Saturday, June 30, 2012

Natural Treatment Options for Migraines

June is National Migraine Awareness Month - -

One of the first things I recommend to patients suffering from migraines, is to keep a migraine diary for several months to help identify triggers.   Track what you eat, when you eat,  exercise, stress levels, sleep, and symptoms.  Often, common food culprits such as chocolate and food additives are triggering imbalances which then lead to painful symptoms.  Hormonal fluctuations, weather, and stress are also common sources. 

To correct imbalances, acupuncture can be very effective.  

One of the largest studies looking at migraine prevention through acupuncture was published in the March 2006 edition of The Lancet Neurology. In this study, patients who had two to six migraine headaches per month were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

 •Traditional acupuncture.

•Sham (fake) acupuncture. In sham acupuncture, needles are inserted into areas of the skin at which no traditional acupuncture points exist.

•Preventive migraine medications (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or seizure medications).

Patients in the acupuncture groups received 10 sessions of acupuncture treatment in 6 weeks. Those who took medicines continued them throughout the length of the study. The primary outcome was the difference in migraine days between 4 weeks before the study and 23 to 26 weeks after the study began. Forty-seven percent of participants in the traditional acupuncture group experienced a reduction of migraine days by 50 percent or more.

In addition to acupuncture, there are traditional chinese herbal remedies that may also help.  It is important to work with a practitioner such as Debi that is well versed in not only acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition but she may also recommend certain testing to find the root cause of your migraines.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Name That Green!

When it's said that "variety is the spice of life," greens are no exception! 

Plants “allow” humans and animals to eat ALL of their fruits, but only PART of their leaves, because plants need to have leaves for their own use - which is manufacturing chlorophyll. Yet, plants depend on moving creatures for pollination, fertilizing the soil, and helping eat the ripe fruit. For this reason, plants accumulate a lot of highly nutritious elements in their leaves, but mix these nourishing ingredients with either bitterness or very small amounts of alkaloids (poisons) - which is why animals are forced to rotate their menu. They eat a small amount of one thing, then move on to other plants. The body is only capable of detoxifying small amounts of a great many things, but it is much more difficult for the human system to get rid of a large amount of one type of poison. This is why it’s so important for us to learn to rotate the greens in our diet.

Simply eating “lots of salads” is not truly benefiting you if you’re using the same greens over and over.  

It's important to alternate our variety of greens as much as possible. My hope is that our farmers will actually grow a larger variety of green leafy vegetables to increase our green intake. Many of the greens available in grocery stores are mostly bred from the dandelion and mustard families. Despite their names and appearances, cultivated greens have similar nutritional content. To truly meet our nutritional needs, it’s important we include greens from a number of totally different plant families into our daily diets. 

So, the next time you’re making a salad, consider adding a combination of 4 or 5 greens.  Consider adding a few of these:

Greens:   Arugula (rocket), Asparagus, Beet greens (tops), Bok choy, Celery, Chard, Collard greens, Escarole, Fresee lettuce, Goji leaves (wolfberry), Kale (3 types), Mache, Mitsuna, Mustard greens, Lettuce (all types red and green), Radicchio, Radish tops, Spinach, Romaine lettuce green and red leaf, Turnip greens, Wheatgrass

Herbs:  Basil, Cilantro, Lemon Balm, Mint, Parsley, Peppermint leaves, Spearmint

Ready to experiment a litte more the next time your shopping?  I hope so! If you have a great recipe you'd like me to share, send me an email! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

“Summertime Veggies Make Amazing Juices and Smoothies

Summertime is my favorite time of year to make smoothies and juices.  

Why? The abundance of fresh produce!  I know, but it takes so much time and effort to create the juices – why not just eat more fresh produce?  Because it’s virtually impossible to benefit from the same amount of nutrients you gain from drinking a delicious, tall glass of veggies.  Think about it.  Would you really eat the same amount of kale or spinach in one meal as you would if you drank 8 ounces?
Here’s a super tasty recipe that speeds up the metabolism and could easily become one of your favorite summertime treats:

Makes 1 quart.

1 English cucumber
1/2 head of celery
2 limes peeled
1/2 jalapeƱo pepper with seeds removed
1granny smith apple
Handful of cilantro
Beet greens from one bunch of beets
Run through the juicer and enjoy!

If you live in the Richmond Virginia area - check out our event calendar for upcoming classes on Juicefeasting, Green Smoothies and more!  On June 28th is "INTRO TO JUICEFEASTING" @ 5:30 pm EST. Check it out -

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergy


Is food intolerance the same as a food allergy?

