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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in Health & Healing (15)

Monday
Dec062010

New RSS Feed and Homemade Natural Mouthwash

Updated on Sunday, December 26, 2010 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

First, let's get to business. I updated my RSS feed! Please update your readers with this new feed URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/affairsofliving/RYpC  If you aren't into using feed readers, you can also receive notifications of new posts by e-mail; just enter your email address in the form in the right nav bar on my blog. 

What's new about this feed? Simplicity! Now, all the feeds from from each section of my site - Recipes & Lifestyle, Healing Journal, and Garden Journal - have been merged into a single feed. Finally!  It took a little head scratching and some quality time on YahooPipes and Feedburner, but I figured it out!

Now, on to something more exciting: dental hygiene. 

IMG_0054

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Friday
Nov192010

Supporting the Spleen with Chinese Nutrition Therapy

This is an updated and combined repost of three articles I wrote for the blog Lymenaide, originally posted on in January and February 2010.  If you have Lyme Disease, or have a love one with Lyme, I highly recommend Lymenaide!  Started by Ashley Von Tol and featuring three other contributing writers (myself included) it is an amazing source of information for all things related to Lyme Disease.

This is a long one friends, so get a cup of tea and start reading!


Supporting the Spleen with Chinese Nutrition Therapy

 

Adapted from three articles originally posted 1/22/10, 1/29/10, and 2/2/10 on Lymenaide

Since starting antibiotics a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed that my anxiety seems to have gotten worse. Not panic attack worse – that’s not my modus operandi – but I certainly notice myself ruminating a lot more than usual, and more soggy in the brain department.  I know that Herxing can do this.  But this mental stagnation, combined with my recent insomnia and appetite changes led me to believe I am suffering a little spleen disharmony too. When I told all of this to my acupuncturist, she nodded understandingly. “Antibiotics supress the spleen,” she told me. “Disharmony in the spleen is linked to anxiety and worry, so if you’re suppressing the spleen, all those issues are just going to get worse.”

Ah ha!  It was like a lightbulb turned on my head.  It all made sense!

For a few years I’ve been digging into the world of Chinese nutrition therapy; it was one of the first things I turned to when my symptoms got really bad in 2008.  My long-time general interest in Chinese medicine turned into a growing obsession, and I started taking classes to get my master's degree in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine. However, health problems with Lyme forced me to put that all on hold - it's too hard while healing from Lyme to leave a well paying job with health insurance to starting living on loans and be insanely busy.  I decided I needed to heal myself before I could learn how to heal others.

 

Pathway of the spleen meridian. Image source: www.soulfood4health.com/ meridians.html

Understanding the Spleen

Unless you’re familiar with the basic ideas of Chinese medicine, you’re probably wondering what the spleen, an organ that receives little to no attention in Western medicine, has to do with anything, especially anxiety. Here’s a little primer and very brief, rather rudimentary introduction.

There are five primary organ networks that form the basis of traditional Chinese physiology. Each primary (yin) organ has a pairing (yang) organ, as follows: Spleen/Pancreas (Stomach), the Heart (Small Intestine), the Liver (Gallbladder), the Lung (Large Intestine), and the Kidney (Bladder). Each organ network is associated with a phase, which encompasses a stage of transformation through life, time, and space, and is associated with a certain element. While each organ plays an important role in the transformation and utilization of qi (roughly translated as vital life energy) in the body, the spleen is kind of the ring leader of the circus.

I like the way that Harriet Beinfeld phrases the role of the spleen in her book Between Heaven and Earth:

Like Mother Earth, the Spleen is the constant provider, the hearth around which the body gathers to renew itself.

Not surprisingly, the spleen is associated with the Earth element. It likes to be warm, is nourished by sweet flavors, and needs regularity. The spleen-stomach is responsible for starting the process of digestion, the process by which our bodies our nourished. You know the phrase “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” An unhappy spleen is like an unhappy mother; everyone and everything are affected. The results of spleen disharmony are wide and varied. Ever wonder why anxiety or worry upsets your digestion?  Disharmony in the spleen-stomach is why; the flow of qi is severely compromised.  Even general spleen qi deficiency will compromise digestion, leading to improper assimilation of nutrients, irregular stools, and nausea, abdominal cramping, and discomfort. A deficient spleen may leave one feeling fatigued and exhausted. It affects our ability to deal with stress and manage pressures, and will often lead to physical and mental stagnation and compulsive behavior. Blood sugar levels and metabolism may be affected. Spleen deficiency can also lead to dampness, which can be described as yeast, bacterial, viral, or mucous imbalances (yes, like Candida albicans!).

