It is officially Spring!

And we are well into Spring allergy season. That runny nose and nasal congestion may not be a cold, it could be allergies. Itchy eyes, nose or skin are telltale signs it’s probably allergies. You also might notice your symptoms are worse after you’ve been outside, or better on snowy days, when the moisture tamps down the pollen.

Tree pollen is the main allergen right now, with some trees starting to release pollen as early as February in Denver, and lasting through April or May. It always takes us by surprise, since we are also getting the most snow this time of year!

What is histamine load?

Histamine is the chemical in our body that causes an allergic reaction. It’s there to protect you, but with allergies, it’s gone rogue and overreacts to harmless things from pollen to peanuts. It can get so out of control it can even cause Histamine Intolerance or Mast-Cell Activation, which are systemic allergic responses that affect your whole body. With seasonal allergies, it’s likely causing your annoying post-nasal drip, itchy eyes and making you tired.

So what can we do to minimize our overactive histamine and get some allergy relief?

Luckily, there are lots of safe and effective natural remedies for allergies and minimizing your histamine response. They’re safe to use with conventional allergy meds if needed. If your allergies get really bad, it’s a good idea to take over-the-counter antihistamines as directed by your MD.

But there’s a lot you can do to reduce the histamine load in your body, and to manage and minimize your allergy symptoms, naturally.

 

1. Rinse out the offending allergens

Every day after you’ve been exposed to allergens like pollen or pet dander, take time to rinse them off! 

Start by doing a neti pot/nasal rinse with warm salt water to rinse the offenders out of your nose. Use a half cup of warm distilled water with ¼ teaspoon salt. It can feel a bit tender the first time, but once you start doing it regularly, it will feel so much better. You can do this in the morning, too, if you feel really congested. 

Also, take a shower before going to bed, to wash all the pollen/allergens out of your hair and off your body/ Also, wear clean PJs to bed. You don’t want to take those allergens to bed with you!

 

2. Cut out High-Histamine Foods

Did you know some foods actually contain high amounts of histamine, or can trigger the release of histamine in your body? These add more histamine to your body and make your histamine response, and thus your allergies, worse. It’s helpful to avoid these high-histamine foods when you’re having a lot of allergy issues.

 
High-histamine foods to avoid:
  • alcohol and fermented beverages, like kombucha
  • fermented foods, like pickles, sauerkraut and yogurt
  • dairy, especially aged cheeses
  • processed or smoked meats
  • shellfish
Histamine-triggering foods to avoid:
  • alcohol (double whammy with this one)
  • bananas
  • tomatoes
  • chocolate
  • citrus
  • nuts
  • food dyes and additives

3. Help your Gut

 
Gut health is super important for immune health in general, and for allergies, too. We’ve already mentioned that foods can affect histamine levels, but your gut microbiome has a big impact on allergies, too. 

Eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies (that aren’t histamine producing), lean meats, whole grains, and minimizing sugar is the best bet for a healthy gut. Plus, a good probiotic can do wonders not only for your digestion, but in reducing allergies. 

I like to start my patients on MegaSporeBiotic  – one pill a day with meals to start, and up to twice a day. Since fermented foods, which happen to be a great source of probiotics, are high-histamine foods, supplementing with pills is much more effective for allergy sufferers.

 

4. Supplements and Herbs

There are several helpful supplements for treating allergies…

D-Hist: This all-in-one supplement contains Quercetin and Stinging Nettle, along with small doses of NAC, bromelain to add digestion, and Vitamin C, all proven to give allergy relief.

Zinc is important for all immune health, and is anti-allergic. It also helps improve the sense of smell.

NAC is effective at thinning mucus, supporting lung function, and is a powerful antioxidant

Vtamin D important for immune health, reducing and preventing allergies

Chinese herbal formulas are also extremely helpful in treating both allergy symptoms and reducing allergies. These need to be specially prescribed by a qualified herbalist to match your specific body and symptoms at your next acupuncture appointment.

