Author: Watershed Team

The long, frustrating road to healing chronic disease

“Am I ever going to feel better?”

If you’ve struggled with a long-term illness, you may have asked yourself this question.

Maybe you’ve suffered with chronic pain, or a challenging digestive disorder, or a recurrent skin problem or some other ailment for so long, you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be well. To be ‘normal.’ Maybe somebody has told you your condition is permanent. Perhaps you’ve been given a diagnosis and told it will be with you for life. Maybe you’ve even stopped asking yourself the question if you can be well again.

There is a lot I could say about Chinese Medicine’s perspective on chronic illness. I could tell stories of miraculous cures I’ve heard from my teachers and mentors, or discuss my own successes as an acupuncturist and herbalist in treating complex diseases.

I could even talk about my own experiences as a patient, suffering from disorders that were never supposed to get better, but which did with regular treatment. But I’m not going to do any of that here.

Instead, I would like to let the tradition of this medicine speak for itself.

I am going to quote a passage from one of the world’s oldest medical texts1, a work that has guided the practice of Chinese Medicine for over two thousand years.

Here is what it says on the subject of chronic illness:

“Now, when any of the five major organ systems has an illness, it’s as if one was pierced by a thorn, or soiled by dirt, as if there were a knot, or something closed. A thorn may have pierced one for long, and yet it can be pulled out. A stain may have existed for long, ad yet it can be cleansed. A knot may have been tied for long, and yet it can be untied. A closure may have lasted for long, and yet it can be opened. If someone says an illness with a long duration cannot be removed, then that is an erroneous statement.

“Now, those who are experts in the use of acupuncture needles, when they remove an illness, that is as if they pulled out a thorn, as if they cleansed a stain, as if they untied a knot, as if they opened a closure. The illness may have lasted for long, and still it can be brought to an end. Those who state that it cannot be cured, they simply have not acquired the necessary skill.” 2

If you’re feeling hopeless about your health problems, I want you to take a minute and read those paragraphs again. Really let them sink in.

If you are suffering from a chronic illness, I want you to save that passage, and take it out and read it whenever you feel like things will never get better. Health is a journey, and sometimes, it is a long and winding one. The terrain can be rough. It may seem you are moving backwards. There may be moments when you feel lost. But progress is always possible.

As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I am here to walk that journey with you, every step of the way. I am completely committed to restoring your well-being, and I invite you to commit to the possibility of your own recovery yourself.



1 This text is called the Ling Shu (靈樞). It’s the second half of a medical treatise called the Huang Di Nei Jing (黃帝內經 ), or the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.

2  This is a paraphrased version of Paul Unschuld’s translation of the Ling Shu. The original text in Classical Chinese is:

今夫五藏之有疾也,譬猶刺也,猶污也,猶結也,猶閉也。刺雖久猶可拔也,污雖久猶可雪也,結雖久猶可解也,閉雖久猶可決也。或言久疾之不可取者,非其說也. 夫善用鍼者,取其疾也,猶拔刺也,猶雪污也,猶解結也,猶決閉也。疾雖久,猶可畢也。言不可治者,未得其術也。

The treatment of chronic pain with classical Chinese medicine

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, you‘re not alone.

Over 25 million Americans experience pain on a daily basis, and over 23 million report suffering from severe pain, according to the latest data from the National Institutes of Health.

Pain is not well managed in many cases by conventional biomedicine, which has led to a national opioid crisis among other problems.

Dealing with constant pain is tiring on its own, but throw in the challenge of trying to navigate a healthcare system that seems stacked against you, and a society that demands you justify the validity of your symptoms, and the experience becomes downright demoralizing. Let me assure you though that Chinese Medicine will never ask you to prove the credibility of your experience of pain.

treating arthritis pain with acupuncture

Our first task as practitioners is to listen to you, because it is precisely your own lived experience that will ultimately guide us to proper diagnosis and treatment. Your body has its own innate intelligence, and while pain can be overwhelming, it is also meaningful. All symptoms are messages, and when we experience pain we are experiencing the body trying to communicate something vital to us about the state of our health.