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Wednesday
Nov172010

Beyond Bananas: High Potassium Foods

Need potassium? How about some beet greens?

I recently had a conversation with my brother about an unfortunate leg cramping incident he experienced while completing the physical agility test for the fire fighter position he is applying for. One factor he blamed was a lack of potassium, since he forgot his banana at home that morning.  Bummer! BANANA FAIL. 

I understood the dilemma caused by a missing banana. In fact, I've been having wild banana cravings (highly unusual for me), which I attribute to my body telling me I have a potassium deficiency from all these antibiotics I've been taking. Since I'm just a wee bit allergic to bananas and am also sensitive to sugar, I can't eat a whole load of them. So, I've been researching other high potassium foods, and have been alarmed to discover that there are loads of foods that pack a mean potassium punch!  I've been hitting the potassium pretty hard the last few weeks, and feel less banana-cravy now.

After his hearing his tale and falling back on my experience,I replied with the following: "Dude, there are lots of foods higher in potassium than bananas."  Then I insisted on sending him a potassium-packed care package, which will be going in the mail tomorrow. 

Know-it-all big sisters like me must be such a pain in the a**. 

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Friday
Jul232010

Tips for Kicking Caffeine

café crème, somewhere in France, 2007

All through high school, college, much of my career in advertising, leisurely brunches with friends, lazy Sundays, and adventurous travels, coffee was always my friend and close companion.  There were so many reasons I loved coffee.  I loved the flavor, treasured the ritual, adored the coffeehouse culture, and of course, appreciated the jolt of caffeine.  There was nothing like a hot cafe Americano with a splash of half and half on a cool fall morning, a full pot of French press on a lazy Saturday, an icy glass of cold press on a hot summer day, or a cup of dark roast after dinner.  If was staying away from home, and didn't have access to my own French press or espresso machine, I was scouring the sidewalks to find cup of the good stuff almost immediately after waking.  When I stayed with a friend down in my old college town, I would walk to the gas station before anywhere else was open to get my first cup of the day. Travels to France had me drinking café crème like each day was my last, and in Italy I frequently stopped in at cafes to stand at the counter with chattering locals and drink an espresso.  When I worked in Maui, I probably drank my body weight's worth of Hawaiian coffee beans. After being introduced to it by friends, I all but ritualistically worshipped Turkish brewed coffee, rather like sticky sweet dark gold.  And don't even get me started on how much coffee I drank on my first trip to Seattle, just before my health really went down the tubes.  

Can you tell I loved coffee?  

I've always struggled with moderation, and coffee was no exception. Looking back, I can see that I was totally  addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is a powerful drug - especially for those with pesky addictive personality traits (guilty, as charged).  To top it off, I had a constant supply of free coffee at work, so I didn't even break the bank fueling my habit. At my most addicted, I was up to around 6 or 7 cups a day, sometimes more. I just kept drinking....and drinking....and drinking....

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Monday
Jul052010

Helpful Hints for Battling a Herxheimer Reaction - or - my adventures with Teasel

After reading the book Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, I was inspired to add teasel root tincture to my Lyme treatment protocol.  Teasel is a plant with powerful anti-Lyme properties, and is successful in killing the Borrelia bacteria. I spoke to my naturopath about it at my appointment a couple weeks ago, and we decided to go with it.  I started taking the teasel root tincture, slowly building up the dosage, and just waited to see what would happen.  My naturopath had warned me that people Herx badly on this stuff, and I'd read it on the book and online.    

About 36 hours later, it hit me: a got whalloped with a nasty Herx. 

I love it when my medicine comes with a handwritten label. There is so much power in this little bottle.

A Herx, more formally known as a Herxheimer reaction, is when there is a massive die-off of bacteria and your body is suddenly overrun by toxins. Your system freaks out, because you are filling up with toxins faster than your body can purge them. Your liver gets overworked, your symptoms flare up, and you basically feel like you have a super flu times 80 million. In short, it sucks, and you never know how long it is going to last. Eventually, things even out, and then you come out the other side feeling better. But the journey stinks, and it is easy to think about quitting.  This is why so many Lyme patients never make it through treatment - it is sometimes rather intolerable.

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