5. Get regular acupuncture during your allergy season

Acupuncture has been proven effective at relieving allergic rhinitis[1], as well as reducing other allergy symptoms from eczema to asthma. For best results, get weekly acupuncture during your severe allergy seasons, and even better, start getting it a few weeks before your regular allergy season. Book your next visit now.

You can directly order all these helpful supplements for allergy relief here: https://us.fullscript.com/protocols/familytree-allergy-relief

Or book an appointment for acupuncture and herbal medicine tailored to you at https://acusimple.com/access/7870/#/appointments/1016/

There is a lot you can do to get relief from your allergies! If you need help, just let us know!
 
[1] https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/2063-acupuncture-allergy-relief-confirmed

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Can you feel it? The sun warm on your skin, the daylight lingering a bit longer, the crocuses are in bloom, and trees and bushes are beginning to bud.
 

Spring is here in the Northern hemisphere!

 
Even in high-altitude places like Denver, Colorado, where we’re likely to get snow well into May, we’re also blessed with 60º days and bluebird skies in between the snowstorms. You can feel the change in season everywhere you look.
 
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is rooted in the Taoist philosophy of living in harmony with the world around you, the change in seasons has a big impact on your body, emotions, and even your state of mind. 
 
Spring is the time of year when the “Yang” is rising…things are waking up from the stillness and inward focus of Winter. It’s a time of regeneration, renewal, and potential. We can see it in ourselves as “Spring fever,” the feeling that we want to go out DO something!
 

Each season relates to one of the five elements in TCM, and the Wood element is associated with Spring.

 
The nature of Wood is growth, reaching out like the tulip bulbs pushing out of the earth. Its nature is in bringing our intentions out into the world. The organ systems associated with Wood are the Liver and Gall Bladder. 
 
The Liver is the Yin side of Wood energy, called the “Little General” in TCM. It’s the energy behind your long-term Vision and direction for your life.  Healthy Liver energy helps you plan, set goals, and see the big picture. If it’s depleted, you may have trouble with both your metaphorical and physical vision (eyesight) as well as sore, tight tendons and ligaments. Excessive Liver energy can lead to irritability, frustration, and feeling pent-up, along with migraines, high blood pressure, and tinnitus. 
 
The Gall Bladder in TCM is the Yang side of Wood. Healthy Gall Bladder energy is about taking that Vision into the world with action, decision-making, and using wise judgment. Weak Gall Bladder energy can show up as overwhelm, unable to make decisions, or take action, and even feeling fear about moving forward.
 

So how can you best support your body, mind, and spirit as we transition from Winter to Spring?

 
So glad you asked! TCM gives us a great guidebook for being our healthiest and living into our potential at each season. Everything in Spring is about supporting growth and movement, but doing it with ease.
 

1. EAT GREEN!

 
Green is the color of the Wood element, and it’s also the best kind of food to eat in the Spring! (I’m not talking about green beer, people.) Fresh Spring vegetables are the very best thing you can eat this time of year, and it’s the tastiest time of year for them, too. Sour foods like citrus and pungent foods like garlic are also excellent in supporting the Liver.
 
Fill your plate with things like….
  • Fresh baby greens, like spinach, arugula, lettuce
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes 
  • Fresh Spring herbs like Chives, Parsley, Mint 
  • Spring onions
  • Radish
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Limes
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
Sounds like a lovely Spring meal, doesn’t it? It’s also important to not overburden your Liver by keeping alcohol, greasy foods, and sugar to a minimum. 
 

2. GET YOUR QI (AND YOUR BODY) MOVING

 
The Wood element governs the tendons and ligaments, so stretching is one of the best things you can do for your body in the Spring. Staying flexible in your body helps you stay flexible in your mind, too. If there’s anything that will irritate your Liver, it’s being inflexible, preventing natural movement and growth.
 