This is easy enough to understand in acute pain (which Chinese Medicine is also very successful in treating): there is damage to body structures and tissues, which makes the nervous system produce the sensation of pain. Pain is also associated with acute inflammation, part of the healing response to injuries. So we can understand pain as an alarm system for the body, warning us of danger or damage. In doing so it, our body is trying to get us to adopt behaviors that will avoid further damage and facilitate healing. If I sprain my ankle, pain should prevent me from using it, which will both prevent additional trauma and allow the injury to heal.

But in chronic pain, the relationship between tissue damage and the sensation of pain is less clear.

Pain can persist long after an initial injury when we would expect the body to have finished healing. And by itself, structural issues and tissue damage often aren’t enough to explain chronic pain. For example, recent studies of medical imaging reveal that many people who have no symptoms of back pain still have degenerative changes in their spine that show up on MRI or CT scans. This implies that structural changes and tissue damage are not in themselves sufficient to cause pain (if they were, nearly everybody over the age of forty would have debilitating back pain). So what causes chronic pain?

From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, health is a dynamic balance between the organ systems within your body, your mental and emotional life (which are intimately tied to the activity of your physiology), and the synchronization of your activity and bodily rhythms with the cycles of the natural world.

In other words, pain is an experience that emerges from complex feedback loops within our bodies and the way our bodies interact with our environment.

When the relationships between these different aspects of your life are in harmony, Chinese Medicine describes this as a state of flow. When these relationships become imbalanced, Chinese Medicine describes this as a state of blockage or obstruction. It’s a common Chinese Medicine saying that where there is obstruction, there is pain. If you suffer from chronic pain, then you understand  that this isn’t just a poetic way of speaking. Pain blocks your ability to take part in the activities you enjoy. It obstructs your freedom to move through life on your own terms.

Pain can put your life on hold.

But no matter how long you’ve felt trapped by pain, we have confidence in the body’s inherent self-healing ability. In particular, acupuncture provides us with sophisticated ways of determining where these blockages are occurring within the body, and to provide the proper stimulus for your body to overcome them, restoring a state of harmonious flow. In more biomedical language, we would describe the same process as restoring homeostasis by regulating the nervous system, optimizing the circulatory system, and modulating the immune system.

Regular acupuncture treatment results in lasting changes, and when combined with the full spectrum of Chinese Medicine, profound transformation is possible.

It’s also important to realize that symptoms of pain cannot be considered in isolation from the full context of your life. If pain is an alarm system, then trying to override it (for example, with medications or surgery) is akin to taking the batteries out of a fire alarm without trying to determine why the alarm is going off. As challenging as it can be, we must view chronic pain as an invitation to examine our lives, and ask if some part of our activity is at odds with our own well-being.

In the case of chronic pain, this is not an obviously dangerous activity, like touching a hot stove, and more likely to involve the activities that make up the rhythm of life – our habits of work and sleep, of movement and rest, our diet and even our patterns of thought and emotion. Pain is an attempt by our body to redirect our awareness toward these areas of our life, so we can make appropriate changes in support of health.

Chinese Medicine is not just a set of techniques, but a comprehensive system for attaining and maintaining health, rooted in an ecological perspective. In addition to guiding the healing process within your body, it can also offer advice and suggestions for how to synchronize our activity with the larger activity of nature. Healing from chronic pain with Chinese Medicine then is a twofold process.

With acupuncture, herbal medicine and our other tools, we can help shift how your body processes pain. And in the same way we restore flow within your body, we aim also to restore the way you flow through your life. I look forward to being your partner in that process!

Inside and out – a vital approach to chronic skin conditions

 

Having a chronic skin condition might sound like nothing more than a cosmetic issue, but if you’ve ever suffered from skin issues, you know their effects are anything but superficial. Skin problems can be heartbreaking, and they affect every aspect of your health.

