The word pickle comes from the Dutch word Pikel, meaning salt or brine. Salt has been an important tool used for food preservation throughout history. In places that had large deposits of salt, like ancient Mesopotamia, people cured meat with salt. Pickling was also used all over the ancient world, either with a salt brine or through a fermentation process. People in India are credited with the pickling of the first cucumbers over 3,000 years ago, while the ancient Chinese used vinegar brines for pickling much of their meat.
Today, pickles continue to be a beloved worldwide treat, with many delicious variations and flavor innovations. Whether pickled in salt and/or vinegar or fermented (which imparts the extra probiotic benefits), there are many healthy reasons to indulge!
Before sharing an easy at-home pickling recipe, let's take a look at some of the Chinese Medicinal aspects to the 2 basic pickling components: salt and vinegar
*Salt is a flavor that is associated with the kidneys, and in moderation can help with kidney function. It is known to help regulate water in the body, dissolve masses, counter toxins, and balance acidic food.
Speaking of acidic food…
*Vinegar is endowed with the ability to regulate blood, in that it both moves stagnant blood and helps to stop bleeding. And like salt, it helps to resolve toxins in the body.
Pickled Daikon Radish with Chinese Peppercorn & Garlic
1 small daikon
1 Tbsp salt
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon Chinese peppercorn
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
*you can eat them as soon as the next day, and they will last in the fridge for about 2-4 weeks.
While your mouth waters anticipating the flavor explosion you have just set yourself up for, take a moment to delight in the health benefits of the additional ingredients.
*Daikons reduce food stagnation and break up phlegm.
*Garlic is often used as an anti-pathogenic agent as it can help kill harmful bacteria, viruses, parasitic and fungal infections.
*Chinese Peppercorn is in the medicinal category of “warming the middle” meaning it supports the digestive fire.
Both the garlic and peppercorn are known to tonify yang in Chinese medicine. The combined warming qualities of the garlic and peppercorn are balanced by the cooling nature of the radish, making it safe for even hot constitutions. All in all, it's balanced, healthy and tasty.
For nutritional approaches and snack suggestions more customized to your unique personal pattern, ask you acupuncturist at your next visit, we’re happy to help support you in all aspects of your health journey!
The prevalence of back pain and the number of patients seeking care with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in the US has increased.
Evidence suggests complementary therapies like acupuncture, spinal manipulation, massage, yoga, tai chi, chiropractic, biofeedback and mindfulness-based stress-reduction treatments can be helpful for back pain without drugs or surgery.
These therapies can help ease muscle tension, relieve pain, and correct posture while strengthening muscles and improving joint stability.
The most prevalent CAM therapies for back pain in the US are spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and massage.
Acupuncture and Back Pain
Lower Back Pain (LBP) is one of the most common types of chronic back pain and is often caused by lumbar muscle strain and sprains. Adults between the ages of 18 to 64 years represent 72% of all low back pain healthcare visits.
There are many studies on treatment methods for lower back pain, including the efficacy of acupuncture in managing this pain. In a comprehensive study, 454,920 patients with at least one of the three chronic pain conditions including headache, low back pain and osteoarthritis were treated with acupuncture. Effectiveness of acupuncture was rated as marked or moderate in 76% of the patients.
A meta-analysis reviewing nearly 20,000 people for chronic pain, including chronic back pain, found that those who received real acupuncture compared to those who received sham acupuncture or no acupuncture, experienced 50% improvement in chronic pain.
The study concluded, “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option.”
More recently, a systematic review and meta-analysis of effects of acupuncture on pain and function in non-specific low back pain, found that acupuncture is more effective at pain relief than sham acupuncture or no treatment at all. Acupuncture with usual care methods for back pain is more effective than just usual care alone, making acupuncture an important supplemental treatment to usual care methods, according to this study.
In TCM theory, digestion represents the central axis around which everything else revolves. It provides our main source of (post-natal) energy from the breakdown and absorption of food. Even minor disruptions in this system can progress to significant and varied health problems.
Treatment, of course, depends on the severity of the problem. As long as emergency situations are ruled out or addressed, one can turn to Chinese medicine for prevention, treatment and maintenance. And the power of self-care can never be understated. Acupressure is one of our best self-care tools when used appropriately.
While the needles (and the added effect of electrostimulation of needles) are generally considered a stronger approach to energy medicine than acupressure, acupressure alone has proved extremely beneficial. For example, in a study of 70 hemodialysis patients with constipation where acupressure was administered 3 times/week for 4 weeks, there was a significant improvement in bowel function .
So here are 3 Acupressure points that you can press to help you digest:
LARGE INTESTINE 4, “union valley”
Location: fleshy (and often achy) depression between the thumb and first finger
Use to: regulate intestinal function.
Stimulation of this point has been shown to both increase and decrease gastric motility depending on what’s needed. So, it can be used for both constipation and diarrhea.
CONCEPTION VESSEL 12: “middle controller”
Location: about 4 inches above navel
Use to: regulate stomach function, support energy
It has been shown to cause muscle relaxation via the somatosympathetic pathway, and inhibits gastric acid secretion which is extremely beneficial to GERD patients.
STOMACH 36: “3 mile leg”
Location: about 3inches below knee cap and about 1 inch towards outer edge of leg
Use to: strengthen digestion, build blood and immunity
According to some studies, it may improve upper and lower abdominal symptoms by restoring impaired ‘slow waves’ of the digestive tract via the vagal pathway. Electroacupuncture on this channel has been shown to enhance gastric motility and blood flow by regulating hormones (such as motilin and somatostatin) that directly affect digestion.
