Category Archives: Detox & Detoxification

Ear Acupuncture for Weight Loss, Insomnia & Addiction Recovery

Ear Acupuncture NADA protocolEar acupuncture has a large body of scientific evidence backing its effectiveness [1][2]. This clinically proven treatment approach is an efficient method for treating a wide number of conditions including weight loss, stress-related disorders, insomnia and addiction withdrawal. Auricular acupuncture can be very effective when stopping smoking and it can be used for withdrawal from any addiction.

Ear Acupuncture Santa Monica Los AngelesAuricular Acupuncture is the term for the specialized practice of acupuncture done on the ear. The ear has a complete map of the body from head to toe, and as such, the can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Some practitioners only use ear points for treatment while others use both body and ear points to get the best results possible. In either case, it should be noted that ear acupuncture is powerful enough to be applied as a stand-alone treatment and there is ample research to support this idea. [1]

Although needles are the primary treatment method in auricular acupuncture, “ear seeds” can also be used to stimulate reaction areas on the ear. Ear seeds are used to stimulate pressure points when they are attached (with tape) to the outer surface of the ears. The advantage of ear seeds is that they continue to produce an effect over the course of 2 or more days. These seeds are tiny pellets (vaccaria seeds) are applied on a small piece of tape to the ear. Using the ear map, seeds are placed in the area of the ear that best treats the patient’s condition.

One of the advantages of auricular acupuncture is how easily it integrates into a wide range of settings from hospitals to emergency clinics. Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) is an American group that uses ear acupuncture to provides support when traumatic events occur. AWB provided trauma care for both relief workers and victims after Hurricane Katrina and in St Vincents Hospital in Manhattan in 2001. Ear acupuncture treatments are easily given while people are seated and fully clothed, making it an ideal treatment method when resources are limited.

Patients receiving auricular treatment do not have to wait long to experience the benefits. A relaxation response generally occurs within minutes! Post-treatment surveys show increased mental clarity, reduced stress, improved sleep quality, reductions in pain, and lower anxiety.

Cupping Therapy – Questions and Answers

Cupping Therapy is an increasingly popular treatment that can have big benefits for muscle pain and tension. Eric Schmidt, LAc was recently interviewed by a major Los Angeles publication on the topic of cupping. After the interview, the publisher was nice enough to allow us to re-print the answers on our website. Enjoy!

Q: Please describe the process in your own words. cupping-acupuncture-therapy-santa-monica

At its core, cupping is a massage in reverse. Instead adding pressure to muscles and connective tissue (as in massage), cupping creates expansion and space in the tissues and promotes blood flow.
The key to a good cupping session is: a.) large glass cups, b.) a flaming cotton ball and optionally c.) massage oil. For most cupping sessions, the recipient is positioned lying face down to address muscles on the back, neck or shoulders. Once the patient is lying in a comfortable position the cup is quickly warmed with a flame and then the cup is placed on the skin. Although the cup itself will not be hot, the heated air inside the cup cools quickly, the cooling effect creates vacuum in side the cup. The result is skin and the muscles underneath being pulled upward for a bit of a stretch. Each cup placement is left for 2-5 minutes, which is all that is required to get a beneficial effect. In a typical cupping session we do 2-5 placements on different muscles, depending on the size of the effected area. For most people, the experience of cupping is pretty neutral – meaning it doesn’t feel especially good or bad while the cups are on the skin. The sensation is more of a pulling or grabbing that becomes less intense the longer the cup is left in place.
After a cupping session people usually see an immediate change in muscle tension and pain. Patients often get off the treatment table and remark that it “feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders”. While the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture can take a bit longer to kick in, the relief from cupping is usually pretty immediate.

Q: Have you noticed a shift in awareness about alternative eastern medicine practices? Particularly in a younger age bracket?

Yes, definitely! The younger generation seems to be the age group most services-cupping-santa-monicainterested looking for alternatives to the established medical system. In my practice, I hear many people grumbling about their Western doctors, so there is a natural interest in finding better health care solutions.
The older generation often has the mindset where a doctor’s advice is gospel and even small decisions need to be approved by their doctor. In contrast, the younger generation feels empowered to do research make many health-related decisions themselves. This includes being more proactive in utilizing “alternative medicine” approaches, like cupping, acupuncture or herbal medicine.

Q: Have you ever had patients mention they found out about cupping through the media/via celebrity culture?