Worst of all, chronic skin conditions rob you of so much…

  • Itching, burning, and other unpleasant sensations rob you of sleep and peace of mind.
  • Visible changes to your skin rob of your confidence.
  • Avoiding foods that might trigger a flare rob you of the joy of eating what you want.
  • Avoiding environmental triggers can rob you of the ease of not worrying if a common product will cause a flare up.

Conventional treatment options aren’t very encouraging.

We have antihistamines (basically ineffective), topical steroids (thin your skin over time), immunosuppressants (expensive, and with potential side effects that include cancer). And that’s pretty much it! Even if some of these therapies help control your symptoms, they’re unlikely to full resolve your problem. Stopping any of them typically cause your skin problems to flare up again, sometimes worse than before.

This isn’t surprising because none of the conventional treatments for chronic skin conditions are fixing the root of the problem. They are just suppressing your symptoms.

But what if there was another way? A natural way to heal your skin from the inside out? What if somebody could offer you a treatment that isn’t just “skin deep”, but really gets at the root of your skin issues?

Chinese Medicine offers this kind of alternative.

We don’t take a one-size fits all approach to health. We are interested in uncovering the specific causes behind your unique presentation and developing a custom treatment plan to help you achieve clear skin and optimum wellness.

Understanding your experience and symptoms are what will ultimately guide us to a proper differential diagnosis. Our treatment approach for somebody suffers from a lot of itching, for example, might differ dramatically from somebody who doesn‘t have itching. The same is true of somebody who has dry skin vs wet or weeping skin, or somebody whose skin flares up with stress vs somebody whose skin flares up in response to food.

We treat these problems differently because the different symptoms show different imbalances within your body.

One of the basic principles of Chinese Medicine is that problems deep within the body manifest at the surface—the state of the outside reflects the state of the inside. That’s why your Chinese Medicine practitioner takes your pulse, looks at your tongue, and performs other kinds of exams to make a differential diagnosis. Understanding the specific way your chronic skin condition has developed, using the science that underlies Chinese medicine, will help us craft the best treatment to help you resolve your problems.

Not just holistic, but collaborative – the Watershed Wellness approach

By providing you with the best of Holistic Esthiology and Chinese Medicine, we work on your skin problems from the inside and the outside simultaneously, so you can achieve radiant health.

Amanda Koennecke, Licensed Esthetician, can work with your skin directly, providing services like detoxification, facials, microdermabrasion, and a range of high quality natural products from Eminence Organics to help keep you looking your best. She can also provide a range of suggestions to improve your diet and lifestyle to support this work. Ultimately – the message of this approach to skin health is simple…

Beauty and health are intertwined. When things are balanced internally, that balance will be reflected externally.

Digestive health in Chinese medicine – attending to the soil

digestive tract chinese medicine digestion portland

When you have serious digestive problems, it can disrupt your whole life!

 

  • Maybe health problems have forced you to rearrange your daily routine and schedule to suit the symptoms.
  • Perhaps you dread social events centered on eating and food, because you can only tolerate certain foods, making things socially challenging.
  • Most of us hear the message that diet is the ultimate foundation of digestive health. There is always some new diet promising relief – you’ve likely tried them all. You might have gotten some relief from cutting out certain foods, but you feel like this hasn’t really solved your problem.
  • Despite your efforts, you find that you still have a very restricted list of foods. On the other hand, your friends seem to thrive on diets including all kinds of foods you’d never be able to touch!
  • Perhaps you are taking a laundry list of supplements and probiotics, but it’s not clear how much of an effect these are having.
  • Maybe you have an official medical diagnosis and you were told you will have to struggle with these issues for the rest of your life

If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, then you know well how damaging chronic digestive problems can be to the enjoyment and flow of everyday life. Having to manage all of this is exhausting, and doesn’t give you time for much else. Fortunately, there are solutions beyond just tinkering with your diet and adding another supplement.

