Monday, July 30, 2007

Got Milk?

I have lots of great articles I've written that I want to share with you, but I keep getting timely and fabulous information in my email that is important, too!

Today I'm posting the article from Jon Barron's Baseline of Health newsletter because nutrition is so important to overall health, and good health helps you cope better with stress. You may subscribe to the free email newsletter by visiting the Baseline of Health Foundation website.


Got Milk? By Jon Barron, Baseline of Health

This week we're going to take a break from our series on the cardiovascular system and discuss a dairy study released earlier this month. According to the results of the study conducted out of the University of Cardiff in the UK and as promoted in media throughout the world, drinking a pint of milk a day may protect men against diabetes and heart disease.

The Study

The 20-year study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, analyzed how the rates of metabolic syndrome were affected by dairy consumption.

Metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome) is a cluster of conditions including obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides that increase the risk of heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is said to be the fastest growing disease entity in the world. On the other hand, although it does predict vascular disease and diabetes quite powerfully, it is probably not a true syndrome and should be thought of more as an elaborate risk formula—increasing the risk of death by some 50%.

The background
According to the study, which tracked 2,375 men between the ages of 45 and 59 over a 20 year period, eating dairy products reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome. The more they consumed, the lower the risk. At the start of the study, 15% had metabolic syndrome and had almost double the risk of coronary artery heart disease and four times the risk of diabetes of those without the syndrome. But the researchers found that men were 62% less likely to have the syndrome if they drank a pint or more of milk every day and 56% less likely to have it if they regularly ate other dairy products.

The more dairy products the men consumed, the less likely they were to have the syndrome.

The reality

In fact, although the study tracked a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome with increased dairy consumption, it found little actual correlation between dairy consumption and the incidence of diabetes itself. There were only 7 more cases of diabetes among the lowest consumers of dairy versus the highest. The incidence of heart disease was not tracked.

Also, people who had diabetes at the start of the study were excluded from the results so that we don't know if their condition improved or deteriorated while drinking milk. That would be significant information in determining the overall health value of dairy when it comes to metabolic syndrome.

Why it means nothing

There are a number of problems with the study, but let's start with the two most obvious.

  1. What were the non milk drinkers drinking?
  2. What does drinking milk say about the overall diet of the participants?

If not milk, what?

The study only references the amount of milk and dairy products people were consuming— nothing else—not, for example, what else they were drinking or eating. The simple fact is that people only drink so much liquid in a day. If they're drinking more milk, they're drinking less of something else. Conversely, if they're drinking less milk, they're drinking more of something else. If that something else is soda pop or sugared energy drinks, that's a problem. Each ounce of soda contains almost a teaspoon of sugar, usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup. That's a major factor in the onset of metabolic syndrome. Tea and coffee drinkers don't necessarily escape scot-free either. Six cups of coffee a day with 2 teaspoons of sugar in each cup still works out to 40 lbs (18.4 K) of sugar a year.

In other words, the so called health benefits attributed to milk in the study may have nothing to do with milk at all. They may instead be a reflection of lowered consumption of more harmful highly-sugared beverages.

Overall diet

A question that occurs to me is: why are men in their forties and fifties drinking milk every day? Is it because they want something to drink with their cookies and cake at lunch like children (probably not), or is it because they are making what they consider to be a conscious health choice (even if misguided)? If so, what does that say about the rest of their diet? We know that people who drink lots of soda pop also tend to be high consumers of fast foods and snack foods. In fact, they're usually sold in tandem, not only in fast food restaurants (KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, for example, are owned by Yum! Brands, a spin-off of PepsiCo) but also in grocery store power aisles. So if the drinking of milk was the result of an attempt by some of the participants to avoid fast foods and sodas, were those men also more likely to have eaten whole grain foods and fresh produce as opposed to fast foods and sugared snacks? We know that fast food diets are more likely to contribute to the onset of metabolic syndrome, and that whole foods are more likely to keep it at bay? It sounds likely that the men drinking milk were eating an overall better diet, but the study doesn't tell us either way. In any case, without that information, the study is meaningless. You could probably come up with the same results (maybe even better) by doing a survey on how much water the men drank— the more water, the lower the incidence of metabolic syndrome.

Heck, why didn't the researchers just cut to the chase and ask about the participant's sugar intake in foods and beverages?

What do we actually know?

When it comes to dairy, we actually know quite a lot. For example:

Then, of course, all the Cardiff study looked at were the triggers for Metabolic Syndrome. Perhaps milk is implicated in other problems such as cancer, allergies, arthritis, infection, and toxicity. And it is!

In Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, I talk about a number of the health problems associated with dairy consumption. Those are actually only highlights; there's much more. First of all, the following two sites might be of interest.