Benefits have been shown to be intensity dependent, so massage these points as often as needed. Just be sure to get in for some acupuncture where we can give these points (and more!) the extra attention they may need
Anxiety is an increasing problem worldwide.
A 2009 WHO World Mental Health Survey found that anxiety was the most prevalent form of mental health disorder.
According to the most up to date evidence, acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety. In 2017, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, co-authored by Dr John McDonald, PhD and Dr Stephen Janz was published, providing an up-to-date comparative review of the clinical and scientific evidence for acupuncture.
This comprehensive document, updating two previous reviews, determined that acupuncture is moderately effective in treating anxiety according to high level evidence.
Their evidence included a 2016 systematic review with over 400 randomised patients that concluded that ‘the effects from acupuncture for treating anxiety have been shown to be significant as compared to conventional treatments. The largest of these studies, which included 120 randomized patients, found that acupuncture had a large effect on reducing anxiety and depression compared to conventional treatment involving pharmacological approaches and psychotherapy, with over twice the reduction in symptoms.
A more recent systematic review published in 2018 found that all 13 included studies “reported an anxiety decrease for their treatment group relative to the control groups.” Three of these studies used pharmaceuticals as controls.
Source: Errington-Evans N. (2015). Randomised controlled trial on the use of acupuncture in adults with chronic, non-responding anxiety symptoms. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society, 33(2), 98–102. https://doi.org/10.1136/acupmed-2014-010524
The start of spring is an exciting time as the weather clears up, the plants start to bloom, and a new season begins. Many use this as an opportunity to organize their lives and revamp their daily routines, and finding ways to de-stress and improve your mental health is a great way to start fresh. While it feels rewarding to develop new habits, too much all at once can cause stress, which can have a negative effect on your overall health. Stress is linked to serious health issues like insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, and headaches. If you’re looking for obtainable goals this spring, consider developing new habits that can reduce your stress and help boost your emotional wellbeing.
Address Your Mental Health
To start, it’s important to be self-aware and understand your current mental state. According to MentalHealth.gov, our mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s undeniable that people of all ages have dealt with stress and are struggling with mental health. According to a report from Mental Health America, “the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed.” Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to have a relaxing and mindful spring.
Many people strive to get in shape as the weather gets warmer and you spend more time outside. However, exercise doesn’t just improve your physical health, but your mental health as well. Exercise has been proven to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression by increasing endorphins and taking your mind off worries. Meeting exercise goals can help improve your confidence and expose you to more social interaction. Something as simple as meeting new people at your local gym or seeing a neighbor while out on a walk can help boost your mood.
Working out for even 30 minutes a day can help significantly improve your state of mind. The internet is a great resource for ways to keep active. You can find free exercise videos online, along with fitness plans. Consider using fitness apps to set yourself up for success with a routine and exercises to follow.
Create a Budget
It’s no secret that finances can impact your mental health. If you’re worried about money, you’re not alone. Whether your stress stems from debt, unexpected expenses, or loss of a job, financial worry is a common stressor in modern life. According to a study done by the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans feel stressed about money at least some of the time.
Creating a budget is helpful to see where your finances stand. Make a list of your expenses and income to get an understanding of your current financial state. Using budgeting apps can help you organize your spending and determine where you need to cut back. Get organized by looking at the balances and interest rates on what you owe.
If you’re looking to save up some extra cash, try creating extra sources of income. Side hustles like freelancing on top of your typical income can be a great source of extra money. You can also potentially save money on your monthly expenses by shopping around for lower insurance rates or looking for ways to lower your monthly phone bill. If you’re a homeowner, look into how and when to refinance a mortgage to save some extra money. By taking advantage of lower interest rates and utilizing the cash-out refinance option, you’ll be able to secure additional funds to cover any larger or unexpected expenses.
Pick Up a Hobby
Hobbies have the potential to create happiness and positivity in your life, as well as the capability to relieve stress and lower blood pressure. You may have been involved in sports and clubs as a child, but it’s just as important to keep learning, growing, and doing things you enjoy in your adult life. Having an outlet you can lean on for mental stimulation and stress relief keeps you feeling fulfilled in life. A hobby doesn’t have to be anything difficult or expensive, rather an activity that you enjoy doing in your leisure time.
Many hobbies are home-based and can be done safely during the pandemic, such as arts and crafts, reading, puzzles, drawing, and knitting. Connecting with nature can support your wellness and music has also been proven to elevate your mood. Slow tempo music allows for a relaxing effect by calming your mind and lowering the stress hormone cortisol in your body. While listening to music can be considered a hobby, creating music can also be a powerful way to alleviate stress. Learning to play an instrument can be an obtainable hobby this spring.
Take Time for Yourself
Between balancing your social, home, and work life, you may feel like you have a lot on your plate. Having a busy schedule is when you need to practice self-care and focus on your mental health the most so you can feel your best this spring. Create time throughout the day to recenter and focus on yourself. Even carving out 10 minutes out of your day to practice deep breathing and meditation can positively impact your mental health. Creating time to speak to a mental health professional or using apps that help with anxiety can significantly improve your emotional wellbeing.
Be sure to settle down at the end of the night. Sleep deprivation can be both a cause and effect of stress. It’s known that little sleep increases your risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Your daily habits significantly impact your stress levels and sleeping habits. Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and stop consuming caffeine 6 hours before bed.
Mental health has an effect on many aspects of our health, including emotional, psychological, and social wellness. Use the start of a new season to focus on de-stressing and understanding the importance of your mental health.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.