Many people know the famous event when Gwyneth Paltrow arrived up on the Red Carpet and showed off cupping marks on her shoulders. That day Gwyneth really raised the public awareness of cupping, to such a great extent that I still get asked about it frequently.
The other big media event that comes to mind was when Oprah had an acupuncturist on her TV show. I don’t think there much discussion of cupping at the time, but that episode really brought a huge amount of attention to Traditional Chinese Medicine. (fyi, Oprah’s dog also gets acupuncture)
Lastly, I recently saw a commercial for Under Armour with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. In the video there is a 3 second clip where Michael is having cupping done. That made me happy. I also happen to know that the Chinese Olympic swim team incorporates cupping therapy into their training plan.

Q: Why do you think it’s become more visible in the entertainment industry?

Although I live in Los Angeles I know very little about the entertainment industry. However, I do get the sense that there is more media coverage of cupping and acupuncture in general. If I had to guess why, I would say that:
a.) The medicine is becoming more accessible and less intimidating as non-Chinese practitioners, like myself, offer cupping and acupuncture.
b.) Cupping works. As more people try cupping for their muscle tension and have good results, they tend to tell others.

Q: What should people know about cupping?

services-cupping-therapy-santa-monicaCupping has been used traditionally in many different cultures, and not just in China. In addition to China, Japan and Korea, the Russians and Eastern European countries have a long history of cupping. In many of these countries, families will have a set of cups that are used for lung conditions (like colds) and for general aches and pains. I have also had patients from Pakistan and Northern Africa tell me that cupping was a traditional treatment method in their country.

Also, if you go to Chinatown for a cupping session there’s the standard tag-line that cupping “removes toxins” from the body. Although the “toxin theory” may have some truth, I prefer to avoid such phraseology and explain cupping in simpler terms.
My explanation for cupping is that the vacuum of the cups gives the muscles a stretch and expansion. As the local muscles are stretched and given more space, blood is pumped through the muscles and circulated through the local area. This means that cupping is addressing the two main causes of muscle tension & pain: a.) poor blood flow and b.) shortened or contracted muscles.

Q: What type of patients can best benefit from the treatment?

Cupping can work miracles on tight muscles in the upper back, shoulders and neck. The classic presentation would be the sensation of tight “knots” in the shoulders where the tension can be radiating up to the neck. These upper body areas are especially amenable to cupping therapy because the muscles involved are smaller and close to the surface of the body.
Cupping can also be helpful for low back pain, but often the muscles involved in low back pain are deeper spinal muscles where cupping on the surface of the skin cannot have as big of an effect. For deeper muscle structures, acupuncture is generally more effective. For most cases I actually combine cupping with acupuncture, but they can both be effective when used alone.

Healthy Drinking – How to Avoid a Hangover

Some studies show that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial for long-term health.  In fact, moderate drinking, defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies.  This gives us all another reason to have an occasional drink (or two) and enjoy a rich social life.  With that in mind, below are some simple ways to minimize any potential negative effects of alcohol consumption:

> Step 1: Choose a clean alcohol source with the least toxins.  Selecting an alcoholic drink wisely should mean a good time tonight and less of a hangover tomorrow.  The list below ranks alcoholic beverages in order from best (cleanest) to worst (most toxins):
=> potato vodka (least toxic), grain vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey, other distilled spirits, champagne, dry white wine, white wines, red wines, dessert wines, beer (most toxic).

> Step 2: Block the conversion of alcohol into aldehyde.  Aldehyde is the most potent hangover-causing metabolite that may also increase the signs of aging (especially in the skin).  To block this toxin take: a.) Vitamin C (250 mg), along with b.) N-Acetyl Cysteine (500 mg) before each drink.

> Step 3: If you want even more protection, add c.) Vitamin B1 (100 mg) and d.) R-Lipoic Acid (100 mg) before each drink.  Or, you can take this nutrient combo before your first and after your last drink.  For a final layer of protection you can supplement with e.) Liposomal Glutathione (2 mL).  This supplement is expensive, but very useful as one of the most powerful whole-body detoxifiers available (Bulletproof Glutathione is recommended).

> Step 4: Absorb any toxins with a binding agent.  To bind toxins in the digestive tract take 2-4 capsules of f.) Activated Charcoal after you’re done drinking.  If you chose beer or wine, you may want to take 1 capsule with each drink.  Activated charcoal works like a sponge to bind toxins, including aldehyde, in the intestines so they don’t absorb into the blood stream.