To summarize some of the things that you will find there, there are many, many problems associated with consuming dairy. Many of these are probably conditions you are already noticing in your own body—particularly those that relate to allergies, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. For example:

  • Galactose - Ovarian cancer rates parallel dairy-eating patterns around the world. The culprit seems to be galactose, the simple sugar broken down from the milk sugar lactose.
  • Pesticides - concentrate in the milk of both farm animals and humans. A study by the Environmental Defense Fund found widespread pesticide contamination of human breast milk among 1,400 women in forty-six states. The levels of contamination were twice as high among the meat-and-dairy-eating women as among vegetarians.
  • Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria - Joseph Beasley, M.D., and Jerry Swift wrote in The Kellogg Report (The Institute of Health Policy and Practice, 1989) that even "moderate use of antibiotics in animal feed can result in the development of antibiotic resistance in animal bacteria - and the subsequent transfer of that resistance to human bacteria."
  • Vitamin D Toxicity - Heavy consumption of milk, especially by small children, may result in vitamin D toxicity. Records show that dairies do not carefully regulate how much vitamin D is added to milk. (Milk has been "fortified" with vitamin D ever since deficiencies were found to cause rickets.) A study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (April 30, 1992) showed that of forty-two milk samples, only 12 percent were within the expected range of vitamin D content. Testing of ten infant formula samples revealed seven with more than twice the vitamin D content reported on the label; one sample had more than four times the label amount.
  • Growth Hormones - Recently, cows have started to receive growth hormones to increase their milk production, although the long-term effects on humans are unknown.
  • Casein - Perhaps the biggest health problem with cow's milk arises from the proteins in it: Cow's milk proteins damage the human immune system. Repeated exposure to these proteins disrupts normal immune function and may eventually lead to disease. Cow's milk contains many proteins that are poorly digested and harmful to the immune system. Fish and meat proteins are much less damaging, while plant proteins pose the least hazard.

Removing dairy from the diet has been shown to shrink enlarged tonsils and adenoids, indicating relief for the immune system—even more so if you are lactose intolerant.

Similarly, doctors experimenting with dairy-free diets often report a marked reduction in colds, flu's, sinusitis and ear infections. In addition, dairy is a tremendous mucus producer and a burden on the respiratory, digestive and immune systems.

  • Colic and Ear Infections - One out of every five infants in the United States suffers bouts of colic. Another common problem among infants receiving dairy, either directly or indirectly, is chronic ear infections. You just don't see this painful condition among infants and children who aren't getting cow's milk into their systems.
  • Allergies, Asthma and Sinus Problems - Poorly digested bovine antigens (substances that provoke an immune reaction) like casein become "allergens" in allergic individuals. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergy, often revealed by diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. Many cases of asthma and sinus infections are reported to be relieved and even eliminated by cutting out dairy. The exclusion of dairy, however, must be complete to see any benefit.
  • Arthritis - Antigens in cow's milk may also contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. When antibody-antigen complexes (resulting from an immune response) are deposited in the joints, pain, swelling, redness and stiffness result; these complexes increase in arthritic people who eat dairy products, and the pain fades rapidly after patients eliminate dairy products from their diets.
  • Childhood Anemia - Cow's milk causes loss of iron and hemoglobin in infants (one reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants not drink cow's milk) by triggering blood loss from the intestinal tract. Some research also shows that iron absorption is blocked by as much as 60 percent when dairy products are consumed in the same meal.
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Lung Cancer - A 1989 study in Nutrition and Cancer linked the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with the consumption of cow's milk and butter. High levels of the cow's milk protein beta-lactoglobulin have also been found in the blood of lung cancer patients, suggesting a link with this cancer as well.

Concluding that dairy is good for you while ignoring these issues hardly makes sense.

Incompletely digested large dairy proteins, such as casein, become antigens (substances that provoke immune reactions) once they enter the bloodstream in individuals who are sensitive to them. Plus, the milk you buy in the store is not raw milk. If you must drink milk, be smart about your choices:

  • Raw organic, if you can find it, avoids many of the problems—but presents health issues of its own unless you can be sure of the source.
  • Organic pasteurized is better than non-organic, but because of the heat used in pasteurization, it presents significantly higher allergy problems than raw.
    I do not recommend non-organic, pasteurized, homogenized dairy products under any circumstances.
  • And while whey eliminates the casein problem, it still contains the two main allergenic proteins, alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactaglobulin— the two most heat sensitive proteins.
  • Soy milk, of course, is not an effective alternative, since it is high in allergens itself, blocks the absorption of important minerals such as calcium, and contains high levels of phytoestrogens, which although beneficial in moderate amounts, can be counter-productive in large amounts— particularly for children.