A food allergy is when the body mistakes an ingredient in food (usually a protein) as harmful and creates antibodies to fight it. The allergy develops when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food (protein).  The severity of allergies may vary but they always carry the risk of anaphylactic shock. For this reason, foods you are allergic to must be avoided for life. The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), fish and shellfish, soy and wheat. If you are an adult, you may have discovered the allergy by accident and it most likely involved a visit to your local emergency room.

A food intolerance often turns up later in life. People are frequently surprised to discover they are lactose intolerant later in life.   The truth is, you most likely had some form of food intolerance when younger, but your body compensated for it.

One of the first symptoms of a food intolerance is your energy level.  

How often do you feel tired during the day? This one symptom alone could be a food intolerance reaction. Gas, diarrhea, bloating and headaches can all be food intolerance reactions. And because reactions can occur up to 48 hours after eating, you may not make the connection. Instead, most seek relief from symptoms by using over-the-counter medications.

Due to the pervasive low quality S.A.D (Standard American Diet) in our country, the incidence of food intolerances is on the rise.  

Many digestive problems are never fully diagnosed, and food intolerance can often be the cause.  More than 15% of Americans are now thought of to be gluten intolerant and an estimated 75% of Americans are lactose intolerant.

So how can you know for sure?

It’s called an elimination diet and more and more individuals are finding this to be a critical step in solving health issues.  Elimination diets are amazingly effective in the case of food intolerance, which irritates your digestive system or when you are unable to properly digest or break down food.

It’s important to note that food intolerance reactions tend to be activated when you eat the same foods over and over - and triggered by stress to your digestive system. Examples include a course of antibiotics to treat an infection, birth of a child, moving, finding a new job, surgery and frequent low blood sugar (i.e. letting several hours pass by without eating). These are all stresses that can cause the digestive barrier to break down and expose your immune system to commonly eaten proteins in foods.

In the past, we ate by season and did not have access to the same foods all year long, so these reactions would go away. Today, we can eat the same foods all year long, meaning we can develop reactions to the foods we eat most commonly and the reactions won’t go away.

Put simply, if you identify which foods your digestive system has difficulty tolerating, you can avoid them for a period of time and the reaction will typically go away. Unfortunately, most of us are unaware of food intolerance reactions because they become so common.

In my practice, there is a particular test I use to pinpoints these reactions.  Once informed and assessed, we work together to create a plan to eliminate these foods comfortably from your diet for a period of time. During that process, your body will reset itself.   Energy is restored, mental clarity returns and often, you notice that you’re FINALLY able to lose stubborn weight.  Yes, many use this test to lose weight, and many use it to correct a hormonal imbalance.  It is one of the best solutions to the most common ailments.  

If you are curious to learn more, make an appointment by contacting Debi Farley at 804.288.3927.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What’s The Story on Soy?

Unfortunately, there are still so many misperceptions out there about soy – especially unfermented soy.  For those of you interested in hearing a brief history and a few “myths and truths” – take a minute to read this overview:

Soy dates back thousands of years to China and Japan, when farmers planted soy beans to bring nitrogen back into the soil.  Rice is a nitrogen-depleting crop so soy was helpful and beneficial for harvesting more rice.  Soy was rarely eaten because it was so difficult to digest.

Soy made its appearance in the United States in the 1900s when Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of Kellogg Cereals, promoted its benefits and warned against eating meat. Soy became more readily consumed in World War II due to food shortages.  Shortly thereafter, soy was proclaimed a health food and the vegetarian community embraced it without knowing the difficulties that lie in ingesting unfermented soy. 

Many are surprised to learn that soy is actually one of the most genetically-modified foods in the US after corn.

The problem is that soy cannot neutralize its anti-nutrients - even through soaking and slow cooking.  Anti-nutrients are what protect the seed and plant but cause considerable problems in our ability to digest it.  So, in addition to our inability to properly digest, soy, the anti-nutrients have a negative impact on our bodies.  Here are some of the reported issues:

Phytates- can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and more

Protease inhibitors interfere with pancreatic enzymes.

Saponins can damage the intestinal mucosa

Oxalates- high amounts of this can cause kidney stones

So when consumed occasionally, soy does not pose a serious health problem but consumed regularly, you risk digestive lining damage, as well as a host of other problems.  However, it’s very important to note that digestive problems are not associated with fermented soy. 

Most common in Asian food and diets, fermented soy products like miso, wheat free soy sauce, tempeh, natto, fermented soymilk and fermented tofu have been put under the proverbial microscope in recent years and studied for potential health benefits.  Fermented soy foods can help hot flashes, reduce cholesterol, slow the progression of atherosclerosis and in some cases have been reported to be protective effect against the development of certain cancers in the body.  Fermented soy products have also been linked to an increase hyaluronic acid, which can lubricate joints and reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Men’s Health and Chinese Medicine

Did you know that men are 24% less likely than women to visit a doctor for routine care? 