For thousands of years, Chinese Medicine has understood the importance of the digestive system to human health. Chinese medical theory refers to the digestive organs as “the center” around which the rest of your body’s systems operate. As Chinese Medicine practitioners, we understand that when your center is strong, the rest of you is strong. When the center suffers, so does everything else. And we have time-tested methods of improving your digestive system, methods that go immediately to the source of your health issues.

Allow me to explain how our approach to digestive problems is different

shovel in soil chinese medicine digestion

Chinese Medicine likens the digestive system’s role within the body to the Earth or Soil in the natural world. Just as soil can take in fluid and seeds and transform them into verdant plant life, the digestive system can receive and transform food and drink into energy and nourishment for the body.

Let’s run with this metaphor of the digestive system as soil.

Consider planting some special heirloom seeds. You get the perfect seed, plant it, tend to the seeds carefully – a lot of work! Consider then discovering that the quality of the soil itself is poor, or has been overwhelmed by a series of droughts or floods, or was damaged through misuse of chemical fertilizers and aggressive farming techniques. Then, it doesn’t matter how potent our seeds are, or even how much we water them. They won’t be able to take root!

If we want to grow anything, we need to address the quality of the soil.

Making clearer the metaphor, planting seeds, tending and watering to them represent following a balanced whole foods diet. Taking probiotics when needed and learning more about practices like mindful eating can also relate to this tending principle. We can relate the idea of chemical fertilizers to the impacts of antibiotics or other stressors on gut microflora. We can understand the droughts and floods as the effects of other organ systems on the digestion, such as the nervous system.

What you eat does play a critical role in digestive health, but the digestive system itself needs to be functioning well enough for what you consume to be properly received. You can eat an extremely clean and healthy diet, but if you aren’t processing nutrients efficiently, this isn’t going to make much of a difference.

This is where Chinese Medicine comes in!

Regular acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine are treating your terrain, improving the quality of your soil. Another way of putting this is that optimizing your body’s ability to better assimilate what it takes in, making your gut a more inviting place for beneficial microflora, and helping to make sure that your digestive organs are working in harmony with the rest of your body by regulating the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system.

And while, yes, you should avoid triggers to your digestive system, we also want to make it so that if your body does encounter the occasional stressor, it can respond more gracefully – without setting off a cascade of uncomfortable or debilitating reactions.

Ultimately when it comes to digestion, my goal is to help to help you get back to enjoying food and everything else that life has to offer.

Why you should come to your acupuncture appointment, especially if you feel sick

Fall – it’s a splendid time. The leaves express the most outrageous color palate; the rain highlights and magnifies our experience of the colors. A stark contrast from summer, fall insists that we put on layers and protect ourselves from the change in the forecast.

Some of us just do not want to listen. We insist on wearing sandals or flip-flops; we stare reluctantly at our socks until the bitter end. Putting away our “summer gear” means that the inordinately beautiful summer months in the Pacific Northwest are over.

Others play by the rules; we bundle up immediately! Despite our practices, sometimes we are simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Amidst all its glory, fall is a time in which the variability of environmental stimuli impacts the terrain of our body – a time when we all catch colds! We do not call it “flu season” for nothing, folks!

Fall is a great time to come see your acupuncturist — whether you’re not feeling well, or if you are and want to stay that way.

Before I went to school to become an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, I managed an acupuncture clinic. Come fall, people would inevitably call the clinic and say, “I am far too sick to make it into my acupuncture appointment today! I am sorry but I need to cancel!” I always loved these calls, because it gave me the opportunity to talk to the patient about just how important their visit was that day.

I was 99.9% sure they would leave the clinic feeling far better than when they walked in.

I often said, “You can take it up with me personally, if you don’t feel better on the way out.”

I am motivated to write this blog post in the attempt to set the record straight on just how important it is for that patient to make their appointment.