Raw Milk

  • Are there any health benefits to drinking raw milk? According to the FDA, no. And if all you measure are protein and fat content and added vitamin D, they are correct. But if you consider that pasteurization involves heating milk to approximately 1450 Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or longer and therefore kills all enzymes and beneficial bacteria in the process, then the answer is not so obvious. Heating the milk to pasteurize it "denatures" dairy proteins making some of them much more allergenic than they are in their natural state. Consider that many cases of asthma and sinus infections are reported to be relieved, and even eliminated, by simply cutting out dairy. And if you toss in the fact that pasteurization makes calcium insoluble and unavailable to the body (a key reason countries with the highest pasteurized dairy consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world), the health benefits swing decidedly in favor of raw milk.
  • Can raw milk become contaminated? Yes, absolutely—but not often. Most raw milk dairies tend to run extremely clean operations because of the liability issues. And keep in mind that in this recent outbreak only 8 illnesses were reported. We see far more E. coli contamination in meat each year than in raw dairy—even as a percentage of users. And in fact, we regularly see contamination of pasteurized dairy too, but the FDA never seems to propose that people stop eating meat and pasteurized dairy. It seems raw milk just doesn't have a big enough lobby supporting it.

So am I advocating drinking raw milk?

Not necessarily. I still have issues with some of the proteins in dairy that tend to trigger allergic reactions, whether that dairy is raw or pasteurized. But if you are going to drink milk, raw organic milk is a healthier option than the pasteurized, homogenized moo-cow juice you find in the supermarkets.


I know that peer reviewed studies are the sine qua non of the medical world, but in reality many of them are so much less than they appear. As I have repeatedly pointed out in the past, you can get a study to prove any point you want—even contradictory points. And once a flawed study is published, it's then cited by other studies over and over again, until utter nonsense becomes incontrovertible "fact." Here are some examples.

Bottom line, when it comes to the current dairy study, pay no attention; it's decidedly flawed.


Premium versions of Jon's formulas are available at

The information provided in this newsletter is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information in this newsletter for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.

© 2007 by The Baseline of Health Foundation. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

12 Ways to Stay on Top of Stress

Since we seem to be about numbers this week, here is a reprint from Gabby's Guide to Health and Fitness about 12 ways to get the better of stress before it gets the better of you!

12 Ways to Stay on Top of Stress by Gabrielle Reece

Monday, April 16, 2007

You know how you have those weeks (or maybe months or years) that just seem to be loaded with stress? I know it's all relative -- one person's stress is another's holiday. People with two children think having just one child is a piece of cake, and so on. I've had one of those weeks -- I've been on the road a lot and dealing with an injury, work hasn't been going my way, and my three-year-old has been possessed by an alien. And I'm not talking about a friendly alien that wants to know what this planet is all about -- no, I am talking about someone who wants to launch a full-scale assault, but only in public places. To be honest, this stress has even made it more challenging to relate to my husband in a free-and-easy "girlie" way. I've had more tones of "wife" in my voice during this past week than I've had in my entire 11-year relationship.

It takes a million years for one gene to change in our bodies. One million years! I'm bringing this up because, physiologically, we're the same humans we were 300 years ago. But look at how things have changed in that short time. Some things make life easier now: washers and dryers, transportation, abundance of food, electricity, etc. But some things make life today more insane: cell phones, traffic, increased population, fake food, TV, busy schedules. I heard a statistic from a doctor-friend that we make more decisions in one day than people used to make in a year. No wonder we're stressed out and reaching for doughnuts or alcohol to cope.

All this craziness and high-speed living isn't going away. Since we can't change our genes, we have to create a map to navigate this crazy life. What can you do to try and stay on top of the stress so it doesn't affect your health, happiness, or waistline?

1. Exercise. Amen for endorphins. Believe me, they've helped me many days with my perspective. If you have to work out, then go take a brisk walk and get that blood flowing. It isn't about working out to lose weight -- it's about being healthy and staying sane.

2. Eat the real stuff. Crappy food (fast, processed, and loaded with sugar) doesn't help your chemical brain and body handle stress. Living food, real food, helps support your mind and body while it's trying to deal with the million things coming its way. Every time I reach for the chocolate, I'm looking to feel something from it. Don't get me wrong -- if it's just a little here and there because I enjoy the taste of it, great. But if I'm using it the minute I feel overwhelmed, then that's when that food is no longer OK to eat. It doesn't make the problem go away, and then I just feel bad about eating the food to pacify myself. Grab green food instead. Put things in your mouth that are going to support your immune function and keep you levelheaded.

3. Notice. Try not to let the stress overtake you. Recognize the situations that cause the stress and notice them coming your way. You have a better shot at fending off the full effects of the stress when you can anticipate it.