It’s good to get moving, too, especially out in nature. Just be mindful not to overdo things. It’s a great time to do some yoga, go for a hike, maybe some Tai Qi in a park. It’s a time to start rebuilding your strength and flexibility after Winter.
 

3. WRITE YOUR GOALS AND MAKE A PLAN

 
Take advantage of our natural tendency and start planning and acting on anything that’s been percolating over the Winter. What goals do you have? What lights you up and gets you excited for life? A healthy Wood element helps you to have a clear Vision for yourself and your life, and to make a doable plan to make it happen.  Take some time to sit down and dream big! Then write it down and start to make a plan. The energy of Spring is supporting you!
 

4. GET ACUPUNCTURE!

 
Acupuncture is so helpful if you’re feeling stuck in any way in the Springtime. It gets your Qi moving and balances out your whole being. In the Spring, it’s common to see an increase in migraines and other headaches, vision problems like increased floaters, blurriness, or just weak vision. We also see a big uptick in frustration, irritability and feeling stuck or pent up. 
 
Acupuncture can also help tame your Spring allergies, eczema, and itching, and help you get healthy in time for Summer. Chinese herbal medicine and supplements like quercetin, stinging nettle, and NAC can make a huge improvement, too.
 
Book your acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jennie today. Whether it’s for overall wellness and stress relief, or to treat something specific like chronic back pain, she’ll get you feeling better fast. You’ll leave each appointment feeling better than when you came in, and see big improvements over the course of treatment.
 
Let it be easy, and start taking care of yourself now!

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Most people love a good massage. They also tend to think of a massage as a luxury more than as healthcare. And goodness knows, a massage can feel luxurious!

But did you know that massage therapy is good for your health in a variety of ways? 

Massage’s proven health benefits…

According to the Mayo Clinic, massage can

  • Reduce stress while increasing relaxation (which benefits us in many ways)
  • Reduce your pain, soreness, and tension in muscles
  • Improve your circulation, both lymphatic and vascular
  • Increase your energy and alertness
  • Lower your heart rate and your blood pressure
  • Improve your immune function

In addition, studies suggest that massage can also be helpful in relieving

  • Anxiety
  • Digestion
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Stress-related insomnia
  • Low back pain 
  • Soft tissue sprains and strains
  • TMJ pain
  • Upper back and neck pain

That’s a lot of whole-body benefit from something as lovely as a massage!

How often should you get a massage?

That depends on what you need. If stress management and relaxation are your main goals, a monthly massage may be a great choice for you. If you’ve got chronic low back or neck pain that you’ve struggled with for years, weekly massage for 3-4 weeks, then tapering to every other week, then as needed can do wonders for your chronic pain. If you pulled your hamstring playing tennis, 2-3 sessions can do wonders in getting you back on the court.

If you’ve had pain for years, it will likely take more sessions to unravel than a newer injury for a few reasons. An old injury has had time to become more fibrosed, which requires some gently “breaking up.”

Massage therapy does this by stretching, releasing trigger points, getting the blood and lymph moving, and it takes a few sessions to get to the different layers. Old injuries also have had a long time to create “compensation patterns” in other areas, as your body learns to adapt and move around the injury.

Your massage therapist will work those area, too, to help realign your whole body as your heal from the old injury. 

A good licensed massage therapist will assess your situation and let you know what you need.

Monthly massage for overall wellness 

If you’re looking for a great addition to your wellness routine, monthly massage is an excellent choice. Not only will you feel great during and after your massage, but it can also help maintain your overall health in all the ways listed above, and keep you feeling relaxed, loose, and pain-free. It’s a great and pleasant choice to manage stress and pain, while also making you feel well-cared for.

Book your massage with Alexandra today. She has over two decades of experience and a lovely heart. Whether it’s for overall wellness and stress relief, or to treat something specific like chronic back pain, she’ll get you feeling better.

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705

Hello, anxiety, our old friend…

Here we are again with another once-in-a-generation (or lifetime) event with worldwide impact. I’ve heard from a lot of people that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing the metaphorical ground they stand on to feel wobbly, once again.