So enjoy the summer, drink in moderation, and have good tomorrow.  Cheers!

In a Bad Mood? Try These 5 Foods

There are some days that we feel angry, anxious, or just plain unhappy. Try one of these five foods to lift your spirits:

* Leafy Greens. For those down in the dumps days, the B vitamin folate can help break down homocysteine, which may be linked to depression. Other great sources of folate are beans, citrus fruits and fortified grain products.
* Turkey. To help calm your anxiety, try some tryptophan, which can help the brain produce feel-good chemicals. You can also try chicken, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds.
* Black Tea. Stress less by sipping some hot or cold black tea—it may decrease cortisol, a stress hormone. It may also improve your memory and could help get rid of headaches.
* Dark Chocolate. For women experiencing PMS symptoms, the flavonoids in dark chocolate may help get rid of crankiness. Just one more reason to treat yourself.
* Fish. To improve your brain health and help you think more clearly, the omega 3s in fish can improve the communication between your brain’s cells. Try salmon, trout, sardines, herring or anchovies.

Get More Greens!

By now, we all know that Greens are some of the healthiest vegetables around. Adding more greens to your natural health diet doesn’t just mean lettuce salads. The darkest greens from the garden are loaded with vitamins and minerals. To soften their flavors a little, add a bit of sweetness or acidity when cooking. Aromatics such as ginger, garlic or shallots also help. Check out these 5 great greens:

1. Dandelion greens: earthy, nutty flavor with a sharp, tart bite. Use them wilted in a warm salad, saute for a healthy side with caramelized onions or add to soups, frittatas, pastas and gratins.

2. Bok choy: stalks are crisp and taste similar to cabbage while leaves offer a nutty flavor. It’s great for stir fry dishes and may also be sauteed.

3. Rainbow chard: although each color has a slightly different taste, it most resembles spinach with a hint of beets. Saute for use in stuffing, egg dishes or as a topping for crostini.

4. Collard greens: mild and earthy with a nutty finish. They need to be cooked either very quickly or very slowly; the leaves are tough and must be braised or stewed to make them tender.

5. Tuscan kale: an earthy, nutty and slightly sweet taste. It’s best to braise kale in chicken broth or other liquids, drain well and saute with oil and garlic.

Spring – The Season of Renewal

Spring Season: The long-awaited change of winter to spring. Seeds sprout, flowers open, and the sun warms the earth. There is a sense of renewal, growth and new life all around.  While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, and a renewal of spirit.

The Principle of the Five Elements

The five elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Eastern philosophy. The Principle of the Five Elements (or Five Phases) describes the flow of Qi and the balance of Yin and Yang.

According to the principle, all change in the universe occurs in five distinct stages. Each of these stages is associated with a particular time of year, a specific element in nature, and a pair of organs in the body. This flow of change links together the seasons of the year, aspects of nature, and your body’s organs and bodily processes. A practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses this principle to diagnose and treat health problems, linking specific foods, herbs, and acupuncture points to the restoration of Yin, Yang and Qi.

Spring is the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation for overall health and well-being. As spring is represented by the Wood element and includes the Liver and its complementary organ, the Gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for springtime cleansing and health regimens.

  • Element: Wood
  • Color: Green
  • Nature: Yang
  • Organs: Liver, Gallbladder
  • Emotion: Anger

Liver Qi Stagnation – According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body and smoothing our emotions. Anger, irritability and frustration are all signs that our Qi is not flowing smoothly. This is referred to as Liver Qi Stagnation, one of the most common imbalances treated by TCM practitioners.  To counter-balance this, the positive qualities of a strong Liver and Wood element are: Growth, Generation, Generosity and Planning.

Put Some Spring into Your Step:

Spring corresponds to the “Wood” element, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. As mentioned above, Chinese Medicine states the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi!

Stretch – The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or tai qi.

Eye Exercises – The liver opens into the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.

Eat Green – Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants – fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses – can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.

Taste Sour – Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver’s qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle.

Do more outdoor activities – Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or take up golf.

Enjoy dandelion or milk thistle tea – Dandelion and milk thistle both help protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourage the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances.  The liver is strained by consuming items such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.

Get Acupuncture treatments – Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.  Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year can serve to balance the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. Call an acupuncturist near you to stay healthy this spring!