4. Get it off your chest. Talk to a friend or partner about the stress. Sometimes just getting it off your chest can help unload some of the burden.

5. Keep your sense of humor. If you do have the chance to talk about it, try to see the irony and humor in the wacky bits. I think someone is dead in the water once they lose their sense of humor.

6. Stay grateful. My daughter has large lungs and verbal skills she likes to display. Just when I start to wishfully think about her being quiet, I remind myself to be grateful that she can talk to me at all. In almost all of our problems are boatloads of blessings. "Oh, I don't feel like going to the gym." Well, Amen that you have the means and the health to even be able to wrestle with the idea of going to work out. Make a habit of saying thank you. You will notice the sunny spots a lot more often, and not just the gray skies and storms.

7. Ask, "What's the hurry?" Have some fun. We're always so busy going somewhere, we miss just enjoying the moment. If an opportunity comes your way to do something fun, take it.

8. Take a deep breath. When you feel the stress getting to you, take a moment. Get away, even if it's just for an hour, to be with yourself and your thoughts. Some people like to take a walk, meditate, lock themselves away in a beautiful bath, or go to church. Find the peace and the silence.

9. Keep it simple. Simplify where you can. Does Junior really need to be in 78 activities at the age of 5? Do you have to go to every little party or gathering you're invited to?

10. Turn of the TV. A lot of it is bad news anyway, and it robs us of hours that we could use to be getting other things done. Since everyone complains that they have no time, get some by unplugging from the tube.

11. Sleep. If you're rested, you have a better shot at handling things. Not to mention, you may not stress out as easily if you have a chance to recover at night.

12. Drink water. I have said it before: Americans consume 21 percent of their calories through liquid consumption. Hydrate with water. Help you entire system function better just by drinking enough water. Oh, and by the way, if you don't think that weight loss and proper hydration have a relationship, think again. Shift the paradigm on its side -- don't think about exercise and nutritional eating just as something you have to suffer through to get into those jeans. Instead, think of them as armor that will protect you in this crazy world, with all of the bazillion details you deal with every day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Eight Random Facts About Yours Truly

Seems as though I've been posting about eights so much (the Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong) that other eights are finding me, too!

Dr Breus at The Insomnia Blog has tagged me, so here are eight random things about me….

1. I was born on a Labor Day and also gave birth on a Labor Day.

2. I love science fiction and have been reading it since age 12.

3. Related to 2, one of my most prized possessions is a first edition of Isaac Asimov's first published novel Pebble In the Sky.

4. (Before moving to the northwest) I earned several ribbons for crochet and embroidery at the New York State Fair.

5. I'm tone deaf and can't sing to save my life.

6. I've lived in four houses in my life, and each of the house numbers, if you keep adding the numbers together until you get a single digit, reduce to 4: 211, 229, 715, and 1660. (i.e. 2+1+1=4; 2+2+9=13, 1+3=4; etc.)

7. I walk my talk and really do live a holistic life and lifestyle as much as possible.

8. After smoking cigarettes for 34 years, I quit in 2005. If you are trying to quit smoking, don't give up! Keep trying, and if you need help, find a product that will help you quit….not every product works for every person, but if you keep looking you will find the one that works for You!!!

There…probably more about me than you ever wanted to know!

I'll tag Charlsie at Manifesting Universe , Amit at The Power of Choice, Caroline at Earth Friendly Gardening, and Geraldine at Veggies, Crafts, and Tails.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Genetically modified or engineered food: is it safe?

Quoted below are two articles, one from and a short excerpt from a longer article from Sustainable Times Webzine.

My own comments and a couple of questions I'd like to see answered – without deception and lies – by the scientific community are at the close.


New "Discovery" -- Gene Theory Flawed

The human genome may not be a collection of independent genes with each sequence of DNA linked to a single function. Instead, new findings indicate that genes operate in a complex network, and interact with each other in ways that are not yet fully understood.

The idea that genes operate independently is the basis for much of the thought, as well as the economic and regulatory structure, that governs the biotech industry. When recombinant DNA was invented in 1973, scientists believed that genes were associated with specific functions, and that therefore a gene from any organism could fit predictably into a larger design. In the United States, the Patent and Trademark Office allows genes to be patented on the basis of this idea.

These new discoveries raise questions not just about patent law, but also safety issues. Risk assessment of commercial biotech products such as genetically engineered crops to pharmaceuticals is also based on the “one gene, one function” theory. A network of interacting genes can produce unknown, and unpredictable, effects.

New York Times July 1, 2007 (Registration Required)

Dr. Mercola's comments:

It’s long been presumed that genes in the human body operate independently of one another. The first biotech company was founded on this premise, and the entire $73.5-billion biotechnology industry as we know it today still adheres to this basic principle.