Coming in for treatment when you are sick is one of the best times to get acupuncture! Here’s why.

High Resolution -4One of the most established herbal canons in Chinese medicine is titled the Treatise on Cold Damage, or the Shang Han Lun (傷寒論). One of my dear teacher’s once told me, “there are as many opinions about Chinese medicine as there are people who think about it.” That said, I will spare you specifics of this very well known herbal cannon, here. I will, however, boldly state that the Shang Han Lun is truly the premiere authority on the discussion of the each and every body’s response to external stimuli. What I mean to say is: practitioners of Chinese medicine know what to do when you’re not feeling well!

Not convinced? Let me give you some more details on colds. NOT every cold looks the same! You may know someone (yourself, or someone else) who gets colds in the same place each time. Does the cold go to the throat, or to the lungs? Does your neck hurt? Do you have body aches, fever, or both? Do you feel foggy in the head? Do you have trouble thinking? Do you notice changes in your bowel patterns? What about feeling restless? The author of this text described almost every symptom you can manifest and then clearly told us (the practitioners) what to do! Those of us who study this text, thank him regularly – I assure you.

Not only is acupuncture phenomenal for getting rid of colds, it is also remarkable at staving them off.

In fact, we can often feel a cold coming on a patient’s pulse (taken at the radial artery) long before it arrives! The point is, we will take care of your cold. We want to take care of your cold. Let us!

Fall is a great time to come see your acupuncturist — whether you’re not feeling well, or if you are and want to stay that way. We look forward to seeing you around the clinic. We wish you the best during this auspicious fall season.

Ready to fend off the flu and cold season with Chinese Medicine? Check out the schedule to make your appointment.

Move your body, move your Qi – Boosting immunity with Qi Gong

This is the latest article in our Healthbooks series for late winter 2016. To read more about the project, you can check out the first article. You can also read the second article about combating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and the third article about healthful nutrition in the winter months.

watchingthefireCozy sweaters, warming soups, radiating hearths…

Winter ’tis the season of averting chill with rooted coziness. As we settle into fewer hours of light and warmth, our bodies can gravitate towards stillness and energy stagnation.

While it’s natural to follow the rhythm of this resting season by embodying that rest and restoration in ourselves, maintaining internal warmth through gentle movement is essential. The chilled air and stillness of Winter closes pores and constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to our exterior and slowing processes throughout the body. Through the traditional Chinese practice of Qigong (pronounced “chee gong”) we can stoke our internal warmth, bolstering the immune system and keeping muscles, tendons, and digestion functioning smoothly throughout the winter season.

So what’s Qigong?

It’s a health promoting combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions that’s been around for over 4,000 years. Much like yoga, Qigong comes in myriad forms that all help circulate our energy, blood, and warmth while mindfully connecting us to our bodies. According to the National Qigong Association, regular Qigong practice can reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.

qigongThe flow of Qigong is perfect for combating winter stillness, and the technique detailed below can be added to your morning routine to wake and warm your body and mind.

QIGONG TECHNIQUE: Stimulating and Cupping the Lungs

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Lungs are closely tied to our immunity and protection from external illness. By stimulating the chest and lung channel, we help maintain circulation that supports our immune system throughout the cold and flu season.

This Qigong movement involves swinging like a pendulum – you swing your arms and body into a forward fold then back up again to standing, hands landing on your chest to create a gentle reverberation.

Step 1: Start by standing with your feet together. Your hands should rest comfortably in front of your lower abdomen in “Diamond Mudra”, which means the fingernails of your right fingertips rest on the finger pads of your left hand. The tips of your thumbs should be touching one another, ultimately forming a kind of rounded diamond shape from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your touching thumbs.

Step 2: Inhale and step your left foot to the side to create a wider stance. From here, separate your hands and create an “OK” symbol with each hand, the tip of your second finger touching the tip of your thumb. With your hands in this position, raise them to touch the angle where your chest meets each arm. Your right hand should be at your right upper chest, your left hand at your left upper chest.

