!

I highly recommend anyone who has diabetes or even a risk factor for diabetes (which is pretty much everyone) read “Why We Get Sick” by B. Bikman.  It’s a great book based on solid research that helps you understand what happens with diabetes and more importantly, what you can do to change it. If you need help getting off the sugar, we have amazing and compassionate coaching and nutrition partners who can help you!

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Sources:

1 Wang KX, Liang FX, Chen S, Luo ZH, Chen B, Chen ZQ, Zhang YL, Chen J, Gu XL, Zhou T, Yan P, Xu XY. Effect of electroacupuncture of "Biao-Ben" acupoints on renal function and hemorheology and eNOS level in patients with early diabetic nephropathy. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2022 Jan 25;47(1):46-52. Chinese. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.20210036. PMID: 35128870.

2 Wang H, Chen X, Chen C, Pan T, Li M, Yao L, Li X, Lu Q, Wang H, Wang Z. Electroacupuncture at Lower He-Sea and Front-Mu Acupoints Ameliorates Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Regulating the Intestinal Flora and Gut Barrier. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2022 Jul 30;15:2265-2276. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S374843. PMID: 35936053; PMCID: PMC9348137.

3 Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar;23(3):164-179. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0155. Epub 2017 Jan 23. PMID: 28112552; PMCID: PMC5359694.

If you’ve spent any time around the Raja offices, you’ve probably met “Lowkey”—the sweet German Shepherd who helps me in so many ways; it won’t come as a surprise that pets are family around our house. But did you know that the animals who share our space provide more than just companionship? Animals have innate abilities to sense and communicate when we don’t feel well (there are loads of stories with dogs, cats, and other animals alerting their owners to impending seizures, heart attacks, and more!) Many times people think I can read minds—because I come to check on them when they are having a difficult time during treatment at just the right time—but the truth is quite often that adorable dog of mine has woken from a dead sleep to alert me to the issue. I don’t know how he knows and I’m ok with him keeping the secret, as long as he keeps helping me help others! 

In addition, having pets is linked to reduced rates of depression and anxiety—so much so that emotional support animals are now widely accepted. Even the CDC says “Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.”1 Other studies have shown how having pets reduces cortisol levels. Furthermore, those pets of ours keep us more active and give us a reason to go outside and more even when the weather isn’t perfect.

I am blessed to work with a variety of animals who share their healing gifts with others—from our herd of horses and mini donkey to our dogs, and even the barn cats work their magic to help bring smiles to those who visit. Horses in particular can regulate the coherence of our heart rhythm and stress response just by being near us. The Heart Math Institute has some fascinating research on this. Cats have a unique “superpower” in their purr. “A cat purrs within a range of 20-140 Hz which is known to be medically therapeutic for illnesses in humans. A cat's purr can not only lower stress it can also help labored breathing, lower blood pressure, help heal infections, and even heal bones.”2

Animals of all kinds can bring joy into our lives, even the slithery and skittering kinds like snakes & lizards. They may not be for everyone (let’s face it—not everyone is a cat or dog lover), but if they brighten your day then that’s all that matters

Jenny-Marie Greenough

As responsible human stewards of our animal friends, it’s important to remember that their health comes with unique concerns based on nutritional, environmental, and mental needs. Luckily for our horses, dogs & cats, there are a variety of supplements and herbal medicines to help keep them feeling their best! Some of my favorite products are:

  • 100X Equine Joint Supplements (the dogs, horses, and myself all feel better with this one!) (available for purchase in our office)
  • Standard Process Products
  • Dynamite Products for nutritional support and select conditions, homeopathic, and even East Asian Medicines. 
  • We also offer consultations to help select the best possible products for your animal friends!

For those of you with dogs—we’ve got a photo contest running to win a goodie basket for your best bud! So bring out the photos and let’s see those smiling furry faces!