But anyone who is aware of the biotech industry’s tendency to put profits ahead of safety will not be surprised to learn that the principle is completely wrong.

In fact, it’s been known for years that genes in other organisms operate as part of a network. Despite this, researchers only translated this knowledge to humans in June, when they reported being “surprised” to learn that the human genome is not a “tidy collection of independent genes”, but a complex interacting network instead.

However, safety studies for biotech products, including genetically modified (GM) foods, pharmaceuticals and more, have all been based on the flawed independent gene theory. Now that gene “network effects” have been acknowledged, it’s clear that biotech products could produce any number of unknown effects.

Jack Heinemann, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand put it quite well when he said, “The real worry for us has always been that the commercial agenda for biotech may be premature, based on what we have long known was an incomplete understanding of genetics.”

This is likely to be just the beginning of the dangerous revelations that will come surrounding GM foods, prescription drugs and other biotech products, and their vastly unknown impacts on your health.

This brings home what many people have known for some time: the effects of genetic modification on the environment and on your health are unexplored territory. GM foods in particular are a massive experiment on a scale never before seen in the history of the human race.

You are an involuntary guinea pig in this risky experiment. More than 75 percent of the processed foods you eat contain GM foods, without labeling and without warning. All the more reason for you to stay away from processed foods as often as you can, and seek out local sources for healthier whole foods.


Below is a short excerpt showing the dangers to the environment from genetically modified crops from an article titled "The Biotech Harvest" by Stephen Leahy published on the website of The Sustainable Times Webzine ~Michelle

Escape of the Gene Genie

One of the most contentious issues is pollen. The pollen from GM crops contains the plant's unique genetics. As any allergy sufferer can tell you, pollen is highly mobile, blowing in the wind - or spread by insects.

This pollen can and has landed on receptive wild plants, transferring those unique genetics. This is the so-called 'superweed scenario,' where a weed becomes resistant to herbicides or insects. Only three years ago scientists believed this would be so rare an occurrence as to rule it out as a significant risk. But when actual studies were done, it turned out that some GM plants are particularly adept at transferring their genes to wild relatives.

In 1997, Tony Huether planted three different herbicide-resistant canola crops in three different fields at his farm near Sexsmith in northern Alberta. Two years later all his fields spontaneously produced canola plants that were resistant to all three herbicides. [This is very shocking….it's like having three of your children from separate births suddenly mutate into biological triplets! ~ Michelle] Natural cross-breeding had quickly produced something genetic engineering hadn't. Huether no longer grows GM canola.

If resistance to plant viruses is accidentally transferred to weeds, it could create havoc for farmers - and for natural ecosystems.


Michelle here….

I cannot believe that anyone, especially a scientist, believes the ridiculous notion that there is any part of a biological system, human or plant-life, that operates independently of the other systems in that body. You need only look at the debilitating side effects caused by most prescription medications to know that the systems in a human body are fully integrated, and when one is adversely affected, the others topple like dominoes.

Also, I do not believe this knowledge of the interdependence of genetic material is a "new discovery." I think someone let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and the scientific community simply can no longer deceive the public or try to hide the truth: that they have absolutely no idea how the DNA will interact within the products they are altering, and they have no clue as to what they are ultimately creating through the genetically modified crops being produced.

Calling it "Frankenfood" may be putting it mildly!

Through normal interaction, the DNA "spliced" together in one product could transform or mutate into something completely different or unexpected, and it would not be known or identified until ten, twenty, thirty years later when the "fallout" from this experiment causes chronic disease or medical conditions as asbestos did, as the drug DES given to some pregnant women did in causing cancers to develop in their adult daughters and sons, as it is suspected that the hormone rBGH does in our milk.

Here is another very troubling thought: doctors say that many human cancers are due to a person's genetic predisposition. However, people managed to live for thousands of years without half the men and one-third of the women (the most recent figures for the U.S. population from the National Cancer Society) likely to contract cancer.

The questions I want answered are these:

Is it possible that the products we consume in forced ignorance of their genetic alterations could have altered our DNA?

Could it be that the genetically modified foods are a contributing factor to our "genetic predisposition" with cancer as the result?

I believe the answer to both those questions is "Yes."

It is unconscionable that the FDA is not insisting, and the producers are resisting, the labeling of genetically modified products. Demand to be an informed consumer.

Start here:

Average Customer Review:
based on 25 reviews.

Update: Read my review of Seeds of Deception

Monday, July 23, 2007

Baduanjin qigong: Pericardium and Triple Burner Channels

Supporting The Sky With Both Hands Regulates All Internal Organs is particularly beneficial for the energy channels associated with the Pericardium (yin) and Triple Heater (yang).

Internal Health Benefits of this position: massages all internal organs, promotes circulation and oxygenation of blood, beneficial for back and spine, improves posture, and relieves tiredness.