Mature woman relaxing with eyes closedStep 3: Inhale deeply through your nose, look up and feel your chest expand.

Step 4: Exhale forcefully through your mouth, keep your hands in the “OK” symbol while you swing them forward and down towards your feet, bending from the waist to let your torso follow your arms to create a forward fold. Your neck should be relaxed and the top of your head pointed towards the floor. Only bend as far forward as is comfortable, and feel free to bend your knees if your hamstrings are tight.

Step 5: Once you’re fully bent forward, begin to inhale as you continue the arc of your swinging arms back up to standing, your hands landing forceful back where they started on the upper corners of your chest, still in the “OK” hand shape. It should feel like you’re gently beating on your chest and you should hear a soft, hollow thud.

Step 6: Repeat steps three through five 39 times.

Step 7: To conclude, inhale and step your feet back together, placing your hands on your belly to consolidate the energy you just stirred!

springlightFend off Winter’s chill with the warmth and flow of Qigong, and find yourself refreshed and ready for the expanding daylight of Spring!

 

 

3 Steps to Healthful Nutrition in the Winter Months

Compilation collage of fresh food with a theme of Winter vegetabThis article is the latest in our late winter Watershed Healthbooks series – this time Frankie weighs in on important nutrition during this important time of year…

This time of year can feel like a scramble in the kitchen – the end of the day seems to come sooner, there are fewer fresh vegetables and every part of us is really calling out for one thing – comfort! How can you make choices to satiate deeply and make the most of your local seasonal availability?

I am here to share some tricks to help you get through the dark days of winter with delicious ideas to keep your energy and nutrient stores on the rise!

#1 – Eat your FERMENTS – make the available veggies last with added nutritional vigor!

By fermenting your favorite vegetables, you create living food that acts as a catalyst for heightened immune function, better digestive health and appetite regulation. In addition, because fermented foods are pre-digested by our microbial friends, the nutrients are more readily available for absorption – getting more bang for your input! Whether you choose to buy your fermented veggies or you take the leap to explore your own fermentation frenzy, the benefits to your overall health will keep those winter colds and infections at bay as you help your gut … help you.

Basic Sauerkraut Recipe
Fermentation time: 7-14 days
Makes: 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • Half of a 2 lb green cabbage
  • 1 ½ T coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp caraway

Preparation

  1. Cut the cabbage in half. You’ll only be using half for this recipe, unless you decide to double it. Toss the cabbage into a very large bowl.
  2. Now, add the salt. With clean hands, start to scrunch the cabbage. You have to get aggressive here because you’re trying to break down the cells in the veggies and (with the help of the salt) draw out the moisture. This takes at least 5 minutes of scrunching and squeezing. If there’s not a lot of moisture after that time, add more by making some brine (salt water) with 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of water.
  3. Add a tsp of caraway.
  4. Pack the veggies into a wide-mouth quart-sized Mason jar. Really push them down. The veggies should come up to about the shoulder of the jar. If there is not at least an inch of liquid covering the veggies, add some brine to cover.
  5. Screw on the quart jar lid tightly. Open the jar daily to release gases and make sure veggies stay submerged in the liquid. If the level of liquid drops then add more brine. Ferment to your desired taste.
  6. Move to the refrigerator and make sure it stays submerged to keep from molding. Will keep for several weeks (or months).

#2 – Add CIRCULATION through your spices

Bring more spice into your life with a few go to ingredients that are sure to circulate your blood flow, warm your insides and keep your energy awake during the chilly months! Here are a few favorites : ginger (fresh or dried), garlic, nutmeg, rosemary, turmeric, cinnamon, star anise, cumin, coriander, pepper, cloves, caraway seed and fennel seed.

Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup (borrowed from Rebecca Katz)

Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced small
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 6 cups Classic Magic Mineral Broth or store bought organic vegetable broth
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce cans), rinsed
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Grade B maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onions, fennel, celery, and a pinch of salt and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potato and carrot and sauté another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, coriander, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and saffron and stir for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  3. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pot, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Spritz the chickpeas with lemon juice, add a pinch of salt, and stir, then add to the pot.
  5. Add the remaining 5 1/2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Ladle 4 cups of the soup into a blender and process for 1 minute or until velvety smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into the soup and cook over low heat, just until heated through.
  7. Stir in 4 teaspoons of lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper.
  8. Taste; you may want to add a pinch of salt, a drop or so of maple syrup, or a squeeze of lemon juice.
  9. Served garnished with the cilantro.

#3 – Stay HYDRATED – tea, broth, soups & warm water help beat the thirst even when the heat isn’t around to remind us!

Don’t be fooled, dehydration happens year round and can often sneak up on us in the cooler months. With less sun, we often reach for more caffeine or sugars to lift our energy levels, which actually leads to further depletion of your much needed reserves. After all, hydration is an essential requirement for nearly every normal function of the body – from sleep to poop and everything in between. Revive your energy stores and keep them building by diversifying your liquids.

Try to avoid drinking cold or icy water during this time of year as it can dampen your digestive fire. Instead, drink teas and warm broths throughout the day to stoke your digestion and hydrate your health. Bone broth is an especially magical addition to your wintertime nourishment as it attracts digestive juices, contains many of our essential amino acids, strengthens the immune system and soothes the nervous system.

Simple Homemade Chicken Bone Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of bones per quart of water or 1 whole chicken (include the neck and giblets – separate the liver)
  • Vegetables rough chopped or in whole pieces (carrot, leek, celery)
  • Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt & Peppercorns
  • Pouch of herbs (optional)

Directions

  1. If there is a lot of meat on the bones, roast them first for flavor
  2. Place the bones or the whole chicken in a medium pot and add water to cover
  3. Mix in the splash of Apple Cider Vinegar and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour
  4. Bring the pot up to a boil
  5. Immediately, reduce to a simmer
  6. Skim the foam off the top, leaving the fat
  7. Add the vegetables
  8. Add salt
  9. Allow to simmer for 3-5 hours
  10. Strain either through a colander or cheesecloth – depending on the desired clarity
  11. Allow to cool completely before putting the lid on your container
  12. Broth will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator or in the freezer for 3 months

Sleep, The Ripple in Your Affect?

nutrition digestive health sleepLast week I received wonderful news from a client.

She informed me that she was sleeping through the night for the first time in … DECADES! This was one of the main motivators for seeking out help from a nutritionist.

Sleep? May seem unlikely for the field of nutritional therapy but actually is a matter that trickles into digestive health, diet and cravings quite a bit. Sleep is a huge indicator and in some ways becomes a road map towards optimal health.

Really, sleep comes first.

Before we talk about balancing the diet, eating more veggies, trying the newest superfood – I want to address sleep. I want to know how you are sleeping? How much? How often you wake and when? If sleep isn’t stable then chances are nothing else is going to stick. I could throw a ton of awesome recipes, meal ideas and exercise routines at you but without dependable sleep chances are changes won’t stick. Especially, when it comes to overall feelings of wellbeing and weight loss. And this is what I want for my clients – I want the changes we make to stick.

I want the feeling of optimal health to become a familiar one.

Studies show that up to 80 million Americans struggle with sleep problems that are ignored or unaddressed by their physician. Why? No one is asking or taking the time to unpack the problem that they are facing every day. This is a quarter of our population, that could be helped through simple lifestyle and dietary shifts. And chances are that whatever ailment or issue people are struggling with in their waking life – it is getting a foothold because their sleep is no longer replenishing the body.

We are such creatures of habit and our patterns can become so normalized that not sleeping for say…DECADES … can become something that is expected instead of a sign that something needs to change! Take it as an invitation…or better yet give yourself permission to prioritize your sleep! It is truly the ticket to experiencing the rewards of all you already do for your health!