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Sources:

1 https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/keeping-pets-and-people-healthy/how.html

2 https://www.akcreunite.org/catsimprovementalhealth/

We are excited to announce our Tai Chi Classes are back!!! These classes will be taught by Grand Master Mingye Ding and Jenny-Marie Greenough, LAc.

Why Tai Chi? Tai Chi is a practice rooted in martial arts that teaches balance, relaxation, and mindfulness. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of Tai Chi. In fact, Harvard Medical School wrote an entire book on the subject detailing the research findings and benefits of a regular tai chi practice. The only other practice that has been shown to slow signs of physical and mental aging, reduce the risk of falling, and increase general wellness as much is dancing! That’s right—not running, not golf, not swimming or cycling or weights…dance and Tai Chi are two of the best things you can do for your long-term health. And in many ways, Tai Chi is a dance—challenging us to be more fluid, rhythmic, and powerful in our movements. 

Most studies on Tai Chi have been done using Yang-style Tai Chi, the most commonly practiced here in the US, but the benefits transcend the various Tai Chi forms. Grand Master Ding can teach Yang-style, but he is world famous for his mastery of Chen-style Tai Chi—in fact, he was featured on a stamp in China for his contribution to martial arts! Chen-style adds a dynamic of hip movements and alternating very slow movements with faster movements throughout the forms. There are several other styles of tai chi he may bring into our class as well as basic tai chi warm-up movements that are different from the typical “gym” warm-ups most of us are familiar with. Some days, we may practice a more healing-focused form of Tai Chi called Qigong as part of our warm-up for the form.

All ability levels are welcome!

These forms can be adapted to all levels of ability—from seated-forms to gentle standing to dynamic and physically challenging, that will give even the most agile of athletes something to improve on! Each of the basic forms have associated sword forms, fan forms, and various ways to take the practice to new levels of understanding!

That is the beauty of Tai Chi—no matter where you start, there is a place to begin and a goal to pursue! I was so proud when I learned my first version of the Chen forms, so imagine my shock when Master Ding said “Good job, now we begin again!”; and we did, from the very first step, with a more nuanced exploration of each movement. Over the years we have begun again and again with the form—each time there is something to learn and I can’t wait to share this with all of you!

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Perhaps you have tried out the local yoga studio down the street. Chances are it was a “faster flow” class—it created inner heat and maybe you broke a sweat. If you have never taken a yoga class before, you might have noticed the many types out there to choose from. Ranging in all types from fundamentals all the way to an “Ashtanga” style. 

No need to be intimidated—because there is a class for everyone's body and needs. Have you thought about a slower “restorative-style” yoga class? This is slower-paced class with mindful meditation, gentle music, and the time to be introspective. It gives you space to feel your body—as it is, and all it can be. Yin yoga can offer this type of movement for you. The gentle pace and meditation can be a great start or end to your day.

You can do a warm-up to start your Yin practice, but many times you will find what you experience is known as working on “cold muscles”. To make it simple, cold muscles are short and warm muscles are long. Holding these poses allows you to lengthen ligaments along with gaining a greater range of motion in the joint. Going deep into a stretch—making it sensational might be a normal feeling in your everyday yoga flow, but in Yin—slow and steady wins the race!  

Take your time!

Allowing the time in a pose and listening to your body when it says it's ready to go deeper is great for reaching the fascia and connective tissues, not to mention the pressure points for stimulating certain areas of your body. Yin yoga poses also tend to correlate with the acupressure points and the chakra system. Stimulating these points can not only help relieve stress and calm the mind but help your body's natural flow of energy by releasing blockages. Working with your body's meridians and chakras can hold many benefits, which in turn can help with your body's natural healing.

Taking the time to hold these poses and create stillness in your life will not only help your nervous system calm down and reset but give you time to look inside and take an introspective moment for yourself—Helping you sort out thoughts and feelings and process events. Yoga in itself can be emotionally revealing, lifting, and healing with the awareness and time you create for yourself. 