Exercise and Relaxation Benefits of this position: works muscles of upper back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers; promotes circulation and oxygenation of blood, beneficial for back and spine, improves posture, relieves tiredness.

Mental and Emotional Benefits of this position: promotes interactions and behaviors that are timely and suitable to the context and the situation; supports showing respect, being thoughtful, and offering to be of help at the right time; promotes the ability to clearly communicate through precise word choice; supports short-term memory; seat of consciousness, self-awareness, and connection to and living in harmony with the world. (Same as Heart )

Mental or emotional unbalance could manifest as insomnia, anxiety, discomfort in being around people, inappropriate or strange behaviors. (Same as Heart)

Acupuncture charts courtesy of Pedro Bernardy and RyuBuKan Dojo. For informational purposes only.

Average Customer Review: based on 17 reviews.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Brain Scans Reveal Why Meditation Works

This is a news story from Live Science published a couple of weeks ago on Yahoo! I love it when science catches up with empirical knowledge, I really do – no sarcasm intended. For people who need that reassurance, this sort of investigation and result just validates what we holistic practitioners have promised for a long time: great results without the worry about costly pharmaceuticals and their undesirable, often debilitating side effects.

Meditation has been known for thousands of years as a safe, holistic way to calm the body and the mind.


Brain Scans Reveal Why Meditation Works

Melinda Wenner Sat Jun 30, 2007

If you name your emotions, you can tame them, according to new research that suggests why meditation works.

Brain scans show that putting negative emotions into words calms the brain's emotion center. That could explain meditation’s purported emotional benefits, because people who meditate often label their negative emotions in an effort to “let them go.”

Psychologists have long believed that people who talk about their feelings have more control over them, but they don't know why it works.

UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman and his colleagues hooked 30 people up to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines, which scan the brain to reveal which parts are active and inactive at any given moment.

They asked the subjects to look at pictures of male or female faces making emotional expressions. Below some of the photos was a choice of words describing the emotion—such as “angry” or “fearful”—or two possible names for the people in the pictures, one male name and one female name.

When presented with these choices, the subjects were asked to pick the most appropriate emotion or gender-appropriate name to fit the face they saw.

When the participants chose labels for the negative emotions, activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex region—an area associated with thinking in words about emotional experiences—became more active, whereas activity in the amygdala, a brain region involved in emotional processing, was calmed.

By contrast, when the subjects picked appropriate names for the faces, the brain scans revealed none of these changes—indicating that only emotional labeling makes a difference.

“In the same way you hit the brake when you’re driving when you see a yellow light, when you put feelings into words, you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses,” Lieberman said of his study, which is detailed in the current issue of Psychological Science.

In a second experiment, 27 of the same subjects completed questionnaires to determine how “mindful” they are.

Meditation and other “mindfulness” techniques are designed to help people pay more attention to their present emotions, thoughts and sensations without reacting strongly to them. Meditators often acknowledge and name their negative emotions in order to “let them go.”

When the team compared brain scans from subjects who had more mindful dispositions to those from subjects who were less mindful, they found a stark difference—the mindful subjects experienced greater activation in the right ventrolateral prefrontral cortex and a greater calming effect in the amygdala after labeling their emotions.

“These findings may help explain the beneficial health effects of mindfulness meditation, and suggest, for the first time, an underlying reason why mindfulness meditation programs improve mood and health,” said David Creswell, a UCLA psychologist who led the second part of the study, which will be detailed in Psychosomatic Medicine.


Michelle here.....

To learn more about Mindfulness Meditation and how it can help you achieve health and wellness, read the book by Jon Kabot-Zinn, Ph.D., the man who created the modern, stress-reducing program for the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. This book describes that program:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Eight Pieces Brocade (Baduanjin) qigong class in Bend, Oregon

I'm pretty excited about being able to share what I know about healing, qi/energy, and qigong with people who attend my Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin) and Eight Healing Sounds Qigong classes.

November 2008 updates

I have dropped the Eight Pieces of Brocade for a while and will be offering the Eight Healing Sounds along with a 30-minute healing Chinese Five Element Guided Meditation for Purification.

March 2018 updates! 

Ten years later....! I no longer live in Oregon, but there are many wonderful teachers there who offer qigong classes. Try searching for 'Central Oregon Internal Arts Association' - this was a list of teachers and classes available in the central Oregon area. 

Meanwhile, here are two excellent video classes to get you started. They both are easy and fun, and offer many health benefits. 