With June being “National Men’s Health Month”, now is a great time for men to take charge of your health.  Yes, it may be uncomfortable to discuss prostrate, erectile dysfunction, or infertility issues, however it's in your best interest to face these issues head on.  They impact your overall health and affect importnt aspects of your life - your sex life, relationships, and physical and emotional health.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you achieve your best health.

The following are men’s conditions that can be aided through acupuncture: 

·         Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate, causing pelvic pain and urinary symptoms. Prostatitis has unknown causes, and therefore, can be difficult to treat. Symptoms include pain or burning when urinating, pain in the pelvic area and lower back, and a frequent need to urinate. Studies have shown that herbal therapies and acupuncture are effective in relieving chronic bacterial prostatitis.

·         Prostate cancer affects roughly 1 in 6 men in the United States. It is suggested that all men over age 50 get yearly screenings, as the disease responds well to treatment when caught early. Symptoms can include lower back or hip pain, blood in the urine or semen, and urinary problems. TCM and acupuncture can relieve the side effects and boost the health of men with prostate cancer.

·         Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostrate compresses the urethra. It is a very common concern and affects about 50% of men over 60. Symptoms may include difficulty starting to urinate, slowness of the urinary system, frequent urination, and the need to urinate in the middle of the night. Common treatments include medication, self-care techniques, and surgery. Acupuncture supports overall urinary system health and can help restore and rebalance.

·         Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a condition that occurs in most men at some point in their lives; however, ongoing problems may indicate a more serious issue. Causes of ED include diabetes, clogged blood vessels, and heart disease, as well as medications, anxiety, depression, and stress. Treatments include medications, medical devices, and surgery. The benefit of acupuncture is that it can boost a man’s sexual stamina.

·         Infertility usually occurs in men because of poor quality or movement or a low concentration of sperm. Acupuncture has been shown in conjunction with Western medicine to improve sperm quality and production and increase the chance of success. Acupuncture and TCM also may help both the man and woman handle the emotional stress when having difficulty conceiving.

·         Male depression can manifest itself through feelings of irritability, frustration, fatigue, loss of interest in work and social life, and sleep disturbances. Stress and anxiety can be reduced and the mind and body calmed through acupuncture.

·         Male menopause (MM) , also known as androgen decline, includes symptoms such as mood changes, depression, sexual problems, and fatigue. Herbal therapy and acupuncture can help men as they age and alleviate signs of MM.

What can you expect during your treatment?

Your practitioner will note your health history and perform an exam to determine the cause of your health concerns. A treatment plan will be designed for you to restore your body to its natural balance.

Fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific points of the body during treatment to restore the balance of energy. In addition to acupuncture, your practitioner may include nutritional and herbal remedies in your treatment plan.

To learn more about natural treatment therapies, including Chinese medicine call 804.288.3927.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Energetics of Food

Food can be measured in many ways--for its nutrition - for the experience it gives you - and the energy it creates throughout your body. You've heard it said “you are what you eat.”  Certainly, it’s true that food makes up the cells in your body, but have you ever thought the energy of food?

If we look at vegetables, we can see that they have a root, a CONNECTING point, and leafy part.  When we eat vegetable, we can enjoy similar energy.  According to Chinese principles, root vegetables grow down into the ground so we relate them to being good for the lower part of the body and helping us feel grounded.

Round vegetables have a more balanced energy supporting the center health of our body, helping us to feel steady and secure.

Leafy vegetables grow UP and OUT, nourishing the upper body and head, helping us feel inspired, light and youthful.

Here are a couple of examples of how food might impact your emotional health.

·         If you are feeling anxiety ridden, tense and need to lighten up, try adding in more leafy greens, which grow toward the sun. These foods are cleansing and provide lighter energy for the body.

·         If you are feeling unfocused, scattered and want to feel more grounded in your life, try eating root vegetables, which grow  in the ground and provide heartier, more sustainable energy than would eating a salad.

Root vegetables
Sweet vegetables
Meat, fish
Pressure Cooking
Leafy greens
Wheat, barley, quinoa
Raw foods
Gas stove cooking
Nut butters
Microwave cooking
Electric stove cooking
Factory farming
Organic foods
Whole foods
Local foods
Brown rice
Home cooking
Home gardening

It’s good to choose a balance of hearty and light foods, to maintain a delicate balance of focused, yet flexible energy.  If you’d like to learn more about the energetic qualities of certain foods and how they can directly impact your health concerns or conditions, call 804-288-3927 or email