Along with this self-care, please remember that with any activity it is very important to stay hydrated. Especially after a good Yin yoga class, due to the nature of movement and how comparative it is to a deep tissue massage, and the toxins that are released and become ready to leave your body. 

Create your healing space! Take time for yourself and remember to love yourself. 

Visit our classes page, where you can browse many different yoga class styles and levels. Our yoga classes are designed for all—from beginner to advanced!

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Getting our kids to eat healthily doesn’t have to be a nightmarish challenge. You don’t have to be a chef to make delicious meals the family will enjoy; you don’t have to be a master negotiator either. Getting our families to eat more healthily often starts with what is most readily available in the home and our own habits and attitudes when it comes to food. Children often mimic us caregivers—so leading by example can be very effective (for all of us!).

Here are a few tips and reminders to help instill those healthy habits—easily!

  1. Lead by example: Do you display healthy eating habits? Do you choose whole, healthy foods instead of chips or sweets? Is it considered a “treat” when you all sit down for a healthy meal for dinner, or do you save that term for the Friday night take-out pizza or greasy bag of burgers from the drive-thru? Do your kids see you choosing water when you’re thirsty or guzzling back a can of soda? Kids are easily influenced by what goes on in their personal environments; and the choices we make in front of them about food and drink should be considered just as much as, say—not letting a curse word slip in front of them.  
  1. Involve the family in meal planning: Meal planning can be quite fun, and involving everyone ensures that each family member has something to look forward to when it comes to sitting down at the table for a family meal.  If one family member wants a dish that another family member isn’t so crazy about, think of a simple variation you can make so that it’s more enjoyable for them and you don’t have to cook a separate meal. 
  1. Offer (healthy) options: Providing options gives your child the autonomy they crave, while helping you have some control of the nutritional value of their food. Offer things that you know they like—such as apple slices or whole grain crackers with almond butter for a snack. If there’s a vegetable they really like, offer to serve it a couple of different ways with your meal and see which they prefer. Offering choices doesn’t just give them a sense of inclusiveness and independence, it is also is a time saver for you. Instead of scrambling to find a replacement when your kid turns a nose up to something, you can have more confidence about your kid actually eating what you serve them. 
  1. Mix things up: You may have a picky eater, but you don’t have to surrender!  Preparing foods they may not typically love but in different ways may just pique their curiosity.  Consider using different seasonings or methods of cooking, or even making the food more visually appealing and fun for kids. Try using small cookie cutters in shapes or characters they like; or little colorful silicone cups. The key is not to force it. Invite your kids to try something new and different and if they prefer not to try it—describe what it tasted like and tell them why you liked it. 
  1.  Educate your kids about food and where it comes from. Have you ever taken your child to a farmer’s market? This is a great way to learn about where food comes from, the care that is taken in growing and harvesting it, and opens lines of communication with local farmers; and your kid will likely enjoy the experience! There’s also the visual and learning aspect—the colors of homegrown fruits and vegetables are often more vibrant! I also recently learned from our friends at Living Water Ranch that the yellowish tint I’ve noticed in the beef fat means high beta-carotene content. This shows you that beef is a good source of Vitamin A. Even us adults can learn new things at the farmer’s market! Spending some family time at a farmer’s market can make for some great memories and can also be educational (and not to mention, quite affordable!)

These changes may need to be done gradually, and it may take some time for everyone to adjust. If the habits have been in place for a while, just remember to practice patience, understanding, and open dialogue, and the payoff will be huge—with better nutrition, overall health, improved energy, money, and time savings in the end. Eating healthy won’t seem like a “downer” or “punishment”; but a real treat that can be easily shared among the family—and can instill healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the US; more than 800,000 people die of heart attacks alone each year. 1 in 3 deaths in the US are linked to heart disease in most statistical data reviewed. This vital organ is often neglected or inadvertently stressed with poor diet and lifestyle habits. Strokes, heart failure, and many other cardiovascular-related issues are all attributed to poor heart health. Worse yet, it is misunderstood as “only” a pump—when it has other key functions in our body.