Eight Pieces Brocade

Five Animal Sports

The Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong (qi gong means "energy practice") was developed over a long period of time as people in China verified that combining these eight gentle and easy body movements with mental focus and breathing techniques not only cured illnesses, but actually enhanced physical, metabolic, and mental function.
As Dr. Ken Andes, L.Ac, D.Ac. (RI) a licensed acupuncturist, board certified herbalist, and medical qigong instructor, says: "Here are just a few of the reasons why you should learn the Eight Pieces of Brocade qigong:
  • It is non-strenuous and can be done by anyone of any age.
  • It will regulate your digestion and metabolism, thus helping with weight loss.
  • It is VERY easy to matter how uncoordinated you are.
  • It will stretch and tone all of your muscles, thus increasing your flexibility.
  • It will help relieve neck, back, and shoulder pain.
  • It will make your muscles (especially your legs) stronger.
  • It will stimulate your lymphatic system and help detoxify the body of environmental poisons.
  • It will develop a calm, focused mind.
  • It helps relieve depression and anxiety.
  • It requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere, anytime.
  • It will make you look and feel many years younger.
  • It will harmonize and stimulate all of your acupuncture meridians, giving you a similar effect of an acupuncture treatment....without the needles!!!"
Does Qigong Have Anti-Aging Effects?
Martial artist Dr. Martin Eisen answers: "Yes. For example, one survey of aged practitioners revealed that they were in good health and appeared younger than a second group of non-practitioners. Their average blood pressure was normal and 93% had normal hearing and good memories. The non-practicing elders had a higher average blood pressure, 25% had hypertension, 50% had vision problems, 76% had hearing problems and 35% had lost their ability to work. After doing Qigong for 5 months, 52% of them recovered some of their working ability and made other physiological improvements." (

Kenneth Cohen, health educator and Qigong Master with over thirty years experience says:
"Qigong has been rigorously tested in controlled scientific experiments and clinical trials and is often used as an adjunct to conventional allopathic medical treatment. Hypertensive patients who take medication and practice qigong fare better than controls who only take the medication. Similarly, there is solid evidence that qigong can improve immune function and mental health, and prevent disabilities that come with age. Qigong acts like Vitamin C, increasing the activity of an enzyme that helps to deactivate free radicals, highly reactive chemicals that promote tissue degeneration and loss of memory."

See the post on research updates, too! Eight Pieces Brocade and Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Research Updates.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Top ten ways exercise can reduce stress


Reprinted from Body Scenes Gazette

People who exercise regularly will tell you they feel better. But why is that? Some would answer that it's because chemicals called neurotransmitters, produced in the brain, are stimulated during exercise. Since its believed that neurotransmitters mediate our moods and emotions, it's logical to conclude that this stimulation can improve feelings and reduce stress.

While there's no scientific evidence to support the neurotransmitter theory conclusively, there is plenty to show that exercise provides stress-relieving benefits. And let's face it: We could all do with less stress in our lives.

Stress can leave you feeling drained, anxious, even depressed. Fortunately, exercise has been proved to help alleviate these and many other stress-related problems. So work out your worries with a workout and sweat out that stress.

1. EXERCISE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL LESS ANXIOUS. Stress can make you feel anxious, and studies show that people feel less jittery and hyperactive following exercise.

2. EXERCISE RELAXES YOU. One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. This post-exercise euphoria improves your mood and leaves you feeling relaxed.

3. EXERCISE INCREASES ALERTNESS. Studies have shown that when large muscle groups repeatedly contract and relax, as in yoga, the brain receives a signal to release specific neurotransmitters, which in turn make you feel relaxed and more alert.

4. EXERCISE MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF. Think about those times when you've been physically active. Haven't you felt better about yourself? That feeling of self-worth contributes to stress relief.

5. EXERCISE REDUCES DEPRESSION. Some researchers believe exercise can be more effective than medication for treating depression in some people.

6. EXERCISE HELPS YOU SLEEP MORE RESTFULLY. Stress can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep, but studies show that people who exercise regularly sleep better than those who don't.

7. EXERCISE INCREASES ENERGY, WHICH CAN HELP YOU BETTER DEAL WITH STRESSFUL EVENTS. Stress can leave you tired and weary, but even a 10-minute walk can go a long way to upping your energy level. And the old adage is true-the more energy you use, the more you seem to have.

8. EXERCISE RIDS THE BODY OF STRESS-CAUSING ADRENALINE AND OTHER HORMONES. Vigorous activities such as indoor cycling and sports such as basketball are particularly effective.

9. EXERCISE ENCOURAGES YOU TO FOLLOW A HEALTHIER DIET. People who exercise regularly tend to eat more nutritious food. And its no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage stress better.

10. EXERCISE HELPS YOU TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF, WHICH CAN BE DIFFICULT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE STRESSED OUT. Whether you exercise alone or with a friend, it's important to take time for yourself during stressful periods.


Michelle here…..

Notice that the article doesn't call for heavy-duty exertion or time!