After all, we’re still trying to figure out our world after two years in a pandemic.    

It’s no surprise that anxiety levels have skyrocketed worldwide these past two years. While the overwhelming shock of the first few months of the pandemic gradually settled, I’ve witnessed many of my patients struggle with recurring anxiety with each new wave, and even now wondering if we’re through it or not. 

It has, indeed, been a bit relentless. One big thing after another. These days, anxiety is the #1 most common thing I treat in my clinic. It isn’t always what brings people in initially. It’s almost an afterthought, it’s become so common. It’s our new normal, this high-functioning anxiety. 

A racing mind is a clue that we have high-functioning anxiety, the feeling that we can’t really relax or let go.

You might feel nervous, restless, or just tense no matter what you do. You might have trouble falling asleep, or wake up in the night with spinning thoughts that won’t settle down. It can make it hard to concentrate and impact your daily life. Anxiety can manifest as headaches and migraines, stomach problems, dizziness, or a racing heart or palpitations. When it gets really bad, anxiety can make you feel a sense of impending doom, and can even turn into a panic attack.

So you see, it’s not “just anxiety”.

It has a big impact on your well-being. 

So what can you do about it?

Here are a few tips you can use right now to help calm anxiety.

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Name 3 things you see, 3 sounds you can hear, and move 3 parts of your body (like your toes, your fingers, and your nose). 

This helps to ground you into your body and get you out of your head. I like to also touch something and focus on its texture to help get me out of my head, like the texture of my shirt. 

Practice 6:3 breathing

A quick hack for calming your nervous system is to do this simple breathing technique that works by reducing the carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio in your blood, telling your body it’s ok to relax. The important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in.

Blowing out of your mouth like you’re slowly blowing out a candle, breathe out for a count of 6. Then slowly breathe in through your nose for a count of 3. It should feel calm and easy. Repeat this for at least 6 breaths, as often as needed. In fact, the more often you do this, the faster it will help you relax when you really need it.  

Check your thoughts.  

Are you fixating on worst-case scenarios? Take a step back mentally and ask yourself what might go right. It can also be really helpful to talk to a friend or loved one. Holding it in can make it feel worse.

Focus on what you CAN control right now

This is especially true for events that are totally out of our control, like the pandemic. When these things threaten to overwhelm you, find something you can control right now, like cleaning your kitchen or getting some exercise. Just do something, the more physical the better to get you out of your head. 

And here are some things you can do habitually to help manage chronic anxiety….

Minimize caffeine, alcohol, and sugar

These can all have a stimulating or dysregulating effect on our bodies and moods. Steady as she goes is our motto with anxiety. Eating a nourishing, whole foods diet that doesn’t spike your blood sugar or ramp you up can go a long way in calming anxiety in the long run.

Get moving 

Exercise, whether it’s walking, dancing, yoga, or mountain climbing, is so helpful to discharge all the pent-up energy we experience with anxiety. Regular exercise is one of the most effective things you can do to manage anxiety.  Even better, do it outside where fresh air and nature will help soothe your nervous system. 

Get acupuncture!

Regular acupuncture is extremely effective at relieving chronic anxiety. It is most helpful to go weekly for at least a month, then taper to once a month, or whatever works best for you. Acupuncture works to regulate and retrain the nervous system to get out of fight or flight and into a more relaxed state. You’ll feel much better by the end of your visit, and the cumulative effect of multiple visits can vastly improve your day-to-day anxiety. 

Use Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine is a safe and natural way to treat anxiety, and importantly, it helps treat the underlying issues that allow anxiety to take hold. We can also treat many of the side effects of anxiety, like insomnia, palpitations, and more, all at once.  A trained herbalist will look at your whole body and use a formula that treats all of you. 

Anxiety is more common than you think. You are not alone. Let us know if we can help!

Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
720.507.1705