Most everyone has heard: reducing cholesterol to healthy levels and maintaining healthy blood pressure are keys to good heart health. Less discussed is the role of Heart Rate Variability (HRV), the variation in time between each heartbeat, as a measure of health. Higher HRV is associated with decreased risks of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. And low cholesterol and blood pressure alone are not enough to maintain a healthy HRV because HRV is largely regulated by the balance of the autonomic nervous system. HRV used to only be measurable with an EKG; but many of today’s wearable fitness devices are accurate enough to give a reasonable estimate of HRV, especially those that have the ability to add data from a Holter monitor or finger sensor.

Yoga and tai chi have a long history of improving health and research is clear that both can directly improve HRV and coherence with consistent practice. Consistent quality sleep, limiting alcohol consumption, regular exercise, drinking adequate water, and focusing on eating real, fresh food with an emphasis on vegetables and healthy fats, also help protect heart health. 

How else can you help maintain health HRV? Well, acupuncture has consistently been shown to improve HRV even when the focus of the treatment is on other complaints.  When it is focused on regulating nervous system balance and heart function, it’s even more effective. Frequency Specific PEMF has also shown to regulate the autonomic nervous system and therefore HRV.  Another great way to improve HRV through enhanced coherence is our equine programs. Just simply being in physical proximity to a horse has been shown to increase coherence and HRV. Add to that the benefits of the meditation and tai chi that we teach with the equine exercises, and you have tools to take home with you to continue to improve your heart health and well-being.

If you want to learn more about heart health I recommend the HeartMath Institute. They are a leading researcher in heart health and generous with their free products to support public health. They offer a number of free classes and publications to help people learn practices to improve their HRV and even have tools for sale to help them measure their progress. This link here is one of my favorite, 10 HeartMath Practices | HeartMath Institute.

Bags come in all shapes and sizes, colors, fabrics, and prices. The only thing that matters is the functionality of it. Maybe you choose a bag that has a way to tote your yoga mat around or has extra pockets for accessories (maybe rings/jewelry, wallets, cellphone and hair ties). If you are a minimalist, consider a simple, no-fills bag with ease of access and simplicity in mind.

So what do you have in your bag? There is no need to stress about having everything—just think about the essentials! A good place to start is a change of clothing. Unpredictable weather and that “pop-up” class may spring up at any time; and a change of clothes to keep you dry and comfortable should you need to make a stop somewhere after class—is a must. 

Hydration is important! Pop in a water bottle ready to fill.  There is nothing worse than getting a tickle in your throat mid-pose and not having something to soothe it—or getting into your hot yoga class and needing to be quenched. This leads right into bringing a towel or two. Needing to wipe sweat off your face or hands and not having a towel can be uncomfortable; and if you have long hair—don't forget your headbands or hair ties.  As you further ponder how to pack your bag, you may think of nice-to-have (but not absolutely necessary) odds and ends to tuck away; such as an extra phone charger and maybe your favorite mat cleaner. 

One more last thing—after a session your bag may have accumulated packed clothes, towels, your water bottle and maybe a few yoga props; don't forget to unpack your bag along with your best self in the four corners of your mat and honor the time you have taken for yourself!

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard of (and many have experienced) the “winter blues.” Seasonal Affective Disorder, the slow-brewing storm of improper sleep, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, and the feeling that our happiness switch has been dimmed, is the result of fewer daylight hours—affecting our circadian rhythm and serotonin output, all typically during the busiest time of the year. Here we are, showing up to work and family events, conjuring up all of the energy we have to make hors’ d'oeuvres for the holiday potluck while checking off our shopping lists, keeping up our day-to-day chores, making travel plans, working overtime, etc….all while we try our best to hide our fatigue and lackluster zest for life. Seasonal Affective Disorder is only reported to affect about 10% of the population, but the reality is that the changing of the season, cold dreary weather, and increased daily demands put a lot of us in “overdrive” mode—much more of us than the 10% reported.