Things like qigong, or simply walking, are absolutely great, can be done almost anywhere at any time, and short amounts of exercise several times a day can be even more beneficial than a longer, more strenuous workout. Going for a swim would be fantastic, too, especially on these hot summer days!

See my previous article "How much exercise is enough?" on the benefits of just ten minutes of exercise four times a day!

Make it one of your goals to reduce stress and cultivate overall wellness holistically by getting in just ten minutes of walking or other low-impact exercise three or four times a day.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Work Burnout Threatens Vacations

The following is a reprint of a Yahoo! Hot Jobs article from May 21, 2007

Work Burnout Threatens Vacations
by Tom Musback

Despite summer's reputation for being a time of travel and leisure, many U.S. workers are not using all their vacation time and are too tired to plan a getaway, according to a new Yahoo! HotJobs survey.

Nearly half of the respondents (49%) said they feel "burned out" by their jobs, and many did not fully use vacation time as a remedy. Out of 1,800 professionals surveyed, 45% said they did not use all of their vacation days allotted in 2006, and 39% said they were too tired to take a "real" vacation during their days off.

"People don't always realize the true benefits of taking vacation time," says Susan Vobejda, vice president of marketing at Yahoo! HotJobs. "They focus more on the absence from work and related details, when in fact a vacation allows time to recharge batteries and come back to the office with new energy and increased productivity."

Why Create More Work?

There are several reasons why workers don't use all their vacation time: having too much work to do to take a vacation (36%), not being able to afford a getaway (34%), wanting to save vacation time for emergencies (32%), and worrying about coming back to an excessive workload after a vacation (15%).

"I think people have thrown in the vacation towel," says Debra Davenport, a professional mentor, licensed career counselor, and employment agent. "What's the point of taking a vacation when you're still strapped to your cell phone and laptop, and, worse, you return to the office from your break only to have 500 emails, 100 voicemails, and weeks of work to catch up on?"

Taking a “Mental Health Day”

When people do take time off, it's often used in ways unrelated to vacations. In fact, nearly a third of respondents (31%) said they use the time to run errands, such as doctor visits, and 30% said they often use vacation time as "mental health days" to cope with stress.

"The issue," says Davenport, "is making self-care a priority. Vacations are an extension of that mindset."

The Problem of Presenteeism

Liz Bywater, president of Bywater Consulting Group, which specializes in organizational behavior change, suggests that elements of corporate culture may be responsible for the work-vacation imbalance.

"Part of the problem is that our culture supports an ethic of 'presenteeism,' whereby employees show up for work even when they are too ill or tired to be effective on their jobs," she says. "There is an expectation, sometimes unspoken, that people will come to work under all but the most extreme circumstances."

Making Vacation a Priority

Bywater offers the following tips for making the most of vacations:

• Choose the vacation that best meets your needs. You may need a peaceful retreat from stress, or you may benefit from something more active and exciting. Avoid the kind of vacation that will leave you even more exhausted than before.

• Plan ahead for your time off. Take practical steps to manage your workload with your upcoming vacation in mind. Try to wrap up important projects before you leave. Don't leave behind time-sensitive tasks that only you can handle.

• Enlist help. Ask a trusted coworker to back you up while you're away and offer to return the favor. It's much easier to relax when you know someone's got you covered.

• Have no regrets. You earned the vacation, so enjoy it!


Michelle here….does anyone else see the irony in this article?

How many of you searched for just the right job with just the right perks, which included three weeks of vacation a year, and don't bother to take any of them?

If you are one of those people who are too busy to take a vacation, I hope your life insurance is paid up…..your family will need it.

Employers should insist that employees take vacations. They should also insist that the employee leave the cell phone and laptop computer at home when they do take a vacation, but it is unlikely that they will. Why let go of someone, even temporarily, when you pay them to work a forty-hour week and then have them on call 24/7/365?

Stress is causing more and more illness in the forms of anxiety, depression, heart trouble, high blood pressure, skeletal and muscular problems, and yet do people consider serious stress-relief except on the most superficial, temporary level?

Not often. Employees and employers must find common ground on this topic. Employers must arrange for a person's job to be covered when they go on vacation….remember when that used to happen? I do. A person could go away for a week and not have two weeks worth of work waiting when he or she returned.

Employers, you are not doing yourselves any favors by burning out your employees. In the long run, you will lose more in sick days and training replacements than you will gain in working your people 24/7/365.

Employees, you must take the time that is yours by right and protect your health. In the long run, that is what a vacation is meant to do, give you a chance to get away from the craziness of the work world and enjoy the rest and relaxation of the leisure world….without cell phones and laptop computers!

A great vacation is one of the most holistic methods to reduce stress!

Make your plans now, and have a Great Vacation!