Why prioritize? The magic of sleep …

#1 – Helps your body detoxify

The thing about detoxification is that there is a really simple side to flushing out toxins. How about being a resting vessel, simply holding space for the organs to do what they do best? Not to be underestimated! The deep reside in restful sleep gives the filters of the body – liver, kidneys, spleen – a chance to work efficiently and effectively to cleanse the body.

#2 – Allows the body to make best use of insulin production.

When your insulin is functioning optimally fatty acids and lipids are removed from your blood stream and there is less storage of these in places that we don’t want – like the liver. Just 4 days of sleep deprivation start a cascade of insulin disruption.

#3 – Rest your brain!

It needs a break too – from the stress, constant decision making, lists, anxieties. When we have a full night’s rest we are able to wake refreshed, ready for the day’s many thoughts. Most of all we are prepared to make healthy decisions that truly fuel us, instead of reaching for things that are filling a deficit.

#4 – Enhance your metabolism and nourish your immune system.

Just like your filters and your brain, the complex interworkings of the digestive system need a break too. Cellular regeneration in the digestive tract allows for more nutrient absorption and therefore more nutrient delivery to the far reaches of the body. Since most of the immune system lives in the mucous membrane of the intestines, sleep really encourages healthy and happy immune function.

It is possible to be doing all the “right” things with our diet, but without sleep it is like working against the body’s natural rhythms.

#5 – Reduce cortisol (stress hormone!) production.

Wake feeling replenished without the undercurrent of stress swimming through the body. Disrupted sleep increases the amount of cortisol in the body, which decreases the production of growth hormone. Growth hormone is the body’s natural anti-aging defense and also helps efficiently process our fat intake.

Ready for the weight of exhaustion to take a hike? Is it getting in the way of your path towards better healthy and well being?

Give yourself permission to prioritize your sleep!

Summertime Salad Recipe

Summertime Salad with Za’atar
by Frankie Leigh Niwot, Nutritional TherapistSumac

This is a special twist on a summertime salad stocked full of fresh vegetables and some
of my favorite summertime herbs – mint and parsley. This salad is topped with Za’atar, a
unique blend of herbs and seeds that is based in sumac – a little known and seldom used
spice that offers many healing qualities to our digestive system. Sumac grows wild in the
Mediterranean region and is at the heart of many Arabic recipes. Dried and ground, this
berry gives a lemony taste while holding onto its nutty texture. These power packed
berries are high in anthocyanin antioxidants that increase circulation as well as reducing
our risk of cancer and other free radical damage in the body. Sumac is also used as an
herb for helping with digestive upset and is thought to have antimicrobial effects as
well! I’ll take a sprinkle of that on just about anything! Blend this magical berry with high
quality and abundant local veggies – and you are living the summertime daydream!

To make this salad resemble a more traditional Fattoush salad, make good use of stale
bread or add oiled and grilled pita to the mix. Crumbled flaxseed crackers also do the
trick while adding more nutrient density. With or without these crunchy additions, the
salad is a delight! Enjoy and happy summer!

Summertime Salad
inspired by Sarah Britton @ My New Roots

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium cucumbers, with skins
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 large red onion
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¾ cup chopped mint
  • optional raw flax crackers or grilled pita

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • ¼ cup juice of a lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • a couple pinches of sea salt and black pepper

Za’atar Sprinkles

  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup sumac
  • 2 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano

Preparation:

1. Dice cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, red and green onions into bite-sized pieces.

2. Using just the leaves, wash and spin dry herbs. Chop. Add to veggies and place in

a large bowl.

3. Place dressing ingredients in a jar with lid and shake. Pour dressing over salad

and let set for 30 minutes before serving

4. Before serving, sprinkle za’atar and optional crackers on the salad

5. Save remaining za’tar in a glass jar in a cool, dark place.