At Raja Wellness, we understand the importance of self-care during this season, and we are here to help you through it.  Here are a few things we have to offer that can help to significantly improve the “winter blues” along with some proactive things you can do at home: 

#1: Move Your Body 

Yes, as you’ve heard time and time again, one of the best ways to improve your mood is to get moving! Outside exercise during the day is optimal since you can get some sunshine in as well, but indoor exercise will also help improve feelings of gloom.  You don’t have to have a gym membership, or even a whole lot of extra time each day.  Setting aside 10-15 minutes for a quick and easy routine can work wonders when done consistently. 

There are so many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily life without it taking time away from the rest of your responsibilities. You may choose to follow along to a YouTube video based on your current fitness level, spend a little extra time outdoors walking a local trail or playing a sport, park further away than usual at the grocery store, or even break out in a song and dance while folding laundry.  When able to make the extra time, in-person classes not only offer socialization, but extra support and individual attention as well.  

We’re also excited to announce that our newest member of the Raja Wellness team, Nikki Prell, is now offering yoga classes at our Magnolia location! These classes focus on breath, mindfulness, and gentle movement. 

To view schedule and join us, BOOK HERE

Or,  for at-home gentle exercise, check out qigong18.com

#2: Soak Up Some Rays!

The sun DOES still come out in the winter!  It may not be bathing suit weather, but a little sunlight goes a long way to helping to offset the winter blues, even when we’re bundled up and trying to stay warm. When you’re indoors, consider opening the blinds for natural lighting. Natural sunlight helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles, which are thrown off when the shorter winter days roll in.

When we spend more time indoors and out of the cold, our daily dose of vitamin D is decreased. Actual direct sunshine is the best way to supply Vitamin D— the “sunshine vitamin”, which is produced naturally in the body when the skin is exposed to UV light. It plays a critical role in our overall health, and helps the body to function at its best. 

#3: Eat Healthy Foods that Nourish the Body! (and keep track of it!)

A good idea in general, if we’re being honest.  Eating healthfully and mindfully has so many important health benefits—and improving your mood is one of them! Have you ever tracked your eating habits by keeping a food journal (or using a food-tracking app)? This is an excellent way to not only give yourself a visual of what you’re taking in and where you can make adjustments, but also to help identify and eliminate the things that make you feel sluggish, bloated, possibly even a little cranky. When tracking your food intake, be sure to make a note of how you feel after each meal or snack.  

Incorporating foods rich in Vitamin D can be helpful in fighting off the winter blues. Some of these foods include: 

  • Fatty fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks
  • Red meat
  • Liver

#4 Do you REALLY know how your body reacts to certain foods? Are you aware of what nutrients your body is deficient in? Do you know what your body needs so that you feel your best? The truth is, that there is no one perfect cookie cutter diet for everyone.  We all have our individual needs, sensitivities, and beliefs—While mindfulness and tracking your intake can be helpful, if you need a more personalized approach in your journey to feeling better (and improving your mood!) through diet, check out our trusted partner, Sakina Bunch.  Sakina is a Holistic Coach and Wellness advocate, and can help get you back on track through personalized nutrition coaching, cooking classes, and more!

#5 Find out how holistic therapies can help you navigate the winter blues! 

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, Frequency Specific Microcurrent, reiki, and even aromatherapy can help significantly reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. By bringing the body back into balance and releasing feel-good endorphins, your mood will be lifted as will your sense of well-being. To find out more about these therapies and how they can help you, book a free 15 minute consultation with us here!

Small, consistent changes can help to boost your mood and support your overall health.  Consider putting these suggestions into action and see what improvements follow!  

The products and statements made about specific products on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. All information provided on this web site or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a guarantee that you will achieve the same results.
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